Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tell Me How

How can one child be so loud, obnoxious and whiny that she creates an upset stomach in both her parents, and a migraine in her mother?

Ask Sophia--she excels at it.

After a way over-excited day, and her many tantrums, arguments and tears, Sophie finally went to bed. (And the people--her parents--rejoiced!!) I really need a way to gauge what the optimum level of stimulation is for her. Really. Or my number of gray hairs will triple by my birthday in February.

Sigh.

Breakfast With Mrs. Claus, Mach 2

Today I took Sophia to breakfast with Mrs. C. She seemed to have fun, and loved the smiley potatoes and sausages. Sophie liked Mrs Claus, but was her usual shy self. Story time was a little too long, but overall she seemed to enjoy herself. Unfortunately, the whole experience was a little too overstimulating, and we have had a very difficult afternoon but after some quiet time is back to normal. Tonight, we are going to the fairgrounds for the big light display, so she is looking forward to that. Here are a few pics of today's cuteness (not including me).

The first one has a great view of that toothless grin, and her best friend and lovey cat, Grey (wearing her Christmas ribbon in order to attend this festive occasion). Grey was a present on Sophie's first Christmas from Aunt Terri, and is much loved.




















This picture is of Sophia and I after breakfast.


















This last one I casught during story time. Totally natural smile. Lately her "posed smile" always leaves her eyes closed, so I was really glad to catch this one.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Breakfast With Mrs. Claus

This year I started a new tradition with the girls. Our local museum does a Breakfast With Mrs Claus. Last year I was too late for reservations, so I made them early, for the 1st weekend it was offered. It looked fun, and I knew Sophia would enjoy it. Anneliese, I figured, was still a little young to enjoy it.

Each year, we also go to the fund raiser Santa breakfast at the special needs school (where LeeLee went while in the 0-3 early intervention program. We were sick this year, so we missed it, which was a bummer, as I like to catch up with the people we don't see regularly any longer. Because of missing that breakfast, I made reservations for the 2nd weekend the breakfast was offered. Goodd thing I did. Sophia was so excited she got sick in her bed, and there was no way she was going out that morning. So, I took Anneliese who loved it. I explained to Mrs Claus (while getting Lee her food) that Anneliese was non-verbal but would understand her. Mrs C was wonderful--went and sat with her, got her some grapes, and kept her busy and happy while I waited in the buffet line. Later I found out that Anneliese had been playing with Mrs Claus' hair, so I know she loved the lady. And during the story time afterwards, Mrs C read an Elmo book, so LeeLee was very pleased.

My only (minor) complaint was that after having grapes, Lee didn't want anything else--I think she had three plates full. Here are a few pictures from our trip--the grapes are evident in the 2nd one, and the final picture is from story time.

Now, on the upcoming weekend, I get to take Sophie. I know she is gonna love it too!



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All I Want for Christmas....




















I realized the other day that this Christmas Sophie will be missing both front teeth. The second one fell out right before Halloween. Here she is, as a bat spider witch with no front teeth Halloween night. Very cute. Anyway, just a brag thread. And you know that I will be doing a LO with that song on it and a picture of my toothless girl, right? It is (in the words of Val Kilmer in Real Genius), "a moral imperative."

And in keeping with Equal Opportunity cuteness, her is Anneliese Halloween night. She didn't want her coat off, so she really looks no different than any other day. But bring on the candy! She is doing her famous "the dog" pose again.

The quest--success


Well, with Christmas around the corner, Santa has been getting a bit stressed out. In October, Sophia decided that the toy she wants Santa to bring is Pat Pat Rocket, from the Little Einsteins. If you remember, back in February, Rocket was Sophie's imaginary friend. Available only at Target, I placed an order Nov 2, and at the time it was stated that it would be arriving December 6-24th. Gee, talk about short notice. I called yesterday and they said they couldn't guarantee Christmas delivery. Nice.

So, I spent the day on message boards and Ebay looking for an available Pat Pat Rocket. Finally, saw a link on the Gotta Deal forums (they are the home of BlackFriday.com) that showed how to check Target store inventory for the elusive rocket. I tried it, and SUCCESS! Apparently Rocket was at our Target as I typed. So, I sent Dave to the store, but I had my doubts--we had just been at Target 2 days before.

Well, he called me all proud. He had one in hand, because apparently there was a huge display of them. After checking a few message boards, it seemed that ALL the Target stores got a shipment this week.

We are totally set for Christmas. If anything, I overbought again. Bought I will have two happy little campers for Christmas.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Finally, scrapping is FUN again

Well, I am 3 pages into the 1st gift calendar I am making. And as I dig through my (not inconsiderable) stash to find papers and flatter embellies, I have noticed that I am scrapping without worrying about page design, all the silly design rules, and whether or not it is trendy. Most of the papers are from my forgotten slabs. Remember that Michaels' Rob & Bob slab (slab 5, I think it was)? And DCWV winter slab 2005. All those mat stacks, etc etc. These LOs are cute, and I hope the recipient likes them.

I think my appreciation of this recent spurt of creativity comes from my spending freeze. I am, stretching my stash, finding lost treasures and playing with them. Frankly, the newer releases are starting to get boring. Other than Mellow and Infuse, most of the new Basic Grey merely looks dirty to me. Tinkering Ink papers? Ewww--what I am going to do with huge graphic flowers & patterns? Scenic Route is looking like same patterns new colors--frankly, how many patterned arrows can a scrapper use in differing colors within one album? I think the only New paper line I have seen that I LOVE is the Imaginisce Candy Cane Lane. But, as I have too much Christmas paper, I will no doubt abstain.

So, I have come full circle. I like my style and stuff. I am having fun and getting creative. I am preserving memories for my family and friends. If there is more to scrapping than those things, I don't know what it could be.

Halloween Costume Vent

You know, I hate having to buy costumes for Halloween each year (in no way am I talented enough to sew or create them myself). It seems like 85% of costumes in little girl sizes are flimsy little knee length nylon witch/angel/princess/fairy things. I hate these. First of all, we live in an area where it is just TOO cold to trick or treat in this. Heck, on a 90 degree someone would catch a chill in these things! Second, I find these totally inappropriate for my children. They are too suggestive, for the most part, as I have no desire to promenade my child in front of the Lord knows who with billowy, shimmery nylon fluttering around. There is no real way to bundle them up without covering the costume, so why buy it in the first place?

So, I was thinking of taking the girls to a Halloween party this year. There are parties at the Natural History museum, at the zoo, and a few local spots. The problem is, Sophia, having the world's best memory and logic skills, will not accept these activities as a substitute for trick or treating. Especially as we have a safe little neighborhood with lots of other trick or treaters.

I never had the opportunity to trick or treat much growing up--we lived in the middle of nowhere, and there was often snow on Halloween. So, I like that my girls get too. But that was back when a costume was pretty much an ugly plastic mask (that the elastic string broke on after wearing it for 15 minutes) and a plasticky smock that tied in the back that you wore over your clothes. I remember walking into the store and looking at the aisle of boxes. Super heroes, clowns, occasional monsters and princesses were the usual selection.

OK, vent over. Just makes this parenting thing a little harder. Do I let my girls freeze their tushies and get too much candy (but be way happy) or keep them warm, take them to a fun party (with some candy) and watch them mope Halloween night?

Maybe I'll get lucky and it will rain. ;-)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Let's hear it for my girl!


Today was a banner day! Sophia has had two wiggly upper teeth for the last month. Today, she came home with 1 in a little baggie. She is way excited about the Tooth Fairy coming tonight, especially as this is her third tooth out. The first one went under her pillow, but the 2nd one got swallowed (oops!).

Here is my girl, with a beautiful toothless grin!

Woo-Hoo! 1st Sentence

Anneliese put three signs together to get her point across. Not oral, but still a sentence. She signed I, the love, then applesauce. Guess what she wanted for breakfast?

I love these milestones, that may seem like small things to the parent of the neuro-typical child. Just one more step on the journey to making herself heard and understood. I am convinced that if we can get a greater level of communication going between Anneliese and ourselves as parents, her tantrums and meltdowns will be cut by half.

Even as overcast as it is, the world seems a bit brighter to me today. :-)

Totally Cool--Dinosaurs!

We took a way cool day trip yesterday, over to the Natural History Museum at the University of Michigan. Little did we know that U of M has the biggest dinosaur exhibit in Michigan. Sophia was chomping at the bit to get over there once she heard where we were going.
























The immensity of the fossils on display was amazing. The first big skeletons you see upon entering the gallery are a mastodon (the smaller one--lived 20 million years ago) and the mammoth (larger, lived 7 million years ago, and is the precursor of the modern elephant).




















Anneliese seemed more amused by the museum than Sophie. She was giggling and running from display to display. This Allosaurus head fascinated her, and I loved this thoughtful pose I caught without knowing it.

















Finally, we saw a "fossil bed " with an Edmontosaurus ( a huge duck-billed dinosaur) and the size again was overwhelming. You can READ that a dinosaur was the size of 2 school buses (or however big it was) but then, when you see the bones, it blows you away. At one point, we stood next to a sauropod leg (I imagine it was an Apatosaurus--formerly brontosaurus) and it was almost twice my height (I'm 6'1"). No wonder Sophia was overwhelmed.

















Well, the day was totally cool, but we had to leave before the tour as the girls were a little overloaded, sensory-wise. I did tell Dave that we needed to go back, just the two of us, as there was so much to explore in the rest of the museum. Yep, I am a total dinosaur nerd, and proud of it!!





Saturday, October 13, 2007

How do you do it?

OK, I started to make a calendar last night for a Christmas gift. After finishing my 1st LO, I thought, dang, this is pretty good. Then, I started worrying about what would happen to the LOs after the year is over. And, what about protecting the pages--if the calender were hung in a kitchen, would there be splats and dirt thrown on it from cooking food? And how come there is no way to protect the page? Should I include a 12x12 album to put the LOs in after the year is up? How should I attach the LOs to the calender base without damaging them?

I think I am way too invested here. Who would have thought I would get this involved in my gifts. Last year I made a digital LO brag book for each grandma--cool beans, as I could keep the originals.

Now what? I need to think about this a bit more. I was thinking about getting a digital LO calender made (I use the Top Line Creations Lifetimez software) as I know they have a calender service. But doesn't that defeat the purpose of the cost effective personal gift?

Sigh. Today life isn't quite as good as yesterday. Decisions, decisions. :-(

Friday, October 12, 2007

My kids are seriously cute.


I was just looking at last Halloween pictures and noticed two things.

1. My kids have grown a lot since last year.

2. They are CUTE. Personality plus. Although they look very much like they did last year, so much has changed. Sophie is getting social. Anneliese is getting words (She has 4 now. When you ask her "who's cute" she says "Me.") and a lot more signs that she uses regularly.

I guess some days I forget the good stuff. There are days I don't want to be a special needs mom anymore. I saw a post on Writer Girl's blog (she is also a Sotos mom) stating a similar thing and felt RELIEVED. I felt OK with things after that.

And, the number one thing I keep remembering is that I love these girls the way they are. I celebrate with each little gain and milestone, and stress over any perceived slight. The little quirks that are caused in part by the ASD and Sotos are part of them--parts I love very much. So, no, I guess I wouldn't want to change my children, but I would like the gains to come a little quicker some days.

But, I can deal. And really, with those seriously cute faces, I am finding it easier and easier to do.

Christmas is Coming...

Sigh... I realized today, as I began to plan Christmas gifts for the girls' teachers and aides, that I was acting like the discount stores--planning Christmas before Halloween and Thanksgiving.(Yes, Target is already combining the Christmas and Halloween merchandise.)

So, as I ponder the gift possibilities this year, I want to do more meaningful gifts rather than just rush to the store. I know that Anneliese's teacher has a new grandbaby, so a possible brag book for her. And since this will be the third year of having a child in that pre-school, I don't want to do my usual chocolate/cocoa biscotti basket.

And as far as my folks go, since they are so far away, I want to scrap a photo calender for them. (Yay, a valid excuse to go scrap!) Target had them for $1, and I have enough paper etc for 500 calenders easily. So, I think that tonight I need to organize my scraproom, and get to it.
I also want to try a couple little tin/accordion albums, as well as an exploding album.

Yikes! But, this will be fun. We are trying to stay on a budget for Christmas this year, so this is something easy for me to do. Fun, too. But, if I get overwhelmed, you know who you will see shopping on the Sunday before Christmas?

Yep, my husband. I am not going out in that mess. ;-P

Sunday, October 07, 2007

So pleased...

Yesterday we went to the 1st Annual autism support group BBQ/picnic. It was at a park, the food was great and there was a lot for the kids to do--both of them painted pumpkins and enjoyed cider and donuts. David took Sophia over to play on the swings/slide/play structure. There were other kids there, and everyone was really friendly when I came up to check on them. I was glad Sophia didn't seem shy around the other children.

I bought a few things at the craft booth, and after eating an awesome BBQ plate, we took the kids home. Last night, Dave and I were talking about the day, and how much fun the girls had. He then told me that when he and Sophie went to the slide, she actually INITIATED conversation with the other kids by introducing herself and asking their names.

Doesn't sound like much, right? Well, maybe not for a neuro-typical child, but for Sophie this was huge. She tends to be very shy and close up around others. I can only credit her month in Kindergarten for the changes so far.

And, Sophia is growing so fast! Her bottom 2 baby teeth have already come out and adult teeth have grown in. Today, I noticed the top two are wiggly. Yikes! And Anneliese has a wiggly tooth on the bottom.

Where does the time go?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Growing up






I created this 2 page LO the other night, after seeing how grown-up my girl is starting to look. Anneliese is getting to be such a big girl! We are up to a few words now--Hi, Bye, Me, Yeah--and she is asking for items with signs. Where did the baby go?

Technically speaking, I know she is a four year old, and not a baby. But with all the physical and verbal delays, she is a year or two behind emotionally. All of a sudden, we have a pre-schooler asserting her independence, and seemingly in the throes of the terrible twos. Yikes!

On the flip side, she is running, jumping, dancing. Her hair is finally growing (thin hair is a Sotos trait) and she has curls and we can do fun things with it. She is cute as a button and loves to play tag with her sister, and ball with anyone she can find.

Emotional Roller Coaster


Well, I have been just up and down over the Sophia school choice. Last Monday (10th) her kindie class had a grandparents day program with singing etc. The noise crowded room etc just stressed her out. Hands over her ears, turning her back etc--my little lost sheep. As soon as the program ended, Sophia went straight for me, crawled in my lap and began to script one of her TV shows. Totally stressed out. After having a cookie, we went outside and she played on the slide. Calm settled on her then. Soon after, class resumed and all the families, including us, left.

Her aide seems very nice, but I was not aware that she is for afternoon only. My first reaction after getting home and thinking about how Sophia reacted was to wrap her in cotton wool and keep her safe. But, I was also aware that the program occurred on only her second day of school.

God was looking out for me that day. I thought to check the answering machine after a while, and there was a message from the specialist's office in Ann Arbor. A cancellation had opened up an appointment. So, I called the office and took the appointment for the following morning.

Dr Tsai was the doctor who had initially diagnosed Sophia in August 05 as PDD-NOS with emergent Asperger Syndrome. After David and I met with him last Tuesday, I was relieved. He gave us a game plan on what to request from the school, how to get OT and her psychologist involved, and a referral to a child psychiatrist locally to get her treated for anxiety. As Dr Tsai is well known as being anti-medication, I did not take his recommendation lightly. Sophia's anxiety permeates everything she does lately--school, going outside, reaction to outside stimulus. He would like her to be treated for 3-4 months, until the school day becomes second nature and she becomes accustomed to the roiutine and noise levels.

So, I now know what the school needs to be doing. I have a great team in Sophia's corner, I just need to get the wheels in motion.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Scrapping confidence

Well, last weekend I had my BFF Larisa to visit, and we stayed up to the wee hours scrapping, talking, and drinking wine (not necessarily in that order). Needless to say, it was fun. I began a theme album I have been planning since the beginning of the year--all my autumn pictures from 2006. It was a fall full of photo ops. We had taken the girls to the orchard for a hay ride and the pumpkin patch. Also, they helped decorate the yard for Halloween, and there were all my fall color pictures. Plus, trick or treating and the loot afterward.

So, I pulled out the kit I had prepared--Daisy D's Gypsy Harvest/Vintage Halloween. I also decided to try a different album size--a 8x12 landscape Baybox album. So, I started scrapping, a little nervous at first because I was still getting used to the size.

Well, I chugged along all week, and finished the scrapbook tonight. It was incredibly freeing to use one coordinated line, and be able to put things together easily. I also realized that about half way through the week, the pages got easier to do, no worries about titles or "design" and I began figuring out ways to arrange my page elements to best showcase the stories I wanted to tell.

In other words, scrapping was fun again. No thoughts filled my head about how to arrange the LO, and I didn't stop to look at an idea book once. Very freeing. Also, other than some Making Memories bling Halloween brads and some Karen Foster autumn loopy brads I bought, everything I used in the book came from my stash. I pulled out old vellum quote stacks from 4 years ago, my bins of brads and eyelets, and used up a bunch of ribbon I have been hoarding. Chipboard alphas? check. Sticker alphas going back 3 years? Check. Stuff I completely forgot I even had? Check. Cricut that is completely ignored? Check.

I need to do this more often. I am trying to go back to scrapping for ME. I noticed as I let myself scrap this book my way, I saw my linear, symmetrical style emerge. It looked GOOD. And I was able to see a few of the famous design techniques there on the pages, without me even realizing it. The one page I got a bit more "freestyle" on is my least favorite.

So, I am feeling "back in the groove." And as I love to say, Life is surely good.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Finally!

Well, today Sophia starts Kindergarten, at School D. Frankly, I am both amazed and relieved.

It has been a long haul to get here! I finally spoke to the head of Special Ed Student Services, JB, last Friday. She assured me she would get back to me Tuesday. I didn't hear a word. So, I called the Principal at School D. No one returned my call. Finally, I talked to SW on Wednesday afternoon--she is the district teacher consultant for children on the autistic spectrum. She go to work, told me she would drive to school D, make phone calls, and get back to me by Thursday morning.

Thursday comes. My MIL and I take the girls up to Anneliese's preschool open house. Get home at 1:o0. No message from SW. So, I call her on her cell. She tells me after a barrage of phone calls to schools with later start times, all the Kindergartens are filled to capacity. So, I asked her what they would do with a new child in the district? Make her stay home until there was an opening. I expressed my frustration, and anger over the lack of returned phone calls, the issues with busing (both last year and this) and my dissatisfaction with this school district in general. SW did assure me she understood, and that her supervisor, JB, was at School D again, insisting on Sophia's admittance.

Well, I cried off and on for the next 2 hours. Then, finally at 4:00, SW calls. Sophia has been admitted to School D, and her busing is arranged, with a pick-up time of 8:00am. YES!!!! Also, the teacher is staying late and would like to meet her. So, I call MIL, and at 4:45 we are pulling into the School D parking lot.

Turns out the teacher is an old family friend of my husband's family. She is great relating to Sophia, and when a fly got into the room, got to see Sophia's reaction to it. So at least she knows what we are dealing with. And Sophie saw the playground--loved it. The play structure has a huge dinosaur on it. (A dinosaur is the school mascot, which Sophie loves. Good Karma anyone?)

So, here we sit waiting for the bus. And Anneliese starts on Monday. 3.5 glorious hours alone are to be mine daily. Lovely!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Memories of my grandfather

Growing up, I lived near my grandparents--a short walk for me in the middle of the country. They owned 120 acres, living on one of the 40s, and we lived on the neighboring forty, with fields and woods in between. Great way to grow up.

I wrote this poem about my grandfather, in college. I think it sums up my memories quite well.


Legacy

I remember walking through the woods with my grandfather, his pace slow to allow my tiny legs to keep up.
I remember the acrid smell of Autumn leaves, falling around us in a multicolored blanket, as he showed me the birch, the poplar and the pine.
I remember the whiteness of Spring lilies, poking up from the denseness of the forest floor.
I remember the patience of my grandfather as he taught me the bird song of the swallow, the chickadee and the robin.
I remember the buzz of yellow bees, flying among the acres of orange Indian paintbrush, purple fireweed, and yellow buttercups.
I remember the sound of our laughter, as my cousins and I played in Nature's bounty, unaware in childhood of what would make this time and place so special to us in adulthood.
I remember the love and acceptance of my grandfather, as he taught me how to understand Nature, and in turn, know myself.

I remember adolescence, with all the tumult and rebellion it brought into my life, and into the lives of those around me.
I remember grandfather, teasing me out of moods and laughing with me about old Danish settlers, taking me into his past with grace and understanding.
I remember spending the night with my grandparents, thinking myself too old for such things, yet loving the time playing cribbage with Gramps long into the night.
I remember feeling more secure in my grandfather’s presence than I would for many years to come.

I remember being twenty-one, hearing with pain of my grandfather’s cancer, knowing he would die too soon.
I remember the cold rain on the day of his funeral, as Nature joined our family in mourning her lost son.
I remember with pain the sound of my grandmother’s voice as she told me not to cry as we drove away from the cemetery.
I remember my recognition of my grandmother’s generosity, comforting me after losing her life partner of 52 years.
I remember finally appreciating the strength of my grandmother as we both reluctantly learned to let go.
I remember a twinge of conscience as I learned to go forward with my life, without the guidance that had led me into adulthood.

I remember my childhood wistfully, seeing now that I was given much more than I had realized at the time.
I remember freedom and laughter, and a peace that sometimes escapes me now as the days fly by.
I remember being one with the woods, in a time when the best friend you could have was a sheepdog named Spike.
I remember the wonder of squirrels and deer, woodchucks and bear.

And I remember my grandfather, knowing that his wisdom and teaching has made me the woman I am today.

Round 1

So, I called the special education director's office today, as I hadn't heard back from them yet. I guess school D has no room in their kindergarten program. Helen (the director's assistant) pulled Sophia's IEP and has been on the phone to various special ed personnel. School D is having a meeting to see what can be done to work Sophia into their program. I flat out told Helen that if School D cannot accommodate my daughter, that I was not comfortable with Sophia's attendance at School H. She assured me that she would let me know as soon as there was new information re the situation. Great.

You know, I am really hating all this back and forth. There needs to be a simpler procedure for special needs education. I am aware that I pulled this on them at the last minute. However, who guessed that Sophia, who LIVED to play outside in April/May would become afraid to step out the door by mid June? Her biggest fear is butterflies. She obsesses about any flying insect landing on her, to the extent that if she sees one she will curl into a standing fetal position and become hysterical. I will not be sending her to school without an aide. If the school will not allow her to refrain from going outside for recess, then they will provide the necessary accommodation so that Sophia can attend school fear free. And I know my daughter--the dread of recess, combined with waking too early, will drain any enjoyment from the school day.

Sigh.....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Here we go again...

Well, after a fairly uneventful summer, school restarts soon: Sophia, September 4 and Anneliese, Sept 10. No worries for Anneliese. This will be the third year with this ECDD room--I know the routine, approximate bus times etc.

I called Sophia's school office the other day. Had not received a bus schedule, although I did get a welcome letter from the principal. The school she is to attend (School H) is not our assigned school, but the same one Sophie attended for preschool last year. We thought the consistency would help her. So, School H has a start time start time of 7:36 am. When I called the school re bus times, I was a little scared to find out time the bus would actually pick up my daughter. I was right to be afraid. 6:36 am???? For a 5 year old??? I heard that and thought "oh, Hell no." Sophie is NOT a morning person, and the thought of getting her out of bed at 5:40 am is not a pleasant one.

Plus, since Sophia has developed a severe flying bug phobia and won't go out side without a LOT of adult encouragement, I knew we were going to need an aide this year. The psychologist we see for Sophia's phobias agrees. I decided to look into the school closest to our home (School D), and see how their buses run. Turns out that School D starts an hour later than her current school. Plus, I already knew they have a Kindergarten special needs aide, as the school district explained to me in the spring that an aide was following to other students up from pre-school.

So, I did a little research today and placed a call to the special ed director in our school district. I spelled out the whats and whys for the director's assistant, and am awaiting a response. Let's hope this is easy to resolve. I don't want to start the school year for Sophie with the kind of big bang that will result if they mess with me. My husband and I agree on the course of action here, though. And, he is already starting to feel sorry for the school district. Gee, am I that big of a wench?

Yep, and more than that if I need to be. My girls have no voice but mine.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Summer 2007 10 Ten List

Well, with summer flying by, I haven't had time to think straight. In no particular order, I decided to compile a list of the stuff going on this summer that is even slightly memorable in my world.

1. Harry Potter!! Final book read, digested and discussed on message boards all over the web. Loved it. Of course, started re-reading the series immediately after I finished Deathly Hallows. And for cool HP essays, check out www.beyondhogwarts.com.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean III--slightly disappointing, but will hold final judgement until the DVD comes out and I can check the special features.

3. Bug Phobias--Sophia is hysterically terrified of flying insects. Starting therapy with a child psychologist next week. Hopefully we will get somewhere with therapy, because I don't think our family will survive with another caged in summer with a child afraid to leave the house.

4. Speech therapy--Anneliese had weekly speech therapy this summer--had to fight with the ISD to get it. She did amazing. More sounds, EIEIO to Old McDonald, simply saying "yeah." A total "life is good" moment.

5. Respite care--Dave and I decided to get respite care twice a month to give us a break. Yee-haw. We get an awesome worker each time--gramma type, and she does great with the kids. So nice to get away.

6. Summer of Bruce--I love Bruce Campbell, and have ever since seeing the Adventures of Brisco County Jr on TV. So, this summer, I bought the series on DVD. Perfection. Then when life couldn't get any better, he is starring in a new USA series called Burn Notice. As the slightly grizzled and washed up agent turned side kick, Bruce kicks booty. Now if I can just forget he ever did the abysmal show Jack of all Trades (nope, not even worth a link).

7. No scrapping--no urge to scrap yet, but bought the Basic Grey Infuse collection. Very nice, but really don't like the direction their designers are taking the paper lines these days. And I just dropped my last kit club. Time to use up some stash. Which leads to...

8. The Conscious Scrapper--great newer blog detailing the reality of scrapping as opposed to the trendy/ Debbi Designer / lets buy buy buy mentality that seems to be taking over the online scrapping community. Reading her posts really gives you a wake-up call if you haven't been thinking about these things. For myself, it was validation of the way I have been feeling for quite a while.

9. Renewed dedication to health--I just re-joined Weight Watchers this month. Had a scary ambulance trip in June, thinking it was my heart. After 4 hours at the ER, it turned out to be severe reflux. So, in addition to losing weight, I went to a gastroenterologist, started a regimen with a homeopathic doctor, and am trying to cut back the dosage of my anti-depressant. Already I am feeling like I have more energy. Can I hear another yee-haw?

10. Bequest--my father brought down some of my grandmother's furniture for me, as well as her wedding bands. I am wearing her anniversary band as my wedding band now. Due to my weight gain, I couldn't wear my own, and this ring fits as though it were made for me. And Dave understands, so is fine with it. The furniture I have started to clean and polish--a vanity table with bench and mirror, and the matching dresser. I loved watching Gran put on her make-up at that table since I was a little girl. Now I want to have the piece in my home where I can see it and remember what an amazing woman she was, and how much she contributed to who I am today.

That is my summer. And as I like to say, Life is surely good. And may it only get better.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

So blessed

I was thinking about my girls the other night. Whenever someone hears that both of my daughters are special, I get the "wow, you must have your hands full." Well, I do. Full of laughs, love, funny comments, silly dances and bad knock knock jokes. Like most other preschoolers, I guess. Yes, I get a bit more tantrumming than some moms do--sensory integration difficulties guarantee that. But, as the girls get older, things are even improving on that front.

The real reason I feel so blessed is that my girls are so close. Their disabilities and personalities are completely opposite from each other: Anneliese is an extrovert, Sophia is shy; Anneliese is silent, Sophia is a chatterbox; Anneliese will persist in engaging her sister, Sophia likes her own world.

When Anneliese can't explain what she needs, Sophia helps. When Sophia gets too far into her world, Anneliese pulls her out. Sophia's physical daring and monkey like acrobatics push Anneliese to emulate her sister, helping to develop those gross motor muscles that need strengthening. The girls learn by each other's example. Anneliese wants to follow her sister, and Sophia wants to have fun with her. Sophia and Anneliese are both learning to cooperate and share, something even their schools aren't seeing yet.

As I listen to them laughing and giggling for a 1/2 hour each night after tuck-ins, I know my girlies are happy, love each other and have a best friend. Right now, nothing is more important.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Harry Potter

I am geeked--Harry Potter is coming!! It is like the third British invasion. First, the redcoats in 1776, then the Beatles, and now, Harry Potter, both the book and movie this summer. Unlike the other two invasions, the Americans have been forewarned and are ready and willing to be engulfed.

And yes, I am in that number. I get Yahoo updates every time the name Harry Potter hits the news. I pored over the new Deathly Hallows book covers, looking for any clue to the plot. I held my breath when it was announced that Emma Watson might not return for the last two movies (breathe easy folks--all three leads are signed). And, I haunt blogs and message boards looking for answers to the REALLY important questions--is Snape evil or good? how will Dumbledore communicate with Harry now that he is gone? will Sirius communicate through the mirror he gave Harry? is Harry a horcrux? and what does Aunt Petunia really know about the wizarding world? And lastly, is RAB REALLY Regulus Black, or is that another red herring?

OK, you know I'm obsessed. Hopefully, there are others out there anxiously counting down to the next book and movie. After all, there's just something about Harry.

Summer is here--bring on the scrapping guilt!

Well, between spring cleaning and gardening, I have been a busy woman lately. Deciding what things to toss, what to donate, what to store. Packing away winter coats, sorting little clothes to see what doesn't fit, re-organizing closets. Outside, I am planting new perennials, fertilizing all my plants, pruning bushes and trees, digging out plants that didn't come back after a sudden freeze in the spring.

So, I have not had the time to scrap. About three weeks ago, I was a scrapping dynamo! I did a LO each night for a week. They were pretty good, too (if I do say so myself!). But I have been so busy, I don't have the inclination to scrap. After a day of working, I want to veg in front of the TV.

I do have a project in mind--an autumn album of all the fun stuff the girls did in the fall--pumpkin patch, hay ride, trick or treat, decorating for Halloween. Originally, I was going to do an 8x8 book--but, considering the number of pictures, I am contemplating using an 8x12 Baybox. Sigh. I have never done an 8x12 album, so again, I hesitate to start.

And so it goes. The spirit is willing, but the planner in me is weak. This happens every summer. Let's just hope I can finish the Autumn 2006 album before August 2007 rolls around.

"I am that hero...."


Well, we have discovered Veggie Tales in our home. And, it is a HUGE hit. We all find ourselves humming silly songs, and watching each new DVD with interest. But, the biggest impact has been made by Larry Boy, with his amazing suction cup ears. Sophia is in love. We had to run out to Agape (our local Christian book store) the other night to buy the Larry Mobile for her.

The positive side of the Veggie Tales invasion has been that Sophia is beginning to get a concept of God and the Bible. I picked up the VT bible story book to read to her--after each VT story are the verses from the Bible that the story was based on. She enjoys hearing that read, and having it explained to her.

I'm not sure Anneliese is as enthralled by the biblical aspect of VT, but from the giggles and the dancing she does while watching the show, I know that it is a hit with her, too.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Orca Love

Well, my daughter Sophia is animal crazy, and always has been. Her first word at 8 months was "hitty" (her early word for the cat). At 2 years old, she knew about12 farm animals and what sound they make. Nowt 5 years old, she can tell you all about the animals of the rain forest--what they sound like, say and eat (thanks Diego!). Her favorite day trip is the zoo. She also knows all the different dinosaurs by name, and will earnestly correct you if you misname when.

So, yesterday she came home from, school with a picture collage she made of Orca whales. Mommy, daddy and baby whale she tells me. Very nice. She played with them all afternoon--the next thing you know, she had her little bug catcher cage and inside was her pet orca whale, Richard (don't ask).

She mentions next that orcas are nice fish. So, I explain that fish breathe with gills and lay eggs to make babies, but whales have a blow hole and have babies in their tummies that are born and swim around. She accepted that and ran off to play orca.

Well, I should have known that wouldn't be the end of it--never underestimate an Asperger child. They are too smart for the average sleep deprived mom. Sophia tells me that she is going to be a mommy orca. I tell her that;s great. She proceeds to tell me she has a baby orca in her tummy. At that point, she sticks her stuffed mouse under her shirt, and then pulls him out. "See mama, the baby orca is borned."

What could I say? It was cute. Squirrelly, but cute. That's my girl.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A last thought for today...

I think I have been reminded recently of something important. Be happy for today. Tomorrow will never be better if you carry your bad attitude forward. Yesterday only looks better because you have forgotten how negative things may have been as time dims memory.

Lately I had forgotten to appreciate those around me. Maybe my reminder came from my daughters' new obsession with VeggieTales, and hearing the positive messages repeatedly. And how can you argue with a talking cucumber?

So smile and be happy. It is contagious.

How does your garden grow?

Am loving the spring time this year. When we bought our house in June 2003, the garden was overgrown and dying. After ripping up EVERYTHING except a lilac tree, a weeping cherry and 2 evergreen bushes (we ripped out approximately 25 plants and trees that were crowded or dying) we had to dig up the existing beds and add a couple new ones. We now add 5-6 plants per year. This year was a 2nd lilac tree, a barberry, 2 more bog rosemary and two flowering almond trees, as well as a few perennials.

My efforts are finally paying off. My little bitty burning bushes (no more than twigs when I planted them in 2005) are now over 2 feet tall and filled out. They have grown 4 inches this year alone.

My hen and chicks (sempervivum) are my special favorites, although Dave thinks they look like an alien life form. But I love them--my grandmother always had them in her garden, and I thought it was so cool that the main plant would send out little "chicks." Kind of like a succulent spider plant. So, when we bough this house, I got a few from a lady thinning hers out. From 8 or nine plants and "chicks" I now have about 150 and still going strong. I am currently moving them from their metal planter to shady areas to use as ground cover. I love them--they are a great reminder of my childhood.

Currently I have lilacs, rosemary and sage in bloom, or on the verge. My weeping cherry just got done blooming. I have tulips to plant for next year. My goal is to eventually figure out a way to always have flowers in bloom... What could make for a more beautiful landscape?

Success!! Soto's diagnosis confirmed.

Well, much to my surprise, the doctor came through. His latest letter spelled it out. Despite normal NSD1 scan, she has Sotos Sundrome. He spells it out in his second letter that genetics are NOT conclusive, so his diagnosis stands.

Yay! Talked to her Early Intervention physical therapist, HF, today. HF said she was not at all surprised to hear that Anneliese has an overgrowth syndrome. It was awesome to talk to a professional who was conversant with the disorder. Most of our family and friends do not understand what Sotos is, and it is hard to explain. But, frankly, the diagnosis is for the medical and insurance communities, as LeeLee is still the little ray of sunshine she was before the arrival of Dr I's letter.

We are starting to head into stormier weather with her moods. Unfortunately, she is getting more frustrated at not getting her way--dressing, food choices, being read to, watching TV, etc--we get the tantrum to end all. We are beginning to wonder if this is just a three year old phase (like Sophia had as well) or if we are entering phase 2 with Anneliese, now that she is asserting her autonomy.

Who can say?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New MemoryWorks Catty--but....

Well, the release of the 2007-08 catalog is here. Every year, I get way excited to see what products will be available. I start planning what I "need" to buy. And the new catalog does not disappoint--Piggy Tales; Love, Elsie; new Autumn Leaves Acrylic Stamps; all the new Basic Grey; Crate Paper; Cosmo Cricket; 7 Gypsies. New bling, metals and brads--simply speaking, scrapper heaven.

Yet, this year the zing isn't there. I have so much going on in my personal life that this fades to the background. Which is as it should be. Tomorrow I take Anneliese to Univ of Mich hospital to the Pediatric Cardiology unit, to find out if there is a problem with her heart. Her Echocardiogram last month showed an anomaly. I also have Sophie's teacher conference to find out what steps the school is taking for Sophie to succeed next year in school. My dosage was just raised on my mood stabilizer because the stress is aggravating my bipolar.

And when I do scrapbook? I am doing more introspective pages, pages that reflect where we are in our life as a family. I think it is tiume to pull the Memory Makers idea book, Imperfect Lives, down off the shelf and give it another look through. Our lives are in transition right now, so scrapping only about the light fluffy events seems like a lie--I want our scrapbooks to reflect our real lives. I have begun a very personal book about my struggles and relationships with others. I want to really be on the page for those LOs, so that my children understand me down the road.

So, I still am excited about the MW catalog. That pales in significance, however, to how I will feel once I know my daughters are in a good place, both in the school system and in the medical community. And we will get there--I plan to guarantee it. And of course, I plan to scrap our progress, one day (and page) at a time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sotos..or not?

Well, after getting a letter from Anneliese's esteemed geneticist in Ann Arbor today, I had to call him. At one point, he gives a list of all her features that point to Sotos Syndrome. Sounds promising, right? At the end of the letter, he says the results of the NDS1 test is normal, and therefore, "these results do not support a diagnosis of Sotos."

So, I call him to ask about this, telling him of studies showing a 90% accuracy of this genetics test to determine Sotos. I also told him I was talking to him one last time before getting a second opinion. He assured me that he was an expert, no need to go further with another doctor, blah, blah blah. So I reiterate that I need a diagnosis, and he asks about the letter--won't it work for the insurance? I tell him that it is conflicting--at one point he says her symptomology is consistent with Soto, but three sentancers later states that the test results are not consistent with Sotos. He didn't see the problem. But, he will send another letter. (sigh....)

So, filled with confidence over my (not) reassuring discussion with the doctor, I sent in my records requests to get all the reports to forward on to a doctor who is aces in Sotos research. I feel like I never got an answer--all he would say was the genetics department liked to be conservative in their diagnosis. Conservative? How about CRYPTIC?? I need an answer about my daughter, not the runaround.

Babysteps, I guess. First step, mail the requests. Second step, wait for the records to arrive. Third step, ship it all to Nebraska.

And the fourth step? Pray.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Labels


All my life I have been fighting being labeled--only child; leftie; epileptic; brain tumor survivor; grad student; professor; manic depressive. There alway seems to be a preconceived notion associated with a label. In some cases, however, I am finding that a label can be a good thing.

How is that, you ask? Well, I am currently fighting to get a diagnosis for Anneliese (i.e., a label) in order to continue to get her the therapies and doctors she needs covered by the insurance. In the past 6 months, my 3 year old daughter has gone through an MRI, an Xray, an Echocardiogram and multiple blood draws to test for various genetic disorders and syndromes. We have heard our fill of syndrome names from geneticists and developmental pediatricians: Fragile X (blood work negative), Chromosomal abnormality (blood work negative), Marfan syndrome (echocardiogram negative).

We also were told about Sotos Syndrome. Anneliese seemed to fit 85% of the criteria for this disorder, so yet another blood test was order to check for a mutation of the NSD1 gene. Oh, and it will only take 6 weeks to come back. So, I broke down and called at the 5 week mark, and there were the results--normal. Sorry, Mrs. M, we can't help you further.

Meanwhile, I talk to the wonderful people on the Yahoo Sotos support group. Turns out that the genetic test is not infallible, and a clinical diagnosis can be made if your child displays certain traits/criteria. Guess what? She does. So, BANG! 4 days later I on the phone with another specialist at U of M, who I am told is very qualified and open to more ideas than bloodwork. And the mom that told me this had first seen the genetics specialist who was unwilling to help us further.

So, I have hope. I need to know my daughter's prognosis in order to get her more therapies, and know where we are going on this journey through special needs in the school system. I need to know that our family will be OK and get through this.

Above all, I need to know that my advocacy for my daughter will enable Anneliese to become the best person she can be. I will not stop until I know there are no more stones to turn over. This may not be how I pictured motherhood, but by heaven I will give my daughter the voice she has yet to find.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

This is it...


The age of imaginary friends has entered my calm household. Who you might ask? Why Sophie has added an imaginary friend--namely Rocket from Little Einsteins on Playhouse Disney. There he is in that picture. No, not any of the smiling children (although Sophie assures me that June is her friend, too, but apparently not close enough for Sophie to let her in the house) but, the rocket ship.

He was in my living room today. They spent time playing "at the beach" in Sophie's room. And if I dared to speak to Rocket, Sophie and Rocket would leave the room. Tonight after supper, we all ate paczki, since it is Fat Tuesday today. Sophie made sure that we knew Rocket had to have a piece.

Very cute stuff here. I know that at Sophie's age my "friend" was Yogi Bear. Why Rocket instead of a person? Who knows. Just want to get this on record before it slips away, like so many other childhood moments.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pajama & Soup Day

Well, like everyone else in the Midwest, we got dumped on--lots and lots and LOTS of snow. Needless to say, the girls had no school. Then Dave called this morning to tell me Ronald Reagan Airport in DC is closed, as are most of the Midwestern airports, so he may nott be able to get a flight home tonight as scheduled. ~~~sigh~~~ So, the girls and I are having a lazy pajama day.

So, like any other good Yooper, I made soup. Yummy Beef Barley Soup. Grandma always had soup on when the weather got cold--split pea or vegetable beef are the two I remember her making the most. I was always in awe that people could make soup (my mom was a Campbell's girl herself).

So, I chopped up a top round roast and browned it; then added I onion, celery, carrots, baby potatoes, green beans, tomato sauce and boullion. Added thyme, basil, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Throw in the barley. After 2 1/2 hours, sheer bliss in a bowl. Maybe even better than Grandma used to make....

Now if I could just master her baking powder biscuits.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The countdown begins...

This year for our birthdays, Larisa and I are planning to attend a weekend scrapbook retreat (Treehouse Getaways). We are going to be gone for three glorious days toward the end of march. So, the planning begins.

First I went and bought a new scrapbooking organizer/tote (what is this, the 6th or 7th?). After seeing a product called the ScrapALong, I found out that it is made by Plano Molding (the tackle box/tool box people). I ran out to Menards's and obtained one for $39.95 (Contractor Work Center 826). I love it. Drawers, pull-out container for albums, deep storage on top. Also cool is the steel bar that slides down the front when you aren't using it. After inserting the bar and slapping a pad lock (bought at Meijer yesterday) my scrapbook supplies are secure. Call me paranoid, but I would tather be safe than sorry.

The hardest part of planning this weekend is deciding what to bring. I am currently planning an 8x8 album of our autumn this year--pumpkin patch, decorating for Halloween, Autumn colors, and trick or treats. So, I know I can work on that. Also, I am saving Christmas and New Years too for that weekend. But I tend to overpack--ARRGGHHH!

I did change my eyelet/brad storage to increase portability. I switched to these little stacking screw together bead jars from Darice--30 in a small box. Works great and takes up a fraction of the room. Will I need all these at my retreat? Probably not. Will I feel more secure knowing they are there in the off-chance I need them? YOU BETCHA!!!

The trials and tribulations of the scrapper...

Well, this is weird

Here I sit--7:51 AM. David just left on a business trip to Washington, DC. He will be back Wednesday night. This is the first time ever we have been apart this long, except when dating. Feels really strange to me.

Funny how dependent we become on the little things--a smile, a bad joke, an email of a cartoon. It is a testament to my quiet, laid back husband that this formerly independent stubborn woman misses him already. That is the magic of love I guess.

And how my kids will deal with Daddy's absence remains to be seen. Hopefully all will be well--tonight is our girly pizza party, tomorrow is supper with Nana.

So, to quote Whitesnake, "Here I go again on my own." Another adventure....

Sunday, February 11, 2007

That chilly time of year


I must be an odd duck--I love my Michigan winter. Yes, it is frigid out there this year. Being from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I grew up with that--snow on the ground and cold temperatures from Halloween to St Patty's Day. I love seeing the snow on the ground. When I first moved downstate in 1991, I hated the inconsistency of the weather--one week snow, the next week rain, then it was in the 40's. A month later it was 20 degrees. Yuck! This year, it is cold with snow on the ground. Seems like old times.

I don't really like summer that much. Insects, humidity and tornado warnings aren't my idea of fun. I do love my watermelon, though--best part of summer. Winter has Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday--things to look forward too, and seeing family and friends. Playing in the snow with my daughters, drinking cocoa and snuggling in front of the fire with my honey-bunny--life is good. Rich stews and chilis are just made for warming you up after a chilly afternoon outdoors. And there is nothing better than getting into bed after a long day, and slipping into a warm cocoon of blankets. As the chill of the room leaves you, and you start feeling toasty warm, it is so easy to fall asleep.

Even clothes are better in winter. Fuzzy sweaters, comfy flannel pjs, fleecey robes and slippers--all things that reek of comfort. Clothing that is very forgiving of that extra 5 pounds that invariably creeps on after the holidays.

So, it is with a little sadness that I see the last of winter melt away each year. As much as I love my garden and seeing the baby bunnies in my yard, I always feel a little regret that my winter idyll is over....

at least for one more year.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

If I lived to be 100...

If I lived to be 100, would I rather have a sound mind or a fit body? Well, the women in my family live to be old--the hardy Scandinavian heritage showing. My grandmother died at the age of 87. Millie's final years were spent fighting senile dementia (she was never officially diagnosed with Alzheimers). She broke a hip a few years before her death, and resisted therapies and the doctor's suggestions. She had always been a very active woman--gardening, long walks with her dog, strawberry picking in the summer--and as her mind began to be fuzzy, her desire for activity lessened. I really think had her mind been sound, her prognosis toward the end would have been better. I the last six months of her life, Millies spine compressed and my father was forced to place her into a Medicare facility to provide her with appropriate care.

I want my mind to be sound at 100. I want to know the love of my family and be aware and involved with others. I don't want to forget the people that are important to me, and pick up a book and read for enjoyment. The tragedy of my grandmother lives in my mind. A feisty Irish/Norwegian woman, with a sense of humor, strong sense of family, a compulsive reader, was reduced to confusion in her final years. The last time I saw her, in December of 2002, she called me "Mona" the name of her youngest sister. She knew I was her granddaughter, but couldn't remember how. A moment of clarity bubbled through when I explained I was her son's daughter. She looked at me clearly and said, "ah, yes, from his first marriage."

And at that same visit, I had brought my daughter Sophia, age 9 months, to spend her first Christmas with her great-grandmother. My father told me that for months afterward, my grandmother talked about that beautiful baby. Some of my favorite pictures of my grandmother are from that visit, watching my grey haired grandmother and my tiny brown haired child touching hands and hearts.

Scrapping Thoughts

I have been thinking lately about why I scrap. This whole trade show every 3-4 months is getting old. Who has time to scrap with the ever-consuming desire to get "the latest and greatest" before everyone else. By the time we have all those precious items from the last CHA, the next trade show is here and we start again. ~~Sigh~~

I also notice that when I do sit down to scrap I reach for familiar old friends--Basic Grey Fusion or Vagabond, WRMK, Chatterbox, CatsEye Chalk inks, AC ribbon and Brads, and Chipboard. I have a ton of the first lines from Fancy Pants--ChiChi, FrouFrou, Dapper--and never reach for them. Too much like work to figure out a cool way to use them.

So, I have toned down my latest and greatest. I picked up some Primas, BG Fruitcake & Blush and Chatterbox Love Shack from the last show, and from this show will probably get the BG Pheobe. I am sticking with my tried and true loves for new products. My LOs use a lot of older product now, because I loved it when I bought it and they still look cool.

I scrapbook for me and my family. When my 3 and 4 year old daughters clamor to look at the scrapbooks I make, it is not to see the new CHA product artistically displayed on a Bohemian style page (with a giant bird, of course). It is to see pictures of their family and friends, pets and celebrations. It is a way for two little girls to see the grandfather they loved (and who died too soon) and remember his love for them. My book of me is a bit more upscale, but after I am gone I want my daughters to know who I was, not how well I displayed product without the memories to accompany it.

I think I am passionate about these memories being the focus because I lost my mom at age 52--her childhood and early life are lost to me because she never wrote any of this down. My grandmother died with Alzheimers--again, memories lost, because now I have questions about things that never seemed important at the time. I want my children to understand who I was and how I feel about events and people in our lives that are important to us.

That is what I am passionate about--leaving the next generation a legacy.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Flowers and Friends

I am a Prima fower addict. I have 18 bottles/cans/plastic packages of them. All colors and shapes. But when you have that many flowers, and use 3-6 on a LO, they don't disappear very fast.

So, I challenged my self to create a LO.
1. I had to use LOTS of Primas.
2. I had seen cool diagonally cut pp on a LO in an idea book, so I thought, let's try that.
3. Use my punches and the stock pile of brads I never use.
4. Do a non-safe color combo (I stick to jewel tones and pastels usually.

Here is what I created. Crate Paper Carnival, Cricut Stamped title. The only usual thing I did here was ink it. Gotta have my chalk ink. The color and energy of the patterned paper could only be used for pictures of one person--my flamboyant, extreme, very dear friend from college many years ago. We are out of touch now, but I remember those times fondly.



Here's to you, Reid. On a bad day, I always remember your advice and smile, "a little Fresca on a panty shield will do the trick."

The magic of music

OK, I love music. Always have and always will. From my first sony boombox at the age of 11 (1977--played cassettes) and my turntable that I got in high school a few years later, I was hooked. Plugging in to my tunes with my huge padded head phones was awesome--I was one with the music. Sing on Barry Manilow and Andy Gibb!

Then came college, 7 or 8 years later and I bought a sony walkman. I didn't miss my turntable (too many skips in the records) and my sony boom box was still going strong. My walkman (still cassette!) and I were best friends. Smaller headphones, same big tunes. Now it was Hall and Oates, Paul McCartney, Boston, the Beatles and Madonna I listened to.

Then, 1991 and I got my first CD player. Life as I knew it was changed forever. The sound was crisp and clear. I joined record clubs over and again to get my collection up to speed. Sadly, in 1992 my Sony boombox, friend of 15 years (middle school to college) died. I was too busy to use headphones, but still cranked out the tunes--Harry Connick Jr, Rod Stewart, bootleg Beatles, more Paul McCartney and anything that sounded cool on VH1

Well, here I am in 2007. I have moved from 8 track (my dad's hand me down player), to LP's, to cassettes, then CDs. What was left? MP3. For Christmas this year my fabulous husband bought me an MP3 player. My first listen took me back to the magical time of my first stereo, when my headphones gave me my favorite albums. The headphones are not the big old clunky padded puppies of the 70s or the smaller ones of the 80s. These are tiny ear buds and are way cool. I love having my private music request line at all times.

As I type this, Rod Stewart is singing to me. Rod and I go way back. One of the first songs I remember hearing on the Sony boombox radio was "You're In My Heart" by the man. I have seen him in concert three times. From disco, to rock, to pop and now standards his musical style has evolved with the times. As has my method of listening to Rod. So sing on, Mr Stewart, and I am sure we'll both be ready for the next big change.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Addicted to Adam & Jamie


OK, first of all I am NOT a reality TV buff, in the network sense of the word. I don't watch much Network TV at all (except Dave's weekly dose of "My Name Is Earl"). I am however addicted to one show that I watch religiously--Discovery Channel, Wednesday nights at 9:00. The show? Mythbusters. I can't miss it. We record it on the DVR so that if the kids aren't asleep we don't miss a minute of it. It isn't a reality show, but the show is "really" happening.

I have been watching this shoe since the 1st season. It has changed so much since then, but for Dave and I it remains "must see TV." Watching the squabbling between Adam and Jamie, the silliness of the build team, and the crazy stunts they pull makes me laugh each week. I love urban legends (yes, I took a class on them in college, as part of my English degree) and their spin on them is AWESOME. And what would an episode of the show be without an explosion.

Adam always seems like the kind of guy would have been fun to party with 20 years ago (yikes! that long?) in college. And I will always thank him for the catch phrase, "I reject your reality and substitute my own. Jamie reminds me of Dave with his slow planning ways. I also love the fact that in this show, Dave and I find a common denominator--my love of legends and history, and his love of science.

This show ROCKS!

(Photo courtesy of Discovery Channel)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Larisa!

I have to laugh about this. My best friend is one month to the day older than me, and this year we turn 41. Well, this weekend she is coming to visit (Sophie is too excited--more about the cake than her auntie coming). Of course, For the next month I will give Larisa heck about her decrepitude, and then BOOM! I am "old" too.

Thanks for putting up with my crap, Reese. It's been 16 years of silliness. Here's to the next 16 (hopefully LOTS more!). Love you--happy birthday.

Ultimate Blog Party!

This is cool. I read about it on Equine Spirit's blog, and had to check it out. Click on the link at left. Bloggers will have the chance to chit-chat, meet people and win prizes. Can't wait!

Living for NOW

I am proud to say I live for NOW. The reason I say proud is because I am Bipolar 2, and was diagnosed last summer. Up until I got the proper medication, I would sit and dwell on past events and rehash them, trying to figure out how I could have handled things differently. Or, I would make all these plans for the future, then sit on them, depressed that I would never make them a reality.

When I look at my life today, I am glad to say I am living without regrets--what is past is done--I can learn from it but not change it. And the future? I can plan my life now and act in a way to make my dreams a reality. But living for what may be instead of what is does me no good.

And my now is pretty good. Awesome husband, beautiful children, supportive friends. Sure, our family could use a better cash flow, but we do fine. I have my me time outlet in scrapping that lets me preserve my memories and create art at the same time. LIfe will never be better or worse than it is right NOW. I may as well live in the moment, do my best so that tomorrow's NOW is a little better than today's.

Life is surely good.....NOW.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My ideal occupation

Hmmm, today's 2Ps blog challenge asked the question, "Would you rather be a great musician, athlete, scientist, artist, politician, or writer?" I guess I would have to say writer. I love to write and get serious satisfaction from a well written piece. Considering I have a MA in literature and taught college English for 5 years, this answer should come as no surprise. Putting words on paper (or, now in the computer age, on screen) is liberating, and a little scary--you are taking a risk of feedback that you may not like.

I love the idea that a piece of writing can be timeless--people are still reading Beowulf in translation, the Bible etc--these were written 1000's of years ago. I am not saying that my writing could be on a par with the Bible (maybe better than Beowulf--I get shudders remembering reading that one) but the idea that my words in print could influence someone 10 years from now, let alone 100 years is a cool one. There are still people arguing about the racism in Markk Twain's Huck Finn, even though at the time, Twain was being exaggerative in order to show how stupid bigotry and racism really are. I think artists have the same effect on people. I read an article today about a guy who thinks he has ID'd the model for the Mona Lisa. And a few years ago there was hubbub in the news about a First Folio of Shakespeare's (Circa 1640) going up for auction.

In a way, my book of me has become my forum for thoughts about my life and ideals. I write intense, personal details in my book (nope, they will never be on 2Ps) because I want my daughters to understand who I am. My mother and I were never close, and she died at 52 from cancer in 1994. There are so many questions and things I wish she could tell me. Hopefully, my writing will tell others those things I wish I knew.

Writing is an extremely personal creation, much like scrapbooking. The words (or LO) the writer puts out there carries a piece of her at a moment in time. One of Shakespeare's plays was ID'd to a specific year due to the Bard including info about an eclipse in the play. Neat. A piece of historical info tossed in absentmindedly that gives us info almost 400 years after the fact.



Monday, January 22, 2007

Origins

Scrapping! Never, EVER, sometyhing I thought I would do. I remember in 1998, my roommate coming home from a CM party, totally excited about her page. I wasn't impressed--It was all too white, with glitter pens and rounded corners on the pictures. Not my style. Deb, on the other hand, was so excited she became a CMC.

Fast Forward 3 Years: expecting my first baby and I see a K & Co kit with a 12x12 baby scrapbook and a keepsake box. I snarf on it ($20 seemed a steal) and take it home. I start shopping at Michael's and relish all the baby themed stuff. When Sophie was about 6 months old, I begin putting all my supplies to use--I discover scrapbook stores--I subject every person I know to my scrapbooks--I am hooked. My husband, bless him, says NOTHING about the $$$ I spend, and on occasion will go into the scrap stores with me. He is a gem!

Here I am 4 years later. Scrapping is my "me time" now, and I love it. I never go to Michaels much, but love Joann's for odds and ends. All my supplies which used to fit in my Navigator with room to spare, are now in my scrap area (1/3 of our huge family room) and overflowing. And of course, I have Capt Jack for inspiration (I mentioned I had an indulgent husband). I am a scrapbook consultant and a paper snob. I create for the art of it, in addition to preserving memories. I pore over the scrap mags--even if I never re-create a thing I see, I read them like I read cookbooks--to see how others combine ingredients to get a great finished product. A pinch of this or that and VOILA, the LO is mine.

Excited preschooler alert!


Well, we finally have snow. 2 inches tops, but enough that an almost 5 yr old can jump around in it, throw snowballs and make a snow angel (never mind the grass poking into the angel's wings). Sophie has been over the moon excited. Although the girls are 3.5 and almost 5, this is the first time they have been able to play in the snow. No one is sick, the temperature isn't frigid and the snow is sticking around.

The best part of parenthood is reliving that wonder your child feels at things I might consider mundane.

Challenges, pt 2


Well, I have been thinking more about the challenge of Anneliese's lack of verbal speech, and decided, like any good scrapper, to do a LO about it. Here is my baby, in all her glory.


And today I got to talk to her AWESOME teacher. This year LeeLee is in an ECDD classroom (enclosed developmental delay) and has thrived. Elaine shared with me that Anneliese is now happy, relaxed and cooperative in class, and has really progressed in her motor skills, and is making her needs known. Next year she will be in Elaines room again, in the afternoon 4 yr old room, because the public school just doesn't have the staff and time to work on her speech as much as this room can--12 kids to three teachers/aides.

I am content. We are getting progress. She is a happy, growing little person, and will not be ignored. If we don't understand her, she keeps trying. And as yesterday, we have 2 new words--Yi, Yi (I think this is Yeah, Yeah) and Hah (Hi) which she says into the telephone.

Life is surely good!

New Venture in the New Year

Well, I am a hobbyist consultant for MemoryWortks, and enjoy the discount I get on YUMMY products--the new January kit is Basic Grey Blush and I love it. But, really, not much money to be made there.

So, I got to thinking about what I want to do. My friend Andrea was blown away by the change in my scrap style (for the better) so she wanted to commision me to do a heritage scrapbook of her father's childhood pictures. Sounded interesting. I am still waiting to hear back from Andi's mom.

This got me to thinking about what I want to do--2 of the 3 LSS have closed in the last year, and I think the 3rd one is grossly overpriced and the selection and store set-up deter a scrapper from finding anything they need. So, after reading a lively discussion on a Yahoo group about the demise of Leaving Prints, I joined ScrapBiz. I figure I can get my feet wet and still take my time developing a business plan. I would really like to develop this into a S4O business or possibly classes and workshops. Either way, I will have more resources at my disposal than previously.

And will I continue as a MW consultant? As Fran the squirrel on "Higglytown Heroes" would say, YOU BETCHA!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More rockin' reads in the New Year

OK, can we call today diarrhea of the mouth (umm, keyboard, I guess). Or, just making up for lost time.

I have long been fascinated by Russian history, particularly the reign of the last tsar, Nicholas II, and the Imperial family's tragic deaths at the hands of the Ural Soviet in July 1918. After reading The Riddle of Anna Anderson by Peter Kurth in the early 80's, I was fascinated by the idea that the tsar's youngest daughter had escaped.

Flash forward 20-odd years. The DNA has shown that Anna Anderson was not related to the Imperial bodies found in the early 90's. However, this case is now erupting in interesting fiction. I have read a couple GREAT books using the Anna Anderson story as a backdrop, in City of Shadows by Ariana Smith, or as a fictionalized biography in Mary Morrissy.

City of Shadows is a gritty murder mystery set in 1930's Berlin. A Russion club owner coerces his secretary into getting a mental patient out of an asylum and styling her as the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Dubbed Anna Anderson, the patient resides with the secretary (Esther, a Russian Jew) and then the murders begin....Well written, steeped in history and with a twist at the end, this book is sure to entertain any mystery lover, not just Romanov buffs.

The Pretender is a book looking at the early years of Anna Anderson--in the asylum after her attempted suicide, then producing a possible history for her based on what wee know of her and the DNA results that say she was a Polish woman named Franziska Schanzkowska. A troubling book in many ways, leavines you wanting more in a GOOD way. A look at a possible sociopath who was transformed through fate into an Imperial Princess (or so she claimed, though, obviously disproven.

AWESOMELY good books!

Challenges

Something else on my mind today--challenges with my children. Both of my beautiful daughters have special needs (Sophia is on the autism spectrum, and Anneliese is motor delayed and non-verbal) and some days get to be quite trying. Over Christmas break, Sophia did really well, all the Christmas excitement didn't overstimulate her. Our family was all down with strep throat, but overall behavior was fine. David was home from work all that week as well. Well, he went back to work on January 2nd (Sophie didn't go back to preschool until yesterday) and all Hades broke loose. Crying, whining, wanting daddy. Waking up at 4:00am. Staying up! The change in schedule between Christmas break and last week was too much for her.

Then there is LeeLee. She is so frustrated that she can't communicate! And I am getting frustrated for her, and sometimes at her. She refuses to initiate her desires to us, even though she has the signs to tell us. She breaks down crying when pushed, even though we know she can do it, as she will repeat it if we sign first. Anneliese seems at times like she wants to stay a baby with us taking care of all her needs, yet shows that three year stubborn streak when things don't go her way.

I love these kids so much, and David and I continue to meet the challenges raised and celebrate the triumphs. Sophia is brilliant, and some of her leaps of language and music make her seem 4 going on 14. Anneliese manages to turn on the cute at will, and stay the sweetest little stink monkey in 5 counties.

New Year! New resolutions

WOW! Been a while since I posted. 2006 was a bit hectic. That is now history! Here I go with 2007! What do I want to accomplish?

1. Scrapping Goals--USE OLD PRODUCT! I have become a total supply whore, latest and greatest etc. After loving the Memory Makers Idea Book #7, and seeing all the LOs with last year's big products, I knew I needed to use up last years BG, SR etc--yes I love the new stuff, but the other paper I own is still darn cute. Other than my ScrapRoom and new MemoryWorks kit, I need to concentrate on the MASSIVE amounts of stuff I have already.

In keeping with this goal, last night I sat down and scrapped three 2 pg LOs--one with Crate Paper Birdie (newer stuff) but the other 2 were LOS made from StoryTeller's kits I bought in March 2005 and never touched. Yep. That old. Tonight I want to use up the Storyteller's kits I got in April 2005. I quit the club after those two kits, as it wasn't my style, but I don't want $$$ wasted by not using them either.

2. Healthy me! I started SparkPeople on January 3rd in earnest. Recommended by my doctor last year as a FREE (yep FREE!) alternative to Weight Watchers online. Started it last summer, and quickly faded in interest. After finding out about Artritis in my feet and knees in December, I knew the pounds needed to go. Let me know if you want more info! I'll shoot you a referral. (BTW--2.5 pounds down the 1st week! Yay, me!)

New me, new habits, new year. What about you?