Saturday, January 31

Henry in the middle of three sensory stims at once: bouncing on the soccer ball and stuffing tissues into his mouth while shirtless (I think he likes the feeling of air on his skin). There's never a dull moment with Autism!

of cheerios. We've discovered Henry will eat a normal breakfast food, cheerios and milk, if he is allowed to pour them back and forth from the bowl to a cup. Also, he always leaves about 1/3 uneaten, but we can get him to finish it by hand-feeding him. He opens wide like the most obedient 106 lb baby in the world!

Friday, January 30

The watering cans smirking
from under their own.

Thursday, January 29

My original "baby", and lone female ally in this house of males.

Wednesday, January 28

Last night we heard the characteristic soft hiss of fine hail, and ran outside to slide around a little on the petit pois sized ice balls. Then they got a little bigger-"Ow!".

Tuesday, January 27

Peter is doing his "reading log" homework, thirty minutes of reading per night. But I'd bet money he is the only kid in his (american) class reading the (scottish) comic strip "Oor Wullie".

Monday, January 26

I love to paint doughnuts, which is odd, because I am not a big doughnut addict or anything. It's the way they look, the promise of sweetness and comfort. A friend of mine, Angela Heithecker, looked at this painting and instantly identified which doughnuts were from Dunkin' Doughnuts and which were Krispy Kremes (and correctly)! Now that is a real doughnut fan for you.

Sunday, January 25

in the Kitchen. Paul somehow figured out that Henry just loves this odd exercise: propped up by two chairs with Paul flapping his arms for him. Preferably with the Afro-Latino CD playing in the background. Lots of fun for one and all!

Henry came home with this in his backpack the other day. His teacher had written his name on it, and I suppose it was a craft project they worked on in class. Somehow though, I can't imagine that it was really Henry who so carefully cut out the teddy bear shape, spaced the tissue paper pieces with such regularity, and managed to affix the googly eyes in approximate eye position. Still, there is something so mutely appealing about the slightly indirect gaze (and no mouth. How ironic.).

Saturday, January 24

It was a long day, but so far not as dire as I had predicted. A wonderful interlude occurred when Hugh, 7, asked me "Can we go up to your studio and you show me how to paint on those white boards like you do?"

Henry's very latest effort at installation art. Not only did he smear the breakfast bacon's grease on the window pane, but I caught him wandering around with the fat soaked paper towels wrapped around his throat. Josef Beuys re-incarnation? Stay tuned for more, it's going to be a long saturday: snowing, Henry sitter canceled, Paul working all day at the Philadelphia Home Show. Argh.

Friday, January 23

Well, probably a few more in the near future. Paul has started a home project of making us saucepan lid hooks, in fanciful shapes. We have a pot rack in the kitchen which is fine for the pots and pans but the lids are always hanging precariously or crashing to the floor. I was all for going to the local Kitchen Store and buying some pre-fab lid holder but Paul had a different plan. He disappears in the basement shop and a little while later comes up with a nifty new hook. They are such little works of art that I almost hate to cover them up with the pot lids! This raven was last night's effort.

Thursday, January 22

It must be a beautiful place. He has a beautiful soul.

Wednesday, January 21

This is my last one. Strangely enough, my paintings are getting larger but my palette is getting smaller.

Tuesday, January 20

Peter and Henry are ten years old today. I can hardly believe it. But I do believe I had better go clean up the after-party and get these boys to bed.

Monday, January 19

Visiting my friend Katie's house where computers abound, we suddenly noticed Peter (right) and Katie's son Kyle were playing together by operating different computer games side-by-side. And here I'd thought parallel play ended about age three!

Saturday, January 17

Gazing at the sunset. Mustard bun in hand. Happiness.

Friday, January 16

It was a half-day of school today, and all three boys arrived home revved up and ready to go. Peter and Hugh immediately continued a complex, imaginative game they had started the night before, involving colonial hats, gameboys and cardboard box spacecraft. Henry, in the meanwhile, went into the kitchen and had his fun squeezing the daylights out of a pack of fig newtons.

Thursday, January 15

I don't think there is anything more beautiful than snow drifting down in the early morning sunlight. Gives you that "inside the snow-globe" feeling!

Wednesday, January 14

"Painting is an attempt to come to terms with life. There are as many solutions as there are human beings."
George Tooker

Tuesday, January 13

My friend Katina came by today with her new baby, two month old Nya. You never saw a sweeter child. I held her in my arms for a long time, and had to keep brushing away tears. Just reminded me of that precious time when the twins were babies, before we had any inkling that things were awry. I mean, we thought we had it bad, what with non-stop nursing, the broken nights and the endless diapers. But it was really the calm before the storm.

Monday, January 12

This past summer I was given the Valerie Lamb Smith Residency, awarded to alumni of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where I went to art school. It was really a retreat: me alone in bucolic splendor on a large country estate bordered by horse farms. Of course, due to childcare and autism issues I had to break up my stay into 3 small chunks, and leap through a million hoops arranging childcare and playdates but it was eventually worth it. On my first afternoon, after I'd unpacked and walked the perimeters of the property, I plunked right down and painted this out the back door of the studio. I needed to unwind, and this undulating Horse Chestnut seemed attuned to my mood.

Sunday, January 11

It has been so cold lately that Henry hasn't been able to get outside as much. When this happens he must search out even more sensory opportunities inside. I call him a sensory junkie, but really the technical name for it is Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Here he is enjoying the different feels of clothes and bags in my closet. I knew there was a good reason for hanging on to that poufy bridesmaid gown!

Saturday, January 10

From the sublime to the ridiculous. But I have recently enjoyed all of them anyway.
Most pure reading pleasure:Tears of the Giraffe.
Most interesting plot:Double Vision
Most novel world view:The Botany of Desire

Friday, January 9

This is Henry's favorite place to be, and the higher the better. As he gets heavier, it gets scarier and scarier to see him perching way high up on a slender branch. But seems like he is always seeking higher ground.

Thursday, January 8

Today Paul and I had to go to court to appeal Henry's being deemed eligible for Waiver Services but not considered critical enough to actually receive those said services. Don't ask. It makes Jarndyce v. Jarndyce look cut and dried. Anyway, we were carrying on a little tense discussion of the pending appeal last night at dinner and completely forgot to monitor the boys for about two or three minutes. Hughie immediately sensing lack of parental control began playing with his food, but in a highly purposeful manner. As I was drawing breath to reprimand he announced gleefully "It's Pork-Henge!". It is hard to be the voice of stern authority when you really needed a good laugh anyway!

Tuesday, January 6

We don't know why. It is horrible to be unable to help Henry when he gets in these moods. In desperation Peter ran for his violin, and played him a solo through the door. It did seem to reduce the violence of the episode: Henry sat there on the front porch shaking with sobs and keening instead of hurling himself around and screaming. Several things were broken during the height of the frustrated rage, but thankfully no bones!

Are you getting the idea yet that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen? Couldn't paint today (bad cold with fever, very debilitating) but it was not too hard to press the camera shutter a few times. These oranges and onions are so incredibly beautiful, and remind me of paintings by Juan de Zurbaran.

Monday, January 5

This photo is a testament to the strange power of blue food. I had made some blue jello (by request) but told Hugh he'd have to wait till after dinner to have some. A little while later: whammo! he tumbled down a short flight of steps (4) and his wailing could not be assuaged. Till I asked, "Is there some treat that might make you feel better?" Oh, yeah. Tears dried up like magic as he partook of the magical blue stuff. Still a bit subdued though, poor kid!

Sunday, January 4

Here is a recently completed painting. The hydrangea was a gift from my neighbor, the violinmaker Hiroshi Iizuka. Of course, the hydrangea dried up long ago, but I'd painted it in very quickly, and then worked on the rest of the set-up over a much longer period of time. I used a photo I took of the bouquet, and looked at other hydrangea paintings, to help me put in a few last details of the flowers. I love painting hydrangeas, but don't get enough time to do so as much as I want! C'est la vie.

Saturday, January 3

This is one corner of my studio, where I am working on several still-life set-ups at once. I guess it looks confusing to anyone else, but I just hone in on the scene I need, and I find it useful to have a few going at once. I may need to wait a few days while a certain section or layer of oil paint dries on one canvas, and in the meantime I have other things to work on. In fact, I sometimes have a dozen paintings in the works at once. I admire the bravura of alla prima painters who whip off a quick painting in one setting and I do it myself sometimes with landscape and portrait studies. But still-life painting is meditative for me: calm, ordered and deeply felt. Not just a quick impression.

Friday, January 2

On the first day that my eldest son Peter started attending kindergarten in 1998 I met the mother of one of his classmates: Katie Beals. Turns out that Katie also has a son with autism. So we've enjoyed getting together with our differing but equally bizarrely-behaved children, commiserating and sharing info, etc. I thought this picture kind of summed up some of our similarities and differences. Notice Katie's relaxed hands on Jonah (right), who is calmly eating an apple, while I have a death grip on Henry who is about to surge off in another direction!

That is what we call them. Henry goes on jags where he wants a lot of them. I mean that is all he wants. For days. And if you leave the kitchen and by bad fortune have forgotten to lock up the fridge (who me?), well, this is what happens. At least he is attempting to be self-sufficient. And it's better than the Jelly Bread jags.

Thursday, January 1

Well, I hope you are having a good New Year's day. Ours has been surprisingly peaceful and happy. However, several holiday Open Houses lie ahead: the last gasp of the partying season. Gulp.