The ear is better, the mood is great…

My stubborn son is feeling much better.  He is happy.  He is taking his antibiotic and enjoying life…  I can’t ask for more, really.

Well, I can.  I can ask all I want, but I’m fine with not getting what I ask for…unless it’s continued health and good balance in our home.  That’s all one wants.

Yesterday was Lego Wednesday, and we completed yet another building for our village.  Dada is talking discretionary deforestation and train track rerouting.  Given the fact that we both have a bird’s eye view of how crammed things are in that smallish space the village occupies, I tend to agree.  That will be this weekend’s rainy day project.

J has been more spontaneously verbal of late.  Not only does he chime in with a THANK YOU without anyone giving him a pointed look after he gets something he wants (be it help, food, a movie, or anything else,) we now get regular I LOVE YOUs when we least expect them.  The first time we were thrown off trying to figure out what he was saying; his enunciation is not the best, of course, and he wasn’t signing when he did it.  We hear PEW-OVE-EW…and scratch our head for five minutes while trying to figure out what he’s asking for before J comes up, hugs us and says PEW-OVE-EW and a lightbulb goes off…I LOVE YOU.  HORRY, obviously, is SORRY.  TEK-EEYORE-BAFF is TAKE YOUR BATH.  What he doesn’t achieve with enunciation he makes up for with volume and intensity.  It’s a little like being in the path of Sam Kinison’s delivery of any line ever…but it’s spontaneous, and it is awesome.

I have good things to tell the doctor tomorrow, but I also have concerns.  The whole thing with not wanting TGG around worries me.  Will J ever want his brother back?  Is it something J needs to fix, or is it something TGG needs to work on?  We make sure that we mention TGG in a positive way, and we do our best to show J how present he is in our everyday lives, but…  J’s just not into it right now, and it feels wrong to force his hand.  We might have to?  Maybe?

I have list of questions.  I will try to address al of them without coming across as a weirdo.  It’s very easy to feel like one is being over-punctilious when trying to find out if the way things are being approached is the best.  As parents of a disabled individual we often need to hear that we’re not screwing up massively, or that we are not as hysterical and silly was we sometimes think.  This makes us come across as more hysterical and sillier than we would like.

We have resumed our walks to the mailbox.  We have to strategize so we don’t run into canines that J might find intimidating, but J is also working very hard at not immediately freaking out when he sees a dog in the distance.  Some days are better than others, but we can’t ask for more than that.  Well, yes, we can ask for the opportunity to someday have a dog of our own, but we’re not pushing that either.  (We just KNOW that J would get along with a kindly, sweet, soothing Golden Retriever named Mott the Hoople if given the chance…but that’s probably just our imagination.)

J had missed wearing his beaten up Panama hat, and he dons it with panache when we’re heading out the door for our walk.  He’s not ready for shorts (I’ve bought new ones to accommodate his newer waistline…hopefully we don’t need to go up another size, but we’re ready if it happens,) or sandals, but he has worn his lighter shoes to go out these past few days.  I am very glad of this as I’ve been stepped on with the snow boots more times than I care to admit over the course of our winter outings.

Our plans to move are reviewed and revised frequently.  We want to make sure that our prospects are positive, and our expectations are not so high that we fall flat on our faces. The focus of our plans is, of course, what is best for J, so we continue to review and revise, and fine tune, and consult…with each other, with the bank, with the job boards, with the universe.  We find, as we move along this process, that our requirements are more modest than we originally estimated.  It is a rather nice feeling.  Daunting still, but nice.

And now, off I go to use some time J allows me while he is on his elliptical (it’s still The Sound of Music) so that I can get some reading done…I think I’m good for thirty-odd pages and a cup of tea.

 

And now the end (of the school year) is near…

Memorial Day is on Monday, and that is the unofficial start of all summer festivities. The weather hasn’t really fallen in line with this plan, and this can be proven by the mad rush to respond to TWO frost advisories over the weekend.  The advisories, of course, were announced after we’d put in quite a bit of work in the garden, and a mad dash to find the frost blankets ensued. After all the work I’ve put in organizing the garage, the frost blankets WOULD be the thing I couldn’t find easily…

J’s insistence on the snow boots was justified; not because of snow, but because of the sudden chill that filled the air these past few mornings.  When J indicates it’s not time for shorts and sandals, it’s best to listen to him.  It makes sense to him…that’s all that matters.

The string of snow days this winter (and early spring) has given J some anxiety about the end of school.  I can tell he’s looking at the calendar and dreading that the school break is approaching fast.  The clearest indications have been the pasta luncheon, the class picnic, and bringing home his ceramics pieces.  He KNOWS we’re almost done; he doesn’t particularly feel ready for this yet.

Looking around me at all that I still need to do to prepare for this, I’m not really ready either.  My trip to the crafts store yielded very little by way of potential occupations for J, and until I install the roll-up blind to block the sun from his “spot,” it won’t be really comfortable for him to sit out there.  Hopefully, this will all be done by tomorrow as I am expecting the roll-up blind to be delivered today.

Another issue has arisen over the weekend: the new neighbors (two doors down, and with a clear line of sight from J’s “spot”) have a dog.  Right next door, but behind J so he can’t actually see, lives a tiny Yorkshire Terrier.  J, of course, is terrified of the tinkling miniature bell and the eager, friendly yapping this precious puppy emits.  Every single effort I’ve made to help J get acquainted with the dog have failed miserably, and he will want the dog gone even if we are upstairs and it is downstairs, running around the lawn.  I have tried to explain that this is not a Disney dog, able to fly, leap, cavort, cartwheel and speak…J is scared of the high-pitched, friendly barking.  The grapevine has brought to my ears that the Yorkshire Terrier and its four roommates (human all) will be moving at the end of summer.  What has arrived nearby is a bigger, seemingly more sedate canine.  As long as we don’t get the Hound of the Baskervilles between there and here, and as long as we don’t get Marmaduke or Clifford bookending our patio, J should be fine.  Now…for that line of sight: polyethylene shade fabric?????

I am sincerely hoping that this measure is unnecessary.  If the price of meats has increased, the price of everything else isn’t standing still.  A geranium of measly size was going for nearly six dollars when I stopped to buy soil this past weekend.  The price of polyethylene fabric is nothing to write home about except with OMG, did you SEE how much!!!!…attached to it.  The corn (a hybrid intended for growth in planters) and potatoes (a hope-against-all-hope attempt) might provide us with enough coverage on one side of J’s sightline.  I am encouraging the zucchini to do the same in the other angle.  The wall-o’-peas is in progress, but I think the beans are bush beans and don’t really do the trick when it comes to blocking out the view.

One of our main aims when we moved to this unit was to have a view of anything but the road, and the children who would mill about the deck asking J impertinent questions as he sat there listening to music.  Behind our townhouse there is enough space for us to have our grill, two chairs, our garden, and -at the bottom of a very small slope- there is a tract wide enough for a truck, not yet covered in grass, and then a sharp drop before another such tract, and then the ravine.  To the southeast of our patio are more finished units, all of them populated by people who seldom come out on their decks, use their patios, or even look out to check the weather.  On the other side we have two finished units -the end one is now occupied- and another row of still-under-construction units.  The complex provides a playground, a pool, a basketball court, a gym, and plenty of areas for bike riding.  WHERE do you think the kids have been playing???

Yesterday evening, as we were cooking dinner, no less than ten children were running around our patio.  Some sort of “war” was taking place, and our vegetation was serving as camouflage for the combatants.  I have decided that I will have to sit outside looking formidable while J sits in his spot, if only to make sure he doesn’t  get startled by the sudden appearance of loud kids running in what we expected to be a semi-isolated spot.  I think that, with the arranging we’ve done, no one will want to walk their dogs close to the deck, but some people love a challenge for their pets and might think “gee, maybe Fido can get a decent workout navigating between that tiered herb planter, the zucchini and the kale while bypassing the step IF we can get close enough to the railing.”  The image of J pulling a Wile E. Coyote comes to mind…only involving the screen door, and the sliding glass door…

2a4y7ag

 

There’s much to do still, and time is ticking…  The ice cream truck made its first tentative foray into the neighborhood on Friday, but we missed it because the kids were at the gym, and we had gone to the grocery store.  The pool is being cleaned.  The plants are growing.  J is refusing to let go of his snow boots and long pants…

Summer is crawling towards us…stealthily!

Our summer garden…justified and validated

The spinach is growing enthusiastically.  I cannot believe how quickly it sprouted and how much it has grown.  This weekend we will have some fresh spinach.  The peas and green beans have impressed us with their sudden burst of life, poking through the soil and becoming abundant in short order.  This weekend they are getting trellises.  The corn is making more progress than we had expected, especially for a new hybrid variety that is supposed to grow well in containers.

My only problem is that I planted 25 peat pots with 7 varieties of zucchini and yellow squash last Sunday, and yesterday I realized that they are much more enthusiastic than any other plant I’ve endeavored to bring into our midst and…  WHERE am I going to put 25 such plants????  From my perch in the balcony I identified eight areas in the backyard, and from my ‘scratching my head and wondering’ spot in the front porch I figured out another seven.  That leaves ten plants???  (I’m not very good at Math, you know.)

Of course, I am a lot more optimistic about this TODAY because J actually had stir-fried zucchini and yellow squash as a side-dish with dinner tonight.  In light of this, the excess of squash is justifiable, don’t you think?

The lettuce, arugula, endive, cucumber (I’m making pickles…really…I’m flabbergasted by this notion,) and tomatoes are also justifiable.  Our garden is well on its way to keeping us fed with fresh stuff this summer.  We are, to put it mildly, over the moon with joy.  The more things we can get J to eat, the more varied our garden will be…

Tomorrow is an election day so J will be home all day.  Tomorrow we will work on reorganizing his TV room closet and taking stock of what we have for summer projects, and what we need for summer projects.  One thing on my list is a big poster board so I can create a summer calendar for J; that will serve the purpose of helping him count down to back-to-school and knowing when there is summer school and when he’s going to be home.  I can guarantee that whatever groaning takes place, I will be able to hear through the baby monitor.

I spent today catching up on chores, paying bills, filing papers I had in my IN basket.  I saved four baskets of laundry for folding tomorrow, and it’s Pear Chip Day so we will have what to do in the morning.  The garage has to be swept, and there are things that need to be moved to newly-designated storage spaces.  That’s what J has all those muscles for…  🙂

Speaking of which…

J’s workouts have definitely had an impact on his body.  On Saturday we forgot to put a belt on him, and he was walking around like those kids whose pants puddle around their knees.  It’s quite obvious that size 44 is entirely too big for him, and 42 are loose enough to be cause for concern.  His XXL t-shirts look like they belong to a larger person than J…because they belonged, originally, to larger J.  J’s less, always massive, look muscular and we are pretty sure you could bounce a quarter off his gluteus maximus and have a definite ricochet effect all over the room.

The kid, it seems, has lost enough weight and added enough muscle to impress even those who see him every single day.  I can see a difference, and it’s hard to not boast of how great J looks, especially when he rocks his Panama hat and walks home with so much energy…

Today I discussed the end-of-school-year schedule with J’s teacher.  We will try to stretch it out until the Friday after Memorial Day, but most kids will be gone by then.  I am determined, though, to give J as full a schedule as I can.  I know how much being at home all those snow days affected him, and I want him to realize that being home isn’t punishment.  That’s why the Summer Calendar is so important, and we’re going to work on it together.  If J can see, clearly marked, all his ESY days, all the holidays, Dada’s vacation, and so forth, it will go a long way to reassuring him that this is meant to be fun, not punishment.

Imagine, then, how twelve weeks will look on the calendar.  We are talking banner-size here!!!  We are talking a grid that allows us to give J a clear picture of what’s ahead, and allowing him to cross off all the days he has used up.  Little school buses would be on the ESY days, and a little flag for the Fourth of July…we can do a movie icon for whenever we plan on going to the movies.  I want this to be as visual and as encouraging as I can possibly make it; I want J to map out his summer, and know that -at the end of it all- is his teacher, his school, his regular routine.

I know this is ambitious, but I’m not dealing with a little boy anymore.  I am dealing, for better or for worse, with an adult who finds the routine established at home over the summer and winter months less than exciting, and I -who was once his age and quite easily irritated by proximity to my parents, or by confinement to our home- understand why J prefers the excitement of his peers, and a daily change of venue.

I have ordered a roll-up blind for the back patio.  No matter where I placed the patio umbrella (and, believe me, I moved that sucker around like nobody’s business!,) it just didn’t provide sufficient shade for J.  The roll-up blind, hopefully, will arrive by the weekend, and I will be able (with Dada’s help) to set it up and give J a bit more comfort in that space.  A little privacy will be provided by the corn we have planted in the containers placed on the deck…  So far we have no next-door neighbors, but that is bound to change sooner rather than later.

In a nutshell, we are ready, and we have vegetables that J will eat…we’ve learned to use the peas for pesto, and if he won’t eat them steamed, we know he will eat them that way.  We are ready…

Sort of…

Hopefully…

By the time the official start of his vacation starts for sure…

maybe?

Rubik has his cube. I prefer rearranging furniture…

I don’t know if everyone is the same (and I highly doubt it,) but I rearrange furniture depending on the seasons.  Not ALL furniture, mind you.  There are rooms that work one way, and one way only; the dining room and the master bedroom are pretty much arranged in the only ways that actually work for each space, or -correction- the only ways we can agree are viable for us.  J’s bedroom, J’s TV room, and the living room are fair game, and I rearrange them as the seasons are about to change.

Last week I rearranged J’s bedroom, and he was very happy with how it turned out; J is like me in that sense: he likes to mix things up once in a while.  Today I rearranged the TV room, and it was like Christmas morning for J.  He came home to find his stuff moved, dusted, cleaned, spiffed up…  I know he liked the way it looks because he kicked me out of the room faster than you can say BYE!

This is the next step in the whole “Getting Ready For Summer” groove…the first step was prepping the garden, and now the inside of the house is going into Summer Mode.  The grill is getting a workout, and Dada is out there cooking more often than he has in months; he doesn’t mind grilling when it’s cold, but he does mind grilling when there’s snow up to his knees.  It adds difficulty, he says, to properly moving around; I think it’s just plain silly to grill something that will be cold by the time you bring it into the house.

TGG’s twenty-third birthday was on Friday, and we went out to dinner as a family.  This, of course, is a momentous occasion, and not just because of TGG’s birthday.  We, as a group, were braving a Friday evening ritual that many find daunting even in the best of circumstances: sitting down to eat in a public place. Because we had J with us, and because we wanted this to be a pleasant experience, we decided to go as early as possible.

Dinner outings have never been particularly successful with J.  Lunch has become par for the course, but dinner is another matter.  I can’t count how many times we’ve had to say “can you please pack our order and bring the bill?,” or asked to be served in installments so one of us can eat while someone takes J outside.  Lunch is easy…lunch we conquered a while back.  Dinner…dinner is the monster.  Dinner is Moby Dick.  Dinner scares us.

Well, SCARED is a more correct term.  We actually successfully had dinner (AND appetizers) on Friday evening.  When we left the house, J said HOT DOGS, but we weren’t planning on that sort of meal; we were going to brave the menu, appetizers, and the whole shebang.

We picked a place that is familiar to J.  He likes to sit on the bench and wait for our to-go order when we go to the Thai restaurant in town, and he likes the food we bring home.  He also has enjoyed their live music as we wait.  The waitresses know him, and are always kind to him while we wait.  Off to the Thai restaurant we went, J wearing his Panama hat (a new weekend wardrobe fixture for him,) and the rest of us with fingers and toes crossed.

There was live music.  We arrived to find the musician setting up, and we got a big table near the stage.  J removed his hat, said hello to the room, and we ordered appetizers.

Mind you, this is a delicate dance…we want to make sure that we eat the meal in stages, as it is meant to be consumed.  In the past we’ve had to eat our appetizers, and request the rest of our order to be packed to-go.  This time we made sure to remind J that this was just a start to our meal, and he acted accordingly; first he ate the carrot garnish for every appetizer plate they brought us, and then he proceeded to try every single appetizer we had ordered: chicken wings, crab rangoon, and calamari.

Dada ordered a curry dish, and TGG and I ordered noodle dishes.  For J we ordered tempura shrimp with vegetables.  J ate eggplant, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower without batting an eyelash, or dipping them in sauce.  He also ate all these BEFORE he even touched the shrimp on his plate.  Wonders never cease!  If you’d told us a year ago that J would be going for veggies (even in garnish form) before going for meat, we would have shaken our heads and wondered if you’d lost your mind.

We believe!  We believe!  WE BELIEVE!!!!!!!!!!

We had a nice, happy, leisurely birthday meal, and J enjoyed the whole experience.  The guitarist played songs J likes, and his original material was quite pleasant.  J clapped between songs, and left a nice tip in the glass jar the guy had placed near the microphone.

At the end of the meal, the waitress brought TGG a nice cup of fried ice cream, and she brought an extra spoon for J.  Our kids, it seems, are known for their closeness to each other, and the waitress (who has seen them interacting with each other when they go to pick up an order) said maybe they could share it.  Because J had never tried this, he approached with hesitation, and then -realizing how truly yummy it was- he and TGG tucked into it with gusto.

We walked back to the car as the sun was setting.  It was move-out weekend for the college; the streets were quiet, and the weather was lovely.  J had his Panama hat on, a smile on his face, and a belly full of delicious, healthy food…and we had a drama-free meal…

It’s no surprise that the rest of the weekend was equally fine, is it?  J did, after all, put on his size 40 pants on Sunday…and had to hold them up during an entire outing…

Yeah…life is good.

 

 

Those boots were made for walking (in snow,) and that’s just what they did…

On Monday, J and I had a long discussion about his snow boots.  It was a rather one-sided discussion, and it seemed to go well until Tuesday morning.  In spite of his tacit agreement about the beloved snow boots going into hibernation until the next time it snows (which, hopefully, won’t be until a month that starts with D,) J requested the boots for school.

We went back and forth, and I relented.  Was this a chicken shit move?  Probably, but I figured a Tuesday is never a good day to start anything, and I then told J that he had Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to wear the boots.  On Friday, as soon as he arrived from school, the boots were going into storage.  We shook on it, and I’ve been reminding him of when the boots are bye-bye since then.  This morning, without much ceremony, I reminded him that today’s the day…

I am hoping today’s the day.  I admit I’m not too positive that this will work, but I’m going to try my best to achieve this goal.  Why can’t I be sure?  Well, basically it’s because I’ve learned to pick my battles, especially when we’re still in the first month of reducing medication.  I think this transition will become easier once we take out the shorts he wears in warmer weather, and that has been sketchy so far; temperatures in the mornings have been dipping to an uncomfortable level, and I think it’s easier to peel off a jacket (or two) when he arrives from school, than to carry a blanket and a dog sled to bring him home.  (No, it hasn’t been as bad as all that, but I also know that J would play it to the hilt with the drama if the day turned out colder than expected by three o’clock.)

We are slowly drifting into warmer weather, sunnier days, earlier sunrises and later sunsets.  J likes this.  He likes walking to the gym while the sun is still out, and coming home with plenty of time to take his shower and have dinner before the sun sets.  It won’t be long now before he insists on sitting outside after dinner, taking in the increasingly green view that he commands from there.

A trip to the grocery store last weekend jarred us massively.  Add to that the fact that it also depleted our resources more than we expected, and the garden becomes an imperative.  At this point (and considering the price of any kind of meat,) we’d keep chickens, ducks, goats, a pig, and a cow if we could.  Since we can’t really do any of that (the Home Owners’ Association frowns on urban poultry and such,) we have to make a good go of vegetables, herbs and any bee-attracting plants.  Our lettuce, spinach and mesclun are making good progress, and it’s time to start transplanting our cucumbers, chard, and so forth.  I have some tomato plants heading this way from a grower that sells them online, and I’m putting a new hybrid variety of corn intended for containers that I’m putting down today (this will also disguise the rather bulky A/C unit the builder opted to place on the deck.)

Making waffles and freezing them individually has worked quite well.  Yesterday I had to make more, but it does save money if we do that, and the waffles are fresher, healthier, and bigger than the ones we get at the store.  The store-bought waffles come packaged in such a way that they easily get freezer-burned once the box has been opened, and no amount of syrup brings them back to life.  Believe me, the kids have TRIED!  With the home-made waffles, once they toast them using the FROZEN setting in the toaster, very little syrup goes a very long way.  The waffle iron (which we’d been on the fence about for weeks!) turned out to be a very good investment.  We have an assortment of triple-berry, chocolate chip, and banana waffles to choose from, and this makes the morning rush much easier, and much more delicious.

J continues to be happy with what he is fed.  I hardly have any cheese in the fridge because I hardly need any cheese to feed him.  Making his “mac and cheese” with veggie broth, pureed pumpkin and less than two ounces of whatever cheese he chooses is satisfactory to him.  He has also learned that he, too, can spelunk through the fridge for whatever leftover chicken, beef or pork there is from the previous night.  Instead of leaving only enough for Dada’s and TGG’s take-to-work lunches, they now leave a container with leftovers for J.  He feels like he’s part of some secret society with a very cool members-only handshake.

J enjoys TGG’s company.  He looks forward to the gym because it’s TGG who goes with him.  I can understand this, and I encourage it because if going to the gym with his cool older brother motivates him to show off and walk two miles on the treadmill, it’s all good.  When I go with J, and it’s just the two of us, he has that “oh, crap…I’m with my MOM!” look on his face.  That there are two cute teenage girls who either leave as J and TGG are arriving, or show up in the middle of their workout isn’t hurting either.

Yes, we are easing into new ways of doing things because the weather, once more, seems new and invigorating and surprising.  The joy of watching a seed sprout is again an everyday treat.  J looks through the bowls where I keep the packets of seeds, and walks around the containers we’ve yet to fill, and I know he’s starting to relish the idea of “outside,” even if it comes attached to the idea of “no school.”

April is winding down.  TGG’s birthday is a week away.  It all gets warmer, sunnier, more outdoorsy from there…

The boots MUST go!  The boots WILL go!  And then the down-jacket…for sure!

 

Climb every (paper) mountain, and you WILL search high and low…

Of all the things you learn early on when you have a child with special needs, the amount of paper that will come your way, will require review, and will stick to you like gum on your shoe is the one thing that never ceases to impress…

After the sudden appearance of, and in spite of the absolute inaccessibility to, some of the child support J’s biological father owes, we are now under a deluge of paper and phone calls with Social Security.  It doesn’t matter if J can’t access that money (short of flying out to an ATM that accepts the card, and withdrawing it,) this money represents income for March (which J has to slowly re-pay to Social Security, and a resource while it remains in that account.    No amount of explaining or trying to reason with a government agency (either where the money comes from, or here) has led anywhere…so we’re at an impasse.

Heaven forbid we should ever GET that money because if the “idea” of it is wreaking havoc, the “reality” would make the world implode, I guess.  You may ask WHY we can’t get the money, and my only answer is that I have no one I can trust to receive the card, extract the money and actually convey it to J.

One of the ways we have of making this money disappear, as it were, is by finally proceeding with Dada’s adoption of J.  This is easier said than done: because J cannot “consent,” we have several hoops to jump through.  At least, or so he says NOW, J’s biological father is willing to do whatever is required of him to make this happen.  The cost of the whole thing, of course, is yet another thing we have to juggle.

I spent the morning wading through binders full of receipts so I can complete yet another report of J’s expenses over the course of the past year.  My head is swimming in numbers, and I think I got a brain cramp a while ago.  I’ve revisited J’s whole financial year, and I can see that his food habits have changed significantly, and that he now buys more books for entertainment than movies.

Yesterday was a no-school day (isn’t it funny how J’s vocabulary, or -rather- his way of understanding things seeps into our lingo?) so we enjoyed the lovely weather outside on the patio.  A second- (or third-) hand table someone gave us a few months ago was refurbished over the weekend, and J now has a nice solid surface to place his iPad on while he sits out there.  TGG had chosen a rather bright turquoise shade, and it happens to fit in perfectly with the decor J has chosen; it contrasts with the teak of the rocking chair, picks up a stripe from the cushion, and pops nicely against the white privacy wall.  J loves it!

Yesterday was also haircut-day.  In honor of the occasion, J happily parked himself in front of the mirror, held the trash can and grabbed chunks of cut hair to throw away.  Moving his head from side to side, he would check how well I was doing.  He was, thankfully, happy with the result, and asked for less of a sideburn than he’d been requesting a few months ago.  Let’s face it, he had the Brian Setzer vibe going for a while, and I guess he realized that it was starting to encroach on the goatee.  So we shortened the sideburns, and we trimmed the mustache and goatee to a manageable length…it left us with more of J’s face visible, and we took a picture to send Dada (who was at work because not everyone gets as many days off as J does.)

At that moment it struck me…I pulled out a picture from early in November, and I e-mailed them to Dada…side by side.  The change in J’s face is noticeable when looked at in this fashion.  We simply had not truly noticed how much his face has slimmed down because we see him every single day, and we are used to his looks.  Trust me: J is considerably slimmer.

Now, I am the type of person who needs empirical proof of these things, so I weighed him, measured how tall he is, and then looked at the pictures again.  J has definitely lost thirty pounds, not grown enough in height to make him appear more slender than he is, and his face has definitely lost that “full moon” thing it had going on before we started this new approach to food.

Slow and steady wins the race.  Little by little we make progress.  Drop by drop the bucket gets filled.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  And all this paper will be processed, filled out, submitted, accepted, reviewed, regenerated in yet another guise.  And another legal process will begin, go up and down and round and round, and we’ll figure it out.

That’s what we do…we commit to a child and it’s not the clear-cut process that some envision when their heads are full of the romanticism of parenthood.  We commit to a child and they are more than just the being we love; they are a patient, a student, a consumer, a legal entity, a sibling, a passenger, a liability, an asset…  But we commit to a child because we love that child, and we will do what we do every day, and we will figure out whatever entanglements arise along the way…

It’s what we do…and to all the trees that are felled year after year in the name of this paper trail we call J, our beloved son, I apologize on this Earth Day.  Rest assured I no more enjoy the bulky envelopes, the paper cuts, the pointless ring-around-the-rosie than I would taking an axe to a mighty tree trunk.

The bees are back; the spinach has sprouted, as has the lettuce.  We see more sunshine and leaves than we did a few weeks ago, and we’ll soon be done with one round of paperwork to leave the opening for the next round.  This is the tedium of parenting…the rest (even at its worst) is a lot less boring and frustrating.  Well…maybe…

Oh, Monday…why’d you have to be early???

The weekend flew by in a flash.  I have snippets (here and there, flashing through my mind) of Friday, Saturday and Sunday…but Monday arrived with a loud clang and boom, and pushed the enjoyable hours of what we call leisure to a corner.  I have been dragging them out, reminding myself that -yes- we had a fantastic weekend, and J was very happy…

How could J not be happy when he has his new rocking chair?  Yesterday morning, when it was warm and sunny, he sat on the deck and rocked as he looked at our view of the hills.  The smile on his face was well-worth what the rocking chair cost.  After a bit of rearranging, the spot for his chair has been determined, and we know how big the side-table for his things needs to be.

The adjustment in medication seems to have finally leveled off, and J is back to being his usual self.  Well, he IS repetitive, and can be like a dog with a bone when he’s so inclined, but that -in my humble opinion- falls under “his usual self.”  A big test comes tomorrow; his teacher will be out for the day, and he will have a sub.  In order to prepare him for this, we have a picture of the sub, and we’re going to remind him of her presence there tomorrow throughout the evening rituals.

The weather still throws us off here and there.  A warm, sunny day is often followed by days that are drizzly and windy, but the seeds we put in J’s little greenhouses are making progress, and green is a prominent color in those little plastic containers that once held just seed-starting pellets.  While still on the iffy side of Spring, we are quickly recovering from Winter, and making ready the lighter, brighter things of this season and the not-far-away Summer.  Easter is less than two weeks away, and judging by the abundance of foam ‘chickens’ and colorful ‘eggs’ J’s been putting together, it won’t arrive a moment too soon.

Our calendars are marked for the next few signs of warmer weather.  Farmers Market will start its every-Saturday schedule on the 3rd of May; the upcoming appointments with the psych and the nutritionist are part of our Summer Schedule.  Dada has the week of July 21st off, and we’re planning that already…

Our biggest projects in the upcoming weekends are quite simple: readying the back yard for outdoor living over the summer months.  J is heavily involved in this because part of the purpose is to get him out there, tending to the garden, taking in some fresh air, and basically not letting him confine himself to the TV room.  The rocking chair is one significant element in this, and, judging by J’s reaction, he will thoroughly enjoy the patio this year.

We also have on queue a project involving an old table someone gave us.  For some inexplicable reason, this lovely table was painted with a matte acrylic pain, and it is solid wood so we’re going to have J work on stripping the paint off, prepping the wood for staining, and then staining the table.  We figure this can be done over the course of three weekends, maybe more depending on the weather.

While at the book sale a couple of weekends ago, I found two books on silk screening techniques.  Many years ago, Dada learned silk screening, and a few summers ago, TGG participated in a hands-on class.  Since I am always asking them to take some project over that they can do with J, I made the executive decision for them: silk screening is IT!  Regardless of the results, I am keeping my hands off of this particular project.  (I have plenty of shower curtain liners for the floor, the walls, the ceiling, and to make haz-mat-like suits for the men if need be…)

Summer, in other words, is shaping up nicely.  The only thing that we are currently worrying about is getting J new shorts for summer.  On Saturday morning, J got into, buttoned, but wasn’t yet completely comfortable in his size 40 pants.  J’s pants waist used to be 44 (I think that’s 112 cm, but I can’t swear it on a stack of bibles,) and now -when he wears these- he needs a belt to keep them up.  We noticed that he also needs a belt for his 42s (which are about 106 cm.)  His “aspirational” pants were the 40s (101 cm) and now he can button and zip them, but I don’t think they fit comfortably enough yet.  He’s on his way, though; perhaps by the time he goes back to school in the fall (about five months from today) he will need size thirty-eights.  We’re not holding our breath, but we are hopeful.

Every afternoon, J dons his exercise clothes and heads to the gym with TGG.  They are gone for an hour, and J uses the cycle machine and the treadmill.  He sweats.  J usually only sweats when it’s very hot and humid out, and now it’s an every day occurrence.  Little by little, he is getting slimmer.  TGG, who is more aware and more purpose-driven in the exercise department, has shed a bit of weight that has interfering with his clothing, his energy level, and his mood.  The two of them now look like two definitely-slimmer versions of themselves.

It’s not yet five months since we changed J’s diet, and yet I feel like we’ve accomplished something very important.  I don’t mean so much the weight he’s lost, but rather the habits he has changed.  The fact that J has managed to learn how to eat, now exercises, and can exercise better judgment when it comes to food and snacks.  Last night, for example, he requested a yogurt instead of chips for his final snack of the day.

If we add to all these things that J now doesn’t need his Risperdal crushed, but actually has learned to swallow pills (a feat that we are quite impressed with considering the years of gagging and choking that preceded it,) and that he is on half the medication he was on this time last year…well…not bad, not bad at all…