Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Deed is Done...

Just a quick update on the demise of Space Couch. Death occurred at 6:49 PM on Nov 27, 2008. What was once a 3 piece sectional left the house as a nine piece in sections. We sawed apart the one section; separated the sleeper into three pieces; severed wiring. Both my brother in law and I risked cardiac arrest getting the new couch into the house. Other artifacts of note found in the couch: One nursing breast pad, circa 2005; One crushed Diego plastic figurine (daymn, I should have saved that one!), one Santa hat that had trapped a mouse on a lollipop (no, the mouse was not real); 2 Nuks circa 2006; 4 more spoons; and 2 bags of junk.

Livie now has a corner in which she can get the enclosed space she craves. They are not the 'out of this world' couches with bells and whistles functions we had, but they're a heck of a lot prettier and your butt don't hurt when you sit on 'em! Thanks Mary, thanks Mom n Dad...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Space Couch- 1999-2008

It arrived in mid 1999, in response to Linda's plea for somewhere comfortable to sleep when the baby arrived. A three piece sectional, dark blue. We christened it "Space Couch", because of all the bells and whistles it came with. You felt like you were in the cockpit of some great spaceship. Dual Recliners, a flip down console with massage, heat and a hookup for a telephone. The other side, a pull out bed and a flip down place for drinks. A Couch Potato's dream for sure. Linda was planning on spending the first few weeks of Jason's life on the couch so she didn't have to get up in the middle of the night with the worry of opening up he C-section.

That was child, one on the way. A few things have happened since then. I can't even remember life back then. One kid...ONE child! What did we DO with all our time? In a 5 year stretch from when we bought that couch, we added four kids. If that didn't change our life radically enough we also added autism to the mix. And the couches have seen it all from the back end.

We weren't thinking durability- four kids later, that is painfully apparent. This was a somewhat decadent purchase from the late 90's where we chose function over solid form. The massage and heat have not been working for years; the recliners no longer recline. What were once proud, soft and firm seats have sunk down, revealing the wooden framework. The other couch has the back separating from the seat from repeated attacks from various attempts at gymnastics. Even the cats get vertigo when climbing on the back of it. It was probably our move from Sussex County to Monmouth that was the beginning of the end for Space Couch. It had just lost its mystique by then, not to mention a few screws, some wiring and structural integrity.

It had gotten so bad that we began looking at curbside couches as 'slightly used' compared to the disasters we we holding onto. The reason was pretty simple: Two years ago the couch was not THAT bad and last year we began the process of potty training. The thought was that after we got through the few months of training, we would scrap them for new couches. Well 13 months later, we have just begun the process with Grace; Livie has taken three times as long as we expected, she is only now really beginning to get a rhythm. The couches have borne some the brunt of this process.

So when my sister offered up couches from her garage, the choice was easy. No 'new' couch to worry about stains; we could get a year or two use out of these and if there were accidents, there would be no real hand wringing. The added bonus was that they were my parents' old couches. Not that there's any reason to think that there might be some kind of positive karma in them; Mary, my sister, says there's a 'mom mark' on it where my mother's head was for the last years of her life. At this point, we can use all the good karma we can get, and if 'Saint Therese' can watch over and help us get the little things done in life, that would be a great addition.

Now comes the task of digging through the crevices to find all the lost treasures from the past nine years. We've already found 3 spoons, two letter 'R's, a Game Boy game, a lost TV remote and lots and lots of JUNK! Space Couch is HEAVY and we did not have the manpower (nor the confidence in our carpentry skills in case they broke) to move them that often. It's like an archaeological dig; they always want to find the 'garbage dump' because that's where all the good stuff is. Every toy, every cup and utensil, every (yuck) pretzel that fell through the cracks is not part of the 'decommissioning' process of looking at each part of this sectional for hidden potential treasures. Coins, BAH! We're looking for GOLD; that missing puzzle piece, that 1 inch by 1 inch 40$ Game Boy game; the other remote that's been missing for 9 months; the unknown lost treasure that one of the girls stole and stashed in a crevice for a rainy day.

In any event, au revior dear Space Couch, may you be found in some future archaeological dig as an example of something that could not stand the weight of so large a family! Thanks for your service, don't let the door hit your cushions on the way out!

PS, yes that is NOT my couch but the first picture of a joke about whether you choose dogs or kids for you life...this is the picture of the dog, HERE'S the kid picture. Neither are thankfully representative of the true nature of my house, but there are occasions when it came close!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Troy Mom Taking Training Her Son's Class Into Her Own Hands

I don't usually highlight and comment on autism happenings in the news, but that last interesting piece about PA and this next one just seemed to be noteworthy as great things that should be emulated. This one relates to a mother of a seven year old autistic boy. She has taken it upon herself to go into her child's class to talk about her son's autism and try and germinate understanding about the condition. One of my favorite examples she uses was this:

During her time with Ryan's class, Kessler brought one student to the front and asked the other students to make soft buzzing noises while she tickled the back of his neck. Then she asked him to try and answer a math question. The boy blinked a few times and stared back at the class, unable to respond. "It was hard to concentrate, right? That's what Ryan feels every day in the classroom," Kessler said. "These things don't bother most people very much. But some people with autism feel their senses very, very strongly."

I would think/hope that we could get school systems around the country to get with this type of program and have, not just an autistic presentation, but any class that has a special needs kid have a 'training session'. Ignorance, in my mind, breeds suspicion, misinformation, and eventually hatred and abuse. If you give kids the knowledge to understand differences, then they are far more likely to defend and to discourage bullies from abusing.

I'd love to see a major organization develop a lesson plan for a 1/2 hour presentation given by either a parent or the teacher themselves. When Grace gets mainstreamed, my wife and I are going to be there letting the kids know what autism is REALLY about, and not leave it to the imaginations of the students. ASA, Autism Speaks, you listening? Maybe I'll just go local and talk to POAC

Thursday, November 13, 2008

PA Leads the Way Yet Again...

Our neighbors to the west are beginning to put NJ to shame as far as offering autism services. First, it was the insurance legislation HB1150, that forced PA insurance provider to cover up to $36,000 in therapy services for autistics (you listenin', Corzine?). Now, they have done something for the over 21 autistics by setting aside $20 million for an autism waiver program that will offer everything from assistive technology to job placement assistance to counselling and crisis services.

Not being part of the group of folks that have to deal with adult autism services, I can't adequately judge whether the programs are better, far better or similar to other states' programs; it's just good to see an entire department in PA dedicated to autism services for adults and appear bent on providing sorely needed, targeted work specifically at a group that is most often overlooked. We just need to get that 200 person limit at least doubled, but good job, Governor Rendell! You may make me believe Republicans actually DO care! (and have a talk with that Corzine character across the Delaware!)

More info on Program

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Karaoke Anniversary

My wife and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary. Well, celebrated is not EXACTLY the word, it was a school night there was much to do, so the closest to a celebration was a cherry cheesecake my mom-in-law made. But, because of a little ingenuity and a little bit of nerve, I made it a special one.

You must understand, when it comes to birthdays and anniversaries, I have been the king of buffoons. I would forget altogether, remember last minute and try to slip out for a card, or make some flimsy excuse why I was late or forgot or whatever. Unfortunately, I can count on more than one hand the number of times I've done this; what can I say, I have a mind like a siv.

This year, since it was the big two-oh, I figured, I better do something original at the very least. For years, we had planned (more like fantasized) that we would all go on a cruise for our 20th. By then, we rationed, Livie would be 6 and old enough to go on a cruise (this was BA...Before Autism). Over the next 6 years, our world has turned upside-down, sideways and inside out. No cruise for YOU!

Having always been a Beatles fan, I personally always wanted to rewrite Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, with the "It was 20 years ago today" line as my basis for the anniversary song. I had never really sat down and done it though, until last week. Last night, I found my copy of SPLHCB and popped it into the DVD player and gathered the whole family into the living room. When Linda heard the opening strains of the song and realized what was going on, she used Livie as a shield to hide her face, she HATES to be singled out, even in the family. As I sang my heart out through the song, Jason wasn't exactly kind, not really getting what was going on, and was throwing mock vegetables at my performance. Livie got all wound up by my rendition, and it took her an extra half hour to get to bed.

I got through the song, pretty well I might add, and I could tell that I had FINALLY exceeded Linda's expectations for an anniversary gift. Think of it, no money spent; just a little bit of embarrassment and I WOW-ed her! I have to think of MORE songs to parody, any #25 songs out there?

OK, here's the parody, first person who comments AWWWWW though is gonna join Lucy in the sky with a bump on their head!

Sung to the tune of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

It was 20 years ago today.
I took your pretty hand to say
That I wanted you to be my wife
And I wanted you to share my life

So let’s reiterate to you
The fact that after all these years

I still love you after 20 years…

Well, I still love you after 20 years
I’ll probably go for 40 more
I still love you after 20 years
I really even love you more

I still really love you
I still really love you
I still love you after 20 years

It’s wonderful to be us
It’s still even a thrill
We’re such a perfect match that
I just can’t believe I have you
I just have to pinch myself

Well I really want our love to grow
And there’s one thing that I need to know
I’m standing here on bended knee
In hopes you’re still in love with me.
And if you want to handle what’s in store
Will you love me for even 20 more?

Will you still love me when I’m 64?


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Now THAT'S a Mandate!

Congratulations to President Elect Obama. God Bless America and best of choices in your administration...