Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday cat vlog - January 31, 2012

I've got to figure out what I can actually DO with vlogging as right now I'm just being silly with it. Also it occurred to me that magical book deals are probably not granted to bloggers who don't, you know, WRITE.

I do have some actual posts brewing. I swear.

Happy Tuesday!

UPDATE on the YDFM extravaganza:

Friday, January 27, 2012

More Vlogs! - Again, about thrifting - January 27, 2012

I suppose I could save the second one and post it on another day, but I'm impatient. Also, I really need to wash everything so I wanted to just finish these up. I hope I've entertained some of you...

(Clothes from the Humane Society store)

(Clothes from Value Village - my favorite of the three, watch this one if you only watch one but yes, dork-me mispronounced GIR. I KNOW HOW TO SAY IT I SWEAR. Grrr!)

Comment if you watch!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

First Attempt at Vlogging - About Thrifting - January 26, 2012

This took so many tries just to get a decent first draft that I'm only posting part one. Parts two and three will come over the next few days.

It's me. Talking about thrifting and books. It's five minutes long. And there you go.

(By the way, I was wrong about "the one with the G" being for profit. Apologies! They still jacked up their prices and I stand by that part.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pluses and Minuses for a Monday - January 23, 2012

+ My daughter's OT said he definitely notices her balance improving.
+ Therapists never blow smoke up your ass, I've found. All of the therapists we've worked with have been honest and straightforward - but always optimistic and positive about the big picture for my kid. If a therapist says s/he sees improvement, I take that as truth rather than as "oh, yeah, she's TOTALLY doing GREAT so don't worry or anything..." You know what I mean?
+ She stood up from a chair, took two steps, STOPPED, caught her balance, and took two more. Granted, I did not witness this - I never get to see the big things, she always does this for my husband - but she did it.
+ She is trying so hard to talk. Yesterday she said "Potty" very clearly. She didn't say "Bah" or even "Bay...eee?" she said "Potty." Sometimes she strings babble together with inflection, and often there are words and thoughts buried in there.

- She has more meltdowns because she's on the cusp of talking and gets frustrated even more quickly.
- She had an epic tantrum complete with kicking and screaming yesterday at a museum for - on the surface, at least - no discernible reason. One minute she was fine and happy and looking at art and talking the way she talk. She was interacting with the docents and she was pointing to various things in the art. The next she was sobbing, crying, hysterical. I think maybe it was because it was dim in certain sections (including, for a reason I don't understand, the fun playing kid section) and the lights set her off. Maybe she was overtired, though she doesn't nap anymore and so she still had six-plus hours until bedtime. I wish she could tell me.
- I wish she would nap. It would make her life just so much easier, but naps have been out the window for years and they are absolutely not coming back.

The week has gotten off to a rainy, stormy start, both inside and out. I'm hoping for improvement every day in every way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I support the SOPA/PIPA blackout

The code I tried to put on here didn't work, but I stand with and support the SOPA/PIPA blackout.

I think the Oatmeal said it best, so go there instead.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Project - Couch to 5K - January 17, 2012

This post serves, more than anything, as an accountability post.

Today I started the Couch to 5K program. I have two different 5Ks that I think I'd like to do (one or both would be fine) - both around May-ish. Also, though, I need to stay motivated with the weight loss and healthy living I've started. Otherwise, I'm afraid that once I complete the formal maintenance part of Weight Watchers, I'll feel like I've hit a finish line and...go back to eating ice cream every night or something. I'm using the Android app and I LOVE IT. It uses the GPS to track my speed and distance and it gives me a complete map when I'm done - that's really really really really cool. And I downloaded some timed podcasts that count for me when I'm close to switching the intervals.

And alongside this new exercise routine, I also ordered Jillian Michaels's Ripped in 30 DVD. This was mostly because I was buying something else (I'll explain) and needed to hit that magical $25 Amazon threshold for free shipping, so I threw it in. (By the way, if any PR person wants me to, like, TEST the Amazon Prime program and write a review or something, I'm your woman!!!!) I like the 30 Day Shred but I tried Ripped in 30 and liked it too so...well, free shipping, right? And as someone with no attention span who really needs new and exciting things to keep me motivated, I figured a new DVD that I could use would be a good idea. Right? Er...hopefully.

So my first day of running was not as bad as I expected, though it wasn't as awesome as I hoped either. (Apparently this is typical?) Alongside the usual stuff - I got tired, I couldn't complete all the running parts of C25K 1.1, my leg started to hurt - I had my ME stuff: I get terrible ear/jaw/headaches from the cold, my headphones kept falling out of my ears, I was carrying my phone, I hit a button and messed up my music. (OH MAN I AM WHINY.) So along with the DVD today, I bought a headband to keep my ears warm that also has built-in headphones. I bought an armband for my phone. (Eek, buying things, but the DVD and headphones were free thanks to Swagbucks <- referral link! and the armband was cheap.) And oh did I mention I also bought running clothes at Target? Well, they WERE on sale...and I didn't buy anything extraneous - in fact, I wore it all today.

So. Keep me accountable, blog readers. I want to do this. I want to stay in shape. And today I tried on a bathing suit that hadn't fit me in at least ten years (I don't know why I even still have it, but I found it when I was rearranging some drawers) and IT FIT. So it needs to fit when it actually counts - this summer. Goals. I need lots and lots of goals.

And hey, maybe this will all be a good stress reliever? The three-day weekend with my daughter was rough... How I envy the parents who can just go to a museum or spend an afternoon doing crafts or even just watch a movie with their children. (Heck, I envy people who can pick up a kid, put him or her down on his or her feet, and have him or her then continue to stand and walk off...) None of that works for my family, and when we have no specific plans, things get pretty tricky around here. Her communication is also improving - but far too slowly for any of our liking, so the tantrums are also increasing. Expected but also....no fun. So anything I can do to keep myself sane and back on the Good Mommy Track while she is at preschool is a good thing. I need to be able to be there for her - and for me.

Disclaimer: All links to Amazon are referral links. Thanks!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Before and After - My Weight Watchers Weight Loss Journey - January 13, 2012

I wish I had taken a true before picture, before I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting, but I didn't. The picture that inspired me to go to that meeting is not one I like to share (and won't here) - it's me in the background, unaware that the camera is on me. I was at a birthday party in the summer and was dressed in what I thought were cute clothes and I figured I looked fine. At the moment the camera found me, though, I was slumped over - my daughter had just bitten through a plastic spoon and swallowed part of it (she thought this was hysterical and - spoiler alert - she was totally fine and it did appear later, ahem). I was annoyed and upset and tired. I wasn't sucking things in or standing tall, I was appearing as I probably appeared most of the time. The friend who took (it was her son's birthday party) it posted it on Facebook. And there it was, a picture of me as I really was, and I couldn't pretend anymore.

Pictures of me from before I started WW are hard to come by because I was hiding from the camera. So the best I can do is this, because I really want a record of what I've done, how hard I've worked, and how far I've come.

Here's me in July 2011. We're in Athens, GA, with one of the painted UGA dogs that hang around town.

Here's me in October 2011, about six weeks after I started:

And here's me today. I'm at my goal, I'm on Maintenance (which is really weird and scary), and I am excited:

Wearing jeans in a size I haven't seen in over ten years.
My first meeting was on September 1, 2011. Since then, I've lost about 23 pounds total and gone down 2-3 sizes, depending on how you look at it. (I was kind of squeezing myself into a slightly smaller size for a year or two, but the size up didn't fit right either - OH WOMEN'S CLOTHING, WHY ARE YOU SO WACKY? And now I can fit into a range as well - the jeans today are at the low end, but most days I wear a size bigger than these because I'm just more comfortable there.)

I now am exercising regularly (usually the 30 Day Shred or another DVD, plus I have a new pedometer to keep track of my steps).

I've completed week one of Maintenance as of today, and I am planning to sail through the next five weeks. (Hold me accountable!) My next goal is to find a 5K and to walk/run it.

After my daughter was born, I definitely stopped taking care of ME for a while. When she got her official diagnosis, I sort of gave up. "I'm almost 40," I thought. "What's the point? I'm where I am and that's it." I had a lot to deal with all of a sudden and I just didn't have time or brain space to worry about myself. When I kept getting reports every year from the doctor with borderline cholesterol problems, I'd just brush them off. I'd make excuses and laugh and joke about how I needed to stop eating a pint of ice cream every night, though I'd continue to do it and make half-hearted attempts to change my ways.

Every 5 pounds I added on the scale led me to think "Well, it could be worse. I'm not at XXX weight!" Even when I started WW, I thought, "I'm not at XXX yet! It's fine!" But it wasn't fine. And it feels really good to be doing something positive for myself after all these years so that I can be healthier and happier for me - and for her.

I promise to post an update in six months (the summer!) so you will know if I've managed to stick to this. I really, really hope to!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thrifting Post! - January 9, 2011

This one's going to be long, so get your scrolling fingers ready if you're not interested in what is probably one of my favorite types of posts - pictures of stuff I got while out on a thrift store excursion!

As I've now made my Weight Watchers goal, I need new clothes. All of my jeans are too big now (yay). My shirts don't fit right. I need things! And while I used to look for funky and/or unusual clothes, this trip was about finding everyday stuff for me and for my daughter. BIG SCORES AHOY.

First stop - Value Village. The good about VV: Prices, selection. The bad: They have a tendency to staple the tags to places on clothes where the staples create holes. Because stapling a price tag to a clothing tag or a seam or an out of the way spot would be too difficult...


The black ones were $3.29 and a size even smaller than what I usually wear. But...my friend said "Cheap! Stretchy!" so I took a chance (VV has no fitting room) and they do fit! The blue ones are Old Navy Flirt - again, taking a chance, because I know the Sweetheart fits well but wasn't sure about the Flirt. They were $5.29 and yep, fit!

Old Navy Sweetheart - $5.29.
Two identical, perfect Banana Republic Merino wool sweaters. $3.29 each.

Squishy Old Navy sweater - $4.29
Girly hoodie - $2.29
J Crew part-cashmere roll-turtle-neck sweater - $5.29
Shirt for the kid - $1.29
Powerpuff Girls shirt for the kid! 50 cents (half-price!)

Curious Kitty adorable shirt for the kid. $2.29.

Mini Boden shirt! MINI BODEN! $2.29 I think.
Then onward to the Humane Society store. All kid clothes were 50 cents. I think all of the shirts I got were 50 cents or a dollar each. I spent $6.50 total on everything below, so there you have it.

Fits kind of funky but so cheap I took a chance.
Cute tank top!
(I don't actually love vampires particularly much, but this was too cute.)
I couldn't resist this shirt for my daughter.
I liked the sleeve details on this kid shirt.
Basic shirt for my daughter - with a stain I didn't notice. It's in the wash now, but this can also be worn under a sweater.
Jeans for my daughter. I hope they fit!
Express square-neckline T-shirt for me.
Sparkly sweater for my daughter.
Hello Kitty sweatshirt for my daughter.
Pinker than it looks, sweatshirt for my daughter.
50 cents. Figured I'd check it out.
And then finally a quick run into Goodwill.

These jeans are Old Navy "Special Edition" (whatever that is) in a TINY SIZE. And, amusingly, they have zippers at the ankles. $8.
FIND OF THE DAY. RIP Thrashers. This shirt fits my daughter perfectly and she'll be able to wear it to Gladiators games. $3.

And finally, just a cute top for her. $3.

Not shown, the 30 cent Backyardigans book I found for her.
I also got skinny jeans in the juniors section of Kohls (heh) and a long-sleeved shirt in the girls section (XXL fits me!) with a gift card, and I got a mandoline that has a finger guard at Tuesday Morning. Because...I may have sliced open my finger on the cheap one I bought recently when I was making apple chips. Maybe.

I love thrifting!!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Picture of the day - January 6, 2012

I seriously love thrifting. Epic picture post coming soon.
Got a letter from a government agency today informing us that certain benefits for the kid are problematic for reasons that are absolutely incorrect and that make no sense. Of course OF COURSE it is a Friday and there's nothing I can do until Monday. So now I get to worry all weekend. Great. Just great. I'm trying to stay positive but also racing through Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and Plan XYZ. I know this is vague but I'm still not ready to lay quite everything bare just yet...

That's Not Very Reassuring - January 6, 2012

In my travels around the Internet, I land a few times a day in various parenting forums. They are mostly general parenting forums, not special-needs parenting forums, and so of course there's a different angle to them and I don't always find the voices I need there. But, well, they're part of a habit from pregnancy, they're entertaining at times (and dramalicious at times), and they have their uses.

But there's one common thing I see that happens all the time.

A concerned mother (or father, but really, usually it's a mom and I'm going to use "mother" from here on in for this post) writes about her child not meeting a milestone. I think it goes with the territory of being a mother - worry. Worry that your kid isn't doing things right or at the right time or whatever. Books and email alerts tell you "This week, your child will be tap dancing!" and your kid is just starting to crawl. That sort of thing. I worry, you worry, we all worry. The Internet is such a blessing and a curse when you worry...

So the mother writes about her worry and looks for reassurance and advice. Sometimes it's obvious that she's worrying for nothing, more or less - she's worried that her six month old isn't walking yet, for example - and sometimes it's not quite so obvious or there may even be a genuine cause for concern.

And what are the most common replies? "My kid/my neighbor's kid/this kid I read about on the Internet was just like yours. And he did [that thing] all of a sudden one morning/the week after his mom posted/at some random date, and now he is TOTALLY NORMAL and PERFECTLY FINE."

Allow me to whisper something to you. Lean in. Lean in close.


I know it seems like it is. I probably have said similar things to people in my lifetime as well. But here's why it's not helpful.

Because sometimes the child in question does NOT wake up one morning and go from not walking at all to running across the room.
Because sometimes the child in question does NOT suddenly say "Mother, may I have a glass of your finest apple juice?" after being silent for years because she just had nothing to say.
Because sometimes things just don't magically happen. And because "normal" is arbitrary anyway.

This is a hot button for me because it happened to me. I posted when my daughter was being recommended for early intervention services/wasn't sitting unassisted at around nine months. I was scared and I was confused and I didn't understand at all what was going on, and I was looking for...something... And while I bet if I dig back and find that post, I will find that there WERE people who were positive or helpful, I remember that most of what I got was a variation on the above or people saying "Wait, why are you pursuing EI? It's too soon for that, she's within the range of NORMAL, she'll probably start doing it tomorrow and be PERFECTLY FINE. Just stick her on a Boppy/do these exercises!" (And one person who informed me I was just pushing my kid too hard because my mother pushed me. Cute.)

And so I waited (I mean, in my head - we still started therapy) for some magical day to come when she'd snap out of it, grow out of it, do whatever it was, and become NORMAL because all those people said she would! Instead, I was crushed because I didn't get that fairy tale ending that everyone around me was assuring me would come if I was just patient and stopped worrying. I don't remember if anyone said to me "She may need some assistance, and that is OK. She's still your beautiful, amazing kid, and who the hell wants NORMAL anyway?"

If a mother is worried about her child, I personally think that validating the worry (if nothing else, as a universal) and acknowledging that being a parent is hard is a better way to go. It is not helpful to make the mother feel that she simply is a worrywart and that everything is fine because that may also deter her from seeking help or make her feel that there is SOMETHING WRONG with seeking help or SOMETHING WRONG with her amazing, beautiful kid who is just not quite hitting the milestones that the books talk about in the right order. And sometimes with a little bit of help or therapy, the kid in question WILL start to progress and even maybe catch up - or maybe not, and then the family will learn how to deal with whatever they have to deal with, however they have to deal with it, whether that's by blogging or finding new forums or just standing in a field screaming into the wind or...whatever it may be.

I get that sometimes hearing positive stories is what someone wants, needs, or finds helpful. But presenting this idea that things just magically, eventually resolve themselves and that NORMAL IS THE END GOAL OR ELSE really has the potential to make someone feel LIKE TOTAL SHIT when the truth is that it's not quite that simple. There's giving someone hope and then there's...this, which to me is just too much of an extreme.

I'm still working this whole thing out in my own head, and I may revisit this topic again in the future. The disclaimers are all in place - my opinion, my blog, can't speak for everyone, etc. I just really needed to vent about this. I hope you understand and are gentle with me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Picture(s) of the Day - January 4, 2012

Apple and pear chips, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. I could eat these every single day. First try with the parchment paper (rather than foil) and it worked beautifully.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Navigating Honesty - January 3, 2012

Two thoughts:

  1. If I blog later at night, does that mean fewer people will see my posts and I can feel safer about it? (Probably not.)
  2. I really need to pick some sort of names for my kid and my husband - I like reading blogs that use nicknames like that. 

So. Yesterday and today, when asked "What state do you live in?" my daughter has answered "Georgia." It may not sound EXACTLY like that word, but separate people - not therapists or family members - heard her say it. I knew she knew where she lived. I'm excited that the language is coming. It really needs to hurry up though. Her frustrations and tantrums seem directly related to her inability to communicate exactly what she wants, and she wants little to do with alternative ways.

Sure, she'll sign some things (lately she has figured out "orange" and will sign it and say an approximation to make sure I REALLY GET IT and will RUN TO THE KITCHEN to get her one - she says it with such a twinkle in her eye...such an evil twinkle...) but she refuses to use her iPad - so far - or to point to pictures in books or in booklets we create. (She likes the Happy Feet 2 app though - she likes making the penguin babble back to her.) All this at home anyway. Apparently at school she does all sorts of things with ProLoQuoToGo and her speech therapists and her teachers. And for a while she used a simple machine with eight squares each had a different phrase recorded (I forget what it was called, we were borrowing it) - I have video of her memorizing which square said what and using it to tell us things, sort of (or to make it randomly say things).

But she wants to talk. And I want her to talk so much. I used to think she'd walk first, then talk. Now I have no idea what will happen when or how. But I see it all happening. Slowly. I want it yesterday. I still have not accepted why it can't be yesterday, I guess.

I'm navigating this new blog honesty. I don't know whether I'll start to post updates or will continue to post these essays or whether I'll crawl back in my hole and only post about freebies and contests and television. I have a more private, hidden, limited-to-few blog and I'm much more casual there. But it's private, hidden, limited. We'll see.

(If you're new here, feel free to go through the two tags I've used on this post - I wrote about my birth story, my breastfeeding journey, my daughter's diagnosis, and a bunch of other stuff. It's just all spread out and mixed in with other rambling. But it's there.)

Picture of the Day - January 3, 2012

I don't know what I'd do without this place. It's a co-working space that has childcare - childcare that's more like a preschool than just a daycare, with the Reggio Emilia approach firmly in place. This summer I brought my daughter in and introduced them to her and asked if they could try to work with us. They were open, so we started with an hour and worked our way up to two hours. I stay on site (while that's by choice, I also have to based on the rules and the way I choose to use the service) and get work done (or catch up on TV shows) and she plays. We don't need it as much during the school year, but during breaks it's simply a lifesaver. I LOVE YOU BEAN.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Where It Gets Confusing - January 3, 2012

I had a long talk with Julia of Kidneys and Eyes on New Year's Eve about how I keep a lot hidden, bottled up, tucked away, and certainly NOT public or shared in this blog - particularly that relating to my daughter. I have a lot of reasons for that - fear of confrontation and nastiness, not sure if my daughter's story is mine to share, a general sense of privacy, a feeling that things like this just Are Not Spoken Of, and more. But after talking to Julia and feeling tired of feeling isolated, unsupported, adrift, I've decided to start writing more about that here, at least for now.

When my daughter was just about a year old, we were given her diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Before, I held out hope that she was just a bit behind or a bit delayed and that she'd catch up on her own. After, I thought I at least had a path. "OK, so we have a name for this and a diagnosis," I figured. "We have an answer and we can move forward, and we can start therapies, and we have nowhere to go but up up up." It's how I deal with things - I compartmentalize. I put that diagnosis in a box labeled "Cerebral Palsy" and I started filling that box with things I knew, things I learned, things I understood.

What got confusing for me is that the box...well, it wasn't quite as self contained as I'd hoped. I am not even talking about the shades of grey that involve a CP diagnosis or the fact that no two people are affected in the same way or even that my child's CP is apparently of the more unusual variety. I'm talking about how I believed CP was only going to affect her muscles. But no, it affects more than that.

When we try to take her into certain stores, she starts screaming for what is absolutely a reason to her but not an obvious one to me. If she's not in school, we can't go certain places, but we also don't always know what her triggers are. She's fine in some stores that are nearly identical. She's fine in the mall.
When strangers come out of nowhere and talk to her (usually store clerks), she flips out. And attacks US.
When people stare at her, she screams. While I do not blame her, sometimes those people are genuinely being kind and/or curious rather than having malicious intentions.
She's aggressive sometimes. She gets overwhelmed easily. She rips and destroys the same books she happily and politely reads on other occasions. She bites toys. She puts small things in her mouth and laughs. She lashes out. Her brain doesn't work the way my brain works--and logically I know this, but then I get surprised or confused or frustrated all over again.

I believe she'll grow out of a lot of this. I really do. I believe that with time and maturity, some of this will calm. I believe that she has a lot of pent-up frustrations from not being able to communicate her needs easily, particularly because she is so smart (and surprising me daily with what she knows, understands, absorbs). I know that sometimes a few steps forward in one aspect is accompanied by some steps backward in another. I know what her diagnoses are not and at least I have that. Funny to look at it that way, but sometimes I do.

But it is confusing. And tricky. And right now, it is so very, very hard. There is no manual or road map, there are no answers, and every day that box I tried to make disintegrates just a bit more and the dust makes me sputter and choke.

Picture of the Day - January 2, 2012

Yup, it's blurry. That's deliberate.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! - January 1, 2012

Some goals for my blog in 2012:

More openness.
More honesty.
More posts about raising a child with special needs.
More contests? More free stuff? More reviews? Maybe maybe maybe. I have one giveaway planned for a few weeks from now...
More posts, period.

And a 365 photo project that I was going to create elsewhere until I realized I have a perfectly good blog all set up here.

So, day one. This picture was actually taken a few days ago, but it's me and it seemed like a good place to start. A picture of me. And, so you know, until about 2 months ago I hid from cameras. Now I don't.

Fun facts: The shirt and jeans each cost a dollar at a thrift store. I never know what to do with my hands. I'm not wearing lipstick in this picture, which is unusual. I tagged the picture because old habits die hard. And in this picture I have lost over 20 pounds since I started in September of 2011, and I am decimal places away from my Weight Watchers goal.

Happy New Year!!!!!