...And in the air, the fireflies, our only light in paradise. We'll show the world that they were wrong, and teach them all to sing along; singing Amen I, I'm alive. Amen I, I'm alive...

- Nickelback, If Everyone Cared

For All The Right Reasons Album



And I'm singing Aaa-ayyy-men, I'm alive!







William Leonidas November 12th, 2009
My only regret is that I cried so many tears while I waited for you.


"...I'll try ~ but it's so hard to believe. I'll try ~ but I can't see what you see. I'll try and try to understand the distance between the love I feel ~ the thing I fear ~ and every single dream. I can finally see it. Now I have to believe all those precious stories. All the world is made of faith ~ and trust ~ and pixie dust. So I'll try ~ because I finally believe. I'll try ~ because I can see what you see. I'll try, I'll try ~ to fly..."

Jonatha Brooke "I'll try"


Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10




Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you..." Jeremiah 1:4-5




For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. Psalms 139:13-14



Monday March 5th, 2010

So Why Stinkerie?



It's simple, really. It's the first thing I whispered against my newborn little Dumpling's temple as I held him alone for that very first time. "There's my Little Stinkerie." And all was right with the world as I brushed my lips across his delicate dewy soft newborn-pink skin and sniffed at his sparse smattering of downy soft hair. Corny and sappy, huh? I can't help it when describing my new Little Puppy. But don't get used to it - I have been told I am "irreverent."



Anyway, it just came out and he's been Stinkerie ever since. As well as Stink Pie, Stink Pot, Stinkey Pete, Little Stinks, Stinks, Puppy, Ducky, Baby, Baby Head, Baby Head Jenkins, Jack, Jack-Jack, Jackie Boy, Jax, Snork, Snorkis, Snorkle, Billy Boy, Billy Bob, Bobby Sue, Billy-Joe-Jim-Bob, Will, Willie, Willister, and the name given by my mentor turned friend Beth - Snake. When I write to her I call him either The Snakester or Slither! And of course, Dumpling, because he is my Little Dumpling - warm and soft and comforting. It's alright to combine comfort food with baby names, right? Have you ever watched the movie Where the Heart Is? If you have, you'll know why I mention this in my defense!



Long story short, you're likely to encounter any one or more of these names in a single post. Because I can. It's my blog!





Something to Consider

Bad decisions make good stories.

Something to Think About

With any pregnancy, there are concerns. With any child, there are worries. When you have a diagnosis of Down syndrome, you know what to worry about. You know what to look for. You have a plan of action. With your typical child, there is no limit to the things that can 'go wrong' or 'happen.' There's no place to focus your worry and concerns. 'IT' will always be out there, waiting. You'll always be on guard. Even when the child is 55 and has grandchildren. With Down syndrome we have a battle plan. With Down syndrome, there is a finite number of things that can go awry. With a typical child, there's isn't. It's a crap shoot. I'm sticking with the Ds and taking the other two back to the hospital for a refund.

Head Above Water


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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Holy Cow!

I almost forgot...last night while I was tucking Willie into bed he bit my finger...with a top tooth! It's the top right tooth and the top left looks ready to pop out any minute! And...he's getting those legs in on the crawling action! It's not consistent, but he's moving those legs!

I Can't Drive 55

Remember those bumper stickers that were popular when some idiot decided that reducing freeway speeds to 55 would save lives? It was a huge fail. Huge. But that's where I'll be during orientation next week. Only our freeways are 65 mph. And I won't even be doing that because I'll be in the morning commute. And the luxury of driving in the car pool lane while I work nights? Won't happen. I have to be to work by the time I am legally allowed to drive in the car pool lane with no one else in the car. Dang!

The new job is promising. I start Monday, full time. The position of Clinical Nurse Supervisor will pay well enough on it's own. I'll also be doing case management and home visits, for even higher per-visit pay. The thing is, I hate traffic.

I mean I really hate traffic. I don't drive the speed limit unless there's a cop on my butt or the kids are in the car. Even then I push it just a little bit. I know every curve in my route and I know where new lanes are coming up. I know where traffic typically slows and I know how to watch all lanes to see who's moving and who's lallygagging. I keep an acute eye on the motorcycles and I know who's coming up fast behind me. The Beloved would beg to differ, but I am a safe driver. Case in point: At the high point in elevation here there is an overpass where CHP's can hide unseen and then swoop down on unsuspecting drivers. And two miles past this point one day, I saw the pretty flashing blue and red lights in my rear view, coming up fast. Behind me. Crap. So I pull over.

First thing the Chippy says is "That's some fancy driving. Where'd you learn to drive like that?" Ummmm...my mom? No, I didn't say that, nor did I tell him the truth. I said that I was on call at so-and-so hospital, flashed my badge at him, and said that there was a trauma waiting in the ER, that's why I was in such a hurry, I'm sorry, I'll slow down. I'll never forget what came next. He said, verbatim, "You sure were in a hurry. I clocked you at 92 and by the time I caught you, you were going 98!" and then "I won't keep you though. You obviously know how to drive. Just get there safely." What the heck? He didn't even ask for my license. And he also didn't ask for my license the next 6 times he pulled me over. Typically, cops don't ticket nurses. They just don't. It's some unwritten rule and I routinely abuse it to the point of obscenity. The next six times he pulled me over it was to chat. Where was I headed that night? Did I know what kind of patients I was getting? Were the 12 hour shifts difficult? Blah, blah blah. He never kept me long, but neither did he ticket me. The last time he pulled me over he'd said that he'd seen me the previous night, but didn't pull me over because I'd been driving the speed limit and he thought that maybe I didn't have time to chat that night. He seemed sad. And I never saw him again after that. I've seen the new guy who sticks out so far on the over pass that the oncoming traffic lights make his light bar glow for all to see for a mile in either direction. I'm glad he's not pulling me over anymore. It was kinda creepy. He could have hauled me in for reckless driving at any one of those stops and impounded my vehicle to boot. Where ever he is, I wish him well, and I eat a doughnut in his honor every time I eat doughnuts.

So where did I learn to drive? From a bank robber. True story. I was 15 and his name was Billy. Ironic, huh? Billy the kid?! At the ripe old age of 34, Billy had already served four terms in the federal penitentiaries of various states for armed bank robbery. Yeah, apparently, federal crimes don't carry the sentences they used to. And that was in 1980! Anyway, Billy took me under his wing when he caught me driving my Youngest Older Brother's bright yellow cop-magnet Ford Bronco, and doing a very poor job of it. He found me at a gas station with utterly zero knowledge of just how to get the gas from the nozzle into the truck. So I had three times a week driving lessons from Billy the bank robber. Wonder if he ever gave up armed robbery for a living? I don't know...haven't seen him in years.

My first education about cars and driving started when I was just 3 years old. My youngest oldest brother was 11. This is where I learned to duck and weave, how to spot an opening and how to "trend" drivers. Skills I use today. Why my Mother let him drive at 11 is beyond me. Likely she didn't know he was driving, or that he owned several cars. It's also more likely that she knew about it and was just too tired to fight him over it. My three older brothers were hellions. Well, maybe not the Middle One, but the Youngest and Oldest to be sure. The Youngest dreamed up crap to pull and the Oldest went along with it. Ironically, he's the one who always got caught, whined that it was the Youngest's idea, got his punishment and then more punishment for going along with the Youngest's stupidity, punishment for not knowing better, punishment for going along with it yet again, etc. The Youngest simply denied having any knowledge of the kerfuffle. Only the Oldest never stopped getting caught, and never stopped going along with the Youngest's shenanigans. He never stopped whining about it either. Back in the day, getting caught driving under aged and without a license earned you a trip to the police station and a call home. As long as he didn't get caught, she didn't have to know about it. And he very seldom got caught, because he had me riding shot gun. He taught me how to spot cops and paid me a dollar for each one I saw. The bonus was five dollars if I saw the cop before he did. By the time I was five, he was paying me so much that he had to modify his reward policy. I got five bucks regardless of my performance for every time we arrived home without having been pulled over. By then he had a license and a long ugly reputation for out running cops. Remember this was back in the day. They didn't have helicopters and if you could pull into your driveway before you were pulled over you were home free. That law has changed.

Another true story, involving The Youngest and The Middle Older Bothers. Yes, I said bothers! They were walking home from school way back in the 60's when RTD buses still rumbled and spewed horrid toxic black fumes. There was one such bus pulled over at a curb while the driver used a pay-phone. They were 12 and 14 at the time ~ certainly old enough to know better, but still young and foolish enough to do it anyway. They hopped on the bus full of afternoon commuters and drove it several miles until they found a spot big enough to park it. Then they put it in park, turned off the key and hopped off. They also should have known better than to congratulate each other while my Mom watched the evening news. I'm just sayin'...

So my driving skills were honed by two criminals. One a fairly successful bank robber, if you knew his ratio of get-aways to getting-caughts. The other my beloved Youngest Older Brother, who was in his own echelon, a terribly successful career criminal. Who is now dead.

Dang, I hope my kids grow up having zero interesting stories to tell about their own childhoods.

Tomorrow we can drive around this town
and let the cops chase us around...
If you don't expect too much from me
you might not be let down...
~The Gin Blossoms
~New Miserable Experience

My Life Sucks...

...or so I should be led to believe. I went to my new job this morning to sign more papers...more on that in a while. To get there I had to drive through what once was the ritzy area, the Hollywood of the North end of LA County, the Bel-Air of our little hovel. When I was leaving there was a bus in front of me, one of those rapid transit things. On the back of the bus was the city's name splashed in bright colors, with the caption beneath "...Where the good life leads to!" So, clearly, my life is not good because I don't live there. Who woulda thunk it? My quality of life, my goodness, is now determined by my zip code. And the pisser here is that this city is no longer the end all and be all that they once were, and I seriously have some grave doubts about the worthiness of people's lives who do live there. I mean really, I've lived where I have for over 20 years, and in those 20 years, I have had people from this community really and truly, literally, say in all belief that they are better people because they live there.

I don't get it. Driving through their streets is scenic and green, and they are clean and well maintained. So are the streets in my neighborhood. There is a big police presence, just like where I live. There are thriving businesses and there are kids out playing on the sidewalks, just like where I live. And I'm pretty certain that their property values plummeted just like ours.

And if they're all so special, how come there was a rapid transit bus. Don't they all have hummers, beamers and lexus's-s-s-s-s? I went to a Whole Foods to buy Willie a nutritional supplement. I've never seen so many hybrids outside of a car lot. And Whole Foods? Cha-ching! But I like their politics, so I spent my money. Besides, they are the only game in town to find this particular supplement. More on the job in a later post.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Just When You Thought You'd Heard It All...

I don't even know how to start this post. So I'll just say it. In the kinda near future, The Dear Daddy and I will be throwing our hats into the adoption ring. Yes, you read right. Pick yourself up off the floor now.

I'd love to say that we'll be adopting from the UK. We won't. We cannot afford it for one, and we would not pass the stringent requirements placed on prospective adoptive parents by a country that pretty much throws these babies and children away. How sick is that? It breaks my heart that I can't save a baby or child from an institution, but there it is.

What we can do is domestic adoption. It's more affordable for one. Our chances of adopting a baby are greater for another. And the kicker is, with babies with Down syndrome, there are much less demands about home size, family income, parental age, etc. So we're in. And it makes my heart absolutely giddy with delight.

When Jack was born the tragedy of how many babies are aborted because of a prenatal diagnosis really struck me harder than it did while I still carried him within me. Learning later that only about 25% of babies with a chromosomal difference survive to be born had me holding his sleeping little self and thanking my God in Heaven that he made it. My heart hurt that he could have died in utero. And finally, I'd heard about Reece's Rainbow, but actually going there and seeing all of those beautiful and worthy babies and children just made my heart ache. Why can't we have one...or four? Why do they make it so difficult for American families to adopt them and love them? Why do they send them away to mental institutions when they turn 5? It kills me. Why not have a Turning 5 Clearance and let all the families who want these children come and get them? It makes no sense and it makes me nuts that I can't do anything about it.

But I can do something here at home. I've long told My Beloved that if we were younger and more financially secure I'd be all over him to adopt a baby with Down syndrome from the UK. And about two months ago I read about the more lax expense and requirements here in the US. And I told The Beloved, who was at that time, holding a squirming, giggling Jack in his arms. And he asked, "What are you thinking? One of these babies? One of these. right. here?" and buried his mustache into Jack's neck to make him squeal with laughter. When the giggles died down, I asked what he thought. I guess he must have know this was coming eventually. He said simply, "I think we can give another baby a good home."

So we've been talking about it here and there. Always with affirmation, as if it were always a foregone conclusion that we would adopt. We were both terrified while I carried Jack. Terrified of Down syndrome and what it would mean for The Baby and our family. And now I almost think that if I could be guaranteed having another baby with Down syndrome, I'd reverse that tubal ligation. Oh. Wait. Jack's pregnancy was really hard. Really Hard! And I am old. And the tubal ligation I had cannot be reversed.

So that brings me to my next news. I've already posted that I have a new job working with special needs children. The next news is that I will even have a title to go with my new job: Clinical Nurse Supervisor. I'll be in the office two days a week filling that role, as well as making home visits and case managing as well. I'll start next week. I can hardly wait. I'd applied for a part time position but the more they spoke with me the more they want me on board full time. What a huge answer to prayer!

And so I am busily making a mental tally of all the things around this house that we will be able to repair now. The list is long. Long! I am mindful of two personal debts that I haven't been able to repay. I will love to cross those off the list in my heart! There are things for The Littles we haven't been able to buy, a swing set to replace our dilapidated one being high on the list! And now, quite possibly, an overhaul on the nursery to accommodate another crib. Not that Jack has actually ever spent one night in his crib yet. I know. We're working on it. The Beloved says, "In the spring we'll move him to his own room." I know he likes Jack nearby where he can hear his snuffles in his sleep, but also, it makes it really easy for The Dear Daddy to scoop him up and nestle him between us. He's a changed man. I have to say, in complete honesty, neither of The Olders were allowed to family bed. Ever. If they wound up there after The Beloved went to work, so be it. But Jack has spent more nights nestled between us, at The Beloved's suggestion, than he has in his cradle three feet away. And now we're talking about adopting a baby like Jack.

So please be prayerful on our behalf.

Friday, January 21, 2011

YJBYC C!

Okay, that's an acronym for the post You Just Broke Your Child. Congratulations! I hope Single Dad Laughing didn't find out about my swiping his title to use on my own post about his post. He might be annoyed. Or maybe he won't be, because this post is a follow up and posting about it in the first place is an accountability tool for me.

So here's the follow up. It's been about two weeks since I wrote CONGRATULATIONS on a Post-it and stuck it to my computer monitor, right in the way of the browser window and back/forward buttons. You know, where I have to actually see it and look around it to do what I want, but not where it will just fade and become part of the monitor. I posted it up there on a Friday night when all The Littles were in bed. When The Olders arose Saturday morning I explained the new rules, mostly for benefit of The Middle, but also so that The Oldest could follow suit. I chose our biggest problem areas that usually lead to yelling and decided to stick to these few for now:

::There will be no yelling. None.
::Things that used to incite yelling will now be spoken calmly.
::There will be no yelling.
::Yellers will go to their rooms, repeatedly if need be, until all yelling stops.
::There will be no yelling.
::Directives will be issued twice. Calmly. After that, the person involved will be sent to their room or to a time out and the directive will either be completed or the person will remain in time out until it is.
::There will be no yelling.
::Lengthy or repeated trips to their rooms or time outs will be accompanied by progressive loss of privileges.
::There will be no yelling.
::When a directive is issued, it will NOT be accompanied by any grumbling, grousing, complaining, dirty looks, faces made behind backs, outright argument, or shuffling of feet in hopes that I will forget the directive.
::There will be no yelling.
::In any instance where corporal punishment is required, it will be delivered quietly and swiftly and the Offender will then either go to their room or be in a time out until compliance with behavior is achieved.
::There will be no yelling.
::When a sibling has a complaint about another sibling, the complaint will be outlined quietly and calmly. The Defendant will have his or her say without being interrupted by the Accuser. All decisions of The Judges shall be final and will be complied with without grumbling, grousing, complaining, dirty looks, faces made behind the Judges back or outright arguing, or shuffling of feet in hopes that I will forget about the aforementioned decision. And finally:
::There will be no yelling. None.

Yes, I realize the dramatic speech and the choice of vocabulary would be well above the heads of the typical 8 and soon-to-be 12 year olds. Not my kids. They are far from typical. Midway through the lecture The Girlie had zoned out. I knew she would. But she's not the challenging child! I saw it coming. She asked to be excused. No, you may not be excused! "I get it Mom, No yelling." All the same, sit! As for The Middle, in case it hasn't been made abundantly, profoundly, crystal-clear before this post, he thrives on drama. One sure way to lose him somewhere in the middle is to treat him like he's typical. Give him some flair, some drama, some fancy vocabulary sprinkled throughout the speech, preferably with some arm waving and gestures and
lots of voice fluctuations and he's all ears! He got it. Then I lowered the boom...

...The Big, Big Rule...

::There will be no crying, screaming, screeching, squeaking, or any other sort of high pitched, mind numbing, fingernails on a chalkboard utterances of any kind. None. Zero. Zilch. This is the ace in the hole The Middle pulls out when he's losing his grip, an argument, leverage, control, the upper hand in negotiations, when a toy frustrates him, when a noise sounds, when a breeze blows through, when the phone rings, or simply because it's Tuesday for crying out loud! It makes me crazy. I could honestly take all of the other quirky behaviors My Middle could throw at me with a smile on my face, but that ability of his to hit notes that make dogs a block away howl just undoes me. Every time. And he knows it.

So he pulled it out first thing this morning. It broke me. I yelled. So I sat him down and said, I broke the no yelling rule. I will go to my room as soon as you're on the bus. It's not okay for me to break the rules either. Do you like how things have been going with the no yelling rule? He nods. Because I sometimes get the idea that you're trying to push me to my limits to get me to yell. Is that true? He nods, requisite guilty head tilt, looking at his shoes. Do you know why you do that? Thinks for a minute, finally, "I don't know. I do like it better when it's loud though." Okay. Well, I want you to think about it for a while after school today. Sometime you might push someone to their limit sometime and they won't yell at you. Instead they might hurt you. The no yelling rule is still in place. Go get your hair and teeth brushed. We'll talk about this after school today.

I feel like a turd that I broke the rules. They've been breaking the rules steadily for two weeks, and it's been a trying time keeping the calm, with all the constant being on guard to remind them of the rules, stepping in before the yelling starts, being mindful not to yell myself. It's been better around here since the rule of no yelling, but still, it's been trying. And really, the parent isn't supposed to break the rules! And of course I knew that once the new rules were in place, The Middle was going to step up his game to break me. At least it took two weeks! The former me would have been broken in two hours. The me before Jack. Jack who really has nothing to do with all the yelling. How does that little bitty extra chromosome work such magic? Maybe it's not for me to know. At any rate, there's now an addendum to The Rules:

::If at any time, in the almighty wisdom of The Judges, it is determined that The Yeller was adequately provoked into yelling, both the one who yelled and the one who provoked the yelling will suffer loss of a privilege. To this The Girlie said, "Finally! It will finally be fair now!" while shooting a meaningful look at her brother. And The Middle, well, he said under his breath, and I quote, "Stupid addendum!"

There have been many, many times that both teachers, class room aides, the gals from the ART, and in particular, various principals at The Middle's schools, even his psychiatrist for crying out loud, one time even a lady standing behind us in line at Wal-Mart have questioned my choice of vocabulary when speaking to my kids. In general, when Mommy pulls out the Grown Up Words, they know to pay attention, it's going to be serious. They know this. They do! Nothing gets a kids' attention like a change in the surrounding atmosphere. Just to be sure, after a few minutes had settled on the "Stupid addendum" remark, I asked The Middle what addendum means. "Mom, you don't have to ask me this. I KNOW what it means." Tell me please. "Mom. Trust me," hands out front, flat and wide, patting the air motion, "you don't have to ask me this!" Humor me. Heavy sigh from him. "Are you really gonna make me do this? Don't you trust me to know what a word means when you've already used it, like, A THOUSAND times already?" Just tell me what it means. "Mom, I really don't know why you're doing this. I really don't want to do this. I wish you'd just drop it already. You already know what it means, I already know what it means. Just drop it! Get on with your life already!" This from my 8 year old. By now I'm enjoying his antics and keep pressing. Just tell me what it means and then you can on with your life, already! "Mom! It's a simple word. YOU KNOW THIS. I know you do," complete with eyebrow raising and expansive hand waving, "Think about the word. A-den-dum," three chops to a flat hand with the horizontal other hand for each syllable, "You're adding something. Putting in more, adding to a list, if you will. Can I go now?" Gotta love that kid! But yeah, he gets it!

Our challenge for today: figuring out how The Middle can get an adequate dose of daily loudness for 30 minutes each day without driving me completely out of my tree. The solution: I'm going to enlist the services of my very old iPod, the also rather old but still awesome Bose docking station with way cool loud speakers that I can hear clearly all the way across the house locked in my bathroom with all doors in between closed and barricaded, and a rock band with suitably questionable lyrics for minor children from my expansive music library. Who knows, maybe he'll choose Mozart! It's a solution we can all live with, as long as The Dear Daddy doesn't come home in the middle of it, and I'm pretty danged sure which band he will choose! The Middle will be allowed the volume he chooses (It will be loud!) and he can dance, twirl, jump around and holler all he wants for 30 full minutes while he wails on his air guitar and beats the crap out of imaginary drums. All you Good Mothers out there ~ this is your cue to shudder and turn away in revulsion. And thank your lucky stars that we are not your neighbors!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spoiled or Sick?

The Beloved says that Jack is getting spoiled. I beg to differ. It's true that every one in the household pays attention to him, and it's also true that for five, soon to be six, hours each week, people come to see him and spend all of their time playing with and paying attention to him. And each of the ladies that come to see The Olders every day also pay attention to him.

If he were getting spoiled I think I'd see a lot of him getting fussy when I put him down to play. I'd see the crinkle face and hear the screams of protest when I take away something he shouldn't have, when the dog walks away from him, when a toy rolls away from him, when a favorite activity stops, when I walk away from him to leave the room, or when I put him in his cradle to sleep. I think if he were getting spoiled, I'd see quite a bit of crankiness unless things are going exactly as he wants them.

Oh. Wait. He is doing all of that stuff!

But he's also been running a low grade fever, the highest being 99.1, and everything that comes near goes right into his mouth. Especially soft things like spitty cloths, fabric toys, his clothing, everyone else's clothing, pillows from the couch, The Middle's discarded socks, chewy things like bottle nipples and pacifiers, any finger he can grab and shove into his mouth before the finger's owner realizes there's a tooth about to pierce their flesh, Princess's tail, purse straps, power cords, shoes, the edge of the carpet, doggy toys, and pretty much any thing else classified as off limits. Nothing is safe from his mouth.

So tonight I stripped him down and popped a frozen strawberry into the new mesh feeder I bought for him and put him in his high chair. I put the feeder into his mouth and he immediately made a monster face and gave a whole body shudder. He didn't like the cold. He banged the mesh bag and the strawberry around on the tray and in general had a ball leaving little pink smears every where as the strawberry softened. I was folding laundry and every few minutes I'd try to entice him into putting the bag back into his mouth. He stopped shuddering but was no happier to chew on it. Once the strawberry was no longer frozen but still cold, he gobbled it all up and started sucking on the bag to get more juice. And he was much happier! Of course, the wet wash cloth I wiped him up with...right into his mouth! He's busily chewing on it as if it were a juicy premium cut of beef and he a starving baby who hasn't eaten in days.

So The Dear Daddy had better stop telling lies about My Baby, or his juicy premium cuts of beef are going to be replaced with a wet wash cloth!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Well, Alrighty Then...

So maybe I WON'T staple his sleeper to the carpet and zip him up in it, or duct tape him to the tile floor to keep him from crawling...because this morning, My Sweet Duck crawled over to me, saying "Mama! Mama! Mamamamama!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

There He Goes...

Even if I'm not ready for it, Jack scooted across the floor about a million times for Laurie from the Junior Blind this afternoon. Jack's OT and PT cannot get him to do things no matter how they try. Jack has been sitting unsupported on the soft couch for at least a month now for Laurie, and will sit unsupported on the floor for Anna from EI, for brief periods. Today Anna had him "putting in" at least a dozen times this morning, something that has him arching his back and squeaking and pulling his hand away when Beth tries to get him to "put in." Laurie was here this afternoon, and Jack reached right "in" to a container a dozen or more times to retrieve a toy, again something that has him arching and squeaking and requires much patient coaching when Beth tries to get him to do it. Both Beth from OT and Jean from PT walk in the door and Jack puts on his "not gonna do it" face. He seems to really like both Beth and Jean, and he gets happy when they arrive and is full of smiles, but he knows that they work him and make him move his body in certain ways that he would rather not. There's a clear mischievousness to the glint in his eyes and a firm resolve in his chubby cheeks when he works with them. Truly, there seems to be a challenge issued anew with every visit, "Okay ladies, who's going to win today, me or you?" and the challenge is on. Today with Laurie the toy placed 2' away had him scooting on his belly army style until he could grab it! And he did it over and over again. None of the flattening out and rolling away like when Jean tries to get him to scoot. None of the arm flailing and threats to cry. None of it. Just scooting merrily toward the toy. Dang it all! And as for the pivoting that Jean has put heroic efforts into getting him to accomplish? He pivoted a full 360* for Laurie today, twice left and then a full circle right! I'd just gotten over my struggles with the clear fact that Jack would not be walking by his first birthday. Then it slowly sunk in just how wonderful it will be that Jack will be a baby longer. And so I started to really be fine with his delays. Took me long enough, huh? And then he did all those "skills and abilities" today. From the action he's showing with his legs, Laurie gives him about a week before he's doing a formal crawl. I have to agree. Danged kid! I am super proud of him, and it made my little heart swell with joy that he succeeded, but now that he's shown that he can do it, he needs to stop! Because I want him to stay my baby longer. Sniffle...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You Just Broke Your Child. Congratulations!

This isn't an easy post to write. For so many reasons. But it's been bugging me, so I'll write about it. I found this post from Single Dad Laughing to be very, very disturbing. For a variety of reasons. I won't enumerate them. Just suffice to say that I read his very impassioned post several days ago, and it's still with me, still just really bugging me. That's the title of his post, and I copied it for mine.

I'd like to see what happened in the lives of that father and child directly before the scene in Costco. I'd dearly love to see what happened in their lives after they left the store. I cannot stress enough that there is nothing, n-o-t-h-i-n-g that the child could have done to deserve the treatment he was given, but I'd still like a little insight as to what came before. I'm hoping in my heart of hearts that while the father's behavior was extreme, it was just the steam blowing off that allowed him to not lash out and strike the child with the anger behind his words. I hope against hope that the writer of the post embellished his story just a little. I'm hoping that the dad took the child with a gentle hand by the shoulders while leaving Costco to keep him nearby and safe crossing the parking lot. I'm hoping that once buckled in, the dad said to the child, "I'm sorry I spoke to you that way. I was really angry and frustrated, but that doesn't make it okay to treat you like that. I'm really sorry. Can you forgive me?"

Sometimes parents get fed up. Sometimes children are difficult in the extreme. Sometimes parents in a snapshot of time are ill equipped to deal with it. Sometimes children push our buttons to the breaking point. Sometimes, the public has the front row seat.

Again, I am not trying to excuse the father's actions or angry words. But I have a Prest-O-Quick-O change artist myself. He's a tyrannical venomous little viper one moment, spewing bile every where, on every one and every thing, and the next moment he is timid and reclusive, the horns have retracted and the fangs have receded. The moments after a monumental melt down are just as likely to hold a kiss and hug from him as they are to announce he's going outside to play. Or to reveal the tension around his eyes, the pull at his mouth, and the first squeaky high pitched utterances that herald he's winding up for yet another Mt. Saint Helen's sized eruption. You just never know what you're going to get with him until it happens. I've been in the car with him, banging my head against the steering wheel to save banging his head against something. I've stood the physical barrier between him and The Oldest when she's determined to take his head off. He's a tough kid. She's a soft marshmallow. He moves her to violence in two point five seconds flat. He knows how to push the buttons of saints. I swear that God would cuss sometimes. But hey, God's only Son was Jesus, and He was perfect. God never had to put up with calls from Jesus' school saying to come get him NOW before they called the authorities. God never got a call from Jesus' first grade principal saying to come get him, that Jesus' teacher was leaving school to go to urgent care for injuries sustained from Jesus. Am I right? Sometimes, I think God could use a refresher course on really tough kids...maybe make us parents who love them a little thicker skinned, longer fused, slower angering, better equipped, more creative, more patient. The child maybe just a little less extreme. Then again, The Middle's tenacity will serve him well as an adult if he chooses to use it in the right direction.

During any given trek across the parking lot, my thoughts still muddled from banging my head against the steering wheel, he clings to my protective hand and transforms himself into the cherubic angel, looking like nothing more than a very well behaved child. You see, parking lots, and precious few other things, are his kryptonite. Once inside the store, safely away from the dangerous pit falls of the parking lot, he's just as likely to revert back to the whirling over stimulated dervish. Or not. Trouble is, the mom or dad, once inside the store, having had a full day of this prest-o-change-o crap, is still charged to full steam. The pressure doesn't ease just because Houdini has suddenly changed faces for the umpteenth time that hour! The on again, off again, rise to the challenge only to have to rise again seconds later, the volume of the inevitable blow up equal only in how minuscule the stimulus was, the relief when the crisis resolves, and then - oh! Wait! Charge up again, new crisis on the horizon! Whoooaaaa...hold onto to your hats, folks! It's gonna be a big one! Sometimes the escape valve on moms and dads get stuck. Sometimes it leaks out in angry words that hurt and mame tender souls. Sometimes, the public has a front row seat.

Some parents live in a constant state of hyper-drive. Constant. Even at rest. Have you ever been awakened at say, 2:38 am to hysterical and terrified panic filled screaming from your child's room, certain that Freddie Kruger is coming through the broken window with a 3' knife dripping with blood...only to arrive in the doorway to realize the child has not been beset by rabid dogs, he's just pissed! "I just woke up and realized that I forgot to eat dessert last night, and YOU didn't remind me!" Yeah, try getting that kid back to sleep for school in the morning! And should I even send him to school that day? Will my coffee even get cold before the school is calling? And even without the middle of the night tantrums, and sometimes genuine night terrors, parents of some kids don't rest. They sleep from sheer mental exhaustion, but they don't rest. Because tomorrow is coming. It's out there. And who really knows what it's going to hold? Is going to be a marathon of counting to ten or is it going to be "a good day" with few melt downs. Sometimes "good days" are measured by their simple lack of conflict. Happily, most of our good days now are simply that, really good days. Good not because they were not bad, just simply good because they were good. Sometimes parents wear down. And sometimes, the public has a front row seat.

Anyway...the point is that Single Dad Laughing's post resonated for me. How often does the volume in our home escalate? How often do frustrations turn into angry yelling? How often do disagreements between The Olders result in slapping at each other? Nasty names being thrown at each other? Promises to play or loan a toy being retracted in anger? How many times have I blown my cool and yelled? This house is loud. It's a simple fact. Kids playing, TV's blaring, noisy play, the dishwasher running, the phone ringing, mechanical toys buzzing, short fuses...there are a million reasons why voices get raised. Sometimes it's the only way to be heard. Frequently the buzz around this house is energetic and upbeat and has nothing to do with frustrations, but it's still loud. And the sixth request to take out the garbage is not going to be delivered with the same charm and easy tone the first request was made with.

So no, I am not that dad from Costco. There have been many, many times I've felt like him though, on the inside. Sometimes the front row seat that the public gets to see is of a tense Mom trying to keep The Middle within arms' reach instead of rooting through someone else's shopping cart, divulging every intimate detail of our lives to other shoppers waiting in line, or walking away with a stranger. Sometimes the Mom had just endured the fifteen minute ride to the store amidst howling, screeching and gnashing of teeth, because quite simply, Woody's hat fell down into the foot well where The Middle cannot get it until we arrive at the store and he can safely unbuckle to retrieve it. And that happened in the first two minutes of the trip. Pull over to the curb? Let the child retrieve the toy and proceed in relative calm to the store? Yeah right. ASD comes with an entire set of rules, written in a language entirely foreign to me, but that clearly state the The Middle shall not, under any circumstances, unbuckle the seat belt until he has arrived safely at his destination. It's simply not done. Ever. And there's my very personal favorite, seeing The Middle frustrated and just about to pop his cork and trying very hard to contain him and keep the lid on him, until we can complete even a brief shopping trip, wait in line, pay and get back out to the van where he can explode in relative safety. Yes, I know, I've heard it before, but seriously, if I have to leave the store every time this happens, every shopping trip will take 6 hours to complete and I will never get anything done. And he simply must learn how to control himself in public. How else is he going to do that except out in public? So yes, please do save that oh so helpful tip about leaving him at home with a sitter for someone brand spanking new to this life of high needs children who might actually believe that works!

And the author...he made some really exceptional points about how to nurture a child. About why it's so very important to nurture a child. About how really very easy it can be to nurture a child. No one sets out on this life called parenting with the aim of hurting our children. No one gets up each day and says, "Let's see what I can do to make my kid miserable today." But I'd also like him to see the other picture once or twice. I hope and believe that the really tough kid is the exception and not the rule. Sometimes the fact that the dad has not hit is commendable. Sometimes that the dad has not said more was an act that required all of his reserves. Sometimes, the fact that a parent has maintained their composure for the last five minutes when they are bursting at the seams, is a heroic measure. Because sometimes, some kids are really tough. And sometimes, the public gets a front row seat without having seen behind the scenes.

And the point in this post is not to exonerate the Costco dad. I'm trying to work out just exactly why Single Dad Laughing's post has rankled my feathers. And for all I know, the Costco dad really is just a big stupid jackass who should not have had kids. The point is that Single Dad Laughing wrote a post that has changed how I parent. There's a sticky note on my computer monitor now with one simple word. This place in our home is where the day either starts out rocky or sets sail for a smooth voyage. The alarm goes off and I start by getting The Girlie awake. Next I head to The Middle Little's room, and yes I am happy to see his face when he rolls his sleepy self over to look at me. He sees a pleasant smile and hears a pleasant wake up greeting. And he either stumbles out of bed and says "Okay, Mom" or ten minutes and ten more wake up calls later, I am bellering at him from the living room to get up. Now! Because by that time, that's where I am, getting breakfast set out, morning meds dispensed, packing lunches, getting breakfast ready for Jack, making sure backpacks and homework are ready to go and shoes lined up for little feet. He'll either bring his sleepy self out to start getting his shoes and socks on, or he'll emerge red faced and pissed off, already snarling, grunting, growling and grousing under his breath that he had to get up. You just never know. But the note is there, where I am likely to see it by that point, sitting in the chair by my computer monitor feeding Jack. A simple reminder. A simple statement. A simple pat on the back. A simple challenge to rise to the occasion and do better. A simple, quiet round of applause, that today, I will not start the day with My Middle Little being yelled at. Even when he clearly wants to yell at me first thing in the morning. He's a tough kid. And I love him.

And it's all up from there. Of course I want all of my children to feel bigger than anything life throws at them. But I have to admit, when it comes to The Middle Little, my concern about this is greater than with the other two, even Jack. He's a tender soul. I want to protect this narrow window of time while his Daddy and I are still everything to him. The Post-it note will be a gentle reminder about shaping his future. Because it's so easy to forget. It's so easy to say that things will be better tomorrow, next week, when his meds are adjusted again, when he's older, when he's matured a little more, when he has better control over his actions, over his words, over his abilities, over his impulses...but really, the time is now.

So I hope I haven't painted a bleak ugly picture of what our home life is. The difficult times are at long last the exception to the rule. There are daily blow ups to be sure, often more than ten in a day, while Our Middle figures out how to function in life with success. There are also plenty of times full of cuddles, of play, of kisses delivered in passing, of a hand reaching out to ruffle a Little head, of silly questions and sillier answers. Of silly stories with silly conclusions. Of serious questions from serious little boys who want, and get, serious answers. Of family movies where we all pile up on one couch with blankets and pillows and a huge dog or two thrown into the mix for good measure. There is singing in our home on a daily basis, almost always from The Middle Little, either songs he knows or is making up on the spot. There is coloring and drawing and cartoons and Lego building. There is laughter and banter and good times that I hope all of Our Littles will remember while they grow.

So...the Post-it note is there. Congratulations. Today I am not going to break my child!

Post Script: If you must, if you have misread the intention of this post, feel free to write me a comment to shred me. I am not defending the Costco dad. Bad parents are bad parents are bad parents...I've gotten to the end of this post no closer to knowing why Single Dad Laughing's post has rankled me so. But there it is. It's moved me to parent better myself, because sometimes that front row view the public has can serve as a mirror. I'm just sayin'...

Some Good News, Some Better News & Really? Parts 1 & 2

So the good news is that the job I trekked out into the snow last Monday to interview for? Looks like I got it. My background checks and references have all checked out and I'll go in this week to initiate the formal hiring process. The better news? The company works almost exclusively with special needs children and very, very seldom has typical adults in their care. Yeah!

The Really? My here-to-fore potential boss was scheduled to come out to see Jack today to start him up for nursing services. Yeah, I know. I'll get to that. So my first concern when I get the message from MM at The Company is that there will be a conflict of interest in my being employed for them while my baby is getting services from them. Miss D assured me that as long as I wasn't case managing (No desire to case manage, thank you very much!) there would be no issue. The second and more huge consideration, do I really want my potential future boss coming into my home to see where I live and notice all the dust (and dirt, let's be honest!) in the corners? Thirdly, in the section where I was supposed to describe why I'd be an 'ideal candidate' to work with special needs children, I played my trump card and said that I have two older children with autism spectrum disorder and one baby with Down syndrome, and that as a veteran RN and a mother seasoned in special needs, I had experience that other's may not...but did she really need to be treated to the floor show that The Middle Little can put on? Fourth? The front room remains a disaster. It's a neat orderly disaster, but a disaster none-the-less. There is just too much stuff and too little house. So it's in the front room. That's what happens when you suddenly need an extra bedroom for a little miracle baby and the garage is already filled up to the rafters!

In the end it all worked out. I cleaned like a mad woman for Sunday and Monday, going as far as to de-clutter the front porch and launder the doggy linen so as not to lend olfactory offense, and vacuumed and mopped the floors this morning the minute both Littles were on their buses. The house was clean and smelled good. The kennels were clean and smelled good. The baby was clean and smelled good. The children behaved like dreamy little cherubic angels. Really! They did! Even the dogs behaved!

So, I have a new job and a house that is clean. And I will have to keep it that way until next Tuesday when the new boss comes out again to formalise the services she will be requesting for Jack and sign papers and do all of that.

And that's the second part of Really, part 2. In the younger years, the cost of The Middle Little's child care was quite hefty. Still is actually. The difference is that he's no longer such a handful that I'm paying someone a huge amount of money not to get so riled by him that they abuse him and now I'm paying someone a huge amount of money not to get so fed up with his mouth that they abandon him before I get home from work. He has come a long, long way, but he is still a big, wiggling, loud, boisterous, rambunctious whirlwind that 'handful' doesn't come close to describing. With his diagnosis of ASD came some child care and respite hours from the Regional Center. When The Girlie earned the same diagnosis, she was also granted child care and respite hours. It's not a great deal of money, but it does help offset some of the costs. When Jack came along with all of his special feeding issues, we decided that he needed his own care giver and we already had someone in mind who foot the bill perfectly. With the budget cuts the Regional Centers or someone at the state level decided that children under 3 years old do not qualify for childcare or respite hours. I guess little people unable to provide care for themselves are not deemed deserving of that care until they prove their worth by surviving to 3 years old. It makes no sense to me. Because Jack gets preprandial medications as well as an albuterol MDI, he qualifies for a skilled nurse to provide his childcare. I'll basically be leaving my child in the hands of an LVN to provide while I am away, what I will be providing for another child as an RN. Seems like a tremendous waste of tax dollars to me, to pay a skilled nurse to do what Jack's baby sitter has already been doing quite well for significantly less money. Why don't they just cut out the middle man and pay me to stay home and take care of Jack?

So there you have it. For the record, we'll only be using this LVN until I am once again gainfully employed and can revert back to our old ways. The gals who have been babysitting so far will now share duties of taking care of The Olders, switching off nights with each other. While an over paid other person is in our home taking care of Jack. It makes no sense to me, but we'll do what we have to until we're on more firm financial ground.

Once the business of Jack was all decided, we turned to talk of my employment. She asked me a little more about what kind of nursing care and client base I was interested in, and said she'd speak to MM tomorrow about me perhaps filling a few positions that have just become available. On top of that, I liked this gal. She was at ease with herself and she cooed at Jack! Really, how am I not going to like someone who coos at my baby?

So you've done it again, Jax-Snax! You've shown me another new dimension to life by being born with your awesome extra chromosomes. I've always wanted to work with children and babies, but without you, I would never have considered working in special needs home care for them. I'd never known there was a need for it, because I'd never been the one whose family needed it. You are amazing Little Dumpling!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Smorgasbord & Pictures

Jack has been doing so well with the hot/cold foods, that I kinda went ape and rolled out the smorgasbord for his feeding therapy today! He had carrots with a scoop of rice cereal, chicken which got really runny when it was warmed...so that got 2 scoops of rice cereal, and since he was eating cereal he would need a tablespoon of flax seed oil mixed in, applesauce with about 1/4 cup of rice crispies, and one of those Dannon Dino baby yogurts. Yes I broke down and bought the baby yogurt. For $2.87 you get 12 1-3/4 ounce servings. I didn't think the price was too ridiculous for the convenience. Never mind that Yoplait sells 16 2.5 ounces servings of Go-Gurt for less than the Dannon. Ah well. He ate really well to show off for Dr Elaine this time and I was pleased as punch! After the meal I don't know what struck me. The Middle was pestering me for a pre-dinner snack, so I gave him a cheese stick. I also had one, and while I was at it, I handed Jack a cheese stick too. Yes, I watched him like a hawk! And yes, once the cheese stick warmed and softened in his grubby little grabbers, he was able to bite off alarmingly huge bites...which he promptly worked to the front of his mouth and spit out without any gagging or choking. I do know the Heimlich remover. But it wasn't needed. He had a ball biting into this rubbery thing and he banged it against his head and on his tray and batted at it with his hands before once again sinking his sharp little fang into it. His top gums are getting bumpy and wide, so I think he may sprout some top teeth sometime this year. Then again, maybe it's just practice. At any rate, it was clearly very enjoyable for him to chew on. Tomorrow on my errands I'll pick up one of those little mesh bags that will hold a piece of fruit to be mauled in safety within it's confines. That might be fun for him.

Please excuse the mess on the front of his outfit. I'd planned a trip through the tub right after meal time, so I didn't put a bib on him. I love the pictures where he's all squinty eyed!




Saturday, January 8, 2011

Progress of Sorts

I was not tickled pink to be awoken by Jack at 3 am to have a bottle. What happened to the baby who slept through the night from about seven weeks? Was I dreaming that? Nor was I tickled any shade of any color that said baby, having finished his bottle, was not sleepy eyed and ready to return to his nice warm snuggly cradle, but was rather awake and ready to play. At 4:30 this morning I plopped him into his high chair and warmed up some cinnamon apples with oatmeal and tried that. He wouldn't have it. Warmed it a little warmer. Still nothin' doin'. Warmed it a little more, closer to a temperature I would eat...and he rolled it around in his mouth, swallowed it down, and proceeded to gobble it up. It cooled while I was feeding him yogurt icy cold from the fridge, and the next bite delivered was promptly returned. So I warmed it again and he finished off the bowl! Yeah!

After rolling around on the floor for a little while longer, The Pod of Pods came out to join his sister asleep in the living room. Jack snuggled up briefly to sleep in the mosh pit of blankets and discarded cushions.That nap lasted for about 15 minutes, then he was all about the fun and games again. At about 7:30 he stayed asleep and I scooped him up and into to his cradle for a nice long snooze. When he woke again hours later, The Dear Daddy was on duty so I slept on, warm and comfy in our big bed all by myself! Bliss!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Jack-Jack Attack

Every child everywhere, since the beginning of time has had one of those busy box things with the flaps that pop up to reveal an animal or character when the knobs and levers are twisted, pushed and slid sideways. About a month ago, I was tickled pink when Jack plopped two of the little flaps closed, on purpose, at baby class. Why I was so surprised that he could do this is beyond me. I'll have to examine that surprise a little closer, later. Anyway...about ten days ago, I texted Beth, his OT, that Jack was slapping all the little boxes closed now in one sitting. She'd just been here an hour previously, and he wouldn't close any of them for her. Now he was systematically closing them all.

When Laurie from The Junior Blind was here Wednesday, Jack was really happy to show off this new skill for her! A thought was taking place about just exactly what is 'bugging' me about this new skill. When Anna was here Thursday, Jack showed his new talent off to her as well. Yeah, I know, kids master this skill all the time...so why am I going on and on about it? So you can all write back in the comments and tell me that I'm worried for nothing and that I'm not seeing what I think I am. The busy box phenomena is just the gel that pulled my worry together.

So here it is. When Jack had his first success at this task, he was being hand-over-handed by Beth and they closed the middle flap and then the second to middle flap, with Jack doing the actual closing. Now that he does it at home, he starts with the first flap on the left, every time. Then he closes them in order. Every time. It looks like this: he's on his hands and knees, or his belly, reaches out, closes the flap, gets flat, rolls onto his back and away, then rolls back to his belly or hands and knees, then closes another flap, in order. He repeats this whole process of close a flap, roll away, roll back, close a flap until they're all closed. If I put the toy in front of him sideways so that the other end is presented first, or even backwards with the flaps closest, he will always grab it by the handle and turn it around so it's facing him properly, then proceeds with the first flap. Always. If I hand-over-hand him to push down a different flap, he pulls his hand away and rolls off. Loses interest. Laurie and I, and then Anna and I tried to put resistance on the flap so he couldn't close it, thinking that he might move on to a different flap. Nope! He pulled his hand away and rolled off and would not be engaged with the toy again until hours later, when he could do it his way, unhindered. I am waiting for his next baby class on Wednesday to see if he plays with Beth's busy box flap toy the same way.

So why am I worried? Clearly he's got some problem solving skills at his young age if he consistently takes the toy by the handle to orient it to himself the way he prefers. Clearly he can process tasks in order. It's the have to of doing them in order that is bugging me. And the organised activity in between. Because he does it this way every single time. And I'm only bringing it up because I've noticed some similar activities where he will roll away and roll back before continuing. The constant motion between activities. The ongoing fascination with his left hand. The way he will seemingly not hear someone calling his name while sitting right next to him. The sudden aversion of most things solid food. His new 'likes' are things that are really cold from the fridge. He will tolerate a few bites of warm table foods. Nothing room temperature. Oh yeah, and the fact that we already have two children on the autistic spectrum. Research is limited regarding the co-morbidity of Down syndrome and autism because the two disorders have only recently been recognised as coexisting, but where some studies find the dual occurrence as high as 10%, most studies have autism occurring between 5-7% in the Ds population above the occurrence in the typical population. So am I just borrowing trouble where there is none? Someone? Anyone? Please?

On the one hand, any parent of a child who has Down syndrome already knows it's not a bad thing...quite the contrary, in fact! I love this little baby more than my own breath! But on the other hand, even the suggestion that he could have autism as well is...well, it's just not fair, that's what!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Good Online ASL Dictionary

Here it is! Some of the expressions on the ladies faces are priceless. It's like they're annoyed to be doing this. Sometimes I would swear that they've been rousted out of bed, or away from their dinner table, or hauled out of the shower when I log on! Seriously...go check out some of their ticked off expressions!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's Snowing!

Yes, there are pictures, but first...It's snowing! Yep. In Southern California. Ordinarily I would be overjoyed at snow. Today, however, I am stressed out of my tree and I really super duper need to work tonight. Times are desperate. But working means a 60 mile drive to the valley. In the snow. I do not like driving in snow. Actually, it's not the driving in snow so much that I don't like, it's all the slipping around I don't enjoy, and other drivers getting way to close that I don't like. If there were no other drivers on the road, I'd be more comfortable. Except for when I need the lines of the others driver's cars to follow. Or when I get stuck somewhere or drive onto the soft berm. Then other drivers would come in handy. And even if I don't get work tonight, I have a job interview about 45 miles that same direction tomorrow morning at 11:30. And I already know that the freeway I need to take there is closed and all the traffic is being diverted onto my freeway. That's gonna be fun. Not so much the going, but the coming home. At least it will be daylight.

My resolve to encourage my loving and obedient children to watch a signing times video every day of Christmas break, thereby learning something, has come to a grinding halt. There's been so much grousing on the part of The Oldest, and sheer and deliberate inattention of the part of The Middle, that I threw a fit today and sent them out of the room, saying that Willie and I would learn it and when he later tried to speak with them and they didn't understand, well, they'd have themselves to thank. When they each came back into the living room wanting something, I simply signed, I'm sorry. I don't understand! Sorry. Eventually The Oldest caught on. She signed "I'm sorry, Mom." I signed to her to please make me some coffee, and she did. Next, she tried to ask if she could do something. Again with the signing, I'm sorry. I don't understand. Maybe if you sign... She's a quick study. She quickly asked in pigeon toed sign if she could please take a dog outside to the front yard. So I asked Why, and then encouraged the motions to play in the snow. While I had a captive audience I did my darnedest, Who's going outside to play in the snow? Made her spell out her own name and Sophie's and said again Why? She signed "To play in the snow." And I made her repeat the whole thing in semi-cohesive flow. And then I signed No! Oh yes, I did. Why? Because you didn't say please. So she signed "please" and I signed Please what? And again with the entire sentence, "May I please take Sophie outside in front to play in the snow?" So I signed that she could, to wear a coat, a hat, and shoes and socks, because it would be cold and snowy, because it's winter. Because I can. I've been watching the danged videos.

And that's not the only thing that's come to a grinding halt. I just called work, and they have nothing for me tonight. Which is going to suck huge when the error I made has my bank bouncing stuff tomorrow. Like the electric bill. Especially since our heater is broken and we're using space heaters for warmth. In the snow. Dang, I hope 2011 turns out to be a better year! Ah yes, the snow. It's really coming down now. Sticking and everything. So even if I'd gotten work tonight, it's not a given that I'd get to work. Or that I'd get home in the morning. Or that the CHP wouldn't detain me along the way with lots of other drivers until the route to return home, having gone nowhere really, was plowed. I hope, I hope, I hope to get some photos of the pristine majesty tomorrow, since it's supposed to snow all night, before the neighborhood stray pets walk all over our yard! Then again, if it truly does snow all night, like 'they' say it will, it won't matter if the desert foxes play chase on our front lawn, their little paws will not mar the expanse of white. That is, if it truly does snow as heavily as 'they' say it will.

Also at a grinding halt is Jack's willingness to eat food. He did pretty well with mashed potatoes and mashed up sweet potatoes, but while he's no where near ready for table food, he's also suddenly unwilling to eat baby food. He wants bottled food. I've been cooking tiny little pasta called Agini Di Pepe and adding it to the veggies he likes, and adding things like rice crispies and plain cooked rice to the fruits he likes. I have not tried adding anything to the meats, because, well it's meat, and I have no ideas there. And besides, it's already kinda pasty and it has enough texture on it's own. And he's given me no grief over eating chicken and beef. Still hates the turkey. Then again, I have a sudden passionate hatred of turkey. Might be the brand I'm buying. I still like it from the deli in a sandwich, especially with Swiss cheese and avocado, but I barely ate any on Thanksgiving and I firmly boycotted it for Christmas. I cooked it alright, roasted it nice and brown and crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, and took one whiff and turned my own nose up at it. Which is not to say that I hold the same hatred for turkey gravy. While the Thanksgiving gravy held much to be desired, I turned out my classic perfect turkey gravy for Christmas dinner, which if I do say so myself, was good enough to eat with a spoon. When my turkey gravy turns out good, it's really good. And it's good often enough that I have said to myself on more than one occasion, "Self, this year we're going to thin this out just a little bit and add chopped up turkey with some fresh veggies and have creamy turkey soup in a few days!" But that has never happened. By the time we've all eaten even awesome turkey gravy all over stuffing, mashed potatoes, and turkey for an entire week, the last thing I want to look at is more turkey anything. And that includes my awesome gravy. Next year, providing 2011 turns out to be prosperous, I'll roast turkey for Thanksgiving but for Christmas I might try my hand at a crown roast of prime rib. We'll see.

I digress. I offer these pictures of proof that I have attempted to make a valiant effort to feed this child solid food.

This is the "Not gonna open my mouth" maneuver:
This is his "Reaching up to grab the spoon" maneuver:Followed by the "I'm only gonna open my mouth a little bit to see just how nuts I can make her while she holds both of my hands down" maneuver:Quickly followed up by the head braced with one hand maneuver:While he attempts to grab both of my arms maneuver:Just...a..little...more...leverage...on...that...forehead......and the food is in and his lips are closed!Until he spits it all back out again!And here is the equivalent of his 50 yard field goal "I won!" happy dance. I'd love to post the laid out flat with my right foot on his torso, left foot on his forehead, one hand prying his lips apart while the other shovels in the food maneuvers, but The Girlie, who acted as my camera man for this adventurous little foray into feeding time fun has her limits. She flat refused to be a party to providing photographic evidence for all that followed.