Saturday, January 31, 2009

Daddies Are Not Immune

The other half just got home from taking M with him to rent a video game. As they walked down the street, enjoying the beautiful weather, M was doing his happy-M-thing: a cross between a skip and a wiggle; with arms gently flailing, mouth slightly contorted, and a contented hum in his voice. The other half said that he wasn't even doing it as much as he sometimes does.

They passed two 20-somethings smoking outside of a bar. My husband heard laughter and turned around to see one of them imitating our little guy. I know the heat he felt rising through his body at that very moment.

He walked calmly over to the guy, got in his face and quietly said, 'He's autistic, and if I didn't have him here right now, I'd beat your __ ass.' (Keep in mind the other half is far from a fighter. He is the one who generally keeps a cooler head than I do!)
The guy, clearly thinking he was about to get punched, said, 'I'm sorry, man.'

The other half looked at him and said, 'One day you'll have a son...' And then he walked away.

I have to tell you..the other half just earned some points with me. If a man defending his precious son's honor isn't desirable, I don't know what is.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Fired Up

Today I was heading eastbound on a busy highway and noticed that the westbound traffic was quite backed up. The culprit? A police car who had pulled over an old pickup truck with massive photos of an aborted fetus and a giant sign that read 'ABORTION IS MURDER!'

Clearly this truck (who I had seen once before outside a local planned parenthood) wanted people to stop and look at this disturbing imagery.

So here's my question: If a rubber necker who was looking at this truck got in a wreck and died as a result of it, what would that be?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Transcending: Words on Women & Strength, by Kelly Corrigan

Wow. My friend, R, just sent this to me, and I loved it. Grab a tissue for this one.
The power of women and the friendships we form is amazing. It is something our male counterparts rarely know in the way we know. I do not have the slightest idea what I would do without my female friends. Thank you, each of you, for all that you give to me, your families, and your communities.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


-800 mcg Folic Acid
-1000 mg GABA
-150 mg Magnesium Citrate
-40 mg Zinc Picolinate
-1 Probiotic
-Nasty-tasting Multi-vitamin powder
-Methyl B-12 injection every three days

Add above ingredients (aside from the injection) to non-milk drink and stir. Try not to think about how much money the supplements cost and whether or not your child is actually getting all of them into his system via this mode. Make a note to yourself that it really would be a good idea to teach him how to swallow pills.

Do not add ANYTHING to his diet that includes gluten (wheat, barley, oats, etc.) or casein (milk/dairy, whey).

And what your little boy is made of.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Heart YouTube

I was recently thinking about the strange time in the early 2000s right after I'd been laid off from Excite@Home. I was living in L.A. I had no children. My only responsibility was picking up two giant dogs from an actress' house in Topanga. What else should I do with my time...Why, I should be on a game show, of course!
And so I found a tiny ad on Craigslist searching for contestants for a new game show hosted by John McEnroe called 'The Chair.'

I went to the all-day audition where I filled out personality tests, tried to act cute and personable for an on-screen test (one of the casters said that they all thought I was 'instantly likeable,' ha!), and then had to sign up to come back for a stress test, physical, and urine test once I'd been told that I'd made it past round one.

At this point in my life I enjoyed, well, smoking something that wasn't exactly copacetic for this show. You see, 'The Chair' was a game show whose premise was that you had to answer trivia questions while keeping your heart rate below a predetermined number. They wouldn't want you to be on the show in an altered state that would cause your heart rate to go any slower.

So I spent $25 at the local head shop for a nasty-tasting drink that I chugged down on the way to the physical. I had to ride a bike with a bunch of electrodes attached to me for nearly 30 minutes. After I peed in the cup, the nurse remarked, 'Wow, that is some very healthy looking pee!' Um, yeah...

Success! I passed the test and was scheduled for the first taping. I'd already spent two full days at the studio and was told the third would be the longest. They weren't kidding.

I arrived at the studio at around 9 am with several changes of clothing, makeup, and a book. (that I wasn't allowed to read) I, along with the other contestants, spent much of the day sitting on our duffs in blue velour recliners while they measured our resting heart rates. We did this for 3 hours while covered by a blanket. We were not allowed to close our eyes or make any visible movements. My tactic was to do kegels in a futile attempt to make my heart rate a tiny bit faster and give me some sort of advantage. No such luck, however; my resting heart rate was 68, quite low. They 'gave you' 25% on top of that, and you were not to go above that magical number or you wouldn't be able to answer a question, and eventually your time would be up.

After a really bad hoagie, some time getting makeup caked on, signing a contract with the studio that said that I wouldn't sue them if I DIED, and more peeing in a cup, (which, yes, required another $25 purchase from the head shop), they came into the room to tell us who the lucky first-person-ever-in-the-chair was going to be. You guessed it: yours truly.

It was total chaos. Seriously, this crew had no idea what the hell they were doing. Everyone kept shuffling me around here and there, talking in hurried voices, and generally making me way more nervous than I already was. And then the lights came on, a cameraman stood, and they told me to start walking down this corridor through all of these crazy pyrotechnics. I then had to buckle myself into 'the chair' and was hoisted up through the floor into a round room where the audience surrounded me, gladiator-style, and John McEnroe appeared as though he were the devil, in front of me. In truth, he was actually a pretty cool guy and the only real bright spot in this whole experience.

Let's just say it didn't end up well. My heart rate was out of control and I wasn't able to even answer the first simple question: What is the name of Harry Potter's Owl? During this time, the other half had been whisked away into a private viewing room to watch my pathetic performance while being taped cheering me on. If you know the other half, you know that acting is not his strong suit, nor is doing anything that might deem him a bit cheesy. So after maybe 60 seconds in the chair, I was whisked back down to the depths of hell with a collective 'Awwww' from the audience, and a 'So sorry' from Mac. In the viewing room, the other half was asked to reenact his cheering for me. "But she already lost!" was his reply. He had to do it again anyway...

I had to then wait in a holding room for four more hours with no tv, the same hoagie I'd eaten hours earlier, and the other half. I was NOT happy, nor was he. This game show had ended up costing me money. And to add insult to injury? They cut me from the show along with all but three of the other contestants I suffered with. And even better than that? They deemed the show 'too hard' and gave future contestants more than 25% over their resting heartbeats. Bastards.

So here is the intro to the first show. I'm shown in three different points. (2:09, 2:27, 2:57) Get your laughs...I'd be doing the same if I were you!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Today's Lesson...

Do not take precociously-verbal, two-year-old with you next time M has to have his eyes examined.
Asking M what the pictures on the screen were and hearing a tiny voice yell from the other side of the exam room 'Duck! Hand!' was cute the first two times. Not-so-cute the 10 times after that.
The doctor was very sweet about it, bless her. But I'm fairly certain she, like me, wanted to wring his adorable, cowboy boot-wearing neck. In a good way, of course :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I See You

I see you sitting on the bench in front of my car. Just because you are wearing sunglasses does not mean I can't see the judgment that lies beneath them. You look at us as though you assume I don't hear the nonsensical screams of gibberish--the kicking of the seat of my car--or see the snot streaming across my son's cheek. You assume that because I am not responding to this outburst that I must be 'one of those parents.' Because my child doesn't necessarily look different, you make assumptions about he and I. In a matter of seconds you think you've got us pegged. I do not like to use the A word as an excuse, but in situations like these, it's the only one I've got in my arsenal.

I dare you with my eyes to say something to me. Though I know it isn't right, I already have prepared statements in my head; ready to fire back at you should you challenge me. I've met people like you before, and strangely enough, they all seem to fit a similar profile: Anglo woman, 50s to 70s, likely a Mother yourself, though time has clearly fogged your memory of what this feels like. Were your children really always angels out in public? Did you have friends with children whose needs were 'different' from your own? Perhaps if you had, then we wouldn't be here now together. Or was it that because your generation shut away kids like mine that you really just don't know? I want to scream at you that I continue to try to go out in public because I am a social creature. I like to shop. I have to sometimes take my children to the grocery store, or to try on a new pair of shoes. And by God, don't I deserve to be able to do those things, too, just like you?

I think if I asked you those things your response might be something like this: 'Children that misbehave like that in public need to be put in time out and spanked!'

I think this way because one of you said that to me once. You said it in a noisy, family-filled restaurant where my hungry, tired child was most certainly not the only one pitching a fit. You said it with venom in your voice, and though your husband apologized when we explained the situation, you did not. I wonder if you still think of us. How I cried and got my food to go. How we walked across the street from that restaurant and ate peacefully at a picnic table instead. How every time I thought about it on the drive home, I got a pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes. You were my first, and I knew that you would not be my last.

And so here we are today. And I promise if you say anything more than what you are saying with your eyes, I will show you just how prepared I am for you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Having A Voice

While reading a few of the other blogs I frequent, I realized that most of these writers have their own voice...a tone to their blogging that feels consistent, personable, and true to the people I'm getting to know them to be. Is it just me, or is my 'voice' becoming a little too whiny? A little too self-serving? A little too pessimistic?

Or maybe that is my real voice?

Crap...somebody throw me some happy juice, quick!!

You might not guess it, but I've struggled with my cup being half empty vs. half full all of my life. I do have a zest for life and happiness. I do see joy in seemingly joyless things. And yet, I'm still always waiting for the other shoe to drop. For the gong to sound. For the sand to run out. (For my brain to come up with some more cliches)

When I started this blog all the way back in June (!), I wasn't at all sure what direction I wanted it to go in. I had no purpose for it, really. I just thought it would be sort of cathartic to type out my feelings. Truth is, well, I'm not always totally truthful here. I definitely hold back. Part of that is so I don't sound like a completely insane, insensitive, schmuck. And part of it is to maintain at least a tiny bit of privacy for my family. I really think there's only one person in this world who has heard the worst of the thoughts that enter my head. (Thank you, L. What would I do without you?!)

I want to start blogging with a little more purpose. I'm still going to post things like "This day sucked ass." Or, "If I had a dollar for every time I said, 'M, get your mouth off the couch,' I'd be rich." But for the most part, I'm hoping to be able to be a bit more meaningful in what I write.

My buddy, Gwendomama, introduced me to a woman who is forming a blogging community for parents of kids with special needs. I'm thrilled that I'm going to contribute to it at least once a month. It is going to be rewarding to have a 'job' to do, aside from my demanding job of mothering. Once the site is up and running, I hope you'll show your support to the other contributors as well. In the meantime, you can check out the personal blogs of some of the writers who are already on board.

And with that, I'm going to go fill my glass--half full--with some red wine and enjoy this beautiful sunset!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Things I Would Like To Have Happen For 24 Hours

1. For M to stop chewing...on EVERYTHING. Still. My guess is this is why we have all shared strep with one another this week. You should see our leather chair and couch. Argh. I need to do a super, duper, decontaminating, wipe down of everything in this house today.

2. For M to stop asking to watch this, that, and the other on tv. The only time I feel like he is engaged with anything is when he's in front of the tv, and I know that isn't good.

3. For M to want to play. The other half found a photo from when he was about three years old in our old, four-acre property. His face looked so healthy and alive, pink with sun and the sweatiness of having just run his little legs off. Where is that boy? I'm not saying he did that all the time, but at least he did it some of the time.

4. For M to stop making humming sounds constantly. There is rarely a moment of quiet in this house. Someone is always making some sort of sound, and that can be annoying after awhile, especially when you specifically ask for one second of quiet so that you can listen to that noise you heard outside that sort of freaked you out. No such luck.

5. For me to not feel the need to type out a list of things I would like M to stop doing for a day. I love this little guy with all my heart, but damn, sometimes these quirks can be maddening. I suck. I know.

Monday, January 12, 2009

NPH Is (Gasp!) G-A-Y?

My other half and I are big fans of the show "How I Met Your Mother." It was slow warming up to it, but now we are totally hooked; and mostly in thanks to Barney Stinson, played by no other than Doogie Howser himself, otherwise known as Neil Patrick Harris.

NPH is brilliant in this show. Hell, he's brilliant in general. He is versatile, funny, good looking, and cracks my shit up. He recently hosted SNL and I could not get enough of it.

I, being a female who appreciates a gay man and all of his fabulousness, welcomed NPH with open arms as he came out to People Mag a couple of years ago. I mean, we're going to find out that Wolverine is gay one of these days too, aren't we? Because straight men just don't sing that great or look that put together all the time, right?

I think the other half had developed a sort of hetero, bro-crush on NPH after watching his character, Barney, in action for the past year or so. Or was it from his famed cameos in Harold & Kumar movies? Either way, I am not quite sure how he missed the fact that NPH came out a couple of years ago. I am a devoted subscriber to People Magazine, and though the other half claims to never read them, I find them tucked away in the magazine rack next to the toilet, and I'm quite sure I'm not the one who left them there.

Anyhow, the other day after he was having a hearty laugh over another of Barney's antics toward the opposite sex, I said, 'Isn't it amazing that even though he plays this character so well, he's gay in real life?'

The other half got a bit pale. He may have actually burped up some of his wine that he was drinking. 'He is NOT gay,' he said, quite sure of himself. 'Uh, yes, he is. Didn't you read it in People?'

'Naw!' (said in a sort of "pshaw" kind of way) 'He's NOT really gay! he really?'

Bless him, he is all manly man, that other half of mine. He had his first hetero boy crush, but because of circumstances completely out of his control, he is unable to continue to acknowledge those feelings. I believe Neil Patrick Harris...pardon me...I mean, Barney Stinson, would say that that is Bro Code #75.

Meanwhile back at the ranch...American Idol starts tomorrow. M and I can't wait!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Beauty All Around Me (Or, 'Link Happy')

The other half has been out of town for six days now. As most Moms can attest, sometimes things are much easier when you leave your house. Maybe it's because you can tack on drive time in the countdown to bedtime?

I find my odds of successful trips alone with the boys are tipped in my favor to about 60% good over 40% disastrous. It's that 10% that allows me to keep trying, and I'm often glad that I do.

Today after watching waaaay too much Playhouse Disney I noticed that just outside my windows, hey!, it was 60 degrees outside, sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and beckoning us to come play. I searched 'kid activities Bay Area' and saw that in Sonoma they have a place called Train Town. Perfect for my train-loving boys, and perfect for me because I have a total crush on Sonoma.

I always second guess such plans when getting the boys ready, letting the dogs out to pee, packing our bag with snacks and other necessities, and walking down THESE FREAKING STAIRS, YET AGAIN for 'x' item that I curse myself for having forgotten on the last trip. (Have I mentioned yet how WRONG this floor plan has been for my family? I can promise you I will never use a StairMaster for fear of the flashbacks I will have of the endless ups and downs I execute on these stairs each day.)

Once the keys are finally in the ignition, and I've made peace with the fact that I forgot B's special car, etc., I actually get into a great state of mind...that is, of course, until mile 53.5 happens and B's patience is up, and the sun is shining in his eyes, and 'oh, Mommy, hold my water,' (reach around to grab his cup), 'NO! Mine!'

'Just 10 more miles, boys,' I say while taking measured breaths.

'Just five more miles and we'll see the trains!'

'B! If you want to ride the darned train, you need to stop whining and behave!'

Long story longer, Train Town was okay. If you're already in Sonoma, check it out because you pay for what you want to do, and it's relatively cheap. However, because it is run mostly by unenthusiastic, mumbling, teenage boys, it's all about the fun that Mama is making for the kids, not the staff.

The boys had a good time and didn't want to leave, but I knew we all needed to eat before the hungry whines set in. We went to Amigo's Mexican Restaurant. We'd been here once before and loved it. If you're on a gluten-free diet, this place it tops. They even have a gluten-free menu if you ask for it. A woman I assume was one of the owners, even let me look through her Triumph Dining, nation-wide gluten-free restaurant guide that I am for sure going to order. She asked about how M was diagnosed as celiac and I explained to her that he had autism, and therefore some assumptions are made as to his gut issues and possible food sensitivities. She made my family feel so comfortable, and she and the waitress took excellent care of us. It was a great, yummy meal! (and not a bad margarita to boot!)

The boys were out about two minutes after leaving the restaurant, so I decided that it was probably in my best interest to drive the 20 miles to Napa to buy a few bottles of wine from one of my favorite wineries, Peju Province.

As I drove home from Napa, I looked to my left and saw the most beautiful, biggest, brightest moon guiding me from over the mountains. It was difficult to concentrate on the road for all its beauty.

I am going to miss this place.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

If Only There Were More Fred Rogers In The World...

...Wow. Just wow.

He Knows What He Likes And What He Doesn't

Through history there are a few words that can make a kid howl. Interestingly enough, two of these words are related to bodily functions.

B knows that he does NOT like poop:

Monday, January 5, 2009

How Much Is Enough (Or Too Much?)

I was deeply saddened to read about John Travolta's son, Jett, passing. It is reported that Jett suffered from Kawasaki Disease, which lead to seizures and developmental delays.
In one of the articles I read, a lawyer for the family mentioned that Jett had two, round-the-clock nannies, and even bells on his door to monitor his coming and going.

We are fortunate that M is a child who tends to stay put for the most part. I feel comfortable leaving him watching a show while I take a shower. I don't worry about him getting out the front door, mostly because he doesn't have the manual dexterity to open it. In truth, I worry much more about these sorts of things with B, but I know that there will come a time when M is bigger and I will have to be much more aware of his whereabouts just like John Travolta and his wife had to be about Jett's.

What really got me thinking about all of this is an incident that occurred yesterday. M has been participating in an adaptive/therapeutic horseback riding program for a couple of years now. I suppose part of the reason for this is my own selfish desires to be around such glorious animals, but the biggest reasons are that it is excellent for helping children with low muscle tone gain core strength, as well as giving them a beautiful way to connect with animals...perhaps even giving M a skill that he can use later on in life.

Anyhow, yesterday was the second week where the instructor felt comfortable letting M ride with only another instructor leading the horse--no side walkers like we usually have. Her reasoning being that M tends to rely too heavily on the side walkers and doesn't use enough of his own muscle power to hold his body upright. Last week he was 'on,' so I wasn't worried about it. However, this week, I just had that gut feeling that he was going to fall off. I even told the head instructor several times as we were watching him off to the side of the round pen. I have very strong intuition. As goofy as it may sound, it is somewhere between intuition and ESP. The bad part about this, is that it only seems to guide me in negative situations!

It played out like this: Soon after I'd said that I was sensing some bad juju and was very worried that M was going to fall, a student (and stable assistant) who was exercising another pony in the same pen fell off when the pony spooked. She managed to beautifully maneuver the fall by grabbing onto the pony's neck and mane and vaulting off to the side. We all nervously laughed off the coincidence that I'd just mentioned the bad juju and continued to watch M ride. At this point, he was on a lunge line, which means that instead of the instructor holding onto a lead rope in front of the horse, the horse's bridle had a line of rope that the instructor held perpendicular to the horse, thus allowing the horse to walk around her in circles. I started to feel even more nervous and had to actually put my head down so as to not watch. In my head I was thinking, 'How will this play out?' 'Should I tell the instructor that I want to stop now?' But I tend to talk myself out of these deep feelings because I question whether or not I am just being overly protective.

Not long after this, the pony spooked. He immediately went from a walk to a gallop and then reared a bit, tossing my little guy to the ground. He bonked his head quite hard, showing just how important a helmet really is. I ran to him as he was midair, but could only get there in time to hold him and reassure him that everything was going to be okay. Fortunately, he seemed to just have a bit of a bump on his head and a tiny bruise behind his ear where his glasses had pressed into his head. He was so upset, but I held him and told him how brave he was. We all decided that if he would allow it, it was best for him to get back on the pony, this time with the instructor's assistance. He finally stopped crying and we put him on the horse with his instructor and they gently walked around the pen for a bit longer. When we were done, I stood to the side of the pony and grabbed M from the instructor. Wouldn't you know that as I was doing that the pony stepped right on my big toe! Fortunately I had pasture boots on with a small, steel toe, so there wasn't any damage. But it definitely hurt!

I learned later on that there were several earthquakes a few hours north of us. They began about 1.5 hours before this incident. We'd seen no signs of what could have spooked these ponies, but I believe they felt the earth's tremors.

To get back to my point (and to once again blow resolution #1 out of the water!) when I told the other half about the event (even though I'd questioned doing so), he immediately said that we had to stop riding, and that M could have died. He's right...M could have died. He honestly could have. That's a scarier-than-shit thought. There is no doubt that you take on an added risk when you choose to mingle with 500 to 1000 pound animals. But when is the risk outweighing the good of taking the chance? Will I worry this much if B wants to ride a horse one day? Is it only different because M is different? I don't want to overly coddle my children. I want to keep them safe, of course, but I don't want them to be scared either. We parents of children with special needs are more frightened of every little thing than parents of typical children, I believe. I think it's due to the fact that if something happened, as it did to Jett Travolta, that we would question our role as parents, as the ones who are supposed to protect our children, even more...because these kids aren't necessarily able to do it for themselves. I don't mean that to come across as though I think that you wouldn't have the same feelings if something happened to a typical child--naturally you would. It is one of many things that I am unable to truly put into words about this experience. So I hope that you will forgive me if it sounds as though I believe my feelings might be superior to a parent with a typical child. That is most certainly not my intent.

Wishing the Travolta family and every family who loses a child peace and the ability to carry on.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Someone Kick Me In The Arse, Please

Dear, me, what was with all that self-pity, wallowing-in-my-sorrows, tear-in-my-beer, rubbish the past few days?!

I'd say, if I were you readers out there in blogland, that I need to buck up, little camper, and take note of all the good things in my life, yes?

I mean, we are healthy. We have a beautiful roof over our heads. The other half has a great job. Our families love us.

Today is the day to make resolutions. To decide to take baby steps forward to bigger and better things. To Jack Handy-it and load myself up with some positive affirmations. Because I am good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me. (Sorry...couldn't resist)

And so here they are:

1. Try to be less wordy. It has been a problem I have always dealt with in both my written and verbal prose. (I have the least confidence in achieving this first one, I must say)

2. Say "I'm sorry" less. It has been brought to my attention by several of my beautiful friends (ahem) that I say this too often. It must be a part of my Catholic upbringing. And the funniest smack in the head has come from B who has now started also saying 'I'm sorry' all. the. time. The poor kid can trip and fall all on his own, and then will look at me and say, 'Sorry, Mommy.' Geez!

3. Be more patient with Miles and continue to work on what I refer to as 'unintuitive parenting.' His therapists are teaching me the hard lesson that with a child like Miles; heck, with ANY child; it's best to not react during tantrums so as to not provide negative feedback. I have to try and remain as calm as possible through it and then offer praise when he has calmed down. (The other half is having much greater difficulty with this one than I am. It's hard, people!)

4. Enjoy life more. This one needs no more explanation.

5. Get in shape finally. I know I'd feel better. I just need to freaking do it.

Well, with this post alone, I've already broken resolution number one.

What are your resolutions?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 In Review

(Or, The year my hair got a lot grayer, my stomach got a lot flabbier, and a whole lotta weird shit happened)

I was thinking of the wild ride the past year has been and thought I would bullet point (or 'dash' point, as it were) the highlights:

-Almost exactly one year ago to the day I quit smoking. Like for good. As in, I can't stand the smell of them and though I'm pretty sure I am no longer as fun as I used to be when I did smoke, I am very proud of this achievement and don't care to go back. Aside from two pregnancies and a period thereafter, I smoked since I was 15 years old. (I'm 35--eek!) Oh, and please don't tell my parents. I may be a grownup, but this is still information I prefer to keep away from them. It's much more fun to hear my Dad still sometimes say, "I can't believe you used to let your friends smoke in your car during high school." Uh, okay, Dad.

-One year ago we quickly learned and decided that we were going to transfer to California.

-One year ago we started a paint-the-house and remodel-the-master-bath project in anticipation of selling our home.

-One year ago we were two weeks away from saying goodbye to our sixteen year old German exchange student and her eating disorders.

-One year ago we were a couple of days away from the other half already leaving us to work in California during the week. He only came home on the weekends. This would go on for four months until we were able to join him. In case you were wondering; yes, it did suck. Bad.

-11 months ago I flew out (by myself) for a house hunting trip and an amazing couple of days to myself here on the coast where I wined, dined, spa'd, and rode horses.

-10 months ago I flew with B for another house hunting trip where we realized that there was not much to choose from, and it was hella (I got that from the east Bay kids!) expensive to get something comparable to what we had back on the mother ship. Oh, and on this trip, we almost got kicked out of our hotel because B would not sleep at all. This trip's icing was my flight home with him where Linda Blair from "The Exorcist" invaded his body and made him THAT BABY on the plane, and me a sweaty, stressed out mess.

-Almost nine months ago the movers came and packed up the house we loved so much. We, in turn, said goodbye to my parents, drove the boys to Plano to drop them off with the other grandparents, and then started our 2000 mile trek across the country in a sweet minivan with three dogs, two cats, and high hopes.

-Seven and a half months ago B took a tumble down one of our many flights of stairs and chipped his front tooth in half. Don't worry, it adds character.

-Seven months ago L was visiting with her little girl, and while I had my back to them, B pounced on the old-aged legs of our sleeping dog and in turn ended up in plastic surgery at Stanford Hospital. We ended up with the tough decision of what to do about our dog and ended up keeping her. We had to put our dog in quarantine for awhile. The whole thing was awful and I do not wish any of it on anyone, nor will I pass judgment on someone's choices made after such an event.

-Six months ago the other half had his third surgery on his knee. He was a pretty good patient in terms of not being too whiny, but a horrible patient in that he said he was going to 'kick this surgery's ass' and put weight on the knee and did way more than he was supposed to early on. Needless to say, he then ended up having a longer recovery and the damned thing still isn't quite right.

-Five months ago my overly-dramatic sister called me first thing in the morning with panic and tears in her voice to tell me that Mom was in the hospital. She pretty much had me convinced that I would need to get on a plane soon to go visit my mother before she died. As my Mom tells it, she sort of wished at the time that she could have died because she was in so much pain. All is well, though, and it was just a bad case of diverticulitis. No more popcorn or nuts for her. Poor Mama.

-Five months ago M's old teacher and her daughter flew in from the mother ship to watch the boys for a few days while we went down to Monterey and Paso Robles. It was a great trip! (HA! See? I did have something positive to say!)

-Three months ago I turned 35. Lamest. Birthday. Ever. I'm pretty sure the other half had actually forgotten about it until I said something. Make note that 36 will be festive and spent doing something that I want to do. Seriously...make note!

-Two and one half months ago we hired an autism specialist to observe and assess sweet M. He tested between 9-12 months, cognitively. We know he can do more than that, and so does she, but it still hurt to see it typed up in the report.

-Two and one half months ago we officially realized just how downhill our child had gone since moving. The changes are drastic. Looking at photos from before we moved is heartbreaking. This is NOT the same child, and this is NOT an exaggeration.

-Two months ago I totally should not have gone on a sanity-saving, no-babies, no-husbands, allowed girls' trip. But I did. And damn, I had myself a good time. (See? Another positive thing!)

-Less than one month ago I went back to the mother ship. I was supposed to stay for a week, but ended up staying for 11 days. I never left a 10-mile radius of my in-laws' house. I needed the TLC from Grandma as much as my children did. I needed to sleep in. I needed to drink wine every single night. I needed to watch my children smile every day as they played with their cousins, aunts and uncles. I have always been ready to go home. This time I was not.

-Two weeks ago we decided, for sure, that we need to leave this beautiful place we were lucky to have returned to, if even just for little while. If it was possible to remove M from the equation (which, of course, it is not) I would be able to look through my rose-colored glasses and recall the view of the ocean from every window of my house and how it makes me feel every day that I am lucky enough to see it. Or how I have made really amazing friends here. I have so much in common with these women and I can only hope that *somehow* we will be able to continue our friendships once I am gone. I also can recall that one, really successful trip to the beach with the boys and how on top of the world and confident I felt after it. Or the way I feel as I drive north on Highway 1 toward San Francisco, the most beautiful city in the world, over Devil's Slide, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline I have ever seen. Or the fact that even though we've only done it once since we've been back, Sonoma is just a short drive away. There is so much beauty and wonder in this place....if only all the pieces of the puzzle could have fit.

This has been a hard year, no doubt about it. My optimism is waning. 2008 ended in my favorite number from my youth. It clearly didn't serve me well. However, 2009 ends in the other half's favorite number and he puts a hell of a lot more weight into that than I do. So maybe the number nine will become my favorite number, too. I am anxious to see if that is the case.

Wishing you all well in 2009. Happy New Year!

Oh, and SUCK IT, 2008 :)