Monday, April 04, 2011

Autism Awareness Day

Every day is autism awareness day at my house. My autism awareness is aided and abetted by my son, who has autism. He is 6'4" and weighs close to 300 lbs. He's hard to miss.

Turns out, autism (well Asperger's), is not the hardest thing about living with my son. I mean, we're kind of a quirky family, all in all. (They say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, after all.)

But the past couple of years, I would say since 8th grade, the boy has been depressed. Severely depressed. Keep in mind, he has been seeing therapists on and off since 7th grade, now. I suggested, during a family session (because secretly, the therapist thought I was the crazy one), that W might be depressed. The therapist paused, and said, "I can see that" and spoke to the psychiatrist about Celexa. (Really? What was I driving to Little Rock and paying that man for, anyway?) The Celexa helped. For a while.

Fast forward to last year. W is going into 10th grade. We ended up having to get the courts involved because he was knocking holes in the walls and occasionally striking myself or the girls. He was completely out of control.

We found a new therapist, through a tip from the wife of a former student of mine who is a psychiatric resident in another state. The therapist is very behavior-focused which is wonderful.

With the new therapist came a new psychiatrist, who played with the dosages a bit.

That went on for a few months. In January, though, W became suicidal, and got a few days at Methodist, where they changed is anti-depressant and took him completely off of stimulant medication. He's on Wellbutrin and Abilify. There is night and day difference. Suddenly, the suggestions that his therapist made are working, and he is back to being a wonderful kid. Now, he is still a teenager. Still a bit socially awkward. Still a bit lazy. And disorganized. We've been using Flylady to help with the organization.  And Parenting With Love And Logic to help with general parenting. But now the programs are helping.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mostly just a ramble

Today, I got my hair cut, which was long overdue. Now if I could just get motivated to color it, I'd be in business.

My current project is rehabbing a couple of American Girl Kirstens that I bought on eBay. One of them, I knew was a Kirsten. She even had her "meet" dress. But some darling child had styled her hair in what can only be called dreadlocks. Her hair is dried out and in really terrible shape. The other one came in modern jeans, tennis shoes, and a jacket. It was billed as a "Just Like You" doll, which is one of the modern ones that have a variety of eye and hair colors to match the girl they are intended for. But she is also a Kirsten. And her hair is in much better shape. Mea and I have washed it, sprayed it with vinyl restorer and will probably get her ready to sell on eBay next week. I am hoping for a nice return on her, since Kirsten dolls are retired. The other one? I don't know. Her hair is soaking in Downy right now, which is really a "last resort" kind of treatment for doll hair. If it works, I probably sell her, too. I could sell her anyway. I saw a doll listed for "parts" sell for more than either of these did.

An old friend came over last night. He is grad school, so he had spring break, too, and spent at least part of the week with his family, who live about a half-hour away. Yesterday, though, he came to visit his friends here in town. It was so nice to see him and just visit. :)

Really, that is all that is going on. Oh, except my daughter's boyfriend broke up with her yesterday. Really, how is that to top off the week she's had?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Break, Part II

First thing, Wednesday morning, Mea got a phone call from her friend, R. R had called to tell her that two of their friends, who were brothers, had been in a wreck. The younger brother, Jacob, was dead, and the older one was in the hospital. As the day went on, it became apparent that the older brother, Keith, wasn't going to make it, either. He passed away Wednesday afternoon.

Mea has not really lost anyone to death, other than her grandmother. But her death was hardly a surprise. Mamaw had brain cancer, so we all knew that it was coming. At the end, she couldn't even talk, which hurt her and hurt us to watch.

The death of these two young men, though, was unexpected. They were young. They never got into any trouble. They didn't drink or even dance. They were what we all hope are children turn out to be. Their lives ended so unexpectedly and so quickly-- they were just out running around on the back roads. Keith was driving with one of his college friends in the front, while Jacob and another friend were riding in the back. (I cannot tell you how many times I've ridden in the back of a pickup.) Keith lost control of the pickup and it rolled several times.

And they died. On Tuesday they were here and yesterday they were gone.

Two of my colleagues had Keith in their comp classes this year. By their accounts, he was a smart, dedicated, hard-working kid. He was acting in a film that one of my friends is making for her thesis.

He leaves a hole in our college, our town, his church, and in the lives of his friends.

Jacob, Mea says, is a "great big puppy dog." A "Labrador retriever" she says. Always upbeat, kind, sweet. He was in band and his locker was near Mea's.

The funeral is Monday-- after school. School on Monday, though, will feel hollow.

I doubt Tuesday will be much better.

Spring Break, Part I

This week has been a busy one. Mea and I went to Norman, Oklahoma to visit the University of Oklahoma. We left Sunday night, and came back Monday night. I have to say, I've been on a few campus tours, and OU knows how do a tour.

Tuesday morning, we got up and drove to Kansas City to see my husband's mother, Mabel, who is in a nursing home there. She has Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's. My sister in law, L, manages her care, and spends a lot of time at the facility. She also pays a couple of women to come in a stay with Mabel. Mabel, however, is difficult to be with. She is agitated, and really doesn't know why.

She's just moved to a new unit, the Memory Care unit, on Monday because she needed more oversight than she was getting in assisted living. She's not adjusting terribly well to the new unit. She wants to get up and walk, she wants to be wheeled to different places.

On Wednesday, Todd spend the day with his mother and gave L a break. She got to go home and spend some time at her home, which was nice. Todd, however, had a pretty miserable time of it. His mother has always lacked tact, and losing the controls that helped her keep her quiet has only added to her bluntness. Several times, she asked Todd when his sister was coming back. She also asked when his wife was coming to pick him up.

I can't say either of them enjoyed the visit, but L enjoyed having a break, as well as having someone understand what she goes through. Every.Single.Day.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Weight Watchers update...

I've been on Weight Watchers for three weeks and have lost five pounds. This may be as well as I have ever done on a diet, except Phase 1 of South Beach. But South Beach leaves me light headed after a day or two. So I am avoiding it.

WW is not without it's challenges, though. Some points sneak up when I am not expecting them. (Mac & Cheese is 11 points? Really? Homemade chocolate chip cookies are only that high if I eat six.) I am often a little hungry. Quick fixes for hunger, like nuts or peanut butter, have points that start high and add up quickly. I should learn to eat carrot sticks when I am hungry. Today, unfortunately, I chose to eat a cupcake instead.

Regardless, I now weigh less than I did when I took my comps, a year ago. I would really like to lose another 15 or so pounds and get down to the weight I was before I started studying for the comps.

What I'd really like to do is get down to the weight that I was when we moved back to Arkansas after Miss O was born... But that is a goal that will likely take exercise and a lot of it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Weight Watchers

At the point that my fat clothes were only kind of buttoning, I had to do something.

We had paid to subscribe Todd to Weight Watchers for a while. He has sleep apnea, and his doctor told him that if were to lose weight, he could also lose his bi-pap machine. This summer, though, he switched to a gluten-free diet. With the gluten-free diet and the subsequent elimination of all things made of flour, he was losing enough weight that he did not feel that he need to use Weight Watchers. I, however, forgot to cancel the automatic payment.

When January came around, and I decided to get serious about losing weight, I hopped onto his Weight Watchers account and changed everything but the name.

I started on January 18th, right after the "new" points system started. Unaware of the change, I logged in, typed in my vitals and how much I wanted to lose. Weight Watchers oh-so-generously gave me 29 points. (As nearly as I can tell, that puts me at about 1200 calories a day, plus weekly points.)

Then I saw that my Lean Cuisine lunch, three tiny "Thai-style" spring rolls were five points. I was still starving. I wanted to cry. A granola bar would be another five points. Anything from the vending machine would start from five and go up. So I starved.

I think I have it sorted out a bit better now, though. I figured out what the weekly points were and how they worked. And "free" (zero point) fruit is kind of a godsend. Unfortunately, I tend to hoard the points, and then splurge on the last day before they expire. And, the points expire the day before weigh in. I've done two full weeks and two weigh-ins. I have weighed more at weigh-in than on any other day in the week.

But, I weighed less at Monday's weigh in than I did the previous Monday. I guess as long as the overall trend is down, I'll be okay.

I'm not promising to be happy about it though.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Long overdue update...

We're still working with our son's psychiatrist to sort out medications. That leaves our lives kind of chaotic.

Just in case I don't have enough trauma, I decided to start a diet. It takes a solid level of obsession to make this work. I have to do something, though. I have gained about 40-45 pounds since starting my PhD. I am not happy with the way I look in my clothes. My blood pressure tends to run a little high, and I am concerned about my blood sugar. So it seems like obsession may be necessary.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Library Books

I went to the local library the other day and paid my fine, so I am once more able to check books out of the county library.

Here's a rundown of some of what I checked out and my assessment.

The Sewing Machine Guide: Tips on Choosing, Buying and Refurbishing by John Giordano is dated. It was written in 1997, so anything about prices is way off. (A sewing machine that can interface with your computer is priced at about $4,000.) It has a lot of basic information, though, about the different brands and the capabilities to expect. It also gives basic information about how to maintain a machine. The maintenance information, though, is minimal.

I also checked out  The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy: Wheat-Free Recipes with Less Fuss and Less Fat by Bette Hagman. Since my husband and son went Gluten Free last spring, I've been mostly cooking food they can eat. I have couple of cookbooks, but they are far from simple to use. I checked this out in hopes of finding the "less fuss" advertised in the title.
While it did have some useful recipes (I can count them on my fingers), I was not impressed overall. Many of the recipes rely on mixes that should be made in advance. This seemed like unnecessary complication. Compared to other books,  this seems fussy. It also relies a *lot* on bean flours, which are not easy to get where I live.