Monday, December 26, 2011

New Year's Resolutions are for schmucks!

This looks good to me!

It's that time of year again. The time when we all tell ourselves (and everyone within earshot) just how dramatically our life is about to change. Of course it is. Of course we do. Just like we did the last twenty New Year’s eves. And how well did all of THOSE turn out? Many of us are fantastic resolution makers. Beyond that, not so good. The making, good. The doing, not so good.

January is the "official" start time for change.  A new year, a new you and all that jazz-you know the story.But  if you really think about it- shouldn't you be making changes all year long?  Why the hell are you waiting till the end of the year or the start of a new year? If your life was screwed  up before 12/31, its going to be screwed up going into the new year.  "But this year will be different!" you are probably saying or thinking as you read this. I truly wish you the best of luck with that. I know for myself- making a "resolution" is basically setting myself up for failure- because NOBODY holds me to higher standards than me- so when I fail- I fail HARD.

I have come to the realization that if you make a resolution you might as well throw a penny in a fountain and make a wish. It’s the same hopeful optimism that drives both activities. No "resolution" will work unless you have formulated a plan- written it down and gave yourself reasonable time to complete it.  And I repeat- why didn't you (or I) do this earlier in the year? I have needed to lose weight ALL YEAR. I have needed to quit smoking ALL YEAR. I have needed to save money and take better control of my finances ALL YEAR.  The changing of the calendar after drinking, eating and smoking to my heart's content is not magical in itself.  If only! Then  we would all be thin beautiful, rich non smokers and there would be peace on Earth yadda yadda yadda.

If I am going to try to better myself, I should be doing it year-round. It should be a constant goal, not something marked on a calendar. I know that these things need to start at some point, and what I need to do. I also know that falling on my ass and looking like a total schmuck and then beating myself up over my dismal failure  is not a good strategy.  

So despite an abysmal track record and a vast wasteland of shattered dreams, we continue to approach every New Year the same way; with the same pointless strategy. Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome? So that must mean that a whole bunch of us are off our nut insane because that’s exactly what we do. 

So my only "resolution" this year is going to be very vague- I resolve to do some things over the course of the year to make my life better. There.  Now I am gonna go have a cigarette, drink this bizarre concoction that my neighbor Paul just brought me, and then probably eat something fattening. Happy Freakin New Year. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dear Santa

Dear Santa:

I won't say I have been necessarily GOOD this year- but I certainly haven't been BAD either. I gave of myself, my time and talents, and there are just a couple of things I would like for Christmas- if you can swing them that is.

1) Family members that pick up their own crap- without being told 10 times.

2) The student loan money I so desperately need so I can finish this damn degree and start actually making real money in a career I love

3) A successful weight loss plan that doesn't involve hair falling out stress or illegal drugs. 

4) My husband to stop asking me what needs to be done around the house. YOU LIVE HERE!!! FIGURE IT OUT!!!

5) Teenage daughter to stop destroying the 5K I invested in her mouth by not wearing her retainers. 

6) Same teenage daughter to stop being so against showering and cleaning her room.

7) (nearly) 21 year old TO MOVE THE HELL OUT!!  

8) 9 year old to finally learn to tie his shoes. Autism, schmautism  he CAN do it.

9) Asshole neighbors to get their illegal landscaping leveled so my back yard won't rival Lake Michigan this spring. 

10) Extended family to stop treating us like lepers and actually hang out with MY kids once in awhile- without us having to resort to begging and planning a year in advance. 

I know you are busy, and a lot of folks are asking for a lot of things. This list is in order by priority- so let's just say Top 5?  I get screwed every year for my birthday and Mother's Day- so it would be nice if I could be recognized this year.  Just a little- I mean Christmas is all for my kiddos- and I don't want to steal their thunder- so just a wee bit- ok?

I made some pretty awesome cookies for ya- and screw the milk- I am leaving a bottle of my favorite wine for you this year. Just don't drink too much and ...ummm... sleigh?


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beaded Ornaments and Bubble Lights

Traditions. Everyone has a few.  And during the holiday season, perhaps more than any other time of year, we relive our childhood by sharing traditions with our families, as well as making our own.

Some of my favorite holiday memories growing up included baking, decorating and lots and lots of Christmas music. Decorating the Christmas tree has got to be one of my single most cherished memories. We always got a real tree- and not from a tree lot either. Oh no- my parents packed the family up, packed a lunch and drove to the mountains and cut down a tree.

I remember literally vibrating with anticipation- waiting for the tree to be put up. Giggling quietly with my mom listening to my dad untangle the lights.  My sister and I helping to get the boxes and boxes of handmade ornaments out, dimly hearing her voice giving instructions on placement of said ornaments. I had my favorites that I insisted on putting on the tree- and the fact that it irritated the hell out of my older sister was just a bonus.

Not enough!
The hot chocolate would be made for us kids, the hot toddy's for the adults, Christmas music cranked up-  it was a wonderful time. Until it got to the tinsel part- and that was always a battle between my mom and I - I loved to just THROW the stuff everywhere... my mom was a "draper" each strand had to be just right. (I have since abandoned the tinsel tradition- when I realized what a damn mess it was to clean!)

Like this- but more ornate

Many years have passed. My mom passed away 10 years ago. I have developed many traditions with my own family, as well as incorporating from mine and my husband's. The tree is still quite possibly my favorite. I have a ton of ornaments, but the ones I really miss are the beautiful handmade ones that always adorned the Christmas trees of my childhood. Some of you may remember- giant Styrofoam balls- with long, decorative stick pins and a ton of beads?  The heavy salt dough reindeer, some painted, some au natural.  The stained glass ornaments. Each one with a story, each one precious.

Remember the bubbling Christmas lights? They are making a comeback now- but when I was growing up- they were so unique and cool... I remember my dad making sure they were all upright so they would bubble right!

Well- I don't have One. Single. Ornament. NOT ONE. When we lost mom- my freeloading sister and her family swooped in and moved into my childhood home. My dad eventually met someone and moved on, and out. But my sister got the house for NOTHING and everything in it. I have never seen one of my mom's ornaments, never been offered any of them- I mean- with only 2 of us we could have split them up, right? Not to sound all vulture-like- because, honestly, I didn't even think about this until mom had been gone for 5 years- and only then because my grandma asked me if I ever got any of them.

I have precious few tangible objects that belonged to my mom. I wish I did. The family fell apart after she died- and  an already strained relationship with my sister turned hostile, and is now non-existent.

At Christmas time- I miss those things...A LOT.  The ornaments, the lights, the  hand made ceramic Christmas  decorations all through the house. Silly, I mean, they are only things. I DO  have the exquisite hand made counted cross stitch stockings that she and my Grandma made. And believe me- they are one of a kind and something I am insanely proud of. But I would really, Really, REALLY  like to have just a few of the ornaments and decorations. She can have the bulk of them- I would just like a few of my favorites- and my school made ornaments. If they are even still around.

So I will bake the cookies, and share stories with my kids about their Nana.  I am certain that she is all around me all the time and is proud of me and my little family. Maybe someday I will get the ornaments- probably in time for Teenzilla to be grown and starting her own Christmas traditions.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ADHD: To medicate or not? That is the question

My son is autistic, ADHD with a little OCD for flavor. We found all of this out between the ages of 3 and 4. And since he turned 5 he has taken medication to help with the ADHD.

Now hear my story before jumping to self righteous conclusions. We sit and we judge and we think we have all the answers because we read some article about how ALL kids should be X, Y, and Z and ALL parents should do A, B, and C. But the truth is, when it is your child, those lines and rules are a lot grayer. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, our kids do not fit into the world’s little boxes. A LOT of study and research went into starting him on stimulant medication so young. If you follow my blog at all, you know that I am the QUEEN of research, and nothing makes me happier than immersing myself in it. So we tried EVERYTHING for him to avoid meds. Diet, supplements, behavior modifications, "all natural" remedies, yoga...and while each of these things helped a little- we knew that once he started school we were going to be in for trouble.

The autism for instance made it extremely difficult to distinguish behaviors- well, not for us, but for teachers it would. The meds we grudgingly started giving him did NOTHING for the autistic behaviors-they weren't supposed to and we knew that. BUT- what they DID do was Slow.Him.Down. He was seriously like the Tasmanian Devil- he NEVER stopped- and I am not talking fidgeting either.. I am talking RUNNING. CONSTANTLY. Zero impulse control. ALWAYS moving....even in his sleep.
 Now- check out these similarities between Autism and ADHD:

Autism Behavioral Checklist

Difficulty mixing with other children;
No real fear of danger;
Tantrums: displays extreme distress for no apparent reason,
Inappropriate giggling or laughing,
May not want cuddling or act cuddly,
Noticeable physical overactivity or extreme underactivity;
Little or no eye contact,
Works impulsively; often makes careless mistakes: work is sloppy,
Uneven gross/fine motor skills

ADHD Behavioral ChecklistCannot talk or play quietly; disrupts others with talk or actions,
Difficult awaiting turn in games or activities,
Engages in potentially dangerous activities,
Plays without normal caution or consideration of consequences,
Severe temper tantrums,
Interrupts, disrupts, talks and acts inappropriately,
When younger, difficulty accepting soothing or holding,
Always on the move, overactive, even during sleep,
Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly,
Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school work or other activities,
Uneven gross/fine motor skills.

Kind of scary isn't it? Too often, difficult children are incorrectly labeled with ADHD. On the other hand, many children who do have ADHD remain undiagnosed. In either case, related learning disabilities or mood problems are often missed. LIKE AUTISM. We were told by the school initially that The Boy was simply ADHD- something I questioned immediately- because last I checked you are a school NOT A DAMN DOCTOR. This is after two neurologists told us it WAS autism AND ADHD.  Hmmmm..... interesting. Then there was the fight for the DOCTOR's diagnosis not to be trumped by the SCHOOL.... yes that was an issue- but a blog for another day.

Back to the decision to medicate The Boy. When we saw a HUGE improvement in his ability to sit and focus, it was a no brainer. We didn't do it to make OUR lives easier,although that was a by product,  and we certainly didn't do it because the teacher wanted little robots that never misbehaved- we did it because we SAW that it improved his QUALITY OF LIFE. Being able to focus made it easier for him to LEARN, kept him from being "in trouble" all the time, and made a difference in his social interactions- which due to his Autism were already difficult enough. 

I currently work with a child who is EXTREMELY ADHD, very immature for his age, and most likely dealing with some emotional impairments as well. It is clear he is NOT medicated at all- and I wish I knew why. I know there are some other conditions , such as Bipolar Disorder that make taking a stimulant drug impossible. Allergic reactions also prohibit taking the stimulant drugs. I don't know if this is the case with this child, but he breaks my heart. He screams, he can't focus, he can't sit still, he drives his peers nuts. He is a target for bullies. Even his parents don't act happy to see him. This poor kid has it rough- because this is not his fault. I know and understand.   

This could be my kid- if we chose not to medicate. Now, medication isn't a cure- we also do behavioral therapy as well, this is VERY important. Meds alone will NOT help LONG TERM. They treat the SYMPTOMS - not the disorder itself. Teaching a child how to cope with life in general is crucial.  

I do know this: ADHD does exist. It is both over-diagnosed by parents and pediatricians who want kids to sit down and shut up AND under-diagnosed by parents who are scared to death of labeling their child.There is no shame in a diagnosis. While labels are scary, understanding what is going on with your child is your first step in knowing how to help them.

Our hope is that The Boy will not need the meds some day. We are VERY aware of the dangers, side effects, and long term dependence concerns. We also take a very proactive stance in his schooling, and he has very clear guidelines for behavior. He is autistic first and foremost, but the behavioral modification strategies work with both conditions with some tweaking here or there.

In the mean time- I stand firmly behind out decision to medicate The Boy. But- I also understand parents who do not want to go down that road- we all try and do what we feel is best for our kids. But- speaking as a proponent for ADHD medications ( where appropriate!) I say PLEASE- if you have a concern, and if you have a child diagnosed with ADHD- consider all the options- medication included- and always ALWAYS take your child's quality of life into consideration. They are the most important.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I believe in Santa!

She probably has this picture in her room somewhere
I read an article today about a second grade teacher that took it upon her mean ass self to tell  her class of 7 and 8 year olds there is no such thing as Santa... WHAT IN THE NAME OF KRIS KRINGLE IS THAT SHIT ALL ABOUT??  I was so angry after reading this- I mean whatever religion you may or may not be or your socio-economic background, kids everywhere have at least heard of Santa Claus. It is up to families to decide what to tell their kids.  Is he real? Is he fake? Just the “spirit” of Christmas? Whatever- it is NOT the right of an ADULT, ( NOT a parent) much less a teacher to tell them. What an asshole.

The Boy still believes in Santa, and Teenzilla plays along.  I am TERRIFIED about other kids making fun of him, telling him there is no such thing, etc.  He goes to school with a variety of kids, from special ed, to general ed. some,older kids for whom the magic has ended, and kids his age and younger who may still believe in the magic. 


We also do The Elf on The Shelf tradition.  This actually works for The Boy- which kind of surprises me- but it works it's magic and he gets up each morning very excited to see where Clyde, our elf is at. He has talked to him, he gets worried if we get on him for something that Santa is going to hear about it and he will get nothing for Christmas... as a behavior modifier it truly is awesome. Is this also going to be  source of ridicule by meanie kids?  I mean- our Elf has to be real- he has his own Facebook page!  Come check it out! Clyde Finnegan Elf has a lot of friends and can post pictures of his shenanigans there as well!

 It is a VERY fine line we are walking - and I am so afraid of what will happen when we fall. Not just for him either- for me. I mean doesn't the end of believing in Santa just mark a downhill slide out of innocence? Or is that too jaded?  Is it just simply a sign of growing up- a natural order that kids go through?  With the fall of Santa, the Tooth Fairy also takes a hit, as does the Easter Bunny. IS sad. 

I know that someday we are going to tell him the "truth" about Father Christmas. Just like with the other 2 kids. That he was a very kind and generous soul called Saint Nick who lived many many years ago and that people decided that they wanted to keep the spirit of his kind ways alive and so that is where Santa Claus came from.  But, just as I have instilled in my other kids,  I feel the Christmas Spirit each December  and you can’t explain that to me outside of a universe with a Santa Claus in it

And THEN I'm going to hope that like me and his brother and sister he will carry on believing anyway. Because we all need a little magic in our lives.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Autism and the HoliDAZE

Not quite awake- or overwhelmed?

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I would say I hope I didn't offend anyone - but I really don't care if I did. If I said- "Hey- your mother blows goats" then yes- if you weren't offended I would be worried about you. But Merry Christmas?? That is what I celebrate- that is what I wish you and if you don't like it- I will hold some mistletoe over my ass and you can kiss it, ok?

Now- back to the intended subject of this blog- The Holidaze and Autism... two things that don't often mix well. The rushing, the loud music, the winter clothes, the crowds, new foods can all be a sensory NIGHTMARE for the child with Autism. Meltdowns are more likely to happen during this time of year- and with all of the other things going on it is VERY easy as a parent to get overwhelmed ourselves. So here are some things that we have found helps us out this crazy time of year...and being blessed with a child who has High Functioning Autism, we have it easier than some folks. But these tips can be helpful for ANY child and frazzled parent. So here goes...

1)This time of year is filled with meeting new people and the social stresses of being polite, and thanking people for gifts can put a BIG strain on a kiddo on the spectrum. Social stories are AMAZING helpers - but so is a willingness as parents to be understanding, TRY and limit interactions that involve a lot of new people and settings.  Don't do too much on any one day, if possible- limit things to one event a day. And if at all possible- try to entertain at your house- this gives your child a safe environment where expectations are  understood.

2)Schedules tend to change A LOT this time of year. And as I am sure any parent of an autistic child will tell you, schedules and predictability are VITAL in keeping the peace. . Try and keep the daily schedule as close to "normal" as possible. Institute chill out time if possible.Try and include (if and when appropriate) your kiddos in the process. Put events on a calendar just for them- then remind them as time gets closer- it helps to take the mystery out of something new- as they can get ready by watching the count down. Each morning, share that day's schedule with the kids, and only that day's schedule. Don't worry about tomorrow or next week.  Again- SOCIAL STORIES!! Can't say enough about them!

3)Sensory issues during the holidays - where to begin? New foods, new textures, new can be a veritable mine field for a autistic child.  Some things that might help are Keep clothes soft and comfortable,
( this is particularly hard for me as I am the "Let's get dressed up" mom). Serve a favorite at meals, or have them eat before. This is a cardinal rule in our house- nothing worse than a hungry kid ANY kid. Don't force hello's and goodbyes- this is a chaotic time with a lot going on- forcing the issue is NOT in anyone's best interest!  Crowded malls bring out the worst in people- imagine not having the ability to filter all of the noise, touching, lights and loud people- you would meltdown too!! try and shop without then kid - you will BOTH be better off! 

4) Make sure family and friends are well informed about your child's "quirks". What might be mistaken as obnoxious or rude behavior is more than likely just a part of your autistic child's personality. Seeing the world in black and white can be a blessing and a curse. Especially around the holidays when we might be interacting with people that we don't see often, and who may not always be on our top 10 list. Make sure guests are aware that your kid may need a break- and they are walking away without answering because they feel overwhelmed, not because they are being a brat. Or ( especially in our house) the kiddo answering a question or engaging in conversation that is COMPLETELY about dinosaurs- just smile and nod- we will take care of it when it seems to be out of control.

5)Find ways that your kid can help to make the holidays their own. Baking, decorating, setting the table, helping with Christmas cards- be as creative as you can. This is an amazing tradition builder as well as making Christmas with Autism a good time for all. 

So whether it is a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah,  Happy Kwanzaa, Blessed Yule or Merry Jar of Dirt for you- I hope some of these will help.   And please- by all means wish me a Happy/Merry/Blessed  whatever- I promise not to be offended.... just leave my mother out  of it.

Give us a kiss!

Monday, November 21, 2011


I am thankful for many things on a daily basis. I use the month of November (as do so many others) to come up with a daily "Thankful" thing. It really does make one think about all of the things we take for granted. Yes- I am grateful for all of the things I have been posting about- and writing about one each day makes me that much more appreciative. 

I do a similar thing in April with Autism Awareness Month- each day I post a fact, myth or story about Autism. I live with Autism every damn day- but during that one month I attempt to bring others into my world, and create an understanding about Autism for those who don't know. 

So- this month I have been thankful for family, friends, coffee, midol, wine....I mean it really is the little things isn't it? Here is a list of off the beaten path things I can think of to be thankful for. There is no particular order- just written as they came to mind... I would love to hear yours too...

 1)Blogging-Why? Because I'm able to process my thoughts in a different way and to hopefully help and encourage others while also receiving encouragement from everyone who reads my stuff.

2) Autism- How weird is that? But having a child with High Functioning Autism has opened my eyes to a whole world of kids and adults with varying degrees of Autism, and other disorders that I always knew was there, but never really thought about. Now- I am trying desperately to finish my degree in Special Education so I can be a voice for those who don't have one- which is why I advocate loudly for not only my son, but for ALL children.  I have grown, and learned and become a better parent and educator because of my son's Autism. Doesn't seem weird at all,now does it?

3)My kids- this one is pretty self explanatory- my kids are my world- I love them more than I can ever say. 

He is my Cracker Jack

4)My husband- He is funny, smart, frustrating, loving and awesome. He is everything I always wanted and I am constantly wondering why the hell he sticks around with a foul mouth, loud bitch like me... he is an amazing dad and loyal friend- my complaints are truly small- and I am damned lucky to have him.

5) When the kids are fighting-  Another one that makes people raise their eyebrows and snort disbelievingly- but it's true and here is why-   When the kids are screaming at each other, I am  thankful that I have children to love and who love me, and they do get along on occasion. That my autistic son has a voice and CAN argue with his sister is also pretty damn awesome to me...

6) The comfort of being around someone who knows you well- Again- pretty self explanatory- having friends that you can talk about anything with is awesome. I am blessed to have several... 
One group of very good friends 

7) Lazy Sundays

8) Kids laughter

9) Belly laughs

10) Silly jokes

My grandma is the BEST!
11) My family- near and far...I miss my grandma so very much- and I think it is so awesome she is on Facebook so we can keep up with each other!

12) Scented Candles

13) When everyone around me is happy

14) Wine- I love wine- sweet wines are my favorite, but I love a good Chard, or a good Cab...

15) Long Weekends

16) Being ridiculously peppy and cheerful most of the time- even when I am not :) 

17) Unexpected generosity

18)  Having grown up enough to NOT say exactly what is on my mind at any given time...

19) When my 13 year old Teenzilla shows wisdom beyond her years

20) My oldest son's amazing artistic talent

My boy's art
Thanksgiving is a very special holiday and  This list is just a minuscule drop in the bucket for me.  It's not about presents, giving or receiving material things.  it is all about family, and friends, those you hold dear. So embrace those around you and your ability to give thanks to those you love.    

If you think Independence Day is America's defining holiday, think again. Thanksgiving deserves that title, hands-down.
Tony Snow

Monday, November 14, 2011

Can you PLEASE STFU about dinosaurs?? PLEASE?!?!?

Kids go on tangents...from only eating mac and cheese for months  at a time to watching Finding Nemo 500 times. A day. I get that. But until I had a child with Autism I did not realize how bad it could be .

Some children on the spectrum may be natural scholars and become extremely knowledgeable about a subject they enjoy.  Extremely knowledgeable and unfortunately- extremely annoying at times. My son for instance can rattle off names of dinosaurs, the biggest, fiercest, heaviest, fastest, longest, the  epoch they lived in, etc. etc.  This used to be a source of constant amazement to me- and still is at times, I mean it is pretty impressive when a 9 year old can rattle off names and facts  that stump me.  In fact, may stump ANYONE  who is not a Paleontologist... but it is starting to really wear on my nerves now.  And I was a dinosaur encyclopedia as a kid too! 

I think of the autistic brain like a computer-  all data is stored in easy to access folders- with autism, when these folders get full,  instead of being able to delete some unnecessary files, they spill out into other areas- this causes the obsessive behavior to come into play. This is my hastily concocted theory- I have no scientific proof to back this up- it's just based on the observations of my own kid over the last 6 years.  And his overflow is dinosaurs.  Into EVERY other aspect of his thinking....

Dinosauria is a part of just about every single conversation we have. His latest obsession, a show called Primeval, has just about sent me over the edge. I hear about the characters, the dinosaurs, the "future predators" the this, the that- ALL centered around this show.  I have gotten to the point that I tune him out and just nod and say things just to appease him. I HATE doing that. When I am so blessed with an autistic child who can and does speak, tuning him out seems like such a heinous thing to do. But I can't tell him "I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE DAMN SHOW" , he will not understand why I yelled, and then he will still go on trying to explain it to me... it's a battle I cannot win.

Temple Grandin says to embrace the obsessions- as that could be what the kid will grow up to do- and to a certain point I do agree- but 4th grade there is so much he NEEDS to be doing... so much he is supposed to be doing and this obsession is really hindering his learning process.  

I have tried using it to my advantage- books, games, everything from math to social studies lessons using dinosaurs as the subject, but not only am I running out of ideas, I am running out of patience.

So it's back to research mode- something I am very good at. Trying to find ways to make his obsession work FOR him, as well as ways to broaden his horizons. Believe me, kids just look at him like he is from another planet when he starts going off on a dinosaur tangent... and that is NOT good for his social life.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Give it up for.....Turkey Carols!

I hate how Christmas begins in October. I hate going into a store and hearing Christmas carols BEFORE Thanksgiving. I know I am not alone.  As much as I love the holiday season- I really, really hate that it starts so damn early.

So in the spirit of Turkey Day- here are some Thanksgiving Carols...I am sure you can figure out the tunes on your own. Enjoy!  (p.s. I didn't make these up- well- I changed a few words here and there- but the creative license goes to another)


Tur-KEY roasting on an open fire,
Gravy cooking on the stove.
Thanksgiving carols being sung by a fire,
Our eyes as big as Oreos.
Everybody knows some turkey and some cranberries
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.
They know Thanks-GIHHHHVVV-ing’s on its way,
And that means lots of white and dark meat on a tray.
And every mother’s child is gonna try
To see if they can eat everything on the table and not die.
And so I’m offering this simple phrase
For kids from 1 to 92.
Although it’s been said, many times, many ways,
Merry Turkeyday


I’m dreaming of a Thanks-giving
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the turkeys glisten
And children listen
To hear someone at the do’.
I’m dreaming of a Thanks-giving
With every mouthful that I bite.
May your days be merry and bright.
And may all your Thanksgivings-es be all right.

Here's hoping that you will be singing these LOUDLY the next time you are in a store that insists on Christmas carols too damn early.  Who knows, maybe it will catch on! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bittersweet Endings

Bruiser and The Goob
Football and cheer have come to an end. In more ways than one. Teenzilla is all done cheering for the Rec. League, and hopefully The Boy will want to play again next year. Teenzilla tried out and made her school competitive cheer team, but alas- she does not love the sport as much as I want her to, so she quit the team.

This first week after the season ends is always the hardest for me. Practice every night and games every Saturday is a grueling schedule, but it has been such a huge part of my life for the last 4 years that it is hard to come to grips that it is all over- done coaching, done cheering- and next year if The Boy plays, I will get to be just a regular mom, cheering on the kids from the stands. I am already considering how to get the coveted title of "Team Mom", which would mean I would still be in all the action, but there is a whole year, and a lot of mom's that I am sure will be eyeing the position..

Words cannot describe what an amazing season it was. Getting an autistic kid to play pretty much any sport is  a feat, getting mine to play football is a small miracle. He went to practice every day without complaint, never missed a game ( even though he stood on the sidelines for most of them!) got a few seconds of glory and had the opportunity to be coached by a staff of amazing guys who taught him so much.  He earned the Ironman Award- an award given to the hearty few who do make every game and practice, and that to me is more important than how many plays he got per game. He was there- learning to be part of a team, making friends and learning how to play full contact football.  He gave himself the nickname "Bruiser", another minor miracle, as he has always insisted on using his name, NEVER a nickname.  I am so very, very proud of his accomplishments, and hope that he means it when he says "I can't wait to play next year".

Now it's time to take a break before moving on to something else.  There is a program we are looking at for him called Mad Skillz, a program designed to improve on understanding, knowledge and skills of the game. He said he was interested- we shall see. I really do hope he wants to do it- and I really hope he plays again next year.
So nervous
Holding my breath

The cheerleading thing is what I am mourning.  I didn't realize just how vicariously I was living through my daughter until now. I wanted her to love the sport as much as I did, or at the very least like it enough to do one year of competitive cheering for her school. Not meant to be. She was upset that she even made the team  in the first place, and then, as we ended our youth league season, there was no break and competitive started immediately. Having taken a VERY heartbreaking loss at her final competition I truly thought she would want to keep going.  The schedule was just as busy, 2 hour practices including gymnastics 5 days a week, Saturday practices and competitions twice a week. Getting her to practice was going to be rather difficult, between my work schedule and The Boy's schedule there was going to be a lot of shuffling and running around. So for that, I am grateful I guess. But my dreams of watching her compete at different schools, learning different skills and being that crazy cheer mom in the stands are not to be. Coming to the realization that this was more for me than for her was a very harsh wake up. As much as she hates it- she always gave 100%, and was a GREAT cheerleader. Now it's time for her to be just as great at something else.

Teenzilla is an amazing kid- she is smart, talented and will excel at anything she does. She loves the arts. Music, theater- they are her passion. Now I will follow her lead- look for activities that she truly enjoys- and I will be a crazy theater mom, or whatever.  Her being happy and having fun will be my goals, and I will support her 100%.

So as I fold up all the football and cheer gear, the uniforms, the poms, the med kit and our trophy from last year, I am a little weepy. Silly I know, but once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Goody Bags by Martha Whogivesacrap

Halloween. It truly is my FAVORITE time of the year. From the weather to the decorations to the fall specific food- it truly ranks number 1 on my list of holidays- even Christmas.  (St. Patty's Day is the exception and then only because I can drink green beer and Jamisons ALL DAY and it is socially acceptable- WIN)

This is the time of year when the class parties begin. I like to go to the kiddos class parties- I like to help with refreshments and games and see the costumes, and watch the kids have a great time. It's the damn goody bags I LOATHE. I hate the goody bag more than anything.  When Teenzilla was in elementary school- I went ALL out- adorable bags, unique candy and toys- all tied up with ribbons and fancy tags- letting everyone know how awesome I was!  Her first year of middle school I was heartbroken that I no longer was going to be able to make adorable gifts for all of her friends. Crazy, right?

Enter the Boy. Being autistic he really could care less about the class party.  Other than the candy, he really didn't care about the games, food, and fun. It stressed him out. And when he was in the autistic class it was VERY low key. So after kindergarten, my goody bag skills went down the tubes. With so many allergies, special diets and food sensitivities, the variety of treats went way down. So I would bake (buy) something for the party and goody bags got things like pencils, bubbles, stickers and tattoos. And the Boy didn't really care- he didn't want to help put them together, and until about 3rd grade- passing them out wasn't too big a thrill either.

This year- he is mainstreamed back at our local school, and I decided I needed to be the Room Mom.  I am sharing the honors with 2 other moms- which is fine by me- and when I found out I got Halloween I was ecstatic.  So I planned the whole party- a breakfast with some fun games and they will pass out treats at the end of the day.

 Of course I got some other moms asking "Why breakfast?" To which I replied- "I have done a Halloween breakfast for 4 class Halloween parties with my older daughter and it works out great! Here is a list of stuff I need you guys to bring"  

Then I got the mom who said "I'll bring Jello" to which I wanted to reply- "Did I ask for fucking Jello?"  But I smiled my best Stepford wife smile and said- "That would be great"

Back to the damn treat bags. Since I do EVERYTHING last minute- I just put them together today. My original idea was brown bags that I would hot glue orange and black ribbons to and fill them with white chocolate covered pretzel rods decorated like ghosts, Halloween fruit snacks, and some non-peanut, non-dairy treat.  My original idea did not happen.
THIS is what happened.

So with all the excitement of Halloween, trick or treat and candy- I don't think the kids will give a damn what is in the goody bag. I also have a nifty spooky tree craft. a zombie tag game and a mummy wrap game using toilet paper planned. I can't wait for the first parent to ask me if Zombie tag isn't too violent for the kids, and if the toilet paper is hypoallergenic.  I will be sure to bring my Mommy Cup to the party.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's a blog- not an open invitation to tell me how effed up I am

There are a bajillion blogs out there. There are blogs about kids, booze, food, technology, families....the list goes on and on and on and on ad infinitum. I personally read several blogs religiously. Moms Who Drink and Swear,  Dad v. Autism  ( my hubby ♥), Life With Penis PeopleMary Tyler MomCounting CaballerosShit Your Mother Never Told YouApples and AutobotsLittle White Lion, ....are just a VERY small sampling of what I personally read. I keep up on the autism blogs, of which there are many, and mine of course is a hodge podge of autism, parenting, friends, daily life, blah, blah, blah.  Hell, I even wrote about wishing I had done more Kegels for shit's sake....

I may not agree with every single thing I read - even on my favorites- but I do not make it my personal mission to send anybody a private message telling them how fucked up they are, to decry their character or morals, or to just spew hate.   And I really do NOT get people that do.  Bloggers are opening themselves up, creating stuff that matters to them- and hoping it will matter to others as well. Whether it's political, whimsical, informative or funny, it is ALL a matter of opinion- and that leaves us vulnerable. We hope to inspire, but we also open ourselves up to criticism, both constructive and unfortunately destructive. 

I am not holding a gun to YOUR head right now. I am not forcing you to read this. You CHOSE to read my somewhat intelligible rantings. My writing is not filled with subliminal messages {{{read this blog or else you will break out in boils and develop syphilis}}  forcing the average person to read.  And while I welcome feedback, similar stories, and disagreement (done in an intelligent manner) I will not give credence to sad people who think they have to say horrible awful things to build themselves up.  

For instance- in my blog Must love dogs. Well Screw That! I wrote about our misfortunes with owning dogs. I received so many venomous, hate filled nasty comments- it just blew me away. I laughed a lot of it off- each to his own right? But people were actually calling my parenting skills into question- really? Don't even go there! Here is one example:

I have to say that I am appalled by the way you have treated those poor defenceless animals. And I'm even more appalled that you seem to think that the way you have behaved is acceptable. You left your family pet with a humane society and do not even care about whether or not it's still alive? And you are about to do it again? I am ashamed to belong to the same species as you. I'm almost surprised that you didn't give up your son when it turned out he was autistic, just in case he turned out to be too much work for you! I really hope that when you become old and senile and start shitting yourself that your children dump you in a nursing home. Because they will have learned from you that getting rid of something that has become an inconvience is perfectly ok.

This one really pissed me off. But then- I took a deep breath and decided it was absolutely pointless and ridiculous to get pissed off, much less argue with someone like this ( even though I DID have some choice things to say!)  This person had an opinion- and even though they were unable to present their opinion in a matter that didn't try to bring me down, it was still their OPINION...and unfortunately, any asshole can have one of those. 

When out perusing the blogosphere- remember that a million different personalities have millions upon millions of opinions and write about them.NOBODY  is forcing anyone to read or agree with ANYTHING.  You may not like or agree with them all. But it is not license to be nasty, bitchy, hateful or even threatening to the writer.  Haters: Try writing your own blog- put yourself out there and see what happens.  

So the moral of the story is- read my blog, have an opinion, share a comment, similar story, helpful advice or even criticism- I can take it! Just remember- I am putting myself out there- both for my own enjoyment and because I hope that something I say may resonate with someone else and dare I say help someone out. But more than that- I may be the one getting help or advice. I am an autism mom - I can use all the help I can get.