Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hamster, Allergies, Homework, and More

It looks like we may be saying good bye to another one of Kara's furry friends.  Last Wednesday, Kara realized that Sunny had somehow slipped out of her cage. We are still not sure how she did it.   How we got her in the first place was because she was a bit of an escape artist.  When one of the girls at our favorite pet store was trying to clean her cage, she jumped out of her hands, and into a shelving unit.  Kara, being a hamster whisperer, was able to successfully get her out.  Since Sunny looked just like her first hamster Sonic who had died about six weeks before, Kara begged to get her.  Sunny was a great little hamster, but it has now been almost a week without any sightings.  I also looked back on the blog and she was 7 or 8 months when we got her back in Dec 2012.. That would make her very close to 2 years oldl, which is the life expectancy of a drawf hamster. We do have some hope though, hamsters are known to reappear after being missing a few days.    

Another thing we have been dealing with the last few weeks is Kara has developed quite a severe perfume allergy in the last few months.  It got so bad that she was having allergic reactions pretty much every single day, pretty much everywhere she went.  People wear scent everywhere! .  Her doctor had a really good suggestion.  She said that if Kara was wearing a fashion scarf, she could discreetly cover her nose and mouth whenever she was starting to have problems breathing.  It is definitely better than wearing a face mask to middle school.  We found several colors of light flannel that would make great scarves on sale at JoAnn Fabrics. We had planned on getting right to work making them, but then her older sister gave her all of the scarves she no longer wears.  Some days are better than others, but the scarves definitely do help a lot. 

Adding to the chaos  this week is it is the last week of the quarter.  My son is not found of doing homework.  Because of his Aspergers, he really does not like to write.  He tends to put off homework as long as possible, so this week he is overloaded with work he needs to get finished.  I am getting a refresher coarse in Biology, American History and Algebra 2, to make sure he gets everything done.  One thing our school is doing different this semester is they are now having quarterly midterms, instead on only at the end of the semester.   He does test very well, so that should help his grade if he does not get everything done. 

If the lost hamster, allergies, and last minute homework was not enough, this week is also our 2nd Robotics meet.  Depending on how we do, this could mean the end of the season, or a trip to States. We have one of the most competitive states for Robotics with the more teams than any other state.  Since we did not do so well at our last meet, we might not have a chance to move on.  I guess we will find out this weekend. 

Well I better get back to it.. I know Kyle  is in the other room trying to avoid doing his English assignment.   Sigh...  Only one more quarter until summer break! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Our First Robotics Competition

This past week was a busy one.  Kyle is on the Robotics team, and this weekend was his team's  first meet.  The meet lasted over a couple of days.  The team worked really hard the last couple of months building the robot, and preparing it for competition.  Unfortunately the first day, there were a few issues that were beyond our control that hurt our standings the first day. 

If you have never been to a robotic meet before, they are actually quite exciting.  At the beginning of the  building season each team finds out the what their robot has to do.  This year it had to be able to pick up a ball, and throw it through a goal.  In addition to being able to throw a ball, it also has to compete against other robots trying to do the same thing at the same time.  Each match up has two teams of three robots.  Depending on what color you are assigned for that match,  you could be an ally  or a competitor of another team. The more points your robot earns, the higher it is ranked. After all the preliminary matches, the top 8 teams each pick two more teams to be their allies during elimination rounds.   Our team is friends with the team that was ranked in 1st, so we were hoping we might be picked for an alliance. They decided to pick another team.  While we were disappointed, we totally understood.  We will have another chance to compete again in a few weeks. 

Here is a closer view of the robots.  In this match we were on the blue team, and holding the ball.  The red robots were blocking us, trying  to keep us from turning around and scoring.   Kyle had tried out for the drive team, who are the students who man the controls during each match. We know he did well during try outs, but the coaches decided to go with  team members with experience. I think that was a very wise decision.  There was so much involved, that it was much better to watch and learn especially for his first meet.   I have no doubt though, that he will be driving the robot some day.. All those hours of playing video games, have definitely come in handy.   

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Am I Disabled?

This is my son Kyle.  If you follow my other blog Pam's Party and Practical Tips, or read my first post on this blog (which will soon be on an About Me page),  you will know that he has Aspergers Syndrome.  We were very lucky in how we found out in stages when he was young, and that he has always been able to get any extra help that he has needed along the way.   Things are a bit different now. He doesn't need much help anymore, but at times  things can be difficult for him. 

A few days ago we had an interesting conversation.... Out of the blue, he asked me, "Mom, am I disabled?".   I was very surprised that he asked me that.   I posted how I responded to his question  on my personal  Facebook page, and I got such a positive response by family and friends, I know I said something right.  I feel that maybe  I should share it here, in case it could help anyone else with Aspergers  who might be wondering the same thing. 

This is what I said to him.. 

While Aspergers might make things harder for him  sometimes, having it does not make you disabled.  You have the ability to be anything you want to be, and do anything that you want to do.  In fact, Aspergers  gives you special abilities that the average person does not have. He is able to see and understand things in a different way.  He is also one of the most intelligent people that I know, something that will help him throughout life. He has a gift for math, and taught himself how to add and subtract before kindergarten.  He is able to solve complex problems in his head, and is getting As in Algebra 2 as a freshman without even trying.    He also has the ability to stay focused for long periods of time on things that he really enjoys, like video games. This may also help him in life, because he is able to beat almost any game, and is considering being a video game designer.   

Then to drive my point home, I opened up a web page that had a list of famous people with Aspergers . Even though I have shown him a list  before, this time he seemed to really listen and understand.  Maybe it's because he is older now, and has learned about most of these people in school. I have to say that we were both very surprised by a few people on the list.   While there is no way to know positively if  some of these historical people had Aspergers, it is "speculated" by basing their known behaviors/mannerisms based on current DSM criteria. 

Abraham Lincoln - Considered to be one of the best Presidents to ever lead our country 

Albert Einstein - Considered to be one of the 20th centuries greatest minds, and one of the most influential scientists of all time 

Benjamin Franklin - a founding father, and according to PBS.org, a writer, inventor, businessman, musician, scientist, genius and more.. 

George Washington - we were surprised by this one!  Not only is he a founding father of our country, he it's very first President  

Henry Ford - an inventor and  industrialist who is a major reason why we are a country obsessed with the automobile 

Issac Newton -  a mathematician and physicist who is another extremely influential scientist. Having a daughter in 11th grade Physics, I know his name name well 

Thomas Edison - One of the most prolific inventors of all time, and the reason why we enjoy so many modern convenience of today   

Mark Twain - A great writer and story teller..  He also happens to be a distant relative 

Charles Schultz - Considered to be one of the most influential cartoonists who wrote/drew Peanuts, one of the most beloved cartoons 

(All three of these modern day extremely successful men, have Asperger traits in common, and are "speculated" to have it.  Even though we do not know for sure, it is not a bad thing to be possibly grouped with them) 

Bill Gates - Entrepreneur, philanthropist, founder of Microsoft and richest person in the world.   

Steve Jobs- Founder of Apple, and hugely influential in how we communicate today 

Mark Zuckerburg - Founder of Facebook, and a billionaire while still in his 20s  

We talked about several people who were on the list.  When we were done, I saw him stand a little bit taller, and get a huge smile on his face.  He now  sees that he is in really good company, and capable of many great things. I just hope he remembers his mom when he earns his first billion someday. :)  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

We Survived the ACTs

When you have a high school student in my state, you know the first week of March means it is testing week.   This year I have a Junior, so it was a really big year for her.   On the first Tuesday of March, all Juniors in the state take their ACTs..  Also during the week, they are given the Michigan Merit Exam, and Work Keys test.   These tests have meant a lot of early mornings for my daughter.  Because of the program she in, she normally goes into school much later than she had to this week. I am really proud of her. she made  it to  bus three days in the row before the sun came up. .   When I picked her up after the ACT, she told me she thought the test was easy, and she thinks she  did pretty good..  I don't know if I should be worried or relieved that she thought it was easy.  I guess we will find out when we get her results later this Spring.  

My son who is a freshman, also had to take a test.  His test was not as stressful as the ACT, but it was still pretty important. He had to take the 9th grade ACT practice test.  He was given the test as an 8th grader, and then again this year. He should do pretty good, since he is takes tests very well.  They use the tests they take as freshman and sophomores to approximate how well they will do on the real test junior yet.  

I also have a good update about the mice.   We are in the clear!!  Frappe did not have another litter of babies after her night trying to meet up with Oreo. (pictured)  If she were to have a litter it would have happened by Monday at the latest.  Since it is now Thursday, there are no ore surprise babies. I just love this picture of our cat Reeses, and Oreo.  They really do like to hang out.  Reeses loves the mice, and will often lay near the cages just to watch them. Oreo is just as curious about the cats as they are about him.  I have a few pictures where the two of them  were looking at each other nose to nose.  This picture is great, because they both turned at looked at me at the same time with what looks like a smile on their face.  

There are a few more things that have been going on, that I will be sharing soon.  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cookies, Cars and Baby Mice

It has been another week of freezing cold temperatures, sick kids, and just general chaos.     Monday was the calm before the storm.  We were on our last day of winter break. They kids had a few activities in the evening, but it was otherwise a quiet today.   Tuesday.. not so much.  

Kara  woke up not feeling that well again.  Since she had been fine the night before, I thought it might be because she was really tired.  I told her that she has missed a lot of school lately, and that she needed to go. An hour later, she called me from school. She said she felt like she was going to pass out in choir, so her teacher allowed her to go to the office.  When I went in to pick her up, the school secretary who have I have known for years told me that she thought Kara might have the flu.  I told her that did not cross my mind, since Kara did not have a fever.  Since Mrs. M sees a lot of sick kids on a daily basis, I decided to give the Dr. a call.  They were able to get us right in.  Her regular Dr. had a full schedule, but one of the other doctors we know, had an opening that morning.  It turns out she did not have the flu.. Whew!  She did have a pretty bad sinus infection though! At least it was something that could be treated, and was not contagious. 

 Also on that day, a road/utility  worker almost got me hit by a train... seriously..  I was on my way to pick up my oldest daughter from school.   On one of the roads I have to drive on, there were some workers working on an utility pole right next to the railroad tracks.   Because cars had to go in only one lane for a short time,  there were two workers holding slow/stop signs on each side of the where they were working. When I got close to the worker on my side,  he turned his sign from stop to slow, and waved me on.  Just as I was almost on the the tracks, the lights and bells started going off. The worker standing on the tracks still waved me on.  As I crossed the tracks the warning bars starting coming down. I had a split second  of panic that my car was going to be hit by one of the bars.  I hear the worker yell, GO!  GO!   I barely made it across without out getting hit by the bars. I am only about 50 feet away, when I see the train go by in the rear view mirror.  Moral of this story..  When the warning lights come on as you are about to cross the tracks.. don't listen to a worker when he tells you to cross anyway..  

On Wednesday, there was more trouble with cars, but at least it was not me this time.  I had dropped of Kyle at Robotics, and I was just about home when my cell phone rang.  I was on a very busy road, and my phone was in my purse so I could not answer it.    I pull over in a McDonalds parking lot to see who called, and saw it was the husband.  I call him back, but my call went to voice mail so I continued on to the house.  He calls back again as I pull into our neighborhood.  This time I pick up.  Seems he is having a little bit of an emergency.   He has run out of gas on a busy highway, on a curve during rush hour.  He asks me if I can bring him the gas can.  I told him that I just arrived at the house, so I could.  I find out he was really close to where I just was when I was on my way home from dropping off Kyle.  As I approached the area I knew he was, I see a car the same color as his and pull up behind it.. As soon as I do, I realize it is another car that had been left on the side of the road.  Because it was rush hour, it took quite awhile before I could get back on the highway to go another quarter mile down the road.  He was very happy to see me. He tells me that he wants me to go as soon as he gets the gas can, because we were in danger of being hit on the curve.   I tried to do what he said, but it was wall to wall cars going pretty fast.  As I was sitting there looking for an opportunity to pull back on the highway, I saw at least vehicles come very close to crossing hitting us, and one was a big truck.. By the time I had a chance to pull out onto the highway he was done putting gas in his car, and trying to pull out too.. We pull out at the same time, and safely made it home.  Moral of this story.. always make sure you have plenty of gas when driving on a busy highway!  

On Thursday, we had a little more fun.  Kara had a Girl Scout cookie booth at a local pizza place. We love having booths there.  It is warm inside, and it smells good.  They only downside, we always end up buying a pizza when we leave.  

This weekend we are on possible baby watch.   Remember a few weeks ago when Frappe had a taste of freedom, well if she did meet up with Oreo during the night, the evidence could show up at any time.  A mouse pregnancy is 18-21 days.  Today is day 19. We don't believe that she is, but we had no idea she was pregnant the first time around either. She is currently running on the wheel, and having a good time with her new female friends.  It is recommended that when you have female mice, that you have 2-3 females.  Female mice are very social, and can easily get depressed when all alone.  After Frappe had her babies, and was separated from the boys, she did appear to be a bit depressed,  Kara used her own money and bought her two friends for Frappe.. Luna (the dark one in the igloo), and Cake (the tan one sitting on the igloo).  Once Luna and Cake acclimated to their new surroundings, she put Frappe in their box for a few short visits.  One night she fell asleep before putting Frappe back in her cage. Things went really well so she has stayed in the temporary cage ever since.  If she does not babies this weekend, all three of them are going to move back into Frappe's cage.  It has been cleaned of any old scent, and since all three have become friends, it should be okay moving into her cage. Frappe just seems so happy to have friends, we don't think she will be territorial. 

I also have an update on Lucky, AKA Spidermouse.   Lucky is now 2 months old and is doing great.  Originally the plan was for Lucky to move back with Frappe once it was an adult.  For many weeks we thought Lucky was a girl.  Then around 6 weeks old or so, Kara noticed it was starting to look more like a male.  Now that Lucky has "matured" it is almost certain that Lucky is male.  Lucky learned to climb about 10 days ago, and does so frequently. He will climb up his water bottle and then do his best Spiderman impression all over the cage lid.  He is looking for Kara. He adores her, and always wants to be held.  He will be getting a wheel in his cage ASAP, so he will have a place for his great acrobatic skills.  

We  survived this week of craziness.. Let's see what this next week will bring..