Friday, February 22, 2013

Andrew - working on products for the shop

I was thinking I needed to post some new pictures of Andrew working - it's been a couple of difficult  months, trying to keep him moving forward and not backward or sidewards.

Andrew is 18, severely autistic, and nonverbal - to create products and ideas and  work for him is always on the top of my mind - swirling around. If Andrew cannot participate in a product in some fashion, we generally don't make it.

The shop and its products are about paying it forward - giving a job to a young man who in the normal workplace has none - and in the typical world of adults  is forgotten. He has no real life skills, cannot talk on or even   make a call on a phone,  order pizza, hang out with friends.  He has a lot of nots in his life. Things he will never do or even know about.

His world and the people in it are a small and he seems to like it that way, closing his eyes when the environment intrudes too much.

We have been working on some new organza ribbons and he has the job of shredding them for us.  They are a different texture so it's a bit odd to him feeling them, but he has been doing a great job.

He is also getting some "green projects" ready - ripping labels off aluminum cans that we are recycling for flower pots!

He is an expert shredded and ripper (mostly of things you do not want shredded - so it is good to use those skills and put them to a useful purpose.

Yay paperclips - hand punched by Andrew and stamped! 

Backside of paper clips - hand punched and hand stamped by Andrew. 

Typing an update on Facebook

Cutting some shapes for us for our paper  products.

We are still working on this side of the studio so please pardon our appearance as we remodel. We hope to have it finished within the next 6 months. One side is completed and one side to go.  He works at a large wooden table. Marks are  placed on the table to guide him when cutting ribbon or wire.  He uses the IPAD to keep track of his jobs and eats his lunch every day prior to working.  We have encouraged him to remove his hat and jacket without much success, but I can assure you the barn is very warm but he works anyway with hat and jacket in place.   That's another story trying to convince him to take these items off.

So we plan and get ready for spring!

cate for andrew 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Winter has broken

Winter has broken through this past week - with a crazy mild winter for the most part - yesterday was 60 degrees - we had snow last night - woke up today to a dusting or maybe an inch.

So warm though it is literally melting off the trees in chunks and plunks. I could hear it falling.

will spring be far behind? 


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Brr - is it winter now?

After living through a winter that has been barely present today I awoke to actual snow, windchill and icicles!

The cleansing sense of pure white snow over a winter brown yard is a nice change.  The dogs think snow is made just for them, they relish and romp in it - eager with the joy of just living.  I would like to harness that pure life energy.

Winter has thrown us a white curveball and we dodged the most of this epic storm, but it's lovely to me to look out of the barn this a.m. at our own miniature winter wonderland...

Yay winter..


Faith - when you will be given wings to fly

Faith is knowing that when you come to the end of all that you know and are about to step off into darkness - you will either be given wings to fly or something solid to stand on.

When Andrew was first diagnosed with autism at age 3  my only focus was how to "get him better."  Better than what I did not know, only better from what the feared unknown future would hold. I did not want to know too much for fear that  in knowing all of the journey and all of the pitfalls I would not be fearless but fearful.  This fear might stop me, waylay me or inhibit me from trying my hardest, working to my fullest.  Statistics and prognosis were not theories I entertained or investigated. Occasionally I would accidentally allow my eyes to wander over an article wherein statistics for children like mine were pigeonholed and trotted out with the "outcomes."  I hated the "outcome" word.  Best outcomes, worst outcomes, statistics of those who gained language and those who did not.

We were tagged with the word "moderate" - moderate made me feel hopeful. He could slide either way up the scale couldn't he? He could slide right into mild or maybe slide the dreaded other way into severe. But at age 3 who knew? Who wanted to know. To know was counterproductive. We would work for mild...... and we did.

We did not end up there ... we did not... we ended up sliding in  the other direction, despite the years of work and determination ....we ended up severe and nonverbal... the worst "outcome" that dreaded word.

And so it goes and continues to go.. at age 18 the challenges pile up before us. We push one out of the way only to find a new one. A friend of mine calls it "whack a mole." When one challenge is tackled a new one pushes to the surface. When you find a way to adhere to a schedule, an obsessive behavior creeps in that wreaks havoc on the schedule.

In 2009  our little on line business was started and for Andrew and for us it has been a tiny beacon of light as we maneuver through the chaos of a diagnosis without a roadmap or treatment.  He enjoys working in this business and no matter how chaotic the day, we trek to the barn studio behind the house and we have productive time and happy time. It is the only part of the day that is predictable.

We enter 2013 with hope and with determination - full of anticipation for new projects, meeting new customers and making new connections, and with the hope that our little shop will continue to support Andrew and keep him safe from autism's ongoing ravages on his nervous system.

We hope to add a new shop member part time - another young man with autism, who will help us get mailings ready and prepare paper products for assembly or shipping...

And so the journey goes... onward sometimes upward, sometimes sideward,  but always with hope and faith...



Friday, February 1, 2013


Following the weather this year has been a crazy roller coaster ride, but I like to document our days in the barn/studio with scenes of sunset and sunrises.

We have a pretty nice sunset here many days and I have taken a liking to grabbing my camera and documenting the seasons. Winter so far has provided the best sunset views, and I am always anxious to see what vista the winter sky wishes to share.

The steely pink gray early morning skies often are a harbinger of snow or rain, but the happy pink evening skies usually signal a nice day ahead.

Today the skies brought us a lovely coral pink vista with silvery clouds spinning beneath. 

I feel transported to a different more tranquil world when I gaze on these lovely clouds and sky.  

I thought I'd chronicle these deep winter days with these pictures, calm, serene and peaceful.