Love, family and holidays: a memorable journey

It’s finally officially Christmas in the household.

After a number of delays and assorted other grumbles, we got a tree (a real one this year, thanks to Dr. Doo-Be-Do, who even put it on his Christmas list), got it up and last night decorated it.

Our tradition, which I’ve stuck to through the years, is that we put on Christmas music then Momma hands out each ornament to hang up. That saves the mad dash and grab for the goodies in the box, as we have a somewhat eclectic tree decor.

When we go to Kraynak’s, I admire the heck out of the beautiful trees displayed, in perfect shades of white or blue lights and ornaments, themed beauties that they are, draped in fluff or tinsel or whatever puffy thing is the flavor du jour of the season. But ours isn’t like that.

Ours is kind of a history of our lives. We have a tiny trolley car that looks just like the real thing, that we bought in San Francisco during the first book tour in 1999. We have the pink flamingo we bought in Key West on our honeymoon. Several macaroni-framed school pictures also grace the tree, from preschool right up through junior high, as well as the popsicle stick reindeer K made in elementary school with the cockeyes.

Little Miss’s Nightmare Before Christmas ornament is up, as well as the Grinch and little Cindy Lou Who, who was, as we know, no more than two. Of course, there’s the Star Trek shuttlecraft and the Enterprise, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Neil Armstrong on the moon.  Now if we only had a replica of our beloved Firefly ship…. *sigh*

Moving on through the years, we have the “hat babies” that I bought from some fund raiser M had back in elementary school, when she was younger than her kids are now. There’s the cut-out babies, gilt paintings of little cherubs copied from magazines of the 30’s and 40’s. We have a thick glass book from Germany that we picked up at EPCOT, a series of carousel horses, a red metal tricycle, and several small glass balls traded during various community theatre shows over the years. Miracle on 34th Street, anyone? Four of us did that the first year I was divorced, even K, who got to play a child on Santa’s lap. There’s a delicate clipper ship we bought in Maine the summer we visited B at her Ferry Beach gig, and several blown glass ornaments my mother gave to me, that reflect the lights in a hundred sparkly ways.

Following a tradition I learned from my grandmother’s days of watching Days of our Lives, we also have large red globes with names of each of the family members. We’ve lost several over the years, thanks to many cats and small children, and always try to get them replaced in time for the next year so that even on the tree, we can all be together.

As with the rest of life, we pull together new memories and let go some of the old. Children come to us, grow, learn, and move on to have Christmas trees and macaroni ornaments of their own. Christmas is a time to remember to stop and reflect and be grateful for all we have, have had, and will have.

“Christmas–that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance–a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”
~ Augusta E. Rundell

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Into the big leagues

In our rural neck of the woods, we’re pretty fortunate in terms of autism diagnosis and treatment options, first because of the medical card loophole which means that wraparound services, among others, are covered by the state, and second because most communities have autism-trained wrap programs. Up until now, we’ve been able to treat within a 30-mile radius.

But the Captain’s ongoing saga has finally driven us further afield. None of the medications seem to be having an effect and there are still multiple infractions at school and home each week. As the school psychologist said, “There are always social concerns with Asperger’s kids but they are capable of internalizing and learning appropriate behaviors-especially when they are as bright as he. Typically, as they get older, the Asperger’s tends to fade some. He is getting worse. I could be totally off base here but I have been thinking about it a lot and, with the efforts that have been put forth at home and at school, there is something else going on.”

So this week we went to Pittsburgh to the Watson Institute, which has quite a reputation for diagnostic programs, to see what else is going on. We spent an hour and a half with a psychologist and her intern going over the 19-page intake packet and other documents they’d requested we send, fleshing out info they wanted to have for testing purposes. Next we’ll go back for a full day of testing for the Captain, as they look at the Asperger’s, ADHD and attachment disorder possibilities among others. Who knows, there might be something brand new in the picture none of us have considered!

Once that’s done, we have to go back for a review session to go over the testing results. I told them that if we need to treat in Pittsburgh to be successful that we certainly would. 200 miles roundtrip is a lot, but hopefully we wouldn’t have to do it often. Pittsburgh is a pretty cool place; we’d just have to make it a family outing or something. But they seemed to think we could bring the results back here for our wrap people to implement. Either way. Just so progress is the upshot.

This and the unavailability of respite is taking a lot of our mental stamina. But we’re hoping to see through this to a more positive direction soon, perhaps as soon as the turning of the year.

We continue to focus so that both of the other children are able to have our attention as needed, and they seem to be doing well. Dr. Do-Be-Do has finally matured into an understanding that teasing can be gentle and loving instead of hostile, and his quick temper has faded. Little Miss is moving into regular conversation modes, initiating conversations and breaking into others’ conversations with relevant questions and material– a big step from never responding unless skillfully questioned. In with the good, out with the bad, that’s what we say!

Confessions of a nerd

Let me be up front about this: I’m more likely a Trekker than a Warsie.

That being said, we experienced a little bit of heaven this week as we first got to bring home the latest incarnation of Star Trek, a movie that goes back, long ago, to a galaxy…no wait. It’s still our galaxy. And James Kirk is a babe. And Spock is a babe. And Karl Urban is AWESOME as McCoy.

Then we finished off the month with a once-in-a-lifetime event: Star Wars in Concert. John Williams’ music is brilliant–and to hear the story narrated by Anthony Daniels in person, from the real beginning this time!–live with an orchestra. Little Miss met Princess Leia, while Dr. Doo-Bee-Do got to have the music as loud as he usually likes it. I was interested to see that there were a number of kids, like Little Miss, who brought headphones to deal with sensory issues. Pittsburgh being an autism center, though, I guess it’s not surprising.

The concert was breath-taking, every minute of it, even the Dark Side encore. Here’s a little taste: