Sunday, August 31, 2008

Boo's Ringing Endorsement

Boo just made this announcement:

"I don't know much about Sarah Palin. That's why I'm voting for Barack Obama."

Couldn't have said it better myself, kiddo.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Doppelganger

I get a kick out of clicking on the "Next Blog" button and seeing what other blogs are out there. Similarly, if there's a blog I like, I often check out the blogroll. Which is what I was doing tonight when I found a blog written by someone with my exact first name in real life and my very same last name in real life - with one letter difference. But get this!

That mommy blogger also has a son with autism.

That freaks me out.

I mean, we know that autism occurs in 1 of 150 children. But I'd love to know what the odds are of two moms with the same name (OK, almost the same name, with one letter difference) having a kid with autism.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Politics of Life (with apologies to the author of the blog of the same name for borrowing her title for this post)

I'm running a sick ward today. The Dean had a minor but painful procedure yesterday so he's recuperating. Then, this morning my cell phone rang an hour into my 90 minute commute to work; Boo wasn't feeling well and it might be a good idea to pick him up.

After turning around and driving back home for another hour - but before making a trip to the pediatrician - the three of us watched and read the coverage of John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

When her family walked out to join her, I assumed that the newborn was a grandchild, a nephew, a godson. I was stunned to learn that baby Trig (who the hell names their kid after a math class, for chrissakes?!) is all of 4 months old - and that he has Down Syndrome.

I'm a mother of a child with a disability, too. Like many, many others, I know what it's like to have a child with special needs and have the need to "work outside the home." (I also know what it's like to be a stay-at-home-mom, having BTDT.) I have no doubt that Ms. Palin juggles her professional and personal duties admirably as Governor of Alaska.

I remember how I felt after Boo's diagnosis. I threw myself into action, reading everything I could, talking to everyone I could. I remember volunteering for a committee two weeks after receiving Boo's diagnosis along with some moms who planned to start a school for children with autism. They kindly told me that I was in shock (I was) and that they would understand, once we realized all that this entailed, if my volunteer work would need to be shelved. (It was.) Shortly thereafter, the realities of this new reality of ours caught up with me.

When this Brave New World was still all new to me, I couldn't fathom how hard we would need to work with Boo over the last four years to get him where he is, and how much time we would need to invest in preparing for and attending meetings with teachers, finding the best specialists, researching the best therapy options and reading about the latest breakthroughs in autism.

I had no clue how little time The Dean and I have for each other, the effect that having a child with a disability would have on our marriage, how exhausted we would be, how much of a struggle it is on days like today when one is sick (and how damn grateful I am to have a boss who understands what it's like to get a call from a daycare provider or nurse requesting that you grind your day to a screeching halt and pick up a sick child). But despite all the above, my kids are truly the loves of my life, just as I'm sure Sarah Palin's children are to hers.

Sarah Palin seems to be a caring and warm mother, a professional, and like her hoped-for boss, a dedicated public servant. I'm sure she has all the qualities that the GOP is promoting in their talking points. And I know that much of the logistical juggling that The Dean and I do on a daily basis would likely be handled much differently in The White House than they are in Our House.

I'm not convinced that she's the right choice right now to be a heartbeat away from being the President of the United States - or, as Paul Begala says, the most powerful, difficult, complicated job in human history. Especially when that potential President is attempting to blow out 72 candles on his birthday cake today, and has dealt with four - count 'em, four - bouts of cancer. I need to seriously question his judgement on this. McSame (not an original moniker; borrowed from another blogger somewhere) reportedly only met her ONE TIME before offering the VP gig. I've hired student interns (who are unpaid!) in my office after more than one conversation.

This is not intended to be a post slamming Palin or her decision to work. I happen to believe that moms can - and do - successfully work outside the home while being excellent moms to their children, special needs and all. But I've recently come to believe that the notion of "having it all" is a fairy tale, a myth, and absolute, utter crap.

What I can't seem to get past is my belief that when you add the special needs component and all the demands and emotions that entails, then in those circumstances there are some jobs that are best left to others.

Such as the Vice President and President of the United States.

Postscript: If you liked this blog post, you'll probably also enjoy: http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2008/09/04/palins-children-should-take-priority-over-being-vice-president/

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Two Presidential Tales

In the spirit of the all-politics-all-the-time week that we've been having with the Democratic National Convention, I offer you two short stories written by Boo. In keeping with all things presidential, it features many of the Founding Fathers. I've put notes in [brackets] if I thought a translation of the spelling was needed, otherwise spelling, grammar, etc. is as he wrote it:

The Presidents Pizza Store!
On March 22, 1983, 43 Presidents were makeing pizza. All of 'em had ideas. As a boy Roughaford [Rutherford] B. Hayes said Lets make cheese pizza. He loved cheese pizza. Cheese pizzas yummy said George Washington, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Ulysses S. Grant, William McKily [McKinley], Calvin Cooligh, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennidy, James Earl Carter (Jimmy Jr.) and Ronald W. Reagan. So, Tomas Jefferson, William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, Abram Linclon, Ruthaford B. Hayes, Benjamin harrison, Taft, and Thedore Roosavelt, Herbert Hoover, Dwight d. Eisenhower, Lyddon B. Johnson, and George H.W. Bush made the cheese pizza. John Adams, James Monroe, Martin Van Buren, Zackary Taylor, James Buchanan, James A. Garfield, Grover Clevelan, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin d. Roosavelt, John F. Kennidy, Richerd M. Nixon, and Ronald W. Reagan made perrerone pizza. James Madason, John Tyler, Ulysses S. Grant, Chesterd A. Arther made plian pizza.

(Mommy's note: this is Chapter 2 of the book)
Pizza's For Seal! [Sale]
Routhaford B. Hayes was next to John Adams and Martin Van Buren. He said, Can you get me, he saise Martin Van Buren? Got it. Pizzas for seal! said a voice, It was James Madason, His 1st pizza was ready. A car stoped by. It was good. Albert A. Gore Jr., William J (Bill) Clinton runned to meet him. Hie-hie-hie-hie! they said Hi, said Clinton. Heres your plian pizza, said James Madason. Glosyas! [Mommy's note: maybe glorious! or gracias!] said Albert A. Gore Jr. He went away. James Madason went back to what he was doing. At 3:00 Herbert Hoover put his 4 cheese pizza in the oven. Muncsh! Muncsh! Routhaford B. Hayes took 2 bites of cheese pizza. Abram Linclon said over to Taft, He likes cheese pizza too!

And the award for Best Actor goes to ...

Boo made an announcement this evening.

"I'm not Betty's brother," he informed me. "I'm an actor."

D.I.Y.

I stopped by the library this afternoon - all by myself! without any kids! - to return some overdue DVDs and books before I get arrested like that woman in Wisconsin. As much as I love taking the kids to the library, one of my small guilty mom pleasures is to go there by myself. To me, browsing amid books and DVDs without the words Dora, mermaid, Hannah Montana, or princess is sheer bliss.

The big irony of this is that I always find my way over to the Parenting section. Which is where I found myself this afternoon, glancing at Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism. Right next to Jenny McCarthy's book about her experiences as a mother of a son with autism was a book called All Thumbs Guide to Home Wiring.

It made me think immediately of this post that Kristina Chew, PhD., wrote on June 12, 2008 on her blog Autism Vox:

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, researchers affiliated with the University of Washington’s Autism Center have found an “abnormal pattern of connectivity” in the brains of autistic adults; this different neurological “wiring” may be responsible for social impairments that are one feature of autism. The study, which is published in the journal Brain, focused on the brain regions that process faces, the fusiform face area.

At the moment one becomes a parent of a child with autism - as I learned I was, four and a half years ago - many people embark on an extensive and expensive home improvement project, as we did. Faced with a very different immediate future than we'd imagined, we rewired every aspect of our life, just as thousands of parents of children with autism and other disabilities do. From the gluten and casein-free food we bought for more than two years, from the cadre of therapists and specialists we spent countless hours with, from the re-networking of our network to include parents like us, it was a complete rewiring of the path we'd set out on.

Just like the different neurological wiring studied at the University of Washington, our internal and external wiring in our home became rewired - and still continues to be - as we journey down the circuitous pathway of our lives.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Predictions

I'm blogging while watching the end of the first night of the Democratic National Convention, and I'm reminded of watching the Democrats four years ago. As we watched Barack back in 2004, I said to The Dean, "That guy is going to be President someday."

I'll make another prediction tonight. We haven't seen the last of the oldest Obama daughter. She'll be back in the DNC spotlight in a couple years.

Remember, you read it here first.

Extracting the Details

Well, we survived the first day of school without a call from the nurse's office. Oh, you think I'm being dramatic, but this time last night, it wasn't outside the realm of possibility.

Betty's had a loose tooth for awhile now. Honestly, I thought it would have fallen out over the summer. It seems to be taking it's good ol' time ... just as it did for both kids to get their teeth to begin with. Last night, after the backpacks were stuffed with the required school supplies, after the lunches were packed, and after the kids were presumed to be asleep, Betty started to cry. Loudly.

Her tooth was hurting. A lot. It was reallyreallyreally wiggly. Indeed, it was much more wiggly than it had been. She was inconsolable, despite our futile reassurances that if it fell out on the first day of school, she could go to her teacher or the nurse and they would know what to do. Before this, I wasn't nervous about the first day of school. However, now I was a little apprehensive.

Thankfully, this morning the tooth seemed to have been all but forgotten and it was forgotten by the time we sat down for dinner. Truthfully? The most painful part of the day wasn't the tooth. Like most parents, it was extracting the details of what happened during the day at school.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Living History

Left the house this morning
Bells ringing filled the air
Wearin the cross of my calling
On wheels of fire I come rollin down here
Come on up for the rising ...
- Bruce Springsteen, "The Rising"

By sheer coincidence, today's morning errands and to-do's took me and the kids within minutes of Joe Biden's home where he left from this morning. Maybe it was just me, but there sure seemed to be this sense of an exciting something in the air - like we were in the midst of living history while returning library books and stopping for gas.

We returned home at 3:30 p.m. - just in time to watch the first Obama-Biden appearance. I told Boo to come into the family room and together we watched Biden's speech, which I thought was a home run. I loved that he came out to Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising." Loved the seven kitchen tables jab at McCain. Loved Obama's Freudian slip of introducing Biden as "the next president."

But most of all, I loved that my little presidential wannabee was just as glued to the TV as I was.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gearing Up for School















This pile of stuff on my dining room table represents all that is needed, apparently, for two elementary school students to head off to school.

(I wonder how I ever managed to get through school without a box of Ziploc sandwich bags, 8 glue sticks, and 2 bottles of Purell?)

Countdown is On ...

Today's the last official day of summer vacation. Again, it's a cliche, but where the hell did the summer go?

Last night was "meet-your-new-teacher-and-see-your-classroom" night at school. Because of the enrollment boom in our district, a whole new school needed to be built adjacent to the existing school. Turns out Betty and Boo are both in the new building. We were impressed with both the facilities and the teachers.

Their "First Day of School" homework was completed by July 1. (Believe it or not, I actually know where it is.)

Hello, Neighbor




Looks like we will be getting some new neighbors in a couple months. (This was taken this morning from our front steps.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Boo's Books

Boo was very motivated to read at least 60 hours (for the library's Summer Reading Club program) - and he did. Here's what he read:


1. So You Want to Be President
2. Curious George Goes to the Hospital
3. Horrible Harry & the Christmas Surprise
4. Amanda Pig & the Really Hot Day
5. All Tutus Should Be Pink
6. Purple, Green and Yellow
7. The Berenstain Bears' Funny Valentine
8. The BoxCar Children & The Pizza Mystery
9. A Picture Book of John F. Kennedy
10. The Berenstain Bears & Too Much Teasing
11. Rainbow Fish & Friends Sea of Riddles
12. A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln
13. Amelia Bedelia & the Baby
14. If I Ran For President
15. The Night Before First Grade
16. Arthur's Tooth
17. Wild About Books
18. The Hello, Goodbye Window
19. The Princess & Her Pony
20. What Presidents Are Made Of
21. Will It Ever Be My Birthday?
22. Independence Day
23. Here's to You, America!
24. Caps for Sale
25. The American Presidency
26. The Presidents of the United States
27. The New Big Book of U.S. Presidents
28. Out and About at the Baseball Stadium
29. My Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather was a Warrior
30. Tutus and Toe Shoes
31. John, Paul, George and Ben
32. The Birthday Car
33. D.W., the Picky Eater
34. Don't Bump the Glump
35. Berenstain Bears & Escape of the Bogg Brothers
36. Mother's Day
37. The BoxCar Children & The Blue Bay Mystery
38. 101 School Cafeteria Jokes
39. A Picture Book of Helen Keller
40. A Picture Book of Robert E. Lee
41. Bears in the Night
42. The Berenstain Bears' New Kitten
43. The Berenstain Bears & Too Much TV
44. Princess, Princess
45. Pish and Posh Wish for Fairy Wings
46. Do Little Mermaids Wet Their Beds?
47. The Princess Knight
48. Up, Up, Down
49. Time for Ballet
50. Grover Cleveland
51. Frog in the Sink
52. A Fine, Fine School
53. Time for Ballet
54. The Berenstain Bears and the Tic-Tac-Toe Mystery

Monday, August 18, 2008

Betty-isms

As is my custom, I gave The Dean a goodbye kiss this morning before leaving for work. Betty, eating her breakfast with her back to us, turned around.

"I saw what you two just did ...." she said, in a sing-song voice. "And you need to stop it."

We laughed and asked why.

"BeeeCAUSE!! Mommy, you're going to turn into a wedding gown and Daddy, you're going to turn into a suit."

*****
On Saturday, I was getting dressed for a fun-filled day of errands which I'd promoted to Betty (who would be accompanying me) as a "Girl's Day Out." (Haircuts, lunch at Friendly's, and shopping at Target were all on the agenda so this wasn't a hard sell.) Betty came into the bedroom to advise me on my jewelry options.

"How about this?" she said, holding up a black and orange Halloween charm bracelet that is usually only worn approximately 3 days each year. I declined, saying that I didn't feel like wearing that particular bangle today. I then selected a silver heart necklace.

Betty nodded with approval. "That gives you a good look too," she stated.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What's in a Name?

So this little blog of mine isn't a week old yet and we've had our first name change. It's sort of like the experience some have when becoming parents and deciding on the kid's name; sometimes the baby that you get just doesn't look like the Myrtle or Tiffani you were expecting. Hence, a new descriptive name is in order.

This may come as a surprise to some, but Peanut and Boo aren't the real names of my kids. They're descriptive nicknames, to be sure, and the ones they've had pretty much since birth. But as they get older and their personalities emerge even more than we've seen, they remind us of others we've known.

For awhile now, Peanut has reminded us of my beloved grandmother who passed away several years ago. She's missed - a lot. But at times, it seems as if we have a smaller version of her living with us. Peanut loves to wear dresses, preferably pink. (Her closet looks like a bottle of Pepto-Bismol exploded.) In her world, accessories aren't optional. She owns more handbags, bottles of nail polish, and lip gloss than I ever will. Her favorite gift from Santa this past Christmas was the Dora "Let's Get Ready" vanity - which continues to be used every day. She's also rather sociable. She'll talk to anyone. At every school activity last year, she would be buzzing about the room talking with all the kids in her class.

This is a good thing - except for the nail polish and lip gloss - and she's so very much like my grandmother. Take this morning at church. During each service, there are always a few moments where the congregation is asked to turn to those seated in close proximity and say good morning. Peanut and Boo love this. Today, we turned around after saying a quick hello to a couple behind us and discovered that Peanut was several rows in front, greeting a friend from Sunday School and welcoming some newcomers.

As we often to say to each other in such instances, I whispered to The Dean, "She's such a little Betty." And then, "Maybe I should change her name in the blog."

And so I have. And knowing my grandmother - who would be circulating this blog to every family member and septuagenarian in her retirement community - she would be tickled pink to be the only person refered to in the blog by her real name.

Betty's Summer Reading

On her own initiative, Betty set a goal to read 100 books this summer. Here's her list thus far:

1. Curious George Goes to the Hospital
2. Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy
3. Princess Power
4. Horrible Harry and the Christmas Surprise
5. Pretty Please: A Book of Manners
6. Purple, Green, and Yellow
7. The Berenstain Bears' Funny Valentine
8. The BoxCar Children and the Pizza Mystery
9. The Berenstain Bears & Too Much Teasing
10. Rainbow Fish & Friends Sea of Riddles
11. Amelia Bedelia & the Baby
12. But Excuse Me, That Is My Book!
13. If I Ran For President
14. The Night Before First Grade
15. Calling Doctor Amelia Bedelia
16. The Long, Hot Recess
17. Arthur's Tooth
18. The Hello, Goodbye Window
19. Nina, Nina, Star Ballerina
20. My Best Friend is Ariel
21. The Princess & Her Pony
22. Will It Ever Be My Birthday?
23. Independence Day
24. Here's to You, America
25. The Baby Shower
26. It Could Still Be a Butterfly
27. Caps for Sale
28. Amelia Bedelia Bookworm
29. The Princesses' Lucky Day
30. Hush, Puppies
31. Molly at the Library
32. See You Soon, Moon
33. Where's Molly?
34. Tutus and Toe Shoes
35. On the Day You Were Born
36. Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren
37. The Birthday Car
38. D.W., the Picky Eater
39. The Gingerbread Girl
40. My School is a Zoo!
41. Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren (apparently such a great read that it had to be read twice)
42. The Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Andersen)
43. Cat Traps!
44. Beauty and the Beast
45. Don't Bump the Glump!
46. Where Do Butterflies Go When it Rains?
47. Berenstain Bears & Escape of the Bogg Brothers
48. Mother's Day
49. The Boxcar Children & the Blue Bay Mystery
50. Aladdin
51. If I Owned a Candy Factory
52. Princess
53. Junie B. Jones is a Party Animal
54. Sleeping Beauty
55. A Picture Book of Helen Keller
56. A Picture Book of Robert E. Lee
57. The Fairest of the Fall
58. Bears in the Night
59. The Berenstain Bears' New Kitten
60. The Berenstain Bears & Too Much TV
61. Princess, Princess
62. Dogerella
63. Pish and Posh Wish for Fairy Wings
64. Do Little Mermaids Wet Their Beds?
65. Pony Party
66. The Princess Knight
67. Up, Up, Down
68. Ready, Set, Read
69. Time for Ballet
70. A Fine, Fine School
71. The Berenstain Bears & the Tic-Tac-Toe Mystery

72. My Ponies
73. Beauty and the Beast (a different version than #44)
74. Care Bears: 4 Easy Stories

75. Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl
Maybe you can detect a theme or two ...?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I say it's your birthday, and yours, and yours

"You say it's your birthday? It's my birthday too ..." ~ The Beatles

Very happy birthday wishes today to three special people in our life, all of whom were born on this day in different years:

B. ...who is the aunt of J. ...and whose godfather is M. (Author of the blog "Danielle & April - Daddy's narrative).

A Running Joke

Do You Want to Be President?
These days, Boo is into all things presidential. While "archiving" some of the artwork that we've accumulated over the summer, I found this drawing. In case it doesn't show up too well (remember, I'm new to this blogging thing), it says "Do You Want to Be President", with a large ?, and three presidential contenders. (I'm assuming these would be Hillary, Barack, and John, although I am not sure of the order.)
My favorite part is the "HA! HA!"

(artist's note: the presidents are hillary rodham clinton,ronald wilson reagan,barack henry obama.)


Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's About Time

For someone who has wanted to be a writer since kindergarten and who has a milestone birthday beginning with the number 4 next spring, it's about time that I started a blog.

And so I have, beginning with this post.

Every so often, we get subtle (and not so subtle) reminders of just how quickly life is passing by. (It sounds cliche-ish, and it is, but in tribute to
Randy Pausch, it fits.) I was thinking about that on my drive home tonight because tomorrow marks one of those milestones.

Tomorrow is 18 years since former Phillies' player Terry Mullholland pitched a no-hitter at the former Veteran's Stadium. For two college students in the 700 level near the Pepsi sign, August 15, 1990 was a first date, made possible by free tickets from a package of Phillies Franks.

In the 18 years since, Terry Mullholland retired from baseball. Those college kids got married. Veteran's Stadium became a parking lot. The newlyweds became vegetarians, then homeowners, then professionals with retirement plans. And oh yeah ... parents. Peanut and Boo have been now been here longer than it took us to get them here.

Eighteen years is a really long time - and yet sometimes, that Phillies game seems like it was a couple weeks ago. What it really is is a reminder that life ain't slowin' down anytime soon.

So, it's time to start writing again and while doing so, try to chronicle these next 18 years before they, too, become part of our glory days.