Sunday, May 31, 2009

Future Drummer or Jockey? You Decide.

Who knew I'd one day let my kids bang on my Paderno pots? I won't even put them in the dishwasher!! Pots, not the kids...wait, not the kids either. Cameron likes the Paderno better. She swears it has a better timbre than the Lagostina.

Scott shot this video while I took my shift sleeping this morning. What a pair. Not his finest singing moment (his voice was hoarse while he serenaded her riding her horse).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sometimes She Makes My Heart Hurt.

This little girl of mine, she is incredible. She is a healer. She is a miracle. She is a pickle. Thank you Cameron for just being. You are loved.

All Quiet on the Team Maxwell Front.

Check out our Team Maxwell t-shirts! My über talented friend Christopherr Mendoza of Designmojo designed them for us. Thank you Chris for the kick ass shirts! If you are planning on walking with Team Maxwell on June 7th, I need you to let me know by Sunday night as I will be placing the order on Monday. Also, let me know your size (or else I'll just have to take a wild guess and you may not like what you get).

Team Maxwell has had a great week fundraising for Autism Speaks Walk Now For Autism. Our goal is to raise $3000 and we have raised $2200 in only 5 days. So, a HUGE thank you to everyone who has donated - you are wonderful human beings and we appreciate your support! Also, you will be entered into the draw to win 1 of 2 Mabel's Labels Camp Packs!

If you check out the Toronto Walk For Autism homepage, you will see that I am now in the Grand Club (anyone who raises over a $1000 automatically becomes a member). Now we need to get Scott in! He only needs $481 in donations by June 1st! So, giddy up folks, let's help Scott out here! If you've been planning on making a donation, but have been putting it off, I implore you to do it this weekend and make your donation under Scott's name.

Thank you Thank you Thank you. Together we can beat Autism. Correction - Together we WILL beat Autism.

Friday, May 29, 2009

And the Winner is...

A few months ago I entered a blog contest through twitter moms. It was a contest run by CVS Caremark All Kids Can for Disability Awareness month. To enter, you were asked to write a post on your blog about how you talk to your kids about disability and the importance of inclusion. Right in my wheel house, eh? I had so much to say on the topic, that I wrote two posts:

Disability Awareness (Are We There Yet?): Part 1
Disability Awareness (Are We There Yet?): Part 2

I am pleased (as punch) to say that I received an email this afternoon from CVS, letting me know that I have been selected as 1 of 5 winners! The prize is that I get to choose a nonprofit organization serving children with disabilities to receive a $1,000 grant from CVS Caremark All Kids Can. I chose Autism Speaks, since we are currently raising funds for the Walk For Autism in Toronto on June 7th. I am hoping that CVS can donate to them through Team Maxwell, but either way, I am thrilled that my posts were selected and that I have been able to direct more money to an organization that is doing amazing work for children with Autism.

This was a good day. A really good day.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hippity Hop and Ya Don't Stop.

My post about loving Hip Hop has gotten me thinking about a bunch of old tunes I dig. I mentioned Biggie in my original post, but there is so much more out there than just Biggie. Scott put some oldies but goodies on his ipod for us to listen to on our commute to work (I was quite a vision I'm sure, seat dancing and pumping my fists in the air). Hip Hop is better than coffee. After a bunch of "hey - do you remember that song?" and "oh, what about that one?" we decided to come up with a Best of Canadian Hip Hop Compilation. I mentioned this to an American friend of mine, and he totally hated on this idea, suggesting that this would be a very short mix because there is no good Canadian Hip Hop.

What. Ever. Obviously now I have to prove him wrong. We have come up with the following for our compilation, and I hate to say it, but damn, there hasn't been much NEW Hip Hop coming out of Canada lately. Or, maybe what I should say is, if there is, I don't know about it, or it actually isn't very good. But the early stuff, that's some good sh!t.

Here is what we have come up with so far:

Unfortunately, some of the stuff we want to get isn't on itunes, so we are stuck. Any suggestions on where we can get it (online of course) would be much appreciated.

We're still looking for:

Thrust - ??

And just so you know, Scott wanted me to include Snow's "Informer" but I said HELL NO!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Language of Music.

Today was a good day. It's important to say that out loud and to say thank you when these days come around. Today was a good day. Max had a terrific Occupational Therapy session at Blue Balloon with his therapist Jess, and then followed it up with a Music & Speech Therapy session that made me smile all day. What I love about Blue Balloon is that Max's team takes such joy in his progress, and is fantastic about sharing his wins with eachother, so that they can all continue to build on his new skills. I truly believe that this is why Max is progressing at such a rapid pace. This is why our Max is starting to emerge - we are finally getting to meet our little boy.

Tonight when I checked my email, Max's Music Therapist Rob, had sent the following email to Max's team at Blue Balloon:

Hello Team Max:

I thought I would pass along the positive results of the joint SLP/MT session that Irene and I had with Max today. Every week we are seeing and hearing a greater degree of positive results.

Today we witnessed a sharp increase in Max’s ability to follow directions. For example, when asked to help clean up Max placed all the farm animals back in the basket. Even during new musical experiences such as “Rolling the Ball to a Friend” Max quickly picked up the motor planning involved and was soon independently rolling the ball to Irene and mom! Using the word “push” to cue max during this activity seemed to really help coordinate the physical actions involved.

Max also followed some of the required actions during another new activity “The Scarves” song. These actions included throwing the scarf into the air and scrunching it into a ball. Max also had an opportunity to play the large hand cymbals. After demonstrating the actions needed to play
the instrument, the therapy team pared these actions with the word “push.” Soon Max was almost independently pushing the cymbals together!

In terms of his socialization skills Max continues to make progress. During the Good-bye song he imitated a wave. Max also held sustained eye contact on several occasions during the session.

In terms of his speech and vocabulary Max was heard using many different words today. These included:

“Hi” with hand wave
Yeah, hooray – (said several times)
Hooray we did it – (said several times)
Bye bye

I am personally really pleased that Max is progressing so quickly. We will strive to keep everyone informed as Max continues treatment. I think it would be good if we could all continue to provide updates as they come available to his entire treatment team.


With warm regards,

Robert W. Harris
Music Therapist B.M.T., M.M.T


How can this kid fail with a team like this behind him? Go Team Maxwell indeed!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Jon & Kate Reality TV Drama.

I used to like the show Jon & Kate Plus Eight. Watching the daily chaos of this crazy family with eight kids made me feel somewhat calmer about my life. I've since realized that Max = 5 kids all on his own, so we're really not that far behind on the stress metre. At the end of last season, it was pretty clear that things were not going so well in the Gosselin household. The body language between Jon and Kate made it obvious that these two people were no longer on the same page, or sleeping in the same bed.

The PR machine started up full blast just in time for the start of Season 5. It appears that Jon has been partying with the younger set (and I'm not referring to his kids). Kate has been jet setting across America, promoting her book. I'm guessing that when they first appeared on Oprah about 4 years ago, they never imagined it would come to this. Sure, the $2 million mansion is nice. But what about their life? What about their marriage? I specifically remember a few years ago, Jon referring to their life events in "seasons". Kate got pissed, and basically told him that their life was not the show, and not to refer to the passage of time as Season XYZ. My how things change.

Jon is miserable. He hates the show. He probably hates Kate. Kate couldn't care less about how Jon feels. She loves her life, with Jon or without him. It appears that in five quick years, her priorities have completely shifted. To her credit, she shed some tears, commenting that parents of multiples have much higher divorce rates. But I don't think that the sextuplets are the root cause of the problem. I think fame is the problem. She loves it, he hates it. She loves it more than she loves him, and he hates her for it. I'm not sure I blame him.

I don't want to throw Kate completely under the bus here. I know how hard it is to provide for a family with exceptional needs (whether that be having a large number of children or one child who requires extremely expensive therapy). I know that she is trying to provide for them, that she wants to ensure they have wonderful childhood experiences. I can't even imagine having the stress of knowing you have 8 kids to help through college. But I think in the long run, her kids would prefer to have their mom and dad together and a life without paparazzi following their every move, even if it meant they didn't get to go on a bunch of trips, wear fancy clothes, and will have to take out studen loans. I guess we'll see how it turns out. Here's hoping that they find a place to meet in the middle.

Support Team Maxwell & Win a Camp Pack!

Hey, have I mentioned that we're participating in the Autism Speaks Walk Now For Autism? I have? Well shoot, then why haven't you donated yet? Come on - you can spare $20 for a great kid like Max. Shoot, you can probably even spare $25!Great News: The lovely ladies at Mabel's Labels, who are HUGE advocates for Autism, have thrown their support behind us! They are donating 2 Camp Packs so we can run a Walk Now For Autism Contest. The contest works like this - you donate to Team Maxwell. On the day of the walk, we will run a draw and select 2 winners (it will be super scientific and involve a bunch of names on little scraps of paper). Max will officiate to make sure it's fair. Cameron will pick the winners from a hat. I'll film it and post a video so you can see it isn't rigged. If you have already donated (thanks!!), not to worry, you are entered! If you haven't yet donated, well, you need to go and show us some love for your chance to win. And if you are thinking "I'm kid-free, I don't need no stinkin' camp labels" - I'm sure we can switch them up for something else, like a kick ass Neat Freak Combo or something like that.

So, please donate. And if you do so anonymously, email me so I know to add your name to the draw!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Marisa Tomei Is Fabulous.

I used to think Marisa Tomei was overrated. I scoffed at the fact that she won an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny. I thought she was a weak actress who leaned a little too much on her good looks and funny accent. After seeing The Wrestler with Scott on Saturday night, she has officially won me over.

She is actually an okay actress. She walks the fine line of the forty something stripper without looking like she has been ridden hard and put away wet. You like her character, you sort of respect her, and your husband, he will probably have fantasies about her (can you blame him?). Sure, she's kind of old for a stripper, but damn she has bodacious ta-tas. Those breasts, they are a PSA for why all women should bottle feed their babies. Nestlé should hire her as their spokeswoman for baby formula. I say that as a woman who has breastfed two children for over a year each, and has suffered the consequences. Do I regret breastfeeding my babies? Not for a second. Am I insanely jealous of Marissa Tomei's perky tits?

Absolutely. 100%. Yes.

Let me elaborate on just how phenomenal Marisa Tomei's body is in this movie. If I had her body, I would take my clothes off and pretend to be a stripper on camera too. Hell, I would even give Mickey Rourke a lap dance. You might even find me shopping the in the frozen food section of my grocery store - you got it - naked. But I don't have her body, so I'll be keeping my clothes on, and Mickey, he's out of luck (though I'm sure he gets lots of action even without me). And if you catch me at the grocery store, well, that will just depend on the day and what kind of mood I'm in.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Walk Now For Autism.

Advocacy comes in many different shapes and sizes. It means different things to different people. One of the many ways I am advocating for Max, and all children and families suffering from Autism, is by participating in the upcoming Walk Now For Autism in Toronto.

I would love it if you would join Team Maxwell and walk with us. It would also be fantastic if you supported us by donating to Team Maxwell. We're not asking for millions, just whatever you feel you can spare.

Thank you to everyone who has already donated! See you on June 7th!

Flirting With First Steps.

She's so close to walking folks, I can taste it. Actually, that's a lie. She has walked (a week ago). Three tiny steps and then she bonked her head and looked at me as if to say "well then, I'll NEVER try that again". So, back the drawing board. I think she just needs to practice her moves in her crib for a bit before she unveils her runway walk. Until then, it's cruising and crawling.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Look Into My Crystal Ball.

I went and saw a psychic on my lunch today. That's right - while you were eating a subpar big mac and slurping on a diet coke, I delved into my future with the marvelous Suzanne. While I'm not completely comfortable divulging everything she told me (because some of it is about other people), I will share a few gold nuggets with you. I was completely blown away by Suzanne's reading. The things I mention here are really just scratching the surface of what she told me. As usual, she told me more about the people in my life than she did about me. I think this is because I am more focused on others than myself. I was hoping to get more specific information about me, but no such luck.

Apparently I'm going to have one more baby. A boy. Note to self…encourage Scott to go get that vasectomy. Big things are coming for me career wise. I am my family's rock, their stability. This will remain true for the next 2 - 3 years.


Max is incredibly smart - a genius, and is only able to express 15% of what is going on in his brain, which is extremely frustrating for him. While he has a diagnosis of Autism now, this will not be true in the future. He will get to a point where he will tell people that he was considered Autistic as a child, and they will not believe him. He is going to have dark hair when he grows up. He is going to be an engineer or an architect, and will be brilliant at transferring his thoughts onto paper in the form of designs. The issues with his gross motor skills will resolve themselves.


Cameron is developmentally normal, and will work really hard at school and is very smart. She will be good at going with the flow when it comes to Max. She has some issues with eating and not swallowing her food, but it isn't a big problem, so don't worry about it.

Scott is more stressed out about Max's future than I am. Scott has stomach problems due to his stress. Scott is going to travel in June, and something big is coming for him that will cause positive change (big change!) by June 2010. Somehow the east coast and the ocean will come into play.

Have you ever been to a psychic? Do you think they are complete hogwash? Do you want Suzanne's phone number??

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Politics of Facebook.

We've all done it, don't act like you haven't. Unfriended someone, that is. And blocking too…you KNOW you know how to use that feature. Limited Profile for your coworkers? Yep, natch. Maybe you've even made your profile completely hidden, unsearchable by the unwashed masses. Me, I am a Facebook whore. I will friend absolutely anyone. Well, maybe not Tom Cruise. Or Kim Jong-il. But that girl who was mean to me in public school because I got good grades? We are FB-BFFs (I am somehow much cooler now, go figure). And the guy who used to pick on me for being a music nerd? I check out his profile regularly and thoroughly enjoy that he a) got fat, b) hates his job and c) his kids are not nearly as cute as mine.

Some people are not as open about who they friend on Facebook - I get that. I work in marketing, and I see Facebook as not only a way to connect with friends, but as a social media tool. I don't post risqué pictures of myself on Facebook. I tend to keep my status updates PG. Being a bit of an "over-sharer" means I am comfortable with anyone from casual aquaintances to my best friend knowing that I have been forced to go commando because I have not done laundry in two weeks. I am down with the world knowing my menstrual cycle, that I have the sex drive of a teenage boy, and I listen to gangsta rap. I blog about it, so what's the difference if I talk about it on Facebook too? Not everyone is as open as me (shocking, I know). I like to put it all out there, it makes it easy to remember who I told what if I just tell everyone everything.

In a nutshell, I won't take it personally if you decide not to accept my friend request, unfriend me, or give me a limited profile. I really don't care. Facebook is just a networking tool for me - and a way to keep track of who's doing what with whom. A note though, to that guy from college, who won't friend me back. You know who you are, and I CAN'T WAIT to see you at the reunion in July. Be warned, I am totally going to bust your balls for not being Facebook friends with me. Yeah, I'm going to make it weird! Not to worry faithful Fickle Feline readers, I'm going to try to record the conversation on my flip and I'll post it on youtube so we can all enjoy the awkward moment as he realizes I have caught him on candid camera. Hey, it's not like we're friends or anything!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sticky Fingers & Knuckle Dimples.

It doesn't happen often, but some mornings we are running early instead of running late. Actually, it only ever happens if one of Max's therapy sessions gets cancelled last minute, which is what happened this morning (Max's Occupational Therapist is très sick). Suddenly we didn't have to rush to get out the door. We had an extra hour to eat breakfast and get everyone dressed. The thing is, we didn't need an hour...we only needed a half hour. Once he is dressed, Max starts climbing the walls, expecting me to get the show on the road. What to do?

I had a card that I wanted to put in the mail today. It was a note to Heather & Mike Spohr that I had been meaning to send for a few weeks. I finally got off my butt and wrote to them after I read Heather's heartbreaking post about Mike's first day back to work after the loss of their beautiful Maddie. Since Max was itching to get outside, I thought I'd try walking to the post office with him, which is 2 blocks away.

I expected that he would have a meltdown about half way there, and that I'd be forced to heave him up over my shoulder and carry him home. As usual, he surprised me. He looked up at me, and reached out with his sticky fingers and took my hand. We walked to the post office, hand in hand, enjoying the sunshine and the warm breeze. When we got there, Max stayed calm as I bought some stamps, and he even put the card in the mailbox for me. As we left the post office and started walking home, the Club Nouveau version of "Lean on Me" came over the plaza speakers, and I thought to myself, how beautiful, how fitting. There are so many days when I need someone to lean on, but today I am strong, and I am offering my shoulder to someone else in need, someone who I have never met who is in another country, on another coast. I may not be so strong tomorrow, but today I have strength to spare.

We walked home, Max smiling his big beautiful smile the entire way. I squeezed his hand and felt those wonderful little boy knuckle dimples and remembered some of the best advice I ever got from another parent whose son also has a developmental delay. She told me "Make sure you take time to enjoy Max, just for being Max. Don't stay so focused on the future and how you want to fix him that you miss out on what an awesome kid he is now". It's easy to get wrapped up in all the stress and worry of what is going to happen in the future. It's important to take time to appreciate and enjoy what you have now. Maddie has taught me that. Max has taught me that too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TMI Tuesday: Making It Weird.

I am an expert at making "it" weird. What is "it", you ask? "It" can be anything, really - like calling something like I see it, or saying what's on my mind, (even it is unpopular or makes for the other person feeling awkward). Example - MY GOODNESS! NOBODY TOLD ME HOW STRONG A WOMAN'S SEX DRIVE GETS IN HER MID THIRTIES!!! See…weird, right? It is also a high level of comfort in having the tough conversations that many people prefer to avoid. It is going there, instead of just inferring something. Getting into gory specifics instead of glossing over the icky stuff with euphemisms.

Scott is not always a fan of my candor. I probably hear "just don't make it weird" from him a few times a month. He underestimates me. I can have tact in situations that require it. For instance, if we have a relationship where I need you more than you need me, (like my doctor, for instance), I will be oh-so-careful. But my old friend from college? I will think nothing of giving you a hard time for sleeping with THAT girl, way back when. And if I'm unhappy with something, you can bet your ass I'll tell you. Example - after spending 2 hours in the Bell Mobility store to get my BlackBerry fixed, I told the guy who was "helping" me that if he didn't hurry up and finish getting me my new BlackBerry, I was officially going to lose my mind, and that wouldn't be a pretty sight. My making it weird worked like a charm. My only regret was not going there right off the bat.

I like to think that my making it weird is a good thing. I try to have a sense of humour in life. Walk a day in my shoes and you'll see that being able to laugh at the crazy sh!t I deal with is a requirement, not an option. I try to be transparent , honest, and to the point. Sometimes life is ugly, awkward, and you got it, weird. Why pretend? Why pussy foot around so we can all think the same thing but not have the guts to say it out loud? Make it weird! Go there! Call it like you see it! Lay it on the line! Once you start, you won't want to go back.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Too White For Rap?

You'd never guess it by looking at me. Never in a million years. But it's true, I have mad love in my heart for hip hop. And not just love for the white/Jewish Beastie Boys either, I like me some Biggie. Snoop too. I never was that into Tupac, but DMX? That's the good stuff. I've also been known to listen to rap while driving - yeah that's me in the 2001 Camry, cursing with the best of them. Makes for an awkward conversation when I get pulled over for having a lead foot ("Really officer, I have NO IDEA how that N.W.A. cd got in my stereo...").

Since our tv bit the big one, our Saturday movie date night has been moved to Scott's laptop. This week we rented "Notorious". I love reading biographies, and I dig Biggie's music, so I knew I'd like it. But man did I ever LOVE it. Who knows how accurate it is (Puffy comes off looking like a prince), but it was very entertaining. The best part was rapping along, putting our hands up in the air at all the requisite parts, and basically just acting stupid. With all the crazy stress in our lives, it feels good to blow off some steam together, and forget, just for a moment, that we are grown ups, with very grown up responsibilities.

This picture was taken at a Halloween party in 2004. You can tell we don't have kids yet because we look so rested.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Keep Your Friends Close and Your Stapler Closer.

I probably shouldn’t admit this in such a public forum, but I have a thing for office supplies. Meaning, I fancy really nice, top notch pens, rulers, paper, notepads, mechanical pencils, paper clips, scissors and staplers. If my work doesn’t happen to supply my preferred brand of a specific office product, I will bring my own from home. Yes, I’m that particular, specifically about my stapler. But my stapler - it isn’t just any stapler. It has a special history. It is a burgundy, Swingline stapler. And how do I say this nicely? No, you CANNOT borrow my stapler.

Read the rest of this post on The Mabelhood...

Rain, Rain, Go Away.

I find rainy weekend days very challenging. After a winter of being cooped up indoors, the kids have had a taste of spring, and expect to be able to get outside and play. They need to get outside and play to burn off some steam, get some fresh air, and tire themselves out. I need them to get outside and play for the same reasons. Not only did it rain all damn day yesterday, it was cool and windy as well. By dinner time, the kids were climbing the walls and I was ready to pull my hair out. Enter Scott from an afternoon of dealing with television issues. He tagged in and took the kids outside (it had actually stopped raining!!), taking some great pictures and video while he was at it. Enjoy! And I'm looking at nothin' but blue skies today, so hopefully we'll get out to the park and a long walk this afternoon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

R.I.P., Grandma Diamond.

My maternal grandmother passed away last week. Her funeral is today, in Pennsylvania. I'm not sure why I didn't blog about it then. I think I was a little too overwhelmed with life to even begin processing her death. She had been ill for a long time, and we had a few scares where we were told to be prepared that she probably wouldn't make it. So when I got the call that she had passed away, I was a little surprised. I little relieved. A little sad. Surprised because she had always pulled through. Relieved that her pain is finally over. Sad because she was my last living grandparent, sad for my mom because her mom was now gone.

Her obituary was limited to 200 words. How do you sum up a life in 200 words, while also listing all of her family members, places she lived, and major accomplishments? How do you capture the essence of what made her happy, speak to her passions, her hardships, her fiery red hair, and the things that made her laugh? How do you get across what a rebel she was to go back to school in the 1960's as a mature student in her 40's, before society supported women putting down their aprons to pursue graduate school and a career? For my grandma, education meant a better life. It was no accident that both my uncle and my mom went on to get graduate degrees (my mom earned a PhD!). Not bad for a coal miner's daughter.

My Grandma Diamond loved to bake. I have many recipe books from her - cookie books, chocolate books, you name it. They are all inscribed to me from her, in her perfect teacher penmanship (I imagine she cringed whenever I sent her a card, my messages always printed neatly as my penmanship is barely legible). One of her favourite recipes was Mint Surprise cookies, which my mom and I continue to make to this day. My mom tells stories about how my grandma would make her own candy to give out as Christmas gifts, stirring up the thick sugary concoction, then pouring it out onto a marble slab which would get put outside in the cold to set. Then cutting it into individual pieces. I have always wanted to make my own candy. Maybe my mom and I will do that this coming winter, as a tribute to my Grandma Diamond.My Grandma Diamond also loved to sew, and she collected figurines. I remember visiting her house when I was little, and sitting in front of the big glass cabinet where they were all housed, oo-ing and ah-ing over them. I remember that she had the best junk food too. Being from Canada, we didn't have any of the products she could get in the US (or maybe my mom just didn't want me filling up on candy?). But at my grandma's house, I got to sample every kind of chocolaty goodness I could get my hands on, and I really liked that.

Her greatest passion by far was literature and reading. She earned her bachelor and master of arts, and taught high school English. I think she would be pleased to know that she passed this love on to both her children, and that my mom passed this love of reading on to me. She would also love that I write every day, and that I married a writer. And she would be tickled pink to know that both Max and Cameron love having stories read to them. Who knows, maybe this past week she gave Max a little nudge from heaven, telling him to start bringing me books again, to let me start reading to him again.One of her favourite poem's was Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken":

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I'm not able to travel to Pennsylvania to attend her funeral. So, instead, I am going to take Cameron to a bookstore today, and we will pick out a few books and sit and read them, in honour of my Grandma Diamond. I think she would have liked that. Rest in peace Grandma. You were loved and your life made a difference.

Marilyn M. Diamond
(August 12, 1923 - May 4, 2009)

Trinity H.S. retiree served in WWII Navy WAVES.
Marilyn M. Diamond, formerly of Washington, died Monday, May 4, 2009, in Casper, Wyo.

She was born August 12, 1923, in Fredericktown, a daughter of George and Elizabeth Miller.

After high school, she married Ray Diamond.

During World War II, she served in the U.S. Navy WAVES. Following the war, the couple lived in Vestaburg and Beallsville and had two children, Richard and Elizabeth.

She moved to Colorado with her family in 1960. She earned a bachelor of arts and master of arts from the University of Colorado in the 1960s. She taught English in Longmont, Colo., for several years before returning to Washington with her husband in 1968. She then taught at Trinity High School, retiring in 1985.

Surviving are a son, Richard Diamond of Casper; a daughter, Elizabeth Dennis of British Columbia; a brother, William Miller of North Carolina; three grandchildren, Katrina, Matthew and Daniel; and three great-grandchildren, Maxwell, Cameron Elizabeth and Benjamin.

Deceased are her husband, Ray, and a stepson, Ray Diamond Jr.

Friends will be received from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the time of services, Saturday, May 16, in William G. Neal Funeral Homes Ltd., 395 East Maiden Street, Washington. Burial will follow in LaFayette Memorial Park, Brier Hill.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Little Less Television, A Little More Action Please.

Our big, fancy, behemoth television has been acting funky for the past few weeks. The colour seemed a bit off - a bit "trippy". We called in a tv repair guy, who dismantled it, announced it was the "colour-something-or-other-thingy" and that would be $400 to fix. Awesome. He put the tv back together, and we told him we needed to think about it. When we went to turn the tv back on, omg, the guy had made it SO MUCH WORSE. It was now completely unwatchable. Bloody hell.

We dragged the little tv up from the basement and hooked it up to the cable. The problem is that we can't hook the dvd player and PVR up to this tv. You know what this means? I watched the Grey's Anatomy finale on a crappy little tv instead of in beautiful high def. And No Dora! No access to the 50 hours of Dora we have recorded. No Dora dvds. The kids, they love their Dora. And I love that they love their Dora. And we have a long weekend coming up! And it is supposed to RAIN all weekend. Did I say Awesome already?? Not that I condone parking your kids in front of the tv all day, but come on, we all use the tv to distract when we need to get something done, or dog forbid, need a break.

Scott and his dad have promised me this will be resolved one way or another by Tuesday. Until then, I'll be watching whatever Treehouse serves up and renting movies through itunes (I hear that Liam Neeson movie "Taken" is out). Or, maybe I'll go for a walk and look at the trees...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Little All-Star Max.

It took a few weeks, but Max has finally settled into our new routine. In fact, I think he is doing much better than the rest of us! The reports back from his therapists at Blue Balloon have been chalk full of progress. They are hearing new words, seeing him handle transitions much better, and he is adapting to new therapists more quickly. At daycare, he is starting to participate in activities on his own, without having to be prompted. He is also napping consistently, and complaining less about transitioning to and from the playground.At home we have noticed that he seems to be tolerating Cameron, and her new found voice. He used to get quite upset when she would cry or even just vocalize. Now he looks at her as if to say "hey, you, cut it out over there", which is the same look I'm giving her. The best part, is that he has started bringing me books again. I used to spend about 40 minutes a night reading with him. When he started IBI therapy in January, that stopped. He still wanted to look at his books, but he didn't want to interact with anyone while he was doing so. This broke my heart, as it has been our special time together, but I figured that with all of the new therapy we had him in, he needed some downtime. On Monday, he brought me an old favourite, "Horns to Toes" and climbed into my lap. I read it to him twice, and he loved it. On Wednesday in his Music Therapy session, he said "read a book" to me. He also said "happy". Yesterday he did the sign for "milk", which we have been working on for about a month.If you would have told me six months ago that we would be seeing this type of progress, I probably wouldn't have believed you. Max's language is starting to emerge, his behaviour is becoming much more even keeled, and he is a lot less frustrated. Max is my little All-Star.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Week 13: Weight Loss Wednesday (aka "Shaken, Not Stirred").

Finally, some movement on the scale! If you're thinking, my dog, this is the slowest weight loss EVER, join the club! What a relief to see that scale nudge down a pound after toying with me the past few weeks. I have definitely been doing better with the whole drinking water thing, but my schedule has been a bit out of wack in terms of eating. The mornings are such a whirlwind, trying to get everyone out the door. I usually manage a cup of coffee and a bite of toast. Dinners tend to be later than we'd like, (after the kids are in bed), but what can you do? Such is the life of two full time working parents. If my life were a snow globe, it would be a sandstorm, shaken constantly, and I'd be that hula girl, but instead of being glued to the bottom, I'd be getting tossed around in the waves, with my mouth full of sand. Things are going to settle down right? Right??

Week 1 Weight: 170.8 lbs
Current Weight: 164lbs
Ladytown Status: clothed in beautiful lingerie, underappreciated

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I had a bit of a fashion crisis this morning. I was standing in front of my closet, dress pants in one hand, new Esprit blouse in the other. I have been attempting to wear this blouse for the past two weeks, but have been unable to figure out how to tie the oddly placed ribbons coming out of the round collar. Tying them like a bow looks stupid, and leaving them untied doesn't work either. I was tempted to take the blouse to my tailor to have the ribbons removed, but that didn't help me this morning when this was my only shirt that didn't need ironing and I was already running late.

And then I had it. My "a-ha" moment. WWCD? Or, for those of you who do not watch America's Next Top Model, What Would Celia Do?

You see, Celia, (who got the boot last week for being too long in the tooth at the ripe old age of 25), could style a paper bag and make it look like Chanel. So certainly she would know what to do with these ribbons. I looked in the mirror and repeated "What Would Celia Do?". Inspiration hit, and I knotted the ribbons like a man's tie, tucked them into my shirt and inspected my handiwork. It looked good. Now all I needed to do was rock it with confidence and make it look like that is how it is meant to be worn. From this point forward, whenever I have a fashion crisis, I will channel my inner Celia. Now if I only had her legs as well, life would be grand.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just Say No to Granny Panties.

I have a love hate relationship with lingerie. Most of my lingerie sits unused and forgotten, shoved to the back of my underwear drawer. The days of sheer nighties and red mesh ensembles (with tassels) are long gone. And no, I did not buy the red mesh ensemble for myself, it was a bridal shower gift.

The downhill slide started when I got pregnant with baby #1. After a year of chasing my husband around the house, trying to seduce him into forgetting the main reason I wanted to get him into the sac was so we could make a baby (which is hot the first month, but loses its appeal around month five), I was tired of thongs, push up bras and butt floss. Add to that, once I was pregnant, I was seriously bloated, my boobs hurt like nobody's business, and my focus changed from sex kitten to being 100% comfortable as this alien being took over my body.

Enter cotton jockeys and sports bras. Uniboob be damned, I did not care if these shapeless undergarments left me with no support and looking like a lumpy bag of potatoes. I was no longer interested in sex, I'd gotten what I wanted, and for all I cared, my poor husband could sit and rot for the next nine months. Once baby #1 was born, it didn't get any better, in fact it went from bad to worse. Granny panties and nursing bras became a mainstay. I had a brief foray back into the world of lingerie when I went back to work and wanted to conceive baby #2, but just like the previous time, once I had my way with Scott, the thongs were tossed asunder.

Well, I have news for you (and Scott will be pleased to hear this). I am done with making babies. I am also done with the shapeless underwear. My lovely friend Kelly, upon hearing that I was going bra shopping after three years in nursing bras, hooked me up with 14 sets of bras and panties - a wonderful variety of colours, laciness, raciness, and sex appeal. Kelly works for the underwear division for a major clothing company, so she gets nice discounts and even better - first dibs on sample sales (which is where she scored my gitch). What's really funny is that each pair of underwear have the word "sample" stamped across the crotch. I have a feeling Scott will be taking that as a verb and not a noun. But I'm not wearing them for Scott, I'm wearing them for me. While I'm sure he enjoys me modeling my new wardrobe of lingerie for him every morning before work, what I like the most is that wearing beautiful lingerie makes me feel like a million bucks. It makes me walk a little taller and adds a strut to my step. So when you see me, and you think to yourself "my, she looks fabulous", know that it is because my underwear is killer. And yes, Scott is a lucky man.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ten Things I Learned My First Week Back At Work.

I survived my first week back at work. I’m not going to lie, the mornings came early, the days were long, and most nights I fell into bed not long after my kids. But I made it, and I learned some important lessons along the way.

Ten Things I Learned My First Week Back At Work:

1. Coffee tastes better when you don’t have someone pulling on your pantleg. So does lunch.

Read the rest of this post on The Mabelhood...

My Momma Bear.

I don't think I appreciated just how incredible my mom is until I became a mother myself. She has been the one constant in my life, and has seen me through every hurdle and success, and every bump along the way.

I imagine in the early years, it was really hard to be a single mom at 28 years old, with a rambunctious 3 year old. When she tells me about our life in Montreal and Ottawa, the focus is never how hard it was. It is always how much she loved me, tales of my reaction of awe to my first baby doll, about me running in circles every morning while she tried to get us out the door, as my budgie attempted to swoop down on my head of blond curls, and me finding one excuse or another to crawl into bed with her in the middle of the night, every night.
If you like me, and think I do an okay job at this motherhood thing, you should know right now, that I learned it all from her. My childhood was filled with crafts, baking, colouring and the colour pink (which I could NOT get enough of). It was filled with hugs and kisses, bedtime stories, and all the love in the world. Even when times were tough for her, she let me be a kid. And when I was angry at my birth father for not being around, instead of piling on and venting her own frustration with him, she tried to protect my heart, and my relationship with him, by telling me it was okay to be mad, but reminding me that I didn't actually hate him, that I just missed him. That must have been really hard.

She was the mom who would stay up all night before Halloween to make sure my crazy Pink Panther costume that she sewed from scratch, was perfect. She was the mom who got me the fancy ballerina birthday cake. She was the mom who nourished my creative spirit and never discouraged me from pursuing my love of music. She is the mom who would do anything for her children, often sacrificing her own wants and needs to make sure my brother and I have everything a kid could ask for.

In recent years, our relationship has shifted. Our mother-daughter bond has remained strong, but we have also become best friends. As I get older, I look to her for guidance on not just being a mom, but on being a woman. It really is true that the older you get, the smarter your parents get, or in my case, the smarter my mom gets (wink). She props me up on days when I feel like I am not a good enough mom, not doing enough for Max and feeling like Cameron doesn't get the attention she deserves. She reminds me that sometimes you just have to "shut your nasty little eyes and go to bed", and start again tomorrow. She tells me that I am doing a good job, and that she is proud of me. She comes for Christmas when I am pregnant and cooks the whole meal all by herself.When Cameron was born on my birthday, I was so focused on giving birth, that the cosmic beauty of the day escaped me. I didn't think about the fact that exactly 34 years earlier, my own mother had the exact same experience on that very day. That she gave birth to her own daughter that last day of April, and here I was, on that very same day, doing it all over again. Talk about déjà vu! I loved that I got to share that day with her, as a daughter and a mother.
There is so much more to say, and I'm likely not doing my mom justice. If you have been fortunate enough to meet my mom, you know what an incredibly smart, beautiful, generous, strong, loving woman she is. I only hope I can be half the mother to my kids that she has been to me.

Happy Mother's Day Momma Bear!

Love, Katrina Bear.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Got My Vans On, But They Look Like Sneakers.

Max is officially cooler than me. When I was exchanging my Hunter Welly boots (I needed a bigger size) at Get Outside on Queen Street, I noticed that they also sell Vans, in kids sizes. I knew Max was due for some new shoes, so I bought him a pair (thinking that if they didn't fit, I'd exchange them for an alternate size). Taking Max to get fitted for shoes is about as much fun as getting a root canal, so I usually buy shoes without him and try them on him at home. This makes for several trips to and from the shoe store, but it keeps my grey hairs to a minimum.

I take a lot of pride in dressing Max well. Part of it comes from guilt, because I want so badly for him to fit in and be accepted (even at the early age of 3). There is also the fact that it is really hard to buy him toys because I always have to take into consideration whether or not he'll understand how to play with it, if is it safe, and it also needs to be non-toxic because it will definitely end up in his mouth. And the obvious reason for dressing him in stylin' threads is that he is one beautiful boy, and his clothes need to complement his stunning looks. I'm sort of kidding about that last one, but not really - he is one good looking little man.

I wasn't sure if Scott would think the shoes were completely ridiculous or not, and I was pleased when he saw them and immediately gave them the thumbs up. He joked that with these shoes on, Max could star in a Specials video. Since Max needs inside shoes and outside shoes for daycare, and I now know that he wears a size 9 (big feet!!) I think I'll go back on Monday and get him the black pair as well. And do not fear, I have them labeled up already with my trusted Mabel's shoe labels (my favourite Mabel product). I'd hate for these awesome shoes to go missing!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Pick Up a Telephone, Make the Best of Flesh & Bone.

I feel like I've earned this weekend. Getting up at 5:30am every morning makes for a long day. I've been trying to go to bed early, trying to blog every day, trying to make sure everything is set up for morning so we can get out the door without too much stress. Trying to keep the days straight, trying to settle in at work, trying to be an attentive wife... a good mom. It seems there aren't enough hours in the day. Not enough minutes in an hour…enough seconds…you get the picture.

I'm praying things settle down, that this new Monday to Friday schedule doesn't break me. Max has really be struggling with the changes to his routine, so his sleep has been all over the place and he has been throwing some huge tantrums to let us know he is stressed out. On the flip side, Cameron's full days at daycare seem to be tiring her out and she slept through the night for the first time last night. I have probably gone and jinxed it now, but you have to thank the Goddess of Sleep when she blesses you with a few hours of uninterrupted zzzzz's. I'm used to breastfeeding her in the middle of the night, so I woke up feeling completely swollen and tempted to wake Cameron up so I could feed her. If she keeps up with sleeping through the night, it will take about a week for my body to catch on and reduce my milk supply.

I am not only physically exhausted, but emotionally wiped out as well. On top of working full days, I have continued advocating for Max, which feels like a full time job all on its own. Lunch hours have been filled with speaking with Dr. Janis Williams at ErinOak about their assessment process, following up with my MPP Kevin Flynn about the IBI waitlist and letting him know that nothing has changed - that something HAS to change, and we need his help desperately. Add to that conversations with Janice Rotsma at Halton Support Services about camp funding for Max, and challenging them on their decision to not fund camps that are run by professionals or have any therapeutic components. Given that Halton Support Services is supposed to be in place to support people with developmental delays, this is absolutely mind numbing to me. Max could never go to a regular "Y" camp, or municipal camp (unless I paid an IBI therapist $40 an hour to attend with him). He can't be left with some untrained 16 year old. The very nature of his developmental delay means that he can only be trusted with professionals who know how to handle his behaviour, so any camp he attends will have to have some component of therapy. I'm pushing them to change this policy, but we'll see what happens.

I need to remember to take it a day at a time, and that good things are coming.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I'd Like To Teach My Son to Sing.

One of the types of therapy Max receives through Blue Balloon is a combination of Music and Speech Therapy. It is a group session with another child who is the same age as Max, and also has a diagnosis of Autism, so Max also gets to work on his social skills. This past week, the other little boy was sick, so Max got to have a solo session. Since this is also the beginning of a new block of sessions, there are new therapists running the group. I wasn't sure how Max would react to Rob & Irene (no offense meant to them) and was I feeling a bit tense about how the session would go. It took Max eight weeks to get used to Sandy and Lauren, so how was this going to work?

Max started with a mini-melt down in the lobby of Blue Balloon. He loves his IBI therapist Brian so much that whenever he is at Blue Balloon for Speech, Music or Occupational therapy, he gets upset because he really just wants to hang with his best bud Brian. I'm hoping that as he develops relationships with other therapists he'll have an easier time of it, but for now, it's a big scene when we arrive and Brian is nowhere to be found.

Rob and Irene decided to start the session with a highly motivating activity so that we could get Max to cooperate. Rob starting playing the piano, and we asked Max to come play as well. Rob has a much louder voice than Lauren (Max's previous music therapist), and plays piano a lot louder too. For this reason, I was convinced that Max was going to shy away from him. Not only did Max tolerate Rob's volume, he really got into playing the piano (which is mostly just plunking on the keys). Max also enjoyed it when Rob played the guitar and let Max strum the strings. He played the chimes, and seemed to smile when Rob accompanied him on piano as he ran his fingers back and forth over them, making quite the racket himself.

Bubbles got a new spin as Irene caught the bubbles on the bubble wand for Max so he could pop them at his own pace (he doesn't like it when the bubbles rain down on him from above). At the end of playing with the bubbles, Max looked at Irene and said "pop". We had probably said the word "pop" to him over a hundred times in the previous 10 minutes. It was an important reminder to me that Autistic kids need to hear a word many more times than a neurotypical child to be able to process it and make it their own. I'll take a single "pop" any day. It was music to my ears! It might be a single word, but one day he'll say two words. One day he'll sing.

Face Peeing. Really?

Most of the people who read my blog are friends or acquaintances. I blog about a wide variety of topics (Autism, weight loss, kids, reality tv, music, embarrassing facts about myself). The only consistent thread running through all of these topics is that I find them interesting or entertaining. Something I am constantly amazed by is how people find my site. Most come through my facebook status updates or direct links. Some search for "fickle feline", which also works. But the most common google search terms by far are:

The folks interested in "face peeing" are all from Scandinavia. Being of Scandinavian descent myself, I am mildly amused by this. Imagine their disappointment when they arrive at my site and end up reading about peepee teepees. I'm guessing those who end up at Fickle Feline after searching for youngest prostitutes don't stay for long when my post about the latest Dora appears. But if you are looking to lose 10 pounds or skinny girls crying, I'm your girl! I also get a lot of people searching for the Miley Cyrus picture from Vanity Fair. Perhaps the Internet really is for porn.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Week 12: Weight Loss Wednesday (aka "Good News & Bad News").

First the bad news: I didn't post last week because I didn't lose any weight. I was going to skip my post this week for the very same reason, but decided that was a cop out. There have been plenty of pictures of me on Fickle Feline lately, so I decided instead of taking a big frowny face picture of myself, I would feature something much happier - my new Hunter Welly boots that I got for my birthday (that's the good news). See? Aren't you smiling now? It's hard not to at least crack a half grin when you are staring at bubble gum pink rain boots. I was inspired to get these boots when my friend Jennifer got a pair of red ones for herself. We chatted back and forth about which colour I should get, and I finally settled on fuchsia. If you look closely, you can see that I've already labelled them up with my very own set of Mabel's Labels (my kids aren't the only ones who lose things!). I did consider getting plain old black, as it seemed more sensible, but shoot, rain boots are already sensible. Pink will tell people I have a sense of humour (and they will be able to see me coming from a mile away). Pink will also embarrass the crap out of my kids when I join them on school field trips to places like Springridge Farm and Centre Island. Yes, my goal is to be that mom. My kids will pretend to be mortified by me, but secretly they will love it and all the other kids will wish they had a mom as cool as me. Hey - shut up, it's MY fantasy!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

TMI Tuesday: I Love Redheads.

Ever since I can remember, I have had a thing for redheads. I had a sweet spot for Archie (Reggie was such an ass!), thought Boris Becker was a complete babe, would pick Prince Harry over Prince William any day of the week, and my love of Eric Stoltz was (and still is) the stuff of legends. My first big high school crush? A redhead (a dorky one at that!), but he could do no wrong in my eyes.

I have no idea where this preference for redheads came from. Tragically, I've never actually dated a redhead. Well, there was that one short lived romance with a guy I fondly refer to as "Mr.Virginia", but I'd say he was more auburn than red. If you go by my dating record, I'd define my type as tall, dark and handsome, like my husband. In fact, for someone who proclaims to dig the gingers, I really don't have a leg to stand on! Maybe in my next life I'll come back as a freckly Scottish girl who will have a sea of redheads to choose from. The only problem with that is I'm not a fan of haggis - I guess there's always a trade off, eh?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Nothing Changes. Everything Changes.

We got up at 5:30am this morning. We figured we'd need 2 hours to get all of us showered, dressed, fed, and out the door. We figured right. The kids were completely put off by being hustled out of their pajamas and into clothes, all before 7am. They didn't like that Scott and I were running up and down the stairs, rushing to make coffee, filling bottles and sippy cups with milk, and double checking that everyone knew where they needed to be and when. Max refused to eat his breakfast until I came and sat down with him. When I turned away for a minute while doing a standing diaper change, he peed all over the floor. Wow, kid - way to communicate your general displeasure!

Cameron displayed her grumpiness by squawking every time we attempted to put her down and being a complete fuss ass while I got her dressed. By the time we were ready to go I was covered with a layer of sweat, my crisp white shirt a tad wrinkled, and my powdered nose glistening. Note to self - do not get dressed until everyone else is dressed, or have a backup outfit at the ready in case of mad pissing.

The drop off at daycare was fine (both kids were screaming when we left, but whatever). Traffic was light and by 8:30am I was at my desk. I was surprised how little had changed. The lineup at Tim Horton's still takes forever, my favourite burrito place still rocks, and I still love the people I work with. The best part though, was being able to sit and drink my coffee in peace, with nobody demanding that I get up and fetch them some milk or a snack, nobody needing a diaper change, and nobody pulling on my pant leg to get my attention. The worst part was worrying about Max going to therapy this afternoon without me (it went fine) and not being able to find out how Cameron was doing because the babies were outside when I called. I took this picture at the end of the day as proof that I was still standing (even though my hair fell flat). Overall it was a good first day.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Shedding the Mommy Uniform.

Blink. Is it over already?

After spending the past year on maternity leave with baby #2, I'm heading back to the corporate world tomorrow and shedding the mommy uniform (at least between the hours of 9 and 5). To be honest, I haven't let myself think too much about the fact that I'm going back to the working mom role. Up until this past week I was operating business as usual, my days were filled with taking care of my baby girl, shuttling my Autistic son, Max, to therapy, doctor's appointments, and assessments, and trying to keep our household running as smoothly as possible. So, as usual, the dishes were overflowing from the sink, we were all out of clean socks and underwear, and emergency calls were being placed to my husband for him to pick up milk on the way home.
Read the rest of this post on The Mabelhood...

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Ultimate Test.

Scott and I went out to Ruth's Chris tonight to celebrate our birthdays sans kiddos. I secretly set a goal for us - could we make it through an entire meal without talking about the kids? Of course not, but all things considered, we did pretty well. Our table was decorated with little birthday sprinkles, and by the end of the meal, we were feeling pretty relaxed, so we decided to take each other's pictures with the table decorations pressed into our foreheads. We're sophisticated like that. I think I failed my personal challenge when I showed the maître d' pictures of the kids, but whatever. For the most part, we talked about my return to work on Monday, about different projects Scott has on the go, and about whether or not I'm going to be able to keep to my daily updating schedule here at Fickle Feline (the answer is yes, by the way). We talked about the different trips we are taking individually this summer (Scott is going to New York in June and I am going to Minneapolis and Chicago in July), and our mutual desire to get out more as a couple and carve out more time for ourselves.

Tomorrow is my last day on maternity leave, and I'm really not sure how I feel about it. I'm excited to start this next phase of my life. I'm looking forward to rejoining my friends and coworkers in downtown Toronto. I'm worried about Max, but I'm relieved to be able to take a step back from being so intensely involved in his day-to-day therapy. I know Cameron will do great at daycare, and I think I'll miss our days together, but probably enjoy her even more now that we'll have less time together. And this sounds terrible, but I'm really looking forward to drinking my coffee at my desk in peace.

Friday, May 01, 2009

IBI Wait List Assessment at ErinOak.

Max had his long awaited assessment at ErinOak yesterday for the IBI wait list. I had been dreading this day since it was scheduled over a month ago. It should be noted that Max was referred to the wait list at the beginning of December. It took 5 months for him just to get seen to confirm that he is what ErinOak deems as an "appropriate" candidate for publicly funded IBI therapy.

I timed our arrival time perfectly so there would be no waiting. Two clinicians arrived in the waiting room and escorted Max and myself to a room filled with different functional and imaginary type toys. Max immediately sat down at a the pound-a-ball toy (we have the exact same toy at home) and started playing with it. One of the clinicians was a "Dr.Factor", the other's name escapes me. I wasn't given any business cards as part of the introduction (huge pet peeve of mine as I like to have this type of document should I need to refer back to it at a later date). Dr.Factor immediately informed me that he has been double booked and that he can only stay for a half hour of the 90 minute assessment. How about that, eh? We wait 5 months for this assessment, and he is double booked. He seemed non-plussed by this as his counterpart would be continuing on where he left off and they would videotape the assessment should they have any questions. I was not impressed with the fact that he was going to base his assessment of Max, and make a decision that will affect our family's ability to survive financially under the huge burden of IBI therapy on only a half hour of face time with Max. He should have rescheduled one of his double bookings. Max deserves better.

Dr.Factor proceeded to ask me a series of questions about Max's behaviour. I made sure to answer 100% honestly, as much as it killed me to once again highlight that Max cannot count, identify letters, point, make verbal requests, pretend play, engage other children, eat with a fork, and the list goes on. What really upset me was being told that if Max truly "stimms" (Max exhibits typical hand flapping and wiggles his fingers in front of his eyes when he is over or under stimulated), that he would be exhibiting this behaviour all the time. The fact that Dr.Factor did not see Max "stimming" as I was reporting, meant that he didn't truly stimm. This was after only 10 minutes of observation. Max also did not bang his head during the assessment, so I must be lying about the fact that we get woken up multiple times a night to the sound of him pounding his head against the wall so hard that he shakes the house and the neighbours can hear it. He didn't tear at his face with his hands either, so I must also be lying about the fact that Max harms himself when he gets upset.

Dr.Factor also asked me many of the questions multiple times, rephrasing them, and inserting incorrect information (example - after I had said Max maybe has 10 words that he uses echolalicly, but they are very inconsistent, he came back a few minutes later with "So, Max has 20 words?"). I got so irritated by this that I finally pointed out "You already asked me that, no, 10 words". I am not sure if he was trying to trick me, or was just scatter brained. Even better, when I described Cameron as appearing "neurotypical", I was told that parents don't normally use this term, as if I'm not smart enough to use clinical jargon.

I was then informed that should Max be accepted onto the wait list, it is 3 years long, and they are only accepting the most extreme cases of Autism. I was already completely stressed out, so having this information relayed to me (and from what I know, this information is inaccurate) did not help. The truth, according to Pauline Eaton, the AIS Program Manager, is that the wait list is now 22 to 26 months. Also, from what I know just from speaking with other parents of Autistic children, they do not accept the most extreme cases, they accept moderate to severe cases, which Max certainly is. I think that ErinOak could do a much better job of helping parents through this stressful process. Perhaps a Program Coordinator could meet with parents for a few minutes before the assessment to answer these types of questions, and let the clinicians, who lack any kind of bedside manners or soft skills, do their assessments.

I was so upset about this meeting that when I got home, I immediately called MPP Kevin Flynn's office to let him know (as he had requested) how the assessment went. I called and left a message for Kim Pace at Blue Balloon to get her take on what had happened. Then I called Pauline Eaton to discuss the assessment with her and to share my feelings on how it was handled. Apparently we can have Max reassessed if he is found ineligible. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry about that. We won't find out for at least 3 months as to whether or not he has been officially accepted onto the wait list. If you're doing the math with me, that is 8 months from the date he was referred. Eight months of waiting just to find out if we get to wait some more!

On a positive note, I received the most wonderful email from Kim Pace, (that she sent at 10:41pm!) that proved once again that we have Max in exactly the right place for his therapy. I really believe that Kim is my personal angel, sent to me to help guide me through this journey with Max. I hope she doesn't mind, but I am going to share her email:

Katrina ... you are one incredibly talented, special person and don't you forget it! You inspire me daily!

I am sorry you had a crappy experience at Erinoak today. I am especially sorry that you had that experience on your birthday.

Look past it all - into the future .. several years maybe but there it you see it? That beautiful, smiling, happy boy! That's MAX. That's MAX's voice! That's MAX talking! That's MAX playing with toys! That is MAX calling you "mama".

Visualize it - each and every day and that is what WILL be. Believe it with every ounce of strength you have and there will be no other alternative. I am living proof of this.
Happy Birthday!