Saturday, July 23, 2011


Migrations are a natural part of evolution for many species, especially humans.  Even when they're sitting on a couch with a laptop.  I've decided to migrate over to Wordpress, but all of my posts are over there as well as the posts from my Shower of Roses blog.  :-)  Please feel free to migrate with me and subscribe to my Wordpress. 

Click here to go to my new Blog Address for Ever So Gently (formerly Queen Raising 3 Princesses)

Friday, April 01, 2011

All about Dynamic Views for Readers

All about Dynamic Views for Readers

This looks kind of interesting. Anyone know what sort of impact it'll have on things?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mother Nature's Intern

I think Winter has a problem.  It's stuck.  I think it actually froze itself and can't get loose, sort of like my neighbor's car down the street who figured he wouldn't clear his car after the first storm but would wait it out through all three snow storms plus the ice storm we've had in the past two weeks.  That car just isn't budging.  It's hopelessly ice-locked, gears frozen in spite of the owner's efforts.  Mother Nature let the cute intern touch a few too many pretty buttons and sat back for too long watching his adorable backside while she failed to notice that he forget to press a few important buttons in the process.  He forgot to warm the car once in a while, so to speak. 

In Connecticut, the snow just isn't melting.  Temperatures aren't rising except to tease us, as if Mother Nature's intern is drinking hot cocoa and chuckling because he's on easy street.  It's not like he and Mother Nature really have to endure this weather, right? They don't have to deal with -18F at the bus stop with wind chills to boot.  They don't have to go out West where it's much, much colder, although once you get into the negatives does it really matter how much colder it gets?

I want to see that snow melting because it's a sign that winter is moving on.  Where I live, the temperatures have been stuck to the point where they're not even hovering around the freezing point (32F) so the sun isn't even nudging anything to melt.  This makes it feel like winter is at a standstill.  One snow storm piles up after another and the snow doesn't go anywhere... the streets just get narrower and the snowbanks get higher and there are fewer places to push the snow.  It's not even fun to play in any more because of the ice storm that was tossed in there.  I think the only ones having fun are the ski resorts.  They're booming in business.

My kids were layered and bundled at the bus stop this morning, and were only outside for ten minutes.  It was -4F for us at 8:20 AM.  Warm boots, warm pants, long shirts, sweaters, warm coats, warm gloves and hats plus their insulated hoods... and still my 8 year old was crying and I was afraid her tears would freeze.  My 10 year old was complaining that her fingers, buried in thick knitted woolen gloves, were painfully cold, and we'd only been outside for five minutes.  I kept them moving and walking, and told them to hold their gloved hands over their noses and to breathe into their gloves so their warm breath would warm their hands and faces.  The bus was late, probably due to the cold, so instead of a five minute wait it was ten.  Several schools were actually closed this morning because their buses wouldn't start.  Schools without heat couldn't open. If the temperatures are below 21F (or at the discretion of the teachers if above that but still below freezing) the children are not allowed to play outside at recess. 

Sitting here typing away, the temperature has warmed to a lofty 12F.  It's taken all day to reach it.  I think this calls for a casserole for supper and Mother Nature can't have any.  Take that, Mother Nature! 

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

All In One Neurologist

We just got back a few minutes ago from an appointment with Princess #2's new neurologist and I'm floored. She's so much more than what we've been dealing with in a doctor for the past few years that I didn't even know what we were missing. She also has a specialty in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Behavioral Disorders that I wasn't aware of when I first made our appointment with her. This woman is just amazing and I feel like she landed in our lap. Princess #2  loves her already which in itself is amazing, especially since this doctor is very no-nonsense. It often takes Princess #2 quite some time, if not a couple of visits, to warm up to someone.  She even did her best to make eye contact with the doctor when the doctor requested it, but that was agonizing for Princess #2.  Eye contact is such a struggle and so uncomfortable for her, even when she's not thinking about it. 

Dr. K is already going to take control of  Princess #2's seizure disorder and we'll be getting blood tests to check the levels of Lamictal in her blood to make sure it's appropriate and therapeutic.  Even better or just as good Dr. K is going to be very, very hands on with our behavioral issues, sensory issues, and social issues. Dr. K already wrote a prescription for  Princess #2 to get occupational therapy at our local autism therapeutic center and she said that she can guarantee Princess #2 a spot there because she consults at that school/clinic.

Dr. K already made another appointment for the 22nd, and said that she's not only sending  Princess #2 for special therapies but she's going to do therapies herself in her office. We won't need the Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician that we've been on the waiting list for. That we've been waiting literally years to see.  It's like we have this amazing new all-in-one doctor and she's willing to do it all with us, not only willing but stepped up and offered.  When Dr. K asked what I had in place for Princess #2 outside of school and I told her we were on a waiting list for a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician to help us with the sensory stuff and behavioral stuff, Dr. K's response was, "Why would you do that? You don't have to keep waiting.  You have me.  I can help you with all of this.  Not just refer you, but actually do this myself one on one with Princess #2." 

What in the HUH??? Is this woman for real? Is it already Christmas? Did Santa come early? Was there an angel sitting next to me this morning? Did God answer a prayer for me so directly and so precisely "to order" that if I were to call it a coincidence lightning would strike me?

She's going to be hands on and in frequent contact with our school. She wants to know literally everything about  Princess #2 academically, she wants current and past IEPs, she wants progress reports from the teachers before each and every appointment that we have.

And for the part that made my heart sink. She's going to evaluate Princess #2 herself, which in and of itself is not bad.  Nor did it make my heart sink.  I wish our last neurologist had done this, as our child psychiatrist had done in obtaining the diagnosis of PDD-NOS "with the likelihood of Asperger's Disorder."  But Dr. K believes that Princess #2 doesn't have Asperger's Disorder. Dr. K concurs that Princess #2 should have had the PDD diagnosis, that she undoubtedly has ASD but she has more developmental and sensory issues apparent even just during our meeting today that people with Asperger's Disorder don't typically have, and if they do not to the extent that  Princess #2 does.

A new way of thinking, even though when the new DSM comes out it "won't matter" since "autism will be autism no matter what type it is." In my head there are a lot of complications to this anyway that I can't really express, but they're there.  How do I digest all of this? Do I relearn what I know or think I know? Do I stop researching so much about Asperger's Disorder? What type of Autism, other than "typical" do I put my energy into researching? We'll have more answers after her next couple of appointments but now it feels like we've backtracked even though we're probably actually making headway that I didn't even realize we needed to make.  I've felt like I've been treading water, nearly drowning and in over my head, not knowing where the life raft is.  Maybe this explains why.  We were close to the right diagnosis but not quite there... the peg just needed to be shifted slightly.  Just how much it needs to be shifted won't be clear for a little while, but there are answers and help to be had and it's not just in spitting distance.  It's finally HERE. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Inner Conflict Resolution

My middle daughter turns 8 years old in just a few days.  She's in second grade, and it's a been quite a journey for her to get there.  Every year she's progressed further than she did the year before.  Every year, she has new challenges.  She has Asperger's Disorder, as I've discussed at length before.  This is a form of  Autism. 

But this post isn't really about her this time.  I'm proud of my daughter.  I love her with all of my heart.  But that doesn't mean that I don't get frustrated with her, or that I don't get angry with her.  Yes, with her.  Because sometimes her behavior is age-appropriate and situationally appropriate.  Sometimes there are even misleading moments and periods of downright averageness.  Our house has it's own normal, probably different than your normal, so I try to refrain from using "typically normal" except when referring to what is "typically normal" for my own children specifically.

For a long time, friends and family have described how I'm handling Princess #2 with various descriptors.  Strong.  Bravely.  Well.  Loving.  Caring.  Gently.  Patiently.  Courageously.  Inspirational.  A great advocate.  Self educated.  Encouraging.  Helpful.  Understanding.  Open-minded.  Firm.  So many positive words, so many more than I can think of now.  My best friend gave me a wonderful compliment the other day, saying that of all of us in our group of friends, the one of us who has handled motherhood the best and therefore would be the best mother for a special needs daughter would have to be me.  Considering I try to model my mothering after her, and that I believe she's the best mother I know, I took that as a great and undeserved compliment. 

But what people don't seem to see or maybe refuse to acknowledge are the other adjectives that can be used to describe me as a mother to a child with special needs.  Sometimes sad.  Tired.  Swimming.  In over my head.  Unprepared.  Afraid.  Worried.  Anxious. 

Angry.  I've been living through it since her diagnosis, and not allowing myself to acknowledge that emotion, but I've been angry that it happened to my daughter and by extension to my dearest heart.  Autism has happened to our family.  Everything that Autism makes more difficult, more pronounced, more MORE, has happened to my family.  And I've been asking, without acknowledging that angry question, why? 

And why haven't I been able... or feeling like I'm allowed... to acknowledge those negative adjectives and feelings? Why does the world expect parents with special needs children to put on a special happy face? We can't admit to anyone who isn't actually living it that some days, we're just plodding through, that we're just existing and faking it simply to get through the day until the day is over.  That our patience isn't infinite, that we don't always like our kids as much as we love them, and that we don't always know what to do. 

I didn't even realize until recently that I had that Why stuck in my head.  But it's been there.  It's been persistent.  In fact, it's been the driving force behind my anger.  I didn't plan to have a child with special needs.  When she was small and we weren't sure what was going on and it was before we had even an inkling that she was special needs I distinctly remember saying a brief prayer, "Please God, let this be something we can fix with her diet or medicine.  Don't let her have Autism."  I think maybe I knew even then before I really even knew what Autism was and that there were different types and severities.  I didn't even know why the word Autism flitted through my head in that prayer and I remember that it surprised me that my brain jumped to it.  At the time I had no clue.  I just had no clue.  I wonder if God answered my own prayer as I was praying it.  That thought has crossed my mind more than once. 

I quickly reached a point where I desired answers more than I desired "don't let her have Autism."

Of course I never once wanted her to have Autism.  Her diagnosis was devastating even though it gave us answers, and even though it gave us a starting place and a map on how to proceed.  It opened doors for us with her education in getting her a proper PPT and IEP.  But it also opened doors for feelings I didn't expect.

I'm not angry with her for having Autism.  It's not her fault.  None of it is her fault.  I parent her as I do my other children keeping in mind her strengths and her needs, disciplining her as best as fits her personality and the situations.  I give her as much love as she ever needs and encourage her to learn and laugh.  Life isn't easy for her to navigate so there are many times that she's not happy.  There are many things that are difficult for her to grasp that seem easy for other children her age and younger, that when she realizes it make her sad.  She knows she's different and sometimes that makes her sad or angry while other times it doesn't bother her at all.  She knows that either way she's loved and she's special.  She's learning the language of Autism so that she can ask for things that she needs when she needs them, and that makes me happy that she understands and is figuring those things out, but it's made me angry that she HAS TO. 

And all of this leads me to ask WHY? Why her? Why us? WHY ME? Why me and my child? Why would God do this to us? Why would he allow it? These are questions I haven't allowed myself to vocalize or even acknowledge but have been there in the back of my mind unformed nevertheless.  And I know that I haven't been to Church as much as I should since we received this diagnosis because I've felt betrayed by that prayer.  That prayer was the turning point, even before I heard the words, "Your daughter has Asperger's Disorder.  Yes, it is Autism.  She has PDD-NOS.  Your suspicions were correct and the evaluation shows this is an accurate diagnosis" 

Now there's a conflict that I'm having a lot of trouble with right now.  I had a spiritual purging over the weekend at an event called Women of Faith.  It was amazing.  I've never had a questioning of God during all of these years.  If anything, my faith has grown stronger.  It's been my anger getting in the way, my disappointment getting in the way, of properly worshiping even though I pray for help and pray for thanks.  My heart hasn't been in it quite the same way.  At this convention, I was forced to acknowledge this entire mishmash of thoughts and emotions in a short period of time and kept coming back to WHY?

And then near the end of the second day, the answer came from one of the inspirational speakers, answering the question I'd finally put a voice to in my own  head the night before while listening to their music and their stories.  WHY?  and then... Why not?

Why not indeed.  My daughter is still my daughter.  I love her.  I'm proud of every accomplishment she makes because I know how difficult they can be for her.  I take pride in the things that she finds easy.  I take pride in her talents.  She's smart, she's beautiful, she's funny, she's sensitive.  We need each other.  She wouldn't be who she is without the Autism, and I wouldn't be who I am now without her.  So why not her and why not me?  Maybe there are some lessons in there I should be looking at more closely, and maybe even being thankful for. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Love-Hate With Popcorn

Headache.  Blah.  Bland food diet.  Blah blah.  Anxiety attacks.  BLAH.  I'm sick of not feeling well, I'm sick of not being able to eat well and leave the house for very far or long, and I'm sick of being stressed out.  I haven't had so many anxiety attacks in months, and I feel like I'm having anxiety about waiting for an anxiety attack to show up.  Feeling this way is making me grumpy and short tempered and I don't like feeling this way.  My shrink thinks I'm handling the stress, or at least the kids, well but has increased the frequency of my visits.  Health, holidays, problems with Princess #2, settling after major problems with Princess #1, and recently resurfaced copings with old traumas are doing me in.  I'm tired all the time but I say yes to doing everything for everyone. 

I'm not a freaking saint, and I'm not a nice girl all the time.  I'm tired.  When I'm tired I'm more cranky than just when I'm stressed.  I want to just curl up and stay in bed where it's quiet and I have my books and a remote for my little TV.  I want to forget that diverticulitis stomped it's way into my life, and that my girls are having anxiety now and worrying about my health and whether or not I'll be home and alive because of my 5 day hospital stay last month.  I want to forget that I have to have a follow up colonoscopy in a couple of weeks.  I want to forget that there are bills to pay, and I just added a huge one with that hospital stay even though it's a "copay."  Yeah, some copay.  

Since being in the hospital I've been losing weight.  I think I've lost around 12 pounds, which is good and people are starting to notice.  But how it comes up is... well... people ask, "How are you feeling?" {{{so sorry head tilt}}} "I'm happy you're out of the hospital.  You look better.  And hey! You're losing weight! I hear being in the hospital does that for you!"  Yes, being in the hospital and recovering from a serious illness, and banging out on a bland diet will do that for you.  I suppose that could be seen as a benefit, if only it were intentional and then I could feel "proud of myself."  Why do I feel like picking a nit on this? Because enduring something like this isn't easy for someone who has struggled with disordered eating.  It would be so easy to fall back into giving up on food.  I could resign myself to a low residue diet for life, indulging in good flavorful foods around holidays.  It would be worth it not to have the literal gut wrenching pain and bathroom problems and as everyone else says, HEY BONUS! I won't have all of the fat any more! I'll get super skinny again! I've got double the motivation, right?

Avoiding seeded foods and other trigger foods that would get stuck in the diverticuli can be tricky.  It's frustrating, especially if you're the only one in the house who needs to avoid those foods, healthy foods even, while everyone else loves them and needs them.  Especially your sensory processing disordered child.  How do you not keep that in the house? But it's not just that.  Trigger foods are often in prepackaged foods, so it's a good thing I'm a label reader to begin with but now I have to add more to that list of things to avoid. 

And I'm pissed as shit about popcorn.  I love popcorn.  I can never have it again.  That pisses me off more than I can ever explain, and it's not funny.  I'm actually angry at popcorn.  I grew up in a family that popped popcorn in a big pan on the stove every Friday and sometimes Saturday for movies and TV in the evenings.  If friends came over, we popped popcorn.  This lasted well into, well, now.  Go to a friend's house or a friend comes to visit, let's make popcorn! My kids have a sleepover, let's make popcorn! Feel like a low fat snack? POPCORN! It smells so good, it tastes even better, and it's one of the best comfort foods you could find.  Plus it's  inexpensive if you don't buy it from the Boy Scouts.  In a pinch, Walmart brand popcorn will do.  The white kernel from Orville is the best.  A little butter, a little Lawry's seasoned salt, a little Frank's Red Hot, and Oh Em Gee.  All you need is a tall glass of ice water or iced tea and it's heaven.  Any time of year. 

But no, Diverticulitis/Diverticulosis has to come all up in my face and mess my entire world up.  Granted, it's been building for a few years and got worse over the past year.  And granted, again, I was about to see my doctor before I was hospitalized.  And yes, I'm lucky to be alive, considering the pain and the infection were bad.  But it's not just me here. 

And I hate being cranky.  No one else likes me cranky.  I don't go all hulk green or anything, but I'm not all sunshine and roses.  I'm pretty awesome, but I have limitations.  One of them is telling me that it's bedtime right now, and that it's time to take some Advil. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Show Of Love

I have a new Cafe Press store for Autism Spectrum Disorder products, and since it's difficult to find things for Asperger's Disorder I'm making sure to include items for people with Asperger's Disorder. My store is called Show Of Love. Please feel free to share this link with everyone you know. It has products for people who know someone with Autism, for Occupational Therapists, and for people who have Autism including Asperger's Disorder.

It's only just starting up, obviously, but once it's going I'll be donating some of the profits to local fundraisers for Autism research. I live in Connecticut and am in the process of researching the local legitimate Autism research facilities like UConn.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oh The Pain

A week ago tonight I was sitting in the emergency room totally not enjoying myself.  Having the exact opposite of fun, doubled over in pain from my midsection thanks to my fickle, crappy colon and intestines.  Thanks to increasing problems in my gut over the past year, it finally culminated in a bout last week that landed me in the hospital for nearly five days.  But I finally got a diagnosis for my stomach issues, or at least a partial diagnosis with Diverticulitis.  The next step is figuring out what's causing the Diverticulitis, but it's very likely Diverticulosis since my mother has it.  Diverticulitis runs on my dad's side of the family anyway so either way I'm screwed.

But my mom told me today how lucky I am that I was able to feel pain that let me know I needed to go to the hospital.  The pain was my sign that there was an infection that had to be treated, but apparently there are people who never feel the pain or if they do, it doesn't become more than discomfort and so they don't get it checked out.  In a lot of cases it can be fatal.  So I'm really trying to be positive about this whole thing, and feel even more lucky to be alive as I swallow horse pills of Cipro and continue eating a low residue diet.  Actually, I'm not really complaining about a low residue diet because to be honest here, I'm still afraid to eat much of anything that could stick in the little pockets in my intestines that aren't supposed to be there. 

So not good for someone who has had disordered eating. 

If you want to know what the pain was like, imagine someone taking a long, super-thin, super-sharp blade and shoving it into your colon and intestines at the same time and then swirling it around like they're beating whipped cream by hand and then pausing for breaks in between.  So. Much. Fun.  It's even more fun feeling like that in the ER with your husband, your 10 year old, your 7 year old, and your 5 year old and trying to minimize your expressions of pain while simultaneously reassure your 7 year old that you're not actually dying.  It's way, way more fun when you're enduring the pain and having to break up the bickering over Nintendo DS bullshit between the kids AND the spouse.  But luckily, you remembered to tell the kids to pack snacks before leaving the house. 

And luckily, you demanded the computer be brought to the hospital on the 2nd full day being in the hospital in order to maintain contact with the kids' teachers since that's their main way of communicating with parents.  Plus, Facebook makes the hospital stay easier.  Tethered to your bed by an IV running antibiotics, morphine, and nutrition (because you're not allowed to even drink water)? Harvest some crops baby!

Well, it's time to get the kids to bed.  The eldest princess just got home from a Girl Scout haunted hike and I'm tired. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gratitude Journal: Thursday

I really must do a gratitude journal today.  It's just one of those weeks where it's necessary.  Today, I'm grateful...

  1. For my wonderful husband, who is a wonderful father.
  2. For my beautiful daughters.
  3. For amazing, generous, kind, giving friends and family.
  4. For having health insurance, even if it's entirely too expensive.
  5. For really good pain medication.
  6. For anti-anxiety medication.
  7. For relatively good health.
  8. For my sweet, lovely cats who always know when I need cheering up and give snuggles and kitty-kisses when I need them.
  9. For nearby hospitals.
  10. For nurses who excel at their jobs and go above and beyond the call of duty.
  11. For the intarwebz, so that self-education is easier when it comes to tricky medical information.
  12. That while in the hospital this past week I was able to use the laptop and use the hospital's wireless, and stay connected to the outside world.  
  13. That I was able to get a diagnosis for my gastric problems, and appropriate treatment.
  14. That I will have continued care out of the hospital.
  15. For having a great hair stylist.
  16. For having so many blessings in my life, and for being alive to share them.
  17. For finding a cat food that didn't have corn meal as it's main ingredient, even though we're still looking for one that doesn't have it at all and is still affordable.
  18. For not having to go or be anywhere today.
  19. That there are people who can commiserate about diverticulitis.
  20. That prayers work. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

School Summer Homework

School starts on Thursday.  The girls have to hand in Summer Reading and Summer Math packets.  Each year, the packets get thicker and more difficult, at least for math.  Princess #3 is entering kindergarten, so all we've had to do is read and list her books but the older girls have to read and write activities with the books they've read.  The more books they read, they can earn gold, silver, and bronze medals.  To earn gold they have to read at least 15 books.  To earn silver they have to read at least 10 books.  To earn bronze they have to read at least 4 books. 

Usually, Princess #1 (who is in 5th grade this year) finishes her Summer Reading within the couple of weeks and she reads 15 books to get the gold.  This year she decided to go for silver and with less than a week left, she still hasn't finished the writing portion of her project.  She always finishes the Math packet within the first couple of days of vacation and she's still not done.  I'm not complaining, I'm just surprised.  Frankly, I think that while it's good to want to keep the kids' brains fresh during the Summer months, it's a bit ridiculous to give them actual required assignments that will be graded. 

It's especially difficult for Princess #2, who is my soon-to-be 2nd grader and special needs child.  For her, school is school and vacation is vacation.  She had 5 or 6 weeks of summer school and that was that.  She worked hard on it, and did some packet work then, but still has to do it at home.  It's been like pulling teeth that are healthy.  It's not happening, hasn't happened except for pleasure reading, and I have no clue how to get her to do the math and writing prompts.  She flat refuses.  I can't blame her to be honest.  I have less than 4 days to get them to do all of this written work and I'm barely motivated myself. 

What would you do?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Con Te Partiro

Another song I adore. Andrea Bocelli is truly one of the most magnificent voices of our time, and paired with Sarah Brightman (she was Christine in Phantom of the Opera) the song, called Con Te Partiro (I Will Leave With You), is simply perfect. I love that it's in Italian, too... such a beautiful language, and so lyrical paired with the melody. I always feel so inspired by music like this. {{{sigh}}}

This first one, with Sarah Brightman, is on one of her albums. The second one is sung as a duet LIVE and is amazing.

In this one, Andrea Bocelli is singing the original solo version. He has such a clear, amazing, rich, textured voice. I also love when he sings "The Prayer."

Quando sono solo
sogno all'orizzonte
e mancan le parole
si lo so che non c'e luce
in una stanza quando manca il sole
se non ci sei tu con me
Su le finestre
mostra a tutti il mio cuore
che hai acceso
chiudi dentro me
la luce che
hai incontrato per strada

Con te partiro
paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te
adesso si li vivro
Con te partiro
su navei per mari
che io lo so
no no non esistono piu
con te io li vivro

Quando sei lontana
sogno all'orizzonte
e mancan le parole
e io si lo so
che sei con me con me
tu mia luna tu sei qui con me
mio sole tu sei qui con me
con me con me con me

Con te partiro
paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te
adesso si li vivro
Con te partiro
che io lo so
no no non esistono piu
con te io li rivivro
Con te partiro
su navi per mari
che io lo so
no no non esistono piu
con te io li rivivro
Con te partiro
lo con te

I'LL GO WITH YOU (Con te Partiro-English Translation)
(E. Sartori - L.Quarantotto)

When I'm alone
I dream on the horizon
And words fail
Yes, I know there is no light
In a room where the sun is absent
If you are not with me
At the windows
Show everyone my heart
Which you set alight
Enclose within me
The light you
Encountered on the street

I'll go with you
To countries I never
Saw and shared with you
Now, yes, I shall experience them
I'll go with you
On ships across seas
Which, I know,
No, no, exist no longer
With you I shall experience them

When you are far away
I dream on the horizon
And words fail
And yes, I know
That you are with me
You, my moon, are here with me
My sun, you are here with me

I'll go with you
To countries I never
Saw and shared with you
Now, yes, I shall experience them
I'll go with you
On ships across seas
Which, I know,
No, no, exist no longer
With you I shall experience them again
I'll go with you
On ships across seas
Which, I know,
No, no, exist no longer
With you I shall experience them again
I'll go with you
I with you

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Gratitude Journal: Sunday

It's a breezy, balmy, lazy Sunday.  I'm grateful....

  1. For my children.
  2. For my husband, and the fact that he has a real vacation from work this week.
  3. For my sweet cats, even if they are attached to sharp things.  
  4. For good friends.
  5. For a good, caring family.
  6. That I don't live in in the Medieval or Dark Ages.  Her Highness would not do well there.
  7. For the Princess Bride, and that my youngest daughter seems to have the same appreciation for the movie as I do.
  8. For nail clippers.
  9. For paper towels.  They are a life saver.  
  10. For ice cream.  Especially Ben & Jerry's when it's on sale.  Particularly Strawberry Cheesecake or Boston Creme Pie.  
  11. For soft bed sheets that feel chilly on a hot summer night.
  12. For uninterrupted night's sleep, when they happen.
  13. That my hair is just now long enough to pull back into a ponytail and not look completely stupid.
  14. That Princess #2 will finally get her wish and be placed in a Brownie Troop this school year.
  15. For air conditioners.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Merry-Go-Round And Round And Round

© Jean Bennett
Date of picture: October 02, 2004
This is the 1909 Mangels-Illions Carousel at Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts.  It's simply beautiful and charming in it's antique glory.  It's well-kept and the rides are almost always full.  Carousels have a special place in my heart and they always have.  I love the art on them and their history.  
My youngest daughter shares my love of carousels.  When we go to Six Flags, this Carousel is the first ride that you see as you walk through the entrance.  She has a special horse on the carousel that she likes in particular that is extra pretty, extra shiny, and extra special just for her.  She manages to get Charlie-short-for-Charlotte almost every time we go on the ride.  Charlie is a moving horse.  She's bright white with a pretty mouth and a golden mane and tail.  She's been maintained very nicely.  My eldest daughter isn't quite as dazzled by the ride but she enjoys it nonetheless, as long as the horses move up and down.   She does seem to have a fondness for the older horses that have the real hair for tails.  My middle daughter will tolerate the ride, but prefers the "couch chair" as she calls it.  
So on Saturday we took the girls to Six Flags on a royal outing, and the Carousel was the first ride we went on.  It was beautiful weather, approaching dusk, with a light breeze.  The park was busy and the ride was full.  Mr. His Highness took my eldest and youngest to one side of the carousel to where Charlie the horse was waiting, and I got to ride with Princess #2 in the "couch chair."  We just enjoyed each other's company and chatted in her way about what a nice evening it was and how nice it was to ride together.  The ride was a little faster than usual, which startled her and showed on her face.  She pleaded with me with her eyes, but knew that getting off wasn't an option so she settled in and held my hand.  She decided to look at the lights as they came on (the sun was starting to set) and people-watched.  
Suddenly, with the dimming of the sun and darkening of the inside of the ride then the tinny lighting of the ride's yellowish and colored lights, and the colors didn't look so vibrant any more... they didn't look quite right.  The music started to sound hollow.  The people noises and children shouting sounded like they were magnified yet coming out of a really large tin can and I could feel every sound that was made in my chest and in my head.  I could feel the vibrations in the carousel that I never noticed before.  I realized that the two of us sitting there went completely unnoticed by everyone around us except for the woman and her sons who sat with us on the chair.  It was an eerie feeling that I can't describe, but when I looked into my daughter's eyes I realized that maybe that's a little bit of what she was experiencing.  As soon as I made that realization I felt chilled and the feeling went away.  
So I'm left wondering if Autism feels like that, ever.  It was a little dizzying and very disconcerting.  I felt like I was being shown something, like on a film reel.  But I'm not quite sure what to do with it. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bedtime Guest

I get into bed and I'm reading minding my own business and something catches my eye up near my ceiling light.  Daisy The Cat notices too, and gets all huntery and intimidating.  I figure it's a fly or moth, which creep me out but I also figure she has it handled.  Then on the bed cover, something dark catches my eye.  It's too low to be flying and too fast to be crawling but it's SKITTERING and it's COMING AT ME and I realize it's

I'm greeted by this big ass fucking thing and I freak out and what does my fearless hunter do? Sniffs with her nose in the air, lifts her tail up with her ass as high as it will go and walks out of the room calmly while I continue to freak out and it skitters towards me to KILL ME and EAT ME and I'm shaking my bed covers all over the place screaming SPIDER SPIDER IT'S A SPIDER! DAISY! DAISY! GET BACK HERE!

So um, yeah, I have a serious fear of spiders. 

Splendid ::rolls eyes::

Well, it's official.  I have the child that eats glue.  Glue sticks, to be exact.  Yes, special needs child is fulfilling that stupid stereotype.  I have to laugh or I'm going to cry but I'm not quite ready to laugh yet.  Last night she was eating blue crayons so that she could have rainbow poop.  She's been licking chalk too.

Yet it's not PICA.  PICA occurs when someone, often children, are nutrient-deficient in something that whatever they're eating contains.  With Princess #2 's Asperger's Disorder, a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, she has sensory processing disorder.  What she's doing is completely sensory-seeking.  She's not doing it for nutritional needs and although her food intake is limited and she has a restricted diet, she's healthy.  She's just as likely to try to drink Frank's Red Hot jalapeno sauce or lemon juice or eat a bag of frozen french fries or frozen peas in order to self-stimulate.  She's a very fussy eater, mainly because of sensory problems, but because of those problems she also puts things in her mouth that don't belong there.

She loves soap.  Particularly when she's in the shower washing her hair or body, she loves the lather.  It's the same with pumping foam hand soap.  She's done it with plants like azaleas, which are poisonous.  I've  had to call Poison Control more times than I can count.  Nail polish.  Toothpaste tubes.   Hairspray.  Make-up.  Pennies.  Pieces of toys.  She mouths and chews objects like crazy, which can be typical with some children with Autism.  Her front teeth actually wore down to the point where she couldn't bite into firm pieces of food, and she was begging me to ask the doctor to have all four of those teeth pulled.  They came out recently on their own, thank God, but I don't know how much longer she could have gone on like that.  I suspect if she doesn't stop with her new teeth, she'll have dentures before she's 15 years old.

One description of this behavior is that the children are sort of stuck at the sensory-motor phase, which is when you would see babies mouthing objects, using stereotypic-nonintended ways to interface and interact with objects or rather learn about them and stimulate their sensory needs.

Unfortunately, my daughter, even though she's 7 1/2 years old, doesn't have the typical ability to retain and understand safety concerns and safety rules at the same time that she has the urges to satisfy her immediate sensory needs, and she doesn't have the verbal skills to be able to tell me when she needs her sensory input to be satisfied.  I have to watch for cues before her behavior goes too far, much like in the previous post about watching for cues about sensory overload.  The trick from here on out is to give her a continuous sensory diet, and to teach her how to give herself a safe sensory diet when I'm not able to help her immediately as well as teaching her better impulse control.  I've said it before, I'll keep on saying it.  She may be 7 1/2 years old, she may be going into second grade, but she's still like a toddler in so many ways.

All of that said, she completed Summer Session today! In less eloquent terms, summer school for second grade as she was leaving first grade behind as part of her IEP (individual education plan).  To make it more palatable for her we've been calling it Second Grade Camp.  It's been a long month.  Every morning getting up to catch the bus at 7:30 and coming home at 12:30 for lunch.  It's been really hard on her, but she did really well.  I'm really proud of her.  Now we have a full month left of vacation and Mr His Highness is even going to take a full week off to join us in August.  .

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Family Outing For Groceries

Or rather, "Taking Autism Out Of The House."

Husband: Hey, let's get out of the house today.  Let's all go run to the store to get a few groceries. 
Her Highness:  Hmmm, it would be easier and faster and less expensive if I go by myself. 
Husband:  Nah, we all need to get out.  Let's go. 
Her Highness:  Fine.  Let's go.  But Princess #2 doesn't want to go, so it might be touch and go. 
Husband:  (in spite of past evidence to the contrary) She'll be fine!

So yeah, the first part of the trip goes smashingly well.  But she becomes increasingly agitated and I know the signs.  She's still cute, but the signs are there to my trained eye.  She's becoming hyper-stimulated to sights, sounds, smells, voices, and heaven knows what else.  Husband thinks she's doing a great job and she is... but we need to get her little butt out of there before all hell breaks loose.  Her signs that things are going to go downhill look like "cute" little misbehaviors that people are chuckling at.  She notices this, and it's not encouraging her.  It's just making her realize that ZOMG!!! Oh NOES! Peoplz are Staring!!!!11!1! This begins to really agitate her and the signs just get to be worse, but my other daughters and my husband are oblivious.

All I want is an Advil and a drink.  My mouth feels like a glue stick.  I manage to keep her Grabby Grabby Goober hands busy and her from darting away by holding her wrist and playing a shopping game.  I let her sneak her lactose-free chocolate into the cart when Daddy isn't looking.  I let her grab a quart of lactose-free vanilla ice cream.  I coax her, I respond to her silly conversations, and I smile when people tell me I have the patience of a saint as my 9 year old nags in the background about how she's not allowed to spend her gift card on edible things and should wait until she can choose something that will last more than a couple of hours before she poops it out.

Then we stand in line and the struggle to find either a line without candy and junk food or a line that's  moving quickly begins.  We managed to find a fast-moving line, hallelujah.  I think our Autism Angel was watching out for us today, at least for a little while.

But I think we overworked our poor Autism Angel.  Because on the way home from Evil Walmart Corporation we stopped at Price Chopper for deli.  She freaked the hell out as we pulled in, but Daddy really needed deli and Her Highness has been battling a migraine for a few days now thanks to really crappy weather.  There was no way I was coming back out in this hot, muggy weather with a dizzying migraine for fricking deli, milk, bread, and strawberries.  But as we pressed our luck, freak out she did.  And I did what no parent is supposed to do in order to get good behavior from a tantruming child.

I bribed her.

"Honey, how would you like to show Daddy where we get your buffalo chicken wings?"
"Let's go! Then I'll eat some!"

Magic.  But then she knew we were going to the deli.  We went to the deli earlier in the week and she was magnificent.  She had a sample of ham.  She remembered this and demanded that we get ham and she get another sample.  That was The Most Important Thing.  Somehow as she cradled her container of fresh buffalo chicken from the cafe at Price Chopper, she tantrumed over the fact that we weren't magically and immediately transported to the counter that produces black forest ham.

For realz, yo.

We get there, she gets her ham because the deli people love her but they've never seen her like this and they're terrified of her.  She's ranting and screaming, and people waiting for their deli products innocently are expecting her head to start spinning and spewing demon vomit.


Princess #1 decides to try to help, and she does, but then Daddy tries to help and makes matters worse.  Somehow he's become her object of rage.  Daddy is Evil.  Daddy is her Obstacle to Ham even though he totally caved on the buffalo chicken wings.

I pull her aside to calm her down and chastize her for acting like a wild person in public, telling her how unacceptable the tantrum is, and simultaneously giving the deli lady our order because Husband doesn't know what we need.  I have to stimulate her physically so I give her "soft tickles" up and down her arms while I'm talking, and she's soothed.  We move on.  I keep a tight clamp on her wrist.  I let her choose the flavor for her yogurt and her soymilk and let her "help" choose the few remaining items we need to keep her focused.  Things are good.

Then we get to the check out and suddenly she hates Daddy again. The tantrum-like behavior starts up again and she's That Kid and I'm That Mom and I have to raise my voice so that the cashier can hear me and I hand my husband the checkbook so he can hear what he needs to do.  He gave me the checkbook and decided he was going to try to calm her down and then take her outside but that was making her rabid and she was beginning to hyperventilate.  I had to shout to put her down, then gave him the checkbook again and grabbed her wrists and shouted in her face, "WE'RE GOING OUTSIDE NOW, STOP SCREAMING."

As we walked out I clamped on her wrist again and talked to her in a firm voice telling her how inappropriate her behavior was, but how I understood how upset she was.  I reminded her of the fruit and chicken we bought for her and how it was great that we were going home now just like she wanted.  She was suddenly a different child.  Slowing breath, slowing tears, head down, still grumbling, but allowing me to lead her.  Not the most agreeable attitude, but allowing me to lead her.  Shortly after, Husband followed behind with the other two girls and she flipped out again, so I turned her away and kept walking her toward the car.

"Oh look! The car! Let's keep going!"

We get all packed in and are headed home, and she's holding her biggest prize: the buffalo chicken.  She wants to eat it in the car but doesn't want to ruin her pink booster seat or her pink shirt, so she agreed with rude face-making to wait until we got home to eat it.

Husband: "You should have gone shopping by yourself."
Her Highness: "No, really?"

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Italian By Proxy or YUM A SALAD!

A few years ago a friend introduced me to the joys of tomato and cucumber salad.  Why I never thought of that combination before I'll never know, but since then it's been one of my favorites.  The basic salad was just cucumbers, tomatoes, and Italian dressing. 

But oh... it can be so. much. more.  So I tweaked my own dressing recipe for it and it's become something that I bring to picnics by special request.  The recipe below is what I make for my own family, but I double it when I bring it to a picnic or a party. 

Italian Tomato Cucumber Salad:
1 dry pint Roma plum tomatoes OR grape tomatoes
1 large cucumber
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil; or a blend)
1 tsp Italian seasoning OR several freshly chopped basil leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp powdered garlic OR equal fresh crushed then finely chopped garlic.
1.  Cut cucumber in half longways. 
2.  Cut each cucumber half into half again, longways. 
3.  Slice cucumbers down into bite sized chunks; they'll be shaped like triangles.  Test the bite sizes to make sure they're  only one bite and not larger. 
4.  Place cucumber chunks into medium sized bowl.
5.  If you're using Roma tomatoes, cut them the same way as the cucumbers.  If you're using grape tomatoes simply cut them in half the long way, diagonally. 
6.  Place tomatoes into the bowl with the cucumbers, then gently toss until blended evenly.
7.  Put all of the dressing ingredients into an airtight container with a tight lid and shake well, or give a good whiz in a mini food processor.
8.  Pour the dressing all over cucumbers and tomatoes, then cover and place in refrigerator for a minimum of two hours.  Best if chilled to marinate overnight.
9.  Stir before serving.

Serving suggestions
1.  Serve as is as a salad or a side salad..
2.  Serve on top of a greens salad. 
3.  Just before serving add freshly cut chunks of fresh mozzarella from the local deli. 
4.  While cutting up tomatoes and cucumbers, you can also coarsely chop a small-to-medium Vidalia onion and add it to the salad.
5.  Of course you can cheat and use your favorite brand of bottled Italian dressing ;-).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gratitude Sunday

On this hot, sunny Sunday I'm very grateful...
  1. For air conditioning.  
  2. For my daughters.
  3. For my husband.
  4. For getting to stay in bed until 3:00 to try to get rid of this migraine.
  5. For when the girls get along and don't fight.
  6. For when the fridge and pantry are full.
  7. For clean laundry.
  8. For good neighbors.
  9. For good friends.
  10. That the appraisal is over and we'll get the results of it soon.
  11. When the girls go to bed on time.
  12. When the girls let me sleep.
  13. For cleaning products that work.
  14. For coffee.
  15. For Advil.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Home Improvement With Purpose

You would be surprised what you'll actually critique and let go about your home when the time comes to get it appraised.  Refinancing is serious shit. Two or three hundred dollars a month might not sound much per month, but add it up and you've got a whopping... ::counts on fingers:: ... $2400-3600 minimum per year "extra" that can go toward bills and groceries or a date night every now and then.  That's a lot of easing up and it's more than a supposed "cost of living" raise would be these days.  If a company even decides to have a cost of living raise that year.

We had our appraisal appointment this past Monday and it seemed to have gone well but we'll find out in a few days.  We slathered on paint in all of the downstairs rooms and did a lot of repairs.  Fixed stairs, fixed toilets, put up nice curtains.  There was a lot of decluttering.  A lot of scouring.  But other than mowing the lawn, we let the landscaping lapse.  Luckily the appraiser said that landscaping doesn't really add any value to the house, but things like the original oak flooring being in excellent shape is valuable.  Original oak trim is valuable.  Our new fridge and the new-ish cabinets in the kitchen that the previous owners put it are valuable.  The fence we put in a few years ago was a great move.  All of the lush green foliage that acts like extra fencing giving lots of privacy in the backyard is good.  The structure is good.  My room was probably the only room I didn't have the energy to clean.  I just lost the will to clean any more.  He didn't even care.  He had this little digital laser device that measured the rooms for him from one or two vantage points and he wanted to know about any improvements we had made or that had been made right before we moved in.

Now that it's done I want to edge my yard, do some landscaping, plant some flowers and bushes, and concentrate on the outdoors.  Stretch my legs, so to speak.  Home improvement is rewarding, especially if there's a reward for it, but it's exhausting week after week and day after day.  It's time to be lazy.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Moms, Kids, and Alcohol

To the bloke who accidentally tasted grape juice after it fermented a while and didn't toss it but realized it was a Very Good Thing, thank you.  Without you, mothers all over the world would not be sane.  Although now that I think about it, it was probably a mother who discovered the fermented grape juice.  It had to be.  Who else would even have fermented grape juice laying around anyway?

Hmm.  Gee.  A mother with kids, that's who.  A mothers with kids who leave their toys, clothes, games, dishes, and CUPS OF JUICE laying about .  As much as we try to slave, mothers through the ages still miss a few cups here and there and I would bet it was no different with ancient mummies (see what I did there?).

So in the end, I suppose we really have our kids to thank for driving us to drink.  They started it all.  History.  We are doomed to repeat it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


I'm so happy that my life is not a literal soap opera.  Well, I suppose sometimes it can be,  More often than not it's a sitcom.  I'm catching up on my soaps and as much as I enjoy them I'm happy I don't live in Llanview or Port Charles.

Speaking of: on OLTL, why in the hell would they make Elijah be Bennett Thompson? That's about the suckiest twist in all of soaphood.  I'm completely pissed off.  He's one of my favorite characters and now he's a bad guy? Screw you OLTL!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Today Show's Root Beer Chicken

Right now I'm watching the Today Show with Hoda and Kathy Lee.   They just showed how to make root beer chicken.  They literally put a can of opened root beer in a pan and shoved it up a spiced chicken's butt and called that Root Beer Chicken because "kids love it."  Yeah, I bet.  The recipe is supposed to be a can of alcoholic beer shoved up a chicken's butt but the guest on the program wanted to make it "kid friendly."  No wonder the producers are always giving Kathy Lee and Hoda wine and wine coolers to drink on that show.  They need it to get through the morning.  And I never thought I'd say this, but I sort of wish I was Kathy Lee.  No, I take that back.  I wish I was Hoda.  Then I could smack Kathy Lee and still get to drink in the mornings and get paid butt loads of money and be on TV.

I'm not even going to count how many times I used the word butt/but in this post.  I was going to use "ass" but didn't want to write it that many times in such a short post.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Fun (Evil) Mothers

This is not about evil mothers-in-law or evil adult moms.  This is how fun it is to be evil to your children, but in a good way.  No, that's not an oxymoron.

"Hey Mommy, look what I found under the fridge! I went under the fridge and pulled this out."
"How did you fit under the fridge?"
"Uh, what? I found this under the fridge."
"Yes, you said that.  How did you get under the fridge?"
"I put my hand under the fridge to pull it out."
"Phew, I thought we had a problem there for a minute."

Instead of losing my temper when my kids hit The Loopback and get stuck in it (you know what I'm talking about) I've discovered something that stops them in confusion.

::la di da Mommy is cooking supper::
"Mommy! I want to go outside! I wanna go outside now!"
"I'm sorry honey, it's almost supper time.  You're going to have to wait."
"I want to go outside! I waited!"
"Honey, be patient.  I have to cook supper and stand here or it'll burn."
::two minutes pass::
"Mommy I was patient! I want to go outside! I'll eat outside! Now! I want to go outside now!"
Lather, rinse repeat.  And repeat.  And repeat.
"Mommy! Mommy! You're  not listening! You said to wait! I want to go outside and PLAY! I want.."
"AAAAAND END SCENE! Time for act two."
"Um, what?"
"Great performance. ::golf clap:: But it's time for an intermission.  Supper is just about ready.  Go practice for the next scene."
"Mommy, what you talking 'bout?"
"You go think about it for a while."

It works for the older kids too.  Not just the 5 year olds stuck in The Loopback.

You can also have a lot of fun with the special needs kids.  No, no, hear me out.  I'm talking actual fun, not making fun of fun.  My middle daughter who is currently 7 years old, likes word games but she has some trouble understanding nuances in language.  She's currently really enjoying rhyming words, words with dual meaning (left hand and left out), words that sound the same but have different spellings and different meaning (heir and air).  She finds toilet words very funny, especially if they're inserted into silly nicknames like Poopsie Pie.  Because you know, poop.  Ha ha.  Play on words is tough for her, especially things like similes and metaphors are nearly impossible for her to understand.

"Oh man, honey, I'm so hungry I could eat your leg."
::horrified silence:: "You not gonna eat my legs.  You make your own lunch."

"Your hair is so pretty, I wish I had your hair,"
"You're not cutting off my hair.  You have your own.  Go buy a wig."

"Wow, it's so hot today it feels like I'm sitting under a sweaty cow's fanny."
::stunned silence:: "A... cow sat on you?" ::looks around for evil cow that might come around and sit on her too::

"Ugh, my head hurts so much it's going to explode, I need some Advil."
"But then you have no brain! I don't like cleaning."

"It's so hot outside, my butt is on fire."
::checks my ass to make sure there's no fire, then brings me some water just in case::

"Life  is a bowl of cherries."
"Uhhh... what?"

Most of the time I forget that she doesn't understand until I see a blank or horrified face, but sometimes it's just good old fashioned Evil Fun to play those word games with her.  In those instances, yay autism! It can be fun for something! Before you jump me in a dark alley, please do a search of my blog with the words "Autism" and "Asperger" to see just how seriously I take Autism.

Recently I took some advice from some friends when my eldest daughter started the whole bunch of them slamming doors to punctuate tantrums.  I stuck wash cloths in the tops of the doors so they couldn't slam.  The looks on their faces were priceless.  We recently took the cloths out since the habit stopped, but I'm evil enough that I hope they start up again so that I can stick the wash cloths in the doors again without telling them to watch them try to slam a door.

I steal their Halloween candy and Easter candy too.  But that's more delicious rather than fun.


Friday, July 02, 2010

P-chew! P-chew! Evil Fruit

Hey, do you remember that little tidbit about checking your bread bin for Death Potatoes? Yeah, well, that applies to checking your fruit drawer for little shriveled bastard peaches, evil little strawberries that have gone so bad they have little white beards and black hats, and formerly magnificent apples that now resemble magic eye marbles. 

My fruit drawer, bad fruit... I has it.  It's not like it's even a lot of fruit, but little bits of everything that have just accumulated under plastic bags.  The kids have a bad habit of leaving the plastic fruit bags in the fridge when the fruit is done instead of throwing the bags out, and the part of me that's lazy puts the new bags of fruit right on top.

And another thing.  Grapes do not turn into raisins if they dry out in your fridge.  They just... don't.  Trust me.  

Gratitude Friday

On this amazingly lovely, sunny, mild Friday afternoon, I am grateful...

  1. For, as always, my three amazingly precocious daughters.
  2. For my hard-working, handsome husband.
  3. For my wonderful, kind, and generous friends and family.
  4. For our military members, past and present, who have sacrificed their lives and careers for the liberties and freedoms that we are privileged to have today.
  5. For spellchecker because I always forget how to spell privileged.
  6. For scientists and science and technology.  I wouldn't make a very good pre-modern-era woman.  
  7. That the new chore charts have been working for (going on) three weeks.  
  8. For the fun that is soap operas, and DVR's so I can record them and watch them any old time I want which is usually all at once, once a month.
  9. For IEP's and summer session school so that we don't have to pay the $300+ fees for summer session for Princess #2.
  10. That although I wouldn't wish Autism on anyone or their child, there are other parents going through the same thing we are.
  11. For Murphy's Oil Soap
  12. For payment plans.
  13. For the convenience of grocery stores because honestly, I'm not a farm girl.  There's no way in the world I'd be cleaning up cow pucky, feeding pigs slop, shearing sheep, and waking up at 4:30 every morning or delivering foals and calves in the middle of the night.  Nor would I be any good at harvesting my fruits and veggies.  I have the brownest thumb on the planet.  If it's not self-sufficient, it will die or live in it's own filth.  Barring my own children and cats, of course.
  14. For Farmville, for allowing me to believe that at least online I have a chance of raising something green even if I occasionally "wither" plants, and never ever have to feed my animals.
  15. For Charmin Ultra Soft.  Truly and honestly.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday Gratitude Journal

On this cloudy and quiet Saturday I’m grateful…

1.        For my three daughters, especially when they’re obedient and treating each other like people.
2.       For my husband, who is one of the hardest workers I know.
3.       For my two sweet cats, especially Luna, who we could have lost last week when she got out of the house.
4.       That today isn’t so hot that it’s soaring into the upper 80-90’s.  It’s actually comfortable today.
5.       That our living room is done and looks gorgeous.  It’s my new favorite room in the house.
6.       For having a computer that works now.  Her name is Vivienne.  J
7.       That I finished painting the front porch as best as possible, and then Mr. His Highness finished the spots I couldn’t reach.
8.       When I hear yummy noises from the girls after serving supper. J
9.       For good music.
10.    For having a great hair stylist.  William at Hairdesser On Fire rocks. 
11.     That I have such wonderful friends.
12.     That my eldest daughter has great friends in her Girl Scout troop.  She gets along with every single girl. 
13.     For comfy mom-pants.
14.    For cute flip flops.
15.     For limited time span on summer vacation.  J

Monday, June 21, 2010

Top Chef: DC

I've never watched before but this season I have to.  I know Angelo.  :-).  He dated my husband's kid sister for many years all through high school and college.  One of his older sisters is married to my husband's best friend, and her in-laws are very good friends with my husband's parents.  We all spent countless weekends hanging out and watching movies and just talking.  Angelo is such a great guy... I'm bothered that all of that editing out-of-context editing is making him look egotistical to some people because he's not.  He's just confident.  I hope he wins.  He's worked hard his whole life for this and he deserves it.  And he's a genuine nice guy.  I promise.

Go Angelo! 

Friday, June 18, 2010

The View On Facebook

Like everyone else on the planet, The View has a Facebook page.  They post what's to come and any guest hosts they're expecting as their status, and then update it with teasers of things their guests and guest hosts and hosts blah blah blah said.  You get the picture.  It's hard not to.  

First off, let me just be upfront and say that I'm a View Purist and am completely a View Fan Pre Rosie Era from Lisa Ling onward.  Even the early Elizabeth days were great.  I love Whoopie, but it just doesn't have the same vibe that it did back in it's first few years.  I'm thinking that may be coloring my own View on this.  

 But the statuses are annoying as f@&#.  Take today, for instance.  "Who has it easier - moms on Father's Day or dads on Mother's Day?"

Really? Are you serious? THAT was the best  you could do for Father's Day? How about how Piddly Diddy or whatever he's calling himself these days gave his son a $350K car for his 16th birthday, and whether or not that's good fathering?   But "Who has it easier - moms on Father's Day or dads on Mother's Day" is what they chose to ask.  Yes, let's be divisive and make it into a competition.  Who gets screwed more on their respective honoree holidays as well as the ones where the other parent gets honored! Whoo hoo! Let's wave that red flag and bring in the bulls!

Of course sometimes it's a good question.  Yesterday's was "What's your take on Cameron Diaz's comment about 2 women having sex with each other? Watch today's clip and chime in with which co-host you agree with!" I'll save you some time.  She basically said that a woman can experience having sex with another woman without being a lesbian.  But the cohosts discussed how this is a double standard between men and women.  If a woman experiments in college but dates men forever and ever after, she's hetero.  If a man experiments in college and dates women forever after, he's bisexual or gay.  And that if a woman were to find out about him having had sex with a man, she would be less likely to continue dating him but a man wouldn't have the same issues if he found out a woman had sex with another woman before him.  

The thing is with that status question, you had to really follow a trail and then watch some long clips because of the vagueness of the question itself.  That's annoying.  Way to get traffic to the show's site and to get people to watch the show's clips.  What does that do, boost ratings? 

Anyway, I guess that's a bit of a rant.  I reserve the right to add to this later. 

Toy Story 3 + 3 = No Go

I'd love to take all 3 girls to see Toy Story 3.  So would Mr. His Highness.  So would Pryncess #1 and Pryncess #3.  However, there's a snag in the plans.

Pryncess #2, my darling girl with Autism, absolutely, unequivocally, undoubtedly, most certainly does not want to go.  Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are the reasons why she has trouble sleeping in her own bed in her own room at night.  She shares a room with her little sister, and while the room is nice and tidy and a minimal as it can be for two little girls, my youngest loves to decorate her bed with dolls and stuffed animals.  They have a toy chest.  They have, well, toys.  

And Grace is scared to death of the thought that her toys might come alive after she falls asleep or leaves the room.  We've had to get rid of toys, as in get rid of them completely out of the house, because she thought a particular toy was staring at her.  The eyes were "wrong" or the face just wasn't looking at her appropriately.  And it all led back to Toy Story. 

It took us years to figure that one out.  It took us a while to catch on this time as to why she's taken to being scared of her own room again lately.  She's afraid of every little noise, even the ones she knows.  If she starts the night out in her bed, by the time 3:30 am rolls around she's shaking like a leaf and sleeping in my bed with me.  It all started around the time the trailers for Toy Story 3 came out.  It was confirmed when my husband started asking if I thought it was a good idea to take the girls, and the other two became excited but Grace became more quiet than usual.  I asked her what she thought of going to see Toy Story 3, and it all came gushing out.  She had tears in her eyes and told me she was afraid of Toy Story 3.  We can't even walk past the toys from the movie in the store without her shaking in fear.  She has begged us not to allow her sisters to get any of the toys from the movie. 

Who ever thinks that people with Autism don't have an imagination is so misinformed.  You'd be surprised how many people believe it, though.  But it's imagination paired with a very literal interpretation of the movies.  She believes those movies even as she believes you when you tell her they're just pretend.

She has begged for me to stay with her while her Daddy takes her sisters to the movie.  She's not 100% sold on movie theaters to begin with, but I might see if she'll choose another movie to see.  The problem is that it's very much a sensory overload with the surround sound, the loudness, the brightness, and the size of the movie screen.  It's so busy that it might not work out, so we may end up just having a special afternoon together with some Subway. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

2nd Chance For Mark: Liver Disease

If you're thinking about looking up that old friend, don't just think about it.  Do it.  Don't give up, either.  If you know they have siblings at least try to pass along a message through them if you can.  It's worth it if it means you can let them know how much they meant to you.  It's even more valuable than a wave.  And it just might be important to them too.  It might even be a matter of life and death.

Yesterday was a difficult day.  In addition to finding out about the other friend, I found out that a very good, old friend from high school is in some serious shape from advanced liver disease.  He's one of the kindest, most genuine people one could ever meet.  He was a year behind me in the class of 1993 at Berlin High School in Connecticut.  

Here's the Facebook page that his older brother started:

2nd Chance For Mark (click here to go directly to the Facebook Page)
Mark is 34 years old and has had a rough go of it. He experimented a bit in college and paid the ultimate price. While his friends went on to be healthy, he developed Hepatitis C. He went swimming in a fresh water pond and got cut on a rock, he got a flesh eating bacteria that left a foot long 3-inch wide scar on his leg. Mark was married and while driving with his wife, he was rear-ended by an uninsured motorist driving a U-Haul. The accident severely damaged his back. He was told that spinal fusion was an answer. A lot of hardware was installed, manipulated and 3 surgeries later removed from his back leaving him in pain during sitting and standing positions and unable to lift anything of consequence.

Mark started drinking to numb the pain and the alcohol accelerated the Hep-C beyond what he ever expected. He wasn't a drunk, his liver just couldn't handle alcohol. His liver began to shut down rapidly this year leaving him 50 pounds lighter due to his inability to digest anything and he developed ascites. Several paricentisis and hospital visits later and he has been hospitalized for nearly a month. His levels are all over the place and his kidneys are breaking down due to excess stress.
Livers can be transplanted from living donors and the host and recipient can re-grow them to full size in weeks. Mark had quit drinking months ago and has passed all of his psych evaluations as a recipient. Unfortunately, the instability of his endocrine and other systems puts him at a high risk for tragedy, He's in intensive care and is afraid he'll never make it home again.

If you are that one in a million who is both a willing donor and has blood type O+, please email me on Facebook (Kevin Brigandi) and we'll discuss the options. If you are everyone else, please sign a donor card and learn more about this topic. You may be able to save a family member or friend someday or another stranger who is simply too young to die and deserves a second chance.

Please, if you're touched by Mark's story and think you might be a match and are willing to get tested to help him, please do more than just consider it.  

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

That Wave "Hello" Matters

I found out last night from a friend that an old classmate friend from middle school and high school, who was a very close friend to a lot  of people that I know well, died on Monday.  I found out this morning that she committed suicide.  It's felt dark, confusing, emotional, sad.  It was shocking, even to those who knew her well.  The family will not be holding a public service.  People are refraining from publicly posting on Facebook exactly what the cause of death was. 

I'll admit here that my spiritual beliefs make it very, very difficult for me to accept suicide as anything other than escapist.  I feel so much hurt and anger for her family and close friends that I have bitter tears and a lump in my throat.  She damaged herself in such a permanent way as to never be able to fix it.  And because of my spiritual beliefs I don't think that whatever problems she felt she was ending are over.  I think that they follow you to be coped with and worked through.  

That is not to say that I don't believe she wasn't in emotional agony, and probably even some mental illness.  You can't be in your right mind to decide to kill yourself.  It's not normal.  The normal instinct is to survive and live.  So I do have compassion for what she must have been going through.  And the pain she was in, the distance she must have been feeling from family and friends and even herself must have been so great... and if she believed in God, her distance from him must have been so great that she felt absolutely hopeless.  But suicide.. it's one of those things that puts you and keeps you at a spiritual distance from God, and I believe from Heaven.  

I hope that there's an afterlife, and I hope that there's a Heaven so that she has a chance to work out whatever pain she felt when she died.  I can't imagine going through that sort of thing for eternity.

I realize how capricious that sounds, how trite.  How nearly judgmental.  But I don't intend it to be.  I'm just so sad and I'm trying to keep my brain busy to get some of the thoughts expressed.  I'm trying to make some sense of this.  I want her to be all right.  I don't want for this, this life to have been all of it.  I don't want her death to be how she's remembered.  She was a bright, happy girl and turned into a bright woman, happy and charming and always smiling.  She was funny and social.  I know she had some personal problems... but anything, anything at all can be fixed with time and with help.  I wish someone had noticed that she needed help.  I wish she had said something.  All I know now is that she extinguished a light that many, many people are missing already.

It makes me think about my own place, and how many people rely on me.  My daughters.  My husband.  Who else knows what they like? What they need? All of their appointments? Their routines and schedules? Who knows the most minute details about the girls that matter the most if I weren't here? Who would even know to try to figure out to learn all of those things? Especially my special needs daughter.  Who would sit and contribute on her PPT meetings? Who would advocate for her on a daily basis? Who would teach her about her own Autism? Who would be her Mommy and instinctively try different things until finally hitting on the "right" thing? Who will maintain the girls' relationships with both sides of the family? Remember birthdays? Coordinate parties? Plan their birthdays?

And it makes me think about how many people might be taking me for granted today, and how many more of my friends I might be taking for granted.  I'm never doing that again.  I'm never, ever taking my friends or family for granted again and I want them to know how much I love them and need them.  How special they are, even if they're someone I just play a game with on Facebook or wave hello to when I'm running to my car.  I want people to know that when they wave hello back from their front porch, it matters to me.  It makes me feel good.  I always wave hello, and if you wave to me I always wave back.