Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How Wishes Come True, According to Hamslice

Yesterday during a long car ride, I told Hamslice a story where the hero of the story was the Fairy with the White Gossamer Wings. All of my stories have this same fairy as the hero, and Hamslice has had it "up to here" with the Fairy with the White Gossamer Wings. He actually shouts "Nooooo!" when I say her name.

Hamslice said to me "I don't believe in Fairies. Fairies are stupid."

I looked at him, slightly wounded and said, "Well if you don't have Fairies, how do your wishes come true?"

He looks at me and said, "I don't need Fairies. I've got Santa Claus and God."

Touche Hamslice.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Pluses and Minuses of Creativity

Hamslice has begun developing the neatest sense of humor and a interesting creative approach to problem solving. He is adding onto stories to create punch lines, and bringing the whole plot line to absurdity, which I enjoy immensely. Hambone rolls his eyes, but I suspect he gets it too.

But sometimes his curiosity and problem solving method go too far. On our trip to Michigan last week, Hamslice read a book called "Python Vs. Alligator... who would win" and it turned out that the Python can eat an alligator while the alligator doesn't like the taste of python.

This led to lots of discussion about what a python would look like with an alligator inside, and how long it would take to digest. Then there was a graphic and uncomfortable discussion about how it may or may not poop out the bones.

I thought that he was actually interested in python digestion, (which he wasn't but I'll get to that later) so I told him the story about the lady who had a python as a pet, and how one day the python stretched out from her head to her feet and just laid there next to her, which was unusual. She called the vet and the vet said the python was measuring her to see if he was big enough to eat her yet.

Hamslice's eyes about fell out of his head. I said that the python could eat a human just like it could eat an alligator. Then we talked about how the stomach of the python would dissolve the bones of her skull and then her brains and eyeballs would be just floating around in the snake's stomach. He was laughing at the time, but 3am the next morning told a different story. Lots of lights went on in his room that night.

It turns out he was only interested in how a python would eat an ALLIGATOR, and not anything else.

We're still learning. Always learning.

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Funniest Guy in the Room

I remember my Mom telling me over and over when I was a kid... it's not really the best thing to try being the funniest kid in the room. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized the wisdom in that statement. The funniest guy always goes a little too far just to get a laugh, while the second funniest guy in the room is the real comedian.

Fast forward to Hamslice in the second grade. This week Wednesday his best buddy J (the second funniest guy in the room) pulled Hamslice aside in the lunch room and said "Look what word I know..." and he wrote it on his napkin.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was the "F" word. Not a lovely F word like "Fabulous" or "Frankincense"  but the queen mother of all "F" words. And J wrote not just the F word, he also added its toady companion word "You."

Hamslice looked at the words on the napkin and decided (as the funniest guy in the room) that his required response was to read it as loudly and as many times in a row as he could. He then started pointing at people while shouting it, so several of the kids at school got a big "F... YOU" at lunch. Happy Wednesday, everyone.

And I will say that the call I received from the principal was not the most jovial conversation I've ever had.

Remember. Be the second funniest guy in the room. In this case there was a pretty stiff penalty for him as well, but he will still live this down before Hamslice.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Life in the Country

People have asked me several times in the last few months, "What's it like for a hard boiled city gal to move out to the country?" with the followup question "Do you hate it?"

And I just start laughing. We have never been happier than we are with this decision to move out into the wild. Here are things we don't miss about the city:
  • listening to drunk people shout their way home from the bars
  • cleaning up the flower pots that drunk people knocked over on their way home from the bars
  • smelling the pee in every alley from drunk people on their way home from the bars
  • panhandlers on *EVERY* corner
  • that guy with the persian rug over his shoulders shouting at everyone that HE IS THE CHIEF
  • um... let's see... drunk people ringing our doorbell at midnight, insisting that they live in our house
  • rats
  • rats
  • rats
  • the smell of the neighbors cigarette smoke wafting through our walls
  • noise
  • traffic
  • ravens fans
  • produce from the grocery store that just *isn't quite right*
  • city water
seriously that should be enough to live in a permanent state of ecstasy, here are the new 'problems' we have in the country:
  • traffic jams of deer in the driveway
  • too many choices of excellent grocery stores with fresh seafood, miles-long organic food sections and amazing produce
  • we sometimes can't find hamslice because he is outside playing
  • the neighbors are so friendly that we don't know when or if we are offending them
  • the school is proactive and teaching at lightening speed
  • we love everyone we have met here so far (we can't identify any jerks)
and so on.

So you can see now how I will miss the city, but .. um... not really. Buh Bye.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Oh the Lies. Karma has Caught Me At Last

When I was about 7 years old, I told the biggest gossip in Dad's church that my Mom drank alcohol to such excess that she would start hiccuping and slurring her words. I thought it was hilarious. Subsequently Mom had a rough couple of months, trying to explain that she was not, in reality, a raging alcoholic.

Apparently this is a genetic trait. My dear angelic (cough cough) Hamslice has been telling whoppers about me at school. The first whopper entailed me punching the kids of our friends whenever they came over to our house. The newest one is that I refuse to feed him.

These fibs have led to some rather awkward conversations with Hamslice's school administration. Most of them come off like that fictional court interrogation where the attorney asks "So, Mrs. Johnson, when did you stop beating your child."


I know somewhere up there Mom is laughing her ass off.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Let the Re-evaluations begin

So we had our group meeting at school today. Teacher, Vice principal, Psychologist, Occupational Therapist, Student Liaison and Student Teacher. And me and Hambone. The meeting was much more productive than other similar meetings we have had, and ultimately we are optimistic.

The upshot is that we will begin evaluations for Hamslice within the MD public school system so his results will be normalized across the state. The evaluation is for fine motor and sensory issues, which will get to the root of what's really happening with his SPD. The OT at the school sort of poo pooed our other OT, after we had started poo pooing the SPD treatment we had received. The school's OT was more in line with our understanding of how to diagnose and manage SPD than the old OT. We liked that.

But it was the same kind of gang-up that we've grown accustomed to, where the group has papers to toss at us and a series of episodes that happened in class to blindside us with. We were ready with our papers to toss back at them and our questions right back. We are on to them.

His teacher was less than thrilled that Hamslice was trilling his lips and making noises during class time. She said his drawing and handwriting was juvenile. She also was trying to get a handle on his organizational system, which right now consists of having items scattered about every nook and cranny in the school. Pencils everywhere, papers everywhere. Aie yie yie. And she said he had just had a little spaz out THAT VERY DAY.

However, since the first day of school, Hamslice has had only two really bad episodes so Hambone and I were thinking this was a win for us.

Someday we will have a meeting where only good things are said about Hamslice. Someday.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to School, Back to Square One

This week was back to school for Hamslice. We had all hoped against hope that our new school, located in suburban utopia, would be some sort of smiling bubble zone that would embrace Hamslice whole heartedly that this friendliness would erase all of his [former] issues.

So, it was a bit of a wake up call when he was already punching kids by 1:30 pm on Day One. I suppose that the big move to the county was a way of Hambone and I drifting off into blissful denial that we still have a little guy with a very different brain.

To be fair to all involved, I did mention Hamslice's sensory issues on "meet your teacher" day, which was the day before school started. I talked to the teacher three separate times in the hopes she wouldn't forget. I also spoke to the music teacher and anyone else I could find.

Interestingly, they all did seem to forget my conversations (it was a pretty busy day, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt) and that led to a pretty bad set-up for Hamslice right off the bat. For instance, his classroom teacher forgot to let Hamslice bring "soft bunny" into class to provide a sensory break as needed. Instead she sat him in front of the window, where there were contractors jackhammering all day. It was so loud in the classroom that the teacher had to use a microphone to be heard over the noise.

Hamslice went right from that environment to music, to the cafeteria, and then to recess. Three humungously loud situations in a row. By the end of recess he was swinging fists.

So the teacher notified me by email, and I responded with a very professional, clinical sounding email that basically said, what did you expect after all that noise and tactile deprivation? I told her that Soft Bunny was coming again the next for Hamslice, and she would need to start using it. She wrote back and said the principal and vice principal disallowed Soft Bunny (nobody had even looked at it) and that he would receive a stress ball instead.  At this point I let it go. They will get to enjoy whatever consequences they create there.

After school, the vice principal pulled me aside and said we would need to have a conference about Hamslice and his special conditions. On Tuesday afternoon I get to face another gang up of Teacher, Vice Principal, Principal, Social Worker, Student Liaison and I would not at all be surprised to see the goddamn Janitor there. We will have been in school less than a week on Tuesday.

So now I am rereading all those vicious documents from the therapists from two years ago trying to develop a plan for my school negotiations. I am not entirely sure what I will ask for yet, but I will go in unafraid. And I will advocate for my son like the best lawyer in town. And he will thrive, if I have to have meetings with everyone in order for that to happen.

On a positive note, perhaps getting in early with the powers that be is a good thing. Maybe we can get out in front of it this year before everyone jumps to their own conclusions about him. The school's reputation is for responsiveness and accommodation, so maybe this is just that reputation playing out. Maybe my shell-shock is showing through.

More next week...

Friday, August 15, 2014

The House -- Before & After

I have seen that a lot of web sites are following the house progress, so I am posting some before/after photos. Please feel free to use the photos but do not share the URL of this blog. We are still moving in, so there is clutter here and there in the pictures. I'll update this later on when we are all set for prime time.
Kitchen Before

Kitchen After

3rd floor bedroom Before

3rd fl. bedroom After
House side After

House side Before

Foyer stairs Before

Foyer stairs After
Dining Room Before

Dining Room After

House front Before


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Big Move. Holy Moley

So the big news is that we now live in the country, and have divested ourselves of the city entirely. The last of our stuff arrived today, and we settle on the sale of the Federal Hill house on Friday or Monday.

Are we happy? Yes, we are thrilled. Did we have an organized and stress free move? Not on your life.

Here's how it went down:  I had carefully started boxing items in the house as I had time and was able to locate boxes. Therefore my Christmas decorations, old X-Box games and family photo albums were well labeled and organized for the move.

As the date of the move grew closer, it because increasingly unclear which date EXACTLY we would move, so we had a lot of trouble trying to figure out when to hire the movers.

One Friday night, Hambone said, "Let's try sleeping over night just to see how it is once." So we each packed a polite little bag with one pair of underpants, PJs and clothes for the next day.

On that Saturday, Hamslice woke up and declared that he was NOT GOING BACK TO FEDERAL HILL EVER AGAIN. And he was serious. When we went back to the city that evening he wouldn't get out of the truck. The city was dead to him.

Hambone looked at me, and I at him, as we slowly started unrolling big black trash bags. We then commenced feverishly packing everything we could put our hands on. We must have looked like we were running from the law we were packing so fast. Randomized bags of stuff started appearing in the kitchen. For example take these bags:
  • Pens and extension cords as well as three board games and a tea kettle
  • 5 blazers, a bag of dogfood and three frying pans
  • Shoe shine kit, all of our spatulas, a book on child birth and three pillows
The house had these random bags leaning against the walls throughout the house. There are nearly 50 of them. Our glamorous moving company idea was reduced to Hambone sending "the guys" who are general laborers. Because they are not professional movers, even more chaos was added into the mix. No labels on any containers, giant piles of mismatched items heaped on the floor, lawn furniture in the living room, aie yie yie.

At one point, Hambone even enlisted our maid to pack stuff.

So that was the move. The other news is that the house is not quite done. For example, the light switches are all set to work from a computerized lighting control. However that computer system doesn't work yet, so no  light switches work. We also have intermittent HVAC on the second floor, where the HVAC guy says it's all set, but then the next day the thing is shut off at the safety valve.

Meanwhile we are trying to keep the Fed Hill house in "like new" condition, but one of "the guys" unplugged the storage freezer in the garage with 4 pounds of meat in it. Now the garage smells like the bowels of hell.

And now that the house is "done" Hambone is starting work on a massive patio and 5 car garage. So this has been a lot of hammering and concrete pouring and stuff.

But we are on the way out, back to a semblance of normalcy that we can see "just over the horizon" which I will say is a far cry better than "out there somewhere."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

First Steps in our New Home

This morning I was ready to head to the grocery store for our weekly run, and Hambone said "Why are you doing that when we move in less than a week?" So I take that to be very, very good news. I spent the day packing up the rest of our house instead of grocery shopping -- I packed everything that would fit in boxes until I ran out of boxes. My excitement knew no bounds.

To fill you in a little on the construction, the last few weeks have involved large teams of laborers, all digging and moving furniture and lifting and drinking Gatorade by the gallon. My job throughout construction has been to provide lunch for all the guys. During the winter months this was easy because there were only about three people working most Saturdays, so a few pizzas or a quick trip to McDonalds did the trick. 

Lately with the crews so big, Hambone decided it would be a good idea to buy a cheap gas grill and serve everybody fresh burgers and hotdogs. He said it would be about half as expensive and the food would be better quality, so why not?

To put this into perspective, this means making lunch for 10 to 15 workers, and they were big, hungry laborers. Did I mention big? And the house is not, shall we say, entertainment ready. For instance, we have no plates. I bought plates, but by Saturday they were invariably gone. Nobody knows where. There are also no tables, and for the first cookout, there was also no spatula. Being an improvisor, I made 20 burgers and 16 hotdogs using a putty knife.

But the guys were all jovial and they line up for their burgers served on paper towels like they are at the Taj Mahal. I will always be grateful for their attitude.

One of them, referred to simply as "Big O" (apparently the father of another laborer named Orin) is my favorite. He only spoke to me with ancient animal like sounds, but he makes everything sound like a celebration. MMMmmMMmmmmm  oooeaaaahh brimmme sommeda'. I look forward to seeing him in line, and usually he passes through the line more than once. The first weekend he ate five burgers and two hotdogs. Last weekend I grilled corn and he seemed to like that pretty good too.

Our own little family had a celebratory first meal of "food cooked inside my brand new gourmet kitchen" which consisted of microwaved hotdogs. Hambone had a good laugh about that.

We are so excited to try this new lifestyle out. Hopefully fewer hotdogs and more outdoor time are in store for us. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Summer of the Move

We are starting to pack up and move things to the new house, which is incredibly exciting. Our original move date was April, then June, then July 4 weekend, and it seems that now we are looking at the completion date as August. But I keep telling Hambone it has to be sooner!

I planned the summer activities for Hamslice and me to include living at the new house, which meant I scheduled camps for him up there, and took weeks off of camp with the idea that we would go hiking together and exploring around the pond and fishing. However, with the move date so late, I am commuting for all of the camps, and Hamslice is watching a lot of TV. Again.

But we are getting there!

This summer Hamslice wants to learn how to catch and throw a baseball, and that is tough to do here in the city but we have that on the list of first things to tackle when we move. He has regaled me on the drive up to camp (one hour each way! AAHHH) with every known fact about superheros. Some of them I believe are embellishments by Hamslice which make me so proud. He gets that from his mom.

One of his camps this summer is at Puh'tok which is a non-academic camp. He sincerely hates this camp because there is no real curriculum so the kids spend their energy conducting intense social experiments on each other. Hamslice and I have had tearful, heart to heart talks about how learning to deal with these kids now is as much a skill as learning math or reading, and that he can't survive as an adult without learning how to handle it. He grudgingly accepts this explanation and patiently counts the days until camp is over.

He has three weeks at Club Scientific, which after Puh'Tok, seems like a wonderland to him.

Last week I registered him for the new school in Sparks and he received a MONSTER load of "skills maintenance" homework. He has been plowing through the pile two pages at a time, laughing and saying how easy it is. I have high hopes for him for next year.

I will note however, that Hamslice does like the songs he's learning at Puh'tok. There is one about a moose with juice on the loose, and a song about butts, and one about Bazooka bubble gum which mercifully has replaced some of the superhero talk. At least for this week.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Crooked Teeth and Swimming

Hamslice lost his first tooth about 6 weeks ago, and the new tooth is about half way grown in. It looks to me like his new tooth is about twice as wide as his baby tooth, so it's coming in nearly sideways. Snaggle tooth.

So far there aren't any other loose teeth, so this one will just have to jam itself in there and hope for the best. Looks like we need to find an orthodontist in the next year.

In other news, Hamslice is becoming a pretty good swimmer. He is able to do the crawl and breast stroke. When he swims with his face in the water he's even pretty fast -- It's his best skill so far.  He is still very skittish about jumping in, though. He's certain this is the way he will die.

We have set up swimming lessons for our new address in Sparks, however it looks like our move-in date continues to be a moving target. I suppose it will depend on the day that I just show up with a truck and say, "Here we are."  Hopefully we are going on the 4th of July weekend. Either way, we will keep him swimming for as long as he wants to do it. Maybe a little longer than that.

Last weekend Hambone and I realized that we will just need to put in a pool at the new house. Apparently, that's the best solution.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hamslice Update, Waaaay overdue

I have been remiss in updating the Hamslice story for quite a while. As many of you know, when all this behavior stuff went down, Hambone and I devised an 18 month plan to fix everything, because why wouldn't you make an 18 month plan.

The plan is nearly complete and involved a lot of therapeutic intervention, home building, grade skipping, time taking, and attention to family. Possibly the most important factors in our ability to see light at the end of this is that we took the time and attended to our family.

After a series of charting exercises, and Social Thinking classes we are seeing a little guy who has loosened up a little and is able to take life nearly in stride. There are still things that get under his skin in a serious way, such as loud noises (particularly singing) and situations that are super unfair or where the rules change, but overall much better.

The 18  month plan in detail:
  • Pull Hamslice out of school and homeschool for 2 months with intense therapy over the summer
  • Change to public school for first grade, with therapy support as needed.
  • Skip kindergarten and place him in first grade by doing a supreme paperwork shuffle that may not have been entirely legal. I came clean around Christmas, and they let me keep him in his grade.
  • Prepare for second grade by buying a house in a better school district. This turned into a massive undertaking because rather than just move, Hambone wanted to do a full gut/renovation of a historic house in the school district
  • Get Hamslice outside exercising, tripping over things, getting bug bites and playing in mud. As boys are supposed to.
  • Move to the new house
Then evaluate. 

We move next month (?) or soon thereafter. Hamslice made it through first grade easily academically, and behavior that still has him in the bottom third, but seems to be manageable. At least... his teacher knows how to work with him.

It seems like we may be able to keep him in school without drowning him in meds or therapy (which, after about 8 months starts sounding like farty old ladies giving mediocre advice) and maybe this whole deal is fading to the background.

We are optimistic. And definitely smarter for the experience, and looking forward to supporting our little guy through school and in life, no matter what it takes.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Hamslice Designs a Security System

So Hamslice has been interested in the renovation of the new house. Not in a "helping" way, but more as a critic of the process. The one thing he is very concerned about is safety at the new house.

Watch this video to see his schematic of the security system that includes the following and *so much more*:
  1. a security piano
  2. haunted pool security skeleton
  3. lasers (obviously)
  4. canon with amazing ordnance 
  5. metal safety jackets for the dogs

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Unapologetic Bragging

As you all know, Hamslice has been doing a lot of work lately on his social skills and learning how to "do school." At one point I forgot that the point of school was "the 3 Rs" because I was so focused on just keeping him out of trouble.

Well, our little man seems to have picked up his 3 Rs just fine on his own. I noticed he has been making great strides in reading, and we're working on penmanship, you know... normal stuff.

Today Hamslice took his second set of standardized tests to check progress from the beginning of the year, and he JUMPED THREE LEVELS!!! Wahooo!!!

His teacher said he would have jumped a fourth level, but he missed one consonant blend. She said he had to test for hours in order to get all the levels, because the test and test until the student "peters out." She said he was testing so long that she felt guilty and asked him if he wanted to stop.

He said, "NO! KEEP GOING!"

So she is placing him in a new study group within his class and will continue testing tomorrow.

Go Hamslice!!! Mom and Dad so proud of you!