Saturday, February 28, 2009

School on a Saturday.

Brunch is my favourite meal. It has the best parts of breakfast and the best parts of lunch, and since you are combining two meals into one, you get to eat lots. It's even better if you get someone else to cook it for you (a rarity for me).

I had the pleasure of dining at School Bakery & Café this morning with my oldest friend Elizabeth and her mom Carol. Oh yeah, and Cameron joined us as well. It should be noted that she slept right up until the moment the food was served (nice going, kid). Elizabeth's hubby, Scott (the ninja chef in the picture below), is a chef at School Bakery & Cafe. He is also a fabulous Chocolatier and the man behind Rousseau Confections. If you love chocolate and you live in the Toronto area, you need to sample his wares. I am a frequent customer (and not just because we are friends). But back to School. I had been looking forward to this meal all week. I had been promised greatness, and I was not disappointed. It was tough to choose just one dish off the menu. Since Scott is the "egg man" I new I had to order an omelet.

I decided on the Potato-Sausage Omelet: Elizabeth had the Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes that she had been dreaming about all week: Carol had the Gooey Four Cheese Omelet Soufflé:It was all I could do not to reach over with my fork and stab a piece of each of their meals for myself. I offered Cameron some of my sweet potatoes, but she preferred to stick to her cheerios. I think more of the toasted-o's ended up under the table than in her mouth. I have turned into the scatterbrained mom in the restaurant with messy kids that I loathed when I waited tables in college.

The meal tasted as good, if not better, than it looked. The coffee (Illy - my fav) was hot and brewed to perfection. The staff is super friendly and on top of their game. The décor (as you can see from the pictures) is a lot of fun. The prices are completely reasonable. The only shame was that I don't have a bigger stomach, because the Cinnamon Roll French Toast was calling out to me with its sticky siren song.

Alas, Cameron, after visiting with Elizabeth and Carol, was ready to go before I was ready to eat again, so we headed out. I owe Elizabeth a breakfast so I guess I'll have to go back again (yes, twist my rubber arm). Next time I'll bring my Scott.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Allison Iraheta: A Star is Born.

In a week that teetered precariously between downright mediocrity and a sea of sucktitude, Allison Iraheta was the one bright light on American Idol. Inkie Fingers wrote a great recap of the show, and I pretty much agree with her, except I think she was too nice. Jeanine Vailes was horrible, Kai Kalama was karaoke personified, and Adam Lambert belongs in musicals, not on American Idol.

The one singer that stood out last night was 16 year old Allison Iraheta. While they didn't show much of her in the auditions leading up to the top 36, she is definitely a stand out. I'm not sure where that rockin' voice comes from, but this girl can sing. As Randy said, she "blew it out the box". Her rendition of "Alone" by Heart was incredible. While I can't predict if she'll win or not, I think she'll go far in the competition.

Another point I'd like to make is that in general, women should not sing songs that were originally written for men, especially not pop songs where the arrangement is pretty much a straight lift from the original. While I agree with Jennifer's point that the change in lyrics is ridiculous, I am coming at it more from a musical perspective. Songs written for men tend to sit higher in their range, so they have an impact and cut through (especially in the chorus). When a woman tries to sing the same song, it sits too low in her register and her voice gets lost in the mix, sounding muddy and lacking in energy. Prime examples from this past week's show are Jeanine Vailes singing a Maroon 5 song, and Mishavonna Hensen singing a Train song. Casey Carlson had the same problem last week when she attempted a Police song. When will these ladies learn?

Look for Megan Joy Corkrey and Matt Giraud in the Wild Card show. And for dog's sake, let's hope that next week's group pulls their musical socks up and doesn't waste our time like the majority of singers in this weak ass group. Sheesh.

Ray(e) of Light.

Life is difficult. Now, before you go thinking I'm super deep, or really negative, let me say that this is the first sentence of the book "The Road Less Traveled". The theory behind this concept is that once you get over the fact that life is full of challenges and hurdles, and quit complaining about them, life becomes much easier. I find that repeating these words when I feel angry at the universe for giving me a child with Autism helps calm me down and get perspective. That, and a spray of Rescue Remedy.

Scott's dad said something to me yesterday that really hit home. He told me that he has a vision of us in 5 years. The kids are older, life has settled down a bit. Max is doing great, Cameron is doing great. We are fulfilled in our careers. We have a big house down on the lakeshore. Him saying this brought tears to my eyes, because I too have the same dream. Granted, mine is much more focused on life settling down a bit and Max doing great. But the positivity of his words, the optimism and good wishes for our future, that really hit home.

I have always been a big believer in visualizing where you want to go with your life, and saying it out loud. Tell the universe what you want, and you can make it happen. When people ask me about Max, and how severe his Autism is, I am candid and I tell them that he doesn't talk yet, though he has a few words. I tell them that he often has issues with transitions, sometimes hurts himself when he gets stressed out, and that he isn't able to play with other children, or play pretend games that involve creativity and imagination. But I also say that he is a very smart kid, and a very happy kid, and that I have all the faith in the world that with the right therapy, he is going to be okay. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that he will be one of those children that at eight years old, will be quirky, but will have friends, and will be fully integrated in school, and if you didn't know he had a diagnosis of Autism when he was little, you would never guess it when you meet him.

Life is hard, for sure. Overall, I would define this as a down time in our lives. But the future looks bright, and we are working towards our vision of what we want our life to be. Nothing worth having ever comes easily, and we will appreciate it so much more when we get there (house on the lakeshore and all).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Skyline Looks Like Crooked Teeth.

Sleep did not come easily last night. It wasn't because Cameron was up every few hours due to the fact that tooth #4 is burrowing its way down through her gums. I didn't sleep because I am going to the dentist today.

To say I loathe going to the dentist would do a disservice to the anxiety and dread I feel as I count down the days until my next appointment. I am actually embarrassed at how long it has been since I have visited my dentist. Too long, we'll leave it at that. This won't help matters when I go for my cleaning today, and endure the poking and scraping and comments about me needing to floss more. Also, my favourite (meaning least despised) hygienist, who has the softest touch in the world, is not available. Since I don't have a lot of options for when I can go, I had to settle for whoever was free. We'll see how she reacts when I start our appointment by letting her know that I had a nightmare about coming and to not be surprised if I actually hit the ceiling at least twice during my cleaning. Yes, I am a charming client.

Apparently I am not alone in my dislike for the dentist. It must be hard to have a job where very few people are happy to see you. Maybe that's why they seem to take such joy in torturing their patients. Do you hate going to the dentist? Please tell me I'm not alone. And wish my dental hygienist luck!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesdays: Week 2 (aka "I Need a Do-Over").

I stepped on the scale this week thinking "this isn't going to go well". I was correct. Not only did I not lose any weight this week, I GAINED a half a pound. Though I'm sure we can all agree that this could be "water" weight right? And denial is a river in Egypt... snicker. Actually, it really isn't a laughing matter. My tush isn't getting any smaller and my work clothes aren't getting any bigger and I have zero money to buy new clothes for my return to work, so I need to get motivated here.

The only thing I can think of that will help me kick this weight loss into gear is if I tell everyone how much I weigh. Again. Once it is out there for general consumption, I will be forced to report back and if that number doesn't get lower every week, I will be embarrassed. There's nothing like everyone you know in the world, and many you don't, knowing exactly what the number on the scale says. So, here it is: 170.8 lbs.

I have lost about ten pounds since Christmas, so it isn't like I've been doing nothing. This past week was particularly stressful with Max having a trip to the ER due to a lung infection, a meeting with my MPP, and wondering if I had managed to muster up enough of a grassroots movement to get myself to Chicago. But enough with the excuses. Excuses don't keep you warm at night (whatever that means).

This week I need to:
- start eating oatmeal again for breakfast (I find this keeps my blood sugar in check and is a good way to start the day)
- drink more water
- go for a walk every day
- get off the sugar train
- eat no carbs after 5pm (hard!)
- menu plan so I don't get stuck eating whatever we happen to have in the fridge

I promise I'll report back next week and I will be out of the 170's. Book it. I'm going to look like that sexy, fit lady in the picture by May 1st 2009!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Learning Journey, Indeed.

I am not a big fan of taking night classes. But Scott and I are headed back to school starting tonight so we can learn how to provide Max IBI (Intensive Behaviour Intervention) at home. The course (called "Learning Journey", I believe) is through Erinoak, and is part of their "wait list management strategy" for families with children on the 3 year wait list to receive publicly funded IBI therapy.

Now, let's just discuss the term "wait list management strategy" for a moment. I work for a really, really, big company. I work in Marketing. I know all about "spin", and how to "manage expectations". But, my dog! I have NEVER heard a more BS term than this. The very utterance sends me into orbit. I was at a focus group for Halton Region a few months ago and this term came up, and my head started spinning. I think the moderator regretted the words the minute they came out of her mouth and I proceeded to jump down her throat. I doubt I'll be invited to anymore focus groups for municipal services after that!

But, let's get back to the "Learning Journey" course. It's a six week course (one night a week), followed by 6 intensive coaching sessions for the parents. While spending an evening in a board room after wiping up baby drool and trekking Max to his therapy appointments all day is going to be taxing for sure, this will also be very useful for Scott and me. Therapy for kids with Autism cannot end once they leave their therapist's office (it's kind of like going on a diet for an hour a week). It is really important that we be able to carry the same principles through at home.

We took the "More Than Words" course through Erinoak last year, and we continue to use all of the principles they taught us to help Max learn to communicate. We have even trained those that spend time with Max on the basics so they can join "Team Max" as well. I'm also looking forward to learning more about IBI so I can have a more educated conversation with Max's therapists. Right now I feel like I just have to trust them and take their word that what they are doing is working. Not to say I don't trust them, because I do, I think they are incredible. But when you are forking over the kind of money we are, and living hand to mouth, you want to feel 100% confident that you are doing the right thing and not throwing your hard earned money out the window. (I say this as I have just emailed the co-ordinator of Max's IBI program asking her if he will be able to handle more hours in the coming months!)

Thanks again to everyone who voted for me in the Mabel's Labels BlogHer Contest! If you haven't heard, I won! Now, please go buy some of their awesome products :-) You won't regret it, they truly are the best thing since sliced bread. (I highly recommend the shoe labels - they are a personal favourite).

Monday, February 23, 2009

BlogHer, Here I Come!

I am a little (lot) shocked as I sit here and type this...I WON! I won the Mabel's Labels BlogHer Contest! I really didn't think I had a chance, but I guess sometimes miracles happen. Or maybe I just have really wonderful friends who helped me rock the vote. An example of social media at its finest, perhaps? Thank you to everyone who voted for me - you have no idea what this trip means to me. Or maybe you do, and that's why you cast a ballot for Fickle Feline.

The picture above was taken in October 2007 in Chicago. I was in town for the Direct Marketing Association Convention, and in the very early days of my pregnancy with Cameron. Scott was dying to get some Chicago style pizza, so we went to Giordano's and waited for a ridiculous amount of time just to get seated. Then we waited some more and I almost passed out because I was so hungry. The kind people at the table next to us gave me a piece of their pizza because they saw how pale I was getting! Chicago may be the windy city, but it is also one of the friendliest cities I have ever visited. I can't wait to meet many of the bloghers I've been reading for the past five years, and to get inspired to do more with my blog. If you're going, let me know and we'll meet up! Chi-Town here I come!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Morning Ramblings.

1. It's snowing out. I am so very tired of the snow.

2. Max is turning into a little boy right before our very eyes, and he is starting to calm down, and also interact with us a lot more. We're not sure if this is as a result of his therapy, or if he is just growing up a bit. Sometimes we wonder how much of his behaviour is a result of being Autistic vs. being 2 years old. As first time parents we don't really have a benchmark.
3. Cameron is starting to eat finger foods. Her favourite so far is cheerios. Good call. I need to start weening her soon...but she hates formula and I hate pumping. Not sure what to do about this? I would also very much like to get her sleeping through the night, but we don't have the luxury of doing any "cry it out" with her because she will wake Max up.

4. My healthy eating isn't going so great so far this week. I need to get focused so I can squeeze my behind into my work clothes come May.

5. Tomorrow is the big day when Mabel's Labels will announce the winner of their BlogHer contest. It was very cool that my post made the Top 10 along with the following blogs:

I haven't heard anything yet, and since I'm guessing they need to contact the winner before they announce who she is, I'm thinking it isn't me. But that's okay - I knew going in that my chances were slim since I'm such a small blog and the majority of these blogs have huge followings. What's that saying? It was an honour just to be nominated...and thanks to those who voted for me!
6. I am really enjoying the show Dollhouse (bad acting and all), and I am bummed that the ratings are low and it will probably get cancelled. I hate it when I get invested in a show and it gets cancelled (Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip, anyone?).

7. I met for an hour with my MPP, Kevin Flynn on Friday. He is a good guy. I brought Max, and I think he charmed the pants off of Kevin. He also tore Kevin's office apart...Kevin didn't seem to mind, which earned him points with me. He's going to see what he can do for Max. I'll let you know if he has any success.

8. This past week I spoke with my Director at work (basically my boss's boss). I'll be back to work effective May 1st and talking about the details with her made it very real. Scott and I need to figure out how we are going to get Max to his therapy while we are both at work, and how we are going to manage pick-ups and drop-offs for both kids. I am kind of excited to start this next chapter, but also a little overwhelmed with how we are going to juggle everything without dropping too many balls.

9. We are making a lamb shoulder roast for dinner. I think we'll try this recipe. Commence "baa-ing" now.

10. Scott is up (it was his turn to sleep in today), so I am going back to bed for a bit.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Beautiful Girl.

This little girl, my baby Cameron, is my miracle. On days when I feel too tired to move, paralyzed by the anxiety of not knowing what's to come, and weighed down by the stress of it all, she smiles at me. Then she says "GAH GAH GAH" and claps her hands. Her face lights up and she giggles with glee when I ask her if she wants "booby?", and when she hears my voice, she perks up and looks for me, like I'm her favourite person on earth. She was born on my birthday. It doesn't get much better than that. Thank you Cameron, for your beauty, innocence, sassyness, funny smile, and for loving me just because I am your mama.

Vote for Katrina @ Fickle Feline 2.0 and send me to BlogHer in Chicago! My Rewards & Benefits of Blogging post made the Top 10 Finalists of the Mabel's Label's BlogHer Contest. So, please, vote for me! Voting closes on the 23rd @ noon, so time is of the essence. Thanks!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Casey Carlson: When Pretty Young Things Can't Sing.

I'm a little late to the party this week, so instead of writing a whole rundown, I'm just going to write about everyone's favourite pretty young thing, Casey Carlson. Oy. Where do I begin?

Before you go thinking I'm hating on Casey Carlson because she is young, gorgeous, has the figure of a bikini model...(wait, she is a bikini model!), men of all ages salivate when they see her, she could be Mandy Moore's little sister, and she is just about as perky as can be, that is NOT why I am hating on her. I am actually dissing her because I am incredibly disappointed.

As Kara DioGuardi (who I love) aptly pointed out, Casey has the whole package. And while she isn't a fantastic singer, she can actually carry a tune in a bucket. She may not be the future Whitney Houston, but she could give Miley, Taylor, and Demi a run for their money. That is, if she had only picked the right song. Instead she picked the Police song "Every Little Thing She Has Is Magic". That's right up there with trying to sing Stevie Wonder, it just isn't done. For the life of me, I can't figure out why the producers of American Idol let her sing it. You'd think they'd want to keep her in the competition, for ratings if nothing else.

And the faces - my gawd! She looked like a show choir singer starring in an adult film. Looking at her, you'd think she'd be able to move, but nope, failing grade there as well. Jerky, awkward, and even squatting at points! And the winking, oh the winking. Could it get any worse? I guess we'll find out in a few weeks - I fully expect to see her in the wild card show, with a MUCH better song, hand picked by the producers. Book it, you heard it here first.

Vote for Katrina @ Fickle Feline 2.0 and send me to BlogHer in Chicago! My Rewards & Benefits of Blogging post made the Top 10 Finalists of the Mabel's Label's BlogHer Contest. So, please, vote for me! And ask your friends to vote for me too!! I am the smallest blog in this contest, so help me rock the vote!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weight Loss Wednesdays: Week 1.

It's déjà vu all over again. Less than three months to go until my maternity leave is over and I am *not quite* back to my pre-pregnancy weight. And by not quite, I mean I am about ten pounds heavier than the day I found out I was preggo. But ideally, I would like to lose closer to 25 pounds.

The last time I lost weight, I had the help of a nutritionist and personal trainer. I was writing for a fairly large web portal, and all eyes were on me. Talk about motivating! This time, I'm on my own. Add to that another baby and trekking all over the Golden Horseshoe to take Max to therapy, there isn't much time left in the day for me to focus on me. Deep down, I know there are always excuses for not losing weight, eating healthy, and making oneself a priority. I have a very long list of reasons as to why this isn't an ideal time to start a health kick. But at the end of the day, I'm tired of carrying around these extra pounds and it's time to get moving.

Starting next week, I will report in each Wednesday on how much weight I have lost, what I've done to make it happen, what I've done to muck it up, and I will also include a picture of myself as evidence of my success (look at me being all optimistic!). I'm back to to work on May 1st, so the countdown is on. Heave ho, let's go.

Vote for Katrina @ Fickle Feline 2.0 and send me to BlogHer in Chicago! My Rewards & Benefits of Blogging post made the Top 10 Finalists of the Mabel's Label's BlogHer Contest. So, please, vote for me! And ask your friends to vote for me too!! I am the smallest blog in this contest, so help me rock the vote!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hockey or Healthcare? What's More Important?

I have been emailing back and forth with my MPP, Kevin Flynn's office for the past month. The first email I sent outlined my family's situation regarding Max and the 3 year wait list for IBI therapy. I was actually impressed that I received a response from his assistant Sila Irwin withing 5 days. Not bad considering it took three emails and over two months for MPP Joyce Savoline to email my father-in-law back regarding the same issue.

Here is the email thread:
January 22nd: My initial email

January 27th: Response from Sila Irwin

Dear Katrina,

Thank you for taking the time to write to MPP Flynn. We fully understand your families frustration. I have made some calls on your behalf to Erin Oak Kids and to Halton Support Services. I will touch base with you soon once I hear back from them.

Siva Irwin
Constituency Assistant
Office of Kevin Flynn, MPP Oakville
Tel: 905-827-5141
Fax: 905-827-3786

January 28th: Follow-up from Sila Irwin

Hi Katrina,

I don't know if you have contacted the Halton Support Services regarding your son, but I made an initial phone call to Joelle Powell an in take worker and she has informed me that if you haven't already touched base with her you should contact her. Her number is 1-800-600-2013 ext 221. She has informed me that there is a long wait list for IBI therapy but there some resources for parents and the children that she may be able to assist you with. She may also assist you in getting other ministry funding and may help your son get into other programs. Please do touch base with Joelle. She is well informed in this field and will be able to provide you and Max with further assistance. I have not heard from Erin Oaks Kids, but I will contact you as soon as I hear from them.

Siva Irwin
January 29th: My response to Siva @ MPP Flynn's office
Hi Siva,

I have left a message with Joelle. (NOTE: As of February 17th, I have NOT had a response fro Joelle yet...very helpful). I am aware of the support services available - but I will speak with her to see if there are any new ones that have become available recently. The real issue here though, is the wait list for IBI therapy. Everything else is merely a bandaid. While everyone seems willing to acknowledge that the wait list is lengthy, nobody is doing anything about it. What I need is for someone to truly champion this cause - that someone being MPP Flynn. While it may not be as sexy as say, "A Second NHL Team for us!", (the issue currently highlighted on MPP Flynn's homepage) in the big picture, providing treatment for children locked away by autism is far more important. I would like to invite MPP Flynn, and yourself, to my home to meet Max. Perhaps then you would understand how dire this situation is. Please extend the invitation to MPP Flynn on my behalf. If this is not possible, I can bring my son to your office.

Katrina C.

February 4th: My 2nd follow-up to Siva @ MPP Flynn's office (no response received after previous email)

Hi Siva,

I just wanted to let you know that Joelle has not returned my call as of yet. I also left a message for you at MPP Flynn's office yesterday, with the hope that you would call me back. I look forward to hearing from you.

Katrina C.

After this email, I received a call in less than 5 minutes. Siva and I discussed that matter in further detail, where I reiterated my frustrations and she repeated the information she had already outlined in previous emails. Yes, yes, the wait list is very long. Yes, yes, we all agree that these kids need treatment. Yes, yes, MPP Flynn cares about this issue. But then the shocker. She told me that all MPP Flynn could really do is write a letter to the Minister of Children and Youth Services on Max's behalf. That's it. No more. I told her that I had already written to said Minister, and that as MPP Flynn's constituent, I expected more than a mere letter written on my behalf. I also told her that I found it completely insulting that he is able to advocate for a 2nd NHL Team for us, but cannot advocate for a child with Autism. I requested a meeting with MPP Flynn and was promised that she would get back to me with a date and a time.

February 17th: Follow-up from Sila Irwin

Hi Katrina,

At the request of MPP Flynn, I have once again touched base with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services regarding funding for autism and what the province is doing. The Ministry understands that there is still more to be done, but the government has made significant progress for families and kids with autism. 10 years ago, there was no funding for autism in Ontario. Today, the government has more than tripled autism spending from $44 million to $158 million dollars, including $20 million more in 2008 Budget.

The province has removed the previous government's age six cut-off and doubled the number of kids getting IBI through the AIP - approximately 1300 now up from just over 500 four years ago. Respite care for over 3,600 families are provided. This government is continuing to work hard with the Ministry of Education to increase the number of children with autism who can get the support they need in school.

The ministry understands the challenges faced by families of children with autism and how important these services are to them. The IBI program has grown very quickly and the ministry's strategy is to consolidate the rapid expansion so that it can continue to move ahead, providing a full range of support for children and their families.

Katrina, one can only imagine what you and your son Max go through on a daily basis. No one can argue that more funding isn't needed. Kevin has advocated for autism funding for years. As you can see, funding for autism in Ontario was only established 10 years ago and the current government is continuing build on this and to continue making strides for children with autism and their families. Should you wish to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.

Siva Irwin

There it is in a nutshell, folks. Instead of addressing the issue and actually saying he will do something, I have been given a rundown on the history of funding for Autism funding in Ontario (see how far we have come - isn't that AWESOME??), been told of other services available while I wait 3 years for publicly funded IBI, and been pretty much patted on the head. No mention of the meeting I requested with MPP Flynn, no mention of the fact that he has all the time in the world to advocate for another NHL team for Oakville. Because really, what we need right now is more hockey. Hockey over healthcare, I get it - keep the masses focused on the sexy stuff instead of what really matters. This is why people lose faith in government. Excuse me while I go bang my head against the wall with Max for a while.

Vote for Katrina @ Fickle Feline 2.0 and send me to BlogHer in Chicago! My Rewards & Benefits of Blogging post made the Top 10 Finalists of the Mabel's Label's BlogHer Contest. So, please, vote for me! And ask your friends to vote for me too!! I am the smallest blog in this contest, so help me rock the vote!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Family Day.

Grandma and Grandad are visiting from BC for the week. It is wonderful to see them and I love that they are here for Family Day. Here is Cam smiling for her dad: Cam having a nap in her Grandma's arms:
Cam chilling with her Grandad:
Max playing with stickers with Grandma:
Max cozying up with Grandma and Grandad while he has some milk:
Max checking out what I've been doing on my laptop, while Cam munches on an Arrowroot:

Vote for Katrina @ Fickle Feline 2.0 and send me to BlogHer in Chicago! My Rewards & Benefits of Blogging post made the Top 10 Finalists of the Mabel's Label's BlogHer Contest. So, please, vote for me! And ask your friends to vote for me too!! I am the smallest blog in this contest, so help me rock the vote!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Max Update.

Max has had a tremendous amount of progress in the last month. We are starting to hear more words (like "hot dog", "red", and "yellow"). His eye contact is a lot more consistent, he is mastering puzzles and shape sorting toys, he is responding to more signs (like "milk", "stop", and "play"). We've also noticed that he is tolerating his sister a lot more, though he is not a big fan of her new found voice (she tends to babble VERY loudly).

At daycare he has started to join the other kids during "tidy up time", and even applauded a little girl and said "yeah" to her when he saw her playing appropriately with a toy. This made me howl with laughter, because we are always giving positive reinforcement to him for appropriate play, and he is turning it around on us now. He is also napping without waking up screaming, which his teachers really appreciate. We also don't have to strap him into his stroller to take him places anymore - he will walk calmly and hold our hands without objecting and falling to the ground in a tantrum. He will spend a half hour doing sticker arts and crafts with me (he made his own Valentine's this year), and he will play roll/catch the ball with us, taking appropriate turns for as long as we are willing to play.

With the gains, there are always a few challenges as well, but I don't want to focus on those, as I find these "negative" behaviours typically only last a short period of time. As long as we ignore them, he will eventually tire of them and find something else to do to get our attention. Over all, we are very pleased to see that having him in 8 hours of therapy a week is helping him progress. These new gains make my credit card bill hurt a little less at the end of the month. He is worth it, and we will get him all the help he needs, whatever the cost.

Vote for Katrina @ Fickle Feline 2.0 and send me to BlogHer in Chicago! My Rewards & Benefits of Blogging post made the Top 10 Finalists of the Mabel's Label's BlogHer Contest. So, please, vote for me! And ask your friends to vote for me too!! I am the smallest blog in this contest, so help me rock the vote!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day: To My Husband.

Fickle Feline: Hey babe - are we exchanging cards tomorrow?
Husband: Um, do you want to exchange cards?
Fickle Feline: Nah, I know you love me. I don't need a card for that.
Husband: Cool, I'm really busy today. Do you need/want me to get you that soap you like from Lush?
Fickle Feline: No, I'm good. That soap costs 1/3 of an hour of Max therapy. I don't need it that bad.
Husband: Alright - see you tonight.

Autism isn't romantic. It is, in fact, the exact opposite. When I look back at this picture of Scott and me on our wedding day, I think, wow, we thought we had already been through a lot of stress together, weathered many storms, walked through the fire...but really, we had no idea what tough times were, or what was headed our way. Having a child with a disability can tear a couple apart. The stress, it would make Barack Obama lose his cool. The sadness, would make a statue cry. The majority of couples with Autistic children don't make it, the stress is too much. But I know that Scott and I will be okay. We will get through this together, because we are best friends.

I'm not saying it has been easy. I'm not saying I haven't done my share of complaining. We fight, we snap, we grumble, we forgive. There are days where I think I can't take anymore. When Scott gets home from work, he sees it, and after he gives Max a bath and puts him to bed, he takes Cameron for an hour so I can relax, chill out, do whatever. I know that he is tired too, that he has worked all day, and I appreciate that he understands that I live for this hour "off".
Our life, it isn't glamorous. Most nights we don't get to sleep in the same bed - one child or another has one of us up, be it Cameron teething, or Max having an episode. We aren't able to take Max out many places, and our babysitting resources are limited. Our definition of a "date night" has changed since our days of living carefree in downtown Toronto. Watching a DVD together on a Saturday night after Max goes to bed, with Cameron sitting between us, that is good times. Even this takes planning to make sure we can make it happen. Love is getting up early and letting your partner sleep, even though you are exhausted. Love is a hug in the kitchen while your partner empties the dishwasher. Love is telling someone that no matter how hard it gets, you are going to be there, and it will be okay.
Scott - I love you. And I love you more every day when I see how patient you are with Max, how you don't lose your cool when he gets really upset, how you remain gentle even as he lashes out in frustration. I love that you take so much joy in seeing Cameron's progress, and that you too do not take any of it for granted. I love that you cherish me, and make me feel like I am a goddess. We have a tough road ahead of us, and I know that one day, we will get to look back at the life we have lived, and smile, knowing we did our best, together.

Vote for Katrina @ Fickle Feline 2.0 and send me to BlogHer in Chicago! My Rewards & Benefits of Blogging post made the Top 10 Finalists of the Mabel's Label's BlogHer Contest. So, please, vote for me! And ask your friends to vote for me too!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Snippity-Snip, Barba-Trip.

I don't want any more children. My husband, Scott, doesn't want any more children either. We have two - one of each, one who needs a lot more than most, and the other is a mere 9 months old. So, why, if we know we are done procreating, is it so hard for either of us to bite the bullet and get ourselves "fixed"?

We both acknowledge that it would be a lot easier for Scott to get snipped than for me to get my tubes tied. I am tired of being on the pill, and one of the benefits of being married is that you don't have to monkey around with some of the other less desirable (cough, cough...intrusive) forms of birth control.

So, what do we do now? It appears we are at a stalemate. When I asked Scott why he is so hesitant to have a vasectomy, he told me that there was something about the procedure that made him uncomfortable. I understand, because I too, do not want to become "infertile", I am not ready to become permanently incapable of having children.

Somewhere, deep in the recesses of my heart, I have to admit that I am still open to the possibility of more children. The thing that scares me the most is the thought that we could have another child with Autism. I know this sounds terrible, but I don't know that I would be able to do this again. I mean, of course I would, I would love another baby as much as I love Max and Cameron and we would do everything we could to help another child with special needs, just like we are doing for Max. But I have to be realistic, that I can only take so much. I can only do so much.

I am looking forward to things settling down as the kids get older. I know that we will always be busy, but I am looking forward to the day that both my kids sleep through the night, and I can go on a date with my husband without having to pump milk for days in advance. I look fondly at all of my sewing supplies, packed up in the basement, waiting for the day that I will have more than just a few minutes to string together and I can sit down and...sigh...quilt. The thought of writing a blog post without a baby in my lap makes me downright giddy.

Huh. I'm not sure where this leaves us. Further discussion is certainly required. Is there anyone else out there dealing with this issue? If so do tell.

Vote for Katrina @ Fickle Feline 2.0 andsend me to BlogHer in Chicago! My Rewards & Benefits of Blogging post made the Top 10 Finalists of the Mabel's Label's BlogHer Contest. So, please, vote for me! And ask your friends to vote for me too!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vote For Me & Send Me To BlogHer in Chicago!

Good news! I made the Top 10 for the Mabel's Labels BlogHer '09 Contest with my "Rewards & Benefits of Blogging" post.

Now it's time to get the vote out. Please, please, please, puh-leeeez, go and vote for "Katrina @ Fickle Feline 2.0". I really want to go to BlogHer '09 in Chicago and with Max's therapy bills piling up (+$30,000 per year), this really is the only way I'll get to go.

If you so desire, you might even ask your friends to go and vote for me. You might even post about the contest on your blog and ask your readers to vote for me. Ahem. And, just so you know, if you do write about this on your blog, I will write a blog about your wonderful site in return. And if I win, I'll bring you back some of Chicago's famous Garret popcorn. I will. Promise.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Reality Check.

I am a big fan of reality television. I am currently watching The Biggest Loser and American Idol. Tomorrow, the latest season of Survivor kicks off, and I am ready. If inspired, I may even blog about each episode. I think this season is going to be a good one, and who can resist Peachy (Jeff Probst)?. In fact, I may even blog about American Idol (once they get down to the top 20). I love the new judge and I'm taking bets on how long it takes Paula to do something really wacky. And did I mention that America's Next Top Model starts up again in 3 weeks? 3 WEEKS! I can hardly contain myself. With the ups and downs of my reality as of late, I think I could use a pleasant distraction or four. Also...stay tuned for some very cool news coming tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Early Autism Study.

Cameron had her 9 month checkup at McMaster today. She is participating in the Early Autism Study at Rutherford Lab. She is part of the group with older siblings with a diagnosis of Autism (there is another group of babies with older siblings with no diagnosis of Autism).

At each checkup, she is run through a battery of three tests. In the first test, she is shown different faces on a screen, and filmed at the same time. They are actually able to calibrate where she is looking, so they can tell if she is looking at the person's face, eyes, etc. In the second test, she sits on my lap, and I have to try to make her smile (without tickling her). I then have to point to to different objects in the room to see if she will look to see where I am pointing. This is followed by a game of peekaboo to see if she will respond appropriately. The last part is the clinician standing behind her and calling her name out to see if she will respond to her name. In the third test, shown in the picture, she is shown two screens with blue and red dots travelling around the screen. She is filmed to see if she follows where the dots are moving.

I am thrilled to report that despite being a bit cranky, she did great. Her next checkup will be right before her 1st birthday, and the week before I (gulp) go back to work.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

25 Random Things...Yada yada yada.

I've been tagged a bunch of time in this 25 Random Things About Me meme on Facebook. I was trying to ignore it, but I have to admit that I've been sucked into reading a few of my friend's 25 Lists, so I figured I'd pony up and write my own. I don't think I'm going to tag anyone though, because most people I know are pretty busy, and I don't need to be another thing on their "to do" list. Well, maybe I'll tag you if you have tagged me already, meaning, you have already written a list.

1. My daughter was born on my birthday. Even better, my son was born on my husband's birthday. Our birthdays are all a week apart, April 23rd for the boys and April 30th for the girls. Mother Nature at her finest.

2. If you haven't already heard, my son Max has Autism. I am pretty much obsessed with helping him. I am incredibly optimistic that he will be okay, but I worry about him all the time.

3. Every time I see a clock at 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55 or 11:11, I make a wish. My wish is always that Max will be okay.

4. I am not known for slowing down at yellow lights.

5. My favourite nickname is one my husband's friend Mike Nelson gave me: Nails.

6. Once I say I am going to do something, I typically complete it within a very short period of time.

7. My idea of a relaxing on a Friday night is installing new taps in all of my bathrooms. Stop laughing, I've done it.

8. I think about my weight too much and I beat myself up for thinking about it so much.

9. I have two degrees in music, but I don't like performing (it makes me feel incredibly anxious).

10. I would like to go back to school to get a degree in Music Therapy, as I believe that this is my true calling. There, now that I've said it, I will probably do it.

11. I think red heads are incredibly sexy, yet I have never dated one. In fact, my "type" tends to be tall, slim, brunettes with dark complexions. Go figure.

12. The majority of boys I had crushes on pre-University ended up being gay.

13. My husband is pretty much my complete opposite in every sense.

14. I am physically unable to get into an unmade bed.

15. I have more hobbies than I could possibly ever have time for (quilting, canning, crocheting, knitting, rug-hooking, teddy bear making...the list goes on). I look forward to the day that I can get back into these.

16. I would really like to take a life drawing class.

17. I have lived in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Iowa, but Toronto is the only place that really feels like home.

18. Someday I will get laser eye surgery. I would also like a boob lift and tummy tuck.

19. I hope that my relationship with my daughter is as good as my relationship with my mom.

20. My next house will have an exquisite bathroom with a beautiful soaker tub and nobody will be allowed to use it except me.

21. When I was three, my pet budgy died, and I asked my mom if it was "okay if I wasn't sad?".

22. I am physically incapable of sleeping in the buff, I need my pajamas.

23. I don't usually laugh out loud, unless it is at someone else's expense (I know, MEAN!)...I'm working on it.

24. The older I get, the less I care what other people think about me. This is very liberating.

25. I am looking forward to going back to work in a few months, and I feel mildly guilty about this.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

And Finally, Tears.

Today as one of those days that you just know you have to get through. Cameron woke up at 4:30am with a fever. Nothing would console her. Max was awake too, rocking in his bed, banging his head against his padded headboard, shaking the house. Every time I coughed or sneezed, Cameron would start to cry again. She happened to have her 9 month checkup scheduled for 2pm, so I didn't bother taking her to the walk-in clinic. I probably should have, since she was so sick. She wouldn't let me put her down without crying, and when I gave her a bath to try to break her fever, she held onto her rubber ducky for dear life and sobbed.

By 1:15pm, I had her bundled up in her car seat and ready to go. If you live in Ontario, you know that today was wicked cold. The car was all packed, and I took a deep breath to calm myself. Key in the ignition, and turn, and turn, and nothing. Nothing. The car wouldn't start. And Cameron was screaming. And I was cold and tired. And suddenly, so, so sad. All the tears I had been holding back since December 2nd when the doctor looked at me and said the word "Autism" started to flow. I knew they were in there somewhere, but I had no idea there were so many.

My car won't start, my baby is sick, how will I pick Max up from daycare, it's 1:11pm - make a wish that Max will be okay one day, I don't have any cash in my wallet, my son is not like other people's kids, my son doesn't talk, my son can't say he loves me, my son can't say mama. My baby boy needs so much more than I can give him, and when I reach out to those that should help, they nod and say "yeah, that's too bad, uh huh", and then nothing changes. MPPs are full of shit, and the system is corrupt. My friends must dread talking to me because all I can talk about is how worried I am about Max. I want so badly to stay positive, but right now, I feel so, so down. And most of all, I am really tired of pretending I am strong.

Not pretty thoughts going through my head, but honest. Lucky for me, my mother-in-law answered the phone when I called her, and was able to calm me down by telling me it would be okay, and to take the baby to the clinic, and she would cancel the doctor's appointment for me, and she would pick Max up. So I loaded Cameron into the stroller, covered her with a blanket and walked to the clinic, my tears freezing to my face. By the time I got there, I wasn't so overwhelmed, and the tears had passed. I was just tired. In a weird way, it felt like a relief to have finally cried. I knew the tears would come eventually, I just never imagined they would be brought on my dead car battery.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Rewards & Benefits of Blogging.

Mabel's Labels is running a contest to search for a blogger to send to BlogHer '09. To qualify for entry into the contest, you must write a post answering the question "What have been the rewards and benefits of participating in the blogging community?". The following post is my entry into the contest. Enjoy!

Fickle Feline started out five years ago as a fun little website where I'd blog about reality TV and celebrity crushes. Since then, it's turned into one of the most rewarding and enriching parts of my life.

This world we live in, it can seem so big and impersonal at times. Participating in the blogging community makes the world seem smaller and has connected me to people I would have never known if I hadn't reached out through the blogosphere to tell my story...

My first post was very deep. After all, it was imperative that the entire blogosphere know of my love for Jon Stewart. I also wrote about important topics such as my fat cat (may she rest in peace), Christmas (still a favourite topic), the sexy co-stars of Law & Order: SVU, and expensive items that I would like very much, but could not afford.

I got a lot of comments, I blogged often, cursed like a sailor, and I kept my writing impersonal. I enjoyed getting comments, so once I figured out what types of posts would garner the most feedback, (mainly gossipy, humorous, tongue-in-cheek posts), I started writing more in that style. I specialized in writing posts about music shows (favourites included RockStar INXS and American Idol). Heck, I'd even take notes while I watched these shows and then stay up late to update my blog (I mean, I would hate to disappoint my faithful readers). I loved getting positive feedback about my writing. I loved people telling me I was funny. I loved it when other bloggers would link to me. To be honest, it wasn't so much about the community of blogging I cared about, it was about being popular, being one of the "cool kids" in the blogosphere.

And then (cue music), I got pregnant. Things changed. All of a sudden, it was personal. I no longer really cared about writing gossipy posts about how sexy the stars of Grey's Anatomy were (though I still internally struggle over McSteamy and McDreamy on a weekly basis). This personal pregnancy wasn't really that hip for my readers. I was tired, so I didn't post as much, and being wasn't a lot of fun for anyone, myself included.

I started making friends with other pregnant bloggers, blogging about my belly, farting, and how I hated it when people asked me how much weight I had gained so far in my pregnancy. Suddenly I was checking my comments not to see if someone had responded telling me how funny and charming I was, but to see if any of the other preggo ladies out there had a cure for the terrible heartburn I was experiencing. To this day, I am online friends with the very same ladies I bonded with while pregnant with my first baby. I have even spoken with some of them on the phone and sent handmade gifts for their babies. Many of the relationships I have built through blogging are as meaningful as "real-world" relationships I have with people I see face-to-face on a regular basis. Because it is personal.

When my first baby was born, I started blogging about him. Actually, that's about all I blogged about. I mean, I was the first woman on earth to give birth, and he was the most beautiful child ever born. (Admit it, first-time moms, you all felt this way.) I posted monthly updates about him, the requisite videos, I even wrote a series on losing the baby weight where I (*GASP*) disclosed how much I weighed. The mommies stuck around, but a lot of my other readers fell off. I was okay with that, because, well, mommies are pretty much the most awesome women I know. We are a special club, us mommies. Membership is typically earned through extremely painful measures and sleepless, barf-ridden nights. I have learned so much from the online mommies I know - life lessons, recipes, parenting tips, marriage advice, you name it, we've discussed it - no holds barred.
The one regret I have is that I stopped blogging for a period of time. It was a very difficult time for us - I was pregnant with baby #2 and our son was starting to show the signs of Autism. It was very difficult to talk about, let alone write about. I was worried about blogging about my son's developmental delays and symptoms in such an open forum. Would I be judged? More importantly, would he be judged, and could this potentially hurt him in the future? In retrospect, I wish that I had persevered and kept blogging, because I know that the community of friends I have made through my blog would have supported me, lifted me up, reached out, and been there for me. It was too hard to write about at the time, but when I did start blogging about my son, and his diagnosis of Autism, the support I received was incredible. Knowing that so many people cared, and were deeply interested in the challenges we were dealing with helped me get through the day. The kind words made me want to continue to share my family's story, not just for me, but for the other families out there coping with the same struggles. There have been days when I couldn't talk about what was going on with my son without breaking down, but I was able to blog. Blogging is what has helped me stay sane.

Over the past five years, I have grown a lot and my blog has grown with me. I have learned that through my blog, I can reach many people, and just as important, they can reach me. This may be one little blog, but it is one in a million. Literally. I have a purpose in my life that I did not have before, and that is to help beat Autism. Not just for my son Max, but for all of the children locked away by this devastating disorder. With the power of my namesake hurricane "Katrina", and the support I receive through my blog, I know I can do it. Never underestimate the power of a momma blogger, never.