Thursday, January 31, 2008

What's Worse?

What's worse than going grocery shopping like you do every Thursday, not thinking about the impending snow storm and upcoming Superbowl weekend?

Coming home (after standing in line for 45 minutes) to two kids that are not handling the snow day too well.

What's worse than listening to two boys say 500 times that they want to go outside, even though they are bright red from just returning from the frigid cold?

Cleaning up pee after they couldn't get their snow clothes off fast enough.

Brings "yellow snow" to a whole new level, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I have lost the motivation to write anything. I still have tons of half-written posts in my drafts folder. But I am in the middle of doing my taxes (momma needs the refund now to pay down some debt!), applying for a grant to help out with our exorbitant dental costs (which has forced me to analyze our expenses and income very closely, and is requiring me to redo our budget), starting a new work project to bring in something, and supposedly now I need to prepare for an IEP meeting for Bubba next month. Dang, I haven't even finished posting about Moosie's IEP meeting in December!

Oh, I had to reschedule the meeting about the seclusion room until next week, because Moosie was sick on Monday.

I think I'm going to start going through my drafts and wrapping up some posts, even if they are incomplete and rambling. Even my "finished" posts turn out that way, so why not just publish them already?

Wordless Wednesday: The best pillows

Monday, January 28, 2008

Moosie Pants Dance

So Moosie is sick AGAIN (or still). My house looks like it did before here. What a difference a weekend makes (in a bad way) when you're cooped up in the house even when it's nice outside. I have some massive sinus headache, which is making my teeth hurt. So I apologize if the below doesn't make much sense. The pictures speak for themselves though.

*Jump Wiggle Jump*

Not sure if any of you remember the Monster Pants Dance from Sesame Street. I remember it because it is burned into my brain. It was one of those video snippets that Bubba loved a few years ago and watched over and over and over and over... It was the first time Bubba ever reacted to something funny on the TV screen and was the start of his love of slapstick humor. You can watch the video here, Just search for MONSTER CLUBHOUSE: BANANA PEEL. You know you want to. It's Monday. What else are you going to do?

Anyhow, on Friday night we brought out the marble contraption from its hiding place. It's been about a year, and we were really grasping at straws for indoor entertainment, so why not give it another shot? (This is probably the point when all of the childless readers think twice about having children.)

Here's Moosie doing the pants dance. That dang "Monster Pants Song" played over and over in my head as Moosie danced in excitement. To be fair, his pants did seem to have a mind of their own.

Bubba was a little more conservative with his excitement.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What a difference

What a difference a day (and a clean house) makes.

It's amazing, my children being children doesn't piss me off, and I can now laugh at these pictures, which were not funny at the time.

This is Bubba doing his homework. He had read for 10 minutes earlier, but it was time for his favorite part (NOT) of writing one sentence about the book. Apparently he needed special homework clothes, which is where the headband and spiderman shirt come in. He had to change before doing his writing.

This is him asking me which sentence he should write. I can ask him questions about what he read and he does pretty well, but if he has to write his answer, that's a little more difficult. So he has taken to copying a sentence for his "one sentence." Fine with me. Homework is nothing but "compliance" in our house anyhow. I hate homework. It sucks.

This is Moosie showing me his homework (because he has to be doing everything Bubba is doing).

This is Moosie 'walking' his homework in a bag full of other crap he had collected that night. He walked it around and around and around the table. Not so funny when it was totally distracting his brother and prolonging homework hell. And yes, that is Hubby in the background, as helpful as ever, scratching his man bags and causing more distraction. Just kidding. He's rarely home during homework time (or anytime before 9PM thanks to his job), but I was SO happy he was home last night. For the most part.

And do you see my clean shiny floor? Only took me an hour to scrape all of the crap Moosie had decoupaged to the ceramic last week.

Thursday Night's Post

How I know today is just a day that needs to be over:

1) The burning pain in my chest radiating toward the part of my shoulder blades begging for a massage I will never get.

2) The fact that I am repressing various cuss words from piercing my children's selfish little ears (assuming that they would even hear them, which is really a stretch at this point).

3) Knowing I have reached the point of threatening to toss all of the action figures, knights, and star wars guys into the furnace. I have cool little baskets that hold them all, but the boys demand that the figures make the best "garbage" for their trash trucks to haul (and dump out and leave in multiple Lego-like piles all over the house).

4) The boys have been feeding off each other so much this afternoon and evening that Hubby proclaimed, "It would be just fine if [Moosie] would learn how to play by himself!" (Um, you mean the one who refused to do anything but "play" by himself until this year and was diagnosed with autism?)

5) I want to tell Moosie to shut the F up! (Yes, I mean the kid who was pretty much nonverbal this time last year.)

6) Because my kitchen and living room are actually clean now, and I know if the day doesn't end right now, it will look like I never touched them by the time tomorrow comes.

7) Because I have no patience for the fact that Bubba wants to take two huge toys for his "star performer" day at school tomorrow. They have to be things that have moving wheels he tells me. Since his toys with "moving wheels" (battery operated) are HUGE, his wish conflicts with the teacher's rule that it has to fit in his bookbag. I spent the required 55 minutes alternating between trying to force the garbage truck and excavator in his bookbag and rocking with Bubba in the recliner trying to explain that I can't magically make the toys smaller.

8) Because tomorrow is a new day and I can return to being a momma instead of a bitch.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Winter Blues

I never do well in the winter. No sunlight; no unavoidable distractions; no accidental physical activity; no fresh, palatable fruits and vegetable calling my name. All I want to put in my body is coffee. Well, coffee and anything with a warm doughy consistency. It's no wonder I've gained 6 pound since November. And all I want to do is sleep or rot. Rot is a term someone in high school gave to one of my pastimes. I sit, and ponder, and think way too much. Or as I have come to learn in my adult life is me actually sitting around thinking, but procrastinating from doing anything worthwhile or completing any important daily living activities.

So it's day 6 of being cooped up in the cold, miserable house with either Hubby or Moosie coughing, or snotting up his shirt sleeves, of puking mucus on freshly washed blankets, or depositing used Kleenexes randomly from room to room. I have never cleaned the living room and kitchen so many times and seen absolutely no progress. I have never done so many loads of laundry and dishes only to realize the minute I put the last dish or pair of pants away, all I need to do is turn around and the piles have repopulated themselves.

Nothing makes me feel more depressed than feeling like I don't have a purpose. And that is usually what winter brings. And dang it, now I'm getting a runny nose. I do not want whatever Hubby and Moosie have been spitting all over me for the past week. I sure as hell don't need it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

How Come

How come if I would've done invasive and scientifically unproven "treatments" like chelation the minute Moosie was diagnosed with autism, people would say--now that he's communicating in 4-5 word utterances--"Hallelujah! He's cured!" But because I didn't do anything whacko, but rather therapy specific to his needs (and not hours of it), pushed for him to NOT be in a nonverbal classroom, accommodated him as needed, and played with him, read to him, went to parks and playgrounds etc. and offered him a little boy's life--since he is doing so well--people say he definitely doesn't have autism and never did.

How come the people who told me that Moosie was like any other 2 year old (and then 3 year old) and didn't need therapy are now telling me that his progress "is amazing" now that he is 4 years old? (Of course these are the same people that tell him he needs to keep his feet still when he is doing his happy dance.)

How come people force you to analyze and point out your child's weaknesses and deficits just so you can get him the assistance and understanding he needs to succeed?

How come I care? Because people won't give Moosie modifications/accommodations as he grows and develops at his own pace (e.g., let him chew on gum or hold an object while in circle time or not be potty trained at 4) unless there is a reason. Otherwise it is the child being obstinate or manipulating, or more likely it's just bad parenting.

But luckily, when the lights are low, and sleepy eyes call to me for nite nite kisses, I see a warm snuggled body full of hope, love, trust, faith, and happiness that reminds me that even when the world sends me mixed messages, I'm on the right path.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The novelty of potatoes

As I was preparing dinner, trying to ignore the screaming and nagging hovering around me, one of Maddy's posts from Whitterer on Autism came to mind.

I'm making mashed potatoes, and while I couldn't justify giving Bubba a potato peeler and stand him next to his brother, I certainly could let him and Moose "scrub" the potatoes.

So that's what I did. And they loved it. And I loved it (especially the part where I made Hubby clean up the unsurprising pool of water).

For a good time, just add water.


I am so disappointed in our state department of education. I was told today that unless there was a court case, there would be no "written policy" for use of a seclusion room, and that it was up to the district to come up with a policy of use. They don't have to come up with a policy, they just should. I was told that the only thing a school has to comply with is the building code policy, such as what type of doors can be used. However, our department of mental health has a policy for the use of time outs and restraints, with statements such as:

Each department mental retardation facility and regional center shall have written
policies for the use of restraints and time out procedures, which may prescribe more
but not less stringent requirement for their use than those provided in this DOR.
Facility policies are subject to review by central office.

Of course the statement I kept getting from our department of education: "Not that I'm aware of."

I don't even know where to begin as far as looking into various laws.

It just seems wrong that a school can have every other policy on discipline, from detention to expulsion, but not one about putting kids in a padded cell? I read them all, and nothing.

Behavioral Expectations
Firearms and Weapons in school
Random Drug Testing
Student Participation in Secret Organization and Gangs
Enrollment or Return Following Suspension and/or Expulsion
Student Discipline Hearings
Discipline of Students with Disabilities
Reporting of Violent Behavior

And I'm not even going to get into what he told me about the education department's "view" on outside consultants observing a student in the classroom.

OK, maybe a little...

I explained how we are getting Notice of Action refused documents stating that is "district practice" not to allow outside consultants to observe special education students at the request of their parents. Not a written policy mind you, but a "district practice." And there are as many stories as to why this practice suddenly exists as there are exceptions to the practice.

The state guy told me they feel the school would need permission from every parent in the classroom. Oh. Come. On. There are people that aren't school employees in that school every fricking minute of the stinking day. If you send your kids to public school--gasp--people are going to see them and know they--bigger gasp--go to school there. They might their names! Because, well, people notice things.

But does that matter to an observer who has permission to specifically take data on a specific child? No. Nor does it matter to Mrs. Volunteer who told Mrs. Busybody that little Johnny Sometimesbehavesbadly threatened sweet Dottie Dogood with a pencil (even though little Johnny was just giving her the pencil, but that didn't stop Mrs. Busybody from telling Mr. Wasn'tlooking and Johnny subsequently getting thrown in the seclusion room for bad behavior).

And don't play the safety issue either. If a licensed, trained consultant has a background check and observes a child with parental and school permission at a scheduled time, and is not even interacting with the children, they are way less of a risk than your average volunteer.

Why should I have to go to Due Process to prove this when it is so so obvious as to why it is not a written policy? I'm telling everyone I know to invoke their right to an independent evaluation. Dang it.

Whew. I am fired up. Needed to get it out now. Deep breath. And... break!

The Pervasive Nudge: Part 1

I have been working on a post, that seems to be growing, but on the verge of never being complete, so I thought I would post it in parts, and eventually (possibly) combine it.

The Choice

Both of my boys float somewhere along the autism scatterplot, their happy little bodies bouncing among various points of deviation and typicality at such a quick pace that their line of function trembles with uncertainty. Like optical illusions, it is not just my boys that define themselves, but also the perception of those that surround them. They can be viewed, defined, categorized, labeled in hundreds of thousands of ways, none of them wrong exactly, but none of them completely right.

We can't see the whole picture, the abstractness, the fluidity of their persons. At first glance, we take a snapshot, a flat analysis with defined dimensions and expectations, and that is the first image we see each and every time their presence enters our conscious. But either easily or with much effort, most of us can change our perception if we want to do so. Some of us will flip carelessly and catastrophically among the various viewpoints, others of us will just revert to what is easiest to see.

The question I ask myself, the question that chisels sharply into my sanity as I try to sleep away the day's confusion: Do I massage and manipulate my children to fit the perceptions of those around them, or do I help change the perception of those around them to see who they are,who they want to be?

Do I coerce and mold my children into something that society approves of and will accept in its seemingly faulty perception? Sometimes I think this is easiest and fool myself into believing that it'll give the boys the best chance at managing to live in society at large. Or do I spend more energy on sending a different message, one that my children might not immediately benefit from, but their children might? And at what cost? Am I setting them up to fail?

I have my own weaknesses, my own deep-rooted perceptions that are slowly changing, my own needs for survival now. Yet some urge deep within, some voice that doesn't have a name, some song that agonizes to be sung, stirs a hunger for the answer I have to choose to feed. So here sits the little girl, the one who has (as I wrote in a comment of another blog) a deep need for validation juxtaposed with a childish fear of failure. The little girl, like my boys, is still trying to fit into society's definition of who I should be. Who I should want to be. Who I should choose to be.

So I sit stagnant, too afraid to move. Too afraid to not move. Unsure if I should give in to the pervasive nudge. Or run from it. Meanwhile my boys eagerly ring around the rosy, grabbing instinctively for my hands, pulling me into what they already know. I just have to decide if I should convince them that they are wrong, or join them in their dance. How do I choose to see my boys?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The power of fire

I just saw this picture Sister captured at the boys' birthday party. I had similar pictures, but this one literally takes the cake!

It frightens me somewhat, because genetically speaking, the love of fire comes honest for both of my boys. I'm sure once we have all of the genetic chromosome whatever testing done, there will be a mutation on one of the chromosomes that indicates the propensity to love fire in a big bad way.

My dad weeds his driveway with a blow torch.

Hubby set fire to his parents' ditch when he was a child. The story varies. I've heard he did it because he was "double dog dared." I've heard he did it because he was bugging the adults and one of them said casually, "Why don't you go set the ditch on fire or something. Get outta here." Who knows why he did it, but he did.

I used to play with fire outside on the concrete porch. I liked to burn things like paper and leaves.

We all still like to play with fire in more controlled settings, but pretend that it's out of the need to be functional. You know, messing with the grill, stove, candles, or fireplace.

We have no lighters or matches in our house. And I try desperately not to let the boys see how I use the gas stove to provide fire for any of our candles. But boy do they love fire. Bubba's love of fire started young. Looks like Moosie isn't too far behind. Hopefully they don't put their love of fire and their love of firetrucks together anytime soon.

Edited to add: Say NO to fire! (Thanks to Stimey for the link to the video.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Posts That Never Were

I take a lot of pictures with my cell phone, intending to share a moment or two with friends. Sometimes the pictures make it here, sometimes not. Usually not. First, I always want to narrate the pictures, and when I don't have the time or energy to get what's in my head typed out, well, the pictures don't make it out either. Second, it was a pain to get the pictures off of my phone. I don't have it synced to anything right now. (Yes the whole reason Hubby gave me this was so that my calendar was always with me and up to date, but nope, I haven't used that feature for over a year. I just forget things. And complain about forgetting.) Anyhow, Hubby "acquired" this little contraption that allows we to put the card thing from my phone into a slot thing hooked up to my USB port. And in seconds, the pictures are transferred.

So click here to see some familiar pictures, like:

this one of the brothers,

or this one of the green beans.

And you'll find pictures that are "posts that never were," like these:

from Moosie's apple lovin' days,

and these from our exciting trip to get new tires.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Culinary Incest: The Lemon Tart

Aunt Piggy (also known as my sister-in-law who dumped her brother, me, and the boys for the promiseland with her honey, um, I mean who moved to Oregon a couple of years ago to pursue her culinary dreams) started a blog. Her blog has a tart of the week feature. A tart of the eating kind. (A tart that is edible by all, not just by sickos that Google weird if you are that sicko, then back away slowly before I karate chop your ass out of my blog!)


I really miss Aunt Piggy and I'm kind of pissy that we can't benefit from her culinary prowess (or experience the Northwest). So when she started this tart of the week thing, I thought, "Hey, I can tart it Aunt Piggy style." Well at least I can try. It'll actually end up being an incestuous bastard culinary treat, just about 3 tiers down and 2 measuring cups over from what it originally was intended to be. But I will try.

Aunt Piggy doesn't have two boys with grabby, grubby hands fluttering around her convinced that, yes, in fact they do like lemon. Wrong. Aunt Piggy has culinary tools, like a tart pan and a food scale. I bet she even has a "zester" if there is such a thing. As I was grating away various peels, I was wishing there was such a thing. Aunt Piggy probably has an oven that works. At least better than mine, which is near death.

So I tried. And it's in the oven doing its thing. I already burnt the tart crust edges. Shhh. Don't tell her. This was after I called her to ask her some serious questions like "Can I cook the beans after I use them as weights on the crust? Or does that use up all of their cookedness?" I did not remember to ask her if I could use parchment paper instead of foil, because I couldn't find my foil. I think the burnt crust means parchment paper is not a good substitute. She said I could use plastic wrap, but apparently there is this whole "missing ion" theory that goes with it. Maybe that's what causes autism. My kids have plastic wrap poisoning.


My kitchen looks like she was right here with me. Flour dust is still settling. Pools of lemon juice are corroding the new counter top. Some broccoli is dying on the floor. Oh wait, that was from dinner. Aunt Piggy is a messy culinary chick. Just like me. And I miss her. I remember now how much fun it is to bake and cook even if you screw it up.

And here is my first attempt at culinary incest. Looks sorta like burnt scrambled egg potpie. Dirty bastard.*

*Updated to add that it was actually good. And very tart. But good. Now what do I do with the rest of it so I don't binge on it all day. Crap.

Bubba's new skill

Bubba got a Polaroid camera for his birthday from Aunt Piggy and Uncle Guitar Man. He spent five minutes taking pictures of the ceiling fan, his various toys, the laundry couch, and objects. Moosie followed him around and was the official "pull out the picture" person. You would've thought he hit the million dollar jackpot each time the camera spit out the dark filmy square.

The Polaroid film ran out way before the boys' enthusiasm for taking pictures, so I let Bubba use my digital camera. I took a chance, thinking he couldn't be any rougher with it than I am. So now we have several pictures of every stinking toy he owns, but we also discovered that Bubba has a wonderful natural ability to photograph his brother. It takes me 10 shots to get one picture of Moose where he is semistill, face visible, and eyes more than partially open.

The amazing thing is you can actually see the idolization in Moosie's eyes. You can just feel how much he loves his brother by the sparkle in his eyes. Well at least I think so.

Can you feel the love?

Moosie is waiting for the picture to shoot out of the digital camera. It ain't happening.

Moosie loves cameras too. This one doesn't work, but he doesn't care. Oh, see all of the Polaroids on the table behind him?

This picture had us all laughing. I have no idea what Moosie was doing or how Bubba captured this face, but it is my favorite Moose picture.

Just some of the dudes hanging out around town.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Baby it's cold outside

Today's Weather

Today's Boys


Friday, January 11, 2008

It took two years

I finally sent this letter. I hope I didn't bite off more than I can chew. I owe it to Bubba, and to any other child who might go through what Bubba did.

Side notes:

*The letter is intentionally obscure. I am trying to approach this slowly and systematically. It is too important. I do not think demanding that seclusion rooms are eliminated is the correct approach, even though that's how I feel.

*A seclusion room is a padded room the size of a small hall closet, has a solid door, and a small window. There is also a light and a drain. According to Bubba, it was also "stinky, cold, and scary."

*I haven't yet researched my state's stand on the use of these rooms.

*Brackets indicate words changed for privacy.

*The seclusion room was in Bubba's IEP crisis plan for less than a month, as part of his FIRST behavior intervention plan created after his FIRST functional behavior assessment. We were led to believe it was the only viable option for when he was explosive. This was not the case. We also thought it would only be used in a crisis situation. This was not the case. I do not know if I will ever forgive myself for putting Bubba in this situation. Hubby and I didn't feel right about the seclusion room the minute it was brought up. But in desperation, we agreed to it anyhow. Just because we were afraid he would get kicked out of school. Ridiculous.


Birthdate [XXXXXX]
Seclusion room (time out room) use at [XXXXXXX], Feb. 2006

Dear Ms. [XXXXXXXX],

It has been nearly two years since [our] family experienced the seclusion room at [school] Elementary. I believe the seclusion room was incorrectly used (in its intent of use, the procedure, and the documentation) in our child's case. I'm not sure how much you remember about the situation, but I do recall you stating the documentation was not the documentation of which you were familiar.

It has taken me this long (and many half-started e-mails!) to address this issue because I wanted to address it rationally rather than emotionally. I would really like to discuss our specific experience with the seclusion room at [the school] as well as my concern of this type of procedure being regulated per site rather than by the district (at least this is how it appears to be "regulated"). As I am sure you are aware, there is significant potential for misuse of the seclusion room along with the potential for serious consequences.

I would like to meet with you, [XXXXXXXXX], [Sped Director], and [Superintendent] to discuss the use of seclusion rooms in the district (if there are other coordinators that have experience with seclusion rooms, I value their input as well). I do not wish to meet with the [school] staff at this time. My concern is not specifically what [the school] does (or did), but the district's view and training and enforcement of said view on the use, procedure, and documentation of said use of the seclusion room specific to special education students.

If there is an official district policy on the use of the seclusion room that I have not been made aware of, please let me know. I would like to review any such information prior to meeting with you.

As a reminder, [Bubba] has an educational diagnosis of OHI and a medical diagnosis of agenesis of the corpus callosum and PDD-NOS. He had just turned 6 years old at the time the seclusion room was used. I encourage you to review his file regarding his developmental and progress history (he has been receiving special education services in [the district] since the age of 3).



Thursday, January 10, 2008

Favorite Conversations

Two of my new favorite conversations with Bubba happened just now, one right after the other.

Conversation 1

Bubba: Where's [Moosie]?

Me: At school. Why?

Bubba: Because I want him here.

Me: Why?

Bubba: Because I love him.

Conversation 2

Bubba: What's that noise?

Me: What noise?

Bubba: The one I just heeered.

Looking for a cure?

Parents of children with disabilities, if you had the child that you "dream of," whatever child you are searching for or trying to pull out of his shell or cure or "get back". If you had that child up until this point, but suddenly that child was involved in an accident and recovered to be the child you know now, the child with all of his challenges, quirks, blessings, disabilities, health issues, etc.

If there was no idea of a "cure" or a "preventable cause" what would you do differently?

It took me six years to get here, but I would change nothing. I would still struggle with when to intervene and when not to. I would still struggle with when to accommodate and modify and when to push just a little harder. I would still struggle with the unclear, unpredictable future. As I do now, I would spend energy on helping and adapting and less on "fixing." I'm sure I would play the "accident" in my head over and over again and wonder how I could prevent it, and then realize that I can't go back and my energy is best used elsewhere. These are things I had to learn through experience. I don't know what my answer to this question would've been years ago? Maybe I would be overwhelmed with pity and shame, the things I so despise now?

How about you?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

This stinks

Have you ever cleaned your house for two days straight only to have it look worse than it did when you started in thanks to a party at your house? I'm talking a two-hour family birthday party for two little boys, not a wild all night get your freak on kegger party (the second of which I have unfortunately never had nor attended that I recall).

Have you ever walked from room to room trying to reclean what you have just recently cleaned wondering the entire time what that funky smell is that seemingly has permeated every inch of your living space.

Have you ever come to the stark realization that you haven't taken a shower in two days and that it is you who is fogging up the windows with your stank?

Not your sweaty, nasty husband (who has some kind of obnoxious balding head oil that can burn holes in pillow cases).

Not your gritty, farting 8 year old (who in fact did exclaim "Here comes my birthday fart!" before his puny release of gas.)

Not your slimy, sticky 4 year old (who seems to prefer wearing heavy urine soaked diapers).

But YOU!?!?! Yes you, the mom. The mom who resolved to have her teeth brushed, face washed, and body bathed before breakfast. The mom who is cleaning at 1PM, who stinks but hasn't had breakfast yet, so technically is still on course to meet her resolution. The mom who decides to blog about it rather than eat or shower.

Tis my life.

Cummulative Debt

Even if I was still working full time, chances are we'd still be in debt. We live modestly, although I know there are many, many places we can "cut back." There are many other areas where we can't reduce expenses (e.g., medical, dental), but we are trying to reduce them in the long run with preventative measures. Unfortunately, this is difficult to do when the "here and now" expenses hit us like a ton of bricks. And we just can't catch up.

Last year we had several expenses that just weren't budgeted for:

The $1000 deductible to repair the water damage from the leaky sink. Yes it could've been so much worse. But that deductible came straight out of our savings account, as did the living expenses when we were out of our house for three weeks. Yes, that could've been worse too if we wouldn't have been able to live with my in-laws. I'm trying not to think about the debt we had not paid off too long ago for the walls that had to be repainted, the floors that had to be ripped up, the work that seems was just finished, having to be redone.

The $3000 we had to fork out because our deck had to be jacked up. Yes it was much cheaper than the $10,000+ it would've cost to eventually replace it if it reached the point of disrepair. Who knew decks could slowly sink, pull away from the house, and threaten to tumble down the hill. I didn't, I thought maybe it was me off balance as usual, just a little more so out in the fresh air. The people saying the supporting posts weren't done correctly didn't surprise me. Nothing in our house was done correctly. Probably not even the stuff we've fixed or added since we moved in years ago.

The $3000+ in dental bills. Hubby had root canals, Bubba had outpatient surgery, Moosie was tortured with 2 fillings. We couldn't afford for me to go. This was supposed to be my year, but now we find out Moosie needs 6-8 crowns, another outpatient surgery. We still haven't gotten United Healthcare to follow through on Bubba's medical portion of the surgery. They have to do it. They've said they have to do it. They just haven't done it! Yes it could be worse. We could have no dental or medical insurance rather than just crappy dental and medical insurance. But at this point we're going to need to pull our teeth and sell them to pay for our dental expenses.

$900 for four new tires. We sure weren't expecting the original tires to be that awful. They lasted 30,000 miles if you can't us unsafely driving on no tread. So tires had to be purchased before winter. Don't worry, we should be getting a $50 cash rebate card in the mail any day.

I'm sure I will find other surprises when I sit down to do our taxes. I about fell out of my chair when I realized how much we had dished out for occupational therapy for both boys this year, the chiropractor for me (better than paying for and living through two tarsal tunnel surgeries!), and all of the copays for doctor visits and medications. I dare say this might be the year we will actually have enough medical expenses to make it worth while to claim them. Is that something to be proud of?

Hubby used to get so excited about tax time. Much of his pay is taxed at a ridiculous 40% because he is in retail and earns commission. Not big bucks retail, I'm talking cell phones here. And he is ethical and honest, a really decent salesman. Anyhow, it's hard to get excited about a refund when you know it goes right to the credit card. And I'm not sure why President Bush thinks his proposed tax rebate is going to help the economy if we all just apply it to the debt we've already accumulated. But maybe other people aren't like me and Hubby? I don't know much about economics, which is one of the many reasons politics confuses me.

We knew we were going to accumulate debt. We knew it. We prepared ourselves for it. But what a heavy burden that silently but greedily accumulates in the back of our minds, revealing itself under the disguises of being angry at the kids, frustrated with the spouse, and depressed with ourselves.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Bubba!

I haven't been able to do Bubba's birth video, yet. It's a problem having both boys' birthdays and the holidays all crammed together.

But I love him very much. I fell asleep holding him last night, his little boy head nuzzled into my shoulder. He's been having trouble sleeping again for the past few weeks, often waking around 1 or 2 in the morning disoriented and scared. How lucky I am to hear "Thanks Mommy. I love you all the way to Heaven." as he drifts back to sleep.

Eight years old today. Eight flippin' years old. How in the hell did that happen?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Moose, Mooses, Meese?

This is what happens when your nickname is "Moose." You get lots of moose crap. Even if you don't like Moose. I blame the doctor who nicknamed him on delivery, but I know at some point I made the decision to perpetuate the name (which was fitting at the time). What did I do?

As a 30+ year old woman, I have finally outgrown the cat fetish I apparently once had (all of my gifts were of the feline type because I liked my real cat). And at some point I mentioned that I think giraffes are cool, and since then, my supposed preferred gift genre has changed to giraffes. Luckily this hasn't caught on to most relatives and friends, so I get cool giraffe stuff sprinkled here and there rather than 101 useless giraffe knick knacks. I don't have a cube at work anymore, so there is no place for the knick knacks to go!

Anyhow, I think I have somehow destined Moosie to a childhood of Moose stuffed animals. This CD looks cool though, so we'll listen to it on the way to Grandma and Grandpa's house, 'ey!?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Count Your Blessings... when Maria of the UHC "Rapid Response team" says that the $5000+ hospital bill (6 months, 20 phone calls, 2 pages of notes, 8 hospital statements, 2 collection notices, and 6 hours of my wasted time ago) will be "processed and paid in 48 hours." Will it actually happen? Probably not. But this is the farthest I've gotten yet (and the 2nd time I've spoken with someone with the so called Rapid Response team)! when you spy a strange yellow substance at the bottom of a Christmas storage container you are just about to pack away for the year. Lucky catch. Looks like Moosie dumped milk in the container a week ago when the container was being filled with brand new, never used Christmas Clearance decor. It was then sealed in, and finally left to sour and dry to a nice crust. The smell was yummy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Damn You Rachel Ray

Since I had already bought the stuff to make it (what else am I going to do with pancetta?), and Hubby was off work today, I took a chance on one of Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals. It was chicken sausage burgers with onion BBQ sauce or something like that. I couldn't figure out where the sausage part came in until I tried to make Bubba and Moosie eat some of the finished product sans sauce and suddenly remembered the potency of fennel seed (which the recipe said to "lightly toast" and the best I could do was toast it on a dry skillet).

It took us an hour or so. Hubby made the ground chicken I had prepared into patties and cooked them while I worked on finishing the sauce, cutting tomatoes, and "preparing the sides" (can of green beans and jar of apple sauce). We both agreed that it took nearly 30 minutes just to get all of the ingredients on the counter and cut up! I found the recipe online and looks like we weren't too behind the curve there. Apparently her idea of "easy" is a little different than mine. I bet she didn't burn the onion mixture either. Bee-ahtch!

But it did taste good. Though Hubby and I both went to the gym today after a... ummmmm.... holiday break, so I think dirty sweat socks would have tasted good since we were starving. And since I put things away as I went, my kitchen isn't a complete disaster like last time. Never mind the homemade playdoh on the floor or the yogurt drink that was dumped oh maybe yesterday?

I am apparently not as bitter as some people. But I bought the damn cookbook, so I'll be making more 'easy' [difficult] 30 minute [times 2] meals in the near future.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

I took a look at how I felt on the previous New Year's day before posting, and while I don't feel as wistful and intrigued like last year, I still feel "in the moment" and simplified. For someone with severe anxiety and the related issues of needing to feel in control at all times, this is a place I never thought I would be.

Partly my memory is not what it used to be and my neurological capacity is a bit more fleeting than it used to be. Also, I have found success in eating better and exercising, and I surprisingly don't feel that my complete failure to adhere to "the plan" between Halloween and New Years can't be rectified.

I've realized many of my obsessions and compulsions and am doing all I can this year to work with them. For example, I have an obsession with things that create warmth and security. My related compulsions are coffee, baking, buying (collecting) candles, throw pillows, throws (blankets), picture frames (to surround myself with pictures), warm colors, bread, air freshener (vanilla variety), etc. I am going to try and work with what I have instead of buying or collecting more. Maybe lighting a candle would work instead of buying yet another one??? Ya think?

I also have an obsession for information, whether it is useful or not. My compulsions are to read way too many blogs, buy way too many books, and lose an unacceptable amount of books from the library. I also have an obsession to be validated, which means I check e-mail, comments, etc. way way way too much. This year I am going to try and create for myself, learn for myself. I bought this book [**ahem*** comPULsion!](since Hubby doesn't read my blog so never got the hint).

My other major goal this year is to work with my "all or nothing" attitude. It's alright to do the dishes even if I can't clean the whole kitchen right then. It's OK to fold clothes for 10 minutes, even if I won't finish. It's OK to exercise on Wednesday even if I haven't exercised for 2 weeks. It's OK to buy organic milk and eggs, even if I go for the cheaper hormone-laden butter and the preservative-rich Ragu. I can cook a homemade meal even if I use instant potatoes.

I also really want to get to my edible garden this year. We have a compost pile. We have a flower garden in the front, now we just have to build and plant our terrace vegetable/herb/flower garden into the back hill. I have to keep telling myself it's OK to just plant a few things and have success with those rather than plant a million things and it all be overtaken by weeds.

I still want our family life to be simpler and less about consumerism and electronics. I have so failed at that thus far.

We will see what the year brings...