Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


It's hard to be a Mom of boys not having had brothers. Of course my husband gives me his perspective and offers advice. But for the most part, I'm winging it.

I decided two things very early on.

#1. My boys will be self reliant.

I refuse to foist helpless men upon the world who expect their wives to do everything but wipe their ass. They will not have warped ideals about gender roles and they will view their wives as their partner, not their parent.

Which brings us to the real focus of this particular post:

#2. My boys will be knowledgeable about a woman's body.

Now, I don't intend to be pointing out erogenous zones or giving lessons in foreplay. But I have explained about menstruation. They understand conception and they've seen pictures of childbirth.

And breasts? They are functional, dammit.

Now, I fully understand that men like to look at breasts just for the sake of looking at breats. Breasts are quite attractive. I can't deny that I appreciate a nice perky pair myself. On the whole, I find the female form quite beautiful.

And that's okay.

I want my boys to appreciate the beauty of the human body. I don't want them to feel ashamed for wanting to look. Because shame begets shame and that's where we, as a society, run into trouble.

If breasts were as visible and commonplace as ankles or elbows, women wouldn't be asked to leave public places for breastfeeding their infants.

I don't want to give you the wrong idea. I don't go about the house ponitificating about vulvas and vaginas and the like. But when a teachable moment arises, you can be damn certain I grab it by the balls.

So the other night, Pubescent One was lying in bed with me as he does on occasion. We weren't discussing anything profound, just chatting about mundane things.

My big fat orange tomcat was curled up between us, snoozing. His head was in my armpit, his rump snuggled against Pubescent One's decidedly unsnuggly ribs. Pubescent One began to scratch the cat's back absently, and inadvertantly hit "the spot". He makes terribly funny faces when his spot is activated, so Pubescent One continued, until the cat was agitated.

"Stop it! He's going to bit me in the boob if you don't quit!" I said.

"So?" He replied. "They're just...sacks of skin anyway."

I looked at him agog.


He had the decency to look somewhat abashed.

"I'll have you know that breasts are a major miracle of biological engineering."

He guffawed.

"I'm serious son. These babies are amazing. They are not sacks of skin. They are a highly funtional and adaptable organ."

"What? I don't get it. They don't do anything. They just hang there."

Teachable moment.

We got out some of the texts that I used when I was a doula to educate my clients about breastfeeding. I showed him a diagram that illustrated the internal structures of the breast. I explained that it's a very sophisticated delivery system that provides a baby with the very best possible nutrition.

He was mildy impressed and grudgingly intrigued.

"Why not just give 'em a bottle?" he asked.

"Dude...if you could have steak, would you want hamburger?"

"Duh. No."


"Because steak is better! There's no comparison."

"There's no comparison between breastmilk and formula either. Did you know that breastmilk contains at least a HUNDRED ingredients that can't be duplicated? And breastmilk changes to meet the needs of a baby. It can be different every day. If a baby is sick, or going through a growth spurt, the make-up is different to meet those needs. More fats, more proteins, whatever. Formula can't do that. Plus, it tastes like pretty bad."

He was hung up on the hundred ingredient thing.

"100 ingredients? What for?"

"Well that's the thing. We don't really know what they all do. But they serve a purpose. Take DHA. Long after you were weaned, manufactures began adding DHA to formula, because it was found that it was an essential component of breastmilk. But synthetic DHA is nothing like what occurs naturally in breastmilk. It's derived from fungus, dude. And it made babies sick. So you see...even if we did manage to identify all those compounds and discover their purpose, there's no way we could duplicate them. You just can't improve upon perfection."

He was quiet for a moment, thinking.

"I even used to put breastmilk on your diaper rash! And it worked better than anything that came out of a tube. Why? Who knows. That's how awesome it is."

"That's pretty cool. I didn't know all that stuff."

"Still think they're just useless sacks of skin?"

"No way. And I'm glad I didn't have to drink fungus formula."

I laughed. "Me too."

Then we talked about how my sister would likely be breastfeeding her new baby when we visit in December, and how he shouldn't let it embarass him. It's natural and beautiful and it's okay to look.

"Good. 'Cause I don't think I could not look."

"That's fine. Just don't stare or snicker or smirk or anything. That would make Aunt A self-conscious and maybe feel like she shouldn't breastfeed around you anymore."

"Would she give the baby a bottle instead?"

"No. She would just leave the room to nurse."

"I promise I won't be an immature jerk Mom. I don't want to make Aunt A feel bad."

And so...maybe he won't retain what I said about all the mechanics of breastfeeding, or the amazing properties of breastmilk. But maybe someday, when he and his wife are expecting a baby, he'll remember some of what I said. Maybe...he'll tell his wife, and encourage her to give it a try.

And maybe, when they're out in public and someone snickers or makes a rude comment, he'll stand up and tell them what ignorant cretins they are and that his wife has a right to feed their baby when it's hungry.

I don't have a daughter, so that's all I can do. But maybe it will be enough.

And maybe, someday, nursing mothers won't be looked at as if they are masturbating in public when they nurse their babies.


Post Script:
To my formula feeding readers, I honestly mean no offense. I can't pretend that I think formula is "okay" or "just as good", but you won't see me in a sandwich board proclaiming that formula feeders are child abusers. It's hard to breastfeed in our culture. It really is. When breasts are so pervasively and overtly labelled as sexual objects, who can blame a woman for not wanting to open herself up to the kind of criticism that comes with baring that part of her body in public?

And I do understand that there are circumstances that preclude breastfeeding. They are rare, far more rare than formula companies would have you believe, but they do occur.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Flush With...Oh Hell, Just Read It...

We are back from our annual Thanksgiving sojourn into the rural Georgian foothills. I survived. It was nice, actually.

There was however, a moment, in which I felt certain I was on the verge of cementing my status within the family as not only a Godless Heathen, but a blasphemer and a heretic. I know they've suspected such for years, but have politely declined to comment; merely including me in their ritual worship of God The Father in hopes that someday, I might decide to ask Jesus into my irreverent Yankee heart.

I respect their beliefs. I really do. I think it's nice that they have something to give them comfort, guidance, and purpose. I've said before that I envy anyone who has the solace of a convicted heart, and I mean that.

I demonstrate my respect by politely bowing my head when prayers are said, and even mouthing an "Amen" where appropriate. I do this also in the hopes that my boys will learn to respect the beliefs of others, though they may not share those beliefs.

As we gathered around the table to say the blessing, my boys looked at me for guidance in the art of faking piety. Not really, but you know, that's really what it amounts to; paying lip service to a premise I find wholly implausible and occasionally, patently ridiculous. Sometimes I wonder if my well-intentioned charade playing is really modelling tolerance and acceptance...or merely hypocrisy.

I bowed my head reverently, and Diminutive One followed suit, but glanced up every one or two nanoseconds, profoundly curious about the scene playing out in front of him. The normally jolly and affable face of my father-in-law was creased and furrowed with religious fervor, which he seemed to find disconcerting, but terribly intriguinig.

Well, it is, to be honest. Watching someone who is feeling the Holy Spirit is an undeniably interesting spectacle.

Pubescent One simply opted out, absconding to the bathroom a second or so before my maternal radar honed in on his impending flight. Shame on me for not having the foresight to make him stand in front of me, thus blocking his escape route.

"Dear Heavenly Father..." intoned my father-in-law,

"We thank you for this food, which is nourishment for our bodies. We thank for our family Lord, and the many blessings you have bestowed upon us. We ask that you watch over them and keep them safe. We pray that we might do your will and serve you in all things. In Jesus' name we pray...Amen."

It was actually quite moving. My father-in-law has a center of pure white marshmallow and tends to get very emotional. His voice quivered, heavy with emotion. I said Amen, and meant it. Not to the prayer, but to the sentiment that moved him to pray so sincerely.

The Amens had scarcely faded on our lips when to my horror, the toilet flushed, loud and emphatic in the reverent silence.

And God forgive me, I felt the laughter bubbling up from deep within my wretched, impious soul and strain against the barricade of my tightly clamped lips. I must have made some small sound, because Diminutive One looked up at me with shock and terror on his freckled face.

He knew. My darling son, for whom I had striven to be the very model of religious tolerance, knew I was on the verge of a full blown guffaw. And he knew that if I could not quell that impulse, it would be very, very bad indeed.

I dared not look at husband. He knows my every thought, you see, and in his eyes I would not find the stern faced recrimination I very much needed. No siree. What I would find there, would be amusement and blatant antagonism. If I so much as glanced his way, I would be lost.

So I chose instead to look at my sister-in-law. Who was biting her twitching scarlet bee-stung lips. And then my brother-in-law, who had his knuckles pressed against his mouth with desperate ferocity. And then at my niece who was silent, but open-mouthed.

I searched the faces of my parents-in-law, which were still ignorantly beatific. Apparently, they were oblivous in their rapture. I took a deep breath and let it out, making a mental note to add infanticide to my to do list.

My wayward offspring reappeared at that moment, and stood staring in bewilderment at the reddened faces before him and the accusatory looks being levelled at him.


My brother-in-law, shaking his head at my son good naturedly, took him by the shoulders and said,


"What?" repeated my son, truly puzzled.

Now wasn't his fault. The child has been programmed from a very tender age to FLUSH THE TOILET. It was instinct, pure and simple. Not a commentary, not a comic flourish. Just a flush.

But damn it was funny.

Yep. I'm going to hell.

Shouldn't come as a big suprise to anybody who knows me, I guess.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Redux

Like all of you, I'm up to my elbows in pumpkin flavored confections and turkey entrails, so nothing new will be forthcoming until after the carcass is picked clean and I have emerged from the gluttonous stupor brought on by massive overindulgence and cookulatory (yes, I like it, I'm keeping it) exhaustion.

For that reason, it has become my tradition to post the story of my first Thanksgiving spent with husband's very Southern parents. Some of you will recognize it, and for some of you it will be new. I hope all of you enjoy.

North and South

I am a Yankee by birth. I was born on the frozen tundra of Wisconsin in an igloo. We were transported to and from school by dogsled. In the winter, we did not venture from our glacial home for months on end because do so would mean risking life and limb, or at least a really bad head cold. Chronic hat head and the need to layer robbed us of our fashion sense, so we grew up assuming that one cannot go wrong with flannel. Due to a congenital tongue malformation that has plagued generations of Wisconsinites, we are incapable of pronouncing the fricative "th", and so subsitute the plosives "d", (dere, dat, dah) or "t" (tirty, tree, tirty-tree)

Unbeknownst to me, these were some of the misconceptions that I faced when I journeyed South at the tender age of 18. I learned a lot that first year and after almost 20 years in the South, I'm still learning.

Despite the yawning chasm of cultural divergence, I married a Southern country boy. And though he had been succesfully citifed by the time I met him, his family remained firmly entrenched in their small town ways, antiquated attitudes, and stereotypical beliefs regarding those who hail from North of the Mason Dixon line. It has made for some mighty entertaining moments over our 13 years of marriage.

The first time I took my then fiancee, who had never been further north than Tennessee, home to Wisonsin was Christmas of 1992. They were having a brutal cold snap, with wind chills near 30 below zero. I, who had journeyed home a week before him, called to remind him to dress warmly. He assured me he would. My parents and I went to pick him up at the small municipal airport, which did not have the luxury of jetways like the large international airport from which he had departed. We, along with many other families eagerly awaiting the yuletide return of widely scattered loved ones, watched as passengers deplaned and made their way to accross the tarmac. As my beloved appeared at the hatch dressed in a leather bomber jacket, a silk shirt, blue jeans and cowboy boots, two things happened.

First, the smile on his lips froze in place as the saliva on his exposed gums instantly crystallized, turning his boyish grin into an agonized rictus of disbelief. Secondly, his testicles retreated into his abdominal cavity with such force and velocity that he was momentarily convinced that they had simply disintegrated in the savage cold; frozen solid and fragmented into tiny, sperm laden shards. Everyone saw his reaction to the frigid conditions, and a collective exclamation of pity was heard, sort of like "Yeahhhoooooh." My Dad, though trying to amenable, could not resist muttering to my mother "Doesn't that boy have any sense?"

Well, yes, he had plenty of sense, but he had Southern sense, not Northern sense. He simply had no frame of reference for judging cold of such bone piercing brutality. "Cold" in Georgia means throw on a jacket and you can always take it off if it's too much. Cold in Wisonsin means long underwear and Goretex, and a stadium blanket in the trunk in case its not enough. I blamed myself for not explaining the difference between stiff nipple cold and mother of god I can't feel my butt cheeks cold and specifying that we were dealing with the latter. But my Dad wasn't buying it. He grumbled sotto voce to my mother, "It's cold, you put on a sweater for Chrissake."

Despite the rocky start, my husband and my family actually hit it off quite well, and the rest of the week went smoothly. My parents' annual New Year's Eve bash was my first opportunity to show him off to those outside the family. Being a pretty great guy, he made a good impression and scored big points by proving his willingness to laugh along with everybody else when he complained that the beer sitting outside the back door would not be sufficiently cold for his taste and when it was revealed in a semi-drunken revelry that he knew all the words to "Sweet Home Alabama."

He endured it all with good humor, but the first Thanksgiving with his family a month previous has proven just as harrowing for me, so he owed me one. After five years of spending my solitary Thanksgivings in front of the tv eating pumpkin flavored ice cream out of the carton, I was looking forward to a real family Thanksgiving dinner. My mouth was watering at the thought of turkey and stuffing, and all the accompaniments. I chose a nice dry Chardonnay to bestow upon my future in-laws, hoping to make a good impression.

When we arrived, the kitchen was awash with aromas; some familiar, some decidedly alien. I spied several dishes that were unidentifiable to me, but, being gastronomically adventurous, I resolved to try everything. I hugged my future mother in law and handed her the bottle of wine. She thanked me graciously, then apologized for the lack of a corkscrew and placed the bottle on the uppermost shelf in her kitchen cabinet, next to a coffe can full of nuts and bolts, and a bedraggled plastic floral arrangement.

My fiancee whispered in my ear "Chattooga is a dry county, hon." Wha??? A dry county? I thought those were a myth, like tar paper shacks and people marrying their first cousin, both of which, I later found, were not in fact, myths. "Why didn't you TELL me?" I hissed back. He shrugged..."I thought you knew." I momentarily considered asking for it back, intending to enjoyt it later. But I decided it would be in poor taste, so I resigned myself to drinking ice water with the meal. I couldn't help but cast one last longing glance at the lovely Chardonnay, which did not go unnoticed.

We settled in at the table whereupon I was given the dubious honor of saying Grace. I couldn't help but think it was test of some kind, though in reality, it was most likely just a kind gesture meant to made me feel welcome and included. Having already exposed myself as a raging alcoholic, I was reluctant to add Godless Heathen to the quickly lengthening list of shortcomings.

Nevertheless, I passed the buck to my fiance with as much diplomacy as I could, as my mealtime prayer repertoire had never evolved beyond "Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub." The ease with which he channelled Jerry Falwell was slightly disconcerting, but I chose to overlook it in light of the fact that he had saved me from being branded a drunken impious wretch by people I would have had to spend the next 30 or 40 years sucking up to in an effort to convince them that I am not the devil's concubine and our children his imps.

At long last the food was served, and most of it seemed perfectly palatable. By and by, however, I was passed a Pyrex bowl filled with something that resembled kelp and smelled like feet. I looked up to find half a dozen pairs of eyes fixed upon me expectantly. My future father-in-law proudly pronounced, "Them's Collard Greens. Linda boils em with streaked (pronounced stree-ked) meat for flavor." "Is that so?" I replied. I did not know what streaked meat was, and I wasn't sure I wanted to. Reminding myself of my resolve to try everything, I enthusiastically placed a pulpy dab upon my plate.

I found myself repeating that reminder when I was handed a bowl of liquid the color and consistency of snot. I hesitated, uncertain of its exact purpose. My savior fiancee once again came to my rescue and informed me cheerily, "It's giblet (hard G) gravy. You serve it over the cornbread dressing." Ah yes, the granular substance that was passed to me immediately preceding the snot. Gotcha. I dipped the ladle into the viscous fluid, carefully avoiding the unindentifiable animal matter bobbing merrily on the surface, surmising that is was a pancreas or a gall bladder or some such thing. As the aroma wafted up from my plate my resolve weakened somewhat. But, I reasoned, I had swallowed plenty of snot over the course of my life, and since this was an actual foodstuff, it couldn't possibly be any worse. It turns out I was wrong. Profoundly, tragically, egregiously wrong.

The lesson I learned that day is....don't put anything that smells like feet in your mouth, and there are things in this world that taste worse than snot.

To be fair, there were some truly delectible dishes on the table that day. My mother-in-law can make the lightest, flakiest, most succulent apple turnovers you have ever tasted in your life. They call them fried apple pies. I call them orgasmic. She can make biscuits of transcendant fluffiness, creamed taters that melt in your mouth, and fried chicken that defies description. I've never mastered the art of frying chicken despite her patient instruction, and I definitely do not have the biscuit gene, so despite the initial shock of my first experience with collard greens and giblet gravy, I have to admit to her superiority in the kitchen.

Since that fateful day 13 years ago, we've struggled through many issues related to our cultural differences. Some, such as collard greens, were trivial, and easy to laugh at later. Some of the differences were deeper and harder to reconcile and some we still labor to overcome. But I've learned that my in-laws are good, kind, and generous people and that a lazy drawl can disguise a keen intellect and quick wit.

I still pine for home, of course. And no matter how many years I've been here, I still can't get into the Christmas spirit without snow or cope with the crushing humidity during the interminable summer. But I've learned to appreciate the genteel charm, rich history, and easy hospitality of the South.

Them fried apple pies aren't bad either.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Time Passages

Can someone please explain to me, how this sweet little baby could possibly be old enough to have had his first date Saturday night?

A lot of you have babies, toddlers, even grade schoolers. And I know, you think you have so much time.

You don't.

You think you'll cherish every moment, remember every first, relish every milestone.

You won't.

You think that you will never again have a second to yourself, your life will never be your own, and you'll never enjoy the luxury of sleeping through the night ever again.

You will.

The years go by like quicksilver. Trite but true; time flies on wings so swift and stealthy one scarcely has time to realize that life is passing with diconcerting relentlessness.

Yesterday. It was only yesterday.

I remember this photo session. He couldn't even sit up and I was crouched behind him with his bum cradled in one hand, and the other in the small of his back. He smelled of powder and breastmilk, sweetly mingled to create that special, heady baby perfume.

The photographer had a hard time getting his attention because he was so intrigued and puzzled by my presence on the floor behind him. The bear clutched in his dimpled hands was meant to divert his attention, and it worked. He was tickled pink by the fuzzy little critter. His open mouthed baby smile was really a shriek of delight. It still rings in my ears.

Despite the clarity with which I can recall these moments, my son has, nevertheless, become a boy on the brink of manhood.

His hands are larger than mine. They are no longer chubby little starfish. They have taken on that grown up look of strength and competence. Those impossibly large hands will one day cradle the head of his own newborn child. They will hold another small hand as they cross a busy street. They will steady a heavy bat, or balance a wobbly ballerina.

His shoulders are broad and bony and will be weighted with adult burdens soon. His legs are impossibly long, feet ridiculously large. Now they make him clumsy and awkward. Someday, they will make him seem like an invinceable giant as a little neck cranes upward.

His date's parents (and chaperones for the evening) came to the door when they picked him up. As we talked, he and his lady love blushed and grinned at each other. The air between them hung heavy and electric.

And when they left, I felt my lower lip tremble...just a little.

"Baby...." said husband.

"Well I can't help it!" I said defensively.

He hugged me then, and held me a smidge longer than usual. And then we drank wine and slipped into the new and uncomfortable skin of parents waiting for their offspring to return home safe and whole.

Yesterday. It was only yesterday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'll Take Some Closure In Lemon Chiffon With Buttercream Please

(EDITED: Now with supercute photo of yours truly, ca. 1975)

First, WOW. I've been lamenting the loss of my audience, thinking nobody was still reading. But the comments yesterday proved otherwise. A sincere THANK YOU to all who took the time to comment. The support, the advice, and the perspective were all appreciated more than you can possibly know. It's nice to know we're not on this walk alone, and I promise to post updates as we progress. I can't solve your child's problems and you can't solve my child's problems. But we can share information and experience. And we can offer each other hope.

Now, on to today's post....

Last night, I was watching the Food Network. Or rather, I was wasting time on the computer while husband watched the Food Network, because I never watch it on purpose.

I loathe cooking, you see. I'm honestly not interested in knowing how to do it better. Cheaper and faster and with less effort...absolutely.

But better? Na-uh. Because invariably, better means more work. And that? Is contrary to my nature when it comes to all things cookulatory.

Also, it always makes me want to eat. And I swear to God, thinking about eating is the same as eating as far as my ass is concerned. Thanks to stolid Teutonic genes, my fat cells assimilate calories by osmosis.

Anyway, the point is, it's not really my thing, so some of the shows that I happened to catch were heretofore unknown to me.

My ears pricked up when Charm City Cakes came on. My sister used to work in a bakery and became quite accomplished. She even made a toilet cake once. It was very realistic.

And up until a few years ago when Mom-made cakes became uncool in the extreme, I made all the boys' cakes. I think I fancied myself a bit of an amateur cake artiste. Even if a couple of my cakes were more likeley to end up here than anywhere else.

I watched these talented folks create one fantastic confection after another. Some were whimsical, some were silly, some were elegant. All were unique and interesting.

And I realized....

That I have some residual resentment from not having the cake of my dreams at my wedding. haven't heard that story? Sit's a doozy.

Well you know...I've gotten over most of it. To tell the truth, if I had it to do all over again, I would have skipped the wedding altogether and spent another week in Europe.

But back then, I swore that one day, we would do it over again, properly. We would renew our vows and it would be the most elegant affair ever, even if I had to sell my body to every soccer Dad in suburbia to do it. What's a little penicillin when we're talking about the realization of every little girl's fondest dream?


Fifteen years we've been married and it seems a little pointless and frivolous now.

And yet...

I still long to have a cake of transcendant loveliness.

When I was six, I was the flower girl in my cousin's wedding. I had a beautiful pale blue high necked long dress, with a cameo embroidered on the bust. My mother gave me a ridiculously sophisticated updo. And I got to carry a little white wicker basket of blue and white daises.

The bride's father was very well to do and the wedding was a very elegant affair. elegant as 1975 could ever hope to be, I guess.

She had a cake that took up the entire table. It had a real fountain that spouted blue tinted water, which cascaded down the tiers with magical grace. I remember gasping when I caught sight of that magnificent cake. It was everything a little girl could ever dream of. And I did, from that day forward.

Someday...someday I would have a storybook wedding and an amazing cake that would make all my guests gasp the way I had.

By the time my own wedding came along, I had pretty much abandonded the fountain idea. Passee. Gauche. TACK-y.

My cake would be the epitome of elegance and sophistication.

Unfortunately, though I wanted something like this:

Or this:

Or even this: (AA, I'm thinking of you here)

What I got...SIGH...was this:

As bad as it looks in the picture, the reality, I'm afraid, was even worse. Because what appears to be a soft peach, was actually, a shockingly garish orange.

I suppose I should be grateful that I had a cake at all. Because my mother said "I don't care WHAT happened, you get my daughter a cake, NOW." And this is what I got, in an hour, at 9:00 on a Saturday night. From Publix.

When you look at it that way it's kind of a wedding miracle.

When I'm under a lot of stress, I have one of several dreams: My teeth are falling out, I've lost the diamonds from my wedding ring, the high school calls to tell me there was a mistake and I didn't really graduate and....cutting into a beautiful wedding cake to find it filled with garbage.

I blame that last one on the fact that I was denied the cake of my dreams.

I feel that I need closure. And by closure I mean cake.

My 40th birthday is less than a year away. I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pulling My Head Out Of My A...The Sand

Sometimes, I'm guilty of ignoring things just because I don't have the strength or the energy to deal with them.

I call it the "ostrich defense".

When Diminutive One was diagnosed with ADHD, I of course, did a plethora of research. And his therapist was a wonderful source of information and support. What I learned was that learning disabilities like these rarely exist in a vacuum. They are almost always accompanied by other disorders, such as anxiety and depression, processing disorders, OCD, ODD...there is a laundry list of conditions that are often co-morbid.

But I thought that we needed to deal with one thing at a time. I also didn't want to slap labels on my child willy nilly. Most of all, I didn't want to borrow trouble.

The ADHD was obvious. It made sense. And though I struggled with the diagnosis at first, once he began drug and behavior therapy, it became clear that our decision to medicate was the right one.

He responded remarkably well. His grades came up, and he began to think of himself as a "smart" kid. His self confidence slowly emerged. As his anxiety abated, so did his tendency to get physically ill at the thought of going to school.

Things were definitely looking up. And so, I was lulled into a false sense of security.

But it has become increasingly clear over the last year or so, that there is still something drastically wrong.

He just doesn't get certain things.

He seems completely incapable of making connections that we all make without any conscious thought. He can't seem to understand the repercussions of his own behavior. He can't seem to process the information he is given and apply it, no matter how many times he is told. He does not pick up on social cues; body language, tone of voice, facial expressions.

As a result, he is constantly in trouble. People are constantly annoyed with him. He has few friends. And he is completely and totally oblivious as to why. He is surprised when consequences are imposed. He is confused and upset when people get angry with him.

I know that's hard for someone with a neurotypical child to understand.'s hard for ME to understand. For a long time, I attributed his behavior to his instransigant nature. He's extremely strong willed and always has been.

But no kid wants to be in trouble all the time. No kid wants to be ostracized. No kid wants to have people constantly irritated with him.

The thing is, that he really wants to behave. He just can't.

And that has been very hard to understand, much less accept. He is AMAZINGLY smart. And it's difficult to believe that he can't comprehend simple cause and effect. It's very easy to fall into the trap of believing that if he just tried a little harder....

But things have come to a point where I am forced to face reality.

Giftedness, I've learned, often comes with a price. When the brain excels in one area, there are often deficits in another.

Haven't we all heard the stories, seen the news segments, read the articles? There are people out there of exceptional intelligence who can't remember to change their underwear or brush their teeth. There are people who can solve theorems in their sleep, but can't hold a conversation with another person.

Diminutive One goes to Middle School next year. And I've got to get this figured out before then or they will eat him alive.

That's a thought that hurts me.

Because I've been hanging around the Middle School a lot lately. And let me tell bad as we all remember it, the reality is even worse. Those kids are fucking brutal.

I worry, you see, that he will end up in a black trench coat at the top of a clock tower, taking aim at those who have wronged him with calculated fury.

You know, I would trade his intelligence, his ingenuity, his creativity...all of it...for the ability to make and keep friends. To navigate life easily. To be comfortable in his own skin.

Because sometimes the price is just too high.

And normal? Is much less expensive.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Tried Not To, Honest.

Every once in a while, I write posts titled "People I Think About".

Not long ago, I wrote about Mark Wills, a moderately famous country singer that I used to know in the days before he found fortune and fame. And lips. Shit. Why didn't I notice those delicious lips in 1992? Too blinded by the gloriousness of his mullett, I guess.

Anyway, I posted a video called "Don't Laugh At Me" and exhorted all of you out there in blogland to take those words to heart. To be kind to one another, to act with compassion and sensitivity. To not mock, deride, and belittle for entertainment.

And I really, really do try to live by that.

But you know, sometimes....

Boy. It's hard.

Such was the case with the video below.

As you know, I've been feeling kind of blah, kind of meh...just really...unenthusiastic about life in general.

I ran across this video while surfing aimlessly, trying to find something of interest to jolt me out of this funk. And it did.

I laughed. I suck, but God help me I laughed. And now, after watching it five times, I'm still laughing.

There's a saying that I've always found it sort of mean spirited, but now realize, is perfectly apropos:

“Some people are like Slinkies - not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.”

I hope that poor girl wasn't hurt.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I'm feeling very apathetic. I don't feel like blogging. Reading or writing. My stats are dropping, my readers are wandering away...and I can't seem to make myself care.

I don't know if this malaise is a symptom of a larger problem or if it's just blogging burnout.

But I seem to be feeling apathetic about everything lately.

Maybe it's the weather. But again, I don't know if it's just winter blahs or something more serious like S.A.D. I tend to pooh-pooh those kinds of things. I often think that we've disordered ourselves to death these days.

And yet, as the Mother of children who suffer from a disability that is still met with skepticism and sometimes even overt hostility, (the last comment on this post is a perfect example.) I have to acknowledge that sometimes, there are deeper issues at play when one feels "sad" or "blue" or "melancholy".

Who knows.

I need something... but I don't know what. A challenge, maybe. There has been a decided lack of that in my life of late.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know why I have been posting so sporadically lately, and why my content has been so stunningly mediocre and uninspired.

I'm wondering...and I've said it before...if blogging has just run it's course for me.

Maybe the satisfaction that it has brought me is a finite thing.

Anybody else experiencing the blogging blues, lately? What's the cure? Is there one?


Monday, November 10, 2008

Still Flying

Today, I was talking with a friend who has no children.

She told me, shyly, haltingly, that she wants kids, but she doesn't want kids. I think that kind of ambivalence is perfectly natural. But I didn't really know how to respond. Maybe she wanted some assurances; some cheery little platitudes or rosy hued rhetoric about what "blessings" they are.

But I couldn't give her that. The falsehoods simply refused to roll off my tongue.

Instead I told her the most honest thing I could think of.

"Having children is the most terrible thing and the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me."

She looked at me with something like horror.

But then she smiled.

"I should have known you'd give it to me straight."

I don't have to tell all of you what I mean. You know why it's terrible. You know why it's wonderful.

You know how the fear and insecurity and confusion and self-doubt. The weight of responsibility. The regret. The second guessing. And the tired. Dear God the exhuastion of body and soul. The ceaselessness of being someobody's whole world.

And you know the pride, the love, the pure unadulterated joy. You know the elation of watching your child fly on wings that you have helped them spread. You know the heart clenching love of such bigness it can scarcely be contained within your own body. And indeed it is not. It walks outside you, on legs steadied by your own hand.

But how to tell someone who doesn't know? How to explain that some days you look at your child and are filled with peace. I did this. I did a good job. I'm a good mother, you think to yourself.

Those days are satisfying in a way that defies description.

But then there are the days when you doubt everything. The peace and the satisfaction evaporate and the only voice you hear is your own shrewish conscience carping at you about how badly you are fucking this up.

And those days are bad in a way that defies description.

Soul darkening, those days can be; thinking that the biggest most important thing you have ever done, you have done dismally bad.

Sometimes it seems those days are the majority. But when the good days come...or even just the good moments...those tiny little slices of absolute clarity and perfection amidst the grinding's somehow enough. Enough to keep us all going and trying and doing our best to muddle through.

So knowing all do you tell someone?

You don't, I think. You can't, I believe.

They have to take a leap of faith like the rest of us.

Sometimes that leaping is a thrilling, weightless, soul soaring freedom. Sometimes it is a terrifying, sinking feeling as we hurtle towards disaster.

But either way, it teaches us something about the people we are. We are either people who find a way to stay afloat, or people who accept the inevitable and give in to gravity.

Honestly? I don't know which is true of me yet. Fourteen years of experience have not left me any more certain than I was the very first day.

But I'm still flying, which, I figure, has got to mean something.

Even if it is by the seat of my pants.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I Must Be Nuts

We are a one income family. Though we are luckier than most, we are starting to feel the economic pinch like everyone else.

We've never been lavish spenders; it's just a lifestyle we adopted when I became a stay at home Mom. We realized that we would have to change our way of thinking and our way of life if we were going to survive on one income.

For instance, we bought living room and bedroom furniture when we were first married, and 15 years later, we are still using it. Yes, it's ugly. It's ugly in the way that only teal green can be. But there's nothing wrong with it. So it graces my living room in all it's 1992 splendor. My sister in law has had three or four living room suites and several bedroom suites in that time. It boggles my mind.

Also, We drive used cars and we drive them into the ground. We carry only one car payment at a time. My van is almost paid off, which is good, because Husband's 15 year old Jeep Cherokee has now passed the 200,000 mile mark, and is ready to gasp it's last. He desperately needs a replacement vehicle, but we won't be buying new. We never do. We love Carmax and Carmax loves us.

We are lucky though. Even on one income, we do enjoy some extras. We have cable and high speed internet. We have a lawn service. (both Husband and I LOATHE yard work). We eat out when we please. Our boys both participate in extracurricular sports activities. I don't have to count every penny at the grocery store. But we make concessions to be able to afford those little luxuries.

Sadly, now that the economy has deteriorated, the luxuries are getting harder and harder to afford, even with our concessions. One by one, the little indulgences we afford ourselves are being eliminated.

I'm trying to cut corners, but it's really hard with two growing boys. Shoes and clothing lasts Pubescent One no more than a couple of months. And what's really disheartening is that because they are built differently (Pubescent One is long and lean, and Diminutive one is short and stocky) Diminutive One cannot wear his castoffs. THAT hurts.

Then there are braces ($116/mo.) which will soon double, as Diminutive One needs them as well, meds ($180/mo just in copays), and FOOD, which disappears in the blink of an eye around here. People told me about adolescent boys and food, but I didn't believe it until I experienced it myself. They are NEVER full. EVER. They can decimate a week's supply of snacks in just a couple of days. Seriously, I have to hide stuff and then dole it out in true skinflint fashion if I want it to last.

In short, my children are a yawning chasm of need, into which coutnless dollars are funnelled only to disappear into a sucking black vortex, never to been seen again.

I'm considering going back to work, but because Diminutive One has to be picked up from school at 2:30 (no bus service this year due to redistricting) it's going to be difficult to find something flexible enough to suit my needs. I'm really hoping to hold out until next year, when Pubescent One will be in Middle School. That will make everything easier.

But for now, I'm looking for ways to streamline our budget even further. I switched from my beloved Vanilla Lavender Tide to powdered laundry detergent. And I switched from Electrosol tablets to powdered dishwasher soap. But you know, even the powdered stuff is ridiculously expensive. A 95 load box of Tide costs $22! (I don't do cheap laundry soap, because it's definitely a case of getting what you pay for. It isn't cost effective if you have to wash everything twice)

Ree. Dick. U. Lous.

I started making my own cleaning solution a while back. Basically, Windex and the like are nothing more than Ammonia and water. You can buy a 2 qt bottle of Ammonia for 89 cents at the grocery store, so how does that translate into $3.49 for a 1 qt bottle of cleaner that is mostly water?

So I buy the lemon scented ammonia, invested in a couple of squirt bottles; one for upstairs and one for down, and made my own cleaner. It's cheap and effective. You can do this with white Vinegar as well. I think I might try adding some to my ammonia mixture, because I've heard it helps with streaking. As far as I know, mixing the two compounds does not result in a deadly cloud of gas, but I should probably find out for certain just to make sure.

But anyway...

I was watching "17 Kids And Counting" the other day and was inspired. Now, in general, I think those people are dyed in the wool kooks. But girlfriend can pinch a penny like nobody's business.

Turns out, they make their own laundry soap. And since they do something lke 80 loads of laundry a month, it came out to fractions of a penny a load. I can get behind that.

I think I'm going to try it.

I don't do 80 loads of laundry a month. But with two boys, I do a lot. And if I can save a little money on laundry soap, so much the better.

Here's the recipe:

1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda

Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. K
Keep on low heat until soap is melted.
Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry.
Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).

Now, I don't really get the part about melting the bar soap. Because what happens to a bar of soap when it's submerged? It's dissolves, right? So it seems like a superfluous step to me. Couldn't you just mix it all up, let it "cure" so to speak...maybe a couple of days...and then stir it all up?

Maybe I'll just try to dry powder recipe:

One 4 1/2 oz. bar Fels Naptha or Ivory soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm and Hammer washing soda

Finely grate bar of soap into a lg. bowl (smallest grate on grater)
add borax and washing soda, mix thoroughly.
One batch fits into a Qt. canning Jar.

Use 1-2 Tablespoons per load of Laundry

Anybody have any experience with either of these methods?

Am I crazy?

I'm going to go through all this rigamarole of cooking soap only to end up with a gloopy, gloppy mess that doesn't clean squat. That's what usually comes of these type of ideas. Great in theory, in practice, not so much.

But what the hell. It's worth a try, right?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Well That's Certainly A Relief

I've been fighting a migraine since Sunday. It hasn't yet bloomed into the fullness of furious pain that I know all too well. But it's sitting there, behind my right eye, germinating.

Usually, they come on fast and strong. They strike hard and leave me completely helpless. But this one is different. For whatever reason, it is marinating in my brain, teasing me with it's sinister promise.

It hurts just enough to make things difficult, but not enough to justify taking to my bed.

As a result, I've been grumpy and out of sorts all week. I've been short tempered and intolerant with my children. My patience is nil.

But today, I ran across a spot of good news that cheered me a little bit.

Migraines Cut Breast Cancer Risk By 30 Percent

Until menopause, I will likely be plagued with migraines. boobs? Are in good shape.

So, you know..that's good. Makes me feel a little less guilty about putting off that mammogram.

Thank God for small mercies??

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sweet Relief

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking this is another glowing, gloating epistle to the greatness of Obama.

Not so.

I am relieved.

Not because of who won, but because it is over.

Many, many, many Americans have expressed feelings of transcendant hope that Obama gives them.

I feel no such thing.

Although I voted for him, I still feel a lot of worry over the economy, health care, education....the whole ball of wax. It's a lot for one guy to fix. And I worry that we've created iron shackles of expectation that will weigh heavily on his untested wrists.

But still, I am relieved.

This election has consumed our nation, and it has divided us neatly and decisively. Red and blue. Elephants and donkeys. Conservatives and liberals.

We have been at war right here on our own soil. It has been waged in living rooms and coffee houses and cubicles and churches and town halls.

People have judged one another and judged harshly.

I saw the last election do inestimable damage. It was ironic, given that the message of peace was being delivered on a tide of invective. It was disheartening given that those aching for change were those most mired in the antipathy of the past.

A lot of people are celebrating. Some are mourning.

I'm really doing neither.

I'm just waiting.

Waiting for fences to be mended. Waiting for the fear to go away. Waiting for change. Waiting to see if we've done the right thing.

Waiting for our country to be whole again.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Shakin' Things Up

I'm going to do something different here at Blogs Are Stupid.

I'm going to ask my readers to make my argument for me for two reasons.

First, because although I've been doing reasearch, the amount of information is staggering, conflicting, and confusing.

Second, because I don't think I'm sufficiently objective given the fact that I am a liberal in a die hard conservative state.

The issue? The electoral process.

Sure I had Government in high school a billion years ago. But it wasn't relevant to me then. I didn't care, so it didn't stick.

It's relevant now, and I want to understand the electoral process better.

People have been calling for electoral reform for years, but I think the outcry was loudest and longest (at least during my lifetime) after the Bush/Gore election in 2000.

Many of those who have been true and persistent advocates for voting reform have been regarded as crackpots, conspiracy theorists, or disgruntled politicos.

But I find it disheartening to realize that the candidate with the most popular votes did not, in fact, become President. How different might the world be today if the popular vote determined the winner?

It's also disheartening for me to realize that although I will vote for Obama (I won't discuss, debate or justify my reasons, so let's leave that alone, please) I am quite certain that all 15 of Georgia's electoral votes will be for McCain.

Why bother?

I've heard all the arguments, but I still feel very powerless against the apathy. My blue vote will be lost amid a sea of red.

So my question to you is this...

Do you have a clear understanding of the electoral process and if so, do you think that we should reform or ablish it in favor of a strictly popular vote?

You may have your fingers poised over the keyboard ready to type an emphatic YES, as would I, were our positions reversed. But in the course of my research, I've realized that it's not quite as cut and dried as one would think.

Because the electoral college, believe it or not, was really designed to protect the democratic process. And though some of the reasoning behind it is no longer an issue; slaves and women, for example, who were not represented in elections for many years...some of it is sound and logical.

It's a dilemma.

So I turn to you, the smart and savvy travellers on the information superhighway. Tell me what you know. Tell me what you think. Help me understand why or why not.