Happy New Year!

It’s the first day of a whole new year … lots of life waiting to happen.  2013 was fun, interesting, full of growth & discovery … but I’m ready for a new blank book to make fresh memories & create more traditions.

Last year I created a new tradition for our family: The Good Memories Jar.  Every time one of us had a fun day, we wrote it down & put it in the jar.  Then, on December 31st we read them, remembering all the fun we had this past year.

The Good Memories Jar

The Good Memories Jar

Another tradition is our NYE Dinner: Shrimp Cocktail, Filet Mignon, Burgundy Mushrooms, a Wedge Salad & bread with Champagne Cocktails beforehand & a beautiful Syrah or Cab with dinner.  Then more champagne as we ring in the new year.  Most years we celebrate the east coast new year, but this year we went all out & stayed up past midnight!  (I’m paying for it dearly this morning)

So I took a look at my Bake-It List & looks like I came up short!  Well, guess what?  One of my resolutions, (which I don’t generally like to subscribe to,) is I’m not gonna sweat the small stuff & I won’t be too hard on myself.  I will roll over the things I didn’t bake in 2013 to 2014!  Yes, I will make an updated Bake-It List soon!  Stay tuned 🙂

I got busy in 2013 – I unexpectedly started a new venture & had to figure out how to juggle being a working mom.  It was not as easy as you working moms make it look!!!  I think I finally got into a rhythm & figured out how to fit everything in … things that fall to the last on the list?  Things for me.  And that’s just not cool, but that’s what good moms do.

Speaking of being a good mom — here are some things I’m looking forward to doing with The Boy this coming year:

  1. Take him to see the snow (this is difficult when it’s so warm here!)
  2. Finger paint more often & do more crafts
  3. Write more books with him (he just finished two picture books all on his own!)
  4. Go on more hikes with him & explore the outdoors
  5. Star gaze & cloud burst

What are you looking forward to doing in 2014?

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Mothers Day – Reality vs. Fantasy

So … You all know what I was expecting to happen on Mother’s Day.  And believe me, my expectations were low – and I don’t mean that in a negative way, I  mean that I had managed my own expectations.  I kept them in check & I didn’t think they were unreasonable.  Looking back, I realize that what I was expecting was a fantasy Mother’s Day, albeit a fantasy that was seemingly within reach.  And the fact that The Husband had a beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered to me on Friday was a sure sign that my expectations were right on the mark.  Um, yeah.

In my fantasy, I would wake up to a the smells of breakfast cooking, and in The Boy and The Husband would stroll, (The Boy would be dressed,) breakfast tray carried by The Husband, small gift bag containing a mystery gift, and/or cards carried by The Boy.  They would watch me open them up, telling me what an amazing mother I am, how much they loved me, yada yada yada, and I would nibble lazily on my griddle cakes whilst sipping my coffee …

In reality, I woke up & couldn’t really make out any smells.  I called out that I was awake, but no one answered.  I grabbed my iPhone and texted The Husband that his lovely wife was now awake & ready for some pampering.  Surely I didn’t want to spoil their surprises by getting OUT of bed & coming to find them!

Minutes went by and I could hear The Husband negotiating with The Boy to bring in my cards.  There was bribing and threats.  Then more minutes went by, and the door flung open followed by a very rambunctious Boy, half naked, hair wild, running toward me, waving cards in his hand and screaming.  Too early for screaming unless alcohol was involved, and it wasn’t.

I opened the card from The Boy and he grabbed it away, nearly ripping the card.  I retrieved it and thanked him, kissed him, and we discussed the card at length.  There was a blue dog on the front & The Boy was very impressed with this dog.  I was impressed that he had chosen the card himself.

Then I opened the card from The Husband.  Out fell a lottery ticket that The Boy tried to confiscate!  I seized the ticket and he fought me, in tears, nearly ripping it into pieces!  All I could think was “this is the winning ticket and this kid is going to destroy it and I will never forgive him … and I’ll never be able to afford his college tuition without this winning ticket!!”  It was stressful to say the least.  The Husband was nowhere to be found at this juncture.

Then came the breakfast tray carried by The Husband with room temperature griddle cakes & a bowl of berries.  The bowl was not filled to the brim with berries, rather, it was a like a ration of berries.  As though berries were some very expensive commodity & we could only afford to purchase 3 strawberries a month.  No juice, no coffee.  Syrup and butter on the side.  Question: How are you supposed to spread butter on a nearly cold griddle cake?  It doesn’t melt.  So either you skip the butter altogether, OR you eat a thin layer of butter on top of your chilly griddle cake.  I know, I know, “First World Problems.”  I should praise the effort, and I did.

The husband left me alone with the tray full of food and The Boy while he went to get me some beverages.

During this time, The (wild) Boy was jumping around the bed, trying to crawl under the breakfast tray, wanted to lay on my lap & also stole all of my raspberries!  NOT RELAXING!

I ended up hand-feeding him a griddle cake to avoid getting syrup all over my bed and us.  The Husband made his entrance again with coffee in hand and there was NO WAY I could drink it with this crazy kid flailing about – I nearly spilled twice while trying to get enough of it in my gullet to deal with the situation!  When I asked The Husband if he could remove said child so that I could eat, Husband, (on the verge of a meltdown,) proclaimed that he needed to nap because he had been up for hours.  So I was on my own.

Not that I’m complaining … Ok, maybe I am.

I will spare you the details about needing to make brownies & discovering that we were out of  eggs and The Husband nearly having a stroke because I asked him to run to the store, and all that nonsense.  I will skip right to when we get in the car and head to The Grandparents house for more festivities.  The Husband & I “restarted” the day, kissed, made up and smiled as we drove off for our 90 minute trip to my parents’ house.

I had The Boy all dressed in a cute outfit, hair perfectly gelled and iPad, water, snacks and other accoutrements at the ready for our trip down the 405 on a Mother’s Day Sunday.

Cut to: The Boy eating a PB&J.  Then barfing.  ALL. OVER. THE. @#($&% CAR.  Off the road we pull, strip him down, clean him up, change his clothes, clean up the car seat, put him back in, stop at Del Taco to pee & continue on with our journey.  Ok.  I don’t know about you, but puke was NOT in my Mother’s Day directive!  Thankfully the fact that it was Mother’s Day relieved me from clean-up duty, and when I got to my parent’s house I was greeted with a large glass of Chardonnay.

We then proceeded to have fun, grill ribs, open gifts, hug and kiss and laugh.  Ah, that’s motherhood.  That’s life.

So, in summary,  although Mother’s Day did not go as planned, as expected or  as fantasized, it was all in all a pretty good day. May have gotten off to a rocky start, but at the end of the day, when I looked back over all of it, I smiled, chuckled lightly and thought this was one I would never forget.  All that really matters is having your family around you … and family is imperfect.  Well, at least mine is imperfect.  And I wouldn’t change that for the world.  Because you know what I say: You don’t have to be perfect to be awesome.

Every Day is Valentines Day Dinner

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach … an old proverb, but a true one at that.  Which is why, as a (self-proclaimed,) pretty good wifey, I enjoy the journey to the Husband’s heart, and cook for him pretty much every night.  What was extra special about this particular dinner, is that I normally don’t make cocktails before hand & I normally don’t make dessert after.

For openers, a blood-orange cocktail with raspberries was a welcome hello to The Husband who had just gotten home from a long day at a new job.  blood orange cocktail | The Fairly Good Mother

blood orange cocktail w/ raspberries
Serves 2

Ingredients

    • 2 oz blood orange juice
    • 4 oz Vodka
    • 3 oz Cointreau
    • 1 oz lime juice
    • raspberries

Method:
Place 3-4 raspberries in the bottom of each chilled martini glass.  Add all other ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, strainer into glasses. Garnish with raspberries.

For the main course, I actually made very simple lightly breaded pork chops with a warm goat cheese salad, but I didn’t feel like writing up the recipe right now – I’ll do it later & update the post here.  So, you’re getting a recipe for a dish I make quite often & is elegant enough for a special occasion, but easy enough for a weeknight meal … sorry, I can’t believe in the many years I’ve been making this dish, that I have never once taken a picture!

lemon-artichoke chicken with steamed chokes & jasmine rice 

Prep & cook time – 45 mins to an hour
You can either use 2 or 4 chicken breasts – I make the same amount of sauce for both.

Ingredients
2 or 4 boneless / skinless chicken breasts (you can pound them or not pound them, I usually don’t go to the trouble unless they’re really thick.

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 jar (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained
  • 2 tbsps dry cooking sherry
  • 2 tbsps grated lemon peel (i love my microplane)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesean cheese (optional)

Method:
Preheat oven to 350, Salt & pepper them, use some lemon pepper seasoning if you desire it a little more “lemony”… melt butter in frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook, turning once, until browned (about 4-5 mins on each side) Transfer chicken to a 9×11 cooking dish and put chopped artichoke hearts on top of chicken.

Add sherry, lemon peel & lemon juice to remaining butter in frying pan; stir over medium heat until well blended & hot – about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add cream & stir, let thicken a bit until bubbling.  Remove from heat, pour sauce over chicken & artichokes, then sprinkle with cheese if desired.

Bake until sauce is bubbling & golden brown on top – about 20-25 mins.

free happy snoopy.jpgBecause Valentine’s Day isn’t a government holiday & 5 times out of 7 falls on a weeknight, let’s make this easy.  I love the Trader Joe’s frozen organic jasmine rice – just pop it in the microwave for 3 minutes & then serve it as a side to this flavorful dish.

And you might say it’s artichoke ovrekill, but around these parts we love our chokes …what can I say, I’m a California girl born and bred – artichokes & avocados every day!  And steamed artichokes go along well with this dinner.  Some of my friends say they’ve never steamed an artichoke – I say, CRAZY!

artichoke

They’re easy to make, you trim the pokers off the tops of the leaves, cut the stem off so the artichoke can sit upright, rinse them out, (best way to do that is to let them sit in a sink – or a bowl – of cool water for an hour,) drain them, and then put them in a large pot with a little bit of salted water – covering them 1/4 of the way or so.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to steam … they take about 45 mins – an hour, you can tell when they’re done b/c a fork will go in and out of the stem with ease!

We love dipping the leaves in drawn butter infused with lemon & garlic, and then scraping the meat off the leaves with our teeth.  When you make the heart, let it cool all the way down & be sure to scrape the “chokers” off before dicing up the heart.  It’s so apropos for Valentine’s day ❤  One of these days I’ll get around to making a video about artichokes.

If you’re not into chicken, how about grilled swordfish and a cilantro-lime cream sauce.  you can still do the steamed chokes, or you could do a sauteed zucchini squash as a side-dish.  Swordfish is a great fish to serve to non-fish lovers because it’s the ‘steak of the sea’ & very mild. And the jasmine rice is a great companion to this dish as well.

2011-Chenin-Blanc,-Mendocino---280px2Some wines that would rock these dishes are:  2009 Rouseanne from Zaca Mesa, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc from Morgan Winery, or 2011 Chenin Blanc from Elizabeth Spencer.

Dessert is so easy … or hard, depending on what you’re looking to do after dinner?  Cook some more in the kitchen or in the bedroom?  Or both?  I vote for these mini cheesecakes with raspberry sauce from Annie’s Eats , or dark chocolate walnut-chunk brownies, from Martha, (I add walnuts.)  Both you can make ahead of time and serve in the bedroom if you desire.

Happy Valentines Day!

A Little Christmas Magic …

I have always loved Christmas.  When I was a little girl, it was my most favorite holiday.  Rudolph was my favorite Christmas character because he was Santa’s loyal companion & Santa could not have delivered all those presents without Rudolph leading the charge.  I loved him so much, that when I was four years old, I insisted that everyone call me “Rudolph,” and wouldn’t acknowledge anyone unless they did so.

Rudolph (Rankin/Bass)

Rudolph (Rankin/Bass)

I was the child whose eyes lit up at the sound of jingle bells, who never questioned why there was a “Santa” at every mall or parade, the little girl who never thought twice about why Santa’s handwriting looked identical to my mother’s.  I wanted to believe in everything & I did.  And my parents made Christmas, (and every holiday,) fun and festive.  We cut down our own Christmas tree in the mountains of Northern California, my mother and I baked cookies and candies for friends, we left a plate of cookies & some milk for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolph.  It was magical.

Around the age of 9 or so, kids started spreading horrible rumors about Santa & how he wasn’t “real.”  I got into several verbal altercations with bully-boys about the subject of Santa.  Finally, when I was 11, my mother sat me down & told me that the rumors were true, Santa wasn’t real, but the magic of Christmas was real … I cried and cried.  I didn’t want to stop believing in Santa.  I didn’t want to grow up & become that jaded adult who couldn’t see the magic & beauty in our world.  I promised myself that even though Santa may not be ONE man who delivers presents via a reindeer-driven sleigh, Santa was alive in my heart & in the hearts of many, and that I would never stop believing.

vintage cheery santa

When I met my husband, he and I enjoyed celebrating the holidays, (even though he is Jewish, but not religious.)  Every year, we’d get a fresh tree, exchanged gifts, (some from us, some from Santa,) and we always got the kitties gifts from Santa, too.  We put little treats in each others’ stockings & made a special Christmas Eve meal … the magic of Christmas was still alive.

But the fun really started when we had The Boy. Of course the first year, The Boy was oblivious to the goings on, and the second year pretty much the same, although he knew something was up … then the third year, which was last year, he was a little more than 2 years old & started to really get it.  Now, at age 3, he reminds me of myself when I was his age – his bright hazel eyes sparkle with wonderment, just in awe of every little bit of magic that surrounds him.  He sings Christmas carols, counts down the days until Santa arrives, bakes cookies with me, and loves all of the classic Christmas programs: “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty The Snowman,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Last year we got the Elf On The Shelf.  We had fun with it, The Boy named him “Kermin” (probably because he was very much into Kermit the Frog around the same time the Elf arrived!)  While he enjoyed Kermin’s visit with us last year, this year it has been even more fun!  Every morning, The Boy wakes up and asks where Kermin is, and then runs around the house to find him.

elf pee

I am a creative mom, (I learned from the best,) but I’m not one of those, over-achieving, elf-obsessed mothers who has the elf bake cookies in the middle of the night, only to leave a big mess for me the next morning.  (Considering that The Husband is the one who gets up with The Boy every morning and makes breakfast, I’m pretty certain he wouldn’t appreciate a huge mess like that.)  And it’s supposed to be fun, not a chore.  I read a list of elf ideas, and one of them was: “Elf makes a Rudolph nose — Use red lipstick or a red sharpie to color on the kids’ noses & leave a note near their bed that reads: go look in the mirror.”  First of all, The Boy would most likely wake up if I were to try and rub his nose with lipstick or marker.  Second of all, the lipstick would leave an awful mess on the sheets & if you used a sharpie, hell, you’d never get that off!  Has anyone really ever done that?!?

Most of the time, we just move him from place to place … occasionally, he will be involved in some silly elf hijinks like a snowball fight with other stuffed animals or figurines, or writing messages on the bathroom mirror.  The Boy particularly enjoyed when Kermin forgot to flush the toilet & he discovered that elves pee green!  (*I know in the picture above it looks blue, but it was actually green!)

this is as messy as it gets

this is as messy as it gets

The magic of Christmas is alive and well in this house & it is absolutely the most wonderful time of the year!  Merry Christmas!!

A is for Asperger …

It’s a long story, well, really not that long – it’s only been since April of this year that we were told by a Psychologist that our son (then 2 1/2) was going to be diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.  It still makes me tear up when I type that out.  Not because it’s a death sentence – I mean, it’s not like my son has cancer – but because life is already tough enough without having the added difficulties of a neurodevelopment disorder.   Like every loving parent, I want to my son to have any and all advantages he could in life, and hearing that he was probably going to have some big hurdles to overcome made my heart sink a little.  I went though the range of emotions: disbelief, shock, anger, rationalization, denial, depression & finally acceptance.  But … let me begin at the beginning.

I had a pretty normal pregnancy, nothing major to report, (except for gut wrenching nausea & some debilitating migraines for the first 16 weeks!)  Toward the end, my blood pressure was elevated & I was eager to meet this little human who had been incubating inside of me for so long.  It is safe to say that I was impatient & my doctor agreed that if I went past my due date, he would induce based on my high blood pressure.  So that’s what we did.  The induction did not work & I was given the choice to go home & then come back to the hospital in 2 days & try it again.  I’m a stubborn gal & I looked at my husband and said “I’m not leaving this hospital without a baby.”  So the decision was made to have a c-section that evening.

Our Boy was born perfectly healthy, 7lbs / 9 oz & 19.5 inches long.  No issues, and we left for home 3 days later.  He was a great baby, latched on & was a champ at breast-feeding … until my milk dried up.  We sleep-trained him at about 4 months & I taught him to sign when was 6 months old.  He hit all of his milestones either early or right on time.  No issues to report – he developed amazing speech skills, made eye contact, and smiled at us a lot.  There were no red flags for the first two years of his life.  He did cute and curious things that we didn’t realize may have been indications of Asperger Syndrome.  Things like:

  • What we called the “stompy dance.”  When he began walking, he would just stop and stomp his feet around – it was really so adorable.  Now I know that he might have been looking for extra sensory input. (And looking back even further when he was just a baby, he loved that crazy jumperoo thing that hung in the doorway – could jump in that thing for HOURS!)
  • He could spend inordinate amounts of time looking at himself in the mirror, (luckily we have mirrored closets, so he could enjoy his reflection for quite a while.)
  • He would (and still does) spin around and around.  (Again, seeking that sensation of feeling dizzy.)
  • Bending over to hang upside down to get that same sensation.  (He still does this.)
  • Odd repetitive speech patterns: “taka-taka-taka” (Still does this as well.)
  • He has always loved to swing … it’s the only thing he wants to do at the park most days.
  • Banging or throwing his toys on the floor or the table – which would literally drive me to drink (don’t worry, I waited until 5pm for my glass of wine, but boy oh boy did I need it after hours and hours of hearing toys slam on the floor.)  Luckily, we have pretty much eradicated this behavior!
  • Flipping over his toy trucks & cars to watch the wheels spin.  (He will occasionally still do this.)
  • Lining up his toys and making patterns out of them rather than playing with the appropriately.  (Still does this, but also plays appropriately with his toys, too & the patterns are intricate and amazing!)
  • Spacing out as though he were in a completely other world – as though he didn’t even hear me when I’d be talking to him.  (Still does this sometimes.)
  • Banging his head against his pillow to help himself relax.  (Still does this.)
  • Not into arts & crafts, coloring or getting his hands “messy” with glue or food.  (He’s a boy – we totally understood that he’d rather zoom cars around the floor than make a handprint turkey.)
  • Has difficulty with transitions or change.  (The Boy loves his routines!)
  • Obsessing about movies, subjects, books for weeks at a time.  (He’s gone through all of the Pixar movies & is currently obsessed with The Peanuts.)  He knew the entire solar system, the order of the planets & which one was the hottest, coldest, etc., when he was just 2 and 1/2.

None of these things caused my husband or I to be alarmed.  We knew he was a very bright and unique child with a thirst for knowledge.  All of these things, (with the exception of the throwing & banging of toys,) were cute!  The only reason that we ever ventured down the road to getting a label for this behavior was because of preschool.

Preschool.  We weren’t even going to consider preschool until he was at least 3 or so.  I’m a stay-at-home mom, so there was never any reason to send him to preschool.  But I got pregnant right before he turned 2, and figured that it might be a good thing for him to have something of “his own” so that when the baby came, he didn’t feel like he was being replaced … and also because I knew I’d being going to the OB/GYN a lot, so why not have him go to preschool and learn how to socialize with other children while I go to the doctor.  Well, I lost the baby, (another story for another day I suppose,) and since we had already paid for the first month, I decided why not just let him go for 3 days a week – it was only 3 hours in the morning – and see if he liked it.

He not only liked it, he loved it!  He would tell me all about all of the “friends” in his class on our way home each day.  Come to find out, he wasn’t playing with any of them – just observing from afar.  His teacher was constantly reporting to me that he was not acting like a “typical” 2-year old … he was hitting & kicking, pushing & spinning.  Inattentive, disruptive, and didn’t make eye contact with her or the aide.  Except for the eye contact part, everything else sounded like sort of normal 2 year old boy behavior – lots of friends with kids the same age said theirs were behaving similarly.  So I disregarded the eye contact stuff because he usually always looked at me, my husband, my mother & other close family and friends.  I considered pulling him out of preschool – maybe it wasn’t the right fit, maybe he was too young – but because he expressed to me how much he enjoyed going, I decided to play it by ear.

Well, after a couple of months of cringing every time I picked him up from school – nervous to hear about his behavior that day, wondering if they all thought I was the worst mother in the world because my son was aggressive – things escalated rapidly.  We were called into the Director’s office one morning — The Boy had picked up a play kitchen table & hurled it across the room, narrowly missing a few kids.  When the teachers yelled at him to stop, he laughed, picked up some large toy trucks and started throwing those as well.  The Director and the Teacher gingerly broached the subject of Autism.  They weren’t giving a diagnosis, but they were explaining that they noticed some things that they considered to be red flags, and encouraged us to seek help from Los Angeles County Regional Center.  We were told that they were a government agency that would assess The Boy, and provided free help for children on the Autism Spectrum or with other Neurological Disorders & Learning Disabilities.

My husband and I walked to the car, got in and I started to cry.  No way was my child autistic!  He talked all the time and had excellent speech, above average cognitive reasoning … he was affectionate and outgoing, social and curious.  But deep down inside, I knew something was amiss.  The little things that I had thought were normal and cute and typical behaviors started to cause me concern.  The spinning, the spacing out, the obsessively turning on and off the lights … and over the past couple of months, he had started to hit me and my husband.  So, I figured what could it hurt to call Regional Center – it was free, my tax dollars had already paid for the service*.  If something was wrong, I wanted to address it right away, and if not, then I wanted to be able to say “see, nothing is wrong with my child!”

I filled out the paperwork, and sent it in the following day.  On the form it said it could take up to 45-60 days to process.  Of course it would, it’s the government for Pete’s sake!  By that time, he’d be on summer break & wouldn’t be in school anymore!  In tandem, I called our Pediatrician and scheduled a consult.  Our Pediatrician is a really wonderful man, a wise, calm, easy-going, and patient man – quite literally, the best in town.  He said that the behavior he was witnessing in the office that day was totally normal for The Boy’s age, but it wouldn’t hurt to go through the rigmarole at LACRC.  We all agreed it was too early to put labels on The Boy.

Truth be told, I was not expecting our experience at LACRC to be all that great, mostly because it was a government-run agency.  Boy was I wrong.  I received a phone call 4 days after filing our paperwork.  Our case manager was not just some emotionally detached “government drone.”  No, quite the contrary.  She was kind, generous, and genuinely concerned.  She scheduled assessments without even having us come in for a first meeting with her.  “Time is of the essence” she said, “and we need to get you some help quickly.”

Right away, we had a slew of assessments: Developmental, Speech, Occupational Therapy & Psychological Evaluation … Speech was not an issue for The Boy, but it was a requirement for LACRC.  As expected, he scored off the charts for speech – way above his age, but the therapist noted trouble with transitions, the banging of toys, and lack of eye contact with her.  Developmental assessment, he tested at or below his age, except for speech.  Occupational Therapy was interesting … he was exhibited some sensory processing and response dysfunctions.  And the word that kept coming up at every assessment from each evaluator was “perplexing.”  The Boy was “a perplexing case.”  They all explained that he didn’t fit into any “mold.”

When it came time for us to meet with the Child Psychologist, I had no clue what to expect or what was going to happen.  In hindsight, I really should have had my husband and / or my mother accompany us.  My husband was very busy at work,  and although my mom offered to come with us, I told her it wasn’t going to be a big deal.  Well, I was wrong.

The Psychologist tested The Boy while I filled out paperwork.  We were there for almost three hours.  I was impressed with how well The Boy handled everything, especially because the assessment spilled over into his lunchtime & nap-time – a definite disruption to his routine.  She interviewed me while he played.  We discussed family history … no, nothing on my side, but on my husband’s side, he has a (now 20 year old) nephew who has Asperger Syndrome.  And, I confided to her that I’ve always suspected that my husband is a little bit of an “Aspie” himself.  (The Husband loves his rituals and routines.  He is the smartest man I know, with the driest wit, and we always joke that I’m the “social bridge” in the relationship, meaning that he’d never see his friends if it weren’t for me arranging get-togethers.)

The Psychologist continued to do her work, talking more with me, observing The Boy.  “Well, he has made eye contact with me, and he doesn’t meet the criteria for classic autism, especially based on his speech and cognitive reasoning, so, what we’re looking at is Asperger Syndrome.  That’s the diagnosis.”  I didn’t react in any sort of emotional way, because like I said, there is a family history & truly, it was almost a relief to hear some sort of diagnosis for the behavior My Boy was exhibiting.

I didn’t react until I got into the car and called my husband.  No, I take that back, I didn’t even react then.  I think I was still in shock.  I simply relayed the diagnosis in a very matter-of-fact manner.  I could tell The Husband was concerned, and starting to get upset – he came home shortly after we got off the phone.  It wasn’t until I got home and was in my own comfortable element … I called my mother, and the tears just came.  The one thing she said that stuck with me was, “he’s still the same boy he was yesterday … he’s still the same, wonderful, loving little boy, honey, that has not changed.”  So I cried.  We cried.  And we went through the range of emotions that I listed earlier: disbelief, shock, anger, rationalization, denial, depression & finally acceptance.

After voraciously devouring everything I could find on the internet & in the library, I learned that some of the most amazing people were Aspies, (Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, Mozart, Orson Wells, to name a few.)  And if The Boy did indeed have Asperger Syndrome, it was looking like a very mild case – he is such a social butterfly!  I also learned that early intervention is the key to correcting some of the undesirable behaviors.  So that’s what we’ve been doing for the past 6 months, (child development specialist, behaviorist, occupational therapy,) and we’re already seeing huge leaps in his progress!

Asperger Syndrome is not a terrible diagnosis … yes, there are challenges, but the rewards vastly outweigh them.  Even though My Boy’s mind isn’t “typical” and may not process things / ideas / information in a typical way, I love the way his mind works.  I wouldn’t change him even if I could.  He’s a beautiful boy with a beautiful mind.  And I love being his mother.

*Actually, Regional Center services are no longer free.  They now charge each family an annual fee of $200.