Monday, March 30, 2009

A Distracted Evening

I was having an amusing time this evening watching Whose Line is It Anyway? when I read this post on Anne Kennedy's blog, felt like vomiting, and then opened a beer. What a day.

I remember being about 16 weeks pregnant with Miranda when Alex received his diagnosis of high-functioning autism. When your eldest child is on the spectrum, chances aren't real good for the next one. (Alex is a rare one in his preschool-disabled classroom to have a younger sibling, especially one who is not autistic.) So I remember the misery well but I. Never. Considered. Having. An. Abortion. In fact, I refused any and all testing that could possibly lead in that direction.

Looking back and recognizing just how deeply depressed I was at the time, I'm grateful I was pregnant when we learned of Alex's diagnosis because it kept me from hurting myself. But it did feel like our world was ending, that all of our hopes and dreams of parenthood and a family were being smashed into pieces like shattered glass.

But even then, I did everything I could to protect that tiny baby girl growing inside me, and God did the rest. And when she came out into the world backwards (so, by planned c-section) on October 30, 2006, she was perfect and beautiful and the most amazing marvel of God. A miracle, in the flesh, in our very hands.

And now, at almost two and a half years old, she is a challenge at times, but a darling one, who loves hugs and kisses and just wants you to play with her. A child who is treasured, whose life I never regret. Yes, we suffered during the pregnancy and later, with her diagnosis of Sensory Integration Dysfunction last year, but never more than if we'd lost her. Or, worse, chosen to throw her away.

You see, if we'd had Alex evaluated by Early Intervention nine months earlier, like many wise and kind people advised us to, there probably never would have been a Miranda. So God turned my folly--for it was I who refused to call EI and bullied Marshall until he let me have my way--into joy in the person of my daughter. She is God's mercy and forgiveness and immeasurable grace, incarnate.

And now, after a break for weeping, let me do my five things:

1) Miranda doesn't have meningitis. I got a call this afternoon from the Children's Ministry Coordinator at church this afternoon saying Miranda had been exposed to meningitis in the nursery at Bible study last Wednesday and I probably would want to consult my pediatrician. So I called Dr. Chun and arranged to pick Alex up at school at 3 so we could go straight to Cadoro Pediatrics where Dr. Chun examined her and said Miranda is fine and we can still go to the MOPS playdate at Pump It Up tomorrow. Charlotte Olson is coming here first to play and then go with us, which makes it all the more fun. Can I say again how blessed I am to have such a fine team of doctors to help us? Thank you, Lord, and thank you, Joan Lawton (our case manager from EI for both Alex and Miranda) who sent us there.

2) I went to bed with a fever last night (catching the bug Miranda had all weekend) but felt well enough this morning to send Marshall (albeit grudgingly) off to work (where he did need to be) this morning and face the day with the kids. And have felt better as the day went on. Small bug, quickly vanquished. So many of our friends have been laid up with the stomach flu this season that lingers for 4-5 days. Thank you, God, that you spared us. Keep doing so, Lord. It would be a nightmare trying to rehydrate Alex.

3) Alex has had 3 good days in a row (Thurs, Fri, Mon) at school. Again, God bless Miss Jessica and her talented, giving and gracious team. On days like this I feel like I simply do not thank them enough.

4) Marshall fixed what we thought was the death-knell of my car. The heater had stopped working and he thought that meant the water pump was failing, but, MaryLee rescued us once again and told him to check the coolant levels. He topped up the coolant and the problem was solved, giving us some more time to arrange for the new car. Clever woman, that mother-in-law of mine. Having her means I have 2 great moms, not just one.

5) Marshall's out in the garage working on the Beetle because he decided he wants to go back to the car show where he won first place last year. And the show's this Sunday, so the car needs to be all spiffied up again. I promised I would learn how to drive it. I need to do that soon. For that car is another concrete reminder of God's grace. Years ago, when the rebuild of that car was stretching on seemingly forever, it became something between us in our marriage, but God showed me that to love Marshall I needed to love the car. That I needed to want him to finish the rebuild as much or more than he did, because that was part of wanting what was best for Marshall. And God gave me the grace to do just that, so I am proud of what a beauty it is.

Now there's a marathon post for you. :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Slow Sunday

Miranda had a low grade fever yesterday so she and I stayed home from the dinner party at the Olsons' and church this morning. She took a long nap this afternoon, trying to burn off whatever bug she's fighting and woke up covered in sweat. She seems chipper presently as she and Alex are outside playing in the beautiful weather between rainstorms. Hopefully, she'll be well enough to play at the MOPS event at Pump It Up on Tuesday.

1) Our expedition to Burlington Toyota yesterday was successful as I was able to drive a Scion xB and we like it well enough to settle on it as the car we are going to purchase to replace the Previa. We just have to spend a couple of days arranging the financing. Marshall has located an actual car for purchase in North Jersey that he is happy with; he drove up to see it in person yesterday morning.

2) Alex is a little subdued today but doesn't seem to have caught the bug that has Miranda down. Hopefully he will still be well enough for school in the morning. He's already got an 8-day Easter break starting April 8 so we don't want him to miss any more school that necessary.

3) The kids had a great time at GLF yesterday and enjoyed visiting with some of the other parents. Since we have greatly benefited from their program, I have decided to join their fundraising efforts so, dear friends and family, you will soon be receiving a support letter from me asking you to join our efforts.

4) Had a great dinner out with a friend on Friday night. Fried Green Beans never get old.

5) Roger Ebert's Your Movie Sucks finally came in for me at the library, so I've been enjoying his prose while he slams bad movies, actors, directors, etc. Very funny.

Must go make something for dinner. Although, Alex decided, since he didn't have his afternoon Ritalin (he didn't seem bouncy enough at the time to need it) to have his dinner at 3:30, while Miranda and Marshall were still napping. I'll find something for the rest of us.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Better to post in the afternoon...

... before my brain shuts off at 7 pm. Seriously.

1) Alex's feeding therapy yesterday with a new therapist went pretty well. He did protest about the new food we introduced (that he only had to touch) but we were able to persuade him to cooperate. Progress; slow steps, but still, any forward movement is progress.

2) Miranda, despite being tired (I really had to keep her up for her appt. today) had a great therapy session with Cathy, our new therapist who started last week. I have noticed new speech progress in the last week (probably because I was paying attention more because I would need something to report to Cathy today) and she spoke on the phone for the first time, to her daddy, and then to her Grandma Lorita in the last week, which makes us all happy.

3) All of our tax refunds are in so we will be driving the Scion xB on Saturday (we have a sitter all lined up since taking our children with us to a car lot would be, well, silly and I refuse to go alone) in hopes of purchasing one soon. Our Previa van has really taken a turn for the worse in the last few weeks and might leave me and Miranda stranded on the side of the road in the near future, so we'll be glad to be able to purchase a new vehicle.

4) Alex had a great report from school today, which is nice, for a change, since the last few days have been tough. And he answered a question for me this week about what he did at school in a new way for the first time. Join me in blessing Miss Jessica and her team at Springville Elem.

5) It's going to be a busy weekend, but fun. Tomorrow night I get to take my friend Vicky Olson out for her birthday, Saturday morning we have GLF, Saturday afternoon we go driving while the kids play with Jen, Saturday evening we have dinner with a group of friends at the Olsons', and then Sunday is church. All good things.

Please pray for my Uncle Mike, who is very ill and in the hospital. And also for Marshall and he finishes up the bedroom project and starts the next one, reinforcing the floor in the back of the house. It was done poorly when it was constructed, many years ago, and Alex's active lifestyle has exacerbated the problems. So Marshall has a plan and will be spending a good amount of time in April and May under the house. Ugh.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Yes, I know, it's been almost 2 weeks since my last entry...

... but life around here has been stressful and when it is so, I turn my brain off at night, so there's nothing left with which to blog. Not to mention reflect.

But I read something on Stand Firm today that got my ire up and while I didn't feel like posting a comment there would be ... fruitful, I'm blogging about it here instead.

To sum up, or, rather, how I read it, is something like this, "Isn't it just awful that women can't stay home and keep house and take care of their children, etc." Somehow the combination of the actual post with the comments made me angry.

Some women (and even a few men of my acquaintance) are perfectly happy to do just this. I am not one of them. I understand it is a privilege of mine not to have to work and I am well aware that I am the best care-giver for my particular brood, because I have had to learn how to do it best, but not because I was especially well suited for the job. Since I (with my husband) made the decision to marry and have children, it is my responsibility to follow through with the associated, well, work. But, as many of you know, I do not have neurotypical children, so I am not really a mother first; I am a household manager and therapist and mothering is something that seems to happen when it's convenient.

My major in college was English literature and there's nothing I like more than reading and discussing something that stretches my brain. I also enjoy standard office work because I find tidying up all kinds of paperwork to be very satisfying. But what I needed to study at university to be prepared for the kind of life I have now was speech therapy with a large dish of ABA on the side. (Cooking probably would have helped, too, but my mother-in-law, bless her, can make a delicious dinner out of a bowl of dirt and she has been very kind to bring me along and teach me a few things.) So I get irritated when someone presumes to tell me mothering and household management should be fulfilling in and of itself. And aren't I so lucky to have this opportunity?

My first response is, well, obscene, so I won't print that. My second would be, "Come and live at my house for a week and then tell me how lucky I am, you idiot."

And, on that note, let me list my 5 things to be thankful for today.

1) It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, finally, so we played outside, all of us, which the children thoroughly enjoyed, and I finally got some weeding done in my flower bed, which has needed it for weeks. I decided today that time spent weeding is never wasted.

2) We took the children for haircuts yesterday and it went off without a mishap, in spite of the long, long wait time. Alex didn't enjoy it, by any means, but he did sit still for it. Poor lamb, it really upsets him. It's like his hair has nerves in it. God bless the woman who has faithfully cut his hair without complaint for more than a year. We really don't pay her enough.

3) I took my turn in the church nursery this morning during the first service and enjoyed cuddling a variety of tots. Marshall brought the children for second service so I was able to serve without Miranda clinging to my leg. She and I are most happy when we are not in the nursery at the same time.

4) Miranda's new speech therapist started Thursday and she's marvelous! Really, she is that good. However, after 4 sessions of feeding therapy with Miss Lisa, we learned Wednesday that Weisman's Hospital has had to cut 20 positions, which means we will start with a new therapist this Wednesday. It was disapointing, especially since Alex has really cooperative these last two weeks.

5) It's spring so my tulips are coming up and I'm trying to plan a trip to Longwood Gardens with my mother-in-law, something we haven't been able to do together since about 2003. Way too long. If you've forgotten about my trip last spring with my mother, my dear friend Vicky Olson and her mother, see here.

6) Bonus Marshall's father bought a Wii for the grandkids for Christmas and so we've had it for a while and been actually using it for the last few weeks. Strangely enough, the sport which has caught me up in a passion is Tennis. I am really enjoying it, so I'm off to go play a couple of matches.

Foxtrot was particulary good today. Enjoy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thankful Catch-up, or Catch-up Thanking

We had a busy weekend, thankfully, after a rotten week, so I didn't get back to blogging. So I thought I'd list some highlights.

1) Alex went back to school, happily, and had a decent day.
2) Marshall was able to get off of work early and take the time to look at some of the cars we are looking to buy. Our minivan is 14 years old and has 187,000 miles on it and will need so many repairs to pass inspection in September that it makes more sense to replace it.
3) I was able to get out and buy groceries, finally, on Thursday night so we started the weekend with plenty of fresh fruits and veges.
4) Early Intervention called and scheduled a new speech therapist for Miranda Thursday at 1:30 pm, starting the 19th.

1) Miranda was well enough to bring her along to our Saturday program with Good Looking Foundation where Alex has scheduled play and she hangs out in the nursery with a couple of her good friends. This meant I could participate in the parents' Poker tournament, which I won first prize, a nice Best Buy gift certificates. My brothers would be so proud.
2) The weather was so beautiful, 70 degrees, that we spent most of the afternoon outside, working (Marshall and I) and playing (Alex & Miranda).

1) Both kids slept in until 8, giving me an extra hour of sleep. (Poor Marshall had to be up early to get to church as it was his Sunday to run sound.) We still got everything together to get to church on time.
2) We had a backyard bbq and extended play date with friends after church. Everyone had a great time! And then we came home and collapsed.

Friday, March 6, 2009

And now for something completely different

I'm going to stop complaining about how bad my week was and go for something, well, entertaining.

A whole bunch of new movie trailers have been released this week, so I thought I'd share my movie list for the year with links for the trailers so you can enjoy them too, if you're a normal person who doesn't obsess over them like me. I remember when the trailer for LOTR: TT was released and I spent almost an hour downloading it before I could watch it in its entirety. Not anymore.

March 6 (we're planning to see it next Saturday since it's a busy weekend for us this week)
May 1
May 8
Star Trek
May 22
Terminator: Salvation
May 29
June 24
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
July 17
Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince
August 9
G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra
Dec 18
Avatar (nothing much is available yet)

I will probably see Transformers and GI Joe regardless of the reviews, unless they are so bad even Marshall won't go with me.


(P.S. If you ask nicely, I might even admit how many times I've watched the Star Trek trailers.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Blearily Grasping for the Weekend

I didn't blog last night because I really didn't want to reflect upon the day. Alex's feeding therapy session was eerily reminiscent of some one those first therapy sessions with his behavioral therapist from Early Intervention in the summer of 2006, right after he was diagnosed and I was about half-way through my pregnancy with Miranda. (Having some trouble typing; Marshall replaced the keyboard on my laptop last night because the old one had been doused with apple juice one time too many, and this new one is a little stiff yet.) In an hour of therapy, he spent at least 35 minutes crying, throwing toys, hiding under the table or otherwise being completely uncooperative. It was like he sized up the situation after the first 5 minutes, recognized that this was therapy and that he was having none of it. I know being out of school for a week didn't help, since he was out of his regular "work" schedule; we do our best here at home, but we don't structure his life therapeutically. Most of my time with him is spent simply persuading him to eat, hence the need for the therapy in the first place. We tend to leave the ABA stuff to his teacher and her team at school.

Break for an hour

And Alex and I just went another 10 rounds. God, I hate this.

More late.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another day off of school - ugh!

When I arose this morning, it was with trepidation that I checked the Mt. Laurel Schools website to see it was a delayed opening today, which meant, again, Alex had no school. And the poor boy let me know in no uncertain terms this afternoon how unhappy he was to be home. He was in trouble every five minutes for about an hour. Poor little guy.

But, now the children are in bed (Miranda's sleeping as she refused to nap but Alex is probably still chirping) and Marshall's working on the Sage box, which has been really well behaved lately but the disc drive hasn't yet been resurrected, so that's what he's working on tonight, and I've just finished my Bible study homework from last week so that when I get to church tomorrow for the video, I'll be all caught up. (My college professors' hated my long, run-on sentences, but this is my blog, so they can be as long as I want!)

Which all means I have time for my 5 things:

1) When I got to MOPS this morning with both children in tow, I dropped Miranda off in the nursery per usual and then despaired when I learned that the young woman who used to be an aide of his on Sunday mornings (who I was planning to beg to take him into her classroom) is no longer one of our care-givers for MOPS. Lisanne, bless her, found another classroom for Alex to hang out in and he was really well-behaved for the whole session. God bless Miss Barb who took him in.

2) While driving to MOPS I almost hit the car in front of me that I thought was turning left but had to stop because someone pulled out in front of him. I think we missed his truck by an inch or two. I can imagine an angel standing between our two cars, keeping us all safe. It wouldn't have been a bad accident, but it would have been extremely annoying.

3) Brynn, my dear friend from MOPS who is also Hope's Nursery Coordinator, said she'd be more than willing to take Alex in the nursery with the rest of the crew tomorrow morning during Bible Study, so I'll get to go and see the video with the rest of the gang.

4) I've scheduled a playdate around lunchtime on Thursday to get us all out of the house at a place my children love to be.

5) Alex's doctor's office called today to say his Ritalin refill would be done now instead of later. I made the mistake of taking last month's scrip and handing the whole bottle off to the school nurse, not expecting the HMO to refuse to refill the current scrip for home use. I realize this is a dangerous drug, which we are very careful to dispense appropriately, but it was annoying and required a lot of effort on the part of Nicole, one of our favorite people at Elmwood Family Physicians (of course, we did like her before; just more so now). I sent in a plate of cookies for Nicole, Dr. Jay, and the rest of the staff last week to express my gratitude for their efforts on our behalf. Of course, it tells you something about the current state of our health care that it took Nicole almost 2 weeks to resolve this. Still, I'm thankful, especially since Alex has been home since last Friday, using up our stash.

That's the day's summary, anyway.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Return of the Snowbunnies!

(Miranda announced earlier this morning that she was ready to go outside, with only her wool mittens and black dress shoes. Thankfully, she did let me dress her more appropriately later.

I checked the Mt. Laurel schools website last night about 9:30 pm, not really expecting to see anything on the front page and was surprised to see school had already been canceled for today. Our region is receiving (yes, it's still snowing) 6-12 inches of snow today and so most schools are shut down. However, since the stock market it open, Marshall had to go to work so he took my car with its all wheel drive to navigate what he described as roads that were "more exciting" than usual.

Hopefully, Alex will have school tomorrow since he's already scheduled to be off Wednesday and Thursday because those days have early dismissal for Parent-Teacher conferences and (as many of you have already heard me complain about) there is no school for preschoolers on days with a shortened schedule. He was out of school Friday last because of a low-grade fever related to his cold (he's feeling much better today) so he's going to be really happy to go back to school tomorrow. And I will be happy to take Miranda out to MOPS Tuesday as well as I probably won't attend Bible study Wednesday morning because Alex will be home. We'll see how stir crazy we are. Maybe if I let him bring his Leapster, he might spend an hour in the nursery with the other kids while I see the next Beth Moore video in our Stepping Up series.

When I was sitting in church yesterday, I was thinking about Lenten disciplines of my own and what I want to do is try to post every day (or most days) 5 things that I'm thankful for. And, since Miranda is down for a nap, my snow pictures are still uploading, and Alex is happily playing his Cars game on his Leapster (and eating his now-cold pancakes), I have the time:

1) Marshall has a great job with SIG that he likes, pays well, and is as stable as it gets these days.

2) We have access to all the kinds of therapies our children need to overcome their developmental disabilities. Alex has a great teacher and wonderful aides at Springville Elementary and his new feeding therapy has great potential for improving all of our lives. And I'm trusting God to bring us a new Speech Therapist for Miranda.

3) We are a part of a great church community at Hope UMC. They treat us like family, at least, a family that is kind and supportive.

4) Alex was well enough for all of us to go to his classmate's birthday party at Pump It Up on Saturday that we've been looking forward to for a month and we had a great time, even though Miranda fell on her face a couple of times and looked pretty banged up yesterday. But her bruises are healing.

5) The three of us had a great time playing in the snow this afternoon. See pictures here.

It's going to be hard to come up with 5 different things each day, but I'm sure it's a healthy exercise for me.