Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Happy Thanksgiving!!!

So excited that I have managed my circumstance and am no longer a Thanksgiving holiday victim! You may recall my previous post when I described my grief that my in-laws don't celebrate the holidays with much festive fancy.

Well, the new and improve Moi has discovered a way to promote the holiday hurrah without being a Miss Fancy Pants over at the in-laws! I have decided that I will still attend the in-law's family dinner on Thanksgiving of course. Family is very important to me! And, I will offer to bring whatever blah-menu item from a can that my mother-in-law would like me to bring such as SPAM and crackers, canned cheese or canned ham or green bean casserole -whatever - I will be a good sport!

However, the evening before this Thursday family feast, I have invited some friends who are without families during the holidays. They are invited to join me and my family at 6:00 p.m. for dinner. I hope to have the formal dining hall room set for their arrival. I will even attempt at preparing a turkey along with other fancy trimmings. I am thinking perhaps of making some beautiful acorn squash, caesar salad, a roasted turkey, buttered corn, warm bread and maybe some oyster dressing, a recipe from my mother's father. Just brainstorming for now! Most of the joy I find in dinners like this is the planning and preparation!

I am looking online and through my magazines for crafty name plates that my kids can be making this afternoon! More than the new development that I get to make a family traditional meal this holiday,I am realizing the numerous gifts I have to be thankful this year:

- Thankful for all I have learning in my parenting this year. I have realized many things about my children. I have been fortunate to bond with my daughters in ways I have not been able to in the past years. I love being a mom who gets to stay home and I love the mom I have become just in the past year!

- Thankful for family both in our nuclei and my in-laws. Yes, I complain about them from time to time but overall they are a blessing to both me and especially my daughters! They also have had the opportunity to bond with them and they have developed a special relationship together!

- Thankful for my home. For God to bring us to this small town and place us in this home was one of my favorite gifts he has given me! I love my home. I am finally, after over a year of living here starting to take pride in decorating it and giving it our own personality.

- Thankful for my new experiences and relationships I have gained in the blogosphere! I have met some great friends and have read some personal stories, comments and tweets that have lift my spirits with ROFL (rolling on floor laughter), inspired and encouraged me. For this, I started a Thanksgiving tag although it might be too cheesy for anyone else to want to play. See previous post down below for the rules!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Tag

In preparing a list of what I am thankful for this week, I realized that there are many people online for whom I am grateful. These people have either inspired, encouraged, taught me something or just have brightened my day with their sense of humor. For this, I want to take a moment to give a shout out to them and to start a quick and easy game of Thanksgiving Tag! Here we go:

Time for me to show the Thanksgiving love so you know that my comments in previous tweets and posts weren't just 'e-lip' service. I am truly thankful for you because you have either made me laugh with your great sense of humor, inspired or encouraged me or taught me something I needed to know.

Copy this on your post, then tag those who you want to thank! And here is a list of my online tags. Retags are allowed!

Elizabeth Channels at Three Channels

Lilly at Lilly's Life

Lynn at Lynn Mosher

Hello Kitty Mama at Bon Bon Gazette

Tammy at Tammy Warren

Bonnie at Autism Family

Jenni Jiggety at Jiggety Jigg

Jen at Cheaper Than Therapy

Tag! Your it! Better tag your thanksgiving tags before Thanksgiving. If you miss the deadline, you will be a turkey! Gobble Gobble!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Scream-Free Home: Day 14

During my last therapy session two weeks ago, my counselor encouraged me to stop yelling at my kids. Reluctantly, I agreed to his challenge, with the help of some parenting strategies he suggested.

Please don't judge me, I was raised by a screaming mother and it seems that my yelling is as natural as breathing. Add on to my daughter's lack of attention and sensory issues, it is very difficult for her to pay attention and follow my instructions. After a gentle approach of a calm request like, "Sienna, come to the dinner table." She ignores me. Repeat this process three times and I default to screaming. I don't like to scream, although at times I admit it is a release of my frustration and the success factor is pretty good. Screaming is the only way I have been able to get any type of reaction from her. It is like it startles her out of a gaze and she finally does what was requested, instantly - out of fear.

It has been two weeks though since I have talked to my daughter about not screaming at her any more. She seemed glad, of course and so far, I have been doing a pretty good job.

What has helped me to do this new sans-screaming method? Here is a short list of the reasons I think my screaming has left the building. Perhaps they will be tips that may help you too!

1. Pediatrician put my daughter on medication for her ADHD. I saw instant results in her behavior! Since I have always wondered if I might also have ADHD, perhaps medication could also help me?
2. Doctor put me on medication. From the first day I started taking it, I felt like my thoughts were stronger, almost like they were being funneled together. I felt like I had some self control and I felt more confident like I could take on a new approach to parenting.
3. I went on a sugar-free diet. To read more about my post on my new diet, click here. No more extreme blood sugar highs and lows. I didn't do this solely for the self-control to stop screaming, however it has been an added benefit to my parenting technique!
4. I started taking a first aid kit in my purse at all times. It consisted of gum, Band-Aids, baby asprin and Tums. This helps when my daughter "freaks-out" over small boo-boos. From my perspective, her teeny tiny scratches are no big deal, somewhat ridiculous and her over reaction to them used to make me so upset. Once I realized that they were huge anxiety triggers for my daughter, I learned that these first aid items could calm her.
5. No more PDO's (Public Display Outbursts)! One thing that really caused a fire of rage in me was when she would throw a tantrum in public. I would hold it all inside and as soon as we were in private, I would scream and yell. I am now trying a new approach. As soon as I see she is starting to rev up for a tantrum, I remove her from the public eye. We go out side, in a hallway or into our van. This is supposed to dismantle her power and give the parent more control. So far, we haven't had to use this technique. But just knowing about the strategy gives me confidence that I will use it when the time comes.
5.1 I am learning to put zero value on public opinion. Also, one of the most difficult obstacles for me to overcome in parenting my children on the spectrum is to let go of the public opinion! I have lived a life of thinking about what others think of me. God helped me overcome this worry by allowing me to experience children on the autism spectrum. I am letting go of that worry. It takes a lot of energy that I just don't have any more! Again, don't judge me. But, if you choose to judge, then, oh well. Your judgement doesn't bother me as much as it used to!
6. Stop talking about it over and over. Just do it! Instead of telling her, nagging at her to clean her room over and over again. I just started to silently take her toys away that she was not taking care of. One evening, I had a large bag overflowing with her toys. She asked me what the bag was for. I replied that I was removing them from her room because she wasn't taking care of them. I told her that I was thinking about giving them to the thrift store so that some other child could play with them. I also spent four hours one day cleaning, organizing and purging her room for her. More about organizing an Aspie's bedroom in a later post...
7. Let her be late for school and face the consequences. She's gifted and in the first grade. She is able to get dressed, eat and leave for school on time. I shouldn't have to remind her over and over of what she needs to be doing minute by minute of every morning. I have made her morning charts zillions of times. Sometimes they work but most of the time she loses the charts and relies on my nagging and screaming to get her to school on time. But, by nagging at her every morning, I have become a mute nuisance to her ears. Realizing my growing level of frustration, I have relinquished the morning drill-sergeant role. I remind her gently from time to time throughout the morning now, but overall she knows that I will not get stressed out any more about if she is late. The other day, she tested this new approach and decided to hide under the couch. I finished making her lunch, walked by her telling her I was going upstairs to get dressed so I could walk her into the principal's office. When I came downstairs, in stealth mode, I pulled her from out from the couch, put her coat on and walked her across the street to school. We then walked into the principal's office and I told her to tell him why she was late. And that was that. No screaming. No mommie-dearest! She was tardy, she will learn not be tardy.

These strategies have helped me so much so far! Overall I realize that parenting is a work in progress. I am taking monumental steps in the right direction. There are sometimes when I slip and I start to scream. And then, I say aloud, "NO! I AM NOT GOING TO SCREAM ANYMORE!" I breathe deeply. I recall my new strategies and move forward, quietly and calmly. Slowly I am realizing that I have overcome a lot. I have broken the cycle from the past of screaming and I hope to have a home filled with peace, love and understanding. I have a hope that despite the way I was raised and despite the challenges that autism, ADHD and other sensory issues bring to a family, that I can still have a home of peace.

How about you? Do you scream at your kids? What are your triggers? How do you cope? Or, have you lost hope and just settle on being a Mommie Dearest?

Home for the Holidays

I am looking at my Williams-Sonoma catalog today and feeling sad. I am not sad because I can't afford these items. I've accepted that truth many moons ago. I am sad because I love to entertain. I mean I LOVE IT!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed baking, setting the table and making name place holders. I love it all from the planning to the execution when the guests all come into my home, take a deep breath in of the home-baked goodness in the air and enjoy each other's company. I envision the adults tossing their heads back and laughing genuinely at the conversations floating in the room while the children chase one another up and down the steps to our play room in the basement.

Although my own family is small and spread even thinner, I am delighted at the thought of living close to my husband's large family. His parents, still happily married, both sets of grandparents and all the cousins and nieces and nephews in between live within 20 minutes away. Those who don't, make it a holiday habit to make the drive nearby to be with family.

Last year, we moved into a home that I fell in love for a number of reasons but mostly for the possibilities to entertain. When family members came over for the first time to see our new home, I would share with them that I couldn't wait to have Thanksgiving here in this dining room and kitchen area! It was during those new home tours that I started picking up on some quirky mannerisms. For some odd reason, people are reluctant to want to come to our home for the holidays.

So reluctant in fact that last year, when I called and emailed everyone to come over, most everyone told me that they had other plans. Not wanting to choose paranoia, I decided to gracefully accept their decline to my invitation and plan for a Thanksgiving meal with just our nucleus family of four. The night before Thanksgiving, I was driving to the grocery store to buy our holiday trimmings when I got a call from Fred on my cell phone:

Honey, Katie and her family just called Great Grandma and they have all decided to come to town after all. They wanted to know if it would still be ok to have lunch with us, oh and by the way, can we make dinner instead? Oh... and Mom and Dad and my brother and his family will be coming too. So are the Hoover's. Is that ok?

OK? Well, of course it is! After all, I love entertaining, right? I just wish I had more time to enjoy the planning. I have a grocery list created for our family of four - not 24! And, I would have liked to have asked some of the family members to bring some side dishes. Not much time - or budget - to create everything in the next ten hours.

This year, I have tried putting my feelers out to inviting everyone over to our home again. However, it isn't well received. It seems that people just want to go to my mother-in-law's house. Why? She doesn't even like cooking or being a hostess. She has even suggested that we just come over for Thanksgiving on Friday instead of the actual holiday. What??? She doesn't understand or value tradition. Perhaps after years of the extended family showing up unannounced hours before dinner time, she has learned to be extra flexible. But come on! One year, we went to her house for Thanksgiving and she didn't even make anything! I think we ended up defrosting hamburgers from their garage freezer.

She's too laid back for my taste. And, maybe that is the problem, when people to come to my home, they see all that I have done to put into the meal and they are uncomfortable with all the fuss I make about things. I have learned to try to lay back on somethings. I have accepted that people do not like having assigned seating. So, I don't encourage my kids to make those cute artsy place cards that we love making. I have even realized that these people don't know how to sit down and pass dishes to the right. One meal I prepared, I placed the dishes onto the table and after prayer, people stood up with their plates and walked around the table to dish out their own food. That was quite an eye opener for me!
Our table place settings Pictures, Images and Photos

And, so, I adjust to my guest's needs. I think that being a good hostess is making your guests comfortable. Much to my secretly hidden chagrin, I now offer buffet style dining when the in-law family comes over for dinner. But still, I would like to teach my own children the traditions of passing food to the right, using the outer fork first, designing the perfect center pieces and learning the art of napkin folding! Those are all things that I have learned to love but will need to figure out how to carry these traditions on in spite of the clash of family values at meal time.

Just curious if any of you can relate to this? Do you have any suggestions on how I can keep the in-laws coming while still keeping my love to entertain?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Scarlet A for Autism

As I sat at the peditrician's waiting area, I saw a mother enter, her arms overflowing with a large child. She was probably about seven, my own daughter's age. By her posture and gestures you could immediately see she was severely handicapped. In an instant, I felt much remorse for the mother. Then, as she sat in the seat directly across from me, I saw an amazing interaction. With her warm gentle and strong hands, she embraced her daughter's face and they were nose to nose, giggling and playfully whispering to one another. I saw watched the daughter's face light up with pure bliss.

I wanted to stare in amazement at them. For in that moment I realized how immature and selfish I was. My daughter is seven and I am still in the early phases of acceptance. Accepting my daughter for who she is and where she is on the autism spectrum has been one of the most challenging endeavors I have experienced. Judge me all you want, I am just being honest. You see, autism affects her emotions and behaviors in a way that are socially unacceptable. It's like that saying goes, "Love the sinner, hate the sin." I love my daughter! I hate her behaviors. I have to learn to accept some of the behaviors some of the time. But that is always difficult. I haven't figured that part of the puzzle out yet. I think I am doing a pretty good job at it, maintaining my cool and taking it one day at a time. And as I gaze across the waiting room, I see that mother who has a child with so much need. Yet she is accepting and patient and full of grace and love for her child. I on the other hand am helpless and clueless most of the time, such a klutz about motherhood!

My daughter is able to keep it together most of the time. On most days she is a walking talking Hannah Montana. But, there are days and moments when she struggles and - uh oh - what just happened?

It is on days like today when my husband and I see the clear deficits in her. With her penguin-like waddle, hands and fingers flexed tightly, her eyes squinting, baby talking or talking like an otter or dinosaur, she tries so hard to "fit in" to her surroundings. I am not sure why today she was acting like this. Did something happen at school? I wonder, never knowing. And when she behaves like this, it is so opposite to her typical posture and behavior that sometimes I think she does this for attention. Then, this evening at 6:00 p.m., she had a hair appointment. Here is how that event happened:

5:50 Time to get shoes on and get in van to go to hair salon. Instead, Sienna gets in van barefoot, shoes in arm.
5:58 1-2-3 Magic WORKS miraculously and she puts shoes on and whines and fusses as we walk into the salon.
6:00 Sienna crawls under seats in waiting area. I hang coat up and try to over compensate for my daughter's behavior by smiling until my face hurt.
6:05 Hair dresser is looking and waiting. I write a note that reads: Daughter on autism spectrum. needs a few minutes to adjust. thanks.
6:10 Realizing that hair dresser will be needing to go home after this appointment, I firmly tell Sienna to stand up. I lift her up to her feet and push her feet forward, one foot at a time like they did on Weekend at Bernie's.
6:15 Lift Sienna onto salon chair and she screeches in terror when she sees that there is a booster seat. She refuses to sit in and tries to climb over the back of the salon chair. I quickly remove the booster seat and firmly place her down onto the salon seat.
6:20 Stylist offers her to choose which cape she wanted, Zebra or Purple Silk? Daughter, with chin forced downward, eyes rolled to her eyelids grunts at her. I am appalled. I want to apologize, pick her up like a baby and leave. But, we needed her to have her hair cut and we have made this appointment weeks ago. She pulls the cape from her neck, shakes it out and wraps it around her body tightly.
By 6:40 we were done. WHEW!!! I paid the hair dresser $12 for the haircut and added a $5 tip, although I felt like she earned more like a $50 tip!

After my daughter got home and went to bed, I was telling my husband all about the experience at the hair dressers along with what I witnessed from the pediatrician's office.

Why is it so hard being a mom to a high functioning daughter on the spectrum? I should be so thankful that she does so well most of the time. Why am I still struggling to accept my daughter's behavior?

I feel like I wear the Scarlet A on my chest. A for autism. I am so judged by others in this small town we just moved to. Other mothers don't want to be friends with me let alone have their children be friends with my daughter. The schools don't want to accept my daughter's deficits as a special need, instead they blame my parenting. Even our own family members judge our parenting and think we spoil our children and "if only we would let them play out side and exercise more..." some say to our faces!

Whenever I see parents with children in wheelchairs, I feel instant sadness for them. I would never judge them in fact I think of them as saints. I think about their inconveniences in their lives and how much they have lost because their children are so different. And then today, when I saw the beautiful laughter come from the mother and daughter at the pediatrician's office, I realize that they have learned to deal with their loss and have chosen to accept all of the beauty. I am trying to do this with our circumstance. Still new at it. But I want that special bond with my daughters. I am going to have to work hard at it.

I bear this scarlet A on my chest. My name starts with the letter A and I like the color red. So there! I will just have to look at life differently. If you don't like me because of this A, then you don't get the privilege of knowing how mysterious and wonderful life on the spectrum is for our family!

Monday, November 17, 2008

21st Day of a Sugar Free Diet

Ckookie monster Pictures, Images and Photos Three weeks ago, I started saying NO to white, processed sugar and foods pre-sweetened artificially with sugar. So far, I am not ready to completely cut other carbs such as fruits and starches, nor am I denying artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Sweet-n-Low. The way I see it, I am not on a path to die from Splenda. But if I don't change my ways, I will be on a fast track to death or diabetes by eating sugar for sure.

If you have read previous posts, you will have found that I have a life long eating disorder. Counting calories only makes me obsessive. I struggle to lose weight so that I can be healthy. I have made monumental changes in my life so that I can focus on self-care through eating healthy and exercise. Since making those changes over a year ago, I have been on a rather intense exercise regime and have tried restricting my food intake without being on a formal diet of one kind or another. However, after a year and a half, I have lost zero pounds- ZERO, ZILCH, NIL, much to my chagrin.

Realizing that sugar is only a friend to the egregious amounts of triglycerides, I've decided to make every attempt to make them both go away. Here is a quick review of my sugar free journey:

Day One "There's a tear in my beer."
Well, not beer in the morning, but I am crying over my coffee. Sadly, one of my top three favorite things is my cup of morning coffee. It is dear to me and I have enjoyed its rich, robust, creamy deliciousness for two decades. Today, my darling husband brings me a cup of Joe, sweetened with Splenda. Oh, I will miss you coffee with cream and sugar!

Day Two Withdrawal Symptom: Migraine
Achy and irritable, I realize that I am having sugar withdrawal. I also am feeling very hungry. I wrote this post just for fun and from the passion, love and lust I had for the powdery glistening poison. I also start telling every one I know about what I am doing and tweeting about it because I am obviously obsessed with my loss.

Day Three Encouraging Comments
Amazed at the support from Twitterville to the Blogosphere, I feel like I have some accountability if not just an outlet for my obsession. My Aussie friend, Lilly from Lilly's Life made this comment to me:

"I think we have to convince ourselves that sugar is poison. What I never get is I treat my car better than I treat myself and there is no way I would put sugar in my car. I mean logically it does about as much damage to us as it would to our cars... Tomorrow is another day! Its poison ok?"

Day Seven Excuses Excuses!
I cheated! But, the dog who ate my homework made me do it. No seriously I did eat sweets out of forgetfulness and old habits. See, we were taking a family road trip and we went through a drive through for a mid-drive ice cream treat. Husband ordered a round of ice cream cones and I of course did not think twice about it. I was licking my third or fourth bite when I realized that I wasn't supposed to be eating sugar. I decided to just laugh it off and enjoy the rest of the cone. I also caught myself taking a bite of the family-shared cheesecake after dinner that night. Oops. Not going to beat myself up over it! Little did I know....

Day Eight Detox. Again.
Ouch. Headache, body ache, stomachache all came back for a revisit. Must detoxify - AGAIN.

Day Ten I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone
Feeling ecstatic, almost euphoric. Have more energy and can organize my thoughts better. Decided to vacuum just because one day! Not needing naps in the mid-afternoon. I love this new found freedom from the sugar cravings!

Day Eleven I Like to Move It Move It.
Bowels are in full swing again. Not sure if it is because I am starting to try to fill myself with more healthier foods that are fibrous or if my body is just more relaxed and not trying to "put out the sugar fires" in my system. I start having more relaxed and healthy bowel movements.

Today is Day 21 of my Sugar Free Diet.
I have more energy, more confidence, more clarity. And with these new benefits, I am finding that it is easier to make healthier foods for my meals and snacks. I take the time to do self-care. For example, one day for lunch, I actually made myself an omelet with swiss, ham, tomatoes and asparagus. I am enjoying my foods more now that I don't crave sweets any more. I also am in touch with hunger and fullness, a sensation that took the back seat while my sugar and sweet cravings dominated my stomach.

I think the level of exercise doesn't have to be as intense as I was doing before. Now, I have been enjoying my wiiFit for less than 30 minutes and I feel the benefits. When I was mixing sugar with my previous exercise, I felt like I needed to run two or three miles before my body would respond in a fat burning manner. Most of this is total speculation, but I do feel like my body is running better than it did when I ate sugar from my morning coffee and cereal, to my afternoon chocolate fix to desserts with dinner and my night time chocolate obsession.

Even greater news is that I have lost seven pounds. Because of this weight loss, I now have more hope that I may have found a diet that works for my body better.

To be continued...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How to Grieve

When my mother passed away, I remember many people telling me that I needed to grieve.

Grieve? I didn't know how to do that. And, for the first time ever, Google wasn't able to help me.

Someone bought me a book from Hallmark about grieving. Maybe that helped a little. I bought a CD from a Christian book store that was supposed to help too. It did a little.

How did these things help?

Do you ever have times in your life when you just need to cry? You may recall one of the shows on Everyone Loves Raymond when Deborah needed Ray to leave the house so she could just sit and cry. Here is a clip from that episode >>>

raymond romano Pictures, Images and Photos

Everyone has their own repertoire of memories that can make them laugh or cry. Grieving is taking the time to revisit those memories, the good ones and the bad ones. Grieving is lonely and it's personal. There might be times when you are able to share stories about your loss with others. But, many times, those interactions are shaded by worry that you might offend someone else who is also experiencing loss.

It has been almost two years since my mom passed away. In the beginning, the pain was fierce. My heart physically was in pain as I tried to purge the loss. But grieving isn't only about the pain, it's also about renewal, turning a new chapter in your life. And, as you try to sift through the strong emotions you hope that guilt doesn't get the best of you and your memories. There are days when your life seems normal again, and then, there are days when you can hardly put one foot in front of the other.

I write about grieving today because I am scared right now. My Great Aunt Midge passed away two weeks ago. She was very sick and had been living alone for many many years. I had a special relationship with her, but in the past two years or so have moved away and have not been able to be there for her. When I moved away, I remember starting to grieve Aunt Midge. I knew in my heart that our holidays would not be the same and that I would disappoint her with my limited visits. She had been sick for a few weeks. We did drive up to see her, and the time we shared with her was very special. I wish I had a last visit with my mother before she had passed away.

Today, my darling husband is on his way back from her apartment where he moved out all of her furniture. He should be home any minute and I am terrified of his arrival. I am scared to grieve yet I know it is necessary.

Taking it one day at a time,
Life of a Juggernaut.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We Need Change

I have been thinking a lot about the health of our society. And, realizing my own personal experiences dealing with the corporate world, I have come up with my own reasons why I think our country is in such a crisis mode. We need a culture shift and things must get worst before they will ever be better. In fact, I want to express my view here because I am concerned that we are putting too much hope on our upcoming president. There was a comment that I overheard when I was in Chicago last weekend. I shared it, midway down on a previous post. We have blamed all of our problems on others and not taken the responsibility that is required for true change to happen.

Here is my perspective on today's culture and society's problems:

1. Corporate Generation Clash On Technology.
The seasoned professionals who back in their time stayed with the aged old Fortune 500 companies and worked hard to climb the ladder to their C-level positions do not understand technology and how it is altering the way people think, purchase, utilize and communicate. No only are they no longer able to make products and services designed for today's society, they are no longer able to work within their own companies to get things done effectively and efficiently. The corporate leaders are not leading effectively because they do not know how, so they use smoke and mirrors and rely on marketing tactics to make a quick dollar, to fatten the books for the short term quarterly end. These old companies have gotten fat and it is time to let them dissolve. Do not bail them out any more. Allow room for the innovative, savvy, forward thinking leaders to emerge and recreate what the consumers need. Allow these new leaders to rise and let the older generation rest in peace.

2. Short Term Vision.
Corporations are more focused on the short term profit margins. They are more attentive to reaching the goals as stated in their own individual contracts than they are on the longevity of the company. There is no more loyalty to the company and no more loyalty to the person. Before the mass corporate layoffs, people thought about the corporation. After the layoffs, people now have an individual mindset. Born now is the entitled employee who is challenged only for a short term. Corporations have lost their hearts for the human. The see numbers and bottom lines. They have lost sight of the passion and the blood, sweat and tears that go into creating products and services for the consumer. They would rather cut jobs and their very own hands that feed their employees in order to save dollars by hiring contractors and cheaper labor overseas.

3. Consumers Only Value Quick-n-Cheap Deals.
We as consumers have also allowed the bottom line to dictate where we shop and what we buy. We buy the cheapest, even if it costs jobs, integrity, quality, dignity, local spirit, overall tangible pride in the small town personal entrepreneurship. We'd rather shop at Wal-Mart because its easier and cheaper. We'd rather feed our children foods that are high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors than take the time to make clean our own fruits and vegetables. Its easier to pack a juice box in our kid's lunches than have to rewash dishes. Who cares about the health of our bodies and earth?

4. Photoshop It All!
Image is not everything. Hollywood stars are paint brushed. Banana flavored taffy doesn't even taste like bananas. And why must they put food coloring in bread? They even bleach sugar. We live in a superficial world. Until we retrain our minds and bodies to love true, natural beauty that is found in the human race and in the nutrition and foods we digest, we will not be a satisfied society. Image is only emptiness. Image is not everything. Image alone is flat at best, flat-lined and lifeless. We need to learn to be real again.

5. Social Studies: Unstudied.
Since the signing of the Patriot Act, I am starting to learn more about how all US citizens are at risk of losing our freedoms. The executive branch now has the right to access our personal and private information without the permission from the judicial or legislative branches of our government. Our country's strength and freedom has stemmed from the checks and balance system that our forefathers developed in the constitution. Without the perfect check and balance system, power is given over to one head of the government. This power can be misused and could eventually leave the individual citizen without his or her constitutional rights. Keep a close eye on your liberties and stand for your freedoms. Don't be spoon-fed by what the talking-heads and advertisers of the largest networks want you to digest.

There are more flaws in the facets of today's culture. They say you can see the true character of a man when he is being tested with challenges. Our country has been radically challenged in the recent years from calamities of one kind or another: 9/11 terrorist attacks of monstrous proportions, hurricanes and homes being foreclosed by the masses. The character of our country is hurting. The healthcare, economy, education are only vital signs that show that our country is in crisis and we need change. Serious change and we need it now.

It is unfair to think that our next president will be able to do this all on his own. We are our country. And, as a country, we need to recognize our own responsibilities. We need to open our eyes and reevaluate the health of our own value system for the sake of our entire country. In this, we can have the change that we need, we can experience good change, for a change.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tagged in a Meme About High School

OK, so first of all, if I were actually tagged back in High School, I would totally roll my eyes and say, "Yeah, I will play along... NOT."

But, after years of maturity, and cases and cases of this , I have decided to play along. I was one of those cheerleaders by day and by night, I would sneak out the back basement door and "party hearty." Speaking of the good ol days, do you remember Ricky Schroeder from Silver Spoons when he pulled his shades down onto his nose and said, "Party.... hearty?" Just wondering, I loved that when he did that. Oops, I digress...

So, now, as a mother and a born-again Christian for over 12 years I do not want to defame my family name by sharing about my scandalous teenage years. However, I might share, just a teeny tiny bit because Elizabeth Channels at Three Channels has just tagged me with this High School Meme and she is my BFF! I wish I knew her in HS because even though she was in the band, I would have totally been her friend despite sticking to the status quo-ooh-ooh-oha! (song from HMS2, duh!)

1. Cars.
I totaled six cars before I turned 17. At age 17, either my insurance or my parents decided to end my driving record of totaled cars and I was forced to mooch rides from my folks or friends. So, maybe they weren't totally totaled, but I was always ready for something better. Really though, none were my fault! Seriously! Whatever. This is part of my Cars story:
Car 1: Black Pinto with Moon Roof. This was my grandmother's car. She passed away and wanted me to have it. I thought it was cool because of the sun roof. It had a bun-gee cord in the back to hold the bumper on. All the other body parts and engine pieces just sort of fell apart like a Pinto should.
Car 2: This was a Yellow Nova. A real Granny Gopher. Ah, gag! My dad got it for me because he thought it was cool. He would tell me how fast it would go. I was not impressed at the speed, I was a girl, duh. I wanted a sun roof, a radio, and I wanted it in black, Daddy! For whatever reason, my dad ended up selling this, getting rid of it for some reason, maybe my manipulation worked back then... I don't even remember because I was "oned-stay" most of the time. Years later, when the song came out, "On a super yellow nova in the sky" I would wish for it to come back. But, it never did.
Car 3: White Cougar. Don't remember exactly what happened to this one either... I think I got in a wreck. There was one time when I slipped on ice on the way to school one morning. I wrecked. One other time when I tried passing a slow Sunday driver on a double yellow line. An oncoming car was coming so my friend in the passenger seat grabbed my wheel and we spun around and around wrapping our car on a telephone pole on the other side of the street. Then there was the wreck that caused a law suit. I was pulling out backwards from a parking space in a parking lot and a car flew by and took my bumper off. They tried to sue us for all kinds of things, including the driver's "inability to perform wifely duties." Whatever. I don't think the insurance allowed it to go on for too long. I just remember talking with some attorneys and then learning that the case was closed.
Car 4: White two door EXP. So cute. I loved this one. It was so sporty. I remember riding with some girlfriends over to the college at the next town over. Cruising for boys, I turned a corner too closely. We were listening to "Play that Funky Music White Boy" and POP! I got a blow out. No big deal. I got out the spare tire and fixed it all while looking cute in my mini skirt.
Car 5: This car was not mine, but I did ruin it. It was my dad's pale yellow, two door Cadillac. Somehow, my dad fell for my manipulation again and let me drive it. My "friend" left his cigarette burning on the floor. I didn't realize it until riding in the back seat one day with my dad! Whoops!
Car 6: Another Cadillac misfortune! This one was long and brown. I called it, "The Turd." (Note to reader: I am so ashamed of my teen age behavior. I think I suffered with Oppositional Defiance Disorder back then, I was a terrible teen!!!) Anyway, it was a hot summer day, I didn't even have my driver's license yet so this car list isn't even in order, ok? So, I needed to get the mower out from the garage. In order to do that, the Turd needed to be moved. I opened the long brown plush door, put the key in, tilted the mirror to see how cute I was, turned the radio to a cool rock out station. Random.... Is that Freedom Rock? Well then Turn It Up! and turned the volume way up. As I threw the gear into reverse and I backed out onto the driveway, I heard a creak. OOPS! I forgot to close the door. The door bent back so far that the automatic windows never worked the same again.

OK. So, enough about CARS. BORING!
Here are a few other funny moments engraved on my historic High School wall!

2. Tractors.
In the middle of my 9th grade, I moved from Cincinnati to a rural small midwestern town to live with my dad and his family. It was in March and as I remember getting off the school bus on my first day, I saw the entire front lawn filled with large green John Deer tractors. I was a city girl at heart, and it was Tractor Day at my new school. Oh my!

3. First Boyfriend.
The first boy friend of mine was Troy. He was very cute and a senior! Little did I know that he just broke up with Robin, the devil worshipper senior. After she threw eggs from home ec at me while I was at my locker, I decided that I didn't need to go out with Troy afterall. In fact, in Geography, she slammed her swatchika-tattooed hand down on my desk to give me a note. The note read something about her chasing me down and sacrificing me into a fire at the next full moon. Terrified, I told my parents and my step-mom came to school the next day to yell at her.

4. Diets.
I lost a lot of weight when I decided to leave during lunch break and smoke cigarettes instead of eat. I also took some speed every day that I could purchase from the gas station. It made me very irritable but the good news was I lost a couple of pounds! I was still the base of the cheerleading pyramid though.

5. Jobby Job.
My first job other than working a paper route and babysitting was at McDonald's. I couldn't wait to start working so I could have my own freedom to buy clothes! I started out cleaning the lobby and bath rooms, then moved up to a fry girl. Eventually, I worked the drive-through. Once, when Tia, my high school nemesis placed her order at the drive-through, she ordered a large Sprite, but I gave her soda water. Oh yeah.

6. Ever Clear.
The first time I really got drunk in high school, we were drinking Mr. Misty's from Dairy Queen. We added Ever Clear, the strong grain alcohol. It actually MELTED the wax from the cup and bright cherry red Mr. Misty got all over our clothes. It wasn't one of my dad's caddy's though thankfully! Especially since I remember someone puking that night all over the side of the car.

And that's all I am at liberty to share with you at this time. I was a crazed rebellious teen just looking for fun and love in all the wrong places. I am so thankful that God had a plan for me and it was to know Him and to go to college and meet my Fred! Whew! So many close calls with the law and with death that there is no doubt that God was guiding and protecting me even though I was turning the opposite direction for so many years!

OK, now the fun part. I get to tag some of my blogging friends, right? Sort of new to this so I am not sure if these bloggers would consider me a friend but nevertheless, I think they are cool and so I am going to tag them... Here we go...

Lilly at Lilly's Life

Jenni Jiggety at Jiggety Jigg

Tammy at Tammy Warren

LONESTAR818 at Everyday Adventures

Tara at Feels Like Home

Jen at Cheaper Than Therapy

April at April's Little Family

You're it!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chicago Fairy Tale: The Good and the Bad

On Friday, Fred was a presenter at a conference in Chicago so the girls and I tagged along with him. We thought it would be fun to have a girl's outing in the big city and so off we went!

The one-night stay was a perfect revelation on why we had to make the decision to no longer call Chicago our home and move away last year. I was reminded of why I loved it and yet, why I also hated it.

First things first. This is why I loved it!

Girls are up and ready to go!

Let's go to the 95th floor of the Hancock building and use the ladies room!

On the elevator, sitting on the floor, chewing gum, "Going Up!"

Then, a table for three at the Cheesecake Factory. "We'll take some cheesecake home to Daddy for later. Now, let's go see Madagascar II"

"Taxi!?!" Sarah's first ride in a cab. Girls gone wild, windows rolled down, screaming hello to every pedestrian and cross guard in the street.

We watched Madagascar II in the front row of the theater, walked about a mile back to our hotel in the brisk cold evening. We oo'd and awed at the Coach bags and fancy shoes in the store windows. Sienna wanted to know where the faces and heads of the women in the windows were. I told her, "They're mannequins."

She'd say, "No. They're women-iquins." We stopped to pet a horse. The horse tried eating her leopard coat. She screamed, we laughed. She took her coat off because she said it had horse slobber on it. We ran briskly to our warm hotel room. We got ready for a slumber party, Daddy came back from his conference. We snuggled while sharing the cheesecake and we...

kung fu panda Pictures, Images and Photos
... watched pay per view, "Kung Fu Panda," more like Kung FUN Panda. He's so cute when he says "dumplings" and "noodles."

Then, after a night of slumber, we woke up. Walked to a pancake joint just up the street if I remembered correctly. But I didn't remember correctly because it was 12 blocks away! We still walked there and Fred forgot his coat so he was freezing!!! We shared a dutch baby pancake and other yummy breakfast food, grabbed a couple of balloons and headed back to our hotel room, walking running and rushing trying to find shelter from the wind blasts blowing from the tsunami lake effect wind along the Magnificent Mile. We went through the rotating door and the girls took turns pressing the elevator buttons up to our room. We settled into our hotel room for the morning and waited for the shops and Navy Pier to open in a couple of hours.

I found myself staring and adoring the art and design elements of the metro styled interior of our hotel room.
Artwork on the wall.
More Artwork on the wall.
Design on the pillows - which I hope to 'refabricate' when I get home!

And, there is artwork that Sienna created.
Clearly, this is a butterfly resting inside a butterfly house. As soon as we plopped down, I was ready to relax for a little while. My seven year old had another mission. She asked for a Sharpie so she could draw faces on the balloons. No Sharpie, how about tape? Stapler? Glue? Crayons?

After I searched through my purse like Mary Poppins, I pulled out fantastic chewing gum wrappers. I imagined Sienna would be so thrilled to design some origami, but she looked like I just pulled a booger out of my purse, her lip curled up and her eyes rolled in the back of her head. I told her that was the best I had. Minutes later, she showed me the butterfly artwork that she created out of bathroom paper items. Inspiring.

(How come she can work on this, with zero assistance but cannot do simple things like her easy homework or brush her teeth?)

Now, this would have been the best time to drive home. Right about at this moment, we make a serious pivotal point from happiness to disaster in our journey in the city...

We then check out, go through the revolving door (I love this act just as much as my girls do! Don't ask me why, I am a city girl I guess!), hop in another cab, walk into the Navy Pier. Instantly, I hear grumbling and whining and arguing and I start nagging and people start glaring! Oh joy.

I get eye level, tell the girls that if they are both very good during this fun adventure, I will buy them the mood rings that they are oodling over right before we leave. It will help us to remember what a fun time we had. But, if they argue or whine any more, then, no ring.

We then tried to find the elevator up to the Children's Museum but got distracted by all the shops that glimmered in my eyes like jewels in a treasure chest!
anime heart eyes Pictures, Images and Photos
I love shops.

We ventured into Build-a-Bear shop and even I was on sensory overload. Their florescent lights hummed and, in pure Dr. Suess style, I would describe the experience like this:
"The lights zimmer-zammered and bizzer-bammed in my ears."

Then this happened:
Tornado Lightning together Pictures, Images and Photos
Sienna threw a tantrum in tsunami proportions.

She screamed at me, told me she was hungry. We bee-lined it to Mc'Ds. I stood in line, four people back and made sure the girls were both within eye-shot. With one eye on Sienna and the other eye on Sarah, cross-eyed I paid the lady, took a deep breath and waited for our tray of fat and carbs. Then, I lost sight of Sarah as she ran faster than a bolt of lightening to the other side of the food court so she could take shelter under the high chairs. I left my tray at the counter. As I wrestled our coats, shopping bags and stroller and tried to navigate through the crowds, I lost total sight of Sarah. I panicked and started calling out for her. I then could not find Sienna either. Imagine the chaos. All I could see were people staring at me. The room swirled around me and I felt like I was in a sinus commercial, everything went fuzzy. I was seconds close to calling for this:
Amber Alert Hellas Pictures, Images and Photos
When I tried asking for some help from some of the ladies working at McD's I realized that the only English they knew were Big Mac and Diet Coke. As they looked at me puzzled, from afar running out of the food court I spotted little Sienna in a rampant escape! I caught up with her, picked up the 40 pound 2 year old. Her back arched tight and stiff like a femaldahide-injected banana.

Then noticed big sis Sienna was hiding and crying nearby all the while trying to keep tabs on her little sister. I tried to ask big sis to get the tray but by the first word I muttered towards her, she shook with fear (in an autism coma as I call it) and I could tell she was not able to communicate with me. With my weak arms full of stiff banana toddler, stroller overflowing with coats, I knew I could not manage retrieving the tray. I considered leaving the tray at the counter and walking outside with both girls towards Indiana. But, I tried a more challenging approach and asked several ladies behind the McD counter to help me with my tray. I finally was able to get one lady, an African American to help me with the tray and bring it to the first booth I could find. We plumbed down, dumped our coats as the stroller fell to the floor, backwards as if to mimic my own exhaustion.

I overheard an African American gentleman mutter to the nice lady who brought us our tray of food as she put it on the table, "After Obama is president, we won't be required to do things like that anymore. Right on?" They both laughed. Although, I found no humor in their banter.

A deep breathe and a cold-fish-filet-chased-down-by-a-Diet-Coke-moment later, we relaxed in our booth. Sarah fell asleep in her stroller, now upright - symbolizing the next few minutes that awaited before us. We then, took a walk outside in the quiet coldness of the pier. Sienna, on her own terms, clutched onto my arm, fearful yet safe by her mother's side. In an attempt to absorb this moment of sheer sanity, I admired the stoic skyline. Frozen from the wind and the current stark reality, in my head I played dot-to-dot as I traced all of the positions that my career moved me from company to company and building to building through the chapters of my life:

Chicago Pictures, Images and Photos
Historic moments in my life, historic and memorable, the good and the bad. Mostly good though.

The cold air blew us indoors, we found the elevator up to the museum and paid the $4000 for admission. Sienna played and hopped from one exhibit to the next. I tried to keep Sarah resting in her stroller. Minutes later however, when she woke up, she threw an hour long tantrum. We could have started our own exhibit and called it, "Sensory Overload." With the many people watching, I could have charged admission for the freak show. The Nature Channel's narrator would whisper, "Watch as the angry mother tries to chase her wandering arm-flapping off spring... Now, what are they doing? Oh, the child is licking the floor. Why doesn't that mother do something to protect her child from the infestations of germs and infections?"

Ignoring the assumptions and judgments from the metropolitan peanut gallery, I finally forced a rain coat on her flapping and slapping arms so she could play in the water exhibit. Seconds later she realized that I was not that awful after all:
After playing with water for two hours, seriously, both girls played for two hours...

I encouraged them to try to see the other parts of the museum. They did, although, I was not the graceful mother I wanted to be. Every transition from one exhibit to another was a major feat. I wanted to be like that mother over there... the one with the tight size 4 jeans, sexy boots, turtle neck and metro beret cap, the one with four obedient children AND their play dates all going when she requested in a calm voice. The same mom who had the perfect stroller that could turn on a dime and looked like she just came fresh faced from the Sephora counter. I wanted to be a mom like this:
she hot Pictures, Images and Photos

Instead, I was more like this mom:
... a sweating screaming tired psycho-mom who just wanted her girls to have a good time, damnit.

As my cell phone rang, I was wishing it was Fred telling me his conference got out early and he was on his way to pick us up. Instead, it was Fred just checking in. I gave him the Cliff-note version of our experience and he told me he would come pick us up in an hour.

painting pumpkin carriage Pictures, Images and Photos
Apparently, the fairy god mother forgot to tell us we needed to leave the city before the strike of ten or else everything would turn into a pumpkin.

And that by the three o'clock hour, the glass slippers shoes would be kicked off and fly around the museum, and the pumpkins would be more like this:

But luckily, our Prince Charming Daddy arrived right out front, drove us out of the windy city, bought us ice cream and...
... we all lived happily ever after.

The End. To Be Continued...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Songwriter in Me

Lately I have been moved to write in a style of poetry form on my blogs. Not sure why. Today, I was reminded of a song that made up several years ago. The melody and the words to this song came to me instantly. This happened while I was driving, about six months before I became a born again Christian.

Janis Joplin Pictures, Images and Photos

So, here ya go... This is how I picture it: I imagine me, sitting on a bar stool, looking hot in a cow girl hat, long golden hair, tight, skinny Levis - kindof like Sheryl Crow, but only more blonde. Skin vibrant, sun kissed. Playing the guitar and singing to a large bar crowd. (Note: I do not play the guitar or perform or wear skinny jeans or have sun kissed skin - just a vision, my vision - of me - sort of humorous actually! No, very humorous!!!)

I say to the crowd in the mic as I clear my throat, "Here's a little song that came to me when I was driving one day..." And then, I start to sing, in a raspy Janis Joplin voice:

I'm on a lonely road
Ain't got no one to hold me.
No one to share this beautiful scenery with.
I ain't complainin'. I'm just hoping, even prayin', contemplatin'.

I've been through busy cities
Drove by empty fields
Over hills and a-round the bends and
I ain't complainin' I ain't complainin Lord but when will this road
Lonely lonely road, when will this road ever end?

I've seen the truckers truckin,
And the hitchhikers hitchin'
Road workers workin
I'm so tired of flirtin'
Oh won't you tell me, Lord won't you tell me-
When will this road, lonely lonely road,
When will this road ever end?

(Tee hee hee. Husband reading this post as I type. He's totally laughing at me. And, he's heard me sing this song so many times, he has it memorized! I think he might be turned on a little... "No, honey? You're not?")

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Aunt Midge Passes Away, Age 98

My Great Aunt Midge passed away last night, six minutes past midnight at the age of 98. Pictured here is a photo of my first daughter, being dedicated six years ago with my Great Aunt Midge, my two uncles and me on Mother's Day. Aunt Midge did not have any children and last week when Fred and I visited her in the hospital, she told us that children are so important. How sad that she did not get to experience the joys and triumphs of motherhood. What a blessing though that she was able to be a mother figure to me and to my oldest daughter, Sienna in the last few years.

I have always had a special place in my heart for my Great Aunt Midge. I loved hearing stories about how she and my grandmother, Naomi would get along or not get along which was more likely. They were very alike in many ways. My husband, Fred can remember visiting my grandmother Naomi, she would always offer us a Diet Rite. Years later, we would visit Aunt Midge in her apartment in Oak Park and she would also offer us Diet Rite. Interestingly, we once had Thanksgiving at my cousin Stephen's when he lived on Lake Shore Drive, guess what he offered us to drink?! Yes, Diet Rite - it must have run in the family! Another drink that we enjoyed with Aunt Midge on occasion was sherry.

We'd sit in her gorgeous green apartment in Oak Park, burning up from the radiator heat - although she always complained her apartment was cold - and sip sherry together. We once took a drive to her birthplace in downstate and met with a genealogist there. I recall the genealogist sharing news articles with us about a relative who had been shot in Chicago from a lover's quarrel. I also think I remember hearing something about our family settling down in Kentucky and starting a Baptist Church. Midge, of course did not want to have those parts of history be part of her lineage, so she dismissed much of that information as scandalous nonsense. It was somewhat surreal to uncover our Davidison genealogy with Midge!

Another special bonding time we shared together was on my wedding. I hosted a bridal tea party at the Drake. I have a picture framed on my dresser of Midge and I on this special day. She looks so proud to be at the Drake, right where she belonged all along but would never feel important or special enough to go on her own. Whenever I see classy tea settings or old Asian style home decor, I am reminded of Midge. She was classy and had the best taste!

And she loved to shop! I have a funny memory of taking her shopping to the mall a few years ago. We borrowed Marshall Field's wheelchair while we shopped. And, boy, did we shop till we dropped! She tired me out! We needed some lunch and as we were headed off to the food court, the door alarm went off. I assumed it wasn't us since I didn't think Midge was a shoplifter and onward I pushed her down the mall pavement towards the food court. It wasn't until we returned to Marshall Field's an hour later that I realized we were considered wheel chair thefts! Apparently, we weren't supposed to take the wheel chairs out of the store!

I guess you could say that I owe my relationship and marriage to Fred to Midge. All through college we dated and would visit Midge from time to time. When she moved to Oak Park, I had graduated from college and moved to Chicago shortly after while Fred stayed in school to finish one more year. I thought I was all that and a bag of chips, working at an architectural firm in the Loop. So, I broke up with my boyfriend from college. Until, the one day, I was talking to Midge and she asked about Fred. I told her that we had broken up. She told me, "Well, I don't know what you are thinking. There are a lot more girls prettier, thinner and younger than you are down there at that school of his." Insecurely, I picked up the phone to 'reconnect' with him and we ended up getting back together and marrying within six months!

It was so typical of Midge to tell me that there were girls prettier, thinner and younger than me. She would put me down many times for my weight and I always felt like a rag muffin around her. For some reason though, she was family and because I was used to this treatment from my family, I stayed around. I kept visiting her and taking the verbal abuse. I also forgave her constantly, understanding her value system and its high regard to appearances and thinness in the social world. This was a trait I had also inherited but have worked hard to suppress it and purge it from our family value system so that my own girls know in their heart they are loved and accepted, in hopes they won't struggle with outward appearances and the need to perform socially.

As I became a mother of two highly spirited children and my life became more busy, I slowly spent less and less time with Aunt Midge. In hopes to share my children with the eldest of our family heritage, and to make sure Midge knew she was loved by us, I would make every attempt to include her with our holiday celebrations. As I started to respect myself more, she started to too. She became more forgiving of our lessened visits and more caring to me and my family. We spent most of our time together commenting about our memories together.

And, I am fortunate to have many memories with Aunt Midge. She had a spunk about her that I hope to have well into my 70's let alone, late 90's! She always did look good, classy. As her passing marks the last of her generation in our family, I step up in my own lineage to be the woman I want to be when I get older. I have learned from both her mistakes and her beauty and zest and I am grateful forever for the hardships and blessings her life impressed on me and my daughters. My memories of her will last for a long time. I hope my daughters will remember her and the fun we had together as we all turn a page into the next phase of our heritage.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

There's a Weird Monster in the Pool

I can remember the first time I noticed my daughter being bullied and teased. She was five years old and she had autism, although I didn't know at the time.

We were taking a mini family vacation, staying in a hotel with a pool. Her younger sister was just beginning to walk and I was enjoying being a mom holding my one year old in the water with me playing motor boat with her. The sun was warm and its glare was somewhat blinding. Although not blinding enough for me to see my daughter, Sienna playing monster with the other kids in the shallow end. I was watching like an eagle and wanted to dip down, pick her up and protect her from the mean things the other children were saying to her and about her. I am not sure if she even noticed.

Sienna had blonde curls that perked up from the splashing waters. Her expressive blue eyes, round as saucers could tell a stories without her muttering a word. Strangers would often tell us how beautiful she was when we were out shopping or at the park. That is, when she wasn't throwing a tantrum of course! There she was, enjoying the summer day in the clean hotel pool. She was splashing around all snug in the inter-tube she called "Dragon."

And she was pretending to be a dragon too. She would hiss, growl, show her bare teeth towards all the other kids while they would run away from her, screaming. One little girl ran towards the small group of moms while we were all holding our babies together talking about how well our baby naps and eats. I heard her tell her mom, "That girl is so weird. She is like a monster!"

I couldn't detect if the girl was afraid or disgusted towards my little girl, but one thing was sure, I was in shock. I didn't know what to do, so I froze. I froze and I watched more closely. Sienna would swim towards a kid, put on a a mean monster stare and growl at him. The little boy didn't know if he should laugh or be scared but wanting to play along he let Sienna chase him. And, Sienna would chase him along with all the other kids in the pool. Holding her hands up, claws out as if to attack, she would run around the shallow end acting like a monster.

In attempt to help Sienna play with the other kids, I gave Sienna pool toys, flippers, balls, little sinking things. All ignored. Trying to distract her, I asked Sienna if she met any new friends. She would just growl at me in hopes I would keep playing monster with her. It was hard to get her out of the monster mode. I tried another approach, I tried sharing the toys with the other kids. I asked if anyone wanted to swim under the water and get the sinking pegs. They would. They would try to be competitive with one another. The same little girl who ran to her mommy earlier asked me what was wrong with my daughter.

Not knowing what to say, I said, "She just likes to pretend a lot. Don't you pretend?"

The little girl said, "Yes, but I think she is weird and she scares me."

Angered and saddened, I decided to get out of the pool. I continued to watch Sienna try to play with the other kids. I watched how the other kids would all get together and bond while making fun of Sienna. They would laugh at her and antagonize her just to watch her chase them.

"Time to go Sienna. Let's get out of the pool, honey."

It was a month after the mini vacation when I took her in to her pediatrician. She would be starting Kindergarden soon and she needed updated medical records. The entire time during the visit, she barked and pretended to be like a dog, albeit, a nice, gentle, loving dog. The doctor came in and I am not sure how the conversation got to the point for the doctor to use the "A" word with me but I will never forget her saying, "There is no doubt in my mind that your daughter has autism." That was July 2, 2007.

This post was motivated by a topic from a blog of a friend of mine. Please visit hellokittiemama at autismsucksrocks.com where she has written a post titled, "Hey Bully, You Suck!"

Sugar: I love you I hate you

Sugar, I love you.
Sugar, I hate you.

You trick me into thinking that you are so good to me. The way you taste, the way you sparkle.
You send happiness from my buds to the twinkles in my eyes.

But then you stay, you don't go.
You turn into nastiness, flubber, illness and fog.
You make me into an old woman, decrepit and weary.
Bleached by lye and lies, you will be a witch's brew in my eyes.

But in my heart, I will miss you.
I will miss your sweet nothings, the way you calm yet excite me,
The way you stay when everyone leaves.
Yes I will miss our private times.

Those moments will be memories left in the past with the pain
A new day is coming, and those times and pounds will melt away.
I hope.
I pray.
For today is only one day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sadness in Shoulders

I feel the sadness in shoulders.
Weighted and worn from the burdens,
Stretched and sore from the history of rejection and sadness.

Woefully I wonder. Desperately I hope to find a refuge
Free from folly, foes and pranks.
A day when the sun rises from the east and speaks
Clearly. Directly. Encouraging me.

"Mind no matter what they say, what they do and what the leave you.
Keep the best, in you and by you.
Breathe in the breath from your creator. Renew your weakened soul.
Lift your gaze to the northern hills, outrageously alive and creatively refreshed.
Blessed and rebirthed, the gift has been given, sealed and forever yours.
His Will is for you to know you are loved by Him, His Son and Spirit.
This world is passing, sadness fleeting, burdens will no longer be shared."