Sunday, November 29, 2009

He Makes Me Smile

Am I a bad dad for laughing at my kids? They do the funniest things, even when they don't mean to. I can't help but laugh out loud at some of the things. Here are a few of my favorites from Itai from the last few weeks.

He loves to imitate Avi, no matter what he is doing. The other day Avi was being punished in the corner. Itai came to investigate all the crying. He saw Avi in the corner and looked at me, clearly trying to determine what was happening. Once I told him Avi was taking a time out he walked quickly to the corner (well, as close to the corner as Avi would let him) and stuck his nose against the wall.

Another time Avi was standing looking at the wall when he started to rub his hands across it. I don't know if he likes the texture or what, but I decided to join in the activity. I said, "Oh, are you cleaning the walls? OK, cleaning! Cleaning, cleaning the walls!" as I rubbed my hands back and forth. Itai ran over and joined in as well. I'm not sure what on earth he thought we were doing, but he knew that if Avi was doing it, he wanted to do it too. Now both of them run to the wall and start rubbing it as soon as I say, "Let's clean the wall!" (This may come in handy once I figure out how to transfer this to dishes.)

Itai loves taking a bath. The other day I got his clothes off and set him down. Avi was standing between him and the tub so Itai found a way around. It just so happened that the way around took him squeezing between the toilet and Avi and over some toilet paper. It got stuck to his foot. Now, that was enough to make me smile and giggle a bit, but his reaction made laugh out loud. He looked down at it and shook his foot a few times. It didn't come off. Then he tried rubbing it on the rug, but still it was stuck. A few more shakes failed to get it off. He decided to just take it into the bath with him. He tried to climb into the tub but he saw the toilet paper again. He bent down to pull it this time, but his weight kept it stuck underneath him. He was so bugged by it that he looked at me and said, "Uh!" Then he tried to stick out his foot for me to pull it off. Unfortunately for him, this sudden shift in balance left him on his stomach with the toilet paper still stuck to him.

Itai loves hats almost as much as he loves baths. After Avi asked for his Mickey Mouse hat and got it, Itai wanted something to wear. The only hand handy was my baseball cap. I put it on his head even though it was far too big for him. He loved wearing it. He thought it was so funny to pull the brim of the hat down over his eyes. I tried to catch him, but it was too late. He walked headlong into the garbage can knocking him down while making a loud crash. Itai thought this was funny too, he kept bumping into it hoping to get a reaction.

While I was changing Avi's diaper I see Itai inspecting something on his fingers. I couldn't quite see what it was, but when I asked him what he was looking at he ran. He may as well have said, "I don't know what it is, but I shouldn't have it and I'm not going to let you have it!" With a big, messy diaper on my hands all I could do was watch and make sure he didn't eat whatever it was. He eventually made his way to the wall and started wiping his finger on it. It was then I realized what it was. A booger! Once he got it off his wall and securely stuck to the wall he walked off happy as could be. Maybe I should have made him do the "cleaning the wall" trick. Why didn't I think of that before??

Lastly, he loves putting things in their place (this isn't to say he doesn't love making a mess). He likes putting crayons back in their ziplock bag, puzzle pieces with their puzzles and nesting cups in their place. He also loves bringing trash to us and getting permission to throw it away, especially diapers. So, the other day he brings the diaper I had just taken off of him and I tell him he's right, it needs to go into the the trash can. I watch him carry it off and carefully place it in the trash can. Then he decides he wants to see where it ended up. He gets up on tiptoes, pushes the flap back and peers down into the trash can. Then I notice that his mouth is directly on the trash can. I go running over telling him, "No, no. Don't put your mouth on the trash can," to which he replies by opening his mouth with laughter. Yuck!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


When I was younger my parents, church leaders, school counselors and others were always telling me I needed a plan. I really did, but try as I might I could never decide on what to do. Serve a mission...then what? It took a while but I finally made my plans. There is a funny thing about plans though; they sometimes go awry.

That is what I am thankful for this year. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm grateful that no matter how well planned, things can take a very different direction. I certainly don't feel happy about the change when it happens but I try to remember this talk by Hugh B. Brown.

Autism was never in the plans. When was first introduced to us I felt like it was a disturber of our peace, an invader of our plans. But by realizing that the Gardener knows better what to do with Avi and our family I have found that autism fits perfectly in the the true plan. The same is true for PFO's TIA's and everything else unexpected in my life. Thank Heaven I wasn't allowed to make my life what I had planned on making it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Little Buddy

Itai has become my little buddy lately. He gets so upset when he sees me wearing my scrubs. He runs up to me and insists that I pick him up and carry him with me everywhere I go. If I'm facing the cabinets he squeezes himself in between me and the cabinets and pushes me away, looks up and pushes his hands up towards me saying, "Uh, uh!" This is Itai-isian for "You will pick me up!" I really like having a fan. He's a bit like the "my little buddy" I had when I was young, only better. He really makes me laugh, he gives great hugs and kisses and best of all if he gets paint in his hair it isn't stuck forever!

One of my favorite things he does is his sudden visits. He'll be playing with whatever toy or book and he'll suddenly pick it up and bring it over and plop down, make himself comfortable and share it. Then, just as suddenly as he came, he leaves. I love having a crayon-eating, juice-guzzling, kiss-giving, messy-making little buddy. I hope that when he's older he'll still stop by unexpectedly and share whatever he is involved in with me. Being a dad is sooo much better than owning a My Little Buddy Doll!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

An Indelible Mark

One of Avi's favorite things on Earth is his set of markers. He loves everything about them. He can name the colors while playing with them, they roll, he can stand them up and knock them down oh, and he can use them to color. He loves them so much that they make the perfect quiet time toy. If I need to make dinner I can give him some paper and his markers and I don't have to worry about what he's doing. Well, until recently. He decided that our, "yellow table" is the perfect canvas for his art. So now while he's coloring and I'm cooking I take little breaks to check on the table. Its fine, I was already taking little breaks to make sure that Itai isn't eating his crayons.

So yesterday while Itai was sleeping Avi was playing with his markers. He was perfectly content with them. A quick check of the table turned up a clean, still yellow table. I did think it was kinda weird that he hadn't turned his paper into a jumble of circles, scribbles and dots, but not weird enough to think much of it.

So then I notice this:

Hmmm, that seems a little strange. So I pull his legs out from under the table and find this:

The table is no longer the perfect canvas for his art, it seems his body has taken that place. The funny thing about the whole thing is that he obviously knew he wasn't supposed to do it, but he still thought it was funny when I caught him. This is seriously how he looked when I caught him:

Note to self: check for half eaten crayons, re-decorated tables and tattooed children.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Book Report

A friend at work suggested that I read the book "The Horse Boy." It is the story of a family who is dealing with their son's autism as well as they can. In the midst of the confusion and uncertainty the father realizes that his son has an emotional connection with horses. Since he also has a personal connection with shamans the father decides to find a place where horses and shamans come together. The place he finds the two combined is Mongolia. He convinces his wife to travel to the ends of the earth in an attempt to "heal" their son. They leave their home in Texas, travel to England and end up in Mongolia. Their journey has them traveling by plane, van and horse.
This book tells a truly unique story; not many people look to Mongolia for the treatment of anything! Love, open mindedness and determination are key principles that shine through in this story of struggle and acceptance.
Oh...and there is a documentary of the same name depicting the experience.

My Social Work class was assigned the book, "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. This book is strangely engrossing. It describes Jeannette's strange and nomadic childhood with her paranoid, alcoholic father and her bipolar (my guess) mother. Throughout her childhood her family faces poverty, hunger, inadequate clothing, heat and sanitation. Her parents both struggle to stay employed. Her father is frequently drunk and even when he is not he is contemptible and argumentative. Her mother is a bit of a free spirit who lacks the discipline to arrive on time, stick to lesson plans and sometimes to even go to school. Her parents were successful at engaging the imaginations and curiosity of their children. The children were all very intelligent, often too intelligent for their teacher's liking. The beginning of the book tells the story of an evening ruined. Jeannette is on her way to a party in Manhattan when she sees her mother digging through dumpsters. Jeannette returns to her expensive apartment and ponders how her mother was brought so low. I was compelled to get to the end of this book, despite my repulsion to her parents' indifference, to satisfy my curiosity.

If anyone wants to borrow either book just ask. The Glass Castle is currently on loan, but I would be happy to loan it out again as soon as it comes back.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Housekeeper Slam

In the last post I mentioned how I seem to have fooled some people. This week the universe decided to let me know that not everyone was fooled by my bald head and chwexican shaped way of a housekeeper.

This housekeeper cleans my department at work and he really likes to talk. He really, REALLY likes to talk. He spent over an hour and a half telling me about the problems his family is having dealing with the inheritance after his mother's death. When he finished telling me the story he apologized for, "chewing my ear off."

I told him that it was ok, that this is what I want to do for a living. He asked, "What's that?"

I told him I want to be a therapist. He said, "Oh, you'll be good at that. The best therapists have in inner ability to listen and empathize. They aren't necessarily the smartest, but they know how to listen."


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Who me?

Preface: I am in no way fishing for a compliment with this post. I really just want to share this for the sheer entertainment value. Thanks for understanding. :)

Strange things have been happening to me lately. For some reason people seem to be under the false impression that I am smart. First, a nurse in the emergency room has been asking me questions about EKGs for a few weeks now and while I do have a cursory knowledge of EKGs I am not the person you want to ask for help. I answered his question and went to do my test. I came out of the room to find him standing at the door. He turned to the student next to him and said, "This is Jared. He's the EKG guru. If you every need help, he's the man to ask."

I smiled and said, "Nice to meet you," and muttered something about not being a guru. I walked away thinking about how funny it was.

On another occasion a nursed asked for a good reference book on EKGs. I gave a few suggestions and mentioned a book that is frequently used by doctors but goes over my head. After looking for the books on the Internet the nurse asked a doctor about them. When they discussed the difficult book I mentioned the doctor told the nurse, "Jared is just being modest. He probably understands the whole book. He knows EKGs inside and out."

How nice to know that I have two people fooled! That book may as well been written in Swahili! I started to read it a few years ago hoping to get an edge, but gave up after the first page.

At school people in my classes seem to think I have some deep understanding of the material. This one really surprises me considering they have seen my test scores!

I have come up with a few theories. My first theory involves my Asian looking eyes. The stereotype applies to white guys too, I guess. Theory number two is my shiny head. I know that some people think my head is good luck. I know because so many patients ask me if they can rub my head for luck! Maybe some of them think that a bald head means something is going on in there. Lastly, I think it could be because I know when not to say anything. This theory only works if you can believe I ever keep quiet!

Whatever the reason is, I'm just trying to keep these people in the dark about the true inner workings (or inner idleness) of my brain. It's a little like playing dress up; I get to pretend to be someone I'm not.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

He is a he

So the three of you would never be guilty of this I'm sure, but you get to listen to me vent nonetheless. Sorry. :)

After a recent trip to the doctor, a conversation with a friend and numerous conversations with a certain hyperbaric chamber operator I have grown very tired of the word they. The dentist, who has some autistic tendencies of his own, spoke with me about Avi. He said, "Go to the website and type in his name and do the tour. They do better after they are more familiar. They like it when we keep them in the same room. We'll keep him with the same hygienist, they like that. We'll let him wear the heavy lead vest, they really like that." And on and on.

The friend was asking things like, "Don't they sit in the corner and rock? They never learn to talk, right?"

I won't get into what the operator said, they are too many and too inane to repeat. I know that their use of the word is not meant to be offensive and I try not to let it bother me, but he really is not a they, he is a he. He is a person aside from his diagnosis. I hate to think that he might be defined by it for the rest of his life.

Anyway, you readers would never talk about him like that so I apologize for subjecting you to my rant.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Still Time for the Park

Our complex added a very small playground area a few weeks ago so we had to go try it out. The slide is really steep and fast and it threw Avi right off the end! It he laughed really hard, but I could tell he was scared of it. After going down a few times he refused to go up again. I climbed the ladder with him in my arms and he was screaming, "Abba!! Want Abba!" He was laughing as hard as he could while we went down together.

Itai on the other hand loved the slide. He went down over and over again. The sand was a new experience for Itai and while he didn't like walking in it he loved digging around in it with a plastic hammer he found.

It was fun to play while the weather isn't freezing!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I'm a little behind, but I'm catching up. We were excited that Avi learned to say "trick or treat" just before Halloween and that both boys looked really cute in their costumes. Too bad it was freezing the whole week! Our Halloween was almost a week of trick or treating. Our ward had a trunk or treat party one night then Debbie's base invited all the children to the base for trick or treating another night and then there was Halloween. I don't think either Avi or Itai understood what in the world was going on, but neither seemed to care so long as candy kept coming their way.

Avi was Handy Manny from Playhouse Disney. He loved his costume. It had all of the tools on his little belt and he loved playing with them. He even remembered his line, "What does Handy Manny say?" "Hola!" Most people didn't know who he was supposed to be, but Avi loved it.

Itai was Mickey Mouse for Halloween. He did not love his costume, but he was so cute with his ears and his little tail being dragged behind him. It did keep him warm though. The fabric is really thick and it has a hood so the cold wind didn't bother him a bit. He did love getting candy from people though. At Debbie's base he wanted to take something from every bag, basket or bowl he could find.

While they both were a little confused about what was going on they both found something to love about Halloween. I'm excited for Christmas this year. I think they'll both love it!

Two Cat Burglars in Training

Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of this little event, but I had to tell this story. Friday after I woke up and showered I came downstairs where everyone was waiting to head out. Debbie was sitting in the front room while Avi was enjoying privacy in the kitchen. Avi has been having serious tummy issues lately and he has no penchant for pooping publicly so we have been giving him alone time hoping it will take care of the problem. As soon as I reached the bottom of the steps Itai came around the corner to show me his prize, a piece of peanut butter squares we picked up the day before. They had been in the back corner of the counter so I knew he couldn't have reached them by himself, but I also knew that Debbie would never have given him the whole piece to him so I went to investigate. I found Avi laying on the kitchen floor with the package of peanut butter squares open in front of him. His newest skill is climbing. He has learned to use the drawers as a ladder and he pulls himself up on to the counter top.

I didn't see what happened of course, but I imagine that it went something like this: Avi went into the kitchen looking for something good to eat. Itai followed close behind. Avi spotted the peanut butter squares and decided to get some. After climbing up he put the squares near the edge of the counter and started down. Itai stood at the bottom looking up excitedly. Once on the ground he pulled them down to the floor where he and Itai had a feast.

Here's Avi back up on the counter top. Let's see what else they get themselves into! P.S. This is Itai doing "Once There Was a Snowman."

What to Think? *Updated*

Sorry, I forgot something I wanted to mention about Itai.

Avi has had a busy school year (busier than most 3 year olds), he left one preschool to begin a new program, began HBOT and started speech therapy. His days are pretty busy and he sometimes falls asleep on the bus, poor guy. He is a trooper though.

So, what has all this business brought about? It's hard to say. I will say that we've seen some changes in him. I'm a little emotionally invested in the whole thing so I have to admit that I'm not a impartial on his progress. I guess I'll let you be the judge. Since we've started all of this I've noticed that people who aren't always around him can understand him more easily, and I can too. We've noticed that he has more expressions. He says things like, "Hey! What did you do?" and "What does Quincy say?" so clearly now. He is so goofy and happy lately too. He loves to play and laugh. He loves being chased and tossed. One thing that we've been happy to see is how calm his body has become. His arms are much more relaxed than they've been in ages. he used to flap like crazy at meal time, now he sits and eats so nicely. Yesterday he even picked up his cup, drank from it nicely and set it back on the table. I almost cried! Lastly, he looks us in the eyes so much more now. We were sitting at the table the other day. He was eating and I was reading. He was talking about his puzzle while I kept reading. He repeated himself over and over getting louder and louder each time. I repeated what he said but he repeated it again. Finally I looked up to see that was starring me in the eyes waiting for me to look at him. As soon as I did he repeated it one more time smiling that he finally got me to understand. I looked at him while he played with his puzzle and realized I was smiling too. I realized that we had reached a new place.

So, is it real or am I just an overly invested parent with an overactive imagination? I guess time will tell.

Itai has had a busy year too. He's been dragged everywhere Avi has gone and then some. In the last few weeks he has started changing too. We were sitting down to eat with Debbie's family. I looked at him and realized he was signing "eat." So cute! Now he's signing, "more and bath." My personal favorite is his sign for prayer. He folds his little arms so cutely that I just want to squeeze him! What a cutie. One other thing he loves doing simply melts my heart (easily done, I know). He buts his hands up around his head and turns his body. It took my a while to figure out what exactly he was doing until he did it when I started singing "Once There Was a Snowman." I love it! He smiles so sweetly when we sing it for him.

On a less happy note he has learned another skill, fighting. He and Avi have certainly learned to compete. They push and pull and wrestle they're way on to my lap. It's cute in such a bad way. It's funny that I love it, but I love to see them doing things a "typical" child would do! But more on that later.
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