Did My Brain Fall Out?

Haven't we all asked ourselves this question? There are days I am quite sure my brain did fall out - I can barely put one foot in front of the other and I forget everything. I know you can relate!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I have a homework assignment from C2's English teacher

I wish I thought of cool stuff like this. C2's teacher sent home homework for me. The assignment reads: Please describe your child's personality using descriptive word choices and examples about them as well.

There's only one little box with 10 lines...I think I might go over.


Here's my first attempt. Not sure if I will get a 100. I have a little anxiety about this...I haven't had homework on this side of forever!

From the minute C2 was born, she was an old soul. As serious as a hurricane, she was a quiet observer of her world and was quickly loyal to only a few.  She was sensitive to so much, who held her, what she ate, what she wore; these traits have evolved into the incredibly devoted daughter and friend who sits before you in class today.

C2 is a mix of extrovert and introvert, sometimes silly and dramatic, seeking opportunities to show her creative side. She is sometimes quiet and shy, wanting only to quietly invent a world of stories and be still. She is sensitive and quick to help, like her mom, and outspoken and headstrong like her dad. When she was 3, she cried because Little Bill’s boat was run over. When she was in first grade, she got in trouble for helping her little classmates who were struggling with their work. She is a protective little sister, and although our old home videos are mostly of me off camera saying “watch out for the baby,” she has the role of watching out for her sister. She doesn’t always like it, but she is good at it. She may be the first to fight with her, but she is the first to defend her too.

Her laugh is like magic and is contagious. Her smile will knock you out, and her determination is breathtaking. She is like a little steam engine once she makes up mind to do something, and it is nearly impossible to get her to change course.

We love her and are proud of her! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Don't Take Late Work

As I gear up for school I feel the need to remind myself WHY I don't like to take late work. I wrote this a long time ago, but pull it out each year. I'm thinking of putting this on the back of my syllabus. What do you think? Would it make the parentals mad?

I Don't Take Late Work

*As a teacher, the bane of my existence is late work; students request it, parents expect it......

I don't take late work
I take nothing late
Because in life the only instance
Lateness is acceptable
Is a baby who arrives past her due date

I don't take late work
I take nothing late
Because then I must chase you, my student,
With a leash in my hand
Chase you around like a new puppy who brushed past my legs when I opened the door
I abhor begging, for when I beg I take on the responsibility
Of your laziness or apathy or even teenage dementia
Lateness is not acceptable

I don't take late work and I
Wonder how it makes my students feel
The never ending excuses are left at the door
Where they die a slow painful death of malignant neglect
My students know I sound like Dr. Seuss:
            That I will not take it !
                        I do not like it!

Accepting lateness is a training tool
Which educates so many to
Be late in many things they must do
Not just projects or essays work and deadlines but also,
As Alice's rabbit says, very important dates

It trains them to spend more time
Concocting a justification
Than the assignment would have taken
To begin with

I don't take late work
I take nothing late
Because in life the only instance
Lateness is acceptable
Is a baby who arrives past her due date

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dear Body

Dear Body,

Dear Body, Why must you hate me so?   I find it hard to respect you when you are falling apart around my...everything   This relationship should be one of give and take Yes, you give, I take   So when did this contract come to an end? Is this your idea of a passive-agressive break-up? A long, drawn out divorce?   Is it the years of neglect? All those years I treated you like the geeky boy next door? the one who I thought would always love me? The Plan B-fall-back-guy?   Is it the years of junk-food? How I craved Doritos and Devil Dogs Instead of strawberries and water? Instead of fiber and whole grains? Come ON You know that stuff tastes like shit   Is it the years of abuse? Staying up too late? Sleeping too late? Getting up too early? Closing the bar at 4am?
Not sleeping at all?
Well, I guess now's your time for revenge!
It's not funny
I lotion and exercise (kind of, I know)
And this is what I get:
            Creaky joints
                        A back that sticks when I get up first thing
                                            so i look like a caricature of an old man    
                        hovering closer to the floor than the ceiling.
            Skin that hangs in places better left unsaid
Wrinkles on my hands and face
    eyes that don't see too well anymore
        in general, nothing works like it used to
God says to forgive - so please forgive me for the
junk food
I have at least 60 more years,
so be

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paper Plate and Dryer Lint .. is that what you named your dog?

ARE.DISPOSABLE. Maybe this is wrong of me. Maybe the pure rage I feel at people who do this is completely irrational. Maybe I need to mind my own business. Maybe I need psychological help (well, this is true, but for various other reasons than this). Maybe you will judge me because I cry at that damn Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercial.

Thank you Jordan Townsend!

Today I am going to vent.

If you treat your animals like paper plates, as something to be used for what suits you and then throw them away, this means that you have no value for life, human or otherwise. Yes, I value both human and animal life (well, not snakes), and I take both pretty seriously. If you give up your dog, let it run away, call the pound to come get it or in some other cruel and selfish way abandon your animal, don’t get a new one. DO NOT GET A NEW ONE DAMMIT!

If this first paragraph offends you, please read no further. It is not going to get any better. And if you totally disagree with me, then maybe you SHOULD keep reading. You may learn something.

Walk into any pound, any rescue, any shelter, any pet store and you will see the sad remnants of people who are irresponsible pet owners. What you see inside those crates and cages are animals who were tossed away.  They aren’t cute little puppies anymore. They pee in the house. They chew on your shoes. They eat a lot. They want attention. They get fleas. They need shots. They lick your face after they lick their butts. They eat kitty litter. Ah. DUH! You know, these aren’t secret facts about dogs. If you researched before you GOT your dog (or cat, or skunk, or ferret) you would know this. If you liken yourself an “animal person,” but don’t like the in-your-face presence of said animal, then don’t get one. DON’T GET ONE UNLESS YOU ARE ABLE TO COMMIT TO THAT ANIMAL FOR ITS ENTIRE LIFE. 

Now, you don’t have to go out and buy a dog pocketbook and try to take your German shepherd to Target. That would be unreasonable and you would probably injure yourself. I mean that’s a pretty big dog.  You don’t have to be like my mom and come home every day for lunch because you think the dog is lonely. You don’t have to become an animal extremist and send them to the spa for a mani-pedi. You do, however, have to take responsibility for the fact that that animal you ADOPTED is your responsibility – it relies on you to meet its basic needs. And then…{gasp!}  give it some love.

Are there legitimate reasons to give up your animal? Probably, but I can’t really think of any right now because I am so FIRED UP. But honestly, if you own something, such as a furry friend, and you find yourself unable to take care of it, then YOU find it a new home. Don’t drop it off at the pound, set it free in the woods or your neighborhood, tie it to a tree in a park or pole in the middle of parking lot and leave it there. If you do this, then you are scum. You cannot change my mind about this. You cannot convince me otherwise. You, scumball of vomit, deserve the same treatment. As a parent of teenagers, I can understand the frustration of having to take care of someone that doesn’t listen to you, who makes a mess, costs you a lot of money, and wants your attention, but you don’t see me tying up C1 or C2 in the Walmart parking lot or tying them to the door at the hospital where they were born.

Now I understand, that there are many people who don’t see their dogs as part of their family. You don’t want them in the house, the mess, the hair, the smell. That’s ok – why don’t you build them some shelter? Leave them water? Give them food? Visit with them? How about you DON’T do this: ignore them, forget to feed them, have them rely on rain for drinking water and have to crawl under your old abandoned car for shelter? Years ago, we had a neighbor who bred her female blonde lab and when it wasn’t being whored out to make her money she put it in the backyard. She never let it in the house, regardless of the weather. This dog used to have icicles hanging from her fur. Who does this shit and thinks it’s ok?

Have a plan. Think it through. Where will your dog live? What if it doesn’t like your cat, skunk, ferret? What if your kid is afraid of it? Then what? Most shelters will take the dog or animal back. The pound will take the animal back (but of course only give you a “store credit” to use toward another animal). But here’s the deal…have a plan, and if you can’t figure one out, then DON’T GET THE ANIMAL! USE YOUR BRAIN. They’re like kids, cute and wonderful when they’re babies, but they grow UP…they GROW UP and they deserve more than being tossed away like dryer lint.

Friday, August 10, 2012

18 Years Later.....Happy Birthday Baby!

When I think about how YOUNG I was when I had C1, I cringe. I was 22 and so incredibly unprepared. I grew up as an only child and lived a pretty sheltered life. The only adversities I had to overcome were the deaths of my grandparents and my parents' divorce. In this day and age, that's nothing!

So, I was 22 and unprepared. I mean I had all the STUFF that babies need, but I was unprepared for the emotions and trial and errors that came along with a new baby. C1 must have known how unready I was because she, obligingly, was 10 days late. Most women who are overdue complain that they are ready for "this baby to come out," while I was very content waiting.

C1 didn't burst into the world. She took the same approach to being born that she did to being on time. She was in no hurry at all. I labored for 16 hours. I pushed for 2. The labor and delivery nurse didn't notice that she wasn't presenting with the top of her head, but with her face. Poor little baby, I rammed her face for two hours. The doctor came in and yelled "STOP!"  Oh and my husband was almost thrown out of the hospital for smoking in the bathroom - who DOES that?

After my epidural and c-section, I was awesomely mellow, I'm sure from the special juice the anesthesiologist slipped into my IV. The world was great, my baby was born, I was chill . Even when my husband (who I was still slightly mad at; did I mention he left me home alone in the shower when I was in labor to go to 7-11 to get coffee? He was a complete fail in labor and delivery skills. This didn't improve when I had C2 either) came in and said there was something wrong with C1, I just patted his head and said, "It will be fine." I know drugs are bad, but some days I could really use that special juice so I can return to my mellow.

There were genetic specialists and threats of transporting C1 by helicopter to another hospital. The doctors couldn't tell my husband what exactly was wrong with her, just that she didn't look right. In her chart my OB/GYN put, "bizarre looking." Yeah, well I pushed on her face for two hours. You might look a little fucked up too. Anyway, one of the best moments was when the geneticist came in to tell us his "findings." On his sheet he had "down turned mouth" as an observation. When he walked in, he looked at my dad and me, then crossed it off the list. Now, every once in a while I look at my mouth in the rear view mirror, and think "what's so genetically abnormal about my mouth?" Anyway, this guy was the last hurdle and he just said that she was a big baby (8lbs 13oz) in a small space (my uterus) - her features would pop out eventually. She did kind of look like a boxer after a particularly rough fight at first, but by the time we got home, she was perfect! I mean she was perfect to begin with, but she looked less like a smooshed barbie doll 5 days out.

She didn't like to eat. I had to abandon breastfeeding, even after the nurse at my OB/GYN's office came to my HOUSE to help me. I think back and wonder what that entire office must have thought of me!
Anyway, she was a sleepy baby and we had to fight to get her to eat. But she was HAPPY. She was MELLOW. She barely cried, and although these were signs of what we would learn after millions of doctors appointments and evaluations, she made being a mom pretty darn easy. And she was so incredibly pretty.

I could go on and on...she missed milestones, we started therapy, she went to special preschool. I became a pro at meetings, and acronyms and IEPs. blah, blah, blah.

Nothing can overshadow the fact that I love my baby so incredibly much. She has changed my life. She's beautiful and funny and awesome. She is my heart. She is my family.

This is what I put in her yearbook senior ad and I think it sums her up pretty well:

From the minute we dreamt of you
We envisioned everything we would teach you

To walk 
To talk
To dream and to love
To make good choices
To be a strong young woman

You turned the tables on us and taught us more about life and ourselves than mere words can express.
You taught us the real meaning of

Being silly
Play time
Keeping promises 
Strength and
Standing up for something you believe in

You showed us what it means to be a family. 

We celebrate you and all you have accomplished. Congratulations! We are so incredibly proud of you and cannot wait to see what you will teach us next. 

Love Always,

A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future.  ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bring Your Own Lunch or New Dog?

I'm not sure which I should write about, the fact that my husband told my daughter's friend to bring something for lunch when she comes to visit or that we rescued another dog from the pound yesterday?

I think the lunch debacle is pretty self explanatory and there seems to be two camps; {gasp} O. M. G. and, "that's hysterical." I am incredibly embarrassed and I hope to GOD this child didn't tell her parents.  In further investigation, I think it was a break down in communication that can be attributed to two things: a 13 year old and a 54 year old who struggles with delusions and dementia. 'Nuff said.

Now, we obviously have a disease in my house and I fear that if we don't control it we will appear on that show "Hoarders." We don't hoard things like newspapers, or soup ladles or garbage, and although I do have a hard time letting go of books, I think that is just an occupational hazard. You can walk through my house without having to navigate a path of rusty cans and yellowed Readers Digests. You DO however have to navigate your way around the dogs. We have two well-behaved, old, pound rescues and one badly behaved 90lb behemoth who bullies the other two.On occasion we have an extra. Today we have an extra.

I forgot to mention the two cats. Basically, the animals outnumber the humans. We are just waiting for the revolt.

C2's little friend D has a neighbor who owned a dog named Chocolate. Every time we would pick up or drop off D, Chocolate would run over and lick and jump and get fleas on us. We would joke and say that we were coming back to steal him (which we would never do). He was an outside dog and tormented the neighbors with his puppy energy and endless wandering.

Well I don't want to put anyone's business out there, but it seems Chocolate had an unfortunate incident with a chicken (Chocolate won) and somehow, shortly after said incident, he ended up in the pound. When we picked up D the other day, C2 asked where Chocolate was and D said, "In the pound." "Did they go get him out?" we all asked in unison.  Nope. No they didn't.

Wait! WHAT? Your dog is in the pound and you don't go GET him? Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

So guess who the sucker is? Yeah, that's right. Me. I went to the pound and got him. Damn dog had been in there since July 9th and was so scared they had to carry him out of his little cage {sad face}. He is currently flealess and sleeping on my living room rug. We keep saying inane things to him like, "It's just tile/wood, you can walk on it," or, "you've never seen a vacuum before have you?" and "this is how real dogs live." We ARE crazy.

Not the best picture, I know. He's 40lbs and loves dogs. He whimpers when the cats come by, so we don't know if he is having a bad cat experience flashback or if he wants to play with them.

We plan on getting him fixed and finding him a home. Anyone want some Chocolate?

Yeah, it's a disease.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

In My Other Life and Symbiosis

In my other life I am a teacher. I have been blessed for seven years to work at a school that believes in accepting everyone for who they are. I know I got my job because God meant for me to be there, not for me, but because C1 needed an awesome program for high functioning autistic children, and this school has a top notch program. The bonus is, even though C1 graduated, I still get to work there. 

We have the best secretary, R. She also has a special needs daughter who is a few years older than C1. She has shown me the ropes and is a wealth of information for me. I know I can go to her with any questions and she will have an answer, and if she doesn't she knows where to send me! As a bonus she got to see my daughter grow from a little freshman to a high school graduate. She is kind, compassionate, funny and gracious. I feel blessed to have her in my life. 

Tonight R invited C1 to a pool party at her house for her daughter.  Let me tell you, it is so nice to be among "our people." There were 4 girls and one guy, ranging in age from 17  to 49. They all had special needs of some kind and everyone had such a great time. 

It is so nice to not have any pretenses:  whose child is smarter, better, more athletic or prettier. There's no one-up-man-ship about who made the lead in the school play, or made All Stars, or has a scholarship to Yale (yeah, I don't know anyone who falls into the last category, but I do love hyperbole). It is so nice to have parent-friends who think your kid is as cool as you do, and you feel the same about theirs. Sometimes those parents of NTs are so boring, predictable and snobbish. Who needs that?

These kids all got along so well tonight. They were relaxed and instant friends. This is what is so cool about the special needs set, no warm-ups, no shyness, just "Hey, I'm C" and off they go...into the pool, playing the same game, laughing at the same things...just....being. Being who they are, who they were born to be, no worries about hair, bathing suits, or bodies. Just humans being themselves. No walls. No stereotypes. Just love. 

The amazing dynamic is how they help and nurture each other. S, the 49 year old and only guy there (and to quote R's hubby "he's a stud in a pool with four girls and he doesn't even know it"), doesn't talk much, but these girls were attentive, asking him if he wanted more pizza, soda or if he needed to use the bathroom. C1 offered to help N, who has CP, with her shirt when she had trouble getting it right-side-out. M, who was the deep-end goalie with a smile that would blow you away. L, my friend's daughter, who was the hostess with the mostest, blowing Martha Stewart away with her skills. 

I wish you all could have been there. There was a perfectness tonight that doesn't happen very often, when raw beauty and acceptance get together and throw a party (see what I did there?) We were relaxed and happy. It was symbiotic. It blew me away. 

I am blessed that I get to see such a glimpse of grace every once in a while. Honestly, if I didn't have C1, I would miss out on these moments that mean more to me than you can imagine. I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

This was a good day. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

"The Sleepover" Yawn

So I may have overreacted, although I don't truly believe that. When it's 2am and you're woken up (I'm pretty sure I was asleep), there is no such thing as overreaction. 

 C2 likes to have her friends sleep over. A lot. This is not my favorite thing because I have a hard time falling asleep until the guests are sleeping. But, back to trying to be a cool mom, I usually say yes. Thirteen year old girls live for sleep overs so they can stay awake and, in C2s case, torture me. Every time C2 has a sleep over, I very politely "ask" (*ehem, demand nicely) that they shut it down by 1am. I know that this means they will at least be in their pajamas by 1:15, possibly in a reclining position by 1:30, and on their way to sleep by 2:00 or 2:30. 

Isn't that sweet? And totally unrealistic, I know. 

I must have nodded out the other night because I remember looking at the clock at 12:45am and thinking that they should be going to sleep soon. Yawn. So when I was woken up by the herd of elephants running and yelling at 1:45am, I WAS PISSED. It scared the shit out of me. Can you say mini-heart attack? So, with my heart pounding and my hair sticking out at all ends, I marched upstairs, threw the door open and announced to C2, "Don't ever ask me for another sleep over!" There were no pajamas to be seen on any body, the lights were blaring, the laptop was powered up, phones were going, and there was no evidence that anyone had any intention of going to bed...soon...or at all. You know, if they hadn't made all that noise, I would have had no idea that they were still awake. After my awesome display of parental-rage, they finally quieted down. Overreaction? I think not. Then..THEN THEY WERE AWAKE (Loudly) AT 7am! WHAT?????!!!!!!!

I don't do well on no sleep. I resent anyone who keeps me from getting to sleep, staying asleep or wakes me up. Ask my husband, he's been waking me up for 20 years and I am always angry at him. 

 What C2 doesn't get is that, the children of the *certain decades,* we INVENTED the sleep over. We were the queens of sleep over parties with as many kids as 12...13....14..15 spending the night. OMG! I look back now and I think, "were these parents out of their minds?" C2 is allowed 5 girls, max. Then I remember that we all had basements. Yes, we were all locked in the basements with Doritos and Dr. Pepper. And our rotary telephones. 

In elementary and junior high school (it was jr high back then) all of my friends, the three Jennifers, and the three Kims (most popular baby names of 1971 anyone?) always had sleep over birthday parties. I don't remember getting much sleep. Or being quiet. When I was the host, I know that my mom did not stay awake. She would send us to the basement with snacks, close the door and head to bed. I don't know how she did it!

I need a nap....

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oh, the pressure!

Now that I've started this blog, I feel PRESSURE to write something awesomely witty everyday. Most days this isn't hard for me *cough, ehem* but today I have hit a wall. So, I am taking suggestions...any suggestions...

Today I have my gynecologist appointment, so expect some good fodder, unless of course he says my uterus has fallen out - then expect a CELEBRATION. I've been trying to ditch that bitch for years.

Don't forget to leave a comment, join this site, share on FB and twitter, or do nothing. These are your choices; choose carefully, Grasshopper. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Favorite Song EVER "Wonder" by Natalie Merchant

I have always loved this song because it describes C1 so well. She is a challenge to many people's balance, but she WILL be able. She is a wonder of God's own creation. We have no explanation. She is just....her. And so incredibly loved. She has taught me love, and patience and faith. 

AND I CRY EVERY DAMN TIME I HEAR THIS! It's like this song was written just for my family. That's the beauty - that it is so relevant for millions of people. 

Here are some of the lyrics and the video....

People see me
I'm a challenge to your balance
I'm over your heads
How I confound you and astound you
To know I must be one of the wonders
Of god's own creation
And as far as you can see you can offer me
No explanation

O, I believe
Fate smiled and destiny
Laughed as she came to my cradle
Know this child will be able
Laughed as she came to my mother
Know this child will not suffer
Laughed as my body she lifted
Know this child will be gifted
With love, with patience and with faith
She'll make her way

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Rainbow Told Me To Write This

As I was driving home yesterday from my sweet friends' vow renewal slash farewell party, I was reflecting on my faith, on how much I have changed since I moved here seven years ago, about how I am still a skeptic a lot of the time about God. How I am learning that my faith is how I grow and change as a person. I thought, "hmmm...that might be a good idea for a blog post," but then thought, "people probably won't read it."

Are you still reading? Well, I guess if you made it to paragraph two, then you must be interested. Or something.

So, I was driving home and all of this was rattling around in my brain, and lo and behold, as I turned down my street, there was a HUGE rainbow, and it stayed until I got to my house...it was right over my house! So, umm...GOD? I think God put that rainbow up there to tell me that I should write about my faith. I believe in signs. That is genetic, actually, because my mom believes in signs, too.

I was raised Catholic, and no offense to my Catholic friends out there, being raised Catholic is enough to ruin anyone's faith. Lots of rigidity. Lots of rules. Not a lot of God. The God I learned about could be mean and get you back for making mistakes, kind of like a bad boss. I learned the 10 Commandments, had to memorize The Apostles Creed, The Hail Mary (which is still one I say to calm my nerves) and The Our Father. I went to Catechism (Religious Education) classes weekly from kindergarten to the 8th grade. I made my communion, my reconciliation and my confirmation. There was no escape; my mom WORKED in the Religious Education office. Those years were just like "The History of Jesus 101." I grew up believing in God, going to vacation Bible school and singing "Jesus Loves Me." I didn't learn a lot about how faith shapes decisions, how our goal is to live in a Christlike way, how to trust God. I have trust issues and control issues, so these have been hard lessons to learn. 

(As a side note, I do like that the Catholics are totally into Mary, ya know, the mother of God. Most spokes of Christianity don't really dig Mary. She's just a bit player, an extra in the drama of Jesus Christ Superstar, which makes me mad, because anyone who has actually carried a baby for 9 months knows, it doesn't really matter HOW the baby got in your uterus when your feet are swollen, you cry all the time and you can't shave your legs. Everyone needs to give Mary props.)

So, I moved down here and my first job was at a middle school in a very rural where the kids took days off for hunting trips, got guns for Christmas, rode 4-wheelers and their parents drove trucks with HUGE tires. They thought snakes {vomit} were funny. Everyone thought it was hysterical that I was from New York - I couldn't understand them and they couldn't understand me. I had students who were rural-to-NY and NY-to-rural translators in each class, just so we could communicate. I cried everyday, "where did we move? what have we done?" And God was everywhere here; He was pervasive. The kids talked about Him, the parents talked about Him, faculty meetings and Board of Education meetings would start with prayers. Kids couldn't stay after on Wednesdays because they had church. God is full-time down here. The amount of God-time made me very uncomfortable. In my head I would think it was sweet, but on the outside I would feel itchy and scratchy, like I was wearing wet wool leggings. I thought everyone was crazy. I was arrogant about my own, inferior faith. 

The funny thing is this, in the Bible Belt, it never even crosses anyone's mind that their brand of faith - the in-your-face love of God - would make anyone uncomfortable. And even if you are visibly uncomfortable - chewing your cuticles, not making eye contact, trying to back out of the room, screaming "no, no no!" - they don't care. Now I think that's cool, but 7 years ago I thought I had landed in another dimension. My kind of faith was quiet, secret and personal, like hands in white gloves tucked in my lap, genteel and polite. This kind of faith was loud, extroverted and public, like a celebrity scandal, the details running on the ticker on the bottom of the t.v. screen all day long. My first real "run-in" was when I fell ill at work - dizzy, nauseated - and I went to the office to get someone to watch my class. As soon as the word was out that I was sick and trying to pull myself together in the teachers' lounge, our data manager and custodian sat me down and laid their hands on me, praying for my health. I was too polite to say no or to get up and run away. I let them lay their hands on me and finish their prayer, and smirked my little "are you kidding me?" smirk. 

Fast forward five years and three churches, two denominations, and many false starts, my family and I found a church that we loved. The pastor was a cross between the Mandrell Sisters and "Nunsense."  Here I found my extroverted faith - still a little uncomfortable, but more like a girdle than wet wool leggings. Around the time we found this church, my aunt was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The entire church prayed for her, each day, during Friday's intense prayer group, aloud on Sundays. When my aunt and uncle came down for a visit, I thought, I want my pastor to come and lay hands on her. To pray the prayer of healing for her, with us. There is power in prayer. I knew this to be true now. My understanding of God wasn't just superficial - it was tangible. It was real. I had seen results. My pastor had never met my aunt, but she had heard me talk about her and she had prayed for her for months. I remember asking my cousin if she thought it would be o.k. if we invited my pastor and her family over to pray for my aunt. She thought it was sweet. God Bless my aunt and uncle - I never really knew if they were cool with it - we stood in a circle, and all held hands, and we prayed. It was sweet, just like my cousin said. It made me want to shout like James Brown, "I feel GOOD. I knew that I would now!" I felt....real. Alive. 

God took me from that moment where my school custodian prayed over me that made me feel so incredibly uncomfortable and arrogant to the moment where I sought out prayer for my aunt and my uncle. I look back now and think, look at what He did...he took me to a place of change and trust. And signs. 

My favorite author Anne Lamott said, "“I do not understand the mystery of grace -- only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”  This circle is God's grace, his gift to me. His way of teaching me that my growth as a person is bound by my faith. I love that I am not where I started. I love that I have a long way to travel, but that He will be there every step of the way, making me feel like James Brown. "I feel GOOD!" 

This is my rainbow! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cool Mom and OCD Do Not Go Together

I try to be a cool mom. I do. Sometimes I'm cooler than other times. Most of the time, I fall short. My husband tells me that I don't have a cool bone in my body. I like to think I have at least one or two - a femur or a tibia, most certainly a funny bone.

Every summer C2 has a pool party. You need to understand that the anxiety and panic that I feel when entertaining is great. I must CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN, and PLAN PLAN PLAN, and CRY, yes CRY CRY CRY, and get myself worked up to such a froth that I should be institutionalized by the day of the party. I work myself into such a state that I don't actually enjoy the party.  I have gotten better in the last year. Maybe it's working two jobs, but I have resigned myself to the fact that my house will never be clean. I also know that 13 year old kids don't care how clean my house is. My friends probably don't care either. (If you come over and think, ick, then you have two choices 1. clean 2. leave) We clean the bathrooms and vacuum (we have 2 cats and 3 dogs, so vacuuming is mandatory). Maybe dust. Then we are done. Love it or lump it.

Last year's pool party was a success for about 45 minutes until the crazy thunderstorm that brought BUCKETS of rain and ruined all the chips. Nothing makes me madder than soggy chips. Anyway, if it wasn't for the quick movements of my friend Shannon, who took pity on me and agreed to stayed to help supervise the chaos, I might still be scraping pretzel mush out the of the cracks of the deck. She can stack bowls and clear a table like nobody's business.

This year, we thought we would try something new. Uhoh, right?

I mean, she's 13 now, why not have a cooler, hipper, "older" party. Refer to paragraph #1. Cool is not always easy to pull off when one has OCD. This was my idea. What the HELL is wrong with me? 

We decided that the party would start at 7pm, end at 11pm, and that there would be 12 people (this took a week of negotiations - C2 wanted 20, I said 10...) with 3 girls staying to sleep over. The party would start with swimming, progress to s'mores and snacks and end with a movie on the deck. Sounds fun doesn't it?

Well, about an hour in, the pool ladder broke, which resulted in my husband yelling at the kids to hoist themselves from the water up onto the deck and "DON'T USE THE LADDER! IT IS BROKEN!" Really, sir? They just told you that. Thank God I wasn't in the pool. I would still be in there. No hoisting for this lady! 

I have to say that I wasn't as relaxed as I should have been - and maybe an adult beverage would have been a good idea, probably starting at noon and continuing through the party...yup. Just one, bottomless adult beverage. I also forgot that my new motto is to live in the moment. 

Do you have any idea how much noise 12 thirteen year old kids can make? No? Well, let's see - everything makes them scream. Bugs. Food. Water. Air. And they scream in unison, like someone is chasing all of them with a knife, but louder. Jet engine loud. Honestly, if someone was chasing them with a knife and they screamed, knife wielding person would have no choice but to drop his knife to cover his ears. Yeah.

Anyway. There was fire for the s'mores. I don't like this. Then there were sparklers, which are just fancy sticks of fire. I don't like that either. Kids and fire are bad, as evidenced by the fact that one child made the tip of his wooden skewer red-hot and then "pretended" to poke another kid in the face. Oh. My. God. 

Then we had the left-his-phone-in-his-pocket-and-jumped-in-the-pool-kid (certainly something Jill at Yeah. Good times would never do! She knows phones and water do.not.mix). 

Once the projector came out, the pool was closed. The kids were quiet for 8.5 minutes of the movie. They couldn't hear the movie because of all the frogs. Frogs that sound like sheep and chickens. No joke. Of course, at about 15.2 minutes, C2 was crying that her friends were complaining they were bored and wanted to go back in the pool. Pool, computer and (borrowed) projector are not really great menage a trois, so sorry kids. Pool is still closed.

By 10pm, I took pity on the neighbors and made the kids come inside because their noise level was increasing in direct proportion to how quiet I asked them to be...

Anyway, I won't bore you with the rest of the deets, but my husband did bail at around 10:15, which left me to listen to the herd of elephants running around upstairs, playing hide and seek in the dark (did you HAVE to hide in the shower? I had closed the shower curtain for a reason - mainly because I didn't CLEAN the shower), and in general, making as much noise as possible. 

It was around this time that my friends Callie and (aforementioned friend Shannon, her husband) John (who asked me around 9pm if I had OCD "or something") hit the road. Can't blame them, and honestly, I wanted to hide in one of their car trunks and be whisked away into the night.

In spite of my neuroses, the kids seemed to have fun. A few left-overs are still here and currently ate all the cinnamon buns I made and are now headed to the pool. The backyard and deck resemble the remnants of a frat party. 

Farewell, until I'm stupid enough to agree to this again next year..............

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"She. Called. Me. A. (whisper) Bitch!"

As all parents know, kids have meltdowns. As parents of autistic kids know, there are no words to describe what our kids' meltdowns look like. Ahhh...It makes me break out in a cold, clammy sweat just thinking about it.

C1 is the queen of meltdowns. How long do her meltdowns last, you ask? OOohhh. That's part of the fun and mystery of them. 30 minutes? 60 minutes? 2 Hours? All day? 

Yes. Just yes. 

A few weeks ago she had been in a complete funk. She had graduated high school, and being the great mom that I am, I didn't have a clear plan laid our for her for the summer, or even for her future. All of this anxiety had to lead to a few really bad meltdowns - like the day she SPIT at me! She is certainly lucky that we were in the parking lot at school during dismissal. With all of my teacher and administrator friends walking to their cars. And other parents there, too. Yeah. She really was lucky that day. 

C1's meltdowns can consist of many things, but usually the "I WILL PUNISH MYSELF HARSHLY" meltdown wins out. Have you witnessed this one? It's a doozy and really really hard to respond to. It looks like this: 

 Something sets her off. Maybe C2 is sitting in her "spot" on the couch. Or I asked her to put her shoes away. Or dad told her to brush her teeth. {sigh}. These things (together or separately) will send her into a tailspin. She screams. Yells. Slams her door. Before we know it, all of her favorite items come flying down the stairs. Sonic the Hedgehog. All of her chipmunks. (Hang on, these are stuffed animals, not living things!). Then she comes down the stairs and gives us her cellphone (that she never uses anyway) and her iPod. Her purse. 

Basically, she punishes herself. So. What do we do? Is her consequence us forcing her to take all of her stuff back? This is a conundrum we have never quite figured out. 

Anyway. This background leads me to the anecdote for the day. C1 has a community support worker, KSmooth, who comes twice a week to take her out, work with her socially and be nice to her. Sometimes, C1 makes it hard to be nice to her. C1 knows this. In fact KSmooth and C1 go to therapy together. Honestly. This is a true story. 

Well a few weeks ago, KSmooth was here and C1 was in RARE form - Tasmanian devil level - and God Bless KSmooth, she tried everything, but C1 just increased her level of torture. I sent C1 to her room, sat KSmooth on the couch with a book and a cool drink, with strict instructions for KSmooth to sit tight and leave C1 alone, and left to pick up C2 from camp, 

When I got back, I called C1 downstairs. She refused to apologize, had no remorse, so back to her room she went. KSmooth wanted to talk to C1. I told her that she was entering at her own risk. I would spot the bottom of the stairs in case she met the same fate as Sonic. 

I am sitting and listening. I can hear C1; she's loudly yelling for KSmooth to "get out," "go away," "get the hell out of my room," (I don't know where this kid gets her mouth ;). I can't make out what KSmooth is saying, but all of a sudden it gets quiet. KSmooth comes back down the stairs on her own power, thank God, gives me the run-down of what she told C1 and leaves. 

About an hour later C1 comes down the stairs, sniffling, and, in a whisper, announces to us that KSmooth called her a bitch and told her to knock off the bullshit. Do not gasp, or call for the firing of our precious KSMooth. 

WE WERE DYING LAUGHING! This is what got through to her. I LOVE KSMOOTH. We want her to live with us. 

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How we roll (my eyes)

Once again, the pool it too hot to swim in. Once again, my husband took an idea way over the top. This is when I roll my eyes, and try not to have a panic attack! 

Did YOUR Brain Fall Out, Joe Scarborough?

If you haven't already done so, please read this article, watch the video and then just sit back. Let it soak in.

(Insert Jeopardy music here...doo do doo do doo do doo.....)

Ok. Did you read it? Did you watch the video? Alrighty - let's get started!

There are so many things wrong with what he said that I don't think I can actually form words to express how this makes me feel. I don't know how to react either. A heavy sigh, a vicious shake of the head, a desire to punch him square in the face....yeah. All of those things. And to use words to fight his words. To stand up for our kids, which as evidenced by a parent of a child on the spectrum, isn't always the number one priority. Did Joe think that by adding that his child has Asperger's it would make his statement more valid? I think it had the opposite effect, don't you. It makes you, Joe, look like an idiot.

Let me ask you this, if this had happened in a rural area, would you automatically think, "Oh, those kids who hunt, they must be NRA nuts with a screw loose." Tom Selleck and Ted Nugent would place their laser sights on your ass.

What about an affluent area? Would you automatically think, "This is what happens when kids play violent video games," or "This is what happens when rich parents spoil their kids." What would the backlash be? Tipper Gore would be happy, but the software designers and their loyal gamers would run you down like Sonic runs down those rings at warp speed (ok, this was a horrible analogy, but I don't play video games, so I'm reaching here!).

If this had happened in an urban area, would you think "Those African-American males - their mama's didn't love them enough?" Oh, boy - for that last generalization we would be treated to Al Sharpton on every news program. 

So, why would this asshat, Joe Scarborough, A MAN WHO HAS A CHILD ON THE SPECTRUM,   make a generalization like this (this is where I am putting my head in my hands and crying). Maybe he truly believes this. Maybe we should go back in time to the 50s and 60s and put all of our special needs children in institutions. Or, if Joe had his way, maybe just those autistic kids whose parents don't love them enough. He obviously loves his son so much that he uses his diagnosis to justify what he said. What else do you use your child's diagnosis to justify, Joe? 


And this is what is wrong with the world. Everyone has to have a label. Everyone else is an expert on everyone else. We walk through life judging and making assumptions and generalizations.  We know what is best for everyone, everywhere. This is bullshit. This has to stop. 

My kid is not like your kid. Your kid is not like mine. I would never assume anything about your child, your marriage, your choices, your job. Don't do that to me or my child.

Say you're sorry, Joe. 

Autistic Journalist Demands Joe Scarborough Retract Comments Linking Autism To Aurora Shooting

On his MSNBC program this morning, Morning Joehost Joe Scarborough made the stunning declaration that people like Aurora mass shooter James Holmes are “somewhere, I believe, on the autism scale,” and that while he didn’t know if this was true of Holmes specifically, “it happens more often than not.”

In an email to Mediaite, labor journalist Mike Elk, who recently “came out” as autistic himself, denounced Scarborough’s comments, and demanded a retraction from the network.
In case you missed it, here’s what Scarborough said this morning:
“You have these people that are somewhere, I believe, probably on the autism scale, I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it happens more often than not, people that can walk around in society, that can function on college campuses, can even excel in college campuses, but are socially disconnected. I have a son who has Asperger’s who is loved by everyone in his family and who is wonderful, but it is for those that may not have a loving family and a support group and may be a bit further along on the autism spectrum, an extraordinarily frustrating, terrible challenge day in and day out. and so, I do think, again, I don’t know the specifics about this young man, but we see too many shooters in these type of tragedies bearing the same characteristics mentally.”
In response to an email inquiry, Mike Elk, a staff writer for In These Times who recently wrote a beautiful essay in which he “came out” publicly as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, denounced Scarborough’s remarks, and demanded a retraction:
As both a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, as well a journalist, MSNBC must issue an immediate retraction of Joe Scarborough’s unfounded statements accusing the shooter of having autism and linking autism to violence. There is absolutely no evidence that the Colorado shooter has autism, nor is there a single scientific study that links autism to violent outbursts such as the despicable acts of terrorism that occurred last Friday in Aurora, Colorado. As someone who was bullied, beaten, and often a loner as child, I never once though about taking out violent rage against those who bullied me. Instead, I poured my sense of hurt into reporting on workers who were similarly being bullied by big corporations.
Scarborough, whose own son has Asperger’s, should know better than to spread false stereotypes about people on the Autism spectrum as being prone to violence. Instead, Scarborough has contributed to the further isolation of people on the autism scale. Hopefully, Mr. Scarborough will retract his remarks, as well as host a broader discussion on Autism to spell away the many stereotypes of Autism often spoken by non-Autistic people such as himself.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has also issued a statement calling for a retraction:
“Mr. Scarborough’s remarks suggesting that James Holmes, the shooter behind the Aurora movie theater killings, was an Autistic American are as perplexing as they are without evidence. No information on Mr. Holmes has suggested that he displays the diagnostic characteristics of autism and no evidence exists tying autism with violent behavior or threats to public safety. As a parent, Mr. Scarborough should know better than to perpetrate these types of unfortunate stereotypes. Autistic Americans are an integral part of our society and live, work and attend school alongside our non-Autistic peers. There exists no evidence linking autism with violent behavior. By spreading ill-founded and unsupported claims linking autism with violence, Mr. Scarborough does our community real harm. We urge him to reconsider and for him and MSNBC to retract his remarks.”
In case you were wondering what Scarborough based his assertions on, I believe it was a study that was recently published in The Journal Of Joe Scarborough’s Ass. There is absolutely no scientific data which links autism to mass murder, and what little research there is on autism and crime is flawed and inconsistent. The inherent absurdity and irresponsibility of Scarborough’s statements are aggravated by the fact that he is the father of an adult child with an autism disorder, which might lead viewers to believe that he knows what the hell he’s talking about. This is the main reason I hesitate to disclose that I am the father of two children with autism spectrum disorders, because I don’t want to derive unearned authority, moral or otherwise, from that fact.
I reveal it now because it’s relevant to my initial reaction to Scarborough’s comments, which was one of hurt and revulsion. Autistic kids have enough to deal with in life without Joe Scarborough running around telling people they’re potential mass murderers, unless they’ve got an awesome dad like Joe Scarborough, or conflating autism, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder, with mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
But that emotional impulse to lash out at Joe Scarborough makes Mike Elk’s response all the more admirable. Yes, he is unamused, but his main concern is that people be given the correct information. Rather than simply vent outrage at Joe Scarborough, Elk makes a reasonable request, that instead of issuing some sort of apology, and going through the shame paces, Joe Scarborough ought to set the record straight at the same volume at which he distorted it.


Monday, July 23, 2012

What Happened in Translation?

I asked for this
And ended up with this. (Please excuse my super large forehead that is sometimes mistaken for the Life Flight Landing pad). I realize pic #1 is straightened, but trust me, even if I straightened mine, it would look nothing like pic #1. 

EVERY TIME I get my haircut, it comes out like this. EVERY DAMN TIME! Is this a God thing? Is it even possible? 

I mean, other than the color, which my neighbor does for me, do you see any similarities between the two pictures? Yeah. Me neither. 

I guess this is why I should let them blow my hair out when I get it cut, but honestly I don't want to spend the extra $4. An $8.99 haircut is nothing to sneeze at, especially when the outcome is always a surprise! Even then, though, I am still a little too introverted (don't snicker here friends, it's true) to tell the hair dresser that I don't like it. I have walked through most of my life with awful haircuts because I didn't want to say anything. Sigh. So now I wait a few weeks and get it cut again. Care to guess? Oh yes, it will look EXACTLY the same. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hangry...Like Torture

Last night C1 read her sister’s list…so she asked me to write one for her. I guess because my answer to “when are you going to write it?” wasn’t “right now,” she wrote her own. I decided to use her version, but use strike throughs and different color text to add to or change what she wrote.

She has titled it “What it is like to live with an autistic child.” I would title it “I love C1. She’s awesome. That’s the only label we need.” Or "Hangry." 

Yup, hangry it is! 

Last night, C1 asked me to do a post about her. Here you go:

1.  You had always put a smile to my face no matter what you did. Yes yes yes! This is true. You have an uncanny way of making me smile with your cute little face and excellent one-liners.
2.  You were also the biggest of the bunch but were not so fair skinned when you came in the world. Did I mention you came out deformed squished? You were not deformed. As the doctor said, you were a BIG baby in a small space AND you were 10 days late. All your features popped back into their proper places in a day or two. You were a beautiful baby.
3.  Watching Barney was torture for us. Eh, Barney was fine. Lamb Chop was cool. Elmo was your first love. It was the TeleTubbies that almost did us in. Oh, and Sponge Bob, 24/7.
4.  You always knew how to operate technology, even at a young age. And you always remembered to turn off any toys that had batteries too. This is an awesome skill that you picked up on your own.
5.  You and Dad both can’t sing. I ignore it when we both sing along to the radio! Daddy’s singing drives me crazy. Your off-off-key singing, on the other hand, is a great source of enjoyment, for both me and your sister. Sing it, girl!
6.  I can’t believe you’re getting scoliosis surgery next year! Yes, this is something that I haven’t written about on the blog yet. No need to worry about it now. We have a year before we need to panic.
7.  When did you begin to like Sonic the Hedgehog? Who told you about him? Yes, it is kind of sad you were born when “Sonic and Knuckles” came out for the SEGA Mega Drive. Really? I would never have written this. I don’t know why this is “sad” either. I would have put in here that it was NOT funny when you dropped the cat into the bathtub with your sister. J
8.  You’re going to be 18! Please stop asking for toys! You seem too old for that kind of stuff! Ahhh, the grown-up with toys. Many grown-ups have toys, but they don’t usually try to sneak them into their purses and smuggle them out of the house.
9.  I can’t believe you’re going to college! I’m must be too old to have a college student living with me! WAIT! I am not “Too old!” I would NEVER have written this. I was a very young mom, so it is totally feasible that I could be 24 with a college age child.
10.      You aren’t a button pusher, unlike your sister who is a BIG button pusher! Ehem…*cough*
11.      You take being picked on because of your disability as a big deal. DON’T FLIP ANYONE OFF! TELL AN ADULT! It breaks my heart that people pick on you, but I have to say that you were lucky to attend the high school that you did, because I know it would have been WAY worse other places. Honestly, I want to beat up those awful, mean, shit-heads who pick on you. And you should NEVER flip someone off...I would NEVER do that, now that we moved out of NY. So, the question is this….if you are going to be 18, and that’s an adult, are you going to tell yourself? L♥☻
12.      You can be creative when you want to be. It’s a bit juvenile sometimes, though. I have tried your entire life to get you into arps and craps (translate: Arts and Crafts). Grandma Mary has too. I remember when you were around 3, you were at Grandma Mary’s house and you guys were making bead necklaces. The bowl with the beads in it kept spilling. You shouted “Son of a BITCH.” Grandma wasn’t very pleased with me.
13.      I still can’t get over the fact that you graduated. My baby is now an adult! Well, yes, this is true. I am going to miss having you at school with me. I always loved when I would get a quick peek at you in the hallway or when my students would come in and tell me that they saw you.
14.      I wish you could take the hint that you aren’t getting a tattoo so quit asking! NO TATTOO!
15.      Your anger can get the best of you, especially when you’re “hangry” which turns into a HUGE problem for all of us! Oh yes. Your entire life we have struggled against the power of hangry. You say mean things. You punish yourself. You hide in the corner. You TORTURE US! By God, child, eat a chip and BE HAPPY.

Thank you for making the list 15 – otherwise I would have had to go to 20. God loves those of us with OCD!