Tuesday, October 28, 2008


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.


(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


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!