Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Yes I'm Emotional

Hubby calls me emotional, others say I have an "old soul," some say I'm just intense, and yet I've also been called plain ol' weird. As Bubba says now... "Whatever."

Regardless, I bawled when the older gentleman sang for "his lady" on American Idol tonight. Or maybe I was crying because I am so sick of the damn test items I'm reviewing...only 100 more to go (I think).

Monday, January 29, 2007


Take a look at this article.

Like most articles I read online, this one was on my homepage when I opened up my browser to check email. It hit home. I'm not sure if it's because my mom lost her life to breast cancer when she was in her early 30s or if it's because of the radical change in direction I have taken in the past year. Technically, those two reasons are so significantly intertwined, I'm sure they are both partly responsible for why this story buckled my knees and brought me to shuddering tears.

Just last night I had a long, rambling conversation with my sister about life's twist and turns, self-recognition, and self-acceptance (sorry Sister!). I've been working more than I originally wanted for the past couple of months and have been repeating to myself that it's for "easy money" and I should just suck it up as I dig myself out of the pile of shit I chose to dive in. But, that's the same line I fed myself day in and day out as I swam up river chasing after endless, thankless career goals.

So before quitting my job, terminating my career, and basically bitch-slapping 30 years of moving through my presumed path in life, I had a realization: When I die, I want nothing more but to be known as someone who loved my family (including myself) with all of my being and that my family felt this love in their core.

I feel very strongly that with most any deficit or challenge my family might experience, our core love would be the foundation needed to get through it or compensate for it. And for this to happen, in short, I had to stop hiding, allow myself to become vulnerable, and quite simply give myself the chance to be happy.

This directional change in my emotional and rational being (two parts of me that don't usually agree) also impacts my expectations for my husband and my children. And maybe, just maybe, my husband will feel safe enough to allow himself to become vulnerable again. And maybe my children will have felt such passionate, all-encompassing love that even if it is lost or taken from them some day, they will know to have felt that love was worth it and would not run from it the next time it came their way. Kind of silly and unrealistic I suppose, but I dream of this success for them (and me) more than any other.

Though money makes the world go 'round, and there lies BIG ISSUE #1. Speaking of which, Moosie is at school, so I need to get back to work.

Friday, January 26, 2007

New Drink

So it's been a long week, which explains why I haven't been posting much. Anyhow, if you're desperate for chocolate, creamy, alcoholic sweetness I've got a solution--I'm talking about a drink here folks, not a dark-skinned porn star in rehab. Anyhow, we don't have much alcohol on hand here, so I had to be creative but simple. If you too find yourself in desperate circumstances, try a shot of spiced rum, a shot of half and half, and some Hershey's syrup. Shake with ice and you have happiness. Yum.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New Language Milestone

I don't know exactly when it happened, but today I heard Bubba call the green, pasty, slimy-coated blobs hanging not so precariously from his nose "boogers" instead of "burgers." I'm glad that at least verbally they are no longer considered a food item.

Sticks and Stones

We all know words can hurt. In actuality it's the implied meaning and attitudes behind those words that truly drive deep into our soul. Everyone has at least a few words that rip open jagged wounds of past experiences allowing raw emotions to bleed and crust over.

I invite you to listen to this story on NPR.

It's not about being politically correct, it's about being considerate. It's about owning your words and understanding their ramifications. It has taken me over a year of my own journey to understand that it's not about the intent of the word but of its perception by the people it hurts. It's also about educating yourself and being open to feedback. There are quite a few things I say that hurt people. All it takes is that person to say "It hurts me when you say [this] and let me tell you why."

So let me tell you this: It hurts me when you say "retard" or slap your hand on your chest when you do something silly. It hurts me when my kids are called "autistic," "slow," "mute," "special," "handicapped," etc. Not to mention it hurts them.

My children have neurodevelopmental disabilities. You can't separate them from their disabilities, because their disabilities are a natural, intricate part of who they are. But their disabilities don't define them. Their disabilities don't lessen them as human beings.

As one gentleman stated in the story: "'Changing the word could possibly make it better,' ... 'But also you got to change the attitudes. You know, because the attitudes is not changed, the word is not really going to matter.'" (Look past the grammar errors and focus on the insight. What comes from the heart matters more than something that comes as part of standard word processing software.)

So I encourage you to reflect about your attitudes, and no, not just about disability. It's not pleasant coming face to face with some of those lingering perceptions buried deep within, but it's worth it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

It's Hubby's Fault

Every year around this time Hubby complains about the lack of "winter." In one week's time, we have had ice, freezing rain, bitter cold, and snow. Goody for Hubby.

I agree, snow is pretty to look at, but I could do without the slush slop aftermath. I could also do without the 30 minutes of bundling of the kids for them to go outside for 10 minutes and then the dirty, dripping pile of coats, mismatched gloves, socks, and hats barricading our small entryway.

I suppose the boys' cute frozen smiles and pink cheeks make it all worth it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sick Boy

So Moosie Moose is sick. Just a moderate fever, but enough to keep him home from school yesterday and probably from spending the night at ma-ma and pa-pa's house. Whenever Moosie gets sick, I get sucked back into the early days when he was sick all of the time, when his only milestones were to breathe and stay hydrated. I try not to get super worried anymore as he has been sick recently and gotten over it quickly, unlike when he was younger and every cold would spiral into an awful chain of events. But I'm still a little anxious, truth be told.

Yesterday, Moosie's only requested comfort was to lie on the recliner with his daddy's childhood stocking cap pulled over his head.

Today, as he is feeling better, he has chosen to wear daddy's work gloves while pushing around a baby stroller filled with trains and toy dishes and a blanket dragging behind. Oh, and still chewing on the Mac & Cheese stuffed in his mouth from lunch.

And yes, if you look in the background, you can see a volcano model from my 6th grade year that for some reason my dad kept and has recently become a preferred stage for Bubba's dinosaur reenactments. You can also see the light switch on the wall still without a cover, leftover from painting in October.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Back to the Grind

Bubba is back to school today. Moosie will be on the bus by 12:30. Hubby will be leaving for work shortly and probably won't be home until around 8 tonight. I have about 2 hours of work completed this morning and will be back at it when Moosie leaves.

I think I've decided that reviewing test questions, which is what I am doing now, is my least favorite thing to do. And after these 150, I have another 400+ to do. I am dwindling down the amount of work I am taking, because I can't handle the work bursts that keep happening.

I have about 3 hours a day to "focus." Right now, much of that time is spent working, but some of it needs to be spent on necessary tasks like coordinating reimbursement from the insurance company or writing follow-up letters after Individualized Education Plan meetings, or reviewing Person Centered Plans and IEPs to catch the many mistakes. You get the idea. This disability crap just doesn't go away. I literally think I could drown in the constant paperwork.


Monday, January 15, 2007


I'm not even getting into how difficult it is to try and explain the purpose of today to Bubba. At the very basic level, I gave Moosie something and didn't give it Bubba and asked him how it felt. "Sad," he stated. We talked about equality and fairness, differences in people, etc.

As far as Martin Luther King, Jr. goes, Bubba is still stuck on the basics. Where does he live? Who killed him? Etc. Now he is drawing a "pyramid from long ago" for Martin Luther King, Jr. for his birthday. Don't know where that idea came from?

I have a dream

Sunday, January 14, 2007


heaviness tries to forgive
as skin peels to ooze
cold sharp cracks
happiness snaps

twisted fingers plunge
piercing through fog
anticipated thuds
death lies in mud

I can't explain the pain I feel right now as the trees crash slowly, a branch at a time, as they give into the weight of the ice from the latest winter storm. Each snap makes me shudder as I frantically look for the newest victim. The destruction is bitterly harsh and utterly unforgiving.

To most it appears to be an inconvenience, to me it is a deep loss. There are few things that give me peace, that bring me simple joy without much effort on my part. Trees are my ocean, my mountains, my connection to Earth.

I cringe as they are stripped and snapped branch by branch. These aren't any trees, these are my trees---the trees that soothe me on those late spring nights and whisper to me on crisp fall mornings.

When I called my dad to see how their trees were doing, he said "Not good babe. Not good at all." The willows have split. One of the rose buds planted in honor of my mom so many years ago has been yanked from the ground and tortured.

I took comfort in the fact that dad sounded as depressed as I did over the casualties. "Stay inside. Don't look," he suggested. He knew I was hurting and didn't judge the silliness of it all. I think this is the first phone call I remember him saying "I love you" before hanging up.

He Said Thank You

As Hubby sat at the table in his work clothes eating his warmed dinner about two hours after the rest of us had eaten, he looked up at me with a mouthful of the salmon I slightly overcooked and said sincerely "You are doing a great job."

Of course my response was my typical, sluggish "Huh? What do you mean?" It was a question in part innocently wondering what he meant, yet also eagerlly wanting to hear more without tipping off to him how much I crave those words.

He preceded to go into how well I'm doing with the boys and at home (and all that really encompasses). Of course he made me tear up. Hubby has a way of getting to me just when I need it, just when I least expect it. Years ago these compliments and gestures meant nothing to me. I refused to take them in, to embrace them, to accept their true validity. I do now and revel in them every chance I get.

And in case you're wondering. He's still a pain, especially when he's sick. But I love him anyhow.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

What's Worse

I've been sick for over 3 weeks now with various colds. I've gone from sinus headache to drippy nose to sore throat to severe congestion to ear ache to burning chest to hacking cough.

But there's one thing worse than me being sick...when my husband is sick. Anyone who is a man who has been sick before or knows a man who has been sick before knows what I'm talking about.

I've known this for a long time, but this week I've pretty much started praying continuously that Hubby will never get a chronic illness or anything more serious because it will probably drive us to a divorce. I'm not joking. I have the patience of a flea when it comes to his whining and constant blubbering.

"Should I call the doctor?" "What does it mean if my snot is green?" "Do I feel warm?" Add that to spending a mint at the drugstore on crap that doesn't work and rolling his eyes if I say anything that reminds him that we have children, and you get the point.

If I hear my husband groan one more time, I'm going to swat him. And this week is his first cold of the season! To make matters worse, I was just getting over my second cold when he gave me this one. Well I guess its technically my fault, but hey, I wasn't thinking straight at the time...

Well I won't be catching any more colds from him anytime soon the way this week has been going. Grrrrr.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Take a Hike

Over the holidays we had unseasonably warm warm weather. Well, it seems to be warm a lot during winter nowadays, so maybe it really wasn't unseasonable. Anyhow, the whole family went hiking at a local park near the river with Aunt Piggy and Uncle Guitar Man. (We use childhood nicknames and/or hobbies of family and friends to create sign names for Moosie to use. I can't help it that Aunt Piggy's nickname as a kid was Piggy. And she is now a culinary arts graduate, so I can't get away from the food theme no matter what!)

OK, back to hiking. Everyone had a great time, and I especially enjoyed the fresh air and stillness during the week of holiday hell. Well it was pretty still except for the occasional mountain bikers whizzing by.

I can't say that Moosie actually hiked since he refused to walk on the path. Everyone tried to give Hubby a break, but he was the lucky one chosen as Moosie's personal traveling servant.

Bubba did exceptionally well, even with the climbing detours. I'm pretty sure I was the only one who fell in the mud.

Unfortunately (well, fortunate for them) Aunt Piggy and Uncle Guitar Man had to go back to Oregon. We miss our buddies. They always bring out the parts of our family that we forget about due to the hubbub of life.

Some photos. Thanks to Uncle Guitar man for taking the shots!

Bubba impressed by the rock formation.

Moosie being cute.

Yep, we're holding up alright. Har har har.

Hubby apparently is pretty impressed that he scaled a dirt clod barely taller than him.

Moosie and Aunt Piggy sharing in their new favorite pastime of tossing crackers.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Them There are Fighting Words

Today started off so well... I already had several e-mails from Moosie's teachers and therapists after his first day of school. They were full of interest and the desire to communicate. I took the time to respond, thanking them for their quick responses, and stated my up front questions and concerns. I even received immediate pleasant, helpful responses.

Fast forward to this afternoon when the behavior therapist is helping me learn how to manage some of Bubba's behavioral issues. She observed as I worked through tantrums, time outs, ripped up papers-- and then once we were actually doing the homework, significant anxiety, frustration, confusion, and constant distraction.

The homework was counting by tens and ones and then stating 10 less and 10 more. When we flipped the paper over and the homework was regarding the same concept but with dimes and pennies, Bubba himself flipped, "This is too hard, this is confusing, I can't do this one! I can't do this one!"

While working through Bubba's homework, I glanced at Bubba's report card that he brought home today. As I noticed earlier this year, his 'grades' are falling. No surprise; I already discussed my concerns with his case manager and stated that I was planning on calling an IEP meeting this month to discuss issues and strategies to help Bubba compensate.

But to my shock, neatly written in the comment section was the following:

"He would excel academically if he read more at home and completed book reports."

I was so fucking mad I nearly ripped up his report card, I started pacing anxiously, and I thought the behavior therapist was going to have to restrain me.

First off, we read nearly every night for about 30 minutes. And starting over Christmas break, as we've helped Bubba reduce his anxiety, he has begun to read more himself. He struggles with decoding, but his persistence is growing. Regarding the book reports, it was discussed after first quarter that we could modify the book reports by having discussions with Bubba and then I would write down what we talked about. Although we have had numerous discussions, I do take fault that I haven't sent in all of the papers yet.

Regardless, what kind of crap is it to say a kid would do better academically if he did more book reports? I'm all for literacy, in fact out of all things academic, that remains our priority here at home. But come on, show me the data that a child with neurodevelopmental disabilities will magically excel academically if he reads more at home...

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Moose's First Day of School

Moosie Moose had his first bus ride yesterday, but didn't get to stay at school because he had a doctor appointment. Today the bus was almost an hour late because of a carseat snafu, so Moosie will barely be at school before it's time to ride the bus home. I'm pretty sure he thinks this school stuff is rather cool and is wondering why Bubba complains. Moosie may change his mind on Monday!

Here's Moosie about to get to ride the school bus for the first time. If you know Moosie at all, you know he loves buses!

If you look in the center bottom of the window, you can see Moosie. If you look a little to left, you can almost make the image of Jesus out in the reflection. He's praying over Moosie's head.

Sister, I'm just kidding, stop looking.

Smartie Pants

Moosie's adaptive communication ability astounds me. The boy has 3 words and about 50 signs, but what he can concretely communicated is still rather limited. But, he can communicate his wants and needs pretty darn effectively by using what he has accessible in his environment.

This morning we were playing with some puzzle piece flash cards working on colors. He quickly found a card displaying a lollipop, tapped me, and then pointed to himself. I asked if he wanted a lollipop, and upon his adamant "Yeah!" I told him that he could have a lollipop after he was dressed.

An hour or more later after playing more games, eating lunch, packing his bag for school, etc. I stated that it was time to get dressed. Daddy dressed Moosie as I sat down to write a quick note to Moosie's new teacher.

A few moments later Moosie tapped me, then I acknowledged him and asked what he needed. He lifted his leg and pointed down.

"Yes, you have Thomas shoes on!" I went back to writing.

Moosie repeated his gesture and accompanied it with a wide vowel sound "AaaaaaaaH."

"Thomas shoes?" I questioned, and went back to writing.

A second later he brought a pack of flashcards and set them on the table. He pointed to the cards and said "AaaaaaH" again.

I scrutinized his mouth movements and sounds and analyzed the situation as I typically have to do when his communication is unclear. "You want to play cards?"

"Yeah! uh NO!"

He tried again, and then it clicked when I realized the pack of cards was from earlier that morning. "Do you want a lollipop?"


"You were telling me that you got dressed and that now you want your lollipop?" I clarified his actions to enforce that I recognized his attempts to communicate.


It took me awhile to catch on, but his persistence and frustration tolerance really amazes me. Of course the lollipops we have aren't pretty and swirly like the one in the picture, so Moosie wasn't too keen on the lollipop idea after all...

I know Moosie's peers most likely won't take the time to figure out what Moosie is trying to tell them, so I am just waiting for "the behaviors" to emerge at school. I still think an electric communication device would be great for him to communicate effectively and quickly to his peers, but that was one of the things I was talked down on during the IEP meeting. We'll see how the first few weeks go I guess.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Christmas 2006

A few pictures of the boys...

Bubba doing the "I like my present" jig. He was pretty happy with most of his presents. We had "practice Christmas" on the 23rd, practicing waiting to open presents, looking to see whose names (to/from) are on the presents, keeping our hands on our own presents, and politely thanking the person. And yes, Bubba did say "No thank you. I don't like this present." Hey, much better than last year when things were hurled along with growling and stomping!

Moosie was interested in the opening of the presents. He never seemed too interested in the contents of the presents until after all of the unwrapping was done. He would rip paper, toss it aside, and then sweetly sign "more."

And yes, as always, the boys picked out their own attire.

Holiday Hell 2006

The holidays are a blur. I thought I would try to recapture some of the moments here, but the wounds are too fresh! Seriously, I still can't even think straight so my holiday recall isn't working right now. I'll sprinkle some pictures and highlights of holidays and birthdays over the next week or so as I begin to chip away at the carb coating on my brain.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The New Year

I woke up with an odd somber feeling this morning to the likeness of that feeling I remember having that first day of summer vacation of most every school year. Sort of a wistful, hollow feeling with a hint of uncertainty and intrigue. I don't recall feeling this way at the beginning of previous New Years.

I could attribute this feeling to the freakish springlike air hovering in my house, the fact that my children are still asleep at 9:30 AM, or the thankful end to a hellish week of holidays and family gatherings, or maybe even the emotions stirred up by the birthdays of my sweet boys.

Or it could be the acknowledgement of better diet, exercise, and interactive parenting and wifery that lingers up ahead as my commitments to the future. Or the mounds of paperwork and work that came to a natural halt at the beginning of Bubba's most recent cycle break and are now looming heavily in my mind and on my kitchen table, baker's rack, office desk, living room floor...or maybe it's just the fact that Moosie starts preschool tomorrow.

I told my husband that this is the first time in my adult life that I don't feel like I'm searching for something that I just can't quite pull from the haze. I interpret this as meaning that for now I am finally where I am supposed to be. It's a pretty simple life, meaning I have no lofty goals, no desire to save the world, fix any large overwhelming problems. I have turned inward, focusing on myself, my children, my husband, and other relationships I feel are important to the core of our health and happiness.

My priorities this year revolve around doing what is best for our family first. Our family comes before academics, careers, material goods. My family feeling acknowledged, loved, and accepted comes before a clean house, error free IEPs, organized paperwork, blogging, or anything else that I used to hide in. Hey, it won't be perfect, but the imperfectness will be with better intent, and that's what matters to me.