Saturday, July 30, 2011

Another Digi Scrap Page

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This one is of my niece, Chrissa. An interesting tid-bit: I came up with her name. Her dad wanted to name her Christina, her mom (my sister) didn't care for that. One day, I was playing with that flubby little baby-lady. I was kinda putting her upside down and right side up again while saying "Chris" on the down motion and "uh" when coming up. It came out 'Chriiss-ssaaaa' in my teen-aunt silly voice.

Her mom walked in one me, heard my gross exaggeration on the name Chris, looked at me and exclaimed "That's it!". I had no idea what she was talking about. "Chrissa.", she said, "That's the name". Both parents agreed that my silliness settled the name argument. That's when I learned that a little silliness can go a long way.

In this page, I used Delicious Scrap's Spring Collection of Mini Kits (there's a 99 cent sale going on their store right now, so if you have the cash, I say go for it) along with Shabby Princess' Promise kit. Shabby Princess is another one of my favorite group of designers. I would love to one day actually buy a whole kit, but for now, it's freebies for me.

I'm trying very hard to limit myself to one or two kits with these pages in order to self edit and remember who I need to credit since I use freebies. Also, I'm trying to hone the skills I remember. I need to find a good tutorial group again. The goal is to one be able to print out these pages and put them into a book. One day...

Here is the end result:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bookmark Often?

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This are the top search queries into my blog for the past month. It seems either someone doesn't know how to bookmark or my site and me are famous. Somehow, I'm not thinking its fame:

Bookmarks are useful.


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I updated an older post with images of my husband's Chiari scar a month post-op, however, I feel for the sake of Chiari Awareness the images warrant their own post. You may copy these images for personal and public use. I just ask that you do not alter the images or hot-link them from me.

Without further a-do...

Wanting meltdowns to melt-a-way.

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"Mommy", he asks, "is it okay if I call the cat the 'p' word?" 

"No, you'll get in trouble", I reply in harmony with my husband. I think about it for a minute. "Wait...what 'p' word do you mean?"

In a whisper, he says shyly, "Patches".

Patches was my cat's name when I adopted her. She didn't look like a Patches and I can't say she had a great life under that name, so I changed it. I had to laugh at the kid's sheer innocence. Patches, of course, not that other word. Not pussy cat... The boy makes me laugh. I still had to explain to him that the cat's name was special and something I worked hard to get her to recognize as her name. We don't want to remind her of her previous life.

Summer is is coming upon its last full month. Our August calendar isn't filling up quite so quickly either, which I hope means that we will have free time to enjoy the sun and sand, water and outings that we are accustomed to this time of year. I also hope that means less time in waiting rooms and hospitals along with fewer trips to the pharmacy.

My greatest hope is that my kid can will feel more secure, feel like life is normal again. The cracks are starting to really show as his behavior reverts. We are having more meltdowns, he is clingy, he is more impulsive, he just isn't at his best.

The other day, he had a meltdown because his aunt's daughter came for a surprise visit, usurping his special time between him and his aunt. It's his only real one on one time these days. He figured if his cousin spent the night here, he could make up for that lost time with his aunt; A plan to which neither his aunt nor parents agreed. 

It was two hours of pure autistic meltdown. As his parents, we were not prepared at all. It was the longest meltdown we've had in quite a long time. It wasn't especially violent, but it was filled with spiteful words, sobbing, wailing and stopped time in our house. It was also the third one in a week.

We simply aren't used to these long, dramatic meltdowns anymore. For the hubby, its terrible. His brain is still healing meaning he is sensitive to sounds and does not have the patience he once did. He gets as frustrated as the kid because he a) can't squash the meltdown and b) can barely handle it because the shrillness and shrieking causes sensory overload. 

I have to admit that I was half deer caught in the headlights and half calming force. I thought to myself that I needed to re-read my "How to Deal with Metldowns" section in our Family Manual. The kid looked to me to help him negotiate and cope with his feelings and I was a tired, stuttering mess.

I should add to this that our current heatwave effected all of us at the time: I have no tolerance to heat like this, never have and heat exhaustion is something I succumb to easily. I had just begun to cool down after being outside when the tantrum ensued. The kid was also coming directly in from the heat. He was hot, tired and upset. The hubby's pain has increased significantly since the heatwave started, which is common for Chiarians, but worse being only two months post-op and possibly having a leak of some sort (increased intra-cranial pressure bites). As a family, we muddled through the whole thing.

I don't think the kid understands how to cope with what he is feeling. I've said this before and I'll say it again: Watching and worrying about a parent go through a major medical condition, surgery and recovery is hard for an adult. Not only is the kid not an adult, he's emotionally delayed thanks to Asperger's Syndrome.

While he was amazing during the initial process and immediately after the surgery, he's now able to have all those fears and worries come to the forefront (as it is for all of us). He's adjusting to Daddy in recovery as opposed to Daddy the Mother Hen, fart joke buddy, and generally his go to guy for all important kid stuff. He's adjusting to what Chiari means for his Dad, him and his family. This is just one phase of what will be a long recovery. 

With Asperger's, having your entire world turned up-side-down and inside-out is devastating. Anyone who doesn't realize that is not thinking about the kid. Daddy has always been his rock, so this is the hardest thing the kid has ever been through. Daddy always understands him, is always there for him, is his... well, dad.

But it isn't the same anymore. Daddy isn't around-- not like at work not around, but convalescing not around. The strongest man alive according to the kid isn't so strong right now. Yet, Daddy is trying his hardest to still fill his own large shoes, even if its in short increments. There are times when Daddy tries to be there longer, be stronger, push past his current limits to be the best dad he can be. Sometimes they have those normal for them father-son moments. Sometimes pushing past his limits, Daddy doesn't always succeed... yet the effort means something for all of us.

Because of Chiari changing our lives, I am looking for a therapist for the kid to see. I would prefer a male, but it is rare to find a male therapist willing to work with children-- my husband was one of the only in our area. There are three female candidates, one is probably out because she is the hubby's boss (and so busy!), which is a shame because I trust her the most. The other is the one we saw previously, who made no great impression on me (or the kid). The third is through the agency dealing with visitation, but who has not actually started work yet.

Speaking of visitation, that adds another stressor onto my poor kid. While we've discussed it briefly with him (because with Asperger's, you need a lot of warning for any new thing), we haven't gone into great detail. The hubby and I are going to visit with visitation therapist first to go over the information and get some guidance on the best ways to discuss the subject in detail. I need to do some reading, too, about Asperger's and supervised visitation (there really isn't much out there, ugh).

This is something I'm not really good at because I have a gut reaction that is extremely hard to control when I even think of the subject. So, the hubby has been taking the reigns on this matter. In a strange way, that has been positive thing-- it reaffirms fatherly strength.

With all that has happened, its no wonder we are back to meltdown several times a week. It's not only the hubby that is recovering, but each person in our family. Providing the kid with a safe outlet to process all his emotions is at the top of my daily to-do list. Remembering to have patience with everyone, including myself, is in the second spot. Reminding myself that its okay to muddle through life when it becomes unfamiliar is just fine, too. I wish I could have a magic candy that not only melted in his mouth, but melted away the kids meltdowns and made him feel like he was again on solid, less stressful ground.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Girlie Scrap

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I spent most of the day trying to put together a digi scrap page of my niece. Her mom took this great picture of her at the beach where she looks like a movie star. I have been dying to use the photo in a scrap page. I love the colors-- pinks!! Having a boy, I don't use a lot of pinks...

Turns out I have a lot of trouble coming up with a layout. I wanted to use everything pink and beach themed... turns out there aren't a lot of pink beach themes on my computer. I have so many kits, I was hoping to use just one designer's kit... or do a challenge. I struggled with this page, but finally realized I didn't have one kit to fit this... and self-editing was a huge problem because I wanted to use EVERY kit I had...

My husband kept telling me things looked good. Poor guy was befuddled when I'd tell him he was wrong. He likes everything I do, so if I'd smeared poop on the monitor he'd tell me it was a work of art. 

In the end, I used papers and elements from Delicious Scraps (various collections-- they are all so good! Most of my fave kits are from DS) along with elements from Stacey's Scraps (the pink frame with green bow, which set my color scheme basically was from her "Longing For Summer" kit). I also used Shannon Fahrnbach's Too Hot to Handle elements (the glitter sun and wire-flower-sun center piece) along with Alphas. The alphas had this great texture to them, but when I recolored it pink, I messed up somewhere. Oh well, I figure it was just meant to be. I believe I got that kit from digiscrap central..I'll have to check that. I am happy with the overall outcome:


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Senate Hearing on Domestic Violence | Turning Point: The Official Dr. Phil Blog

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The Senate Hearing on Domestic Violence | Turning Point: The Official Dr. Phil Blog

Dr. Phil has been campaigning all year long to end domestic violence. The other day, he testified before Congress in hopes of protecting the Violence Against Women Act. This act funds programs vital for victims and survivors of domestic violence. It provides resources and help for this terrible threat against women, especially when that threat is immediate. It helps to keep shelters for women open, supports vouchers for emergency housing and supports women in the most dangerous time during domestic violence: A woman is more likely to be killed by her abuser shortly after she leaves him. Reauthorizing this law is so very important in the crusade to end domestic violence, but its certainly isn't enough.

Please take the time to write your representative and your senator. Tell them you support this legislation, but that more like it is needed. Almost 10,000 women are failed each day even with this law in place to help victims of abuse. Encourage your friends and family to follow suit. One in four women have been the victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. Count your friends, then do the math. Almost three-quaters of the population knows someone who is or has been the victim of domestic violence.

And here's an interesting tidbit from The Domestic Violence Resource Center:

Domestic violence and children:

In a national survey of American families, 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children.

(Strauss, Murray A, Gelles, Richard J., and Smith, Christine. 1990. Physical Violence in American Families; Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers)

On average between 1993 and 2004, children under age 12 were residents of households experiencing intimate partner violence in 43% of incidents involving female victims and 25% of incidents involving male victims.

(Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.)

Domestic violence damages children. It is a proven fact, which is why its called Domestic Violence and not just beating your partner emotionally, mentally, physically and financially or assault. It happens in the home many times in front of children. If not directly in front of children, they know. Children are more intuitive than we give them credit for-- they are more aware of their surroundings and their parental relationships than we think.

Here's a link to Second-hand Domestic Abuse.

I also bet you didn't know that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight... BAM. It's done. And its done again. Right now, as you read this. By the time you've finished reading this post, how many women have been beaten by their partner? Even one is one too many.

I support Dr. Phil in his campaign. I support my local and state efforts to turn victims into survivors. I support the end to domestic violence. Every time we deny that it happens, every time a woman isn't honest about being abused or surviving abuse, we allow an opportunity for the violence against women to continue. Our daughters, sisters, nieces and mothers pay a high, grave price for our silence.

Wanna know that price? Here are some cold, hard facts compiled by and borrowed from The National Domestic Violence Hotline:
  • On the average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.1
  • 92% of women say that reducing domestic violence and sexual assault should be at the top of any formal efforts taken on behalf of women today.2
  • 1 out of 3 women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.3
  • 1 in 5 female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. Abused girls are significantly more likely to get involved in other risky behaviors. They are 4 to 6 times more likely to get pregnant and 8 to 9 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide.3
  • 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, slapped, choked or physically hurt by his/her partner.4
  • As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy. 5
  • Violence against women costs companies $72.8 million annually due to lost productivity.6
  • Ninety-four percent of the offenders in murder-suicides were male.7
  • Seventy-four percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse, or boyfriend/girlfriend). Of these, 96 percent were females killed by their intimate partners.7
  • Most murder-suicides with three or more victims involved a “family annihilator” — a subcategory of intimate partner murder-suicide.Family annihilators are murderers who kill not only their wives/girlfriends and children, but often other family members as well,before killing themselves.7
  • Seventy-five percent of murder-suicides occurred in the home.7
1. Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003.
2. Progress & Perils: New Agenda for Women, Center for the Advancement of Women. June 2003.
3. Silverman, Jay G., Raj, Anita, and Clements, Karen. “Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality.” Pediatrics, August 2004.
4. Teenage Research Unlimited. Findings from study commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. to investigate the level of and attitudes towards dating abuse among American teenagers aged 13 to 18 [online] 2005 Feb [cited 2006 Mar 20]. Available from: URL: Gazmararian JA, Petersen R, Spitz AM, Goodwin MM, Saltzman LE, Marks JS. “Violence and reproductive health; current knowledge and future research directions.” Maternal and Child Health Journal 2000; 4(2):79-84.
6. Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. 2003. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Atlanta, GA/
7. Violence Policy Center (VPC), American Roulette: Murder-Suicide in the United States, April 2006.
So, when I talk about breasticles, I wonder... do you really have them? If so, then speak up, be heard for your fellow women (and men, because they can be abused, too) who cannot be heard, aren't listened to, and need to focus on surviving a violent relationship instead in order to stay alive. Speak up for the children who have no voice, but suffer along side the abused, either directly or indirectly. Offer a safety net for someone who is currently a victim, without judgement. Speak the truth about domestic violence to our lawmakers. Tell them you agree with Dr. Phil and take his pledge to end the silence.

Then get a little grass roots. Donate to women's shelters. Volunteer. Give your time, lend your voice, send some soap... every little bit counts, but first let those dudes in Congress know that the VAWA needs to be reauthorized!

Monday, July 18, 2011

More Scrappy Stuff

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Here's page a made using various kits, mostly from Delicious Scraps older freebies (I have to go through my files to see what exactly I've used). These pictures are from my parents wedding way back when. They are coming up on an anniversary in September. I think it's their 40th... think, but I'm not sure... I do know they've been married more than 35 years. Here's my creation:

Okay, I'm adding a beach themed page I made with In the Sandbox by Keep in Touch Design. I'd love to give you a link, but I can't seem to find it. I search out so many freebies at a time that unless the designer has their web address in their Terms of Use or included elsewhere in their kits, I can't ever find them again. In this case, I did find the designer in a store HERE. I can't afford to buy these kits, thus the freebie I used:

I may have found this kit in a challenge board somewhere, but rarely do I ever have time to meet the deadlines. I just grab the kits. I guess I should pay more attention, huh? Or have a less busy life? Both, I'm sure.

I'm still getting the hang of PSP X3, but if you notice in the above, I actually cropped photo into a clam shell shape. Yay me!! In this case, I pasted a clam shell from the kit onto a new layer in the photo I was working with. Then I used the magic wand to select the outline of said shell. I deleted the clam shell layer, inverted the selection and hit crtl+c to copy. Finally, I hit ctrl+v to paste as a new layer- viola! I'm so proud of myself, but I'll probably cuss at my computer the next time I try this. haha.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Scrapping Day

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I was searching an searching yesterday for a boy scrap kit. There are a ton of kits for little boys, baby boys and let's not even talk about all the girlie kits! Yet there is a lack of kids suitable for the photos I have of my pre-teen kid. Finally I stumbled upon Kelly Jo's Scraps who has an amble selection of freebie kits for scrappers just like me-- a mom to a boy! Using one of her kits, I was able to come up with this:

Being very out of practice, I was proud of myself in creating this. I have a ton of other things I want to to try and tutorials bookmarked. One day, I'll get to them all... one day.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mom's Day Off

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Every so often, I tell my family that I am taking the day off. Even mom's need time to re-charge their batteries. To be able to take care of our families, we moms need some time to enjoy non-mom and non-wife things. Kids and husbands don't always realize it, but they get a lot more play time than their wives and mothers. (I'm not sure how this works in same-sex relationships... and I'd be interested to know if one partner feels like a traditional "mom" and needs to set boundaries down harder to take a day off...)

I prepared the kid earlier this week that Saturday was going to be an "entertain yourself day". or at least a "don't expect mom to succumb to your every whim day". I told the kid, of course, that I'd provide three meals for him, but snackage was his responsibility (and possibly my nightmare). I also reminded him that I'll be around for boo-boo mending, but otherwise, pretend your mom is at the spa.

I said the similar lines to my husband. His response was supportive, with a hint of "why is she telling me this?" because he doesn't truly realize how difficult it is for me to get away. That's understandable since he's sequestered more often than not in his convalescent area (aka our bedroom). He'd love to need to day off instead of dreaming of having everyday on, so to speak.

I thought I had everyone prepared. Thought being the operative word. You see, my little social aspie creature, who a year ago would be happy to go an entire day without having to have a conversation with anyone around him has turned the opposite direction. The poor child is used to having someone entertain him in some way, shape or form. He's spent the past few months with family and/or friends, visiting or being visited, at home doing something extraordinarily fun or out and about doing summery things. It's great and has been a huge distraction in the absence of his father from his daily life, but it does not bode well when we have a chance for down-time... or I have a chance for down-time.

While I got to sleep in until eleven in the morning (sleeping in was more like I couldn't be roused due to sheer exhaustion), I haven't had much other time off. As a matter of fact, I spent the greater portion of today doing what I always do. Then when I reminded said kid about said day off for mama, he promptly called his aunt to tell her I needed him to go spend the night with her. Cause, you know, I'm taking the day off?

She wasn't game and she shouldn't have to be. My boy has plenty of independent play skills (despite him forgetting he has them) along with plenty of games, books, movies and toys to provide a rich, fun experience when no one is around to play with him. Instead, he was bored (which is code for "help me cope with not getting my expectations met").

And he started to meltdown... so Mom swooped in, took him outside where he was more able to keep himself together. We reviewed the misery which is his life (Sam's not home, Dad is having a bad pain day and Moster said no to staying the night). I told some stories of my childhood that revolved around having to entertain myself when I didn't want to. I'm not sure those stories help as much as the change of scenery and talking being used as a way to cope do.

I love that my kid is relishing in socialization while hating that he isn't prone to moderation. It's all or nothing. One extreme to the next... for now. The boy has learned a lot in the past year, especially in the past three or so months. He's been asked to deal with a huge amount of stress, more than any kid should have to bear. Through it all, he's been absolutely amazing considering all life has thrown our way... thrown his way.

Now that Daddy is out of the woods as far as he knows, we are seeing the kid's stress manifest in strange new ways, like this no longer being able to keep himself company anymore and not wanting any downtime at all. He's all go-go-go these days. Of course, that makes it harder for me to take any breaks because either I'm going with him, shadowing him with his peers and on the days he's sleeping over at my sister's, I'm running the husband to appointments, running errands and taking care of non-kid related things.

I knew he's been in sorta Asperger's pressure cooker all this time. I just didn't know what the result would be or when the lid would blow off-- I just knew eventually we'd find out! Well, this is part of it. The child doesn't want to be alone... at all. This isn't anxiety related, or not like it was before the Paxil (irrational fears keeping him prisoner), but its something. It's not wanting time to dwell on the what ifs, perhaps?

In any case, I'm trying hard to help him cope through this period, to remind him of his wonderful imagination and other outlets he has that are fun, yet independent. And I am encouraging him to do little things with his dad, like have lunch in bed together. As a matter of fact, I've been able to write this because the two guys went to the store together-- Daddy was finally feeling up to it.

Yet, I'm thinking with the manifestation of this newest symptom-- the inability to do anything solo-- it may be appropriate to go back to therapy. As a mom, I see this as a regression back into toddler-hood, when I couldn't take my eyes of my boy for a second without disaster. We are just a small step away from bringing him into the bathroom with us because he refuses to occupy any room by himself for more than two minutes. We are also a small step away from losing the ability to sleep in his room by himself (or self-soothe at bedtime). As the stress creeps out of his little (okay, bus sized) head, I worry about regression.

We've worked so hard for so long on all these independent and socialization skills. Matt has worked hard, extremely hard on acquiring skills and coping mechanisms, managing his behavior and expressing himself and feelings. I saw today his own frustration seep out. Yet in this, he recognized and expressed that he did not like how he was feeling. My heart breaks for him in these moments.

Facing the mortality of a loved one is hard as hell for a normal adult. For a kid with Asperger's Syndrome... well... is there an expression worse than "hard as hell"? Whatever you can come up with would fit.

So while I didn't get a true day off (which I never really expected anyway), I did get something that is important to moms: I got an understanding, a clearer picture of my son's reaction to his father's Chiari recovery. The only way I can help him get through this is to see the big picture. It's just one piece to the newest puzzle we are putting together.

We'll just keep working on it until he can find that balance between introversion and extroversion, always wanting to be alone or never wanting to be alone. Until we get it right, we'll all be taking a lot of deep breaths and taking things one second at a time. Like boy said just a few minutes ago (they came home a little while ago) "We'll try again tomorrow for a day off".

Thursday, July 14, 2011

For the love of Chiari: An Update

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When my husband does something, he does it right!

Chiari Malformations are so intricate, its amazes me. First, the mere ability to survive (and survive well), then the powers of the brain (as in my hubby is still as sharp as a tack) following that all up with incredible pain (and still being able to keep his cool). Okay, maybe this is what my hubby so awesome, despite Chiari.

He goes in for lots of scans next week. We'll both be glad when these are done because we will find out if he has a slow leak or not. If so, then its more surgery... if not, its back to recovery as usual. And care can be handed over to the neurologist-- meaning no more two hour drives to see the surgeon. It also means he'll be able to get back to work before summer is over. My poor man is chomping at the bit to get back into the swing of things.

In the meantime, we are exercising his reflexes and brain with a variety of video games. We are getting out of the house, he's driving a little and getting to run errands (yay, because I'm so sick of visiting Walgreens every single day). We are also hoping he gets cleared for more strenuous activities, like swimming and sex. (sex, okay, we like to have sex!)

The kid is feeling a bit more settled. I am very proud of the way he's handled himself during this whole process. It's a lot to ask of a little one, especially with autism. We have used all those coping skills and learned new ones.

One day, I'll have more time to go over all things Chiari, but for now, we have a rare moment to enjoy a bad movie and pizza sans kid. Oh, and tomorrow my husband goes into the next year of his life thanks to some really amazing doctors, awesome family and super friends. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dear Lori

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I pray that you stay safe and that your husband is stable. I also pray that the stress of this huge issue causes him no reason to do you harm. Please know that there are many resources found at the National Hotline For Domestic Violence. Also know that I now consider this the end of our conversation about anything other than your safety or things that have been established by court documents and/or my own experiences with your husband.  The therapists already know everything detailed in the post that has upset you, yet for your sake, I will re-address this at our next appointment.  Your comments will not be published to my blog, but will be given to the visitation therapists along with my answers, posts and/or related material.

I am an strong believer in advocating for women rights. I have worked with other victims of domestic violence professionally, including running a support group. In order for a woman to heal, she must deal in honesty. In order to champion women's rights, society must deal in honesty. That was the point of my article, not as a personal attack. It is what is and was written in my own style. I have also written for Autism blogs as well, even with a little snark. I tend to lean on the side that when someone gets defensive it's because they recognize themselves in the words and experience, but not in the solution.

My facts come from a large file of court documents. My experiences come from my, well, experiences. I cannot put it in terms simpler than that. If you are not privvy to the entirety of court documents, I'm sorry about that. HIPPA laws prevent me from sharing the extensive medical information included in my latest round of court documents, but its all there.

Unfortunately, we are where we are for a reason and it's not because I'm vengeful or vicious. I simply don't have time for that and never have. There isn't a day that goes by that I wish things had been different because autistic children need strong supports. 

We are not blocking visitation at all (or anything else). I am in contact with the center and its therapists. My apologies if my post based on my experiences have made things difficult for you. If you would like to email me privately and discuss this matter, please do so with the understanding that I stand by what I've said previously because it is either documented or the truth of my experiences.

It does make me feel good you are familiar with special needs children, but this a loaded situation, with a huge paper trail. I also cannot be in the same room with my ex husband without a visceral post traumatic stress reaction, nor can I deal with him on the phone (lord knows I tried). He has burned through every contact I've tried to set up so that he could send cards and gifts to have some sort of relationship with his son. He also burned through some I didn't authorize, like my in-laws. I believe my father-in-law could be a means to work through for these things because if your husband harassed him in any way  it would a federal offense that the Secret Service or Homeland Security would handle. Yet because of past instances, he may not be willing to do this. It is something worth us, separately naturally, discussing with the therapists at the visitation center and me with my in-laws to see if they'd be willing to be that middle-man.

There is a reason the visitation is going through the courts and through qualified therapists. It has nothing to do with me being a big meanie. It has nothing to do with me at all. It has to do with Matt. End of story. I have no interest in fighting, but I also have no interest in reliving terror and chaos of the past. Matt is old enough now to really grasp these things, so treading with caution is of the utmost importance for him and for your husband should he really be serious this time about being involved in an honest way in Matt's life.

You may contact me through my email address. Please be aware that the current court order states that my ex and I are not to have contact on this matter.

Monday, July 11, 2011


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I started this last Friday. I'm finishing it today, Interweb-Gods willing. 

Yes, it does. I've shed tears while trying to keep up with my kid, walk up the stairs and while doing other day to day things we take for granted. I saw my normal doctor who only wanted me to take a strong pain killer for breakthrough pain, and ibuprofen for the rest, except she didn't prescribe a strong pain killer. So, uh, thanks.

The doctor did get me in to see an orthopedic surgeon (or something) later this morning. I did something to my foot but the ER only focused on acute care and the doctor only focused on immobilizing my foot in a boot contraption that makes me feel and walk like Frankenstein. Senior citizens using walkers can out run me. So, I have dubbed this contraption of my foot "Frakenboot".

My fear, the thing that causes me great anxiety, is how on earth am I going to walk in the sand to the water in any sort of non-plaster contraption. And what if this new doctor says I need plastering? I might need to get plastered, just not the "of paris" kind. Lastly, how on earth am I going to keep up with my autistic kid, who is in full "I want FREEEEEDDDOOOMMM" (Bravehart like) mode because its summer and his friends are always knocking on our door. He's proven in the last week that he also needs "SSSUUUPPPERRRVISSSIONNN" (Mommy like) to avoid the harry moments of peer pressure he's for which he's not ready or fully equipped to handle.

Then there's the husband, still in recovery, still waiting for the doctor to figure out how to scan his brain for two hours in a tube when the hubby can't handle it.

The timing is terrible.

Now here is the continuation. I am too lazy to go back and change tenses. If you have no idea what I mean by 'tenses', Lord help you.

The orthopedic surgeon was meh. He was all set to take images of my foot until he asked me about my cycle. It was delayed, so he stance no x-rays for potentially pregnant women. I said "aww.... c'mon... I'll wear a shield". I asked if he'd amputate the whole damn foot instead. No dice.

Good news, though: The fact the location of the pain changed was a good sign... a sign of a sprain as opposed to micro-fractures. Explaining that to my pain sensors does no good, unfortunately. They don't care what is causing pain.; they just say eff-off when I walk too much.

The doc gave me some exercises to do daily so that my foot doesn't heel in a ballerina position. Despite my wanting to be as graceful as a ballerina, I have done said exercises. I have to use the Frakenboot, but take two two hour breaks a day without it. Part of that time requires ice and elevation and part regular foot use.

When discussing something for pain, the doctor had the pre-pregnant attitude. Normally, he'd prescribe Tyelnol 3 (common for sprains, which I know because this foot is on sprain number three), but in my case he told me absolutely NO PAIN MEDICATION, not even an ibuprofen.

Naturally, we went directly to the drug store for home pregnancy tests after the appointment. As soon as that stick read negative, I had myself some ibuprofen. Later that night, I had two cocktails. Well, one and half really because I started falling asleep. I'm not a drinker by any means.

My favorite part of the discussion was having someone help me chase after my kid all day so I can rest. While most people can hire a baby-sitter and/or mother's helper right off the street, we require a professional with college degrees or so many years of experiences... and licenses, insurance and bondage even. That $8 an hour quickly rises to $20 or more an hour. Stipends reduce the cost, but in times like these would exhaust our meager resources. Ya know, cause of the husband being out of work due to brain surgery.

Yet, when you are a specialist, such cost of care isn't tallied up in your head, but your accountants.

Now I know I'm not pregnant and my foot feels a little better. It's too bad that the Frakenboot doesn't fit perfectly. It created a small hole in my leg that is becoming infected. I'm hoping that heals so I don't need to go back to my regular doctor because we have enough doctor's visits scheduled this month. I'm getting kinda tired of them.

The one good exercise the orthopedic surgeon recommended is that I walk on the sand use my toes to play with it. I take this as a sign that the Universe is telling me to take a vacation.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Booby Traps

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Asperger's is such a fun and interesting disorder because you never know what your kid is going to do next. Right now, we are into skateboarding. That's probably because we've expanded our social horizons and have some Paxil each day that makes us want to get out and shred (a term meaning skateboard as far as I can tell). Most kids in our town skateboard, so I'm glad the my boy has a way to break the ice with new kids he meets while enjoying common interests  with his regular group of friends. 

It's a little scary to watch him maneuver on a skateboard.  As a mom, my super power is the ability to see ever single injury-- big and small -- that could occur while he's practicing tricks. "Wear your helmet" is my new motto it seems (and for someone with sensory issues it's a miracle I can get him to put it on). I try to ensure a proper fit every time he puts it on. For him, it's entirely uncool to have your mom dote over you like that. (Evil safety freak, I am. I'm also no longer allowed to refer to myself as "mommy" because that, too, is uncool and embarrassing.) My boy does have cat like reflexes on hit skateboard and since his birthday, I've only dressed one skinned knee. It makes me wonder if he is a re-incarnated skater, because with everything else and like his mom, he's a klutz.

But bragging about my super powers to see his future broken bones and his amazing ability to not to break anything while trying the latest skating trick is not why I write this post. Skating is his new interest. When his anxiety was higher, when he was worried about intruders all the time and before Paxil, his obsession was digging little holes, or booby traps, around our house whenever he was outside.

At one point, he'd dug so many holes in the backyard that my hubby went to work filling them all in and we instituted a no digging holes in the backyard policy.  Why? Because the only people the kid was going to thwart were himself, his family and his friends. The only thing thwarted after the great hole filling in by daddy was the no more holes policy. The boy was literal. We said no more holes in the BACKYARD. With asperger's, you have to be specific.

The kid started a small pit to China in the side yard, or alley between our house and our neighbor's -- right split in the middle. The hole once again was to trap anyone who meant us harm. We put a stop to that digging as soon as we discovered complete silence and a missing shovel. We explained to the boy and his hole digging companion (after all, boys love to get into the dirt, so the kid's obsession was cool)  that that's where our neighborhood had a special drainage system put in because our gutters were emptying into our neighbors house and garage. If he'd hit a pipe, it would have been disaster. I kept meaning to fill in that hole, but never got to it. I also reminded the kids that part of that hole now belonged to our neighbor, who wouldn't appreciate the extra security.

Then we parents instituted the absolutely no digging holes anywhere at anytime without express permission, except at the beach. No use of shovels without permission, except at the beach. Specific enough? I think so. 

The other day, I was looking for my less fearful much braver kid whose forgotten almost entirely about intruders (and only says "lock the door" 50 times a day instead of 5,000) and whose focus is now playing with other kids like a regular, non-anxiety having kid. He's supposed to let us know where he is going and who he is with whenever he changes locations. This time, he didn't. Mommy, er mom, was irritated because he forgot a lot that day. (Too many children in the neighborhood behind us are unsupervised, unless its by me our neighbor, which is one reason we worry when the kid goes-a-playing out of our line of vision.)

I was walking along the side yard in a huff when I discovered his booby trap worked really, really well. As I fell onto my right knee, sliding across the grass and dirt, my left foot (the one I'd injured severely as a teenager, which has never been quite the same) did its own crazy Tony Hawk like trick. I cussed, I held back tears, I said "the boy is now grounded officially" and I realized that his booby trap was successful, especially since enough time had elapsed to allow grass, when it needs mowing to hide the almost adult foot sized pit.

It being Fourth of July weekend, I couldn't imagine hobbling into the emergency room to wait ten hours to be told what I already knew: I sprained something. So, I did all the good first aid stuff while my husband found the kid playing happily with well supervised kids. The kid felt bad that because we were looking for him and because he'd dug a hole, I got hurt.

The kid and I both learned some valuable lessons from that experience. The first is that yes, the kid needs to report his where-a-bouts because bad things happen when you don't, which he's taken to heart. The second is that there is a reason we don't dig holes in the yard (a phase I think is over). The final thing is that his booby trap was really well designed and all those times I thought about filling it in, but put it off makes me currently an idiot.

I also think I now prefer skateboards to booby traps. 

My foot didn't get better, so I ended up at the emergency room at seven in the morning to beat the crowds today. It appears I injured the middle of the foot, in which is an area difficult to x-ray clearly. The doctor guessed that nothing was broken with caveat that sometimes you can't see a break until it starts to heal. He gave me something for the pain, said I didn't necessarily need crutches as long as I stayed off my foot for a few days. Since it was already injured, I could have strained the innards of an already weak foot. If it doesn't get better within a few days, I'll need to see a specialist-- either a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon. So let's pray it gets better because its summer, we need beach time and I still have a recovering husband. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

June in review

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Auntie Em looking stunning at the beach!

Matt hitting the waves!

My niece Erica who is so 1940s chic

Free Fall, Baby!!

He's too cool for this.

The girls talked Matt into trying something new!

Auntie Em, Chrissa, Erica and Matt: My boy gave them the tour of the beach and boardwalk.
I don't know exactly where to start or what subject to write about. June proved to be one of those months that people write books and then go on to make movies about. Except I don't have some old family farmhouse with infinite guest rooms in a picturesque setting. I live in a what's technically considered a condo, but people call a townhouse or duplex, which we stuffed five extra people in like sardines.

I did my best to make everyone feel comfortable and welcomed, despite my not being exactly set up for hosting guests. Normally, my guests seem to BYOF (or bring their own furniture) because they are staying for more than a week. This time, it was sleeping bags, pillows and air mattresses (thanks to Mom and Dad A.) and blankets in a pick your place to slumber manner.

My boy met my oldest sister, his aunt whom I'll refer to as Auntie Em, for the first time since he's was a baby. With his asperger's, family is important to him (which seems in opposition with the popular understanding of autism, but really isn't). With Auntie Em and him, the relationship just flowed naturally for the both of him. She understood him because she understood herself, perhaps. After all, both of their brains are different.

Auntie Em has terminal brain cancer. It affects her in many ways some which are similar to Matt and the other similar to my hubby's. The kid asked if Auntie Em was dying to which I answered truthfully. She's out lived her prognosis by an amazing amount of time, which I hope she continues to do.

Because having the family here wasn't enough fun, for Father's Day, we bought the kid's Dad dwarf hamsters- a male and female named Herman and Skittles. They are nice little tings, social and the kid does really well with them. Socks thinks that we bought them for her sometimes meowing for furry, small kitty treats.

In the middle of all the family fun, the hubby had a set-back. Apparently, he pushed himself too much physically, so now he may have a slow cerebral spinal fluid leak or slow bleed in the brain. We had a fun trip to the local ER. They never know what to do with him. Basically, they gave him some magic pill to reduce his increased pain and we zipped up to the neurosurgeon two days later, who ordered MRIs and MRAs. Unfortunately, the hubby couldn't stand the closed in tube so now he need sedation or something else. It's unresolved at the moment.

Until then, its vigilant care for him from Nurse Carrie. There's so much to this that it's scary at times. It was hard to find balance between family visiting and husband recovery. Of course everyone understood. My mom was thrilled despite me being so divided in attention. She had her daughters in one space many times, got alone time with each of them and many, many memories were made that were super special for moms.

So, let's put the family reunion in pictures:

My parents wedding photo with my sisters in their pretty dresses. 

My mom brought copies of old pictures to share with the family. I made copies and everyone got a set from (love that site for photo printing!!) Then of course, the hamster cage and one hamster. Herman is more social than his mate, Skittles. She's a bitchy little thing.
Hamster cage Chrissa had to help us put together.

Herman (hamsters are hard to photograph!) Skittles is albino.

All and all it was a great reunion. I hadn't seen my sister or her daughters in years. I hope we get to visit again (I have a feeling we will see a niece or two in the near future since they get free lodging). Matt really got along with his cousins, especially since their dad brought them up as gamer girls.

I'm waiting for life to get settled again. I don't have much time to do anything. Matt is still terribly unsettled with his dad being in recovery and having this set back. The family visiting threw us all off our schedules, though he did remarkably well considering. It's hard for him to switch gears, going from lots of attention to just the mom and moments with recovering dad. That's the hardest for Matt, I think. Not having John well enough. They used to spend so much time together, now it so... different.

That's only a tiny bit of what happened... a synopsis. Our July calendar is IN-freaking-SANE between doctor's appointments, family functions, swimming lessons for the kid and the regular day to day stuff. Plus, I just hurt my foot-- the bad one I sprained entirely as a teenager. Who wants to go to the ER on The Fourth of July weekend? Travel time around here has tripled. A ten minute drive is now takes thirty. No thanks, I'll live. I don't want a cast because I need those beach days.