Autism · My world

A child called Noah

I am reading “A child called Noah” by Josh Greenfeld.   It has been an interesting experience.   The book is basically pulled from Mr Greendfeld’s journal describing his autistic son and how the family’s life is affected by Noah’s autism.  Some parts of it are personally hard.  They are almost perfect reflections of  my own experience; in fact some of the passages might have been ripped right out of my own essays about life with Rachel.

The book has been borrowed from the Multnomah County Library and I am sure it has been read many times but interestingly someone before me decided that all other readers could benefit by their personal additions.  Yes some yahoo went through the book and underlined various “important” passages.   Unfortunately the defacing former reader obviously has an axe to grind (or maybe more).  In the first chapter they wrote “God d*** them” next to an underlined passage about how little help the medical profession had to offer.  Now why in 1969, when doctors knew even less than they do now about learning disabilities in general and autism in particular, the medical profession as a whole was worthy of damnation for not being able to tell the parents of an autistic child how to “fix” their child is beyond me, but there it is.  Well, actually it isn’t anymore.  I have an eraser and have been contentedly removing the underlining and “comments” that bother me as I come across them.

My world

People can be so confusing

I suppose most homeschooling parents have had this sort of thing happen to them, they will meet someone and the homeschooling thing will come up and the new person will say “Oh, I couldn’t do that — I am just so happy when school starts at the end of summer.”    One of those smile and nod moments.

A while back I was at the grocery store and the four younger ones were helping unload the cart and a woman in the next line turned to her son, who was about my Christopher’s age, and said “Why aren’t you helpful like those kids?”   She said this loud enough for us to hear and the children all looked at me not quite sure if they should say “thank you” for the compliment or what they should do.  I felt sorry for her son.  My children certainly aren’t perfect angels and they have had more than their fair share of “moments” while shopping – but still.
Not sure why I am thinking about this. I tend to over think things quite often.

My world


So I have been away from blogging for a few weeks.

No crisis, no big revelations, no long vacation.  Just a break.  It is all good.

Of course I have no idea what to write at this point.

We went to the coast this weekend.  This was the typical clan thomason trip – meaning we failed to plan this out at all, sort of did it by the seat of our pants, but still had a good time.

(( my computer absence sort of started with my system being infected with a nasty trojan (rootkit) that caused me endless greif))

Saturday’s trip reminded me yet again that I need check lists.  ((an ipod touch looks sort of neat – really a shuffle would be fine and a nano more than I need))   We didn’t do horrible with the coast trip.  At least we remembered to bring a change of clothing for the children… lunch would have been good to bring to though and a change of clothing for us – swimsuits even better.  The Oregon coast isn’t the nicest place to swim, but there is something about the water that is irresistible.   Just standing hip deep in the water and letting the waves hit you is fun.

(( the children are very excited about going to the pool today))  We love going on our hikes and day trips.  Just need to be sure we plan slightly better.

Yes, a change of clothing for me would have been nice.
Yes, a change of clothing for me would have been nice.
Autism · Catholic stuff · My world

Yesterday at mass

So, yesterday at mass was one of those minor disasters.

Rachel is happy to get to mass
Rachel is happy to get to mass

We had Rachel with us overnight and everything was going well.

She was a little agitated when Mass started.  I am not sure why exactly.  But right as Father stepped to the ambo to read the Word Rachel lost it.  Completely.  So badly that I had to take her out.  I couldn’t even control her by myself and Kyle had to help.  Ashley stayed in mass with the younger children and we drove Rachel back to her group home, and came back.    This is the first time Rachel hasn’t stayed through mass since we started attending Holy Rosary and for at least a year before that.

Once we got Rachel out of the church we sat with her on the steps to give her a chance to calm down.  She would alternate between being just sad (which is fine) and being out of control (which means mom or dad get pinched) and then we just gave up on the idea of getting her to come back to mass and decided to drive her back to her house.   We got Rachel to the car and she was really, really not happy to be leaving.  We decided that it would be safer for everyone if we both went in the car with Rachel.  She has “lost it” in the car before and attacked the driver.   So having one of us to help control Rachel if she got out of control was important.

I went inside to tell Ashley that we would be gone for a little bit and to just hang out with the little ones at coffee and donuts if we didn’t get back before the end of mass.   I am so thankful to have such wonderful children.  Josh whispered to me that he would be good and to remember the movie in Rachel’s bag.  Rachel had put a movie that we had checked out from the library in her bag on the way out of the house and we had asked the children to help us remember that it was there so she wouldn’t get it back to her house without us noticing.    Sarah and Hannah took the whole thing in stride.   Ashley reported later that Josh and Sarah were a little rambunctious right after we left, but once she sat between them they were fine.

Rachel was ok in the car.  She started saying “Bad… bad! bad!” and crying.  Real tears were running down her cheeks.  She knows when she has crossed the line, but she doesn’t know how to stop herself before she gets there.  Total lack of impulse control in action.    When we got to her house she rang the doorbell and asked for a kiss.  She wasn’t happy with herself at that point.  We weren’t particularly happy with her either  – a few more bruises,  a scratch and a couple bites later –  but Rachel is Rachel and we love her.  She got her kisses and hugs and then ran to her room.  At least everyone was safe.

We got back just as mass was ending – just in time to join the children for coffee and donuts.   Everyone at mass pretty much saw the whole event.   I got several hugs and sympathetic inquiries, which makes me all the more thankful for our parish and our friends.  Our priest came up and let us know that he had seen everything and had been praying for us.   This means a lot.  I know that Father Anthony values a reverent mass and for him to come to us and express his understanding was touching.   I really hate when Rachel’s behavior affects the mass experience of others.  It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it is distressing.  I know how much having a “good mass” can mean to me if I am struggling with something and how comforting a peaceful mass can be.  I would hope that Rachel’s behavior wouldn’t ever intrude on that for others, but I know that it would be impossible when she  creates such a disturbance for it to not.  Which makes me all the more thankful for the prayers and understanding of others who were there.

I know she love mass, and I could see how sad it made her that she had to leave.  Hopefully Rachel will be able to participate in the mass next time.  She will just be the young lady with the golden curls who makes the occasional non sequitor noise.   Thank you to anyone who was there and prayed for Rachel and us.  Thank you for your understanding and support.

Of course writing this I realize I never really  fulfilled my Sunday obligation.  : -/

My world

Friday quick takes — getting it right?

7 Quick Takes With Jen
7 Quick Takes With Jen

1. Kyle and I hiked up to the top of Multnomah falls last Sunday.  Today we took the kiddos and hiked around McDowells Creek Falls. One of our goals this summer is to fit in some kind of hike or out-door physical activity every weekend.  So far we are doing ok.   Except we are both insanely sore.

The kids enjoyed the hike
The kids enjoyed the hike

2. In WoW my little insane 10 man killed KT our 3rd week in Naxx.  This wouldn’t be a huge achievement except that 3 people in the raid had never raided before ever.  They all learned a lot in a short amount of time.  It also felt really good to one-shot 4 horseman, Thaddeus,  and Saph the first time we ever hit them.

I am not really a healer, I just play one on WoW
I am not really a healer, I just play one on WoW

If that made no sense to you at all, don’t worry.

3. Sometimes people amaze me.  I was reading this week about a fake crisis pregnancy blog called Little April Rose… or something like that,  apparently it was all a hoax.  I hadn’t followed this blog, but I know there are many who did.  This is not the part that amazes me.  It doesn’t even surprise me — in fact I have seen people fake pregnancies, crisis pregnancies,  sick babies et. al. before.  Usually this was done on parenting forums though where maybe a couple hundred people got duped and maybe a few had sent money, cards, or gifts to the liar-in-question and/or where very emotionally invested in the whole thing.   This seemed bigger in that the blog-in-question was huge, apparently 100,000 hits a day or something insane like that — with advertisers and such.    One business that started to catch on early, but by no means the first, was RuffleButts. On the company blog the owner posted something about the situation to let people know they were aware of the situation and were looking into it (smart business move).   The Amazing part: how mean spirited some of the comments she got were.

One of those things that just astounds me over and over is how people can talk about being Christian and then basically say “and I am going to get you”, or in this case:   “I was looking at your ruffled pants yesterday and thinking how sweet they were – your actions have assured me that I will neither purchase or endorse your company in the future.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll be sharing the way you handled this on my blog and with other mothers.  We reap what we sow, think on that.”

She never comes back and apologizes (at least not within the week since this all broke).   I suppose I should think about this situation and use it to learn something about myself and how I deal with those who offend me — I find that often when something really irks me it is because it reflects something about myself that I dislike, but this is just a quick take afterall.

4. I found new motivation to work on my “day-trip” and “purse” packing check lists.  It is something I keep thinking about doing be never getting around to.  I hate getting somewhere and realising that I don’t have something I usually have with me.

Hannah in the woods
Hannah in the woods

5.  Parts of the path today were very mossy.  I love living in Oregon.  Josh was saying that we were in the Garden of Eden.  It was really hard to argue with him.

6. Christopher was in California today with my parents.  Yesterday they hit Disneyland and today it was California Adventures.  He was very excited when we spoke on the phone this morning.  He wanted to talk to his siblings.  I know he is having a fantastic time, but part of him misses his brother and sisters too.

The Dad
The Dad

7. Father’s Day is this weekend.  That great guy I mentioned last week is a great dad too.

My world

Works for Me Wednesday


This might seem like something almost too simple to mention, but it has saved me more than once.

Life savers
Life savers

I try to always have a pair of AA batteries in my purse.  They take up very little space and they are so handy.  The main reason I have them is to have a spare set of batteries for my digital camera, but I have found uses for them beyond that.

Having a spare set of AA batteries in my purse works for me.

My world

Friday and I remember to do this thing!

Instead of thinking about it on like Monday afternoon.

My seven quick takes.


This was such a good movie.   Kevin Bacon was perfect.  The pacing was superb, the music and cinematography all gelled.   But, I have no idea how to describe it.  Both my husband (USMC himself) and I had tears in our eyes watching it.   It isn’t a documentary, though it tells a real story that most people don’t see.  It wasn’t about war, but it was about honor and the pride a country takes in her fallen.  It was about loss and dignity and all that is best in our servicemen and woman and those who love them, those who lose them and those who care.   I saw a quote from Chance Phelps father:  “These kids join the Marine Corp to fight for the United States, but they die for their friends next to them.”  Very good movie, thoughtful and soulful.


I know Kung Foo
I know Kung Foo

This kung-foo master is heading off on a summer adventure.  Oregon, Nevada, California — with my parents.  He will be seeing a bunch of interesting things and hitting Disneyland up before he heads home.


This hymn is stuck in my head. (just the music I don’t think I have actually watched the whole video, and there is that shocking bit of discordance near the end… but finding a really good version of this is so hard.)


This week has been a sew-tastic week.  I made Ashley a new dress.  She looks like she stepped out of a Jane Austin novel.  Empire waste, sheer over skirt.  It is a rich blue with black and silver lace ribbon trim.    I get to dress her up once in a while still… right?  Just because she turned 17 two weeks ago doesn’t mean I have to give that up.



We are getting some chicken from a really nice family in our parish.  I called the mom today to talk about getting them and she wanted to know if we wanted them live.  She was sure the boys would get a kick out of butchering them.  They probably would, but the thought of 6 live chickens in my mini-van — well the thought is hilarious the reality would probably feel like an afternoon on one of  Virgil’s sight seeing tours of hell.


I married a great guy



My dog has made an amazing recovery since we started feeding her cheep canned dog food.  My dad recommended trying it and she is doing so much better.  She put on weight, she is acting happier.  yeah Alpo.

Catholic Basics · My world · Parenting

Raising prolife children — part two

Every Life is Beautiful
Every Life is Beautiful

This is the second part of this post.  The first part is here.

Raising Prolife Children

Our children live in a world that is often hostile to Catholic teaching and moral thought. While roughly half the people in this country are at least nominally “pro-life” the media and especially the cultural and educational institutions of this country tend very much to the “pro-choice” side. One of the jobs of Catholic parent’s is to equip our children to go out into the world and be able to defend their faith.The earlier we start preparing our children for this the better.

The early years – Where do babies come from?

What is the first thing you can do to help your child become firmly prolife? Save your child’s ultrasound picture. Fetal development is the first and best tool in the pro-life arsenal. While your child is still a preschooler you can teach them the very basics of “babies”.

  1. Follow a real pregnancy week by week. – It is most helpful if you can connect this information to a baby they will know. When a sibling is expected, or a cousin or a friend’s baby – as long as they will see the pregnancy develop and the baby grow. A child who follows a pregnancy like this is forever connected to the idea that babies begin growing in their “mommy’s tummy” and that this growth process is an uninterrupted line through childhood. When I am expecting we have used common objects like raisins, apple seeds or pin heads about the baby’s size. Never, ever avoid the reality of pregnancy – no storks or cabbage patches. Babies don’t suddenly appear at the hospital to be brought home.
  2. You can use real pictures of fetal development from the internet to learn about the growth of the unborn child. Talk about the pictures, even the weird looking little fetus with arm buds and tails and remind the children often that all people, even they, went through these stages too. My children have found it amazingly wonderful that once upon a time they had a tail.  Show them the picture from their ultra-sound, “this was you when you were in my tummy.” Nothing is more powerful than connecting with the unborn child they once were.
  3. Read books about developing babies. There are many good options, Angel in the Waters which tells the story of a baby and the baby’s guardian angel and is particularly Catholic, but there are more options. Checking out the local library is likely to yield a ton of results that you will find appropriate.
  4. Pray for babies yet to be born and the mommies and daddies and families waiting for them. You know you are praying for all those women this very day facing an unexpected and alarming pregnancy, those women struggling with the decision to abort or not; your children know that they are praying for all mommies to be happy and healthy while their little, tiny babies grow inside.

As children grow

Growing up in a family committed to the culture of life one of the strongest witness any child could have for the rightness of the pro-life movement. All too often the arguments for the “pro-choice” stance are actually arguments against false characterizations of those who are pro-life. The claim is un-apologetically laid that those who are against legalized, uncontrolled and elective abortion are only concerned about the welfare of the unborn at the expense of all others. This spurious argument is easily bared to be the lie it is when one looks at the lives of most pro-life proponents. We need to live as part of the culture of life.

  1. Offer help for mother’s in need. Support your local crisis pregnancy center. Donate toys, clothing, diaper… what ever they need. Include your children in these activist. Take part (or organize) parish fund-raising for pro-life causes, both the alternatives to abortion locally and help for the poor and needy, especially woman and children, world wide. While it is appropriate to teach our children chastity and to never glamorize unwed pregnancy, crisis pregnancy support saves lives. Showing an example of mercy is undoubtedly a good. As children mature we can discuss the disadvantages (both moral and practical) of single motherhood and intercourse before marriage, but mercy to those in need does not need to be suspended because we are blessed enough to know there is a better way.
  2. Honor the lives of all. My children have the advantage of having a sister with a severe disability. They see day in and out the struggles and the blessings both of being a family touched by disability and of those living with disability. My oldest has reached the age where she occasionally confronts someone advocating abortion of the disabled. This rightly sets her into a fit of indignation – the person thus advocating is speaking about her beautiful sister. While she could not and would never diminish the struggles she also knows first hand the blessings. We absolutely have to teach our children that having a disability is not a frightening, horrific thing. Support your parish families with disabled members.

    Volunteer at the Special Olympics and other organizations that help the disabled. Some schools have “peer” programs where normally developing children are paired with children with learning disabilities to assist them in their social development.At the very least never show fear or hesitation around a disabled person. Treat them exactly as you would anyone else.

    As an example: Several years ago one of my online friends confronted, first hand, the bias against the disabled in our society. Her husband’s brother and sister-in-law had died in a car wreck, leaving my friend and her husband in custody of their niece and nephew. The deceased couple had adopted a boy with spina bifida and then a little girl with autism. The boy was nine, had just lost his parents, moved across country to live with his aunt and uncle. While his aunt was enrolling him in the third grade class at a private school (regular academic) another mother saw his leg braces and said with contempt, “Oh, we are enrolling these kids now?” Apparently everyone in the office was too slack jawed at the woman’s rudeness to come up with an appropriate response. I am afraid my own would have been less than ideal. As can be imagined the hurt the boy experienced was very, very real.  While this one woman’s response was extreme their are many who would have thought the same, but wisely held their tongues. There is a ever growing part of our culture that views those with disabilities as “burdens”; at best tragedies for their families and drains on the “system” and better for everyone if aborted. (for further evidence of this topic note some of treatment of Sarah Palin over her son Trig) We have to fight this mindset tooth and nail.

    On the other end of life my children have had the opportunity to see my grandmother age. She is 85 and lives near us. They love Granny and see her as valuable and worthwhile. Even as she suffers from the affects of age and dementia. Do not be afraid to bring the elderly into your child’s life. Age is not something to fear; we are only stepping closer to Heaven and honoring and loving our aged relatives sets the example of families caring for their own with love and compassion instead of shifting this duty and (at time) a burden onto the state – which has neither love nor compassion.

  3. Pray for those who are suffering, the poor, the sick and dieing. Pray for a softening of the hearts so that people who are different won’t be discriminated against.
  4. I am not sure when is the most appropriate time to introduce the concept of abortion to children. My own children have grown up in parishes that aren’t afraid to pray for an end to abortion and they hear Catholic radio in the background with “pro-life moments”. So they hear the term and eventually they ask the question: “What is abortion.” Three of my children asked at around age five. My own mind revolts at not being truthful with my children, so my response has been something along the lines of “Abortion is when a mother is pregnant and doesn’t want her baby so she has the baby killed before it can be born”. I am sure there that some people who would object to that description as too harsh.

    I actually thought about it for a long while before I came up with it.  First I wanted the explanation to be short, honest and “horrific” in a way. I wanted it to be slightly shocking, because abortion is shocking. I use the word “mother” instead of “woman” because mother implies a responsibility for the child. I didn’t say “she has a doctor kill the baby” or “she goes to a clinic and they kill the baby” because I didn’t want my children to associate doctors with killing babies and I didn’t want to go into the questions of “what is a clinic”. I also wanted the word “killed” in there so there was no confusion on that. The above explanation is also open enough to invite questions.  My Josh’s first question was “Why would someone do that?” and it led to some discussion about the reasons why some woman feel that is the best thing to do, but how horrible it is and how selfish it is.

    My own experience and the insight I have seen talking to other parents and friends is that the way abortion is first introduced colors the way a person views abortion on a profound level. If your very first introduction to abortions is something like “Abortion is when a woman finds out she is pregnant but it isn’t the right time for her to be a mother so she goes to the doctor and the doctor ends the pregnancy before a baby can grow.” and your first introduction to the concept of pro-life is “some people think that abortion is wrong so they want to force a woman to have a baby even if she know that is the wrong thing for her.” your perception of abortion is focused on the poor woman forced to have a baby. If your first introduction to abortion is about the murder of the child and how those who are pro-life are trying to make it safe for all babies waiting to be born than the paradigm shifts. If you view abortion through the lens of the woman’s “rights” it is difficult to consider the child; if you view abortion through the lens of the baby’s right to life it is almost impossible to not be pro-life (though I have known a few people who managed it).

In the News · My world

News and World Events

A Lady Reading the News - Carl Larsson
A Lady Reading the News - Carl Larsson

A while back a friend asked me what news site I read.  Here is a list of the sites I most commonly read for the news.  I don’t read every site every day, in fact most days I just skim the headlines of a couple of them and go from there.  I try to balance my desire for mostly conservative information with the reality that not everyone sees the world as I do and I like to get a smattering of British, German and Israeli news because they often have very different perspectives on the world.

I have set this page in the sidebar here for permanent reference here: News and World Events

Catholic News:

Catholic Culture: News


CNA : Catholic News Agency

EWTN: News

World News:

Christian Science Monitor

Telegraph world

The economist

Daily Mail

Deutshe  Welle

Jerusalem Post

Political and US News (rather all right leaning):


Hot Air

The Anchoress and First Things


Wall Street Journal

and then to balance it all a bit of


Local News:

Random local station (actually KATU)

OPB Oregon News

Special interest stuff:

Life News

Organic Food


Home school Legal Defense Association News