Saturday, December 31, 2011

the big kahuna of depression.

As I reflect back on what was 2011 consider what I will strive for in 2012, the elephant in the room is "depression". Unfortunately, it played a dominant role in 2011 and put a damper on some incredible experiences and opportunities. It made me doubt myself and hate myself and held on with all its might no matter what I tried to do to shake it. Thankfully, my doctor, family and friends are a patient and supportive bunch and they stuck by me while I worked through this "big kahuna of depression".

The fun thing about meds is that you don't just magically start taking a new one and stop taking an old one and KAPOW everything is all better. You have to wean yourself off the old med, then ramp up on the new med, and then wait about two months for the new med to get into your system fully to see if it works. And if it doesn't work, then you are back to square one. I should also mention that the side effects of stopping/starting new meds are a real treat - tummy issues, weight gain, sleeplessness and exhaustion. Super fun, I know. And before you start telling me I should just eat right and exercise, let me invite you to go have sex with yourself. If it were that easy, I'd be Tony Horton's girlfriend.

I am hesitant to say this, but I think I may finally be on the right combination of meds, and I have made some personal decisions that are helping me feel more optimistic. Helping myself feel better is not just about taking medication, it is about working on how I communicate, not avoiding conflict, and reaching out when I need a hand. By no means do I think I have depression licked, not by a long shot. But I seem to have finally reached a point where I have my meds right and feel strong enough to deal with some of the emotional garbage that has been cluttering my happiness. Here's to 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

this is how i do it: katrina of fickle feline.

When Ellen of Love That Max (she has her own Max) asked me to write a guest post for her site, I was completely honoured (she is a big deal and an incredible mom). If you'd like to check it out - it's online here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

a christmas lesson from cam.

Christmas is a strange time of year for me. I am tempted to completely overdo it, but I'm also stressed out because there is just so much to do. And I want it to be perfect, but I know it can't be. Most of all, I want my kids to grow up feeling like Christmas is a fun and relaxing holiday where everyone is happy (damn it!).

Part of my picture of a perfect (and fun and relaxing) Christmas, is the kids having Christmas sheets for their beds. Specifically, flannel Christmas sheets. I have no idea where this came from (or exactly what is fun for kids about sheets?). I certainly never had Christmas sheets, and I turned out relatively okay. Plus, I doubt holly covered sheets would have helped the current demons I'm battling (that's a question for my next appointment).

Anyway, when I was finishing up my shopping last weekend, I passed by the sheet aisle and there they were - calling to me. I picked up a set of twin sheets for Cam's bed and put them in the cart. I wasn't going to buy a set for Max's bed, figuring he wouldn't get it, and wouldn't care either way. Mother guilt kicked in, and I picked out a set for his bed and put them in the cart. For a second I thought to myself that the last thing I need is for Max to look at me when he's in his 20's and say "I will never forget how you didn't buy me Christmas sheets - you are a terrible mother!".

I got home, washed the sheets, and made their beds up. Within an hour, Max had a potty training accident on his bed. The Christmas sheets were no longer full of joy and fun, but were covered in something entirely different. So much for that. I stripped the sheets, remade the bed and salvaged the pillow cases, the irony of it all not escaping me. At bedtime, I asked Cam if she was excited to sleep in her special Christmas bed, and she told me "I want to sleep with Max". Typical.

Later that evening, I went in to tuck them in and found them wrapped up like baby burritos. And while the Christmas sheets were still in the wash, the pillowcases had survived. Not quite what I had in mind, but Christmas isn't always about the intended results. Cam showed me that by relaxing and letting the "fun" win out, that's where the happy memories come from.

Friday, December 16, 2011

believing in max.

Every day, rain or shine, I drive Max to his therapy session. Round trip, it's about an hour, and it gives me a lot of time to reflect. Unlike his younger sister, Max is a quiet passenger, and I often find myself looking in the rearview mirror, double checking that he's actually in the backseat and that I haven't forgotten the important step of picking him up from school before I make the trip to the clinic.

As I drove by the local mall today, with its parking lot full on a weekday with Christmas shoppers, I was reminded that I really don't want anything for Christmas this year. Don't get me wrong, I will absolutely appreciate and enjoy any gifts I am fortunate enough to receive. But, the things that my heart truly desires are not physical things.  The thing I want most in this world, is for Max to continue to have progress. It is my belief in him, and helping him learn how to communicate and navigate our world that keeps my engine running. The words I remember on the hardest days are those of my late friend Kim Pace.

"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."

Max has had tremendous progress these past few months. We seem to finally be making real headway with a toileting routine, his eye contact is breathtaking, he is reading and spelling, and he is communicating unprompted. I cannot fully describe to you how my heart swells when he says "Goodbye Mommy" each day when I drop him off at the clinic. He is my daily affirmation that if you believe with all your heart, anything can happen. He is the reason that even on the hard days, I put one foot in front of the other and keep going. He has proven the doomsayers in his life 100% incorrect. And he does so with a smile that will not be denied. Thank you Max for making me a believer.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

max update: tree decorator extraordinaire.

Every year, Max becomes a little more involved in family celebrations. It's exciting to see him show interest in holiday activities, be it birthday cake, opening gifts, and now, decorating the Christmas tree. One of the biggest factors in Max's success is preparing him by having him practice new activities in therapy. Before we had him put decorations on the tree at home, he worked on this for two weeks. Since once a week he has therapy at home, I timed setting the tree up so that he and his therapist could be the first to hang this year's ornaments. I'm almost certain that next year he'll be tall enough to put the star on the tree.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

10 ways to make the holidays fun for your child with autism.

Everyone has hopes and dreams for how the holidays will turn out. There are traditions we want to carry on with our own families and friends. But what if a child with autism is included in the mix? How do you make sure you find a balance between maintaining a festive spirit while also respecting his needs? Here are 10 tips what will help make your holidays a success.

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'america's next top model' crowns the winner!

The final three models are put to the test with the pinnacle CoverGirl photo and commercial shoot at The Blue Door at the Blue Palace with photographer Nikos Papadopoulos. Lisa nails the photo but has a hard time coming off as sincere in the commercial; Allison once again has a hard time with the bright sunlight, while Angelea produces a terrific photo and delivers a stellar commercial.

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

toys for kids with autism: top 10 mom and kid-approved toys.

As the mother of a five-year-old son with autism, I have lost count of the number of times I have stood in the middle of a toy store and had no idea what to buy him for Christmas or his birthday -- never mind making recommendations for grandparents! After a few missteps and false starts, I have figured out what regular, non-therapeutic toys will engage a child with autism. These are my son’s top 10 favourites.

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america's next top model: tyra wants to be on top!

Now that the competition is down to four models, the heat is on -- and not just because they’re in Greece. This week’s challenge is one of the best yet. The girls are tasked with writing a blog which will be judged by the editor of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani, who also blogs on Since the winner will also be blogging for, it’s a good idea to make sure that the finalists can string a sentence together.

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