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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #126

Sam: I have some shocking news.
Peggy: What's that?
Sam: I have my first quiz and I have to get a 100.
Peggy: Really? How many chances do you get?
Sam: It's unlimited.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer of '11

David Minton shot this in the livestock barn at the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo. You do what you gotta do to stay cool. Today was officially the 63rd day of the summer over 100 degrees.

Meteorologists say we could see relief this weekend, unless a tropical storm forms in the Gulf.

If so, we're cooked.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #125

Peggy: Dixie has been bad today. She's been barking indoors and chasing the cat.
Sam: The main reason it's bad when she barks inside is because you can't talk when she barks. She interrupts your conversation.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Probably Not Probable Cause

Sam started asking me a lot of questions about when might a police officer pull you over, so many that I asked him whether he got pulled over recently.

He had. In Flower Mound.

As far as I can deduce, he got pulled over because the kind of car he was driving and his license plate closely matched someone the police were looking for.

And what was the probable cause, you ask?

Sam still has a frame around his license plate.

He wondered if his identity had been stolen and whether he should turn his car in. We had a long talk about first amendment rights, and private property rights, and who the police work for. I have no idea how much of that sank in.

But tomorrow, we'll pull the frame off the plate.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Case Against Long ARDs/IEPs

A Sunday piece in the New York Times (Tierney, John, "Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?" Aug. 17, 2011) explained something we figured out instinctively in the Wolfe house a long time ago -- don't make important decisions when you're tired.

Tierney explains the nuance to it, and its whys and hows. The ability to make good decisions fluctuates; it's not an inherent trait or a cultivated talent.

(And, as I hoped in taking my GRE in college, a bar of chocolate really does help.)

Tierney, a respected science writer, reports:

... studies show that people with the best self-control are the ones who structure their lives so as to conserve willpower. They don’t schedule endless back-to- back meetings. They avoid temptations like all-you-can-eat buffets, and they establish habits that eliminate the mental effort of making choices. Instead of deciding every morning whether or not to force themselves to exercise, they set up regular appointments to work out with a friend. Instead of counting on willpower to remain robust all day, they conserve it so that it’s available for emergencies and important decisions.

Which leads me to marathon ARD meetings, those all-day deals to decide what educational goals -- and resources -- will be devoted to your child for an entire year.

That whole go-around-the-table report thing? That can wear you down like a bride and groom trying to decide what to register for.

And plodding through each individual goal? You may just take the recommendation, rather than contribute to meaningfully to the weighing of different values.

As if special needs parents aren't worn down to begin with. Yet, parents aren't part of ARD meeting preparations. They need to review test results and be able to check for their own understanding of the findings. They need to understand the goals and objectives of the speech therapist, the teacher, the occupational therapist, the counselor. More than ever, I'm convinced that the document dump and stilted discussion that occurs at typical ARD meetings guarantees parents will have damaging decision-fatigue, and in the way that Tierney describes it.

We never put a lot of stock in most of the meetings ... as long as resource and treatment options were open. We worked on goals for Sam in other ways.

But for parents who have a lot riding on the outcome of the meetings, it's no wonder that they can turn hostile.

Just like the salesman who wears you down in order to raise his commission, you feel taken. Combine that with the ferociousness any parent has in protecting their child, and you've got a meltdown in the making.

My Dad is Socrates

After a long discussion about this summer's horrendous heat wave ...

Peggy: I confess. In years' past, I would be grateful if we had only a few days over 100 degrees.
Dad: Is that really a good way to live?
Peggy: Ummmm, no.

Overheard in the Wolfe House #124

Sam: You forgot to tell me to take the trash up.
Peggy: Did you?
Sam: Yes.
Peggy: Did you bring the can back?
Sam: Yes.
Peggy: Wow, you sure took a lot of initiative while I was gone.
Sam: I get my groove on when I know you are going to be away.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #123

At the top of an email chain Sam forwarded about visiting Marbridge Village.

Peggy: We can find another day to visit since they can't meet us Labor Day. Meanwhile, you can answer their question that the visit is for you, not you asking for me.
Sam: I already did that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #122

Sam (as Microsoft Office 2010 gets loaded on his Dell via the digital river): .... and so if you need to chat with them, here's where you turn that on ....
Peggy: I'm sure it will be fine. I'm happy to keep an eye on it for you so you can go to work.
Sam: Well, I'm very sorry I got you into this, Mom.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #121

Peggy: So how was work? Was it busy at the store today?
Sam: It's August.

And So It Begins

My friend, and fellow autism mom, Yolanda, calls it the business of empty nesting.

Michael moved into his first apartment this week. I let him shop the house for things he would need to stock the kitchen and outfit the rest of this space he'll share with three other guys. He's a junior at TCU, and each step taken is a further step from the nest. It's exciting to watch, and a little bittersweet.

Paige is next. She will move into the dorm this week at the University of Iowa. Dorm life is not as nice there in Iowa City. I suspect by this time next year, she'll be hunting down her first apartment, the way I did after my first year at North Texas.

Back then, in the dark ages, Bruce Hall didn't have air conditioning. I wasn't putting up with another year of that.

Sam sees these exoduses and knows he's got to make his own moves. We've talked about it a lot in the past year. He doesn't have a good enough job yet, but he's getting there.

Last night, he emailed the folks at Marbridge in Austin. Another young man his age, Daniel, moved there after high school, got a good job at a local hospital, and just this past year, moved out of Marbridge village and into his first apartment. Sam knows that's the kind of support he needs to make the transition.

We're supposed to go tour soon.

And so the last fledging, not to be outdone by his brother and sister, starts stretching his wings.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #120

Sam: Pretty soon we won't have to open the door for the dogs again.
Peggy: What do you mean?
Sam: It will get cool enough to leave the door to the breezeway open
Peggy (forgetting there is weather other than Texas scorch): Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Extreme banking with Sam in the international marketplace, or how I got another 100 gray hairs in the last 24 hours

Last night I sat down to the computer to do a little scanning and the first document that opened up told me that Sam had scanned the front and back of his bank card and driver's license for Avangate -- something akin to PayPal in Canada.

I haven't scrambled so hard in a 24-hour period since he left his wallet on a chair in the waiting room at the dentist's office. That day, someone picked it up and bought gas in Gainesville, about 30 miles away, before we could cancel the card. And Sam had realized the error within the hour.

We did all the usual things -- fraud alerts, card changes, getting the driver's license re-issued.

This time, I wasn't so concerned about Sam having made an error, but that he had left himself too vulnerable.

His intentions were spot on. He upgraded us to OS Lion. We needed Tuxera NTS, a file system that lets the Mac get backed up on an external drive. And probably some other amazing tasks that Sam knows that I don't.

But Tuxera is in Finland. So he had to pay through Avangate. The bank blocked it. That's an international transaction. Avangate sent him an email with several ways to get the payment through. He chose the offline pay and cajoled the bank into authorizing it. Everything seems to have gone through alright.

But, Hey, Martha. I tell ya. If that information got in the wrong hands, someone could drain his bank account.

I went to the bank and ordered him a new bank card. He applied for a credit card. As the good guys at DATCU said, better he shops with the bank's money than his own.

I agree. He manages his money well enough that I know it will be paid off at the end of each month.

Then I called a good friend who I know has LifeLock. She explained it. I persuaded Sam to sign up.

Maybe the rest of us can get in the ring and fight the financial fraud matadors, but Sam is just too much like Ferdinand for that.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #119

Sam: I think I've solved that problem I was having with writing my app. I'd like to show you sometime.
Peggy: Have you finished writing it?
Sam: Oh, it's not time to celebrate yet. I could hit a brick wall or something.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #118

Sam (as he opens the door to head to Albertsons): Oh, it's going to be hot working outside today.
Peggy: Good luck out there.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #117

Peggy, lacing up shoes, sighs. Sam smiles.
Peggy: You think it's funny that I sigh so big before going to work?
Sam: I think I sigh more than you do, and bigger.