Friday, March 30, 2007

Fish Friday

Growing up we had fish Friday. Every single Friday, I kid you not. My parents were kinda old school Catholics (still are!) and even though they were involved in the Charismatic Movement in the church (which at the time was considered very modern thinking!) they still held onto many of the parts of Catholicism from pre-Vatican II. Since my father was a convert (his parents were sort-of practicing Episcopalians and my Nana was raised Mennonite) he took things very seriously. That included Friday meal selections.

Every Friday, all year long, my parents abstain from meat. Even during non-Lenten times they insist that no meat will touch their lips on a Friday. They would shriek in horror if they found out we had something from the cafeteria at lunch that might possibly be described as meat (although, school food then was Grade D but edible and the meat looked like plastic). To this day they have fish on Fridays.

A typical fish Friday meal consisted of tuna casserole, Mrs. Paul's crunchy fish sticks or (every once in a while) frozen flounder fillets. Not the most appetizing stuff, y'all. If we were outhouse lucky, and my mom had no fish, then we ate grilled cheese and tomato soup or pizza. I remember occasionally eating pancakes or eggs on Fish Friday but that was very rare. We almost began to expect tuna casserole every week.

Once we grew up and moved out of the house my parents began splurging on fish. They would either go out to one of their favorite diner/eateries and have THE SAME THING EVERY WEEK or would buy some fresh or frozen fish at the market. For people who have LITERALLY eaten the same thing on the same day every week of their lives together this is a big deal. I mean, once in a while they would get all crazy with their bad selves and have a frozen breaded veal patty on a Sunday instead of the required roast and potatoes (and canned peas) but we are talking VERY seldom, folks. I am telling you now! If my mother eats out for breakfast, it is always, ALWAYS, a cheese omelet, side of bacon and a glass of milk. If my mother eats out at lunch it is grilled cheese with a tomato on it. If my parents go out to dinner (which they now do most Fridays, or did for years) they order fried, breaded flounder with stewed tomatoes and mac and cheese. If they are feeling really wild and rebellious they order crab cakes. On non-Fridays (rare) Mom orders surf-n-turf (a very lame steak and a crab cake) and dad orders pork chops or steak. Such epicureans.

I kid you not. This is the truth. We grew up on one-pot meals with potatoes every night. There was always bread on the table (bread is filling!) and we ate the same thing every week. Feeding a family of nine (plus the random foster babies we would have) is expensive and I know my mother did the best she could on one salary. She did not return to work until half of us were teens or beyond. The problem is that she still cooks this way. The only one living at home is my leech brother. Thirty years old and still living at home, mom does his laundry. Do NOT get me started on that topic!

I do observe Fridays in Lent. I fast and do not eat meat. Tonight I will no doubt be super-lame and eat pizza or make mac and cheese, just because it is frozen and I can make it in five minutes. I just cannot bring myself to eat fish on Fridays. Traumatic childhood events dictate that. Even with homemade tartar sauce and ketchup Mrs. Paul's fish sticks taste like sand and cardboard.

Maybe I will make some tuna casserole. Or not, since no one else eats it. But, just for fun, here is our family recipe, with some Mj special touches thrown in:

Tuna Casserole

  • One can of tuna, drained (we prefer White Albacore in Water!)
  • One can of cream of celery soup
  • one cup of milk
  • One 8 oz package of cooked egg noodles, we use no-yolks.

Break tuna up with a fork, mix with can of soup and milk. Stir well. Add hot noodles. Bake in 350 degree over for twenty to thirty minutes, or until bubbly and begins to turn brown.
For fun: Add shredded cheese in the mix before adding noodles. Sprinkle Parmesan and bread crumbs on top to make a nice crusty and crunchy casserole top. We have also sauteed onions and celery (chopped small) in butter or olive oil and added that to the mix as well. We've also steamed veggies or nuked frozen ones (peas and broccoli work OK, skip anything too watery or soggy. ) and thrown those in to make a one-dish meal.


Thursday, March 29, 2007


Wanna know what I feel like doing today? DO YOU? Huh? DO you?

Nothing. Absosmurfly nothing.

I've been burning the candle at both ends the past few weeks and Bugaboo is about to have a two week break. There is a decent amount of housework done and the routines are caught up. I am just not going to go out of my way to do anything special today.

This afternoon I will take a nap. I have been having some difficulty falling asleep the past few nights (thanks to Darling) and I have been awake, staring at the ceiling, until midnight. Of course, this gives me plenty of time for irrational thoughts. You know the variety? "If I lock this door and then put this in front of it and nail the window shut and do XYZ then Bugaboo won't escape and I might get to actually sit down for a few minutes..." or "If I move X appointment to Thursday and so-and-so comes with me on Wednesday and I pack PBJs for all five kids I can handle taking them to the Franklin Institute on that day..."

Yeah. I'm crazy like that.

Of course, it also gives me time for contemplating things I never knew were important in my life. Things you hear on Jeopardy. Like, "What is the largest country in Africa (The Sudan)?" or "What was the best-selling box office film in 2006(Pirates of the Caribbean)?" or "What movies has Kevin Bacon NOT been in (Not many to speak of)?"

Checkbook? It can balance itself. Paperwork for Neurology? They sent me the new patient stuff by mistake, I AIN'T filling two packets out AGAIN before we see the new Neuro in May, we filled it out SIX MONTHS AGO. Dinner? Planning on a super-easy one. Shower? I will get one eventually.

The past few weeks I have been trying to do things for me. Me, myself and I. I have been learning quite a bit about myself and it is nice. For example, I have discovered that I like painting my toenails blue and people can just shove it if they don't like it. I have learned that I will not snack in between meals when I am busy, I am not really hungry when I pick at the fridge in the afternoon. I now know that I do not like to watch television and have not turned it on in weeks, even my beloved Discovery Health documentaries. I have learned I can shut the basement door and pretend the basement does not exist and therefore it does not need to be cleaned because, afterall, it isn't really there. You know, out of sight, out of mind?

Most of all, I have learned that by taking a little time for myself I am a much happier wife and mother. Just getting a shower and putting on some decent clothes is enough to lift my spirits. Getting a few basics done in the morning is all I need to feel a sense of accomplishment. Planning to make a few meals a week blesses my family and helps them to realize that I do care about them. It all seems so simple yet it was the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. Taking care of me is HARD!!!

More taking care of me is going to take place in the future. It started out as a Lenten goal. It seems silly that I would do something seemingly selfish instead of sacrificing something I crave. But giving up chocolate or potatoes is meaningless. I know I can eat them again someday so that is not a sacrifice. Believe it or not, putting myself first is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. At first I felt as if I was neglecting housewife duties or letting down my family. After a few days I realized that in order for my family to be happy I must be taken care of. How can I bless my family if I am not my whole, true self? How can I possibly teach them to be loving and caring and to take care of themselves when I do not do that for myself? I remember YEARS where my mother did not get her hair cut or cut her own hair or wore the same dreadful clothes because she felt that she could not take anything from us. While I admire her stance I realized that part of the reason my mother is the way she is today is because she NEVER does anything for herself. I mean, she buys new clothes now and used to go to the hairdresser (until her hair fell out and she started wearing wigs, but that is a story for another day) but she still works a full-time job for SOMEONE ELSE and takes care of my grandmother in her spare time. She does nothing for her. It is all about other people. And while I admire that she is so selfless (and so self-centered at the same time, she does this stuff to feel good about herself) she truly does not love herself. This I know as fact. So what kind of example does she set? That it is alright to ignore your own needs and put others ahead of you just so you can burn out quickly and become a slave to others? That it is acceptable to never, ever take time to be with yourself and never know who you really are because you are always answering someone else's call?

Next up? A spa day (hopefully) or an overnight with my sisters. We tried to plan one in March that fell through because two of us had multiple activities going on that day. My older sister has been bugging me to do it again, as has my older older sister. I realize that we need to do this! Stay in our jammies, sleep in, go for very long walks, watch chick flicks and do crafty stuff, sounds good to me!

There is something to be said about goofing off!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Warning: TMI!

So, let's just say that the month of March is nearly over and I relented and decided that I would indeed snuggle with Darling last night. You know, "snuggle?" Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. I figured, it is the end of the month, I am not ovulating, I am not in my fertile-myrtle mucus period so why not? And it was nice to relieve some stress. 'Nuff said.

Just us, kids asleep. Dog in the other room (because if we don't lock her out she stands by the bed whining and staring at us). Without getting graphic, I just want to comment that I feel like a teenager when we "snuggle" and it makes me feel alive. Amazing what S.E.X. can do for you, huh? I guess that is why people like it so much.

I don't worry about my sagging girls. I do not worry about my ample posterior. I do not worry about the crow's feet or pimples on my face, nor the fact that I haven't shaved in three days (well, Darling might worry). I do not worry about the ONE stretch mark on my belly and the FIVE MILLION Stretch marks on my girls. I do not worry about thigh dimples or varicose veins. It's just me and Darling. An out of body experience. A nice vacation.

We need to do this more often...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rant Fest Over

I've had enough of the posts where I biatch and complain about how horrible it is. I think I was in a funky mood then. I am better now. So, please read the former post at your own risk. It ain't pretty.

My sister has given me some food for thought. Do I love myself? How can I take care of others if I do not take care of me? I have been trying the past few weeks to do a better job, getting better sleep and staying organized and on top of things helps TREMENDOUSLY!!! That is why I do Flylady, for support and guidance. I feel that if I can stay organized I am not as frazzled, do not come down hard on myself and things seem much more peaceful. I made a major effort this morning to stay organized and I am doing well at this moment. I took some time to take care of ME (did my hair, painted my nails, beauty stuff) and now I feel much better. I still got housework done but there was no rush. THe house is in decent shape, routines are caught up and except for the fact that we need to do some painting it looks good in here. Except for the basement. I promise, I will not procrastinate forever.

Okey doke, time's up on teh 'puter. Time to get back to work.

The Magic Pill, Revisited

Perhaps I was a little too quick with my conclusion.

Let's just say the past few days (weeks, months) were difficult. I know that NO ONE SAID IT WOULD BE EASY, but what do you do when your child is exhausted and yet cannot stop moving? Or knows that he is not supposed to touch things, but cannot control the impulse to touch it? Or knows that he is not supposed to run outside, but MUST RUN OUT IN THE STREET because he cannot control himself?

This poor child has not stopped moving in months. I mean, we always knew he had energy, more than the average three-to-four-year-old, but this is getting out of hand. He seriously does. not. stop. Ever. He CAN'T stop. I know it is upsetting to him. It is upsetting to us! We are frustrated because he is frustrated. We do not know how to help him.

On one hand I would like to blame it on the seizure medications. They are supposed to make him drowsy, sleepy, slow him down. He is supposed to be improving behavior-wise. He is supposed to be sleeping well at night! These medications are working for Bug Boy. He has only woken up a handful of times with night terrors or other reasons. His meltdowns have STOPPED COMPLETELY except for the occasional, normal, six-year-old temper tantrum. I feel as if it is the answer to our prayers with him. His attention is better, his mood is better, his energy level is better. He is happier! YEAH!

But Bugaboo is not doing well on them. He has been waking up nightly for the past three months, after three months of him getting back on track. In school, he is improving by leaps and bounds. He has a TSS that is working well with him. His teacher and the staff are AMAZING, I kid you not. He has the occasional moment at school when he just will not do something, but on the whole he is doing well. Once he steps off of the bus, however, it is an entirely different story. The seizure meds are wearing off, he has been through eight hours of demanding "work" and is tired. The paradox is that once he passes through the treshold of being exhausted he actually becomes more hyperactive. The more exhausted he seems to be the more destructive behaviors he exhibits. He comes home and stims, stims, stims. He does not seem to be having fun when he comes home. He seems lost, cannot slow himself down, seems empty. We look forward to getting him to bed instead of looking forward to spending time with him. I feel guilty about that.

Bugaboo takes all of my energy. I save it all day so that in the four hours (four until eight) that I spend with him I have enough energy to get through it. Some days I do not. He takes more energy than the average child, I would say three times as much as Bug Boy. I can deal with a typical child all day before I lose it. With Bugaboo I am lucky to make that four hours. As a parent it is frustrating. I am SUPPOSED to deal with this. But some days (like last night) I cannot. I called Darling and told him I was done, DONE for the evening. I told him I could not handle taking them to indoor soccer, even if it was an hour break for me. He dropped everything and ran home, wolfed down his dinner and took the boys to soccer. Once there, he and I walked the track the entire hour. It felt GREAT and gave me enough of a recharge to finish the evening.

The moral? I need to get back on a consistent gym schedule. I have not gained weight and I have been eating better (and, surprisingly, less) than I have in years. I feel well health-wise. I just need to relax more. Relax=exercise as much as humanly possible, in Marj-Math. So, back to daily walks and three to four trips a week to the Y. I finally renewed the membership after forgetting to stop by three weeks in a row!

Magic Pill? Last night I wanted one. I HAD IT. It was especially difficult for Darling who had never really seen an older child with severe autism. I was telling him about the different children last night and he kinda sobered up. He pointed out one little boy (about six) and said he thought that Bugaboo would be like him in a few years. He asked me if he would be. I just do not know, I wish I had those types of answers. I wish I knew what to expect. It just does not work that way. Darling and I talked about how it is going to become more difficult before it gets better and we just have to be prepared to deal with it. We have to work on our acceptance of this situation and realize that there is no "cure" to speak of ( I know, there are those out there that spend thousands if not millions to find "cures" but we just do not believe that is for our Bugaboo.). We do not know what tomorrow will bring and we are just going to have to deal with that. It does not make the situation any easier but it will bring us peace. Realizing that something is out of your control is scary until you realize who IS in control.

Magic Pill Today? I dunno. If there was a way to help Bugaboo slow down, to calm down this level of activity, we feel he would be happier. We just do not know what it means medically and will not know until the results of the EEG are in and we can speak with the Neuro. We may be able to alter his meds so that he receives more of one and less of another. Who knows if it will help. As a last resort, we may try a hyperactivity medication, although I am DEAD AGAINST it. Everyone else in Bugaboo's life wants to give it to him. HE IS FOUR!!!!! I know it may help him but, HE'S FOUR!!! We shall see. I do not know if we have hit rock-bottom yet. That might sway me.

Have a nice day. I am going to take a loooooong, hot bath.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Thank Goodness It's Monday!

This weekend went by sooooo fast! I know it's cliche, but it is true. It was over in a blink of an eye and I am quite glad it is.

Friday we returned home from Bugaboo's EEG about five hours early. Bugaboo was uncooperative (to put it mildly) and therefore we were released after he pulled four leads (and hair and skin) off of his head. Fun times. When I walked in the door Darling had not vacuumed, there were dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor and a general mess everywhere. Before I left on Thursday I spent the ENTIRE morning cleaning every room in the house. Let's just say that with little sleep and the fun at the EEG I was NOT AMUSED. Top that off with the fact that Darling was working from home on Friday. This means he was sitting on the recliner, laptop on his lap, talking into the speaker phone, using the TV, two computers and tying up the phone line. Then he had the audacity to ask me to keep Bugaboo out of the room and to keep him quiet! Again, I was not AMUSED. (Read: I snapped, totally.)

Saturday morning I had to play for a funeral for a man at my church. He died an awful, painful death from cancer. But he was still there every week until he could not get there himself. Amazing. His family was so upbeat and uplifted, as he was everyday. The problem is that Soccer has been postponed for two weeks due to inclement weather, which meant that they changed the schedule around. Bug Boy's game was changed from 9am (long before the funeral) to 11:30am (in the middle of the funeral) and we had to scrambled for coverage for Bugaboo at the last minute. Therefore, when I was trying to leave and Darling was trying to take Bugaboo to my brother's house and I was running late and he was running late and Bugaboo escaped while I was pulling away and I had to stop the car and jump out and grab him, and Darling was chasing the dog and he dropped the stroller and broke it...I could go on, but I think you get the point. We ended up having a HUGE, heated "discussion" (where he accused me of nagging him) about how I am basically an indentured servant and he cannot even begin to image what it is like to do what I do and so I need just a teensy bit of respect. Thing is, playing the martyr is not my style and is totally ineffective at best. He said some nasty things, I said some nasty things, I cried, he yelled, the kids ran into another room (and I regret arguing anywhere near them!) and it was ugly. I finally got to church with fifteen minutes to spare before the funeral, we generally get there forty-five minutes to an hour before. Sigh. I never made it to Bug Boy's game after the funeral, Bug Boy had a playdate right after (and Bugaboo jumped into our wading pool, which had fallen over behind the garage, filled with stagnant water from the melting ice and snow.) and then we ran errands until nine pm. The kids were cranky and so were we.

Sunday morning we woke up, jumped in the shower, dressed kids and packed the car. Bug Boy and I headed to church while Darling and Bugaboo got some breakfast and then came to pick us up after mass. We headed to Ocean City for E's birthday, the first one he has ever celebrated with family due to the fact that they have lived on the other side of the country since he was born. Bug Boy always plays nicely with E's cousins on his father's side, they are VERY nice people, really are like family. They even invite us to Christmas and Thanksgiving, they are that nice. E's Mom Mom made awesome meatballs, the kids had fun playing outside, we all gushed over their new puppy (cute Corgi!) and Bugaboo basically crawled out of his skin. If he wasn't running away outside he was climbing all over furniture, sticking his hands in the cake, banging cabinets, turning on the sink water and soaking himself, taking rolls from the kitchen and tearing them up, getting into the trash, the list goes on. Once everyone left and we ended up staying until after dinner he was WORSE. It was almost as if he was so uncomfortable that he was trying to run away from his own brain. Difficult to envision, I know. But if you could picture him (if you've ever seen him) running and jumping and climbing and NEVER SITTING FOR SEVEN HOURS then perhaps that will give you an idea, but then times that by eleven. That is what yesterday was like. When we were there three hours and Darling and I decided to leave early, his sister and her husband begged us to stay, kept Bug Boy with them and we took E and Bugaboo for a ride to find a Wendy's (who knew it would take us eleven miles to find one!) to get the boys fries. It helped, but we had to pull over FOUR TIMES in thirty minutes to get him back into his car seat! He even OPENED THE DOOR at one point at a red light.

My sister-in-law and I discussed what is going on with Bugaboo. She even commented that the hyperactivity is getting worse and worse. She said that she feels badly because she knows it is really taking its toll on ALL of us, mostly Bugaboo. He just seems very unhappy. I think the reason he wants to be picked up so often is because he just cannot stop himself so he wants us to do it. He wants to play with other children and sit and play with toys AND sit and eat at the table. He just cannot do it. HE. CANNOT. SIT. We discussed the medication issues and I let her know that Darling and I have finally consented to it, after arguing for months. We just have to wait to see the Neuro and get the results of his EEG. We do not want to do anything that may worsen the seizure activity. I feel guilty about it but he escaped no less than ten times in four hours. He has gone missing a dozen times in two days. He has broken three doors or windows, has broken more toys than I can count and has bitten or kicked or shoved just about everyone he has had contact with. He cannot stop. And with the level of intervention we have right now, what else am I supposed to do? This is NOT our Bugaboo. Our Bugaboo used to be so happy and loving. This version of Bugaboo (the miserable, sick,seizure version ) is unhappy and wants nothing to do with us. He is sad. We want to change that, if we can.

We left for home, one child fell asleep (the wrong one) and we put them in their beds. Bugaboo did not bang around for long, he was asleep forty-five minutes later when we finished packing lunches and school bags and headed to bed ourselves. I cannot believe we were actually in bed by nine-thirty! We were that tired.

Here we are, Monday morning. BIG SIGH. I have food shopping to do today, a house to clean, and half-days for the elementary kids I watch so they will be with me all afternoon. I plan on taking them to the grocery, they are a big help there and it will keep them busy. Pray for my sanity this week, they will be here all afternoon all week. Their sister is here all morning all week. Then they are all here with my kids until six. Next week? They are ALL OFF. I may only have them for three days. I may take them to the zoo or aquarium. We shall see.

The rest of the week:
Monday Night: Indoor Soccer
Tuesday Night: Tutor
Wednesday Night: Church rehearsal, guitar group
Thursday Night: Parent meeting at Bugaboo's school, trying to get Darling to go! WISH ME LUCK THERE!!!

Ok, off to work I go...

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Magic Pill

I have been asked many times and have also read about the magic pill. You know, that hypothetical-rhetorical-silly-shouldn't-be-dwelled-upon-question. If there was a magic pill, a cure, a tried-and-true way to make Bugaboo "normal." Would I do it?

And the answer is...

I do not know.

You see, if someone had come to me in the beginning when we first suspected that something was going on with the boys I would have said yes. I was just starting out in this world, you know, the autism planet? I had no idea what to expect, did not know which way was up, did not really know who my children were. I was afraid, felt alone, was depressed and had a million times more questions than answers. Heck, I had NO answers. All I could think about was question mark, question mark, questions mark. I cried constantly. I was frightened. I did not want my children to have a difficult time in life.

Bug Boy is doing great. No magic pill. He receives necessary therapy, eats a well-balanced diet and now has his seizures under control. He is happy and well-adjusted. He still has his moments in school (must be first, easily led by others, difficulties with transitions) but has improved 1000% this year. His teachers have made a huge difference. It will still be a long road but I believe that he will be a normal, functioning member of society. He is happy and loved. That is all that matters to us.

Bugaboo is doing great. He is still non-verbal. He still is not potty-trained. He still is extremely hyperactive, has reflux, has bowel issues and chronic infections. He is happy and loved. He loves school and his therapists and teachers. He loves school buses. No magic pill.

But would I give him one now?

I do not know. I hope I am never faced with the decision.

If he is good enough for me now, he is good enough for me later. I love him whether or not he speaks. I love him even when he is running all over the house earning his "Doctor Destructo" nickname.

But if there was a guaranteed way to take away all of the difficult things about Autism, the self-biting, the potty issues, the nonverbal stuff, the funny noises, the crying, the sleep issues, would I do it?


I would not. I believe that giving him a magic pill would be sending the wrong message. It would be telling him that there is something WRONG with him. It would tell him that he is not got enough the way he is and therefore MUST be changed. It would tell him that we do not love him the way he is, unconditionally. That we won't love him until he is different. What kind of message is that to send to your child? Hey kid! Your eyes are green. If you change them I will love you more! Honey, if you get that mole removed then I will love you and take care of you better! Grow to six-feet-tall and we are sooooo there!

Not in your lifetime.

Even with all of the challenges, I have to honestly tell you he is here to stay. And so are we.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The New Me

Yesterday I spent time on me. I took a leisurely shower, had breakfast/coffee/nitrates and preservatives with my gal Betsy and went window shopping. I also ended up at my favorite Children's Consignment store (Kid to Kid) and found nice polo shirts and collared shirts for the boys. I hit pay dirt, they had TWO school bus toys! w00t!

Then I hit the salon. I walked in there thinking I would tell my stylist of ten years that I wanted to keep the length (now below the shoulders) but to put long layers in and a side-swept bang, since the layers had grown out considerably since OCTOBER (my birthday). I sat and waited, flipped through some magazines, was called to be shampooed and then sat in the chair drinking a glass of water until Dottie was ready.

Dottie is in her late fifties but is a spunky and funky lady. She has bleached blond hair and it is always wild or spiky. She is thin and petite and has a gorgeous daughter and handsome son. She and her husband have owned several salons (two I used to get my hair cut at in high school and I never knew it!) and a few trendy places in Philadelphia. The owned a notorious night club in Philly a few years ago called "Live Bait" that made the papers all the time for the antics that transpired in that aged building. Let's just say the athletes and gold diggers used to hang out there in the VIP area quite often.

Dottie smiled and greeted me, she asked about the boys, I asked about her new grandson. Then she said the most important words in hair styling, "So, what are we doing today?" My brain froze. I wanted to tell her, same ole, same ole. I just couldn't do it. I HATED my current hair, it was heavy and grown out, boring and blah. I wanted something young. I wanted something kinda hip and funky, without getting my hair cut shorter than a boy. I did not want the SAME BOB I have had for fifteen or twenty years every time I decided to trim my hair. I wanted something new.

So I told her, "I am ready for a change! I want something low maintenance but looks good when I style it. I'd like it short enough to make me feel lighter but not a mom-do. A little fun and funky, able to be pulled back at the gym." She nodded, smiled and got to work.

We chatted as she cut, trimmed, hacked, razored and combed. In fifteen minutes (I kid you now, she is amazing!) I watched as long pieces of my hair (six inches or so!) fell to floor and my head gradually felt lighter. She'd check each side, trim some more, comb it, trim some more. Finally she was satisfied. She began to blow it dry very carefully and adjust as she went. She stopped mid-dry and razored a little more. She finished drying and found one or two pieces to trim. She straightened it with an iron and razored one last piece. Finally she turned me around to see the new me!


OMIGOSH! I love my hair. I love it, I love it, LOVE IT! Did I tell you? I. LOVE. MY. HAIR. Ok, I've had great haircuts before but this one really lifted me up. It made me feel attractive and sexy and non-mom-do (even though it is technically quite the mom do) and fun all at the same time. You too can achieve this level of hair psychotherapy at the salon-formerly-known-as-Hair-and-Tonic in Havertown for a mere $35. Since I only get my hair cut about three times a year, it is worth the splurge. After ten years of going to the same woman I am NEVER disappointed. She knows my hair, she knows my face and she knows my personality. I love that she gives me what I want even when I cannot explain it. I hope she NEVER retires! ACK! The very thought of it!

Compliments of my six-year-old in-house photographer, here are the shots (not terribly clear, but you get the picture!):

And it still looks good today. That is how you KNOW it is a good haircut! It is achievable once you leave the salon!

Sidenote: When I saw my sister this weekend (DinoBoyMom and My eldest sister) she said she was growing hers out a wee bit. I joked around and said, "You know, just like mom and her four sisters ended up with the SAME EXACT HAIRCUT even when they did not plan it, The four of us will inevitably end up with the same haircut. Soon. " And I was right. It was totally not planned, but guess what Debbie's hair looks like? Yup. Pretty much the same!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I Do Not Know What to Say

I had this glorious, well-thought-out post written in my mind, I could not wait to sit down and post it. I hurried through my morning routines, roused the sleepy Bug Boys from their cozy beds and gave them breakfast and meds. And then all heck broke loose.

Bugaboo had a global nuclear meltdown. I could not get to the bottom of it. He did not want the brown shoes, he did not want the black shoes. He did not want the wet diaper on but he would not sit still for the dry one. He did not want his coat on and yet stomped his feet and screamed to get it on. I am sitting here in front of this computer completely shell-shocked. It came out of NOWHERE. Usually I have some sort of warning or at least expect them to get upset about a variety of things. There was nothing out of the ordinary this morning, at least as far as I could see. He even cried and refused to get on the bus! He Check SpellingNEVER cries getting on the bus! He did NOT WANT TO GO. I made him. I needed him to go, I was about to totally lose it.

The teacher will call me if he does not calm down by circle time, an hour into the day. The get to school, put their things away, do free play (not his favorite part, as it is unstructured), potty time, and go over their schedules. Then they do circle time. If he is still crying I asked her to call me to get him.

Of course, today is the day that I finally decided to take care of ME. I have plans to have breakfast with my dear friend who is a great listener and still likes me even though I have kids with issues (my friends with children with disabilities can understand this one. It is the same thing that happens when you have kids and your friends don't. They stop calling and don't answer your calls anymore). My friend wants to talk about NORMAL LIFE and asks me questions about Autism and does not make me feel uncomfortable. Of course, she is a doctor of Psychology so perhaps that is why she is so good at it! Anyway, we plan to meet this morning.

After breakfast I was going to rescue my house, ala Flylady. I need to pick up each room, get some laundry folded, reboot the laundry and run the vacuum. I have not vacuumed since this weekend! It is AWFUL! There is still rice on the floor from last week when Ian had a throwing contest in the kitchen and I know some of it ended up in the heat vents. There are also blobs of dog hair everywhere, as Shad Roe the Dog is losing her winter coat, the inevitable Springtime ritual. My floor is covered with muddy dog prints and kid shoe prints due to the fact that NO ONE can stay out of the mud. Sigh.

When the housework is finished I am going to get my haircut! For the first time in FIVE MONTHS! Yes, I promised I would do it more often but time got away from me. I am embarrassed that the last time I had my hair cut was on my birthday. In October.

I plan on shaving and showering, too. Not that you needed to know that, but I plan on it. I might even paint my toenails.

So you see, Bugaboo's tantrums need to stop NOW. I am praying that the bus provides the sensory input and calming that he needs to focus and get ready for school.He is on that bus for an hour. I need this time to myself!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Very Important Things to Think About

I had some errands to run after Little Miss got on the bus today. I headed out (after discussing summer camp with Darling on the phone. Again. The third time) and went to the County Seat of Delco to look for school bus toys at this great 5 and dime. Although the prices ceased to be 5 and 10 cents a long time ago. I digress...

Across the street is my favorite pizza shop. They have great white sauce pizza and fab toppings. Of course, I did not GET white sauce today, I was short on cash. I opted for plain. And while I sat there pondering the meaning of life I turned into a philosopher. There are some things that I must discover the meaning to:

  • Is it Ice Tea or ICED tea? Which is it? That makes me crazy, because I always assumed it was ICED tea, since other kinds of tea are HOT tea. Hmmm...It's iced coffee, not ice coffee, right?
  • How high is too high for pants to become floods? I always went with the notion that if your pants did not touch the top of your shoes they were MUCH too short. You should NOT be able to see your ankle. These are DRESS TROUSERS, kind sir. You have an awesome, trendy hair cut, designer glasses, a manicure and wingtips. Why are your pants so freakin high? Thank you.
  • When you are THAT voluptuous and beautiful, why, for the love of all things holy, would you choose to wear tapered jeans? Tapered jeans are not made for ANYONE with hips. They are made for people with straight down figures. You know, sticks. Skinny Minis. People with no body fat. I saw the most beautiful woman with a gorgeous, curvy figure and a great body. She was wearing TAPERED ANKLE pants. They do not look good on anyone. Haven't you watched What Not to Wear? Think of poor Stacy and Clinton. Please get some straight leg jeans. That is all.
  • When you pull into a parking spot and feed the meter, is there a chance in heck that you could park kinda in the middle of the spot instead of all the way at the back part of the spot, almost over top of the white line that marks the boundary of your spot? That way, when I pull my MINIVAN out of the same sized spot that your COMPACT car is in, I have enough room and do not have to back up four times in order to cut the wheel correctly. You were in the last spot on the corner and had plenty of room, plastic-fake-blonde-botox-addict.
  • Do people outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have to come to this state, drive ten miles under the speed limit, stop to let a stick roll across the street and drive with their turn signal on the entire time? I wonder if they drive like that in Maryland?
  • Why does the city road crew have to pile all of the snow in the two last spots that are free. They cannot possibly put the snow in the METERED spots, now can they?
  • Why do so many places have to sell chocolate milk shakes that are easily accessible. I drove by THREE places that I nearly turned into to purchase a shake. It is nearly swim suit season. Stop tempting me.
  • It is abso-smurfly gorgeous outside today. My backyard has ankle-to-knee deep water and mud. I need to get the kids outside but they will be covered in mud. Please dry up quickly, like, by tomorrow. Okay?
There. I feel better now that I have gotten that off of my chest.

Rite of Passage

It is part of life. The thing that defines your years when you are five or six. It has finally happened in our house and I feel a little sad because of it. After months of waiting the inevitable occurred.

Bug Boy lost his first tooth.

Since November (when the dentist told us that it would be falling out before Christmas) we have had a loose tooth. He allowed us to look at it, wiggle it, brush it to no avail. The thing would not budge. Meanwhile, every child in his class (and I mean, EVERY CHILD) and the girls that I watch after school lost teeth. Little Miss has lost FIVE since September, the sixth one is loose now. Bug Boy sat and waited patiently. He had us pack him apples and carrot sticks because, you know, they make loose teeth come out. He wanted hard, crunchy food because, you know, they make loose teeth come out. And Coliseum. He wanted lots and lots of coliseum because coliseum is good for your bones and it helps new teeth grow, which will help the old one fall out. Because, you know, ice cream has coliseum!

Last night, after indoor soccer, we did the "tooth check" that we do every night after dinner. Darling remarked that the time had come to try and pull it out. Bug Boy was having NONE of that. He said, "Dad! Just give me an apple! Cut up! WITH PEANUT BUTTER! CRUNCHY!" Darling sighed and obliged. As I cleaned up dishes and packed lunches, Bug Boy chatted with us (or made speeches to us, as he is inclined to do) about his day, his life, his Legos, his Star Wars, etc. I turned to look at him and noticed something red on his shirt and pants. Then he said, "Ewww! There is something in my peanut butter that I can't chew!" and spit it out on the floor. It was....DUN DUN DUN!!!!! His tooth!!!

He had blood running down his chin but he was sooooo excited! He and Darling ran to the mirror and checked it out, then dug out the letter they wrote a month ago to the tooth fairy. I tried to head Darling off before he mentioned tooth fairy (since Bug Boy had never heard of it and I do not do fairies and bunnies and santas) but it was too late. We are now committed to a few years of quarters under the pillow. Or half dollars, since that is what we had on hand to put in the envelope under the bed. Here is what Bug Boy wrote:

Dear Tooth Fairy. My name is Bug Boy. I am SIX YEARS OLD.
I live at 123 Main Street in Little Town, PA. Thank you. LOVE BUG BOY.

I think Darling was more excited than Bug Boy. He really gets into all of this cutesie stuff, I am the meany that would rather skip the events and parties. Anywho, Darling had tears in his eyes, I kid you not. He has stated on many occasions that he is happy and having fun. Of course, he never brings that up (for some strange reason) when Bugaboo is turning the sink on all over the kitchen floor, takes off his diaper and urinates all over his room or runs outside at 5am and is up to his knees in mud. Hmmmm...This is the same man that while I was IN LABOR ON THE WAY TO THE BIRTH CENTER, for the SECOND TIME, he was mentioning that when we have the NEXT ONE, we should do X, Y, Z and I wanted to take his bottom lip and pull it up over his head and then kick him repeatedly in the arse.

Ok then.

So the tooth is out, safely tucked away in my room. I am keeping it for a little while, since it has a ton of his DNA in there (plenty of tooth pulp, I read that it is useful in a safe kit with your kids' prints and such). I do not think I will keep EVERY TOOTH as my mother did. She still has each and every envelope, with teeth and fairy request, in her jewelry box in her room. I found them a few years ago when helping her clean and had a good laugh at some of the things my siblings and I wrote. I was Ms. Moneybags (please leave me $1 this time since I am ten. Thank you.) and my brother was very concise (Thanks, love Jay). I know she kept them because she could not stand to part with them or their messages. And with seven children, that is quite a large amount of baby teeth!

Yes, I feel sad in a way. The gap-toothed smile is on its way. I KNEW I should have made that appointment for our family portrait sooner! ACK!

Monday, March 19, 2007

My Greatest Heartache and My Proudest Moments

How is it possible that the one thing in my life that brings me the greatest heartache could make me so proud and happy at the same time?

Yet, it is true. The one thing, the part of my life that brings me the greatest joy, the thing that I think about in all of my waking moments is also what makes me heartache with true pain and causes me to worry quite needlessly.

I think you know what I am talking about. My children.

They make me happier than anything every could. No object, amount of money or, dare I say, even food makes me as happy as holding and loving my children. They are literally sunshine on a cloudy day. Even a day like Friday. When they wake up in the morning and stretch their arms out to hug me I suddenly gain 1,000 points of energy. When I go into Bugaboo's room in the morning to kiss his cheek and get him out of bed he is instantly smiling and beaming at me from ear to ear with a smile that radiates warmer than the sun. Bug Boy's hugs are like no one else. He holds you like he will never let go.

Despite the joy they give me and my attempts to forget about the painful moments they are still there, looming over me at times. Almost as if the painful parts are whispering, "Don't forget about me! You aren't supposed to be this happy!" And yet I am. Once in a while the pain and sadness consumes me and I have a mini-pity party for myself. I give up on house work. I "forget" to cook dinner. I ignore friends' phone calls. I cry when Darling returns home and he holds me and looks surprised that I am feeling that way. He does not quite know what to do.

There is nothing to do. I think part of healing, part of learning to live with things that cause me pain, part of learning to accept things that I cannot change, is going through cycles of feelings. I have to experience the sadness, pain and sorrow so that I truly know what joy feels like. Without having the "bad times" to reference, how could I possibly enjoy the good times? I would not appreciate them half as much if I had not taken two steps back before I was able to move forward. In order for me to be content I feel that part of the package is to grow and understand and accept. I must learn patience (oh boy, do I!) and strength. I have to learn love.

I know there are many rough times ahead. I cannot even begin to imagine what it will be like for us but I know it will come. I will be as prepared for it as I can possible be. But I will not dwell on it. I will not let it consume my life and worry about it to the point that I cannot allow myself to be happy now. What a waste of time! Life is so short and I am not going to live it with my head down, afraid of the next thing to come around the corner. We have been through so much already. Although I thought (at the time) that I would never get through those difficult moments, I can now look back and appreciate them for making me who I am today. I am not the nervous Nelly I once was. I am not the naive girl who allows others to make decisions for her and tells her what to do in every circumstance for fear of making a mistake. Gone are the days where I sought out everyone's approval before I could come to terms with a situation. Now Darling and I face them head on (as he always has! He is my strength!) and just deal with it. That is all anyone can do. There is no changing this thing.

There are people in this world that want to cure Autism. That is their prerogative, I am not going to change their minds. I just wish they would stop all of these expensive, insurance-won't-pay-for-it types of treatments. There are so many "experts" out there to take advantage of parents who are desperate, sad, stressed, impatient and hopeless. I wish I could tell them all that there is hope! There is happiness! There is light at the end of this tunnel! Autism is NOT a death sentence. Now, it is not easy. No one ever said it would be. But you will learn to appreciate life so much more because of it. You can be content! You can find peace!

There are no guarantees in life. You get what you get and you have to deal with it and move on. There are certain things that are in your control and certain things that are not. It takes wisdom and patience to understand the difference. I can guarantee you will be much happier once you learn the difference. It just takes time.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

What I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up

Jo March.

No, really!

I have always had a love for classic novels. I read them all as a teen, Little Women, anything by the Bronte sisters, Jane Austin novels, and my all-time favorite book, The Secret Garden. I loved reading about rolling English countrysides, large stone manors and forbidden romances. I used to dream of being the heroine in Wuthering Heights or being Jane Eyre herself. I read Pride and Prejudice at least twenty times (it was required, but by then I had read it at least a dozen times) and have seen EVERY movie version.

There is something intriguing about the March sisters and their mother living on their own, being independent, sitting in their parlor discussing things that ladies did not discuss back then. I loved that Jo was so free-willed and had such a strong spirit. She was rambunctious, tom-boyish but still had that soft feminine side. She still fell in love. She still had someone break her heart. She was constantly getting herself in trouble just by opening her mouth (sounds familiar). She had a devotion to her family and a love for books. She cared about others and put them first. Despite her silly behavior she still managed to grow older, fall in love and be happy. Her charitable spirit appealed to me.

Sounds crazy, but I wanted to be like her. Fictional or no, she still had the very essence of the woman I hope to someday become. I was a spunky girl, always in trouble from what I said (or did not say). I was sent to spend long days with elderly relatives and help them clean their homes and listen to their stories. I cared for my family and I still attempt to put them first. I did manage to grow older, fall in love, become more mature and be happy, despite my silliness. Miracles do happen.

Fictional or no, I am not so different from Jo March.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Just because my head is spinning and I've had six children running around here all day:

Click here.

30 second movies made with bunnies. Watch. Laugh. Be offended. Not safe for work.


Just because my head is spinning and I've had six children running around here all day:

30 second movies made with bunnies. Watch. Laugh. Be offended. Not safe for work.

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot?

Van Halen. David Lee Roth leaves Van Halen. Roth's solo career. Eddie marries Valerie. Sammy Leaves Van Halen. Gary Sharone joins Van Halen. Eddie in Rehab. Eddie outta rehab. Eddie divorces Valerie. David comes back to Van Halen to record. Van Halen decides to go on tour. Eddie back in rehab, sans teeth. David refuses to go to Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Sammy and Michael show up to collect and sing Sammy songs.

Blame everything on Global Warming.

Medical assistance. We have to reapply every two years for the boys. They have a diagnosis of autism (which is considered a permanent disability) and our regular insurance will not pay for most things considered developmental delay. Medical Assistance, which they are entitled to, wants you to reapply, you know, in case they are cured. They want all of our financial info even though we do not qualify based on finances. They send us paper work on the eleventh that is due on the fourteenth. 'Cause I can just drop the OTHER THREE PACKETS of paperwork that are due that same day and run to the mailbox and priority mail it whenever I want.

Year-round school schedules. Two week breaks. Only 180 days for these kids?

School District. They pay for private therapy for some people. They provide Extended School Year for some children, based on academics. Bug Boy will NEVER qualify based on academics but does on social skills. They do not provide anything for social skills and emotional support over the summer, they consider that the domain of wraparound. Wraparound only provides behavioral support. I can send him to the special camp for Autism but he is so high functioning that last year we decided he did not belong there. So I want to send him to a regular camp, out of pocket. But they will not provide behavioral support if he goes there. So he has to go alone. With no help. By himself. I hope he is ready. If not, I will take good data and shove it at the school district in time for next year's decision.

20 degrees. 50 degrees. 73 degrees! 64 degrees. Oh well, 50 degrees. Sigh. 37 degrees.

Bug Boy. All week he has been sneaking around, out of his room, staying up late. Last night we went to bed at eleven and found him in our bed watching television. He is SURPRISED when we tell him he cannot do that. He looks at us like we are talking crazy talk. He is STUNNED that he is supposed to stay in bed at eight. Then he is SHOCKED when we wake him and tell him he cannot stay home and let him play video games all day just because he is too tired .

The previous owners. No Norm Abrams there. Nope. No skills WHATSOEVER. More Bob Vila.

Potty training. He will sit for hours. Then he takes off his clothes and pees on the floor. He knows what he is doing. I have two potty seats, I am going to get two more today. My sister had a good idea. One in the living room, one in his bedroom, maybe one in the basement. Everything I read said that you have to get him going on the toilet right away and not fool with the potty seats, since he has issues generalizing. I don't know, my rug may thank me for it. So will my couch.

Tea Bags wrapped in little individual plastic bags. Talk about a waste of packaging.

Bugaboo signs and talks all day. Two weeks go by with NOTHING. Then he uses he PECS, smiles, hugs and plays for two days. Then he does NOTHING of the sort for a few more weeks. Whenever he has off from school he has trouble falling asleep that night and wakes in the middle of the night for hours. We have slept on the recliner all week from 2:30 until 6:30. Every night. At the same exact time.

Juicy Juice boxes used to have twelve in a pack. They now come eight to a pack. Unit price is actually higher now.

I moved eighteen months ago. I used to donate regularly to certain charities that would come to pick up from my house. They frequently came to my neighborhood and still call to tell me they are going to be on my old street. They WILL NOT pick up at my old house.

Bugaboo just came downstairs from his room, without a diaper, with poop all over him.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Nekkid Baby

I have spent the entire day chasing Bugaboo down.

It seems he has developed a propensity for undressing. He has always enjoyed undressing himself but enjoyed being wrapped up from head-to-toe (footies, snowsuits, etc.) more. He now likes to get nekkid and stay that way. The child whom I used to envision cutting grass for a living (due to his absolute devotion to all things lawnmower) I now envision becoming a Chippendale or pron star (yes, intentionally not spelled correctly to chase off the Googles.).

Here is what our day looked like today:
  • Bugaboo wakes up. I dress Bugaboo.
  • I wake Bug Boy. Bugaboo is no longer clothed and pees on floor.
  • I clean up pee, make breakfast.
  • Bugaboo is again undressed, peeing on floor.
  • I dress Bugaboo, clean up pee, get Bug Boy ready for school. He gets on bus.
  • Bugaboo is (SURPRISE!) not dressed, starting to pee on floor.
  • Friends come over. We go outside. Bugaboo takes his shirt off. The other boys think it is great and want their shirts off. Bugaboo removes his shoes. The other boys want to remove their shoes. Bugaboo starts pulling off his pants. I stop him before we have gaggle of four-year-old boys doing the full monty in my backyard. We live on the corner, we could have given them all a good show.
  • Friends leave after a few hours. My back hurts, I try to rest on couch, Bugaboo leaves for a minute, running to window to watch the first school bus of the afternoon and returns to the room sans clothing. The diaper is being worked off. I catch him before he pees on the floor.
  • I get up to start picking up and preparing snacks for the big kids when they get home. Bugaboo is stripping and twirling in circles (and laughing). He starts to pull diaper down and pees down his clothes.
  • I take Bugaboo upstairs to get him new clothes and a diaper. We go downstairs. The doorbell rings. First kids off of bus. Bugaboo comes into the foyer, yup, no clothes. No pee this time, though. Thank goodness. The second round of kids gets here.
  • Therapist comes. We keep him engaged for an hour. Therapist leaves. I turn to get dinner started. Bugaboo disappears into his room, per usual. He comes downstairs and does the nekkid baby dance in the kitchen. I catch him as the girls giggle and scream, he runs off up to his room. When I get there his room is covered in puddles of pee. Yippee. I strip his bed and take the laundry downstairs to start washing all of the stuff covered with pee.
  • I return upstairs and...he is no longer clothed. After I dress him (can't find any puddles) an hour later I find a pee spot on the COUCH! ACK!
  • Darling comes home and wonders why dinner is not ready and I am crying. Hmmm...

Needless to say, I will be steaming the rug in several places tomorrow.

The good news? Each time Bugaboo has stripped I have put him IMMEDIATELY on the toilet. I explained to him that if he wanted to be without clothing he had to sit on the potty. He would smile and sit for as long as I wanted him to. He would get dressed, cooperate, disappear and it would start all over again. More good news? We only went through two diapers today because he took his diaper off EVERY TIME he had to go. I have known for some time that he could feel it just by the way he reacts each time he urinates or has a bowel movement. Even better news? This seals the deal on our decision not to replace the nasty, horrible, ugly carpet. We are going to save tons of money with his little peeing habit. No new carpets, less used diapers. A win-win all the way! WOOHOO!!!

Just trying to be this point I am so fried I am giddy with glee.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


4 - hours of sleep I managed to get last night.

8- hours I need to function like a normal human being.

12 - hours I would love to get every night.

6 - Years since I have worked a "regular" job

7- years since I finally finished my degree

9-years it took me to finish

4-majors I had in college, the reason it took nine years

0- periods I have had in four months

2- months I have been off the pill

6- pregnancy tests that have been negative since then

2 - children my husband and I have

4 - children I would want to have

3- children I could picture having without going completely bonkers

7 - children in my family growing up

8 - pregnancies for my mother that ended in actual labor

1 - stillborn baby my mother had to suffer through

7 - miscarriages my mother had to endure

3 - vehicles we own

2 - vehicles we are keeping

1- vehicles we would need if Darling took the train to work, impossible given our current transit system

2 - televisions in our home

1 - computer in our home

2 - phones in our home

10 - years until Darling could potentially retire from his job

10 - years until I had better get my act together to go back to work full time

30 - years until official retirement age

5 - years before I want to return to a full-time job

1 - years before I will no doubt find something part time

1 in 155 - frequency of autism in the United States, according to the CDC

1 in 4 - autistic children who develop significant seizure disorders

600,000 - autistic adults living in the United States that have been identified, the amount is assumed to be more since years ago Autism was not easily diagnosed

525,600 - minutes

8675309 - Jenny, for a good time call

99 - luft balloons

27, 687 - miles on our three-year-old Toyota minivan

131,000 - miles on our eight-year-old Honda Accord

79,000 - miles on our 1984 jeep CJ-7

250 - guesstimate of Matchbox and Hotwheels in our basement

50 - guesstimate of NASCAR replica cars in our basement

40 - guesstimate of Thomas Trains we have in our basement

60 - average temperature in our basement, with heat off in winter

58 - average temperature in our SECOND FLOOR BEDROOM with heat off in winter

64 - temperature our thermostat is set on in winter

72 - temperature our thermostat is set on in summer

6 - average amount of appointments I take my children to each month

3 - average amount of appointments I take myself to each year

0 - appointments I wish I took my kids to each month

3 - doors exiting our home

3 - doors Bugaboo can get out of by himself

7 - interior doors we replaced (with new locks) last week to keep Bugaboo safe

3 - exit doors that need new locks to keep bugaboo safe

1 - hole in the wall that needs to be covered so Bugaboo doesn't jump out of it in the middle of the night

18 - months since I asked Darling to fix it

7 - days until it may or may not get done

8 - pounds I would like to lose to get back to pre-baby weight

0 - pounds I need to lose to be a healthy weight

40 - pounds I gained with Bug Boy's pregnancy

10 - pounds I lost in the beginning of Bugaboo's pregnancy, putting me below pre-baby weight

60 - pounds I gained back once the midwives told me to pig out as much as I wanted

50 - pounds I lost the day Bugaboo was born, 9 of which was baby. The rest was placenta and five pints of blood (giver or take one)

12 - hours until I can get more sleep

6 - children that will be in my home today

2 - therapists that will come to my home today

100 - percent likelihood that the children will play outside for the majority of the day

100 - percent likelihood that I will eat chocolate today

100 - percent of potatoes I like

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


For those of you who have been to my house, you understand about the "window" between the boys' rooms. For those of you who haven't, allow me to explain.

The previous owners had three teen aged boys and a television in every room. The rooms are not huge, so in an attempt to save space in the rooms their boys came up with a clever (but horribly ugly and white-trashy) solution. The decided to cut a hole in the wall of what is now Bug Boy's room into the closet of what is now Bugaboo's room. That way, the boy who used to live in Bug Boy's room could be in bed watching television, they would put it on the top shelf of Bugaboo's closet facing into Bug Boy's room.

Is that confusing? Did I explain it ok? Hope so.

Ok, back to the story: The hole is still there. Bugaboo used to be in Bug Boy's room with the cutout in his wall. We did not like him in that room because his window is directly over a very long drop to the ground and we felt it was dangerous, not to mention his room was further from ours. So a few months ago we switched Bug Boy and Bugaboo, so Bug Boy is now in the room with the hole in the wall and Bugaboo is in the room with the hole in the closet. After a few weeks in that room Bugaboo began climbing onto his dresser, breaking the baby locks and pulling the drawers out like stairs. We bought straps to bolt his dresser to the wall but decided that it would be safer just to put the dresser in the closet. It is a standard baby dresser, longer than it is tall, cut out for the changing area that we never used, cheesy wood (don't ever by a crib-to-college set, you never want the set after toddlers are done with it unless you paid $$$ for a solid oak or well made set) and stuff that I want to get rid of. Anywho, guess what? Bugaboo began climbing on the dresser to get to his fish lamp, which we had placed on the closet shelf so that he would stop ripping the plug out of the wall. We had it on the shelf and ran the cord through the hole and into Bug Boy's room to plug in. Once he began climbing up there we contemplated removing the dresser altogether and eventually moved the fish lamp out of his room, since he wouldn't go to sleep with the light on. We left the dresser intact.

At some point we knew we'd get around to drywalling the hole in since it is unsightly and strange and has outlived its usefulness. We have yet to paint (or finish with joint compound, for that matter) and knew we'd get to it when the drywall phase was being worked on, which we hope to do this spring. It just has not been a priority, like floods in our backyard and failing appliances. You know, real life got in the way in the past eighteen months. It never occurred to us that the hole would need to be boarded up SOONER rather than LATER.

We are really good at procrastinating these days. After eight years of fixing up a one hundred-year-old house, we are tired of home improvement.

We knew Bugaboo would climb up into the hole and watch Bug Boy and laugh at him, and Bug Boy would throw things at Bugaboo to get him down. We kept saying, "We need to do this next week!" Tonight became next week!

You know what happened already, don't you???? So I can stop now, 'cause you already know.

Just kidding.

After putting the boys to bed this evening we settled on the couch and I almost immediately began dozing. My back is still hurting and I am exhausted. A few minutes after they were in bed we heard some loud noises, Bug Boy's door opening and many footsteps approaching us. Bug Boy burst into the Family room and blurted out, "Mom! Dad! We have a problem!"

Bugaboo was right behind him. Completely Nekkid. No footies. No diaper. Nothing.

He jumped up and down and looked absolutely pleased as punch. Quite proud of himself, really. We did our best to stifle the hysterics we were feeling and through the hands clapped over our mouths (and tears sliding down our face in fits of laughter) we told the kids we were going back upstairs. We were actually afraid of what we would find, but thank goodness he had already produced a bowel movement today. His room was, however, covered in little puddles. Yup, his bed, two spots on the floor, his dresser and half of the clothes hanging in his closet were covered with pee. Bug Boy even helped us strip and remake the bed, clean up the pee and move the dresser out of his closet. They are now back in bed and (we hope) asleep.

Bugaboo did undress himself last evening and I heard him crying in frustration so I went to check on him. It turns out that he had stripped himself (a regular thing around here, nekkid Bugaboo at all hours of the day) and was attempting to put a diaper on himself and cried because he couldn't quite get it right. Poor kid!

Word to the wise: If you are ever faced with the decision to purchase a home that may or may not have a hole cut into the wall (though artfully framed in with trim) and have active boys with advanced motor skills or a Harry-Houdini-monkey-of-a-son or a child with autism who likes to strip nekkid and pee and climb through windows, do not buy the house. Or at least have the foresight and initiative to board up the hole. Stop procrastinating already! DO IT!

I Slept in the Recliner Last Night

No, I was not in the dog house. No arguments ensued in our home last evening.

I slept in the recliner because not only did it take me nearly ten minutes to figure out how to get into bed but it took about the same amount of time and Darling's help (and much crying) to figure out how to get OUT to go to the bathroom.

Yesterday, while bringing in groceries, I felt a twinge in my back. It did not really hurt but was one of those things that cause you to think, "Hmmmm. That's not good. I think I will take it easy for the rest of the day!" I iced it, rested it, stretched it and showered it with hot water. I took Motrin and got comfy on the couch. I skipped the rest of my errands for the day because it hurt to get into the car.

From there, it all went downhill. I felt progressively worse and by the time the kids got off of their buses I could barely move. Bugaboo was sound asleep off of the bus so the bus aide carried him in for me. I kicked the kids outside since it was a gorgeous day and I could not really deal with them being inside and not being able to do anything.

By the time the three extras went home and Darling was on his way I was completely immobile. My hip kept seizing up and muscle spasms would shoot up my back. Oddly enough, I have been leaning to the side and it looks rather strange. I just cannot stand up straight.

Once Darling got the kids fed, dressed and in bed I climbed into my bed but it took me a very long time to do it. We call our bed the "princess and the pea" bed, since it is VERY high off of the ground and I need a footstool to climb into it, I kid you not. You can imagine that I am leaning to one side, not able to straighten or bend and cannot straighten or bend my knees. So climbing into a bed that I need a footstool for was nearly impossible! I finally reclined ever-so-carefully and stayed in that very comfy position for about two hours. Of course, I had to PEE the second I got into the bed but was not about to move. When Darling came upstairs at eleven and asked me if he could get me anything (heating pad, ice, more drugs) I asked him to help me get up to use the bathroom. I cried and cried and cried. It hurt worse than labor pains, trust me (I had back labor, ALL back labor!). I breathed through it the best I could but at that point the muscle spasms and cramping in my hip were too much. I broke down and could not even get my pants up from sitting on the toilet. It was really pathetic. Darling stated he thought I put too much heat and not enough ice on it (probable). Thanks, dear!

Since I knew I was not getting back into that bed (and even if I did, there was no way out of it) I decided that I would try the recliner downstairs. This has to be the ONLY time in the four years that we have had this hideously awful furniture that I was happy to have it. I can sit and put my feet up without it hurting and it is actually quite comfy to sit in that position. Darling dragged Bugaboo's comforter downstairs for me (Bugaboo sleeps in footies, never keeps covers on and his room is a virtual sauna) since our Family Room tends on the side of being chilly. And there I sat/slept. Until I heard the dog come downstairs and beg to go outside. At 7:30!

ACK! Ian's bus was coming in TEN MINUTES! I hadn't dressed him, made his lunch, given him meds or anything! So I sprang up (well, rolled off and shuffled over) to the kitchen and threw a bagel in the toaster, made his med cocktail, got upstairs, chastised Darling for not waking me ("You looked like you needed to sleep later!") and dressed Bugaboo while he was still sound asleep on the bed. Darling carried him down, I put his coat on, woke him long enough to see the bagel and he started chowing down immediately. Since the bus came a few minutes late I had just enough time to throw on a jacket and slippers (still in pjs with no underwear and a bra!) before they pulled up. The bus aide was kind enough to meet me at the porch to get Bugaboo. Do not ask me what I am going to do when he gets home (uh, call my sister-in-law who was recently fired?)

I plan on seeing the chiropractor as soon as possible but typically they want me to heal for two to three days before I go in for an adjustment, since the muscle spasm could get worse before they get better. Today I DO have to get my eyes examined (doctor rescheduled from yesterday) and Bug Boy's teacher conference is at two o'clock. No, I cannot reschedule either. The eye exam was already rescheduled, I lost my glasses two weeks ago and I am a year overdue for an exam. It is now or never. And the conference schedule was set over two weeks ago. I cannot change it.

I will, unfortunately, be skipping the parent training this evening. Unless I have a miraculous recovery I do not think I can do it. It is only a few blocks away at the IU administration building (literally within walking distance! Five blocks!) but I cannot even drive at this point. I just do not see it happening.

The good news? Well, I am forced to slow down today and take it easy. I will not go anyplace unnecessary. I have plenty of time to sit and do nothing, since sitting is the only comfy position. The not-so-great-news? Bugaboo is off for the rest of the week. Yup, another stinking inservice day. I am beginning to loathe the year-round schedule he is on. These breaks are TOO long.

Okey doke. Since the shower and dressing portion of my day will no doubt take forever, I had better get moving.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Something I Have to Admit

My sister was right.

She said I basically have to mind my own business when it comes to my nephew BJ. And she is right.

Getting myself all worked up about choices his parents make or do not make is really an unhealthy thing. BJ is their child, and whether I agree with what they do or not does not matter a hill of beans. He is their child and they have the right to raise him anyway they choose.

There are people out there who would argue this. When a child has a significant disability you really are under obligation to raise them the best way you can. Is my sister doing that? I think she is doing the best she is able. I believe she loves him unconditionally and does everything she can to raise him with love and gentle guidance. Although my mother believes that his main issues is a lack of discipline (may be true) I do not believe this to be the case. I just do not want my sister feeling like she is a bad mother. Because she is not a bad mother! She is one of the most eccentric, creative, fun-loving, movie-quoting people I know. Extremely bright and not arrogant at all. She lives in her own little world (as does her husband) and even though they are dirt-poor they are happy. What is wrong with that? If her son grows up to be "different" and has some behavioral issues, it is not a result of lack of parenting. He will grow up to be JUST LIKE HIS PARENTS.

There is great argument out there in the autism world about what level of intervention is necessary and warranted. Some go whole-hog and do everything from biomedical intervention to vitamin therapies to chelation to hyperbaric chambers, you name it. Others try behavioral therapies and intense language therapies. Others believe in Neurodiversity and treat their children like normal children, free from therapies and chelation. Does any one approach have it over the other? Or is it basically up to the family to decide what works for them? Yes, it is up to the individual family. No matter how much I disagree with what others do to/with their children, it is none of my concern. The best I can do is pray and move on. So that is what I plan to do.

Is it such a bad thing if BJ turns out just like his parents? They are very intelligent people. They are eccentric and are total book worms. They both suck at math and my sister cannot spell for anything. But she is happy. There is nothing wrong with that. His behavior will not go away but in the right school program, and being around other children his age (who will hopefully model behavior for him) he will improve. After all, my siblings and I had no real early intervention. The late talkers in my family went to speech therapy and OT but went right to regular kindergartens. And we all went to Catholic schools (with dyslexia, ADHD and developmental delays) and did fine. There were no diagnoses. I can guarantee you that my sister and I would have been diagnosed with ADHD, my younger sister possibly Asperger's (due to her early speech and her odd behaviors) and my brothers? Possibly PDD. Even my mother comments on how Bugaboo acts just like my red-headed brother. And Bug Boy is almost exactly like my youngest brother. Funny, huh?

We had no early intervention. No IQ tests (until later). No intense therapies. No TSS. We are all fine (well, some may argue this point). My parents did not even know those things existed. Only the most severe got those things at that time. Five of us are married. Four of us have children. Six of us no longer live with our parents. All seven of us have a significant other, are happy in what we do and have jobs to pay the bills. We can all go to movies and restaurants and order dinner. We have friends and do things socially (although we all prefer to stay home and watch movies and do our own version of MST3K, Joel Hodgsen version). I think we are all fine.

Now, do not get me wrong. I think BJ would benefit from therapy. In fact, I think he would EXCEL in life if he had some. But he will be fine without it, too. People may not give him the same considerations as they would with a diagnosis, but in a way those diagnoses can be dangerous. Ever hear of the self-fulfilling prophesy of education? Basically, a teacher will treat a child a certain way because of their label, diagnosis, disability. They will not do anymore or less. Kind of as if the child only has X potential because of Y disability, so they will only do Z. It is a very dangerous thing for a child. I hate that my kids have a diagnosis in a way but because of their interventions I feel they have done better WITH the label. Not everyone agrees. And that is ok with me.

I have too much on my plate to worry about what everyone else on the planet is doing. It is my nature to be concerned about others, offer advice (even when it isn't wanted) and to be especially close with my sisters. I think it is only natural that I love my niece and nephews as if they were my own and I would do anything for them. But, my family is capable of making decisions I do not agree with and I am still going to love them. And once I express my difference of opinion, that is as far as it will go. Agree to disagree. That is a step I never thought I could take. Yet, I am taking it! Funny! What is all of this maturity stuff going on?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Wrap-up

Soccer practice (today) and the first game of the spring season (tomorrow) are cancelled due to it BEING TOO FRICKIN COLD AND SNOW IS ON THE GROUND!!! It is supposed to warm up but the fields would be an awful mess.

Today is our appointment with the developmental pediatrician. I am looking forward to discussing the boys' progress and what we still need to work on.

Funerals suck. 'Nuff said.

I hate getting my hair wet and today I just don't want to even dry it.

I finally made an eye appointment for this coming Monday. I lost my glasses three weeks ago and I am finally going to get them replaced. I cannot see what I am typing and it is frustrating me because I make mistakes and have to sit about two feet away for the screen to be clear (farsighted) and then the screen is teeny and I have to squint. Don't even get me started on attempting to read MUSIC right now. Dots and lines run together faster than words.

My house is a balmy 64 right now. Darling refuses to raise the heat any higher due to our recent $385 utility bill (electric and heat) and refuses to believe that the spike was due to him working at home so much (plugging in his computer), the space heaters being on constantly (plugged in and electric) and the fact that he leaves the dang lights on all the time.

I went to sign up for the Y again (I forgot to renew it) which is crucial for my sanity. I waited why they tried to fix a computer glitch and then decided to go back another time, since they couldn't process my membership. I hope to do it today.

My dishes are clean and my laundry is caught up. I just need to put away the four loads (soon the be five) on my bedroom floor. I am sick of picking through baskets to find socks and underwear. The boys have wet themselves enough times this week to make me crazy.

I slept two nights in a row. I do not know what I am going to do with myself. Wanna know why? Because Bugaboo took naps two days in a row and I woke him up after 45 mins or so. He fell back to sleep easily because he was still tired (at 10). We may be going back to naps because he is just too tired to fall asleep (see the irony in that?) at night. Here's the crazy thing: When he doesn't sleep much (the past few weeks it has been 6 hours a night) he has better eye contact, better concentration, better behavior, less Doctor Destructo impersonations, more affect, more affection, better eating habits and more laughing and smiling. I do not get it. The extreme (and I mean, EXTREME) hyperactivity that this child suffers from really seems to impede him. And yes, I mean suffer from. You can see in his little eyes that he WANTS to stop running around and he CANNOT. He is so tired of running back and forth and jumping up and down and he becomes frustrated but he CANNOT stop moving. Not. For. A. Second. It is so sad to watch, I want him to be able to sit and play! And when he has less sleep he plays and plays. The past two mornings I have sent Bug Boy up to wake him in the morning(Bugaboo would sleep all morning, but I cannot allow it since his bus comes forty-five minutes after he wakes up!) and I went up to find them cuddled under Bugaboo's comforter, heads together, playing with a Thomas Laptop. Too cute. I nearly cried.

Last night Darling was working on the couch with his laptop and Bugaboo saw him and the attack began (Bugaboo is a computer-a-holic). He couldn't stop touching Darling's computer. He tried and tried to keep his own little fingers away so Darling gave up and put on a computer game to play for Bugaboo. Darling said, "Bugaboo! Do you want your own computer? Mommy and Daddy should get you a computer." Bugaboo jumped up and ran off. We did not realize what he was doing until he came down from his room a few minutes later and had his little kiddie Thomas the Tank Engine "laptop" and crawled back up next to Darling, pulled the blanket back on himself and happily pushed his OWN buttons and pretend mouse. It was so cute!!! They sat there and worked together for an hour. And Bugaboo did not try to touch Darling's computer ONCE. He did not move. For an hour. Did I mention that he sat still? For an hour?

My mother is on a crusade to send my nephew to a Catholic School. His parents (my very poor sister and her husband, the archaeologists) are dead against it. My sisters and I feel like it is a huge mistake (remember, this is the child who has autism, his parents admit it, and they don't want to take him to the doc because they don't have money for it and think he'll grow out of it). He needs to go to a public school to receive services, and our only hope for him is that the Kindergarten screening will send up huge flags. HUGE BIG RED ONES. Otherwise, he will be labeled as a behavior problem and he isn't! He is a sweet, happy, lovable and intelligent little boy who just needs to have the right learning environment. A Catholic school would crush him. Believe me, I am pro-parochial for the right child. Bug Boy may have done well there, but he would not have received services there. The nephew would be viewed as an undisciplined brat (because my mother is convinced that discipline is all he needs). My sister may have different parenting skills but she LIVES for her kids and is very creative and eccentric and artistic and wonderful. She may not discipline with a rod, but her kids are taught right from wrong. He just is not getting it because there is a communication problem.

I am hungry. I haven't eaten yet. I am stopping my rambling to get food. Have a nice day.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Did I Make a Mistake?

Darling typically does not accompany us on appointments to duPont. Nope, I take all the time off to go to these things since my schedule (the stay-at-home-mom-who-does-daycare-schedule) is more flexible. Once in a while, if there is a procedure or copious quantities of blood work I ask someone to help me out. Mostly, I go it alone all day.

This Friday we have our second annual appointment with the developmental pediatrician. Bugaboo went a few months back because we were having terrible issues. The hyperactivity and feeding issues had reached an all-time high and we were desperate. We were referred to several specialists, received great feedback on the feeding issues, changed his school program and now things are much improved for him.

Since we already have a diagnosis for both boys (which helps us receive a long list of necessary services) this trip is merely a formality. Its purpose is really just to follow up and see which services are still necessary and which services we could live without. I asked Darling to accompany us this time because it is a two-to-three-hour appointment for EACH CHILD, so it is nearly impossible for me to be able to focus on the doctor and her staff with one child at a time. It is chaotic at best. Therefore, when I asked Darling if he wanted to go he agreed. I know he wants to hear what she has to say.

I explained to Darling that we needed to make sure we were on the same page on several issues. One was Bug Boy, his diagnosis and his difficulties in school. I reread his evaluation from the school and shared the information from Bug Boy's teachers that explain his control-freaky behavior, difficulty switching tasks, eloping from the room to see what is in the hall (nosey child!), his rigidness with schedules and rules and his lack of empathy with other students. Darling questioned whether or not he still needed speech and occupational therapy. When I read the scores of the tests to him (these tests do NOT lie, although others do!) he stated, "Oh. Ok." I still do not think he gets it, no matter how many things I e-mail to him, print out for him, read to him, etc. He does not think Bug Boy has any issues, just a "social and emotional delay." Uh, honey? A twenty-five percent delay in one or more areas constitutes a developmental delay. In our case, Pervasive Developmental Delay. They would have diagnosed him with Asperger's Syndrome, had it not been for the fact that he did not utter a syllable until the age of two-and-a-half. And then he never babbled, he spoke in clear, loooooong sentences. He sounded like a little professor. Never pointed, never waved bye-bye.

But, from what I understand from Darling's mother, he spoke for the first time at the same age, never played with anyone, and basically did not talk for the next ten years. When he first saw the criteria list he breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Wow. Maybe that is what is wrong with me! I meet all of this criteria!" No kidding! My sister and I have suspected it for years.

Anywho, I do not know if we are on the same page about this. I mean, he seems to agree, he does not think I am creating a mountain out of a molehill and he agrees that Bug Boy has the issues he has. I just wonder if we are going to get in there and he is going to refute everything I say. That is not his normal M.O, so I think if we agree on those points it will be fine. Afterall, I really just need this appointment as backup to keep services, since the speech teacher is hell-bent on making sure she tells me that everything Bug Boy does is "fine" and "good" but doesn't quantify anything. His classroom teachers tell me a totally different story!

As for Bugaboo, we agree on the main issues. Frustration about not being able to communicate. Sleep issues. Hyperactivity. Danger in the environment. These are your typical Autism-related issues. These are issues we have been dealing with for a while. Now, things HAVE improved with him. Since the diagnosis of his stomach issues and seizures we have had him growing by leaps and bounds. Once he began eating better he grew THREE INCHES in one year and gained almost six pounds! He does sleep better now than he ever has. He is even eloping less. The TSS at school and home have helped us improved things and his new school program works much better for him. But there is still this freight-train-tornadic-activity-whirling-dervish-thing that he does. You know, spinning, running as fast as he can, climbing, jumping, opening and closing things, and his newest behavior, pouring out coffee mugs and smashing them. Oh wait, there's more! He now also LOVES getting into the pantry closet or medicine closet (both locked, but someone inevitably leaves them open!) and finding a glass bottle (like beer from the fridge) and shaking it and opening it and FIZZZZZ!!! All over the place. This is a fun thing for mommy to clean up.

So, we are mostly on the same page with Bugaboo. Darling wants to try hyperactivity medication but I do not. We shall see what she recommends. I am not so keen on it, especially since he is already taking medications for seizures, night terrors and stomach problems. In one respect I wonder if I am giving him a fighting chance to calm down and find out what he is REALLY like? What if that is the thing that helps him the most? I still do not know how I feel about it. We know what she will tell us about Bugaboo. We already know he has autism.

Typically,when more than one child in a family has autism or developmental delays they look for a genetic component. Since several boys in our family have developmental issues and they also existed in my brothers and my husband, it is safe to say there is something genetic going on.
We've had common genetic tests (like Fragile X, which was negative) and so far nothing has popped up. The only thing we are concerned about this point is finding out about the metabolic issues they have, since the have physical side-effects from it. I am not so hung up on finding out the WHY part, just the WHAT-CAN-WE-DO-ABOUT-IT part.

So, I am a little apprehensive about bring Darling to the appointment but I am looking forward to him participating. I value his feedback and his opinions even if they are different from my own. I know that his only concern is the boys and what is best for them. I also know that he wants so much for them to succeed and reach their potentials. We just need to find out how best to help them reach it!