Friday, February 24, 2012

Yes, I have seen your blue frog, and it's over there.

Whaling captain (wife is much hotter)
My wife is amazing.  When she's on her game, she always has an answer.  She has good instincts too, so her off-the-cuff answers are probably 90% correct.  Her charisma and chutzpah let her bull her way past the other 10%.  This makes her a most excellent sailing captain (and attorney).  Not surprisingly, she's a descendant of a whaling captain who discovered Antarctica.

Apparently, Ben has inherited some of these traits. 

We went to Laird Park today.  I love Laird Park for a couple of reasons.  One is that their play structure has only 2 parts to it that can cause serious injury to Ben, and I feel like I can cover them both.  The other reason is that the users of Laird Park leave lots of toys there - lots of trucks and digging things.  It's like an honor code park.  Pretty nice.
The ladies by the tree in the background are discussing "dryness".

About those traits...a young red-headed girl (3 or 3 1/2) approached Ben and with great drama, said "Have you seen my blue frog?"  Ben will always answer questions like this, and I think he really wanted to help this girl and her curly mop o' hair.  This time, he said, "Yes!" with great vigor.  She was surprised I think and became quite excited.  She asked, "Where?  Where did you see my blue frog?"  With great confidence, Ben pointed over her left shoulder.

I'm pretty sure Ben had no idea what the heck she was talking about.  He did, however, know how to answer questions with enthusiasm.  We'll work on accuracy later.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Turn light on!

I am invincible!

We went sledding on Sunday.  Ben had a cold and I was a little wobbly from lack of sleep, but my buddy D called up and said he was bringing his kids to a nearby golf course for some sleddin'.  Who could turn that down?

Ben is always game for running around in his snowsuit.  I don't really grok why he thinks it's so much fun, but then again, I've never owned a snowsuit (to my knowledge).  I've got a set of overalls for Halloween, but I rarely wear them since I perfected my pirate costume.

Down with thee, sled!
Bubba is a pro and dashed off to play with D's kids.  Ben can be a little challenging, even when he's not sick.  He loves to watch things fall, or tumble, or roll.  If he ever gets a job, I can imagine him really liking avalanche control or maybe demolition.  For sledding, this means that if you're not careful, he'll push your sled down the hill with no rider on it.  In fact, he'll send anyone's sled down the hill -- honey badger don't care (don't follow that link, Mom).

After much cajoling, I persuaded Ben to sled down the hill with me in the big orange sled.  Sadly, I was positioned right behind the recently acquired crack. This meant that halfway down the hill, our sled became a cheese shaver, piling snow up under me.  This quickly slowed us to a stop and raised me almost a foot.

I did it!
Eventually, I managed to get Ben to slide down on his own.  He loved it, of course, and would yell, "I DID IT!" at the end of every run.  Of course, he wouldn't come back, much less bring the sled up the hill.  So, shortly after pushing him off, I had to hoof it down the hill after him every time.

I knew he was feeling poorly, so when he wanted to be carried up the hill, piggy-back style, I agreed.  Sadly, the sled's tow rope was broken, so I had to carry Ben and the sled up the slippery slope.

After two hours, that can start wearing a fella down.  There was a moment though, that made it all worthwhile.  After a very fine sled run, Ben pointed up and said, "Turn light on!"  It took me a minute, but I realized that he was pointing at the sun, and wanted me to move the clouds out of the way.

As some of you know, that is beyond my power.  I was pleased though that Ben had some faith in me.  If I did have that kind of power, I promise that I would use it responsibly.  You would all have health care coverage, to be sure.

It was a good day...different from what other folks were doing, but good.  Thanks, Ben (and Bubba).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

she's a bit tookish

Good campsite!
When Lovely Wife was about 8 1/2 months pregnant with the Ben, she got it in her head that we should go camping one more time before being laden with an infant.  It had been a long winter and we were both a little stir-crazy.

We talked to my knowledgeable professor/friend and found out where to go.  He shared the location of an awesome campsite in the San Rafael Swell with us.  It was fairly private and there was a creek nearby for the pup.  Tucker was 1 1/2 then, I reckon.

We headed down on a Friday, and found the campsite with no problems.  It was awesome, other than the toilet paper confetti that some previous camper had left.  We set up our "Hobbitat" tent for the first time, and were quite pleased with the head room (we're both on the tall side).

We had a pleasant evening, with campfire burritos and a fireside reading of The Hobbit (Bubba's first experience with it).  The next morning, we had a really fun hike up Muddy Creek.  Bubba and Tucker had a blast.

Fun hiking up the creek!
Lovely Wife had a rare moment of clarity and decided that one night of camping would be enough.  Camping while that pregnant...not so much fun.  Of course, being blessed with a fair share of Tookish blood, she was compelled to suck some more joy out of the weekend.  We agreed to go visit one of the slot canyons and then follow a jeep trail out of the park.

We packed up and followed a series of trails down to the south of the park.  In our defense, what we saw on the map and what we experienced in real life did not prepare us for what we ran into later.  The trails were matching up pretty well with the "hard", "harder", "hardest" designations on our map, and we didn't have a problem with "hardest'.

Careful, Bubba!
We kept moving south, and the road kept getting narrower.  We saw a herd of wild

Eventually, we made it to the desired canyon, where we got out and hiked for a bit.  That was fun, but I started getting antsy as Bubba climbed up some high places and pregnant Wifey clambered down drop-offs (little did I know what was to come).  About 4:00 in the afternoon, we decided to head on.

The trail got tougher almost immediately.  Lovely Wife drove, 8+ months pregnant and all.  She's better at this stuff than me...I've got no illusions.  We kept meeting people along the way - they'd stop and say, "Are you okay?" and we'd say "yeah!' and drive along.  They were all on foot or ATV, of course.  We'd seen no other cars since noon.

The road got tougher.  There were a few points where I needed to get out and "build up the road" with rocks from the roadside.  We were winding our way up some steep, rutty roads and I was glad Wifey was driving.  Camping gear would occasionally topple over on Tucker, but we were all in a pretty good mood, looking forward to the easy drive that we knew was only a couple of miles ahead.

About 5:30 in the afternoon, we topped out.  We arrived on the top of an 800' mesa, looking down on the road that we'd planned to take out.  In between us and it, was a winding, oh-so-not-appropriate for a Honda Pilot trail.  That bit of road was not on our map.

We got out and "assessed the situation."  It was dizzying.  I walked down and measured the width of the road between the first boulder and the hillside...we were about a foot too wide.  There was no way our vehicle could go that way.

Off in the distance, we could see rain clouds headed our way -- not good.  The trail we came in on was going to get all mushy -- the question was when.

Even if the road didn't get soaked, it seemed preposterous to go back the way we came.  Lovely Wife had broken her own rule - don't drive over terrain you can't get back over.  We had both been focused on getting to the easy road, not imagining that we'd have to come back this way.

We were also low on gas.  How did that happen?  Even if we had no other problems, I'd not be sure that we'd make it back to Green River on this much gas.

We had a short pity moment.  Then we ate some granola bars, and turned around.  We couldn't move forward, so we had to move back.  As preposterous as it seemed, it was our best chance.

We did it.  We did a lot of memorable stuff that day.  I moved a few hundred pounds of rock, building road for our Pilot.  I saw some amazing driving from my wife, and indeed, saw the entire underside of our car as she LEAPED the car over an obstacle. 

Eventually, we made it back to Green River, running on fumes.  The rest of the ride back to Salt Lake was ridiculously easy.

I don't have a moral for this story, but I will say that the feeling we had, when we saw that chasm between us and the easy road, and knew that things were going to get rough...that was a whole lot like getting the autism diagnosis.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Autism? Walk it off, kid.

I did it! (once)
So, I've been getting involved with our Utah government to try and get legislation passed that would force insurers to stop excluding autism.

Big news!  So, Utah Republicans have come up with a way to help 800 children with autism get the therapy they need.  I'm glad that some kids will get help.  I have some concerns though.

According to the Children's Defense Fund, there are 868, 000 children living in Utah.  From what I understand, Utah's autism rate is higher than the national average at 1 in 77.  That means we have about 11,000 autistic children.

So, 800 kids will get help when 11,000 need help.  Hmmm.

I'm going to a town hall meeting tomorrow night to learn more.  I'll try to stay positive.  Meanwhile, Ben is having a really hard time getting to sleep tonight.  Potty training has been going well at school, but not so much at home.  Poop.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Things that make you go, "hmmm"

sometimes, curvy is calming
Last Monday, I got a chance to speak with Utah Representative Mike Noel about HB69, which would make it so that insurance companies would be required to cover people with autism.  He was nice, listened to our concerns and said thoughtful, intelligent things.

At one point in the conversation, Lauren (UAC intern) mentioned Temple Grandin.  Representative Noel didn't bat an eye...he started talking about curved cattle moving equipment  Representative Noel is a cattle rancher, and to him, Temple Grandin designs innovative cattle stuff.

Lauren said, "You know... Temple Grandin has autism."  Representative Noel and his intern expressed surprise.  I felt a little tingly thing in my brain that might have been a stroke, but I can still move my fingers and toes as well as I could before, so probably not.

A little part of me thinks Representative Noel was just pulling my leg (he seems a clever fellow).  The romantic part of me thinks about how cool it would be if my own autistic kid would someday be noteworthy for being the best at something.