Friday, January 23, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Friday Night Edition


I'm supposed to be writing right now.  At least that's what I told myself that I'm supposed to be doing.  All the kids are sleeping at the same time and the house is quiet and it's the perfect time.  So what am I doing instead? 

Using Pic Monkey to photo shop mustaches onto frowning pictures of James. 

He really has mastered the firmly disapproving look, along with the confused about why the house is so loud look and the what am I doing here with all these unruly children look. 


Did you use Jennifer Fulwiler's Saint Name Generator this year?
I did and look what came up:

Do you see what I see?  It's perfect.  Look:

She's the patron saint of Family Happiness (can't lose with that), Neurological Disorders, Princesses and Runaways.  It's like she's the patron saint of all the things rolled in to one.  Now nobody in this house better start sleepwalking. 


It's January, and while not quite February (that short month that seems to stretch on, seemingly forever, in homeschooling circles), the icy days can sometimes feel long when it's just too cold to be outside.  Here's a glimpse of our day today:

We began our day with class:

Then we headed to OT.  Usually the waiting room at her appointment is full of kids and she runs around and plays, but today it was surprisingly empty:

Today the sensory room was open.  I'm pretty sure she could swing in this thing all day long:

We drove home for lunch.  Sadie took a detour through the snow.  She was disappointed when we just had spaghetti.  She wanted to cook something spectacular:

The afternoon was like a scene out of when toddlers attack (here's Patch... in need of a hair cut... after eating spaghetti for lunch... pretending to be a dinosaur/monster and refusing to talk...):


Finally after dinner Sadie headed out to her troop meeting where a nun began to teach the younger girls in the group (like Sadie) how to sew.  And that is a Friday in our house this January.

I have to admit, while this has been a mild winter so far, I'm already looking forward to those summer backyard pool parties:


I finally decided that it was time to move the girls to a new doctor's office.  When Patch was born I was able to get him into an office that was full and couldn't take the girls. 
When I called this week they were actually quite surprised because we're in there so often (they're in the same office as OT) that they thought the girls were already patients.  So they accepted them immediately and it's the doctor that James has been seeing, who is really great, so I think that this should be a much, much better fit, instead of just seeing whatever resident is at the clinic on any given day and having to explain Mae's entire medical history over and over and over again.  I think having one consistent doctor will be so much less stressful during appointments. 


I had this conversation with Sadie a few days ago:
Me:  "So if someday, when we move, you could have your own room, would you want your own room?  Or would you want to share a room with your sister?" 

I asked this question because Maggie's night waking episodes have started again and we never know whether she's going to sleep fifteen hours or get up at 1 am to jump on the bed for a couple (or five) hours. 
Sadie:  "What do you mean?"
Me:  "Well, I'm not saying that we'll have enough rooms for you to have your own room, someday, when we move.  But if we did, would you want to have your own room, with your bed, where you could go in and close the door?  Or would you want to share with Maggie?" 
Sadie: "I want to share with Maggie." 
I'll admit I was surprised by the answer.  Then again, the girls almost always end up cuddled up together by morning... and while sometimes she's sleepy, sometimes she's totally on board with getting up to jump on the bed in the middle of the night. 


Can you name that baby?
I was browsing through baby pictures of what our little ones looked like at around three months and this is what I came up with. 
Paul, you better get this right!

Baby A
Baby B
Baby C

Baby D


Tonight before she went to the bed, Maggie came to the kitchen door way and laughed and said "happy, happy, happy" many times.  And I have to say... that moment totally made my day! 

For more 7 Quick Takes head over to This Ain't the Lyceum

Words and Other Forms of Communication

I have a new post up over at The Mighty talking about some of the lessons we've learned about communication this past year:

Mae's is still little and while she's had what feels like a language explosion lately, she still doesn't have a large vocabulary compared to your average four and a half year old.  If you go by the words counted by her therapists she's used her little voice to say somewhere around 200 different words over the course of the last fourteen months.  Sometimes that's nearly 50 spontaneous words in a therapy session. 

Outside of therapy it's different.  Outside of therapy she might only say one word all day long.  It might be mermaid.  She might say it a fifty times, or hardly at all. 

Sometimes now she says "Help me!"  She learned the phrase from her two year old brother.  He walked around for a week saying it dramatically.  He didn't want to climb up onto the couch, even though he easily can, so he threw himself on the floor and screamed "help me!!!!!!!!!!!" in the most dramatic scream he could muster.  His oldest sister looked at a toy that he had thought about maybe playing with so it was repeated again.  Day after day we heard "help me" a hundred times in his little voice and suddenly she began to say it too. 

She doesn't say it like he does though.  When she uses words it's for something serious...

Read the rest over at The Mighty! 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Time at Planned Parenthood

Today's post was first posted back in January 2010.  It seemed like an appropriate repost for today:

I wasn’t always Pro-Life. Ten years ago I really hadn’t given the issue of abortion much thought.

When I went off to a small “Catholic” liberal arts college as a political science major, it was bound to come up.

The idea of killing an unborn child made me uncomfortable if I really thought about it, so I carefully skirted the issue by saying:

“ I don’t think it’s right, and I would never have an abortion… but I don’t think I have the right to tell another woman what she can or can’t do with her body.”

If I’d given it much more thought I would have had to ask myself why a woman’s right not to be inconvenienced trumped a child’s right to live and I very quickly would have realized the fallacy in the logic behind the argument that it’s a “woman’s right to do whatever she wants with her body.” After all, none of us have the right to do whatever we want. Our rights end when they begin to encroach on someone else’s rights and that becomes especially clear when we plan on physically harming another human being.

But it was much easier to give my quickly thought out answer and say that I was “pro-choice,” (an answer that pleased my very liberal poli sci professors to no end).

During the second semester of my freshman year we were assigned a “community service project” for my Social Justice class. I had to squeeze in forty hours of community service alongside my twenty five hours a week at Starbucks, karate, rugby practice, hundreds of pages each night in reading for collegiate seminar (Roman, Christian Mid-Evil Thought), my second semester of Japanese and my American Government class (I seriously began to wonder if my professors remembered what it was like to be a student).

We were given a list of places that would be suitable for volunteer work and I called the local battered woman’s shelter and rape crisis centers right away. After a week they finally informed me that they didn’t need any volunteers. I finally landed a volunteer position from one of the approved organizations (and by the time I did I was getting desperate and starting to worry about my grade): I went to work for Planned Parenthood.

My job was easy. I brought patients back to the exam room and went over their medical history, took their blood pressure and asked them if there was anything they wanted to talk with the doctor about. I did pregnancy tests and UTI tests in the little lab and cleaned up the rooms after they’d been used.

I passed by the protestors once in a while and I thought it was kind of odd, because I’d been assured over and over again that this particular Planned Parenthood did not perform abortions. They sent women over to a larger facility, since our office was very small and we weren’t allowed to perform them there. The young women I worked with brought up the fact that we didn’t do abortions frequently, which I had thought was odd. I wasn’t sure why they were so preoccupied with it. At the time I really didn’t even realize the relationship between Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, although I probably would have simply brushed the information away with a “I’m Pro-Choice” answer if I had been told.

However I was bothered by the responsibilities taken on by workers with no medical training. I knew that I wouldn’t want someone who had taken an afternoon class implanting or removing anything in my body. It just didn’t seem very safe.

I was also very bothered by the ages of the girls whose pregnancy tests I was running. I would only have a urine sample and a birthday, and I couldn’t help but notice that I was giving positive results for girls who were twelve years old. They didn’t come in with their parents and I knew that they would be offered abortions without their parents’ knowledge (or consent). How would I feel if that was my tiny beautiful ballerina cousin who was almost the same age?

One day I arrived at work to find an empty waiting room. The receptionist buzzed me in and I wandered back to see what needed to be done. Since there were no patients there would be no samples to test, so I wandered back to the exam rooms to see if everything was ready for the start of the second half of the day (I came in after lunch). There were people towards the back, one of the doctors was even there, and I walked up to the door of the room before I was hurried back to the front by an angry coworker.

But it was impossible to erase the image of what I had seen. There was blood everywhere. White sheets of paper had been ripped off to cover the counters and other surfaces and there was blood spattered across them (I was actually reminded of the examples we’d been given during my lifeguarding first aid classes of arterial spray, but it could have been from anything, taking unborn life is apparently very bloody work).

It was very clear, by the panicked reaction of everyone who was there, that I had seen something I shouldn’t have seen.

And there was only one reason that they would be panicked. There was only one thing that we most certainly weren’t supposed to be doing in that office: abortions.

The more I learn about abortion providers the more I come to realize that breaking the rules to provide abortions isn’t all that uncommon. I guess once you cross the line that keeps most of us from ending a human life, other lines, like legal rules, are easier to break.

I didn’t instantly become pro-life, but the idea that taking a life was wrong was reinforced. My own insecurities kept me from taking the next step though, that would have enabled me to say the simple truth that abortion is wrong. After all, I could ignore the entire problem by simply adding “…but who am I to say.”

I first had to free myself from the absurd chains of moral relativism that my poli-sci professors had been reinforcing and that our secular culture embraces. I had to realize that there is right and wrong, good and evil in this world and as a human it’s my responsibility to speak out when I see the rights of those who are weaker than me violated.

Every child has the right to life and it’s our responsibility to speak out and to defend that right. That is the most basic right that exists in this world and it’s a truth that we simply can’t forget or ignore.

The Truth as a Hammer

I didn't plan on writing anything more about the interview in the air.  I'd said to much already.  I really thought I had nothing more to say. Until my sleepy eyes were met with a slew of posts filling my Facebook feed when I woke up to feed the baby at 5 am, accompanied by comments telling all the over sensitive moms out there why they are most certainly wrong to feel the way that they're feeling. 

The basic gist of the comments that accompanied the latest article was "So all you American Moms who's feelings have been hurt by the Pope's words... maybe it's not about you!  Maybe he wasn't talking to you at all!"  The article itself wasn't bad.  The comments though, made me want to crawl back into bed.

Honestly, do we really believe that telling people who have been hurt by these comments that what they really need to do is just get over themselves is an actual solution to the very real pain they're feeling?  Come on ladies.  You don't have real problems.  You have first world problems.  Step off the self centered pedestal and shove those feelings to the back of your mind because you have no right to be having them.

Since these discussions have begun I've had someone I've known for years point out that I don't have as many kids as she does and her feelings aren't hurt.  I guess that should mean that I shouldn't feel saddened when I see a specific woman being held up as an example of irresponsibility, after years of being told over and over again "the Church doesn't give specific examples."

And I've had it pointed out that the point is obvious and obviously I'm missing it.  In case anyone's wondering, having been on the receiving end of that sort of critique I can confirm that it probably isn't the best way to win over hearts and minds to your point.

In another conversation, that I managed to not dive in to, a few people took the opportunity to rant about the ridiculousness of these people who took on this mantle of "victimhood" by having the nerve to be upset.  How are these women so over emotional that they couldn't go and read what was actually being said and understand the wonderfulness of those words? was the question asked.

I was tempted to answer, but didn't.  I wanted to say: I read the words.  I read the "reliable translations of the transcript."  And it didn't take the sting away.  Praying did. 

But still I found myself wondering how many women out there were taking part in these same conversations and feeling the same way.  And I guess that's why I'm writing

I'm not an apologist.  I used to think that I might be someday.  I used to have a thirst for debating that has seen dwindled and disappeared almost entirely.  I still love learning.  I love my vocation.  But I don't love arguing and debating points like I used to. 

So if you've come here to debate, you win.  I'm not here to debate whether his words were true.  They were.  Nothing new was said.  They were true and they hurt a good many people who try to live by the Churches teachings.  They were true and many people found them uplifting and inspiring.  They were true and they'll be used as ammunition against us for years. 

And I realized this morning that while I was saddened by the words in the initial interview, that sadness was easy enough to brush aside, given what we've learned in the past years about the way the current Pope uses words (with good humored, well meaning, reckless abandon, was the first description that comes to mind).

I find what has happened in the aftermath, far sadder than those initial words. 

The truth, as a hammer, is seldom affective at speaking to hearts.  Telling women, who found the interview to be hurtful, that they weren't smart enough to get the intended meaning and quoting Canon Law at them, or telling them that they don't have "real problems" so they should get over it because "it's not about you" isn't going to comfort or draw anyone closer to God.  And honestly, I can't imagine the Pope using those same words. 

For as sure as I am that he meant no harm with his words, I'm equally sure that he would comfort those who were hurt if they were to stand face to face with him, rather than brushing their pain aside and telling them that they have no right to feel it. 

Believe it or not, those of us who were pained by what we read are likely really trying to understand the words.  For many of us, we actually did understand them, quite clearly, on an intellectual level. 

Yet somehow that didn't make it easier.  I was reminded of many posts that I've read by friends struggling with the pain of infertility.  It isn't, obviously, the exact same thing.  And yet I do find myself wishing it was handled more delicately, as I hope most people would react to someone voicing that sort of pain.  You wouldn't tell a woman suffering the pain of infertility that she has no right to feel pain at the praises sung in the Catholic world of large families (and I'm not saying that pain is in any way even comparable... so please don't think that I am!). 

Extend, if you can, that same courtesy to those with large families who find themselves attacked on a regular basis for the size of their families, who try to ignore the words from family, friends, acquaintances and strangers, but who find themselves pained by them no less. 

Perhaps try to understand that to a woman who has likely been told that she is wildly irresponsible to have more than a couple of children, by a society who believes that three children is "a lot" and maybe even "too many" may, even though she understands the Pope's use of the words "responsible parenthood" (which has long been a teaching of the Church), feel pained by them especially since there's a fair chance that she and her children have been compared to rabbits by people who were quite serious about the comparison.

And if, after thinking of all these things, you then decide that you need to go out and berate someone you know for having the gall to feel pain at those off the cuff remarks given on that flight, then the only thing left to do is pat yourself on the back for being so advanced in sanctity that you've made it passed all those piddling little emotions like empathy and compassion and you without a doubt will go far as you speed on your way reproving all those sinners who dared give voice to an emotion that you don't agree with.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sometimes we need to step away...

I was reminded today, for the first time in a long while, of my resolution to avoid any and all news reports about, transcripts of interviews with, and non-encyclical writings by our current pontiff. 

Maybe, at some future date, when I'm not filled with hormones and deprived of enough sleep to look at these things from all angles I will again start pouring over every Catholic news source I come across again (oh and time, that would involve having time too).  Until then though it's best that I, for the most part, avoid all reports, both secular and Catholic, on what he said this time, when he had a few hours in a plane and was surrounded by a bunch of reporters ready to pen their next story. 

The story of the week though, which is being summed by secular news sources as "Pope tells Catholics to Stop Breeding like Rabbits" was impossible to ignore without completely cutting of my internet connection.  It was everywhere.  My friends were talking about it, posting links, debating it across social media... and my curiosity got the better of me when I saw that he'd talked about a woman having too many C-sections. 

I have to admit that my first reaction, upon reading the remarks was entirely selfish. 

Oh great.  I couldn't help but think.  Here we go.  If I'm ever blessed enough to announce another pregnancy I'm going to hear comments of the "Don't you know the Pope said you don't have to breed like rabbits any more" variety along with the regular "Don't you know what causes that?" zingers. 

My second thought was that those comments would likely be accompanied by musings about the state of my uterus.  Who cares that my doctor says I have hardly any scarring from the last four surgeries and that everything looks good.  I have already gotten comments about how "dangerous" having four C-sections is, despite the fact that I've been given the green light by my surgeon after every single birth and things look great.  Given the comments I've heard in the past, combined with the story example the Pope gave of irresponsible motherhood, I couldn't help but feel kind of depressed as Pope story after Pope story popped up in my news feed.

Paul made a comment about how remarks about the number of C-sections wouldn't be all that different from what we've already heard.  "After all, remember that time when (family member's name redacted for their privacy... or something...) told you at your cousin's wedding that your uterus was going to fall. out. of. your. body. if you had four?" (We'd only had two at that point.  Mae was a couple months old.).  That comment didn't make me feel all that much better... although I did chuckle a bit at the absurdity of the memory. 

Someone, somewhere pointed out that those sorts of comments are a great opportunity to evangelize, but I'll admit, all I really think when I hear that is, "I know that I get some of my best evangelizing done when my kids are in the checkout line at the grocery store and a complete stranger says something rude to me about my sex life, while one toddler is trying to pilfer candy off of the candy rack while another child is on the verge of a complete meltdown because groceries have taken far too long and I won't let her eat a banana until we've paid for it, and the baby is starting to fuss because he desperately needs to nurse." 

I'm lucky if I can put two words together to form a coherent thought in those moments, much less defend the beauty of welcoming another child into our family.  Unless not having a nervous breakdown is evangelizing.  In which case, I win the day. 

I saw a lot of posts that reminded me that what he said "was technically right" and that "the likelihood that it's going to be used as ammunition against large families for ever and ever and ever is less the fault of the Pope than it is of the fallen world that we live in" (totally true, but cold comfort) but even reading through the transcript didn't help me shake the terrible sadness I felt from everything that I was reading. 

I read this article on First Things and thought it summed up one of my worries really well.  And Taylor Marshall's take was one of the most interesting things I read all day.

I don't want to give the wrong impression.  I think that the Pope is an amazing man.  I think that he's a good man.  I just sometimes wish that his words were a little less easy to fire at Catholics trying to live the faith like live ammunition. 

We live in an age when we're used to almost instant information and sometimes we think we need to absorb all this information that is so easily accessible, just waiting at our finger tips.  But really, when that information is being twisted and jumbled and when it begins to steal our peace... it may be time to prayerfully turn away and make a deal with yourself that goes something like "if it makes it into an encyclical, I'll read it... but off the cuff remarks are just too confusing to take in."

Although I'm kind of glad that I at least read a few pieces on this most recent interview... so that I know where the shots are coming from if someday I am expecting again and someone tells me we really don't need to have any more because, haven't you heard, the Pope says you don't have to be like rabbits anymore. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

How I Became A Helicopter Mom...

Whenever the topic of "Helicopter Moms" comes up, I find myself growing increasingly uncomfortable. 

It's trendy these days to sneer at the Helicopter Mom. 

Over the past year I've heard a number of examples given of Helicopter Moms.  It can include everything from hovering over your child as they toddle around the playground to believing that they have a food intolerance or allergy and preparing meals that don't include the thing that makes them sick (I'm not even kidding.  That example of "helicopter parenting" has been given here on this blog in the comment section in the past.). 

The thing is, I know that from the outside looking in I absolutely, far more often than not, would answer "hey that's me" to those questions that would cause one to fail the imaginary helicopter-litmus-test that I see being flung here and there and everywhere. 

Going to the park is a two person job in our family.  I haven't done it on my own since... well... two children ago.  When Sadie was three and Maggie was one, and not so very fast or steady, I could do it.  I could be everywhere at once, hovering and making sure everyone was safe.  I put them in their little red wagon and pulled them to the water park near our home or unleashed them on the almost always empty playground near the law school at Ave Maria and for the most part we were fine. 

We only had to go to the ER once. 

But now it requires a team effort.  We need more than one parent helicoptering around after these small, quick, darting children to make sure that they stay safe. 

And failing to be vigilant enough, quick enough, everywhere at once?  That's one of my greatest fears.  Because I don't just have to be a helicopter parent.  I have to be one of the very best helicopter parents.  I need to be a Super-Ultra-Helicopter Mom to make sure that Maggie stays safe. 

The funny thing is that in some ways, in a controlled environment where there's nothing that can mortally injure a certain daring four year old, I'm pretty laid back.  In our yard or at a totally enclosed playground, I can sit and watch her climb way too high on the playground equipment and be totally at ease.  I've been watching her climb since shortly after she learned how to walk (she walked across the room on her first birthday... so it's been a while) and she doesn't fall.  So when she's climbing I tend not to hover as closely. 

The thing is even when she's climbing I need to make sure she's not going to suddenly jump down and take off at a sprint.  So, while I might relax a tiny bit,  I still tend to hover.  And when I'm tired, Paul hovers.  We take turns.  It's exhausting. 

Sometimes other parents look at me like I'm crazy, running after this not-so-small child, making sure she's never more than an arms length away, and I can see in their expressions that obviously I'm that helicopter mom that everyone on the blogs feels so morally superior to and writes so sneeringly about.  I'm That Mom.  The one they're talking about in those articles everyone shares on Facebook. 

As if the hovering isn't bad enough we have the food allergies too.  My diaper bag has a pocket for the inhaler with the spacer and face mask, two epi-pens and a generous supply of Benadryl melts that come with me everywhere I go.  And you might see me fling myself on top of a pretzel like I'm protecting her from a live grenade if she happens to come across one that's been dropped at the playground... because I've seen what happens if she eats it and I don't want to live that again. 

Not infrequently my friends share those posts that basically describe the Helicopter Mom as a blight upon western civilization.  Usually the author of said article gushes about the superiority of Free Range Parenting. 

And it kind of feels like a punch in the gut. 

I never finish those articles that talk about how much better off my kids would be if I just stepped back and relaxed. 

I don't comment and say that relaxing is a luxury, that for some of us the stakes are too high and turning away, glancing in the wrong direction for a second too long could be deadly.  I don't point out that when you have a child who runs and runs and runs just to fill that need to fly across the ground, thinking of nothing else, then you innately understand that it's a luxury you can never allow yourself. 

Because you know that that child doesn't understand that a moving car is dangerous, or that she won't swim like a mermaid if she plunges into that river, or runs straight into the path of that big kid swinging as high as he can on the swing. 

I'm sure that someone will comment and say that "it's different."  That "most helicopter parents don't have those reasons that you're talking about.  They're just being overprotective." 

Yet many do. 

I feel like the Mommy Wars, in general, are becoming less popular.  A lot of parents have realized how ridiculous it sounds to insist that there's only one way to parent, only one right answer, on most issues at least.  But the same people who would likely agree that brow beating someone for giving their child a pacifier is absurd, still wouldn't think twice about rolling their eyes about the Helicopter Mom who doesn't let their child out of their sight. 

If you do find yourself watching "Helicopter Moms" with disdain when your at the park, or the zoo or just walking down the street, then maybe you could do me a favor. 

The next time you see a mom hovering, staying close to their child, helping them do something that you assume that child should be able to do on their own at "their age," maybe take a step back and give that mom a break. 

Not all disabilities are obvious.  And even if the child doesn't have a disability, do we really need to fall back into yet another round of "my way is better than your way." 

Isn't that what we'd all like to get away from? 

Whether you're a Free range or Helicopter, or whether you find yourself somewhere on the vast expanse in between, I think we can hopefully agree that most moms are just doing the best they can keeping their kids safe and healthy. 

And maybe, just maybe, this is one more subject in the aptly named Mommy Wars that we can put to bed. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Saturday Night Edition


James has finally drifted off to sleep on a blanket near my feet.  There was no way he was going to allow himself to be out of my sight tonight, although he usually falls asleep happily in his bassinet.  Not today, however.  Today he was happy in his bassinet.  As long as he could see me.  The second I was out of his line of sight he would scream his head off.  Then I would step back into his line of sight and he would instantly stop and smile at me.

I think he's got my number. 


Today Paul took Patch and Sadie to the store while I stayed home with Mae and James.  After they left Mae wanted to go upstairs and I decided as a special treat, I would show her something.

You see, most of the playing in our house is done downstairs in the room where Mae has therapy, which is connected to the living room.  The kids hardly ever play in their rooms.  Especially Patch's room, since it's tiny.  So I took her up into his room and she saw, for the very first time, his "big bed."  

And she couldn't believe her eyes.

She spent the next hour cuddling with his stuffed animals, steering the ship around the seven seas and loading every single toy that she could find into the bed so that she could sail off with all the loot into the sunset.  


Today, my least favorite moment of all the sensory seeking moments, ever, occurred.  

I won't name the child in question.  However.  It won't be all that hard to figure out.  Because... talking...


Someone, in the midst of a sensory seeking moment, nearly knocked out/pulled out one of their permanent teeth.  

Can I tell you how queasy just the thought of it makes me.  Blood doesn't really bother me, but permanent teeth being knocked out?  I shudder to think about it.  

So I asked the aforementioned child exactly what happened.  "Did you get hit in the mouth?" I said.  "Did you fall?"  The child shook their little head.  A second later they made a strange movement and this conversation followed:

Me:  "What are you doing?"
The Child (TC): "I'm showing you through interpretive movement what happened to my tooth."  
Me:  "Could you tell me through words instead?"
And then came the explanation.  

Apparently I need to fill my house with chewy toys.  

The tooth is still in place.  Right now.  It's loose.  And I guess I'll be calling the dentist first thing Monday morning.  

Why do these things always happen on weekends?  And who manages to knock out their own front tooth?


Sometimes I can't help but think that it's a very good thing that Patch isn't in day care, because, as the third child, he seems to be growing in to quite the little bruiser.  And while he's definitely made huge strides in not biting and hitting almost immediately after trying to use those two particular strategies to get his way, getting him to stop shoving people has been a bit tougher of a habit to break.  

And for some reason I have a feeling that if he were in daycare or preschool I would probably, very shortly, receive a phone call telling me that he'd bit a half dozen children and that I needed to come pick him up immediately.  

Thankfully he wasn't involved in the tooth incident... but oh to be two!  It's amazing how he can be so snuggly and such a rough and tumble little guy all in a five minute span!  

Patch with a curtain rod he pulled down... and weaponized.

Mostly though, he's seems perfecting playing the part of annoying little brother.  Today he was sitting a ways away from her and she complained that he bumped her and as I said the words "give your sister a little more space" he flung himself on top of where she was laying and went totally limp before rolling dramatically to the side.

He may be going for some sort of Annoying Little Brother of the Year award.  


I'm pretty sure that letting Sadie watch Master Chef Junior online and then agreeing to throw in cooking classes as part of our homeschool curriculum is one of the best things I've ever done.  So far she's made cupcakes, potato soup, salmon pasta and waffles during her first week of lessons in the kitchen.  She begs to help with dinner... and she's practicing a lot of the skills they work on in OT in the kitchen.  

She's already begging to take over cooking entire meals on her own, which I don't think we're quite ready for, but as it is right now having someone who's begging to do every little task in the kitchen is a big, big help!


The cold this year hasn't been anything like the cold last year (so far), but it has been cold enough lately that we have been spending a lot of time inside.  

My plans for winterizing the house were pretty much destroyed by a certain little mermaid.  

We tried to put plastic over the windows... and then staple up felt once the first layer of plastic was destroyed and a second was put up, but after seeing the complete destruction of anything that kept her from looking outside (or even pressing her face close to the glass) I realized that we were on the losing side of this particular battle. So the windows have stayed uncovered.


When I was pregnant with James I didn't buy many things.  One tiny splurge I did make was when I was that the Blooming Bath was on Zulily.  And now after writing that last sentence I just searched and found out that they do have the Blooming Bath in Ivory on Zulily right now for around $20 less than it is on Amazon (the sale ends in nine hours).  

As you can probably tell I'm definitely a fan.  And so is James.  I had to work to catch these frowns!

For more Quick Takes head over to This Ain't the Lyceum!  

Friday, January 16, 2015

If I could write a letter to myself on the day of Mae's diagnosis...

Last night I was up until midnight typing.  Tonight I found out that my post just went live over at The Mighty...  It begin with Mae's diagnosis back in fall of 2013:

"I am one hundred percent certain that she is on the autism spectrum."   
As the doctor said the words I felt her eyes on me, waiting for a reaction of some sort.  Instead I found myself sitting perfectly still, with a smile frozen on my lips, as I'd watched her play with my three year old daughter who was bouncing around the room. 
We were there because Mae had been having stomach problems and seemed to be in pain.  When we walked in the door it had seemed like a minor appointment.  I wasn't even sure if we should be there, but it had been going on for a while and when I called they told me to bring her in. 
I hadn't realized that before we walked out of the tiny exam room I would hear words that would rock the foundation of our little world. 
Autism.  I knew nothing.  I knew stereotypes. 
To read the whole post head on over to The Mighty!  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Little Flower

Earlier this week I was thrilled to learn that one of my favorite musicians, Danielle Rose, would be releasing a new song, complete with a beautiful music video.  I've listened to two her albums, Pursue Me and Mysteries so many times that I think I know every word by heart.

And I could ramble on and on about how wonderful and inspirational her music is, but instead I thought I would let it speak for itself.

And suddenly there were sentences!

"Come over here!"  Paul turned around from the doorway and repeated the words to me.  "That's what she just said!  She just looked at me and said 'come over here.'"

We're having a sudden explosion of language in the house, two and three word phrases being bandied about in a beautiful clear, crisp little voice.  She dropped something and looked at one of her favorite therapists and said "where'd it go?"

As I tucked her in last night she grabbed my hand and said "I want..." her voice trailed off.  I knew what she wanted.  I'd been saying "round and round the garden, like a teddy bear, one step, two step tickle under there" while making little circles on her hand before tickling her.  She'd said "Round and round" at least twenty times.  This time she stopped and thought while I waited for her to ask for round and round again.  Instead she said "Mama.  Happy!" before going back to asking to be tickled.

After a year of days sprinkled with one word at a time, those hard won words are now being fitted together into sentences.  Although the sentences aren't always so clear.

Last night after Patch got out of his bath and into his pajamas he made a mad dash for my room and threw himself into the 'big bed.'  Mae, who'd already been tucked in, yelled from her doorway to let me know that she had seen him sprint by and that it wasn't fair that he was in the big bed.  So I opened the door and she sprinted by and climbed up and slipped under the covers.  I climbed in between them, making sure each had a little bit of pillow (Patch was trying to take all the pillows in the bed for himself) and listened as Mae started to say a sentence over again.

"Ha bow ee ur ahff a ight."
"Ha bow ee ur ahff a ight."
"Ha bow ee ur ahff a ight."

Suddenly it clicked.  At least the first half did.

How about we.  How about we.  How about we.

As she continued to say the whole phrase seemed just out of reach.  The intonation and meter to the way she said the words tickled at the part of my mind that was trying to make sense of what she was saying.  I followed her eyes up to the light and fan in our room.

How about we turn off the light.  How about we turn off the light.  How about we turn off the light.

I listened as she said it again and again.  It was a perfect fit.

So we have phrases and sentences (although I may only understand a quarter of them) in sudden abundance.

Yesterday I spoke with her OT and she thinks that the sensory problems and frequent melt downs we've been facing could be linked to the sudden burst in language skills.  Sometimes huge steps forward are accompanied by difficulties in other areas (especially sensory areas) and that may be what that is.  Her little mind and body are working extra hard growing right now (she also seems to be going through a growth spurt) and haven't quite adjusted to all the changes, making this month and exciting and yet difficult time.

And I can hardly wait to hear what she has to say next!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mae's Lemon Ugly Bread

Maggie desperately wanted bread today and there was not a gluten free slice of bread to be found in the house (well there was when she woke up... but then she finished off every last crumb and could not be convinced that we didn't have more hidden away somewhere).  So after many hours of listening to complaints about the lack of bread while we waited for Paul to get home from the store in the afternoon, I decided to try my hand at a new bread recipe, using a muffin recipe that I created a few weeks ago as inspiration.  Except I was out of coconut oil and rice flour and so I made a few substitutions and the result is one of my favorite baking creations of all time.

It isn't pretty.  It came out of the oven looking like this:

Actually that's not entirely full.  In the beginnign it was twice
this size and then it collapsed in on itself.
But when I broke off a tiny piece I knew that we'd found an instant winner.

I had baked two smaller loafs and the kids devoured them in about ten minutes.  Even Mae ate them (I was amazed she tried a bite, since she can be super finicky about how things look).  It's a sweet bread with and interesting texture in the center that makes it more like a dessert than any bread I've ever made.  The texture is odd especially for a gluten free bread (it isn't soggy, it's almost like a lemon bar/jelly dessert).

I wasn't planning on sharing another recipe this week, I was planning on sharing a tutorial for the pillow case I made Sadie last night:

Her new gigantic three pillow, pillow case
was a big hit.
It was also far more complicated to make than
I expected it to be.
But after realizing that the project was far more complicated than I expected it to be (because I attempted to make it Mae-proof) I wasn't planning on posting today... until this recipe turned out exactly as it did and I knew I had to share it.

It may sound a little odd, with lemon and bacon together in the same recipe, and I was skeptical even as I was making it as to how it would turn out.  However I will definitely be making it again!

Edited to Add:  This bread is definitely best eaten while it's still warm.  Once it cools the bacon becomes a little too overwhelming and you can't taste the lemon any more!

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups of tapioca flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

Wet Ingredients:
8 eggs
2 tsps vanilla
2 lemons worth of juice
1/2 tsp of pure lemon extract
1/2 cup bacon grease (melted)
2 tbs poppy seeds
Liquid from 1 can full fat coconut milk (chilled for a few hours before you begin cooking)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

Beat until well blended.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until baked all the way through (a knife inserted in the center should come out clean).  Allow it too cool (this is when mine collapsed... and I was certain that it was a failure until I tasted it!) and then enjoy your own loaf of Lemon Ugly Bread!