"Normal" Is A Dryer Setting

Parenting A Child On The Autism Spectrum


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The Beautiful Surprise

She discovered with great delight that one does not love one’s children just because they are one’s children but because of the friendship formed while raising them. ~ Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera 

Parenting has no road map because it is a unique experience for everyone involved. No two relationships are the same, and what works for one child may not work for the other. As we go through life, each of us continually becomes reshaped and redefined based on our environment and our experiences. To have an end goal for raising a child often feels like a moving target to me. When all is said and done, this is what I want for my son Tim:

I want my son

To become a responsible adult

Who is capable of holding a job and living independently

And enjoys life to its fullest

Surrounding himself with people who love him.

As Tim’s mother, I by default am one of those people who love him, and I certainly hope he wants me to be around him. Tim and I have fun together, for example

Tim and me on the way to my youngest brother's wedding.

Tim and me on the way to my youngest brother’s wedding.

We were just getting started on that afternoon. What I love most about being with Tim is that he and I share a special connection. We understand each other’s jokes, moods, body language, and communicate both verbally and nonverbally. We are in sync. We get each other. One afternoon, when I walked through the front door after a long day at work, Tim took one look at me and said, “Mom, you need a hug.” Then this teenager who has a personal space bubble the width of the Grand Canyon proceeded to walk over, put his arms around me, and squeeze. I looked up at him, my son, who is now inches taller than I am, and said, “How did you know I needed that?” He just knew.

Tim and I no longer have a parent-child relationship the way we used to when he was younger. He is the most well behaved teenager I have ever met. When I was fifteen years old my parents probably thought my primary objective was giving them heads full of gray hair and worry lines across their brow. Not the case with Tim. As a result, the relationship he and I share is evolving into something quite unexpected. We are becoming friends.

Being my son’s friend is a strange concept to me. I have always approached our relationship as his parent, which means that I am his

“Friend” was never part of the relationship until recently. Many of the words that I used to define my role as Tim’s parent also overlap with synonyms for friend, such as

Supporter

Advocate

Confidante

Encourager

While I will always be Tim’s parent, the added dimension of friendship provides a depth and roundness to the love that already exists between us. Seeing the first buds of friendship in the relationship that Tim and I share is a most wonderful, delightful, delicious surprise. One of the best that life has offered so far.


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The Big Push

I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air
So there
We’re on each other’s team
~ Lorde, Team

Screws in shoes

Screws in shoes

Spring is coming very slowly to Minnesota, in drips and drags, which means that soon I can begin running outdoors again. In anticipation of still snowy paths and icy patches, I modified an old pair of shoes to prevent me from slipping. To make your own, predrill holes in the soles and then insert small screws until they are about ¼” from being completely screwed into the shoe. I have found that this modification works better than boots or Yaktrax for gripping slippery places of the trail.

Last fall I promised my boyfriend that I would stop running half marathons. When I returned to his house in ice cube form after my late October one, he took me in with one glance and said, “You don’t look good.”  I told him, “I tore the bottoms of my feet on the big hill after Mile 11,” to which he grimaced and replied, “I don’t think you should run any more long races.” Upstairs in the shower, sitting with my head between my knees while the hot water warmed me up, I told myself that he was right. Why do I do things like this? Why race? Why compete? What am I trying to prove?

The point is not to compete or prove anything. I run because I love the combined mental and physical challenge. I knew the hill was coming after Mile 11, and, having run it in previous races, I knew what I was in for. The elevation increases by 100 feet within half a mile, and most of us choose to run it. I pushed myself because I knew after the hill I had less than two miles to the finish. At that point it was simply a matter of putting one foot in front of the other until the end. So close, and so tired, but nothing compares to crossing the finish line and knowing that I had accomplished my goal despite the voices in my head and the physical ache. Now spring is coming, fall is far behind me, and I am once again ready and eager to begin training.

“I’ve never had anyone do this that quickly.”

Our clinical study site.

Our clinical study site.

That statement was not made in response to my running. I’m a middle-of-the-pack kind of girl, each and every race. My son Tim recently participated in a clinical study on memory. This study is part of an ongoing research program by a psychologist at the University of Minnesota who studies the relationship between attention and autism. For an hour of Tim’s time once or twice a year, he earns $10 each session and enjoys being the center of attention. He does computer simulations, looks through diagrams, adds and subtracts, and recalls images and patterns. Everything is timed which helps provide statistical information. In his most recent clinical study, I overheard the doctor make the above comment when Tim was doing a number puzzle.

The clinical studies are usually done at our home or at the University. We tend to flip flop depending on our schedules. The first time our doctor came to our home for a study was approximately three years ago when Tim was in seventh grade. At the end of the study, she took a few minutes to talk to me with her recommendations. Her advice was that Tim should be taking college courses, not withering away in a middle school classroom. She stressed that intellectually he was ready for college and keeping him where he was would not be beneficial to him. I agreed but didn’t know how to start the conversation with the staff at the public school he attended.

This is an example of one of the patterns Tim had to copy using blocks.

An example of a pattern Tim copied during his clinical study using blocks. You can purchase this and other puzzles at Marbles located at the Mall of America.

Now Tim is in tenth grade and will begin taking college courses next fall in Animal Science as part of his regular school day. At our most recent IEP meeting, his teacher, staff, father, and I discussed him starting college early. We were all in agreement, and this would not be happening if we were not all on the same team. Tim’s teacher commented that she is reaching the point where she has nothing left to teach him, and it is time for him to begin transitioning to college. Tim will be taking one college course each semester, and by the time he graduates from high school he will already have four college courses in Animal Science on his transcript.

I wasn’t sure any of this would ever happen. When Tim started middle school three years ago, I participated in some workshops for parents of special needs children that his school generously set up. One moderator made this remark to our group that has since tumbled around in my head:

“Your child is not entitled to the best education possible. Rather, he or she is entitled to an education that is appropriate for his or her needs.”

As difficult as this is to hear, it is true. Reading it in writing makes me cringe. Not every person is meant to go to college, just as not every person is meant to get married, have children, travel the world, be an athlete, raise chickens, you get the point. I started to hold the thought in my heart that Tim may not go to college. Mentally I was Mile 7-8 of 13 miles, where you’ve come a long way, but you’re starting to feel tired, your feet are starting to ache, and you are well aware you still have a long way to go toward your goal.

Now we’re at Mile 11 with Tim regarding his childhood. The final part is one last push toward college, and then he enters the next phase of his life as an adult. The hill I had been fearing for years is no longer insurmountable. We just have to dig deep and run up it. Tim has come so far, and both his teacher and I have seen enormous mental and emotional maturity in him this past year. Even though Tim is nearly good to go, this is no time to rest. We have SATs and ACTs to prepare for, colleges to visit, applications to write, and choices to make. And what an exciting and delightful time it will be.

Here are some websites that may be helpful in researching colleges for students who fall on the autism spectrum:

  • AHEADD – Achieving In Higher Education (http://www.aheadd.org/): Provides coaching, mentoring, and self-advocacy for students with special needs.)
  • USCAP – US College Autism Project (http://www.usautism.org/uscap/): Provides support for students on the autism spectrum to help ensure they have both a successful college experience and a successful transition to the working world after graduation.
  • ISER – Internet Special Education Resources (www.iser.com): List of college programs to help students with the transition to college, independent living, college planning, and much more.
  • College Lists (http://collegelists.pbworks.com/): Nationwide list of colleges that have support programs for students with a former diagnosis of Asperger’s. Augsburg College (http://www.augsburg.edu/) is one of them if you live in the Twin Cities.


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Howie and Ya-Ya

I meant what I said

And I said what I meant…

An elephant’s faithful

One hundred percent!

~ Horton Hatches The Egg, Dr. Seuss

Happy early Mother’s Day to the invisible mothers. The ones like my sister, who came into her boyfriend’s daughter’s life when she was a newly minted infant. The baby girl is now a toddler, testing her independence, unwilling to be potty-trained, hooked on Dora the Explorer, and still learning to speak. She calls herself Howie and my sister Ya-Ya.

I was at my parents’ house last weekend in Indiana for my sister’s graduation ceremony. Ya-Ya now holds a Master’s of Science in mental health counseling, maintained a pristine 4.0 GPA throughout graduate school, and is ready to start the next chapter of her life. She is glad to have graduated because between attending classes, working as an administrative assistant in the psychology department, hostessing at an Italian restaurant, and doing an internship in her field, she is exhausted. And then there is Howie.

My sister dated Howie’s father for a few years about a decade ago. Then they separated for a while. While they were separated, he dated and unexpectedly had a baby with another woman. When that relationship ended before Howie was born, he and my sister got back in touch. They started dating when Howie was eight weeks old. My sister wisely held off on coming into Howie’s life until she turned nine months, and then she jumped in headfirst to the wild world of parenting.

Howie and Ya-Ya

Howie and Ya-Ya

My mother, Ya-Ya, and I took Howie to the park the last night I was in town. Howie’s father was at work, and Ya-Ya had her for the afternoon and overnight. We watched Howie try to play on all of the playground equipment she was too tiny for and ignore the age appropriate toddler-sized ones. Ya-Ya finally convinced her to go down the toddler slide on one condition from Howie: that Ya-Ya go with her. And that was how it was the entire time…Ya-Ya and Howie, together on everything. Howie loved having a good girls’ night out.

When it was time to go Ya-Ya turned to Mom and me and said, “The park is a two person job. It’s exhausting!” Mom and I smiled at her and agreed that, yes, the park wears you out. Howie too. She had started to fuss and cry and claim eminent domain over her favorite swing, which meant bedtime was near. Ya-Ya cheered Howie up by telling her they needed to go home for supper, a warm bath, lotion time, and three books. Ya-Ya was filling up the remainder of the evening with activities she knew Howie enjoyed and would be responsive to, much like I did with Tim and then Peanut when they were small.

Ya-Ya does not receive recognition for the role she willingly plays in Howie’s life. It is expected from her, part of the package deal that comes with dating her boyfriend. She is an invisible person in Howie’s life to everyone but Howie. To Howie, however, my sister is an enormous stabilizing force in her tiny world. The body language between Howie and Ya-Ya in the photo above says more than I could write. See how they lean in toward each other? That is unconscious on both their parts. The invisible becomes visible when you look closely.

Do you remember what hatches in Dr. Seuss’ book Horton Hatches The Egg? It’s not a bird, and not an elephant, but a hybrid mix of the two. The egg came from the bird’s body, but Horton the elephant contributed to hatching the egg as much as the biological parent. Have you ever wondered what children would look like if they took on the physical appearance of the adults who are instrumental in their lives? Think about it.

To my beloved Ya-Ya: Happy Mother’s Day.


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The Wash

I felt as if I had washed a tub full of sheets but not got them clean. ~ Girl With A Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier

This describes how I feel raising a child with special needs. You do everything properly, based on a combination of experience, instinct, and advice, only to discover that nothing is as it should be. Then you do everything again, expecting a different result, only to find the same challenges waiting for you. Ultimately, you exhaust yourself with the effort of trying to produce the wanted result in an environment where what you want to do is not possible. Adjustments on your part as the parent become necessary.

While autism doesn’t wash off, as Tim grows older, life becomes more manageable for him (and me). The key is to leverage his strengths instead of trying to change his nature. We had a meeting with his teacher and special education support staff at his school last week, and for once I had nothing to say. This is a good thing because if I go into one of these meetings with questions and concerns, and those go unanswered or pushed aside, the ugly, harsh, protective momma bird side of me that is tucked well away 99.9% of the time flares out in a split second, scorching everyone in its path. However, our most recent meeting was entirely unlike that. Tim has made so much progress this school year that I sat, flabbergasted, as his school staff had nothing but positive remarks to make.

Tim’s teacher mentioned that Tim becomes short when some of his classmates don’t understand or follow her directions. She said that sometimes she will be in a huddle with Tim’s classmates, explaining something to them over and over again, and finally Tim will have had enough, stick his head into the huddle, and tell his classmates what to do, how to do it, and how ignorant they are behaving. His teacher was laughing as she told us this incident. Working full-time with special needs teenagers requires the ability to emotionally bounce, and this often means good-naturedly keeping the day-to-day classroom situations as light as possible.

*Deep breath on my part because I know that Tim knows better than to speak to other people this way.*

Here’s what we decided to do. I knew that we needed to leverage rather than force Tim to change, because he ain’t changing. He is who he is. I suggested that what I see is a feature of Tim that can be used as a strength. He definitely had leadership abilities, and his classmates listen to him. What we, as the adults in his life, need to do is help him develop these abilities as positive parts of his personality. Not everyone is meant to lead. You need followers, too, but Tim has never been a follower. He, like a lot of people with Asperger’s, takes in an entire situation instantanously, which means that he is ready to go in the blink of an eye. He doesn’t need time to digest instructions or decide what to do. He knows it immediately. As a team we decided that next school year Tim will be ready for one of the many jobs his school offers. For example, he could work in the cafeteria, help with janitorial tasks, or assist in the school store. Starting him out on small tasks will help boost his self-confidence and hopefully start to develop his leadership traits positively.

The evening after our meeting at school I stopped by Daniel’s house for a few hours to help him set up for Peanut’s seventh birthday party. Yes, Peanut is seven years old. I came into his life when he was 2½, and how time does fly. This year Peanut wanted a Lego-themed birthday party, so we had Lego birthday decorations, Lego presents, and a Lego cake. If your little one wants a Lego birthday party like Peanut did, you can purchase a Lego party kit through Target’s website (www.target.com). The options include Lego Star Wars and Lego City. Anyway, the first task I tackled when I arrived at Daniel’s house was assembling Peanut’s Lego birthday cake.

Lego cake.

Lego cake.

After mixing up the frosting colors, I started smiling as I began icing the bricks. I knew the dark colors would temporarily stain all the children’s teeth, which always makes for a fun event. It made me of the quote I read in Tracy Chevalier’s book and how some things in life are easier to tackle than others. Since Tim and I had the weekend together, I wasn’t able to actually attend Peanut’s party the next day, which left Daniel in a tizzy because he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with six hyperactive first grade boys for two hours. Before I left, we put together a couple of Lego-themed games and I told him if all else fails wing it and let them do free play. When I saw him Sunday afternoon and asked him how Peanut’s party went, he told me that the cake frosting stained all the boys’ teeth, and they kept smiling at each other to show off their blue, green, and red grins. No one chose the brick frosted with white for some reason 🙂 . I told Daniel how happy I was that Peanut had a wonderful birthday party, and that the frosting colors would wash off the boys’ teeth.

As Autism Awareness Month is drawing to a close, I wish to give encouragement to all parents, siblings, friends, and caregivers of people with autism or an autism spectrum disorder. Sometimes there are no easy solutions for the challenges that our loved ones face. The situations that arise from having special needs don’t wash away, and I don’t think they should be expected to. People come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and functionalities, much like Lego bricks, so why would we want to change that? Tim likes himself just as he is, as do I, and I am excited about helping him develop his strengths as he is becomes a young adult.


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The Escape Artists

I packed my things and ran. ~ Mountain Sound, Of Monsters And Men

On the first day of our vacation in Mexico I inform Daniel that every time I travel to this part of the world there is a chance I will decide to stay put. A vacation to the Riviera Maya will come, in the far-off or maybe not-too-distant future, where I simply don’t come back.

Daniel: That’s odd that you say that. Another one of our friends just mentioned doing exactly the same thing.
Me: Really?
Daniel: He was serious about it. He told me you can rent an apartment in Mexico for $4000 a year.
Me: Oh my. I had no idea. You probably shouldn’t have told me that.
Daniel: We have enough money between the two of us now. If we didn’t have our boys I’d seriously consider not going back.
Me: But we have our boys…

Caribbean Sea on the Riviera Maya, Mexico

Caribbean Sea on the Riviera Maya, Mexico

The reality of the fantasy is that it becomes more of a realistic option as I age. In our youth-obsessed society, I feel that people tend to overlook the advantages of growing older, which include knowing what you want, when, why, and how you want it, and having the means necessary to achieve your goals. Tim will be an adult in three years, and Daniel will start thinking about retirement sooner than later. One day I just may make a run for the border and tell the people in my life they are either welcome to come with me or visit any time.

For now a permanent escape is not an option. Vacationing once or maybe even twice a year is sufficient, where we can leave our lives behind for a week and enjoy something completely different. There’s also nothing wrong with planning ahead, even if the end goal is decades away. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and running a marathon takes a lot of preparation before the big day.

It was upon returning home that I received the note from my girlfriend about her niece. Reality came crashing into my mind like a bull in a china shop. Having to recall a lot of the struggles and experiences Tim and I faced when he was little is mentally painful for me. Those were difficult years, and I needed to find a balance between telling my friend the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about raising a child with special needs while emphasizing that it will be one of the most fulfilling experiences of her life.

One coping mechanism I have when I am feeling emotions such as grief, anger, stress, and frustration is to move my pain around. This is why I run, to transfer feelings of discomfort from my mind to my body. Running has a pain component which makes it both mentally and physically challenging. The pain is the good kind, however, the kind that reminds you that you are alive. For me it’s usually the bottoms of my feet that eventually start to hurt. When I am outdoors, on my trail, in the fresh air, all it takes is the first mile and every negative, toxic emotion clears out of my head. Then I run until my legs tell me it’s time to go home. Then I run a little more to push myself.

The afternoon before I called my girlfriend I knew I needed to run. There were too many black things swirling around in my head. When I returned home 75 minutes later I was mentally ready to have the conversation I needed to have with her. I showered up because Tim won’t let me near him when I’m stinky, made supper for both him and myself, and then picked up the phone to call Chicagoland.

Here’s the situation: My friend’s younger brother is married with two children. His oldest is four, and she has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Her sibling is 11 months old. The mother stays at home with the two children, and the father is on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The mother, functioning as a single parent with an infant and a child with special needs, has suffered a mental breakdown and has been institutionalized. The grandparents are caring for the two children until more permanent custody arrangements can be made, and this is where my friend comes into the picture. Her brother had called her from overseas to ask her if she and her husband would care for his two children until he returns to the United States.

My first response was to say of course the mother had a mental breakdown. Wouldn’t you? In situations such as this one, sometimes the only escape is into your own mind. There is no vacation in Mexico. There is no long run through the sunny countryside. What you do have are small beings who need more of you than you are able to give, and sometimes it becomes too much. People break. Your brain is an organ like your heart, lungs, stomach, and skin. The danger is that injuries to the mind can be difficult to detect until they reach the level of trauma. When your brain has had enough and packs its bags, the hope is that intervention and healing are still possible.

This mother has lost custody of her children, and her marriage is also most likely over. The main concern of the family is to place both children into a stable, loving environment. I told my friend that her home is the perfect place for them. Her boys are nine and three. She and her husband are financially secure. She stays at home, and he has a good job that provides him with the flexibility to come home for lunch most days. They always have a pet or two running around and are active mentors to high school youth in the community. I can already see the benefits of this type of home environment. One of the challenges for children with Asperger’s Syndrome is socialization. You can’t get much more social than this.

I told my friend that my main problem with raising Tim has been the never-ending struggle with his schools. I understand that time, money, and resources are limited in the school system, but as a parent of a child with special needs I need to say that any form of improvement would be most welcome. I am not an angry, peevish person by nature, but some of the challenges I have faced throughout Tim’s school years have brought out a side of myself I never knew existed. I have learned to accept this as an opportunity for personal growth, and harnessing and developing this part of myself in a positive way has actually benefited other areas of my life.

My friend asked me what I think of homeschooling. I told her I think she has an excellent idea. She has never done it, but it’s an option. And options in situations such as the one she is in are good. Again, it’s like the marathon where you need to plan ahead. The end goal for her two new bonus children, in addition to the two she already has, is to raise them to be independent adults who are able to accomplish their own goals and pursue their own dreams. The independence, goals, and dreams of someone with special needs may be very different than someone else, but what we as parents want for the children in our lives, biological or bonus, is for them to believe that they are living their best lives. There is not a single, correct way to reach that. The twists and turns are what make the journey so incredibly exciting.

Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Ahhhhhhhhhh.

This past weekend was the first meeting between the two little ones and their new caregivers. I told my friend to let me know how it goes, to keep asking me questions. What I can give her in return are honest answers and perspective. I can tell her what I think I did right as a parent and what I did wrong, or should have done differently, as we say in politically correct Minnesota…after living here for 15 years I’m still learning the terminology. Hopefully an update will be in the works soon.

For now, one last picture of the Caribbean Sea.


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The First Year

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. ~ Dr. Seuss

This has been a horribly stressful workweek, complete with lab tours, presentations, three-hour-long practice runs for the presentations, last minute changes to the poster for the lab tour, and hunting down lab tour prototypes to show to our new upper manager. On top of that Tim is in a new classroom this week, decided to hide his homework from me in his closet, and missed the van this morning. He missed the van because they changed the pickup schedule without telling me, so I drove him halfway across town to school before going to work. Today at work I was on the phone and email, sometimes simultaneously, with the van transportation guy and Tim’s teacher, trying to figure out the pickup situation and whether Tim did indeed hide his homework. Some work fortunately did get done in the midst of everything.

But then, in the middle of all of this, there is a Groupon for a photo book from Shutterfly that expires next week. In my evenings this week, I have been putting together an album of baby pictures from Tim’s first year. I was unhappy, stressed, slightly angst-ridden, feeling sorry for myself, until I saw

this

Last ultrasound the day Tim was born.

and this

Ready to rock and roll.

and this

Smiling at four weeks!

and this one

Rolling over.

and oh my I do love this one

Learning to push up.

and how Tim would follow me around the house

Crawling.

until he discovered the fish

Multitasking. Sans pants.

and then he was pulling himself up on everything

Happy boy.

and so utterly ebullient when I would walk into the room

One of my absolute favorites. He would jump for joy when I walked in the room.

then he started to grow old enough to focus

We loved to read.

and Tim saw bubbles for the first time

One of Grandma’s favorites.

and spring came and we spent all our time outdoors

Slide!

and we started catching up on our sleep (and housework)

Helping mom fold the laundry.

and Tim turned one year old

One year old!

in what now seems like the blink of an eye.

And nothing else, apart from my child, really matters anymore. He is the best part of everything.


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Weighing In

One should eat to live, not live to eat. ~ Moliere

My son Tim has the reverse problem of many Americans today: no matter how hard he tries, he cannot gain weight.

We had a doctor’s checkup about four weeks ago where Tim’s height and weight were measured. My son, who in my mind was a newborn baby only a short while ago, is now my height. Tim has been waiting for this moment for months, and now we literally see eye to eye.  The weight, however, is a different story, since he weighs 35 pounds less than I do.

“THIRTY FIVE POUNDS?!?!? HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE???” two of my girlfriends exclaimed when I told them the news at our most recent Ladies’ Night Out. I told them I don’t know how, but Tim has managed to be 20th percentile for height and only 7th for weight in his age group. “But…how can he weigh that much less than you? What does that even look like?” was their response. Well, on a full-grown woman, that would definitely not look good. On a 14-year-old boy, however, he’s just really, really, super thin and lanky.

So with the Obesity Epidemic raging on in the United States and new diet and exercise fads highlighted in the news daily, I am in the curious conundrum of trying to make my son gain weight. When we went to the doctor last year for Tim’s checkup, his weight was fine but his iron levels were low. Tim does not eat steak, fish, or leafy green vegetables, all of which are excellent sources of iron, so I started pumping him full of hamburgers. His iron levels had risen within a few months, and for a while we were all set.

Now, however, our doctor is a bit concerned about Tim’s weight. He is actually at an age where he should be slightly chubby since his body is getting ready to start growing at an amazing pace. He isn’t, though. He is a stick. When Tim’s doctor suggested that we try to get him to gain some weight, I understood what she was saying and how difficult it may be. When I was pregnant with Tim, I gained a grand total of 16 pounds. When I had entered my last trimester and had only gained 10 pounds, my obstetrician finally told me to start eating as many high-fat foods as I could because I needed the extra weight for delivery. After I gave birth I went home from the hospital 26 pounds (not 16!) lighter, and for months had doctor after doctor tell me I needed to gain weight. And I tried, and tried, and the pounds eventually came back on, but not right away. Tim has an uphill battle ahead of him as far as gaining weight is concerned.

Calories for Tim any way we can get them.

My coworkers tease me when we have free lunches and I take an extra dessert or bag of chips from the leftovers. I tell them “It’s for Tim,” and they say, “Oh sure it is…I’m going to catch you eating that at your desk.” It is just a tease, however, and the leftovers do make it into my knapsack for Tim at home. This week we had a new administrative assistant start, and at 6pm in the afternoon there was still a tray of pastries left over from that morning.

Tim is now the proud owner of leftover work pastries that would have been thrown out. When I brought them home I told him to eat one every couple of days, and so far he has been doing just that. Despite the sweets, the meals he still loves the most include roasted potatoes, chicken, and cauliflower with a glass of cold milk to wash it all down. We’ll supplement his normal meals until his weight gets back to where it should be, and go from there.