Saturday, January 31, 2009

the freedom of Facebook

In the ever-expanding network of Facebook, I'm a relative newcomer, having joined early last fall. I'll admit to being officially addicted to the place, and have managed to acquire 250 friends there......coworkers, relatives, former students, friends from college and high school, etc.

But you know what? This morning, I had a revelation about FB, and it makes me love the place even more. In real-life, true honest-to-God interactions with live, breathing people, you often have to deal with people that you don't particularly like. You may work with people that annoy the crap out of you, when you're in school you aren't going to be BFF with all of your classmates, etc.

In the amazing world of Facebook, however, you literally create what surrounds you, and you don't have to put up with anything that you don't want to have around. Don't know why it didn't occur to me sooner, but it's so liberating! This morning, I got online and began to check my sites, as usual. I do a quick glance at my FB homepage, reading over my friends' status updates, etc. One jumped out at me......from someone who I barely knew and didn't like in high school, and as I remember it she didn't like me either. She was the "in crowd", "cool kid", maybe even a cheerleader, and I, well......I wasn't. When she friended me, I was surprised but figured I'd accept---why not, right?

So this morning, her status update was something asinine about President Obama and the new law he just signed which allows women to sue for wage discrimination. I won't dignify her remark by repeating it here. ;) No WAY she could have come up with this rightie talking point all by her lonesome, and you could almost hear Rush's voice in every syllable. I read it, and reread it, and then it hit me....I don't have to read this crap! Not only do I not have to read it today, I can make sure I never have to hear from her ever again! And so I did. I went to my friends' list, clicked the little X beside her name, and that was that. Voila! She's gone, out of my life, out of my little FB world. Why? Because I can, that's why! I can't make the real world perfect, can't cut out every dissenting opinion or anything that I just plain don't like, but you'd better believe I can do it in Facebook, and I will.

Aaahh, the freedom......... :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

somebody up there was looking out for us

As I dropped Mr. Literal off at school this morning, and waved to the morning-duty teachers on my way out of the parking lot, I remembered to say a quick prayer of thanks (approximately the millionth such prayer) for the fact that my children can attend this school. I remembered, with a shiver, the night of the magnet-school lottery back in 2006, and I'm firmly convinced---without a doubt---that someone was looking out for us, making it possible for my kids to be in this fabulous school. I can't even bear the thought of how things would be different if we weren't.

It's an arts-infused magnet school, and the selection process is done via a lottery system. What this means is that parents from all over the county send in applications, and those kids are each assigned a code number. The code numbers are written onto slips of paper which are put into jars--one jar for each of the 5 sections of the county from which students can come.

On the lottery night, it's as pure a selection process as can possibly be......first, a drawing to determine the order in which the jars are placed on the table, and then they begin pulling code numbers out of the jars. Jar 1, jar 2, jar 3, jar 4, jar 5, jar 1 again, etc until the spots are filled. The school's principal runs the meeting, and she started out by saying "most of you here tonight are going to go home sad, because the fact is that we do not have enough space to accommodate every child who has applied."

We actually applied as an "OOD" family....out of district. K teaches in that county, but we don't live there. His teacher position allowed us to put Mr. Literal's name in to the jar, but did not provide any special consideration, etc. His code number was put into the jar for the part of the county where K works, which is labeled GC.

We got there early that night (I HATE being late for things) and actually got a seat, unlike many families who had to stand in the back, etc. "Our" code number was OOD17, so we listened intently to the number that was called every time she got to the GC jar.

H 36

MC 50

C 2

etc etc etc etc ...............

The GC jar had the most code numbers in it, since that's the closest to the school and the most populated area of the county. Making our odds even worse. But we held our breath each time she got to GC. Then she called out "GC17". Our heads turned quickly to look at each other. "Wait, our number was 17", I told K, but we knew the letters were OOD and not GC. Talk about roller coaster--my heart leaped at the number 17, then plummeted knowing that the letters weren't right.

The lottery was almost over, she only had a few more numbers to pick. As each number came up, they were taping them to a big poster that would be hung up by the door at the end, so people could inspect it and make sure they'd heard correctly, etc. So, she called the last few numbers, thanked us all, and we got up to leave. Something was nagging at me, though, and at K as well, in thinking that each number was only used once, even though letters were repeated to assign location. Meaning, there shouldn't be more than one code with 17 in it. I was dejected, head hanging, already trying to digest the fact that he wouldn't be in this school and wondering WTF we were going to do. But K said "I'm going to ask her, just to double check", and he walked to the front.

I was ushering the kids out, Energizer was out of his stroller by this time and getting very antsy, but K pushed through the crowd, talked briefly to the principal, then made his way back to us and said "It's him, that was our number!"

Praise the Lord!

He'd explained our confusion, and she said that in fact that code number did say OOD, but since it was in the GC jar, she just said GC instead. Figured it would be confusing to other parents to hear the OOD label since they wouldn't know what it means, etc.

I insisted on going up to the poster to look at the number myself, not yet believing what he'd said. There it was: OOD17 . I was happy, relieved, excited. We went out for ice cream to celebrate!

Little did I know then, though, how much that selection in the lottery would impact our lives, and my children's future. There's no way I could have known how wonderful this school is, how much we love it, and how absolutely and completely right this has been for Mr. Literal in particular.

It's a small school, around 400 kids......kind of a "everybody knows everybody else" sort of place. And they're so "child centered", so attuned to the individual strengths and talents and abilities of kids. They amaze me on a daily basis. For Mr. Literal in particular, these past 2 1/2 years have been a time of flourishing, growth and accomplishment, bolstered by the faith and support of wonderful teachers. If you look at it superficially, and say "we made a child with autism the star of our Christmas program", some might say they're crazy. But these people had no qualms whatsoever. They dealt with his sensory issues regarding the costume, they dealt with his meltdown when he got the part. His art teacher even told me "knowing kids like Andrew makes us all better people". Can it get any better than this?

The school is a family, it's as simple as that. And the foundations that are being set for my children here will have an unending impact on their future. Thank you, Lord, for making this happen for us, as I unquestioningly believe you did. You knew we needed this, a place where my special boys wouldn't just be part of the nameless masses walking through the halls. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

talk radio vent

Do you listen to talk radio? And by that, I mean news talk, political talk, issues-based talk.....not fluffy stuff. I do, mainly because I'm a musician by vocation and avocation, which means I do NOT want to listen to music on "my time" while I'm driving my hour-long commute each morning and afternoon. So, I usually do a local talk show in the mornings, and Sirius talk in the afternoons (3 pm, my main man Ed Schultz, but I digress........)

This morning, I got really pissed off at something I heard. Really. REALLY. And the more times I think about it, the madder I get. My problem is this: In order to be successful (read: controversial), these talk show hosts have to be very opinionated. There's no gray area, no seeing of both sides, no concessions made that maybe another opinion might have some merit. You're with them, or you're against them. Or they spout out statements that they expect you to accept as indisputable fact, no exceptions allowed. But the real fact is that life is about exceptions, and until you've walked a mile in someone's shoes, you shouldn't claim to know what they know or feel the way they feel. The further in life I go, the more I understand that. And that's why I'd be a terrible talk show host.

The issue this morning was medicating of children, specifically for ADHD. See, now, why it hit home for me? Apparently, a series of studies has been released saying that the ADHD meds can cause hallucinations and/or other symptoms of "psychosis" (the talk show's word, not mine). So, the host just goes off on this topic, bitching about the overmedication of kids these days, laziness of parents who don't want to discipline, etc. The host was a teacher himself for a few years, and his wife is a teacher obviously that gives him ALL of the child development and educational knowledge that he could possibly need, right?

(excuse me while I wipe the dripping sarcasm off of my keyboard)

Ok, I'm back. He did toss people like me a very tiny, mangled up bone, when he said something like "well, I know there are some kids who need those medications" but then he was right back into the generalizations and the judgments. He even tried to "help" people understand what goes on in schools today, by this example: he said "today, at every school in this area, at around 10 or 11 am, there's going to be a loudspeaker announcement saying 'the following students report to the office.' " And the point being that they will be marching up to the office like good little lemmings to take their psychotropic drugs that aren't even needed.

So let me counter with this: I"ve taught for 14 years, in both middle school and high school, public and private. And I have NEVER heard an announcement like this made, ever. That is not how it happens, so quit sensationalizing it when you don't know WTF you're talking about.

Second, this host also claims to know all there is to know about preemies and the NICU, since his son was a few weeks early and I think he stayed in NICU about 10 days after birth. Pardon me if I say "SO????" Try 10 weeks, how about 11 weeks! My son weighed the same as 700 paper clips at birth, and is incredibly lucky to even be alive today. And after the heart defect, the brain hemorrhage, the ventilator, and all the rest.......the ONLY long term health effect of Energizer's prematurity has been the ADHD. It's not a label, it's a fact. It's not an excuse, it's not a crutch, it is real. You, Mr. "Morning Buzz", do not live with him, do not deal with the aggression and the impulses he can't control, and the horror of being forced out of the only school and only friends he's ever known. Until you do, I'll thank you to shut your mouth about things which you do not understand.

Since I actually CAN see both sides of issues, and can look at varying perspectives, I can agree that there most certainly are some kids out there who are given meds but don't really need them. Some people may be too quick to prescribe, resorting to this as a quick fix. But I'm so tired of the "back in my day, we didn't have those kind of meds, our parents just told us to sit down and shut up, and we did it". Yeah, right. And my sons would both be dead right now if we lived back in your day, so get your head out of the sand and move into the 21st century, please.
And then secretly, quietly, I admit to myself that I still have the lingering guilt over the fact that we're giving him the meds. I don't like it. I know he needs it, I"ve seen it work, but I don't like it.....because society tells me that I'm lazy, I'm a bad parent, I need to learn how to discipline, I need to spank him, I need to straighten him out. So when Energizer said "can I listen to Kids' Stuff radio?", I responded "with pleasure" and used the power of my finger to change that radio channel. Too bad it's not that easy to turn off the nagging guilt.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Questions of the day

First of all, let me tell you where I'm blogging from right now--a high school computer lab, 1 1/2 hours from home, because I'm here for a Band audition today. I'm working in the tabulation room, putting scores into the computer, but we're in a lull in the action right now. Doesn't that sound exciting? ;)

Now, thanks to my sista, at House of Tafka, for the idea of answering the following questions........

1. If you could only visit 5 websites for the rest of eternity, which ones would you pick and why?

In no particular order, I guess...
My blog, natch
My 2 forums----one for PE survivors, and one for parents of ASD kids

2.What was your favorite childhood movie?

Hmm, that's tough. Young childhood, I don't really know.....but as I got older, I found my fave movie which is still #1 on my list--Gone With the Wind! Ok, ok, quit laughing. I'm a Southern girl, born and bred, how can Miss Scarlett NOT be at the top of my movies list?

3. What is one of your favorite memories of growing up?

We lived in Houston when I was in 5th and 6th grade, and I loved it there. Didn't want to move back to SC, truth be told. I had the best friend out there, who lived in my neighborhood, and we would ride bikes and roller skate all over the place. We'd also hang out at the community pool....I had the best tans of my life during those summers. We started out in Band together, her on clarinet and me on trumpet. It's amazing, looking back now, how "free" we were---able to just roam the neighborhood for hours on end, and no one worried because it was safe to do that back then. (and NO, I'm not really that old, LOL)

4. If you could vacation anywhere in the world and money wasn't an option, where would you go and why?

England, specifically London. I'm such a history nut, and there's so much to see and do around there. It's ok, stick on my dork label now, I understand.

5. List ten things you could not live without (just things, not people).

Here goes......sad, but true........again, not in order:

Diet Coke
music (both listening and performing)
computer (avec Internet, of course)
reading material (newsmagazines, fiction and non-fiction books)
sweet foods (I'd settle for some warm choc-chip cookies just out of the oven)
hair dryer (my hair isn't the kind to just air-dry, LOL)
MSNBC (especially Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow)
sleep ;)
Sirius's addicting
......having a hard time thinking of more without including people on the list, so I'll just say PIZZA as my last item, how about that?

Friday, January 23, 2009

not quite this, not quite that

That's the summary of what I am these days.....not quite a Band director anymore, definitely not quite a Chorus teacher, not quite a full time teacher, not quite part-time though..........not quite a typical Mom of typical kids, but not quite the "special needs parent" as most people envision it. Hmmm.

This weekend I get to play along at several of my not-quite roles. Tonight, I'm going to a chocolate party.......yes, that's what I said. A friend is inviting ladies only to her house tonight for a chocolate party in the style of Mary Kay parties or Tupperware parties, etc. Should be fun, hoping to see several people I know there, but......I'm just so socially UNcomfortable much of the time, wondering what I have in common with people, etc. Long-time Band director friends feel so far away from me now.....most don't have kids, many aren't married, and they're waist-deep (or more) in the Band life, and I"m just not any more. And they don't know ASD from ABC, so that's not really a topic in our conversations either. It's just very superficial, kwim? "How are you?" "Great, how about you?" and it doesn't go much further than that.

Speaking of that, I get to go to a state-wide Band event tomorrow, and do the same small talk all day while feeling like an impostor. I"ve worked this Band audition for the last 5 or 6 years, and I do enjoy it, but I've got nothing to share with those other directors. When you've got 5 people in your Band, you don't do much of the stuff that their groups do, so I just nod and smile and listen, and that's about it. For the first 30 years of my life, or at least years 11-30, Band was my identity. I was in it, I studied it in college, I taught it in the 24/7 way that good Band directors have to do. I can't, won't, and don't want to do that anymore.....but because my toe is still in the water, I have interactions with those who do, and it just feels weird. Our circle of friends around here is comprised of Band people too, mostly, so again.....I don't like having nothing to contribute to the conversations when it's time to talk of who made AllState, what you're playing for Festival, who's performing at Convention, etc. I won't even be at Convention this year; why go, what's the point?

Then, Sunday I'll take the Energizer to a birthday party for a 1 year old. K and Mr. Literal are going to an oyster festival, since that's their new-found male bonding, I could care less about shucking oysters all day, and I hate eating them, YUCK. But they love it, so I'm encouraging them to go. Energizer Bunny and I will go to the party, at which I get to be reminded yet again about the differences between my parenting experiences and those of most people. The birthday boy is so precious---cute, chubby, very NT and doing just peachy-keen in every way. I don't begrudge him that, don't begrudge his parents their good fortune in his healthy development, etc, but still..........

I guess it comes down to this: If I've got to explain it, you wouldn't understand. That's not meant to sound mean, don't want anyone to take offense. But it's truly hard to see why situations like that would bother me, even mildly, unless you've been in the same spot yourself at some point. And I think most of you who read my blog HAVE been in that spot of the parenting-envy and frustration; you probably go through it most every day or at least pretty often. If so, I send you my (((((((((hugs)))))))))))), and my wish that you could go with me to this party, so I'd have something in common with someone.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where were you when....

Isn't that the question that kids ask of their parents? Where were you when something important and memorable happened? Were you watching when ____________ (fill in the blank)? For me, it was asking my Mom about the Kennedy assassinations, Nixon's resignation, Woodstock, etc. And as a teenager, I used to complain that "nothing big or exciting" ever happened during my lifetime, but I sure wished it would.

Well, I can officially say that I've had my share of big and exciting events to witness now. One of the biggest occurred on 9/11/01 while Mr. Literal was still in NICU, and another of the biggest occurred today. So when my boys grow older, and ask me about the inauguration of Barack Obama (which they'll barely remember, if at all), what can I tell them? What will my story sound like? Something like this....
We had school that day, so after dropping you guys off, I drove to my own school and settled in to watch the inauguration coverage online. My plan was to watch it with all of my classes, using my LCD projector to show the images on my BIG white classroom wall. What I didn't factor in was that every breathing soul in the free world (and some in the UNfree world) was also trying to watch the coverage online, all at the same time. Which meant that the video feed was horrible, it kept freezing up and was practically unwatchable.

I suffered through it for 2 hours, and by 11 am was frantically planning my escape.......where could I go during my lunch break that I could watch the coverage on an actual TV? The nearest place that I knew for sure had a TV was a NY-style pizza joint down the street from the school. Orlando's, to be exact. So at 11:15 am, I walked into Orlando's and ordered a slice of pepperoni and a Diet Coke. An hour and 2 Diet Coke refills later, I watched Barack Hussein Obama take the oath of office. The Chief Justice screwed it up, but nothing could take away the importance of what was occurring. I was proud to be an American, proud to have voted for this man, and very hopeful for the future and what the Obama era could bring to our country.
There was NO WAY I was going to miss seeing this today. If I'd gotten any more desperate, I was ready to knock on doors of complete strangers' homes and say "hey, do you have a TV by any chance?" But thank goodness for Orlando's. It was surreal in a way, noon there were about 10 of us in there watching. A few others sitting in the back of the restaurant, eating their pizza but NOT watching, but the rest of us clustered around the TV mounted high on the wall, eyes fixed on the screen. Wishing the people ordering their slices would talk just a bit softer, or turn the TV up louder, neither of which happened. But when THE moment came, everything else fell away and we watched as history was and 10 strangers, eating pizza in a small restaurant on a cold, blustery day. After the oath, I threw away my trash and went out to my van to listen to the inaugural address. Figured I could stand not to see it, but to hear it in peace and really focus on the words.

I know that people driving by my van must have thought I was a wacko or something......I turned the van on, heat on full blast, and leaned my seat back as far as it would go. Then I just closed my eyes and let him talk to me. I just wanted to block everything else out, and immerse myself in the moment, knowing this is once in a lifetime. And if I was proud of him, and of us, before.....after this speech, I'm doubly proud. Proud to be someone who voted for him, and proud to be someone who's (almost) of his same generation. We're not baby boomers, we don't have grown children......our kids are in elementary school. He's only 10 years older than I, and Michelle only 8, and that's just cool. His speech was strong, tough, thoughtful, intelligent and respectful, just as it should have been. We've lived without so much of that, for so long, we almost forgot what it was like to have it.

When the speech ended, I sat up, put the van into drive and went back to school for my last class. So yes, I saw it, I heard it, I was a part of it in my own admittedly strange way. It's definitely a story to share with my kids someday. Mom always tells me how much she loved JFK, how inspiring and motivational he was, and that she hoped I'd have the chance someday to experience that feeling if the right leader comes along. Well, he's here, and I'm so glad. Now it's my turn to hope......that we don't have to wait 40+ years for someone else like him to come along.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Prayers for the President

THat was the title of today's sermon at our church. Been looking forward to hearing it for a few days, ever since our minister told K about his plans to focus today's service on the upcoming historic inauguration. Music was selected specially for today, same with the readings, and the sermon was very interesting, inspiring, and about as non-partisan as I think one could be at this point.

The closing hymn was one the minister requested.......Lift Every Voice and Sing. A famous civil rights-era song, in the style of We Shall Overcome, in case you weren't already familiar with it. So when K called up that song on Wednesday night at rehearsal, I think I felt a ripple of discomfort among the mostly-65-and-up members. But they sang it. As for me, I got chills both in rehearsal and in the real performance today. But even as the goose bumps subsided, the philosopher in me started thinking "what right do I have to feel any ownership of this?" "Where do I get off having goose bumps?"

I wasn't born until the early 70s. (read: after the marches and sit-ins and protests and tragic assassinations of the 1960s) So it's not like I marched at Selma or boycotted buses, and I wasn't a Freedom Rider helping to level the playing field for all Americans. Oh, and one more thing.......I'm just about as white as they come. I've never been forced to go to separate schools, eat at different restaurants or use different restrooms. Never felt discrimination, really I haven't, and I know I'm blessed to be able to say that.

I guess my only real connection is that of my American citizenship, and my lifelong U.S. history nerd-itude. So I've read things, watched things, learned things about what America has been through in her past, and am especially fascinated by the 1960s. Didn't live through it, but it almost feels like I have.

As a Mom, I've tried to make sure my kids are brought up to respect differences, treat everyone equally and be as color-blind as they can be when it comes to dealing with people. I think I've succeeded, so far at least. Mr. Literal's school is quite ethnically diverse, and some of his best friends have much darker skin tones than he does. He's the blond/blue-eyed/fair skinned child, but he knows that not everyone looks like him....and that's ok with him too, thankfully.

That Lift Every Voice song has 3 long verses to I had lots of time to ponder my feelings of pride and hope as we sang. By the time we got to the last verse, it all made sense.

Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

Isn't that what it's all about anyway? OUR God, OUR native land, all of us. And so we approach Tuesday's historic event, cautiously daring to hope that the new President can do what the last several have not.......bring us together to work for common goals and aspirations. If we truly believe in equality and the dreams that Martin Luther King spoke of, then we have every right to join hands together this week, to demonstrate that equality in the way that we ALL celebrate the inauguration of our next President.

So as the minister said "President Obama, you are in our prayers." Amen, brother, amen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

blessings galore

It is so cold tonight, all over the East Coast and beyond. Gonna be in the 20s here, but that's like a day at the Equator compared to places up North. Trying not to think of the people who are out in this tonight.....I can't even imagine. The handy-dandy TV weatherman is saying it'll be Charleston's coldest temperatures of the last 20 years!

All 3 of my boys were asleep by 9:30. I got to thinking about how cold it already is, and what it's gonna be later, and decided to put extra blankets on everyone. Thank goodness for a mother in law who crochets--we've got afghans all over this house! Then, it was time for a nice HOT soaking bath for me, and a few minutes to just let my mind wander.........

I kept coming back, though, to thoughts from the last few days--just random stuff, mostly sweet and happy stuff, and thinking of how blessed we are. No big, amazing events have happened, just the small day-to-day stuff that memories are made of.

~I had a lunch date with Mr. Literal today. I love those, absolutely love them. He was my companion all day long at school, since he had the day off but I didn't. We went to Quizno's for subs and just chatted while we ate. He's so incredibly grown up sometimes, just looking at this little man sitting across from me is amazing.

~Last night, at choir practice, Energizer sat in my lap for about 20 minutes, and sang along with us. He's got great pitch (comes by it naturally, I suppose) so he picked up on the tune quickly and was jumping right in for the words "Glory, glory hallelujah" which repeated over and over. He looked so happy, so "in the moment", which made me feel that way too.

~I had to drive both boys this morning, when normally we each take one so we can get to school faster, etc. As we left the driveway, I remembered it's trash pickup day and our trash can wasn't beside the street. I put the van in park, jumped out and moved the can to its spot. Drove on around the corner, and saw the garbage truck approaching. We were in a hurry, plenty of places to go, but I decided to take a 30 second pause and just pull over to let the kids watch the truck pick up the can and dump it. They loved it, thought it was so cool, and it struck me that I don't think they'd ever actually seen that before. And so what if I was 30 seconds later getting to school?

~Even more elementally, more basic........we have a home tonight, when more and more people lose theirs every day. Our home has heat, and (so far) the heater is winning the battle to keep us warm tonight. We've got plenty to eat, too much in fact, but despite that fact, I'm managing to eat better this week and actually have lost 2.5 lbs already!

So maybe I sound preachy, or too saccharine-sweet, but that's my mood tonight--I'm dwelling on the good stuff, appreciating our health, prosperity and safety AND the 4 day weekend from school that's coming up! Now, if I could just figure out a way to be out of school on Tuesday too......

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

well, you knew this day was coming

Hmm, let's look at the facts for a moment, shall we?

Mom--chronic high blood pressure, on medication for many years, and one preeclamptic pregnancy (when having me)

Dad--chronic high blood pressure, on medication for many years

Me--2 severely preeclamptic pregnancies, labile and borderline blood pressures since last delivery (2004)

So, at today's oh-so-lovely yearly checkup at the OB/GYN, my BP was 142/100. Umm, that's a bit more than borderline, don't you think? Guess I knew this day was coming, and looks like it's here.....I'll be going for a follow up with a general practitioner (oops, was I supposed to have one of those kind of docs already?), and most likely getting on BP meds, probably forever. *sigh*

Great way to start out my day, huh? Oh, and the doors to our vehicles were FROZEN shut this morning.....WTF? This doesn't happen in SC!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

blog envy

Ok, confession time. The more I look at blogs, the more I love what others are doing with theirs......and not what I'm doing with mine. I can't decide which direction to go: Witty, smart, emotional, politically-slanted, "newsy" about day-to-day life, autism-focused, preeclampsia-focused, preemie-focused..........? Consequently, you never know what to expect when you visit here, because from one post to the next, my take on things is entirely different. Some of the great bloggers I read just seem to have it "all together", at a time in my life when I don't feel like I do. Oh well.........

I have, though, decided on one thing I want to do. Lots of Moms who blog have such cool and creative "faux" names for their kids when they write. I know it's to protect identity, preserve privacy, etc, but I just love the names and have wanted something like this for a while. Now, I'm going to do it, so here goes:

My oldest has been referred to here only as A. He's 7 1/2, brilliant and talented, but diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (on the autism spectrum). I've searched for the right name to use for him, to sum him up in just one or two words, and it's tough. I've settled on Mr. Literal. That's him, in a nutshell. When he asks me what time it is, I look at a clock and say which he'll reply "4:14". No fudging or estimating with this boy, it's either black or white and there's no in-between.

Hmm, now comes little E. He's nearly 5 (!), was my micropreemie, and has recently been diagnosed with ADHD (emphasis on the H, of course). He keeps us hopping, no question, and that's what led to my idea for his new blog name.......the Energizer Bunny. He just keeps going, and going, and going.........

So anyway, there it is. Hope you like the names, and that those of you who know us IRL will know who's who by the descriptions. I don't think you could ever mistake Mr. Literal for the Energizer Bunny. ;)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

weekend update

Do you watch Desperate Housewives? I used to be sooo into that, and in recent years have fallen away from the habit. But this season, I'm back on board and am interested again, although not like before. Anyway, I was watching it tonight.....ok, listening to it as I posted on my forums and on Facebook. A quick summary, if you're not up with the story:

Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) is now a not-so-skinny, not quite so gorgeous Mom of 2 bratty kids. Carlos, her DH, was blind for quite a while but has regained his sight and now is back in cutthroat corporate America. Well, tonight the girls were being typically bratty, flat-out refusing to clean up toys, etc. They wouldn't listen to Gaby at all, just said "NO" to anything she told them to do. She called Carlos, interrupted his meeting to tell him about the bad behavior. When he gets home, she's complaining to him about how he's never home, the kids don't listen, etc and saying "I just wanted us to have a normal life". His response? "You want normal? Dad hates his job, Mom's home with the screaming kids. You got it!"

So is that really how it is? Is that what normal is? I'm not sure I know anymore. I know that parenting is exhausting, especially where little E is concerned, and I don't think that people who haven't experienced the severe ADHD really can understand that. You cannot relax, cannot let your guard down for a second, at least during the non-medicated hours. And K is overworked, overstressed, overtired, and underappreciated at work for what he does. So I guess, yes, we fit that so-called definition of "normal".

Anyway, I'm going to try once again to get back on the healthier-living wagon this week, and hope that it will result in some weight lost as well. Lord knows I need to! But as I write this, I'm watching a Papa John's pizza commercial advertising their new dessert pizzas............. *sigh*.

Monday, January 5, 2009

the expansive heart

Considering that today, Jan. 6, is the 12th day of Christmas, it's still ok to make a Christmas-based reference, isn't it? Well, I'm making one anyway.

I love How the Grinch Stole Christmas, that great classic by Dr. Seuss. The TV special is just classic, and I can nearly quote the whole thing word for word. Song for song. "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch, you're a nasty wasty skunk!"

Tonight, though, I'm thinking of that part right near the end, when "the Grinch's small heart grew 3 sizes that day." You can see and hear the metal outline of his tiny, shriveled heart grow bigger, and bigger, and bigger until it finally springs loose.....the "frame" that had enclosed his heart can't hold it all anymore, because of how big the heart has grown. I think that image, the heart that outgrows its borders, is a great way to represent Moms of special needs kids. Bear with me a minute, I'll try to explain.

More and more, recently, I see how my induction into that sisterhood of "special needs Moms" has made ME so much more open minded, tolerant of differences, and better able to see the beauty in those kids who don't "come out of the cookie cutter" as a great friend says. It also becomes increasingly clear to me that almost nothing is black and is about flexibility, exceptions to the rule ARE the rule, and the realization that our kids (ALL kids, but ours especially) are so incredibly unique and special, and worthy of all of the extra time and attention we can give.

While sitting in the foyer at A's speech therapy appointment today, I "met" a young girl who arrived with her mom for PT. She was soooo precious, just adorable and happy and sweet, I could tell right away. But it was also abundantly clear that she had "something", I don't know wasn't Down syndrome, but maybe some other chromosomal abnormality or other birth "defect" although I hate that word. She was so tiny, but her head was larger and her eyes were very widely spaced. To the standards of society, she's probably considered ugly or even "scary" to look at, and maybe that's how the old me would have seen her. I'd like to think not, but.....the new me, however, was uncomfortable for about a half a second, then had my heart stolen by her smile, her wave, her sweet demeanor. I may never see her again, may never know what her diagnosis is or her prognosis, but I do know this: She's someone's child, people love her, and she is a happy child with much to offer to us if we will open our eyes and expand our hearts enough to recognize it.

One more example......we took A to a minor league hockey game on Sunday. He'd gotten a certificate at school (a reading program) for a free ticket, and was very excited. We'd planned to go for quite a while, got there and were told that this was the wrong certificate for this game, and they wouldn't accept it. This was the only one he had gotten and we knew nothing about any others. He goes into near-total meltdown mode, screaming in the coliseum lobby. Supervisors were consulted, and they confirmed that our card would not be accepted. It needed to be red, not orange, of all the ridiculous excuses they could have given.

Now these ticket sellers knew nothing about A's diagnosis, probably know nothing about autism, but that's kind of beside the point. If the idea is to reward kids for reading, encourage them to come and support the local team and create long-term fans out of them, is this the way to do it? Can an exception not be made? Would they really go broke over the freakin' $6 ticket that they're not allowing him to have? I see this clearly, and not just because he's my son, but because I know now that most rules are NOT hard and fast, and the desire to accomodate the needs of kids (especially our special ones) and encourage positive behaviors and traits should trump just about everything else. Generally, I'm a rule-follower, a "this is how you're supposed to do things" kind of girl, but the further I go down my special-needs parenting road the more I realize that my heart is just too big now to be that way any more. If it comes down to heart vs. head, feelings vs. rules, feelings win with me. It's that simple. I have to live that way, I couldn't make it otherwise.

So now, I'm about empathy, understanding, and open-mindedness in so many more ways than I used to be, because I know intimately what it means to feel your heart breaking out of the old barriers and embracing people, things and situations that you never could have imagined. Don't mean to sound all "braggy" here, because it's not that, it's just the inescapable side effect of the hand I've been dealt. Hey, you look for silver linings wherever you can find them........

Thursday, January 1, 2009

welcome to 2009

Well, I made it to see the Times Square ball drop last night, but the kids didn't. We tried valiantly to wake A up, but he's like me....sleeps like a rock and there was no way he was waking up for that. And of course, the fact that he missed it caused him to wake up crying this morning, asking if we'd taped it. And did we? Of course not. But K found news clips to show him this morning, so he got to see the ball drop in NYC, Atlanta, and a couple of places around the world as well. In Atlanta, it's actually the Peach Drop, which is too cool, don't you think?

Small step backward on the new house front this morning......K is teetering on the edge of changing his mind about moving. And not because we don't need to move, because we desperately do, but because the housing market is so bad and he's afraid we can't sell this place. But the one who's usually the pessimist around here--ME--is actually cautiously optimistic this time. Or maybe just blindly hopeful, ignoring realities to hang all of my hopes on the excitement of the idea of moving.

Anyway, the boys and I are going for a drive today, just to check out neighborhoods and get ideas. K doesn't want me to, afraid I'm getting my hopes up too much, but I prefer to look at it as "market research", LOL!

Oh, and one more thing: A dear friend, Lori, is going through a tough time right now. Her son, age 4, was diagnosed with a disease called Legg Calve Perthes Disease. It's causing degeneration of his hip joint, and they are still in the midst of having him evaluated to determine treatment, etc. Please keep them in your prayers as they look for answers and make decisions about what to do.