Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blogging Blues

First off, I'm actually reading during my lunch time at work, but I can't post from the old Apple IIe, which is the only computer available to me right now (a student is using the 'good' computer during my lunch time right now).

The Apple IIe does not have enough memory to allow me to post anything on my own blog, or make any comments either. That's why I've been a little quiet on the blogs :)

We are in a little bit of upheaval with our school calendar. Seems we don't have enough money in the budget to finish this school year as is, so they will be cutting days. There's talk of no school on Fridays, adding a week vacation to Spring Break or cutting the last few weeks of school out completely. We don't know yet. Unpaid, of course, to save the district money.

My paycheck is spread across 12 months, even though I'm working 10 - which means I still have half a year's worth of paychecks to come, and hopefully it won't impact me too badly. Good thing I'm full-time, because the folks that rely on their part time checks to be a certain amount will be hurting, especially if most of June is cut.

Our illustrious govenor of Oregon has opted to take a 5% pay cut (out of the raise he just gave himself) and he's asking that teachers consider coming in to work for free.

Okay - it's one thing to take unpaid furlough - it's another thing entirely to do the job (that doesn't pay as much as the work requires) for FREE.

If teachers won't even go to trainings on their unpaid 'training days,' why on earth does he think they would spend 8 hours managing students? HE needs to come and take a Kindergarten class for free one day and see how far he makes it. Or a Jr. High math class, or a High School government class...

Ugh - I'll let you know what they decide...

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Summons

So... The other night, an officer came to the door & served Trevor with summons to appear in court next week.

Apparently, the guy who ran over Trevor's bike is being sued by our City. I guess they need Trevor as a witness.

As no one else has contacted Trevor about this, I think it would probably be a good idea for him to find out who the prosecuting attorney is and contact them for information.

In the meantime, I've warned Trevor that real life court is nothing like TV court. Also, if he's even called to testify, answer JUST the question - no long stories. They may ask him to describe the events from his point of view about the accident he was involved in, but again, keep it short & to the point.

Anyone else have any advice?

Monday, February 16, 2009

An Asperger's Quirk

As most folks that read my blog know, our 19-year-old son has Asperger's Syndrome, which falls under the 'umbrella' of autism (currently). It's such a high-functioning autism, that most folks will only notice something quirky & odd about a person with Asperger's. But here's a little peek into what happens...

Most of us have something in our brains (subconscious voice?) that reminds us about changes in routine - whether it's a big report being due, bills needing to be paid, finals, whatever. We figured out a long time ago that this 'little voice' doesn't work so well for Trevor.

In 5th grade, he spent two weeks on his bird report. It was very nice - all about the Western Meadowlark, which is Oregon's State Bird. When it came time to turn in the report, a student in Trevor's class was assigned to go around and collect them from the class. This student missed getting Trevor's from him (don't know why) and so since no one had come to take his report from him, Trevor put it back into his desk, where it had been 'okay' to be until this point.

He completely missed the fact that it was DUE and needed to be handed in for his grade. Two weeks later when we find out he has a zero grade for the bird report, and I tell the teacher I'd been making sure it was being done & had been finished, he told us, completely unconcerned, "Oh - that's in my desk." At this point, Trevor didn't have a diagnosis of Aspberger's and it took a lot to let the teacher accept his report that late.

When he went off to OIT and was completely responsible for himself, I figured this whole missing 'little voice' would make things very tough. Trevor wound up cleaning his room through one of his finals, because he'd gotten the date wrong. The little voice didn't tell him to double-check times, and it didn't remind him that Thursday was the last day of finals, while Friday his room needed to be cleaned.

This isn't laziness or lack of concentration. He can have a planner, write everything down, and STILL miss something very important that the rest of us would get that little "ding! ding! ding! - big important thing to remember is happening today!!!"

This morning, Trevor got up at 5:30 am, took his shower, ate his breakfast, got dressed, took his medication, and got on his bike at 6:30 to head to the bus stop for school. There was no bus. There was no school. Today is President's Day.

Thing is, he actually had checked on Friday to see if there would be school today, and was told it was a holiday. So he already KNEW there was no school today. He went to bed last night at 10:30, so it's not like he didn't get enough sleep. Obviously he's not overindulging in alcohol or drugs - another Asperger's trait - he's very black/white with things that are not legal.

The routine is to get up at 5:30am on Monday, etc., etc. Almost all of us would have remembered when the alarm went off, "Oh yeah - It's a holiday today!" and turned off the alarm and gone back to sleep.

Maybe a few of us would have made it as far as the shower, possibly the breakfast. But I can bet that NONE of us would have ridden a bike in the dark & cold for 20 minutes to a bus stop before we realized there was no school today.

Personally, I rely on that little 'something' to tell me a lot of stuff in my day-to-day life. As frustrating as it is for me to live with trying to raise a kid without it, how hard must it be for HIM?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy St. Valentine's Day

I went & picked up Diana last night from Eugene, so she's here for the weekend. She is doing so well with her finances, when her laptop motherboard went out, she was able to buy herself a refurbished Dell desktop, and she'll be taking that home tomorrow. She is soooo excited about the size of the monitor screen. She uses her computer for homework & art, and she's been hunched over her laptop since she got it (she loves it, but it's just not comfortable). Anyhoo - she's excited & now she will have a back up system when one or the other is having trouble (altho Lee thinks with cutting back on use of the laptop, it won't have as many issues since it may be due to overheating).

I woke up this morning to a box of Lindt chocolates (thanks Lee!!), and thru facebook I found that Dutch Bros. is doing free coffee today if you bring in 3 cans of food. I just was shopping yesterday & happened to get some cans of food for donation purposes, and now I get some awesome coffee!

If you are not familiar with Dutch Bros., they have figured out a terrific formula for success - really, really good products made with the best ingredients, super-cheerful employees, fast service, and freebies! When they open a stand, the offer free coffee the whole day to anyone willing to wait in line - not only does this cause the whole community to notice where they are, but it gives the newly-trained employees non-stop practice for their entire shifts. They also do free coffee for fundraising, like today it's a food donation. They also do free coffee for Mother's Day & Father's Day, and probably some other times. Even in these times, Dutch Bros. continues to expand & open new coffee stands. Lee's niece & nephews are part of their history - the guys that own the business are from Grants Pass, and Brian, Marla & (I think) Tony all worked at one of the original stands there when the business was just starting. I think they modeled the 'happy barista' on them, since that's just how their personalities are :) "Dude! You want some whip on that? Awesome!" (they swirl the whipped cream up the straw for the kids' hot chocolate - which is the best dutch hot chocolate ever).

So - if you're anywhere near a Dutch Bros. today, get 3 cans of food & get your free coffee for a happy Valentine's Day!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Renee!!!

Gol - you were so cute!!

Hey - that's the old white van with the fake wood siding.

I hope you have a wonderful day today, tomorrow, and all weekend. Have fun & enjoy yourself ;)

Look how much you've grown since you were in your first year of Girl Scouts. Wow.

I'm so glad you were in my troop, and so happy you've grown into such a wonderful young woman. Lee & I are extremely proud of you and we wish you a great birthday!!!

Sorry you lost your head here.

Huh? It's my birthday? I'm 19 and in the NAVY? WTH?!?!?
:) you go, girl.

Behavior Plan

I had a meeting this morning with Connor's team of people at school about his continuing behavior plan. This is what to do when Connor behaves in different ways, so that everyone can stay consistent and he can figure out the correct way to behave that much sooner.

Everything seems to be running along pretty well now, much better than before the Christmas break - of course part of that could just have been his trying to deal with Christmas break! In any case, his only real hurdle right now is when he gets counted off the swings.

Connor gets both recess times, even though he's a 5th grader, and the rest of his grade only gets 2nd recess. We have both recesses for Connor because he really needs the physical time to reset himself mentally. I still believe that's true for ALL kids, but I'm not in charge of how they run the schools here.

The older kids leave Connor be on the swings, because they get that he really likes swinging (and they don't so much anymore) and so the issue happens at the first recess with the 1-3rd graders. When the swings are all full, you can stand in front of someone swinging, and count to 100. When you get to 100, the swinger has to give up the swing for the counter.

Connor has been getting very irritated, even to the point of pushing someone, when he's getting counted down. He yells "shut up" and "stupid" at the kid who is counting.

So we talked about doing social stories and comic strips to help him do a better job of behaving correctly after being counted down. He's supposed to say, "Okay" or "Your turn" and go and do something else OR he can count down someone else.

My take was that someone should be prepping him already before the recess that he WILL be counted down and he MUST share the swing. Even though this happens a lot, an issue with autism is the kids don't just pick up these patterns. It blindsides & angers him every time someone starts to count him down. So if he gets prepped that it WILL be happening, he can already start to mentally prepare for it.

Hopefully we'll get him to the point where he can just jump off, hand off the swing, and go do something else without all the anger & frustration.

But still, overall, he's doing really well.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Confusing CSI

I'm a fan of CSI shows. I watch all three (which is why it was a big deal that we didn't get CBS for a long chunk of time & partly why we switched to DirecTV). However, I have to laugh at how easy the crime scenes are in the three shows. I think maybe the New York one is the closest to reality with the messiness of people's homes. The Miami show has everyone living in minimalistic, spotless houses, with nary a speck of dust. The original show is somewhere in between.

In any case, on all three shows, they wind up finding little tiny bits of something that will provide DNA or some kind of something that allows the team to track and find the killers. But because the crime scenes are so TIDY, they can find the ONE HAIR or whatever it is and find the killer.

I just can't imagine a normal house being that much help to investigators. If you have a house with kids - good luck finding anything usable for evidence that's going to lead you to a killer.

Then what if you have someone with hair like mine? In the photo below - on the left are two strands - one is thicker & curly like a corkscrew, the other is fine & completely straight. On the right are two gray hairs - one curly, and one straight. So according to the CSIs on TV, those are 4 different suspects! Muahahahah!

While my hair is mostly straight, I do have these odd curly ones that are thicker. They have dark roots, so I can't say they are going gray, and the gray ones come in curly and straight as well. My hair has changed with age & childbearing. But some has stayed as it used to be, although it's gotten darker over time.

I know - weird.

Oh - look from the edge of the lamp to see all 4. The second in from the left looks like part of the desk leg, but it's the straight hair. As it is, taking a photo of strands of hair was an interesting endeavor. Lighting is key!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Connor's Blessing

On Sunday at church, Connor was given a special blessing by our community at Mass. He did very well, and stood quietly to get his blessing. We had a couple other kids up there, one gal is in a wheelchair, and there's another little boy also with autism - HE wasn't really happy to be up there, but then this little guy is really still in his own world at this point in time.

Still, it was good for the people in church to see our kids, and know they part of their community, even if, in Connor's case now, it's not apparent by his behavior any more (which is a great thing, btw!).

After Mass, the mom of the other little guy came up & introduced herself. I hadn't talked to her before, just observed from where we typically sit. I think when the weather is better, I'll invite them over to use the big trampoline :) I'd like to have the mom over for coffee or something, but I know better than most that it's hard to go visit people with your autistic kid. It depends on what kind of behaviors her son has, whether he's okay to go to other people's homes. Connor is good about sticking close to us, but that's not typical for a lot of other kids with autism.

I'll see what I can do. :)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Autism Sunday - February 8th, 2009

Sunday the world will (hopefully) be recognizing families with autism at their churches.
Pope Benedict has called for all the Catholic churches to offer blessings for children with autism and their parents.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to let our community see how many of us there are, and hopefully teach awareness of situation.
Yes, we love our boys. It's just such a difference between our sons & daughter. Same parenting, such a huge disparity.
Here's Diana, off on her own, doing fantastic, even able to save enough money out of her food allowance to buy a desktop computer (her laptop is being iffy). She's on the Dean's List from her first term at University.
Trevor had such difficulty due to his lack of organizational skills that he can't go back to OIT until he can prove he will be successful. So he's working as hard as he can at community college so he can get back to where he wants to be. Yet he still can't keep $10 in his pocket more than 2 days, and he has yet to find any kind of job other than delivering newspapers or yard work. He is awesome at CAD, but there's no work for a college student in our 11.8% unemployment county right now.
Connor will most likely stay in high school until he has to graduate at 21. We have no idea where he'll wind up - but I can bet it won't be college. Hopefully he'll become independent enough to do some kind of job. At this point, I'm more concerned with what's happening in school now, and where he'll go for Junior High.
Yes, we grieve for the sons that should have been at Diana's level of intelligence & competence. We pray Trevor can mature to the point of full independence and hopefully become successful at having a career & family of his own. I think that's fully possible, it will probably just take more time for him to get there.
So, yeah - I appreciate people taking the time to pray for our family & our sons. We are just doing the best we can on a daily basis to help our kids be the best they can be.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Diana's new 'do and glasses

During the winter break, we went & had Diana get some new glasses. She was still wearing the ones we'd gotten her waaay back when she did a Girl Scout rafting trip with Amanda & needed a change! That was five years ago!
Yesterday we went to the same salon they had used for the MADE, only this time with a guy that actually worked there :) We really like the nice, layered cut, and he recommended highlights, altho at this time, Diana didn't want to pay for that - she still has some from the MADE, anyway :)
Cute, huh?
Oh - the guy was itching to do something (anything!) with MY hair, which currently looks pretty sad. :/