Friday, March 30, 2012

The Talent No-Show

Princess and Birdie cheesing for the camera.  Already, Birdie has the diva attitude down cold.

Both of my children are absolutely certain they are destined to be stars.  Princess knows her stardom will be the result of being a Princess, so she has nothing to prove.  Birdie, on the other hand, is still searching for her claim to fame.  She thinks she may be onto something with the school Talent Show.

Last week the girls brought home fliers announcing the upcoming school Talent Show.  Princess immediately put hers in the recycling bin.  Birdie read the flier and had stars in her eyes.  Oh sweet lord, not again...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Warning Labels

This being Princess and Birdie's third year at the same elementary school and fourth year in this neighborhood, I had mistakenly assumed that by now everyone around here kind of had an idea about how my girls tick.  Recent events have reminded me that there is always someone in any given situation that just isn't quite prepared for my little darlings.  Some people handle the surprises my children have in store for them with great aplomb and roll with the punches like pros.  Some people, I feel, get what they deserve when dealing with my kids (and it's sad that I find this humorous).  Most people, however, could benefit from some sort of warning label or quick-start guide to ease the pain of the learning-my-children curve.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Treasure Defined in a Nutshell

My daughters have very different definitions of treasure.  I am sure you have noticed that treasure is a topic of great importance at my house because of the frequency with which I use that word in my writing.  I thought maybe some visuals would help.

Birdie's definition of treasure is loose and expansive.  For example, discarded potpourri found in a neighbor's yard is treasure.

Old potpourri

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why I Hate Spring

Birdie smelling the flowers,  Princess hiding
Aaaaahhh!  Spring is in the air...  *cough* Unfortunately, spring has been in the air for the last three weeks-- which is three weeks early.  I now know for certain that that damn Punxsutawney groundhog doesn't know a single thing about the weather.  I do know he is A LIAR!!!  I was so looking forward to six more weeks of winter...  Now don't get me wrong, I love sunshine and warm weather as much as the next person.  I.  Just.  Hate.  Spring.  It makes me miserable.

The beautiful weather and colorful blossoms that mark spring's arrival are just harbingers of my impending misery.  As I watch the grass turn greener, I can feel my skin crawling and itching.  I try to look through my kitchen window to observe spring from the safety of my home, only to find that my window is coated with a thick layer of pollen... and once the pollen arrives I am doomed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Blip on Princess's Happy Day Radar

Today started like any other Friday.  It was Spirit Day at school and the theme was mix & match or "cool colors" day-- whatever that means.  Princess came down to breakfast dressed in her favorite yellow dress, which she usually wears on Monday.  Surprised by this anomaly, I asked what the special occasion was.  "This is the coolest colored thing in my closet so I had to wear it today.  It's beautiful!"  Not wanting to tell her I thought "cool" meant wintery colors, I told her she'd be the coolest kid in her class.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creative Language and Re-definitions

Ever think about how you learned to communicate?  Ever tried to comprehend how you acquired all the nifty little words in your vocabulary that helps you speak your mind?  Most of the time we acquire an understanding of new words through the context of conversation and reading.  Sometimes, we learn the new words by turning to a trusted source, like a dictionary or a person we trust knows the answer.  Kids learn language the same way, but they make one fatal mistake that most adults don't.  They trust people-- especially their parents-- too much when it comes to acquiring language.

It has come to my attention that my family uses quite a few words and phrases differently than the rest of the world.  I knew before now that, at my house, we tend to use language in creative ways sometimes to get desired results.  The part that wasn't obvious to me was that not everybody seems to do this-- at least not to the extent that we do.  We have our own little vocabulary list of redefined words.  Some of these words were redefined by the girls accidentally or improperly inferred through context.  Others have been redefined by my husband and me in an effort to deceive our children, for whatever reason we felt made the lie justifiable.  Sometimes we just don't know how a word entered our vocabulary, but there it is.  Either way, it is sometimes necessary to have a glossary of these words handy when hanging with my peeps to truly understand all the nuances of conversation.  *If you are weak of heart or stomach, or find offense easily, please stop reading now-- potty humor ahead.   Consider yourself warned. :D

Monday, March 19, 2012

Birdie the Activist

Birdie on safari at the zoo
You may not realize it, but my Birdie intends to save the world-- literally.  She has plans to save homeless puppies, endangered species, kids with cancer, underfunded local hospitals, disappearing forest land, and public education.  Oh, and she wants to abolish Daylight Savings Time.  These are causes that have been brought to her attention this year and she intends to rectify them all.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Unscientific Theories about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Last weekend when I logged onto Facebook, I found waiting for me a message from my husband's uncle.  After reading my blog, he did some research and found the same things I learned a few years ago-- that doctors and scientists have plenty of theories but aren't really sure what causes autism and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).  He asked me a question that I feel is worth addressing here, because I have wrestled with it often.  He asked what my gut instinct as a mom told me about what caused our daughters' ASD.

Oh dear lord, where to start?  This question takes hold of my brain sometimes and pesters me-- harasses me-- and leaves me feeling a whole bunch of unpleasant things that include exhaustion, exasperation, guilt, anger, and resentment.  I used to ponder this idea a lot more when the girls were younger, but less as time goes by.  Whether this is because I care less about figuring it out, or that I spend my time doing other things, or that I have accepted that the why doesn't matter much to my situation, is beyond me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Girl Scouts

Birdie & Princess at GS day camp
This week Girl Scouts of America celebrates its 100th birthday.  I thought it fitting that I talk about my experiences with Girl Scouts on this momentous occasion. 

I was a Girl Scout as a child and I have many happy memories associated with scouting.  We did lots of fun things that revolved around community service, learning to be self-sufficient, and exploring new experiences.  Scouting promoted an attitude of honor, curiosity, respect, leadership and commitment that I have taken with me into adulthood.  I came from a small town, so my troop's demographic was fairly homogenized, but I was exposed to a variety of personalities and I learned to appreciate the value of the differences that makes us who were are individually.  Girl Scouts definitely impacted me in a positive way.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Stars in the Second Grade Musical

What a difference a year makes!  I find myself saying that a lot lately in regards to my girls, but today I had a unique opportunity.  I was able make a direct comparison of two very similar events one year apart-- my own little scientific study, if you will.

Today was the second grade musical at Princess and Birdie's elementary school.  It is a day I have been looking forward to with much anticipation.  I have certainly wanted the girls to see that all their hard work and practice will pay off at the performance.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Imaginary Friend Sleep

Not my photo of my imaginary friends
When I was a young girl, about the same age my daughters are now, I had two imaginary friends:  Starsky and Hutch.  I doubt they were very similar to their namesakes from the tv show in anyway-- all I knew about the tv characters I learned in 30sec commercial snippets played during the Muppet Show.  My Starsky and Hutch were 3 inches tall and could fit in my pocket.  They didn't carry guns because my dad wouldn't allow guns in the house.  They never went into the bathroom with me because that would have just been gross.  We had tea parties and played school together.  I would dig them tunnels in my sand box.  They would swim in the puddles that formed in my driveway after a big rain, and I would splash around the edge and act as their lifeguard if need be.  They were always easy to find when I needed company.  We played together for months-- so happy together.  Then one day they disappeared and I never saw them again.  I never figured out what happened to them.  Did they abandon me?  Did they meet a tragic end?  I thought the point of imaginary friends was that you could count on them...

Monday, March 12, 2012


Yesterday was a beautiful spring day that absolutely could not be spent indoors.  Also, being the day after our all-day mac and cheese feast (aka Mac-stravaganza), we could not let inertia get the best of us, for fear that all those cheesy calories would take up residence in our pants.  My husband and I decided to take the girls geocaching at a local park near the Potomac.

What is geocaching, you ask?  I could spend hours of your time explaining this wonderful outdoor game, but in a nutshell, it's treasure hunting.  All around the world, people have hidden little treasure boxes for others to find.  The GPS coordinates of the boxes are posted online along with a few topographical clues.  You download this info and you have yourself a treasure hunt!   Are you going to end up with gold doubloons at the end of your trip?  I never have but I guess some idiot out there might leave something valuable in one of these caches.   The boxes are usually cleverly disguised waterproof containers that have a logbook, which you sign when you locate the cache, and some swag.  This swag-- or treasure, as my kids call it-- is very much like the treasure I mentioned in an earlier post about my Birdie's room.  You find a range of items, such as ancient Happy Meal toys, buttons, pins, magnets, business cards, costume jewelry, foreign coins, belly button lint.  It's all pretty much junk, but to Birdie and Princess it is worth hours of trekking around the forest (which makes this junk very valuable to me.)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

How Did I Get So Lucky?

If I have given you the impression that life with my daughters if filled with constant challenges and lots of stress, then I need to apologize.  It's not that your impression is incorrect, it's just incomplete.  First of all, every parent faces these stressors and everyone's challenges are different.  I realize that I am not alone; I do realize my war stories sound a little odd compared to many parents' stories, though.  I also know as parents we all fret, from time to time, about whether we make the right decisions for our kids.  I feel I have painted an incomplete picture, though, because you should know my stress is balanced by equal parts of wonder and joy.  There is so much good that comes from having an autistic mind!  For me, the silver lining shining around my daughters is a much bigger part of who they are than the dark cloud that goes with it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Truth About Consequences and Noodles

Discipline is absolutely my least favorite part of being a parent.  My heart races a little just thinking about it.  I never considered when I looked at my beautiful brand-new baby girls that eventually they would need discipline.  They both looked too perfect to ever do anything wrong, right?  Besides, my parents disciplined me a certain way, and it must have worked because I turned out okay (mostly).  Surely what worked for me would work for my kids.  Hah... The past seven years of trial and error have confirmed that I was just plain delusional-- ignorant even-- about discipline.  I discovered that I needed a new bag of tricks for my darlings, and sometimes I needed a different bag of tricks for each one!  Geez-- why couldn't this be easier?  I expected to just know what to do!  I was told by my mother that I would know what to do for my kids, but this felt like a big fat lie-- right up until I started figuring it all out.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Things We Hold Onto

In the beginning...
I look into the abysses that are my daughters' rooms.  I am NOT going in there.  Hurricane Katrina has nothing on my Princess and Birdie.  Clothes are strewn about their rooms with great abandon.  Toys clutter the floor while their toy bins stand open and empty.  Books are in piles all around the room-- sometimes the books are piled by topic and sometimes they're just piled up to clear a path to a pile of something else.  There are bits of trash and paper and "treasure". (Treasure in this instance translates to most folks as "random, formerly shiny crap found in the Target parking lot".)  And then there are the stuffies-- tons and tons of stuffed animals fill every gap, nook and cranny that remains in the room.  How would I get in if I wanted to?  Why would I want to?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Delicate Flower, The Emergency Vet, and Patience

Two nights ago, I experienced enough stress in one evening to last me for... well, forever.  (That may be a little overdramatic, but the night is still fresh enough in my mind for that to seem true.)

Now earlier I mentioned I have a dog.  I told you he is ridiculous and funny and smelly and has a penchant for home un-improvement.  I failed to mention he is also a delicate flower-- a walking, slobbering, itching genetic disaster.  He is equal parts adorable and allergic.  He is allergic to all the same things I am and they are all things that you cannot avoid, like dust mites, grass, weeds, and mold.  (The similarities in our allergies are so great that I have come to the conclusion that he and I are distant blood relatives.)  When not medicated and left to his own devices, my dog would literally claw his fur and sometimes skin right off his body.  He spends countless hours finding the perfect place to rub his back-- on the carpet, against the tv stand, on the low window sill-- so he can scratch the itch he can't reach.  It makes me laugh and feel sorry for him at the same time.