Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sister Wives

No! Not like that! Jeez
[But, ohmygoodness, do I crack myself up]

My little sister, as you might recall, is newly engaged.  She came to visit this weekend to go dress shopping because I am the epitome of style & grace because I refused to fly out to her.  And she was shamed into it when her announcement that she bought a dress online was met with...silence.  I know she's reading this - this isn't anything I wouldn't tell her directly but my little sis is a little more granola and cheap practical than I am.  Hence her savings account and my debt.  But the online dress just, well, there was just NO WAY that was going to turn out well.  She brought it with her &, to her credit, it wasn't terrible.  But she herself was just meh about it and we -all- felt there should be more excitement.  This isn't a not-quite-right-but-on-sale pair of jeans that'll be good enough to go buy milk in, this was her wedding dress

And don't misunderstand me.  It's not the white dress and ponies, per se.  If she wanted to wear a Hawaiian shirt, cut offs, and roast a pig in a pit, then great, we'd have the best damn luau EVER.  Courthouse weddings?  Highly recommended.  But the "yup, found something vaguely appropriate" was enough to start wondering if maybe we'd have time to grab a movie after the ceremony. 

So we went shopping.  She googled and set up, not 2-3 appointments, just to try the different styles, see what she liked, maybe have time for a nice lunch, sisterly bonding... she set up a MARATHON of 5 stores in 9 hours.  All of a sudden she's the retail-ista? 

But I'm her big sis - I'll rally - ain't no damn young'un going to out shop me! 

The first place was warehouse-y, cash out the door, DIY.  There were a few that had potential....
had we razored all the seams and resewn them ourselves. 

The second place was high end - including the high pressure youhavetobuyadressnowNowNOW otherwise you will be nekkid on your wedding day and we will all Diiiieeee.  But the dress she liked best was either the floor model with the special sash and $700 in alterations (and a desperately needed dry cleaning), or the special order price but they could maybe knock $200 off, making it within spitting distance of the floor model with all the fixin's. Except she'd still need the special $295 sash.  Thank goodness it was still early in the day for us - I imagine some poor young bride with low blood sugar, at the end of a marathon shopping day, just handing over her car title and a kidney if only to make the nice ladies there ease up.

The third place - well, angels sang.  The owner (?) there had actually talked to my sister for a while when she was making the appointment and recognized her when she walked in (the 6'00" was probably a big hint).  She started to ask her what she was interested in - then completely cut her off and said, "Doesn't matter, I've already picked some things out".  Every direction we were thinking?  Wrong.  This lady is the Wedding Whisperer.  My sis nearly bought the first dress she tried on, till the owner persuaded her to try on the 2nd and, well, there might've been a tear shed.  [Not saying by who] 

The only part I'm allowed to show right now.
Look!  It's made of ...Fabric!

And it was a sign that my miserly sister was finally getting excited about the whole event (the party part, obviously, not the marriage part) when the purchase triggered a fraud check call from her credit card.  [Not that I'd encourage anyone to ever blow their budget.  Ever.  Assuming that budget was thoughtful and realistic, and originally allowed for more than cut offs and a Hawaiian shirt from Goodwill].

Bonus for me?  We were done shopping and were busy eating Chinese by 3:30. 

I had planned to lead this into a story about my very own very very special wedding day from hell but this is already long enough & I will let the bride keep the spotlight.  For today.  But, as a teaser, remember the old saying about the worse the wedding, the better the marriage?   [Matt's going to get all worked up about this because, yes, it was beautiful day - except for... (ominous drum roll...  Which I don't know how to type out.  Dum-dumm-da-dummmm?)]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

In Memorium

The night before last I had a lovely evening at a wine bar planned before the oncoming Throat of Fire made me the least fun girlfriend ever.  Sorry *yawn* /shiver shiver/ you were saying?  But before I picked up my friend I did what only a month ago was unthinkable...

The book fair drop off was at a loading dock deep underneath the local mall.  Little creepy and too behind the scenes.  I worked one summer at EuroDisney when it first opened (might be dating myself there) - same rabbit warren feel.  I expected my 7 boxes would be a decent addition but they were barely noticeable. 

All those books just left there - Abandoned. And, worse, weirdly stacked, breaking their spines. Not to be overly dramatic but they seemed desecrated.  Callously strewn about, like so much trash.

But not really, they're going to a good cause.  To be read again and re-enjoyed. Phoenix rise.

I gave one other box of all my Latin American lit to a friend - Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Borges, Pedro Paramo, Isabel Allende, etc.  And Julio Cortazar - Hopscotch. I'd read this during spring break one year.  I remember my roommate was off working so I was alone during the day.  The details had faded but I still remember that week of soul sucking emptiness.  I just checked Wiki for the actual plot and, um, yeah - won't be re-reading that one.  But really, D, it's a GREAT book. 

I also gave her some lighter stuff too (Amy Tan, B.Kingsolver, etc), lest it all be Too Serious. I think I did at least.  The stacks and boxes got a little blurred at the end. 

To the book fair I gave a whole bunch of cheapy "airplane reads", history books, and lots & lots of random novels which may or may not have been read and/or appreciated, either by me and/or the critics at large.  I resisted the temptation to pilfer through the stacks and stacks of books already there, but did notice someone was also giving them a copy of Seeing (Jose Saramago; which I did like. Thought History of the Siege of Lisbon was fabulous). 

I sent Half Baked back to my mom who'd sent it to me originally.  I have more to say there but it'll have to wait (beautifully written, btw). 

I kept some random Serious books that I always think I should meant to read but never got around too.  [ed. but forgot to upload the photo. Doesn't matter.  Let's just say not light reading, but without the pretentious photo since I've probably owned them for 10 years and haven't read them yet].  Don't even think they're left over from school, just random pick-ups (I also worked for a book store for a couple years.  The dollar bins were always too good a bargain to leave alone). The Bob Woodward book from my brother (so I'll definitely read that one first). Also kept my Bloom County collections, some sentimental books (including How to Knit, in German.  From senior year.  Because that's sure to come in handy someday). Kept To Kill a Mockingbird, obviously. Though it's unclear why I have, and kept, two copies. I resisted the urge to burn my high school yearbooks.  Also on the list of retained oddities:

Tom Clancy, Debt of Honor. I kept this because I'd randomly picked it up for a plane trip not long before 9/11.  It was eerily prescient. 

All my Dick Francis books.  Starting reading him in junior high?  Some of these are, shall we say, no longer politically correct?  Definitely in the airplane read category.  But the lead guy (always a guy) is so stoic. That's appealing (to a 13 year old). 

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.  It strikes me as cheating a bit. A true bibliophile would remember the line and the source without needed a reference guide, right?  I remember I bought it right after we lost Brennan because I couldn't find the words, otherwise.  Picked  "God's finger touch'd him, and he slept."

Tennyson.  Because of the line above. 
Also, my dad's favorite lines, quoted ad nauseum:
     Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
     To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

I actually like Invictus better but the movie kind of took that away. Can't really compete with Nelson Mandela, now, can I?
     I thank whatever gods may be
     for my unconquerable soul.

Proof I actually unpacked the car

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

In real life, not so much here.  I hardly ever get sick (apart from that weird brief episode on Christmas day) but my throat is on fire today & it hurts to touch my neck because I have two golf balls where my glands used to be.  So I'm home.  I should be at work.  We had my girl's TRANSITION MEETING this morning and I was going to go in after but had that fuzzy feverish feeling and went to lay down "just for a minute".  Matt sweetly just left me alone till he & the girl left for the day.  At noon.  By the time I got in I'd have all of 2 minute to work before I'd have to leave again to collect my offspring.  Actually, that not true.  I could have put in 4 hours.  A half day would have been ok, right?  The chills have dissipated but I'm all achy and whiny (obviously).  How much would I have actually done?  Little to nothing.  Sorry I'm venting but I am terribly terribly frustrated that the Great Work A Thon of 2011 isn't panning out so well.  We had the snow day last week and then the post-Salt Snuggle Fest on Sunday.  But to rationalize my laziness I told myself I'd rest today and get into work at some [insanely unrealistic] early hour tomorrow.  My sister's coming into town this weekend to do wedding-y stuff but flying out at noon on Sunday.  Would she be mad if I weren't there the last 6 of her 36 hour trip? 

Would she? 

In other news I thought the Transitional Meeting went superbly.  Massive boon of good news that they WILL bus her over to her fabulously inclusive day care - we'd previously been told they wouldn't bus outside city limits and the day care was set a tantalizingly half mile too far over the line.   The logistics of what the heck we were going to do with our kid were nigh unsolvable. Yes, I exaggerate - The easiest answer would have been to find a new day care within city limits but I hear HORROR stories. It took us two tries before we found a pre-K class that our son was happy in. I mean my girl isn't even talking yet...when she sulks at drop off is it standard separation anxiety or because they are... (can't even go there).  Also, because the inclusive place is local, the other places aren't going to have ANY experience with special needs kids, because everyone goes to the first place.  Why wouldn't you?   

Our day care is an early intervention provider and we could have received some therapies there if we opted out of the school's pre-K program - to keep her being shuffled around, keep her out of Random Possibly Criminal Daycare (turns out I do have a dramatic flair), and/or avoid the not-small problem of getting her from place A to place B, since both Matt & I work >30 miles away.  But after 3 I wasn't sure if we'd have to pay extra (since it's no longer EI and then just becomes private) and, more concerning, I heard their therapies are done in a group setting.  Small groups and I'm sure they're fine, but it strikes me that we'd get more bang for our buck my neighbors' tax dollars in a one on one situation. Though as I'm typing this I realized I was so overjoyed at the busing news I didn't follow up on the school gal's comment about their after care program.  It would be better if she didn't have to go to two different places...though if they're offering busing I suspect their after care is probably limited.  Also I guess I haven't confirmed directly with the day care place what their post-3 therapies look like.  My info is cobbled together from random sources and casual conversations.  It must be reliable. I also heard the school's teachers are way more proficient signers than the day care peeps, which seems to be where we're headed right now.  Last, I think there is a benefit in getting into the school district now.  First, FREE. Second, smoother transition when she gets to kindergarten.  I'm not sure how to phrase this but something about integrating into the institution, especially with testing, sorting through the good/bad/nice-but-completely-ineffective therapists, etc.  Third, socially - we are going to be with this group of parents for the next EIGHTEEN years, might as well get in at ground level, before the cliques form (only half joking). 

Anyway, lots to think about and some follow up calls to make but all in all, not so much IEP THE HORROR BATTLE TO THE DEATH, that I would have otherwise gleaned from the internet. Because the internet, it must be reliable.  

[post-spell check:  Did you know blogger thinks internet should be capitalized? Really?]

And yes, I know this was only a preliminary meeting and we haven't even seen her IEP yet.  In a surprise bit of news, Down Syndrome is NOT an automatic qualifier in our lovely state so they want to test her.  Which is fine.  I'm not blind as to what she can and can't do.

Am getting cold & shivery again.  Back to bed!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Last year my fabulous friend here took me to Seattle. 
Love, love, love that city.
The grey skies suit me ('cause I'm morose like that?)
Love you M!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Late Sunday Afternoon

I should have gone into work this morning but Matt deterred me with a late night movie (Salt - awesoommme!) and the promise of more snow this morning.  I'm easy like that. And though I've been going non-stop since 7 (it's now 4:15), there has been -no- appreciable progress on the state of chaos that is our home.  Is 4:15 too early for a glass of wine?  I did spend a couple hours sorting through and boxing up my books... What I kept and what I'm giving away merits its own post (though it is suggestive of schizophrenia).  I finally turned on Signing Time for the girl on the main floor (LOVE Rachel) and something mind numbing for the boy in the basement, just so I could sit down for a second.  This is mortifying, but I am now "of an age" where being on my feet for 9+ hours make my feet achey. 

But I've no wish to bore you lamenting my domestic duties.  Photos from our snow day on Thursday. 

My snow angel

He had high hopes of a snow fort or, at a minimum, a snowman, but it was parched-dry powder. 
 So instead, he decided to dump it on me.
 100 years ago he would be trudging towards the pole on some Antarctic adventure.

Daddy's shoes
More photos of the kids in their PJs!

 What?  Are you just now noticing how ridiculously cute I am?

And if we're going to get all technical & braggy, the pretend play is exponentially increasing.  Though is using shoes and the phone appropriately really pretending?  Dunno.  Doesn't matter - LOOKIT THE INDEX FINGER!  (and?  dressed)
Also on the braggy spectrum - As part of the book cleanse, I gathered up all the Christmas books.  My girl (naturally) knocked them all off the table and then brought me one to read.  Story about the animals in the nativity/manger (? - sorry, my lack of religious training shines through).  Anyway, there was a cow.  (In the book. I don't know about the frequency of domesticated cattle in the middle east 2000 odd years ago.)  A real-ish looking brown cow with horns. Which looked nothing like the cartoonish black and white cow in Moo Baa Lalala.  I asked her where the cow was though and she pointed.  Wheee!  I remember her brother was late to talk (with the fun associated melt downs when he couldn't communicate) - then he suddenly just got it.  And it was exponential. 

[Would I be negative nancy if I acknowledged this is all receptive and/or signing and not verbal?   Dunno.  I still find it just .... marvelous.  I mean it's not like we have a lot of cows around us for her to be otherwise familiar with them. My baby sister's impressions of the midwest notwithstanding]

Friday, January 21, 2011


I overslept this morning because I have all the personal responsibility of a 15 year old, so am trying to cram a full day of work into 8 hours. I do have photos from our snow day yesterday but haven’t downloaded yet. As a thank you, though, for anyone stopping by, and also because I’m on a once-a-day update streak that I’d hate to break (because what I need right now are MORE obligations), an amuse bouche:
Too dry for snowmen
Fluffy white constricts inside
Hot cocoa soothes all

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow-pocolypse! my brother said.
Taken about 6:30 this morning to email to my boss.
Yes, we're more/less in the same urban area.  I'm sure he was aware it was snowing.  Why do you ask? So much for the new work-work-work plan. 
It's difficult to get perspective in SNOW-POCOLYPSE shots. The dogs refused to cooperate. We actually do have regular sized railings. Below is the world's hugest fallout shelter clubhouse.  Are those Christmas decorations buried under the snow?  Why, yes. Yes, they are. Why do you ask?  Looks like we got about nine inches?*
*All together now: That's what she said.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Administrative Update

Girl's cardiology appointment went perfectly yesterday.  I made Matt go (since I'm trying to cram the work hours in) but was then distracted for two hours waiting for A Phone Call.  In a fit of genius, he brought a Signing Times DVD to the appointment so she'd be reasonably cooperative- Yeah Daddy!  They'll see her again next year, but then probably not again for two years thereafter.  Doctor pronounced her repair "perfect". 

Big sigh of relief.  I thinks she's perfectly healthy - she hardly ever gets even a cold* and is ACTIVE (putting that mildly) but I've been blindsided so many times at routine MD visits I get preemptively tense.  Let's call it traumatically induced white coat syndrome. 

*Except for the Great Plague when we went to visit Gigi.  Who hardly ever gets to see her.  GREAT timing for her one serious bug. 

Her eye surgery isn't scheduled till April, though were on the short-call list if there are any cancellations.  The biggest event will be our first Transitional Meeting (I wanted to write that in all caps. I restrained myself) next week.  The school reps will be there too.  She's 2 1/2 years now and will transfer out of First Steps and into the school district when she's 3.  I don't think we really enter the mucky messy emotionally charged (I also wanted to write fraught again.  I think I'll be done with that one for a bit) minefield of IEP issues till she reaches kindergarten age. 

Which reminds me I need to make friends with the lady who accosted Matt at our (inclusive) day care center.  She said she was a teacher there, her adult-ish (?) daughter also has DS and I think her sister/SIL works for the school district.  Or did?  Anyway, she said she's been wanting to meet us and gave Matt her phone number. (No, not like THAT.  Though he is a hottie).  In my new role as Advocate Mom, I will Collect Myself, Pick up The Phone (is the dramatic tension building?) and... invite her out for coffee.  Small steps people.  Small steps. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hidden Joys.

I remember reading this a while back & forwarded it around, but it was just re-posted elsewhere and made me all weepy again  (lest you think I'm only a cold hearted paper pusher).  An antidote to all the miseries of the world I shield my psyche from by no longer watching the news (or L&O: SVU).

It's long but READ IT.  (I linked twice!)  Read the bits about the kids.  And about hidden beauty (in places like my little girl's face).  I can only recommend 1-2 other bits of written work so completely unreservedly.  Things like this is what makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fraught for Girls

editor's note:  I've tweaked this about 12 times since first posting but it's still a jumbled mess.  Only the last paragraph is a jumbled mess on purpose.  I'm just going to step away from the computer now & leave it alone.  Warts 'n all. 

A few months ago I happened to be getting more coffee at the same time as my (much younger) co-worker when out of the cold blue sky she asked if I though of myself as a feminist.  Our conversations up till that point had focused on the weather and once, during an office lunch, the joys of the martini.  I hadn't really thought about it but I guess the answer is no.  Because the mental image I had was of ...angry women.  I am privileged enough to have grown up post-Title IX and all the blood, sweat, and tears my elders shed allowed me to blissfully sally forth, unencumbered by any thought that I couldn't.  And to give credit closer to home, my parents told me repeatedly, ad nauseum, that I could do anything I set my mind to.  Not sure this is exactly what they had in mind, but it suits me. 

[On a side note - I'm not sure why she asked ME.  She's younger by maybe 10-13 years.  Gawd help me, am I the older woman in the office?!?!  Does she think I am so much older as to have a different generational perspective?  Gah.]

And no, I have no intention of going near the working mom/SAHM debate - other than to say, speaking of my elders, that Gigi once told me her MIL was out campaigning for the vote so often that her son, my paternal grandfather, had asked that she (his wife, my Gigi) stay home with the kids, because he'd come home so often to an empty house.  That, my friends, is a monkey knot.  [Gigi, tell me if I got the story wrong.].

But despite avoiding the label, I'm pretty certain I have all the credentials.  I kept my name when I got married.  I worked two summers on a boat in Alaska during school and, for three brief shining seconds, counted myself amongst LA's finest.  I was the primary breadwinner for 5 years (though that was, admittedly, an epic fail).  I also work in a tough business.  Granted there are lots of other women out there doing the same thing but evaluating the value of a below-the-knee amputation or, say, someone's dead mom, isn't for the can't-stand-the-sight-of-blood bimbos. 

Then RNW serendipitously recommended Baxter Sez....(one of) whose author(s) is a "professional feminist".  I'm sure I'm guilty of various cultural insensitivities and/or buying into various patriarchies (nevermind why I think "feminism" requires me to ditch the razor).  I also like skirt suits, heels, and red lipstick - it was a sad, sad day when we went to business casual - but I've also developed a big ol' crush. 

And on this day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I think it an important reminder not to settle.  He didn't.  My great-grandmother didn't.  All the parents 30 years ago who bucked the experts and took their special kids home didn't.  Ms. Baxter Sez still isn't.

Why would any term used to advocate equality become so ....fraught? 

And if I hadn't spent most of my evening finishing the @#$%^&* Classy Bear project, I would have brilliantly tied all these strings together with a comment on how I don't watch the news at all anymore, why I don't, why that might be accepting all the misery in the world as status quo (or apathy, or denial, or depression, or hunker-down survival), why -for the sake of my kids- I shouldn't be settling, tie that into my earlier thoughts on advocacy, what's important as a parent, expectations for both my kids - but, obviously, more complex & fraught, my expectations for my youngest - then, just for the hell of it, I'd throw in a mention of the Chinese dragon mom story that has everyone a-twitter.  But alas, it is not to be.  Instead of pondering the mysteries of (my) universe, I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine and look at pretty dresses from last night's award show (that I didn't even know was going on.  lame.).

And lest this be too fraught (word of the day!) let us now say goodbye to Classy Bear who's going back home to his teacher tomorrow morning.
May your next adventure be grand.
May the next mom posses a straight edge, crafty scissors, & sufficient glue stick.
Stay Classy.

Bits of Weekend Randomness

I didn't do the dishes last night but I did clean off & behind the fridge.  I trashed the remaining small letter magnets.  I don't like to think of myself as superstitious, but the dogs (the smallest one, particularly) like to chew on these and I was suddenly convinced she'd eat too many at once, triggering a magnet-induced intestinal blockage, forcing us, in our fragile economic state, to choose between surgery and euthanasia.  I'm learning to listen to my "quiet voice". 

Moose, between haircuts

My girl had to do thank you cards too. Cuteness.
The battle with the boy over the remaining notes was EPIC.  I pulled out the "if you don't write these, no one will think you liked what they got you, so they won't buy you any more presents".  File that under things you never thought you'd say. 

Das Boot reappeared from the basement.  The nautical paint job isn't done but the ratio of crafty-time to the number of hours the cardboard will survive two small children was tipping in the wrong direction. 

I have decided I don't care for the Classy Bear project.  Oh! The pressure!  Here are some vaguely inappropriate photos of Mr. C. Bear, to lighten the mood.

The girl loves her some Signing Time.
Baby, Baby, Baby Signing Time... [insert musical do-hickey that I'm too lazy to figure out right now]
This would be cuter in a video.  Trust me, she gets into it. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Herding Cats

....or whatever you happen to have a convenient picture of.   

As the wedding planning continues, I'd like to offer this to my sister.  A gift.  A small token of my affection....  A reminder of the challenges ahead.  [With the planning part, not the marriage!] 

A - I know you're special day will be beautiful, no matter what.
Even if you forget the ring.
Oh wait!  That's MY job!
[Sorry, couldn't resist]
You'll be a gorgeous bride.
xoxoxo, sis.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ante Up

Or:  Our Inexorable Decline

For those of you playing along at home, and/or anyone who has money in the game, this is the score:
  • 1 New Transmission (Matt's car)
  • 2 Volvo Dealer visits (my car)
  • 3 Hundred dollars spent, fruitlessly (my car)
  • 4 Bloggers, who've quit, only after I finished reading all their archives. (Finnian's Journey just closed up shop. Technically she just moved, but the list doesn't work if we're being technical).
  • 5 Durable goods, down.    
In addition to both cars breaking this winter, painfully chronicled here, here, and here (and also getting rear ended in October), the ginormous living room TV died just before New Years, and then the mini party-fridge, that gets passed around the family but technically we bought, also died, just after.  If I had to pick a new header right now, it would be a picture of me, photoshopped into a scene from the 2012 movie, holding up a sign saying We're Dooooommmmmeeedddd.....!

But, since we're still pretending things will be OK, the 2nd dealer visit (yesterday) resulted in only a $30 charge ....+ the $25 in gas Matt put in the loaner, only to have our car ready within the hour.  How often does that happen?  Apparently the trick is to ply them with gasoline. They said all of our Car Drama has been because of one lone corroded wire.  Amusingly called the "Exciter Wire". 

I am not clear on why, when first given the task of finding out why our vehicle seemed determined to drive us Insane, by intermittently-not-starting-only-to-start-fine-several-hours-later, the dealer would not check the electronics, including the wires connecting said electronics, responsible for said vehicle STARTING, but that's just me being particular.  I am grateful they didn't tell us we needed a new starter motor.  Because by yesterday I was out of fight.  My car had defeated me and I just wanted to appease it. By throwing money at it. Hell, I would have painted it pink and driven it nekkid if only it promised to START when requested.   

So I'm not sure if we can count my car in the "out" column.  At a minimum, it has caused enough grief to warrant an honorable mention. Not to mention the inconvenience and Drama for the extended family who kept having to rescue us from strange places, pick us up in the dark of night, and generally shuttle us around [A big thank you again!].  It was made worse because we held off on dealer visit #2, expecting another big bill & thus causing much interim inconvenience, only to have the solution be on the cheap side (This time.  I'm not actually expecting this to have fixed the problem.  Because that'd be too easy). 

So we'll call the score 4.5 up.  [Or down?  My metaphors are running wild.]  Any takers on the next big ticket item to die?  Anyone?  We're offering excellent odds over here!  Water heater?  Furnace?  Dishwasher?  Oh! The fun we're having! 

[PS.  The spacing issue is also driving me nuts. I hit two spaces automatically, except when I remember I Was Wrong, and only hit one.  So now I just look inconsistent.]

Friday, January 14, 2011

File this with the things I never saw coming

Two spaces between sentences is wrong.  [?!?!?!?]
Since when?

This is has been one of those fundamental truths of my life. 
Like gravity.
My world has now officially spun off its axis. 

Oh wait, that's happening too!

[googling that story to get the link was FUNNY. Apparently the world is ending. Again.] 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Something along the lines of....

Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my vendors, an investigator, someone I've known, albeit only slightly, for 10 years now.  He does a great job, though I don't need to use him that often.  His wife died last year (?) and I sent him a condolence note.  He wrote a thank you note in response - i.e. nice guy.  I'd asked him to door knock someone for me - he called after talking to this lady and provided all the pertinent information but mentioned that he didn't take a formal statement because the witness was busy with her new baby.  Who had Down Syndrome.  And it was pretty sad. 

It was one of those moments - fish or cut bait?  step up or back down?  After we were done talking about my case I said something probably complete incoherent but along the lines of "Hey, there's something else..." Long, pregnant, very awkward pause... He finally said (something along the lines of) "It's me.  What?" 

"I only say this because we have exchanged condolence cards but my daughter and that baby have something in common..." [THAT was clear as mud.  Silence.  Trying again.]  And this time in a clear voice, I said, "My daughter has Down Syndrome too.  We are not sorry.  Saying it's sad tends to rile the parents up".  [Nice use of the 3rd person there]. 

He was very apologetic.  I told him about ten times not to be, it was just a phrasing thing, & I still think he's a great guy.  He said that someone he's close to has a kid with DS too [Some of my best friends are!].  He said something about they're such sweet kids, blah, blah.  Pretty much everything he shouldn't have said.  But this is about the sweetest most innocuous person you could ever meet.  I wasn't offended, didn't want to make him feel bad (jeez, his wife just died), just wanted to set the record straight:  THIS IS NOT A TRAGEDY. 

This is also my first reasonably successful stab at advocacy.


The first non-successful attempt:   my leaves-me-entirely-alone-thus-is-fabulous boss called meeting for the annual HR "We don't discriminate"pep talk.  I'd been working for him for about 6-9 months, I think?  His job is to read the manifesto and have everyone sign the acknowledgement forms.  Dry, time-suck of a meeting.  So he tried to lighten things up.  "We don't discriminate against [insert various minorities]...except for stupid people."  It wasn't a one time badda-bing, it was the running punch line for a hour.  "We will always be polite and professional to everyone...except for stupid people."  And lest he forget, I was sitting RIGHT NEXT TO HIM, my foot shaking faster and faster, my doodling ever more focused.   When the meeting was over, I walked back to my desk, waited maybe 13 seconds, said something along the lines of F*** It, marched back into his office, shut the door without asking and, literally pacing back and forth in his tiny, tiny office, said that if one more person said retard or made a joke about drooling people I was going [I trailed off here.  I had no plan.  Not exactly a cinematic speech].  But then I said "You've been over to my desk.  You've seen the pictures of my kids.  YOU are not stupid.  Not everyone's kid is going to college". 

He was sitting in his chair, said I'm sorry, said nothing else, and I flounced out.  He never came back 'round to see if I was Ok with our little chat.  This past year he had the HR pep talk on a day I was off.  I presume that was not accidental.  He's occasionally friendly and, as I mentioned, leaves me alone so we're OK.  Mixed reviews on the advocacy.  Yes, I said something.  No, it was not entirely coherent.  No, it was not done in flagrante but I'll give myself a pass on that one since it's probably not a good career move to tell the boss off in front of his other employees. The first time at least.   


There've been 2 other times people used the "R" word and I said (something along the lines of) "Please don't use that word."  Or, "You're not really going to use that word with me?"  Non-memorable events. 

I did not say something to the guy on the other side of my cubicle one day when he was joking with someone about a bunch of drooling people getting off a bus.  I didn't catch the whole conversation.  I hate myself a little for that. 

And this has been said before, better, elsewhere, but the point is I see no reason why my little girl's mommy has to listen to the same crap that's she's going to have hurled at her on the playground for the next 10+ years, at the office.  From her allegedly adult, professional co-workers.  Who, let's face it, are not curing cancer.  I just need to work on my lines a little more....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Special Dayz

It was a special  morning!  I wasn't sure what to expect, since neither of his parents are known for their social skills, but he did great.  He needed a little prompting to actually talk, since he was busy sitting up there with a big ol' grin on his face but it was great.  In my mom of the year moment, he was showing off his matchbox car collection and told the teacher he wanted to count all the cars.  My first reaction was No, Not necessary but before I could embarrass myself the teacher enthusiastically agreed.  Oh Right!  School.  Counting to be encouraged.  (The tally?  56)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Baseball Tramp

So I mentioned a bit ago I don't read many blogs about kids with DS.  A few, but not many.  I was also Miss Smarty Pants, rambling on about how much I looovvvee to reeeaddd.  So I thought I'd wade into deeper water, so to speak, and make an effort to read more.... from families we might have something in common with.  [I hesitated over how to phrase that.  Probably because I don't know what I'm looking for.  I even tried for an 'on the same cruise' vs 'in the same boat' joke - It was just embarrassing]

Holy McJeepers.  THERE ARE HUNDREDS.  One person literally has over a 120 blogs on her roll-er thingy.  Not only am I not even in the minor leagues, I'm not even playing baseball.  How to choose?  My current "plan" is to randomly click through, confirm people are at least still online, and then add to my favorites bar.  I'm still not tech-savvy enough to have set up a reader, so I usually just click down the list in the morning.  I figure if over the series of x-mornings I get hooked then I'll eventually go back and read the archives.  If I wanted to carry the dating metaphor over, I'm now the town tramp.

But it's also settling in that I'm really not much of a special snowflake.  All the stuff I ponder and fret about, has been pondered and fretted about already.  At length.  And oftentimes with better quality photos.  That's true of any parent or mommy blog I suppose, which leads into the whole "we're a community" discussion, especially with DS, but I was raised to avoid the group-think.  I set this up so our Gigi could get more her photos more frequently, and the emotional vomit writing was practically an accident.  Though I have to say it has been ....cathartic.  I presume that's why a lot of other people do it too.  A quiet place to make sense of the crap floating around in your head and at least corral it into a structured format (or not, in my case).  So I'll keep chugging along.  It being public I still have mixed feelings about and find bizarre, but I'll also admit I'm vain enough to be flattered that anyone other than my mom wants to read it.  I don't think anyone in my family is ready for the Birth Story, though, which otherwise appears to be de rigueur.  I also don't think my kids' names are probably much of a secret, for anyone who's glanced at more than two photos, or - hey genius - the undoctored Christmas card, but until we acquire more urchins, 'boy' and 'girl' are clear enough.  It'd be nice not to have to type out "my husband" all the time, or the e'er cutesy "hubby".  The DH of the message boards (darling hubby) makes me itchy.  So as of tonight, I have permission... Matt, meet the world.  
March 2009

Also, keeping true to the original intent - The Boy, getting his hair cut tonight with Classy Bear.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Classy Bear

As part of his Special Week at school, the boy gets to bring home a bear, cart it around, take pictures of it in incriminating positions doing interesting things, and then report back to the class in a special album.  He's very excited about it.  The Book of the Bear's Year is very, very CUTE.  Crafty, even.  Bear's previous photos are cut with special crafty-scissors and festooned with ribbons 'n stuff.  This is one of those times I'm very glad we didn't go first - so I can blatantly cop the other mommies' ideas.  This is the downside to being a city girl in SAHM country. 
(for Gigi:  SAHM = Stay at home mom]

The boy and the class bear:

He also drew a picture of his family.  Not his best drawing as his interest was flagging (he really does know how to write his own name).  But he commented that his daddy's eyes "looked Chinese".  I'd just read this post - which caused me to ponder the downside of my kids living in the Whitest Town Ever (in addition to being out crafty-fied by the SAHMs) - so I asked him what he meant, if there were any Asian kids in his class, etc.  No real answers and he hadn't said it in any particular way, just sounded like he was making an observation, so I let it go.  We're obviously going to need to address differences so am operating under with the "everyone is different - brown eyes/blue eyes, brown skin/white skin" theory.  I also thought this was a great summary over here, about how we shouldn't squelch the questions.

Which makes perfect sense, BUT at what point do we teach our curious, outspoken, unfiltered kids that it's not always nice to comment on someone's appearance?  Last summer we passed a (white) kid in full punk regalia sulking outside the park.  "Mom, that guy looks scary".  Said clearly loud enough to be heard.  The kid deserved it - we're on the outer fringes of suburbia, almost literally in the corn fields. Not exactly Punk Central, so you're going to stick out a little,  especially at a kids' park.  Also, when we had his eyes checked he said to our very hale & hearty eye doc "Wow. You're BIG".  I died a little inside on that one.  I suppose this the "art, not science" part of parenting.

But his sister's eyes - They look just like his.  His dad's eyes look Asian, his sister's...don't.  [My eyes just look craa-zeeey].  Not sure what do with that.  Sad, because the reality is reversed.  But also a little happy that he doesn't see it.  He knows the parade of people coming through are to "help her learn things" and I have said in passing that she'll learn things in her own time, when she's ready, when he asks when/what she can/can't do something.  But he has no baseline of expectation.  She started as a baby doing nothing & now she's doing more stuff.  Which is the way it should be. 

I will get some of the sibling books out there for him though.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's not all grim darkness around here

...sometimes it's annoyingly cheerful boasting. 

SuperMom returns!  In no particular order I worked this morning, helped the kid with a coat of paint for his 'boat' (the ginormous TV box), had a rousing game of balloon batting, & hosed off the urchins.  Spent time with the husband.  One canine (of three, but let's not get all analytical here) is also clean and even the foul Den of Dog (aka the laundry room, where the two smaller mutts sleep) was scrubbed down.  There would be phone calls to state agencies made if I confessed how long it'd been since that had been done.  Laundry's done, bottom floor's clean, and the boy wrote FIVE thank you notes.  While bribed and/or under duress, but written.  I am the epitome of virtue and efficiency.  Am also in a much better mood.  Thanks for asking. 

I even pulled out the crock pot and read the directions.  Shocking!  I'm not sure why every recipe involves two cups of gravy but I'm sure there are other options.  I think I'm going to start using this on days both grown ups are working, so the kids don't end up eating only cereal and toast (two different kinds of grains is a balanced diet, right?).  I have some significant concerns about leaving the mutts alone with stewing chicken though.  These are the same dogs that ate flour and sugar.  Straight.  The day after that the big one pulled fruit off the counter - not by accident either.  He ate pears.  Plural.  My mom said her dog likes apples, & I get that they're omnivores, but mine appear to have a sweet tooth.  Tonight, my matronly puppy got into a bag of marshmallows.  And a bag of lentils (?!), to balance things out.  They eat twice a day, they get plenty of treats (everytime my girl eats - she thinks it's funny to feed them), and they have brand new rawhide bones from Santa.  They aren't exactly being forced to forage.  But if I had the choice between marshmallows and dried cow hide, I suppose I'd pick the former too.  

The Evidence & the Suspect  - doesn't she look stealthy?

But this is what I'm the most-est proud of.  While puttering around upstairs yesterday, my girl climbed in our reading chair all by herself and started going thru her books.

Daddy kissing her goodbye & the sign for Daddy.
She still won't sign Mom.  She used to - I'm starting to fret. 
I'm sure she's just being a stinker.  The laughing whilst refusing is probably a clue.

 Sign for book.

Index finger AND cow recognition!

Also, babes in a basket.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Of Cars and Cadillacs.

I have a gazillion fabulous work stories.  None of which I can share.  [TEASE!].  Hippa laws, remaining happily employed, the fear of getting dooced, the fear of being found by the plaintiff bar, etc.   BUT.... 

I will now relay a story that is purely hypothetical.  A fictionalized account used solely for the purposes of reaching the punchline below:

Today I reviewed the claim of a 20-something person with SEVERE disabilities.  A 1-3 word vocabulary, depending on the report.  Unable to independently dress, eat, bath, etc.  Litany of various diagnosis and issues and behaviors.  

For all you saps out there, she was not injured.  Their very own doctor said so.  So settle down.  Nonetheless, not exactly a case you'd want to a jury to get ahold of, no?   Given my extensive expertise (*cough*) in the special needs world, I told plaintiff counsel (from day one! and in every phone call!) that they'll need a special needs trust and conservatorship before I can settle.  Did they do this?  NO.  Has hypothetical plaintiff counsel been previously & recently suspended by the state bar for being an incompetent ninny?  YES.  Are we close to statute?  VERY.

...There are other things but I wrote them out and deleted.  Couldn't imagine the mom reading it.
Or, I guess, my boss. 

No one ever likes to talk about death or money.  But SO IMPORTANT.  Employer provided life insurance, alone, if provided directly to a SN kid, would blow the asset test for SSI.  I did learn today the car is exempt - Assuming mine were running.  Which it never seems to be.  I wonder what salvage value would be?  Would that fall under the car exemption or assets? 

Anyway, we are paying too much for (too much?) life insurance right now but that was part of the frenzied new-baby must-do-something-ANYTHING kick.  Now that the panic has subsided, we should reassess.  But in the process, the nice people at MetDesk told us that Down Syndrome was the "Cadillac of disabilities".  At the time, pre-heart-surgery, spending eight hours a day trying to keep my girl growing (no exaggeration), I thought that was a silly thing to say.

But Cate said something very similar here (12/29/10).  [Given my newly-learned internet rules, I'm supposed to ask first. Um, ok w/you?  Sorry?].  I think we're floating around on the far reaches of the special needs community too.  My girl is happy, engaging, able to communicate (via sign), affectionate and no more "work" / "effort" / "involved" / ??? (that's a linguistical landmine) than any other 2 year old.  Especially now that her heart's been fixed.  Even before, in some ways, she was easier than her brother who never stopped screaming.  Certainly less than my purely hypothetical 20-something claimant.  And this is also probably venturing into minefield, but if my girl's gorgeous face looked a little bit different, my club pass would probably be rescinded. 

At least for now - maybe - I don't know - we haven't started school yet...

No punchline either...
And I'm going to sign off on that incredibly vague, unsatisfying note.

Friday, January 7, 2011


I was thinking about my biggest stressors right now, since I've been such a grump, and the only one I can do anything about is work.  The money thing *sigh* I can’t fix and it’ll get better eventually. The gazillion other things are just a subset to the money thing (can I write thang?  I'm thinking No.) – things that need replacing, fixing, etc. The increasingly shabby condition of various items?  Are not critical to a happy home.  Having a non-irritable mommy IS.

I gave my husband hell once when we were talking about his job/schedules, etc because he said something (probably totally different) but what I heard was his job takes priority (right now, over kids’ schedules). Settle down, it wasn’t that bad, it was just his phrasing in the first pass did not meet with my approval.

So it is with a massive slice of humble crow pie that I’m going to admit I really need to focus on work right now. I won’t bore you with the inane details of what’s I need to get done, but it is weighing on me.  And it’s the only thing I can fix.  Hubby would argue that I always say I’m behind but the nature of the biz usually hovers between orange & red on the alert scale - right now I’m under martial law.

The kids, as they say, will be all right.

[BTW, that movie got great reviews. I love everyone in it. But I just saw over the wkend and thought it was awful. They go thru a “rough patch”, JMoore cheats, then it’s all just magically OK?  Gah.  Let me tell y’all about rough patches. It wasn’t even funny].

So [skip ahead, this is note to myself] Friday - bills.
As a bonus this will result in clean bedroom as we moved all bills/papers out of the guest room/office for our visitors and a few errant footsteps + one toddler on the loose has resulted in vast expanse of paper spilled across our master bedroom. I wanted to make a joke about our new (processed) wood floor but ….No.

Sat morning – found a do-it-yourself doggie wash place. Our mutts are WAY OVERDUE and can’t wash'em at home if the hose is turned off because we live in flyover country where it freezes.  Drat.  As a bonus there will be less nastiness in the house.

Sat afternoon – husband will be at work. I will spend quality time with my children building organic origami playtoys. Hahhahahahahahaahhha.

Sun morning – Will haul my butt into work.

Sun afternoon – Quality time! Will corral son into writing thank you notes.  At least one.

And I’ll move my girl’s cardio appointment again (oops!) and ask her daddy to take her in on his day off.

See? All I needed was a plan.  Instant mood improvement.  

[Totally stealing this joke from my brother].

Later...Edited to replace random, possibly purloined, Plan of the Battle of Waterloo with free map from wiki.  The first map was better. Tough. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011


My brother didn't like his previously posted picture. 
We'll let you all sort out which one that was (evil laugh).
So, in order to express my heartfelt regret...
Scraped up nose?  Check.
Self-inflicted hair cut?  We hope.  (mom?!)
Adorable kid?  Collective awwwwww...

If I were mean, I'd write, "Such a cute kid.  Whatever happened between then and [insert offending photo again]?"  But the thought never crossed my mind.  Well, apparently it did but I restrained myself. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


By way of explanation, my husband has Monday/Tuesdays off and I usually work 4-tens so have been taking Wednesdays off.  Before he went back to work I had Fridays off which meant EVERY weekend was a holiday (yeah!)...but Mondays were hard.  I know this is one of those "my tiara is SO heavy" moments but when he got his job it was the first time we had to stash the kids anywhere.  In a freak bit of luck there's an excellent inclusive pre-school/daycare nearby but they didn't have room on Fridays so I switched my day off to Wedn.  This has worked out brilliantly because we were able to ease our girl into daycare just twelve hours a week.  (He doesn't start till 12, they close at 6.  The boy's been hanging with his cousins after school). 

Nevermind that I see my husband exactly never.  We agreed, with varying degrees of resignation, resentment, and sulking that it was Temporary and Best for the Children but yikes. 

Except instead of working 10 hrs on Thurs/Friday, I have to leave about 2 hours early to make sure I get there before 6.  That, plus some increased work, and probably a little bit too much time online in the morning and I'm behind.  Noticeably behind.  Can no longer fix in one Saturday behind.  The school had freed up some room in January so I set up our girl for an extra day "just for a month", so I could work on Wednesdays and catch up.  Except I played hooky this Monday because I hadn't spent 24 hrs with my husband in 4 months.  Also because I was up till 1am and knew I had Wedn covered.  Also next week is Special Day at the boy's school + girl's cardio check up so will have improved exactly nothing in the first half of January.  Hence the source of some of my ranting earlier today.  Guilt, all around, but right now especially with my fabulously lenient employer who I am abusing. 

I'm not a big fan of the (now) Wedn-Thurs-Friday gig.  Bless all the single parents out there... I feel bad about leaving early, tired from what time I did put in, and am scrounging around offering the kids cereal and canned fruit for dinner because no way I'm spending the extra 2 minutes to saute a veggie.  They're tired, hungry, and clingy too.  But I'm busy wondering how early I can pack them off to bed without triggering State intervention.  On these days, only basic needs are met - subsistence living. 

But tonight... at risk of high cheese factor here... was awesome.

The boy's been working on a "Me" poster for school.  Tonight he asked if he could cut up an extra Christmas card so he could glue on a picture of his sister.  He's fine with her but they don't really have much in common.  He's starting to express a little excitement when she's signing something he knows but otherwise they seem to travel in separate orbits.  [So does that make me the sun?  a narcissist?]  I've had to request omissions be corrected in other family drawings.  But tonight he wanted to include her, unprompted. 

And tonight, when reading Moo, Baa, LaLaLa, my baby pointed at the inside cow with her pointy finger, then turned the book back to the cover and POINTED AT THE COW ON THE COVER.   THEN REPEATED THIS WITH THE SHEEP.  (she wasn't so much into the singing pigs). 

My heart burst.  I've still been trying to get a video of her using her index finger (the previously promised Great Reveal) but MATCHING things takes this to a whole new level.

Facing Down January.

[I wonder when I'll be able to use that particular directional word without wanting to provide additional commentary.  Or at least make a joke]

I’ve got nothing today.  Busy being grumpy in that two-three months-till-spring post-holiday everyone’s-gone-home slump.  Me and half the rest of the country.  Half?  60%?  70%?  I wonder how to google that…. Number of Sad People in January?

Just did:  January Slump is an economic term. Seasonal Affective Disorder is, of course, a real (though I suspect a little mockable?) diagnosis.  Fabulous, even my emotions are geeky & commonplace.

I also googled to get the picture… Did you know "Special Snowflake Syndrome" is a real phrase?  Worse, someone wrote into yahoo for a definition.  Also wondering if I need license to use (again with the geek).  I didn't crop the source out, so am providing proper credit, and have received (and deleted) a gajillion times as jpeg attachments in email forwards so not entirely sure they can claim sole rights... I suspect they aren't going to send the feds in after me.  Complaints can be addressed to getalife at seriously?.com. 
[BOY, I am cranky today!]

I just want more TIME. So I don’t feel like I’m choosing between work, kids, me-time, husband-time, and spending time scraping the top layer of filth off our house.  And universally shorting everyone (me included).  Nevermind I should just take the dogs for a walk (exercise = happy people + content non-aggravating dogs).  I hate it when solutions are so self-evident.  Anything that obvious must be wrong. 

So in lieu of the serenity prayer – because we already know I’m lacking the key wisdom piece, I offer this:
Twenty Ten Sucked Ass
Resolutions Aplenty
To Fix? Stop Sleeping