What Was That?

We’ve had a few humorous utterances from our youngest (with Autism) recently…

One of the funniest came when we visited the “Walk Through Bethlehem” at Mountain View United Methodist Church in Marrietta, GA last weekend.  This was a wonderful family field trip and if you ever get a chance to go, I highly recommend!  The church re-creates Bethlehem as it may have been at the time Christ was born, complete with a market place, Inn (no rooms available, of course) Temple, and manger.  There were shop keepers hawking their wares (and educating you a bit on their products and how they were used 2000 years ago in that part of the world), storytellers, Roman Soldiers (harassing people for not paying their taxes), and a Rabbi.  There were even stalls where you could enter your name in the Census book and others where you could pay your taxes.

My youngest and I split apart from the group so we could wander about to our heart’s content.  My son asked lots of questions and we both enjoyed pretending that we were an Isrealite on the night that Jesus was born.  My son even shouted “You are MEAN!” at the soldiers in a show of bold defiance.

At one point my son entered his name in the Census book (I wasn’t allowed to sign since I was a woman) and we turned to walk toward the Tax Collector’s stall.  I explained that we needed to avoid the soldiers and pay our taxes.

“What was that, Mommy?” he asked.

“Pay our taxes,” I said.

He stopped in the middle of the marketplace and shouted “WHAT?!?  We have to PAY for TEXAS?”

I looked down at him and started giggling. 

Without missing a beat he cocked his head and said “Pay for Texas!  You are so silly Mommy.”

Merry Christmas to you all… and hoping your taxes don’t seem like paying for Texas.

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Christmas meme

This one is going around so thought I’d do it too!!!

  1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?  Wrapping paper.  I love to wrap presents! 
  2. Real tree or Artificial?  Artificial – I love real trees but they are messy, a fire hazard, and we have allergies.  Plus, ours is pre-lit – which makes it super easy to set up and take down!
  3. When do you put up the tree?  Sometime the week after Thanksgiving.
  4. When do you take the tree down?  It depends – Sometimes the week after New Year’s, sometimes end of January (isn’t that awful?)
  5. Do you like eggnog?  I do, but I don’t drink it often.
  6. Favorite gift received as a child?   Art supplies – I felt like I could create anything with them.
  7. Hardest person to buy for?  My husband
  8. Easiest person to buy for?  My boys.  They both keep up-to-date wishlists.  :)
  9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes – we have a few little ones and one old big one that we inherited from my husband’s side of the family – right now up on our mantel – very prominent spot!
  10. Mail or email Christmas cards?  Mail.  A family newsletter.
  11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?  One year my husband forgot to get me anything and forgot to help our kids get something for me.  I was crushed.
  12. Favorite Christmas Movie?  I love to watch Little Women (the one with Susan Sarandon as the Mom) because it feels so nostalgic.  Then of course it seems that Star Wars was on the TV in the background every single year for the last 20 years… so now when I watch it I think of Christmas (crazy!) and have the audio memorized but realise that I really haven’t WATCHED it for a long time – so it seems fresh at the same time.
  13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?  All year long – I look for sales and snag things that might suit at the end of the year – I save alot of money this way.
  14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?  I think I have once or twice – but can’t remember what to whom.
  15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?  Rum balls and liquor filled chocolates and chocolate mousse.
  16. Lights on the tree?  White mini lights and lots of them
  17. Favorite Christmas song?  I love all of them! 
  18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?  Half and half – this year we stay home and my parents are coming to us – woo hoo!!!
  19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?  I sometimes stumble a bit until I go through the song…You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen.  But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all?  Rudolph!
  20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?  We open all on Christmas Eve and Santa/stockings on Christmas morning.  This is what we did while I was growing up.  It allowed us to focus more of Christmas on Christ (since most of the excitement of presents was over with at that point)
  21. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?  Commercials – the hype is awful.
  22. Favorite ornament theme or color?  sparkly glass ornaments on the tree – and of course the creche we inherited from my husband’s family
  23. What do you want for Christmas this year?  World Peace of course!
  24. Angel or star on top tree:  Angel
  25. Favorite meal:  Traditionally we had lasagne on Christmas Eve and then Mom made something fab for Christmas dinner.  This year due to church scheduling I have to do something that can sit for a long time in the oven in case we can’t get to it so we’ll have ham.  For dessert we have cookies while we open presents.  For Christmas we’re doing a standing rib roast with all sorts of trimmings and chocolate mousse for dessert.

Rules

Every household has rules.  Kids and adults need rules – to give us boundaries, define how we will interact with each other, and thereby provide a comfortable environment to live in.

Families with Autism, if they are anything like THIS family with Autism, likely have more rules… and certainly more interesting rules… than the families without Autism.  Our kids with Autism structure their worlds differently and so the rules must accomodate that… accomodate their perspective… and that can make for some weird strange unexpected interesting rules.  Rules that sometimes must be repeated again and again and again.

Some of the more interesting rules from the last month include:

(from me, after Christmas pageant practice at church) “Here’s a rule.  This is very important.  You do not sing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” in mouse language at the top of your lungs while everyone else is singing “Silent Night.”

(from me, while holding onto the dashboard in the car) “No one is to smell Daddy’s armpit while he is driving!  Do you understand?  NO ONE!”

(from our younger son (with Autism) while giving his order to a waiter in a restaurant) “Here’s a rule.  It is very important.  The chef must stir sugar into the recipe but NOT the poison!”

I particularly like that last one.  Any other “interesting” family rules out there?

Keep the homefires burning… or at least at work

I have a dear sweet brother who happens to also have a great sense of humor.  Imagine Jack Black (from The Holiday and Kung Fu Panda) mixed with Chris Farley (vintage Saturday Night Live) and you get an idea.  He’s funny, creative, and kind – a great combination!

My dear sweet brother lives in Michigan where it is pretty darned cold at times.  On an especially cold day recently he came up with an idea at work to help keep everyone’s warmth factor up – or at least their sense of humor.

It all started in his office (his desk, shelves and printer are in the back center to right of the picture below). 

n655206452_1135651_20061    He decided to create a fireplace in his office (look at how big this office is!!! And with a window!!! I am so jealous!!!).  He printed off a fireplace on his massive printer… he “found” some office furniture just lying around… I didn’t ask about the faux-sheepskin rug on the floor (some things are better just left as mysteries)…

n655206452_1137430_42251… and voila!  Here’s the view from his desk.  Add some mantle decor, a plant, and the family dog and you have a friendly family fireplace just perfect for keeping spirits warm.

n655206452_1135655_41781His co-workers soon warmed to the idea and began to gather.  But try as they might, the marshmallows didn’t get very toasty…

I thought this was a fun idea – especially on a slow, cold day in Michigan.

Am I A Drug Addict?

Our oldest son has health class in elementary school.  Each year the topic of drugs is included in the agenda for a week.  You know, the rah rah “just say no” and “drugs are bad” bit.  They even have a spirit week built around it where each day they wear something that reinforces the anti-drugs messaging – like wearing sweatpants for “It’s no sweat to be drug-free” day and wearing crazy socks for “sock it to drugs” day.  Fun stuff all around.

Don’t get me wrong… I am all for the anti-drug messages and I agree that they need to be integrated into the elementary school health classrooms.

But guess what was included in the list last year…

Yep… some things you would expect, like heroin and cigarettes…  These are definitely the easier messages.  Easy to reinforce.  Things that are clearly avoided in our household  Not a problem.  Alcohol?  While it was on the list and I have the occasional glass of wine with dinner, it isn’t a constant thing, so it didn’t raise any eyebrows from my fourth grader.

Of course, with this generation, they’ve included prescription drug abuse.  This is a less easy item around which to demonstrate support, since we do have prescription drugs in the house and some are taken on continuous schedules.  You can imagine the discussions…

“Mom, you take that every day.  That means you are addicted.  My brother takes his meds every morning, so he is a drug addict too.”   

“Son, the doctor prescribes this for me so I can take care of my body.  It is a good thing.  It doesn’t mean that I am a drug addict.  Your brother’s doctor prescribes that med for him because it helps his body deal with some specific issues.  We take these for the right reasons.”   

Are you sure?  My teacher says…” and on it goes.  In fourth grade the world is black and white.  Shades of gray are tough to explain.  This drug abuse dialogue is particularly fun when my son starts it in the grocery store and strangers hear me trying to defend my drug use to my son.  Eyebrows raise.  Fun all around.

But guess what else is on the list?

Caffeine!  Coffee!!!  My beloved morning beverage has made the fourth grade health class black list!  Can you imagine the dialogue heard in our household?

“Mom, you drink that every day.  That means you are addicted.” 

“Son, I am not addicted to coffee.  I enjoy coffee in the morning.  That’s why I drink it.” 

“That’s what my teacher says.  People abuse drugs because they enjoy them so much they can’t stop.” 

Son, I can stop when I want to.”   I shudder as I recognize this oft used phrase.  It sounds hollow even to me, the caffeine user.   Wait.  Now I am thinking of myself as a user?!?  Then he tosses out the stinger.

“My teacher says that’s what drug addicts say when they are really addicted and don’t want to admit it.” 

Pause. 

Longer pause.

“What is your teacher’s email address again?”

Luckily my other son screamd for bathroom assistance at that moment (not in those words of course but I will spare you that Autism dialogue altogether).  It gave me some time to figure out how to resolve my fourh grader’s inquiries in a way that supported the anti-drug messages yet protected my precious beverage of choice. 

Oh yeah… and get another cup of coffee.

Felted Christmas Ornaments

The crafting bug has really bitten this time… and I’ve totally gotten into making felted Christmas ornaments (I took a class last weekend).  In fact, it has become a bit addictive.  Here’s a sample (a bit out of focus) of some of the ornaments I’ve made so far.  I haven’t wired them for hanging yet… but will do that soon.

I love how these feel as I work on them – all soft and cozy.  My son (with Autism) loves the feel of the finished product.  He also loves to finger the roving that I use in the felting process (and roll it into little balls, and tear it into tiny pieces, and form a faux-beard with it…).  His sensory needs seem to be satisfied as he explores the textures he gets as he plays.  Extra bonus?  I get to actually finish a project while he is in the room.  Win – Win!

My relatives had better watch out – it will be a felty Christmas this year!!!

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God’s Bacon… or Bakery?

People often assume that my younger son (with Autism) is lost in his own world, not paying attention, and unreachable.  They make the mistake of dismissing him, ignoring him, and/or underestimating him.

Eventually he proves them wrong, often with hilarious results. 

Especially in church.

This last sunday our Pastor was at the pulpit, delivering a sermon around God’s plan for each of us.  I was in the choir loft, listening to Pastor (of course!) and watching my family sitting in the second pew from the front (right in front of the Pastor).  My husband and older son were sitting face forward, eyes up toward the pulpit, feet still, mouths closed.  Pretty typical sermon-listening posture.

My younger son was next to them, sprawled out on the pew, legs akimbo, fingers busy with a paperclip, eyes focused on who-knows-what on the floor, feet gently kicking the kneeler in front of him, lips and mouth working at some sort of silent exercise.  This is not typical sermon-listening posture.  But then, my son is not typical in many respects.

So Pastor is talking about God’s plan for us.  He says that God has our lives planned out.  That we need to trust in God.  His voice gets louder as he makes his points.  His hand gestures become broader.  He explains how this does not relieve us of all responsibility (“God’s plan, our hands”).  He gets louder and even more animated.  He goes on to say that we humans often feel such a need to control our destiny that people “sometimes … rush in thinking they need to save God’s bacon!” (gotta love Southernisms)

My younger son quickly and loudly pipes up with “WHAT?  WE NEED TO SAVE GOD’S BAKERY?”

Pastor quickly recovered from his surprise and said “Yes!  Can you believe some people think they need to do that?” and went on with his prepared text.  For a moment however he lost his audience.  Everyone else was laughing and twittering about my son’s cute outburst, asking each other if that was set up by Pastor, and amazed that a little boy was actually paying attention, much less THIS little boy who doesn’t look like he pays attention to ANYTHING.

Let me tell you now – he pays attention – and he picks up on a heck of a lot more than you think he does.

… and those gigles heard from the choir loft?  Those were from a proud mama who loves her baby very much and couldn’t help wondering if God’s bakery serves egg and bacon biscuits past 11 am.

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