Thursday, April 30, 2009

They Say It's Your Birthday...

It's My Birthday Too! Cameron and I had a funny conversation this morning. She was all "Mom, get up! It's my birthday!". And I was all "Cameron, I want to sleep! It's my birthday too!". Obviously she won, and we got up, far earlier than anyone should have to be vertical on any day, let alone their birthday. Then she gave me the best birthday present in the world (besides her sweet self, which is what she gave me last year). She said "mama". Four times. And then I bawled.

I have been waiting to hear "mama" for three years. Max does not say "mama". I hadn't realized just how badly I needed to hear that one word. After Cameron said it, I blinked back tears and said "Yes! That's right! Mama!" and I clapped for her. And then she clapped back, and that's when I lost it. You probably aren't supposed to cry on your birthday, but it was warranted. The other wonderful gift I got was Cameron's daycare pictures. Daycare pictures! She actually sat and smiled for them. We haven't been able to get Max to sit for them, so these are my first official school pics and I love 'em. I think I'm going to order the bottom one, but Scott's folks like the middle one. Couldn't you just eat her she's so cute?

This afternoon I'm taking Max to his big Autism Wait List assessment at Erin Oak where I suspect they will poke him with a stick and make him completely miserable to prove once again that he is Autistic. Then I'll get to bring him home and try to settle him down after being tortured for the second time this week. Poor kid. Considering what he has been through in the past month, I can't blame him for being cranky with us, I would be too. Wish us luck! And vodka!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

American Idol: Rat Pack Week.

I tried multiple times to write a post about this week's performances. Pure venom was running through my fingertips, and it is very sticky, so my keyboard got all jammed up. So instead I decided to do a video blog. I still hate on everyone, but at least I have the goods to back it up. Check it out if you want to hear how these songs were meant to be sung. Shoot, I have a cold and I sound better than all of these guys put together.

I Like Me, I Really Like Me.

I turn 34 tomorrow. That officially lands me in my mid thirties. While "30" is the new "20", the verdict is still out on what 34 is...maybe it's the new "24"? Perhaps it comes with a bottle of wine delivered by Jack Bauer himself (hey, I can dream). I was pondering this coming birthday (which I now share with my daughter Cameron), and I came to the realization that for the first time in my life, I am comfortable in my own skin. I feel confident, strong, smart, sexy, beautiful, and I really like myself as a person. I am not afraid to say "no", and I am not afraid to hear "no" either. This is extremely empowering, and has helped me prioritize my needs and my family's needs without feeling guilty. It has also turned me into one hell of a negotiator.

When I look back at earlier phases of my life, I wish I could have felt the confidence I have now, but back then. I wish I would have felt better about myself and seen how pretty I was instead of being crippled by insecurity. I wish I would have gotten over heartbreak faster and been able to see the bigger picture instead of navel gazing. I wish I never would have cut my hair short and dyed it red. But I suppose being that girl, with all of her struggles and sadness, is part of what has made me into the woman I am now. I imagine it was hard for my own mom to watch me fall down, again and again, making the same mistakes, not seeing how much I had going for me. What I have learned for sure is that we all have to fall and make our own mistakes, nobody can do it for us. This is the only way we truly grow and learn.

I am not afraid to call it like I see it.
I am okay with people not liking me.

I know who loves me.
I know who my friends are.
I know I'm not perfect, and I'm okay with that.
I know I'm a good person, flaws and all.

I can install toilets, ceiling fans, taps, electrical outlets and lighting fixtures, by my own damn self.
I can also make quilts (I just don't have time).

I have a wonderful singing voice.
I have beautiful green eyes.

I ask for a lot because I give a lot.
I am not afraid to tell the universe what I want.

I love my children with the ferociousness of a mother bear.
I love my husband more today than the day we got married.
I love my curves.
I love myself.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TMI Tuesday: My Wicked Thoughts.

A few years ago, I had a marketing job working for a credit card company. I won't name it specifically, but it is the one that starts with the name of the country directly south of Canada. This was one of those jobs where you sit down on your first day and immediately know you have made a very bad mistake and you are in the wrong place. I had been hired to do online marketing, but I didn't have access to the internet or an email account for the first month. My "manager", and I use the term loosely, (she was never around and never gave me any direction or support) was one of those people that always smiled. No matter what. She never said a bad word about anyone. Always saw the positive side of the worst situations, to the point that I secretly nicknamed her "MFP" (Mary F*cking Poppins).

Don't get me wrong, I like glass-is-half-full/solution-oriented type people, but this woman was just ridiculous. I swear to dog, you could literally serve her up a sh!t sandwich and she would eat it with a smile, all the while telling you what an excellent chef you were. I tried to like her, but because she was never real, I didn't trust her. Plus, she was a horrible manager and left her team to wade through the muck of an organization that requires a lot of escalating, maneuvering and sweet talking to get anything done. The worst thing was that upper management LOVED her, so there was no escaping.

Every 2 weeks, MFP had a status meeting with me. I dreaded these meetings because they were a complete waste of time and I always left them more confused about what I was supposed to be doing than I had been before the meeting. I started daydreaming during these meetings, tuning MFP out as she droned on. I started imagining what her face would look like if I just reached over and ever so casually tipped my coffee over into her lap. Would the Cheshire cat smile leave her face even for a moment? Would the facade crack and give me a peak into her happy-happy-joy-joy soul? Maybe my dumping coffee on her would be the straw that broke the camel's back, and she would jump over the table and beat the tar out of me. One can always hope.

It got to the point that every time I met with her, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to pour my coffee on her. I was obsessed. At first it was amusing, but I started to worry. What if I actually did it? The devil on my shoulder had my ear, and I was concerned that he was going to talk me into doing something that I really shouldn't do. I really didn't trust myself to behave so I did the unthinkable. I stopped drinking coffee, or any kind of beverage, at our 9am meetings. That was the only way I could absolutely guarantee that I wouldn't dump anything into MFP's lap.

I knew I had to quit when my thoughts ventured over to her coffee, and I realized all I would have to do is stretch my arm out a little further and...well, you get the idea. Needless to say, I got over the fixation of wanting to dump coffee on my manager's lap. But if you are ever out with me, and I decide to skip my usual cup of java, you've been given fair warning, and I suggest you keep a tight hold on your own beverage.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Back to Work: 7 Days & Counting.

I have one week left until I am "back to work". Each day is jam packed full of tasks that must be completed before I get back into the 9 to 5, or else...or else the world will spontaneously combust, or something like that. This week's schedule is not for the faint of heart:


Monday am: Take Max to Joseph Brant Hospital for baseline bloodwork
Monday pm: Go to Ellisa's mom's funeral

Tuesday am: Introduce Max's IBI therapist to daycare staff (Brian's 1st day working with Max at daycare)
Tuesday pm: Get Max and myself new healthcards (ours expire on Thursday)
Tuesday night: Go to Autism coaching class (3.5 hour session)

Wednesday am: Coffee with friend
Wednesday pm: Take Max to therapy

Thursday am: My birthday! Cam's birthday
Thursday pm: Take Max to Erinoak for his Autism wait list assessment (try not to lose it as yet another team of "experts" poke him with a stick to prove once again that he is Autistic)

Friday am: One last trip to mall to get work clothes
Friday pm: Take Max to therapy and have visit from Halton Support Services to help me fill out their mountain of paperwork so I can get on the 2 year wait list for Special Services at Home funding.

Saturday: Get my hair done maybe? Laundry!

Sunday: Try to get everything organized for my first week back.


As you can see from the schedule, today we took Max to the hospital to get blood taken so his paediatrician can run a baseline to see if there is anything out of wack with Max, chromosomal abnormalities, deficiencies, and the like. We knew getting blood from him would be a challenge, so it was decided that we would bring him to the hospital when his doctor was on call so he could be sedated.

The entire day ended up being a complete sh!t show. For some reason the lab techs did not understand that Max was supposed to be sedated, nor did they have any clue as to how to handle a 3 year old child with Autism. They tried to wrap Max up in a blanket and hold him down to take his blood. He screamed and cried, and I almost passed out from the stress of it all. After about a minute of this I told them to stop and that if they weren't going to sedate him then we would just call it a day. They called his nurses in, realized I hadn't been lying to them when I said he was supposed to be sedated, and decided that we should sedate him and then they would come back. Great. We had already been there for 2 hours and Max was starting to climb the walls. Scott was getting super stressed (he had taken a vacation day for this), so I told him to go home and I would wait for the sedative to kick in. Turns out Max has a very high tolerance to sedatives, so even after they gave him a second dose, it still took him over 2 hours to conk out.

Two more visits from the lab techs and still no dice, or rather, no blood. Poor kid was tortured needlessly and locked up in a hospital room for over 5 hours on the most beautiful day of the year so far. I took him home, his arms covered in bruises, completely woozy from the drugs, all for naught. I'm not sure what the hell we are going to do now, we didn't get the blood we needed to run the tests, and it is clear that he will have to be put under a general anesthetic if they hope to have any luck getting a sample from him. I am kicking myself for putting him through this - I should have stopped it right at the very beginning of the day when the lab techs clearly didn't understand how to work with a child, let alone an Autistic one. Sadly, I also didn't get out of the hospital in time to go to my friend's mom's funeral service, so I wasn't able to pay my respects.

Note to self: this is not the way to spend one of the last days of your maternity leave before going back to work.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hey Blackberry, How You Taste So Sweet.

Guess who got a BlackBerry Curve for her birthday? That's right - moi! Scott must have gotten tired of hearing me bemoan the fact that I didn't have one, and that I really, really wanted one. I have all sorts of reasons as to why I believe that I "need" one...gotta stay connected to everything once I'm back at work...need to be 100% reachable in case something happens with the kids...etc, etc. Really, I just want one because I like the idea of being able to send and receive emails any damn time I want. And I want to be able to text without having to hit the damn key on my phone three times just to find the letter "c" (yes I am old), and I love sexy new gadgets. Scott got himself one too, so now I can send him naughty messages during the day (on my lunch hour of course...). Excuse me while I go figure out how to turn it on...

Birthdaypalooza Preparations.

We are having a Birthdaypalooza party this afternoon. One party, four birthdays. Crazy, I know. If you aren't familiar with the crazy Carefoot birthday story, Scott and Max share a birthday on the 23rd, and Cameron and I share a birthday on the 30th. Four tauri under one roof, we'll be lucky if our house is still standing once these kids are teenagers.Aunt Jennifer has been visiting and we have kept her busy taking pictures, holding babies, reading stories, and shopping. She helped me make the executive decision that it is okay to not decorate the house for the party. My reasoning is that I've got a lot of other things I need to get done and I think it is more important to make homemade birthday cakes than blow up balloons. Plus the sound of balloons popping will upset Max, so it just isn't worth it. I'll photoshop some streamers and balloons into Cameron's pictures so she doesn't look back to her first birthday party and think her mom was a dirtbag.
Scott and I decided that since Max and Cameron play with the same toys, we would get them joint gifts. I ordered a bead table and wall crab from Hot Toads out in New Brunswick. We had all of the grandparents chip in, which made the cost manageable. I also got them some sandbox toys, a play tunnel, and a parachute. The last thing we need in this house is more plastic crap, so I'm happy to have avoided this for the most part.
Birthdaypalooza guests will start arriving this afternoon and hopefully the house will be somewhat not dirty and the kids will be bathed...maybe I'll even get some time to take a shower. Here's hoping!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cameron: A Week in Pictures.

Cameron had stomach flu on Tuesday:

On Thursday she had her 12-month checkup at the Early Autism Study:

This morning she played with the new bead maze table she and Max got for their birthdays:

This afternoon she sat under her table and played with her toes:

Cute kid.

Friday, April 24, 2009

You Gotta Have Faith.

There is a saying that goes something like "Don't tell God how big your storm is, tell your storm how big your God is". While I'm not overly religious (that's another blog for another time), I really like this idea. There are days when my storm feels like it is going to knock me over, where I am facing into the wind, bracing myself with each step, and marching forward against the pounding rain. Yesterday was one of those days.

Cameron had her 1 year checkup at McMaster for the Early Autism Study, and as I was driving back from Hamilton, I had a "why me, why Max?" moment. I was dreading taking Max to his paediatrician appointment that afternoon, knowing it would be stressful on him, on me. I was thinking to myself, how many moms spend their mornings taking one child to an Autism study, and their afternoons taking their other child to the doctor to discuss getting blood work done that will require him to be sedated in the hospital because he won't let us take blood?

But then I thought, you know what? How many mothers with an Autistic child would just say "forget it, I'm done" and give up. Probably a lot, and trust me, there is no judgement coming from me on that, I get it. I understand the desire to tell God how big your storm is, and the need to pray for some respite from the howling rain. My personal storm is Autism, and my God may not be the typical Christian God, or Jewish God, or whatever God that the majority pray to, but I do have faith. Faith in myself, faith that I will not give up on this child, and faith that I am myself a force to be reckoned with, someone who does not accept failure. Sometimes when the storm is howling around my head, I question this faith, but inevitably, it comes roaring back and pushes the storm clouds away.

I have had this underlying feeling lately that the tide is about to turn, something big is about to happen for me, for my family, for Max. I have no idea what it is, but I am keeping an open mind and an open heart. You may think it is foolish optimism, but you just watch, the clouds are about to break.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Max (& Scott)!

Happy Birthday Max!

Little dude, you are 3 years old today! This has been quite a year for you, and I am so proud of you. Last year on your birthday, you still had your parents all to yourself, now you have to share with your little sister. It has taken you a while to warm up to her, but I have to say, you are doing pretty well and you don't seem to mind sharing your toys with her (too much).

Max, if one day when you are older, you actually read my blog (your dad says neither you or Cam will give a crap about my blog and I am flattering myself), I want you to know two things. First is that there is not a little boy on this earth who is loved more than you. Second is that you are a very happy little boy and your smile could light the earth. You work so hard, and you are such a good sport about all of the things we ask you to do and all of the different people who come to play with you. I know that you find things very challenging right now, and that all of the changes are very stressful for you. But you are doing awesome, and your dad and I are so excited to see how fast you are learning.

We are going to have a little birthday party on Sunday. I hope you don't mind, but it is going to be a party for you, your dad, your sister and for me as well. You see, you and your dad share a birthday, and your sister and I share a birthday just one week later. So it will be a birthday-palooza (but all of the presents will be for you and your sister). Not to worry, when you are older you can have your very own party, I promise.


Max's "Birth" day | Max's 1st Birthday | Max's 2nd Birthday

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Week 10: Weight Loss Wednesday (aka "The Bitch is Back").

I learned another weight loss tip this week. If you need some extra motivation to eat light, watch both your kids projectile vomit their breakfast all over your bed (thanks Cameron!) and your couch (thanks Max!). Lucky for Scott he has quick reflexes and vaulted out of bed the minute he heard the first suspicious wet gurgle. Lucky for the couch that Max turns white as a sheet before he barfs, so we had already covered it with towels. Ah parenthood, so, so, glamorous.

After committing to getting off the sugar train, I got a not so lovely visit from my Aunt Florenza this past week. She was nice enough to arrive with a big basket of chocolate in hand, along with a bottle of vodka and a pack of smokes. Well, I don't smoke, so I let her keep those to herself. And according to my friend Jennifer, vodka has no sugar in it, so we're all good, me and the vodka. I held off on the chocolate until Saturday night. But The Dude, with his "Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here! " mantra, broke my willpower and I had a bit of chocolate. Not a lot, and it was dark, and damn, was it ever good. The Fickle Feline abides.

I see that my friend Raye hasn't blogged in quite a while about her weight loss efforts. I'm wondering if this means she is just to busy to blog or has fallen off the wagon? She's coming to town in May, so I'll be able to get a look for myself. Giddy up Raye, I'm catching up to you! Another mom who is blogging about getting back into shape post baby is my friend Rakhi. I love that she is so candid - and she takes pictures too (Biggest Loser style, not like my lame-o head shots).

10 Weeks until my reunion and I have 15 lbs to go...that's 1.5 lbs a week. Yikes, better get moving, eh?

Week 1 Weight: 170.8 lbs
Current Weight: 165 lbs
Ladytown Status: slightly cloudy, chance of rain

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

American Idol: Disco Week.

Ugh. Disco week. With all of the great songs out there, why oh why, do we need to bring back disco? This can go nowhere good, and I'm ready to be tortured for the next hour, and my cat has headed for the hills.

Lil Rounds - I'm Every Woman: I can't tell what is going on with this...she is all over the place. It feels like she can't get on top of the beat, and she isn't singing in tune, just kind of around the pitch. Also, she is trying to riff way too much, and it is just coming off as self-indulgent wankery. Heh - I just noticed the GIANT background singers being flashed up on the screen. Good lawd, this is a train wreck.

Kris Allen - She Works Hard For the Money: I understand why he decided to do this song, and I'm thankful he didn't try to do the original arrangement. Given the difficult task of doing something cool with a disco tune and trying to stay true to your own sound, I think he did okay.

Danny Gokie - September: This dude is so white it hurts. Yeah, he has a good voice, and he hits the notes, and he is kind of cute, but he is just so vanilla. I bet he would do great on the Christian Pop music circuit, but I'm getting bored with him. He could go, say, this week, and I'd be alright with that.

Alison Iraheta - Hot Stuff: Great song choice for Alison. I loved the intro with her sitting on the stairs (and her shoes!). I kind of wanted her to move a bit more though, it felt like she was glued to the stage. I think the slower tempo didn't help matters, because the overall energy seemed lower than I would have liked. But considering she's a rock singer, this was just about the best she could have done in this genre.

Adam Lambert - If I Can't Have You: Adam is the only contestant where I actually get excited to see what he is going to do with the arrangement. Instead of singing an upbeat song, he took a risk and sang a ballad, and wow, did he ever sing the pants off this song. His pitch is rock solid, he's in the pocket, and he is an amazing performer. While I still haven't forgiven him for how he sang Ring of Fire, I have to give the guy props, he has "it".

Matt Giraud: Stayin' Alive: I actually don't completely hate this. He really is Justin Timberlake's slightly less talented little brother (singing style on down to wardrobe). But for a guy from Kalamazoo, he's pretty good. My heart won't be broken if he goes home this week.

Anoop Desai - Dim All the Lights: Another ballad. The first two lines felt disjointed. The transition into the upbeat section was awkward. Even worse, he sang over the upbeat section as if he was still singing a ballad. He needed to have more punch in his voice and he needed to sing more rhythmically. Last note was embarrassing.

My prediction for Bottom 3:
Anoop Desai, Lil Rounds, Matt Giraud

Going home: Lil & Anoop

TMI Tuesday: A Surprise Visitor.

I thought I was done talking about va-jay-jays and ladytown. Colour me surprised, there is still more to say. Imagine my shock when I got a visit from someone I haven't seen since July 2007 - my dear Aunt Florenza. Some people refer to her as the hag, AF, the witch, the curse, the list of insulting nicknames seems endless. I am not going on record as saying I welcomed dear Aunt Florenza back with open arms, but in a sense, it seems like her return is a sign that things are starting to get back to normal. I've always thought that if Aunt Florenza were a a real woman, she would look like the Oracle from The Matrix. Wise, all knowing, cards on the table, no bullshit, and certainly my kind of lady.

I am one of the "lucky" ladies that doesn't get monthly visits while breastfeeding. While I have been actively trying to wean Cameron (she no longer gets the boob during the day, only at night), I hadn't realized that I had weaned her that much. With Max, I had him completely weaned before dear Aunt Florenza decided it was time to reunite. This time, she decided it was time to catch up a little sooner.

It seems that everything is gradually coming back into alignment. My figure is returning to its lovely curvy self, my time is becoming more my own, my brain is starting to sharpen, my creative juices are flowing, and most of all, my body is being returned to me. I think the only thing that bothered me about Aunt Florenza's return was this meant I had ovulated, and with that, comes the risk of getting pregnant again which I find extremely undesirable. We are still debating what the best solution is to avoid baby #3. Because of this, I have defaulted to the pill, which I didn't want to do. But it seems a lot better than getting knocked up while we continue "discussing" best next steps, I get to remember one more thing, the penalty of forgetting being pretty steep.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thank Dog For Monday: Part 2.

Max has been under the weather this past week, and in true Max fashion, has been behaving like a wee tyrant. The last time I posted about being relieved it was Monday, Max had also been sick. Interesting. Every time his behaviour goes sideways, I worry that he is regressing, losing the very skills we have fought tooth and nail for. Inevitably, within a week or so he starts to feel better and the Max I know and love returns, all smiles. Add to that the changes to Max's routine and it is no wonder he is acting like a little bear. Suddenly his sister is at daycare, and he really seems to dislike this. I guess I understand, it was his one place he got to go where he could escape from her. The Infant play area is right next to the Toddler playground, so he can hear her when she cries. It would seem that he is able to pick her cry out, because when he hears her, he starts to scream (not so with the other babies). Let's hope that she starts crying less and that he grows a little more tolerant.

I have also decided to bump up Max's IBI hours by 50%, from 8 hours to 12 hours per week. His therapist from Blue Balloon will be working with him at daycare twice a week, which will help Max transfer some of the skills they have been working on to daycare, and also allow Brian to work on different goals with him. I'm also hoping that Max's daycare teachers will be able to learn from Brian and ask him questions regarding how to work with Max and deal with some of his challenging behaviour. Poor kid gets no breaks - he's going to be in IBI therapy Monday through Friday now. While I'm really not sure where I'll find the money for this, I feel good about putting him in more therapy. The window for being able to essentially rewire an Autistic child's brain is between the ages of 2 and 5. Max turns 3 this Thursday, so I am feeling anxious as the window for us to really help him gets smaller. How sad is it that he won't get funding for IBI until he is at least 5? Welcome to Onterrible.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Purple For Maddie.

I have been trying to figure out what to write about the devastating loss of Madeline Spohr for almost two weeks. A few days ago, her incredibly brave Mom, Heather, blogged about picking up Maddie's urn, and I cried. Her loving Father Mike posted a poem, along with a tribute, and I cried again. I have felt that anything I write will be woefully inadequate, because even with the world's arms wrapped around them, nothing will heal Heather and Mike's broken hearts. Nothing will bring their Maddie back to them.

As I got Cameron dressed this morning, I pulled out some random clothes for her, not really paying attention. It wasn't until we came back from our walk that I realized I had dressed her all in purple. Purple for Maddie. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I knew then that it didn't matter that I hadn't figured out the perfect, eloquent words I had been searching for to pay tribute to this beautiful, smart little girl.

There are no perfect words, there never will be. But I am proud to be one voice in a sea of blogs showing their support for Heather and Mike. There are many ways you can support them, be it directly or indirectly. I hope you will join me in sending healing, purple vibes westward to California. And every time you wear purple, remember their daughter Madeline, and her impish grin.

Strikes & Gutters, Ups & Downs.

After a week that kicked the sh!t outta me, I was really looking forward to Saturday Date Night. Before you go thinking we live some glamorous life (that's what you were thinking, right?), where we dress up and go out dancing every Saturday evening, let me dispel that myth right now. "Dispel". Saturday Night Date night typically commences once both kids are in bed (around 8pm if they decide to cooperate), and is comprised of us hanging out, enjoying some beverages, and watching taped episodes of Law & Order. And the rest is none of your business.

I decided that our typical Law & Order fare was too heavy (even with all the "You know what I heard about Dick Wolf?" jokes and mad scrambling to figure out what real life incident the show is based on when that "This show is complete fiction yadayadayada" blurb comes up). Instead, we opted for probably the best movie ever, "The Big Lebowski". As you can see, we got right into the Dude spirit and donned our bathrobes for the event. This movie gets better every time we watch it. Whether it is John Goodman's constant tales of Vietnam or "Shut the fuck up Donny!", or the Dude driving off the road because he dropped a joint in his lap and put it out with his beer, I find myself laughing out loud (a rarity these days) and forgetting for an hour or so, just how full my plate is. Perhaps my new mantra should be "Fuck it, Dude, let's go bowling".

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Obama's First 100 Days in Office & Kid's Songs.

Cameron and I went to the park this afternoon, and I interviewed her on her thoughts regarding Obama's first 100 days in office. Clearly she thinks discussing politics is gauche, and would have none of it. Shame on me, eh? A girl is entitled to her privacy, even at the ripe old age of 11.5 months.

I tried to smooth things over by serenading her (always works on me, so I figured it was worth a shot). Negative. She continued giving me the silent treatment. I may have to break down and offer her the boob to get her talking. Nobody can resist booby.

And Then There Was Cameron.

I am of the belief that Cameron was a gift to me from a greater power. I found out I was pregnant with her on our third wedding anniversary. She was born on my birthday. She brings light into my life, and she is likely one of the best "things" we could have done for Max. I will admit that when I found out I was pregnant, I was a little overwhelmed. Cameron was by no means an accident, but we had just started to suspect that Max was Autistic, and had decided to put trying for baby number 2 on hold. Little did we know that the universe had other plans for us. I am so lucky that I got pregnant when I did, because given what we've been through in the past two years, I don't know if we would have ever felt like we could handle another child on top of Max. Obviously we can handle another child, but you don't know what you don't know.

When Cameron was born, my friend Alana (whose eldest son has Aspergers) told me that Cameron would be a crucial component in Max's development. In the past two months, I have seen this prediction become reality. Now that she is sturdier, I am less concerned about her getting hurt if Max pushes her away or takes a toy from her. Max also seems more comfortable with her now, and will sit next to her and play, eat her breakfast off of her tray, and has even started teasing her. Cameron LOVES Max. It doesn't matter how much he ignores her, runs away from her or grabs stuff right out of her hands, she cannot get enough of her big brother, she always comes back for more.
Max is also a gift, but in a different way. He has opened my eyes up to a community that I was barely aware of, opened up my mind, and changed the path my life will take (or maybe he is my guide, and was given to me to show me the direction I was always meant to take). Cameron is the balm that heals my heart after it has been pulled in too many directions, the child that will give me the chance to experience those things that I won't be able to do with Max. They are both my blessings.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sweet Little Lies.

Autism has turned me into a liar. I lie every day, multiple times a day. And it goes something like this:

Well meaning person: "Hey, how are you doing?"
Me: "Good, good. How are you?"

I can count on one hand the number of people that I would respond to differently, and actually admit I was having a hard day. If you're one of those five people, thank you for being one of the few people I can be honest with, that can hold my pain. If you aren't, don't take it personally, trust me, you don't really want me to tell you the truth.

People ask how others are doing all the time. It's really just a form of greeting, an extended hello. Rarely do people even hear your response (which they assume will be fine/good/great) before they launch into talking about their own sh!t. I lie to myself most of the time too, tell myself that I'm okay and doing just fine. In reality, I'm probably just barely coping. My mantra is to take things a day at a time, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. I tried to explain it to a friend of mine by saying "my day-to-day life is a roller coaster, my lows are lower than you can probably understand, my highs are centered around minuscule milestones that the average person wouldn't think twice about".

The only people that can truly understand what I am going through are other parents of Autistic kids, or parents of children with disabilities that render them incapable of communicating, functioning appropriately, and acting "normal". And that's okay, I don't expect other people to get it, how could you? Three years ago, if you had said I would be hugging a shrieking child tightly to my chest, stroking his hair and telling him "it's alright", trying to keep him from hurting himself, all because he is upset that his baby sister is crying, I would have thought you were nuts. But those are my days.

Today's high was Max tearing off little pieces of toast to chew instead of jamming the entire slice into his mouth. The low (so far) was getting a call from his daycare and hearing him screaming bloody murder in the background, having them tell me that he had been doing this for over and hour and that they didn't know what to do. I took the picture posted above right after I got off the phone. See, I'm fine. Really.

Back to Work: 17 Days & Counting.

All told, I have spent 2 of the last 4 years pregnant. That blows my mind, especially since I am not one of those women who claims to be happiest when I'm knocked up, far from it. I am probably one of the more miserable pregnant ladies you'll ever meet. Correction - that you would have ever met ("you'll" subtly implies that I will be pregnant in the future which is not going to happen). As I prepare to go back to work, I have been forced to review the work appropriate attire currently hanging in my closet, and I have to say, it's a pathetic site. Add to that the fact that I am currently on the road to weight loss, and you can see why I am feeling underwhelmed about buying new clothes.

Since I appear to be at a stalemate regarding shopping for garments, I decided that shoes were likely my safest bet. The only shoes I have purchased in the last 4 years are ones that would fit my poor, tired, working-hard-to-support-extra-baby-pounds feet. I fantasized about the sexy heels I would buy that would make my butt look fantastic and my calves shapely. Would I want an open toe shoe since summer is coming? Something flirty perhaps?
And then I woke up. Who am I kidding? The days of sexy heals, like the ones (in the top left corner of the picture of red sexy shoes above) that my friend Lulu got me for my celebratory "Grown & Sexy" party, are long gone, at least when it comes to work. I need a pair of shoes that I can walk 5 city blocks in without destroying my feet. I need a pair of shoes that will last me until I can afford to buy another pair. I need a pair of shoes that I can wear with a skirt or pants. I need a pair of shoes that are - and I hate to say this - sensible. I settled on a pair of black patent leather, low healed, pumps. I tried them on this morning and modeled them in various poses, hoping to find a stance that would give them some sex appeal. No dice. But they are comfortable.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

American Idol: Songs of Cinema.

I was so busy talking about my ladytown issues and va-jay-jays, I appear to have missed posting about American Idol this week. Fear not, I am still chalk full of opinions, if not a day or so late.

Alison Iraheta - I Don't Want To Miss a Thing: The more I hear this girl sing, the more I love her. Her phrasing, musicality and vocal quality are bananas. I wasn't crazy about the shortened arrangement, I would have liked to hear her sing the whole song.

Anoop Desai - Everything I Do, I Do it For You: Omg, I hate this song. Also, apparently Anoop wants to be the Indian Barry Manilow. If he does one more cheesy ballad I am going to pelt my television set with tampons.

Adam Lambert - Born To Be Wild: This was an interesting arrangement - definitely a new spin on a classic. Adam has a terrific pipes. Scott thinks he sounds like he should be on Broadway. I don't completely disagree, I mean the guy wears more makeup than I do. If he makes it to the final 2 it will be hilarious to see his rendition of whatever craptastic song American Idol writes for the first single.

Matt Giraud - Have You Really Ever Loved a Woman: I have never heard this song before. I thought this performance was pretty weak. I'm glad he went back to his piano though. The song seemed a bit rambley - he took too many liberties with the melody. I wasn't surprised that he was in the bottom 2.

Danny Gokie - Endless Love: I thought it was amazing that Quentin Tarantino told him not to make all the crazy hand gestures and to channel his energy into his voice. Danny wasn't able to do it during his performance, and he hit a pretty ripe note at the beginning of the song. I think this song was a little too close to home for Danny and he wasn't able to deliver as strong a performance as he would have liked. I also agreed that he should have done something new with the arrangement - nobody is going to top Lionel Richie doing Lionel Richie.

Kris Allen - Falling Slowly: I'm not familiar with this song. I think the key was wrong for him - especially in the verse section. The melody requires a huge range though, so I can see why he picked that key. It just didn't go anywhere for me and was low energy overall.

Lil Rounds - The Rose: Wtf?? The Rose?? Really?? Someone needs to sit this girl down and explain to her that she needs to start picking songs that will truly show off her R&B chops. And I don't mean taking a Bette Midler song and trying to church it up, I mean take an R&B song and sing the sh!t out of it. She is really lucky she wasn't the lowest vote getter as I don't think the judges would have saved her.

Bottom 2: Matt Giraud & Lil Rounds

Voted out: Nobody! The judges chose to save Matt, which I was a little surprised by. Next week 2 singers will get the boot. I hope Matt & Lil are in the bottom 2 again. That would be Lols!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Week 9: Weight Loss Wednesday (aka "Getting Off the Sugar Train").

I didn't write a Weight Loss Wednesday post last week because I didn't lose any weight and I was pissed off about it. After blogging about having a muse, I thought I'd have a great week, but not so. Apparently my college reunion wasn't that inspiring after all. Add to that some problems in ladytown, and I was wicked cranky. My body felt out of whack, and I knew I needed to do something about it.

I called my trusty ladytown expert, Jennifer, and we discussed my "issues". She confirmed my suspicions that I needed to cut out all forms of processed sugar. That includes wine flavoured water (argh!), sugar in my morning coffee, and animal cracker crumbs. Also, time to start popping the acidophilus again, three times a day. I upped the ante and decided to get strict about my "no carbs after 5pm" rule as well. Jennifer also passed along some ladytown expertise from Megan, and that was if I really wanted to lay down the ladytown law, I could even (*gasp*) insert a capsule of acidophilus in ladytown when I went to bed. Shoot...this is turning into a TMI Tuesday post...

Anyway, I'm happy to report that getting off the sugar train was just what my body needed. I dropped 2 pounds this week! Funny how I'm able to eat healthy if my ladytown demands it, but am not necessarily motivated for the purpose of weight loss. Whatever works, eh? Maybe I should start labelling these posts "Ladytown Wednesdays".

Week 1 Weight: 170.8 lbs
Current Weight: 166 lbs
Ladytown Status: Happy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TMI Tuesday: I Want To See Your Va-jay-jay.

There is no easy way to broach this subject, it's downright awkward. Since I seem incapable of discussing this face-to-face with you, I thought I'd just put it out there on the Internet and if you'd like to fulfill my dreams, you'll let me know. Yes, I want to see your va-jay-jay. Specifically, I want to see you give birth, be part of the experience, witness a little life coming into the world.

Is that asking so much? I know it seems like a lot to ask, and kind of...personal? But once you've had a baby, you'll know what I mean. Once half of the hospital staff (nurses, doctors, students!) have seen your va-jay-jay, checked how dialated you are, and reached inside you to feel your baby's head, you won't feel like it is such a big deal for me see it too.

Where is this coming from, you ask? Well, my friend Jennifer got to be there when Max was born. My friend Christine was there when Cameron was born. They have both seen my va-jay-jay, so I figure turnabout is fair play. The problem is that neither of these ladies are pregnant. While it is likely that they will both eventually bear fruit from their loins (and hopefully invite me to be there), I'm tired of waiting.

I have made a list of women I know who are due to give birth in the coming months:

Coworker - due this month (but probably unprofessional for me to ask her, eh?)
Julie - c-section (and I think they only let one person in the operating room - bummer!)
Jen M. - due in June
Stace - in British Columbia, but did share her 1st child's birth in a beautiful slide show
Stephanie - due in August, possible c-section
Nicole - due in August

I know it's a big request, and not something one asks to be included in, so after this post I'll drop it. But ladies, if you need someone to feed you ice chips, hold your barf bowl, and chase down the anesthesiologist for your epidural, I'm your gal.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Back To Work: 21 Days & Counting.

I'm back to work in 21 days. I suppose I could just say 3 weeks, but that seems too quick for me. Don't get me wrong, I am ready to get back to working full time, really, really ready. But I have a lot to do between now and then to get everything lined up so my family doesn't fall apart once our days get a lot fuller.

Part of the transition is getting Cameron used to daycare. We lucked out and a spot opened up for her at Max's daycare. Good thing too because I didn't bother getting her on the wait list anywhere else. I didn't have the emotional energy to deal with yet another childcare centre, and I just had faith that it would all work out. I mean, something has to go our way now and again, right?
Since today was Cam's first day, I opted to just visit with her and not leave her. Everyone was outside when we got there, so I plopped her in the sandbox and chatted with her new teachers. Cameron, ever the lady, promptly took the other child's shovel and pail away from him. I guess after months of having Max take her toys away from her, she figured it was payback time. Max was also outside in the Toddler playground during my visit, and he wasn't quite sure what to make of the fact that I was in the Baby playground.

Tomorrow will be the true test as I'm going to leave Cameron (gasp) and go run errands for a few hours. I suspect after tearing my heart out with her wails of desperation upon my leaving she'll be just fine. In fact, I'm willing to bet she'll be all smiles until I return, when she'll promptly turn on the waterworks for my benefit. That's my girl.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Music To My Ears: EiCH FiVE.

I have been wondering that Brian Eichenberger was up to for years. I searched for him on Facebook when I first joined, but I don't think he was on yet. Now, before you go thinking I'm some stalker chick (which I'm not), I went to college with Brian, and I was reconnecting on FB with all of my other classmates from way back when. Anyway, as I said, no dice, he hadn't joined yet. Probably because he was busy recording his new album.

There were a few people that I studied alongside in college that I was 100% confident would end up being successful working musicians, and Brian was one of them. The minute he graduated, he was whisked off to Vegas to join the Four Freshman, and I don't think he has stopped working in music since. You could say he was lucky, but only if you define luck as a lot of hard work and talent meeting up with opportunity. Plus, Brian was one of those guys who wasn't phased by anything, was always calm and collected, and dated the prettiest girl in the state. He had his sh!t together, all before he was 20.

When I found out he was releasing a new album, I was stoked to check it out. Brian has a voice that would make Sting weep. He writes songs that would make Lennon/McCartney proud, and has a pop sensibility that has you singing along the second time you hear the chorus on the first listen. I hoped his recording would reflect all of this, and I have to say, not only was I not disappointed, I was blown away. I'd describe this album as Sting meets Maroon Five, but Maroon Five couldn't carry Brian's luggage, let alone merit a comparison. The maturity of the lyrics (with a bit of humour thrown in), the quality of the recording, and the overall musicianship motivated me to buy not one, but two cds. Yeah, I'm oldschool like that, I like to have the actual physical cd in my hot little hand.

The good news, is that while I'm waiting for my cds to arrive via snail mail, I was able to download his album from his website. Brian has made it available for free for a limited time. I encourage you to download it and check it out. While it is available for free, it would be terrific if you showed Brian some love and paid the small sum of $5 to download it. Or, if you're like me, you could go ahead and order a cd or two for you and for someone you like, in my case, my musician friend Alana.

While the album is fantastic in its entirety, my favourite songs so far are "When You're Gone", "Pocket Superman", and "If You Were Mine". Now go check it out and let me know what your favourite song is. Also, go ahead and follow EiCH FiVE on Facebook.

Easter Beats.

We aren't churchgoing folks chez Carefoot, so Easter isn't meaningful in the deep, religious way it is for a lot of people. But hey, I can be pressured into buying my kids sh!t just like the everyone one else, so I jumped on the Easter wagon and bought them...percussion instruments. Must be the musician deeply embedded in my soul. When given the chance to get my kids sugar laden baskets of bunny crap, I opted to get Max a big rain stick, and Cameron a little one. Seems like a good tradition to me, maybe next year I'll get them wood blocks or a big drum from the Easter Bunny. They won't know what they're missing out on until they get to school. When they ask why everyone else gets chocolate, jelly beans and marshmallow peeps on Easter, I'll look shocked and tell them that the Easter Bunny's younger, clearly incompetent and unmusical cousin must be making deliveries to those families, and aren't we lucky that the Real Easter Bunny comes to our house with percussion instruments! Yes, I am going to be one of those parents. You should hear what I'm going to tell my kids about Santa and the Tooth Fairy.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

To the Park We Go.

Max loves the park. There is lots of wide open space for him to run (and run and run and run), not too many kids, and if he's lucky, you'll chase him when he takes off. That sounded wrong...of course we chase him, we wouldn't just let him run into the road. Anyway, watch the video, you'll see what I mean.

Cameron also had a good time at the park. She wasn't too sure what she thought of the swing, but I think that was because it was a bit too windy out for her liking.

After warming up on the little kid slide, Max decided to give the big kid slide a go. As you can see, he completely kicked that slide's ass. Nice going, Max.

Cameron decided that if Max got to run around, she was going to do her fair share of exploring as well. Some random kid named Jacob decided to chat with me, so I gave him the lowdown on life, technology, and girls, you know.

If Ever: You Need a Laugh.

I'm starting a new series today called - you got it - "If Ever". The purpose of this series is to highlight blogs, people, and things I think are the cat's ass. To kick things off, I'm going to feature my new favourite blog: "Deb On the Rocks".

There are days where I feel pretty dog-damn overwhelmed. An Autistic 3 year old and a 1 year old will do that to you. On those days, after I have a stiff drink (kidding...maybe), I sit my bigger-than-I-want-it-to-be-butt down at my computer and check out what Deb has to say on matters such as Would Tom Petty Do, her love of absinthe, Mickey wears pants and so do you, asshole, and being stuck in the anal stage. And those are just her posts from the past month.

Deb is going to the BlogHer convention in July, and I really hope I get the chance to buy this woman a drink, or 6. She is often responsible for putting a smile on my face and getting me to lighten up and see the humour in this crazy thing we call life. She reminds me that content is Queen, and great writing trumps a fancy website every day of the week. Thank you Deb - your writing makes my day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Three Cheers For Poop.

Never in my life did I think I would call my child over to look at my poop. Never. Disgusting, right? Now, we've all taken a look at our own BM's (bowel movements for those that haven't discussed poop extensively in a clinical setting), perhaps been impressed or grossed out, but that's between you and you, and is extremely personal. But how do you toilet train an Autistic child who isn't speaking yet, and rarely makes nonverbal requests (unless you include gesticulating wildly when he catches a glimpse of Rice Krispie squares on the kitchen counter)? Modeling the appropriate behaviour is one way (hence showing Max my poop). Another key part of toilet training for a child with Autism is getting him used to the routine of toileting, even before he is actually ready to toilet train.

Read the rest of this post on Autism Sucks.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Up & At 'Em, Little Girl.

Today was our first dry run at getting out the door together as a family. As you can see from the photo, Cameron was not, shall we say, cooperative. Apparently she doesn't think very much of getting hustled into clothes, fed breakfast and bundled up and out the door, all before 9a.m. I can't wait to see what she thinks of the process when it occurs 2 full hours earlier in the morning. That's going to be a real treat.

The reason we had the "opportunity" (that's me trying to be positive) to practice getting everyone washed, dressed, fed, and into the car so early in the day, was that I had a meeting at work with my manager to discuss my return to work and my new position. The meeting went well, and I am definitely excited about my new role. It will be much more project based and I'll get to work on more interactive/social media/customer experience stuff instead of the print focused work I was doing before my maternity leave. I'm going to have to be very flexible in this position, as what I'll be working on will likely change on a month-to-month basis, but I think it will be interesting and I'll get to work on a bunch of different things instead of more operational type programs.

You can bet that Cameron turned on the charm and had smiles for miles (she shows well) during our visit. I put this picture up so that all of the folks at work can see that she isn't always all sugar and spice. I have three more weeks until I'm back in the office. Three more weeks of running around from doctor's appointment to therapy session to daycare to therapy session to doctor's get the drift. While I will miss aspects of my time "off", I really think it is best for everyone (especially me) that I am getting back to work. I admire stay-at-home moms and dads, but I am not cut out for it as a full time job. I may be eating those words in a few weeks, but for now, the grass really is greener on the other side, for me anyway.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Thank You Mabel's Labels!

When the ladies at Mabel's Labels found out that Cameron is starting daycare next week, they were kind enough to make up some labels for us so that her stuff doesn't get lost! How nice is that? They also sent me some Mama cards and labels for my recycling bins. And they didn't forget Max either - I just haven't had a chance to label his gear up yet. So, thank you Mabel's Labels, from your #1 Blogg(h)er.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

American Idol: Song From the Year You Were Born.

Only 2 girls left out of the final 8? Oy. I really hope this doesn't end up being all dudes for the final 4. That would be bor-ing.

Danny Gokey - 1980 - Stand By Me: I didn't hear the melody once (this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine). The song Stand By Me was originally released in 1961, so I don't understand how this qualifies as a song from the year you were born. Unless Danny is a lot older than he looks? Anyway, the arrangement was completely over the top and the song was lost. People seem to like him though, so I doubt he will be in the bottom three.

Kris Allen - 1985 - All She Wants To Dance: Pretty good, not great. The vibe was different than what he has done before, I think he was trying to channel some Jamiroquai (unsuccessfully). Hate the pencil mustache. Gross.

Lil Rounds - 1984 - What's Love Got To Do With It: Finally a song that should be in her wheelhouse, but I agreed with Paula that she didn't make it her own. I wonder why she keeps picking songs that she can't put her mark on? Someone needs to help this girl out.

Anoop Desai - 1986 - True Colours: Risky...doing a chick song. Nice arrangement, but he changed the melody too much, and missed some of the key notes in doing so. Overall this was alright, but he doesn't seem to be able to find a balance between "party all the time" type songs and serious ballads. Might be time for Anoop to pack his bags.

Scott MacIntyre - 1985 - The Search Is Over: Another shmoopy love song. Playing electric guitar...interesting. Glad someone finally gave him a good haircut, but I am really, really, tired of listening to his sharp-ass voice.

Allison Iraheta - 1992 - I Can't Make You Love Me: I think this song is too old for her - I would have liked to hear her do something that rocked. This was a little cruise singerish for me, but the judges all loved it. Scott hipped me this video of Allison singing in a Spanish singing contest a few years ago. She has improved quite a bit since then.

Matt Giraud - 1985 - Part Time Lover: Why do people insist on trying to sing Stevie Wonder? This wasn't in the pocket, and he was all over the place rhythmically...the whole thing just didn't work for me. The judges loved it, I think they just want him to stick around and are trying to sway the vote. America, don't fall for it!

Adam Lambert - 1982 - Mad World: If you taped the show last night, you probably missed Adam's performance. I had to search for it online this morning and I'm glad I did. If this guy doesn't win, I'll be shocked. If he ends up in the bottom 3 because nobody saw his performance, the judges will absolutely save him. I mean, Simon gave him a standing ovation. SIMON! I know, unbelievable. Prior to this week, I wasn't completely sold on Adam, but he won me over this week. If you missed his performance, you can check it out here.

My predictions for tonight:

Bottom 3:
Matt Giraud, Kris Allen, Anoop Desai

Going Home: Matt Giraud

The Laundry, It Never Ends.

I didn't always hate doing laundry. I used to take quiet pride in sorting the colours, separating the delicates, pulling items out of the dryer while they were still hot and promptly folding them so that they wouldn't get wrinkled. I was very particular about how my laundry was folded and put away. I think that last part is what got me into my current predicament. You see, I am the only person in my house who does laundry, and it is largely my fault. I used to care about how it was done (stupid, stupid!!) and now that I don't care so much about the how and have more appreciation for plain ol' done, I wish that way back when, I would have been less picky and encouraged my dear husband to help out with laundry duty. Hindsight - why must you always be 20/20?

As you can see from the picture (taken this morning), I have relaxed my standards significantly regarding my preferred folding technique and I am encouraging the next generation of Carefoots to learn to love all things laundry. Max is very good at taking everything out of the basket, but is more focused on trying to put on my leopard print nursing bra than getting down to folding. Cameron seems to dig sucking on clean socks (they taste better than the dirty ones) but has yet to figure out how to match them up. Not to worry, I'll keep working on it.

I was discussing my laundry issue with a friend yesterday, telling him that I had been put in the no win situation of a) doing laundry or b) going commando, because I had let the mountain of dirty clothes grow so high that I was literally out of underwear. He told me that he actually likes doing laundry (and dishes...but that's a whole other blog post). My first thought was that he should get his ass over to my house and get to work, but then I realized that he really has no idea what he is talking about as his kids are no longer babies, and I am willing to bet that he has forgotten just how impossible it is to stay on top of the ever growing laundry heap that kids feed incessantly.

So, let this be a PSA to all the young women out there who are just starting to cohabitate. Get your partner helping with the laundry NOW. It doesn't matter if his or her folded towels look like crumpled newspapers, and the odd load of whites ending up slightly pink is not the end of the world. Trust me, you'll appreciate not having to deal with a mountain of laundry that could be mistaken for an amusement park ride in mommy blog hell.

Monday, April 06, 2009

RaptorBlog Guest Post: Chris Bosh's Baby Mama Drama.

Earlier this year, my husband Scott was kind enough to help me get the vote out with his readers on RaptorBlog, asking them to vote for my blog in the Mabel's Labels BlogHer '09 Contest. Thanks in (a big) part to his readers, I won the contest which includes an all inclusive trip to Chicago plus I get to be Mabel's Labels Official Correspondent at the BlogHer convention . As part of the deal, Scott asked that in return for his help, I write a guest post on RaptorBlog. I finally fulfilled on my end of the bargain: I will admit that I raised an eyebrow when I saw the headline "Raptor Bosh a deadbeat dad, lawsuit says" in the Toronto Star a few weeks ago. I was surprised, partly because Chris Bosh has a reputation for being a stand-up guy, and also, because I had the impression that he was fairly intelligent. Without even reading the article I started making judgement calls. Sheesh, isn't he smart enough to wrap it up? Doesn't he know that there are women out there looking to get knocked up by NBA stars so they can collect an easy paycheque every month? My gripe with Bosh was more that he was stupid than that he might be a deadbeat dad — though deep down, I had a hard time believing either.

Continue Reading on

Sunday, April 05, 2009

I Make Cute Babies.

Cameron is now waving and pointing, and very interested in Max and everything he is up to. He doesn't think very much of this at all and since she is now getting bigger, seems a little more comfortable pushing her away and smacking her hands. We'll have to keep an eye on that, though I think this is pretty normal sibling behaviour. She is also starting to have very strong opinions about things, and is not afraid to let you know how she feels (wonder where she got that from). She starts daycare on April 13th (we're phasing her in, so the first day will just be a visit with me). I think she'll love it - lots of kids to play with, stories, toys...what's not to like? I feel a lot less stressed about her starting daycare than I did with Max (though I'm sure I'll still call several times a day to check on her until I know she is settled in).

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Watch Me Ruin Scott's Favourite New Song.

Sometimes I'm a jerk. I have a dark sense of humour. I find joy in ruining people's favourite songs by putting my stamp on them so that every time they listen to their favourite song, they will only be able to think of me, singing along. Not nice, but I never claimed to be. In this video blog, I give my rendition of "Help I'm Alive" by Metric off their new album "Fantasies". Apologies in advance if you like(d) this song. I think Scott is still a little bitter.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Putting It All Out There.

I had an interesting conversation with Max's Resource Consultant, Joyce, yesterday. She had called to let me know how her visit with Max had gone at the daycare that morning. Since it was a beautiful sunny day, they decided to take Max over to the Intermediate playground. This playground is much larger than the Toddler playground, has better equipment, and more room to run wild. I was not surprised to find out that Max loved it. I was also not surprised to find out that he pitched a royal fit when they returned him to the Toddler playground. Once you've had caviar, who wants to return to cheese whiz? Apparently this reaction is completely normal, and most of the toddlers object strongly to returning to the Toddler area once they have experienced life in the fast lane.Joyce and I went on to discuss the recent meeting we had at the daycare, my return to work on May 1st, and the dreaded toilet training that we are slowly starting to embark on with Max. She mentioned that she had enjoyed my post about our last meeting, and she hoped it was okay that she had shared it with her manager, who in turn had shared it with her superior...and up the food chain it went. Apparently my post was well received over at the Halton Region offices and is now making the rounds. I'm thrilled that the people who work with Max are reading my blog - it is important to me that they know how much we appreciate their hard work with him. But I am even more pleased that Max's story, and our experience as a family, is being shared with decision makers, and people who can affect change.

For the most part, our experiences with receiving support from Halton have been positive. The only place where it really fell down was the intake process. I had called the Halton head office in August 2007, asking about their DEIPP (Developmental Early Identification Prevention Program) Clinic, and if there were any other dates available to get Max assessed. He was 16 months old at this point, and we knew in our hearts that something was really not right with him. Because he was so young, we were able to get an appointment to get him assessed. There are two key dates I remember very clearly when it comes to Max, (besides his birthday).The day we got the official diagnosis of Autism is one and the other is October 3, 2007, the day of his assessment by Valerie S. at the Halton Region Social & Community Services Department. She was very friendly, and took us into a little play room so she could meet Max and determine if we were correct in our suspicions regarding his development. Max ran around the room exploring, but did not gravitate towards any of the toys she had put out. He sat down and banged his head on the wall for a bit, and then went back to running around. She tried to engage him in appropriate play, attempted to get him to do some imitation, and asked me questions about his medical background. She seemed very disturbed by his behaviour, and to me, it felt like she had never seen a child with developmental delays before, like he had two heads or something.

At the end of the session, she showed me how Max had scored. He was severely behind in every area of development that she had tested him on. You'd think that with results like that, he would get immediate attention, that we would be told how to help our little boy, what to do. Sadly, when I asked "so what do we do now?", Valerie's response was that we would be referred to ErinOak, and a Developmental Consultant would be assigned to him, but the wait list for each was upwards of 8 months. I was too numb to ask follow-up questions, so I packed Max up, and left. I held my tears in until I got to the parking lot, and then I completely lost it. I felt like she had basically told me my kid was retarded (horrible word, I know, but that's how I felt), and pushed me out the door with no guidance as to how we were to proceed.

In retrospect, I know that she was just doing her job and using the resources available to her. But she could have told me about private options like Blue Balloon, where we ultimately ended up taking Max for a speech assessment a few months later. I also know that she likely knew he was Autistic, but was not allowed to voice this because she is not technically qualified to give such a diagnosis. Imagine if she had though? It would have been tough to swallow, but think how wonderful it would have been for Max if he truly had received early intervention from the age of 18 months old. The only support we received was a letter from Halton Children's Services a few months later letting us know about parent support groups we could go to while we waited for services. I think I lit the letter on fire and threw it in the sink. What a paltry offering and piss-poor substitute for what was really needed - immediate therapy for our Max.

Once services started coming through for Max, things got a lot better. We slowly learned "the system" and how to navigate it. We're still learning how to navigate it, how to milk the most out of the services available to us and to Max. I have attended focus groups for Halton, and you can rest assured that I highlighted the issues with the intake process, loud and clear. We're still waiting for the one service that Max truly needs, and that is publicly funded IBI therapy. This will come through by January 2011 at the earliest. In a perfect world, he would have started receiving it in October 2007. In a perfect world...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

World Autism Awareness Day.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. The optimist in me thinks this is great - the more people who understand what Autism is, the suffering it causes for the families and individuals afflicted with this devastating disorder, the better. The pessimist in feels like screaming "Eff You" to every elected official and bureaucrat who blocks funding for Autism therapy, pushes paper around instead of truly addressing the fact that our children are being denied the treatment they need to be healed, and acts like they give a damn and congratulates themselves for "fixing the problem" of shortening wait lists, when in actuality all they are doing is pitting parents of Autistic children against each other by booting kids who desperately need IBI therapy out of provincially funded programs so that kids who have been waiting for 3+ years can receive IBI therapy (until they too are booted out for progressing too much or too little). Holy run on sentence, but sweet jesus, I needed to get that off my chest.

EVERY DAY is World Autism Awareness Day in my house. Every, Freakin', Day. Not a morning goes by that I am not rudely reminded that my son is not normal. Today he woke up, and slid down the stairs on his belly instead of walking (a new behaviour). He screams and throws himself on the floor when his baby sister makes any sort of a sound (I can't wait until she really starts talking...that will be good times), and he acts like I'm trying to kill him when I brush his teeth. And that was all before 9am. So, excuse me if I don't get all excited about today. Today I will be pissed off and grumpy. I will bite your head off if you tell me that Jenny McCarthy says that if I take my Autistic child off of wheat and dairy products, he will be cured. My god - if it were that easy, don't you think that every parent of an Autistic child would change their diets in the blink of an eye? The media only tells one side of Jenny McCarthy's story - the sexy/easy solution. They don't talk about the thousands of hours of ABA therapy her son has received, and how hard she has worked to "heal" him from Autism.

What I would like to direct you towards is a pretty cool story about a 13-year-old Autistic girl named Carly Fleischman. Carly is completely non-verbal, but is able to communicate quite articulately by spelling out her thoughts on a computer. You can follow her on twitter, and she has been featured on both CTV and ABC if you want to read about her inspiring story. Most importantly, I hope you will go sign her petition to get her onto the Larry King show. While I think he is a horrible interviewer, there is no denying that her being on his show will certainly help the cause of Autism as a whole.

So, for what it's worth, Happy World Autism Awareness Day from the Carefoot family.