Saturday, November 29, 2008

Irish Website Spotted on Bumper Sticker!



Photo: My friend Jerry Y., an avid photographer, took this photo of the back of a bus in Dublin, Ireland. It is the only bit of autism awareness we spotted on our trip, although I don't suppose one encounters much autism awareness at castles, cathedrals and gift shops!


As much as I support the cause, I needed to get away from autism and all the work that goes with being an advocate for a little while. That is one of a few reasons why I went to Ireland a few weeks ago. However, actually getting away didn't stop me (a proud mother of one son on the spectrum and one son who is not) from thinking about autism, talking about it, or looking for signs of autism awareness.

I didn't spot the bumper sticker above, but one of my travelling companions whom I spoke to about autism (and my son) did. It was the only sign of autism awareness spotted on the trip, though the site provides proof in the form of links that there is more than just this one website in regards to autism awareness. Thankfully, my friend and travelling companion snapped a shot of it and shared the photo with me or I probably would not have thought to blog about this site.

The website, autismawareness.net, featured in the photo is indeed of Irish origins. The owner lives in Dublin. The site has links to Irish sites as well as the following quote:

"In Ireland over 2,000 people have been diagnosed with Autism and each year this figure continues to grow. Until recently, very little help or support was available for families affected by Autism, and many were left to cope with it by themselves. Help is now at hand."



My thoughts: The home page is a little weak in regards to content, but the page explaining the basics of autism is excellent (informative, but easy to read), which is why I linked to that one instead. The other pages are great too. I especially appreciated the lack of inoffensive language and noncontroversial icons. (There are no ribbons or puzzle pieces to be seen.) I liked the pictures appearing on the site: an open window with the sun peaking in and a train chugging along at the top of the page. Further I found the slogan to be thoughtful. It reads as follows:

"Don't leave them behind."



Despite being rather impressed with the website, I found the homepage titled "who we are" to be a bit vague. I would have liked to have known if the owner was part of an association or if he is a parent. The only clue to be found on the home page is that the site represents a partnership with the H.O.P.E. Project in Cork, Ireland. Other than that one clue there are plenty of ads although there is a helpful directory to the other pages which are labelled "therapy available,""what about support," "useful links," "all things medical," and "contact us" (all that is on that page is an email address).

All in all it seems to be a good website with helpful content that I'd recommend to other parents, friends or family members of a person with autism. I'm glad that I was able to share it with readers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Pictured: The Swing by Jean-Honore Fragonard, 1767.

Admittedly, I took longer to adjust being home from vacation than my boys (including the one with autism) took adjusting to my being home. My older one (should I call him C1?) had a meltdown on the way from the airport and another one the next day. We think it had to do with him trying to get control of the situation. My five year old (C2) proceeded to be my shadow for two days before going back to playing with his brother more. My husband was just glad to see me again.

As for me, I slept from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Friday night to Saturday morning and felt much better. It took me 35 hours to get home (a combination of layovers at airports and flights) and I only was able to sleep for about for of those hours. Further, there is a five hour time difference between Ireland and Mid-Michigan (Eastern Standard Time). Now that a week has gone by since my arrival I feel much more rested.

While I was catching up with my rest there were duties to be done besides cooking and cleaning. I had an appointment to pay for new blinds on Monday, a parent-teacher conference for little C2 on Tuesday, and a dentist appointment for C1 on Thursday. All of those activities went fairly well--even the dentist appointment.

Next Up? Now that I've caught up with the type of housecleaning that only the head house cleaner (me) does, I have to work at putting up photos from Ireland on my Facebook site and also work to catch up with some autism work before Thanksgiving festivities take over next week. In terms of autism duties I have to figure out what topics to address next on this blog, help schedule a Max's Place field trip for December (it looks like we'll be roller skating), and check in with the executive board for Central Michigan Autism Society of America to see what needs to be done next.

Am hoping to do some more autism-related rather than personal type of posts in the near future. Does anyone out there have a suggestion? If you have a autism-related question, I will do my best to answer it. Hope to hear from you soon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back Home From Ireland

Below: The best of my bunch of photographs, a photo of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. Don't let the blue November sky fool you. It rained all but two or three days during my trip (November 4-14,2008). Fortunately, sunny days and good light for photography prevailed during our two days in Dublin.


Above: There I am. Almost every place we went to provided for an excellent photo opportunity.

Ireland was so beautiful despite the prevalence of overcast skies!

I've been in recovery mode for the last three days since returning from my 12 day trip. I spent ten days in Ireland and the other two travelling. Whew. I'll be happy to not see another airport again for awhile. Am also glad to be able to sleep in my own bed after trying rather unsuccessfully to sleep on planes and in an airport.

The trip to Ireland was fantastic. I could write a book about it and did write quite a bit in my personal, old fashioned journal that I brought along with me. I brought back a lot of small gifts and did some Christmas shopping while in Ireland. My husband and I are not looking forward to the credit card bill! However, I'm quite happy with the stuff I bought.

Shopping wise, the best site was at Connemara Marble. We toured the small workshop and heard a lecture about marble from a charming, older gentleman called Ambrose Joyce. I bought many items from the shop including Celtic crosses, necklaces with Irish symbols, small shamrocks, worry stones and a Claddagh ring (view a picture and read about its history by clicking on the link). The sales staff were polite and helpful and Mr. Joyce himself gave us a charming send off by standing in the doorway and waving.

I saw some amazing sites while there. Loved the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry. Galway and the Connemara regions were pretty fantastic too. Other highlights were castles, cathedrals and monastic grounds. The cemeteries dotted with Celtic crosses were fascinating too. WE also visited the grave site of W.B. Yeats located in Sligo. There wasn't a cross at the poet's grave, but rather a statue.

It was so windy during that particular visit in Sligo that my umbrella turned inside out four times! All my photos of that site were poor and grainy, which is probably due to my habit of taking photos with disposable cameras. The weather in Ireland was rainy and windy much of the time though we had two sunny days in Dublin at the end of our trip. Thank goodness for that!!

Over the course of my trip I spotted more sheep than I could count. There are pastures with sheep all over that country. I'll always remember the sheep of Ireland!I brought a stuffed lamb with a black face back for my youngest son. I managed to find just one stuffed frog for my frog lover. Of course they received a few other things as well including an Irish whistle, a green hat with Ireland written across it, a t-shirt, and a signed book about leprechauns. I'll always remember the sheep in Ireland!

The food in Ireland was good and plentiful. There proportions almost outdid the ones we receive in the United States. I never had so many parsnips (a root vegetable) in my life. The parsnips usually were sliced up and cooked with sliced carrots. I also had plenty of potatoes, chicken and brown bread. We also had dessert every evening. A favorite of mine was cheesecake. The portions in Ireland were huge--just like here in the U.S.

I travelled on a tour with 24 other people plus a driver/tour guide. The driver was amazing--driving and talking for hours on end and making sure things ran smoothly in between driving and managing our luggage. I met many great people and two not so great ones. They insisted on sitting in the front seat every day despite an announcement at the beginning of the trip asking people to change seats every day so that everyone would have a chance to get a good view from the front. The excuse was that one of them had motion sickness, but I suspect there were others on the trip who could have obviously been more comfortable up front.

One of those two "ladies" pushed me three times trying to get ahead of me in line at a crowded restaurant. It was too crowded to make a scene, but I spoke to her on the bus afterward and let her know on uncertain terms that I did not like what she did. My anger dispersed immediately and I didn't have a problem with her after that, though I started to suspect she might have this condition. She claimed to other travellers that she didn't do anything wrong!

Fortunately, other than some rude behaviors, the twosome was mostly quiet and quite punctual. Everyone in the trip was on time every day which made for smoother touring. Everyone else was pleasant and made for excellent travel companions. At least half of my fellow travellers were from Iowa. Only six of the twenty five were men. Five of the six were married. I did make what I hope will be lasting friendships.

It was great having a vacation from cooking, cleaning and taking care of a family, but now I'm very glad to be home. We have all seemed to have made the adjustment to me being home again. My older son had a mild meltdown on the way back home from picking me up from the airport, and another meltdown the next day. Now, however, he has seemed to adjusted to my being back.

One side effect of the trip was that my son with autism developed a fixation on chandeliers. I told him during a phone call while I was still in Ireland that there were a lot of castles. Right away he asked me if I saw a chandelier in any of the castles. I said no and tried to explain about electricity and that some of the castles I saw didn't have any remaining roofs. There weren't any chandeliers in the Blarney castle, but I did see one of the old fashioned variety (designed for candles, not crystals) in the Donegal Castle. That provided an excellent opportunity to talk about modern conveniences.

In all I loved Ireland and would love to return someday. Other dream vacations include trips to England, Scotland, The United Arab Emirates, Australia, New Zealand, Paris, France, and Costa Rica. Unfortunately, I'll probably only be able to go on a big trip every two years or so if I'm so blessed.

The question for this post is where would you go if you could? : )

P.S. Yes, I kissed the Blarney Stone.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Goodbye Ireland

Dear Readers:

Today is the day my group returns. We should be excited and exhausted, but also a little sad that the much anticipated trip is coming to an end. My thanks goes to Nawas Travel for a marvelous trip.

It was a dream come true. This is the last of my scheduled posts. I probably won't blog for five or six days after tomorrow, November 14. I'll have jet lag and lots of work to catch up on. Thanks for reading this series. Hope you enjoyed learning the details of my trip.

To my boys:

I'm on a big plane flying over an ocean again! There's a little surprise for you in the bottom drawer of the old dresser (in front of the window) for each of you--dad included. It's orange Tic Tacs for you boys and sour candies for your dad. I'll see you tomorrow! I'll bring presents.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dublin


Image: The Book of Kells

Dear Readers,

Alas, my travels in Ireland are almost over. Last, but not least, is Dublin. This is the city I've heard the most about. My impression is that it has a lot history, culture and charm. Am hoping I won't be disappointed. We'll spend the morning at Trinity College and will view the famous Book of Kells. We'll also see St. Patrick's Cathedral, Phoenix Park and the Georgian Squares of Merrion and Fitzwilliam.

We'll have the afternoon free for independent exploration. My friend from Mt. Pleasant, who is my roomate and primary travelling companion would like to sgo to the famous old pub called Brazenhead. Neither one of us drinks much but we'll probably enjoy being there for the music and the right to say we had a pint in Ireland.

Dear Lorenzen Boys: I'll see you in two days. Hope you all are well. I'm excited about seeing you again. Have dad click on the link for Phoenix Park to see great pictures.
Note: I'm taking a vacation in Ireland, but have scheduled some posts to be published. My husband, Michael, will be home to take our two boys to school. Michael might write a post or two while I'm gone. Please feel free to comment while I'm gone. They'll be published. : )

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sligo/Cavan/Dublin

Dear readers,

I have only two days left in Ireland before returning home. Today my twenty four travelling companions and I will pass by a scenic waterway called Lough Erne, pass through Cavan and Kells and may spend some time in Navan, residence of the Irish High Kings. We'll arrive in Dublin, our final destination, at the end of the day.

As you might have realized, I have written all my post for Nov 2-14 ahead of time. It was a bloggy marathon as I wrote them all in one day! I thought my boys, in particular, might like to see some links to images of things I have seen.

To my boys:

Only three more days will go. I know your dad is taking great care of you, but I miss you all the same. I love you very, very, very much.

Monday, November 10, 2008

County Donegal

Dear readers,

Here is what my itinerary says for today:

"Enjoy a drive today through County Donegal where the variety of scenery is a never ending delight. You'll continue along Donegal Bay to the dramatically beautiful hills of Donegal and view the magnificent coastline, majestic mountains, deep glens and shimmering lakes which merge in a tumult of beauty. Your tour takes you through the fishing village of Killybegs, the picturesque town of Glenties and through the magnificent mountain scenery of Blue Stack range before returning to Sligo for the night."

To the Lorenzen boys:

I'll be home in four days and am looking very forward to seeing you. I'm taking plenty of pictures and I'm looking forward to showing them to you.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

W.B. Yeats and an Autism Book


Today I'm going to visit the home of W.B. Yeats which reminds me of one of the first autism books I've ever read. My beloved husband, a librarian for the library at Central Michigan University, checked this book out for me shortly after my son was diagnosed back in 2004. The book was brand new then. His goal was to give me hope. It took awhile but hope eventually sunk in, and I never did forget about this book.
The full title is Autism And Creativity: Is There a Link between Autism in Men and Exceptional Ability. It was written by Michael Fitzgerald who taught (and may still teach) at Trinity College in Dublin. While the author included chapters on the diagnosis of autism and psychology of autism, his most fascinating chapters focus on the following figures from history: Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sir Keith Joseph, Eamon de Valera, an Irish leader from the 20th century, Author Lewis Carroll, the Indian mathematician Ramanujan, the notorious Adolph Hitler, and the Irish Poet William Butler Yeats. Although at least one of the figures are controversial, it's fascinating to read Fitzerald's arguments as to why he believes these men in particular had Asperger's Syndrome or mild autism.
Here is a related link followed by a sample of Yeats's Poetry:
Love's Loneliness by William Butler Yeats
Old fathers, great-grandfathers,
Rise as kindred should.
If ever lover's loneliness
Came where you stood,
Pray that Heaven protect us
That protect your blood.
The mountain throws a shadow,
Thin is the moon's horn;
What did we remember
Under the ragged thorn?
Dread has followed longing,
And our hearts are torn.
To the Lorenzen Boys: I love you and I'll see you in five days.
Note: I'm taking a vacation in Ireland, but have scheduled some posts to be published during my trip from November 2-14, 2008. My husband, Michael, will be home to take our two boys to school. Michael might write a post or two while I'm gone. Please feel free to comment while I'm gone. They'll be published. : )

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Connemara and Aran knits

Dear Readers:

If I'm destined to buy any Aran knits (which are supposed to be famous, although I've never heard of them until signing up for this trip), I'll probaby do so today when we shop in Connemara. Connemara, as you may know, is the place where St. Patrick fasted for 40 days and nights.

Dear Lorenzen Boys,

I'll see you in six days! I miss you love you so very much. Do you remember when we read about St. Patrick in a book? I bet you do! Please remember to water the plants again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cliffs of Moher

Note: I'm taking a vacation in Ireland, but have scheduled some posts to be published. My husband, Michael, will be home to take our two boys to school. Michael might write a post or two while I'm gone. Please feel free to comment while I'm gone. They'll be published. : )

Dear Readers:

Today I'll get to linger at hundreds of feet above the see at the Cliffs of Moher. My group and I will also get to see Galway, known as "the principal city of western Ireland located at the entrance to Connemara.

Dear Lorenzen Boys:

I love you very, very, very much. To see great pictures, tell dad to click on the link! I will see you in seven days. Is that still your favorite number Boo?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Getting by Without Julie

This is Michael. I am posting in Julie's absence as she visits Ireland. Things are going well here. The boys have adjusted well to Julie being gone and their daily routines are going on as they always have.

A few stories:

From my post Voting in the 2008 Presidential Election at the American Presidents Blog:

Despite predictions of long lines due to a high registration rate of college students in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, there was no line. We got right through and I was able to vote immediately. I will not reveal who I voted for but both of my boys gave me advice on the way in on who to vote for in the Presidential race. This did not surprise me as both boys have been following the election and have been making political comments for months. (At 5, I was not doing this! The world has changed!)

My youngest asked me after we left, "Who won?" I said I did not know yet. He was disappointed. He thought we would know right away. Hopefully, we will know tomorrow at this time. But who can tell? It might be another cliffhanger. Regardless, I voted. And my sons are proud.

I did not add the following to that post:

My oldest who is on the Autism spectrum was well behaved for the most part. While I was voting however he started yelling, "Your attention please! It is time to vote. Please vote for (name withheld!)" I silenced him immediately. Thankfully, he complied!

When I took the ballot to the tabulation machine, the same son got concerned. The machine looks like a shredder. He yelled, "Oh no, they are shredding your vote Dad!" Both the election official and myself assured him that this was not the case.

Julie called today. The boys enjoyed talking with her. They sent her e-mail last night with me typing for the younger boy. I think we can manage another week. :]

The Ring of Kerry

Note: I'm taking a vacation in Ireland, but have scheduled some posts to be published. My husband, Michael, will be home to take our two boys to school. Michael might write a post or two while I'm gone. Please feel free to comment while I'm gone. They'll be published. : )

This is written on my agenda for Thursday, November 6:

"Today you have an opportunity to enjoy what is perhaps Ireland's most breathtaking tour. Spend a full day exploring the 109-mile "Ring of Kerry," encircling the Iveragh Peninsula, a panorama of spectacular coastal and mountain scenery along golden beaches. You will pass beautiful lakes, quaint little villages and drive along the rugged Atlantic shore before returning to Killarney."

Dear Lorenzen boys:

I haven't seen any leprechauns yet, and probably will not be lucky enough to catch a glimpse. I hear they can be quite mean sometimes, so perhaps it's best if I don't come across one. I will see you in eight days. You can have dad click on the link to see what I really did get to see today. I love you very, very, very, much.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

To Kiss or Not to Kiss


Dear readers:

My friend really wants me to do this, but I think I'll pass (even though I could use the gift of eloquent speech that one is supposed to be blessed with after kissing the stone) due to plethora of germs that are bound to be lurking there. Also, there is the coordination thing of leaning over quite a ways to reach the stone.

The stone is part of the Blarney castle (click link for pictures). We'll also see the Waterford Glass Factory, the "lovely old city of Cork before driving to Killarney.


Update from Michael: She kissed the stone. Dang! I do not need her more eloquent when she argues with me!


Dear Lorenzen Boys: I'm sure every time I see a boy that is one of your ages I'll miss you even more if that is possible. I love you very, very, very much. I'll see you in nine days. P.S. I used Google Images for all my links today, so you'll be able to see a lot of beautiful pictures.


Note: I'm taking a vacation in Ireland, but have scheduled some posts to be published. My husband, Michael, will be home to take our two boys to school. Michael might write a post or two while I'm gone. Please feel free to comment while I'm gone. They'll be published. : )



Posted by J at 12:51 PM

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Views from My Coach Window




Note: I'm taking a vacation in Ireland, but have scheduled some posts to be published. My husband, Michael, will be home to take our two boys to school. Michael might write a post or two while I'm gone. Please feel free to comment while I'm gone. They'll be published. : )

My itinerary says coach, but whenever I see the word I think of the old-fashioned kind pulled by horses. The word bus brings up a stronger image in my mind. I know a common practice to use coach instead of bus when travelling and I suspect that although English is the primary language in Ireland, I'll hear some words I'm not used to hearing.

Anyway this is what we'll see today: the Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough (which translates to 'glen of the two lakes'), the Calary bog, and the fishing port of Arklow. I'm sure I'll be enjoying some breathtaking views today. During my web searches I've noticed that County Wicklow is referred to as the Garden of Ireland.


To the Lorenzen Boys: Tell dad to click on the link for Wicklow Mountains to see lots of pictures. There is also at least one pretty picture on the other two links as well. Please remember to water our plants after reading this post. I love you very, very, very much and will be home in ten days.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Am Flying Today



Photo: Halloween 2008. Maybe there was a conscious reason why I chose this costume this year. Consciously, I picked it because it seemed to be one of the modest costumes in the stores.
Day 2
Dear readers:
Too bad my wings don't really work! Please keep me in your thoughts and/or prayers while I travel. I've been in jetliners, but have never flown over an ocean before.
Dear Lorenzen boys:
I'm going to fly during the night on a really big plane. I'll get to see a movie while I fly, but I don't know which one yet. I'll be in Ireland tomorrow and will return home in eleven more days. I love you very, very, very much. : )
Note: I'm taking a vacation in Ireland, but have scheduled some posts to be published. My husband, Michael, will be home to take our two boys to school. Michael might write a post or two while I'm gone. Please feel free to comment while I'm gone. They'll be published. : )

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Am on My Way to Ireland!

Note: I'm taking a vacation in Ireland, but have scheduled some posts to be published. My husband, Michael, will be home to take our two boys to school. Michael might write a post or two while I'm gone. Please feel free to comment while I'm gone. They'll be published. : )

Dear readers:

Today my friend and I will spend the day in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with my friend's cousin and boyfriend. Hopefully, we'll probably see at least part of the Mall of America, a sculpture garden and a quirky little restaurant stocked with board games.

Dear Lorenzen Boys:

I love you very, very much! I'll be home in twelve days. Ask dad to show you what the Mall of America looks like. Here is a web page with a lot of pictures of the mall.