Sunday, December 21, 2008

make a cookie, give a cookie

I'm not sure how it started, but I will always remember wrapping Swisher Sweets boxes with wrapping paper and loading them up with cookies, then dispersing them to our neighbors/friends/teachers/bus drivers during the holiday season.  I can remember walking them over to Martha and Louie Otto's house across the alley, as well as taking them into my teachers and my bus driver.  My mom was a great baker (and cook) and my dad also was a fantastic baker.  There was never a shortage of Christmas baking at our house.  My dad would make rosettes, dusted with powdered sugar, and sometimes doughnuts, rolled in sugar.  My mom would make Russian teacakes, thumbprint cookies, candy cane cookies, peanut brittle, anise candy, spritz cookies, cutout cookies, old-school homemade fudge, divinity, and more.  I tend to take the easy way out.  I opt for almond bark creations, goofballs, as well as some good ol' regular cookies.  I have never messed with anise candy, and have yet to try divinity.  I have tried fudge, but not the old-school kind, just the easy new-fangled versions.  I have forced myself to learn how to make caramels, if only to take the pressure off my sister and also because my own family loves them so much.  I don't know if a person can find Swisher Sweets boxes anymore, but I just opt for plastic trays.  My pictures are a bit blurry, but you get the idea.  It feels nice to honor my mom and give away cookies the way she did.  

Saturday, December 20, 2008

knockin' on 90

Here are some pics of Howard's grandma, who will be 90 in January.  She is amazing.  Doesn't she just look the perfect example of "grandma" to you?  She is!  


In the throes of a blizzard today, so time to plaster some pictures on my blog.  Here are a few of 14 by the tree.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

what's that smell?

I was thinking yesterday about perspective & experience vs. fear & anxiety.  Kind of in a jumbled, mixed & mired sort of way.  I follow a blog by Robert Rummel-Hudson, who wrote a book called "Schuyler's Monster."  His daughter has polymicrogyria, which is what Mason has.  It is a type of brain damage that is not very common.  The only difference between Schuyler and Mason is where the damage has occurred in the brain.  I believe Schuyler's is perisylvian polymicrogyria, and Mason's is biparietal polymicrogyria.  Schuyler is currently being watched for the beginning of seizures, which our neurologist told us would happen in Mason, it was just a question of when they would start.  I had a very dear friend over last week, whose daughter has been having seizures for most of her 11 years of age.  Also, there is my nephew, who had spinal meningitis when he was a baby, and almost died.  A dear friend of ours, who fell following surgery and is now facing the loss of his vision.  My husband's aunt, who had surgery for a brain tumor.  A friend of ours, who is our age, who fell while she was walking and just finished surgery for a brain tumor.  My grandma, who has ring melanoma in her eye and colon cancer.  The list could go on and on.

I think it's safe to say we all have stories of family or friends who have faced unexpected medical issues.  I myself had seizures at about one year of age, and was on phenobarbital for a year.  One of my seizures was fever-based, one was not.  Following the fever-based one, (also known as "febrile" seizures) I was packed in ice at the hospital.  My mom said that every time I was sick after that, she watched me like a hawk.  She said she looked for something in my eyes that would tip her off I was going to be Really Sick.  My sister and her husband always worried when my nephew was sick after his bout with spinal meningitis.  My friend worries constantly about her daughter's seizures.  Schuyler's family is mega-concerned whether she is exhibiting abscence seizures or not.  Our friend is fearful he may lose his eyesight.  My grandma is nervous about coping with the loss of her eye.

My sister, Kelly, calls her fears "Kelly World."  We laugh about that, but it's usually with a twinge of nervousness.  There is something about being close to death, or Really Bad Stuff, that puts off a certain odor.  I know that before Mas was born, my biggest concern was whether or not to circumsize him, and whether they would let me nurse in the delivery room.  Those idyllic thoughts were slammed in the face by a whitish-blue baby who remained fisted and would not eat, coupled with the multiple birth defects and small head circumference, "fruity" smelling breath, non-stop crying, breathing too fast, etc.  Things like that tend to knock you out of your comfortable bubble world into another world, a world where you can kind of see who you used to be, but can't quite bridge the gap to get back over there.  I can see it in pictures of our family before Mason was born, especially pictures of our daughter.  You can see the openness and peace in her eyes, replaced by sadness and fear in the pictures taken after his birth.  I thought Steve Gonsalves, an investigator on the show "Ghost Hunters," put it well, when he said during an episode where they wanted him to fly to a location, that while watching everyone on a plane, he thought, "All of these people are going to die."  Why did he think that?  Because he was on a horrendous flight that almost crashed.  That tends to color your world and make you see things differently.  Is that fear?  Or just experience?  I know you can counter this and say, "You must have Faith."  Bold words, and just the thing people like to say to people like us, but once you have smelled the other world, it's hard to remember what Faith smells like.  I don't know how else to explain it.  

I know that whenever Mas catches pneumonia, or runs a high fever, or just acts "off", I prepare mentally for the fact that we could be facing days in the hospital, or lots of worried moments at home, or lack of sleep from getting up to listen to him breathe.  I don't think it's like that for parents of "normal" children.  Their thoughts still smell like cinnamon and sugar and warm cookies and freshly mowed grass.  My thoughts tend to smell like hospitals, and hand-wringing, and worry.  I guess you can say I over-worry, or that I'm anxious, but I tend to view it as keeping myself safe.  As long as I keep that smell in my nose, I will never be tempted to have the universe lull me back into that Other World.  I know that the jolt of going from minor worries to Major Worries was a horrible shock to my system, and you see, I don't wish to go through that again.  Although, I sometimes wistfully watch parents of healthy kids and wonder if they will ever appreciate the aroma that surrounds their lives.  

I am told repeatedly by parents of messed up kids that other people "just don't get it."  I agree, wholeheartedly, but am unsure how to explain it to them.  I used to know people with special needs kids and feel bad for them, but only for a moment or two.  Then, it was back to my (sweet-smelling) world of raising my daughter.  Then, my son was born.  Now, I get it.  I wish I didn't.  My friend shared a story with me about her daughter's last IEP.  How she sat in the room full of people alone (she is a single parent) and cried during most of the meeting.  How the teachers were cold and unfeeling.  How no one understood what it was like to be her.  Again, I get it.  I know that smell.  Wish I didn't.  We recently took Mas to a neurology appointment; the first one in over five years.  Saw the light in the doc's eyes as she ordered a multitude of tests, and knew that she could be opening Pandora's box of medicine, and that we could be tumbling down the rabbit hole of "what if's" and "let's test for this" and "why don't we try this" and "let's give this medicine a try"...I knew that smell.  I got it.  Wish I didn't.  

It's hard to see the world in a safe and happy way when you have seen the other side.  (I am also aware that there are levels to this other side, and I am not in the lowest level of that world.  I am all too aware we could be dealing with respirators, or still have to deal with a feeding tube, or have a child that couldn't move, or communicate at all.  Knowing that, however, does not change the world we are in.)  A recent mailing from Mason's school quoted a parent as saying, "We are the only population that hopes we outlive our kids."  I get that.  My friend and I were talking about how Mason would live as an adult.  It's not something I choose to discuss with very many people, but I knew she would understand.  I'm not sure how he will live.  Will he stay home with me as long as I am able?  Will he be good enough to go to a group home?  Do we want him to?  I used to imagine a retirement on a lake in northern MN or Canada with a boat and a lot of dogs, with our kids visiting on weekends and the grandkids learning to fish off our dock.  Now, I don't see that.  Not that there aren't happy moments.  I strive to find them every day, if only to teach our daughter that her life doesn't have to be forever altered because we chose to give her a sibling.  I try to fill my soul with moments of gladness wherever I can find them.  But, there's no denying that we've been thrust into this Other World.  I get it.  And it stinks. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

if you don't have anything nice to say...

Suffice it to say, "ready in about an hour" sounds a lot better than the truth, which is, "ready in about a week...or two."  Harumph.  Only one of the two pairs were ready today; no one knows when 14's lenses will be in...maybe by the end of the week, maybe next week?  Hello?  I didn't go postal, but considered a serious "lack-of-customer-service-downfall-of-western-civilization-good-for-nothing-inbred-lowlife-losers" speech...didn't go there, though!  We'll see what patience brings us.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

15 below and glasses and eye drops, oh my!

What better way to start the day when it's -15.9 degrees?  How about waking up at 5:30 to start with, followed by having to drive Mas to school myself, since we had a two hour late start here and we would be at our eye appointments when the van could have come here to pick him up?  Follow that up with a dual eye appointment for Riley and I, where not only did I found out that I need glasses (for night driving, at least), but also that I now have astigmatism in my left eye.  We also found out there's a reason Riley can't see the board.  How about dilatation drops for both of us?  Burn, baby, burn.  (The good news was, no cause for Riley's headache lurking in her eye, and no cause for my non-stop watery left eye lurking in my eye.)  Then, off to pick out our glasses, then wait to pick them up, only to find out Riley's have a huge scratch on the lens and mine are completely unusable, due to the left lens being made incorrectly.  (My left eye has it out for me, I say!)  Then, off to pick Mas up from school, and back to the eyeglass retailer to see how long it would take them to fix said glasses does Wednesday sound?  (In an hour?  My foot!)  Let's just say the day started at 5:30 am, and I was home, changed into sweats and sitting on the couch at 7:30 pm.  What a day!  I'm thankful we were able to get so much accomplished, but I think today should be designated for couch sitting....except for the fact that there are still cookies to make...lots of them.  The good news is, it's only -8 this morning.  Heat wave!  Here's to quieter days ahead!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

his season

It's an odd year, to be sure.  Somehow, we captured like, five good pics of Mas by the tree.  Unusual!  On the bottom pic, you can see his Palmtop 3, his speech device.  Christmas is finally making a bit more sense to Mas.  It's the first year that he hasn't shown an unending interest in the shiny ornaments, pulling them off the tree and dropping them throughout the house.  It's also the first year he hasn't taken baby Jesus on a trip at least once a day (could have something to do with the fact that baby Jesus is now firmly super-glued into his manger).  He likes cookies now, which is cool, and also loves to open gifts.  I think Mas is getting the hang of the holiday season!  To be safe, I haven't placed the gifts under the tree yet, since I'm not sure when he'll decide to start opening, but it's nice to know he'll show an interest in the gifts once he knows they're his.  I'm sure most of the season is still quite confusing and frustrating, but at least there are certain aspects (lights! gifts! cookies!) that we know he'll enjoy.  

Thursday, December 11, 2008

C is for Cookie...

There'll be chocolate star ones, of course, and goofballs, and regular shortbread, as well as frosted  shortbread...spritz, almond bark covered peanut butter ritz, chocolate mint dreams, thumbprints with tinted frosting, crinkles, and a few others thrown in for good measure.  I'm talking cookies here, folks.  Lots of sugar and calories, formed into cute shapes to adorn a tray.  The kind that call you from the freezer and entice you to bite them before they've thawed out.  The kind that are too tasty to leave for Santa.  (Unless you're Santa.)  The kind that people say, "what is in this?" and you say, "Shut up and taste it."  It begins today.  And ends when the last cookie tray is handed out.  From Swisher Sweets boxes loaded full of goodies back in the 70s to tins packed tight with goodness today, I am going to be a baking fool for the next few weeks.  I may even post a redundant recipe or two, just to make your mouths water.  Let's go, people!  The ingredients await!

Monday, December 8, 2008


We had one family portrait taken while I was growing up.  My brother hated it and didn't want to go, my dad complained about dressing up, I was miserable in dress clothes and thought it was stupid.  It was mid-summer and we were all hot and sweaty and grouchy.  My mom said we would never do it again.  She was right!  I had big plans for a family pic of us yesterday, but, lo and behold, the camera battery died!  (karma, perhaps?)  We did, however, manage to get pics of the kids.  They only complained a little bit.


Well, 2 hours of a Christmas concert; my son licking my sleeve; drooling on his tie; pushing "I gotta go" repeatedly on his palmtop; and finally, filling his pants; later, I can say I have a new perspective on this whole holiday thing.  I learned a lot yesterday, and here I thought I would just be learning how to sit quietly through too many renditions of Deck the Halls.  I learned my daughter is a wonderful person who has been treated poorly by a teacher, a person who is supposed to believe in you and encourage you.  I learned I am able to stay calm during confrontation.  I learned that spending countless hours doing something doesn't mean you enjoy it.  I learned that Mason likes to lick sweaters, and also point to the shiny rhinestones all over the front of said sweater.  I learned that tuning is a good thing.  I learned that it's hard to take pictures of a grandma in front of a lit Christmas tree without the lighting being affected.  I learned that cutting up meat and cheese for a tray is a good substitute for a meal.  I learned to listen to my daughter when she tells me things, and to assume she is telling the truth.  I learned it's okay to let your daughter stay up past her bedtime if she needs to, on occasion.  I learned that even 14 year olds need cuddling.  I learned that the little train that goes around our Christmas tree is only cute if it's working.  I learned that the holidays have to move around us, and that we need to be stable and central if they're going to work.  I learned I need to quit complaining and get the gifts wrapped, the cookies baked, and the handmade gifts done, because that is what stay-at-home moms do.  Period.  I was schooled today.  By a guy in a suit.  Perspective?  I've got it!  

Sunday, December 7, 2008

seasonally yours

Okay, I did it...sat amidst the twinkling lights in our living room lastnight and asked the fam which cookies "make" their holiday season.  I actually perused the cookbooks, and made a, time to hand on to that sled and start flying down the preparation hill!  Next is making a grocery list and buying supplies, then it will be a (very) loud day of Christmas music and baking.  I guess the Grinch has eased up somewhat on its' hold over my holidays.  Today I get to attend the 5-12 Christmas concert at 14's school...yes, you read that correctly...5-12.  If I survive, it may help put things in perspective.  So, here's to the season....or to the going-through-the-motions of the season!  In other news, Howard put on our Rush 30 blue ray disc lastnight, and we were amazed.  Mason was THRILLED by it--clapping his hands, squealing, jumping up and down, smiling, laughing, jabbering, you name it!  We were so proud!  Especially cool since we went to a Rush concert while he was in utero--at about 4 months.  I have never seen him so happy and so intrigued for such a long period of time.  It was a moment of pure joy!  I guess that's what inspired me to get off my behind and get out the cookbooks.  Whatever it takes!  Can't think of much more inspiring than Geddy, Alex, and Neil.  Now, to figure out a way to get Mas to a Rush concert.  He would explode with happiness!  (Just don't think we can have him sitting right next to other people...maybe in the upper deck handicapped seating?)  Something to ponder...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Is it just me, or is it hard to ring in the Christmas season this year?  I'd like to blame it on the close proximity of Thanksgiving and December, but I'm not sure if that's all it is.  I had to flat out force myself to put up decorations this year, and I usually revel in it.  It is just because I'm getting old?  Or, old and tired?  Or, both?  I'm done shopping, so that should bring with it a sense of calm relief.  I usually bake a plethura of cookies, but so far, the urge has not hit.  I have yet to even lightly peruse my cookbooks for recipes...which I usually do almost manically from Halloween on.  Maybe it will come.  In the meantime, enjoy the distorted Christmas tree photo above.  It pretty much sums up my take on the season at the moment.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

crazy craft day

This is what 54 bibs looks like...with 54 embroidered snippets that say, "MASON*CR2" on them.  Hello.  To make a long, arduous story short and sweet, I started sewing at 7:30 am and just finished at 11:10 pm.  (All cutting and pinning was done yesterday.)  The bibs are reversible, with a layer of flannel between each one, with a velcro closure on the back.  Somehow, Mason's bibs at school found their way to the laundry, which is kind of a no-no for a day student.  Of course, they were inevitably lost.  I am hopeful that 54 brand spankin' new bibs will hold the kid over until the new year!  Seems like a lot of work for joined pieces of material that catch drool, doesn't it??  Hmmmm.

Friday, November 28, 2008

buddy and his night visitors

While we were excitedly setting up our new Macbook and related recording accessories, I decided to take a peek at Mas upstairs.  On my way upstairs, Howard said, you may want to let Buddy in...he went on a little walkabout.  As I peered through the door, Mas was headed over to open it and let him in...I said, "Hey, he has a toy in his mouth!"  Then, I saw the long, furry tail and said, "He has a squirrel in his mouth!!  Get up here!"  Howard came running up and there was Buddy, pleased as punch over his catch.  How did he catch it?  We have no idea!  But, he was proud.  I told Howard that's what he gets for not taking him hunting more often!  Buddy thought, heck, I'll go do my own hunting!  (Thankfully, Mas did not open the door and let Buddy come bounding in with his prize!)  Notice Skipper pining through the door at Buddy and his fun!

cool Friday

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!  We actually dared to venture out shopping, today, on Black Friday...and, guess what?  It was no different than any other weekend day of shopping in our favorite town.  Go figure??  I supposed that is because we didn't start until 1 pm...sounds like the earlybirds were out in full force.  Glad we missed out on that.  My husband graciously bought me the stuff to start a little recording studio in the basement...that's the great news...the bad news is, now I have to get to practicing my trumpet!  Should be a fun endeavor.  The kids did great; Mas used his new Palmtop much more than usual, and even managed to push "I don't like this," "change the channel", and "I want a new show" this morning when he was watching tv.  Pretty cool.  He did, however, request a hamburger for dinner, and when he got it, had one bite and spit it out.  I guess the hamburgers at school are much more to his liking!  But, he ate the crud out of our very expensive spinach and artichoke dip appetizer, and also most of our bread and my husband's waffle fries...where does he put it??  All in all, a great day!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

laurie and the night visitors

I had a unique experience lastnight.  While I have woken numerous times with a "song in my head", lastnight was a bit different.  I usually wake up with a great song; I can hear all the parts and the harmonies and the rhythm section, the whole bit.  I used to repeat it in my head 7-9 times, then go back to sleep.  Of course, by morning it's gone...but, lastnight, I woke up about 2:30 with a great song in my head...all the parts, strong melody and harmony parts, and whenever I would start to fall back to sleep, the song would increase in volume.  The weird part is, lastnight I got the lyrics along with it.  Considering this a strange, beautiful gift, I actually got out of bed and wrote down the notes, counting, right and left hand piano parts, and the lyrics.  Weird.  The lyrics don't make a whole lot of sense by the light of day, but I still think it's cool.  The only part I'm still freaking out about, is after I went back to bed and fell asleep again, I woke up about an hour later....with the lyrics for the SECOND VERSE!  Hello!  I actually chuckled.  I debated getting up and writing down the second verse lyrics, but repeated them to myself and went back to bed...and of course, today they are gone.  But, I have the rest of it, written on a tiny notebook in my bathroom.  Now I just have to go listen to it all and see if it makes any sense.  Hard to notate notes without a keyboard sometimes, but let's hope I did it correctly.  If it's neat, I'll record it and put it on here...if not, I'll just file it away in the Very Cool Dreams category!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dumb Friday

Black Friday?  Or just plain dumb Friday?  I went to town today to make a grocery run, first stopping by a local retailer to grab a few things.  The walking aisles were all divided, by stacks taller than my head, of TOYS.  Unbelievable!  I suppose one could just analyze Black Friday in-depth to point out a lot of things that are wrong with our society!  We're talking thousands of toys, lined up and ready for shoppers.  It was crazy!  I know some people enjoy bumping carts with angry mothers, grabbing a special toy out of someone's hand, standing in line for hours to get in the store, standing in line for hours to get checked out, the traffic, and the general mayhem that is Black Friday.  For me, while I know there are some deals to be found, I much prefer the world of online shopping, sitting in my pj's with a cup of cocoa and some Christmas music playing in the background.  And then there are the homemade gifts, of which I try to make some every year.  I have made calendars for the grandparents for years and years; at least 13 or so years now.  Last year I discovered the photo ornaments, and bought one for each of us.  Should be a nice rememberance every year, to pull out those ornaments.  Riley made tied fleece blankets last year.  While not exactly cheap per se (fleece is rarely on sale when you need it!), it did teach her about making gifts and putting some of yourself into the gift.  I have made cocoa for years and years; last year was the first year without making some.  This year, Riley and I are embarking on some projects, and I have already made many photo projects, as well.  I will make my kitchen gifts, as always, and we will supplement with store-bought goodies.  Don't get me wrong, I love shopping, (as my circle of five will attest to), but I also love receiving something that required some thought and some effort on the part of the giver.  Those are the gifts you remember and cherish.  I think we will spend Friday doing Green Friday; namely, putting up the tree and associated trimmings.  That sounds like a lot of work, but much less stressful than facing the crowds and mayhem.  

Monday, November 24, 2008

looking up slightly

Well, here's a lesson for you young whipper-snappers.  Pay attention, close attention to those little numbers behind a doctor's name....NP, DO, MD, etc.  Apparently, they are important!  We saw our "real" doc today, and he isn't nearly as concerned as the NP was on Friday.  He prescribed a trial of Milk of Magnesia, lots of fluid, and an addition of Metamucil to the daily regime.  He did a digital rectal exam (I'm sure that was as much fun as it sounds) and couldn't feel any stool down low, although I assured him I saw it yesterday!  Go figure!  Maybe the constant enemas broke it up a bit.  He repeated the x-rays and said, yes, there's stool in there, but not all the way up his digestive tract, which was what I was told Friday night.  He also said Mason's ear appears to be fine.  ?!?!?!  It was full of blood Friday night; I've been watching it come out all weekend long!  I guess I need to go back to my early Mason mantra after he was born...only MD's will lay hands on this kid.  I dunno; seems like a huge discrepancy between the two health care providers, but it also makes a huge difference in how we feel about things tonight!  Who knows, maybe the universe cut the kid some slack?  Either way, I'm feeling much calmer tonight, and thinking I may even attempt to sleep.  Neat idea.  Thanks for your kind words through email, responses, and phone calls.  We've seen Mason's train go out of control down the tracks so many times, sometimes we get carried away and expect the worst.  It's our usual outcome.  Glad to know this time might be different!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

you deserve a break today...

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water of parenting, along comes more bad news on the doctoring front for Mas.  After a couple weeks of not-too-many bowel movements, I decided to take him in to the doc to make sure things were running smoothly in that area.  Two x-rays later, the doc said he is packed full of stool.  Huh.  His belly was soft, he wasn't in any apparent pain, no crying, etc.  She said if she hadn't already seen his x-ray herself, she wouldn't believe it was the same kid.  In addition to that, his stomach was a very strange-looking rectangular shape; even I noticed it on x-ray and wondered what it was...(I thought, if that's his liver, we are done for.  But, the doc on call conferred with our doc and thought it was very distended from lots of air, which they attributed to the backed up stool.  After a weekend of daily enemas, suppositories, "go juice" (a concoction from my mom who works at a nursing home...prune juice, applesauce, and all bran), lots and lots of fluids, juices, etc., no milk, and worry, we still have no stool.  Tomorrow we'll head back to the clinic to see if they have any ideas to get this over with for him.  It breaks my heart in two to think he'll have to endure more pain.  I did actually pray the other night, and said if God was there and he was listening, could he please give me whatever he has in store for Mason.  I meant it and I always will.  I would suffer immensely if it meant his suffering could be over with.  While we were waiting for the doc, Mas was pushing, "my ear hurts", over and over again.  When we got into the room, I asked if she would just take a look at it, to make me feel better.  She looked at the first ear and said it looks a little red.  She looked at the second ear, and said, his eardrum is ruptured and the canal is full of blood.  (!)  Apparently, he had an ear infection sometime in the last two weeks, and showed absolutely no symptoms.  He had been putting his finger in his left ear once in awhile, but that wasn't even the ear that ruptured.  Go figure.  The bad news is, this is the ear that had an ear drum patch about four years ago.  Don't know if the patch is now obliterated, or if it will heal on its' own.  Either his pain tolerance is ridiculously high, or he just figured the adults in his life were too dumb to figure out the problem, so he'd deal with it himself.  I'm kind of at my wits' end as far as parenting goes; seems we should be able to protect him from all the bad things in the world.  I feel like I've failed him miserably.  I just pray that all of this will work out in the end, and that he won't have to endure any more pain.  

Friday, November 21, 2008

it's just the number after 10...

Well, here we are in the 11th month, and my son is turning 11 today...the number "11" has some family significance for us, mainly surrounding my dad.  My dad's father, Willis Getskow (or Getzkow, or Guetzkow, depending on which spelling you like, and which time period you are in!) was born in 1911.  He died in November, the 11th month.  My dad was 11 when his dad died.  My dad was born on the 11th of March.  He married my mom on the 11th of March.  My mom's birthday is in the 11th month.  My dad proceeded to pass away on the 11th of May.  A few months after he died, Mason received a teddy bear from his school, with a football jersey on it.  The number?  11.  (It still resides in Mason's room.)  The summer after dad passed, we went on vacation with his family in central MN.  The number on our cabin?  11.  The number of people in my dad's family?  8 kids + 1 mom + 1 dad + 1 stepdad=11.  I think you get the picture.  I can't lay my fingers on my dad's family tree this morning, but I'm sure there are even more 11s to dig up.  I'm not a numerologist, but I do find all this 11s showing up to be quite intriguing.  I do like numbers, even though I hate math, and I love it when the universe throws little "signs" out in front of you like that.  Here's hoping we see more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Great Grandma Amelia

We had our first official "snow day" on November!  That is early, even for us.  The sad/good news is, the kids are making it up the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  It seems so odd to be dealing with up and down weather patterns already.  Today, we are supposed to reach a high of 48, and while I watch the rain patter on our windows, I know it's just a matter of time until the temp drops and it freezes, giving us skating rink status once again.  The make up day reminds me of our pre-Thanksgiving gatherings at my great grandma's house.  On Wednesday night, we would drive into Sioux Falls and all meet at my great grandma Amelia's house.  Amelia would only wear dresses and high heels, and jewelry, as evidenced by the above photos.  My mom says she remembers Amelia wearing a pant suit only one time in her life, which I believe involved a road trip to Texas in a car with no air conditioning in the middle of the hottest part of the summer.  She was a very classy lady, and had no problem entertaining all of us in her (not-very-large) home, even us wild great grandkids.  (She used to tell me I had ants in my pants, which was probably a nice way of saying, man, are you hyper!!--on a side note, she also called my dad "Donny", which was something very few people got away with!)  Wednesday night before Thanksgiving meant celery sticks with cheese whiz or peanut butter, a slice of pie (pumpkin, pecan, banana cream, and chocolate were the options), pizzaburgers, and various finger foods, like olives, carrot sticks, etc.  The adults would play poker at the "big table," while us kids kept ourselves busy.  When I was younger, the oldest of the kids would shepherd the little ones to the movie theater.  This was where I saw my first movie ever, "The Cat From Outer Space".  As we got older, it involved playing Atari (my cousin's Atari, not mine...I vividly remember playing Pitfall and Asteroids--or was it Space Invaders??) on my great grandma's tv, in the fancy living room with the hanging lamp with little water beads traveling up the fishing line, and the big thick drapes and corner couch.  When it got too loud, smoky, and noisy, (which it did, often,) we could go into her bedrooms, which were nice and cold and had a bed in there covered with coats.  I remember falling asleep in there many times.  Thursday morning meant waking to the smell of turkey and stuffing baking, and setting up the "kids table" in her living room.  My mom and my uncle would boil up the neck, gizzard, heart, and liver, and eat them in front of us kids....gross!  The meal always began with a prayer and ended with feeling like you'd eaten too much.  While Thursday was awesome, as far as a perfect Thanksgiving meal goes, I always enjoyed Wednesday nights more.  There was something about the anticipation of what was to come, and the excitement of seeing the cousins for the first time, which was exhilarating.  As we age now, holidays are much different.  I think it has to do with having responsibilities now, as opposed to running around like children in the past...because we were children!  As we schedule and plan menus and work around other commitments, here's hoping we are able to retain at least a bit of that excitement, which was so easy to find when we were small.  And here's a big hats off to women like Great Grandma Amelia--they just don't make 'em like you anymore!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

who schooled you?

Had a great weekend with my girlfriends in Minneapolis...laughed too much, ate too much, shopped a lot...enjoyed it immensely.  We ended up having a conversation about home schooling, since a friend of mine has friends that have unsuccessfully home schooled a high school student.  He ended up begging to be let into the public school system when he got to be a sophomore.  I also had a good friend in Omaha with a special needs, non-diagnosed child.  Her children were all home schooled until they asked to attend public school, which all happened by junior high.  Made us stop and think about how we thought we would handle that.  Then, this morning while I drove into Mason's appointment, I heard my talk radio show on XM radio address the topic.  I listened closely and spent some time thinking about it.  I decided that if I were living in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest school, with treacherous mountain roads and no easy way to travel, I could probably realistically teach music, English, and maybe Science....maybe.  In no way, shape, or form could I ever teach any more than that.  (Maybe I'm the village idiot??)  I think that would only happen if I devoted my life to teaching, including all of the research that goes into being a solid teacher...and that wouldn't include baking, cooking, cleaning, diaper changing, nursing, being a wife, etc.  I think it's quite lofty to assume one person could teach every subject...even if you only had one child at home to teach.  When I think about what my ninth grade daughter has learned since early September, I am humbled....math that we don't even always understand, (including trigonometry) difficult vocabulary, history, chemistry, pre-engineering courses, 3-D drafting, home construction, insurance laws, etc.  It tires me out just thinking about it.  I can't tell you the number of times I've seen home schooled children wandering through Wal-Mart with their moms, or, in our personal case, wandering the streets of Pipestone while her classmates are in class.  While I'm sure there are situations in which home schooling is necessary, I can't imagine many situations where it's actually better than getting educated in a public or private school, with many different teachers, situations, learning environments, challenges, schedules, etc.  And while there are many genius kids out there who were home schooled, I still feel they are the minority.  (I also think they would probably be just as successful if they had been schooled somewhere else...)  If I were to pull my child out of school right now and attempt to teach her at the level she's been taught at even for the past few months, I would not succeed.  (And I'm really not a village idiot...although some of my posts may speak to the contrary!)  My husband is one of the smartest people I've ever met, as far as basic IQ goes, and I don't think he could even keep up with homeschooling even one child.  I think if most children were to be tested out at the end of each grade level, (in a third-party testing center, not in the home) they would most likely show deficits in some areas...something that has been backed up by people I know who have first-hand experience in the matter.  Of course, a public school student can also show deficits, a fact which we all know.  I guess it just makes me happy that we are able to place our trust in the public school system and take the lumps and bumps that go along with that.  I think life's challenges are what shape us, and although living at home in a safe little bubble may be comforting and warm, how much is it preparing us for the real world?  The one with challenging co-workers, jam-packed schedules, multitasking, different working environments, etc.  I don't think public schools are doing it all, but hopefully they are providing a solid structure for our children, which we can add to once they get home at the end of the day.  **Now, in the area of special education, I don't feel most public schools are doing the best they can, but that's mostly because there is such a plethura of mixed diagnoses out there now....the entire autistic spectrum, for example, as well as Down's Syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome, Hurler's, Hunter's, Williams, cerebral palsy, mitochondrial diseases...the list goes on and on and on.  In twenty or thirty years, the educational climate concerning special needs children will have to change, because there will be more and more things diagnosed, as well as the possibility of more kids with environmental issues at the root of their cognitive deficits.  So, while I think most "normal" (define normal? let's not go there tonight) kids benefit from the realm of public education, I still think lots of handicapped kids are being given a subpar education, for a lot of different reasons.**  I know there are many opinions on the matter, but I don't foresee ever believing that any one person could have given me the education that hundreds of teachers have...nor would I have wanted that.  And when I think of trying to learn and express all that the hundreds of teachers who shaped most of us knew, I know that is impossible, and I feel quite small just thinking about it.  I guess the bottom line is, I am so thankful that we live in the part of the country that still has somewhat of a handle on public education, so I don't ever have to consider that as an option!  It also makes me thankful that while I was in my Play-Doh stage, I had lots and lots of hands forming me into who I am; an imperfect, creative, impatient, somewhat anal, intelligent, loud, proofreading, joke-y, analytical, passionate, sometimes out-of-control, thinking human being.  I've been schooled.

long day...

Exhausted and overwhelmed, but feeling very blessed and pretty darn lucky, we are finally home after a whirlwind day of doctoring.  Turns out the rotten-looking tooth was actually a filling that had fallen out (whew!), and the hole in the other molar was a mere cavity.  According to the dentist, he has his teeth crammed into a too-small mouth, and when we go to brush the back upper molars, it gets tight and his masseter muscle tightens up, making it even tighter up there to brush.  He said to keep doing what we're doing, which sounds good to me!  After two fillings, (only one of which we were charged for....and we had our office visit thrown in free) we were feeling quite relieved as we headed to our regular doc to examine the lump in the testicles.  Turns out Mas has a hydrocele, which is a collection of fluid.  It usually accompanies an inguinal hernia, which has not shown up yet for Mas.  The doc thinks it will show up eventually, and then we'll need to do surgery to repair both the hydrocele and the hernia.  As far as days go, we're feeling pretty good about this one.  Not excited to have Mas go through a surgery, but at least it's not the big "C", or some strange congenital anomaly that is linked to a bunch of other negative health problems.  Mas was a trooper the whole day, and that made it so much easier.  I was starting to panic yesterday as I envisioned us starting the whole doctoring dance again...glad to hear we just have to dance a little jig and then we can leave the floor!  Thank goodness.  We'll leave the waltzes and the rhumbas for someone with more strength and agility!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

and a big p.s.

If a couple rotting teeth weren't enough, how about a lump above his testicle?  Life just keeps dishing it out...not sure how much more of it Mas can take.  Another reason to keep him in your thoughts.

mouthful of trouble

You'd think maybe Mas could have gotten my ability to talk non-stop, my ability to sleep, my ability to draw, my good teeth....etc.  I have a lot of bad features/habits that I would not wish on either child, but there are a few things I wish I could have passed on.  As Mas was sitting on my lap earlier and we were watching the snow, I decided to take a peek at his teeth...just something I do from time to time if he's sitting nicely.  Well, as (our bad) luck would have it, he has a huge chunk missing from his upper back molar on the outside of the tooth, and it is terrible-looking.  He was just at the dentist on August 11, so how does this happen?  Was it a chipped tooth that decayed a bit?  Was it there in August?  Does it hurt?  How much?  Do certain temperatures bother it?  Is my brushing his teeth twice a day just not enough?  These are the times I don't think I am cut out for being his mom.  As far as the old adage, "God only gives you what you can handle," I say that is an outright lie.  I am up to the eyeballs in mothering things I can't handle, and this is almost the last straw.  Luckily, we are being blessed by snagging an early morning appointment tomorrow, so that is one ray of sunshine in this mini-saga.  Please keep Mas in your thoughts tomorrow morning.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

hello, winter

30 inches of snow and 70 mph winds in the western part of South Dakota this morning...hello, winter!  I guess our nice weather has come to a screeching halt.  We have yet to see any bad weather, but our barometer says "more rain", so I'm expecting some.  I guess it's going to start acting like the month that we're in--November.  Fall was fun while it lasted!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

grinch license

Well, I completed my licensing requirements to bitch and complain for the next four years....and I have my sticker to prove it.  Here's hoping it's a record day for voter turnout...that makes it that much easier to listen to people grinch about the way the country is functioning.  Watched the SNL presidential special of it.  Hi-larious!  I think Tina Fey is something else.  One wickedly talented mind there!  Here's to watching the polling returns and listening to speculation all day long, wherever you are...and the end of political phone calls in the evening!  WOO-HOO!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Baby Boo Brownies

Here's a Halloween mini brownie recipe that is wayyyyy too good:

Make any regular brownie mix.  Set aside.  

In another bowl, mix up: 
8 oz. cream cheese, softened 
5 TBLSP butter, softened
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 TBLSP flour

when this is mixed together well, sprinkle in some mini chips.  (If your brownie mix has chocolate chips in it, then leave the chocolate chips out of the cream cheese mixture.)

Line a mini muffin pan with mini muffin papers  (cute!!).  Put in about a tablespoon of the regular brownie batter, then a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture.  Bake until done; somewhere around 25 minutes or so at 350.  These are very good and easy!


Hunt 'Em Up

Here are some pics of Mas as a pheasant hunter.  He is off to the pumpkin patch today, where he'll go on a hayride and hear a story, then back to school for trick-or-treating.  Should be a good day!  For the first time in our Halloween history, he seemed to enjoy getting his costume on today; even showing off a bit for the gang on the van...he may finally be starting to understand this whole "dress up and eat candy" holiday that happens once a year!  Very exciting!  I am going to be making a ton o' snacks for a card party tonight, while listening to scary movies on tv...yay!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

freeze frame, da**it!

Give me one moment in time....just one!  I tried to get pictures of the kids yesterday at the national monument that is only a few short miles from the house...about 2 of them.  Anywhoo, 14 cooperated nicely.  Mas, not so much.  He did begin to understand the drill, though; whenever I would stop along the path, he would stop, back up into the rock wall or large rock to sit on, and sit/stand there and wait for me to snap pics....of him looking over to where he could hear the water, or looking up at the birds flying, or look over at the deer leaping through the tall prairie grass...looking at mom was an option never really even thought of!  Kind of a hoot, in a way, but would have been nice to capture a few good pics.  The coolest, scariest, Halloween-y type moment was when I was snapping individual pics of Riley, hearing voices.  She said, hurry up, there are people coming up the path...the thing was, there was no one there...and we both heard the voices.  In fact, we got there 15 minutes prior to closing, and the lady let us go through anyway, knowing the building would be locked by the time we walked through....hmmm...wish Ghost Hunters had been along to do some EVP work!  But, I digress...Here are some examples of what I was working with...I always find more humor in the pics that don't work....(that, and the grandmas and grandpas read this blog, so I don't want them to see the "good" pics yet.)  As far as the "great" pics, we're not there yet.  Let's put it this way, I was hoping to get a pic to adorn our Christmas cards...didn't find that yet.  And by the way, if you're thinking, "I wonder if she tried this, or that, or taking his tiny stuffed buffalo zipper pull and having it perch on top of the lens, or singing dora the explorer, or saying please look at mommy's head, or what's on mommy's head, or please just work with me, or why aren't your guardian angels helping us out here....", yes, each idea was tried!  HAHA!  To her credit, though, 14 did very well and was very calm and cooperative...who knew?  I did snag some bee-yoooo-tiful pics of her alone, so the day was not a wash!  Here, are the pictures for you to enjoy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

tales from the backseat

Heard from the backseat while driving away from grandma's house tonight, about 10 seconds of crying, followed by our speech therapist's voice on the GoTalk saying, "stay", "stay", "stay", "stay."  Mom:  "Mason, do you want to stay at grandma's house?"  Mas:  "stay", "stay", "stay".  Nevermind that the "stay" button has a picture of a person holding their hand out to a dog to make them stay, or that it is right next to the "Skipper" button, but my son knew enough to push this button to indicate he wanted to stay at his grandma's house.  Wow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Patrick, your genius is showing...

Oh, the Wells Fargo Wagon is a, comin' down the street, oh please, let it be for me!  Today, the wagon came for Mason!  His new, shiny Dynavox Palmtop3 is now here!  How bee-yoo-tiful!  It is just as shiny and nice as you might expect...come to think of it, can we just put it on a shelf and admire it's beauty, before it's covered in drool and teddy grahams?  Oh, I guess not!  I was able to sit down with his speech therapist today to have a seems very awesome and full of many options that some of them have to be turned off or dumbed down, for now, until he gets the hang of it.  It's amazing the capabilities the device offers...much more than I expected it would.  Now, to teach Mas about all of the lovely buttons.  Had a great story from his speech therapist....yesterday, she went to work with him in his room, and she asked him if he wanted to ride bike or swing.  He chose ride bike, so they left the room to head to the bikes.  He went the other direction, down the hall, so she followed him to see where he was going.  He proceeded to walk down the hall and stop in front of the elevator.  He pushed the button and stepped in.  She followed.  He pushed the button to go to the basement.  Once they got there and the doors opened, he walked down the hall to the day student's nursing office, opened the door, turned on the light, and sat down at their table.  His therapist said, "Do you have an owie?"  He pointed to the place on his right wrist where he was bitten by another student earlier this week.  (!)  Then, they sat and waited, since there weren't any nurses in the room at the time.  She finally said, do you want to wait for a nurse to come back, or go ride bike?  He got up, grabbed her hand, turned off the light and walked back to the elevator to get to the bikes.  HELLO!  A very nice AHA moment, witnessed by someone other than mom!  YAY!  I'm always glad when he shows his smarts to someone other than us....what a relief!  Anyway, once he figures this device out, watch out, 'cause he'll be a communicating machine!

Monday, October 20, 2008

thoughts dropping like leaves

We just found out Mason's augmentative communication device was shipped today....wooOOO-hooOOOO!!!  Now, for him (and us) to figure it out.  And, to worry about getting the $3500 device dirty, having drool spill on it, taking it off when he goes to the bathroom, etc.  I can hear it now...."Don't drool on that--it's $3500!!"  "Clean that spilled oatmeal off of it right away--it's $3500!!!"  "Watch out or he will throw it in the toilet when he goes to the bathroom--and it's $3500!!"  Ahhh, such fun things to end up in our vocabulary.  Just so something ends up in Mason's vocabulary, eh?  If we spend more money now and Mas is able to learn how to effectively communicate in all situations with anyone, and that enables him to reside in a group home someday as opposed to a nursing home with a one-on-one aide or in the care of the state, then that is money well spent, is it not?  I saw an article on Yahoo this morning about autistic parents fighting insurance companies to get their children's therapies covered.  It's amazing to me that our country has not yet learned how to take care of our people with special needs.  If we can't take care of our weakest parts of society, i.e. the handicapped, elderly, those with addictions, etc., then what kind of society are we, really?  We can all sit there in our smugness and say, "Well, I'LL never have a child with a disability," or, "I'LL never be disabled."  But, the sad truth is, we are all just one minor accident or one scary virus away from being handicapped or having a child who is handicapped.  This affects all of us, folks.  If you are one of those people who are blessed with a healthy family, children, and friends, just hang on to your hats, because the day will come when you or someone you love will be affected by a disability.  The other frightening fact is, autism is an example of one of those disorders that shows no sign of letting up; it's not going anywhere.  If anything, it is getting worse.  If we don't get a handle on autism today, who knows where we'll be with it 20 or 30 years from now.  If a person with a completely healthy family gets pregnant and does everything right, barely even taking a Tylenol during the 9 months of gestation, can have a child with a brain that has a myriad of things wrong with it, let me tell you it can happen to anyone.  So, take a minute to read those articles about insurance companies and autism, or insurance companies and any other disorder, because the failure of insurance companies and society to care for our weakest is only going to leave all of us weaker in the end.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

the dung beatle

Ringo Starr has a new You Tube clip out (peace and love, baby) asking you to no longer send anything to be signed...he no longer has the time.  That's right, folks, the biggest joke of a musician ever, the weakest Beatle by a long shot, the one with tone deaf ears and absolutely zero charisma, (and a voice to match) has mandated that he will no longer sign anything after October 20th.  My question is, who in the world was asking him to sign things before?  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

all's quiet with the shepherds...

Am reading "Seeing Voices" by Oliver Sacks, a book about sign language and language acquisition...I wouldn't really recommend reading it unless you know someone with no speech/language, or are that is quite "jargon-y" and written in a very left-brained manner.  To me, it is a much harder read than his "Awakenings", or "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat", but that could be because they both contained case studies, my favorite method of learning about anything.  Anywhoo, in this book Dr. Sacks mentions King Psammetichos, an Egyptian ruler in 7 BC who was setting out to prove that Egyptian was the world's oldest language.  To attempt to prove this, he gave his newborn twins to two shepherds, instructing them not to speak to them, or in front of them, at all.  The infants were kept in total silence continuously, away from their family, until at age 2 one of the twins said "bekos", which means "bread" in Phrygian.  He then concluded that Phrygian was the oldest language.  What the experiment really ended up proving, (besides the fact that Egyptian kings are wacko and this man was a complete, raving lunatic) is that language is situational, meaning it is dependent on input in a child's environment.  (By the way, where was the mother in all of this?!)  It did kind of knock me in between the eyes as far as whether we have done enough to help Mas learn to communicate...I will say I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed considerably, just knowing we have tried just about everything we have known to try.  We at least have one up on Egyptian Kings from 7 BC.  As we wade through the red tape required to get Mas his latest communication device, I still can't help but appreciate the fact that most people are given the ability to speak.  My nickname growing up was "Motormouth", so it is even more odd that I should have a child with no voice!  And green eyes!!  And blonde hair!!!  Just a nice little reminder that sometimes we have to let go of the handlebars and let the universe do the driving, if only to illustrate to us that we can't control everything.  

Monday, October 13, 2008

What Price Voice?

Dealing with insurance right now, trying to get a new communication device for Mas.  What a joy, dealing with paper pushers...called two people at our insurance company, got two completely different answers.  Just a tip to those of you out there that make calls to desk jockeys:  get their name before you go any further...have them spell it if necessary.  This way, you can have all the info you need when you have to call back later.  We are talking about a lot of money to give Mas his voice...would have been easier if the guy upstairs had given him one of those...would have been free and would have been portable.  Is it "that which does not kill you makes you stronger," or "that which does not kill you probably will eventually?!"  (insert meek laugh here)  I'm not sure of the answer, but I know I don't like dealing with insurance companies...especially when the answers vary depending on whom you talk to.  Be glad you got your voice as a package deal at birth; much easier to deal with that way!

Friday, October 10, 2008

unfriendly crafters

Had an interesting experience at the fabric store in Sioux Falls today.  I am stocking up on blue fabrics that have things Mas is interested in on them; hot air balloons, airplanes, clouds, stars, penguins, space, etc.  Spent about 10 minutes picking out fabrics, then went to wait in line for them to cut it.  There were two cutting tables, one on each side of the store.  There was one person on each table.  In front of me at the time were two people; a woman with a cart FULL of fleece and material, ($450 worth!!) and another woman with her arms full of material.  I thought, no need to stand here for half an hour and stare; I'll just walk around some more and go check out the patterns, to see if I'm crazy enough to sew a costume for Mas for Halloween...(I'm not!)...went back after about 10 minutes of browsing to see the woman with the full cart is about halfway through her pile, and the other woman is gone.  I decided to buckle down and stand in line, since time was getting away from me and I knew I had to get going.  The person cutting her material had to go on in great detail about each fabric, coughing up her lungs on each one and commenting on the print, pattern, or texture.  I was trying to be patient, realizing I wasn't the only one in a hurry.  Then, they started on the fleece pile for cutting, and the woman "just wasn't sure" how much of each one she needed...which required cutting lady to go into a long, monotonish-diatribe about fleece blankets and how much fleece is needed....agonizing, to say the least.  After 20 minutes (yes, 20!) standing behind her, she was finally finished and they got to my pile.  The cutting lady pulled up my fabrics, then sighed and called someone else over to cut it so she could go have her lunch.  That woman came over, and proceeded to write each number on the end of the bolt down, so she could begin cutting.  (I was thinking, even Wal-Mart manages to have the little bolt guns that scan those numbers in!!  Hello?!)  I made small talk with two other women behind me, who were commenting on my material and sharing in my waiting (writhing?!) pain, but both were very graceful about it.  Finally, I was done, and made a beeline for the checkout...where the fleece/fabric queen was paying!  10 minutes into it, her check would not clear the little machine, so they had to call the manager over to deal with it (i.e. stare at the check and make frustrated faces).  Eventually, the lady behind me commented how she can't believe how little help they have, how no one should come there on their lunch hour, etc.  I sat and quietly commiserated with her, wondering how much longer this could take, when another checkout person showed up and said, "I'll help whoever's next."  Lo and behold, the 5 people behind me ran over to that line and cut me and the one behind me off!  HELLO!  How rude is that?  The lady behind me said, "I always thought quilters were nice."  (LOL!)  I said, not so much!  Finally, after grimacing at the check long enough, the manager slipped it into a small hole and it was my turn.  I managed to (quickly) pay and get out of dodge.  The moral of this story is, crafters are crafty, and not necessarily in a good way!  

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

partners in crime

Interesting side note:  made two loaves of pumpkin/chocolate chip bread for us and some friends of ours.  Left the second loaf on the island for the hubby to remove from the pan once it was cool.  Came home and learned that Mas helped himself to the loaf, coating his face and hands with chocolate, and then managed to drop the rest of the loaf on the floor, where the dogs inhaled what was left.  I can only assume they all enjoyed it!

does he have a headache?

Friday morning: noticed a slight runny nose; no color, no cough, no fever.  Used a zicam swab and hoped for the best.  Saturday morning: noticed same symptoms, used zicam swab and again hoped we had caught it early.  Sunday morning: ditto.  Monday morning: send him to school with some motrin; wondering if he was really sick or if this was going to be "just a cold" and not turn into anything else.  (Wouldn't that be a wonderful, miraculous world?!)  Monday at 5pm: take him to the doc, where he shows a temp of 98.9...go to great lengths explaining the fact that myself and my kids never reach a temp above 96.1 unless we are sick.  Finally, the doc comes in, takes a look in his throat, and says, his left tonsil is just huge!  Then, looking in his left ear, says, his ear is infected and is the color of your shirt!  (that would be bright red)  So, here we were, low grade fever, no cough, acting and eating pretty much normal, but walking around with an infected ear and a huge tonsil.  Poor kiddo!  The best part of the appointment was the nurse asking me, "Does he have a headache?"  Ummm.....I have NO IDEA because he DOES NOT SPEAK!  Hello?!  HAHA!  I fought the urge to use sarcasm; instead, explained he doesn't have a button for "headache" on his GoTalk, so I have no idea.  (the new device will have pain and body buttons, to show where it hurts)  Tomorrow he is off to a neurology appointment....first one in 5 years.  Wonder if they'll have anything exciting to bring to the table?  14 had an upright bass lesson tonight...wondered while I was carrying it up to the 3rd floor of the music building whether flute might have been a better instrument to learn!  :o)  She told me how she thinks it would be interesting to work for NASA and design things to investigate planets, or be a coroner, or be a research scientist to study diseases.  Man, what a strange ying/yang world we live in!  One kid going to the doc for the problems in his brain, the other one looking at an open vista of possibilities because of the good things in her brain.  What a wild ride.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

if freddy krueger owned a dog spa...

Decided today was a nice enough day to give Skipper a nice shave outside...mind you, whenever I decide to do this, the wind is from the "blow fine pieces of black and white dog hair into your nose, eyes, and mouth" direction.  Today was no exception.  As I shaved him and tried to do my best Cesar Milan imitation to keep him still, I noticed the shaver was changing pitch and volume...looking down, I noticed I had lost the protective blade, so I was basically shaving off ALL of his hair...right on top of his head...where everyone can see it.  I figured I could even things out by shaving more of it, but here's what:  that is impossible to do with a dog shaver.  It just kept making uneven little cuts next to the other uneven little cut...argh...decided to move on to his neck.  I was concentrating on keeping things even, enjoying the cool weather and blue sky, and then, hmmmmm, why is the pitch changing again?  Because the cover was off...AGAIN!  His neck had nice little uneven cuts....all over the place.  I tried to even it out, but to no avail.  I finally decided to go ahead and cut his belly hair short (he is basically Cousin It if he isn't given a shave now and then...) and thought I could do it without the blade cover, since I wanted it short there anyway.  Right.  It didn't work as masterfully as I had hoped.  Now, his belly is full of nice little uneven cuts all over the place.  Let's just say a bath with whitening shampoo and a lot of sweat and laughter later, he doesn't look much better than when we started, but he is cooler, although now he has to stay inside to avoid being mocked by the neighborhood dogs.  I guess I won't be getting a job as a dog groomer anytime soon.  And they make it look so EASY on tv!  Go figure.  This picture is a pre-shave photo...couldn't bare to post a current one!  But just look at that face!  Hopefully he will understand!!  :o)

a place in this world

Had a sobering thought the time Mas is 18, I will be 47.  47?!?!  When did that happen?  I will finally be able to become a productive member of the workforce again, but no one will want to hire a dried up 47 year old stay-at-home mom!  I can see it now...what are your qualifications?  Hmmmm...I can change 10 diapers a day, feed an octopus-armed child without it spilling, I can take care of 3 dogs, I can answer phones, take messages, take pictures, play trumpet, pick up a multitude of toys from a vast variety of locations, mow, pick up dog poo, and sometimes make something resembling supper.  I don't know what this would qualify me for...probably being a mom!  Ironic, eh?  While I am blessed to be able to stay home and raise my kids and take care of my family, I can't help but think that my myelin sheath is slowing down and my nerve impulses are starting to dry up...I wish I could challenge my brain a bit more while I am still able.  As I struggle to find my place in this world, I guess I need to remind myself that the world needs all types, and I guess this is what I was put on this earth to do.  Can't help but think about now that the whole working-my-behind-off-in-college-to-get-my-degree route could have been avoided for my current vocation.  I guess hindsight is definitely 20/20.

Monday, September 29, 2008

ready for fall

Spent all morning and early afternoon outside....mowing, using the hedge trimmer on the shrubbery (thank you Monty Python), spreading mulch around the trees and bushes, pounding in fertilizer stakes around all things green, bagging up all the left over shrubbery's finally gorgeous outside and not all hot and sticky...yay, fall!  Now, I need to get into full supper mode and figure out what to make.  Riley had a long weekend full of band; am hoping she can chill out a bit this week before another weekend of band starts up.  Seems the demands of her life are a bit heavier than they were when I was a mere freshman...I wonder if the schools will eventually stop the pressure or cut back on it somewhat?  Seems it would be a good way to keep kids involved in activities.  But, what do I know?!  :o)  Off to the kitchen for some prep work...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

extremity strength

Off to watch 14 march today...she will spend from 7 am until 12:30 am tomorrow morning with the say it will be a long day would be a vast understatement.  I hope to make her pancakes in the morning (tomorrow) after she has slept a perfect world.  We'll see how that pans out.  Have to bring Mas along today, so that will make the day much more interesting.  Although, I have to admit he did a great job last week watching his sister march for a full day.  It got a little hairy at the end, though, when he started pulling the hair of the Irondale fans in front of us...let's just say they were great people and only seemed mildly perturbed at my poor mothering...'cause let's face it, folks, no matter what's wrong with your kid, or no matter how many hours a day are spent watching your child and grabbing their hands and signing and saying "no" and being nervous because you worry about what they're going to do next, and then they do it, the mother is blamed.  As I said, it makes for an interesting day!  (Insert big sigh here.)  I am close to being at the end of my mothering rope here...if anyone has any great suggestions for how to do everything right as a mom, please pass that info on to me.  Some days it feels I can't tread water for much longer...not asking for a life raft, just more strength in my arms and legs!  That's it for now...time to greet the new day!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

on watching the birth of a memory

Spent a very sad evening with my friend, who lost her husband in surgery.  All kinds of thoughts of my dad's passing were flooding my mind, along with running thoughts of what the right thing to say was.  Never did find the right thing to say.  Watched my friends' granddaughter bop around the waiting area, knowing she was too young to really fathom the fact that her daddy was gone.  Trying to be helpful, I pulled fruit snacks out of my purse in a feeble attempt to placate the little girl, followed by letting her watch Mario jump up and down in my nintendo ds lite....  All I could think of was, someday, when she's older, she'll remember Nemo fruit snacks and Mario and be sad.  Argh.  Watched my friend pull from an amazing reservoir of strength...watched her mom, my closest friend and confidante, be another pillar of strength.  I guess it's true what they say; women are the stronger of the two sexes.  I am sad knowing she has lost her husband way too young, and especially knowing her daughter has lost her daddy.  Here's hoping she will find a way to get to Peace at this time in her life, and hoping she knows how much love surrounds them both.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


After requesting our fave cabin on the water at Andy Myers' Lodge, we spent the first two nights there in total happiness, except for the long walk up and down the crunchy little rock sidewalk that left us huffing and puffing.  The only thing out of the ordinary was the totally freakish little snoring sounds Howard's buddy was making.  I called him on it the first morning, saying, man, what a strange-sounding snore you've got going on there!  The next morning, Howard told him, you sound like our springer spaniel when we kennel him up for the night in our closet...making all these sad little sounds.  The second morning, I was sitting on the toilet when I heard scratching noises coming from under my feet.  I didn't think much of it, since Eagle Lake laps up right beside the cabin.  Next thing I know, I look down and see this little furry creature, standing on its' hind legs, looking at me like, "What are YOU doing here?"  I gave a little shriek, stood up, and stomped my feet to try to scare ran behind the vanity for a moment, then poked its' head out and gave me another funny look.  I bolted up to the lodge and asked Teresa (camp mom) what was living with me in Cabin 7...she said, ask one of the dock boys.  I saw Ryan in the lodge and said, what is living in our cabin?  He looks up from the fireplace and calmly says, "weasel."  I said, "You know about this?"  He said, yeah, it used to come down to the docks, and they would feed it, but Dakota, the brown lab (camp dog) barked at it and now it wouldn't come down there anymore.  He said he would go get a net to try to catch it.  I go back to the cabin and take out my camera, determined to get some evidence that there was a weasel living with us in our cabin...alas, the creature (camp weasel) was far too fast for that.  Ryan (camp comedian) walks in with the net, sits on the floor, cocks his head to one side and says, "Garlic chips?  You're feeding it garlic chips to try to lure it out to the kitchen?  He doesn't like garlic chips.  He likes bread."  (Of course!--smack head now.)  So, we proceed to throw blueberry bread at him.  He liked it, and came out and ate it, but we were unable to catch him.  During the feeble attempt at netting him (it's easier to net a 32" musky--wily little creatures) he was rolling around in our friend's bedding, then running to our bedroom and jumping 3-4 FEET HIGH to get on our shelves, then back to our buddy's bedding to romp around.  Hmmmm.  Knowing we wouldn't sleep with that creature rolling in the bedding, and suddenly realizing that the weak-a** snore belonged to said weasel, and not hubby's best friend, I suddenly panicked and asked camp mom for a different cabin.  She was nice enough to find us different digs, and I proceeded to haul ALL of our stuff over to another cabin, no small task.  By the time the guys got back, I was fat, dumb, and happy in the new cabin, listening closely for any rustling noises and hoping the guys would believe me. (camp spaz) Of course, they were incredulous...quizzing me and cocking their eyebrows in a funny manner.  Eventually, a stranger from cabin 3 came up to us on Wednesday night, and said he had been down in our old cabin to use the stove, and what was perched on the kitchen table, but a big ol' weasel!  Whew!  He said he wouldn't have slept with it, either!  As far as wildlife goes, we ended up seeing a timber wolf, black bear with three cubs, feeding bald eagles, northerns, walleyes, smallies, and a muskie...but I will probably remember the weasel the longest!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

back to the states

Just spent a week in Canada, fishing every day, not wearing makeup, not fixing my hair, not changing diapers, not making any meals, ahhhhhhhhhh, bliss.  We were unsuccessful in catching a muskie, but caught a lot of nice walleye, smallies, and northerns, had many other wildlife adventures.  Saw a wolf in the wild for the first time ever, saw many bald eagles feeding on fish, and saw a mama black bear with three cubs.  Pretty awesome!  It was a beautiful week and I'm so sad it's over!  It's nice to be back with the kids, though.  Grandma took care of them, so they were in good hands, which made it easier to enjoy ourselves.  I still think living on a lake must be the most incredible way to live, ever.  Got our fill of gravy fries and Aero bars, and started picking up the short-and-sweet Canadian accent, eh?  What an outstanding way to spend a vacation!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

just bein' mom

I'd love to say I've been busy discovering the cure for the common cold, or repainting the house, or building my 10 foot fence around the property....but, have just been "mom" to my kiddos...the youngest of which spent a miserable day yesterday coping with diarrhea.  Yes, more of the Code Brown for me to deal with!  He is back at it today, though, so I am busy catching up.  We are finally experiencing fall-like temps, which is A-OK with me!  Am currently making monster cookies and chocolate chip cookies to use on a road trip we're going to be taking.  Seems to be a nice day to get things done, although I'd rather be outside in the garden or sitting on the patio.  My next order of business is to pack; something I'd rather not do.  I always worry about what I'm going to forget.  Hopefully nothing!  Well, back to the kitchen trenches to scoop out more cookie dough.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

a change in the air

It always happens, every year, right about this time, give or take a week...something in the air changes, and it's no longer acceptable to go swimming, water outdoor plants excessively, go out for ice cream, etc...somehow, it has turned over to fall.  Not the orange leaves on the trees type of fall, but definitely no longer summer, either.  I felt it last week, but shook it off, convinced it was too early for that this year.  It seems it's here, regardless of what we feel about it.  I even hauled up my fall/Halloween decorations yesterday....yeah, yeah, I know, it's too early...but, it's my favorite time of year, and I like to luxuriate in it a bit.  I love Christmas, too, but for different reasons.  I love that we can be outside this time of year and be comfortable...especially in jeans and a sweatshirt.  That is heavenly.  I think canning the last batch of tomatoes yesterday convinced me that it's okay to move forward into the upcoming season.  I may actually take out my Simpsons Halloween people today and set them up....slowly....savoring the ones that still light up.  I did draw the line at buying small Halloween candy bars, though, knowing full well they wouldn't survive until the end of October!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

finishing up the harvest

Just so you know, I don't only write about "adventures in crap."  (Although, that has been the general rule around here lately, with 3 dogs and a son who has been toilet training for 1 1/2 years...also, what a great name for a blog....hhhmmmmmmm....)  Today I am off to can some pizza sauce with the remaining tomatoes hanging out in the garden.  Here's hoping it turns out alright.  I have never canned a pizza sauce before, but seeing as how we currently have 48 jars of salsa, I think it's time to try something else!  :o)  My garden fungus has won; not sure if it was from the heavy rain we had earlier this month, or something else, but when Mas had his break and I ignored it for a few days, it had already taken a good hold through the plants.  I went out yesterday and tried to rip out the affected plants, but it is pretty much everywhere.  I guess that will teach me; taking so many days off from checking on things outside!  It was a banner year for tomatoes, though, but a rough year for peppers.  Last year, I had so many spare peppers that I was able to string them up and hang them in the kitchen.  They look awesome in there, all dried and pretty.  This year, I was lucky to scavenge enough out of there to even make salsa.  I am already making plans for next year's gardens; plan on adding more peppers, green beans, and onions, and have decided not to plant pumpkins or squash again.  There has to be some reason to visit the apple orchards in the fall besides apples, right?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

D'OH!, yesterday was one of those days...again!  Mas just finished his two week break, so yesterday morning I woke him up at 6:45, fed him breakfast, got his backpack ready, got him dressed and put his shoes on...put his coat on 'cause it was cool outside...sat out on the porch with him and waited 30 minutes.....for the van....that NEVER CAME!  That's because his mother can't read!  He actually started today, Tuesday, instead of yesterday.  Imagine how fun it was to tell him to come back in and take off his shoes and coat!  :o(  Not so much.  (Let's just say that phonics crap is solid!--*insert phonics gang sign here*)  I am going to work on accurate reading in the future.  After that episode, I went to shower, opened our bedroom door, and ran over a pile of dog crap the size of a dinner plate....our German Shorthair decided to leave that for me inside our bedroom door, as opposed for waiting for his master to wake up and let him out....of course, the door ran into the pile and schmeared it all over the carpet....yeah.  So, I steam cleaned that mess and took my daughter to her doctor appointment, where the PA was whacked out and weird and said some really inappropriate things....(do you a call a doc on that stuff, or assume they had a tough weekend??  i decided to let it go, based on how my day was going)...then, off to McDonald's, where we drove through, got home, and discovered they forgot my food!  Called McDonald's, talked to the manager, was told that happens.....which, it does, but not as often as it does here.  Made a call to the district manager (whom they told us was in we called Yankton, they told us their manager was actually spending the day in Pipestone, where we live!  So, she was there when our drive through fiasco occurred....) and ended up speaking to her (in a scarily calm voice!  go fig!) about relying on help, customer service (those words are ALMOST extinct in today's society, eh?) and taking care of people.  She was actually very nice and did a good job acting like she cared.  (Go, fake empathy!!)  Next was a visit to Wal-Mart about 45 minutes away, where I was able to 1)take care of my huge fridge list, and 2)entertain the Masinator.  Surprisingly, it was a very benign visit to "The" Wal-Mart, so nothing of excitement to report there.  Then, took Mas in for his plantar wart doctor visit, and waited ONE HOUR for the doc!  Hello!  Again, we were crazy calm.  Got him home, put him to bed (which he was unhappy with, since there was no bath due to his foot being taped up!), the hubby ran to Pizza Hut while I finished cleaning the kitchen.  Ran into the office to grab the stapler, and stepped guessed it, MORE DOG POO!  Out with the steam cleaner, again.  Phone rang as I took first bite of my P'zone....talked on phone and didn't taste food, hubby went to get Riley from band, but got called in to work and couldn't bring her home...someone else volunteered to drive her home (thanks, Lori!) ready for bed and applied my progesterone cream the doc suggested....carefully measured out my 1/2 tsp....was applying it and thought, man, how does anyone find enough "soft skin" to apply all of this stuff?  Realized then that I was using a 1/2 TBLSP, not a 1/2 TSP.  All in all, a GRRRRRRREAT Monday; can't make this stuff up, folks!  Here's to Tuesday, and every day that isn't Monday!  Hope this makes you feel like your days are awesome!  I'd laugh right now if the wounds weren't still so fresh!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

did you say $6.66???

So maybe the first sign that you should have stayed home is waking up to find your son covered in diarrhea; from the top of his blonde hair to his toes...finding it embedded in his sheets, on his comforter, on his pillow....or, maybe when you realize you have to throw out his pillow because there's just no recovering it....or, when he has explosive diarrhea all day long (to the tune of 20+ diapers changed today)...or, when your total at Burger King is $6.66 (yes, it truly was $6.66)...or, when your daughter asks what is in your hair at around 2 pm, and you realize it is dried, crusted over diarrhea from your son's explosion at 6:45 this morning....or, when your son lies on the floor and screams at your daughter's appointment...or, when your son keeps hitting the "I'm tired, I want to go to bed" button starting at 10 am and going all day long...or, when you realize you are running short on wipes and your son only wants to lie on the floor and cry and you are also low on pull-ups and there is no sale on your hair color and you spend 2 1/2 hours in a chair with your daughter doing your "fun" hair coloring day and your son is sitting in his new, expensive stroller slowly filling and filling and filling up his pants and signing "night-night."  I'm not sure what sign I missed, but I am sure the universe was busy throwing them at me today.  Let's just say this would have been a good day to stay home, but life didn't allow it.  I have decided that the next time my morning omens include three sixes and explosive diarrhea, I am leaving the car in the garage and staying in my pajamas!  Word.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

and, in this corner...

Books on the docket this month:  Musicophila by Oliver Sacks; Schuyler's Monster by Robert Rummel-Hudson (should have been done months ago; just don't want to finish it yet!  It's too much fun!),; a Frank Sinatra glossy book with personal stories about the man and his music; and a couple more books that are occupying various bathrooms and chairs around the house--such as, Seeing Voices, My Life in Pictures, etc.  Will do my informal reviews when finished....nothing like a good book to take you somewhere else.  Again, hats off to the first person who decided to print their stories out and smash them between two hard much fun for those of us who came later!  Strong work!

What is it about 3 overly ripe bananas or a counter full of ripe tomatoes or 4 huge zucchinis that gives me the urge to preheat the oven?  I asked my mom this question today (convinced it was a genetic anomaly)...she concurred.  I used to blame it on growing up in the Marion School District (blame the school, blame the school!!--chant along, if you wish!) that taught us to "make a home run" with our dinner...meaning, finish the food at all of the "bases" (little depressions in the tray that held food.)  I do feel that probably gave many of us the inability to leave food on a plate...I know the old adage, better to "go to waste" than "go to waist"...but, when I go to throw food out, all I can see is a frowning Mrs. McKenzie wagging her finger at me.  So, with that in mind, today was about tomatoes.  I canned 9 quart jars of spaghetti sauce, and 9 pint jars of a new recipe of salsa.  It was a LONG day in the kitchen, surrounded by dirty utensils, the beautiful smells of sauce simmering on the stove, and recipes that were more or less followed; stopping just long enough to open a package of fruit snacks or crackers for the Masinator, then, came the lovely "pop" sounds that tell me my jars sealed....ahhhhh, what a perfect August sound!  Could I have found something more fun to do today?  Ummmmmm, yes, but I know that when winter is raging outside the window, there will be nothing as great as opening a jar of summer....hats off to the first person who decided to stuff stuff in a jar and seal the lid.  Mrs. McKenzie would be proud!

Friday, August 15, 2008

it's all

Our computer decided to take a royal swandive into viral-type messiness, so here I am typing on our new Mac computer...spent an eternity in Best Buy yesterday, where they were fixing our old (read: familiar and wonderful) computer.  It was in good hands with Lee, a Geek Squad member with warm eyes and a good heart.  I was so impressed with his techy prowess, I almost invited him to live in our basement.  I thought I could feed him at each meal, and throw in homemade goodies bi-weekly.  If only to have him available to address all of technical mishaps in this house.  He was wonderful, and renewed my faith in Big Business AND customer service.  I would like to attach a cute picture describing our current life HERE, but our pictures are currently living in a new Mac hard drive and have yet to be attached to the new computer.  Life is good, but I am even more painfully aware of how much I depend on sameness, and just how much it throws me to have to learn new things.  I am a creature of habit, my friends, and I just to need to admit that and move on!  In other exciting news, Riley will be starting up band camp next week, and Mas is being treated for plantar warts on the bottom of his foot.  No fun.  I currently have chocolate zucchini cake in the oven; if it is warranted, I will post the recipe on the blog later.  Have spent a busy week taking in the Turner County Fair and also visiting my gram in the hospital.  She just underwent surgery for colon cancer; she is doing great and is a testament to women in their mid 80s; strong and handling life's curveballs as gracefully as possible.  Hopefully my daughter and myself are learning something from her.  We also spent some hairy moments chasing storms this week; will post pics later, but it's the first time I've ever seen a wall cloud lower and also watched rotation directly over our vehicle; Riley thought we were nuts, but Howard and I enjoyed it immensely.  I think it might be the closest I've ever been to being right next to an actual, real live tornado.  Can you say cool?  Gotta go; time to try to figure out the new technology before it envelops me and I am but a pawn in its' shiny new game.  More later!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

how heavy is your voice?

The whole fam-damily went to pick Mas up at school yesterday, and we were able to snag a few moments of time from Mas's speech therapist. She was kind enough to demonstrate the two communication boards she is looking at for Mas to use next. One is the Dynavox M3,, and the other is the Dynavox palmtop 3 She demonstrated to us the features (throw over the fence the horse some hay...just think my German heritage is showing again...) and talked to us about the pros and cons of each. The smaller palmtop one (I am pretty sure that's the one she was thinking of; there are a few smaller ones, though, and I might have the wrong name) is definitely a winner in convenience, since it comes with a bag with a strap, which they would strap around his waist, upside down, so he can look down at it and push the buttons to "speak." The bigger one, the M3, is quite heavy, (would make neat sounds when thrown....) and would be difficult to carry. It would probably require a backpack, which would mean he would be voiceless while in transit, (while on way to and from school, walking to other places in the building, etc.) which he is a lot during the day. The M3, though, has nice big words which I think are vital, since I am convinced he will be able to at least read easy words some day. His therapist said he can already go pick out the word "Thursday" when she asks him to get it off the board. I know some adults who would struggle with that! :o) The M3 also has the ability to put in an actual picture of say, our backyard, and when you push on certain parts of the picture, other things come up; for example, if he were to push on the picture of his swimming pool, another screen would come up with options that have to do with his pool. Very Cool Feature, eh? The smaller one, the palmtop, has tiny print, so that might be harder for him to see/read. Also, the buttons are much smaller, so there's an element of luck involved as far as him hitting the button he intends to hit. So, we are on the proverbial fence. It just strikes me as funny that we have to be thinking of the weight and portability of Mason's voice...amazing the things we take for granted on almost a moment-by-moment basis. Here's hoping we choose correctly, too, since the small device is around $3,000, and the larger one hovers around $6,000. Maybe we are all in the wrong business, huh? I guess one could argue there's no price too steep to have a voice, but they are maybe getting close to that. Send good thoughts Mason's way, if you would, that he would be able to show an obvious preference for one over the other, and that his therapist will be able to decide which one will serve him best in the years to come! And encourage your children to go into augmentative communication's a niche business, but oh-so-lucrative!