Friday, May 29, 2009

Spelling Bee

We turned on the National Spelling Bee last night after dinner, and Asher was mesmerized by the whole production. He has always had a great passion for spelling words.

Last night, he would spell the words right along with the kids. I don't think he quite figured out that the kids didn't have the words on a screen in front of them as he did. He would clap enthusiastically when the kids spelled the word correctly, and feign sadness when they got the buzzer.

I'm not sure I could be a spelling stage mom. Hours of practicing words and learning word origins. Boring! Spending weekends holed up in hotel rooms in random cities for competitions. No thanks! And some of those kids had great personalities and were having fun with the whole thing, but others....they were wound up way too tight. Sad!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The crazy and random of our lives

The pace of the crazy isn't like it was when we lived in NYC. When we lived there, I always had a good story to tell......everything from the old Asian woman who started beating me with her purse after trying to help her pick up her scattered coins, to the afternoon Asher and I went for a walk along the East River and ran into Mayor Bloomberg filming a campaign commercial. He was very nice and very short. Trust me, it's not just me. I have friends with blogs who still live in New York to prove it. Everyone who moves to New York should automatically be given a book deal.

But we still occasionally have some of the crazy and random happen to us. A couple of things recently...

There is a group of black kids who live nearby that like to hang out at our neighborhood playground after school. They are always really nice to the boys, but they got it stuck in their heads that Asher's name is Usher. "Usher, do you want to play hide and seek with us?" "Usher, do you want some of our licorice?" The other day I heard one of the kids say as we were leaving, "Usher is such a cool name...I wish my mom named me that."


Did you know that some caterpillars sting? Well, I guess they do in VA. I have no shame in outrunning my boys in order to be first to hold random furry critters. So luckily, I made that discovery instead of them.


I recently bought an alley cat to attach to my bike so I can haul Asher around town. A couple days ago I was riding my bike with the empty alley cat attached to go pick up Asher from preschool. An elderly man pulled up to me looking very concerned....Are you aware that your child is not behind you? he said. Oh...that's weird... he was back there a couple miles ago. Thanks, sir. The rest of the day i had this ridiculous image of Asher falling over on the road while I kept you would see on an SNL sketch.


I got caught in the men's restroom. I had taken Noe to speech therapy early one morning and in order to make sure we weren't late for his session, I skipped my morning bathroom run. By the time I got Noe settled in therapy, I really had to go and started running through the office building looking for a restroom. It was early and the office was mostly empty. The women's restrooms were all locked. On all 4 floors. I was in crisis mode at that point, so I ran into an unlocked men's restroom and, of course, a man walks in to use the urinal while I was still in a stall. I put my feet up and waited. When he left I made a fast exit, but he was waiting for me. I just rushed by him and didn't even look at him. Of course, I could have avoided the whole scene if I would have said something when he walked into the bathroom, but I always have to make things way more complicated and embarassing.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Ghosts of Facebook Past

I've never been tech-averse, but it did take me a while to get on Facebook. Maybe it was the thought of having another Web page to maintain when I already do that for work purposes here. A big part of what I do involves editing and updating the content on that page.

Anyway, Facebook has been mostly an enjoyable experience and certainly very beneficial for work purposes (an easy way to tell a large group of people to check out our articles and photos online). There are annoyances with it, which I'm sure wittier bloggers have already chronicled.

But what's been most interesting is when long-lost people find you. It's always a goof when an old high-school classmate tracks you down after not keeping in touch for years. You become morbidly curious about how their life turned out even if in the grand scheme of things, you were doing just fine not knowing.

Recently, I had a slightly bigger shock when an elementary school classmate found me. I had literally not seen this person since our sixth-grade graduation. She went off to a different middle school and by the time she went to our East L.A. high school, I was 3,000 miles away at a boarding school on scholarship.

She was always the smartest person in our class all the way through, though in the neighborhood we grew up in, you often wondered if that would be enough. Too many things can and have derailed many people I went to school with, and I always count my blessings with the way things turned out for me.

Well, it turns out she also did more than alright for herself. Bachelor's and Master's degree from UCLA. Working as a social worker in Southern California. Happily married. And from the few exchanges we've had, still as sharp and curious as I remember her.

But the other thing that was interesting when we were talking about our childhoods is how similar they really were and how hard our families worked to provide a stable home and shield us from any harm. It sounds simple, but when you're trying to make ends meet, things tend to slip through the cracks. But it sounds like her family, much like mine, kept things pretty airtight.

I was happy (and a little relieved) to hear that someone like her made it. Not because I had such little faith in our classmates, but more because it always felt like the odds were longer where we came from. Remember, most of us were the first in our families to graduate college (and high school, in my case).

I hope we maintain contact, not for the morbid Facebook curiosity I mentioned earlier, but because it's always good to know there are other people from my neighborhood that I can point out to my friends and family as success stories.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

First Crush

We have gotten to know J and her family on the long, dark labyrinth of finding autism therapies for our children. It has been fun to see J's progress over the past couple of years. Recently, she has taken to Noe. While I can't say that Noe's feelings are mutual, he does tolerate her....which might in fact be love for him. Here are the two of them walking out of speech therapy this morning, hand in hand.

Tuesday Travels: New and Improved American History Museum

The National Museum of American History was recently reopened after a pretty extensive renovation. Asher and I went to check it out last week, and we really liked the new digs. Unfortunately, we didn't get too far past the first-level transportation exhibit (when exactly does the car and train obsession end for little boys?) , so I can't give a full report....but it is definitely worth checking out next time anyone finds themselves in DC.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

mental note

If a network executive ever approaches me to do a reality show of my family....the witty and calm newspaper-editor dad, the slightly neurotic, ever-thrifty mom who is always getting herself in bizarre situations, the adorable autistic son and his wacky little brother......can't you just see us on TLC?

Anyways, if that ever happens....remind me to run, not walk. Run far, far away from that person.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bike Prom

I can still picture my powder pink prom dress and puffy hair (the pictures are long gone...but the traumatic mental images remain) and my date who had, shall we say, lots of unfulfilled after-prom activities planned for us. Even in high school, I had no desire to go to that dance, but felt that there was something wrong with me if I stayed I suffered through that night, only to discover that the BYU kids were just as infatuated with formal dances.

Now here is a prom that could get me excited.

Unfortunately, the guy I like didn't ask me this year. Maybe if I write something really cool in his yearbook, get a good spray tan and show up to all of his JV baseball games he'll ask me next year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My dream job....

is writing the frugal traveler blog for the New York Times.

enjoying life on the cheap.

This last post made me very homesick.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo...

or not?
Just ask Ed what he thinks of Cinco de Mayo
the rampant stereotypes and caricatures,
the really bad spanish people feel compelled to speak,
not to mention the fact that it's not widely celebrated in Mexico.
How about... Viva Mexico!
(they've had a rough year)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Dear Noe,

I write this note not to mark any kind of anniversary, though coincidentally it'll be four years ago this month we found out you had autism. But this is meant to be a happy letter, so I'll set that aside for now.

The reason I was moved to write you was because of something extraordinary that happened today. On the surface, it was just a bike ride. I've taken you on many of those already, and hopefully by the time you read this, I will have taken you on many more.

But this one felt different. It was just you, me and the glorious trails in our Reston community. I let you lead the way, and did you ever! I thought for certain on this humid day you'd tire out after half a mile, maybe three-quarters of a mile. But you kept going. And going. And going.

All told, we were gone for more than two hours. And in that time, I finally got to see glimpses of your personality that filled me with so much hope for the future.

I saw determination in the way you pedaled no matter how steep the hill. I saw kindness in the way you waited for your slow-poke father as he tried to keep up on his bike. I saw a competitive streak in the way you'd cut me off, then glare back at me. I saw awareness in the way you always waited to cross a busy street.

And most important, I saw happiness in the way you reveled in doing something you love to do.

But I can assure you, it's nothing like the happiness your father felt this afternoon. I've struggled for so long with the depressing notion that there were certain things we might miss out on (too many to list here now). So it was tremendously comforting to know that we could still have moments like this, when the autism melts away and we can be like every other father and son who share a special kind of love.

I know you love us, and hopefully when you read this someday, you'll be able to fully express that. It's just that times like today are so fleeting that I can't help but savor every last second.

Anyway, maybe that's the larger lesson from today: Embrace life, much like you embraced those trails this afternoon, because there's only so much daylight...

With great love and affection,

Your Papi