Friday, December 31, 2010

Sometimes less is more.

A friend posted on Facebook:
Why the heck are they still playing Christmas music??? That's ridiculous!

I replied:

Because Christmas doesn't end until Jan 6. And we wouldn't be so tired of it if we hadn't been celebrating for two months straight already. You've heard of the 12 days of Christmas? Christmas was intended as a festival that didn't begin until Dec 25, and ran until Jan 6, 12 days, long enough for any celebration. The four weeks before Christmas are Advent. (Actually, it starts with the 4th Sunday before Christmas, so the length varies from year to year.) Advent is supposed to be a season of fasting, repentance, and prayer.

And what about all those songs that don't have anything to do with Christmas, but are just winter songs? They play them all through Nov and Dec when there's not much snow, and it's not technically winter, but stop Dec 26, when winter is just getting under way. No wonder so many people find winter depressing!

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another Weapon in the War on Sagging Pants

Some days, I think Griffin and Goldilocks might be twins. Big Daddy Autism commented, "Griffin's is usually bunched up and sticking out over his belt line. We let it go since we are just so happy he dresses himself (mostly) and he wears his shirts so long and untucked that nobody can see it." Goldilocks does the same thing: Pants low, underwear high, long shirt covering his underwear. I see only three problems here:

1. He wears his pants so low, he walks on them, leaving very few pairs to pass down to Brother Bear.
2. His underwear do show every time he reaches, stretches, bends or,
3. puts his hands in his pants. He habitually shoves both hands in up to the elbows.

I don't watch a lot of television, or I would have heard the song Pants On the Ground before today. This afternoon, every time I saw his tightey whiteys, I chanted a line or two, and he jerked his hands out and hiked up his jeans. Again, it doesn't seem to bother him to grab himself in public, but he doesn't want anyone to notice. Unless someone says something, he thinks no one sees him.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Teens and Underwear

Big Daddy Autism posted recently about his autistic son's discovery about teens and underwear. Maybe Griff can convince Goldilocks of this. He doesn't change his until someone forces him, no matter how long he's been wearing them. GL has apparently been observing other teenagers lately, because he has been wearing his pants low enough to show his underpants. But he usually has his hand in them at the time. Now he was never embarrassed about walking around with his hand in his pants, and no reason could convince him to remove his hand from his pants, and he is not embarrassed about showing his underwear. But he is embarrassed when he learns that someone has noticed his underwear is showing. So far, "I see London, I see France..." works to get him to hide his unders. He's in such a hurry to cover them, he usually pulls his hand out, too.

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936 Posts

That's how far behind I am in reading all my blogs. What do I do? Tell Google Reader to mark them all as read, and start over, as if I were just deleting a backlog of email unopened? But I'm sure to miss some wonderfully enjoyable, informative, or uplifting posts from some of my favorite bloggers. Just read the blogs I usually enjoy most? With 128 blogs, how do I sort through them all and choose? And my favorite bloggers seem to know and share my taste in blogs, so some of them are sure to direct me to new blogs that I'll enjoy so much, I'll just have to subscribe. I need more blogs like I need another hole in my head. Delete a few subscriptions? With 128 bloggers, some of whom I've been reading long enough that they feel like old friends, how can I turn around and suddenly give them the boot? How do I even begin to sort through all those blogs to find the ones I truly love? Who has the time? What can I do? Oh, what can I do?


Monday, December 27, 2010

Coming Soon! and the Horrible Holidays

GL loves to go to the library and check out DVDs. He asks to go every day. Since it's only two blocks away, I usually take him. I don't trust him to cross the street by himself. I also don't trust him in the library by himself. Of course, he checks out his favorite movies over and over, but his favorite parts are the commercials and the bonus features. He'll frequently tell us about this or that movie that's "Coming too soon on video and DDD!"

The library was closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Sunday. As jillsmo says, Yeah. Good Times. Meltdowns every day. Mama Bear had Christmas Eve off. In exchange, she had to work Christmas Day. I don't remember much about what we did during each day, but it revolved around trying to calm GL. You know how some Catholics / Lutherans / Baptists / whatever only attend church on Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve?  Since GL's diagnosis,   I've become sort of a reverse Catholic. Those are the two times I don't go. He doesn't handle crowds well, and I'm not too keen on them, myself. Brother Bear had asked if he could be in the Christmas program this year, so Mama Bear agreed to take him.

We went to church as a family Christmas Day. Although it's one of the holiest days of the church year, our church and many others don't hold services on Christmas Day. Some get around it by having midnight Mass, so it's technically Christmas Day by the time it's over. But ours has it's Christmas Eve service at 5:00 p.m. so everyone can get their kids to bed on time. So one day a year, we are Lutheran. Actually, I was confirmed Lutheran a few years back, when I had to work every Sunday and they were the only church in town that had a service at a time I could attend. The pastor still recognized me when we walked in the door, remembered my name, where we live, and what kind of car we drive. It's a small town.

Mama Bear went to work that afternoon, and the rest of the day was quiet. Well, as quiet as it ever gets around here. I had a project I wanted to work on in the basement, but every time I went downstairs, the boys would fight. I don't remember why I couldn't bring BB down with me, but the basement is where we keep everything that GL might hurt or that might hurt him. We keep the door locked, because we don't trust him in the basement.

We had planned to go to church Sunday, but MB had worked an overnight, and was too tired, and I didn't feel up to taking GL to church by myself. So the boys continued to fight, and MB tried to sleep. We had a family gathering Sunday afternoon because that was the compromise worked out with the various in-laws and out-laws. We gave GL his extra med and headed to my parents' house. When we arrived, he immediately began yelling at Nana that he wanted to watch PBS Kids on her computer. Her computer was down. He started banging on the windows, saying he was going to break them. She took him for a walk outside, and he calmed down a bit. Whenever he started getting worked up, someone would take him for a walk, and he'd calm down for a while. We managed to visit for about two hours, including dinner. By then, he was yelling, pounding on windows, and trying to hit people, and there was no calming him. He needed to go home, but he didn't want to leave. He wouldn't go out to the car, he wouldn't put on his shoes, and he wouldn't let me put them on. I thought my brother, the firefighter, would have to carry him out, but at the last minute, he decided to walk out to the car in his sock feet. He raged all the way home, and didn't calm down until bedtime. He's been getting up between two and six most mornings lately, and waking people up for company. He was up at three a.m. one morning last week. He turned on the lights and started yelling at his brother to get up and play with him. This morning, he slept until 9:20. I let him.

Today we went to the library for DVDs. GL followed his usual routine. As he walked in the door, he shouted, "Hey, librarian, do I have anything in? You check, and I'll be in the DVD section, looking for DVDs!" He dropped his DVDs on the counter, and ran back to the kids' DVDs. As we were checking out, I commented that we survived three days without the library. The librarian smiled. She knows we're doing the best that we can. But she couldn't resist adding, "I had three days without the library, and I liked it just fine!"

GL answered, loudly as always, "On Christmas, I yelled at my grandmother, and I had to go home."

I hate holidays. They bring out the worst in people, especially GL, because they disrupt his routine. We have worked very hard to make our celebrations low-key, but they are still often more than he can handle. It's fine if other people want to take the day off, but why do we have to?

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Have a Dream!

In response to Help! lebelinoz said...

Good job. I'm always trying to get my 7-year-old to do stuff. So you're saying: if I keep trying, I may get it right in another seven years.

I replied:
When I was a kid, I always had to take the trash out, because that's the oldest son's job. I have two brothers and three sisters, but somehow they could never do it, because it was the oldest son's job. I don't know who took out the trash once I moved out, because there was no oldest son to do the job. I think my dad got stuck with the chore.

My mother won't pump her own gas because that's a man's job. If her car is low on gas, she won't go anywhere until Dad fills it for her. My wife thinks this is silly, but when we were first married, she wouldn't take out the trash because that's the man's job. I don't know who took out the trash when she was single and lived with a female roommate. Maybe one of them called Daddy to do it?

I resolved that ALL my kids would learn to take out the trash and pick up after themselves. Number one son didn't have the coordination, so number two son learned to do it first. Number one son eventually learned to do it with verbal prompts at every step. I am working on fading those prompts. Number two son now loads and unloads the dishwasher, washes the hand-wash dishes, and folds and puts away his and his brother's laundry, tasks that are still beyond number one son's capabilities. So year after year, I supervise number one son's taking out the garbage, even though it would be less work to do it myself, because he needs a job, this is one he can learn, and because I have a dream that someday he will take out the garbage all by himself!

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Parents all know the routine: allowing toddlers to "help" when all they are doing is making more work. Making bigger kids do chores, despite their whining, when it would be easier to just do it yourself, because they need to learn to work even when they don't feel like it. By age ten or so, most kids are capable of doing a simple chore or helping with a bigger one in a way that actually reduces your workload somewhat, even if they do complain about it.

Goldilocks has had trouble sleeping lately. Actually, he always has trouble sleeping. He takes medication to help him fall asleep at night, but he's still usually up around midnight. He usually goes to the couch, and sometimes goes back to sleep, but lately he wants to stay up, and he wants company. The other night, he was up at 3 a.m., screaming at his brother to get up and play with him. When he gets up in the night and can't or won't settle himself, Mama Bear usually gets up and tries to settle him. It's not fair, because she has to be up early for work, but she is a light sleeper. I may have trouble falling asleep, but once I'm out, it takes a lot to wake me. I keep telling her to get me up when he wakes her, so she can get some sleep, but she usually doesn't. It's a mom thing.

Monday night is a late night for us because of Civil Air Patrol, so I try to let Brother Bear sleep in Tuesday mornings. Otherwise we have two grumpy cubs. This morning Goldilocks was up at five, demanding attention. Mama woke me. I went and cuddled on the couch with him. He cuddled for a while, then went and played with his Leap Pad. He seemed content as long as I stayed in the room with him, so I dozed on the couch until six, when Mama had to get up and get ready for work. Then he started yelling for his brother.

We'd has two or three inches of snow overnight, so I decided to go out and shovel and take him with me, so he wouldn't wake his brother. He yelled and screamed the whole time, but he pushed the shovel up and down the middle of the sidewalk, scraping an irregular path. He didn't shovel the length or width of the sidewalk, or even clear all the snow from the strip he did shovel but, for the first time in nearly fourteen years, he shoveled snow from the sidewalk onto the lawn, instead of the other way around! When I came to the part he had shoveled, there was actually less snow! For the first time in his life, he did a chore in a way that actually saved me some work! His "help" actually helped!

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This morning GL was helping me pass out bulletins at church. Since this is the last Sunday before Christmas, there was a picture of the Virgin Mary and Infant Jesus on the cover. After handing out a few bulletins, GL held a stack of them over his head and began yelling, "Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Baby Jesus is born again!"

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Brother Bear

Brother Bear is not an eager reader. He'll read what I assign him, and he won't complain, but he won't read any more than he has to. Other than occasionally guessing at a word rather than sounding it out, (if it has more than four letters, it must be "too hard" so why try?) he decodes the words competently. Once he started reading silently (his reading is painfully slow to listen to) I would ask him what the day's reading was about when he finished. For short stories, read in a single sitting, he could name the characters and tell me or two things that happened, but couldn't pick out the main points. He seemed completely unable to tell what was important to the story and what wasn't.

When he started chapter books, it got worse. He could read a ten page chapter, and when I asked what happened, he would answer something like, "They had dinner."

"Who had dinner?"
"The people in the book."
"What did they have for dinner?"
"I don't know. It didn't say."
"Did anything else happen in the chapter?"

I simply could not pull any more detail out of him. But it wasn't his fault. The fact that he read ten pages and absorbed nothing but the information that dinner had been eaten had to be because the book was boring. It couldn't possibly be that he had missed something.

Last week, after he finished a chapter, I asked what had happened. He pulled out one spectacularly dull detail. "Did anything else happen?" I asked.

He wrinkled his face in annoyance. "Yes. This author likes to put in a lot more details."

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Come on Down!

Arby, over at Boarding in Bedlam, just sent me this:

After wondering what I did to deserve it, I composed a possibly humorous and somewhat snarky post about blog awards. But then I thought, "Hey, Arby has sent me numerous readers." So I decided to accept the award in the spirit in which it was given, even if I don't consider myself at all "Stylish". Apparently the rules are that you have to tell seven things about yourself and pass the award on to three other bloggers. I've never been much for following rules, so here goes. To claim your award, just copy and paste it to your blog.

Three things about Me:

1. I'm a former member of Mensa. When I saw what the dues were and how little I got in tangible benefits, I was too smart to renew.
2. I teach Rod and Staff grammar, Saxon Math, and Singapore Math, (All to the same kid. He's pretty smart, too.) and keep up easily with no answer key.
3. I make rocket propellant in my kitchen.
4. I borrowed $250,000 for a degree that turned out to be absolutely worthless.

Seven nominees for the award:

If any man flatters me, I'll flatter him again; tho' he were my best Friend. (Is it Bad Form to send it back?)

You know you want it.

She's stylish.

Father of autistic twins, and he publishes a web comic. Inspirational, and funny to those of us who have been there, or live there.

Four kids...three of whom have autism.. she deserves an award.


I had one more, but it changed to "Invited readers only" and I wasn't invited.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good to Know

Goldilocks' meltdowns have been increasing in frequency, intensity, and duration over the last couple months. Once St. Nicholas Day was over, he found other things to yell about. Or nothing in particular, just yelling angry nonsense. We are working with his doctor, adjusting his meds, trying to find a combination that keeps his behavior under control. I know some people are anti-medication, but when we've done every available therapy, and tracked down and accommodated every sensory and social issue we can, and he's still screaming, hitting people, pounding on the walls, tearing down pictures, and attempting to break windows for hours at a stretch, all for no discernible reason, and this happens four to five days a week, we turn to medication. Without it, someone would have been locked up a long time ago.

We missed church yesterday because of bad weather. It turned out not to be quite as bad as we were expecting, but the National Weather Service was still advising people to travel only in an emergency. We decided that going to church was not an emergency, but if the weather got worse, and we were stuck there or on the way home, we would have an emergency. Today he was not yelling; He was just being annoying. Asking repetitive questions. Making unreasonable demands. No matter what you offered him, he upped the ante. I decided to take him and run a few errands. He gets the go bug, especially when we can't or won't take him anywhere for a day or two. Sometimes just going someplace helps. So I took him. We even stopped for 7Up and doughnuts, which made this an official "adventure" in his book.

Later, Mama Bear had some errands, including a doctor appointment for the Sinus Infection That Will Not Die, so I was home with GL. He suddenly decided that he was finished with all his library DVDs, and I was going to take him to the library to get some more RIGHT NOW! I explained that I had to do a few other things first, including checking to see which things needed to be returned to the library and waiting for Mama Bear to come back with the car. He was back every five minutes, nagging. I was gathering the library materials when MB arrived. I apprised her of the situation. As GL and I headed out the door, Mama Bear said, "You're a better man than I am, Papa Bear." Thanks, Mama Bear. That's good to know.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

My Turn

Now I'm guest blogging over at

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Guest Post by Big Daddy Autism: Knock Knock

I've been meaning to ask someone to guest blog at Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but I didn't know who to ask. Would any of the bloggers I enjoy reading be willing to write for my little blog? Then one of my favorite bloggers, Big Daddy Autism started guest blogging all over the place, and I said to myself, "Self, Big Daddy writes guest blogs and is extremely funny. You should ask him to write one for you before he gets too busy and too famous." And myself said to I, "I, you're right! I'll ask him right away!" And as if it were a sign, Big Daddy wrote another guest blog. And I said to myself, "Self, you'd better get on it. His popularity is growing by leaps and bounds."

So I asked him, "If you're not too famous or too busy yet, would you please write a guest blog for Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Of course, I'd be happy to write one for you in return, if you like. I'd better start reading up on Wilford Brimley." He agreed, so today Goldilocks and the Three Bears has 87% more humor. Enjoy his post, and then click  over and read his blog, Big Daddy AutismYou'll be glad you did.

When Papa Bear asked me to guest post, I was thrilled.  Since I blog about my son and how we use humor to cope with his disability, most of my blogosphere consists of mommy bloggers.  While I consider many of these women to be close friends and wonderful bloggers, sometimes, It's nice to have a brother in arms.
Knock Knock
Regular readers of my blog know that Griffin asks a lot of questions.  There was a time when we weren't sure he would speak. But now, at 13, he appears to be making up for lost time.  With a vengeance.  His questions come rapid fire and, for the most part, either cannot be answered or have already been answered thousands of times before.
In the mornings, when I bring him to school, Griffin is usually pretty hyper and the questions come at me fast and furious.  This morning was no exception.
"Why you get mail?"
"Do you like insurance?"
"Do you know Wilford?"
"Why you put your hand on your forehead?
"Is the banks closed on Sunday?"
"Why you say shshh?"
On this particular morning I decided to mess with the boy a bit.  Occasionally, poking fun at him about his more obsessive behaviors dissuades Griffin from continuing them.   Rather than caving in and playing along with his disruptive conduct, we mock him. By not giving him the response and feedback he desires, sometimes the unacceptable behavior ceases, at least temporarily. Griffin doesn’t necessarily always find the humor in the situation, but we find it to be a gentle way to nudge him into more appropriate and tolerable behavior.
So, I decided to treat each of his questions as though it was the opening line to a knock knock joke.  For example,
Griffin:  "Why you take me to school today and not mommy?"
Me:  "I don't know Griff.  Why you take me to school today and not mommy?"
Griffin:  "Why does Captain Elevator go on vacation?"
Me:  "I don't know Griff.  Why does Captain Elevator go on vacation?"
After about a dozen of these he seemed to give in.  The questions slowed down  (Replaced of course by his most long lived stim - The Maniacal Laugh)  I knew I won this battle when he turned to me and asked a legitimate question,
Griffin:  "Daddy, can we keep the windows rolled down?"
Me:  "Sure Griff."
He promptly rolled up his window, forever proving that life with him is never predictable or ordinary in any way.

Guest Blogger Tomorrow!

Tomorrow I'll be hosting my first guest blogger, the famous Big Daddy Autism! With all the stress and struggle associated with autism, it's always refreshing to read a blog by someone who lives with it every day and hasn't lost his sense of humor. As his subtitle says, "Tales from the lighter side of raising a kid with autism. Now with 87% more humor!" and his blog does not disappoint.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It Came upon a Midnight Wierd

(Cue "Decorations" from the album Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire by Bob Rivers.)

Decorations (Parody of Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys)

I, I love the colored lights every year,
And the way that neighbors stop their cars and stare.
I strap a Santa Claus on my roof—
Plastic candy canes and reindeer everywhere.

I’m stringing up decorations,
It’s draining the power stations,
Fake icicle light formations,
Imported from third world nations.

I’m stringing up decorations,
I’m freaking out fire stations,
I’m pumping out radiation,
My neighbors are out of patience.

“Hey, pal, come on knock it off…It’s three in the morning!”

Got to keep those yuletide decorations up all winter,
God appreciates my plugged-in tribute to The Savior,
God would love it if I could keep ‘em up till well past Easter.


Good, good, good decorations:
I’m putting up a manger station—
Three wise men’s destination,
Nutcrackers in full claymation,
Little Drummer Boy animation.


Good, good, good decorations
I’m stringing up decorations,
It’s draining the power stations,
Fake icicle light formations
Imported from third world nations...
(fade out)

Okay, now that I've set the proper mood,  (exaggerated announcer voice): Come to the Cavalcade of Bad Nativities! The finest Christmas Kitsch for all your shopping needs! Click on Page 1, Page 2, and Page 3 to see the True Meaning of Christmas—the story of Jesus' birth retold in art so tasteful, it would make Liberace blush! All presented with snarky Cake Wecks–style commentary that would warm the Grinch's heart! But wait! There's more! New for 2007: Cavalcade of Bad Nativities II! Three more pages of Bad Nativities for your viewing pleasure! But that's not all! We know you love Christmas. We know you love Jesus. So we know you must also love Angels. Of course you love angels! Who doesn't love angels? I mean, how could you not love angels? Click now, and we'll show you not one, not two, not three, not four, but five, yes, five pages of angel pictures absolutely free! Tacky angels! Creepy angels! Fiber-optic angels! Thomas Kinkade angels! They're all part of our special holiday bonus package, Angels We Have Heard Are High. This complete collection is not available in any store! Unlimited time offer! Avoid disappointment! Visit today!

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Friday, December 3, 2010

The Countdown Continues

We give gifts on St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 6, instead of Christmas. Once that's over, the rest of Advent is much more peaceful. You can read the whole story of how we arrived at this plan here. So we've just got to make it through the weekend. About Dec. 1, Goldilocks was yelling at Mama Bear, convinced she was holding out on him:
"You're never going to let me have any presents!"
"You just have to wait for St. Nicholas Day."
"Christmas is already here, and you still have my presents! You stole them! I'm going to take you to court!"

She finally persuaded him that St. Nicholas Day was six days away. He's been much calmer, almost his ornery old self. This morning, he announced,
"St. Nicholas Day is six days away."
"No, it's only four days away."
"You told me it was six days away. You told me that five minutes ago!"

Sigh. He's always been a little vague on time concepts, but that one is new. Anything that happened in the past was always "yesterday". Anything we ask him to stop momentarily he can never do, "never, ever again". Anything happening in the future, whether goof or bad, whether five minutes or ten years from now, is a source of great anxiety. He can't relax until all predictions, plans, and expectations are filled. And he lives almost entirely in the future. He doesn't care what's happening now, he wants to know what's happening next, and after that, even though knowing only increases his anxiety.

When he was seven, and his cousin was four, she announced to Nana, "I know what's wrong with GL."
"What?" Nana asked.
"His calm down button is broken."
Not one of the many professionals he has seen has offered a better description.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar

Mama Bear got out the Advent calendars today. We have a big felt one, obviously made by some crafty person, and MB usually buys the boys each a consumable one each year. You know, the kind with a little paper door for each day that you tear open to reveal that day's piece of chocolate. At bedtime, BB asked, "Could you lock mine up in case GL gets up in the night, and decides to make Christmas come quicker?"

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