Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I've included my submissions...got any better ones?  Keep it clean!

Ew.  Is that really where all this water comes from?

Mama, why is that lady who broke up
the Beatles haunting the splash pad?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Me and One of my BBF's (Best Bloggy Friends)

Me (left) sporting my new Asian-in-repose
hat, with my BBF Dani G (right)
I had my first experience meeting someone in person that I've become friends with via the blogosphere.  Dani G from I'm Just That Way And That's Just Me was visiting Chicago for the weekend and we got together on Friday.  Lauren accompanied me because since I've been blogging she's gotten into everyone else's blogs; so much so that I'm not sure that I'm even in her top 5 anymore.  I think Lauren has read more of Dani's blog than I have, but she still somehow mistook every person that came out of the hotel elevator for Dani.  As opposed to Lauren and I who were pretty easy to spot, looking like turds in a punchbowl in the lobby of the posh Trump Hotel. 

It did feel a little bit like we were waiting on a blind date.  But of course we already know each other a little better than that.  And it was much easier to converse with Dani than any blind date.  We had a little Cawfee Tawk...talking about cawfee, dawtahs, awtism, and dawtahs with awtism.  Intellectual disabilities are neither intellectual nor a disability.  Discuss.

It was so great to meet Dani...it's always such a relief to talk with someone who shares your struggles and empathizes completely.  I was unprepared for all of the wonderful people that I would meet through this blogging experience, especially those that have children with special needs.  I can honestly say that I feel more connected to more "special" parents on the interwebs than I do in my for reals life.  So now that I've started, I guess I'm just going to have to work my way through each and every one of you.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

19 Nervous Breakdowns

Audrey will have 19 first days of school, assuming that she graduates from college.  Doesn't sound so bad when you put it like that, does it? 
But when each of them represents a complete emotional meltdown,
adjustments in meds, and extra hours of therapy, nineteen starts to sound like a lot.  And that's just me I'm talking about, not Audrey. 

She just started her 1st grade year last week, so I've now got 4 of these under my belt.  I know that the harder ones are definitely still ahead of me, but here's where we've been so far:

1st year of preschool
We had just relocated from California to Chicago the summer before.  Our new school district offered both typical classrooms and a self-contained classroom just for autistic kids.  At that time, I was completely hellbent on a typical classroom for her.  I spent all summer sniffing out scoop on the teachers, and consistently heard that one of them was terrible.  I knew then and there that she would be Audrey's teacher, and of course she was.  I follow a philosophy that is a 180 from "The Secret", whereby I will all bad things upon myself.  I wonder what that's called?  Catholicism?  Anyway, it was a terrible year, and Audrey ended up spending 100% of her time in the self-contained classroom by the end of the year.

2nd year of preschool
I was determined to make it a better year, and demanded another shot at a typical classroom.  The teacher was awesome, and we had a much better year.

The most stressful of them all so far.  OK, parents of middle-school age children on the spectrum, I can hear you laughing from here...pipe down and give a newbie a break.  I had wrung my hands about this placement for months and months, and my heart was in my throat for that first day of school last year.  Our school district is the bomb diggety as far as being open to private placements and we were lucky enough to get one.  Problem is that it's 25 miles away, and my #1 concern was the commute...both her tolerance of being in a bus for that long and my paranoia about her being alone with an unsupervised male driver.  It was a good year, and, putting aside the distance, I think it is a great placement for her.

1st grade
A honeymoon year.  Same placement.  The school is year-round, so the "first day of school" was just the first day back after a 2-week break.

And beyond...
One of these years, maybe next, we will decide to go full-inclusion and transition Audrey from her private autism school to a general ed public school setting.  It may be as soon as next year, in which case I'd better start building up the meds in my bloodstream now.  I worry so much about her in a general ed setting.  Crowded classrooms, sensory overload, $7/hour aids that don't know squat about autism, mean girls, bullying, birthday party snubs, and social isolation. 

I can only hope that with all of the kids getting diagnosed on the spectrum that perhaps they will have some strength in numbers.  Audrey already has some kind of A-dar and seems to gravitate to members of her own tribe.  Maybe by the time they all hit college they can form their own Greek system...Alpha Sigma Delta anyone?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is the A-Word the New R-Word?

Jennifer Aniston came under fire recently for using the word "retard", as have many others in the past.  I've never known where to weigh in on this one.  I have myself used the word just as Aniston did (she was referring to herself), as well as the word "retarded"...the latter mostly in the context of "socially-retarded" or "emotionally-retarded".  I am, after all, married.  To a man.

But I got to thinking...what if the word "autistic" started to be used in the same way?  What if the Black-Eyed Peas' new hit song was called "Let's Get Autistic"?  Or people from the Northeast started using the term "wicked autistic" to describe something negatively?  And it became common urban slang to say "Man, that shit is autistic"?  Well, guess what?  It seems it's already so.

Since I've started using the Twitter machine, I sometimes will set my search to "autism" or "autistic", just to be sure that I'm on top of it should the announcement of a cure come across the wire.  I mostly see the usual autism-related news links, blog posts, etc.  But I've also been seeing those words used as epithets.  Just in the course of one day, I could have snagged dozens of examples, but here are just a few: 

OK, let's be glass-half-full.  Maybe the
music was really really good.

Not sure how to construe this one.  Audrey doesn't know
how to blow her nose, so I remain unoffended.

And we're off.

Maybe she reads my blog and the person in question was
squeezing their eyes shut or grabbing their hoo-hah.

I'm not sure if I should defend autism or Larry King's hair.  What
exactly is being insinuated here...people with autism have bad
hair?  Are squirrely?  Sodomize skunks?  I hate IHateJeffBaker.

I refuse to be offended by someone who refers to herself JerseyCokewhore.

You get the idea.  What do you think?  Are you offended?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Land O' Legos

Audrey had some unexpected bonus camp days last week.  When it looked like my father's health was deteriorating fast, I scrambled to find some last-minute activities for the week that was to be her last down week before school started.  The park district was offering one more week of camp, with the catch being that the half-day option, which is what I had previously signed her up for, was not available.  So I made up for sending her to a totally lame-o camp by doubling down and making her go for a full day.  Luckily, you could sign up for individual days so she was only subjected to two of them.

The first day was a trip to Legoland.  There are only a few of these around the world and one of them happens to be in the same town where Audrey's school is, which makes me wonder if Lego sniffs out the proximity to schools for autistic kids before they plunk down their "lands".   Legoland is a big attraction around here, but I've never been tempted to bring Audrey because she is an anomaly...an autistic kid that has zero-nada-bupkus-zilch interest in Legos.  But after hearing about it from Lauren, seeing the pictures, and checking out the website, it's clear that you don't have to actually be able to build anything out of Legos to enjoy Legoland.

In Miniland, there was a rendering of the Chicago skyline and Navy Pier.  In Legos.  I will stop saying "in Legos" from here on out since it is pretty self-evident.  This was a big hit with Audrey because she loves replicas of amusement park rides AND part of the show was seeing night fall over the city.  Oh yeah...she loves her some twinkling lights in the darkness.

Per the website, the Dragon Quest ride carries you from "the castle kitchen and the royal banquet to the tickle torture room".  Lauren said Audrey was terrified at first.  Hey, the word "torture" isn't any less scary just because it's got the word "tickle" in front of it.  Sheesh.  Anyway, she hated it so much that she had to go through it a second time just to be sure.

The big red dragon that elicited
this reaction ======>

She recovered from that by copping a feel from the leader of the free world.  Sneak preview of my Christmas card!

His ass is bumpy,
yet strangely pleasing
Is anyone looking?

This wonderful and fun-filled day was capped off by Audrey stepping into a puddle of pee in the play area...in her stocking feet.  If I had a nickel for every time one of my blog posts ended with that very sentence....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Audrey, the Cat Whiskerer

Audrey has taken the situation into her own hands as far as texting with Toonces Whiskers.  She thinks that if she just creates a contact name without any other information that somehow the message will magically get to her.  It would be something if it really worked that way.  Every stalkers' dream...and how dumb guys already think that Twitter works ("Dude, how come J-Woww's not writing me back?").

Imagine my surprise when I saw this new addition on my iPhone:

Message Send Failure???

Then when I saw the messages, I realized that Audrey is putting words into Whiskers' mouth.  So these are the messages that she would like Whiskers to send her:

What, am I not praising her enough?  Just how low does your self-esteem have to be to pretend to be getting flattering texts from a cat?   I see how it is.  Pretty soon, "Whiskers" will start giving her demonic edicts a la Son of Sam, telling her to perpetrate all manner of torture on her mother who clearly just doesn't care enough to hand out those pats on the back.

"Go in her nightstand."
"Get the Tylenol PM."
"Flush it down the toilet."

Whiskers must. be. stopped.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Toonces the Texting Cat

Audrey has logged a lot of Lauren-time over the past week or so, with me away trying to spend time with my father before he passed and then all of the ceremony and visiting with out-of-towners since then. They went to the pet shop to get a better home for the multi-named goldfish, to the pool, and on camp field trips to a train museum and Legoland. But Audrey's favorite part was hanging out at Lauren's house with her two cats, TJ and Whiskers.

I've been hearing all about how Whiskers (she doesn't seem as crazy about TJ) meows, and plays with shoe strings, and how she was showing her how to send text messages.

Don't Text While Driving, Toonces

Here's all of the cat-centric chatter that Lauren noted during her visits:

"Hi Mr. Cats."
"Whiskers likes to sleep with you."
"I like to share my shoe string with Whiskers."
"I like cats."
"TJ is snoring." (He was purring.)
"I like to stay with Whiskers."
"Whiskers likes to share all my things."
"Whiskers is gonna text mom." (She lifted up her paw and put it by phone.)
"That's my pet."
"I like to share my phone with Whiskers and TJ."
"I wanna have a playdate with Whiskers and TJ." (Said after walking into Lauren's basement.)

Now all she talks about is going to see Whiskers and TJ.  Every time we leave the house to do anything, it's "We're going to see Whiskers and TJ after we...."  I don't think that just texting with them is going to satisfy her longing, and I'm pretty sure that Lauren has seen enough of Audrey for a while...so we might have to graduate her to Toonces the Skyping Cat.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Do You Have a Shirley Temple?

OK, so it's an extremely antiquated reference.  You young'uns out there will just have to Google it.  But one of my fellow draftees into the autism army and I have so bestowed this name on the typically-developing children in our extended families that are painfully close in age to our ASD kids.  You know the ones:  the super-precocious kids that sing and tap-dance circles around our kids, making their behaviors seem even more aberrant at family get-togethers.  In my friend's case, she and her sister-in-law were pregnant at the same time and were giving birth to the first grandchildren in the family.  They both ended up having boys within months of each other, and everything was going swimmingly with them being raised like brothers...until it wasn't going so swimmingly.

My friend went on to have two more boys, both typically-developing, which I always thought would help somewhat, but I think it just eats at her even more because now her younger sons are off playing with the older cousin while her ASD son is off...you know, doing what our kids do.

I bring this up because Audrey has a typical cousin who is about 9 months younger than her, and Shirley has been involved in every second of my father's wake, funeral mass, luncheon, burial, post-burial interpretive dance of his life, and I believe that as I write this she is carving his headstone and notarizing the will.   Fucking typical kids.

After exactly one nanosecond of hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing, I decided not to have Audrey attend any of the proceedings.  The burial was the one thing that I actually would have had her attend, but it fell on a day when I had her signed up for a final camp field trip.  EVERYONE asked me where she was at EVERY event.  My rationalization to them was that Shirley's mother is an in-law and thus didn't know as many people and could afford to do nothing else than follow her little girl around making sure that her ringlets weren't drooping.  There were many, many people in attendance that I hadn't seen in years, and I was so happy to be able to have more than a 10 second conversation with them without having to worry that Audrey was snatching cookies off of other people's plates or crashing the wake next door.

I'm lucky in the fact that I have an easier time avoiding my Shirley Temple than my friend does.  She has a big ethnic, extended family that seemingly has a party every weekend for one reason or another.  I don't know how she does it.  But I do know that she calls me after a lot of these parties just to hear me tell her what I always do...that her typical nephew is the butt-ugliest kid I've ever seen.  And we both laugh and laugh and forget that we were just crying out eyes out.  Until the next time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where'd Papa Go?

First of all, I need to thank everyone for all of the kind comments, thoughts, and prayers offered up for my father.  I could never have imagined when I started blogging back in April that I would already be invested in the lives of so many wonderful women (and a few men too), and that I would find such a strong, supportive, and endlessly interesting and thought-provoking community out here in cyberspace.  I'm so happy and honored to have gotten to know you all.  And thanks to all of my old-technology friends as well (you know, the face-to-face kind) for all of their support through the years...I'm not done needing you yet.

And now I need to ask my fellow ASD parents...have any of you attempted to explain death to a child with autism?  Audrey is so literal that I feel there is no way that I could go the angels-pearly-gates-fluffy-clouds-in-heaven route.  I am such a lapsed Catholic that her only point of reference for an afterlife is me telling other drivers to go to hell, and thanking God in Heaven Above that my TiVo season pass manager was smart enough to record The Bachelorette - After the Final Rose based on the pass for The Bachelorette.  Many good and happy blessings upon you, Oh Divine Video Recorder. 

So far, it looks like it's working out that Audrey won't be attending the wake, funeral, or burial, which is definitely the least stressful route for me, but also excludes her from any involvement in the proceedings.  The most that I had considered her attending was the burial, because it will be private, outdoors, and short.  I wouldn't have to worry about her behavior because it would just be my immediate family in attendance.  And she loves to wander freely at cemeteries...running in circles, doing her happy-kicky dance, and pilfering all manner of pinwheels, flags, and plastic flowers along the way.

I can't imagine Audrey at the wake.  She has a thing about crawling into bed with the elderly and infirmed.  The first time that she saw a hospital bed, she said, "It's a crib!" and crawled right in, completely unfazed by how sickly and not-like-themselves the person looked or smelled.  Needless to say, they all loved it and thought that she was an earth angel for doing so.  I'm thinking of hiring her out to nursing homes to lift their spirits.  She would be far superior to puppy pet therapy. 

Knowing this, you can imagine the potential dangers of taking her to an open-casket wake.  Like a lot of autistic kids, Audrey loves cozy, confined spaces.  She might think it's a Lincoln Log fort that she could go foraging in.  Or maybe a log flume ride like the one that she loved so much at Kiddieland.  I'm absolutely certain that Papa would love nothing more than her company, but it might not go over so well with the other guests.

Monday, August 16, 2010

John Henry Hudoba: 1/28/33 - 8/16/10

I entered kindergarten in the fall of 1968.  It was a tumultuous time, but not because of the riots at the Democratic National Convention which had happened in our fair city just days before.  I was not at all cognizant of that.  No, I wasn't thinking beyond my own household.  My baby brother had just been born a few months earlier.  He wasn't due until August, and my last summer of fun as the youngest in the family was ruined by his early arrival.  On top of that, my lunatic Italian (redundant, I know) grandfather that lived with us returned from his summer spent back in the old country. 

My older sisters were entering 2nd and 5th grade at the Catholic grade school.  I was going to the nearby public school, and on the first day of school my mother walked me there with my new brother in a carriage.  I cried and didn't want to go in.  I had never gone to preschool and had been the baby of the family for five years, so this was quite traumatic for me.  I received the first homework assignment of my life that first week when the teacher asked us to learn our address and telephone number.  I had no idea how I was to ascertain this information.  Was I just supposed to know?  Was an archangel going to visit me and bestow it upon me?

It is truly a testament to how busy and distracted my household was that it never entered my mind to ask my parents.  Surely this wasn't something that I could bother them with considering everything else that was going on.  So day after day for what felt like weeks, I would go to school, sit in a circle with all of the other children, and when it was my turn and the teacher asked me for my address and phone number, I would sit there mutely feeling stupid and humiliated.  Then one night my father came into my room with our address and phone number written on a card.  He quietly, almost sheepishly, told me that he understood that I was to learn this information for school.  He drilled me on the address until I knew it by heart.  Then he asked me something that for some reason has stuck with all these years:  he asked whether I wanted to learn our phone exchange with numbers or letters.  You see, I could memorize it as either 785-4309 or PU5-4309.  I chose the PU (hee hee), which stood for Pullman.  And finally, FINALLY, I didn't have to dread going to school (at least not for that reason), and could proudly recite my name and address for my teacher the next day: 53West124th StreetChicagoIllinois60628PU5-4309.

To this day, I'm not entirely sure what it is about this episode that makes it such a vivid memory for me.  I think that I was shocked that somehow my father knew about my homework assignment.  Was he omniscient or had an archangel visited him instead of me?  His demeanor struck me as so odd:  why was he the one acting embarrassed, rather than bawling me out for not doing my homework?  He was even asking me how I wanted to learn my phone number.  This is one of the few childhood memories that I have that involve my dad.  Probably because we were rarely alone having any kind of a one-on-one conversation, let alone one where I wasn't in trouble or where he wasn't settling a fight with a sibling.

I will always remember my father as he was that day.  And wonder how much it was an acknowledgment of regret that I felt I couldn't come to him, and that we didn't spend more time together.  We were accidental tourists in this loud, multi-family, Italian household.  He was a skinny Polish kid from Minneapolis who had to put up with Polack jokes and comments from a dago family that wasn't exactly royalty itself.  In his final days, he repeatedly told anyone who would listen that marrying my mother was the best thing he ever did.  Mean-as-a-snake father-in-law, crowded house, a kitchen table that was second only to Ellis Island for the number of D.P.'s whose asses were planted in those chairs, Polack jokes, and all.  Now that's love.

So thank you for everything, Dad.  For helping me with my homework.  For not making fun of my tears when I lost that archdiocese spelling bee that I had pretended not to care about.  For carving a Halloween pumpkin for my 2nd grade class (for which I still have the thank-you note that the class wrote to him).  For that priceless look on your face through the smoke and haze of sawdust after I shot my bedroom dresser with a 12-gauge shotgun.  And for the memory of you, lighting 4th of July fireworks with your cigarette, looking like something out of Mad Men, so handsome with your terry-cloth shirt and slicked-back hair. 

I am so, so grateful that your suffering is over...and that you can finally rest.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day 5: Fishing at Lake Wal-Mart

According to the camp calendar, the last day of camp was to be Fishing Day at Constitution Park.  I'd never heard of that park, but there is a pond in town where a lot of people fish and I assumed that they were going there.  Turns out that Constitution Park is the pond-less park outside of the building where the camp is being held, and the "fishing" was from a baby pool filled with goldfish from Wal-Mart.  This was actually a relief to me because it meant that mosquito bites would be minimized (we are running out of unbitten real estate on her little body) and that she wouldn't be returning home with a fish hook lodged in her cheek.

We haven't heard from Lauren yet this week, so I'll let her take over from here, with my comments in pink:

I forgot to mention that during the June week of camp, Audrey didn't get the attendance thing down too well. (How shocking.)  She would say nothing when they called her name, or say "here" so quietly even I couldn't hear her. But this week she's got it down. Every time they called her name, she stood up, raised her hand, and loudly said "HERE!", and then proceeded to spell her name to herself.  (Aaaaaaach, always with the name spelling.  She knows it's making me mental so she's probably doing it even more when I'm not around.  I can just picture her with her hand over her mouth, "A-U-D....")

We played some gym games.  We played Grant's favorite game, which consisted of having to get every camper across the gym without touching the floor using a variety of supplies (laundry basket, bases, sticks, a chair, scooters, etc.)  I gave Audrey a piggy back ride across...I wasn't about to put her on a scooter with another kid pulling her across the gym and expect her to hold on and not get hurt.  (Lauren more than paying for herself with that call)  Envision a 5th grader walking with cones on her feet, pulling a 1st grader on a scooter with a hockey stick.  (Yeah, I remember reading about this very game on page 452 of the waiver that we had to sign to attend this camp)

Then she got to decorate her fish bowl.  She spelled her first and last name with stickers.  I told her to decorate the other side, so she wrote my first and last name on it. (Only Audrey would think of people's first and last names as "decoration") Then we added some bling with Justine. BTW Lynn, Justine wears those Sketchers with all the rhinestone thingys on the toes - you'd love her.  And Grant said if he was a girl in elementary school, he'd be wearing them too. (What Justine should have said to Grant: "If you were a girl in elementary school, you would be so creeped out by you right now.")

Then it was time to go outside to a kiddy pool full of tiny goldfish.  Grant handed Audrey a net, and told her to catch her fish.  She caught a orange one and a black one, and Grant said that she could pick one.  She picked the orange one and he put it in her fish bowl.  She was thrilled.

"I got a new pet fish."
"It is SO cute!"
"The fish is a girl."
"Her name is Nala."
"The fish is named Isabella."
"The fish is Justine."

Great job, Lauren.  In addition to those names, so far the fish has been called Sara, Emma, Anabel, Paula, Carla, Mary, Becca, Renee, Dusty, Rusty, and Pirate.  And probably Floaty McFlushington before too long.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day 4: Cosmic Bowlin', Nail Paintin', and Slippery Slopin'

Day 4 of camp included a trip to our local bowling alley for "cosmic" bowling.  The ad to the left makes it look like some pretty adult entertainment...I'm not sure what they're going for with that porn/bride of Frankenstein/goth chick on the poster, but it doesn't exactly scream Little Adventurer Summer Camp.  Audrey loved it because it involved a dark room with crazy lights -- always a big hit with her.  There was a big disco ball, glow lighting that made her shirt look all wacky, and some thumping club music.

Audrey made a new friend named Justine, who apparently knew all the words to "California Gurls" and liked her some dirty dancin'.

Crossed legs and
bowling shoes

Audrey and Justine
meltin' popsicles

After camp, Lauren decided it was high time to give Audrey her first pedicure.  She brought nail polish that matched the hot pink that she had on her own toes AND bought her her first pair of bona fide $.97 Old Navy flip-flops, in a beautiful pale pink.  The better to break your neck in, my pretty.

I've been avoiding the whole nail-painting thing, although I've certainly seen loads of girls much younger than Audrey with constantly painted fingers and toenails.  I'm not into the Little Lolita look as I discussed here.  I think little girls are way too hootchie before their time, and I'm paranoid that painted nails will be a slippery slope to false eyelashes, spray tans, up-do's, hair extensions and her getting cast as a Li'l Guidette on the new pre-tween version of Jersey Shore

Audrey trying to pretend as if her youth
hasn't been stolen from her by Lauren

Now I'm anticipating the aftermath.  What do I do next week when it's looking slightly less cute with half of it chipped off?  Her father will be all over the internet researching how the smell of nail polish remover will melt her brain and cause her to become more autistic.  Audrey will flip out because by then she will have forgotten that there was a time not so long ago when her nails were not hot pink...like when she finally got her arm out of a cast and was completely freaked out at the sight of her bare arm.  "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, what is that flesh-colored bone sticking out from my left shoulder!!!!"  Come to think of it, her cast was hot pink too.  I'm doomed. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day 3: Meh

Day 3 was taken up nearly completely by going to see "How to Train Your Dragon", which was showing as part of a Wednesday morning summer movie series for the kiddies at our beautiful old movie house in town.  The Tivoli Theater opened in 1928 as just the second cinema in the world showing talkies.  I wonder what the sweaty, mosquito-bite-laden campers were seeing in the summer of '28?  Audrey would have been just as entertained by Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton as she was by "How to Train Your Dragon".  Which is to say, not very. Lauren swears that she sat nicely through the whole thing, which she never does for me. 

Whenever I take her to the movies she pretends that she has to go to the bathroom so that she can dance around the wide, empty corridors.  She has this thing about open floorspace.  When she sees a patch of it in public, it apparently screams "Gotta dance!" to her.  And then she busts out this crazy, leg-kicky dance as if it's something that she's been dying to do but just hasn't had the room for.  She does it in the big empty conference rooms at the church where she takes her piano lessons, in restaurants that have a vestibule outside where the bathrooms are, at the library in the storytime area...anywhere with a little extra elbow room and carpet that she can cut.

Anyhoo, I guess Lauren was spared the fancy dancin'.  The only weird thing that happened was that Audrey seemed suddenly anxiety-ridden when it came time to get on the bus after the movie was over.  They had walked to the movie and I'm not quite sure why they took a bus back, but I'm sure that this threw Audrey.  There was a time that she loved the big yellow school buses, but I guess she's gotten used to riding in style.  Either that or somehow knew that long buses and her just don't go together. 

She told Lauren, "I hope you didn't get hit by a car", which when run through the Pronoun Reconfigurator probably means "I hope that we don't get hit by a car".  And then when they went over some train tracks, "I hope a train doesn't come".  Easy there, Debbie Downer.  Don't use up all of that irrational fear in one bus ride.

Coming tomorrow...Day 4:  Cosmic bowling and baby's first pedi.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day 2: B-I-N-G-O

Day 2 of camp was a vast improvement over Day 1, in that they headed for the great indoors on what was yet another exceedingly hot and sticky day.  Like at the last camp, there were lots and lots of gym games.  Not exactly Audrey's forte.  They played something called Sharks & Minnows that seems to have involved two groups of kids running headlong into each other.  Audrey the Minnow got kneecapped by a Shark and was down for the count about 30 seconds in.

Next up was Bingo, which was much more up Audrey's alley. 

I'm not sure what it tells me that Audrey is much more comfortable playing a game beloved by the geriatric set than she is playing gym games with kids her own age.  It got me thinking that Audrey really is closer in personality to a senior citizen than a kid.  Maybe I will make this week an All Top 10 Week, because here are my Top 10 Ways That Audrey is Like a Senior Citizen:

10)  She likes the Weather Channel.
9)  She looks a little flashy-clashy when she dresses herself.
8)  You can't follow her stories.
7)  She's losing her teeth.
6)  She gets frazzled if she has more than one activity on her calendar.
5)  She repeats herself.
4)  She has to wear sensible shoes.
3)  She can't see above the steering wheel.
2)  She couldn't tell you what she had for breakfast.

And the #1 way in which Audrey is like a senior citizen...
1)  She likes to walk in circles at the mall.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Round 2, Day 1 at Camp Runamuck

Top 10 Things Overhead at Audrey's Summer Camp:

10)  I hope that one of my 700 mosquito bites is from a West Nile carrier so that I can get out of the rest of the week.
9)  Do my parents even care what I'm doing right now?
8)  Is that one of our camp counselors or a completely uninterested passer-by?  It's so hard to tell the difference.
7)  Audrey, I'm going to text your mom and if she has an ounce of mercy in her soul she will let us leave early.
6)  It's hotter n' balls out here.
5)  Unless this t-shirt cost $99, this camp was totally not worth it.  Oh wait, that was me that said that.
4)  What the hell is Army Day?  Oh, we get to crawl through a forest on the buggiest, stickiest, hottest day of the year pretending to throw ourselves on grenades?  Actual war would be more fun than this.
3)  The combination of sunscreen and insect repellent seems to have created a toxic goo that is melting my fingernails but somehow still not keeping away the mosquitoes.
2)  My parents said that this camp was all they could afford.  I'll remember this lesson in frugality when the time comes to pick out their nursing home.

 And the #1 thing overhead at summer camp:
1)  This is the worst summer camp ever.  (Unlike numbers 1-9, this one was actually overheard by Lauren)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Audrey's Cinema Verite

I've got like 10 more of these if you care for a guided tour of all of her grandmother's ceiling fans and framed pictures.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Camera Shy

It is next to impossible to get a good picture of Audrey.  First of all, she hates the flash, so most indoor photos look something like this:

"Nooooooooooooo pictuuuuuuuuuuuuure!"

The more pressure on the situation to get a good shot, the worse it is.  Don't get me started about the Christmas card "money shot".  I don't even have multiple kids and pets to organize, and I still can't get one card-worthy shot.

Forget about the cute dress-up situations that I'm already scrapbooking in my head:

C'mon, work with me here. Momma's got the perfect
Minnie Mouse embellishments for this layout.

I thought perhaps that I had the problem licked when I got my iPhone...no flash!  Sure, the indoor pictures aren't that great of quality but at least I can see the (kinda grainy) whites of her eyes.  So now she has developed a new habit of grabbing her naughty bits, including her butt, crotch, and bee-bo's.  Which are, you know...chee-chee's.  Or whatever you call this area on a child...

I pledge allegiance to my tee-ta's

Look at how this perfectly gorgeous shot is ruined by the crotch grab:
Yeah, I got ballerina scrapbook paper too.
Stop ruining my life!

By the time I manage to swat her hand away, the moment is past and either the smile is gone or she is off and running.  Lately, she's even been attempting the advanced double-hander move:  one hand on the butt and the other on the crotch.  Like the elusive Yeti, I have not yet captured this one on film.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Adventures of Large Ass and Small Child

I never read a blog before I started writing one.  In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.  Because once I started reading them, I noticed that many bloggers use pseudonyms for themselves and/or their children.  Oops.  I freely use my real first and last name, and Audrey is my daughter's real name.  She does have a different last name than me, so give me some credit.

Bloggers pseudonyminize (yeah, it's a word) their blogs to varying degrees.  Some use their own name, but give their children pseudonyms...you can't swing a dead cat in the blogosphere without hitting a Peanut or a Little Dude.  Some post pictures of their kids, and some don't.  Some are entirely anonymized (also a word), with pseudonyms for the author and everyone else in their lives and no pictures of anyone.  I assume that these bloggers are in the Witness Protection Program.

Back in the early days of my blog (a whole 3 months ago), I came across a discussion in a forum that debated this very topic.  Here are some of the arguments that were presented by the staunch anonymizers:

Freaks that troll the internet will find your kid based on the pictures you've posted, and lure them in by knowing their name.
First off, no one is coming after your kid.  Geez.  And if all it took was knowing a kid's name, all a child-snatcher would have to do is yell "Hey, Emily!" at a group of girls and someone would turn their head.  For boys, just muffle the first consonant of Aidan and you've got Braden, Caden, Jaden, and Hayden covered, which is like 90% of them.  Frankly if this happened to Audrey, I would have to stifle my initial reaction which would be "Hurray!  She answered to her name!!"

You don't want future employers to be able to find embarrassing stuff about them...remember, the Internet is forever.
I can't get past the thought of Audrey having a prospective employer.  Woo hoo!  I did good!  Unless one of the job requirements is that she perform a flawless Hokey Pokey, I think we're OK.  Anyway, by the time that Audrey hits the job market, I'm convinced that autism will be considered a big plus.  People will be playing it up on their resumes as much as if they were valedictorian, because it will mean that they can do readin', writin', and 'rithmetic which will be more than you can say for all of the poor unfortunate typical kids that are the products of our dying educational system.

And anyway, the internet is not really forever.  I don't know what blog program you're using, but mine has a big fat Delete button for each post.  Didn't the mother of all mother bloggers, Dooce, purge her blog of all her early rants against the Mormon church so that they wouldn't assassinate excommunicate her?

You shouldn't overexpose your children.
Who are you, Angelina Jolie?  We've all got like 12 readers apiece.  Get over yourself.

It's not fair to your kids to violate their privacy when they don't have a say in the matter.
OK, so this one does hit home.  Buzzkill.  The situation that gives me the most pause is thinking of Audrey in a few years when she is (hopefully) mainstreamed into general ed and the kids are past the Kumbaya phase of childhood and start going at each other Lord of the Flies-style.  Which is probably not as far away as I think.  Could a future classmate find this blog and use some of the content against her?  Sure, it could happen.  Do I have the mental faculties to think beyond one hour from now let alone 3 years from now?  No, not even on a good day. 

Of course, the first time that I even get a whiff of anything like that happening, I would yank this baby down like a prom dress.  My fantasy is that Audrey would then start her own blog called, "Typical Classmates That Are Douchebags" where we could post pictures of her tormentors with accompanying stories and personal nuggets about them.  But more likely, she'll start a blog called "Let's See How You Like It, Mom" where she makes like The Hoff's daughter and posts embarrassing videos of me...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hot TOT-D's (Texts of the Day)

More fun with autexting.  These are all to Lauren, although she has branched out to texting others, including some people that are in my phone book that I don't necessarily want to start a dialogue with.  My commentary is in pink.

Audrey:  Emily Evans Likes to play with Katy (Emily is a classmate, and Katy is a new aid)
Audrey:  I fell off the swing
Lauren:  Are you better?
Audrey:  Not yet  (This was a few weeks after the great swing accident...still not over it)
Audrey:  And you are crying (Exhibit 1:  Pronouns are a bitch)
Audrey:  I got a bandaid on my nose


Audrey:  Hi Lauren Johnson
Audrey:  I hit Jill and Yvonne (these are aids at school...I got a report about this incident)
Audrey:  And I hit Jill (Jill got it twice apparently)
Lauren:  Why did you hit them?
Audrey:  Because I have to stop playing with the labtop
Audrey:  Because I got mad when I have to get in the car (her side of the story)
Audrey:  I fell off the swing and you are crying (pulling the sympathy card...nice try)
Audrey:  On Monday last time
Lauren:  What are you doing today?               
Audrey:  I'm going swimming today (No, we weren't)


Audrey:  You gotta do something else first
Audrey:  I fell off the swing because Katy pushed you (this was Katy's very first day as a new aid in Audrey's classroom, and according to the teacher Katy wasn't in the room when it happened.  People Skills 101:  Falsely accusing someone of giving you a concussion will not endear you to them.)


Audrey:  We are not supposed to play animal scramble
Audrey:  We are not suppsed to eat the bug on my sundaes
Audrey:  Gross
Audrey:  Yuck
Audrey:  Yucky


Audrey:  Freest
Lauren:  Who's that?
Audrey:  Freest is my dog (We don't have a dog.  And who the hell is Freest?)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...Taylor, Madison, You Can Go to Bed Now!!

Yesterday was a red letter day for me.  I received two blogger awards in one day, equaling the number of awards I've received in my whole life to date.  I received the Beautiful Blogger award from the wonderful Susie at Motherhoot and the Versatile Blogger award from the fabulous Cheryl at Little Bit Quirky.  Thanks guys!

The rules for both are the same:  I have to pass them along to 7 other bloggers and tell you 7 things about myself.  I don't think I know 14 other bloggers, and I know that you don't want to know 14 things about me, so I'm going to kill two birds with one stone. 

I'm going to pass these awards along to all my bloggy buddies with kids on the spectrum, because they need all the love they can get:

Here are 7 things about me:
1) I went to 12 years of Catholic school, including 4 years at an all-girl high school.
2) I lived in the Netherlands for 5 years and never smoked anything in a coffee shop. I was once offered 8 orgasms for 25 DFL while walking through the Red Light District. I didn't partake of that either. See #1.
3) I love winter.
4) I'm a lifelong White Sox fan. I found out Audrey had autism between games 2 and 3 of the 2005 World Series, which the Sox would go on to win for the first time in 88 years. This was the first of many times that autism would shit on my parade.
5) I'd like to think that I am the person least likely to scrapbook...but I do.
6) I worked for 20 straight years and now have been off for 5.  I worry that I will not be able to do a job anymore since I've been out of it for so long and autism has fried my brain in the meantime.
7) I'm 0 for 3 on my New Year's resolutions: losing weight, getting off of Prevacid, and flossing more.  I'll roll these over into 2011, and add to it "spending less time on social media" so that I'm really doomed to fail.