Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Adventures in Child Care

Had a bit of scare last night trying to figure out our child care options, what with our daycare provider announcing out of the blue last week that she was skipping town for a few weeks to "invest" the money from the sale of her house. (To my cousins, BTW, making it that much more annoying because I'm sure this wasn't just a sudden decision.) She was being vague about when she was coming back so we decided to find someone new instead of bouncing the kids around for several weeks until she did. Easier said than done, of course.

A full-time nanny wasn't a realistic - nor, to be honest, appealing - option, and finding a new daycare comes with its own set of problems because of India's therapy which either requires the therapist coming into the daycare for two hours/day (not an option with the current one) or someone picking her up to bring her home for her therapy two hours/day. Craziness all around, and it was like a black cloud rolling in as the hassles of living in NY seemed to grow larger by the moment. Played with our budget to figure out how much of a pay cut I could take (Salomé's job pays better, has cheaper benefits and pays overtime!) to accomodate a shorter workday and was surprised by how much room we had. Turns out that taking out that loan to pay off our car and credit cards when we were house-hunting left us better off than I'd realized and it wouldn't be all that tragic. Of course, I'd still have to make the necessary arrangements at the current job or find a new one with a flexible schedule, so it's still not an ideal situation. But at least it's one option, which is one more than it seemed like we had last night.

Speaking of India, she had her Occupational Therapy evaluation yesterday and passed with flying colors! First good news we've had since she was diagnosed. Then we got more good news today as our case worker found her a spot in a school starting in September that she'll be able to stay in even after she ages out of the Early Intervention Program. We'll still have the scheduling issues to deal with but at least that's one huge hurdle potentially out of the way.

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Friday, June 24, 2005


Quick & random:

1) My quarterly apology to all those I've lost contact with. Again. If it hasn't been directly connected to family, work or comics, I probably haven't dealt with it. That means unanswered emails, voicemails, etc. Please don't take it personally. Hopefully I'll be seeing some of you in the next couple of weeks.

2) Congratulations to Dyanna & Steve on their pregnancy, and Joanne & Juan on their new house. Let's see how much time you guys have for D&D now!

3) Softball game tonight. Yankees/Mets tomorrow afternoon. Two parties tomorrow night (though I think we'll only be able to make one). Lunch date on Sunday. Some social activity will hopefully kick me out of this deepening malaise.

4) New Orleans next month! Tickets & reservations paid for. Necessary counterpoint to an increasingly hectic summer.

5) Isaac is officially registered for Catholic school! Is that lightning in the distance?

* That's 1859 in Roman numerals, a rough approximation of how many Fridays I've lived through in my closing-in-on 36 years.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Home Sweet (and Sour) Home

The problem with vacations is that they sometimes do more than serve as relaxing getaways, giving a little push to the always prevalent desire to get the hell out of New York City for good. Being around houses that cost half as much as what we were looking to buy a few months ago, for twice as much space, inside and out in most cases, added to the feeling. We ended up staying in VA for an extra day because we weren't looking forward to returning to the same old grind of maintaining the status quo. While there's some legitimacy to our wanting to skip town again, the "grass is greener" factor is equally significant. Life's tough all over, only the scenery changes.

Reality is, barring some drastic solution like going completely off the grid and home-schooling in a yurt, we have to stay put for at least a year while we figure out what's what with India. Some days are better than others and I catch myself tricking myself into thinking it is simply a speech delay that she'll catch up on in a developmental spurt. As it is, there's been noticeable improvement, but it goes hand-in-hand with recognizing some Autism-like behaviors that we'd previously rationalized as her being exceptionally independent.

Wanting to leave NYC, for me at least, is partially rooted in my wanting a simpler life where I look forward to more than comic book Wednesday and the always-too-short weekends. $300k houses, 8am-6pm days at a job I don't particularly care for, and always being too tired or stressed to fully appreciate the limited couple of hours a day with the kids just don't add up to my definition of the American Dream.

Blah, blah, blah. I have no idea what I'm even trying to say in this post.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Going Back to 'ginia...

I don't think so!

It is nice to get away to, though. We haven't gotten all that much more sleep than usual but we're definitely a lot more relaxed.

Being here makes me want a backyard the way people without kids want their own after babysitting for a few hours. Except I know better! The kids love it, though, and have been having a blast running around outside and playing in the kiddie pool. My parents (no, I'm not doing the whole "mother and step-father" thing as he's as much my father, if not more so, than bio-dad) took them to a pond to feed the ducks yesterday. I'm teaching Isaac to hit a baseball and he took to it pretty quickly, getting some real good hacks in. Figure in 18 years or so, he'll sign a nice fat contract with the Mets and buy us a little bungalow down in Miami.

We went to King's Dominion yesterday and had a ball. Like a miniature Great Adventure where you spend more time on the rides than walking between them or waiting on lines. Ended a long day with a couple of hours on the water rides, including the soothing Lazy River, which was a nice counterpoint to the brutal Flight of Fear roller coaster that nearly ripped our heads from their respective shoulders!

Tonight, we're being treated to a nice seafood dinner before heading off to catch Batman Begins. Again. It was that good! Even Salomé liked it enough to see it twice. This could be a repeat of 1989 when I ended up buying a full-body costume!

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Softball; Batman Begins; Vacation

My second game with the company softball team is tonight @ 6pm, back at the Coleman Oval Playground on Market & Monroe Streets, in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge. I missed our only practice and last weekend's double-header so I have no idea if I'll be returning to shortstop or what. Prefer the infield to the outfield, but unless we've vastly improved I'd likely see the same amount of action either way. Need to buy a pair of sweats, though, as my only pair fall down when I run!

Salomé has guaranteed another year of marriage, winning us a couple of passes to an advance screening of Batman Begins tomorrow! Envy me, beeyotches! :-P

We leave for my mother's place on Saturday for a week of relative relaxation and the possibility of sleeping in til 9am every day! Couldn't come at a better time as I've been burning the candle at both ends lately and need the break. As usual when I get involved in something new, I jumped into the Buzzscope thing with both feet and have established an early pace for output that there's no way I can maintain much longer. Was up until almost 2am last night polishing off an interview with the controversial publisher of Alias Enterprises, a new player on the comic book scene that's trying to make a splash and has made some early missteps. It's not "live" yet but you can sneak a peek at it here. Think it's my best one yet. UPDATE: It's now live. :-)

Monday, June 6, 2005

Adventures in Philly

aka, The stuff I can't really say in my Buzzscope coverage.

First, the absent-minded professor (that'd be me) achieved a new personal high as I locked my keys in the car after arriving in Philly and checking in to my hotel. (A nice little "boutique hotel"-slash-B&B called the Alexander Inn, right in Center City, about 8 blocks from the Convention Center.) If that wasn't bad enough, I didn't realize it until much later Saturday night, confirming it Sunday morning after I'd tossed my room looking for them and heading over to the garage to find them still in the car. Which, much to my surprise, WAS STILL RUNNING!!!!

I left the damn keys in the ignition and the car had been idling from about 1pm Saturday through 9am Sunday! And that was after being driven from 8:30am!

Thanks to its low idle, you could barely tell, so no one noticed and decided to steal it. Fortunately, I'd turned the AC off so it only burned off a 1/4 tank of gas. Couple of frantic phone calls later - forgot to replace our Road Assistance coverage after we paid off the car and dropped our collision coverage! - and $50, and I was back in business. Fun way to start a Sunday morning!

The Convention itself was fun, if a bit overwhelming for a first-timer, as I was. Met a lot of interesting people; realized, disappointedly, that a couple of artists whose work I don't particularly like were black*; also realized that there are many interesting parallels between the slam scene and the comic book industry, at least as far as the actual talent is concerned. The "after party," such that it was, in the hotel bar on Saturday night was very reminiscent of the late night drinking that takes place at Nationals, with many of the comics people grouped by common publishers or high school classification, ie: the Goth kids, the nerds (yes, there are such distinctions, even in comics!), the "jocks" (the higher profile talent, generally the only ones with attractive girlfriends/wives), and, where I've always tended to fit in, the drifters. I mainly took it all in from an entertained and well-lubricated distance with Jon H., one of the guys from Buzzscope who drove out there with me.

All in all, despite the car fiasco and being tired as hell when I got home last night, it was worth the trip as I got at least a couple of articles out of it (the first one's already posted here), met a lot of up-and-coming creators and picked up a ton of comics I'd never even heard of. One of the highlights was seeing Ken Knudtsen, of My Monkey's Name is Jennifer fame, whom I originally met at my first Big Apple Con a while back and remembered for his sharing a shot of Vodka with me after I bought his comic! Now THAT'S fan service! This time he was selling shot glasses with Jennifer's mug on them, and I bought one off of him along with his latest comic, a bizarre flipbook, CROWPSEY / Rufus & Cleveland, after sharing another shot of Vodka, this time of a much higher quality. Swung around later for a follow-up and he cemented his position as my favorite artist met at a Con yet, even if his whacked out comics aren't my usual taste.

Personality goes a long way in both comics and poetry.

EDIT: *Because there's so little talent of color in the industry, not because I thought black artists couldn't suck!

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

by Ellen Notbohm

Some days it seems the only predictable thing about it is the unpredictability. The only consistent attribute, the inconsistency. There is little argument on any level but that autism is baffling, even to those who spend their lives around it.

The child who lives with autism may look "normal," but his or her behavior can be perplexing and downright difficult. Today, the citadel of autism, once thought an "incurable" disorder, is cracking around the foundation. Every day, individuals with autism show us they can overcome, compensate for, and otherwise manage many of the condition's most challenging aspects. Equipping those around our children with a simple understanding of autism's most basic elements has a tremendous effect on the children's journey towards productive, independent adulthood. Autism is an extremely complex disorder, but we can distill it to three critical components: sensory processing difficulties, speech/language delays and impairments, and whole child/social interaction issues.

Here are 10 things every child with autism wishes you knew.

Freelance writer and consultant Ellen Notbohm is a columnist for Autism/Asperger's Digest and co-author of 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders (Future Horizons). She favors "common sense" approaches to raising her sons with autism and AD/HD. She lives in Oregon.
Thanks to those of you that have written/called to express your support. No eye jammies required yet! Always nice to be reminded that your mother reads your blog every now and then, though. Yikes! And Bowerbird??!?! Who knew he was even still alive?

We're doing fine, relatively speaking, getting things in order to ensure India gets the services she needs. It's been stressful, and if I've been even more out-of-touch than usual, it's mainly because I'm retreating to the bare minimum of extracurricular activities to keep me sane, if not terribly social. I'm heading to Philly this weekend to cover the Wizard World Convention, then the countdown begins to a relaxing week down in VA at my mother's house. Almost tempted to not come back! Almost... ;-)

PS: Madagascar sucked! Shrek was a fluke, apparently; Dreamworks isn't anywhere near the same league as Pixar or Disney. Looking forward to Wallace and Grommit and Chicken Little next. And, of course, a little independent movie called Batman Begins!