Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In True Debbie Fashion...

..I am going to apologize if I worried anyone with my sentiments yesterday. (SORRY, R! Haha) It felt good to type them out.

We ended up having a really nice day of doing nothing special. I invited the neighbors' kids over, (to which the father responded in a surprised but thrilled tone, 'Are you serious?!'), we performed a few puppet shows in our new theater, played a few musical jam sessions, and spent some much-needed time in the backyard. And M pumped his legs on the swing for the first time!! He actually did it! I was so proud of him and could tell that he was pretty proud of his new skill as well. He even dared so much as to lean waaaaay back while swinging, which I wasn't quite as excited about, though I did remind myself that he is a boy and boys should do that sort of thing. (and of course, he wasn't really very high after all)

When the neighbors were ready to retire to their own home, they wanted the boys to come in to see their toys which resulted in an impromptu cocktail hour for the grownups. And as it turned out, some of the neighbors' friends were there and were joking with one another about buying a house in our view whose construction had been halted. I said, 'Heeeeyyyyy, you could buy the house right next door!' The wife said sheepishly, 'Oh my gosh, I had just said to my husband that it would be so great if we could buy that one.'

So you just never know, huh? I'm not holding my breath, but maybe this is our time for a little stroke of luck.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's Like This...

I am scared.

I am worried.

I am currently not blissful.

I feel like I am trapped in a web I cannot get out of and even though I see the ledge. right. there. I cannot *quite* reach it to pull myself out of the stickiness that entangles me.

These are the thoughts that fill my head:

-What if this move last April just happened to coincide with a regression that M was destined to have?

-What if the biomedical interventions we started at the beginning of '08 (gfcf diet, natural supplements, yeast and bacteria treatment) have screwed with his system rather than helping it?

-What if the bloody nose B has had the last couple of nights, paired with the low grade fever is something really scary like cancer? (I know, I know. Sounds ridiculous, but when you have one child with a brain disorder and a second who seems to be typical, you are unfortunately always waiting for the other shoe to drop)

-What if I decide to finally give B the MMR shot, and even though I'd separate it, it was the thing that sent him into an autistic regression? (*note: M was not a child who showed autistic regression after a vaccine, though I do not discount the fact that he could have underlying genetic predispositions that caused that very first vaccine at 5 days old to affect him. M has shown signs of autism since he was an infant)

-What if M's real issue isn't even really autism? We are getting the wheels in motion to do genetic testing, as I have a strong feeling we may be dealing with something like fragile x syndrome or something mitochondria-related.

-What if the boys, pets and I move back to the mother ship and the other half isn't able to sell this house in a reasonable amount of time?

-What if he does get an offer on the house, but it means losing a shite load of our money that we put into it?

-What if California finally has 'the big one' and our house is ruined, leaving us with years more of entrapment in fighting for the funds to rebuild it? (yes, this one does cross my mind given the interesting luck I seem to attract)

-What if something were to happen to me or the other half? How would we handle that?

It is easy to say that one should let the universe handle these concerns rather than continuing to focus on them myself, but it is hard. Really effing hard.

I am in a constant struggle within my own head to try and shut myself up. As I'm typing this I am even qualifying these thoughts--to myself, mind you--and reminding myself that there are so many people that have things way harder than we do. I am somewhat ashamed to type my thoughts here because of this. It is hard to be honest about one's fears when you also realize that you have so much. But these fears are mine, (and so is this blog-ha!), so there you have it.

The other half and I share more wordless moments lately when we are just trying to take a load off on the couch and the chaos around us is deafening.

We make attempts to do fun things as a family that always seem to have their highs and lows...the lows being inevitable, senseless meltdowns on M's part or defiance on B's. We (or at least I, because I am able to admit these sorts of things) feel a bit sorry for ourselves sometimes. Why can't we have an easy family outing ever?

I mentioned to the other half that 'we are totally overwhelmed.' My comment was met with anger. He snapped back, 'That is a defeatist attitude and I will not accept it!'

I wonder if in reality he feels overwhelmed, too, but because we are different in many ways, we treat these feelings differently. I, being an open book, wear my emotions on my sleeve. He, being elusive and mysterious, is not this way though I imagine that deep inside he really feels the same as I do.

Well, it would seem that James Joyce's stream of consciousness has taken over my brain today! I never liked that guy's work. In other words...I'll shut up now :)



And with that.....

I do send these thoughts out to the universe and away from my mind if but for a day!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Changes Are A-Brewin'...

...can you feel that?

I can.

Better make your plans to come visit me in this beautiful place before it is too late.
You just never know what might happen next.

And I could use a really good excuse to go the wine country for a day or two.

Seriously...book your tickets. Pronto!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Where In The World Is Debbie?

Sorry, faithful four readers. I have been out of blogging mode for a few weeks now. Every single day I think of something to blog about, but the snot that has filled my head for the last five days has apparently also penetrated my brain with nothing but whiny thoughts. So for your sake, I will leave you instead with a sweet video of my boys during an early 2nd birthday celebration we had while back on the mother ship. M absolutely loves the happy birthday song, so we sang it to him too! Hope everyone's holiday is merry and bright. And snot-free.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On Meeting Strangers...


I was just reading another blog I frequent (Cage Free Family) about this family from Austin who has given up pretty much everything to live and travel with their two children and two dogs in an RV, while searching for peace, adventure, and organic foods along the way. It's a pretty amazing concept, and one I fantasize about, but know that my materialistic desires could never succeed in accomplishing.
Anyhow, the author spoke of meeting strangers and how she tries to do it every single day. I am this way. My father is this way. I meet people in grocery store lines or post offices and I can strike up a conversation in just about any setting. I half joke that if you put me in front of a wall I could have a conversation with it. My other half thinks this is a bizarre and somewhat annoying habit. It is one of many ways we are quite different from one another, though he does give in and participate in my fun when we are visiting foreign countries. (When in Rome, eh?)

When reading Cage Free Family's recent post, I realized I'd not yet shared the story of our adventure in Arizona where we met four amazing women who were probably in their late 50s to 60s at a winery. While we were tasting, the person working the wine room jokingly said that if we were looking for some fun people to hang out with the four women on the other side of the room were a hoot. We later went over to where they sat for a brief photo opportunity that lead into an evening of hilarity and honesty with some really beautiful women. After we took pictures of each other in various wine-drinking poses, one of the women announced that she was going to perform a song for us. So out of no where, she begins to sing this fabulous Broadway-esque tune for us. My friend, R, just had to chime in about my love for singing and I was soon 'talked into' a song of my own. (Note: I do not do private performances! I am much less intimidated by a crowd of people and bright lights shining in my face than I am of singing for only a few who have their eyes glued. right. on. me. AGH!)
We followed them to the next winery where we laughed and told stories; took more photos, and drank more wine. The ladies had plans to meet their husbands for dinner and take in a local show. They suggested a restaurant for us to try and told us to come back to where they were eating afterward for karaoke. After a failed attempt to get into the restaurant, we ended up back at their place where they'd saved us two spots just in case. More giggling ensued and then a turning point in the conversation. Somehow I mentioned that R and I had become friends because our sons were in the same preschool for children with special needs. The woman who'd sung the song at the winery was in shock, and admitted sheepishly that earlier she'd been watching us thinking how carefree, young and happy we were. It was a reminder to all of us that so often things aren't *quite* as they seem. We all have stories. We all have burdens to bear. And sometimes we all need a little time to be a bit like our old selves and kick up our heels for a moment or two. That is what this trip did for me, and I am grateful.

To make a long story longer, we ended up going back to the home of one the women. They'd missed their play and we were all having too good a time to care. We drank wine, then coffee. We took silly pictures in front of their fireplace. I was talked into singing another song. We talked about serious stuff. We talked about not-so-serious stuff. We looked at family photos. We exchanged email addresses and made promises to keep in touch. It was like hanging out with family that you actually liked. It was lovely, and I'm so glad we did it.

When telling the other half about our adventure his response was, 'I can pretty much guarantee I would never do something like that.'

'I know,' I said. 'We talked about that tonight!'

Take chances. Talk to new people. Life is too short not to.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Riddle Me This...

...Since moving here last April, I have 'lost' two wine bottle foil cutters and two beer bottle openers. All of these alcohol-related gadgets reside in the same 6"x8" drawer organizer along with the Screwpull, an OXO grip cork screw (that has the cork from some very cheap bottle of wine circa 1997 forever stuck in it; though it does still work!), some cutesie wine glass charms, a vacuvin, and two of those silver thingamabobs with the felt lining that you put over the neck of a bottle of red so as to not have red wine drippies on your table.

I chalked one of the foil cutters and one of the bottle openers up to ditzy misplacement. I was a bit suspicious of the other half when the second bottle opener--the one he uses for his Longboard Ales--disappeared, even though he swears he had nothing to do with it. But this latest foil cutter! The one I just purchased about a month ago to replace the replacement for the first 'lost' cutter that broke. Hmmm...maybe I should investigate the 'broken' cutter too. Seems a little to coincidental, don't you think?

But seriously, y'all, I think I may be going crazy here. I clearly recall putting this foil cutter back in its home this morning in my attempts to clean before the cleaners arrived.

Do my house cleaners have an affinity for booze-y gadgets?

Are the other half and I drinking too much and misplacing these things?

Are our five, bored-as-hell, underexercised, no-squirrels-here-to-chase, aging pets having toga parties after we go to bed, during which the cats bat these things around like balls of paper, and perhaps I should check under the couch to find them? (and yes, I know that was not a properly written sentence, thank you very much)

Because I am having a serious WTF over here and am 'bout ta start pointing some fingers!!

On The Topic Of The Ever-So-Ridiculous, How-Could-It-Be-Passed, Proposition 8

I think this is fantastic.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Monday, December 1, 2008

This Probably Shouldn't Be As Funny To Me As It Is

B cracks me up constantly. The kid is hysterical. Sometimes it is quite intentional, while others, not so much. We have started a new bedtime ritual whereby I blow him a kiss and tell him to catch it. He then blows me one and I pretend to watch it bounce off the walls until I can finally catch it. He thinks it is High-larious!
In response to our fun new game, he has decided to abbreviate his request for it.

His new constant phrase to me?

"Blow me? Mommy, blow me?"

The other half heard this for the first time last night and had a not-so-funny response which I will not bore you with here :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I've Lost My Funny

I've realized, as of late, that I've lost the edge to my writing. The ability to think of and then type out funny sorts of things. It's sort of like Dewey Cox in 'Walk Hard' when he says to his mother, 'Mama, I've gone smell blind!' I have apparently gone 'funny blind.'

Not funny, is it?

See?

We had a pleasant Thanksgiving here. It was just the four of us, which was kind of nice. I tried out several new recipes that were adjusted with rice milk, soy-based margarine and rice flour so as to make them gluten-free/casein-free. All in all, it turned out just fine, even though the thought of not using gobs of real butter was a bit appalling to this southern girl. The one thing that will not be repeated next year was the gfcf version of pumpkin pie. Its crust was made from gluten-free, honey corn flakes, and its filling (which the recipe warned would not solidify in the typical manner) was made with rice milk, instant hot rice cereal (for added texture) and then the other typical pumpkin pie ingredients. While it didn't taste bad per se, it was not the same as the good ol' pumpkin pie recipe on the back of the Libby's can of pumpkin. And the best part? M would not go near it with a 10-foot pole! B was happy to devour it, but I figure it was his first real Thanksgiving where his mouth was mature enough to eat such a thing...so what does he know?

We took both of the boys to get (much-needed) haircuts yesterday. I insisted this time upon going to the place that costs more money because they don't screw up their hair the way I, or the awful place I went to locally, do. I am proud to say that both boys are handsomely coiffed, and B doesn't have the giant rat's nest in the back that he has so popularly been sporting. Our plan after that was to take the kids to see Madagascar 2. We had quite a bit of time to kill, so we stopped off at Central Park in San Mateo. I highly recommend this park to anyone in the area. It is fantastic! We headed off to the theater with 30 minutes to spare before the movie started and yet it was still sold out. And so we ventured to another theater where it was again, sold out. This is not the first time I have had this problem when trying to take one of the kids to a movie. I usually purchase tickets online because of this, though we were still high on a bit of that turkey tryptophan clearly, and totally forgot. For any parent, this sort of disappointment is a big deal; but to a parent of a child with autism? Well...fuggeddabout it! M was beside himself, and there just aren't words available that can appropriately explain that sort of situation. Fortunately we were right by the zoo and made a quick left and were at another source of animal-filled entertainment. We were forgiven! Although poor B just wanted to see the elephants (last part rhymes with 'pants') and wouldn't you know, our zoo doesn't have any!

Wow...can you believe it's only Saturday? Just think of all the wondrous things I'll have to report back to you by Monday! I know...I can hardly wait either.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Success?

The other half and I made another attempt at the dreaded bum injection last night. I held my sweet, sleeping baby's arms down while the other half quickly administered the shot. He got all of the b-12 in as M sort of woke up, twisted his body toward us, and said, 'WAIT!' He then promptly went back to his deep sleep.

As we left the room muttering variations of 'this sucks,' the other half said, "It sure would have been a lot easier if he hadn't actually said a real word that we could understand!"

Poor kid. Here's hoping it works, and that Wednesday's shot is even easier.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Am No Nurse

Well, at least not in the technical, trained sense. I suppose all of us Moms play nurse in some capacity when raising children.

We have slowly (I mean reeeaaaaallllllyyyyy slowly) been reintroducing vitamin supplements into M's daily diet. Though we have not been one of the *lucky,* miraculously-responding patients of the biomedical approach to autism, it does resonate with me that M has some immune issues that could be improved with the addition of vitamins. I know what a daily regimen of vitamins does for me, so this is what I use to guide me in helping him.

However, one thing I did not plan for was having to give one of those supplements via injection. Many people have reported excellent results from b-12 injections. Better focus, less self-stimulating behaviors, and more words have all been seen as a result.
But, damn, if you don't have to give your child a needle in his bum every three days to try to get those results!

The other half tried it the first time and only got half of the vitamin in. I stupidly made an attempt by myself last night, during which, I tried to stick him three times and each time he swatted me with his hand, thus never allowing me to inject the medicine. Poor kid has three scratch marks on his bottom today, and who knows what kind of residual memories of someone on top of him, shooting a needle into him while he was sleeping. Gah!

We will make another attempt tonight, though we will do it jointly. I want to give these things an earnest effort in case it is something that really can help out little guy. Wish us luck. This sucks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Getting Away Is Good

I am sllleeeeeeeppppyyy from my trip, so 'Getting away is good' was as profound a statement I could come up with today. I got home yesterday evening after 4.5 fabulous (or 'fucktacular,' R's and my new favorite descriptor) days away. When speaking to the other half on the way home from the airport, he said in a somewhat flat tone that either implied exhaustion or a well-rehearsed line, 'My work is hard, but I now have a new respect for what you do.' Of course the next thing he said was, 'How long until you get here? Can I go get a beer?' But perhaps he did get a good picture of just how unfucktacular it can be to run this here household.

R and I were busy bees on this trip. I look forward to not being so groggy so that I can share all of our adventures with you. I don't think I got more than 7.5 hours of sleep on any given night as we were up and at 'em bright and early doing yoga, hiking, touring, or eating bacon. (I thought it was a good idea to eat as much bacon as I possibly could while on vacation and even dared to eat it with every single meal...I came pretty close)

Here's one shot of R & I at one of AZ's wineries. We went wine tasting after a few spa treatments. A couple of them weren't too shabby. Who knew?



Lots to tell you, but I think that cold I was trying so hard not to catch from my boys before my trip has finally decided to take hold. I'm happy to be home and to know I was missed!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'd Like To Shout It From The Mountaintops!

Let it be known that I who have not been away from my entire family in four years, am boarding a plane tomorrow afternoon, ordering myself a stiff drink, and flying to meet my friend, R, for a four-day vacation in Arizona.
Yes, the other half and I have gotten away here and there, but it's been a hell of a long time since I have done something simply for me, and I cannot freaking wait.

I feel like Stella in 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back,' except there won't be any Jamaican waiters helping me do it. Just lots of wine, a day at the spa, a trip to the Grand Canyon, maybe some yoga, and heck, perhaps even in an aura reading. And to top it off, a great friend who gets what I'm going through, loves my kids, and is perhaps one of the most relaxed people I know.

I will report back in a few days...that is if I don't decide to go a-hidin' in the mountains and never come home. I kid, I kid.

I'll drink one for each of you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Successful Day At The Beach

The past two times we have attempted to take animals and children to the beach were less than relaxing for the other half and I. We made the mistake--or should I say--the other half made the mistake--of thinking it was a good idea to bring our dog, Hank, as well as our dog, Sydney. Poor Daisy seems to get the shaft in these outings even though she's the easiest of all of them. Anyhow, if you've met Hank (or 'Stupid Hank' as my friend, L, lovingly refers to him) you know how insane he is. This dog coexists peacefully in our home with two cats and two other dogs; and he's met countless foster dogs over the years that he has lived with just fine. But you get him out in public and he becomes a raving lunatic with his low-butt run, not paying any attention to where he is running at full speed. And should he encounter another dog, especially of the male, small, yippy variety, he turns into a total nerd, barking and lunging like he is going to attack them. It is not pleasant.

But I have digressed in the real point of this story...

I, being wiser and more practical than my other half, took the boys to the beach yesterday BY MYSELF. I packed a beach bag with the appropriate sand toys and cars (which we neglected to bring the last two times causing little B to only want to run straight into the ocean time after time), snacks, waters, a People magazine for me, and I brought ONE dog: Sydney.

We lasted a whole two hours with very little need to chase B away from the surf. The walk back to the car was a little rough since B wanted to run fast ahead of us, precariously running alongside a ledge that dropped straight into sharp rocks. M's pants fell down, (because the child inherited my lack of a waist), and he did NOT want to hold my hand, thus leading to me practically pulling him along while trying to keep up with the wee-er one.

The other half noted how much calmer M's body was last night. I agreed. I wish I had the kahunas to try this more often; though now with a good experience under my belt, I just might! I leave you with a few photos of our successful outing...













Monday, November 10, 2008

Vicki's Sister Just Called...

I thought my last talk with her had done the trick, but today I saw the name of her sister's deceased husband flash before me on my caller id and I realized it was not so.
When she asked if Vicki was there, I responded in an overly-calm tone with, 'Is this Vicki's sister?' To which she responded in her slightly New Yorkish accent, 'Excuse me? IS VICKI WEBER THERE?'

I told her that I was the person she'd spoken to several times over the past months. The one who had repeatedly told her that her sister clearly did not have this phone number anymore. And as always, she apologized profusely at least three times and then hit me with 'It's just that my husband died and I must have been given the wrong number for my sister.' (banging head against wall once again)

I have also had the privilege of three recent phone calls from a local state farm agent. I'm guessing that along with her credit cards, Ms. Vicki is also behind on paying her insurance. And I got a call for her from, I realized afterward, my vet. So Vicki must have lived in this area. I wonder if she's still here? I'd like to find her and tell her to PLEASE have her sister and the rest of the world stop calling me!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Hate How This Feels

I have this weird, somewhat painful, kind of warm sensation that I get in my throat whenever I get really anxious. I know it's my thyroid acting up. I've had it ever since B was born. I have it in a bad way today as I frantically and obsessively search 'autism schools austin,' 'autism schools california,' 'dir model schools,' etc., etc. I do not like waiting when I see a need for something to be done. I realize my obsessive searching at this moment in time is somewhat futile since not much can be done in the very near future. We have a house we'd need to sell. We'd need to find another house. The other half may need to change jobs. My head is exploding with it all and I wish I knew what was going to happen! M is doing better going to school, but still not perfect. There is still resistance several times each week. The children in his class are lovely. They have all taken it upon themselves to befriend this little boy who shows no interest. (even though we know he has that capability...where has it gone??!!) Every day they greet him with, 'M IS HERE!!' They shower him with hugs and kisses as he leaves them every afternoon. Nothing. Nada. He doesn't appear to care. M just isn't thriving in this setting. He isn't happy there. He doesn't like it. I know this, which in my mind = find better setting for him NOW. But I can't make it that simple and it frustrates me to no end.
I can tell the other half is silently suffering as well. I wish he would talk to me about it, but I suppose my obsessiveness in getting something done and he not being able to do anything about it is all too much.

Hoping the answer magically falls from the sky soon. My thyroid would appreciate it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Let's...


...get past the election and the 'this side vs. that side' and come together as AMERICANS.
...gently and wisely phase out our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our troops deserve to come home to their families once and for all.
...focus on our future: Reform our education policies. Pay our teachers for the honorable work that they do. Allow all of our children to experience the beauty of art and music.
...realize that we're screwing our environment and we needed to act yesterday to improve our planet.
...be respectful and kind to the people living around us. The world is such an ugly place. We need to embrace our differences and work together peacefully to accomplish goals for the greater good.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Made It Through The Wilderness

Somehow I made it through. Didn't know how lost I was until...

Okay, I'll shut up.

Yes, I went to see Madonna in concert last night!



My best friend, L, and I refreshed the Tickemaster screen no less than 50 times back on June 1st when tickets first came available. We wanted good seats and they weren't the easiest to obtain. But finally...success! We had lower level seats. A credit card number was entered. An email confirmation was sent. And I immediately went to my trusty calendar and wrote "MADONNA" in the Saturday, November 1st slot.
Fast forward five months...L, (who also wrote "MADONNA" in her calendar on the November 1st slot, makes a somewhat last-minute flight arrangement to come up here from S.D. She can only stay 24 hours as she must get back to her wee one so her other half can work. She calls me on the way to the airport after being a bit harried because she thought that she'd lost the tickets. "No worries," I tell her. "I've got the email confirmation in my hotmail account." After hanging up with her, I decide it would be wise to make sure I still have said email confirmation. I call her back to let her know, and what do I see? Holy crapamoly, we have tickets for the Sunday night show, NOT the Saturday night show! If this isn't indicative of the fact that we two are tired Mamas raising kids and not focusing on a lot else, I don't know what is. It ended up working out for the best, though, in that we got more time to hang together, and she got a much-needed little refresher from motherhood. The kicker was that her flight left at 6 am this morning. We got home around 12:30 from the show and were in the car on our way to the airport by 4:40. This Mama no-likie the no sleep thing. It's rainy and cold here today, too, which makes me just want to crawl into a ball on the couch. Hmmmm...I think I might actually do that after I post!

Madonna was amazing to watch. The show was quite the spectacle and I'm so glad I finally got to see her in concert. She, at 50, looks way cooler doing dance moves than I did even at 18. And she can double dutch still! How freaking cool is that? The woman is in phenomenal shape and doesn't quit for well over two hours. The people-watching in itself was fairly entertaining as well, as you can imagine. I will say, however, it made me feel a tiny bit awkward to hear her say, "Do you have a best friend? And does that best friend like to do everything you do? Including eff your boyfriend?" Now I am not a prude (or at least not too much of one), but there are just a few things I hope I am not asking a crowd of people when I'm 50, ya know? It is going to be interesting to see Madonna as a 70-year-old. She's still going to be recreating herself and making bold statements. I say, rock on, sistah!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bad Parents Of The Year Award

Yep...we've earned it this year. We didn't take our children trick or treating. Shhh!! Don't tell anyone!

I bought M a Lightning McQueen costume, and B a Tow Mater costume. Even though I have had no problems putting costumes on the boys in years past, for some brilliant reason I thought that they would like these 3-d costumes that just slip on over your regular clothes a lot better. Not so, my friends! (does anyone else get creeped out now by someone calling them 'my friends?')
M would have no part of his costume at the school parade yesterday and ended up parading around the schoolyard instead in a kitten-ear headband his aide put on him. She actually offered to lend us the furry vest and tail to go with it. She has not met my other half apparently, and learned of a.) his dislike for cats, and b.) his thought that dressing your male child up as a kitty cat would make him look...how should we say it...gay?

And B was obsessed with both he and M's costumes, but only from a I-want-to-carry-them-with-me-everywhere-or-else-I-will-scream-VERY-loudly point of view. Probably four times yesterday he would bring one of the costumes to me and say 'wear.' And no sooner would I slip it over his shoulders and he'd be screaming his little head off to get the damned thing off. Ahhh...good memories.

Aside from all that, the weather was crap. It had turned cold, windy and rainy here. When you have one child who isn't even two years old, and another who's on a restricted diet and can't eat most of the candy anyway...and you pair that with lame costumes that neither one wants to wear...you get: A night at home where Mom makes a big pot of chili (and drinks a few big glasses of wine) and the whole family stays up late watching The Incredibles together instead. All in all, I'd say it was a pretty successful Halloween as long as the kids' future therapists don't try regression therapy on them.

And with that, I will leave you with a photo of a Halloween of the past. Yeah, I was still working on a little bit of that baby weight, but this is my proof that my kids actually have participated in a Halloween celebration before.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Disconcerting

Wow...two posts in one day! But I just had to show you a video of this:







Our property backs up to POST land. (Peninsula open space trust) Because of the threat of wildfires, POST is having many of the non-native Eucalyptus trees cut down as a protective measure. While I appreciate this for the safety of my family, I am very concerned about the pair of horned owls that live back there as well as the families of deer. The deer will retreat farther into the forest, but I am not sure about the owls.
Aside from that, being home while this work is happening is sort of freaking me out. It was no big deal when they were cutting down the small trees last week, but now that they are working on the big ones (and I'm talking 'big' as in 'if it fell the wrong way it would smash into my house and likely kill me') I find it all a little disconcerting. Maybe I should visit some of that valerian root, chamomile or melatonin I was mentioning previously?

I Know The Answer!


Question: If you pee your pants in your dreams does that mean you actually did it in real life?

Answer: No! But you sure as heck better use it as an indicator that you need to wake your ass up and go to the bathroom.

Question: If you dream that there are fleas in your hair the size of beetles does that mean you really have fleas?

Answer: Possibly. Small bite on arm might be an indicator that the fleas the poor, neglected dog next door clearly has have ventured over to your property.
Edited to add: Nope on the fleas...it's poison oak. The other half got it back in the woods behind our house :(

Yes, folks, I am still sleeping like crap. Melatonin? Valerian root? Chamomile tea? Because clearly wine isn't doing the trick!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Gravity Of The Situation

I'm sitting here wondering if this is even appropriate for me to type...if by typing it I am sealing my child's fate or helping in forming others' permanent opinions of his abilities or outlook.
But I suppose this is the thing about publicly journaling one's thoughts; this struggle between needing to get things off your chest and also needing to guard your family's privacy.
So since I am an open book, here goes...

Today we met with the psychology and speech professionals to get the lowdown on their testing and observations of M. As I mentioned previously, they do not think the current learning environment is appropriate for him. But the part that stung just a little (or was it that I hoped I'd feel the sting more?) was that the speech therapist's evaluation showed his expressive and receptive communication levels to be at about a 12 month old's level, and the psychologist found his cognitive skills to be at about a 9 month old's level. Sigh...
Here's the caveat, and the thing that every single professional has always said about M: He is a perplexing case. He does not follow all the 'rules' of autism. I'm not saying that any child does since it is a spectrum, but he's really hard to test. Again, as with many kids on the spectrum, motivation and where his nervous (sensory) system is performing are a big deal for him. Without those things being just so, he will not give you the information you seek. But the trick is figuring out how to get those pieces 'just so.' A skill his own parents often don't understand. So both of these professionals agreed that while the tests put him on these levels, they were aware that he has skills that are more mature than these ages as well. They also noted that once we have placed him in a more appropriate environment with trained autism professionals that they would very much like to retest him in a couple of years.
This testing will be beneficial for us when approaching our school to get the appropriate services. M was testing in the 18-24 month range in most things back at the mother ship. So this helps lay more groundwork to show that we've had regression and need help.

I told these two women that I wasn't expecting them to look into their crystal balls and tell me the future, but I was curious to know whether they felt there was hope to repair the neurotransmitters that aren't working properly...and did they think M would catch up, at least a bit. They both definitely thought that there was hope for him given just how many words he has (hundreds) and his ability to memorize and echo. We just have to figure out how to turn those things into something meaningful for him.

It will still be a couple of weeks before I get the full written report from the specialists that I will then take to an IEP (individualized education plan) meeting. The waiting and constant protocol of all of this is frustrating to the other half and me. We know what the outcome should be, but getting there is going to take a lot of time, energy and likely money.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

When Your Mind Is Boggled...

...you tend to have sleepless nights and weird dreams. The other half couldn't sleep last night and got out of bed (after tossing and turning all night) at 5 am to do work. This is not the norm in our house, but he's busy and we've clearly got a few things floating around our heads keeping us preoccupied. It felt like it took me an hour to get (somewhat) back to sleep after that. During this time (I think) I had two really weird dreams that I thought I'd share with you.

The first took place in a large school auditorium. I don't remember most of it, but I do remember that Gwendomama was teaching music class on the stage to M and other children and then administered vaccines to them. Except she didn't give the vaccine herself, I did with her guidance. M didn't cry after the first one, so I gleefully said to her 'Let's go ahead and give him another one then!' And so I did. It then dawned on me what I had just done and I had a minor freak out. I asked her what the vaccines were and she told me 'Measles and syphilis.' To which I replied, 'NOT the full MMR, right?' And she assured me that no, she'd separated the vaccine and just given measles. Well, phew for that! haha. And as for the syphillis thing, it totally is a reaction to me having read my People magazine yesterday where Marcia Brady talks about how her Grandma had syphillis and passed it onto her Mom and both women ended up in institutions, leaving Marcia Brady scared she had syphillis too and was going to go crazy.
Gwendomama, I'm sorry to have put you into my dream as the evil vaccinator...sorry about that. I have to say this one sort of made me chuckle to recall today.

The other dream involved the other half and I going back to Austin to visit an old friend and her three kids. When I got there, she told me that he husband was on a business trip, her kids were with her mother-in-law for a week, and oh-by-the-way she was having an affair with a 20-year-old who worked at Amazon that she'd met online and was leaving us at her house right that minute to go meet and have sex with. I was so upset about her having an affair and was trying really, really hard to convince her to break it off, but the last thing I remember was her grabbing her purse and keys and heading out the door. Guess I can't compete with 20-year-olds who work at Amazon!

So, yeah...a good night's sleep would be pretty cool.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Hot. Really Hot.

The number one thing in my 'pros' column of the "Why the hell did we move to California" list is weather. I love this cool, coastal climate with more than just the occasional day of fog. We don't have a/c 'round these parts because of this. Heck, I don't even have ceiling fans. (curse, curse, grumble, grumble) October is notoriously one of the 'most beautiful weather months on the coast.' I will agree with this to a degree. (no pun intended) It is phenomenal to walk the beaches right now. The ocean is bright blue and the sight lines seem endless. But when you live waaaaaay up a verrrrrry big hill, and you have a house with a reverse floor plan (as in, the living/kitchen is on the top floor) it is pretty damned hot. I feel like my day revolves around opening windows, closing windows, opening blinds, closing blinds, pouring myself another glass of wine, cracking windows, cracking the blinds, opening them all back up again.

And I haven't seen rain since I left Texas. It's weird. It ain't natural!! (and yes, I meant to say 'ain't')

I'm ready for the fog to return so I can put on my sweaters again and not have to deal with children who are cranky, red-cheeked and lethargic. I get nothing accomplished in this heat. My brain yells, 'Hey, dumbass! Get outside and do something and you'll be 10 degrees cooler than you are inside your house.' But for some reason I don't hear that. And then the part of my brain that is still controlled by the mothership says, 'Hey, dumbass! It's only 80 degrees outside. It's a good 20 degrees hotter than that on most summer days where you came from. Suck it up and quit being such a wuss.'

The heat has also clearly lead to delirium. There are bigger issues on the table besides the heat, but I am currently not in a state to consider those.

Hmmm....maybe the heat is good after all. My brain sort of needed a little break from all that!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Because It's Sort Of Funny...

One of the other private schools that was recommended to us costs seventy-SIX thousand dollars a year.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

(And thank you, lovely friends, for all the support and for making me feel comfortable to talk about these things in this forum. I couldn't keep what little bit of sanity I have left if it weren't for knowing that you all have my back should I fall.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Weight

I've been offline for a few days...M chewed through my power cord on my laptop...sigh.
We've hit at least $1000 in damages from things he's chewed. Remember the $250 post-operative, knee cooler thingamabob we borrowed from the neighbors that he chewed? I repurchased another and had it sitting in the foyer the day I called the neighbors to tell them I wanted to bring it over. I'd opened the top of the box only to get the invoice out of it...I hadn't touched another thing. One weekend M was very quiet and it hit me...holy shit, what was he up to? I looked over the star rails and there he was, the new cooler's squishy tubing yet again in his mouth. I made a horrible noise and kept saying 'Oh, no. Oh, no' over and over. Brandon thought he'd fallen and broken his neck or something...I do feel badly about making him think that. But I freaked. I freaked so hard I had to go shut myself in my room for a bit until I calmed down. I felt like such an ass for leaving it anywhere near him.
So I explained it to the neighbor and she was very kind about it. It hadn't pierced through the inner tubing, just the outer layer. So it wasn't as though the water couldn't still flow through it. And so I gave them this not-quite-perfect, yet new, replacement for their $250 cooler. The next day, the husband (who is fairly intense---the guy ran a 100-mile marathon recently) came over and said he'd noticed that something was wrong with the tubing. I said, 'didn't your wife tell you?' And of course, she had not...probably because she knows better than I do just how intense her husband is. Anyhow, I explained what had happened and how I was very sorry, but since it was only a cosmetic defect and didn't compromise the use of the system, I thought it would be okay...dear, me, please let it be okay since the damn thing cost $250. And what did he say to me? He said, 'Yeah, I'm really sorry that your son has to chew things, but that cooler won't work. That tubing (the tubing we glued back together and would have done just fine with an approximately 4-inch piece of duct tape on it as a last resort--that's my thoughts, not his!) holds in the condensation. I put that brace on my knee after surgery all night long and it would have leaked water on me without that tubing, so I'm going to need you to get another one.' I very patiently nodded my head. Said I understood and that absolutely we'd do the right thing (again) and walked back inside to deliver the news to my other half who I knew would not take it calmly. Nope...he was one pissed Papa. He said that it was b.s. about the condensation bit. And I'll give him this much---the neighbor did kind of talk down to me like I was a dumbass who wouldn't know any better about condensation. And the other half actually even yelled out the word 'asshole' as he was sitting out in our backyard. I, being the diplomat that I am, didn't necessarily think this was a very wise idea since we have to live by these people. But it doesn't mean I wasn't sort of thinking it. So $500 later, they have hopefully received their second theracool unit. I'm thinking they need to give us the other one (to go with the even more screwed up one we originally borrowed) so we can maybe craigslist it for a few dollars. If they keep it, I'm calling asshole on them too. Ahh....the joys. Did I mention that his last comment about this was 'Hopefully we'll never have a need to use this thing again.' Argh...

Oddly enough, my intent was not to tell you that whole story tonight. It must be the wine making me so verbose. Hey--speaking of wine--try Hahn Estates Meritage for about $15. Damn good wine.

But I digress...again.

What I really wanted to post about tonight was what we've been up to the past week or so. We hired an independent, autism-specialized psychologist to do testing and observations on M so we could see if his school was the proper environment for him and that the school was giving him enough services. We haven't received her full report, but I did get a little info. from her after the last meeting. Basically, she doesn't think that any public school is suitable for our little guy and his needs. The current staff is lovely and tries to be accomodating, but they just don't have the right training or tools to really 'get' him. The classroom is too busy. They rush him in his lessons. They pull him out to different therapies and classrooms constantly so that he is not able to get a good routine down and a comfortable rhythm to his day. And here is the real kicker: all private, autism-specific schools in this area are approximately $70,000/year. Let that set in for a minute. Seventy-Freaking-Thousand-Dollars-Per-Year. I am not exaggerating this number at all. In fact, the one school I visited today is actualy $72,000/year. Reverse those numbers and you have the yearly tuition for the private school he'd be in if we still lived in Austin...another sigh.

We can attempt to fight the school district to pay for this schooling. This doesn't generally happen just by asking. This is a lengthy process that can cost tens of thousands of dollars and from what I have been told, is very emotional and draining. Like so emotional and draining that marriages fail during the process. And the worst thing is that after you spend those tens of thousands of dollars, you may not get the outcome you want and you're totally screwed.

So we see ourselves faced with the following options:

-Attempt to get the school district to pay for at least half of the tuition and commute the 30-45 minutes to the school
-Sell our house on the coast, downsize into a house near the school, and bite the bullet and pay for the tuition ourselves
-Move back to Austin
-Move somewhere else

The other half and I have lots to talk about and consider. No matter the outcome, we feel like shit for being in this situation in the first place. Oh, and the real kicker? I asked the psychologist where, in her professional opinion, did M fit on the autism spectrum. Her answer? Somewhere between moderately and SEVERELY autistic. Mind you, this is the boy who received a 'high functioning' autism diagnosis in January. While I saw this coming, the other half is having an especially difficult time digesting this information. Can't/won't talk about it. Awesome.

So we have moved far, far away from family and watched our little boy go into a tailspin and regress to a place where only the highly specialized can reach him. It is a weight so big my heart can barely contain it.

And I hate to keep piling on the negativism, but either when I was visiting the private school today or at Radio Shack buying the $100 replacement power cord for my laptop, some a-hole in a red car hit me and didn't leave a note. And when I say 'hit me,' I don't mean just a little red ding. I mean, left a giant paint mark on the corner of my bumper, a dent, and tore the back panel off of my car.

If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.

I hope karma bites them in the ass.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Quick! Somebody Grab A Bible!

A couple of months ago I injured my hand and wrist. After a week or so, I thought it had healed. About a month later I had pain for a few days that soon subsided. And then this past week the pain came back, but this time it's been tenfold. I have a pretty high pain threshold (though a low bitching threshold as my other half will attest!) but damn if this thing wasn't really affecting me. The ache was highly annoying and the pain I'd get when I'd tweak it anytime I tried to rotate my wrist (which is, like, all the time since it's my right freakin' wrist) I'd feel like someone was sticking a knife in me and it would make me catch my breath. I'd load up on Tylenol before bed, but I'd still end up restlessly sleeping because it hurt so badly, and I'm prone to sleeping on my side with my right hand tucked under my pillow. So I caved and went to the doctor today to see if I needed to get an x-ray or see a specialist. Her diagnosis? A ganglion cyst. Say that with me everyone: GANG-LEE-UN CYST! Good, I knew you could! They used to call them 'Bible Bumps' because you could take a Bible and smash the sucker into bits. Yeah...totally gross.

Is that one of the grossest words you've ever heard? Ganglion ranks right up there with 'moist' in my book. (A side note: If you've never played the game 'words that sound gross, but aren't' it's pretty fun after a few drinks)

So, fortunately you can't actually see this sucker protruding from my wrist. I can sort of feel it inside and I'm hoping it doesn't decide to get bigger. When I googled this dreadful thing I ended up clicking on a YouTube video of one being excised from a guy's hand at the doctor's office. Did you know they only give you a local anesthetic to do that? I'm thinking, 'Oh, hell no. You will not just give me a shot and then put a scalpel into my wrist and remove some gross lump while I'm right there looking a it!' But from what the doctor said, this may be my only option for true relief if this thing continues to flare up this badly.

And I read this about aspirating the sucker instead:
"Nonsurgical treatment leaves the outer shell and the stalk of the ganglion intact, so it may reform and reappear."

Um...it has a SHELL and even worse, a STALK? Did anyone see the mini series 'V?' Um, yeah...

So in the meantime I have been directed to wear a wrist splint and load up on three motrins, three times/day. I feel like such a wuss.

This ranks up there with the crazy hair I found on my chest as yet another thing that I am not so much liking about getting older.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Let The Record Show...

...I just blew the fourth item (another bean) out of my child's nose. I am not sure who the bigger fool is here; B for continuing to stick things up his nose, or me for giving him beans for lunch. Just goes to prove that brain cells are in limited supply around these here parts!

And speaking of noses...anyone else's full of Fall allergens these days? I will try not to complain too much since the occasional allergy attack here is a heck of a lot better than the approximately 351 days/year that I was snotty back in Texas. But I find any allergy pretty damned annoying. Why do so many people have allergies nowadays? Is it from all the preservatives, chemicals and nitrates we've consumed in our food and water for so many years weakening our immune systems? I've suffered from hefty allergies since college. I'm a proud user of the not-so-attractive 'allergy salute' habit. (an allergist I once saw gave me that term) You know...the one where you take the heel of your hand to the tip of your nose and stretch it ever-so-slightly upward in a sly attempt to widen your sinus passages and take a normal breath for even just a moment? The one that my friend, C, has forever captured on film...me in my Vera Wang bridesmaid's get-up at her wedding with my hand looking like I am wiping a giant booger off the tip of my nose? Neat, huh? Yeah, my nose is all out of wack from the allergies. So out of wack that I sort of freak out a little if anyone ever tries to touch it. It's like being claustrophobic (which I sort of am) times 100. Don't use this blog post as license to play the 'I stole your nose' game or I'll go all Mama Bear on you. It won't be pretty. I swear. So don't even think about it!!

During the span of typing this out I have a feeling B has now attempted to stick banana up his nose. It's not quite the right size, though, so hopefully it was unsuccessful.

Oi vey!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

In Case You Were Wondering...

If your child should ever stick a pea or a raisin up his nose; in order to avoid a trip to the E.R., you should cover the nostril that does not contain the offending object and then cover your child's mouth completely with your own. Then blow in with a quick puff, and PRESTO! You will have a snot-covered raisin or pea fly out and likely land (and subsequently stick) to your shirt. Or your child's plate.

Ironically, I learned this little tip just one day before from a Mamas' board I read. Amazing what you can learn from others who have been there, done that!

Yeah...totally gross.

And now he keeps repeating over and over 'Beans in nose. Beans in nose.' No, B. NO BEANS IN NOSE!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Today I am 35 Years Old...

...and I have three giant zits. One right smack in the middle of my nose and two on my chin.
Does anyone else think it's a cruel joke by Mother Nature to be 35, with a few wrinkles starting to show here and there, AND zits?

Birthdays become such a funny thing as you age. Except for the monumental ones (which, seriously, why are only the ones that have a zero on the end monumental?) you just kind of roll right through them. And what is worse, you start to not really even care that you're rolling right through them. It used to bother me if the other half didn't make a big deal out my day, but since having children, I don't really care all that much. Now don't get me wrong, if someone wanted to throw me a huge surprise party or buy me a gift I would not complain! No siree bob, this girl loves a good party and gifts! But not getting those things isn't bad either.
And hell, I'll just go buy myself something anyway and call it a birthday present. Shopping therapy does wonders for me any day.

So today I sit here, zits and all, and I look at the fog forming heavily outside my windows. And I am okay. I am 35 years old. I don't feel like it. I don't think I look like it. And that is all good.

I think about that 'where do you think you'll be in 10 years' question people tend to ponder most when in their 20s. I thought I'd have a couple of kids. Check. I thought I'd have a house. Check. Beyond that, I don't think I ever ventured a guess. And yet, I inherently know that this isn't quite how I thought it would all be. But all in all, life is good, and I need to take more time to focus on that than the negative and realize that I have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to in life.

And fortunately there will be coffee and wine to help get me through it all :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

O.M.G.

Just wanted to say that I haven't died, been committed or emigrated to Europe!
We just got home late last night from a week-long trip back to the mothership (that'd be Texas for all y'all who don't know) and we are T-I-R-E-D!
A quick recap before it's back to laundry and dog hair for me:

-Plane rides were so-so. I can't complain too much, though, because we could only go up from the last experience I had with little B. All in all, it was manageable.
-B does not like to nap while on vacation. Not. Even. Once. Well, except for the times he would fall asleep in the car five minutes before we got to our destination.
-B also does not like to sleep anywhere at night beside his own bed. The first night, it was M, B and I all crammed into one bed. B woke up every single hour. I am not exaggerating. The second night I managed to get he and M into the bed while I slept on an air mattress on the floor. He woke up about four times that night with obsessing over his newest passion, Lightening McQueen. And when I say 'obsessing' I mean that his eyes popped open at, oh, say, 3 a.m., and he immediately yelled in the whiniest voice you can imagine, 'LIGHTENING CAR! LIGHTENING CAR!' (and keep repeating ad nauseum)
It got no better after those first two nights, but fortunately I was able to sneak away one night to the hotel the other half was staying at after the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

And the last update which has left me both happy and feeling very confused about what to do:
-M had the very best time with his best friend, C. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that M has not interacted with another child in a somewhat typical manner since leaving the mothership. I mentioned to his current teacher that we were going back home and M was going to see his best friend. She was surprised to hear about this because she 'didn't think M was capable of forming friendships.' How's that for making you feel like total shit for moving your kid someplace where he's miserable? My parents also noted that M had regressed significantly. I'm just not sure what we can or should do to remedy this. I wish it wasn't so flippin' hot in Texas or I'd be pushing to get us the frack out of her NOW! But then there's that damned economic crisis thing our country is finding itself in and well, that could mean a whole lot of us being screwed if we tried to sell this house right now.

I've made this longer than intended. I have a ton of catching up to do around the homestead! Lots to think about as well. Hope everyone's had a great week!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is it a Monday thing?


Another successful drop off this morning! Last week we had a perfectly zen-like entrance into school on a Monday (and not another day of the week after that), and this week we had a calm entrance on a Monday. Hmmm...should I tell him it is Monday every day?

So while the rest of the world loathes a Monday, my child seems to love them.

Apparently that's just how we roll 'round here in Normal-ville.

In other news, we are about to venture onto a plane that will take us on a nearly four-hour flight halfway across the country. I am more than a little nervous about this trip because the last time I flew with B I swore I wouldn't do it again until he was an adult. I am in no way exaggerating just how awful that flight was for me. (I was alone) I had an incredible arsenal of distractions that would have worked for any kid...any kid but mine, that is. We sat in a window seat, he on my lap, in a fully-packed plane, just six rows behind first class. I guess I must have started the trip out on a shaky note because like a doofus I sat one row behind what was actually our assigned seat. The mistake worked out reasonably well in that I ended up next to a very patient businessman (I know...an oxymoron, right?) who had a severely disabled daughter. B was a delight for the first 1.5 hours and then all hell broke loose for about 20 minutes...straight. And no, it didn't just feel like 20 minutes. It actually was 20 minutes!
Imagine that scene in the exorcist where Linda Blair is tied down in her bed and the demon is fully possessing her. Well, aside from his head turning around in a 360 and vomit spewing forth (though I swear it almost did), this was what B looked and sounded like. I've got a touch of the claustrophobia, so I imagine my son may as well. The child does not like to be restrained in any fashion, be it a stroller, in your arms (except on his terms) or especially on your lap on an airplane. I sweated bullets as I leaned forward in the 6 inches of wiggle room we had between us and the seat in front of us to pull out Elmo dvds, books, snacks, my cell phone, my keys, ANYTHING that I thought would get him to shut up, I mean feel better. Nada. It was all fruitless. At one point I even looked up toward first class and saw a flight attendant saying to a lovely man 'She is trying, sir. I can see her from here.' I made a point to thank this woman on my way out. She must have had children. I appreciated her sticking up for us unlike some of the other horrid stories you hear about evil flight attendants and children who are having tantrums. I am not kidding when I say that if we'd started the flight like this, I have no doubt I'd have ended up on the news after getting kicked off the plane. It was that bad. I even felt embarrassed after the flight when we had to wait for what felt like forever to get our bags from the conveyer belt. I was certain all eyes were on us, cursing us and who knows, maybe even putting an evil hex on us.
I talked to our pediatrician about this last week asking what I could do. Benadryl was all he could offer me. I know we've all heard about it, but no one likes to admit that they've done it. Well, I am about to admit to you that I plan on liquoring the wee B up at the gate before we board that plane. And I just might even give him another 1/2 of a teaspoon if it wears off!

Wish us luck!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Set List

Here in the world of the blistless I am unable to come up with something extraordinarily witty to regale you lovely readers, so I am going to steal the idea one of you (hi, C back in A-town!) gave me. Well, stealing would be the wrong word since she actually called me one day with the idea.

I know you've been waiting on pins and needles for the results (not) so let's not waste anymore time, shall we?

*I'd like to preface this by saying that my one remaining brain cell does not currently have the power to compute the precise order in which I would perform the following tunes, so please don't go all psychology 101 on me and tell me that "x" should not follow "y" because it might depress the crowd, okay?

**I'd also like to preface this by saying that I am siting the singers of these songs and not necessarily the songwriters...for those nitpickers out there.

Here goes...

1. Angel from Montgomery - Bonnie Raitt
2. Me & Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin (Though I have to tell you...after way too many karaoke performances I'm getting kind of sick of this one)
3. Lonely Teardrops - Jackie Wilson
4. A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke
5. Life by the Drop - Stevie Ray Vaughan
6. If I Fell In Love With You - The Beatles
7. When I Think of You - Dolly Parton
8. Long Ride Home - Patty Griffin
9. Little Red Corvette - Prince
10. Ode to Billy Joe - Bobbie Gentry
11. Hurts So Bad - Susan Tedeschi
12. Morphine & Chocolate - 4 Non Blondes
13. Circle of Friends - Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians
14. Not a Drop of Rain - Robert Earl Keen
15. Seven Year Ache - Roseanne Cash
16. Fly - Patty Griffin

And there you have it, folks.

I know there are at least a couple of you out there in cyberland who still have that seemingly-lost dream of singing again. What's your song list?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm out of private mode & I have a new name!


I did a little google account finagling (wow, spell check didn't correct that word for me...guess those spelling bees paid off!), and now I am no longer spewing my thoughts to the wee eyes of my nieces and nephews. I've had to change the title/url of my blog to make this change complete. You can now find me at: http://thisismynewnormal.blogspot.com

I am also happy to report that today, 17 days into the school year, we had our first, fuss-free, didn't-have-to-drag-him-in-by-the-wrist-or-carry-him-like-he-wasn't-45 lbs., nobody-stared-at-us, drop-off at school. I hope that by typing that I haven't totally jinxed us.

We have been treating yeast and bacteria in M's gut off and on for nearly six months. For those of you not familiar with the biology of kids on the autism spectrum, it is thought that most have what they refer to as autistic enterocolitis, or leaky gut. So while all of us have a variety of weird bacteria and yeast growing in our stomachs, it does so fairly harmoniously. But in kids with autism, the numbers get out of balance and leak out of perforations in the gut affecting their entire nervous systems. I'm probably not describing this totally correctly, but you get the gist. It's still a very controversial thought, but it does resonate with me as I know that pretty much every kid on the spectrum that I have heard of has some sort of tummy problem. And when we don't feel good inside, how can we show anything different on the outside? Anyhow, we did some pretty aggressive antibiotics and are now almost done with a 20-day course of an antifungal medicine. I was warned that M's hyperactivity and stimming would likely get worse before it got better. Boy, howdy, did they! But I am skeptically wondering if we have turned a corner. He's still chewing like mad, but he just seems a little calmer to me. He is also trying to string all of his words and phrases together, as though he is really, really trying to hold a conversation with me. When he does it, he holds his arms out like he is orating and gets a very serious look on his face, with his lips pursed just so. And he says things like, 'And so...anybody, another time, Playhouse Disney, one more time, read a story, sometimes...' And he has these great inflections like he is really trying to get you to think about what it is that he is saying. Because it is very important, and he is working really hard to say it to you. And I listen intently, nodding occasionally, and repeating some of it back to him in order to create some semblance of conversation. Bless his heart, it must be really frustrating to want to say what is on your mind, but to not be able to find the right words or even be able to form them. I am trying my very hardest to remember what this must feel like from his perspective. Sometimes it is hard to be selfless when you find you are also struggling. How can you help someone else if you can't even help yourself? I've heard that said over and over and until this past year hadn't realized how true it was.

Fall is right around the corner. You can feel it in the air, see it in the store windows. And of course with football season here, you know it's in reach. I always find myself sleepier this time of year. I recall days since I was probably around 12 years old where I could sleep and sleep and still be tired. Almost like a bear in hibernation. But this year; this Fall; I am finding that through the sleepiness I am trying to turn a corner for myself and for my family so that we can get through the cold months and find ourselves reborn and rejuvenated next Spring. I think that's about how much time we'll need to totally get ourselves on track. But it's happening...I can feel it. I just have to keep the forward momentum going.

I'll leave you with a photo of my two boys this past weekend enjoying a swim.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Practice


There's no doubt about it. He is my and the other half's son for sure!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Party

Hope all of my Texas friends are safe and dry through the night. Those of you closest to the storm, be sure to check in and let us know you're okay.

I leave you with a lengthy recording of a once upon a time, not quite as fat, really great, live band; straight out of New Orleans performing one of their classics, "Hurricane Party." Ladies and gentleman...COWBOY MOUTH!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vicki Webber...can you please call your sister?

About two months ago we started receiving phone calls from a 'Stephen Dominion' in the 510 area code. My other half took the first call from a sad-sounding, older woman who thought that he was Vicki. He politely explained to her that she must have the wrong number to which she said, 'Oh, honey, I'm so sorry. I'm just trying to reach my sister to tell her my husband died.'
Well, shit. What do you say to that?
He naturally told her he was very sorry about her dead husband, but yes, once again, there's no Vicki here.

Since that call we have probably received 10 calls from Vicki's sister, perhaps more. I think I have had the good fortune of answering them each time since that first. And each time she acts as though she has zero recollection of the last call. I am pretty sure she is drunk, though I'd feel really bad if it was something as awful as Alzheimer's.
Every single call goes pretty much the same way:

Me: (recognizing the phone number on the caller id) "Are you calling for Vicki?"
Her: (sounding very surprised that I know who she is calling, as though I have ESP) "Yes. Yes. Vicki? I'm calling for my sister, Vicki?"
Me: "Yes, I know you are calling for your sister, Vicki. You call us a lot asking for your sister and we keep telling you that we apparently have her old number."
Her: "Oh, I'm so sorry, honey. I was trying to reach my sister."
Me: "YES. I KNOW THAT."
Her: "It's just that I need to tell her my husband died."

And then the continuation from this evening's latest conversation:

Me: "Listen. I am truly sorry about your husband dying. And I am sorry that you are unable to reach your sister to tell her. But you have been calling us for two months now, telling us about your dead husband, and I tell you every single time that you have the wrong number."
Her: "Oh, no, honey. I haven't called for two months."
Me: "Yes, you have."
Her: "No, I haven't talked to my sister in over a year."

Me: (banging my head against a wall)

Her: "I guess I will have to call my aunt to get her new number."
Me: "Yes, I think that would be a very good idea."
Her: "Okay. Thank you, honey."

And I have no doubt in my mind that this will all occur again by next Monday. In fact, I am willing to put money on it.

Damn. It's a bad time to have gone private on this here blog. I mean, Vicki could have been reading and she would have the known to call her crazy-ass sister.

Oi. Vey.

To add to this, Vicki apparently does not want to be found by family or creditors. We also went through a three-week stint where Citibank called us EVERY FREAKING DAY with an automated message that our bank card had been overdrawn. These kinds of calls freak a family who had EVERY SINGLE ONE of their social security cards stolen by their movers (yes, you read that correctly). Especially when you call the phone number and not one single person has a freaking clue what you are talking about or how to stop the annoying calls from coming to your home. After many phone calls, transfers, and promises to fix things, someone finally figured it out and those phone calls have stopped.

But we'll still have Vicki's drunk sister. Thank the stars for that!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I've decided...

...to go semi-private here. I've sent a bunch of invites out, so hopefully you received one! And if not, hopefully you'll realize that you can't view my site and you'll email me. But how would you know that I am hoping these things? You can't if you didn't get the friggin' email! Oi...I am over complicating yet another aspect of my life :)

Supposedly if you are a blog author you should be granted automatic access.

And now to see if anyone still reads this. I'm hoping that I'll have some hangers-on. I also am still very happy to grow the readership, so feel free to ask me to add someone. I really do want to be public, but I realized that in responding to some other blogs I was stupidly linking my nieces and nephews to my blog. And really, they don't need to read this crap, do they?!

Onward and upward!

Monday, September 8, 2008

What's Your Story?

No talk of autism, bureaucracy, schools or insurance companies today!! (For some reason I envisioned Kermit the Frog doing his 'yyyyeeeeeeaaaaa!' with his little frog hands going wild as he departed the stage after announcing a performer on the Muppet Show. You too?! No? Huh....)

Anyway, yesterday I saw Jesus on the side of Highway 1. And if it wasn't Jesus, then it was someone who a.)thought he was Jesus, or b.) was a distant relative of Jesus delivering His word.

You think I'm kidding, but I am not. Oh how I wish I'd had a camera.

As I drove M to horseback riding we passed by a man with a foot-long white beard, a turban on his head, a white, flowy robe with a dark green shawl over it, leather, Teva-like sandals, and what I am pretty sure were Rayban sunglasses. He was walking along carrying nothing but a simple bedroll. An hour and a half later as we returned home, he was sitting on the side of the road taking a rest. He didn't have his thumb out. He carried no signs indicating his desire to go to 'Santa Cruz' or elsewhere southbound. He was just a dude walking along the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway looking like a prophet.

It made me think how often I see random folks walking, cycling, thumbing their way down this highway. Way more than I have ever noticed anywhere else I have lived. I suppose the ocean calls many this way. It is a beautiful road to travel, to say the least. But what's the deal with some of these people? Where are they going? Do they even know? Do they have a permanent address? Is anyone looking for them? Do they have children who miss them?

I think quite a few of these people are drifters. I used to find the thought of being by oneself horribly saddening and lonely. I have this weird recollection of sitting in a KFC in Bristol, Tennesse, on our family's yearly drive in the two-door Pontiac from New Jersey to Arkansas, to visit relatives. I was probably about seven years old. We were eating our chicken in a booth and there was this shabbily-dressed old man in the booth behind us. I vividly remember watching him eat and feeling that this man was very sad and lonely and that he had no one in his life to eat with or be loved by. I cried when we got back into the car, but couldn't tell anyone why for fear they would think I was silly.

Now when I see people who are alone I just wonder if this is their destiny and if they are happy and content where they are.

I think I'm going to write a song about this. Can't you just imagine it?

I saw Jesus walking down Highway one.
He didn't have a sign or a hitchhiker's thumb.
He had a white beard and a robe made of white.
He was walkin' along no destination in sight.
I think he was a drifter.
I think he was alone.
I think he was a-lookin' for a river to throw a stone.
I saw Jesus walking down Highway one.

Thank you very much, I'll put the pipe down now.
(I kid...really!)

Friday, September 5, 2008

I don't get it...

It's been a long, first two weeks of school here. M has not been adjusting well, and the other half and I are beside ourselves as to figure out what is going on with him. I literally have to drag or carry him down the sidewalk and steps that lead to his building each morning. It sucks. The aides are trying their hardest to help me work through it. They meet us at the base of the steps now and we do a quick hand-off so as to not prolong the tantrum. Supposedly he calms down pretty quickly after I leave. Did I mention this sucks?
This isn't my kid. My kid likes going to school. My kid only had the rare tantrum while walking into school, and in fact usually barely even looked back at me as he grabbed his teacher's hand. So what is going on here?
The news got even worse at last night's back to school night. I spoke afterward to his new teacher. She, like everyone at this school, is absolutely lovely and truly trying their hardest to figure out my little guy and how to help him to work to his potential. But the truth is, M, whose autism once presented as PDD-NOS, (For those lucky enough to not know what that means, it stands for pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified; or someone who doesn't meet all the criteria for classic autism and is considered high functioning), now presents much more classically autistic; and the staff just doesn't have the kind of training necessary to deal with it, in my opinion. His little body cannot stop humming and moving. He flicks his fingers in front of his eyes quite frequently while making these guttural sounds, which for him, actually indicate pleasure. But for me, indicate autism. He has hundreds of words and can indicate simple needs, but he seems to choose not to be conversational at most times unless you are fortunate enough to have one of those 'moments' with him where he's really with you. Anyhow, I asked the teacher if he was floundering and she confirmed my fears. She said that he is 'content in his own little world,' and that 'he prefers to flick his fingers, talk gibberish to himself, and tick instead of engage in one on one teaching activities.' Even though I've witnessed this myself at home over the past five months, it hit me straight in the gut to hear it from the teacher.

So here's the real intent of this post and the thing I hope everyone will give some extra thought to after reading: At the beginning of the back to school program, a member of the parent-teacher organization spoke about the year's fundraisers and what past funds have been used for. Last year, the PTO raised $67,000. All of that money is already spent for this year's areas of need. I was so taken aback from one of these things that I failed to remember the other two. The parent said that unfortunately they just weren't able to cover music this year for the school like they had the past few years and that this year the school also presented them with the urgent need for some of this money to pay for physical education. You hear about p.e. and music being cut at schools all around the country, but in truth, I've never actually been at one of 'those schools' and apparently was living in quite the little suburban bubble.

I came home and watched part of the Republican Nat'l Convention and I apologize for spewing political venom here, but I was MAD! I had knots in my stomach as I watched these politicians, who if elected again are just going to continue spending money on invading other countries or drilling for oil and NOT where we need it: on our children. In our schools. Places that are really going to make a difference.

If there isn't money for music...and there was money for p.e. only because of the parents...there isn't going to be money for my child to get the fair education he has been promised by our government.

Vote for real change.

This has been brought to you by a pissed off Mom who wishes none of this bureaucratic b.s. that I have to deal with on a daily basis with schools and insurance companies on anyone else and hopes that before you think that Sarah Palin, the mother of a child with Downs Syndrome, is going to be a great advocate for parents of children with special needs, that you realize it is all just a sham. She actually cut 62% of the special education funding in her home state as governor.

Okay...somebody get this girl a glass of wine :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Quick update

Just wanted to let you all know my Mom is going to be okay. She went home from the hospital today and is feeling much better.
Thanks for all the good thoughts!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's 9:02 a.m. Do you know where your kids are?

Does anyone remember these public service announcements from when they were kids? I think it may have been an NYC affiliate thing we saw on our boob tube in New Jersey growing up. (Along with my personal favorite, the fabric pill puppets who sang the song 'This is serious! We can make you delirious! You should have a healthy fear of us. Too much of us is dangerous. No...no...no...no! Doctors tell the pharmacy. What the pills are that you will need.' And I can't remember the rest of the song, but seriously, it's weird enough that I remember that much from circa 1978.)

And, Ooh! I found it on Youtube:




Anyway, the fog is out. It is after 9 a.m. My children and other half are all still asleep.

So while it is lovely to have the quiet morning to myself, I cannot help but think it a wee bit of a cruel joke that I was unable to sleep past 7:30 on such a day.

*Edited to add: I received a call from my sister while posting. My Mom is in the hospital. I am very hopeful that what is going on with her means that it is treatable and that she will be okay, but with my Mom's past health history, I am not sure. She is apparently in a great deal of pain and my Father is naturally very upset. I am not yet sure if I need to fly there. Please, please spare an extra good thought, prayer, or lit candle for her. I am very worried.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Enough to Make a Mama Cry

Today when I picked M up at school, one of his classroom aides gave me this:


I waited to open it in the car. Good thing I did because apparently reading this prompted some sort of hormonal wash over me and I started crying like a freaking baby. They'd included a $10 gift card to Peet's Coffee with it. I was so crazily touched.
I'd mentioned how I'd had three teachers thank me while I was picking up trash at M's school. One of them asked who my child was and whose classroom he was in. I reluctantly gave her his first name only as I'd planned to do this anonymously (other than telling you guys, of course!). I can only assume that that teacher passed the word along...unless, of course one of you locals decided to call the school and rat me out :)

Sometimes we need little reminders in life that there are good people left in this world. Today I got one of those and I will cherish it and let it carry me through. You know...until the next wave of cynicism hits.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Insurance

Oh, how I wish I was talking about the type of insurance you put down at the blackjack table at Vegas. That'd be a hell of a lot more fun to deal with than the real axis of evil: medical insurance companies. As I type this I have completed 24 minutes and 36 seconds of a delightful phone call with what might be the world's thickest representative. I think they purposely hire people who cannot spell, type or take proper call notes so that you have to call in EVERY SINGLE DAY repeating yourself over and over until you wonder if you're making it all up . They're trying to beat me in an awful game of who-will-give-in-first. It is absolutely infuriating.

My current dilemma is twofold: First, I am making sure that they process some claims for M's OT sessions that I mailed in with two other claims. The person who opened the envelope went as far as to look at the very top sheet of paper, process it, and pay me back. But they decided that was as much as they wanted to do and filed the other claims in the envelope away into the insurance abyss. Second, I am trying my very hardest to speak to the elusive supervisor I left a message with last Friday. I asked to speak with her as soon as a representative answered, explaining that I'd been calling for six months on this one particular unpaid invoice and didn't want a representative's assistance anymore, thank you very much. You would not believe just how long it took her to finally give up the goods and try to connect me to the supervisor. And then she had the gall to put me on hold for a good five minutes before telling me, 'I'm sorry, Laurie is on the other line. Would you like to leave a voicemail for her?' Uh, yeah. That'd be great. Fuck you very much.

So our friend Laurie calls me back later that afternoon. Naturally it was while I was in the school picking M up, so I was unable to answer. And I know that this will shock you all as much as it did me (not), but Laurie did not leave me a returnable phone number and told me she'd try me later. It's been six days, and again you will be surprised to learn that she has not yet called me back.

So now my hot-to-my-ear portable phone reads that I have been on this current call for thirty minutes and five seconds. I started this post soon after being put on hold (for the second time) and the representative has not yet gotten back on the line. She is doing 'research' for me. You know she's sitting by the water cooler talking to her cohorts saying, 'Yeah, I've got this lady on the phone right now who has been calling in for SIX MONTHS about the same claim. HAHAHAHA. And she wants to talk to a SUPERVISOR! HAHAHAHA. She actually thinks we have supervisors here? HAHAHAHA. Oh, by the way how are your kids, Betty? Did Simon ever have that 'procedure' you'd told me about? Do you think my hair looks good in this banana clip? I'm thinking of having my spider veins removed. Oh, gosh, it's been over 10 minutes since I put that crazy lady on hold. I should probably get back to her now!'

And at 33 minutes, 10 seconds she has finally returned. She has located the other claims I was calling about. (the ones I was told they had in fact received last Friday) Funny thing was that she couldn't locate them after the first 10-minute hold she put me on for 'research.'

I am now at 34 minutes 57 seconds and she just asked me 'Is it okay if I put you on hold again for another couple of minutes.' I am not making this up, people. You're getting this live, as it is occurring. Is anyone else as appalled as I am? I am thinking that I must remember to remind this woman of the original intent of my call: to speak with the supervisor. She naturally wasn't available, which is why I had this genius look into the processing of those other claims while I had a live human on the line. I could totally see myself forgetting to remind her to leave the message for Laurie that I really, really, really need to talk to her.

Alright. I am now at 41 minutes and 33 seconds. Still on hold. Can't. Freaking. Believe. This.

And I do this about once a week. Because I have lots of free time on my hands, dontcha know.

That expatriate job the other half has coveted in Europe with my resistence is starting to look better and better.

at 43 minutes and 25 seconds I will not make you suffer this torture with me any longer. Wish me luck.

*Edit: I finally ended the call at 47 minutes, 58 seconds. I remembered to ask about Laurie again. Genius said she'd be sure to send her an email to call me. Gee, thanks.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If they chewed up everything, what would you do?

Three pairs of flip flops. One pair of crocs. Tubing to a $250 post-surgical cooling system on loan from a neighbor. Countless children's toys (drum sticks, books, boxes of pretend food). A tube of toothpaste (which fortunately was not pierced enough to eat). My other half's business cards.
A hippity hop. A car window visor. Manny Bear's hand. Monkey's hand. Drink straws. An eyeglass cleaning cloth.

You thought I was talking about one of my dogs, didn't you?

No, I was talking about M.

Today is one of those days where I am reminded of how much I hate autism. These things weren't all chewed on in one day, fortunately, but today's chewing was so incessant that I lost it *a tiny bit more* than days past.

Give me my kid back!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Short and Sweet


And so is this post...because I think I got a little verbose (one of my favorite words) the last two days.

M's first day of kindergarten was today. Aside from a minor hiccup (read: temper tantrum) we got into the classroom relatively unscathed. He was so happy when he saw the kids, the desks and all the toys, that he could barely contain his grin. He didn't look back at me, and I was able to slip out the door with no issue. As it should be!

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