A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.
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Friday, December 31, 2010

Return to NOT Witch Mountain

We took my half day off work and took the entire crew back to Stone Mountain for our annual trek.
There is something bizarrely satisfying about sitting on top of Atlanta and looking down at the world.



It's otherworldly up there. Like stepping off the planet and into another place, which is sort of magical and relaxing. We really like it.I wonder where the boy gets THIS?


Oh yeah THATS where...

It was a fun goofy day on the mountain but they were still doing all their Christmas holiday shows and attractions so we got to do some of that fun stuff as well. Like a freezing cold ride around the mountain in an open air train car!
Ok it wasn't bad it was actually fun even though we were so cold even the free hot chocolate at the train station didn't warm us up.
But there was cookie decorating. Yeah it was kinda gross...


In case you are wondering that's a chocolate chip cookie with green icing, M&Ms and gummi bears + sprinkles.
But at the end of the night the Snow Angel comes and makes it snow, and if you are six, that's pretty freaking awesome.



It was one of those perfect days. I am glad I was there for it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

With Beer and Cherry Cordial In Hand

So for Christmas Santa got me a guide book for the rest of my life.

It's called WHAT WOULD KEITH RICHARDS DO? And yes it's daily affirmations.

If you aren't aware, Keith is my absolute FAVORITE Rolling Stone and I prefer above all others the songs HE sings (Little T&A anyone?).




So you have to understand, my love for Keith is deep. I realized that Keith was a rare voice of reason while watching an old film clip of some stuffy reporter asking the obviously wasted Stones how they came up with the album title "Some Girls" to which Keith slurred loudly, "We couldn't remember their fucking names."
I've had a deep love of Keith ever since that moment.

So you can imagine my glee at receiving this book.

His first step to wisdom?

KNOW YOURSELF.

Slightly less fancy that the oracle at Delphi but no less poignant I suppose.

So, who am I?

I am the sort of Mom who thinks is an awesome baby outfit for Christmas.
I am the sort of mom who thinks Santa likes variety.



And I am the sort of Mom who thinks this is not too many presents.

But mostly I'm the sort of Mom who is awake at midnight eating a cherry cordial, drinking a beer and listening to the Stones on YouTube.

Because some days, that's how I roll.

And I know myself.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The One Where Echolalia Almost Gets Me


Our Miles was recently categorized into Moderate Autism vs. Severe Autism. This is because he CAN speak. He talks all the time actually. Singing, counting, REPEATING EVERYTHING HE'S EVER HEARD.
He exhibits echolalia a lot. Now, that isn't to say that he doesn't actually communicate, because he does and gets better a little at a time. But a great deal of the time, he's just parotting words. It's really less cute than the movie RainMan I promise you.
It's loud, it's never ending, and it's nerve wracking.
I was at a school event sitting next to one of the only other mom's I know, and the two twins were making an insane amount of noise. She was kind of giving me the side-eye, not really knowing what to say.
So to put her at ease, I whispered, "They sure are loud for a couple of kids who don't talk, aren't they?"
She burst out laughing. Then I think was horrified that she had done so, but I laughed too, to let her know that it was alright.
So he jabbers, and talks, and repeats. ALL THE TIME.
But fairly recently, in the last few months, we'd hit a developmental milestone that really, REALLY touched my heart.
I gained a name.
I became Mommy.
It's probably hard for you guys with typical children to understand, hell it's hard for ME to understand. But until recently, I had two six year olds who didn't verbally identify me as anyone. It's kind of a big deal, developmentally, the saying of Mommy and Daddy. But it hadn't ever happened for me.
So when I became MOMMY all of a sudden, and was getting "Kiss, Mommy", "Hug, Mommy", "I love you, Mommy"....well, I was fairly choked up and thrilled.
It just seemed - a notch in his development. A huge step forward.


Then last night on the bed, the kids and I were all playing and cuddling, and he kissing the baby. I said, "Kiss the baby!" and he repeated my words and then kissed her. Then I said, "Kiss Mommy!" and he repeated my words....
and then kissed the baby.
I froze. I said again, leaning toward him, "Kiss Mommy".
He giggled, and repeated my words - and kissed the baby.
And I shattered.
He didn't know my name. He was just repeating. Echolalia.

I cried later, giving the baby her bath, and trying to tell my husband what happened. But he said no, that the boy cries when I leave the room, calling Mommy, he cries for Mommy in the night, that NO emphatically-I was wrong.

I didn't believe him, until he called him into the bathroom and told him to hug Mommy.

At first he just giggled, but then he turned around and took my hands and looked up, and said "Hug Mommy".
And clearly he meant me.

I don't demand much out of this life. But I really, really want my little boy to know I'm Mommy. I hugged him tight and felt kind of victorious. Screw you autism. Mommy won this one.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Seriously?



The boy says "And the teacher has TWO BOXES of Hubba Bubba bubblegum behind her desk and she never gives us any. And as you know - it's the RAREST of all bubblegum."

I didn't even know what to say to that.




Friday, December 03, 2010

IEPs for Everyone

Apparently there haven't been enough IEPs in my house. If you don't know, the IEP is the magic document that the school system uses to allocate special services to children. So, if your have Special Needs children, like we do, you learn the IEP process in and out.
It's fairly tedious yet important. It gets my kids therapy and the things they need to help them progress.
So my oldest boy has this speech impediment.
I stood on my head at the school during Kindergarten and First Grade, getting him "speech therapy lite". A "little" speech therapy. Everyone felt that it was something he was going to grow out of.
I went to meetings. I pushed. And for some reason, they just didn't think he needed more help.
Now he's in 2nd Grade and there is a new Speech Language Pathologist at his school.

I got a call. She says "The Boy needs aggressive speech therapy, if he continues like this he's going to talk this way when he's 39."

FINALLY. In the process of talking to her I realize though - he's got to go on an IEP.

Sigh. So now my GIFTED Child and my SPECIAL ED children all have IEPs. I am totally getting my tax money's worth out of the damned school system I SWEAR I AM.

He has what they call LOW TONE - which refers to the strength of the muscles he uses to talk. Low strength. It's why he struggles to pronounce words his brother who is autistic says crystal clear.

So I went to the IEP meeting for HIM today, and watched the therapists head blow off when I told her I already HAD two IEPs for the twins and they were autistic. I love the question "how do you do it?" lol. Lady, we just do. We just do.

Anyway, I was frustrated because I guess I don't like the IDEA of the IEP for my big boy yet I want nothing but what will help him.

I am an IEP road warrior.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Blogging As The Baby Screams In The Background


Oh don't look at me like that. She's fine. It's bed time. She doesn't want to go.
This post isn't about her anyway.
No, it's about the bus driver.
Well, one bus driver.
Whom I have decided is an a-hole and I don't like.
One boy who was promoted to "moderate" autism was moved to a different school. It's fairly impressive. He LEARNS things, like how to write letters, and to spell. He speaks some.
(and no he's not "creative" or a savant, Rainman is a movie not reality)
But he also wants to do the things that he's learned.He wants to do them, ALL THE TIME.
So, he's learned how to unbuckle his seat belt.
And apparently, started doing it ON THE BUS.
The afternoon bus driver didn't ever bother to mention this. Nope. She apparently let it happen several times, and then just decided she was done and promptly kicked my special needs child off the bus.
No warning.
So his teacher promptly responded that NO, there are solutions and that just kicking him off the bus isn't the answer.
Apparently, something like THIS is.


Add a few more straps under the legs and around him and this is what we have now.
The morning bus driver,who apologized profusely and said he didn't know what was wrong with that woman, he'd never had a problem like this he'd just turn the buckle over and he'd never had a kid figure it out.
But here we are.
This boy who is the more developed of the twins, who has learned the mystery of language is now being strapped down every morning into this harness that upsets him. He looks even more special than he is and has to parade out in front of our neighborhood wearing his HARNESS.

I want to slap this bus driver.

You know my real issue here, isn't that we had to land here. I want him to be safe. I understand she's driving a bus and she can't have a kid running around on the bus but OH MY GOD. Could she have said SOMETHING? Could she have mentioned it? Could we have worked together on this to ATTEMPT some other solution?

See, because this kid of mine, he learns routines and learns them well. He could've learned exactly what to do. Now he's labeled as some sort of bus hooligan that has to be literally STRAPPED DOWN into his seat like an animal.

He's my child. He's not an animal. It makes me angry he was too much trouble to even try something else with.

He learned to say Happy Halloween this year. He counts. He's a person too.


video

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The True Story Of My Grandma's Noodles



My paternal Grandma was famous for two things at holiday events. Being drunk out of her skull on Wild Turkey by the time the meal was served, and for bringing "Grandma's Famous Turkey and Noodles".
If you're not from the Midwestern part of America, you might not be familiar with the dish, sometimes served with chicken instead. Some places in the country call it dumplings. But in the middle part of the U.S. we just say turkey and noodles. Chicken or turkey that's been cooked and chopped/shredded/etc and dumped into noodles which are floating in a thickened chicken stock, with lots of salt and pepper.
Really, it's a very "put it in a pot and let it cook" sort of dish.
Not the sort of thing one becomes "famous for"...but I digress.
When I was about 10 or 12, I wanted to learn how to make this dish. It was revered as "homemade" and so I figured my home-economics major Mom could teach me how to make it.
Which she did. We spent hours making the noodles, rolling them and cutting them.



And it was in fact,quite delicious.
I was really disappointed though, because despite mine being quite good and having done all the work to make it so - it just wasn't like Grandma's. In fact, it didn't really LOOK like Grandma's.
It was at that point that Mom explained to me Grandma's secret ingredient to her home-made turkey and noodles.

Reames Egg Noodles. Throw a little flour in the bag as they're partially thawed and shake it up, it makes the noodles irregular shaped, giving them a "homemade" look.

Ugh.

I was the victim of a Holiday Food Fraud.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One Point In The Star

I haven't been writing much recently, mostly because I've got four kids and no time.
But there has been another reason.
I've got a good friend who had surgery a week ago or so, and I'm worried about her.
She's doing various degrees of good and bad and her recovery is taxing her body.
And my mind.
There are people who'd say that she isn't my real friend. Because we've never met in the corporeal sense.
But I'd disagree. When she was well, I'd talk to her every day on the phone. I've got her mother's pie crust recipe. We tell each other our secrets and our dreams. I talk to her more than people I've known twenty years. And she's no less my friend.
She's one of the best friends I've ever had.
I worry, here on the other side of the country, while her best friend in the real world sits vigil with her, and helps her through her recovery. I get messages and calls to let me know how it's going.

And I wait and I worry.

I've been thinking for about four days to address what I need to say about this time she's going through. You might be surprised that this atheist chose these words.

"Wither thou goest, I will go.
And where you lodge, I shall lodge,
And your people shall be my people."
- Ruth - 1:16

Our friends are the family we choose.

Get better Cajsa. I love you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's A SIGN!

The baby spit up the United States of America on the big boy's pants! IT'S A SIGN! What does it mean?
I guess she is American...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I've Got A Feeling...

...that tonight's gonna be a good night. That tonight's gonna be a good good night...

Guess who got a high chair and it's time to start using a sippy cup? Oh yeah, we're big time.
I think the Black Eyed Peas said it best when they said...


I also realized tonight that although she is our 4th child, she's the only one who got a brand new high chair. The other three all got hand me downs.

We must love her the most.

Monday, November 08, 2010

So My Kid Is A Dork



At the 8 year old birthday party it was a SPORTS party, organized play held at some fancy sports place for people who drive their kids to be CHAMPIONS or whatever.
They were playing kickball - which seemed innocuous enough to me.
He steps up to the plate when it is his turn, grins at me and shouts "I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE ARE DOING!"
I shouted back "KICK THE BALL!" thinking - that can't be right. He can't have NO idea what they are doing.
But it was true. He didn't. So he KICKED the ball. And then he just stood there and grinned. At which point they ran over and tagged him out. He giggled and ran back to the dug out.
I strolled over and whispered - "It's like baseball, you run the bases after you kick the ball."
He smiled and says "But I never played baseball."
Sigh. Parenting FAIL.
His second time at the plate, he kicked the ball and ran to first base. But then didn't know to run to second when he could - he went back to the dug out.
I had this supreme moment of frustration that the school system hadn't taught my boy and sort of sports fundamentals, and then anger at myself for the same.
Then I started watching the field.
Kid after kid comes to the plate - and looks up in the stands while their father barks orders. KICK IT HERE! KICK IT THERE! The kids nervously kick the ball. Their parents are barking and pushing them - and we're just playing for grins.
My kid is running around like a lunatic, joyously enthusiastic.
No fucking clue what he is doing.

But he's having a blast. He's talking smack. He's giggling and laughing and just totally throwing himself into whatever it is that he THINKS they are supposed to be doing. And he's infectious. The other kids start goofing with him, and laughing with him - not at him.

They like him.

And I'm kind of glad I haven't been rushing him to sport after sport after sport. Because at the age of 8 he still knows how to play, how to be silly.

Yeah yeah, the boy needs to learn some fundamentals. Can't have him being anti-social. And he needs to learn the value of competition. I'm all for that, don't get me wrong. But, I was kinda glad to see how happy he was out there once I got past freaking out about my 8 year old not knowing how to play kick ball.

I'm going to teach him.

And I'm going to kick his ass.


Saturday, November 06, 2010

To My Husband on His 42nd Birthday



This week has not been kind to us gearing up for my husband's birthday. Our van, the only vehicle that holds us all, was in the shop. We had to brave the Atlanta traffic at rush hour with me crammed in the trunk of our SUV on Friday in order to fetch it.




But prior to that, I got THIS call "Hello this is Jennifer, your child is super sick. Can you come get him at school?" To which I said "Umm,ok which child which school?" When I realized that the child was set to get on the bus in less than 30 minutes, and I was like 45 minutes away. I asked "Umm, can he JUST get on the bus?" to which they said yes when I explained how far away I was.




Then, 30 minutes later they called and said "Umm, the bus driver wouldn't take him because he has a fever."




So I haul ass up across town, to get said sick child. Who is by that point rocking a temp of 103. Then back home, where we have to load up the entire family in the SUV with me in the trunk bit to go fetch the van.


After slogging through Atlanta rush hour to get there, and slogging through Atlanta rush hour to get home, it's past 7pm. And I need to go birthday shopping for the husband.




After diapers and bottles - it's even later.




We run through the electronics store (and I actually do score some pressies) and then to dinner.


Have I mentioned that it's freezing cold in Atlanta suddenly? This is important as the O'Charley's by us didn't seem to realize they needed the heat on. So we all sat and shivered and repeatedly asked if they would PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Turn on the heat.


Today, his actual birthday, he got up early A.M. to go to a Boy Scout event with #1 Son. And then it's to the festival at #1 Son's school, as the twins are both a bit sick.

He's pulling Daddy duty. On his birthday.

Because that's the guy he is. And I love him so much. Happy Birthday hunny!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Our Boy Scout Needs Your Help!


It's Boy Scout Popcorn time and our Boy Scout has fine popcorn items to offer!



Sunday, October 17, 2010

If You Talk To Girls In Bars....

...you can end up at the beach almost 13 years later with a family.





You might end up feeding pigs for the delight of small boys.









You might end up with a wife who orders burgers with egg and hashbrown on them. But she also might share it.





But you might also make a friend who also knows that this sign is funny.
But one day, thirteen years later, you might open your eyes, and its not just you and that girl you were talking to in the bar. There are four additional humans.

This is what happens when you talk to girls in bars.

Humans are made.

13 years ago today my husband asked me out on a date.

The rest, is history.

Thanks for asking.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

For My Birthday He Took Me for Ice Cream

At Leopolds.


Did I mention it was in Savannah?



Yeah we loaded up the crew and headed out to Savannah for a whirlwind weekend. We'd never been and I'm fully of WOW after having gone. Savannah is really amazing and I can see why Sherman didn't burn it.


It was just gorgeous. We putzed around a lot, kind of taking in the city and figuring out what it is we'd like to do when we go back. Which given our brood is probably the best idea.




We also went to eat at THE PIRATES HOUSE which is a haunted restaurant with more atmosphere than anything else. We'd seen it on a show, but all the cool tunnels and stuff under the restaurant were closed. We did get to see this though!





We like to to think those aren't real.



The food was kinda MEH. I don't expect to find mudvanes in my kids fried shrimp, just an FYI Pirates House folks. I mean really, if I have to dig out the pooper scooper to eat your shrimp, I'm kinda bleh about you.



The husband and I did try the she-crab soup though, and it was good and sort of interesting.



Our last day was perfect with a trip to Tybee Island, which is about 18 miles east of Savannah. It was such a good time. And we got lucky and had a really warm day so we could even swim that day. That was really unusual for October.



I can't wait to go back. Savannah was awesome.

Of course now I'm sick today. So, I suppose I CAN wait.

But it was a great way to start out my 42nd year. Thanks Hunny. Fantastic surprise.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The One Where I Confess That I'm Not A Cool Mom

There is this misconception, sometimes I find, that I am a "cool" mom.


Please make no mistake.


I am not cool.


I used to have a piercing high on my ear lobe that was given to me by a guy a met in a bar, with full sleeve tattoos and so many piercings that I don't know how he consumed liquid without it all pouring out like a cartoon character.


I met him in a bar and he offered to pierce me.


And I said ok.



But now, I wear Mom jeans, they are too blue. I'm ok with that. I was once spotted across a parking lot because my friends recognized my dark jeans and my too white shoes.


Again, I'm ok with that.



I take you to the fair for your special day, and I make sure we have the cake you want for your special day. And we ride the rides and we feast on the foods that will surely stop our hearts before their times.

But lemme 'splain one important thing.

I'm your mother. I'm not your friend and I'm not your pal. I'm here to keep you alive, safe and happy. In THAT ORDER.

So when you pout because I won't let you ride the rollercoaster that broke down with you on it, I'm not gonna budge. And when you whine about it, I'm going to remember how they wouldn't let you off......and all the visions of my little boy dying were raging through my mind.

And I'm not gonna budge.

Because I'm not cool.

I'm your Mom. And I love you way too much to be cool. I promise you that.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The County Fair Rocks My Socks

Any event which starts out with funnel cakes, fresh lemonade and whatever the hell that sandwich is my husband got- RULES. It is some sort of cheese meat peppers thing. Philly Cheesesteak of some sort? I dunno.

It's sloppy. It's calorie filled. And none of it has nutritional value of any sort (except the lemonade which will ward off scurvy thankfully).

We took the oldest boy to the fair as his birthday outing.


It seems like he might be too big for some of the rides though.



Well that's ok because there were still lots of things to like, such as - THE FAN RIDE!






And we went and beheld that the animals and crops were plentiful and there was no need to sacrifice anyone to make sure we all lived through the winter...

And the rides weren't all so boring...I promise...









And even more importantly, there were foods on sticks and fried foods.








Yes, the harvest was good. There will prosperity and health in the coming winter.



And I am thankful.
This last picture is for my friend Prad, who told me to EAT SOME SALAD when I was salivating over what I was going to eat at the fair.
There Prad. Deep Fried Veggies. Does that count?
PS - I didn't eat any - that sounds too close to healthy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

He Had A Great Day...


What does that mean for a typical child? It means the stars were aligned. They hit the home run, they caught the touchdown pass, they made straight As, they got the big part in the play or they made the honor roll.

It would be the icing on the cake. The topping of a day that already held promise.

For an A-typical child, the day starts out kicking and grabbing at the parent trying to gently pursuade them out of bed at o-dark-hundred. Protests ring out as he is lead into the bedroom to get dressed -

where he promptly bites my breast.

Hard.

Breaking the skin. Through my clothes.

After that it's a struggle to get clothes on him and then we go downstairs where he proceeds to scream and cry and carry on ridiculously about every single thing that occurs until the bus arrives.

He grabs my arms and pinches, he tries to bite his brother, he screams when the Wiggles go off the air.

And when he comes home, his notebook says "He was so happy all day. He had a great day. He followed two part instructions perfectly."


We jokingly call him a shark because he eats everything. I now have a bite radius for the marine biologists to measure, should they arrive.


He followed two part instructions perfectly.


If only one of those had been "Don't bite other people."


Having a special child is unbelievably hard.

Having two, is some days, unbelievable.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

5 Months Old Today


And more amazing every day. Yes, she is always this happy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

C Is For Cookie

What do you need to bake cookies.



First you need a container of 100 cookie cutters.

Then, you need a couple of boys to help.






And then after you roll out the dough and cut out the shapes, you can put them in the oven.




There is a secret about these cookies. These are the best cookies in the history of the world. They are thick and huge and wonderful. And I slather them with butter cream icing.

These are Marian Davis's sour cream cookies. Marian Davis was my grandma's neighbor. She lived two doors down. And her sour cream cookies were not a trifle. She didn't just make them randomly. No. It was for special occasions. Easter. Halloween. And you had to be on the A List. Random neighborhood kids DID NOT GET SOUR CREAM COOKIES. No, just her granddaughters friends.

I was on the A list.

I usually only made them at Christmas. But we had a batch left in the freezer so we took it for a spin. Surprisingly, it was fine.

I once tried to ship these cookies to The Queen of Spain after she had surgery. But it was a tragic mess by the time they arrived. I learned that no matter what Martha Stewart says, soft iced cookies DO NOT SHIP WELL. Erin received an iced blob in the mail.

This is my secret cookie recipe. But, lately I consider sharing it. Because it seems wrong to horde the best cookies in the world when everyone should have them. I will ponder this further. And decide later.

Until then.

I had the best cookies in the world.

And you didn't.