About Us

Welcome to the Brookston family blog. We'll post updates here on what's going on in our part of the world, and especially with our son, Porter, who has been diagnosed with some form of autism. Our hope is that this blog will help us deal with all the issues we'll be facing and keep our friends and family informed as well.

Jay B.

Sarah J.

Porter Brookston
born September 10, 2001

Alice Brookston
born July 7, 2004

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January 31, 2006

Look Ma, No Cavities!

Categories: News, Photos, Porter, Alice — J @ 4:15 pm

Porter and Alice both had dentist appointments this afternoon. For Porter, this was his third trip to see the dentist. For Alice it was her very first time. Alice’s time there was brief. She sat on my lap and the dentist counted her teeth. She has all but two. including one that’s just starting to come in. They tried to give Porter a teeth cleaning, but try as they might, he just wouldn’t go for the spinning toothbrush. When the put it on his finger to show how innocuous it was, he reacted rather vigorously. After a long session of negotiating, they managed to clean the top front three or four teeth before it was clear he wasn’t going to sit still for more than that. Oh, well. Overall, he did very well and best of all, when the dentist examined him he found no cavities!

Alice watches with great interest as Porter sits in the dentist’s chair.

Perhaps because of the recent nights wearing the 3-D glasses, but he wore the sunglasses without any serious complaint, which is unusual.

Having his teeth brushed the old-fashioned way: with a toothbrush.

The dentist looks at Porter’s teeth.

Then checks for cavities.

After the ordeal. Porter’s reward for no cavities and doing such a great job at the dentist: The Sodor Airport.

• • •

Three in 3-D

Categories: Photos, Porter, Alice, J, Sarah — J @ 1:49 pm

Last night, Porter again wanted to watch the Shrek 3-D short film and this time Sarah was on hand to join us. Alice watched along with the rest of us, but she wasn’t quite ready for 3-D yet. Porter again managed to sit through the whole thing wearing the special glasses.

The family that wears funny glasses together, stays together. Probably because everybody else thinks they’re loony.

• • •

Christmas in January

Categories: Photos, Porter, Alice, Family — J @ 12:43 pm

Sarah’s parents have discovered at least two toy stores going out of business so lately it’s been like Christmas in January. And since they still have their Christmas tree up, the allusion seems more apt.

Porter plays with his new Thomas coal loader by the Christmas tree.

Grandpa, Porter and Alice mesmerized by the television.

• • •

Puddle Jumper

Categories: Photos, Alice — J @ 10:53 am

Alice and Porter spent yesterday afternoon at their grandparents. They figured on a relaxing day inside but when Alice saw the puddles in the front yard, wild horses couldn’t have kept her away.

Look! Water, must reach waater!

My new shoes are great for splashing!

This is fun!

I’m a water baby.

She would have kept splashing until the sun went down, and almost did.

But she found more water in the fountain.

Relaxing out of her wet shoes inside.

• • •

There’s a New Baby “G!”

Categories: News, Photos, Friends — J @ 9:25 am

Our good friend Nikki her baby last night, three weeks early. Gianna Lyn was born at 1:36 a.m. January 31. She was 5 lbs. 12 oz. and 19 inches. Mother and daughter are both doing fine and should be coming home tomorrow. Congratulations to Nikki and Corey.

Gianna and her Mommy.

Nikki holding her new daughter, Gianna Lyn.

• • •

January 30, 2006

Barb: Cousin, Musical Inspiration

Categories: Photos, Birthdays, Family — J @ 5:32 pm

My cousin Barb is my father’s older brother’s daughter and is also a few years older than me. She took up the clarinet and I heard her practicing at my Bushie’s house on weekends and I always liked the way it sounded. So when it came time for me to choose an instrument to play, I also chose the clarinet. Thanks, Barb, for the musical inspiration. We saw each fairly regularly as kids but after high school I pretty much disappeared off the face of the Earth. I think until recently, the last time I had seen my cousin was at her wedding, which was, I believe, a few years after I graduated from high school in 1977. It was there I saw my mother and father together for the last time, because she passed away not too long afterward. They even danced together which for me was a bittersweet moment, but one which I’ll always cherish. Anyway, about ten years or so ago, I finally started trying to reconnect with estranged family and Barb was very gracious about accepting me back into the fold, so to speak. Happy birthday, Barb.

Barb at my birthday party in 1962, which means I would have been turning three so perhaps she was six at the time. [Note: this picture and the next were so badly damaged that it would have taken me all day to fix them with Photoshop so I decided instead to present them in all their naked glory.]

Barb and her husband Kent at their wedding.

With the family in 1994. Clockwise from top: Kent, Lauren, Christin and Barb.

During a visit last summer. From left: Lauren, Christin, Kent and Barb.

• • •

Sitting Still

Categories: News, Photos, Porter, J — J @ 4:03 pm

In the early evening yesterday, just before bedtime, Porter wanted to watch Shrek. He wanted the first Shrek, but he pulled the wrong DVD off the shelf. The one he handed me was Shrek 3-D, the short film that storywise bridges the gap between Shrek and the sequel, Shrek 2. He’d watched it before and liked it, after all it’s got lots of chase scenes. But just for the heck of it, I put the 3-D glasses on and then put another pair on him, just to see his reaction. To my surprise he sat through the entire fifteen minute movie wearing the 3-D glasses. He didn’t fidget or try to take them off once. He just sat very still and watched the whole thing. Watching him sit still for fifteen minutes without being asleep was pretty amazing.

Porter and me in two dimension watching a movie in three.

• • •

Porter Goes Commando

Categories: News, Porter — J @ 3:33 pm

Okay, for Porter “going commando” means sans diaper. He’s been hinting lately that he no longer wants to wear diapers but instead wants to wear underwear. You may recall my trumpeting his successful bathroom break at school last week. His teacher asked us if we wanted to send him to school in underwear. So yesterday we tried putting him in underwear in the morning and set the timer to take him to the bathroom every thirty minutes. From the morning until we left for the park in the afternoon, he had three hits (two singles and a home run) and only one unforced error, although it did cost him a uniform change. But all in all, he seemed pretty excited to be wearing his Thomas underwear instead of a diaper. Fingers crossed, we may finally be on the road to potty training.

But the real test will be today. Because for the first time, Porter went out into the world without a diaper. I felt a certain amount of trepidation as he stepped onto the school bus. But this is the only way he’ll learn so here goes.

UDPATE: I got a note back from his teacher today: One hit (a single) and no errors. Woo hoo! Good job, Porter!

• • •

Gro Cartin’

Categories: Photos, Porter, Alice, Sarah — J @ 2:42 pm

After our successful trip to the park, Porter was angling for another ice cream run. He had been so good today at sharing and playing with others at the park, plus some other successes earlier in the morning (more on those later), we decided that he did indeed deserve a reward. So after another pumpkin ice cream cone, we walked down to the grocery store. Porter was in a mood to go to the food store, as he calls it, so we figured we’d take advantage of his positive demeanor.

Porter and Alice in the grocery cart.

Sarah sticking out her tongue to make Alice laugh.

Though funny faces work just as well.

• • •

Catching with Porter

Categories: News, History, Porter, J, Autism — J @ 1:14 pm

Yesterday before we went to the park, Porter was tossing around a three-pack of Wiggles underwear we’d bought at the mall the day before. They were a good size and the packaging was loose enough that he could easily grab onto them. He threw them near me and I caught them, which sent Porter into peels of laughter. He then asked me to throw it back to him, which I did. Much to my surprise, he caught them. He threw them back to me and when I repeated my throw to him, he caught them again.

Now before we get too far along in this story, a couple of digressions are in order. First, I’m not sure when the hand and eye coordination is supposed to kick in for kids to be able to catch and throw with any accuracy or consistency. As a result, I’ve never know where Porter stood on the continuum for this skill set or if his autism was any impediment. I’ve tried over the years to play catch with him, but with mixed results at best. Some days he’d seem to grasp the idea while others he’d stand there blankly as the ball hit his chest and fell to the ground at his feet. So I must confess I despaired that he might not “get it” so to speak. Of course, part of this is why is it so important to me that he catch a ball? Naturally, that’s a little complicated and also very simple.

My stepfather never played catch we me as a child. Not once. I don’t mean it was infrequent, I mean we never ever threw a ball in the back yard. I got not one iota of sports training from him. So what, you may ask. Most of you have seen me throw and catch a ball in the present or at least at some point in my adulthood. And I’m not too embarrasing at it. As a teen, I played pickup football and basketball, golf and tennis, ping-pong and handball, raquetball and even softball so what’s the big deal? True enough, I got a smidgeon of natural athletic ability from my biological father, who was all-state at basketball and beat me at badminton every time we played. And I generally became fairly adept at picking up new games that require hand/eye coordination so today I can hold my own at most sports.

The problem, however, was little league, that age old rite of passage for every red-blooded American boy. And I was no different back then. I wanted to be the star baseball player as much as the next kid. Trouble was, I knew virtually nothing about how to play baseball with the exception of what few facts I could glean watching baseball on television and reading books about it. And I have to tell you, there’s not a lot of practical knowledge to be had that way. But I went out for little league anyway and with high hopes no less. Everybody made the team, of course, but in those days there were no rules about everybody playing so my actual time on the field was practically nil. Our coach lived in the neighborhood and was the father of two brothers, one my age and one a year older. Naturally, his sons played every game. So did the other kids whose fathers taught them how to throw, catch and hit a baseball. Even then, I knew the disadvantage I had. So the other kids teased me about my lack of skill. It hurt and pissed me off, but kids are cruel. I understand (and understood) that. Sure it bothered me, but I don’t hold a grudge about it since they didn’t know any better. It’s not like I was never cruel to other kids so that part was just a natural part of growing up and I weathered it as best I could. But the coach was another story. For him I wish a separate wing of hell be opened in his honor. Because when the other kids made fun of me, what did he do? Did he come to my rescue and tell them stop, instill us all with a sense of team spirit? Did he take me aside and show me the fundamentals of the game that I was so obviously lacking? Did he have better players work with me so I might improve and so the whole team might be more competitive? Nope, his idea of being a little league coach was to also openly mock me thereby encouraging the others that it was open season on me. I think he was trying to make me quit. But he had no idea how stubborn I could be. I spent four years as a benchwarmer, refusing to give him the satisfaction, and enduring what I can only describe with nostalgia as my summers of living hell and torture. The fact that I’m still bitter about it today should convey some idea how it scarred me. Perhaps now you’ll also understand why it’s so important that Porter be able to throw and catch a ball. I don’t want Porter to share a similar fate. So back to the present.

So Porter was very excited about playing catch. He stood on the coffee table and we threw the package back and forth. The first time we did this, he caught four in a row. The second time, he caught eight in a row. He did ten a few times and his personal best was thirteen! Some he caught in his chest by pulling them in like a football while others he snatched from the air in his hands. It was so exciting to watch, especially the thrill on his face with each subsequent successful catch. He would have happily played catch with me all day. And while he’s caught things before, it always seemed more accidental. But yesterday was different. He really seemed to be watching the ball as it came toward him and maneuvering his hands to be in a position to catch it. And that was the difference. He was paying attention. It was soooo cool. I’m tearing up as I remember it. Man, this parenting stuff is great. All the tantrums and sleepless nights and struggles seem ultimately worthwhile when you witness those little, yet huge, milestones. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

• • •

Monday Morning Motivational #24

Categories: Humor — J @ 11:59 am

In honor of the Year of the Dog, I chose these words of wisdom for this week’s demotivator.

• • •

Aquatic Parking

Categories: Photos, Porter, Alice, Sarah — J @ 11:33 am

Generally, our afternoon at Aquatic Park went swimmingly and both the kids had a blast. The weather was unseasonably pleasant and the sun was high in the deep blue sky. Wisps of fluffy white clouds rolled by casting gentle shadows on the ground. It was hard to believe less than twenty-four hours before it had been dark, gray and pouring down rain. So we took advantage of the time we had and stayed at the park until the kids were exhausted. But, you know, it was a good kind of tired.

An overview of the playground at Aquatic Park, taken from the trainspotting spot in the back corner.

There are so many nooks and crannines in the playground it’s hard to keep track of boy with the energy that Porter exudes.

Above the world, looking down.

Deciding whether or not to leave the safety of the wooden deck and climb out onto the rubber-covered chains.

Going for it. (Note Gordon’s coal car in free fall.)

Sarah climbing over to where Porter was.

Where Porter was when Sarah was climbing over to him.

Lounging in a tunnel.

More lounging, this time in the center of the tunnel.

Alice climbed all over the park. The stairs were just her size to go up and down.

Porter on the small tire swing.

• • •

The Big Boy Swing

Categories: Photos, Porter, Alice, Sarah, Movies — J @ 10:37 am

Later in the day, Porter wanted me to push him on the swing. But not the baby swing, the “big boy swing.” So we started tentatively but he did okay. He wanted me to push him faster but I didn’t want him to fall off if he went too high. But he did pretty well and, happily, never did let go.

On the swing next to him, Sarah was holding Alice on her lap and gently swinging. Porter decided he wanted to push them higher and tried to do just that. Then he shouted the words every mother loves to hear as he struggled to push them. “You’re too heavy.” I laughed and laughed.

Porter on the big boy swing.

You’re too heavy, Mommy.

Swing higher Mommy.

Here’s a Quicktime movie of Porter on the big boy swing. Listen carefully and you can hear Porter scream after I push him higher and also tell me to push Mommy and Alice. You can either download the movie to your desktop or just click on the link to play it in your web browser (assuming your web browser has the quicktime plug-in installed).

• • •

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off!

Categories: Photos, Porter, Movies — J @ 9:55 am

As a general rule, Porter loves all things that toss and turn him around, spin him about and generally mess with his equlibrium. So it was no surprise that he wanted to join another boy on the tire swing while his daddy pushed them around in a circle. What was surprising was his constant cries to stop the swing. Porter seemed like he was having a good time but he kept yelling “stop!” But at the same time he was laughing and smiling, so I’m still quite sure what was going on. When eventually the swing did stop, he got off and seemed just fine. He wasn’t upset in any way so I don’t know what was going on.

Here’s a Quicktime movie of Porter on the tire swing. Listen carefully and you can hear his pleas to stop the ride. You can either download the movie to your desktop or just click on the link to play it in your web browser (assuming your web browser has the quicktime plug-in installed).

• • •


Categories: Photos, Porter — J @ 9:02 am

The other reason Porter loves Aquatic Park is that train tracks run right past it and throughout the day freight cars and Amtrak rumble by. Every time we’d hear the telltale rumble far off signaling a train would soon be there Porter would scream and yell and run toward the back of the park, where the viewing was best.

Here comes a BNSF diesel train.

Porter watches from the back of the park, next to the tracks.

Another BNSF goes past.

Porter in thrall to the train.

This train was easily over a hundred cars long but Porter stood and watched the entire train.

Later he was very excited to see a Union Pacific train.

• • •
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