Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

This post could have been named, "A display of my mediocre photography and inability to successfully integrate text and images."  But I guess these photos can speak for themselves.  

(Gotta love Halloween Peeps!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who Do You Think You Are?

It's not often I post twice in a week, let alone in a day.  Today, however I am completing an assignment from Fit For Service.  I am supposed to write about who I think I am.  Not what I do, but who I am.  This seems easier on the surface than it is in reality.   I'm a pretty introspective person and my self-analysis is generally a muddled, murky sea of memories, regrets, desires, hopes, excuses, embarrassments, pride, and frustration.  So I've been thinking all afternoon about how to succinctly  convey the essence of myself.  Here is what I have come up with.  

I think that I am a talented person overall.  I have some areas that lack such as athleticism, but in general I am good at what I do, and this without much effort.  I am musical,  creative, and a little artistic.   I am intelligent, funny, and empathetic.  I can be organized, detail oriented and am project-driven.  I am a home-body and a good wife and a decent mom.  I am traditionalist and religious.

On the other hand, I am not as spiritually minded as I'd like to be.  I tend to procrastinate and am not disciplined.  I am a yeller and am impatient with my kids.  I get annoyed too easily.  I care way too much what others think of me, which I suppose is technically vanity.  I'm not stereotypically vain, rather I keep to myself on many, many levels to avoid rejection.

There I am.  Good and bad in a nutshell.  The bad list was as hard to keep short as the good list was to make long.  That may say something about me as well.  In fact I know that it does, but that something is not anything I'm ready to explore with an audience.  There is a lot about myself that I wish were different.  Some of it I can work on, and some of it I probably need to accept.  

So who are you?  

Stinky Pete


That may be a slight overstatement, but this is still a little gross.  About two weeks ago, maybe less, I went into my son's room to wake him up and found him curled up in a ball under his covers at the foot of his bed, his bared back revealing the fact that he was naked.  He's only 6, so though certainly curious, this wasn't the gross part, like it may be a decade from now.

As I roused him from slumber, I asked him why he was sleeping at the foot of his bed and where his jammies were.  He didn't seem to know.  The confused look on his face was a combination of residual sleep, a belief that this was entirely normal behavior, and maybe embarrassment.  I asked him if he'd peed in the night.  He answered no.  I only believed him because his bed linens were dry to the touch and odorless to the closely pressed nose.  I figured this was just a weird night, and hoped it was not the beginning of a phase.  The entire episode was quickly forgotten.

Early last week I entered my son's room to wake him in the morning.  He sleeps with his door shut to prevent Lucy from entering at night and absconding with something precious just to turn it into a chew toy.  I opened his door and was overwhelmed with the odor of stale urine.  I went over to my boy and checked him for wetness (this may look like a simple crotch grab to many, but the expert mom will always recognize the scientific information gathering move for what it is).  I felt his sheets, blankets, comforter, pillows, and they all felt dry.  I started sniffing them and none contained the stench that wafted through the room.  I then began to wonder if I'd really smelled what I thought I had.  The scent seemed to have dissipated, and I couldn't tell what I was smelling.  What it just a bad case of morning breath permeating the room?  Well, our mornings are busy, and I couldn't find a source, so I moved on.

Every morning this continued.  Bad smell, origin unclear, move on.  Once Larry got back from California, I had him sniff the boy's room early morning to see if it was just me.  He smelled it too.  I finally washed all bedding.  I figured this must be the problem, even though they really did not smell to me.  I figured he had indeed peed that night a week or so ago, and just did it early enough in the night that all was dry by morning.  But there was no blast of odor as the hot water in the washer hit the sheets, presumably drawing any dried up scents out of them.  And the laundry room didn't smell as the second load waited for the first.

The first morning with the clean bedding, I entered the room to the scent of dryer sheets.  Ah.  Good.  Guess that was it after all, I figured.  Number 4 confessed that he had peed in bed the day I found him disrobed.  He had been scared to tell me the truth.  That must be because I routinely lock up and torture bed wetters in this family.  Anyway, problem solved.

The second morning with the clean bedding, the stale urine was back.  I began to be very frustrated.  I began to get short with my son, questioning him about the source of this odor, and what pee pee garments he may have hidden where.  My husband implicated Lucy, and even though she hasn't peed in the house in well over a year and a half, I sniffed out the carpet.  Nothing.  This is an elusive smell.  The more you look for it, the less you can smell it.  And you can't really smell it much during the day, even though #4 keeps his door shut then, too.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was preparing my home for the arrival of 8 & 9 year old girls from church for a service activity, I offered five dollars and one cent to the child who could produce the source of the odor.  After a few minutes, I restlessly joined them, sniffing out individual toys.  Two stuffed animals were found to be harboring some urine smells.  They were removed to the laundry room.  I found the toys.  But I didn't get paid.

I need to go in this morning to wake up that little man.  I've already sniffed his room and the laundry room.  Laundry room, clean.  #4's room, stinky.  My sniffer is sniffed out.  My dog is no reliable bloodhound, because I've thought of bringing her in there to see where she'll gravitate.  I think I have no choice but to burn the contents of the room and start over.

Post Script:  A few years back Larry and I went to Seattle for a breathing technique tutorial for Larry's asthma.  We brought back a T-shirt with a little boy pirate named Stinky Pete for #4.  Stinky Pete's speech bubble read, "We don't take no stinkin' baths!"  #4 loved this shirt, and quoted it frequently, except that he pronounced it "stinksin'."  Very adorable.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Neener, Neener, Neener

I had not started off the month intending to develop a #1 theme to my posts, but so it is.

Height is relative.  At 5' 4 1/2", I am downright tall for a woman on my mother's side of my family.  In my husband's family, however, I am short.  So short, that for 15 years it's been continually pointed out that I am, in fact, the shortest adult.  "Oh yeah, you should see me loom over my mother's clan!," I want to respond.  But I don't because I know it will sound much lamer aloud than it does in my head, and it doesn't sound that great in there, either.  And "loom" is probably an exaggeration, anyway.

My husband, on the other hand, is fairly tall in any set outside of the NBA, at 6 feet.  His 6 feet looks even taller than it is since his weight hasn't reached a buck fifty since we've been married.   And it looks taller, still, because he has very long, thin legs.  I have long legs, too.  You just can't tell, because I'm short and filled out.  But my torso is ridiculously squat in proportion to my height.

Wait, this was supposed to be about #1, right?  I'm getting to that.  #1 looks just like me.  Her facial features are quite similar--especially her nose, and her body shape and development were cloned from my body.  This was obvious to anyone who'd seen us both in the buff from the time she was about 2.  In other words, my husband and my mother and I knew she'd grow to look like me.  Ah, the miracle of genetics.

Families are funny.  They always want a kid of their family member to look like their family member, and not that person's spouse.  So to Larry's family, #1 was the spitting image of him.  "Oh, she'll be tall," they'd say.  "Just look at those long legs!"  Larry would try to go to bat for my case, but he never rounded first.  

His family's remarks were only strengthened by the fact that she started to get tall pretty early on in adolescence.  "She'll be taller than you before you know it."  Here I began to speak up myself.  You see, my mother's family is full of short women.  Short women who reached their adult height by the age of 13.  We all looked tall in Junior High.  But a year later the gig was up, as everyone else around us had kept growing.  So I've been telling the fam, "She may end up taller than me, but she won't be much taller."  No more than an inch, I had predicted.

Well, what do you know.  #1 has turned 14.  She's been 5' 2" for the past year.  I think she's done.  So not only is she not taller than me, she's still 2 1/2" shorter.  My victorious, somewhat gloating attitude has nothing whatsoever to do with #1 herself.  I feel like I've won a 12 year ongoing bet.  I smile whenever I think of it.  I get a little giddy.  Because even if she bucks the trend and does grow a little more, it'll be no 2 inches!  Nope, family.  Not tall.  Short.  I told you so!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


She entered the world with a perfectly round face, big blue eyes and rosy red lips.  Absolutely beautiful.  We'd get stopped by strangers for months to tell us our baby looked like a porcelain doll.

For the first 7 days, we had a rough time feeding.  She'd latch on, and then stare at me.  No sucking.  Any milk she did get down she'd quickly projectile vomit all over me.  I was frustrated.  I was scared that they'd make me start her on a bottle if I told the doctors.  So I would call my mother in the middle of the night, sobbing and seeking advice.  But she figured it out--eating--and did just fine.

She didn't crawl like other kids at first, instead rolling with great expertise to her destination.  But she figured out the crawling too, eventually.  At 16 months, she figured out the walking.

Even with these delays, it was not until she had hardly figured out talking at 3 that we started to seek professional advice.  And this was the beginning of a four to five year period of testing, wondering, misdiagnoses, discovery and therapy.  It was a period of fighting against what I both knew to be wrong and hoped to be wrong.  I'm not sure I handled it well, but I am also not sure how I'd have done it differently.  That medical journey is the topic of another post.

At three years old my #1 had her first IEP developed for her.  I have found that this is something that either a person's child has or that they have never heard of before.  It is an Individualized Educational Plan.  Yesterday, #1 turned 14 years old.  This morning, we developed her 12th plan.

Her first four IEPs were exclusively for speech therapy.  It was a relatively easy process.  But by first grade, she was not keeping up.  Even remotely.  Teachers were frustrated with her, and I think with me.  At my request, she was tested for the possibility of more intervention.  That process was conducted by the school psychologist and took several weeks of testing #1, interviewing me and her teachers.  Just after her 7th birthday was the IEP meeting to discuss those findings.

The psychologist pulled me aside just before the meeting to prepare me for the label.  Mild mental retardation.  IQ of 68.  He said he didn't want me to be thrown off in front of everyone.  I was grateful, and went through the meeting in a numb, out-of-body sort of fashion.  This was not what I had expected.  I did not want a retarded child.  Let me rephrase that.  I loved and wanted my daughter.  I did not want her to be retarded.  I got all the way to my car before I broke down.  I cried for a while then had to pull it together to get home to my mother in law who was watching numbers 2 & 3.  I wasn't prepared to discuss this with her.  I wasn't prepared for this at all.

For several years, I would leave the IEP annual reviews and go cry in my car.  I often felt that #1 was misunderstood, and not appreciated for the sweet girl she really was.  I also continued to mourn, and to hope that somehow she would grow out of this and catch up with her peers.

Three good things happened to change this.  First, my aunt, who has disabled children of her own, told me, "A label doesn't change who she is or how you deal with her.  It just lets her get the help she needs from others."  I must admit, however, that I appreciated that wisdom intellectually long before I could embrace it emotionally.

Second, we signed her up for AYSO special ed soccer, or the VIP program.  It's been good for her over the years, but that first year it was good for me to meet other parents of special needs kids.  Good to see them happy and hear them discuss life like any other parent.  I realized that I was unhappy about my girl because I kept hoping for something more.  Larry and I both did.  And that was the year that I began to stop doing that.  It became easier for me to advocate for what would be best for #1 when I no longer had unrealistic expectations.  It was no longer sad.  It just was our life.

Third, we moved to a new community the following summer, just in time for a little maturity to kick in.  #1 was no longer misbehaving at school, and kids and faculty alike did not realize that it was a change.  Peers reacted to her much differently--better.  Teachers thought she was sweet.  And every resource teacher she's since had has quickly come to love her and want to look out for her almost as much as I do.  I stopped crying after IEP meetings.  I'd often come away with a smile on my face, feeling blessed to have such great, caring people to help my daughter get an education.  We'd still sometimes encounter problems, but they were workable.  We'd find solutions.

This morning's IEP was our first here in Idaho.  The only hesitation I had in moving up here was #1's schooling.  New resource teacher, new friends, big, crowded hallways.  I'd heard good things about the special ed programs, but I still did not know how it would compare until we were here.  Well, I am thrilled.  #1 is happy.  Her resource teacher is fabulous.  There is a much smoother transition here from middle school to high school, which will make next year easier.  Her IEP has reasonable goals and sufficient accommodations.  Things that need some tweaking are already being tweaked.  I walked out of our meeting toward my car with a stinging nose and watery eyes.  Not because I was sad but because I am blessed.  Any stresses that this move is causing are worth what we have here for my girl.

I used to think it would have been easier had #1 been born with a visible disability.  Something that we could see and accept and research and deal with.  Our experience has been a little less straight-forward.  But here we are, and I wouldn't change a thing.  We adore our "sunshine" just how she is.  She makes us better people.  We've had associations and made friendships and had opportunities to serve that we'd have never had without a special needs child.  And special needs or not, she is still simply our sweet baby girl.  With a perfectly beautiful face, big blue eyes, and ruby red lips.  

Happy birthday, baby girl.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Please Indulge Me for a Moment

Oh boy.  A couple of years ago, when I first began writing this blog, I participated in a "tag," noting that I'd not do it again.  But I think I am going to.  Maybe just this once more. 

Let me explain.  I don't really feel like what I do here is your typical blog sort of thing.  I don't post often.  I don't have broad readership, and that really doesn't bother me--very often.  But I have discovered the past couple of months the larger blogging community and I've been dipping my toes in it.  There are a few that I really enjoy, and many more that I find tedious with out personal knowledge of the author.

One of the more interesting authors, who is also my one and only "follower," has tagged me.  (Thanks, by the way, Brittany, though I'm not sure if it looks worse to have 1 lonely follower or none at all!)  Out of  a mixture of gratitude and slight curiosity about the results of this, I feel compelled to participate in this blogging ritual one more time.  If this doesn't interest you, please read my coat battle post below.

  1. I have a tattoo of a bleeding heart flower above my left ankle.
  2.  I have an unhealthy relationship with refined sugar, particularly as an ingredient in chocolate.
  3. I wish I had minored in Humanities.
  4. I love Jane Austen Novels.  Especially Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion.  There are really only a few more, but these are my favorite, and I am usually in the middle of reading one of them--even if I am also reading something else.  I wish Jane had written the scriptures, because then I'd have that commandment down pat.
  5. When I was little, I wanted to be Jewish.  I loved the tradition, the symbolism, everything.  I felt Mormonism was lacking in those types of things.  I've since discovered that it's there in force, just not in daily and weekly worship.
  6. My favorite number is 2.  (Not to be confused with "Number 2," which I do not like so much and have had issues with.)  It always has been.  I'm not sure why.
  7. I think I'm relatively talented at a lot of things, but I lack the attention or discipline to really be GREAT at any of it.  This bugs me.  I wish I had that one "thing" that I did really well.  Then I could say in a tag, "I do (insert talent here)," and not feel a little like a fraud.
  8. (because I just thought of one more) I'm pretty geeky.  I love Mythbusters, Deadliest Catch, and Numb3rs, scifi, crossword puzzles, and statistics.  This is not a great thing when you're in HS.  As an adult, it works pretty well.

Okay.  Here is the lame part.  Like I said, I've not been blogging, as in, with others, for long. Most of my readers don't blog.  Therefore, I don't have seven people to "tag."  A couple who I'd get have already been tagged.  Another has a closed blog.  So here's my proposal.  If you are interested in doing this, leave me a comment, and I can stick your link in this post after the fact.  

The other lame caveat is that if you blog on Blogger and I haven't been to your site, I have to wait to check you out until I can clear you with my filtered internet service, which usually takes about 24 hours.  Sorry.  Of course, others can still link to you through your comment.  I can't say I was thrilled when they blocked Blogger a couple of weeks back.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

When hell, er, Boise, freezes over

The time is 6:53 am.  It is still dark.  The temperature outside is about 27 degrees Fahrenheit, which is exactly what it was at 6:10 when I first checked it.  A cold front is coming in, and we may even get snow flurries on Saturday.  

I've been asking my kids to dress warmer for a week or two, to which I've received replies of, "We're fine, Mom."  They probably were.  I am a cold person.  Even in the summer I get cold after I've eaten, or in an air conditioned store.  Or looking at a picture of frolicking penguins. 

Yesterday afternoon, #3 actually asked me to make her wear a coat in the morning, because they got cold walking to school.  Imagine.  Exercising AND cold.  Welcome to my life.  Anyhoo, I felt like the Negligent Mom of the Year because I had indeed quit pestering them about the jackets.  After checking out the front window for CPS, which I was sure her teacher had tipped-off, I dug out our outdoor thermometer from the boxes in the garage, and hung it on the back porch.  A mom armed with information is ... well, still going to face a fight from some.

So this morning, I gleaned my precious information, aroused the middle school set, and went about the task of digging those winter coats out of the boxes in my closet.  Each child's coat was updated with our current phone number and hung on the back of her, or his, dining chair.  

Number 2 was the first to see hers.  Amazingly, her coat had morphed into the spawn of Satan as it hung on her chair.  More amazingly, she was the only one who could detect this transformation.  Doing what any red-blooded American would upon seeing the spawn of Satan right there in her dining-room, she instantly tried to kill it with her laser-vision-evil-eye-glare.

My unfeeling response?  "You ARE wearing that to school today."  

"Wha-at?"  (as in, geesh, mom, what is your problem?)

"You are glaring at your coat like it's evil.  It's not even 30 degrees out there."  (See how helpful it is to have information?)

"I'm wearing a sweatshirt."

"And you have to stand at that bus stop for almost 10 minutes.  Do you not understand how cold it is?  30 degrees, as in, it would snow if it was raining.  Snow!  You are wearing that coat."

"oKAY." (as in, geesh, mom, what is your problem?)

Luckily #1 came down not to the spawn of Satan, only to a coat she did not want to wear to school.  And doing what any red-blooded teen-aged girl would do, she started complaining.  I'll spare you that conversation, which went remarkably like the conversation with #2, only at a higher decibel.

Mom did win this round, if you call producing two long, pouty faces winning.  As they were walking down the drive-way, #1 sulkily remarked to #2 that it was warmer today than yesterday.  "That's 'cause you're wearing your coats!," I yelled after them.  If they heard me, they didn't acknowledge the fact.  Of course, if they didn't hear me, I should get their hearing checked.  This afternoon.

Well, the sun is coming up, the temperature has dropped a few degrees, and I've just woken up the elementary school set.  I anticipate a better response.  Being warm is still cool in 1st and 3rd grade.