Taking the Scenic Route

Working out the New Snow Boots

31st December 2007

Working out the New Snow Boots

The snow boots arrived today in the mail and we promptly put them and the bilibos (which have turned into the most useful, versatile hits ever) to good use.

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Fun was had by all.  (even me, who had no boots, but still loved watching my family playing.)


posted in The Kids, Winter | 1 Comment

31st December 2007

Snoopy house

Zora playing with one of Zane’s birthday presents.  (before we put it up)

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Zane adores Snoopy, so when Zach found this, he was really excited to show Zane.  Zane was not convinced he should have to “wait until tomorrow”, but he listened.  However, the next morning we were awoken by Zane trying to get the box open on his own.  It was the next morning, but that wasn’t quite what we had in mind.  stinker.   Zach obliged him and helped him make his gingerbread house though.  

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When Zora took notice and wanted to join in, Zane solved the problem by offering her candy.  He put it on the rubbermaid container that we use as a table for her snacks.  You can see her in the background examining her candy.

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After admiring the work all morning and early afternoon, we finally gave the OK to go ahead an eat it early evening.  They both enjoyed that part.

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posted in Art, Crafts, Food, Zane, Zora | 2 Comments

27th December 2007

Zane Turns Six!

Grandma & Grandpa came for the small birthday party (we are having the big party with friends this summer).  Zane choose the cake and the menu.  For supper we had cheeseburgers and cheetos (Zane had Jalapino cheetos that he saw in the store).  The cake was chocolate and very tasty.  When Zach first picked up a smaller cake that resembled Zora’s, Zane said “No, Zora’s cake” and went and got the chocolate rectangle cake instead. 

We ate supper, then opened gifts, then had cake and ice cream.  My folks couldn’t stay long because there was a storm headed in, but Zane seemed to understand why they had to leave earlier than usual and remained happy through the evening.

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Happy Birthday my Beautiful Son.  I think you have officially left “little kid” now.  It is going too fast.


posted in Birthday, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), Zane | 3 Comments

27th December 2007

Making Lemonade

Yesterday Zane discovered half a lemon in the fridge left over from Christmas baking.  (for the pies)  He got himself a glass, filled it halfway with water, started squeezing the lemon into it.  When I asked what he was doing, he said “making lemonade”.  He has never seen lemonade made from scratch, so I am not sure how he figured it out, but he was doing it nonetheless.  I told him to add some sugar too, and he got some himself and added a tablespoon.  I helped get the last bit of juice out of the lemon as he got himself a straw and then he drank it, declaring it “good”.  He amazes me.

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This was actually from the birthday party, but it didn’t seem right to put it in Zane’s birthday post.  We accidently took a picture of the back of Zora’s head, but it was a really good shot of her hair.  I can’t believe the curls sometimes.

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posted in Zane, Zora | 1 Comment

27th December 2007

Zane’s Progress this Year

We will have a small family birthday celebration tonight, but here are some birthday musings


Things he accomplished this year

  • He no longer chews holes in his shirts on a regular basis.  It isn’t totally gone, but dramatically better.
  • He can mostly get dressed by himself.  He can zip up a coat with help, he can usually get his socks and shoes on (although he can’t tie them yet, but really, who cares), he can usually get his pullup and pants on the right direction, and can usually get his shirt on right.  Still can’t button with typical shirt buttons, but can do bigger buttons in OT, so that is coming along.
  • He can mostly brush his teeth now.  We still have to help make sure he has done a good job, but he can brush and he learned how to spit the water in the sink.
  • He can mostly brush his hair now.  He is fortunate in having hair that rarely looks like it needs brushed, so if he misses chunks it isn’t a big deal. 
  • He wears clothes more at home.  Shirts and a pullup at least. 
  • He reads quite a bit.  Except for a few letters and numbers that we are working on, he writes with more accuracy.  He is decoding Phonics based words along with whole words and is spelling the same way…some things are spelled phonetically if he hasn’t learned the whole word yet.
  • Although we have to prompt him, he is able to tell us when he doesn’t feel good sometimes.  It isn’t totally reliable, but it is a start.  He will tell me something hurts spontaneously at times now.  There is no way to know how much he does this, obviously, but it is a great thing.  It is also wonderfully kid-like that a bandage often solves all.
  • A few weeks ago, for the first time, when a kid/peer said “hi, what’s your name?” he answered “Zane”.  Just like that, no hesitation.  I about fainted.
  • In the last year he has been able to greet and answer the receptionist at his ST/OT place when she asks who he is there to see.  It sometimes takes some prompting, but less and less.
  • He let the doctor look in his ear and nose with no fuss.  In fact, he grabbed the otoscope and helped put it up to his ear in one exam.
  • Gives his sister a good night kiss every night before bed.  He also wants to buy her presents, fights with her, tells her to go away, pushes her, hugs her, and occasionally shares with her. 
  • Hugs from the front for people he knows well.  (instead of the backward lean hug)
  • Able to verbalize that he is “sad” or “not sad” or “happy”.  He can’t elaborate usually, but the fact he can recognize it and tell us, and can then answer questions so that we can help figure out what is going on is a HUGE deal.  HUGE.  Did I say HUGE?  HUGE!!!
  • Starting to do some novel pretend play instead of just imitating pretend play.  Not a regular thing, but he does some now.  For instance, having Mickey Mouse play video games with him the other night, or not copying exactly on an art/craft project.  He used to just lose it if he couldn’t make it precisely like the modeled version, but now he is able to deviate from it a bit and be happy with it.  In fact, sometimes he purposefully deviates from the model and makes it his own.
  • When he got sick this year, the last few times, he didn’t regress to non-verbal.
  • He actually got sick a few times this year.  At this point last year Zora had been sick more times in her life than Zane had.  He actually catches colds and stuff now.  It is very different.
  • He gained the ability to attend to a teacher enough to take a class at the YMCA without us.  They call in an extra lifeguard just to make sure he is safe and help him, but he is able to handle it without us.  Very nice.
  • He is adding modifiers to his sentences.  His favorites over the last few months have been “too ____”  (too big, too small, too hot, ect).  He also sees every thing as “broken” or “fixed”.  He likes to describe things, expand upon descriptions in books.  (like in “Where’s the poop”, he will describe each poop and the animal that made it, like “rock poop”…lovely example, I know.  lol )
  • He was finally able to demonstrate a high intelligence to others this year.  After taking the Weschlers and scoring in the high 90s, with a 103 degree fever and double ear infection, several professionals have guessed his actual IQ at 140-160.  (the Weschlers are notoriously bad for autistic kids because they are very language dependent).  Zach and I think it is actually higher than that.  Honestly, I think some of his language delay is because he is such an advanced problem solver.  He finds incredibly ingenious ways to get around the language delay and get what he needs.  His problem solving skills are shockingly brilliant.
  • The fact that he can take a test at all is a huge improvement from last year.  He finally gained joint attention.
  • He demonstrated math skill that is quite advanced for his age.  Adding and subtracting double numbers and fractions, for instance. 
  • He has begun to be able to make up stories.  We can’t understand them all, but he is doing it and we can catch enough of it to get the general idea.  He is also starting to actually “play” with his toys.  Build actual things with his blocks and have a “story” that goes with it instead of just making patterns, for instance.
  • He is now able to follow 2 and 3 step directions.
  • He can wait in line now.  He doesn’t like to wait in line, but he understands how to and can do it now. (most of the time)
  • He seeks out playmates and wants to be part of the group more now.  He actively works with other kids and does the best he can to participate.  It is awkward, but he is trying.
  • He can use a pencil and a scissors correctly.  He can even grab it and figure out how to use it without help.  He is also able to use a gluestick without help.  He can sometimes use a regular glue bottle, but has problems with squeezing it most of the time.  When he writes, his pincher grasp is getting better and he is starting to bend his fingers and moving towards writing with fine motor instead of gross motor.  He is actually able to write small now on occasion.
  • He figured out not only his trike, but a two wheeled bicycle this year.  He is still on training wheels, but was able to ride it.  Tolerated the helmet and knee and elbow pads too.
  • He has begun to recognize when he has a dirty diaper at times and seems to want to use the potty.  He goes through the whole routine and does self talk to help him remember what to do…”pull down pants, pull down diaper, sit on seat, try and make a poop or pee, wipe the poop away, pull up diaper, pull up pants, wash hands”.  He just doesn’t actually poop or pee yet.
  • He has self talk.  It is external now, but he is gaining self talk to help him remember things.  It is probably transitioning to internal self talk because there are things he is able to remember the routines to now that he couldn’t before.
  • He sleeps.  He goes to bed, usually stays in bed, and sleeps between 8-10 hours a day.  I didn’t think that would ever happen. 
  • Began to have temper tantrums this year and started to actually misbehave, on purpose.  He would also do things like try and hide things behind his back so we wouldn’t see them and sneak into the kitchen to get something after we told him no.  We were suddenly faced with actual behavior and discipline issues for the first time with him.  He had meltdowns and unintentional behavior problems, but never defiance.  It was good to see.
  • His eye contact is improving a lot from last year.  It still isn’t there for people outside the family much, but there is hope that it will be there.  He always has done things at home long before he will show it to anybody else.  (and he doesn’t show us for a while either)
  • He is sometimes able to relate what he did after an event/therapy session.  He has a ways to go with this, but he is now able to give at least an answer most of the time, even if it is just a one or two word answer.
  • He is figuring out how to tell time.  For the most part, he can tell you the time if it is the first half hour, but as the little hand nears the next number, he gets confused.  (for example, if it is 10:20 he gets it correct, but if it is 10:55, he will read it as 11:55)
  • He has left and right figured out.  I still have problems with left and right.  lol.


My “goals” for Zane.  Don’t have an official IEP, so here is the homeschool version:

  • That we are out of diapers, at least for the daytime.  I seriously am just so sad and frustrated with potty learning. 
  • That when I call his name, he responds to let me know he hears me.  Something informal like “yeah” would be great. 
  • After I call his name and he says “yeah”, I can ask “where are you?”  (like when he is in a different room, or has gone around the corner in a store and I can’t see him, or walks away through a corn maze) and he answers, even if it just “here!” and not an actual location, it would really save the heart-stopping moments.
  • That he eats a vegetable.  Any vegetable (we will consider tomatoes a fruit for the sake of argument, because he will eat tomato sauce sometimes) would be fine.  Carrots, peas, green beans, broccoli, lettuce….one of those would be particularly great because they are easily accessible and people assume kids will eat at least one of those.   There is hope, he did actually eat a pancake this year for the first time. 
  • That he will willingly let somebody cut his hair in the typical, sit in a chair and have somebody comb your hair fashion.  He is getting big and holding him upside down and making a game of it just to get the hair cut is getting harder and harder to do.  It works, I am glad I have found something that works, but it is hard to cut hair at the speed of light on an upside down head.
  • He pronounces the letter “L” correctly.  I am really ready to move on to something new in ST.  Please get this soon.  If I have to listen to the lambs named La, Li, Le, Lo, and Lulu leaping over lions laying in the lawn licking lollipops in one more lesson, I am going to lacerate my frontal lobes.  Arg.
  • In church, that he learns to sit reasonably still on the actual chair instead of the floor in front of the chair.  That he doesn’t talk during the prayer (as much as you can expect a kid to, not perfection, just able to handle it for the 10 minutes or so before the Children’s church.)
  • That he finds some synonyms or other ways to describe stuff to expand out “broken” and “fixed” into more accurate descriptions…not “broken”, but untied, melted, unbuttoned, unzipped, messy, dirty, ripped, unplugged, off, seperate, eaten, ect. 
  • Learns to ride his bike without training wheels
  • Learns to catch and throw a ball from about 5 feet away or more.
  • Learns to follow body language.  For instance, if I look at an object I want him to pick up, he understands what I want.
  • Sees his sister as a person all the time, and not an obstacle to get around, or thing that is holding his stuff with no regard for the fact that he might hurt her.  Some of it is typical sibling stuff, some of it is that he seems to forget that she has feelings and opinions and is an actual person.
  • He can independently dress himself, brush his teeth, floss his teeth, wash his body and his hair with no assistance or oversight. 
  • He learns to tell time and can add time.  (if I say we will go in ten minutes, he knows what time we are going to go)
  • He learns how money works and how to add and subtract bills and coins.
  • That he can have a phone conversation where the other person can understand what he is saying and is able to maintain some semblence of an actual conversation.
  • That he shows improvement in enunciation, appropriate volume and speed of talking.  I want to be able to hear and understand what he does say.
  • That he is able to tell me the sequence of events after a period of time away from us, like in therapy or a visit or a class. 

My “wishes”

  • That he is able to tell us if somebody hurts him, physically or emotionally.  That he can tell us what happened, how it happened, and how he feels.
  • I hear a spontaneous “I Love You”.  He echoes it, I know he means it, but he has never said it with no prompt.  I want to hear it. 
  • That everybody in my family can hear that from him to them.

posted in Autistic Life, Language Development, Zane | 5 Comments

26th December 2007

The Christmas Post 2007. Happiness

It was a great day.  Family and food and fun.  It was a day that the photos just don’t do it justice…it was so much better.  The kids were both happy and excited and couldn’t wait to open all the presents.  We let them open the Santa gift and the stockings, and eventually let them open Grandma & Grandpa Z’s gift because they were about to lose it waiting for Grandma & Grandpa S and Steve & Joy to arrive.  Those gifts helped entertain them until the group got here.

There were two cooking mishaps…our Six cheese crabmeat lasagna and mom’s potatoes & carrots weren’t quite ready when everything else was, but we were all starving, so we just started.  We had roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn with cream cheese, green beans and bacon, and fresh rolls.  We decided to have dessert later because we were all full, so we laid out the two cheesecakes, the black walnut pie, the apricot pie, the homemade fudge, the cookies, and the candy on the table and snacked on that and the lasagna through the rest of the afternoon/early evening. 

After eating, the frenzy began.  It was a lot of fun.  Zach retreated to the kitchen for a while because it was a bit too much for him at times, but he popped in and watched as he cleaned in there.  The rest of us were right in the middle of the malay and everybody enjoyed the fun.

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In addition to the main celebration, as my folks were leaving, Robert’s family came over for the kids to exchange gifts.  A few minutes after they left, Zach got to talk to each of his parents.  

 It was a wonderful and busy day.  In the evening it took a while for the kids to wind down as we played and enjoyed the leftovers.

I hope everyone had as wonderful of a Christmas as we had!

posted in Christmas, Extended Family, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), The Kids | 2 Comments

26th December 2007

Christmas Eve

We went to the candlelight service at Church.  Zora made it through the first quarter of it, but I had to get Zach to come retrieve her during the children’s story because she would not leave the pointsettias alone.  When she started going for the advent wreath, Zach came and got her so I only had Zane up there.  I pulled him up off the floor (he was laying down *sigh*) and onto my lap and the rest of the children’s time was pleasant for us and I had time to realize that, despite the fact that I was originally the only parent up there to “help” my kids, there were now several more and the kids were causing more havoc than mine.  That made me feel less idiotic.  (because for about 2 veeeery long minutes I had one that was laying on the floor and the other that was like a little tornado in curls up there, and I felt like the worst parent in the world.) 

The other problem was continuing through the service.  Zane was having a problem sitting still (there was no children’s church service and the service was “advertised” as being kid friendly and kids of all ages were encouraged to participate) and at one point, while trying to arrange himself in his chair, he used the seat in front of him as leverage for a short bit and as he was pulling his legs back towards himself the lady in the chair turned around and grabbed his feet to shove them away faster and hissed “thank you” about three times in a row.  I was so shocked that I didn’t even respond.  I was watching him and he literally just barely touched the back of the seat and wasn’t kicking or anything, just touched it.  She spent the rest of the service shooting us daggers and mumbling.  lovely. (Ironically, she was louder and more distracting than he was, and she was the grownup) He really was doing pretty well IMO, just wiggly with the occasional very quiet comment.  (he almost never talks at the ‘normal’ talking volume, he is very quiet, although the excited comment of “fire!” when he saw the candles did make me giggle a little)  As I looked around the sanctuary there were several other kids in the same age range that were actually standing up and far more active and talkative, and we were actively working with him to help him remember that he needed to sit and be quiet.  Thankfully, most of the service was singing and that was better for Zane.  I was in too good of a mood to really let it bother me at the time.  In retrospect I was really annoyed at the lady though.  Not exactly the picture of Christian charity there.  (plus, I felt like “if they only knew how much worse it could be” and just wanted to kick her for being so intolerant.  Church is hard enough without commentary from the peanut gallery)

After the service we went by Heartsprings to see the “Lights on the Lake“.  After we went through it, Zane asked to go again, so we did.  He loved it!  He was talking about all the different lights as we went past and really doing an amazing job of commenting about them.  After that, we went home and I tried to get a few pictures of them in their church clothes (got ‘outtakes’, but no ‘postcard’ pictures) and then we baked some gingersnaps.  I put the dough in balls and each of them helped roll them in sugar.  Well, more accurately, Zane rolled, Zora squashed.  Zane’s turned into cookies, and Zora, although enthusiastic and having fun, ended up creating ‘playdough’.  lol.  It was fun.  Over the course of the evening we made fudge, a black walnut pie (like pecan pie), two cheesecakes, and an apricot pie.  I need a different crust recipe though because they end up being “patchwork style” crusts.  We also prepped the potatoes, made the crabmeat lasagna & a breakfast casserole so we just had to put them in the oven to bake in the morning.

In the middle of the baking/cooking, we gave the kid’s baths, then we sat down to read the Christmas Story and “The night before Christmas” and hung their stockings.  It was sweet.  Zora had trouble hanging hers, so Zane helped her.  Then we got some of the freshly baked cookies on a plate and put out some milk for Santa and put them to bed.

Right before bed we finished wrapping the presents (we had wrapped most of them the night before, but still had the books and a few random gifts), and then set the scene for the morning.  It was nice.  We were exhausted, but very happy and excited for the morning.

The “outtakes”

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The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

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more later about a great Christmas day.



posted in Autistic Life, Christmas, Church, Zane, Zora | 1 Comment

24th December 2007

Christmas Eve Day

I am just so happy and excited this holiday season.  Not a smidge of depression.  Nada.  I am so grateful for all of our blessings and full of the spirit of the season.

Even a trip to Walmart today couldn’t dampen my mood.  I parked way out, as far as a person can park from the store, literally, because I was by myself and the lot was so crowded (the traffic was backed up to even get into the parking lot) and I knew that others needed to be closer.  It was a long walk, through slush and snow pack.  The store was insanely crowded.  I have never seen anything like it in my life.  Now I know why I have always avoided shopping on Christmas Eve Day.  Shopping for my list took me two hours…it wasn’t that long of a list either.  Originally I was going to go to another store for a few items, but decided to just make due with “regular” green beans and forgo the BOGO on potatoes.  Not worth it. 

The funny part came when I tried to get back to my car.  What was an obstacle course walking became impossible with a cart full of groceries.  Carts need snow tires.  I finally had to just walk my cart down the middle of the rows where the cars drove, and I wasn’t the only one.  It was car – car – cart – car – car – car – cart -… and traffic was so slow that I kept getting the cart stuck in the snow ridges because I couldn’t get momentum going.  All the ice water puddles I was able to avoid walking in to the store I had to go through trying to get back.  Ankle deep ice water in clogs.  brrrrrrrrrr.  squish.   And I was in such a good mood that I was laughing at the ludicrous scene I was inevitably making as I was dealing with a cart sliding around on the ice and through the snow and noticed that other people stuck in their cars watching me in the ridiculous situation laughing along.  Upon arriving home, I had to undress at the front door to keep from tracking in muddy pants and watered shoes.  It was a trip. 

Getting ready to prep the food for tomorrow, go to the candlelight services tonight and wait for bedtime so we can finish wrapping the gifts.  I can’t wait.  I think I might have problems sleeping tonight.

posted in Christmas, Shopping | 1 Comment

24th December 2007

Snow leaving quickly

Zach, Zane and Mickey playing a game.  Mickey was player #3 with a working control.  Zane “helped” Mickey play by putting his hand over Mickey’s hand and moving the joystick for him, while controlling his own with the other hand.  Notice how carefully he made a seat for him so he would be comfortable. 

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Cleaning up the snow this morning.  Zora helped out her daddy.

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posted in Uncategorized, Video Games, Winter, Zane, Zora | Comments Off

23rd December 2007

Zora’s Second Birthday!

My birthday girl celebrated this evening.  Grandma & Grandpa and Uncle Steve all came to celebrate with us.  Since the weather has been so unpredictable this winter, we decided to move the “big” party (joint party for both kids) to this summer, where we invite friends and be able to play outdoors. 

We had a quiet family party with pizza, cake and ice cream.  Zane got her a shopping basket, Grandma got a purse filled with little purse things (play cell phone, key ring, wallet, and things like that) and a few dress up outfits and necklace.  We got her some cloth “sorting bags”.  It is five different colored bags with cloth food in matching colors. 

Zora was on top of the world.  She even figured out how to blow out the candles and was warming up to Steve by the end of the evening.  She was very excited about all of her gifts and carried them around the rest of the evening.  (it helps when your brother gives you this great shopping basket.  lol)

Zane was a bit sad.  Zach talked to him for a while tonight and by the time he went to bed he was ok again, and he handled the party ok even though it was hard for him.  He was excited to get her a present and he liked the cake and ice cream.  It is hard to watch your sibling be the center of attention as a kid.  I remember it being hard even when I was old enough to know how to be gracious, and it is worse when you are a little kid.  It does helps a little bit that he doesn’t have to wait long for his day instead of months.

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Zane took the necklace and put it over both of them.

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Happy Birthday my big girl!  You are growing up entirely too fast!

For the nostalgic:  Zora’s Birth, Zora’s First Birthday.


posted in Birthday, The 2 Opas (J's Parents), Zane, Zora | 3 Comments

  • Zane's age

  • Zane is 22 years, 5 months, and 2 days old
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