Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lazymas: A Festival of Lowered Expectations for We the Procrastinators, Underachievers, and Over-anxious Spazzes

Check that title! Now that's a title. No underachieving about that baby. I think I've been hanging around research scientists too long. All of the papers Dyl reads or writes have like 36 word titles. The worst part of this is you get to the end of the title and think, "Phew I must be almost done reading this thing." No, my friend. You've just begun. As usual, I digress.

Anyway, so I love Christmas and the entire holiday season, but somehow I get to the end of the season every year and have only managed to get about 3 things on my "must-do holiday list" done. And usually two of them involve alcohol (i.e. put up tree, make mulled wine, buy Bailey's for Christmas morning coffee...and Christmas afternoon coffee...and hell more Bailey's to drink straight with cookies after dinner).

So, in the grand tradition of Festivus (which is fabulous, obviously, but a bit too pessimistic for me), I propose a new holiday: Lazymas. Lazymas will be celebrated some time around January 20th, because, let's face it, you couldn't get all your Lazymas stuff together any earlier than that because you were too busy procrastinating or having panic attacks about all of the stuff you don't have to do to prepare for Lazymas.

There are only 5 sacred rules of Lazymas:

1. You must lower your expectations. Picture the perfect holiday in your head. Now dial it back and picture what you might actually be able to achieve if you work at it really hard for 2 weeks. Now dial it back and picture what might at least not get you kicked out of your playgroup full of Pinterest Nazis. Now dial it back and picture what might actually not require massive amounts of Xanax or wine to get through. Now you're talking.

2. You must eat a lot of something. You don't have to stand in the kitchen for 8 hours making a beautiful turkey dinner. Pop open a can of cheez wiz and a box of Ritz crackers for all I care. That's totally legit on Lazymas.

3. You must spend time with loved ones. These don't necessarily have to be family members, or even people you know or even people. If your loved ones live in Azeroth or Sim City, rock on. If your cat is the only person you can stand (har har), hang out with Fluffy.

4. You must buy yourself something you really want and you must buy it online. That way you can rock the yoga pants and hang with Fluffy on the couch having a cheez wiz eating contest while you shop. Don't buy your family members anything. They'll understand. They've lowered their expectations as instructed.

5. Instead of the Festivus airing of grievances, you must have a traditional Lazymas making of apologies. Because, let's face it, you're sitting on the couch playing video games after not buying your family any presents. You're going to have a bit to apologize for. Need some examples? Here are my Lazymas apologies for the 2013/2014 holiday season:

To all and sundry: No, we did not get it together to get Christmas cards out this year. Getting all 4 of us to stand next to each other and smile was apparently beyond the Dittrich-Reeds this year. Sorry. Take comfort in the fact that each time I receive one of your lovely cards in which your children are smiling and wearing matching sweater vests and not picking their noses or licking each other, I feel another little barb of guilt shoot through my heart...but then I eat a cookie and it goes away...

To my neighbors: I had such grand plans. I was going to make each one of you a personalized cookie basket (first calling to confirm things like nut allergies and special diets) and deliver it with a smile, an arsenal of pleasant small-talk, and maybe even a Christmas carol. Then I realized how much baking I was going to have to do just to get the bare minimum of teachers, aides, therapists and bus drivers covered. Hope you're cool with the furtive smile I shoot you as I dash indoors from my mailbox hoping you won't follow me to bring me guilt cookies.

To my husband: You way out-Christmased me as usual. If you got me even half the stuff I think you did, you definitely win. What can I say? You are friggin' impossible to buy for. You like funny internet videos and running and you already have a computer and a pair of shoes. Hope you enjoy the random items I scraped from the bottom of my memory (you have a thing for moose, right? I remember you mentioning them once 6 or 7 years ago...) and wrapped very poorly.

To everyone I told that I mailed out their packages last week: I didn't. Sorry.

To my children: Where do I begin? I think I did pretty well with your gifts this year, though Boog, it would be an enormous help if you'd use one of the half dozen methods of communication at your fingertips to let me know what you want next year. And no, delicious hair ties and coins for eating are not options. But the other stuff...

...I apologize for repeatedly promising to bake cookies with you and then not doing so until you confront me about it 2 or 3 days later...

...I apologize for never remembering the darn advent tree. It's been 3 or 4 days we've skipped now...which is probably just as well because some of the ornaments are missing and honestly, none of us need the tantrums that will ensue if you actually remember the darn thing and discover that the drawer for December 14th is empty...

...I apologize for making up different stories about Santa every time he's mentioned. I know they're not all consistent and all put together they paint a picture of a crazed, purposeless old weirdo who might bring you a Hello Kitty blanket but not if you stuff butter in the creamer carton when Mommy's vacuuming. Forgive me. Mommy wasn't raised with Santa and is clearly terrible at picking up foreign (to her) cultural traditions in her adulthood. I'm still not clear on whether the big man brings all the presents or just some and whether he wraps them or brings them unwrapped and I think I've told you at various times that I've met Santa and that I have no idea what he looks like, leaving you to surmise, I suppose, that I met him in a very dark room but knew it was him by his jolly laugh and the faint smell of cookies that followed him around. Again, so sorry. We'll be lucky to get 2 or 3 more Christmases out of this whole thing before I crack.

Well, I think that's about all I have and you know what? I actually feel better. Y'all should try Lazymas. But if I catch even one of you with a hot glue gun constructing a Lazymas wreath, I'm officially canceling the holiday. Maybe I'll start my own holiday then...how about...Losermas?


Christmas to-do list item #345: Make a snowman. Nailed it!








Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Two.

Here is a completely un-exaggerated list of things my daughter threw screaming tantrums about today:

The Starbucks in the grocery store had thoughtfully stocked several lemon cake pops since those are her favorite, we always shop on Tuesdays, and they know her as "Lemon Cake Pop Girl". So today is the day she asked for a pink one. They were out of pink.

After allowing her to "adopt" a cucumber and a delicata squash, I drew the line at an out-of-season $8 watermelon.

The sticker fell off her delicata squash.

I wouldn't let her hug the pork chops. They were her favorite. Ever. You are the worst, Mom.

I wouldn't buy her Silk eggnog instead of almond milk.

The cashier had to take her cucumber and delicata squash for 2.3 seconds to ring them up.

The bagger put the squash in a bag not knowing that it was her favorite. Ever. You are the worst, bagger. Worse than Mom.

She had to walk to the car because there was no room in the cart for her.

I wouldn't let her ride home in the trunk of the car.

I wouldn't let her get on Ry's bus when it dropped him off.

I wouldn't give her a cup of coffee. Which is her favorite. Ever. You're totally the worst again, Mom.

The sun was in her eyes on the way to ABA.

I suggested buying her sunglasses while we were out. I CAN'T WEAR GLASSES. You are really the worst, Mom!

She wanted her hat off.

She wanted her hat on.

She wanted her hat off.

She wanted her hat on.

Her hair was touching her face.

Her hair, having been removed from her face, was still touching her ears.

A little girl bit Rylan. Which hurt Pippa deeply, obviously.

The sun was in her eyes and Mom! You haven't bought me sunglasses yet! You are beyond the worst!

I was incapable of re-sealing the top of the container of Zax sauce she had with her lunch and had no desire to eat but was determined to save for later. Where are your superhuman mom-glue powers, Mom?!

There weren't enough Man-in-the-Yellow-Hats in her Curious George fruit snacks.

There were CARS. In the PARKING LOT. I don't want these cars, Mom!

She wanted a book about Santa that was supposed to play music but was broken. And cost $8.99. And Mom you are absolutely the worst ever for not buying me my FAVORITE book just because it's broken!

I bought dog food in a green bag. She wanted the dog food in the orange bag. Which is for large breeds. And we own a Corgi.

I bought candy canes for Dylan since they're his favorite. She wanted one and I told her she could have one after we went to the library. But I don't want the library, Mom!

I put the books we checked out last week in the book drop at the library.

I asked her to look at books.

There were cookbooks. I just. CAN'T. Get those cookbooks out of my sight!

I couldn't turn a square magnet into a circle.

I asked if she wanted to leave the library and go have a candy cane.

I wouldn't let her crawl to the car.

I wouldn't eat a candy cane.

I insisted on having my water bottle in my cupholder in the front seat where she could neither reach it nor see it while she was riding in the car. How. Dare. You. Mom.

I scolded her for killing a ladybug.

I wouldn't let her lure a stray kitty with her leftover toast from lunch and then take kitty home with us. She claimed Tobi (our ancient grouchy anti-social cat) wanted this kitty. Think of poor lonely Tobi, Mom!

We had to go home.

There were TREES. On the side of the ROAD. I don't want these trees!

I was stopped at a red light. GO MOM!

Daddy put the wrong pajama pants on her.

Nobody wanted to read her a bedtime story while she was screaming at the top of her lungs and thrashing about.


I only wish I could have video'd all of these and turned them into a clever parody of Taylor Swift's "Twenty-two". In my mind the chorus goes:

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling f*cking two.
Everything in my life sucks and it's all because of you!
You allow cars to exist and trees, too.
And I can outlast you, because I'm two, oh yeah, f*cking two.

I'm two, b*tches, deal with it.





Tuesday, October 22, 2013

So I Totally Run Now

Hello there, Internet! So...it's been over 3 months since my last blog post and I have so many excuses. I mean, first of all, we moved. So that took...well...like a day. But then our Internet wasn't hooked up yet and it took a whole...four days to get someone out here. And then there was the unpacking which took...um...2 weeks. And like I had to go meet with Ry's new teacher twice and I had to find a new grocery store and I turned 30 so Dylan and I went out for a couple of hours...and...

...yeah clearly I have no really good excuse. There have been no lack of bloggable situations. I just generally sat down and said, "I'm going to blog this" and then ended up reading other people's blogs instead, because it's a lot less work to laugh at other people's funny blogs than to try to write one yourself.

I have, however, acquired a new hobby that is taking up a bit of my time and a lot of my headspace. I've started running!

Okay. Running is a wildly generous term. It's more like a zombie shuffle with occasional grouchy and reluctant sprints on speedwork days, followed by more zombie shuffle. But it makes me sooo happy.

I've been wanting to run for years, but as bizarre as this sounds, the stars had to align to make it possible. First of all, there was the financial question. People are always saying, "Oh, running is free." Bullshit. Running is expensive unless you're blessed with a resilient injury-resistant body (hint: I'm not). I did okay once for a summer because I had a pair of exercise shorts and tennis shoes, but then it got cold in the fall and I didn't have any pants to wear other than PJs or jeans and my shoes got worn out contributing to the patellofemoral syndrome crap I ended up in PT for and I didn't have the dough to fork out for a pair of running tights and a new pair of shoes. So I stayed indoors and pirated workouts off the Internets for awhile.

Secondly, I lived in a...less than ideal location for running. It wasn't the middle of the ghetto or anything, but there were some pretty unsavory characters in my neighborhood that I didn't exactly fancy meeting in the dark at 5 a.m. Plus, apparently folks in North Knoxville think it's funny to follow lone exercising women and yell things at them from the car. I was once even heckled by a neighbor who sat on her porch and yelled "Run, bitch, run" every time I ran by. Um yeah. So I stayed indoors and pirated workouts off the Internets.

Thirdly, there was a time in our lives, which is thankfully over (knock on wood), when my buddy was very sick and we needed to be ready to take him to the ER at a moment's notice. The last thing I wanted was for my hubby to have to be searching the streets for me while Boog seized in the back seat. So I stayed indoors very, very close to my little dude and pirated workouts off the Internets.

Also, there was the matter of free time. In the crunch at the end of Dyl's quest for his doctorate, he was working roughly 18-20 hours a day. Lacking the funds for a sitter or family in town, this meant I either had to get up at 3 a.m. to run or I had to figure out a way to do it with the kids. Since I have 2 kids and a jogging stroller that seats 1...yep...I stayed indoors and pirated workouts off the Internets.

Thus, I spent about a year and a half listening to Run Like a Mother podcasts and reading Runner's World in the magazine aisle at Target and dreaming. And then Dylan got the professor gig and we moved to Clemson and Rylan got well and poof! There was money (well not Jay-Z level money, but enough to get a new pair of shoes when they wear out)! There was time (I even have the luxury of putting Pippa in Mother's Morning Out so I have approximately 3 whole hours a week totally alone)! There was a friendly, safe neighborhood where I have yet to be heckled or followed regardless of the hour! Running parrrrrrty!

I started with the Train Like a Mother 5k plan and it was tough. I had a bad summer fibromyalgia-wise and didn't exercise nearly as much as I usually do, so I came to the plan with crappy cardiovascular fitness and a few extra pounds jiggling around. I stuck with it, though, and on my 30th birthday I decided I was going to run 5 miles. Well, I hit 5 miles and thought, "Heck, why not 6?" I kept running and ended up doing a 10k after not having run more than 2.5-3 miles in the previous weeks.

I'm not sure I can accurately describe what an accomplishment this is for me. I am not a natural runner by any means. I'm slow and waaay right-side dominant so I end up with a lot of injuries on the right side of my body. I have a bunch of scar tissue in my lungs from childhood asthma and pneumonia so my cardiovascular fitness is sloooow to build and probably does have an upper limit (though I've been able to stretch it further than I thought possible). There's also the pesky ever-present demon: fibromyalgia. Moderate exercise is good for my fibro, but if I push it too hard I'll end up barely able to move for a week. It's always a dance to keep my symptoms in check.

But this time I'm doing things right. I cut way back on the intense strength and circuit training workouts I was doing in order to not overtax my body and with a combo of running and body weight training, I've been able to cut my fibro flares down to the lowest level they've been in years! I'm doing lots of yoga for runners to work on my imbalances. I'm using a foam roller. I'm icing religiously and taking epsom salt baths. I quit drinking and am trying to get as much sleep as is possible in my nutty household. And so far (KNOCK ON WOOD), it's been almost 3 months and I'm injury-free, 5 weeks into a 10k program and able to run consistently 3-4 times a week.

I know there are people who will never understand the appeal of running and that's fine. I don't think I'll ever understand the appeal of knitting or watching football or making Bento box lunches for a picky toddler who's just going to throw half of it away anyway. For me, running is meditative. I run without music and I run outside, alone, in uncrowded areas. It's a place for me to be quiet and focused and alone with my thoughts. Also, you can't beat the runner's high when the entire world seems like a sparkly, wonderful place to be and you love everybody (unfortunately I'm finding it hits later and later the fitter I get. Took 4 miles to get there on Saturday). Plus it's a way for me to challenge myself and channel my competitive nature into something healthy.

Did I mention I get to do it alone? I'm not alone when I go to the bathroom these days so alone is a rare and precious thing.

P.S. I have no pictures of me running because...trust me...nobody wants to see that. So, below I will share a completely unrelated picture of Princess Peej in a state of joy similar to the one I find in running.








Monday, July 8, 2013

I Think I Have the Black Lung, Pop

So, my children have colds. Dylan has a cold, too. For the first time ever, I do not have a cold. Let me repeat: My entire family is sick and I am totally fine! This has never happened, ever. My immune system is generally out to lunch more often than a secretary 6 months from her retirement. This time, though, somehow, I am magically completely healthy (okay that's not actually true. My fibromyalgia is worse than it's been in 7 years...but at least I'm not hacking up a lung in addition to that ridiculousness).

This cold and not-cold have offered a fascinating opportunity for me to observe the differences in the ways different folks handle being mildly ill without a sea of mucus clouding my brain. Dylan handles having a cold pretty much as I imagine Mary Poppins might. He complains a little bit in the morning, takes a spoonful of honey and a cup of tea and goes about his day. He coughs and blows his nose like a reasonable human being without a lot of ceremony, and he goes to bed a little earlier. No complaints there.

My children, on the other hand, are a study in contrasts but are both terrible at being sick. To illustrate this for you, I present this scene from our morning (Rylan's dialogue is, of course, the crystallization of the general ideas he presents through actions and somewhat rude gestures):

Pippa, upon awakening: Daddy. Me cough. Me up ALL NIGHT. (Coughs dramatically)

Rylan, upon awakening with a thick crust of green nastiness completely plugging up his nose: So, what are we going to do today, guys? I am raring to go! What this? Oh no, it's definitely NOT boogers. Nope. You don't need to wipe my nose. It's all good here.

Pippa, upon being presented with breakfast: Nooooooo. Me no want banana! Me no want bread! Me. NOSE. RUN.

Rylan, upon being presented with breakfast: Oh cool, I totally love bananas and there's no reason at all that eating them would be at all difficult for me. I mean, it's not like my nose and throat are completely obstructed with a thick coating of mucus I refuse to expel. Gaaaaaaaaag. What's that? No, I'm totally not going to puke. Gaaaaaaag. Feeling great, gimme more banana!

Pippa, standing 3 inches from my face: What wrong, Pippa? What wrong, Pippa? What wrong, Pippa?

Me, somehow guessing I might be expected to ask something...: What's wrong, Pippa?

Pippa, clutching at her chest: Mommy. Me. NOSE. RUN.

Me: Okay, well let me help you wipe it, then.

Pippa, running across the room and flinging herself on top of a packing box: Nooooooooooooooooooooo!

Me: Pippa, why won't you come here and let me wipe your nose?

Pippa: Me. NOSE. RUN. Me NOSE RUN! Me NOSE RUN!!!

Me: Um, yeah...I gathered that. Come get your nose wiped.

Pippa: Noooooo! Can't come. ME NOSE RUN!!!

Rylan: I'm not saying I have pneumonia. I just. There's a little something in my chest (coughs like a consumptive zombie). It's probably just allergies. No. No. I don't need a breathing treatment. No. Look over there! A squirrel!

Me: Pippa, come here right now or you get time-out.

Pippa, running to her time out corner and slamming herself against the wall: Me NOSE RUN! Me cough (coughs like Derek Zoolander after spending the day mining for coal)! Me (pauses for dramatic effect) SICK.

Rylan: I'm just going to lay on the floor for a little bit. Nothing to see here, folks.

Pippa, after coughing: Poor princess. Poor Pippa. Pippa sick.

Rylan: I could totally get up if I wanted to. It's just that this floor is really comfortable. I feel...great...

See what I mean? Worst sick people ever.


I am clearly dying of smallpox of the tuberculosis and no one cares!!!

Look at my face. Have you ever seen a face this sick?


Ah me. Minutes to live. My young life has been a waste.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Righting The Redneckery: There Will Never Be a Conclusion

Hi y'all! I am determined to get back to this blog. I miss it and all my bloggy buddies and their witty words. Of course, re-dedicating myself to blogging right before a major move during which I will almost certainly be without an Internet connection (le gasp!) for quite awhile is rather, well, stupid...nevertheless...

Today I bring you what would be the conclusion of our tale of ongoing whattheshizz woe I've titled "Righting the Redneckery" if eternal life wallowing in hellfire had a conclusion. Some of you may remember those posts from...oh Lordy a year ago? Yeah, it's still going on.

In my persistent and extreme naivete regarding all things related to this PITOFDESPAIR well-loved older house, I created a house-fixin'-up schedule for myself in April. At this point we didn't know when/where/if we were moving, but I figured we probably would be moving somewhere at some point (if only to a cardboard box under Crackhead Bridge if Dyl didn't get a job...Crackhead Bridge being my extremely politically incorrect term for a freeway underpass near our house) so it needed to get done. I made lists and drew up charts and estimated I could have all of my stuff done by June 1 and hopefully Dyl could finish the bathroom by then as well. It all worked out on paper, but I forgot one little thing (well two).

I have children. Children do not like home renovation projects. Children are apt to either a. get all stimmy on your ass or b. BREAK ALL OF THE THINGS! I'll let you guess which kid is which in this scenario. The day I painted the first wall, Boog took a leap off the tower of "Well-Adjusted Autistic Kid" and landed in a pool of "I'm a Complete Mess and Everything in my Life is Terrible, Especially You, MOM". He spends his days stomping around the house yelling at everything, and mostly me. It's amazing how without a word he can convey, "I can't believe you painted my room! Who the hell do you think you are, woman? My room was blue. Blue. Blue is the color of my room. This. Is. Not. Right."

Pippa, on the other hand, has seen this period of mild neglect ("Here kids, watch another movie while Mommy attempts to somehow make this wall look not crooked. Surely there's some kind of trompe l'oeil for that...") as a unique opportunity for creating mischief. Her mischief comes in myriad unexpected forms, but she has been pretty laser-focused on a toddlerhood staple these days. Basically, all of the things have been colored on. All of the things. The table, the floor, the couch, the freshly-painted living room walls. I even caught her holding the dog down trying to scribble on her belly in pink crayon hollering, "ALICE! Hol' Stiiiiiill!!!" I'm not an idiot. I take the pens and pencils and crayons away. She finds them. She can get into any drawer, closet, or lockbox-guarded-by-Unsullied in the house. Mommy's tired...and frequently covered in ballpoint pen scribbles.

This is my very long way of saying we did not meet our June 1st deadline. In fact here we are at July 2nd, set to move in 17 days and we still need to: paint the master bath, put in the shower doors, install the toilet and vanity, do the floors in the hall bath, clean the paint out of the tub, take all the tape down, touch-up wall and trim paint in the whole house, replace a small section of the kitchen floor, spruce up the garden, touch-up the outside paint, install new blinds in Pippa's room, install the kitchen sink and moulding in the kitchen. Oh yeah, and pack.

Egads.

At every turn, we are faced with some new, glaring example of redneckery. Today the counter-installer guy from Home Depot came to put our new counter in (an hour and 15 minutes early, I might add, hope you enjoyed being greeted by my stinky, sweaty sports-bra clad self. If you'd given me an hour I would have been Betty Draper all pastel shirtwaist dress and pearls and glass of lemonade or scotch-and-soda-offering...okay that's not true, but I would have been less odorous and fully-dressed). He discovered, surprise surprise, the rednecks installed the old counter wrong and as a result of this, part of the underside of the sink is totally rusted-out. So. New sink. Yay. Also...this was lurking behind some moulding:

"Bubba! This dishwasher don't fit right!" "Aw, don't worry, Junior, just put that sonbitch up on blocks!"

The counter-installer guy laughed and laughed and then said, "People don't realize the dishwasher feet are adjustable. They could have just pulled them down a little," and then he laughed and laughed. Yeah...we'll probably just slap some more moulding across there and call it a rednecky day...

So we spackle and patch on, screwdrivers and hammers against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the f*ckwittedness (I used that asterisk for you, Mom. You're welcome.).

This is getting long so tomorrow or Thursday I'll regale y'all with the Tale of the Bathroom Window or The Day Our House Almost Flooded and We Almost Got Divorced. Thanks for reading!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Buh-Bye Knoxville!

Okay, first I need to take a moment to say a HUGE Thank you to everyone who has donated to Boog's service dog, shared our story or sent us any manner of prayers, positive thoughts or happy hippie energy. We are currently at $9,370 which is over 85% of our $11,000 goal! I am still completely floored by the insane outpouring of generosity! Thank you, so much Megcentrists!!!!

And now, to catch blog readers who aren't hip to my outside life (you know, on Facebook, hehe) up on what's been going on with the Dittrich-Reeds. A little over a month ago we got the absolutely effing awesome news that Dylan was offered an assistant professor position in the Biology dept. at Clemson University. It's pretty much his dream job that he never thought he'd get (take that, impostor syndrome!) and it's located in the most adorable little wooded college town in western South Carolina.

We immediately dumped the children on my parents and ran out there into the pretty pretty money-colored sunset yelling, "Buh-bye suckas!" Okay, not exactly, but my parents did watch them and we drove out there, Dylan went to a lot of boring meetings, I took a very long walk around campus in ridiculous heels a size and a half too small for my feet because I was trying to pretend I was a real live grown-up and not a stay-at-home schlump who alternates between Chucks and flip flops only the last time I was a real live grown-up who wore real live grown-up shoes was 2 kids and a shoe size and a half ago. Anyway, blisters. Blisters is what I'm saying. My heels are still peeling.

Dyl got all the formalities settled (he even bargained. It was adorable! I'm so proud of my little introvert!) and we found a house to rent! It's huge and beautiful and really close to the university and Ry's elementary school. I'm currently in the mystifyingly interminable process of trying to get Ry signed up for school. It's very confusing for folks, apparently, because he's not old enough for kindergarten so the regular schoolfolks don't want him but he's already in a special ed program so the ChildFind folks don't need to "find" him as he's already been found. I think I've gotten it sorted out, but we'll see.

We are having to scramble to get our house fixed up and on the market. Luckily it was such a shithole steal that our mortgage is really low and we can afford to float it for a couple of months if necessary. We're almost done righting all the redneckery and I'm kinda miffed that someone else gets to live in our unredneckified house, but then I look at the boring, boring old-people neutral paint colors I put on the previously interesting walls and I change my mind. I am never painting anything again. Ever.

Anyway, so we are leaving Knoxville and I'm actually starting to get a bit sentimental. It's no secret that Rocky Top and I got off to a rocky start. We left an adorable, safe little liberal college town 2500 miles away to move here and I experienced major culture shock (what do you mean there are people here who don't believe in global warming?! And where the heck are all the cute little locally-owned fair-trade boutiques with all the knickknacks from Africa and South America I can't afford?!). It took a couple of long, painful years for us to carve out our niche here. But it's been carved and in no particular order, I want to list the top 6 things (because I had more than 5 but couldn't come up with 10) I'm going to miss most when we move on:

1. Three Rivers Market - AKA Mecca AKA the place I visit sometimes an embarrassing 3 times a day because I forgot something or I just have to have those g-d Nectar Nugget peanut butter cups at 10 p.m. Three Rivers is cool with that, they don't judge me for my scatterbrained nature or peanut butter cup addiction. For those who don't live in Knoxville, Three Rivers is a food co-op and they have saved our weird little food-allergic family's butts many times.

We found them back when we first discovered Ry was allergic to dairy and I was nursing him and living on baby carrots and air because I didn't know how to cook and eat real food and everything processed was chock-full of cow-y goodness (er badness in this case). Suddenly there were things I could eat! And when things got weirder when we put him on the Specific Carbohydrate diet, Three Rivers had all the crazy out-there grain-free flours and seeds and organic chicken livers and whatnot we needed. Everyone who works there is so nice and laid-back and the new store (it used to be in this tiny rickety old house) is gorgeous and man am I going to miss them!

2. MagPies Bakery - I came here intending to go to culinary school, become a pastry chef and open my own bakery. Oh tiny little 24 year old Meg, you were so adorably young. Through some inexplicable stroke of luck I got a job at MagPies, the best bakery in Knoxville (just ask Metro Pulse a bajillion years running). This job was instrumental in convincing me that opening a bakery was NOT what I wanted to do, but I don't mean that as an insult. Peggy and her crew work HARD. They work late into the night and they come to work eaaaarly in the morning.

I worked there for 2 1/2 years transitioning from customer service and general all-around gofer girl (which I was terrible at) to icing queen (which I was less terrible at) to middle-o'-the-night baker girl (which, as there were no people to awkwardly interact with and I set my own daily schedule I was much better at) and while it was very, very hard work I loved it. But then I became a mom. To a very special Boog. His therapy schedule started to come together in all its time-sucking intricacies and his (lack of) sleep schedule wasn't jiving with the fact that Mommy only had the hours between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. to sleep. Eventually, it was either quit or fall asleep driving the kid to PT or ST or OT or FT or GT and die in a horrible fiery car crash.

I still miss it! I made some amazing lifelong friends there and I was proud to work for an organization that believed so deeply in the quality of its products. MagPies cupcakes are still the very best thing I've ever put in my mouth and it was awesome to get to be a part of that for a little while.

3. The Sunspot - Yes, the first 3 items on my list are about food. So what? The Sunspot is the first restaurant we ever ate at in Knoxville and it will probably be the last (even though they took my beloved Granny Smith steak salad off the menu. I forgive you, Sunspot...sort of...). Their motto is "Where Tie-Dyes and Neckties Unite" and while I'm not sure I've seen many folks sporting either there, the point is that it's a slightly hippie establishment that fancy grown-up folk can go to in K-town to eat something other than pulled pork and grits (although those occasionally make appearances on the menu, too).

To me, it's the closest I've come to "California food" in the South and they have a very large selection of teh alcohols. They've also moved from a rickety ol' shithole building (after a car crashed in through the window while Dylan was drinking at the bar. True story) to a nice, light, airy, hipstery repurposedy looking space a little further down the road. I'm going to miss the food and the booze and the general ambiance.

4. Knoxville Center for Autism - A couple of years ago, right after Boog got his PDD diagnosis, I learned about this magical type of therapy called "Applied Behavioral Analysis" at the exact same time that we switched insurance companies to one that would actually cover aforementioned therapy. Miraculously, there was even one BCBA in town who took this insurance! When we started in 2011, KCA was just one awesome lady, Sara Gilbert, and an assistant in 2 tiny rooms in an old house in West Knoxville. Today Sara employs several other therapists and has moved into 2 suites in an office complex nearby where they offer not only private ABA but social skills groups, special summer programs in sensory integration, math, reading, and social skills and parent training programs.

KCA has been miraculous for Boog. He's made such strides across the board since he started ABA and he loves going there. To him, his therapists are his friends and he's always happy to greet them with a smile and some strange form of physical contact that they tolerate because they're awesome. They've advocated for us with our insurance company when his hours got cut and they created an entirely new protocol for Boog when he was so sick this winter to try to keep him from being exposed to germs. We're currently on the waiting list for an ABA practice near Clemson but we're going to miss KCA very, very much.

5. Knoxville Holistic Moms - Sadly I am such an introverty hermit that I didn't discover the Holistic Moms Network until last summer. What I found was a cool bunch of ladies who are all different but who share a common goal to live a bit more in tune with nature. So, basically, I found my hippies. I also found my neighbor Jenny who, despite living down the street from us for several months didn't know we existed. I knew she existed because she had a drying rack full of cloth diapers out front and a Coexist sticker on her car and every time I drove by her house, I thought, "Man, I should really meet her!" but then it's kinda weird and creepy to go up and knock on someone's door and say, "Hey, I dig your bumper sticker! Let's be friends!"

But I went to that first HMN meeting and saw her car out front and finally got the balls to say, "Um, you live 50 feet from me. Wanna hang?" And now we're great friends.

I'm incredibly bummed that there's no HMN chapter in Clemson. In fact there are no chapters in the entire state of South Carolina! Maybe I'll start one...you know...in my free time.

6. Lisa Ross Birth and Women's Center - I had RyRy the mainstream way - by scheduled "post-date" induction in a hospital. The nurses were attentive and kind and I liked my obstetrician, but the experience itself was terrible. When I became pregnant with Pippa, I knew I wanted to go a different route. I wasn't quite brave enough to attempt a home birth, but there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell I was stepping foot in a hospital again. Enter Lisa Ross: the only free-standing midwife-run birth center around. And 5 minutes from my house!

While I had a bit of a disagreement with one of the midwives over my weight gain (there's an earlier blog to this effect), the rest of them were very chill and knowledgeable and generally just checked me and baby out and then let me be, which is exactly what I wanted. During Pippa's birth, the attending midwife was fantastic. When in pain, I'm like an injured animal. When giving birth, I'm like an injured animal with big, sharp pointy teeth. In other words I just wanted to be left alone in the dark to pace and I didn't want anyone to so much as whisper to me. The midwife came in at first, tried to rub my back and drew me a bath. I growled. She retreated. She spent most of my labor sitting in the hallway so I could be alone. It. Rocked. She came and checked on baby every 30 minutes and between times I was left alone to drink coconut water, eat Larabars and growl at Dylan to leave me alone. And I got to go home 6 hours after Pippa's birth to be left alone to snuggle my baby and nurse. It was exactly what I wanted.

So, bye Knoxville! I'll miss your scruffiness and your tiny pockets of liberalism and your rolling, green hills! We both knew this wasn't a forever thing, but I will remember you fondly.

Photo from tripadvisor.com


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Grateful

Oh my goodness. I am completely overwhelmed. You lovely, lovely, lovely people!

Okay, I'll try to summon some coherence. Remember that little Superdog blog I wrote yesterday telling y'all about fundraising efforts for Rylan's service dog? You crazy, wonderful people have really put the word out and we have raised $4500 in a little over 24 hours all from private donations! I've gone through and thanked each person individually through the fundraising site, but I want to send a BIG collective thank you to my lovely bigger-than-I-imagined social circle. THANK YOU!

I feel like George Bailey at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life". I had no earthly idea that the response would be like this. I assumed that my closest friends and family would probably chip in if they could, but I have complete strangers sending ridiculous amounts to me: $100, $200, $500 -- people I don't know from Adam. Our family has been set completely adrift on a sea of kindness.

We nearly have enough to make the first $5000 payment due August 1 already! Words are failing me right and left as I try to express how this makes me feel. Relieved. Excited. Grateful. Grateful. Grateful.

Thank you.

video


Monday, June 17, 2013

Superdog!

Well hello there, gentle readers! Long time no...type! I'm terribly sorry for the long hiatus. A lot of exciting things have happened to our little band of misfits over the past couple of months and I will be returning later this week to regale you with our hijinks (and a long-awaited update to the Righting the Redneckery series!).

Today, though, I'm coming to ask a big favor. I mentioned awhile back that we were looking into getting a service dog for the Boog to help with certain troubling symptoms of his autism and epilepsy. Well, we've done it! We don't have doggy in hand yet (well, in home, I'm guessing it'll be too big to fit in my hand, unless he gets some sort of genetically mutated mini-dog, which, while theoretically adorable, would probably not be terribly helpful for these purposes...as usual, I digress), but the good folks over at Wilderwood Service Dogs in Maryville, TN are working on finding the right match for our Boog and training the dog to meet his particular needs.

I talked about this a bit in previous blogs, but this dog, once trained, will really be a superhero for our family. Superdog will be able to keep the Boog from wandering off and getting lost or hurt (this one is especially important to me. Do you know how many autistic children wander away from their homes and get hurt or killed? It's absolutely heartbreaking). Superdog will help him focus during therapy and "homework" sessions by interrupting his self-stimulatory patterns. Superdog will be an excellent social bridge through which Ry can begin to build relationships with others and just a good pal to cuddle with when he wants to be alone but still needs a little bit of company (currently my ancient and evil cat, Tobi is serving this purpose, but she is, as aforementioned, ancient and though I am thoroughly convinced her pure evilness will preserve her forever, still it's good to have a backup). But most importantly, Superdog will learn the signs the Boog exhibits when he's about to have a seizure and will be trained to alert us. This is huge, because, though he hasn't had one in a couple of months now (YAY!), his seizures can be very dangerous. He often vomits during them and he's usually laying down when they happen. If this happened in the middle of the night and we were asleep, he could choke, which is just the most terrible, terrible thing to think of. With Superdog in our house, we can rest a little easier knowing we will have an extra safety measure in place during Ry's seizure cycles.

And, of course, Superdog will be faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Just kidding. Wilderwood in no way promised us the dog will have actual superpowers. But s/he will do all that other stuff I mentioned.

So, where's the catch, Meg? Well, service dogs ain't cheap. Wilderwood is a non-profit and as such charges a heck of a lot less than for-profit service dog organizations, but we still need to come up with $12,000 and fast. We've put down $1000 deposit already, but we have $5000 due by September 1 and the remaining $6000 by December 1.

So we need a little help. If Boog's story has resonated with you and you have the means, please consider donating to his service dog fund. If you don't have the dough but would be willing to share this blog or his gofundme page (which I'll link below), we'd love it if you did that. Prayers, happy thoughts, white light, interpretive dance and anything else you want to send out into the Universe in his honor are also greatly appreciated. I can't wait to get Superdog home and post pictures of him/her and my SuperBoog in matching capes!

Thanks for reading, as always, and I'll be back to the blog later this week!

Here's my buddy in case you need a little cuteness in your day:





GoFundMe site:

http://www.gofundme.com/3anwec?preview=1

Monday, April 1, 2013

Someone with Autism Loves Me

Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day and thus I am crawling out of my nest of packing boxes and paint cans and special education paperwork to write to anyone who I can get to take the time to read about the driving force in my life: raising autism awareness.

Last year, I wrote a blog for Autism Awareness (you can find it here: http://megcentric.blogspot.com/2012/04/rylan-awareness.html) and it is still by far my most-read post, which is frankly pretty awesome. I got a lot of the basics out in that post, so I won’t repeat them here, but I will dive right into what continues to both bother and motivate me about the lack of public autism awareness: the dehumanization of autistic individuals.

I know it sounds heavy. Stick with me, okay! I promise I’m not going to lecture y’all!

Here’s what I mean: I imagine there are millions of people who could recite the “1 in 88” statistic, and even know the “red flags of autism” (lack of eye contact, hand flapping and other repetitive motions, lack of appropriate social smiling and laughing, utter dependence on routines, etc.). The autism awareness campaign has been heavily focused on early detection so far. This approach is aimed at making folks aware that autism exists, that it’s common and what they should look for in their own children if they’re concerned about autism. So, in that respect, it’s great.

What I hate about it, though, is that it reduces a dynamic and varied population of people to a list of rather scary-sounding “symptoms”. As a society, we know the “whats” of autism, but not the “whos”. I’m sure that all awareness campaigns struggle with this same issue. There is vitally important health or behavioral information to impart and so that takes priority. It’s also much easier to tell people their risk of having a child with Down’s syndrome, or a congenital heart defect, or autism than it is to tell them what it’s like to have Down’s Syndrome or to be autistic. I think the autism awareness campaign has been particularly faceless and personality-less, though, and that troubles me.

Presenting only the faceless “cold, hard facts” is so particularly harmful in the case of autism because autism, as described in a clinical manner, sounds terrifying and foreign to a neurotypical person. The list of “red flags” describes an individual who doesn’t hold meaningful conversations, smile or laugh, who throws mysterious and troubling tantrums over changes in routine, who is completely unable to cope with activities like getting their hair cut or nails trimmed or being bathed, who makes odd hand motions constantly and stares at lights. This person does not sound like someone any of us would want to spend time with. This person sounds miserable and closed-off and out of control.

These symptoms are, of course, only half of the story, but thanks to “red flags” awareness, they’re the half that people without personal experience with autism are most familiar with. I freely admit to being completely terrified that I would have a child with autism before I had Ry. I had this perception, which is quite common, that people with autism are unable to make emotional connections with even their closest family members. I thought that having a child with autism would mean raising someone who would never care whether I was dead or alive and with whom I’d never share any meaningful social interaction. And God, who could blame anyone for being afraid of that?

Have you ever seen those bumper stickers that say, “I love someone with autism”? It is a good message as far as it goes, but I think a better one is “Someone with autism loves me”. “I love someone with autism” when coupled with the scary red flags list lends an aura of heroism to the family members of autistic individuals. Look how they are able to fight through all of the terrible symptoms of autism to find a way to love that autistic person! How amazing!

Do you know what? It’s easy to love Rylan. It’s as easy as it is to love Pippa. He’s my child. He’s part of me. Yes, he does things that aggravate me and stretch my patience to its breaking point every day, but so does Pippa! I think the amazing part of our relationship that everyone is missing is not that I love him, it’s that he loves me and I know it. With all of those “red flag” limitations (and he has ALL of them), he finds a way to fight through the autism fog to show me that he loves me every day. His love looks different from neurotypical love but that doesn’t make it any less real. When I come home after running errands and he starts smiling and flapping his hands, that’s love. When he comes out of his room in the morning and pauses to pat me on the leg three times before he goes to the kitchen to ask for a drink, that’s love. When I finish singing his lullaby at night and he grunts and grabs my hand so I’ll sing it again, that’s love. When he breaks through the intense need to stim with his hands and ignores the noise of the television and the pattern of light coming in from the blinds, and the smell of breakfast cooking all just to sign, “I love you”, well that’s just…indescribable…and it’s love.

Someone with autism loves me. He loves me, he loves his daddy, he loves his sister, and his grandparents, his teachers and therapists, his friends, and his pets. He is a person with feelings and an ability to connect socially even though that connection looks pretty odd from the outside. It’s true that he doesn’t talk. He throws sensory meltdown tantrums in the middle of the grocery store. He makes strange motions with his hands constantly. He can only tolerate small groups of people for short periods of time. But I can tell you for certain that he is not miserable and he’s not isolated. He radiates joy and sweetness and he is so much more than a list of symptoms. He is so much bigger and brighter than any fear I ever had.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Almost-Dr. Crazypants

I'm living with a crazy person.

The man who I've loved for almost 13 years has suddenly become a distracted lunatic who wanders about the house muttering, "Can't finish. Gotta finish. (Insert sciency words about beetles here)." I wake at 2 a.m. to discover empty coffee mugs littered about (always more than one...why? He only has one mouth...) and an even blearier-eyed lunatic staring at what looks like a bunch of wavy lines to me and muttering even louder (more sciency words).

In other words, Dylan's dissertation is due soon and he is freaking the freak out. It's not his fault. From what I understand, the dissertation defense is essentially The Academic Hunger Games: "Oh, you didn't replicate your study using this rare fish from The Marianas Trench? FIREBALL! Game over, Tribute!" Still, he displays a startling creativity in coming up with new things to be anxious about:

Dylan: "I'm going to be working at Target in the fall, I know it."

Me: "What? Why Target?"

Dylan: "Because no one will publish my dissertation and I won't be able to get a job."

Me: "Obviously that's not true." Pause. "I wonder what kind of discount you'd get at Target, though...hmm..."

And later on:

Dylan: "I'm really worried about what my adviser will say when he introduces me at the defense."

Me: "What do they usually say?"

Dylan: "Oh, nice things about what you've done in your academic career and your research."

Me: "So, what...you're worried he's going to say, 'Dylan sucks, now tear him apart and feast upon his living and totally inadequate flesh'?"

Dylan: "Yeah, basically."

The thing is, I don't blame him one bit for all the crazy. This is huge and stressful and I'd be freaking out, too. Actually, I'd be balled up in a corner somewhere humming "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Mis. I am so proud of him for putting himself through this that I can barely look at him without tearing up. I know he's going to get that doctorate and no one will eat him at his defense (though I'm packing him a crossbow in his lunch that day, just in case), and he will get a job that, sadly, will not enable me to purchase toilet paper and cute graphic T's at a 25% discount.

So for now, I'm trying to just love him through the crazy and wash his many coffee cups every morning with a smile on my face. Just think: in a few months I can call myself Mrs. Dr., except I won't, because that's clearly terrible. I did, however, tell him that I will probably call him "The Doctor" instead of Dylan for at least the next several years. I wonder if he gets a sonic screwdriver with the diploma? That could come in handy...(P.S. that's a Doctor Who joke because, hey world, did you know this show that started running several years ago is awesome? 'Cause I just found out...)



Seriously. Who wouldn't give this guy a doctorate?




Thursday, February 21, 2013

Here I Am, Moving

So, I've skipped every single weekly feature I assigned myself over the past few weeks and I've been feeling kinda bad about neglecting this here blog. So. Here I am.

When I disappear from the Internet, or parts of it anyway, I always imagine what people might be thinking I'm doing. "Has she run away with the circus?" "Gotten divorced and thrown all of the technology out the window in a fit of man-and-computer-hatin' rage?" "Is she dead? And if so, will her ghost start ghostwriting on her blog to help us solve her murder???" I realize, of course, that anyone who didn't give birth to me probably doesn't give a 2 week gap in blogs from me that much thought, but, you know, what fun is it to be a realist when I could be an egotist instead?

The truth is that I've actually sat down to blog several times and just haven't managed to. I either set out trying to write something goofy and it ends up sounding forced because I know people know I'm dealing with some real shit right now and they're going to think I'm just putting a brave face on, or I sit down to write something serious and it ends up too maudlin or it depresses me, so I stop.

It's a super-weird thing, waiting for medical news that might be bad (tumor) or not so bad (treatable infection) or not news at all (epilepsy, dur). It's especially weird when that news or not news will be about your child, and he's currently cheerful and snuggly and generally not looking at all sick other than having more trouble walking than usual. I'm busy and stressed and happy and calm and angry and worried and bored and contemplative by turns and for large chunks of the day I often forget about the whole my-kid-was-just-in-the-hospital-again thing entirely. And I know I'm not dealing with this, because, honestly, there's nothing to deal with yet and there may not be anything new to deal with. We already knew he has epilepsy. If the tests show nothing more than that, well, that's something I've already dealt with...sort of...

Because in some way you don't get the luxury to "deal" when you're a mom and something bad happens to your kid, especially when they're small and have a small sibling and there's still the massive load of day-to-day work to do - the cooking of meals, and the brushing of teeth, and the endless picking up of small socks (seriously, I know I don't put as many socks on their feet as are littered about my house every night. Where are the socks coming from?!). I can't fall apart for a weekend and lay in bed crying and watching depressing movies and killing off my Sims families in various terrible "accidents". And, if I did, not only would I feel massively guilty for doing so and depriving my kids of their mom, but I'd feel downright silly. That stuff doesn't help you deal with something like this. And my kid is alive and he has certain chronic medical conditions, but for all I know he's pretty darn healthy. Who the hell am I to wallow in bed covered in candy wrappers and smudgy mascara? Shouldn't he be the one wallowing if anyone's going to wallow? He's happy as a clam (if that clam enjoyed stimming on pieces of plastic fruit, that is)!

I get a lot of undeserved credit for being "strong" and "brave" in the face of all of this scariness and for going on with it all, but I'm here to tell you it's not strength that keeps me moving. It's fear and habit. I have to keep life the same. I need my routines and my identity as the superhero autism mom and I need to find things to do like sanitize every toy in the house or put Ry on a new diet that has me in the kitchen every day doing things like making almond yogurt from scratch or boiling a whole chicken for 4 hours and painstakingly shredding the meat in the soup into Ry-edible bites. I can't sit down and think or I'll start to get scared and if I start to get scared everything falls apart.

So I just...keep moving. Maybe when that MRI and LP come back next week I can stop. Maybe.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I Am Rylan's Mom

Wow. I don't even know how to begin this blog. It will probably be rambly and long and sentimental so y'all have been warned.

For those of you who don't know, my Boog has been very sick. Last Friday, he started having seizures with vomiting around 4:30 p.m. and he just didn't stop. He had 10 seizures in 24 hours (the most he'd ever had in 24 hours before this was 3) and he couldn't hold anything down which, apart from the obvious risk of dehydration, was a major problem because we couldn't keep his anti-seizure meds in him. We hit the maximum daily dose of his emergency meds and then he had two more seizures in half an hour, so we knew it was time to go to the ER.

Note: If you ever want to feel like a VIP, rush into the ER holding a seizing kid. Folks in scrubs were coming out of the woodwork to pay attention to us, haha.

I felt much calmer once we got to the hospital. He had a long seizure in the car on the way there and he stopped breathing and his face began turning blue. I was crying and begging with him to come back and to breathe. It was terrible, just indescribably gut-wrenchingly awful.

He was running a fever that day which probably made the seizures worse. The ER ran a bunch of tests while they were working on getting him admitted and they got some fluids and Zofran in him and he finally stopped throwing up. A chest X-ray revealed he had pneumonia, or so they told me at the time. It turns out that it was a very small spot and the radiologists were arguing over it. One said it was pneumonia and one said it wasn't. Regardless, they began treating him with antibiotics and his fever did disappear after that, so maybe he did have pneumonia. Anyway...

He got a mega-dose of anti-seizure meds via IV on Saturday night and the seizures finally slowed down. We saw the neurologist on Sunday morning who was just going to release us and increase his meds. Um. No. I asked him to at least run an EEG, which he agreed to, and thank goodness he did. The EEG revealed major dysfunction in the electrical activity in the left side of Ry's brain. We had noticed during these seizures that the right side of his body was jerking and twitching and the left side wasn't and then after the seizures, his right side was very weak, and these symptoms fell in line with what the neurologist saw on the EEG. He was concerned and said, "Okay, we need to run an MRI and get a lumbar puncture."

Only...since he got that g-d controversial pneumonia diagnosis, Anesthesia wouldn't agree to put him under for the tests for 3 weeks so we couldn't get the tests done then. His lungs were clear and his fever was gone, so it's a total CYA thing. Annoying.

We got released Monday night and only as we were walking out the door did I notice the motor problems. Ry was having trouble balancing and his gait was off. His right knee was buckling slightly and his left foot turning in. After watching him for awhile, I realized his head was shaking slightly and his right side grip was weak. All courtesy of this hellish bout of seizures and whatever the heck is causing them.

On Tuesday afternoon I was alone with the kiddos and Ry was eating lunch. I left the room to put a toy away and I heard Pippa scream, "RyRy!" and ran in just in time to see Ry seizing and falling out of his chair. I couldn't get to him in time and he landed on his head. I settled him on his side and ran for his emergency meds. Once I administered those, it occurred to me that he had been eating and he could be choking while he was seizing if he hadn't swallowed before the seizure started. I tried to finger-sweep his mouth, but I couldn't get past his clenched teeth, so I sat him up and started doing the Heimlich maneuver. I did it several times while poor Pippa cried and asked, "RyRy? RyRy sick?". The seizure lasted five minutes which is the longest he's ever seized before. Definitely my worst and scariest moment as a parent so far. I wanted to run to the phone and call 9-1-1, but I didn't want to leave my boy. The seizure finally subsided and he started breathing normally, so it was obvious he wasn't choking, thank God.

I called the neurologist and spoke with his nurse who spoke to him. He couldn't even be bothered to get on the phone with me. That kind of rankled given what we'd just gone through, but I know this stuff is commonplace to him. He added a third medication to Ry's regimen and scheduled him an appointment for Friday and said if we had to use the Diastat again or Ry showed signs of concussion from the fall to go back to the hospital. The nurse then said, "Honey, I don't agree with Dr. G. If you don't feel comfortable, you take that baby to the hospital."

I decided to wait and see how he did over the next few hours, though. Surprisingly, after the major dose of elephant tranquilizer, he woke up after only 30 minutes and got up and began playing as normal. Usually he sleeps for at least 2 or 3 hours after a seizure. He still had the tremors and slight right-sided weakness he had before the seizure but nothing seemed worse, so that was encouraging.

Then, yesterday afternoon he started running a fever. It was a low fever, only 100.0 under the arm, but the pediatrician said to bring him in considering all he'd been through over the past week. They ran every test under the sun and everything came back negative. His lungs sounded clear, but his throat was red, so they figured he probably picked up a little virus at the hospital (irony, haha?).

And that brings us to today. He's home with me and he's playing and eating and sleeping and I'm happy. But he's also changed. He has tremors and sometimes he has trouble walking. His balance is worse than ever and he keeps trying to do things he used to be able to do like climb up on the end table (I know, parent of the year award, but it makes him so happy. We call it his "standin' table") and he can't and then he cries. He's extra-cuddly (and this is a kid who didn't want anyone touching the front of his body up until this week) and clingy and wants me to carry him around the house (which I am very, very happy to do regardless of the fact he weighs 34 lbs.). He's licking blankets and pillows and upholstery and rubbing his face against them. He's sleeping a lot.

We have no idea right now if these changes are permanent or temporary or what's causing them. I know that I want those tests like yesterday and I don't want him on 3 medications, so we'll be talking to the neurologist about that at our appointment tomorrow. We're looking in to special diets for kids with autism and epilepsy that can help control the symptoms. I've coordinated with the school nurse and Ry's teacher to keep him away from sick kids at school since Ry could have a serious seizure event like this any time he runs a fever now (he doesn't have febrile seizures, per se, he has epilepsy, but fevers can make it worse). I've coordinated with Ry's therapists to work on the new motor problems and to keep him away from sick kids at therapy and to change his schedule so he has a day off during the week because the neurologist thinks his brain may be getting overtired from working so hard at school and therapy 5 days a week since he almost always starts a seizure cycle on Friday afternoons or Saturday mornings if he's going to have one. I spent all day yesterday sanitizing every single toy and book and surface in Pippa's room (AKA the playroom) and I'll spend the rest of today doing the same in Ry's room and the other rooms of the house if I can get to them.

I used to think being a parent was lame. Even after I had Ry, I would make apologies for any "mom" behavior I exhibited in front of friends. I cried for a week when I had to quit my job because of Ry's special needs. I never wanted to be "just" a stay-at-home mom. I saw that as giving up, as settling, as becoming average and boring and out-of-touch. I was ashamed of not using my B.A. and ashamed of not going to grad school like I'd planned and ashamed of saying to people when they asked what I do, "Oh, nothing."

Can I just say I don't care about any of that shit anymore. I am Rylan's mom. Period. And he makes me proud to say that and just that. I was born to take care of this child, to be his advocate and his voice and his protector and the person who carries all 34 lbs. of him around the house all day because he wants his mommy. I can't think of anything more noble and worthwhile than this.


Boog in his EEG cap AKA Mummy Superhero 3000 hat at the hospital this weekend




Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Don't Do That...Er...Wednesday

Yeah, yeah it's Wednesday. I meant to blog yesterday but yesterday was one of those days when one's husband works from 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. and one's children are afflicted with teething, flu recovery, nap boycotting and general bitchiness (let's just be honest here) and one is still barking like a flu-ridden seal and starting on a lovely pressure headache from impending thunderstorms that one is really, really pissed aren't snowstorms because hello it's friggin' January for God's sake! Why the hell is it 70 degrees?!

Yeah, so "one" wasn't really in the blogging mood.

Anyway, I'm pretending it's Tuesday and y'all can pretend along with me. Without further ado, here is my don't do that for this week:

Don't do yoga with toddlers. Just don't.

Really, I could stop there, but for those of you who don't have toddlers or an imagination, let me elaborate.

So, as I'm still recovering from the flu, I've abandoned my regular workout routine in favor of gentle, "healing" yoga. Generally, I try to get up early enough that I can get 30-45 minutes of exercise in before S gets here so I only have to contend with two small folks clamoring for my attention instead of three. Two out of the three rarely nap and if they do nap, it's a guarantee they won't do it at the same time, so I don't have a whole lot of kid-free time which is why I shoot for mornings. Today, however, I was running a little late and S's mama was running a little early and so he got here before I could get my yoga in.

"No problem," I thought, "I'll just do it when Dylan takes Ry to therapy. I'll only have two kids around at that point. How hard could that be?"

Ha.

Here is a list of what happened during the 30 minutes I was "doing yoga":

Pippa brought a toy bus out from her room, sat on it and proceeded to scoot it across my yoga mat, and my toes.

S stole the bus out from under Pippa, who then fell to the floor and began screaming.

I stopped the video and blathered ineffectually about gentle touches and sharing while they circled each other and gave each other the stink-eye.

S wiped his runny nose on my cheek.

Pippa pulled up my shirt and attempted to nurse.

S put a ball of cat hair on a toy fork and stuck it in my mouth yelling, "Eeeeeat! Eeeeat!"

Pippa brought out a self-propelled inchworm toy and launched it at my head while I was in a backbend.

S grabbed the inchworm toy and Pippa found that to be the worst thing that had ever happened to her. Cue screaming, flailing tantrum inches from my head.

S became perturbed by Pippa's display of awfulness and threw the inchworm toy at her head. It missed her. It hit me.

I stopped the video and blathered ineffectually about gentle touches and sharing while they swore at each other in toddler gibberish and retired to separate corners to fashion separate homemade toddler weapons.

Pippa hit me in the head with a toy hammer.

S hit me in the elbow with a toy spatula.

Pippa jumped onto my chest and then slid down to my neck yelling, "I pooped! I pooped!"

Pippa threw a toy onion at S. S screamed.

I stopped the video and blathered ineffectually about gentle touches and sharing while they insulted each other's mothers and retired to separate corners to write separate anti-S/anti-Pippa manifestos.

Pippa spit milk in my hair.

S slobbered all over the toy spatula and rubbed it on my face.

While I was in corpse pose, they both decided they wanted to sit on my chest, discovered they couldn't both fit there and got into a screaming, pushing, shoving territory war while I quietly suffocated under 55 lbs. of militant, raging toddler.

I stopped the video and blathered ineffectually about gentle touches and sharing and hey, how about we don't sit on people when they're trying to RELAX while they calculated how much biting force it would take to chomp off each other's toes.

I finished the yoga video namaste-ing over two angry heads that blamed me for absolutely everything that has ever gone wrong in the world.

Here is a list of what didn't happen during the 30 minutes I was "doing yoga":

Relaxation

Rejuvenation

Stretching

Energizing

Yoga

So, if you have toddlers and are contemplating practicing yoga when they're around, let me just say emphatically and with much gusto: DON'T DO THAT!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bark Bark!

So I know, I know, I've been away again. Y'all are just dying for a good purple baby butt story, right? There was a very good reason for my absence. We've all taken to our beds with a mortal plague. On Saturday, Pippa, Ry and I came down with fevers and nasty coughs. Methoughts (that's the past tense of methinks, right? Sure it is...) 'twas perhaps the consumption, but the good gentle folk of the East Tennessee Children's Hospital diagnosed the Boog with croup when we took him to the ER for croup on Sunday. Side note: dude, if I already know what it is, I should be able to pick up the necessary treatment at the Walgreenz. That should be a law. If you can correctly diagnose your child, you can carry away whatever high-powered drugs are necessary to treat him. For example, when we knew he had a hernia, the drug store pharmacist should have been able to say, "Congratulations! Here's your scalpel, anesthetic and some sutures. Have at it!"

I digress. Anyway, I knew that wasn't the whole story since Pippa and I had a normal deadly and disgusting cough and not a barky I-can't-breathe deadly and disgusting cough, and when we couldn't get Pippa's fever under 103 and she started refusing to eat or drink, to the doctor we went!

The doc was pretty sure it was the flu, but ran a test anyway. Sure enough, flu! He came into the room saying, "Okay, you guys have influenza A -- no...wait...it's influenza B. Huh. That's weird."

Being possessed of a curious and almost lucid mind, thanks to ibuprofen, I looked it up on the Wikipedia later and it turns out that A is the more common strain of influenza. It infects humans and other mammals as well as birds. It mutates more quickly and spreads more rapidly. Most flu pandemics are influenza A pandemics.

B on the other hand, mutates slowly and is rarer. It also only infects humans and...

Seals!

Y'all, I have seal flu! How awesome is that? Can you imagine how cute a seal with the flu would be?

See???


This is so much cooler than the swine flu or the bird flu. Seals are cute and lumber around like fuzzy pillows come to life and they make fun barking sounds. Plus you can throw them fish and they do tricks...or so I've been told by cartoons and cartoons have never lied to me.

Anyway, I anticipate I'll be lounging on the couch enjoying the mucusy affliction I share with my fuzzy water-dwelling brothers for a few more days. If any of you wants to experience what it feels like to be a sick seal, come on over! I'll bark on you and clap my flippers in your general direction.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Don't Do That Tuesday 1/15

Happy Tuesday, y'all! Once again, I had a week mysteriously free from major mishaps. I swear to God, before I started this blog feature I'd have at least two days a week that were filled with catastrophe after catastrophe: injuries, broken furniture, vomiting from both man and beast. It was like an amateur wrestling competition up in here. Since I started writing about aforementioned catastrophes and thus welcoming them into my life, they've mysteriously dried up. Go figure (So, I guess that's a Do That Tuesday for you: if everything's going wrong, try to profit from it somehow, the evil chaos elves will stop throwing crap your way if you start rolling in it).

I do have some minor Don't Do Thats like "Don't give a toddler his own coat to hold while you're getting the other two out of the car on a very rainy day. This will end with said toddler 'washing' his coat in a puddle" and "Don't say the word 'bioinformatics' to a raving lunatic working on his dissertation in evolutionary biology. This will result in a 45 minute lecture on how the entire field of biology is going to the Dark Side".

The most significant one I've got for you today, though, is a total rookie parenting mistake. By now, I should really know better, especially since the exact same thing happened 2 weeks ago and I made a mental note to never repeat this mistake. Let's face it, though, Mama's brain is a scary jumble of mental notes like a whiteboard covered with the manic scribblings of one suffering from hypergraphia. Thus, I bring you...

Don't Do That!: This morning, it was very rainy and floody (yes, that's a word), so we drove Dylan to work and then went out to run some errands. On the way to the store, Pippa Jane decided she was done with the car NOW. I was treated to 15 minutes of "DOWN! PLEASE! AAAAAAAAH! OOOOOOUUUUUCCCCH! DOWN! MOMMY! DOWN! OOOOOOOUUUUUUCCCCCHHH!" As this charming serenade was not only giving me a splitting headache, but was also causing S to cover his ears and bawl (thus adding to the din) and it continued into the parking lot of the grocery store where I was afraid someone would call CPS on me, I was desperate. Having tried just about everything else in my mommy arsenal, I turned to bribery.

"Pippa, if you stop crying, we can have pasta for lunch."

Immediate silence, followed by a small happy voice, "Pasha?"

"Yes, pasta! We just have to do our grocery shopping and then clean your room and RyRy's first."

"Pasha?"

"Yes, love," I replied, and thought, "How adorable she is! Listen to that little voice."

That adorable little voice continued like a hungry Italian parrot through the store.

She said "Pasha?" in the tea aisle while I attempted to distract her by letting her pick a tea. She said "Pasha?" near the dairy case. She said "Pasha?" in the vitamin aisle where I tried to pick an Omega-3 supplement and my addled brain wondered why none of the brands contained spaghetti as an ingredient. She said "Pasha?" in the chip aisle where I attempted to pick a treat for myself and gave up in favor of the thought of a large bowl of vegan mac and cheese which for some unknown reason kept popping into my head. She said "Pasha?" to the cashier who looked confused and offered her a sticker.

In the car, she amped up her campaign. She said, "Pashapashapashapashapasha!" all the way home. When I asked her to help clean up her toys she replied, "Pashapashapashapashapasha!" She followed 2 steps behind me while I vacuumed yelling, "PASHAPASHAPASHAPASHAPASHA!" I escaped into the bathroom for a moment's peace and as soon as I sat down, tiny fingers popped up from under the door and wiggled while their owner yelled, "PASHA? PASHA PLEASE MOMMY! PLEASE!"

Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and I served lunch early. She took one look at her plate, yelled, "PASHA!" one final time and gathered a large armful of it and hugged it to her chest.

What can I say? Girlfriend loves her pasta.

This is the face of a girl stuffed to the gills with "pasha"

So, what have we learned today, folks? Never, ever, ever, ever tell a toddler you are going to give her something she likes until you actually have it in your hand. Just, for the sake of your sanity, don't do that.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Don't Do That Tuesday 1/8

Happy Tuesday folks! At least 20 times during the past few weeks I've done something completely pudding-brained and thought, "Oh man, I need to remember this for Don't Do That Tuesday!"

Guess what? I don't remember any of them (come up with blog ideas but don't write them down? Don't do that!). I do have one Don't Do That that almost reached OMG REALLY DON'T DO THAT status.

Don't Do That: The Boog has a troubled relationship with electronics. He loves them, but his love is a Lenny oooh-this-is-so-soft-I'm-going-to-love-it-forever-OMG-I-broke-its-neck kinda love. To date he has broken or damaged 2 TVs, 2 DVD players, and, here we come to our story for the day, 4 laptops.

I have several theories as to why laptops are so over-represented on the busted technologies list. One is that computers are secretly plotting to take over the world Matrix-style and they speak in a frequency only autistic people can hear and understand. Therefore, Boog is simply trying to save us all by destroying as many computers as he can lay his hands on. What a hero.

Another theory is that Boog is mad that we won't buy him his own laptop and has decided that if he can't have one no one can, so he's breaking our computers out of spite. What a jerk.

In all likelihood, though, these are simply accidents due to his youth and his lack of understanding that when you kick shiny things they go boom. What a...kid.

In any case, he kicked a Vaio off the coffee table at 4 months old and it fell to its death. He threw its replacement on the floor at around 18 months where it met its ghastly fate. That was when Mama switched to Macs (because, of course, when you have a destructive toddler who has killed your previous 2 computers, you definitely want to upgrade to a more expensive brand...). The first Mac drowned in a glass of water he dumped on the keyboard. The second Mac, well-armed with heavy-duty case and keyboard protector lasted a good year and a half...until...

Mama left a glass of water 3 feet from the computer and left the room to use the bathroom...and apparently Boog felt the computer looked thirsty...

Naturally, I did what any sane person would do when confronted with a water-logged computer: melted down into a puddle of tears and "We can't afford to replace this!"s while the computer patiently waited for me to throw it a life preserver. Luckily my husband is less dramatic and quickly took the computer apart and took a blow dryer to its innards.

We left it to dry overnight and amazingly enough it awoke the next morning good as new! Nevertheless, I really have learned my lesson this time. Leave my laptop in the same room as a technology serial killer? Don't do that!


Look at that sinister gaze! Computers beware!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New-ish Year!

Greetings gentle readers! Christmas lasted extra-long for me since my mom came to visit afterward and then I spent last weekend mourning the loss of my mom (she's not dead, she just went home and somehow the dirty dishes aren't magically getting washed anymore...hmm...) so it wasn't until today that I realized I haven't blogged in friggin' forever!

Christmas was great and Christmasy and blah blah blah and New Year's was absolutely wild. I stayed up aaaaaalllll night. Of course, that's because I had a certain 19 month old ball of energy bouncing around my bed telling me what color everything in the room was and pointing out my features with pokey little fingers, but nevertheless, it was a long, crazy night.

And now...January...it's monstrously cliche of me but I usually get depressed in January. There's nothing to look forward to. It's cold. I'm on a diet. Blah. This January, though, all I want is for time to slow down a bit. Dylan finishes his doctorate in May. That means he has 4 months to finish his doctorate, apply for more jobs, interview and get a job. This also means we have 4 months to finish renovations and repairs on the house (note: there's still no toilet over our toilet hole in the redneck bathroom...), get the house ready to sell, and get Ry hooked up with therapies and school in the new place we're going to live which could quite literally be anywhere in the world. Holy. Crap.

That brings me to my one and only resolution this New Year's: Keep my g-d mouth shut.

Weird resolution, right? Here's why: every time I open my mouth it sounds like this, "Ohmyfriggin'GOD! Are you writing your dissertation? How far are you?! Are you working on it right now? But jobs! Are you applying for jobs? How many jobs? When are the deadlines? Where are they? Do you know how much they pay? What areas of town are good to live in in those places? WE NEED TO FIND RY SERVICES THERE NOOOOOOW! OHMYGOD we have to sell the house! Are you working on the bathroom? We have to finish the bathroom! What if we can't sell the house?! We won't be able to afford to live somewhere else! We could rent but OMG renters can ruin your property and then we'll have to hire a management company and WE HAVE NO MONEY! DID I MENTION WE HAVE NO MONEY! WE'RE GOING TO BE LIVING IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!!!!!"

See? It'll be better for everybody if I just grab a needle and thread and sew that sucker shut. If I don't, you just may hear of a Knoxville man shoving the printed pages of his dissertation down his deranged wife's throat and then jumping down their shower hole in a bizarre rednecky academic murder-suicide.

Shut yer trap, Meg!!!