Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ain't We Lucky We Got Em!

Jillsmo, you took the UG out of my UGLY week, giving me a blog award that I don't deserve but will gladly accept because I never win anything and a girl needs a little something when her week smelled like the carpet in the YMCA locker room.

"And, now, I will do my duty as award recipient and follow the rules, which are, as follows:"

Rules for winning this award
Seven things about Rooster's Mama:
1. I am working on getting my administrative credential in Education through Johns Hopkins U and the International Society for Technology in Education.
2. I want to write a book.
3. I have been dreaming about people lately only to wake up and find out something very important happened in their lives. I find that not at all cool or interesting but just creepy, and prefer to dream about Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia lowfat frozen yogurt with full fat hot fudge on top.
4. Lately I've been getting up at 5:15 to meet my neighbor and get in a power walk before school. (Before school? Before 20 million things. Before the marathon called our days.) Even writing that I "power walk" and "at 5:15" sounds weird to me. I really do that? Crazy. Doesn't sound like me at all.
5. People like to talk about my hair. Not me, other people. Some people worry about my hair being big and wild and crazy, and get frustrated by it. Not me, other people. Some people say it's really sad that it's getting way too gray. Not some people, just me actually. Some love it and stop me in the airport or whatever, and that's pretty cool. Okay, I've exhausted my thoughts on the hair thing, but someone else will bring it up today, guaranteed.
6. I miss blogging. I'm too busy. Right now I should be ashamed of myself for taking the time to blog. But I'm not. I am hurrying, though...
7. On my next birthday I will be 40 and for the first time ever I want to have a party.

Passing on the blog:
I LOVE all the bloggers I read, or I wouldn't read them, so I pass this on to ALL 45 of you! You are all versatile beautiful writers and I want to know 7 things aboutcha
That being said, I want to point out some blogs I just lately stumbled on, thanks mostly to following all of you around the blogosphere through your blog rolls, etc. I figure if I just found them, maybe others haven't seen them yet, so here are some blogs I added just lately:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Party Hats Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Today we decided to take both kids to a birthday party.

You might ask me, "How did it go?" But there is no simple answer. There are, in fact, many answers. Ever since the word autism came into our lives, I have as many perspectives on events like birthday parties as I do hats to wear. It makes me feel a little dizzy and schizophrenic. I see each birthday party with the eyes a mother of two, a teacher, an OT, a behaviorist, of just plain old anxious me.

The birthday party was:

Fine. The birthday girl's family is adorable, and they have a lovely home. I managed the expected and unexpected obstacles with finesse, other kids melted down as much or more than mine, I had some adult conversations, some people barely noticed us, I remembered an alternative treat for the boy that pleased him, and no one got hurt. Wheew. I'm tired, but all-in-all, not a bad day...

Disappointing. It reminded me that no matter how far we've come, the other kids have come farther, and no matter how hard we work, we have so much more to do. My boy pushed a kid, called a child a "loser," flipped out when the face painter closed up shop before he got his painted, and screamed at our hosts, "I WANT A GOODY BAG! NOW!!!" My daughter lost her shoes, stuffed herself full of sugar, and instigated an argument with her brother the minute we got in the car to head home. Inside the goody bags? Contraband. Uh-oh... who knows what was in that candy Roo gobbled up before I could stop him, but it said, "Made in China" on the bag, and nothing else.

Terrific. I am so grateful. I know too many people for whom going to a birthday party is impossible or unthinkable. Every time I read the news, my blog reader, or Hopeful Parents, the shame I feel over my self-pity grows and grows. We had a beautiful day to be together and be with friends. Many of the people there offered us support and understanding, and I feel so appreciative.

Therapeutic. Roo could bounce in the bounce house, swing in the play room swinging chair, and pet animals at the petting zoo. A ROOSTER walked right up to him, so purposefully, I kid you not! Hey, with that kind of therapy, we didn't even feel the need to drive to horseback riding therapy afterwards... a good thing with temperatures in the 90s.

Just another day in the life of the Rooster's family. Ups, downs, smiles, frowns, screaming, hugging, fighting, kissing, trying, learning, teaching, working, growing, struggling,wondering, lather-rinse-repeating.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

UnStill Life

My four-year-old NT girl is in the bath as I type this. I'm only 10 feet away, on my bed, and can see her playing. "Mommy?" she asks. "Do you love me no matter what, or only if I have good behavior?"

The love, I assure you, is unstoppable. The fun, though, as I explain to Peaches, is much bigger when all our behavior is good.

And where does she get these questions, questions that pile on me lately about where babies come from, why people go to jail, what happens after death... I have typed only one sentence, that first one at the top of this post, so far, and realize I've never been able to blog when my kids are awake, but my night's are filled with schoolwork (theirs AND mine), and yet I hate to neglect this place where I come for my sanity and catharsis.

The phone rings. My husband, at Children's Hospital with our six-year old son who has autism, tells me I handed him the wrong prescription this morning on his way out the door and he's hoping I can send a scan or photo of the one he needs for our boy's blood draw, ASAP. I set aside my computer, scramble for the camera, the script, the card reader... How did people survive without ubiquitous computing? In 5 minutes, thanks to numerous gadgets and some of my husband's charm, my husband has things underway at the hospital to check up on my son's blood...

Peaches climbs from the tub, drips her way through the house, asks to be held like a newborn, helps me make a cheer up sign for her brother, refuses to sit more than six inches from me as she devours the opportunity for undivided attention.

The boys return, and before the key unlocks the front door my boy makes it clear that he NEEDS to bake a pie. URGENTLY. He has had pie on the brain for days, so I prepared last night, stealing away during ABA to stock up on GFCF ingredients from two separate markets. Sadly, real GFCF "pie" is beyond my patience and skills as well as the inventory of both markets, but I know he will settle for "crumble." With both kids as "helpers," we manage to whip up apple crumble in about an hour, leaving the kitchen sorely worse for the wear. While it bakes, we eat carrots, sandwiches, chili, lemonade. Finally, the timer dings. A boy demands a melted marshmallow on his "pie," and a Peach opts for ice cream. In the end, it's really only these toppings they like. The "pie," or crumble, tastes too healthy for their liking. I end up eating more than my share. They tear through the house grabbing toys, wearing my very favorite blanket in the entire world over their heads as they play ghost, building structures on the coffee table, laughing, arguing, goofing around.

It's barely afternoon. The house is a wreck. I realize no one brushed their teeth this morning. The TO DO list stretches long and foreboding... I pick up my netbook, with a blind eye to all else and a firm refusal to worry about blood panel results, and resume writing this, the formless blog post in front of you right now.

And with tremendous trepidation I confess to you, brazenly, that I feel happy.

This is how one family with autism rolls.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Read This: It's Urgent

The world stopped today.

Well, at least, I read something really, really, really good. Maybe the world just paused a moment. But for me it felt big.

Really I should talk about worlds, not world. My work world -- in which I am working on an administrative credential -- felt like it collided with my home world, in which I am the mama (read: fierce advocate) of two children, and one has autism.

Usually, I do not care much for my worlds colliding. I have several unwritten posts littering my head and heart about how those collisions shake me. But today, I read a blog by an educator I admire, a blogger in my Personal Learning Network. I admire this man, a principal, and recently decided to borrow one of his ideas. I appreciate the way his professional blogs get personal, give glimpses into the goodness of his character. The idea I contacted him about, which he shares willingly, has to do with having an Identity Day at school to celebrate the identities of everyone. Everyone. Yeah, I know, right? So I am a fan.

Today I opened his blog and found something that you need to read. I don't care what you do for a living. I don't care what kinds of kids you have. I don't care what world you live in, because his blog should be required reading for voters, and anyone else with a pulse. It shows simple beauty, it shows leadership. It's a world with which I can identify. Enough about me. Please, right now, go meet George, Principal of Change.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cruelest Month

I am no fan of the ninth month. Anniversaries of loss, birthdays of those I've lost. Transitions, tuitions, decisions. Chaotic weather, crazy traffic, confusing paperwork. Lists, chores, to dos. Holidays I never manage to properly celebrate. {guilt} Changes I can't control. {anxiety} People hurling toward me 200 mph from every direction faster than I can duck and cover, with a kaleidoscope of needs. {stress} Attitudes. Dramas. Blech.

And so I have this very tiny, itty bitty, teensy weensy scrap of a plan.

All I can do to face September is this:


It ain't much, but in this cruelest month it's all I got.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back Atcha

Dear People We Haven't Met Yet,
When you meet my son, the Rooster, you might like him and you might not. Fair enough, to each his own. But if you decide you don't like him because you make some snap decision devoid of sensitivity and full of assumptions before you even give him half a chance, and then you make no effort to keep your opinions to yourself, then I would say turnabout is fair play; Here is why we won't like you, either:
Clearly, you aren't very bright.
You have bad taste.
You are impatient, and you lack style.
You know nothing about autism, learning differences, or, well, people. Learn a little something, why don't you.
You are funny looking.
You are arrogant.
You hurt our feelings.
You are a dime a dozen; you people must be like bunnies or something. Borrrrring!
We are way too cool for you.
You have NO sense of humor.
And, as my high school buddy used to say back in the South, "We ain't got no time for you!"

I'm sorry, but my Rooster is undeniably one highly likable fella, if only you give him a chance. And you can be sure I can see your bad attitude and raise you, too, if you're talking about my baby.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I don't have a full plate. I have an exploding buffet, balanced on my head, and I'm spilling. TOO MUCH.

I have friends I miss, friends I am worried about, and I want to call them. I'm sick, stuffy, sneezing, coughing, and not calling anyone. My husband is out of town, school has started, technical difficulties multiply like fruit flies.

So I do what I do in the crazy spaces. I grab the journals.

Do you have these journals? Of when your babies came into the world? I wrote letters to my babies for several years. I wrote to them and told them all the littte details from our family time. I quit around the time of the autism diagnosis. I quit because instead of writing journals, I began to obsess on reading everything I had written. It consumed me for a time. I was hunting my love letters to my son for clues as to why, when, and how autism happened to us. I grieved over the entries' references to torticollis, sleeplessness, colic, immunizations (not that I think they caused my son's autism), grumpiness, feeling different, doctors, tests, worry and anxiety, the feeling even when my son was 8 weeks old that things just were not right. I scoured the journals and indicted myself for not figuring things out sooner, not doing more, not being a better mother.

That is not why I turn to those journals now. Two and a half year post diagnosis, I find myself in a new place with autism and with parenting, and with both my children.

I am coming to a place of acceptance that I am all done having babies. Now that Peaches is wearing 4T, I realize soon there will be no more "Ts" in my clothes shopping soon. My baby girl practically runs our household. My boy starts first grade soon. I am 39. Our family is complete. We've given away everything baby. I turn to those journals to remember the joyful times of babies in the house. I turn the pages to bring back the smell of baby, the coos and hiccups I wrote about with such joy in the good moments, to remember that I did take time to celebrate, to wallow in the happy moments.

One coworker asked me over lunch about these crazy weeks of getting back to school, juggling both kids' crazy schedules and needs, and behaviors. While we all laughed at my ridiculous tales of dramas and chaos, a woman chimed in: "Yeah, well I remember you about a decade ago doing lunch duty going on about if only you met Mr. Right, and all you wanted was to find a great husband, so...." And I remember that too. And I don't dispute, amid all my kvetching and kvelling, that all my wishes came true. One the one hand, I have everything I ever wanted. On the other, I still find things plenty challenging. I am never going to be the person who is all that sorry for complaining -- it's part of my identity! it's deity insurance! -- but I fully recognize that some day down the line I will yearn for these very days that flatten me.

As I flip through my old journals now, I treasure the references to cuddling, to firsts, to celebrations. I love that I chronicled who visited us, what my kids wore, how we laughed. I don't keep those journals any more, but I do have this blog. When I completed my first year of blogging, I found myself rereading my first posts, again like a detective, looking for evidence: were we or were we not making progress? How much? But some day I will be rereading these posts to revel in when my children still said ridiculously funny things I could put in Notable and Quotables, when they were first starting school, when they were still wearing sizes with letters in them.

My husband has an expression: Enjoy your vigors. I was thinking of that when I decided not to clean the house tonight, not to fill out paperwork, but to blog. This is where I'm enjoying the vigors, not of my youth, but the youth of my kids, right now.

In that spirit, I am leaving this is a journal letter that my future self can enjoy...

Dear Rooster and Peaches,
The days are getting shorter again, and even though the nights still feel hot often, you can feel some fall in every morning. You wake up sweetly lately, Roo's footsteps quickly sounding his rush to the bathroom before piling in our bed, Peaches asking for breakfast and attention. I love the way you are starting to do such big things independently: the way you brush your own teeth, pick out our own outfits. I love how you both ask more and more questions. Today Peaches asked, "Was is better a long time ago in the old days, or is it better now?" I love how Rooster is trying to control impulses, and feels sorry when he makes a bad choice. Roo, you asked me yesterday, "I'm still a good guy, right mommy? I'm not naughty?" I assured you that even when you make a naughty choice, you are our sweet and good boy, and that we love you a million percent. You love hearing how much we love you -- so Big!! -- and you love our kisses. You love Super Why and you are proud of learning to read. Peaches, you love attention, back scratches, music, and collecting. Mostly, you love attention. You are all about princesses and pink. You are proud and how quickly you learn, and you are good at numbers.
We had a decent summer, and I have some back to school anxiety, but I am very proud of both my boosties, and I am so happy to be your mom.