Friday, August 29, 2008
Because Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, has been chosen as McCain's VP running mate?
Because it's John McCain's 72nd birthday?
Because Wylie said to me in the car on the way home from school in a very casual way
"By the way, Mom, I tried a donut roll today in class".
(Me, trying very hard not to crash the truck)
"You ate something new today?"
"Yeah, you know it's like a donut except really small like a ball. A donut roll". (Donut conoisseurs might call it a donut hole).
"And, you liked it?"
"Yeah. It was pretty good".
Ladies and Gentlemen of ZigZagStraight , it is truly a day for the history books!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The question we all have been asked (and are still asking in some cases...)
Wylie's response used to be very predictable: he wanted to work at McDonald's of course! Even when his interest in video games and computers took off and we painted visions of engineering or when he became fascinated with the stars and planets and we spoke of teaching or becoming a scientist--he was undaunted. He would work at McDonald's. Because he loves McDonald's. There was no other possibility for him.
Until three weeks ago.
Ask Wylie what he is going to do when he grows up? He'll tell you plainly: he is going to open up a candy shop. But, it's candy that is healthy and good for you. It will be called "Sweets 'n Go". (He especially likes the "'n Go" part of the name).
He already has his first location scouted-out. When we were driving through the lovely streets of Corona Del Mar, Wylie remarked that it looked an awful lot like La Jolla (another favorite spot of ours). And, then he said "This looks like a good spot for my store. I'll open my first one here". The boy has great business instincts.
So, finally something has captured the imagination of the McDonald's devotee; I have no doubt Wylie can guide the devlopment of a treat so special it could deliver nutrition as ably as it tickled the tastebud. If such a treat passed Wylie's taste-test, any child/adult would love it!
Venture capitalists? Send your checks c/o Wylie's Sweet 'N Go. We'll put them in the money jar next to his sign up list for the Annual Christmas Risk Game. What have you got to lose?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I have been training to run my first 10k this Sunday (before church!) In preparation, I have been running distances averaging 4 miles or so 4 days out of 7 the last four weeks.
Yesterday, in spite of a poor night's sleep, I decided to run a full 6.6 miles. I thought about the course on the way to the boys' school, I mentally rehearsed the run in my mind and imagined myself finishing the run in good stride and at my goal pace.
No surprise, the run happened as I "saw it". This was incredibly empowering and makes me really look forward to the actual race on Sunday!
Later that night at swim practice, Wylie's coach comes up to me and says "Guess who was leading the lane tonight?"
Now, Wylie has been swimming for three years..essentially doing his own thing without bothering other swimmers. His coach loves him and the team, to its credit, accepts him as he is. In this time, however, Wylie has never led the lane. Until Monday night.
We were getting ready for practice this afternoon and I casually said to Wylie: "You going to lead your lane again?" And, he didn't reply--that I heard. But, as I watched in awe, there he was again leading.
I asked him after he got out of the pool this evening. You know what he said?
"You said I could lead again".
Let that one marinate for a while.
Our words and thoughts are truly containers for power. We can run a strong 6.6 miles and we can swim our bodies faster than we ever have before--simply because we think and imagine we can.
Who knows what else Wylie, and I, and you can do???
Monday, August 25, 2008
“Who would be his teacher?”
That’s all I can think of to say. I mean, I have had angels from on high teaching my son and he has done marvelously well. I realize he has been, in a sense, an able fish in a less-able pond. But, does it really have to be the case that in order for us to know how well he can swim, we’ve got to throw him to the sharks? I want to believe what this team is saying. I want to believe, in particular, the findings of the psychologist, Mr. Smith, that Wylie is a bright boy capable of much more than he has demonstrated. At the same time, I have for weeks been noticing that just when I think to myself, “Wylie is really very normal and I tend to exaggerate his eccentricities”—he proves me wrong! Do I really want to place him in an environment that will only serve to underscore his uniqueness? Where regular kids will be? Regular kids who have not been around “special” kids and may naturally think my son is…strange or a “weirdo” as he has sometimes been called?
“Mrs. Kryzmarczik. She has a very sweet class”.
I had recently heard of Mrs. Kryzmarczik from another teacher-friend of mine. For whatever reason, hearing her name again assured me this was going to be o.k. We moved him. This IEP took place in March. In between state testing, spring break, and Memorial Day, Wylie really didn’t have much of a chance to acclimate or learn. But, Joyce Kryzmarczik was warm and welcoming and the children were very sweet. She safely walked Wylie to the banks of the regular education stream. However, Wylie basically got to stick his toe in the water. He wouldn’t dive in fully until 3rd grade.
Ready, set, dive!
The water was deeper than we thought. After holding our breath for what seemed like an eternity, we came up for air and landed in Mrs. Smith’s class. Patti Smith. Yes, that would be Patti Smith married to Mr. Smith…the very same psychologist who evaluated Wylie and thought highly of his potential. It was our extreme good fortune to have Wylie placed with her for she understood him almost immediately. She was kind, intuitive, patient and committed to helping him swim with the school of fish she led. And, best of all, she appreciated Wylie’s sense of humor. With longsuffering she endured his ramblings on his current topic of interest (CTI)! Not only that, but Patti’s style of teaching embraced the whole child; what I mean by this is she believed all of the experiences of a 3rd grader could teach them something. In her view, our family vacations were just as much a part of the fabric of Wylie’s learning as her assignment. My perception of her approach to learning was that it was relaxed; this is not to imply anything sub-standard--far from it. Instead, Mrs. Smith had the rare gift of making multiplication facts, spelling, history, and writing as easy and appealing as…well, 1-2-3! In short, she was the perfect person for this part of Wylie’s adventure--the perfect swim coach. Even when the water was cold and deep and it seemed like Wylie would more likely sink than stay afloat, I trusted her completely. And, trust is so important when learning to swim, don’t you agree?
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Team Harris had a wonderful day at Corona Del Mar yesterday. Tim swam the annual open water in the cove there and the kids enjoyed the sand and surf. Me, just the sand.
Wylie was in the water the entire time. He loves jumping the waves and he tried boogie boarding yesterday for the first time. Dad says he was fearless!
I got in a quick run on Ocean Blvd just above the cove before the race got underway. In the glow of the Olympics there were several really decent beach volleyball games going on behind us and plenty of families enjoying the lazy day.
One of those days that captures all the best of what summer is about.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Campbell has paid attention to every sport and has really liked the track and field events and swim the most.
Wylie has enjoyed all the events, but I think he is the most swept up in the pageantry of it all. He likes the Gold Medal Moments that NBC does on the pre-show. He loves all the Olympic trivia. And, he is a particular fan of our National Anthem when it is played at the medal ceremonies.
He stands (every time) with his hand over his heart while it is played. He even said a few nights ago:
"Man, I worship this song".
These days that might not be politically correct, but I know what he means. It was an appropriate use of the word worship.
Wylie is proud of the athletes, proud of America, proud of our flag, proud of our country, loves God, loves people, loves seeing winners celebrated, and all of this in spite of the fact that none of these things are taught any more in school (because they cannot be legally or because curriculum committees believe they know what is best).
So, here's to the Olympics! For all the great drama, competition, thrills, spills, and triumph of human spirit. And, for being one of the only places humans can still wave the flags of their countries with pride.
As it should be.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
5th grade math picks up where 4th grade math left off (theoretically).
The lazy days of summer rot the math quadrants of the brain I think.
We are easing into division with an introduction of some guidelines (aka "cheatcodes") for what numbers are divisible by 2,3,4,5,6,9,10.
There are a handful of rules you can use to figure out if a larger number is divisible by any of these numbers. For example, if the sum of the digits is divisible by 3, then the number itself is divisible by 3. Test yourself: is 102,405 divisible by 3?*
Anyway, it is often the case that Wylie's mind interprets directions literally. This is particularly the case with verbal instruction. The last two days have had assignments with the guidelines written down. And, I have tried to reinforce those guidelines verbally.
This was met with "I don't understand" to which I replied
"What don't you understand?"
And, now I'm asking you: what kind of question is that? I mean, if you don't understand something how can you explain what you don't understand? This is the kind of brain cramp we run into with learning new concepts. Now, by the end of the second day's assignment, with me reading each guideline and asking him "what is the sum of the digits, is that number divisible by 3, then write down 3...." Wylie caught on by doing the problems. He understood the guideline by doing the work.
This is just an ordinary day in the life of a 5th grade teacher, I know.
But, as usual, these experiences hold more meaning for me. ...
Sometimes, grown-ups wrestle with problems over and over again. And, to some extent if you are honest, there are "guidelines" or cheatcodes available to us (counseling, wisdom of elders, the Bible, etc). And, yet we cry out many times in frustration "I don't understand"!
My sense is that--just like Wylie had to learn by doing--we have to follow the instructions we are given step-by-step and keep failing forward to begin to understand.
What don't you understand today?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Well, he likes one particular flavor: Vanilla Custard.
Now, this is the type of place where you walk up and "serve" yourself. They rotate the flavors often and there's about 8 flavors in all. They have dry-erase signs above each station so that you know what you are dispensing.
So, last night, as a "back to school" treat, we went to Frugos at Wylie's request. What happened at the check-out transpired in about 20 seconds, but you know how time slows down in a crisis. I'm paying for our yogurts and I overhear a conversation beside me that goes something like...
"Dude, you said you had pina colada"
"Yeah, it's in the middle where it usually is"
"Dude, the sign says Vanilla"
(and this is the station from which Wylie innocently dispensed his yogurt).
Dude goes in the back and I'm beginning to process what has happened. Just as Wylie sticks his spoon in his mouth I dip my finger in his cup and quickly give it a lick: pina colada.
Now, if you have normal taste-buds that might throw you a bit, right? But, let's pretend you have super-normal taste-buds...and that tastes and smells are extremely significant to you (reference What's in a Nugget from July posts). I look at Wylie just as he is gagging and trying not to throw-up right there in the middle of Frugos.
He immediately dumps the whole $4 cup in the trash and with red-rimmed eyes says
"What's up with the vanilla?"
as I see Dude writing the correct label on the station sign.
Tragedy. Of epic proportions.
Maybe, just maybe, Frugo's can recover from this mistake.
Until then, no "vanilla" will pass Wylie's lips until it's been on mine first...
Monday, August 18, 2008
The Harris Ranch was awake, alert, and enthusiastic much earlier than normal today. I was done with my run at 6:30 am--phew!
The kids had all laid out their clothing last night. Actually, Campbell and McKenna started and then Wylie followed suit. That's when he noticed:
"Mom, these new shirts all have buttons!"
Now, he was with me when we bought the new shirts, but I guess it did not register with him at the time. Wylie is still very particular about collars and shirts and buttons. Regular crew neck t-shirts are pretty much all he wears. And, even these will get a thumbs-down if the neck is "too loose". All fairly typical stuff for sensory kids.
We managed to coax him into the shirt. It's blue with a very cool Dickey's logo on the side. Everyone compliments how cool he looks. Patiently, Wylie buttons up every button. All the way to the top. I ask him:
"Are you sure you don't want to leave the top button undone? It's more comfortable".
"I am comfortable".
So, he will no doubt be one of only a few 5th graders today all across America with a blue, Dickey polo shirt buttoned all the way to the top.
Viva la difference....
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Both men were as genuine and authentic (as any political candidate can be). The relaxed--and decidedly 'non-debate'--format catered to more realistic dialogue. The kind you and I might have at Starbucks over coffee. The kind most Americans would rather hear, in my opinion.
We all are so blessed with the freedom of choice; both of these men have good intentions. The "how" is different. But, people have been disagreeing about the "how" of societies ever since societies formed.
Rick Warren has opened a door that we all should respectfully walk through: genuine, authentic, conversation about our simillarities and differences. Well done.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Lately, I've been thinking about the sports where there is an individual as well as a team component. For example, gymnastics and swimming. In men's gymnastics, the USA didn't have the goods individually to medal in the All-Around competition. Yet, those same gymnasts performed as a team to take the Bronze. Their individual performances combined to out-perform the other teams.
In men's swimming, the converse of the above is true: Michael Phelps does have what it takes to out-swim everyone in the field, yet he also participates in the relay teams where, regardless of his own physical strengths, the team will win or lose based on their combined efforts. He swims in those relays for the team.
I'm wondering...which victory is sweeter?
If Phelps was swimming alone with just the clock--no crowd, no team mates, no journalists--would his accomplishments be as meaningful to him? (Probably so in his case)! One could argue that even in the absence of all the noise, Phelps' mom is his team every event! But, the point I'm trying to make is that the team animates the dream. The team makes it real. The team validates the experience. When Soni took the Gold in the breast stroke last night, it was her team that shouted the loudest praise and it was to her team she looked first (after she saw the time)!
So much of what we do as human beings we do alone. I think of Wylie. It's Wylie that sits in his chair at school trying to make his pencil write letters that somehow conform to what we recognize. It was Wylie up on top of that platform 25 feet high getting harnessed to push himself off down the zipline. No one could do it for him. Most of the hard work of these athletes (gymnasts and swimmers alike) is done alone. Work out after work out.
Yet, at the same time, much of what we do as human beings we do as a team. We cheer one another on to victory. We shout warnings when there is danger, we pick up and embrace the wounded. We lead others by our example. It is the promise of the shared victory that creates energy for us to do what we have to do alone. We strive for our personal best to support the team's best.
I guess at the end of the day, what I hope for is this: in Wylie's life...even when he's alone...I want to him to know...we're his team. Everyone should have a team. Everyone should be inspired to give more in what they have to do alone in order to advance what we all do as a team.
And, I think that's why we're all so enthralled with the Olympics.
We believe in the team. We are the team.
At the risk of sounding a lot like the Visa commercials lately...Go World.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Last night, after our small group wrapped-up, Wylie asks if he can drink a Coke. It's 9 o'clock. No "good" parent allows a child to drink a soda that late. But, it's summer...we've been watching the Olympics at night...
Sensing my reluctance, Wylie says quite convincingly:
"Besides, Mom, Coca-Cola is proud to be the official sponsor of the 29th Olympiad"!
Score one for the advertisers and marketers of the world!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Something to be celebrated no matter who you are, where you live, what you believe.
One of the reasons Wylie has lived such an amazing and wonderful life (so far) is because of the love, the strength, the wisdom, the courage, and the example of his father. My husband.
There is more history and "knowing" in one glance between us than an entire volume of the encyclopedia. You can't buy that, exchange it, fake it, fabricate it, or forget it.
On this ZigZag adventure, there is no question in my mind who has kept me, the family, and our ultimate course "straight"....
Here's to another venti!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Everyone has been asking the same question: was this a really short summer?
I think so.
Wylie asked me last night how I felt about having two 5th grade boys now.
I feel pretty good about it.
This week is the back to school dance...
- inventory shoes/socks/underwear
- dig out a path to bedrooms and restore order from summer chaos
- begin going to bed earlier to wake up earlier
- venture out for school supplies and a new shoe or two
- prepare for schedules to sink-in
What do you do to prepare the kids and the family to go back to school?
Monday, August 11, 2008
I just re-watched it and had goosebumps and was near tears the entire time. There are practically no words to describe the moment the team sees the #1 time on the board. But, who needs words when you have Phelps' face?
That pure, raw, energy of emotion could fuel an entire city! (Well, at least a house or two).
Here's what I learned from that race:
- the past does not always predict the present (they had suffered defeat in the previous two games)
- those most likely to win statistically can still lose
- actions trump words
- sometimes being the underdog makes the victory sweeter
- team victories are multiplied in power over individual victories
Much will be written about that race for years to come; the athletes will never forget their performance or the feeling of the win. But, only here at zigzag will the race be viewed as a metaphor for those living with Asperger Syndrome and autism. Here's why:
- the past does not always predict the present or the future (children with Asperger and Autism can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles)
- those most likely to "not" succeed... can
- actions trumps diagnoses
- sometimes being an underdog makes the victory sweeter
- team victories are mulitplied in power over individual victories (and every individual victory is a team win when your child is influenced by special educators, speech and language pathologists, resource specialists, occupational therapists, community members, church members, friends, and family!)
Our family will continue to watch the Olympics and cheer every awe-inspiring performance. We may not be able to anchor a Gold-medal-winning relay team, but we can do the best with what we have been given and turn in the performance of our lives with our lives.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Early Saturday, I came downstairs to go out for my run. Wylie was already up watching some television. He looks at me--not particularly scared or bothered--and warns:
"Mom, there's a guy in our backyard".
Me: "Well, how do you know?"
Wylie: "I saw him. He's got a shovel. Mom, I think he's a...a dirt burglar".
Me: (suppressing laughter) "Really. A dirt burglar. Why do you think that?"
Wylie: "Well, he's got that shovel and he's digging up dirt and putting it into a bucket and carrying it around the corner...."
Now, I don't know about you, but I've never met, nor read, nor imagined dirt burglary...but, in these days and times, you never know. Still, in the mind of a 10 year old Aspergery-boy, it makes perfect sense.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Imagine a room filled with really cool toys, scooters, balls, balance beams, zip lines, swings, trampolines, games, a ball pit and bean bags! Imagine you have to go to this place once a week, take off your shoes, and play! This is the world of the OT. Only, the play they supervise is play with a purpose. The activities they engage in with students are specifically geared to help develop and strengthen physical and mental skills. It is a world of wonder for kids. Of course, once they arrive they never want to leave! This has always been true of Wylie’s experience.
Over the years we have seen marked improvement in Wylie’s fine and gross motor skills as a direct result of therapy. He can cut along a straight line, write with much improved control (though his penmanship is still a weak area), maintain balance, cross over midline to play catch and swim. Wylie’s core muscle strength has improved and he has learned to cope with some of his more extreme sensory issues (taste, smell, and tactile).
Not every Asperger child struggles with motor skill issues. However, if you were to randomly examine OT centers across the country you would more than likely find kids with autism spectrum disorders as regulars on the roster. I have not read all the research (and I’m sure there is plenty out there), but it appears that kids like Wylie have sensory issues that inhibit the development of their gross and fine motor skills. So, for example, things like throwing and catching a ball, walking across a balance beam, swinging a bat, jumping up and down on one foot, descending down stairs, using scissors, jumping rope and other regular physical activities can be difficult for Asperger types. These normal activities are not unimportant! The connection between motor skill development and academic performance and emotional behavior is well documented.
From OTs I have learned how to engage Wylie in physical sensory activities that help him to “organize”--which facilitates readiness to sit still, pay attention, write, compute, or do whatever else might be necessary in the classroom. Want to sign your child up?
Actually, from what I’ve observed of this wonderful group of amazing professionals, I don’t think there is a person on the planet that would not benefit from some form of occupational therapy! Maybe we should write our congressmen and women and allocate some of our tax dollars to underwrite a Sensory center in Washington D.C.--just outside the Capitol building. That way, before members of Congress meet together to vote on legislation and other things that affect us, they can all participate in some good old-fashioned therapy to get “organized” and better pay attention to the tasks at hand!
Friday, August 8, 2008
This is good news; it is the obvious next step in our adventure. Having more insight into his neurology will no doubt help me understand better how to help him. It will provide a diagnosis that opens the doors to continued support for him while he learns in the public school system. And, it will connect us with many more stories of people living with Asperger.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Willow Creek Association knows how to do equipping.
Our Solid Ground staff and some key leaders are attending the Summit live via satellite at a church in Alta Loma and it rocked today.
We heard from:
Bill Hybels Senior Pastor Willow Creek
Gary Haugen CEO Intl. Justice Mission
Bill George Harvard Business Professor and retired CEO Medtronic
Wendy Kopp founder of Teach for America
John Burke Lead Pastor of Gateway Church in Austin, TX
Efrem Smith, Lead Pastor Sanctuary Covenant Church Minn. MN
And, that was just today!
We go back for another full plate of leadership excellence tomorrow featuring Craig Groeschel of lifechurch.tv, Chuck Colson, Catherine Rohr, and Brad Anderson of Best Buy...
Big take-aways from today:
- Vision Leaks
- Get the Right People Around the Table
- Leaders Call Fouls (even on themselves)
- Take a Flyer!
- This is Church
Bill George (author of True North)
- Follow your compass not your clock
Wendy Kopp in response to Bill's question
Bill "you shamelessly ask young seniors graduating to sacrifice"--
Wendy "we give them the OPPORTUNITY to sacrifice"
- How many sexually active, drunk, single athiests do you have in your church?
- Stay connected to Christ; fruit happens
- Spiritual storms happen when the high pressure of what God wants us to do bumps up against the low pressure of what we'd rather do
Much, much more to follow--
How privileged I felt to learn from these amazing leaders across the business and faith communities.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
You know about the filter? The synapses in your brain that cue you when to say something and when it is probably not apporpriate or out-of-bounds?
With children, this usually results in humor (not offense), but it still requires some extra handling.
Yesterday's "no filter" moment:
While watching an episode of the a kid's show featuring the daughter of The Crocodile Hunter, Wylie pronounced:
"Yes, it is the dead Crocodile Hunter's daughter. One more dead parent and she'll be an orphan."
Now, that is a true and accurate statement. No one can fault Wylie for declaring the truth. But, you get the idea. These thoughts roll around in our brains and our "filter" generally grabs the ones that are questionable or better left unsaid. With Asperger, there is very little grabbing. They just roll on out from the brain to the mouth.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Apparently, we'll be waiting for a while. This is the common protocol with Loma Linda apparently. They have Wylile's file. They will review it. They will determine when we get an appointment.
I'm glad we started this process this summer. Wylie's 3 year IEP is scheduled for March of 2009 and it's important to have the diagnosis dialed-in so he can continue to receive services through the public school system.
Yesterday, after a fairly lengthy stretch of the game where there was much collaboration, talking, battling, and surviving....the Republic and the Rebels battled fearlessly. I heard them exclaim together:
"We did it! We conquered the galaxy!" and there was much rejoicing and high-fives and woo-hoos followed by
"Now, what do you want to do, Wylie?" and then
"I don't know"..."Do you want to go upstairs and watch Sponge Bob?"
And, they went upstairs.
There's nothing like a little Sponge Bob Square Pants to top off a glorious victory on the field of inter-galactical battle...
- It's a good work of fiction
- It causes you to imagine and think about God
- It might help with lingering hurts and disappointments
It's not a theological textbook.
It's not prescribed by any denomination.
It's not shocking.
It's a good book.
Monday, August 4, 2008
As the old hymn goes.
Well, this morning after my run, I escaped to the backyard to cool down and read some a psalm or two. As I rounded the first deck chair I saw the form of a large insect out of the corner of my eye. My first instinct was to jump back (we've had more than our share of spiders this summer)...but, then I saw more clearly what kind of insect it was.
A praying mantis.
This brought a smile to my face. And, definitely set the tone for my thirty minutes of reflection. Next, I turned to Psalm 138 and started to read. Randomly ( or not?) this psalm contains the line we sang yesterday in our worship set at Solid Ground...
"For great is the glory of the Lord" (see Vicky Beeching's song of the same title).
There was more than one praying bug out there today.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
So, at times here in Southern California, it's a balmy 90+ degrees in our house!
The Harris team has acclimated quite well. We do put it on when we have guests over for an extended period.
Today, was not one of those days. So, the boys and I were hanging out downstairs (moving very slowly) and Wylie remarked:
"Boy, is today Wylie's gonna sweat a lot day, or what?"
I joked back: "Didn't you get the memo?"
Saturday, August 2, 2008
August 31, 2008.
I read about it in Starbucks.
It was just what I needed.
I totally like the idea of it...
Lots of people all over the world running a 10K that day together...but separately.
The promotional piece says:
Run with your friends
Run with your neighbors
Run with people you've never met
Run with the whole world
Run with us
Now....substitute the verb "serve" for "run" and you've got a great idea for a movement within the church.
That's next on my agenda...
Any readers that are runners?
Let's run together.