Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Random Thoughts

Time flies - it's hard to believe that my last entry here was nearly 2 weeks ago! I have several random thoughts that I will post about today. The fist being a big "YAY!" because spring has indeed arrived. We have had some days in the 80's, which I didn't particularly like because that's too warm too fast. I don't enjoy when the weather goes from winter to summer with only a mere nod at a spring day here and there. But we have had quite a few nice days. "Nice" is a relative term depending on whom you talk to. "Nice" to me is above 50ish, but below 72. I would like months and months of this sort of weather!

Anyway, it's been warm enough for the trees to bloom and yard work to start. Mother Nature is giving us a treat this year with all these beautiful days! Pretty soon, she'll be stirring her pot and the spring storms with tornados will start to arrive. But for now, a big YAY! We have been thinking about ripping out some bushes out front and replacing them with something different. I pulled out a few already and am eager to get some splashes of color planted with some annuals. I have received some awesome plant suggestions from my Aunt Mary, because she rocks and would probably win at Plant Jeopardy if there was such a game. I do not have a green thumb, but I like to give myself an A+ for effort. In my mind I am a Master Gardener (my mother-in-law actually holds this earned title!) that can choose the right plants and kill nothing. In reality, I usually overspend on plants and flowers because I like how they look in the nursery, but they don't like the areas I put them in (um, shade plants really don't like the sun. Really.) I think I'm getting a little better though, so I wouldn't necessarily give myself a D or an F grade anymore. I read the little plastic labels and actually take into consideration that something needs full sun, or shade. Our house faces north, so sun in front is limited, yet my backyard gets no reprieve from the sweltering star. So, my mind has big plans and ideas. I just need to take one step at a time and do it right.

We did mulch around the house and plant 7 Arborvitae shrubs/trees around our deck last weekend. We will keep them trimmed to not grow above the deck rails unless we change our minds and want more privacy. But since the kids are still little, we want to be able to keep watchful eyes on them without having to look through the trees to see them play. We have a really pretty tree in the front of the house that blooms this time of year. Then it drops annoying little cherry-type berries. I wish it would stay this beautiful all year though...whatever it is! ("fruitless" crabapple tree from what I could find) And lastly, I couldn't post without including a couple shots of the kids. Olivia has learned how to make a fish face which makes me laugh so hard when she does it because it's unbelievably cute! Here are a couple pictures and a short video clip.

(click the arrow to PLAY)

Then, my handsome guy doing something I don't normally catch on film - sitting still! He looked so content looking at his year book, curled up in the chair the other day that I had to snap one shot before he took off running somewhere.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Shake, Rattle and Roll!

Holy Earthquakes, Batman!

Well, I guess we can say we’re not earthquake virgins anymore here in Indiana! I hope to never get woken up by one again, it was so bizarre. The earth did quaketh!! Say that 10 times fast!

Tom and I are laughing now at our reactions this morning. I was laying all comfy when all of the sudden I could feel the bed shaking back and forth. It was one of those "am I really feeling this?" kind of sensations. I thought maybe Carter was climbing into the bed, but that is not like him. I immediately realized once I heard the windows making weird sounds, that our bed was still shaking and this is not normal! I shot straight up just about the same time as Tom. He initially inquired to me, "what are you doing?" because he thought I was shaking the bed. I said back a few choice words, along the lines of, "Nothing! What the heck is going on? What is this?" A few of my perfume creams fell over on my dresser too, and Tom said wind couldn't do that... (haha!)

I leaped out of bed and threw open the blinds expecting to see some sort of funnel cloud about to suck us up, and then the house stopped shaking. There was not a leaf on a tree moving. I thought for sure a tornado was on top of us by the way the house was shaking and the windows were rattling and the house was making weird creaking noises. Then I thought we might need to get a priest in here to clear out the crazy spirits that were shaking our bed! So many things crossed our minds: Tornado? Evil spirit? Did a car hit the house? Was there a head-on collision on the road? Did someone break into our house? Was that… an earthquake?? (surely not, right?!)

It's always interesting to me to reflect back on the thoughts you have while in the middle of something unexpected. How does the brain process all of those movie-like images so quickly to your thoughts? I listened for Olivia over the monitor and she didn't wake. Carter stayed fast asleep. Tom got up and checked around the house just to make sure there wasn't a car crashed into the house, or someone breaking in. Then we said, duh turn on the news! The newscasters were a little perplexed as well and couldn't yet confirm what all the shaking was caused by. But within about 5-10 minutes they had their confirmation. But first, they received calls from viewers all over the place saying they felt the shaking too.

I called my parents and interestingly enough, Mom didn't feel it during her routine of getting off to work. Dad said he felt the bed shaking but thought it was the cats chasing each other on the bed. We talked to Tom's parents too and they were just as surprised to feel this little nugget as we were.

Our local CBS station said:

The initial earthquake hit with a magnitude of 5.2 around 5:36 a.m. Friday. After shocks have been occurring since then, originating in Illinois, but being experienced in Indiana. After shocks, their times and magnitudes as of 1 p.m. were:

6:03 a.m. EDT 3 miles NW of Mount Carmel, IL 2.5 tremor located 6.2 mile depth
6:15a.m. EDT 4 miles S of Noble, IL 2.5 tremor located 6.2 mile depth
6:36 a.m. EDT 6 miles NNE of Bellmont, IL 2.4 tremor located 11.1 mile depth
6:46a.m. EDT 7 miles NNE Bellmont, IL 2.2 tremor located 11.1 mile depth
7:55 a.m.EDT 6 miles NW of Mount Carmel, IL 2.6 tremor located 6.2 mile depth
11:14 a.m. EDT, 8 miles E from West Salem, IL. 4.5 tremor located 6.2 miles deep.

I guess you could say we're pretty lucky to have felt an earthquake under our feet, without having to go through any devastation.

Here’s a video of Evansville’s TV station during the quake. I am cracking up at the weatherman’s matter-of-fact demeanor while the shaking was happening and he wasn’t sure what to make of it. I think it’s pretty accurate of what most of us were thinking too! So weird, but pretty funny!


Well, that's enough excitement for one day! :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

HBO Film

I recently watched an HBO documentary film called Autism: The Musical. It will be running several more times this month on HBO if you can catch it or record it. It is definitely worth the time.

Here is a brief synopsis of the film:

Autism: The Musical is a call to arms, bringing attention to a modern-day epidemic while celebrating the value of the human spirit in overcoming any challenge. The film introduces Neal, Lexi, Henry, Adam and Wyatt - five autistic kids who, along with their parents, take part in a groundbreaking theatrical workshop. The Miracle Project was started by Neal's mother Elaine Hall with an eye towards helping children with autism express themselves while learning to socialize with other kids. Over the course of six months, we experience the frustrations, challenges and triumphs of the families both on stage and in their home lives as they prepare for the show. The creative process provides a key to unlocking the children's inner worlds. We also see how patience, understanding,love and community can be used to help children with autism better adapt to the world at large.

Click here to watch a short preview of this documentary: 50 second clip

I have seen this documentary twice already, and saved it on my DVR because I know that I will want to watch it again another time. The first time I watched it alone, the second time I watched it with Tom. We were both moved by the children’s stories, and the director’s decision to not focus on medical terminology, or to have any medical experts on the subject giving us a play by play of the many one-of-a-kind quirks the children are displaying throughout the film. It made for a very candid, raw and touching film to watch.

Tom and I agreed that we saw so many similarities in each of these featured children that mirrored our own experiences with our son. It once again spoke volumes to us about how individual this disorder is for each person.

For example, we related Carter to Henry who is a child with Asperger Syndrome and has a photographic memory for things that interest him. Henry had a love of dinosaurs and reptiles at the time and Tom and I chuckled as we recall when Carter gets on a subject and obsesses about it. It has been anything from the 50 United States, their capitol and motto, to the US Presidents or his favorite dinosaur, the Parasaurolophus. We related how Henry would retreat into pretending to be a dino and go into his own world when he was anxious.

We related our son to Adam, and his love for music and being able to get lost in it. We related to a scene where Adam was featured at the dinner table and refused to eat or try something new, and the immaturity that came along with the reaction. We related to the peer interaction at school when Adam gravitated toward the girls of the group that would play with him. We also related to the meltdown that took place at the musical rehearsal as Adam needed to be carried back stage and was acting more like a 2 year old than elementary school age child with his shouts of “let me go!” and being out of control without a lot of provocation.

We related to Neal in situations that showed him self-stimming to calm himself by running in circles or attempting to retreat somewhere alone. One scene showed Neal getting physical with a boy at a party when he was overwhelmed by the stimulus. We related to how quickly our son has reacted in the past in similar situations and that sometimes it is still a challenge to deal with his impulsivity control in certain situations that get too overwhelming for him.

Our relation to Lexi, took us back a few years ago, to a time when Carter was doing echolalic speech all the time. We remember what a trying time that was for us to wrap ourselves around how to handle it. He doesn’t do it very often now, but sometimes we catch him repeating and we need to prompt him to be aware of it. Lexi and Carter are very similar in the sense that they both can mimic someone else’s speech to the exact tones and inflections of their voices, like when she imitated Coach E’s greeting.

And then there was Wyatt. I think Wyatt was the closest to how Carter is at this age (7) now. Wyatt had lots of questions and was very sensitive to things around him, yet sometimes didn’t know how to express his feelings. It seems that Wyatt is becoming very aware of himself and others around him and the way he is being treated. Bullying becomes a subject with Wyatt in this film and how it makes him feel. This hits close to home with us as our son is getting older and more aware of people not being kind.

The film was all so genuine, unscripted and fascinating. It really emphasized the vast differences the way that this disorder can present itself in each person, as well as how each family has found a way to cope. We found it so cleverly done, that although it’s titled “The Musical”, it was less about the show they were putting on, and more about getting to know each child and their family dynamic, and what makes them special and unique. It was not a film that has one sitting through a bunch of facts about Autism, or one that has you writhing with pain that you feel for these families. It is a film about hope, and possibilities, and about demystifying the world of Autism.

You will laugh, and you will probably cry. As one reviewer of this film said perfectly, “…the journey to opening night proves more rewarding than whatever transpires after the curtain comes up.”

If you can, please take the time to watch this documentary. It will open your heart, enhance your own views and what we teach our kids about acceptance of others, and will make you look at your own life in a new way. It proves that anything is possible, and that being different is really OK.