Friday, May 28, 2010

Where Have You Been... blue eyed son daughter? Can anybody name that tune? A big attaboy (or girl) to anybody who can.

Where have I been? Well, let's see. Last week was the kids' last week of school. During that five day period we had:

one baseball practice
one end of the year choir program at church
one baseball game
one pre-K graduation ceremony/field day
one 1st grade awards day
one program at church at which the attendance of both my children was required
a makeup baseball game

I didn't go to church last Sunday, though the rest of my family did. I felt kind of guilty about it because I really do love my church and I miss my friends there when I don't see them. But lately, every day of my life I have to get out of the bed and immediately start getting ready to go somewhere. Even on Saturdays. So, when Sunday morning rolled around I didn't feel like waking up and immediately jumping into the shower. As I told a friend of mine, missing church might have been bad for my soul, but the time to relax was good for my spirit.

Today marks the end of an era. Today is Punkin's last day at her school. She been going there for about 2 years (including pre-K) and my son attended pre-K there too. The staff feels like family and I will never forget how helpful they were in helping me manage Punkin's behavior problems. They made me feel like our problems were normal and solvable, something I had not been feeling. And I fully believe that the pre-K teacher we had (Bubba and Punkin both had her) is one of the best teachers I've ever encountered. We have been blessed.

Last night, I made the mistake of offering Punkin a chance to go to her MeMe's house to play with her cousins who are staying there for a couple of days instead of going to school. She immediately started crying because she wanted to do BOTH. She was going to miss her friends and she didn't get a chance to say goodbye to them. We eventually worked out a compromise so that she could go to school (which is offering a camp this week) and see her friends and tell them goodbye and then go to her MeMe's house. But as she sat in my lab and sobbed about missing her friends, I marveled again at how far she's come this year. I used to worry so about her social skills and whether she had any true friends. And apparently she does. And her heart is sad because she won't see them anymore.

And my heart is a little sad today too. Because my baby is growing up. But my heart is happy for the exact same reason.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh, the places she'll go....

Do you know what that is? That is a very blurry picture of my little ballerina at her recital on Saturday. I really hate it that the picture is so crappy because that was a big moment. I almost regret even trying to capture it on film because I would have rather been in the moment than trying -- and failing badly -- to capture it. (I have a very basic camera and they asked us not to use a flash = bad pictures).

This is a big moment because I never really thought it would happen. That little girl in that picture is the same little girl who, a year ago, crawled under a table and cried because she didn't want to sing a group song at preschool. This is the same little girl who when asked to perform in any way -- whether it was saying her ABC's or showing her grandparents the silly dance she made up -- would hide her face in my leg and refuse.

The little girl who came out on the stage on Saturday didn't resemble that old little girl at all, except for the dimples and the sweet smile. This little girl watched her teacher and performed all the moves (though she was a little shy when it came time to "shake her tushie"). This little girl confidently jete'd across the stage in front of a crowd of thirty or so strangers.

This little girl has come so far since last year. And I couldn't be more proud of her.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Don't Worry, Be Happy

I'm posting today lest you all think I'm still mullygrubbing about. I had a good wallowing session yesterday (i.e., my blog post), followed by lunch with a good friend who's always known how to make me laugh, and finished off with the reading of my critique from the contest.

Y'all, I didn't hate it. In fact, I actually liked it and it made me feel pretty darn good about myself.

Here's part of what she said:

This is a very nice story! You do a particularly good job with characterization—your writing flows well. I really like the ending—the sister’s “sorry” can mean so many things she is sorry about. Great job! Thanks for sharing.

See? Not terrible. Now I will tell you that I didn't agree with one particular thing she said in another part of the critique, but neither did two other people who read it (thanks, Katie!), so I don't feel like I'm just ignoring her advice. Unfortunately, I can't see if you agree because my plan is for this little story to become the first chapter of my book and I'm not sure if it's a good idea to have that floating around on the internets. Right? I mean, what if I hit the big time and one of you tries to claim that this was your story and you wrote it first and then you'd sue me and I'd sue you and then we wouldn't be friends anymore and it just doesn't seem worth the hassle.

Anyway, I'm feeling a lot less Eeyore-ish today and am looking forward, wholeheartedly even, to the weekend. Thanks to AndreAnna's inspiration, I'm heading to the local farmer's market tomorrow to see what I can see. And eat.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Think I'll Go Eat Worms

I'm having kind of a low day.

I found out last night that I didn't win the flash fiction contest I entered. I didn't place. I didn't even get an honorable mention. I suppose it was hubris in the extreme to think that I might win. But I'll admit I got my hopes up when I got the email that said my story had made the first cut and that it had beat out at least two hundred other stories. But 99 other people got that same email.

This contest gave you the option of paying $10 to receive a critique from the judge, a reputable literary agent. I thought that seemed a reasonable fee and so now I'm just waiting to receive my critique. That I paid for. That I really don't want to read.

Oh, I'll probably read it, but I'm not going to lie, I'm nervous about it. I had told myself that if I won or placed in this contest that I would really start to concentrate on my writing, which was, if you think about it, an almost fail proof way to keep from having to work on my writing. I keep putting up all these barriers for myself and I really don't know why. And now I'm afraid that this critique might be just another roadblock, either real or imagined.

I'm also blue because I'm very unhappy with my physical appearance right now. Last year I met my Weight Watchers goal and lost 17 pounds. Since last spring I have gained back all but three of those hard lost pounds. I keep making attempts to restart my weight loss program, but my heart really isn't in it. I did great counting my points last week until Thursday night when we got finished with Bubba's baseball game kind of late and we ended up grabbing fast food. I got the smallest burger they had (with no cheese!) and a small fry, but it all went downhill from there.

All these people on the internet are doing fitness challenges, Couch to 5K programs, 30-day shred. I get temporarily inspired by their dedication but it doesn't last. And then I stare at my closet every morning, trying to find something that will make me happy with me. And that's a tall order for a shirt or a pair of pants.

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I'll go eat worms.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Can We Be Still?

About three years ago, Mr. Daddy and I had serious misgivings when we bought our first portable DVD player. Our thought was that we survived without being able to watch movies in the car, shouldn't our kids also be able to survive?

But we bought it. And we used it for the first time on a trip up to the mountains. I almost immediately regretted it because our kids missed some huge icicles hanging from the side of the mountain as well as a flock of wild geese beside the road. At one point I made them turn it off and "look at nature!"

As a child, some of my happiest memories are road trips we took. We were a singing family. I don't know if this is because the radio in our car didn't work (or did it?) or if we would have sun anyway, but we had a whole litany of favorites: "The Fox," (a song my children demand that I sing almost nightly) "I Love My Rooster," "The Cat Came Back," and even "America the Beautiful" one summer because of my inexplicable fascination with the phrase "oceans white with foam." Once we were singing a rousing rendition of "The Rattlin' Bog," a song that gets faster as you go, when my mom looked down and realized she was driving over 90 mph!

Our portable DVD player hasn't gotten a whole lot of use in the past year or so. We didn't even use it on the drive to Florida last summer, but we did use it a fair amount at bedtime or when the kids -- and I'm not going to lie, Mr. Daddy and I -- needed some down time.

But I have to admit I was intrigued when I read a post the other day on my friend's blog, What a Ride. She titled it "Be Still" and it's about their recent "unplugged" camping trip. And I want to try it.

I'm scared to death to try it, but desperate to do it at the same time. I want to enjoy this time with my children without being dependent on electronics. I want my children to learn to have a good time without needing some kind of stimulation. I want to take nature walks, look at the stars, play cards, sing songs, read.

We can do this. I know we can. And we will. But I need your help on one teeny thing. Books. I would like to read a book over several nights, a chapter book if you will, on the trip that will appeal to both Bubba (7 1/2) and Punkin (4 1/2). Both love to be read to and I'm itching for this experience -- sharing a book that we'll all love. So what is it? What is this book? What should we read, dear readers? I'm counting on you!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

How Did I Get Here?

The other day as I was pouring a glass of milk at lunch for one of the kids, I had the strangest thought come over me -- how did I get here?

Specifically, how did I get to be the mother of two children? I mean, I know how I got to be a mother. I don't need the birds and the bees talk. But how did I get to the place where I'm in charge of two other human beings?

How did I get to the place where I'm willing to give up my free time for them? How did I get to the place where I put their needs before mine -- fixing their lunch before mine, even though I'm starving?

How did I go from the crazy college kid to the woman who actually seems to know what she's doing? I don't claim to have it all figured out by any means, but I think I'm doing a pretty darn good job so far. (knock wood!)

I'd like to think that it's because I had an excellent role model, my own mother.

In my mother's day card, I told my mom that there was no card out there that could truly capture all she had done for me over the years. She had been my first caregiver, my first cheerleader, my first honest critic, the first person to love me unconditionally. She is still my confidant, my strongest supporter, and now, I'm happy to say, she's also my friend.

There are stories about me that as an infant, if my mother wasn't holding me, I was crying. She thought things might get better when I learned to walk, but then I just followed her everywhere she went. I'd like to think I'm still following in her footsteps.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Promise I'll Shut Up About It Now

Okay, I promise this is the very last post about my "decision" about Punkin.

So, one thing y'all need to know about me is that I am easily swayed. But before I go any further, I also need to say that there have been months of worry, wringing of hands, back and forth, and conferences with teachers before I made my decision about not pursuing treatment for Punkin.

But I got so many reasoned emails and comments yesterday suggesting "what can it hurt" that I decided, you know what, what can it hurt? Other than the $350 for the appointment, it wouldn't hurt at all.

So, since we had never officially declined the appointment I called yesterday and talked to a lovely woman at this renowned autism institute. And she kindly informed me that the procedures had changed since I called last August. Now, in addition to the one hour appointment with the developmental pediatrician (for $350), there was also a two hour mandatory psychological test. For $1400. Of which my insurance will pay not one red cent.

In fact, the very nice lady on the other end of the telephone informed that only one insurance company that they had encountered so far would cover this testing (Aetna, if anybody's interested) and I have to wonder why this renowned center would make this testing mandatory and make it so expensive when no one's insurance will cover it.

In my eyes, it's almost criminal to charge people that much money, especially people who are generally desperate for answers and/or help. Am I wrong?

I turned down the appointment officially this time. I don't have $1400. If I thought that Punkin had a serious problem, I would have found a way to scrape up the money but I can't justify the cost at this point.

Also, my thoughts are that this place isn't our only option. The very nice lady on the other end of the phone totally understood my reasoning and suggested that the school system can help us once Punkin starts school if there continues to be problems/issues, though she did say the school's testing wouldn't be as thorough as theirs. My plan now is to go back to my pediatrician and ask for his advice, based on my new opinion about Punkin's problem, or lack thereof.

So, there you have it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Wow. Only one comment on my last post and that from a family member! I know I've been slack about writing which means I've probably lost some readers, but I can't believe that only one person had something to say about my last post. Which, I'm not going to lie, makes me slightly nervous that I've pissed some/all of you off.

Please know that I'm not judging anybody if they do choose to opt for any services offered by their school system. IEP's can definitely work. I've seen it work for children that I know personally as well as stories I've read on other blogs. I'm not saying that means there's something "wrong" with your child and not mine. I'm just saying that given the school system we're in (cash poor) and my belief that Asperger's is not really our problem, we just have chosen this path.

Anyway, I hope I didn't offend anybody. I know this is a sensitive topic.

Or hell, maybe nobody even read it. Look at me, getting the big head.

On a lighter note, the other night as Bubba was getting ready for bed, he came into the living room and said "John Thomas said that when you get married to a girl you have to kiss her in just her bra. Is that true?"

Mr. Daddy and I locked eyes while trying to stifle our laughter and come up with some kind of intelligent response.

"Well, Bubba, to marry a girl you have to love her most of all," Mr. Daddy said.

"And you have to stand in front of a preacher and you have to promise to love each other and take care of each other. And then you do kiss. But in clothes!" I informed him, much to his very apparent relief.

I have a feeling "the talk" is just around the corner. I have a feeling we're both going to be horrifed. Who wants to volunteer? Any takers?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Just Know

On Friday just before leaving to go to Charleston, SC and Patriot's Point for the weekend, we received the call we've been waiting on since August -- the call from the Autism/Asperger's specialists to whom our pediatrician referred our daughter at her four year well visit.

Actually, to say that we've been waiting is a little misleading. They had told us there was a lengthy wait, but 9 months seems a little excessive to me. If we had been desperately seeking help I think we would have sought help elsewhere by now. Or given up.

But what's actually happened is that we sort of forgot about it. Oh, now and then it would cross my mind and I'd wonder if they lost our paperwork or if they were ever going to call. But I wasn't really worried about it because in the last 9 months a lot of things have changed and I no longer feel that we need to see them.

I'm going to try to say what I'm about to say very delicately in the hopes that I don't piss anybody off. I don't think that every child who is "quirky" or "has issues" has autism and/or aspergers. DON'T GET ME WRONG -- I'm not saying that they don't exist. They do.

And believe me, I don't think I'm blinding myself to the truth about my child. She has issues, yes. She's shy, for sure. Impulsive, yes. Immature, most definitely. But I honestly believe that most of her issues stem from her strong will and her immaturity.

However, in the last 9 months we have seen huge improvements in Punkin's behavior. She's so much more social than she used to be. She actually makes friendly overtures to other children now. In the past this would have been unheard of. She doesn't have the "transition freakouts" she used to have.

I was emailing with my new internet friend Jodifur the other day. I had just found her blog and she seemed to be dealing with some similar behavior issues with her son that we had with Punkin. In the course of our "conversation" I mentioned that we probably weren't going to take our referral appointment if or when the specialist ever called and she asked me why. And I couldn't really articulate my reasons other than to say that I didn't think we needed it. And then she asked me about the services we might qualify for if we took the appointment, a fair question, though I was a little ignorant of just exactly what those services might be.

But I've been thinking about her questions ever since and I'm going to be gut-bustingly honest in my answer. We live in a small, very rural county without a lot of money in the school system (though the teachers we've had so far have been awesome). I've been in the school where she'll be next year. And the majority of the students who receive services are students with very different needs than any that Punkin might have. And frankly, I worry that the label she will have applied to her at the age of 4 might do her more harm in the long run than any benefit she might receive. Is that ignorant of me? I don't think so.

Because the other reason we won't take this appointment? My gut. My gut tells me that Asperger's is not Punkin's problem. Our pediatrician based his recommendation after seeing Punkin a total of approximately 15 times in her 4 years (including sick and well visits), never for more than 15 minutes at a time. While I trust his judgement, I don't necessarily think he gets the real Punkin. To be honest, I think at the time I wanted her to be diagnosed with something because I was at the end of my rope and I didn't know what to do about her anymore and a diagnosis would mean some sort of treatment, something, that might bring us some relief, so I think I unconsciously played up the "problems" to some degree. In our case, it turns out that all we needed was time.

I've consulted with the other people in Punkin's life -- her teachers, etc. -- to get their opinions as well and I'm happy to say that they agree with me.

So, no, we won't be taking that appointment. And that just makes room for an appointment with someone who really needs it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Build Your House of Bricks

It's usually the rumble that will wake me. Then the flash of lightning will flicker through the curtains, lighting up the room. A crack of thunder will shake the house.

The wind whips, leaves and small limbs hitting the roof and the side of the house. I turn off our sound machine to see if that sound is hard rain or the wind.

People joke about tornadoes and trailers -- heck, I used to joke about it -- but it's really not funny when you live in one and bad weather's upon you.

On stormy nights I lie in bed playing and replaying my plan of action if a tornado were to hit. We live at the bottom of a pretty big hill, so I'd like to think we might be safe in our little valley, but we all know tornadoes are unpredictable. And we kind of live in a tornado alley. Several have hit our general area in the past couple of years.

Fortunately, my dad lives about 100 yards up the hill from us in a sturdy brick house with a basement. (Little pig, little pig, let me in!) We've evacuated up there twice, once right in the middle of a pretty serious storm. I tried to temper my fear so the kids wouldn't get scared. It must have worked because they thought it was just a party up in Papa Bill's basement.

There are bad storms on the radar for tonight and I know I'm not going to rest well. So that's just another reason to work harder to get out of this trailer.