Tuesday, January 31, 2012

stomp, Stomp, STOMP!

There's big stuff going on around here in Utah.  It feels like a herd of dinosaurs have moved into the neighborhood.  The good news is that if we can down one of them, our tribe will eat for a month.  The bad news is that there is a very good chance one of us will get stomped on.

What am I blathering about?  It's the 2012 legislative session.  This year, there's a bill (HB69) that would mandate that insurers cover evidence-based treatments for autism.  If you live in Utah, please e-mail your senator and representative to let them know you're for it.  You can go here to find their contact info.

Apparently, being for HB69 means you also have to be against SB138.  Unfortunately, 138 just passed its second reading - here's the vote.

I don't have a lot to more to say right now, but did want to share this video.  I just saw it a couple of weeks ago for the first time and it made an impression on me.  Enjoy:

Friday, January 27, 2012


We got some heavy snow last Saturday.  It's usually no big deal, but this time, a branch broke off a tree in our neighbor's yard and took out our power line and cable (which is how we get our internet).  It didn't just break the line, it pulled the line off our house, right down to the box.  If this were rock climbing, I'd say we zippered our pro.

Of course, this happened at 11:30 on a Saturday night.  Utah Power came out and snipped the line around 2:00 a.m.  Of course, they knocked on our door first, causing the dog to flip out and waking Ben.  Lovely Wife spent the next couple of hours trying to get him back to sleep before waking me for my turn.

The power company guys told us that we had to have our service rebuilt before they could hook us up again, but that they could do it really quickly once we were fixed.

So at 4:00 a.m., I changed Ben's poopy diaper by the light of a headless Lego minifig flashlight clenched in my teeth.  We then pulled out a bunch of candles and cracked open the Yellow Pages for the first time in years.  I tried my IPhone first, but it was being very unresponsive and I figured I'd better save the battery anyway.

I called B&L Electric and the sleepy guy on the other end of the line promised that someone would be out after 8:00 a.m.  and the rate would be $117 per hour.  If we wanted to wait until Monday, it would be half that.  A few years ago (5 to be precise), I would have waited.  We would have hauled out the camping gear and camped in our house, reveling in the luxury of running water.  We'd have hauled out board games and made hot chocolate with the camp stove.  Not this time -- I wanted my power back ASAP.

The electrician showed up around 10:00 a.m., and was a chatty older fellow who was "near 70" and "usually work[s] on airplanes".  He was efficient and no-nonsense and finished up around 2:00 in the afternoon.  The power company guys were right there, but left inexplicably without restoring our power.  They showed up again around 8:00 and had our lights on by 8:30. phew.

Over at Along Came the Bird, Lana was wondering what our kids would do with no electronic devices.  Well, here're some things we did:
  • moved the mini-tramp inside and BOUNCED LIKE CRAZY
  • built a train track that looped all around the living room (the bridges are perfect for tripping over in the dark if you need some slapstick)
  • went walkabout
  • dumped toys out and made an obstacle course out of the empty bins
  • built really tall lego towers and toppled them over *rawr*
  • rolled noisy things down the stairs
  • played with flashlights
  • climbed into sleeping bags and pretended to be worms, zombies, and zombie worms
It was actually a really nice evening...Lovely Wive came home from work with Thai food.  We had a candlelit dinner and then everybody snuggled into sleeping bags on the couch to watch an old Shrek dvd on the laptop (OK, Ben just ran around with a flashlight).  We were all glad when the power came back, but the first thing we did was to turn the lights off and go back to our movie.

Oh, another thing:

If you live in Utah, please tell your congresspeople that you support HB69.  A lot of insurance companies specifically exclude treatment for autism.  It's a medical issue, and there's treatment that can help...treatment that's been proven to help 90% of the time.  29 states mandate that autism be covered by insurance.  In the next month, we'll find out if Utah will join them.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Woot!  Somebody likes me!  Well, at least enough to play blogger tag with me.  Kelly, over at Unplanned Trip to Holland put me in her list of blogs that she likes that have fewer than 20 followers.  In return, I'm supposed to say some stuff about myself and what under-followed blogs I like.  Thanks, Kelly, I'll play!

Favorite Color: Blue.  Not just any blue, but my wife's eyes' blue (yeah, corny, I know).  Here's the thing:  her eyes change quite a bit.  There are at least three distinct shades.  One is happy, friendly, playful, warm summer day.  Another is kind of icy, and appears when she's focused on something (she's scary-smart btw).  The other one is almost grey, and it's best to mind your pints and quarts when that one's around, because danger is imminent.  I'm pretty sure these are all shades that you'd find in the ocean.

I'm getting tutored?
Favorite Animal:  I'm a dog guy.  My dad was a dog guy, and we always had quail hunting dogs around when I was growing up.  Mostly they stayed in their pen outside, but I always wanted to have my own Lassie - you know - to tell people when I fell down a well and what-not.  As soon as I got on my own, I started looking.  I checked the pound every few days for months.  One day, I walked into the pound to find a handsome and playful Lab mix.  The name on his card was "Cisco".  The card also said he was house-trained and the reason he was in there was "divorce".  When I got him fixed, I rented Lassie (on VHS) and we watched it together.  He was a constant in my life for the next 12 years - through 5 girlfriends, 2 wives (serial, not parallel), 4 jobs, grad school, 3 states, 9 roommates, and 50 pounds (gained and since lost).  Arf.

Favorite Number: Ummm, pi.

Favorite Drink: Good coffee and whiskey, but never together.  Lovely Wife is an incredible mixologist too -- my favorite thing she's made was a lemon basil martini.  Oh, Guiness, I like that too.

FB or Twitter: Facebook...I like to follow people on twitter, but rarely have anything to say.  FB has actually made my life better.  A little over 10 years ago, I worked in an office with a bunch of clever, smart, funny people.  I saw them every day and we worked long hours together.  Then I moved away and became a stay-at-home dad.  Then I became the parent of an autistic kid.  That could be a really lonely existence.  FB lets me have a social circle even when I only have a few minutes to myself with an iphone. 

Passion: I've had a few - computer gaming, programming, rock climbing, reading, roleplaying (D&D, not kinky).  Right now, I'm kind of immersed in the world of parenting an autistic kid and that's being expressed here in this blog.  Thanks for reading.

Giving or receiving presents: Giving, I reckon.  It feels really good when you give just the right thing.

Favorite Day: The day the farmer's market opens.  It means that winter is really over.

Favorite Flower: Er, I'm not a flower guy.  If I had to pick a favorite plant that I can't eat, cook with, or put in a cocktail, I guess it would be honeysuckle.

Bonus Questions:

Invisibility or Flight: Invisibility, but it's a tough choice.

Pie or Cake: Pie, pecan, Mom's.

I don't know how to tell how many followers people have, but Kelly's a scofflaw, so I'll follow her example and ignore the part I don't like.

Without further ado, here are my selections for the Liebster Award:

Crap...Jim's already been Liebstered.  Bah, and his answers were hilarious.  Damn.  He's got depth too.

Doh, now I am an embarrassed, lazy blogger.  I was just going to tag Along Came the Bird and it turns out she tagged me days ago.

Here we go, this is my final answer -- two bloggers, Brian and Christy.  You'll find them both at one convenient location:  Both Sides of the Coin

I realize this isn't helping anybody -- if you read my blog, you're probably already reading them (or are related to me).  Here's what I'll do:  I'll try to expand my blog reading a little and award some Lieb as I find cool stuff.  Only 9, er 8 more to go.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So...this happened...

my son would be crushing the butterfly
Somebody stole the statue from in front of Ben's school.  It was of a boy reaching up with a butterfly alighting on his hand.  It's been a symbol for some years of what autistic kids are capable of, and is called "Beyond the Garden".  I'm not so good at symbolism, but I've personally seen lots of kids touch that statue fondly in the few months that we've been attending this school.  Extrapolate that a bit, and this is an icon that means a lot to quite a few people.  That's quite a few people to whom routine and a stable world are really important.  So...to whoever decided that sawing the boy off at the feet and selling him for scrap was a good idea...good luck!

I'm guessing that you must have a pretty crappy life to begin with to choose to do something like this.  I'm assuming that you're going to melt the statue down and sell it for scrap bronze (on that hawt scrap bronze market).  If you're not going to, you should just give it back.  You should know that parents of autistic kids are kind of a scrappy group.  Our kids train us.

I was a parent of a typical kid for 5 years before my ASD kid came along.  I thought I was tough.  I remember being in the grocery store at 1:00 a.m., picking up diapers and tylenol.  I felt lethal, a little crazed...maybe a little Mel Gibsony (pre-racism).

Now, though...I've had 4 1/2 years of autism bootcamp.  I know that Navy SEALs carry giant logs on their shoulders, but I carry an extra 40 pounds on my left arm for hours on end...every day.  I'm constantly on guard (ever since we removed the stair guards from our house) every moment that my kid's awake.  I've got plenty of adrenalin pumping through here on a regular basis.  Parents of autistic kids are often sleep deprived and may have stress disorders.  I'm not even going to talk about potty training.

So, my point to you, oh statue thief, is this:

Hide that statue.  Melt it, sell it, bury it in the desert, whatever.  Just don't let any of us autism parents spot you.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Internet powers...ACTIVATE!

Help us, oh autism bloggers!  Google has not been sufficient.

Am I dry?  None o yer bidness.
We've been potty training since Wednesday, and are following the plan set out by Ben's teachers.  He wears underwear (not pull-ups) and easy-to-remove pants.  We check him every 10 minutes to see if he's dry.  If he is, he gets a jelly bean.  Every half hour, he sits on the toilet for at least 5 minutes.  If he pees, he gets a jelly bean.

That's the basic plan described by the teacher when I picked up Ben on Thursday.  I think I got everything, but Ben was yelling "Go home!" and trying to drag me out of the room.  It doesn't say what to do when he fails a "dry check", so we decided to have him "finish" on the potty and put on dry stuff.  Lovely Wife let him run around sans pants in the back yard some yesterday, and that seemed good because he could see what was going on down there.

We've avoided leaving the house with him, 'cause, you know, that would be a pain.

Anybody have advice for us?  Any pro tips?  I know it's going to be a long road, but I'd like to feel we're going the right way on it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Trouble ahead, trouble behind

My heart lurched as the white sports car plunged into dark waters.  From my vantage point, I could just see inside it.  Even though there was no human at risk, I had to get it out of there, and it wasn't going to be pleasant.

I moved Ben off the potty and helped him pull his Cars underwear and sweatpants up.  "Look over there!"  When he was looking the other way, I plunged my left hand into the toilet and retrieved the Matchbox racer.  I flipped the car into the sink and feverishly washed my hands (and arm up to the elbow).

Ben started potty training yesterday.  His awesome teachers have been taking him to the potty every half hour.  We're doing that at home now, too.  We've had a few successes, but we have a long way to go.  I've been encouraged (and disgusted) by my fellow blogger's efforts.

Oh -- thanks to everyone who supported Ben's school by shopping on Amazon through my links.  We raised a fair amount -- enough that I'll gladly do it again next holiday season.