Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Days in Which I Thought My World May ACTUALLY Fall Apart (or Part 4)

I walked out of our appointment for Dirty Job (who was then not quite 2) in a whole different place than when I walked in. It's bizarre how one sentence can turn your world upside down. I'm not sure how I drove after that. That's probably a good thing.

The reaction of those we shared with was, well, interesting. It varied from denial to I knew it to everything in between. Cpt Mom shared with me that Dirty Job was the same child he was December 18th. That was probably my most clung-to statement of that time period. I would stare at my sweet boy and will myself to remember that he was, in fact, our same little boy...the same fun-loving, sweet, playful guy.

One thing I almost immediately felt was guilt - and it was two-fold. First, I felt guilty for allowing Dirty Job to have the MMR shot. Questions flooded my mind - could I have CAUSED this? What kind of mother brings harm to her child? Woven within these personal accusations was an affirmation that the Lord sits on the throne, not me. Whatever part I did or did not have in all of this still was ultimately decided by God. As the story continues, I had to face these questions.

The second thing I felt guilty about was all the dreams I had for Dirty Job. As his mom, I had dreams of him playing football (side note: I was anti-my-boy-playing-football until I realized his hugeness) or baseball, going to all his games and cheering him on. I had dreams of him being a world changer, a defender of the defenseless, a protector of his older sister - and his own family. I had unconsciously assigned so many expectations to my little guy. And it felt horrible ~ who was I to dream things for him? Why did I think I had the authority to do such a thing? The very same day of Dirty Jobs diagnosis, we had a dinner date with some friends, a dinner date that we should have, you know, canceled. They were engaged, no kids, living on love. And we were just handed what felt like a death sentence. I expressed my remorse over my ridiculous dreams, and my husband's friend offered up words of compassion. He shared that he didn't think it was wrong to have dreams for our children. It's what parents do, because they love their children and want good things for them. It was such a moment of affirmation in the storm. I don't even know if at the time I really digested what he was saying, but it's a statement that has stuck with me over all this time.

We hosted Christmas with my family that year. The only year we've done it. A lot of that is a blur. Some of it I remember. My parents got Dirty Job a train table with the track and trains and 237 pieces. I remember staring at Dirty Job to see if he was playing appropriately with the train, or if he was just spinning the wheels and watching. He was playing with it appropriately and LOVING it. I remember looking for stimming - which in case you don't know what that is (I DIDN'T) is self-stimulating behavior ~ things such as hand flapping, head banging, clapping, waving your hand in front of your face, etc. The only thing our guy did was "dance a little jig" when he was excited. It didn't seem abnormal at all.

My parents thought the developmental pediatrician was a nutjob. My sister had already researched autism before the diagnosis (I was pretty pissed about that). My brother and sister in law made observations over the time they were here at Christmas, often saying he didn't demonstrate autistic behaviors outside of the lack of speech.

We didn't have Rainman on our hands. So how could he be autistic?

Christmas 2006 ~ 6 days after diagnosis.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The post in which we get all handy...

Well, the Racer came over to help me hang some oh-so-cute border in my kitchen. Well, in a moment of brilliance, I decided we should measure to be sure we had enough. Thank goodness we did, or my kitchen would be 10 feet short of completion. And that, my friends, would drive my very detail-oriented husband to the brink of insanity. (As if having me as a wife does have him teetering there anyway:) So, I ordered another package and decided we would have to tackle that another day.

But, instead of losing the opportunity of free labor, we pressed on and found a different project. I am a low-risk kind of girl, so this was a big step for me. We went to our local Lowe's. Yes, even after we said we would be happy to never step foot in there again...

Ok, you are probably wondering what this post is really supposed to be about. Sorry, I have a problem keeping on track. All this wandering to tell you that we tackled a project for BooMama's Before and After Challenge. We added some color to my many shades of brown living room. Yay!

I was really leery about taking such a bold step (remember, low risk girl): I was concerned that Major Hunk would hate it (he doesn't care for bold color) and the fact that somehow, in my 33 years, I have never actually rolled paint on a wall. I was nervous. But, the Racer, she was all kinds of confident. And she promised to help me paint it back to our safe tan color if we hated it.

So, here you have it...



I am planning to paint that orangey mantle, a rich chocolate brown color. I just couldn't get it done before today.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

And I give you...

The Racer and I took Dirty Jobs and Cpl Cutie out for mexican food last week. Kids eat free, we had no choice. Anyway, while we were there, a nice man gave our kids each a sombrero. When I took this picture, my first thought was, "They look like honeymooners in Mexico."

Yes, that is her swimsuit she just happens to be wearing. Not because we went swimming, but just because she likes to wear it.


That would be me. On the right. Next to Ebo (from Contender...LOVED that show). Don't mind the fact that I was ridiculously happy. Ebo was my favorite that season.

Running the 1/2 marathon in January 2007. I use the term running loosely. This was 2 months before Cpt and I decided that we needed to get a grip.

Me on the right again. Next to my fitness hero and all around wonderful friend. Please note the chubberificness of my face.
Sometimes it's important to revisit the past. And remember that the journey is worth it. And that not just in eating...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You Know You've Missed the Random

Because my brain is numb...a list.

  • Step BASICS would imply that the class is, you know, basic. Let me clarify. Step BASIC means This Step Class Will BASICALLY Kick Your Butt.

  • Speaking of butts, my (our) teacher of many classes at the gym (not step basics) has a butt that I covet. There. I said it. She's just the cutest, fittest, sweetest girl. And I have a sagging rump.

  • What Not To Wear (6) is reading. Like, really reading. I thought the struggle with reading would be the end of our relationship. I'm so thankful for excellent K and 1st grade reading teachers.

  • Dirty Job (3) says, "No school, stay house," nearly everyday he has preschool. Apparently, he doesn't like the fact that the expectations are higher now that he can talk.

  • I called Cpt Mom after church tonight and the Cutie (2) answered. I asked "Aren't you supposed to be sleeping," and she replied with roaring laughter. It was hysterical.

  • This post was so extremely encouraging to me.

  • Biggest Loser season premiered last night. I made brownies to celebrate.

  • Hubs and I have been shopping for a car. I DETEST car shopping in ways I never thought possible.

  • My friend had a baby. And that baby makes my ovaries ache. Or at least she did until her mom reminded me about feeling like a milk cow.

Alrighty, I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

checkin' in

Well, it's been over a week, so I think I better check in for some accountability. Sorry to bore you all with my weight loss journey, but it's where I am at. I thought it was getting boring to write about, so I stopped. Consequently, I also stopped losing weight and doing the things I needed to do to get healthy. So, feel free to skip this post if it bores you.

These were my goals:

  • cut soda consumption down to one a day. umm, not so good here.
  • exercise at least 4 times. consistently 3 times per week.
  • take measurements so I can track inches lost as well as pounds. I did it.
Alright, so I made it halfway with my goals. Things I have done well:
  • Had four straight days of tracking my points and staying within my daily points.
  • Drank 4 to 8 glasses of water per day.
  • Have taken an assortment of aerobic classes and have loved some of them. I really get excited about going to the gym for some of these classes. (quite miraculous for me)
Things I still need to work on:
  • Continuing all of the above goals.
  • Cutting down on soda.
  • Getting to a weight watchers meeting every week.
Since I have been exploring different exercise styles over the past few weeks, I am wondering, "What else is out there?" What types of things do you like to do to get your exercise on? Leave me a comment.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One Tuesday morning

September 11, 2001. A day that changed the face of our country and the lives of those living here. I remember feeling like I was in a daze for a week after. The safety and security I had always felt had been shaken. I was a first grade teacher at the time. I remember having to look into those innocent faces and try to explain to them that there is evil in the world. A fact that, until that point, most of them had never been confronted with before. I was stunned.

The following year I was engaged to a soldier and we were discussing wedding dates. We were also discussing death benefits and wills, just in case. We knew that it was looking like our country may go to war, which meant a potential deployment in our future. I was proud.

The following year we married. We bumped our wedding date up 3 months due to the fact that Major Hunk's unit had been activated. We got married on 5 days notice with our families blessings. One month later I sat on the couch with my new husband and watched the "shock and awe" attack that began this war on terror. I sat there trying to let the reality sink in. My husband of one month could leave for war on 24 hours notice. I could become a widow at age 27.
The reality was that his unit was deactivated by the end of that year and it became a waiting game. I was scared.

As the next few years passed, we went on with our lives. Living in such a way that denied, once again, that evil exists in our world. I was always waiting, watching for the signs that would tell us it was time for him to go. The soldier in him wanted to go. The husband in him didn't want to leave me. The patriot in me wanted him to go and serve our country, to use the training he had acquired over the past 13 years. The wife in me wanted to hide my head and not answer the phone, ever again. I was conflicted.

It wasn't until 2005 that we began hearing that he would be deployed within the year. I did the mature thing and didn't tell anyone. Because isn't it proven fact that if you don't talk about something, then it won't happen? Well, that theory was blown out of the water. When he got his orders, I was about 7 months pregnant with our daughter. We had to tell our family. I made it through Christmas and Cpl Cutie's birth. My post-partum period was out of control. I was in denial.

2006 and 2007 were consumed by deployment training and in-theater service. My life changed in ways I never imagined. But, I hope one thing will stick with me from this time: I hope I never again take our country's freedom for granted. My husband looked evil in the face. He saw things that I didn't even know existed. And I am certain that he saw things that he will never discuss with me. In 2008, he returned home to me safely. I was relieved.

So, seven years later, I have more gratitude for our country and the freedoms that it stands for. I love my family deeper than I knew I could. And I have such a deep rooted respect for the military families who serve our country selflessly. And to those who have lost a loved one in this fight for freedom: I have a gratitude that I can't even express for the sacrifice. It was not in vain. I am grateful.

September 11th : You changed my life. I will always remember.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oh two and three-quarters... are so fickle. This age is turning out to be a little challenging for this mama. My girl is well-tuned into my annoyances and seems to be jumping all over them. She is still the tender-hearted, fun loving little girl who makes me laugh. But, now she is discovering a little something called free will. She has discovered that she can assert herself by yelling and hitting. And the whining, oh the whining. It is driving me crazy. It seems to reach epic proportions some days.

Thankfully, I know that this is just a stage and that it will pass. In a book I have been reading, they say, "It is your job to enforce the boundaries, it is the child's job to test them." So, I just keep reminding myself: She is just doing her job.

And most importantly, she is still the same little girl who rocks my world. She is the one who made me a mama. She is the one who officially changed my career path. And she is the one who my God has entrusted me with. So, when the frustrations come, I try to focus on the fact that in 3 minutes, we could be playing happily again. When the tantrum passes, she will most likely curl up in my lap for some cuddles. Oh, two and are so fickle.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Did somebody say birthday??

To celebrate my birthday this year, my husband gave me a most unselfish gift. He sent me and a few friends to a resort for a little weekend getaway. He rented the hotel room and then we were able to plan whatever we wanted to do from there. It was a blast.

Friday evening, we packed up the Bff's car, picked up the Racer and were on our way. We found some grown up tunes...the children's cds were banished. That's right, we were giddy with freedom! We checked into the hotel room and change our clothes. Then it was off to dinner. We settled in for a dinner of no high chairs where we ate this salad:
It really didn't have a fighting chance.

We drove around looking for some delicious dessert worthy of birthday celebration. We decided on a place that the Racer had previously eaten some most delicious chocolateness. We got there and they no longer carried her dessert. The other desserts we ordered were mediocre at best. This caused the Racer to announce, "Carraba's, you are DEAD to me," as we drove out of the parking lot. I have no idea where WNTW gets her flair for the drama.

Saturday began with a shower. A shower in which no one tried to peek in or leave the bathroom door open allowing all the steam to escape. The luxuries were endless, I tell you. My sister in law met us and we headed out for massages. All of us but the Bff. She has an aversion to the touching. I had a most interesting massage where the masseuse instructed me to blow the excess air "out my feet". I was unable to do so. But, all the while I was thinking of that Thai Crunch Salad. I know, I have a problem. So, we headed back to CPK for some more delicious salad. After much grown up conversation in which no one screamed, bucked or refused to sit in their seat, we decided to head to a mall and walk around free from all the afore mentioned fun. Then it was off to Sprinkles for some cupcake heaven. I didn't even get a picture of those. If you are familiar with my love of Sprinkles, you will know be pleased to know that they did not disappoint.

This is where we hit an impasse. High on cupcakes and frosting we could not formulate a plan for the evening. After stumbling around the city for a while, we finally decided on some karaoke.
The Racer and I were sent in to assess the situation. One listen to the white guys rapping and we gave it the all clear. After much deliberation, we finally decided on a song that all four of us knew. About 2 hours in, two other girls sang our song and we had to make a new choice. Oh, the injustice. We decided on Pat Benetar's Hit Me With Your Best Shot. Here is a sweet picture, complete with air guitar.
As you can tell, it was a blast.

In all this fun, I almost forgot to mention that I got my haircut as a gift from my sister in law. When he first cut those bangs, I thought, "What have I done???" But, I love it and so did everyone else. At least that's what they tell me...

Many thanks to Major Hunk for a very special birthday celebration. He is clearly the man for me. He loves me with a passion and takes amazing care of our family. He speaks my love languages loud and clear and I love him so. Thanks for the fun birthday memories.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Captain Mom IS a Superhero

It's someone's birthday here on the blog. And here are the reasons I heart her.

  1. She lets me talk about Big as if I know her.
  2. She's an expert on random communication.
  3. She's and excellent listener. Even when I interrupt 17 times.
  4. She values the importance of Sonic happy hour as much as I do.
  5. She loves her family fiercely.
  6. She knows that a good jean CAN make the world a better place.
  7. She is extremely witty.
  8. She will go see a 10pm movie with me on a Tuesday and not think twice about it.
  9. She can season a popcorn bag with the perfect mix of nacho cheddar and white cheddar. That is no easy feat, my friends.
  10. She understands that the popcorn at one theatre is better than the popcorn at another theatre.
  11. She always takes something from the sermon...and applies it.
  12. She makes beautiful babies.
  13. She let me call her no less than 17,000 times after Dirty Job was diagnosed with autism. And she was on vacation with her husband who was about to leave for war.
  14. She understands the need to dialogue through The Biggest Loser.
  15. She also understands the need for dessert during the same show.
  16. She has cable.
  17. She doesn't care when my house looks like a tornado blew through.
  18. She loves people more than presentation.
  19. She got her child to potty train herself. She needs to write that book!
  20. She hates politics as much as I do, but still lets me talk it out.
  21. She knows that some days should be ETB days.
  22. I never feel judged by her. Even on my worst days.
  23. She understands social awkwardness.
  24. She balances truth and grace.
  25. She's pretty.
  26. She knows that shoes make all the difference in an outfit.
  27. She agrees with me that Coach purses are ridiculous. I know, throw things at us now.
  28. She's always up for a spontaneous road trip.
  29. She goes to Cardio Sculpt on her birthday.
  30. She encourages me to be a better mom and wife.
  31. She has a heart for people with special needs. And has passed that heart along to her daughter. What a legacy.
  32. She understands that everyone has T-rex days. And g.l.a.m.o.r.ous days.
  33. She is transparent.

Join in the birthday wishes for my friend!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Mama's Guilt

I am desperately trying to get Dirty Job on a loose schedule that includes a nap everyday. If he does not nap, he falls asleep around dinner, only to wake up at 10pm ready for some activity. And while I love to play with my son, I don't particularly enjoy it at my bedtime. You know, with getting up for school and all.

Some days, he falls asleep. Some days, he bucks the system. I have no idea where he gets that from.

We've had a couple of humdinger days as of late. Because if he is not sleeping, he is "deconstructing" something in order to keep his mind busy. One day, he completely tore apart his bookshelf and toy box. Yesterday, it was my bedroom lamp. That. I. LOVE.

In attempting to make the schedule work for the long term, I have had to incorporate some short term sacrifices. One being that if he doesn't nap on Wednesdays, we don't go to church that night. Because a 15 minute nap at 6:30 isn't so much fair to his teacher. Plus, it recharges him enough to fight going to bed until 11pm or so. Did I mention we, like most of the free world, have school on Thursdays? Thus starts a vicious cycle of meltdowns with him and insanity from me. It's really a sight to behold.

If the wailing and gnashing of teeth isn't enough between the two of us, I should mention the fact that my girl, she loves herself some Wednesday night church. She loves church anytime. anywhere. with a hat. sitting in a chair (sorry, I just went Green Eggs and Ham on ya).

So when the nappage has not happened, I don't talk about Wednesday night church in hopes to avoid a 3rd member to the pooper party. Which might work if she didn't know that it's Wednesday. She never forgets. Thus beginning the worst part of the equation. Her crying because she wants to go to church. It breaks my heart, ya all. It is the worst feeling! I am so torn as to how to handle this situation. I offered to do a bible lesson with her at home and she was not interested. I do not, in any way, want to quench her love for church.

Any ideas?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Round III - The "A" Bomb

December 19, 2006. Dirty Job, myself, and Local Grandma head into the developmental pediatrician's office. The rooms are different than a normal doctor's office, instead having a TON of toys, a set of stairs, and a kid sized small round table with a couple of chairs.

Dirty Job begins exploring the room and not too long after, the dp (developmental pediatrician) joins us. She begins an extremely long series of questions, many of them being ones that I already answered on the intake form, which to me was extremely frustrating. We were just here for a speech delay!!!

As the dp was observing Dirty Job, she asked other questions - questions regarding his interaction with others, whether or not he plays appropriately with toys, if he tries to do things independently - even when it would be easier to seek help. She asked if he had any peculiar behaviors, such as head banging, arm flapping, rocking. As I thought through each question, I remember trying to be so very accurate.

After a couple of hours of questions, observation, and testing (yes, he tested!), the dp asked me what I thought was up. And I told her, I think he's speech delayed, and an active boy, and that we would be watching for ADD or ADHD markers as he got older, because, HELLO, have you met his dad?

She responded by telling me about autism. And that she suspected my son, my not quite 2 year old, had it.

Talk about rockin this mama's world. Talk about feeling closed in on. There are very few things I remember her saying after that. I remember her handing me an article called Welcome to Holland, which strangely enough, I had heard before at a conference for Special Needs Kids Ministries.

The other thing I remember the dp saying is that I needed to practice saying AUTISM until I could say it like any other word, like spaghetti. And I remember thinking "I will NEVER, EVER be able to say that word as if it's like spaghetti....we're talking about my son."