Monday, April 29, 2013

Pharmacy Fun

I went to fill a prescription this evening for my sinus infection. After doing the paperwork, the pharmacy tech (who I don't know) grabbed the pharmacist (who I do know) to advise me. The pharmacist said "It's a new one??" and looked really surprised. I laughed and said yes, I do occasionally get new prescriptions.

I guess that's what happens when A) you fill half-dozen maintenance prescriptions a month for various members of the family, and B) you usually come in with great big dog in a service vest, so that EVERYONE remembers you.

Miracle League

Saturday, Middle Son had his first Miracle League baseball game of the season.  Miracle League sets up baseball games for kids with disabilities.  It's like T-ball in some ways.  Every kid gets to bat every inning.  There are no outs.  Everyone gets to home base.  Usually when the batter gets a hit the pitcher tosses another half-dozen balls into the field so that all the fielders who are interested have a ball to chase after.

Middle didn't play last year, but he played the two previous years.  This year, I got him into the uniform shirt and found him a buddy to warm up with.  We brought Willow along, but I didn't strap her to his waist because I didn't intend to send her out onto the field with him.

He went out onto the field for a while, then wandered off.  I steered him back toward the field.  He didn't want to go back.  He DID want to hold Willow's leash.  That's the first time I've ever seen him want Willow when he didn't have her.  He often seems resigned to having her strapped to his waist, rather than eager to have her.

It was actually kind of exciting to see him wanted her in a relatively unfamiliar/stressful situation.  Perhaps the bond there is stronger than I had realized.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Toilet, Same Mess

The bathroom restoration continues.  A couple of days ago a new toilet was installed in the master bathroom.

Tonight, I found Middle Son in there, shredding toilet paper.  Some of it went into the tank.  It was mostly Scott Tissue, which according to the plumber dissolves better than most other brands of toilet paper.

I dearly hope that this toilet will continue to work correctly.  The tank is all duct-taped shut now.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

More Games

Tonight, we had Oldest Son, Youngest Son, and Younger Daughter all playing Super Smash Brothers together.  Very sweet.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Video Games

Oldest Son was sitting looking bored.  So was Younger Daughter.

I asked Oldest what he wanted to do.  He didn't have any ideas.  I said "I bet Younger would play Mario Cart with you."  After a little conversation, they settled on Super Smash Brothers Brawl.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I had a fairly long conversation this evening with Oldest Son about school and homework.  He's struggling to implement the plan that we discussed before spring break.  It appears to me that the teachers aren't all doing what they are supposed to do.

I told him that I want to start visiting the school.  He REALLY didn't like that idea.  He said that he didn't think it would help.  I explained to him my reasons for believing that it would help.  When Oldest was having a lot of trouble at the end of sixth grade, we were able to get the district to pay for him to go to a private school for a year, and specifically for the school that we thought was the best choice.  At the IEP team meeting, the basically asked us what we wanted, and said "Ok."  I remember MomC being really surprised that we got what we wanted.  I wasn't surprised.  I'd been to the school to talk with the principal or the teachers at least a dozen times that year.  I had supported the things they were doing with Oldest and Middle Son.  I'd even brought some of my own dishware in for them to use with Middle.  That gives you tremendous credibility, and serves notice that you are paying close attention to what is going on.

A year later when the sign language teacher stopped coming to Middle's school, there was a similar chain of events.  The previous year I had been going to the school once a week to take part in the sign language lesson.  The sign language teacher was THRILLED to have a parent coming.  When the new year started I asked when the sign teacher would be there so I could arrange my schedule.  The said she wasn't coming to Middle's school any more.  I asked why.  They said she was only going to the new "center" schools.  I asked why Middle was no longer receiving the services he had been receiving the previous year (which is the thin wedge for a discussion of whether or not the district is obeying the law).  Lo and behold, the sign language teacher started coming to Middle's school again.  The principal later told me that Middle's school was the only one she returned to.  Left me wondering if any of the other parents understand how to play this game.

I was very pleased to see that after I laid out my evidence, Oldest did not continue to argue that it wouldn't help for me to come to the school.  That's one of the nice things about having a teenager with Aspergers.  They are more amenable to reason than typical teenagers.

Then we moved on to the next point--he doesn't want me to be seen in the classroom.  He said that while that might help him academically, it would be damaging to him socially.  I agreed with him that this is a legitimate concern.  We discussed some possibilities.  I agreed to try and find a time when I could visit that he wouldn't be in the room, and preferably when the teacher wouldn't have any students in the classroom.  I told him I wasn't sure what would be possible, but I would try and work something out.


When I got home tonight and saw Middle Son's haircut, I felt bad.  It does not look good.  Very patchy, with some significant bald spots.  I hope as it grows in it will look better.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


MomC and I cut Middle Son's hair.  It is a Herculean task.  He hates having his head touched.  We gave him 5 mg of diazepam.  I got the pediatrician to prescribe it after it took 6 people to give him his tetanus booster.  We spent an hour or so tried to persuade him to cooperate.  Then we gave up on that approach.

We tried to get him to sit down so that we could hold him still.  That didn't work.  Eventually we put his mattress on the floor.  We had Oldest Son come help.  I lay down on top of Middle to hold him in place.  Oldest Son grabbed an arm and a leg.  MomC wielded the clippers.  Middle kept pushing himself up off the mattress, trying to get away from me.  At some point he got his toes hooked into the waistband of my sweatpants and shoved them down around my knees.

MomC managed to get the front of his head clipped.  But we couldn't get to the back.  So we took a break and she called for reinforcements.  Her niece came over with her fiancee.  He's a big burly guy.  He bear-hugged Middle, and I got his feet, and we laid him face down on the mattress.  With further assistance from Oldest, we managed to get the back of his head clipped as well.

As we got up, I said to MomC, I need a shower and a drink.  She said that she was meeting someone shortly.  Apparently during the break, she had gone on to Facebook and asked for prayers.  Someone said you're going to need a drink when this is finished.

She told them that was exactly what I had said.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I got a text from MomC this afternoon.  Middle son came to her with the toenail clippers and wanted her to trim his nails.  This is slightly mind-boggling.  I usually wait until he falls asleep to cut his toenails, so I don't have to argue with him about it.

Friday, April 19, 2013


My nanny kept Middle Son at her house again last night.  Once again, I am grateful to have found people who care enough about Middle to go *far* out of their way for his sake.  And for the financial resources to pay them.  Which isn't easy.  The IRS is asking for confirmation and documentation of my itemized deductions for 2011.  Given that my itemized deductions were about $85K, almost half my gross, I can't fault them for being skeptical.

My nanny and I were discussing the bathroom-related challenges we've seen with Middle in the last month or so.  I'm concerned that Middle may lock in to some decidedly undesirable habits if he can't return to his "typical" bathroom behavior.  He won't be able to return to his typical behavior until the hallway bathroom that he normally uses is restored to full working order.  Which isn't scheduled to happen until the end of next week.

We were discussing the challenges of Middle cleaning himself after a bowel movement.  If we leave paper out, as often as not he flushes the entire roll down the toilet.  He seems inclined to wipe himself with his hand and then clean his hand afterward.  We talked about leaving a stack of washcloths out for him to clean up with.  I worry that at some point he will decide to flush the washcloths down the toilet.

If we can find the space for it, I'm inclined to give him bath towels to clean up with.  That way, even if he wants to flush them, it won't work.

It just isn't possible, no matter how you try, to flush a bath towel down the toilet.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bus Talk

A special ed bus (a.k.a. the "short schoolbus", a phrase I do not care for) picks Middle Son up every morning. One of the kids who rides his bus is loud and obnoxious.  He's always yelling at someone about something.  This morning, one of the other kids was crying about something, and he was yelling "SHUT UP! SHUT UP!" over and over at the top of his lungs.

Middle walked half way out to the bus.  He stopped.  He put his hands over his ears.  I felt bad as I told him he needed to get on the bugs.  And he got on.

Strange State Explained

A different drywaller arrived this morning.  He informed me that the man who was here yesterday had kidney stones.  An ambulance picked him up at our house and took him to the hospital.

That explains it all.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Strange State of Affairs

Today someone was supposed to do taping and mudding in the bathrooms to replace the drywall wall that had to be torn out.

I got home at 6:30.  Tools were out.  There was an open bag of drywall compound and an open box of screws.  There was an ipod and a sweater on the counter.

I emailed the property manager and told her that I was not happy about how things had been left.  Middle Son has odd ideas about what is and isn't edible.  He might eat drywall compound.  He likes to flush things down the toilet.  I suspect that flushing a bag of drywall compound down the toilet would end poorly.  I asked that she make sure everyone who comes to do work here is informed that we have a developmentally disabled child and that EVERYTHING needs to be secured before they leave.

I called My Beloved Fiancee.  She told me that someone showed up around 9 this morning.  She went back to sleep (she works 2 to midnight, so she sleeps late).  When she woke up around noon, he wasn't here.  The tools were out, so she assumed that he had gone to lunch.  I described the current state of the bathroom.  She said that's how it looked when she left at 1.

It appears that the workman never came back.  Which seems to me to be a very odd state of affairs.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Strange Place

Last night MomC agreed that Middle Son could stay at her house overnight because the bathrooms are torn up at my house and Middle is having trouble dealing with the situation.  However, she had a church event to go to.  Her sister had agreed to watch Youngest Son, but she's afraid to be left in charge of Middle (her Mom is also reluctant to be left in charge of Middle, though she will still do it).

I agreed to go over to MomC's and watch the boys.  I was there for a little over two hours.  My nanny, who had taken Middle to her house for the afternoon, brought Middle over to MomC's.  She said that Middle got upset when he saw that my car at MomC's house.  He settled down though and seemed fine while I was there.

I checked on Oldest to see how he was doing with his homework.  We looked at his Planner.  He's writing stuff down, but most of the teachers aren't initialing it.  At the meeting two weeks ago, we agreed that the teachers would initial his planner to verify that it was correct.  I have to email them about that.  He sat in the living room with me for a while, taking a break.  He said it was very strange to have me there in the house.  I agreed.  It's been 4 years, almost to the week, since I moved out.  I've come over a couple of times for birthday parties.  This was the first time I'd been there for any length of time without MomC present.

I talked to MomC this morning.  She said that after I left Middle came out wearing his coat and backpack.  He was upset that I had left and he had stayed.  He's not supposed to stay at her house on Monday nights, and he knows it.

Poor guy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bathroom Saga

Three weeks ago, we had a sewage back up that left about 1/2 inch of standing gray water in both bathrooms.  The landlord's insurance company decided that the flooring and lower 2 feet of wallboard in both bathrooms needed to be replaced because of potential fecal contamination.  I had them delay the work for one week so that they would be doing it while the three Sons were with MomC for the beginning of spring break.

Last week, when they ripped up the floor of the master bathroom, they found asbestos tile underneath the existing tile.  There was a lot of confusion about what was supposed to happen next.  The asbestos didn't get pulled out.  Nothing happened in the hallway bathroom.  The property manager was on vacation and very difficult to get a hold of.

Today the abatement team came in and took the asbestos tile out.  Then a plumber came in to reset the toilet and sink in that bathroom.  He called me shortly after he arrived and was kind of agitated.  Apparently the abatement crew ripped out the flange and he couldn't properly seat the toilet or the sink in the master bathroom.  He said he might be able to fix the toilet in the hall bathroom and the sink in the master.  He thought I was a contractor and got technical with me, and was asking about warranty and payment.  I clarified that I am the renter.  He said he would need to talk with the property manager, so I gave him her number.

I waited about 15 minutes, and then I called the property manager.  It went to voicemail.  I told her that the situation has reached the level of "health hazard/danger."  Middle Son is very agitated that he can't use the bathroom that he is supposed to use.  Yesterday I found him with shit smeared all over his clothes and face.  I asked her to call me and inform me what the plan is for getting both bathrooms working again.

I called my Beloved Fiancee.  She had actually spoken to both the plumber and the property manager.  The property manager was flustered and kept talking about how complicated it is and all the things that need to be done.  Beloved told her, "That's fine.  I understand that it is complex.  I need you to tell me what the plan is and when things will be working so that we can plan appropriately.  You are going to figure it all out, and call me before you go home.  Right?"

I call MomC, told her what is going on, and asked if she could keep Middle overnight.  Given what happened over the weekend, I want him out of the house as much as possible until his bathroom is fully restored.  I most definitely don't want him spending the night in the house.  She said ok, but she won't be home until 9.  Her sister was going to watch Youngest, and would probably be afraid to be in charge of Middle as well.  I offered to come over to her house and watch them both.

Then I called the nanny.  She said that the plumber had fixed the toilet in the master bathroom, but didn't get a sink going in either bathroom.  Apparently there is dry-rot in the hallway bathroom.  She offered to keep Middle overnight.  I told her that MomC is doing it tonight.  She also said that if things are still a mess on Wednesday, she would be willing to take Middle and Youngest (I have them both on Wednesday night's) overnight to her house.  Which would be wonderful.

I still don't know when this is all going to be fixed.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


It was the kind of afternoon that, if I read about in a novel, I would be unable to maintain my suspension of disbelief.

I've been supervising Middle very closely in the bathroom this week.  After a bowel movement, I cleaned him up and then he wanted to take a shower.  So I started the shower and let him in for a while.  Eventually he came out and went into his room.

A little later he comes out of his room.  He has two big smears of poop on his shirt, and poop all over the left side of his face.  I pull him over to the sink, soap up a paper towel and start cleaning his face.  Middle doesn't like to have his face or head touched.  He starts pushing and trying to wiggle away from me.  I pin him against the kitchen counter.  He jerks loose and crashes into the back door.  He hit it hard enough to break the glass in the window.  So now there is broken glass all over the place.  My Beloved Fiancee comes running.  She and Younger Daughter start cleaning up the glass.  I keep the dogs and Youngest Son out of the kitchen.  And keep working to clean Middle Son's face.  He resists and resists.  I keep doing him that we are going to do this.  Eventually he takes the paper towel from me and cleans his own face.

I was mystified as to how he got poop on his shirt and face.  I know he was clean when he went in the room.   We went into his room to get some clean clothes.  While he was changing his pants, he reaches around and digs into his crack with his finger.  Aha.  Now I know how he got dirty.

What I don't know is how I'm going to stop him from wiping himself with his own hands.

Choosing Words

My fifteen year old future step-daughter, hereafter referred to as "Younger Daughter", said to My Beloved Fiancee this afternoon "Ma, what's for dinner?"

Beloved responded in an exasperated voice "Please, can't you give me a break?"

Younger Daughter replied "I wanna cook something for dinner!"

I interjected "You know, if you said 'Hey Ma, what should I cook for dinner?' you'd get a whole different reaction."

Sometimes choosing your words is almost the entire battle.

Long Night

As fall as I can tell, Middle Son was up all night last night.  He woke me up for food, to put on movies, and multiple times to use the bathroom.  One of my bathrooms is out of commission do to a main-line overflow recently.  The landlord's insurance is ripping out the flooring and lower portion of drywall.

The bathroom off my bedroom is the only one in the house the works.  Which means that every time anyone wants to use the bathroom, they have to go through my room.  Middle is having a hard time grasping this.  I keep finding him outside the hall bathroom.  I have it locked up, because Middle might not realize that the toilet that has been ripped up and is currently sitting in the bathtub isn't in working order and decide to take a dump in it.

So I had to get up, bring him into my bathroom, and watch him use it 3 times tonight.  If I don't watch him, he pulls the exposed insulation off the wall, dips it into the toilet bowl, and then waves it around.  Sometimes he is sticking his hand into the water in the bowl.  I don't know why.  I also don't know how to stop it.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Changes in Appearance

On Wednesday, we had a meeting at Oldest Son's school.  I arrived a little after Oldest.  I saw him walking towards the counselor's office, so I followed.  When I got there, I saw a woman standing next to him.  She was turned away from me, and I didn't know who she was.  I was about to introduce myself when I realized it was MomC.  Between the professional attire she had for her new job, straightening and coloring her hair, and the 50+ pounds she's lost since our divorce, I didn't recognize her.

School Meeting

We had a meeting at Oldest Son's school on Wednesday, to talk about his problems getting homework turned in and what we could do about it.

All the teachers talked about what they see happening in their classes.  They all stated some variation of "Oldest understands the material, but he's not doing his homework".  We talked for a while, and the conversation converged around "Oldest needs to use a planner to keep track of his work."

The meeting started to wind down, and I realized that while there was a consensus that proper use of a planner would solve many problems, there was no clear set of actions.

So I said: I see we're winding down and before we end, I want to be clear about what is happening next.  We're all in agreement that if Oldest uses a planner properly, it will address most of the problems he's having.  However, we've made multiple attempts in the past to have Oldest use a planner, and it's never succeeded.  In fact, the only real successes we've had with Oldest and homework have happened when there was someone sitting next to him prompting him on every single step.  The teachers were surprised to hear that.  So I was extra glad to have mentioned it.

It will be great if the planner works, but we need to be prepared for the possibility that it won't work.  How are we going to tell if it works, and how long are we going to try it before deciding that it does or doesn't work?  We need to decide quickly, because if it doesn't work there isn't much time before school is out to find another solution.

After some conversation we agreed to try the planner for one week.  I asked what, exactly, was Oldest supposed to do, and what exactly were the teachers going to do.  We agreed that Oldest would show his planner to each teacher at the end of class, they would verify that he had correctly written down the work he needed to do, and that they would note in their gradebooks that they had reviewed his planner.

The whole process reminded me of things that I do at work.  When we are decided what piece of software we are going to write next, we decide on the acceptance criteria--how we will know if the work is actually done.  And who is going to do what to demonstrate the the criteria have been met.

Oldest is on spring break next week.  When classes start back up, I'm going to arrange to come into school once a week and see what is happening.  If you show up, the teachers and administrators take you much more seriously, and it is easier to get what you want from them.