Saturday, April 30

The Circus (Part 2 of a 2 Part Series)

The circus was wonderful!!!!

However, if you are ever considering nursing your child during the circus I would strongly advise against it.  Can you say distracted nursing?  And I swear the spotlight was on me.

Monkey behaved wonderfully and even napped a little.  Turkey was good for the most part.  He got upset after he got the red light saber and was made that he couldn't also get the blue one.  He tried every excuse to get the blue one - he meant to get blue not red since it was the good guy color, he really said blue and we misheard him, he needed the blue so I could battle him, on and on he went.

The Extreme Espanas scarred the wits out of me. They were two guys that walked in and on these circles that spun around in this figure eight.  Turkey really enjoyed the Death Riders (2 guys on motorcycles driving in the ball)... and after all that noise if he ever complains about Pepere's motorcycle being too loud I will laugh.

Turkey collected signatures and trading cards from the clowns as well.

We ended the day by going on a few rides... I must be out of practice at carnival rides because I really thought I was going to loose it on the Scrambler (but I can see now how Husband managed to loose his cell on it last summer).

Friday, April 29

The Circus (Part 1 of a 2 Part Series)

The circus; and no I am not talking about my house on Christmas Eve.

Our journey to the circus began a few weeks ago at The Home Show.  In between oohing and aahing over the hot tubs and the latest revelations in floor care, we stopped by the Melha Shriners booth.  While Husband and Turkey were chatting with some members and looking at one of their buggy cars I made a small donation and entered into the raffle to win free tickets to The Circus.  Just after I put in our raffle entry a member came out from behind the booth and told me to fill out an additional raffle card and give it to him.  I explained that I already entered the raffle once (rules state you can only enter once), he told us he was the chairman of the circus and we would be his special guests.  So I filled out the card, told Husband and Turkey the news, thanked the man and we went on our way.  Husband and Turkey ran into the man a few more times that day, and thanked him each time (sadly we didn't ask him his name).

As the weeks went by and the circus came closer and closer I kept checking the mailbox looking for out tickets. But as the weeks went by, I became saddened to realize the tickets weren't coming.  Turkey on the other hand was getting more and more excited for the circus; especially when he saw the commercials.  And you know how he loves his commercials.

I really wanted to look into where the tickets went as we have the worst mail delivery and pick-up at our house.  But if we had to, we would have bought tickets and taken Turkey covering for whatever may have happened (he was telling everyone we were special guests at the circus).

Then I realized that the tickets maybe at a will-call-booth or such.  So I tracked down a number and had Husband call.  After about a half dozen conversations and repeating what happened over and over again, we were no closer to finding our tickets and I was becoming increasingly alarmed about giving out my address to a stranger (not that I thought a member of the Shriners would do anything, but still).  Finally Husband spoke to a Mr. Jim Spear, we described who we had spoken to (what he looked like, etc) and Mr. Spear said he had a feeling who we dealt with (and he certainly wasn't the chairman of the circus).  He apologized for what was going on and ensured him that we would be going to the circus.  We were asked to pick a date and time, and Mr. Spear told us our tickets would be waiting for us.

So tomorrow morning it's off to the circus for us.

Many thanks to Mr. Spear I am sure we're going to have a great time.

A Commercial Savant

While driving Turkey home from Cub Scouts last night, he decided to tell me about some of his favorite commercials recently.

To say he "told me about them", isn't correct... he does talk about them sometimes... but more often he recites them.  Word-for-word.  And doesn't need to see a commercial more than once to memorize it.  Especially if it's for something that interests him, like the new Lego set coming out, per say.

This isn't the first time he's done this either.  One day Husband and I were talking about what type of car to get next, and Turkey launched into the 2011 Hyundai Elantra commercial word-for-word.

He's a marketing directors dream, he loves and memorizes commercials and plays them back to anyone that will listen free of charge.

This really is the most bizarre savant like thing he's ever done.  And I've been trying to figure out how to channel it into something useful, something construction that might open paths for him in the future.

Asperger's and Alphabet Soup

Since receiving Turkey'sdiagnosis of Asperger's I feel like my life has become a bowl of alphabet soup. But I suppose it's always been that way, there are now just more letters floating in my bowl.

Yesterday we had an IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting for Turkey. It was a meeting to see if he qualified for services. The AS (Asperger's), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and anxiety (what, no acronym for this) and a rule-out written expression disorder (also called dysgrpahia, again no cute acronym); apparently do not automatically qualify Turkey for an IEP. It was implied that he needs to be "struggling"  (but after reading through the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) statues this doesn't seem to legally be the case) in school in order to qualify. His teacher did stress that he was struggling with his handwriting (he is above grade level for all other academics), which is why they need to do additional testing for dysgraphia. And she went on to further highlight that most of this issues are behavioral, emotional and social.

For a few minutes there, I swear I had stepped into John E Robison's book Look Me In The Eye.  It really was eerie, I sat there listening to a teacher talk about my son in terms of something I just read about AS.  It was as if she read the book, and then came to the meeting.  She then talked about what a pleasure he is for adults to talk to, and one of the specialists commented about how she could imagine so because of his verbal IQ score.

Then we talked about the testing he had done and they "re-capped" the report (read one of the specialists read from the report my independent evaluator wrote), my head was spinning.  NEPSY-II, HVOT, WPPSI, WISC-IV, WRAML2. OK, is your head-spinning now?  This poor kid has gone through more testing in the last 6 months than most adults have in their lives.  (Good thing he likes going - they give out toys.)

At the end of the meeting we agreed to further testing for PT (physical therapy) and OT (occupational therapy) to address his sensory issues and his fine and gross motor issue.  And then the educational profile (which really has nothing to do with what is taught in school) for the r/o (rule out - that was a new one I learned at the meeting) of written expression disorder.

So now the school department has 8 weeks to complete testing and for us to meet again.   I have been told they will do their best to complete it early so we cna figure out how to move forward.  If there is no IEP in place we might have to look at having another DCAP (district curriculum accommodation plan) for the new school year.  Turkey has had a DCAP for the last 2 years to address his non-academic issues in the classroom.

But then someone, outside the meeting, asked me about a 504 for Turkey.  Hhhhmmmm a 504, I am vaguely familiar with that... maybe I don't know as much about it as I should because it's numbers and not letters.  Guess I've got more research to do.  I'm not looking for Turkey to be treated special, but I do need to make sure school is a place he enjoys going.  We've got a long way to go before he graduates, and I need to make sure that happens.

If you made it this far... congrats, this was one hard blog post to write (and read) with all the acronyms aka Alphabet Soup.  

Tuesday, April 26

Breastfeeding and Jaundice

When I was pregnant with Turkey I labored under the delusional that many first time mother's labor under - everything was going to be perfect and I was going to go according to my plan.  I was going to exclusively breastfeed for a year, he would only have educational toys and would never watch TV (until he was 3 at least I said)... but then reality set in....

Turkey was tongue tied at birth and had jaundice.  I pumped into a teaspoon while at the hospital and he was fed via syringe.  But then his bilirubin levels got very high and the hospital staff threatened to admit him unless we gave him some formula.  The "cow milked" based formula didn't go over well and he got sicker, but he responded well to soy.  I keep pumping and we kept feeding him breastmilk and soy formula via syringe, until his tongue got clipped.  We were sent home with an arsenal of formula.  And while I was able to cut the formula out after a while and exclusively breastfeed, he did wean at 9 months and we had to go back to formula (I had no freezer supply of expressed breastmilk, what I pumped at work he ate the next day).  I'm not ashamed of this, this is just how it happened. I've come to realize that when it comes to child-rearing you can have the best of plans, but you need to be flexible and go with the flow.

When I had Monkey I was more determined to exclusively breastfeed.  I wanted all of the benefits that go along with it: lower cost, better immunities for baby, quicker weight loss for mom, etc.  I did my research ahead of time, and Husband was a huge supporter.  I was not going to go through with Monkey what I did with Turkey.

When Monkey was born he had jaundice as well, but no tongue issues.  He was a champion nurser from the first hour of his life.  And despite his bilirubin levels being high we were sent home.  But once his "at home" bili-level got back to the pediatrician's office we were told he needed to be admitted to the Children's Hospital.  (Talk about an emotional roller coaster we hadn't even been home for 24 hours when he was admitted.)

I was so worried as we drove there that they would insist again on giving him formula.  I saw my struggles with Turkey coming back again.

But they didn't.  Not once did a doctor or nurse suggest we give Monkey formula.  I was allowed to nurse him all he wanted, as long as he was on the lights and went back under the blue lights in his isolet as soon as we were done.  They brought me a pump (which was a big improvement in the pump they offered 7 years ago) so they could monitor my supply and ensure he was getting so many ounces (in addition to time spent on the breast).  And when he became dehydrated (which is very common in jaundice and had nothing to do with my breastmilk or supply) they gave him IV fluids.  Formula was never mentioned, and for this I am thankful.

I don't know why formula was pushed so hard on me with Turkey.  Maybe it was his tongue issues, maybe because it was 2004 and policies have changed since then, who knows.  But Monkey's jaundice was twice as bad as Turkey's..... so it makes little sense to me.

Monkey eventually got over the dehydration and finally went pee, and we were released from the hospital, with a bili-blanket to aide in getting rid of the rest of the jaundice.  Within a day of coming home (the 2nd time) he was as good as new.

These days breastfeeding is going well, it really has become like second nature.  I have in the neighborhood of  500 ounces of breastmilk in our chest freezer, and with each bag I freeze I get a renewed sense of accomplishment and realize I may just be able to realize my goal of exclusively breastfeeding for a year (at least).

Sunday, April 24

That Mom

Today I was "that mom".  No, not the crazy one that runs around after their child on the playground with a safety net in case they fall.

I became that mom that dressed her kids in matching outfits.  I just had to do it.  I've been waiting for this date for what seems like forever.  And I had to seize the moment before Turkey gets too big.  (He's about to graduate into really big kids clothing sizes.)

So here are my boys in their matching Easter outfits.... nice and laid back, compared to Turkey's first which was a suit and tie.

Happy Easter!!!

(Oh, and does this mean I am turning into my mom?  She used to dress me, D and P in matching outfits.  But she made those, and I am so not that talented.)

Saturday, April 23

7 Years (part 2 of a 2 part series)

My youngest brother, W, is 7 years, 5 months and 5 days younger than I am.  And while I have 2 brothers in-between my hopes and fears for Monkey and Turkey's relationship is based on this age difference and my relationship with W.

I was in 2nd grade when W was born (times have changed for the ages kids start school since my day), and I had my hopes on him being a girl.  Already having two younger brothers, and knowing what kind of trouble they were I really, I mean really, wanted W to be a girl.  It was during lunch when the school nurse came in to tell me my mother had the baby, it was a boy she told.  I cried out "Not another stupid brother" and locked myself in a stall in the girls room for the rest of the afternoon.  One of the names my parents had been tossing around, should he had been a she was Leah - that's how much I wanted a sister.  I still remember the naming conversations.

Like with my parents back in 1985, Husband and I didn't know the sex of Monkey until he was born.  Everyone was certain I was having a girl.  Husband always referred to our unborn child as a she, and I kept reminding him the baby could be a he.  The only real hold-out for the boy possibility was Turkey.  He desperately wanted a brother, and he got that brother.  I guess this fact may help their relationship to begin with, no resentment in the sex of the sibling at such a young age.

My memories of W growing up are scattered.  I remember him being a little tiny baby, probably a year or so, when we went on our first and only family vacation to Jelly Stone park.  I have a picture burned in my memory of me lifting W out of his crib while one of my other brothers looked on.  I can recall some of his birthday parties, especially the hot ones that are common in May in New England.  I remember his Baptism, shortly after my first communion.  I recall his First Holy Communion.  I remember summers at our summer house while I was in high school and how he loved the girls, even at such a young age.  Mostly I remember his cheeks. He always had the pudgiest cheeks and the most addicting smile.

In junior-high school I had a resentment towards him, because on half days from school I couldn't always go and hang out with my friends. I often had to go home and babysit him (and my other brothers).  It sounds so stupid to admit that now, but in the mind of a pre-teen / teenager it was a big deal.

My other brothers D and P are closer to my age.  D and I were in high school at the same time.  And P was often invited to hang out with me and my friends.

But W and I grew up at two different times, almost in two different families.  I was an adult, living on my own, and working in another state when our parents divorced.  He wasn't even in high school yet.  Hell, I missed his high school graduation.  I couldn't tell you why, but now this is something I regret.

As W became an adult himself I tried to make him part of my life.  I tried to learn more about him and what made him tick, aside from motorcycles, music and hanging with our middle brother P.

But I never really had the chance, as he was gone from his world too soon.

And I think that is my biggest wish for my boys, Monkey and Turkey.  That the 7 year age difference between them never causes resentment and that they know each other.  They don't have to be friends, but they need to know each other, and be part of each others lives.

Even when Turkey goes away to college, and moves on with his own life; I hope and pray that he always knows Monkey.  Because you never know; sadly you never know.

In loving memory of Wayne Junior - May 15, 1985 to March 23, 2009

Thursday, April 21

7 Years (part 1 of a 2 part series)

"The Perfect Age Gap".  Does such a thing exist?

This question is asked countless times on message boards and mom forums.  It debated by those that have one child, or have seven, and even by those who are still considering when or if to have children.

Some people swear that closer spaced siblings get along better; that this provides a "built in" playmate.  Others argue that this breeds competition between children and for parent's love and attention.

Personally, I don't buy into either camp.  I'm in the "it's all about personality camp".  I grew up in a rather large family - 3 younger biological brothers, and same age cousin (ok, she's older by 3 months) lived with us in high school and I had a foster sister (older, but special needs).  Some days we all got along, and some days we didn't. It was all about personality.

Some people strive for the perfect timing between their children... I had to take what life offered, which was a 7 year age gap (7 years, 2 weeks and 1 day to be exact).

During the 9 months I carried Monkey, I often had moments of panic.  Panic about becoming a mom again.  Was I really ready for diapers, and sore breasts, and long nights, and potty training, and teaching how to read and write, and first colds... and ready again for first words, and first steps, and first foods, and first holidays.  I was a panicked mess, my heart would stop beating and my palms would go cold.  Was I ready to do it all again?

A lot of things change in 7 years - my body was older, car seats expire and drop side cribs were baned.

But the more I talked to friends and co-workers the more I realized I wasn't alone in my 7 year age gap; an age gap most moms consider a "big one".  I was reassured that Turkey would adjust and would love his sibling (one of my biggest fears), and that I would adjust.  I was told having another baby was like riding a bike, you don't forget what to do.

And my friends and co-workers were right.  In a lot of ways it's easier this time.  Maybe it's because I am calmer, maybe it's because I have much better support at home, maybe it's because Monkey doesn't have colic.  Who knows... all I know is it is easier and I love it.

Saturday, April 16

You Can Call Me

When we tell people Monkey's real name, they always ask "What is his nickname going to be?".  And we always tell them we haven't decided yet.  Truth be told, he has a nickname... dozens of them.

And that got me thinking, what is u[ with my family and all of our crazy nicknames.

Turkey cracks me up in naming things.  All of his stuffed animals (and he must have a hundred of them) all have very literal names.  My favorite is Fatty Yellow Bear, as the name indicates this is a very plush yellow bear.  His stuffed wolf is called Wolfey, his stuffed bears are called Bearey, Panda Bear, Bear 2, etc.  But the nicknames he comes up with for himself and his brother are priceless.

Turkey likes to call Monkey "Sushi Baby".  I have no idea why.  Maybe because he really wants to like sushi (to eat), but can't get past the white rice.

Husband and I have a handful of nicknames for Monkey, including Monkey, Scooter, Mr. Adorable and Squeaky Toy (he often sounds like one when crying)... this is on top of all the obvious nicknames that are common to his real given name.

One of the original nicknames I had for Turkey was Turkey-Monkey (hence my confusion sometimes in my blog posts that I have to go and correct after you my wonderful readers point out my errors).  I called him Turkey-Monkey because he was so silly, and a Turkey-Monkey was the silliest creature I could think of.  Husband calls him (and Monkey as well) Boomba, Boomby, Buddy, etc.  This is on top of all nicknames associated with his given name, and your typical Handsome, Sweetie, etc.

Probably one of the strangest nicknames is the one Turkey gave himself.  He likes to refer to himself as Meekos.  And when he does he talks in the 3rd person and refers to me as Meekos-Mommy.  I have no idea what a Meekos is, and when I asked him he said he didn't either.  He is a super silly boy.

So if my boys grow up to be confused as to what their given names are, I will take the blame (along with Husband), because we clearly can't make up our minds.

Friday, April 15

Status Check

Monkey is 2 months old today, which makes Turkey 7 years, 2 months, 2 weeks and 1 day (it's easy to figure out Turkey's exact age, because he is 7 years and 15 days older than Monkey).

So with that being said, I thought I would post a status check on "the boys".

Monkey is one of the happiest babies around, everyday I look at him and think "so this is what it's like when they don't have colic".  (Turkey had colic, it was terrible.)  Monkey is still exclusively breastfed, which I am very proud of.  Not once has he had formula.  He is starting to get into a great routine with 3 good naps a day, and sleeping most of the night (he goes down around 7pm and is up around 2am and then again at 6am for the day).  His favorite toys are his mobiles, he loves them.  Seriously.  He totally geeks out at them.  He's babbling and drooling and eating his hands.  At his check-up earlier this week he was 11 lbs. 4oz and 23.5 inches.

Turkey is Turkey.  He is an amazing big brother, better than I could have ever hoped for. School is well school; we'll leave it at that.  Thankfully he has the most amazing teacher.  This favorite toys are things he can build with and battle with.  Legos, Army Men, and K'Nex.  Especially the K'Nex because you can build guns and grenade launchers and battle with them.  His bike riding is coming along nicely this year, but he desperately needs a new bike (he's gotten so tall).  I think this may be the summer the training wheels come off.  He errand his Tiger Cub rank in Cub Scouts a few months back (and his parents have signed up to be his den leader in the fall for Wolf Scouts).  Lastly, he is itching to get out and go fishing.  At last check he's around 52 inches tall and 70 lbs.  Still no loose teeth, but the dentist assures us they will come out in due time (something about having nice long strong roots).

And in case you're wondering, Husband and I are doing great.  Just taking it all one day at a time.

Wednesday, April 13

Asperger's Syndrome

I've been debating writing this blog entry for a few days now, but not debating whether or not to write it, but debating when to write it.  I had really wanted to call my best friend about it first, but I'm having a hard time talking about this out loud to anyone but my husband.  Sounds silly right?  It's not.  It makes me think of the opening passage to The Body by Stephen King.

"The most important things are the hardest things to say.  They are the things that you get ashamed of, because words diminish them"..."But it's more than that, ins't it?  The most important things things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried"..."And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it.  that's the worst, I think.  When the secret stays locked within not for the want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear."

So with that I will say it; last week Turkey was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

You can find many definitions of Asperger's on-line.  This is the one I like the best.

It really was a crushing thing to read.  To see it right there in black and white on his neurological-physiological examination report.  To be told that the child you see in your eyes as perfect, while knowing clearly no one is, has a "problem", is heart-wrenching.

I don't like saying it's a diagnosis.  To me a diagnosis is something that is handed out at the medical doctor's office - a broken bone, an ear infection, even more serious things like cancer. I also don't like looking at this like it's a problem.  I have come to see it as another way of being.

When I first read the news, and I think calling it "the news" is a good way to put it; I kept looking at Turkey waiting to see him differently.  Waiting to feel different, waiting for him to start acting differently.  But that didn't happen.  Nor do I ever expect it to happen now. He is the same 7 year-old boy he was before getting the report and my love for him has not wavered.

Once I got over the initial shock, I started doing my research.  The internet can be a big scary place sometimes, especially when looking up anything medically related.  But I looked and found that the world of Asperger's really wasn't all that scary.  I also received a "parents suggested reading" list on Turkey's report.  So husband and I headed off to Barnes and Noble.  Of all the books recommended, I opted to start with Look Me In The Eye, by John Elder Robison.  This book is a memoir of his life with Asperger's (and is set in my own area).  I figured I was better off reading about someone's experience before diving into the technical reading material also recommended.

Look Me In The Eye proved to be a good first read. When Turkey saw the book lying around he said to me about the title "Why would you want to do that?"  Turkey does not like looking people in the eye while talking, unless it's one of his current topics of fascination.  This was the first sign I was on the right path reading this book first (as not looking people in the eye while speaking is an Aspergian characteristic).   I saw many traits of Turkey in this book, and to see how well John Elder turned out, it gave me hope.   I am not sure I would be posting this blog entry without first reading it.

Turkey's report also contained wonderful news - he has an IQ in the top 0.5%.  And his report contained some lesser wonderful news - he also has ADHD.  The ADHD doesn't seem to phase me at all, it just seems to common and manageable to me (not to knock anyone with ADHD).  Maybe it doesn't bother me because it's not related to the word autism.

So now, the news is out there.  Turkey has Asperger's.  My world is not ending because of this.  I am ready to go forward and do what needs to be done to ensure the best possible life for him - just as I always was.

Thursday, April 7

Motherhood is NOT a Competitive Sport

Consider this blog post a friendly service announcement: motherhood is NOT a competitive sport.

It is one thing to talk to another mom about how big yours kids are, what growth percentile they are in, to compare notes about speech and solids and breastfeeding.    It is OK to share with others about your baby reaching milestones; walking, talking, and later their bike riding skills.

It is not OK to turn these conversations around and into a competition.  And it is certainly not OK to tell me your 4 week old will beat up my 7 week old some day because he's 1 pound and 4 ounces heavier.  Note to self: don't sit next to that mom again at the breast feeding support group.  Which brings up my next point, in a support group, be supportive, don't be competitive.

This concludes today's public service announcement.

PS - If you want a funny read on the competitive mommy-hood I strongly recommend Momzillas by Kargman.

Monday, April 4


Expectations.  That's such a big and loaded word isn't it?

Life is full of expectations.  From what our parents expected of us and still do, to what we expect from our jobs, our spouses and our own children.  However, I think the biggest expectations out there are the ones we have for ourselves. Some times however, expectations can get confused with to-do lists.

Last Thursday was one of those days for me.  I had a lot of expectations for that day.  I was going get a ton of work done in the morning while Monkey napped (I am freelancing for my employer as of last week).  I was going to finish-up cleaning and purging Turkey's room while Monkey took his afternoon nap.  I was going to call this person, I was going to call that person and I was going to have a nice long chat with my best friend while nursing Monkey mid-afternoon.

Do you know what I got done?  NOTHING!!!

As Husband reminded me, we did get things done.  The cable/phone/internet company was able to come out for a service call and now we have cable TV (after not having it for almost a year), and I did cash a check and I did get the car insurance paid.  But this isn't what I expected to spend my day doing.  This is not what I had planned.  By the end of the day I felt defeated.  I barely got any work done, my house was a mess and I still hadn't finished Turkey's room.  So I went to the store - by myself.  Nothing like a little light grocery shopping (and chocolate) to clear one's head.  It was the first time I had left the house since having Monkey without him.  In the end it was probably the best thing for me.

And when I got home Husband reminded me not to have too many expectations for myself, to go more with the flow.  This was after all still  my maternity leave and I was suppose to be resting and healing.  He has such a way of putting things into perspective for me.

The next day I was able to get a ton of work done and I had that call with my best friend, while Monkey napped.  The call was also just what was needed.

The weekend came and the weekend went and I still didn't finish cleaning Turkey's room, but I did get other things done I had my sites set on.  But more importantly I made sure I worked on resting and healing and spent some time cuddling with my loves ones.

Sometimes I think we need to stop and look at what is going on around us and give ourselves some slack. And as long as we're living up to our big expectations (being the best mom possible is one of mine), then the to-do-lists can wait.

Hhhhmmmm.... maybe I can finish Turkey's room while Monkey finishes his nap.... or I could....

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