Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Hello strangers!

Things are going well at the Johnson House. Chase returned to school without any major meltdowns. Things are really going well now, but it took from September until December for us to have a "normal" week without any (major) meltdowns at school or on the bus. I hope it keeps up for the rest of the year.

They are working on reconfiguring the schools in our district, so Chase may have to go to a different school next year. I've already started worrying about what that might mean.

And then, I read this post from Jess Wilson's blog (her daughter has autism.)

Wow. That's all I have to say.

Read it yourself and see if you can guess where I was an instant teary mess. Emotional, happy, and hopeful tears.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Between Christmas festivities, work, cleaning the house, wrapping presents, and cooking, I've been pretty busy. And, of course, there's more of it the next couple weeks.

I thought I should wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year now, before I forget.

One fun thing that we've been up to at work is making a video about "Lowercase i Day". It's a spoof on goofy holidays and everyone's favorite office-based tv show. Anyway, here's the explanation, and here's the video:

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Most of the time I say that I "try" but really, how hard do I try?

I try to keep my house in line, try to cook dinner every night, try to eat dinner together at the table every night, try to get up the first time the alarm goes off, try to be awesome at work, try to write in this blog, try to spend quality time with the kids and Craig, try to get the kids to bed on time, and try to do all kinds of things that working parents are supposed to do. But it's hard, and I find myself overwhelmed and frustrated because I can't do all of it all of the time. It can be quite "trying".

And then I thought, this must be how Chase feels.

We're always telling him what to do, when to do it, the "right" way to do it, not to do it, what to say, and all other kinds of things. A lot of the things we're telling him to do are not always in line with the way his mind works. But HE TRIES. That little boy tries hard to fit in with our lives and the norms of school and society. He tries to make friends. He tries to not melt down at school. He tries to write all of his letters when we ask, even though he breaks into tears if the first H he draws looks more like a 4. And he tries to be gentle, which is very hard for a kid that craves and needs heavy touch.

When I noticed that his preschool aide wrote a long entry in his daily journal yesterday, I was at first concerned because it was gym day. Gym day always gets a little crazy. Chase always want's to be first in line, whether walking, running, or waiting. And, also he has a new found interest in Karate. (Thank you Po.)

The kids went to different stations in the gym to do different activities. One of the kids in Chase's group is an adorable little girl with leg braces. She's a fragile little thing and I'm sure there's a consensus concern that he might hurt her by bumping into her to hard, hitting her with a ball, etc.

Chase's aide wrote in his journal that he was very gentle and kind to this little girl. He was actually watching out for her. He was telling other kids to be careful. She said she could visibly see him trying to stop his urges to push or bump into things and kids.

Funny thing is, without having read this entry yet, I was asking him how gym class was. He told me "You kick balls, you run, run kick more balls, and you be careful. I like it." When I asked him who he played with, he told me this little girl's name and then told me about her "super shoes" which I guessing are the leg braces. "His legs didn't bleed or get broke or have a 'dandaid'. He just has super shoes. You have to be gentle," he said as he signed "gentle". (We have a little trouble with He and She right now, if you noticed.)

I told him that I was proud that he was being careful, he smiled and said that this little girl is his best friend. He has three best friends these days, all girls.

He's trying to be gentle and sensitive because he's understanding (at least a little) that his actions affect other people. Even if it's the opposite of every urge he has.

Talk about trying. Wow. Maybe we all need to try just a little harder. If he can do it, we should be able to.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkins and Monkey Poop

Ok, that's really two different topics, but it does sound funny together, eh?

So, we bought the kids some ginormous pumpkins at Sam's. Only $5! Awesome, right? WRONG.
These pumpkins have some sort of titanium exoskeleton that killed:

  • two little pumpkin saws (the ones that come with the pattern kits)

  • one of the slightly larger safety pumpkin carving knives

  • an electric knife (like the kind you carve turkeys with.

And that was only to cut off the top of one! I finally made it through with one tiny pumpkin saw #3, proceeded with the very basic of jack o'lantern faces, and left the second pumpkin whole.

Lesson learned: Next year we paint the pumpkins.

Monkey Poop
Chase LOVES the Speed Racer movie. I wasn't sure that he'd like it, so I got it with Netflix. We've had it for like 3 weeks now. I'm going to sneak it back in the mail tomorrow.
Anyway, there's a chimp in the movie, who when in a tough spot, throws poop in the bad guy's face.

Chase finds this HILARIOUS. He'll be sitting in the car and suddenly be laughing. I'll say, "What's so funny?" "Mom, monkey throws poop!" More laughing.

Anyway, Chase is Speed racer for Halloween, so we here this joke A LOT. It's actually pretty funny. Here's a few pictures of his school party. You might notice it's a "homemade" costume. It does have a white collar that goes with it, but Chase decided he doesn't want to wear it. Chase has never been willing to put on a costume. The "Jedi episode of Halloween 2006" was a doozy and taught me to give up until he's older. I've also learned that it's not a good idea to spray Chase's hair black, even if he insists. We'll call bath-time last night the "Hair washing from Hell incident of Halloween 2008".

Also, here's a few other pictures from a corn maze that we went to back in early September.

And, here's some of Craig's projects: "our" beer (mostly Craig makes it and I drink it) and FRED (who is done, except for another coat of paint next spring.)

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008


And I don't mean "sweet" or "cool".

I'm kind of glad that I don't feel better because then I'd have to ponder whether or not to be happy I got sick after everyone else.

Even with my stuffy nose and accompanying headache, we brought the kids to a "tailgate" party at my work for the MSU/U of M game. Since it was cold, wet, and muddy, we stayed inside most of the time. Chase and Cory made it for a few hours, thanks to cookies, pop from the free pop machines, and playdoh. Luckily, the people that work in the marketing building like to keep creative things, including playdoh, out in the meeting areas.

The only major issue we had was Chase's breakdown when his hotdog bun broke. Just to bring you up to speed, if he's eating a hotdog and the bun splits, he gets very upset and refuses to eat any more of the remaining hotdog, even if we put it on another bun. And, since he's into these whining breakdowns, he's very noisy, agitated, and teary when this happens. It's interesting how much louder it sounds when you're with ten of your coworkers, instead of at home.

With some slight of hand that would make Penn and Teller proud, we were able to replace the hotdog bun with Cory's without either kid noticing. Throw in a no bake cookie, and we were set.

Another funny thing, last night Craig was trying to watch Cold Case. Chase was playing with his new favorite Speed Race car, racing it around the table in the dining room. Chase kept coming out and turning on the basball game. He was listening to it from the dining room. It was really interesting. He's never shown an interest in baseball on tv before.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Autism Moms Unite!

I wanted to share something with you all. I know that some of you also have Autism in your lives. Some of you don't, but someday will have to help your kids understand our kids.

Anyway, there is a very good blog by an Autism mom called Diary of a Mom. The woman, Jess Wilson, and her blog are listed as Resources on the Autism Speaks website.

I've checked it out periodically, but this post made me really want to share it.

I hope you all take a look at it sometime. I wish I had enough time to think and write like she does. Maybe too many years of writing about computers and procedures have broken my creative side.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Daycare Woes

Well, over the past year and a half, I've been very happy with our daycare. Chase is a handful some days, but the teachers have been very understanding and given him the extra attention he needs to survive in a daycare situation.

Until now, that is.

For some background, Chase (and Cory) go to a very nice daycare each morning. Chase leaves around noon to go to his "real" preschool class.

At daycare, he's in the 4-5 year old preschool/daycare class. There are about 20 kids and two teachers. It seems to me that one of the teachers does not want to "deal" with him.

Yes, he takes some negotiating on certain things. But, once he's comfortable, he does pretty well.

At his "real" preschool, which is afternoons at the Elementary School for our district, he is doing good. The class is about the same size, but there are three teachers.

So, yesterday, we had his Teacher Consultant (who helps his teachers to meet his special needs) observe the daycare.

Her feelings were like ours: The teacher was not going to put any extra effort in to help Chase. She was actually excluding him to a certain level, and even though we offered ideas to make things easier for him, it was going "in one ear and out the other."

So, we took him (and Cory) out of the daycare. My angel of a Mom is going to watch the kids until we can figure something else out.

We've been at that daycare quite a while, and I'm sad to have to do this, but we don't really have a choice. They never said that they could handle special needs kids, but so far, the teachers have cared enough to put in a little bit of effort.

There's actually other autistic kids at that daycare, but these kids are less functional than Chase, keep to themselves, and do not interact with the teachers or the other children. So, these kids are "easy" compared to Chase, who wants friends and to interact but doesn't really understand social norms and rules.

It makes me scared to think about future school classes and how those will go. sigh.