Category: BIG TIME


Perhaps you know some of this, perhaps not. If you want to know more history in the journey to educate Pynni, please see these posts (These may or may not be all of them, I got tired of looking. Apparently I’m not very consistent with my categories)(Sorry bout that):

Pynni has always been a happy child: easy going, curious, creative, and compassionate. She is delightfully silly and prides herself on being a little weird. She’s really not too weird, but don’t tell her that.

She has this ability to be friends with absolutely anyone at all times. She seems infinitely capable of seeing the good in everyone and is most happy with all her friends are all together. I envy her this. I, as a general rule, am not a people person. “Friend” is not a common term and the fact that Facebook uses it to describe everyone you have contact with really bugs me. I have lots of acquaintances and very few friends. I like it that way, thanks. But I love the fact that Pynni likes and loves so broadly and freely. Go her!

But all that light dims when it’s time to read or write. If you’ve read any of the above linked posts, you will have some inkling of what we go through with reading and writing. It was good, actually, to go back and see some of the positives that I highlighted about her education in reading and writing because it is so frustrating and so daunting and so confusing to figure out what is the right thing to do; what is the right direction to take; what is the right or wrong reaction to have or thing to say. It is so easy to get bogged down in the negatives that it can be hard to remember any positives.

And through it all I question whether I’m up to this. Whether I can help her at all. Whether I’m hurting her more than I’m helping her.

For so long, I blamed the public school. I blamed them, and not entirely incorrectly, for not placing a permanent sub in Pynni’s Kinder class after her teacher went on maternity leave. That is absolutely a failing of the school administration’s. But was it the cause of Pynni’s difficulties in learning to read and spell? I know it had a huge impact on her self esteem, but now?

Now I wonder about all the rest of it. I wonder if the inconsistent teacher situation was the problem at all. I wonder if it was actually a problem with Pynni all along. I’ve posited that some of her issue may be sensory and I still believe that. We’ve done nearly two years of language therapy with a Speech Language Pathologist who diagnosed Pynni with a “severe written language disorder” and the strides she made were huge, but we hit a wall, and it seemed as if Pynni wasn’t advancing anymore. I felt like we were wasting money and we stopped the therapy, with SLP’s consent. The idea being that we’d been given all the tools. We knew what to work on. We would keep doing that and come back in the fall for her yearly assessment and see where she stands. Improvement? We can keep on, keepin’ on. Digression? We start therapy again.

Then one of my Homeschool Friends, told me about the NCSU (North Carolina State University) Psychoeducational Clinic and the awesome work they do there to assess and help people who need it. They test for lots of things: Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, learning disabilities, etc. AND THEY ARE RELATIVELY AFFORDABLE. That’s key because we spent a friggin’ mint having Chi tested and we’d already spent so much having Pynni tested and treated. (I know I make this sound like it’s all about money, and really it isn’t, but we don’t have one of those Money Trees and so it is definitely a consideration and a limitation.) Hubs and I discussed it and decided that it was something we really needed to do.

And so we did.

After all was said and done: all the interviews given, all the questionnaires filled out, all the tests taken, and all of the assessments completed, we were left with a hefty file folder of information that was detailed to us in a final meeting with the team we worked with at NCSU. They made sure we understood everything they did, everything they learned, everything they determined, and everything they think we can do to help Pynni.

After two months from beginning to end, we had answers and we had some directions to take and we know what Pynni struggles with EXACTLY and how best to help her.

She was diagnosed with Specific Learning Disability (DSM v 315.00 and 315.2): with impairment in reading and in written expression.

Her biggest hurdles in reading are word accuracy and fluency which, in turn, affects her reading comprehension. Basically, at some point in learning to read, most people stop having to sound out familiar words and letter patterns every time they come across them because their brain has memorized, in essence, the shape of the word. This opens up working memory to contain the meaning of the words you’ve read and compile them into a broader comprehension. Pynni does not do this. She has to sound out a word many more times than should be necessary to imprint those, should be familiar, words on her brain and so her working memory is always full of letter sounds as she pieces words together. By the time she finishes a sentence, she can’t remember the meaning of the words she just read. This level of reading inaccuracy directly affects her fluency. So we have to work with a level of repetition that is bound to drive us both to frustration, but she won’t learn to read better or faster any other way.

With writing, her biggest hurdle is spelling. There is no explanation that I can see for it except that she needs the same level of repetition in her spelling as she does in her reading to make the common words familiar and to make the common letter patterns familiar. Unlike her older brother and I, she does not internalize all the rules for spelling in the English language and use them to great effect throughout her spelling career. She learns the rules and applies them appropriately, then immediately discards them after learning other rules. She doesn’t consult any of the rules she’s learned many days past learning them.

Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. It’s what the doctor ordered. Literally.

I was given a great deal of information on how to help her and I’ve been working on putting the plan together for the rest of this school year, which starts back up in a week and a half.

The team at NCSU also suggested I take Pynni to a specialist for her eyes. This wasn’t an official diagnoses because it would be outside the realm of their expertise, but they experienced for themselves her difficulty with bright, fluorescent lights, white paper and the speed with which she fatigues. So we’ll be seeing a behavioral ophthalmologist. This is an eye specialist that focuses on uncommon eye issues, mainly for people with brain injuries, but I think they might be able to point us in the right direction with Pynni.

I’ll go further into what exactly I’ve got in the works to help Pyn with the reading and the spelling another time, after I’ve gotten a better handle on it.

I never thought, never for one second, that I would be dealing with a kid who struggles and hates to read. I never thought that my most difficult student would be my best behaved child.

I’m scared, to be honest. I’ve got to get this right. I can’t let that self doubt in too far or it will eat me alive. And I’ve got to do this work. I’ve got to help my sweet girl navigate this world of words that seems to be so daunting to her.

We’ll get it figured out. We will win.

 

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This post requires backstory.
Backstory: A few days ago, Pynni and I were out running errands just the two of us. Somehow the conversation got around to Harry Potter, as all things do, and I mentioned that Hermione is my favorite character. Pynni said that Harry was her favorite, and I agreed that Harry is, indeed, a great character and worthy of some admiration. But, I said, “But, without Hermione, Voldemort might have won. Hermione did all the research, knew all the spells, gave Harry all the information he needed to solve the problem of the Horcruxes and defeat Voldemort. Without Hermione, nothing gets done. Hermione is AWESOME!” To which Pynni replied, “Yeah, but Harry is my favorite.”

Today.

We went to the library. We don’t do this often enough, but I like books and I usually buy them so there are lots around the house for any and all reading/maturity levels. Anyway, today we went to the library and I told the kids before we went in that we had a time limit due to upcoming lunch and after lunch appointments, and that they were going to need to pick out one or two books to check out. We ended up checking out 11 books between the two littles and spent almost an hour doing it. (no worries, we made all our afternoon obligations, including lunch.)

As we were hauling our load of books out to the car, Pynni gasped. “I’m Hermione!” I looked at her in question. “I LOVE the library! I LOVE books! I’m JUST LIKE Hermione!”

I laughed and laughed. Not in amusement, but in joy. She loves books! She’s identifying with this great female character that maybe she didn’t feel too parallel with until now.

I’ll take it.

Well, Halloween has come and gone. My kids dressed up and threatened people for sugar along with their ravenous gang of friends. They’ve entered the time of the year I like least, when the perpetual sugar high from Halloween begins. It’s a sugar high that lasts through the end of the year thanks to holiday baking and stocking candy.

I was able to complete Pynni’s Weeping Angel and I didn’t have to threaten her within an inch of her life to get her to wear it, either. I cannot express to you the rush I felt when she WANTED to wear that costume and was determined to get it on almost two hours prior to trickertreating time. That rush, of having finished. That rush of her LIKING the results of my work. That rush of seeing her traipse along the sidewalk among her friends, completely satisfied with her costume. SUCH a rush.

I’ve made things for people before; worked really hard on them, but I don’t live near a vast majority of those people. I never see them wear what I make. Oh, sure, I get thank yous and lots of great feedback, but somehow, it isn’t the same. It is a GREAT feeling to see her unabashed enjoyment. And she was SO grateful! I was worried that she wouldn’t wear it. Not because she didn’t like it, but she balked so strongly whenever I had her try parts of it on. She would get embarrassed if anyone asked her about it. She didn’t want to be seen in the various parts and stages of this costume, but boy, how she owned the role, when she donned it in its entirety.IMG_1668

So after all the hard work and random moments of drama, The Weeping Angel was finished. I was glad that I’d planned in advance for Chi to be something other than another involved costume creation because I was tweaking Pynni’s costume until about 4pm on Halloween.

Chi decided he wanted to be a Ghostbuster. He likes them an inordinate amount for a kid who doesn’t like scary or freaky things. His costume was purchased and it came with a jumpsuit and a blow-up Proton Pack and gun thingy. He was over the top excited about being a Ghostbuster.

Pieces was the 10th Doctor. I got him a pinstriped suit and a Sonic Screwdriver. He already had the Converse. He, of course, was unbelievable cute in his suit “fixing” everything with his screwdriver. He was, also, super stoked to get dressed in his costume.

I went prepared when we went trickertreating this year. I brought bottles of water and a wagon. The wagon was to hold the costume parts my kids would inevitably shed through the course of the evening. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised when my kids kept all of their costumes on almost the whole evening. The only exception was Pynni and her wings. She wore them for probably 80% of the night, but they started getting heavy and she wanted to take them off. Which, wow! My kids have not once, EVER worn their entire costumes all night.

When Chi was Mario, he took off his mustache right away and his hat about 15 minutes into trickertreating (that’s 3 Halloweens). When Chi was Harry Potter, he removed his glasses right away and took off his robes and put down his wand about 15 minutes into trickertreating. When Pieces and Chi were Minecraft Steve and Armored Minecraft Steve, I ended up carrying two heads, an axe, and a sword. Tinkerbell? Wings. Wall-e? Uh, no wait, Pieces wore that all night. He wanted to sleep in it.

Ok, so wow, this post has gotten away from me. So here they are. My kids on Halloween.

IMG_1680I bought the newspaper for the papier-mâché, which was an adventure all on its own due to it being a Sunday and WHERE DO YOU BUY NEWSPAPERS THESE DAYS? A book store seemed logical to me (the bookstore I worked at in a previous life sold newspapers), but that was a big bust and gave me a good reminder of why I hate malls. So, then I thought about the convenience store I worked at in an even earlier life and how it sold newspapers, and that’s when I started hitting the gas stations. That turned out to be the right place , although the line was stupidly long.

After I got home, I tore the newspaper, which was much easier to do than tearing the tissue paper had been. Then I began dipping and placing. At first, I thought I’d hang the wings and paste like that, but the wings weren’t holding their shape well at the time so I laid the wings onto a covered work surface and started. Even this part was more involved than my brain had planned for it to be. I thought I’d be able to get one whole layer of paper done before letting it dry and doing another, smoother layer. WRONG.

IMG_1649Since the wings weren’t holding their shape, I had to reshape them on the table. AND since the wings to which I was pasting paper weren’t solid either, I was basically creating wings around a wire frame the paper stuck to the table. So after one side of one wing was done, I had to hang the wings up to dry, or the side would dry to the table. It took many hours for the one layer to dry completely, and since I was using a flour paste, complete drying was a necessity to prevent mildew.

When I laid the wings down to work on another side the next day, the previously pasted wing had… warped while drying. This goes back to the whole bit about the wings not holding the shape I wanted them to have. I decided I would do one side of the other wing and find a way to prop it away from any surface to which it might stick while it dried. Then I would reshape the warped wing when pasting the other side of it.

IMG_1648OKAY!

I’m just going to short-story it here for you and say that the reshaping didn’t work as great as hoped. THEN, I remembered that this is a costume that will be worn an entire ONE time, and probably not for the whole trickertreating event because my kids shed costumes on Halloween like cats do fur in the summer: just sort of constantly. THEN, I, also, remembered that it’s going to be dark and little details like feathers and slightly warped wings aren’t going to matter. THEN, I, ALSO REMEMBERED that between having to do a quarter of the wings per day and also having to do the ribs along the top of the wings separately, I WAS RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

IMG_1645The ribs took an entire extra day to dry completely. I think this is because the paper tubes got soaked and had to dry, also. When I tried the wings on Pynni, which aren’t at all as heavy as you’d think, the elastic bands from the Wings That Were were not nearly strong enough to hold the New Wings to her back. They just sort of hung down by her side. And this was BEFORE the wings were even painted.IMG_1646

So, while I waited the extra day for the wings to dry, I crocheted a new harness and a new mechanism to hold the new harness on the wings. And I went to the store to buy paint. I had decided after my “this doesn’t have to be perfect” epiphany that I was just going to spray paint the wings grey. At the store, they had “stone” faux finish spray paint. PERFECT!
Then I painted the wings which took more paint than I could have fathomed, but ended up looking like stone anyway.

The final step to all this was to attach the harness and try the wings on Pynni. After some adjusting of the harness and tightening of it against the wings, everything was about as perfect as I was like to get it hours before the trickertreating started.

I have to admit. I wasn’t happy with the wings even after the alterations. They weren’t exactly how I’d pictured them and they didn’t hang on Pynni’s back the way I wanted. I was, actually, very disappointed in them. I felt a little nauseous. I had done all this work, and this one integral part was not right. In the end, when the whole costume was put together, I was happier than I thought I’d be.

And Pynni loved it.

First Meal

I did research. I wrote recipe lists. I wrote menus. I wrote two grocery lists. I bought groceries.

It is the freakiest; second place to scariest, thing I’ve done EVER.

With my new menu/grocery list, I bought E2 diet apropo things. Then I made an entirely VEGAN dinner tonight.

ZOH-MAH-GAWD!

It was de-LISH-ous.

Now it wasn’t entirely E2 friendly because, well, I used sesame oil. HEY, it was veggie stir-fry OKAY? It was Asian inspired. I stir-fried with vegetable broth! BROTH! This, my friends, isn’t stir-frying. It’s sort of a simmer/steam. I added, maybe, a teaspoon of sesame oil to my “sauce” because that’s what you do when you are cheating, but not cheating. I didn’t feel bad about it either because look, last week? Last week, I would have used three or more tablespoons of oil, probably coconut but possibly peanut, to stir-fry my veg. And I’d have added chicken. And steamed white rice.

This meal was entirely plant based, and except for the smidge of oil, it was E2 happy. Take THAT cholesterol!

I’ve also started up my food journal again. I always stop when I’m eating crap foods because who wants to make a log of that? You can see it written all over my body thankyouverymuch. Anyway. I’ve started that food journal again and yesterday was a really good day. I consumed less that 1200 calories without trying.

NOTE: I’m not really counting calories because I’m in this for the lowering of the cholesterol, but weight loss would be nice. I’m wanting this journal to show me in numbers and with hard evidence that I CAN do healthy on a regular basis. I’d like to see what the changes I’m making do to my health and then I can go back and say, “This is what I did.”

Anyway. I was floored to see that I’d eaten foods, had snacks, and wasn’t hungry all day just by switching up the types of food. I’m quite proud of myself and that helps with motivation going forward.

My whole food/plant based Pinterest recipe board (now with recipes!)

I didn’t take a picture, but here’s the recipe of the meal from last night. It’s my own creation so there is no pin.

Ginger Sesame Stir-fry

  • Veggies (whichever kind you like. I used bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, two colors of bell peppers, yellow squash, and celery) between 1 and 1.5 lbs
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or Tamari (or you can skip this and just spritz your bowl with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos after all the cooking)
  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
  • grapefruit juice (I cut one in half and juiced one half)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Ginger (I recommend grating your own as opposed to buying jarred ginger. You can grate a whole root and freeze what you don’t use.)
  • 2 tsp chopped jalapeño pepper (again, freeze what you don’t use)
  • 3 garlic cloves; pressed
  • optional 1.5 tablespoons finely chopped shallots (again with the freezing)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth

Get your wok hot. Add half the veg broth along with the garlic, jalapeño pepper, ginger and shallots. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes. It will be very fragrant. Add veg and rest of the broth. Stir to coat all veg. At this point you can cover your wok and steam it, but you should stir every so often to keep the cooking even and to make sure everything get good and flavored by your spices (add more broth if you need to). In the meantime, you mix your soy sauce, sesame oil and grapefruit juice in a bowl. When your veg is done to your liking, I like mine hot but still a little crunchy, so I steamed them for about 5-7 minutes. Near the end, add your sauce and stir. Cook one minute more. Serve over steamed brown rice. Yum!

WARNING: This post is full of TMI of a personal nature. Please avoid if you are allergic to such.

Self! Get it together!

Self! Get it together!

I don’t know if you know this, but I’m fat. I’ve not always been fat, but I was one of those people who gained a bunch of weight during a first pregnancy and never really lost any of it. I’ve gained more since then. I’ve now been fat twice as long as an adult than I was thin as an adult. Of course, I’ve hated this and I’ve dieted with some success, but nothing stuck. The only three things, healthwise, that I’ve done successfully in, quite possibly, my whole life is quit smoking so I could get pregnant without dealing with that addiction and successfully regulate my blood sugar with diet while afflicted with gestational diabetes so  I wouldn’t have to subject my baby to drugs and have three children naturally.

All pretty big things, I think.

For some reason, weight loss is not one of the things I’ve been able to do. I think because it isn’t directly FOR anyone else. I haven’t really held myself in the highest of esteems for quite some time (see this post), and that makes doing anything for me, low on the list of priorities. Then there is the whole “I HATE EXERCISE” bit. I don’t hate doing things (for example, I like swimming, and gardening and lite-hiking and camping and cruising around on my bike (in theory)), but I hate the whole endeavor of working out. On top of that, I have pretty bad back issues that result in a sort of Catch 22, damned if you do damned if you don’t, kind of scenario. I need to be moving, but I can’t move too much or in certain ways, or I’ll reinjure my back. So yeah.

A couple of weeks ago, I went in for my physical.

You know, I’m pretty smart. I have pretty great intuition and self-awareness. I’m not a hypochondriac. I probably deal with more pain than I should because I really HATE doctors (even though my doc is pretty awesome). I’ve known for a long time that if I didn’t get a handle on my weight, the shit would eventually find the fan and my health would be at risk for failing. Well, my dear friends, loyal readers, that time has come.

My cholesterol is way out of control. I’m extremely iron deficient. I’m extremely vitamin D deficient. I have inflammation indicating that my body is struggling with something (that something could simply be Epstein Barr, which I have, and which flares up when I get worn out, which I have been and is super easy to do when you are as out of shape as I am). Right. My Doc says I should look into removing all animal and animal by-products from my diet. She strongly urges me to do so. At the appointment, I smiled and laughed derisively at the suggestion. BAHAHAHAHA! Me? Vegan? Not in this lifetime.

I get home and I think. I go about my daily stuff and I think. I do some research on various dietary alterations I should be making and I think.

My grandmother is hospitalized and I go to sit with her. It’s a fourteen hour drive followed by 10 hours of sitting in her hospital room while she mostly sleeps. AND I THINK.

I do a lot of thinking. When I get home, I do a lot of reading. I watch some documentaries on food. And I think, “Self, you’ve done some pretty whacked out diets that SUCKED, but had good momentary results. Would being vegan to get your crap together be so awful? Don’t you, in fact, love fruits and veggies and nuts and legumes and whole grains? Well, Self, you do even though you seem to avoid them rather handily normally.”

So I came across this diet. It’s called Engine #2 and it’s all about the whole food, plant based eating. It sounds doable to me. It sounds deLISHous, to be honest. I’m not saying that I’ll be able to stay vegan forever, but making it part of my life in a sustainable, ongoing way? Count me in.

So I’m going to journal about the experience here. From one Omnivore who likes it that way out to the world. The plan is to actually journal, not just blog. I have added a, currently empty, board to my Pinterest boards onto which I will post foods that sounds yummy and I will label them when I make them, and stipulate their level of delishiosity. (I can spell it how I want. It is MY word.) Just in case you are interested.

We’ll see how this goes.

(WHAT?!? My Chi has been sick and when able to open his eyes, he’s been watching Phineas and Ferb. I have been infected.)

So I’ve been working on these two posts; one for months and the other for a couple of weeks. It occurred to me today that they may be related and that may make a better over all post if I just combine the topics. The first post was about the book Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer and the second post was about being a stay at home mom rebelling against stereotypes and sometimes myself. They ARE related. Let me show you.

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I have always been me. Never was there a time when I wasn’t just exactly who I am regardless of what people around me thought about me. It wasn’t that I didn’t care what people thought (although I was very good at telling myself that people could take me or leave me; their loss). It was that I really didn’t know how to BE anything else. This was true all through elementary school, when it was super easy; all through junior high, when there were taunts about my hair/clothes/makeup or lack thereof; and all through high school, when I took standing out as a compliment.

I was entirely me through and through every single phase of my life. I never worried about what people thought of me because I was just being me. I was never good at trying to be anything else, so why bother?

That is to say, I was comfortable in my own skin whether or not I was liking it.

Motherhood changed that. I don’t know if it was the sudden unknown of having a baby for the first time. I don’t know if it was th 80 lbs I gained. I don’t know if I had some hidden preconception of what being a mother meant that suddenly sprang forth with the birth of my baby. What I do know is that I was suddenly floundering.

Now, I don’t mean that I questioned everything about my decisions and my baby. I don’t mean that I lived in constant fear of doing the wrong thing. I do mean that all of a sudden, I didn’t know who the hell I was anymore. I didn’t know what my future was going to be. I didn’t recognize the face in the mirror and that’s not even mentioning the changes to my body. It was like my self confidence fled and with it my definition of self. This was an entirely new experience and it was accompanied by wild physical and emotional changes that I had no idea how to handle since I didn’t know who I was anymore.

It was terrifying.

So I spent a lot of time putting on the “mom” clothes and the “mom” face with the “mom” hair. I did “mom” things and tried to make “mom” friends. My husband even started acting differently towards me. I tried fitting into that “stay at home mom”/”homemaker” mold that I thought was who I suddenly was. I couldn’t figure out why I was so miserable.

I mean, I loved my baby. I was grateful for being able to stay home with him. We did things together, Chi and I, but I was depressed, restless, adrift.

I have since sloughed off worrying about being whatever “they” think I should be. I have stopped trying to be that perfect homemaker because I will NEVER be that. It’s been a long hard slog of trying to find myself and redefine myself without really knowing that’s what I was doing.

So I’ve been down this road of putting on “Mom” and not feeling comfortable in that skin; in that definition; in that confining, limiting space. And I’ve, since, struck off on my own, crashing through the brush and brambles and blazing my own “Mom” trail. I definitely fit in that spot better. My role is not so easily defined as “Homemaker” or “Stay at Home Mom”. Those labels conjure up certain, iconic, unbreakable images of things I will never be. I’ve come to see that they aren’t bad. For someone else. Just like “Working Mom” isn’t bad. For someone else. It’s just, none of it, ME.

My whole struggle to find myself became clear to me when I was reading this book Shine Shine Shine. The main character is this woman named Sunny who is completely hairless. Her complete baldness was not something that defined her until she got married and became pregnant. It was like she suddenly couldn’t be the “Sunny-who-makes-art-wigs-and-hangs-out-with-Maxon” anymore, she had to become “Sunny-the-Mom”. And to her? The two were not synonymous. She had to shed the one to become the other. In the book, Lydia Netzer writes of Sunny:

“When she got pregnant for the first time, Sunny was afraid she had to become something else. When you become a mother, how can you be another thing at the same time? When you become an orphan, how can you be anything other than that? She worried now that everything she became had just squeezed the love out, until she might only sort of love him, only used to love him. Maybe she forgot how to fill up the rest of it, because it’s full of other things—orphan-to-be, mother. Maybe you can’t truly wrap your flesh around another person, after there’s been a baby inside you. Maybe your parentless sorrow puts you in a box with those who have the same sorrow. Her mother was dying. She wanted Maxon, the old Maxon, the way it used to be. And yet she knew that he had always been the old Maxon. It was she who had changed. Yet everything else she had tried to become was stupid and pointless.”

Netzer, Lydia (2012-07-17). Shine Shine Shine (Kindle Locations 2366-2372). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.

It took a car accident during which her wig flew off to open her eyes to all of the ways she’d been trying to cram her and her brilliant, odd, autistic, robot loving husband and her brilliant, odd, autistic son into these perfectly “White, affluent, suburban family” holes. Holes they did not fit into. Holes where parts of them had to be shaved down to fit into. Sunny has this moment when she realizes that it has to change:

“A week ago, a day ago, with blond waves touching her shoulders and curling around her ears, she would have stopped at the desk, bent over at the waist, arranged another appointment. She would have acquired a different small brown bottle, administered doses, continued to smile and drop off and pick up and accommodate and advance. She would have gone home, would have prompted her gangly husband with the appropriate things to say and do at a cocktail party, dressed him, impressed on him the importance of sticking to the basics. Now, she felt differently about everything. More impatient, more severe. She felt she had been living under clouds, underwater, hearing at low volume, seeing at a distance. Without the wig, what she saw was all very awful. Yes, the whole world. There just wasn’t any point in pretending that it was fine. She felt like shit for talking so harshly to Maxon. She wished for any way that she could take it all back.”

Netzer, Lydia (2012-07-17). Shine Shine Shine (Kindle Locations 960-967). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.

This fictional woman’s journey spoke to me and placed a spotlight on things that weren’t clear to me before. She helped to make me see that I am not just a “Mom” and that is okay. She helped me to see that I am not just any “Mom”, I am my very own definition of “Mom” and that’s pretty spectacular.

I’m pretty content with where I am again and who I am and what I am. Oh, sure I have things I could be working on to improve me, but those things that need improving do not define me. I do not find myself so lacking in anything good anymore. I can look at what I do everyday and be thankful for it and be proud of it and just be. So me? I am the “Home front Coordinator”. I am the “Baseline Engineer”. I am Super Sticky Glue that makes everything stay together and function. But most importantly? I am me.

ps. The book Shine Shine Shine was written by Lydia Netzer. It is a really fabulous, complicated book. There is so much going on with Sunny and Maxon. So much more than what I’ve shown you here. It’s one I recommend.

Maintain the Silliness.

Our wedding story isn’t typical. Unless you consider that we had plans, and some of those plans didn’t happen. Then, I guess, it’s a pretty normal wedding day story.

But let me take you back. It was September 1996. Me? I preferred to be at home and let my friends come hang out at my place, but I was feeling restless. I had all these great friends, but I felt like there was some type of connection missing. I didn’t have a “music” friend. I didn’t have that friend that I totally bonded with on music and that had been the case since I’d graduated high school and moved away from home.

All my new friends from college and beyond listened to a bunch of chill type music. Music I despised (Phish and The Grateful Dead? Ick). I mean Dave Matthews Band has its moments, but one can only stand to listen to that for so long before one needs METAL! Until college, I thought everyone felt that way. Apparently not.

So one night in September, I caved into my roommate’s (here after known as Lady) pressuring and went to watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Greek Theater on campus. There we met the roommate of Lady’s new co-worker (co-worker is here known as COW and co-worker’s roommate is LCR). I was immediately smitten, but I’m crap at meeting new people. I always feel self-concious and awkward and stupid beyond all belief so I didn’t say much. I probably barely made eye contact. In the end, it turned out he was fairly shy and felt painfully awkward, as well. (could have fooled me, but whatever.)

After the show and after COW had closed Club Red, we headed over to our place (on Betty Jo Drive, because you know that’s where ALL the fun happens!). The only way I can put this is that LCR and I bonded. We sat in front of the stereo and talked music and played song after song. We talked about what music meant to us (His favorite was Nine Inch Nails, but no worries, I forgave him) and we talked about bands and we talked about albums and we talked about lyrics and we talked about shows. AND WE TALKED. Until the sun came up.

Then we proceeded to talk as much as possible every day. This was hard for me because I was working 55 to 60 hours every week and trying to go to college. My talking time was very limited. So I gave up sleeping and eventually school and then decided to marry LCR.

I asked him. At the time, I wore a bunch of silver rings on my fingers. I pulled on off my thumb and asked him. He said yes. So a year and  a month after we met, we got married.

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Kids, really. Just kids.

We were kids. We were broke. We weren’t always sure if there would be food in the fridge. We sold items to make money so we could pay the rent. We got second jobs. Hubs went to work for Wal-Mart’s corporate office. (it was horrible, you should ask him sometime.) (on second thought, don’t ask him. It dredges up bad memories.)

Our wedding was simple. It was small. And it cost $50. I borrowed a shirt from my friend, Raye Donnovan, because I liked it so much. We bought $30 worth of daisies and made a bouquet and various flower arrangements for decoration. We had $20 to pay the JP. Hubs wore clothes he had, and I wore this black, floor length skirt that I was in love with at the time and the borrowed shirt. My mary janes were doodled on with markers. We packed our little town house to the rafters with friends.

My parents and brothers came all the way from IL and my grandparents came all the way from NM. Hubs’ friends from high school drove down from Chi-town and then went with him to kidnap his brothers. As many of our friends as could make it came to celebrate with us.

Everyone was gathered. And we waited. And waited. And waited. The JP never showed. To be fair, it was the University of Arkansas’ homecoming game that day. FOOTBALL WAS HAPPENING PEOPLE! How dare we get married. heh. Anyway.

All was not lost. My dad, being a minister in a past life himself and having married other people, performed the ceremony. So he walked me down the aisle (stairs), gave me away after asking himself who was giving me away, and then read the ceremony. It was amazing.

Wedding Cake

My Grandad took us all to have pizza on Dickson Street and there we ate and ate and had cake, made lovingly by Lady. Hub’s best man, D, gave a toast and food was had by all.

After the adults left, because, HELLO! WE WERE JUST KIDS!!, we had a largish party that was BYO. This party was attended by almost everyone I’d ever met and hung out with in Fayetteville. It was a grand ole’ time and the crossing of all the paths of all the people who didn’t normally hang out together was so amazing. There was no drama. There was just good times and new friends being made.

In fact, two of my most favorite people met that night and they’ve been married for 14 years, now. Pretty cool.

So, now, here we are, 15 years later. I wouldn’t change a thing about any of it. In fact, I’m looking forward to the next fifteen and the next and the next and on and on into the end of the universe.

Happy anniversary to us, Hubs!

It’s the little things.

Chi was totally unable to self regulate and had regular meltdowns and constant stimming when he was at public school, but since we started homeschooling, not only has the stimming diminished, but the melt downs are almost COMPLETELY nonexistent.

And he has started self regulating.

I took him to Target (which has always been a top way to bring on the meltdowns (the lights are so bright AND LOUD, there are some many people and things AND THEY ARE LOUD, AHHHHHHH!) and events transpired in such a way that the kids were unable to get the items we had gone to the store to get (read: earned prizes for excellent, consistent behavior). Instead of melting down, as he would normally do, over unexpected happenings, I watched him walk very stiffly with a look of intense concentration on his face. When I asked what was going on, he said, “I can feel my body want to stop and my mouth want to squeak, but I’m making it not do that.” I was amazed.

When he meltsdown? My Chi isn’t there anymore. The Monster has taken his place and the Monster does not communicate or hear me or anything. Chi was beating that Monster. Now, MAYBE this is because he’s getting older (almost 11) but I really think the difference is that at homeschool, he isn’t staying overstimulated a majority of his time awake. As such, he is better able to read what his body is doing and learn to stop or cope with what ever reaction he is having.

See? I CAN enjoy the unexpected, and this is one of my favorites.

I needed this, so maybe you do, too.

A blogger I follow (Mir over at Would Coulda Shoulda) has a daughter in a teen long term care facility whose personal care products kept getting stolen. After talking with all the pertinent authority figures at the facility, Mir discovered that many of the girls in the ward are given nothing by family members and rely solely on what the hospital has to offer by way of personal hygiene (You know those diaper type pads with the ties from the WAY BACK that tie into paper underwear? Those were just ONE example of what the hospital offered. And NO tampons). So Mir had an idea, why not let the internet help out. So many of her readers had been asking what they could do to help her in this difficult time. Well, here it was. Girls in need. So she opened up a mailbox at a UPS store (who wants to give out their home address to the internet at large?) because they accept UPS package deliveries and sent out the word via her blog. The following is the result. It’s amazing!

http://wouldashoulda.com/2012/07/27/i-dont-even-know-where-to-start/

ps. I posted this on Facebook already, but not everyone who reads my blog is my “friend” on Facebook and vice versa. Also, I just wanted to say that I cannot stop laughing and crying about how amazing the response to this has been. I love how selfless this act is and how much good it’s going to do. I do so hope that this little gesture, that has grown so big, can in some way impart how even strangers can care for one another and help in the healing of some of these girls.