Love. Listen/Observe/Read. Act. Repeat.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

And the winners are ...

Mandy Cleveland, Jessica DeLeon, Diana Hatch, Kim Wendt, and Abby Nelson.

I was so excited as Sam picked you, and then crushed when I realized I couldn't give a book to everyone, but thanks to all for playing!

Since we know all of you that won, we're going to work hard to deliver the books in person in the next week .... though Jessica, we may be mailing your copy to you. Send me a good address through Facebook, would you, please?

Book give-away

Giving away five copies of the book today via Facebook. Look for the See Sam Run page on Facebook for details.

Overheard in the Wolfe House #66

Peggy (trying to divide up the chores fairly as she, Paige and Sam get ready to clean house): We each get five, no six, wait, there's 12 still here, I've already picked five ...
Sam: Oh, I hate all this uncertainty.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Family love

But there is no vocabulary
For love within a family, love that's lived in
But not looked at, love within the light of which
All else is seen, the love within which
All other love finds speech.
This love is silent.

-- T.S. Eliot

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #65

Sound of Michael Buble "Me and Mrs. Jones" blaring from the computer as Peggy rocks forward and back
Sam: I've never seen that kind of dancing before. (pauses) It's just silly.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #64

Peggy: Nice haircut, Sam.
Sam: My co-worker said I looked like Superman -- but it won't last. I have to take a shower now.

The King's Speech

I've thought a lot about this movie since I first blogged about it after seeing it over the holidays. As a storyteller, I appreciated the filmmaker's storytelling elegance and prowess.

Now, the film stands to win as many as 12 Oscars, and I am still thinking about the film and its incredible humanity. My favorite scene came early in the movie when the Bertie's daughters beg him to tell them a story. He delivers a touching tale of self-acceptance, a story within the story.

There is something to learn, as well, in the Lionel Logues of the world. It was a gift that he learned how to help people in a trial-by-fire kind of way. What he had going for him -- a quality that sometimes gets drilled out of those with more formal training -- is cultivating that sense of equality in a caregiver-client relationship.

In the case of a speech therapist and a stutterer, it seems counter-intuitive to not do that. But when you think about all caregiver-client relationships, that equality applies.

Trained expertise does not subjugate any portion of another's humanity.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just a Little Radioactive

In one of the dozens of "grief books" that friends gave me after Mark died, I learned a helpful lesson. When something bad happens to you, people around you may react to you as if you are a little radioactive.

Granted, I probably was. People want to show that they are compassionate, but most aren't ready for a deep walk in the emotional woods with you on a moment's notice. It's a strange place to be, socially. People circle around you to help insulate and protect you, but if you need someone to be with you in a big way, the list of those capable is pretty short.

And even the capable ones have their days that they just can't.

That's good to know. I was pretty tender-hearted back then -- and still am often -- so it helps to know that I scared people even more than I normally do, and to not take it personally.

I ended up spending a year with a grief therapist. I could have joined a group and got the same kind of support from others, but I recognized that my level of introspection (some might call it navel-gazing) would probably scare the people who could see the thestrals, too.

The perspective is helpful as I look back on Sam's early childhood. People are especially challenged in supporting you because it's not a true tragedy. As the years go by, I'm finding it easier to lay a lot of those experiences to rest, knowing that some people were trying, but what I might have been seeking was more than they had to give.

Yes, Virginia, sometimes there isn't a Santa Claus. But, you've got a spine, and prayer, so you'll be fine.

We're going through another round of that "radioactivity" in our lives. I'm pretty savvy to it -- the list of people who can tackle the topic is small, and I have had to re-arrange my life somewhat in acknowledgement of that. I've even overwhelmed my family from time to time. Most of the time when friends and acquaintances push for information, I tell them it's really not suitable for polite conversation.

But I forgot that little social rule today, and shared too much with someone who just seemed endlessly curious and capable of the conversation until I got the look. I knew that look, it was the get-me-out-of-this-conversation-this-lady-is-radioactive look.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #63

Peggy: So what are you doing there, on Sibelius?
Sam: I tend not to tell you about stuff that is complicated.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #62

Peggy: I thought I'd go ahead and play a little piano. (pause) You can go to the back of the house and close the door.
Sam: Oh, sometimes it's not so bad.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #61

Peggy: (wondering whether the Day-Quil and the country cough syrup should have been an either/or choice)
Sam: You're starting to repeat yourself, Mom.
Peggy: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Conscious parenting

When the boys were still babies, Mark and I watched other parents with their trials and tribulations.

After watching enough toddlers and preschoolers run to their mother's arms when they were hurt -- sometimes running right past father on the way -- Mark decided it was important to him that our children be comforted as readily by him as by me.

He felt that he was at a disadvantage because I was the one with the breasts. Frankly, though, it wasn't hard to to convince the boys that daddy's hugs and kisses made the boo-boos go away, too. If something happened when Mark was around, he swept in and gave the lovin' required. Sometimes I'd bring the band-aid and give it to Mark to apply.

Age plays with the memory, to be sure, but I cannot remember ever seeing any of our children, hurt and crying, and in Mark's arms but reaching for me, instead.

I'm not exactly sure what it got us, but now that Mark is gone, I'm grateful for it.

Conscious parenting was all that was required.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Angels in Switzerland

I'm so grateful for the angels God puts on Earth. I never know when I'll meet one, or get to spend time with a whole flock of them, like today.

(We're setting up Sam's internship ... last step before graduation.)

I will share more details in the weeks to come, but all you parents of kids with autism, remember this: accept the angels for who they are and what they do. Let them be the angels God sent them to be. Your life will be better, richer, lovelier, happier ...

Those things you worry about? Don't try to bend the angels to your will. I practiced that lesson today. I'm trusting that things will work out. Because they always do.


They do.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #60

After helping Sam draw a hot bath to ease the discomfort of a sinus infection ...

Sam: (blowing bubbles in the bathtub)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #59

Peggy: How was dinner last night with Michael? Your burger at Dutch's?
Sam: It was good. I had a barbecue burger.
Peggy: A burger with barbecue sauce?
Sam: Yes, with sauce and bacon.
Peggy: Cheese?
Sam (in a most serious tone): Cheese doesn't go with barbecue.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #58

(After Peggy tries to encourage him to wear a handsome, new, powder blue shirt during the day, rather than at night.)
Sam: I have a mind of my own.
Peggy: Yes, you do. And you can ignore my advice as you see fit.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cutting, and pasting, and passing it on

The Arc of Northeast Tarrant County presents…

ASPIRE – Parent Information Meeting
Applied Behavioral Analysis – ABA
Presenter: Billy Edwards, M.S., BCBA
Saturday, January 15, 2011
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Arc of Northeast Tarrant County
1806 Haltom Road
Haltom City, Texas 76117

RISE – Families Helping Families Meeting
The Admission Review and Dismissal (ARD) Process
Presenter: Jill Stover, PATH Project
Saturday, January 22, 2011
2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
The Arc of Northeast Tarrant County
1806 Haltom Road
Haltom City, Texas 76117

Learning Together Workshop Series
Transition Transcends All, Creating Meaningful Lives for Individuals who have a Disability
Presenter: Debbie Wilkes, Statewide Consultant
Saturday, January 29, 2011
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
TCU - Dee Kelly Alumni and Visitors Center
2820 Stadium Dr.
Ft. Worth, Texas 76109

For more information, please visit

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #57

Sam: I have a feeling I might be called into work today.
Peggy: Oh really?
Sam: Yes, I have a sixth sense about these things.
Peggy: A sixth sense, huh.
Sam. Oh, yes. It keeps me going in the right direction.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #56

Sam: Look, Mom.
Peggy: What is it?
Sam: It's my tolltag. I got it today.
Peggy: Yay you.
Sam: Yes, Air Five.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #55

[after sustaining her end of at least 20 minutes of rapid-fire commentary, pressing questions and interrupted conversations that would wear down even the most hardened city news editor]
Peggy (to Paige): Now that you guys are all back home, I can stop trying to have conversations with the dog.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Family Can't Do It All

Texas is going to shop in the social services departments for the $25 billion it needs to balance its budget, I'm banking on that.

Services for Sam and others like him in this state have always been poorly funded, and often pathetic in scope. Texas is just so stuck on this idea of picking yourself up by the bootstraps. Or, alternatively, making sure a family takes care of its own.

I've been guilty of that kind of shortcut thinking, because there is a grain of truth to it.

Yet, there are plenty of times that Sam needs a leg up and, as his mother, I am the absolute most wrong person to give it.

For example, his voyage into the work force -- soon he is going to be underemployed, computer certificate in hand, but still sacking groceries at Albertsons. He'll need help with the job search. The college's placement center will be a resource, but he's going to need some intense coaching for this part of the process. He had more than six months of support to get that job at Albertsons.

The job hunt is one of our most elaborate social rituals.

No place for your mom.