Monday, August 27, 2012

Last Days of Summer Vacation

 First day of school last year - back to school this year in T minus 10 days.

Summer is winding down here in CNY, and school starts in 10 days for our kids.  The Princess is excited, and looking forward to having a routine again.  One of her best friends is in her class this year, too, which helps.  Safety Guy is half excited and half anxious, with some perseveration on the possibility of bullying again this year.  We're trying to keep some fun in summer while it lasts and not dwell on school starting.  Safety Guy has been a bit volatile lately, and I can tell its his anxiety kicking in over school starting.  Tonight he had his 8th grade orientation and got to meet some of his teachers, put stuff in his new locker with a new lock (with an easy combination, thankfully), find his classrooms, and reconnect with some friends.

We've had some fun family times this summer.  Last weekend we went to Enchanted Forest/Water Safari in Old Forge, NY.  It was a great break for us, and the rarest of rare things for us occurred:  a family day trip without a single meltdown by anyone.  Whoa, what a novelty!  Seriously, though, to have a day trip to an exciting (read: seriously overstimulating) place and a few hours in the car (read:  too much togetherness) without any sort of meltdown is, for us, a rarity.  We had a picnic lunch, a great time at the water park, did a handful of the other rides, and ended the day with everyone wanting to do it again next year, only for longer - maybe an overnight trip next time.  The only down side:  I forgot my camera.  Oh, well, I've got pictures in my memory.


The Princess is still enjoying her horseback riding lessons.  She's a natural, and I can see this interest continuing for a long, long time.  I'm okay with that - although I know it's not an inexpensive pursuit (in time or money), neither are regular sports or other activities like dance or drama.  She's taking a break from soccer this fall, so that frees up some time in our family schedule, much to my relief.  I promised her a trail ride this summer, and summer's almost over, so I think I'd better see if we can squeeze one in next week before school starts.  PYY has a long memory for promises.

Speaking of promises, we'll be getting the Princess her much-anticipated bearded dragon soon, probably this weekend.  I'll share pics when the big day arrives.  For now, we'll set up the habitat and make sure we can regulate the temperature correctly for the little critter.  I hope we can be successful with this, since I'd hate to have her beardie suffer from poor health or die because of our inexperience.  We've done a lot of research to try to do this right, since her lizard could live for 10 years or so.  (The thing is, it might be MY lizard for a while when she goes off to college.  And I know she's not ready to be 100% in charge of its health yet, so if we learn together, we'll have the best odds of having a healthy, happy bearded dragon in the family.)  She's still debating its name, so I'll let that be a surprise when I post pictures.

I'm glad the summer is almost done.  It's been a good one, the least stressful one I've had in years, actually, but I love the fall.  I love the swing of the seasons.  I love the cool nights, warm days, clear skies, changing leaves, and putting the garden to bed.  I love the harvest, the comfort foods for cool days, the stargazing on the deck without too many bugs, and anticipating the fall holidays.  I'm ready to get back to work at the school, and I'm starting to build up some momentum again in making stuff for my Etsy shop and for Hartsville Hollow.  New projects, new ideas, and looking toward the future - in the fall of the year, I find that easier to do than in the spring, because I can anticipate long dark evenings, cool clear days, and a routine to work around.  Unplanned summer time actually can be more trying for me and my family than the school year.  I suspect many families feel that way, whether or not they have children with autism issues.

Welcome, autumn.  I'm so glad to see you again.




Monday, August 20, 2012

Mom's Blueberry Crisp Recipe



Last week the kids and I went blueberry picking.  It's been a dry summer here as in most of the U.S., and  that was reflected in the blueberry crop this year. There were fewer berries, and they were smaller ones than usual.  Still, we had no trouble getting a good amount, and I made a blueberry crisp that night at the kids' request.  I also froze a couple quarts of berries for a winter treat.  There's nothing like fresh blueberries, and my favorite way to use them is to make my Mom's blueberry crisp.  Here's her recipe:

Mom's Blueberry Crisp

6 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and sorted to remove stems and stuff
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (I use the vinegar)
(1/4 cup white sugar, optional)

1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
6 tbsp. salted butter, room temp.
sprinkle of cinnamon

Place the berries in a 2.1 quart/2L casserole or a 8" square deep baking dish. Sprinkle the vinegar over the berries and mix lightly.  (The tartness of the vinegar complements the sweetness of the berries.  You can add 1/4 cup white sugar at this point if you prefer a sweeter fruit filling, but blueberries are usually sweet enough to not need extra sugar.)  Combine the other ingredients in a bowl using a fork or pastry cutter, until crumbly with the butter distributed evenly.  Spread the topping over the fruit.  Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes.  (You can double this recipe - just increase the cooking time by 5-10 minutes.  You can also use frozen berries, but you'll need to increase the cooking time to about 45 minutes for the smaller pan and 55 minutes or so for the double recipe.)  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Yield:  serves 4-6.


This recipe is also good to make mixed fruit crisp (apple/blueberry, mixed berries, blueberry/rhubarb and strawberry/rhubarb, although with the rhubarb you don't need the extra vinegar, and you DO need the extra sugar).

Friday, August 17, 2012

Inexpensive DIY: Cabinet

I've long been a fan of giving old items a new lease on life with a new purpose.  Some of that is because I like to tinker, and a lot of that is from living in a fixer-upper for many years when money was tight.  I never counted the hours and hours my husband and I spent updating our first house - scraping paint drips and spatters off of wood floors, stripping wallpaper, and repainting every room and ceiling in that house (and most of this one now too).  We also turned our attention to our assortment of "post-college/early married" furniture.  Over the years I've repainted any number of old shelf units and bookcases, repainted a dresser and chest of drawers, renewed the finish on an oak tabletop, gave new color to badly dated kitchen cabinets, repainted a picnic table (twice now, actually - the same old one), repainted my favorite porch rocker, repaired furniture, reinforced and repainted my aquarium tank base, and reupholstered a piano bench and a bed headboard.  It's good to reuse older items, both to save money and to recycle.  But it's also satisfying to give an old item a fresh start with a bit of creativity.

Over the past couple weeks I've been working on a beat-up old glass-front curio cabinet.  I picked it up at a Salvation Army store for $25.  We need something to put our daughter's bearded lizard habitat on in her bedroom.  (She's getting the beardie in a couple weeks, and we want to have everything ready ahead of time.) Part of the deal with her getting the lizard was a complete cleaning out and rearrangement of her room.  We're almost done with it (hooray!), and getting the cabinet in there was one of the last steps in the process.  The cabinet is made of solid wood, and the sides and top had a "foil" wood finish.  The top was badly damaged - heaven only knows what had been kept on top of it to beat it up that badly.  It looks like it spent some time in a garage.  Here's the "before" photo:


I removed all of the hardware and took the doors off, and set the glass aside in a safe place.  My husband sanded down the top using coarse-grit sandpaper.  Then he gave it a smoother finish with a finer sanding sponge.  I also used the sanding sponge on the sides and doors, to rough up the surface so it would accept paint better.  I used wood putty to fill in the worst of the dings and scratches; I'm not a fan of the "fake distressed" look.  This will never look like a brand new piece of furniture, so perfection wasn't the goal - just a uniform, clean appearance.

When we had it patched and sanded to our satisfaction, I painted the cabinet, using some interior satin paint left over from another project.  The color is a very, very pale buff, just barely a warm "white" if you look closely.  Today I reassembled the cabinet, and Safety Guy helped me carry it up to the Princess's room.  Here's the "after" shot:


We'll cut a piece of wood for an interior shelf soon.  But the cabinet is essentially done, and I think it looks pretty good.  Total cost of this project:  less than $30.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back


Aaaaand today was the step back day.  Well, most of it was actually quite good, but part of it was a step back, a totally discouraging Aspergers-plus-sibling crap pileup of rush hour freeway in fog proportions, a real train wreck.  It's not important what it was over (small stuff, sibling picking), but it escalated into a verbal confrontation with Safety Guy and myself, in the parking lot of our local Wal Mart no less.

Aspergers meltdowns stink.

Sibling rivalry stinks.

Parenthood is HARDER THAN ANYTHING ELSE I'VE EVER DONE. 

Calgon is definitely not enough for me to deal with this level of stress.  Wine, chocolate, and valium might help temporarily.  After the storm passed I thought longingly of a solo vacation somewhere far away.  I told my husband I fleetingly thought of clunking their heads together during the whole double fiasco.  If only one of them would be quiet and stop pouring gasoline on the flames!

But after their "cooling down" period (after the drama, after the time in their rooms), both SG and PYY were much pleasanter for the evening.  SG hasn't directly apologized to me yet, although his behavior has been MUCH better.  And, when he and PYY started to snipe at each other a bit after dinner, he stopped himself and said to her, "I'm not going to say any more.  I don't want to go there."  And she agreed.  Maybe a little net learning has occurred.

 So why do I still feel like my shoulders are trying to crawl up the back of my neck?



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Safety Guy Living Up To His Nickname


Policeman With Truncheon

As I've written many times before, Safety Guy is a young man of many interests - obsessions, really.  That's just par for the Aspergers course.  Some people with AS stick with a single deep interest for a long time, even lifelong, while others range widely and become "pocket experts" on a number of things.  Safety Guy is in the latter category.  His interests have been many over the years, and he cycles through them irregularly.  Quite a few of his obsessions are interrelated, like natural disasters, weather, and public safety.  We've tried to encourage and direct his interests in ways that will help him decide where his strengths are and what might be good career choices for him in the future.

One difficult thing with Safety Guy's deep interest in police work and public safety is that his Aspergers does not make him the best candidate for being a street officer.  Police on the street need to be very people-savvy, able to quickly read wide-ranging situations including every imaginable physical or social cue, some in life or death circumstances.  Safety Guy is not that adept at such "people reading" - heck, it's a fundamental criteria for his Aspergers diagnosis.  But we haven't squelched his interest in a criminal justice career.  Instead, we've tried to encourage him in ways he could pursue such an interest successfully.  He may consider forensics (a current interest of his), or fire safety (inspector or alarm system specialist), or other related disciplines.

His current YouTube watching has consisted of real-life forensics shows (like Solved), and reenacted rescue shows (like Rescue 911).  He's also discovered a video game where the player takes the role of 911 dispatcher for a city.  The game is Emergency 3 (and also Emergency 4, which is much harder to find), for a PC platform.  Once again, a community of people on YouTube record and upload their games, which can be quite involved.  Hostage crises, accidents of all kinds, fires, police chases, natural disasters, riots, you name it, it's possible in the game, in multiple cities across the country (and globally, in Emergency 4).  It's really a fascinating game, made in part by the makers of the SimCity franchise.  If Safety Guy doesn't buy it himself in the next couple months, he'll probably get it for his birthday.

Safety Guy's interests came a bit close to real life on our long drive home from a family visit over the weekend.  As we got off the highway onto a secondary road, traveling through the hills of Central NY, we found ourselves behind a large pickup truck.  It quickly became apparent that the driver wasn't fully in control of their faculties, because the truck frequently swerved over the road lines, both to the center and to the side, and his speed was erratic.  A couple times we were afraid we were going to witness a head-on collision as he drifted over the center line.  The driver also would not let anyone pass him when the brief passing lanes came up - he'd drive down the middle of both lanes.  After watching this for a little while, we decided to call 911 and report the driver's license plate and location, so the police would be aware of the situation.  Safety Guy was quite interested in the proceedings, and a little bit freaked out by the driver's actions (after all, SG watches crash and rescue videos all the time - he could anticipate what could happen if the driver went just a little too far over the line).

While my husband drove a safe distance behind the truck, I called 911 and let them know what was going on, and Safety Guy made a point of getting out our little car first aid kit, just in case it was needed.  He was nervous but ready to jump in to help if needed - I was quite proud of him.  The dispatcher said he didn't have a unit nearby, but would get the information out so the police could keep an eye out for them.  We didn't see if the driver was ever pulled over.  We eventually diverged from the truck in a larger town.  We hope that the driver made it home safely, whether or not they were ever pulled over.  It was an instructive situation for Safety Guy.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Little Bears and Business Ideas

During the Olympics I've been enjoying crafting little teddy bears.  Most evenings lately I settle on the couch in the family room and watch whatever event is being shown in prime-time.  I know the broadcast is many hours delayed, but we don't have cable, and we aren't willing to pay for fancy online access (no FiOS out here in the boonies anyhow).  Some days I check to see the winners ahead of time, some days I don't.  I enjoy seeing the effort that the athletes put into their pursuit of excellence.  I love seeing underdogs win.  I especially enjoy seeing good sportsmanship. The kids and I have had many good conversations while watching various Olympic events.  The Princess says we can come watch her when she competes in the Games someday (although she's unclear what event she'd like to participate in).

So I've been cutting out and partially assembling little teddy bears for the past two weeks.  I also finished four completely.  I don't need to crank out a dozen of them all at once - I'd rather list a handful every few weeks.  I've started making some in Christmas fabrics, too, to get ahead for the season.

My daughter and my youngest sister both suggested, almost within the same day, that I make even smaller bears to sell as Christmas ornaments.  I'm going to give that a try.  I reduced the pattern, cut out three teeny tiny bears, and started the preassembly (where I machine sew the long seams, to save time).  I'll see how the final hand assembly goes - I'm not sure stuffing a bear about 5 inches tall will be all that easy.  I'm also thinking that I need to increase the price for my regular little bears, just slightly.  They're a bargain right now at $10 each, considering the work that goes into them.

I've had various friends and family suggest that I consider taking my art and crafts to a craft fair or juried craft show.  I'm not convinced that my art originals would sell well at that kind of venue, even the juried ones.  I need to look into investing in limited edition prints of my drawings.  People would probably be more willing to pay $15-$20 for a print, instead of $30-$60 for an original.  And I'd have to stockpile a huge number of bears.  I'd also need to get a laptop to keep inventory and take payments by credit card or PayPal.  Then I'd have to buy tables and display materials.  Not to mention I'd have to consider booth rental fees and travel costs.  No, I don't think I'm ready to sell at fairs.

But, we are considering buying a small kiln for me in the next year, so I can make small ceramic items at home - pendants, ornaments, and the like.  We've joked for a while that we'd start our own business, and my husband would be the manager/financial director/accountant, and I'd be the artist making stuff and doing publicity (the labor, if you will).  Maybe that will actually happen.  Tech Guy wants to register my business (Ellemar Designs) as an LLC (limited liability company) so we could offset our investment in the business with tax write-offs for business expenses.  Starting a real business (instead of what amounts to a hobby enterprise) will take a commitment and investment beyond what I'm ready to get into right now, but might not take that long to pull it together once we get serious.  Really, I'd love to also get in with a gallery to sell my paintings.  But to sell stuff I need to create stuff.  So, I guess I'd better get busy.  Well, busier.  Some days I can't imagine doing art as a business around my family's needs.  Other days I think, "Yeah, I think I can do this.  Let's go!"  I guess I'll keep praying for clarity, inspiration, and opportunity.

One of these days, maybe sooner than we think, we'll take the plunge.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Aspergers and YouTube



When I first heard of YouTube, I was ambivalent about it.  "Just another way to waste time," I thought.  "What's the point?"  Then YouTube quickly outgrew the vision of its founders as a venue for people to share videos they had personally taken.  I am continually amazed at the uses for YouTube:  bootleg concert video/audio, just about every TV series ever made (in whole episodes or in snippets), documentaries, social awareness campaigns, spoofs, original series, porn, school projects, bullying, advertising, fan fiction, politics, news, voyeurism of all kinds, hobbyists, history, science, art, sports and, oh yeah, home videos.

Our daughter uses YouTube only occasionally, looking for horse videos or cartoons, and Taylor Swift videos, so I think she's representative of most tweens who get on the site intermittently, but for Safety Guy, YouTube has opened up the world in amazing ways.  It's become a calming mechanism for him, a way to feed his desire for knowledge about his interests, and a window on the world (in such a way that his struggles with social rules don't matter much).

At first he wanted to use YouTube just to look up old cartoons.  I showed him how to use my account, and I created a playlist for him, mostly of old Disney cartoons.  Then I made him a playlist of railroad videos, and one for natural disasters/science/shipwrecks, one for "how it's made" stuff, and one for explosions and automobile crash tests.  I previewed and added dozens of videos to each list, and he quickly learned how to add things himself.  We talked about being careful about reading the comments, and he learned about trolls and foul language warnings.  I told him that I had the right to look at anything he was watching, and that I would periodically edit his lists and eliminate anything I found to be offensive (and tell him why I found it to be unacceptable).  I also had to point out to him that I could access the viewing history at any time, so just because it wasn't on a playlist, I could still see what he's been watching.  He has been pretty good about minding our guidelines, but we had some early fireworks when I'd cut out certain videos (usually of people being mean or hurtful - you'd be amazed how many "America's Funniest Home Videos" fall into that category and aren't funny or harmless at all).  Once he was mortified when I called him on something he'd been looking up (wedgies, anyone?), and we count ourselves lucky that that's the worst thing he'd found to entertain himself on YouTube at 12 years old.

But much more than a new techno-entertainment gizmo, YouTube has been a learning and social skills tool for him.  First, it gives him a way to scratch his itches to learn about various obsessive interests.  Natural disasters?  Check.  Auto crash tests?  Bonanza!  Shipwrecks?  Oh yeah.  Trains?  Of course.  Police work? Yep.  The Titanic?  Sure.  Fire alarms?  Heck yeah.  You name it, he can find video about it:  instant gratification at its best.  And he has the typical Aspie encyclopedic memory for minutiae in his areas of interest, so he has stored reams of facts he can share at the drop of a hat - and he does share, daily, at length.

But more than the information overload, YouTube has been a social skills primer for him (admittedly more along the lines of "what not to do" in many cases).  This is where we really earn our parenting merit badges, by being aware of what he's watching all the time and discussing anything he doesn't understand.  Also, he can see that there are many people in the world interested in the same things he is, and who act like he does as well.  In fact, he can see that there are many people in the world a lot like him, and that it's okay to be intensely interested in a topic and share what you know at length and in great detail.  (This was especially obvious to him and to me when he decided to look up fire alarms, to desensitize himself to them and get over his phobia of them a couple years ago.  Suddenly he could see quite a few young men just as interested in fire alarms as he was, and it was clear that quite a few of them probably had Aspergers as well.)  YouTube has also provided us ample opportunities to discuss with him what NOT to say or do on video or in public, what's socially appropriate and what's not, what is okay to watch and what is inappropriate to watch.  Communication is the key to us using YouTube with our son.  We don't let him watch without any supervision or guidance.  He's not flying solo.

YouTube obviously has its major pitfalls.  It's a Wild West kind of site - you can find ANYTHING on there, great, good, bad, stupid and obscene.  Like I said, we have some safety nets built into his use of the site, and we have a program called Covenant Eyes to send us a flag when something inappropriate is searched or visited by anyone on any of our computers, by keyword or website.  The computers are both in the public areas of the house.  He doesn't comment on videos or communicate with anyone via YouTube.  We do our best to give him the freedom to explore it with guidelines to keep him safe.  He is almost 14, after all.  He won't learn the responsibilities of freedom and maturity if he's never allowed to test the boundaries and make mistakes.  YouTube has been a huge benefit for him, both socially and in expanding his interests and horizons.  He wants to take his own videos eventually and share them on there.

Maybe he can encourage other young people with Aspergers with his own videos someday, just by being himself.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Around The Yard

Here are a few more photos of what's going on around the yard right now.  The rain we've had over the past couple weeks has revived the lawn and perked up everything else.  The grass isn't so prickly and brown, the annuals have a new lease on life, and the perennials look much happier.

The sunflowers are one of the few plants around the yard to shrug off the drought.  They're blooming quite nicely now.
Small butterfly on nasturtium leaves.

Hosta flowers after rain.

'Peace' rose, my favorite rose of all time.

Little annual phlox.  They've struggled with the drought, but have managed to put up a few clusters of flowers in the past week.

A sunflower backlit, and photographed looking up toward the sky.  I love the color contrast.

Tiger lily against an ornamental grass.  They're a natural pair, as long as there's enough moisture to go around.
The tomatoes are starting to produce, too.  This is 'Big Beef' - very tasty on hamburgers.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Stormy Weather



A beautiful clear day, something I'd love to have for my family's emotional state.
(The Palatine Church, St. Johnsville, NY)

Some days I feel like I'm in the center of a storm.  Sometimes it feels like my family is spinning around me in various stages of anger and anxiety and frustration, and I'm in the middle trying to keep things from running me over and rushing out of control.

Has anyone else with family on the autism spectrum noticed how reactive they can be, and our families tend to be?  What I mean is, if everyone is on an even keel, things tend to stay that way, but as soon as one person loses their cool, everyone else goes down like dominoes.  It's like Newton's First Law of Motion combined with a string of firecrackers:  an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force, but once the first force happens, everything else goes to hell in a hand-basket.  And it seems that no one wants to be the first to back off, apologize, or stop escalating the conflict.  Someone always has to have the last word, to be RIGHT, to override the other people in the discussion by virtue of superior (or at least endless) argument or by sheer volume.  Someone always ends up in tears of anger or frustration or hurt.  And when the dust settles I can see the blast radius and aftershocks in my family, and it breaks my heart.

 We're having one of those days.  So, if you're so inclined, I'd appreciate your prayers. . . .


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Crash Test Dummies Rule

 Safety Guy at a car show last year.

Safety Guy is really, really excited that we'll have to replace both of our cars over the next couple years.  This fall Tech Guy needs to replace his little old '99 Ford Escort wagon (it's been reliable, but it's rusting out from under him).  In a couple years or so I'll need to replace my '02 Santa Fe with something newer, either another SUV or a minivan.  (SG really, really wants us to get a minivan - he's been obsessed with them since he was about 3).  We never buy brand new cars - used is just fine for us.  We do our research, online and with Consumer Reports.  But now we also have an in-house expert on crash tests and safety ratings to help us choose:  Safety Guy.  As I'm typing, he's watching crash tests on YouTube.  LOTS of crash tests.  He's been bending my ear for over an hour now about various vehicles and their safety ratings, showing me video to back up his statements.  He's definitely showing his Aspergers today with this obsessive interest - but, I'm not really complaining.  THIS interest will protect him (and probably us too) in the future.

SG has been interested in crash tests for years.  He loves to mock-crash his Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars in slow-mo, making all the sound effects for the accidents.  (He's so realistic with his sound effects that we've had to ask him to NOT do them while we're driving.  It's really disconcerting to hear screeching, crashing, honking noises from the back seat while trying to change lanes on the freeway.)  All kinds of vehicles, all kinds of accidents.  He watches movie car chases and dissects if they're realistic or not, physically possible or Hollywood hype, actual cars or CGI or a combination.  He watches public service announcements about being safe while driving (don't text, don't drink, don't horse around etc.)  Somehow I'm NOT worried about Safety Guy being an unsafe driver.  And, as a side benefit, if we can hear him making crash test noises from his room or the family room (he often carries a couple cars in his pocket as a calming device), we know he's in a good mood.  Happy sounds, we call it.

He's earned his nickname many times over:  fire safety, auto safety, emergency safety, natural disaster safety.  I can see him pursuing a career related to these interests.  For now, he can be our in-house car safety expert.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Crazy Busy

It's the busiest week of our summer (at least for me):  Vacation Bible School at church (I'm co-teaching 4th grade), fitness class every day for Safety Guy, and a riding lesson for the Princess.  I'm dragging a bit, trying to fit everything in and also get regular everyday stuff done.  I think I can, I think I can. . . .

VBS has been the big event of the week.  We've had a HUGE number of kids sign up, with 35 today in our fourth grade class alone.  They've been good kids, but it's been a marathon to keep them moving forward together for three hours a day over five days.  I'm so glad tomorrow is the last day.  It will be a water fun day.  Our church rents a bunch of inflatable slides and fun activities for the day, and things get kind of soggy and silly after the morning's lesson is done.  Quite a number of teens and even some college students volunteer as helpers, and they're a huge help with the activities.  Safety Guy has been a teen helper this year, in the craft tent all week.  He's been the "gofer" for the craft ladies, and the muscle whenever they need something moved, as well as helping with some of the crafts by passing out materials.  The Princess was in my class, and I think she had lots of fun too.

The Princess also had her second riding lesson today.  The last two were canceled (one for the stable owner and many students being at a horse show, and last week for severe weather - we had a tornado watch that day).  She was quite annoyed at the cancellations, but very happy to get back to the stable today.  Her new boots were a success, she had a great lesson, and she's happily tired now.  I'm hoping to be able to get her to bed early tonight - she ought to be pooped.

I've been trying to relax by working on teddy bears in the evenings, while watching the Olympics.  I really prefer to watch them live, but I just don't have the time to do that during the day.  It's just not the same to know that the events are already finished, and the results are online.  Sometimes I peek at the results, sometimes I don't.  But I always enjoy seeing the athletes give their best, and I especially love seeing a long-shot or underdog earn a medal.

In the middle of all this fun and busy-ness, Safety Guy also had his first appointment with a counselor who specializes in working with youth with autism spectrum disorders.  It looks like SG and Mr. R. hit it off well.  My husband and I went to the first appointment, to get to know him a bit.  I think this will work out for the long term.  Hopefully Mr. R. will be able to help SG with some of his anger issues and anxiety, both of which have increased over the last 6 months or so.  We may also be looking at a med adjustment, and we'll be talking with SG's pediatrician soon too.  So many things to consider and juggle and balance, some days I feel like we're just flying by the seat of our pants, trying to make the best decisions for our son while we live life at full speed.

Crazy busy.  Thank goodness the Lord is ever-present and unsurprised at our challenges and decisions.