"I'm gonna find my way..."

Things on Thursday

This has been kind of a long week. As a Facebook friend put it, "Why is this week four weeks long?" I can't believe there's still two days left to this week!

Since PJ started school, our opportunities for play dates have dwindled, since he is in school during Prime Play Date Time, and we are working on this therapies when he's home. But a text message from a dear friend, offering lunch, potential kid fun, and company popped up on my phone, we made an adjustment to our schedule and went rouge on our usual schedule. And a good thing, otherwise, we might have missed out on all of this cuteness!

And speaking of said cuteness? I literally almost burst into tears watching PJ smiling and playing with his friends. A year ago, I wasn't sure if moments like this would be possible. Today, he smiled at his little buddies and reached for their hands again, ready for another round of Ring Around The Rosey.


In less cute news, I have been working hard to try and have ABA therapy set up for PJ, not only to make sure that he's in the hands of a professional but (and I am okay with this now) also to ease some of the weight of his therapies from my own shoulders. I am actually really, really proud of all of the hard work we have done. PJ has learned so much from the work we have done together, but the fact is that I am just not equipped to take him as far as I know he can go. In a mama capacity, I can get him to the stars! But, I'm not a therapist. So, we're looking for some help. Which would be easier to find if navigating our insurance plans wasn't such a GIANT, FESTERING PAIN IN MY NECK!! I am starting to think that PJ is the first autistic beneficiary this plan has ever dealt with, because holy cow. Every time I call, there is a different answer about what PJ is eligible for, how we prove it, and what it might cost. It is annoying at best and enough to make me smash my head against a wall at it worst. Thankfully, I got some helpful advice from someone at PJ's developmental pediatricians office that should help!

The last part of this million-year-long week involves some fun, and I am ready for it! I am looking forward to blowing off some steam at Girl's Night, spending time with my little family, and enjoying the commercials on Super Bowl Sunday! Until then, it's time for this mama to go to bed!

Good night!

"Just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die, you gotta get up and try.."

It's a quiet one here at the home of the Latini's of Collingswood. PJ went to bed early and fell right asleep, and Pete is working, leaving this Mama home alone to play You Don't Know Jack on Facebook and watch SVU instead of doing housework. Fail.

I hadn't been feeling great over the past week or two. I'd been plagued by some sort of blechy-ness and it was running me down. I finally succumbed to the lure of a Z-Pak to try and slay this beast before I really got sick! I learned my lesson in my 20's about trying to ignore illness. You can become very, very sick doing that! It's not a fun lesson to learn, so I try to make an effort to nip illness in the bud! Said Z-Pak worked wonders and I am feeling and sleeping much better.

Despite feeling a little run down, last week was a good week. Like, solidly, every day was a pretty decent one. PJ had a fantastic week at school, with great reports from his teacher and therapists! At home, we got through his therapies with little trouble and more cooperation then I have had before. PJ even got to go the pool this week, an excursion that he loved! My little fishie loves the water, and the swimming is great "work" for his hyper little muscles! A positive week made a huge difference in the overall mood of the house- when PJ's feeling good, everyone's feeling good!

This week? Eh. It hadn't been bad at all. PJ started the week off beautifully with good reports from school, but then we heard from his speech teacher that he tantrumed during his speech session and actually scratched her face. Yup. That was upsetting. I am very glad she told us, because I can't try to rectify his behaviors if I don't know about them. His speech therapist does an amazing job of communicating with us. I was happy to know, but very, very sad to hear. I don't even know what to say about it. I'm disappointed. I'm sad. I know PJ can be better then that. I mean, he's three. All three year olds have those moments. But...it's hard to know that your baby hurt someone.

We had another rough moment this week going to Story Hour. A local library hosts a story hour in which older kids read to the younger ones, with snack and a craft after. On paper, it seems right up PJ's alley- big kids, books, food, and a mess? Usually that's the recipe for a jackpot. For some reason though, PJ and this story hour do not mix well. We took a few months off before giving it another shot, but PJ howled the second we walked in. So, I gathered him up, turned around, and walked back out. With all of the battles I have to fight him on lately- school, therapy, behaviors- this just wasn't one I needed to win. It was 53 degrees out, so we went to the playground. I am pretty sure that this decision was a Grand Parental Fail on thousands of levels, mainly because I let him get his way after a tantrum. But the playground was fun. :-)

With all of that said, the better moments have far outweighed the crappy ones so far this week. We had a fantastic Sunday with family that was filled with laughter and good food and PJ playing under the dining room table with his baby cousin Evan (so cute!). PJ had a great Monday at school, our drills at home have been going well, and he had a great time swimming at the YMCA with Mommy today! And, after months of trying, PJ drew a definitive horizontal line, vertical line, and a circle today! I was so excited I e-mailed his OT from CHOP, who worked tirelessly on helping PJ develop this skill while he was under her care. As it turns out,even when it's hard, it's good. We keep on keepin' on.

Hope you're doing the same! Happy Hump Day, friends!

"Not to put too fine a point on it..."

Things On Thursday

...I was literally astounded by the kind, heartfelt, lovely comments people gave me about yesterdays post. Knowing that I have people who love my PJ, and who root for him- some having never even met him!- makes us feel like we can take on the world! It's a scary thing to put yourself out there, and it's really not even brave or special or noteworthy in my case. I blog because A. It's easier then actually talking about it and B. I really, really enjoy writing. So, there's two things that I get out of blogging before one person even read this. Anything else is just the amazing, delicious icing on top! But I wasn't prepared for the pure kindness that my cake was slathered with and I don't even know where to begin to say "thank you".

...PJ had his follow-up appointment with the audiologist today! We never really had any fears about his hearing, but made an appointment 6 months ago at the advice of his developmental pediatrician. At the time, the testing was difficult as PJ would not let anyone or any thing near his ears! They did whatever hands-off testing they could do at the time and suggested that we bring him back when his tolerance for ear-touchies went up. So we ventured back today, having practiced with ear phones at home, and PJ was a
champ! He got through all of the testing like a rock star and his hearing is perfect. He's just ignoring us! :-)

...I need a new pair of sneakers. The ones I have now are old. I bought them before I was even engaged so I have had them since, at least, 2007. That's old for sneakers. I refuse to splurge on new workout clothes because frankly, I don't feel like my fat ass deserves them. I'll continue to work out in my maternity yoga pants and I'll like it, thank you very much! But, I do need to be more mindful of my feets, so I think a sneaker excursion is in the works. Brand suggestions are appreciated.

...Random story inspired by talking about my old sneakers: I have a pair of wide-legged, black pants from Express. They are my go to pants if I need to dress slightly better then my usual Homeless Lady Chic. I heart them. But they are old. Like, not normal old. I bought them in 1997. I needed some "professional" clothes for my field placement my senior year of college. I was doing social work in the maternal/child heath department of a local Erie hospital. Just by that fact alone I should throw them out. The damn pants are fifteen years old!! But I will continue to buck any semblance of fashion sense and wear them until they disintegrate!

...The other day I dug out my 10,000 Maniacs CD and played it while I cleaned the kitchen. I hadn't listened to it in forever and Natalie Merchant's gorgeous voice filled up my soul that day. I mentioned it on Facebook and got into a conversation with a dear high school friend about other 90's music that I used to listen to. It made me all music-hungry for Gin Blossoms, They Might Be Giants, and Toad the Wet Sprocket (whose lyrics I used in my post yesterday. Windmills is a beautiful song). The 90's had its share of cheese, but there was also some amazing, lyrics-driving music made. Although there was also Kris Kross, who I hear is making a comeback. So, there's that. It's whiggedywhiggedywhiggedywhiggedy whack!

...Hockey is finally back and, four games in, so are the Flyers! Thank. Goodness! I'm off of junk food right now I needed a Flyers win to fill the empty spaces!

...It's time to stop blogging and start folding laundry.

Goodnight, lovely friends!

I'm linking up with the lovely Char for this weeks Blog Hop with The Epic Adventures of a Modern Mom!

"...and any way the wind blows, it's all worth waiting for."

There is an essay by Emily Pearl Kingsley called Welcome to Holland. It is a piece about raising a child with special needs. I had heard about this piece in various Autism forums and such, but didn't stumble upon it until very recently.

In her essay, Kingsley likens pregnancy to planing a trip to Italy. You buy books about the landmarks, learn about the history, practice your Italian language skills. In fact, you know other people who are also embarking on this trip, and talk and plan excitedly about what it will be like when you arrive. The day arrives, and you board your plane, maps and translation book clutched joyfully in your grasp. After a long plane ride, you land.

In Holland.

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

Kinglsey goes on to explain that Holland is hardly unsafe, or full of pestilence and disease. But it's not Italy, the trip you had prepared for all those months. Your maps won't work, your translation books won't work. It's not full of fashion and pasta and the Pope. All of your friends who left on the trip? They are in Italy. You will need to make this trip with some new friends.

It's Holland. Not Italy. But you take a deep breath. You look around. And Holland is beautiful. Not Italy. Certainly not what you were prepared for. But it's beautiful. Tulips. Windmills. Clogs.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

I have only very recently come to terms with the idea that we are in Holland. With autism, it's a slightly different journey. My plane landed and for eighteen months, I thought I was in Italy. I was using my maps and speaking the language and eating the food and it wasn't until later that I realized why they weren't working. I had to look, really look, to realize where I was. My son was in a different place, my journey led me somewhere else.

When I was pregnant with PJ, a number of women who are dear to my heart were pregnant with me. I remember heaving our bumps here and there for lunch dates, play dates (I was still a nanny at the time), and talking excitedly about how great it would be when all of our babies were on the outside. It was a bit of a blow when our respective planes landed and, as it turned out, mine was somewhere else. It wasn't because I was mad or upset that they were in Italy, but because I felt like I had been left behind with my useless maps.

It's been a little over a year since PJ's diagnosis, when we sat in a room at CHOP that turned out to be our terminal and the doctor, acting as our flight captain, told us that we were, indeed, in Holland. For a while, I kept my maps close. I was more then willing to learn about Holland if that's where PJ was, but was still clinging to the idea that Italy was still in our grasp. A year later, when PJ is doing something that doesn't make sense to me, my Italian bubbles to the surface, ineffectual, until I get back on track.

Still, despite all of that, I want to be in Holland. I am learning the language, taking in the landscapes, wearing my clogs and gazing at windmills with an armful of tulips. It's hard sometimes- I spent a lifetime getting ready for Italy and I have only been in Holland for a little while. And yes. Sometimes it stings. It's not because I would want PJ to be any different or because I would love him more if he wasn't Autistic. That's impossible. I love every part of PJ because I love PJ. It doesn't matter where your plane landed- that's the Motherhood Express. The sting comes from wondering what Italy would have been like because a Mama never wants her babies to struggle. Like the essay says, we deal with a very significant loss.

I'm not worried about PJ. PJ has this Holland shit down. That kid wears a pair of clogs like nobody's business. But sometimes, I am still a little bit lost. I get my maps confused and then I feel like an asshole for confusing my maps and then? Well...I get a little bitchy. I don't mean to. But it happens. I become six years old again and fluent in Well, I didn't want to go to stupid Italy anyways! The walls go up. I'd love to ask for help but instead, just stumble blindly along, trying to figure out my maps and getting pissed at anyone I bump in to while my head is down.

I had to admit that I can't do all of PJ's therapies all by myself, and with that revelation, I guess it's time to admit that I can't just be a bitch because I'm lost in Holland sometimes without stopping to ask someone for directions. So, dear friends, just be patient with me. I'll try to be better, and if I look lost, just turn me in the right direction.

You can't miss me. I'm holding the tulips.

"...and by the force of will my lungs are filled, and so I breathe..."

Things That Happened This Week

*featuring a format to cleverly disguise the fact that my brain is too tired for any of
my normal usage of things like paragraphs, transitional phrases, or basic writing skills*

This week was a busy one. We kept plugging away at PJ's new routines, which take up a good part of each day. It's getting a teeny bit better each day, but we still have made the decision to look for some outside help. We don't want PJ's progress to be impeded by own pride. It's time to admit defeat and look for a professional in the field of Applied Behavioral Analysis and get some help. If PJ can make this much progress with my pathetic ass trying to guide him, imagine what he can do in the hands of a pro. We're waiting for insurance information at this point, so just keep your fingers crossed for us.

PJ's teacher and I met this week to talk about putting him on a behavior program, a reward system that is akin to ABA but, of course, won't be as intense, as his teacher has a classroom of other children to attend to. I had been feeling a little discouraged about school, but meeting with PJ's teacher let me know that she really is on board with seeing him succeed. I also have to remember that we're just over a month in, and a disrupted month at that. Now, he's fully in and I think that he will grow and make progress, as he has with everything else he's ever done. It's so hard letting your babies go out into the world, and it's even more so when your baby is a little different then the other kids.

I have been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I had read of the book on Kelle Hampton's blog (Yup. I admit it. I totally drink that kool-aid. I love her blog.) and decided to give it a read. Rubin writes about how her life was comfortable and successful, but she still found herself feeling critical and rushed and unsatisfied. Realizing this, she decided to get happy. Rubin laid out her goals and then spent the next year ticking them off, month by month. Some were as simple as resolving to keep her living space neat and uncluttered, and others were more daunting, like switching careers. Goals in place, she went about ticking them off her list, finding that something as simple as picking up your crap and putting it away can make you feel happy, just as the bigger things in life can. In and of itself the book is a great read- Gretchen Rubin is very funny and engaging. But it also has me thinking- so often lately, I have felt like I was drowning. There are big things that have happened that are out of my control, but also so many little things that I choose to bitch and moan about but really, are entirely in my control and I can fix that shit.

With some recent events involving my sister Marla's health, I have decided to increase my resolve and go back to the purple hair. I figure it's a tiny thing I can do to let her know I support her. But, holy hell, this color is bleeding all over everything! Now I remember why only 16-year-olds on an "emotional journey" use Manic Panic- it's a pain in the ass!! Next months color is red for Heart Health Awareness (my sister is also a survivor of a congenital heart defect), so hopefully I'll have more luck! :-)

Speaking of things I can fix, I made a New Year's resolution to start getting more sleep. I've gone to bed before 11 exactly once. And that was last night because I felt like crap. Fail. But, 10:46 is still earlier then midnight, so off I go!

Goodnight, friends!

 Hey, I'm blog-hopping with the beautiful folks at The Epic Adventures of a Modern Mom! Stop over and say hi!

"Don't give up, because you want to burn bright..."

Happy Monday, folks!

We had a busy, eventful weekend here, starting off on Friday with a bona fide night out for Pete and I! It was a night filled with sushi and celebration (Happy Birthday, Matt!). It was filled with an ear ring in each ear and (on average) two beers in each hand. I spent an hour plucking my eyebrows, sitting in our bathroom sink, and five minutes to inhale my delicious plate at dinner, sitting in a popular local spot. I took care with my clothes and painted my nails. After a week of struggling through PJ's therapies with him, it was an hour or two of relaxation and grown-up fun that I desperately needed.

Speaking of PJ's therapies...they're going. It is still a battle of wills for the most part, and my Boy is stubborn. It's like nothing I have ever witnessed in my life. If we're working with flash cards, and he's not interested, he'll fall silent, and if I press him for an answer, he closes his eyes!!!! In my imagination, I bang my head against a brick wall. In real life, I sigh and try not to validate his..let's face it. Obnoxiousness. Thankfully, and despite PJ's best efforts sometimes, he is learning. Letters, numbers, sorting, flash cards, it's all starting to stick. We're seeing progress, and it's like someone tossing me one arm float as I drown in raging rapids. I just have to stay afloat and wait for the other.

As far as the rest of the weekend, sushi and therapy aside, I took advantage of Pete being home to get a ton of cleaning done. PJ's train table was moved into his bedroom, which was, subsequently, cleaned and reorganized! Our living room is ours again and PJ is rediscovering some of the toys he abandoned during his Train Table Honeymoon. Last night, I enjoyed the Golden Globes on tv and cleaned the bathroom during the commercial breaks. I was tired and cranky when I went to bed, but feeling that satisfaction of having Got Shit Done.

I am hoping to keep that trend going this week, although I would settle for finding a rhythm with PJ's therapy. But my baby Boy and I will do like we do- plug away until we get it right, because my boy always rises to the occasion!


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Hey! I linked up! Join the Gossip and Sami's Shenanigans are your beautiful hosts!

"One day I will build a fountain, drink and never grow old..."

{dramatic groan}

Uuuuggghhh. This working out thing is, thus far, not agreeing with me. Or, at least, it was until I let my friends Megan and Michelle get to me and talk me into going to "Fit Camp", a group workout session that Megan started about a year ago. With Pete's work schedule and my laziness, it's often hard for me to get there, but last night, the stars aligned and with my New Years fervor all aglow, I went.

Ugh. Dumbest move ever.

Today I'm feeling the burn, which is not so much the fault of the workout as it is the fault of my fat, lazy ass. Like, literally, my ass. It's killing me, as are my thighs (damn those squats), my abs, and my shoulders. Good because I love feeling that I've had a good workout, bad because OMGMYTHIGHS!!! The workout is actually a lot of fun, and the camaraderie of working out with friends can't be beat! For now, I am just trying to keep my eye on the prize and know that soon enough, it won't be so hard. I'm a week in and already feeling a difference, so I just need to hang in there!

I've also been in the mood to purge and SERIOUSLY IF YOU THINK I MEAN THROWING UP WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??? I said that to two people and I got the raised eyebrow and stink eye from both of them. I mean, purge in the sense of getting rid of stuff! This apartment is too small for the amount of stuff we have in here. I think the Duggar house is too small for the amount of stuff we have here. So, off it goes. First are the closets. Mine isn't so bad. I got rid of a ton of stuff a few months back and the reality is, I have like, five outfits that I just rotate. Pete's on the other hand, had enough clothes to keep those same Duggars dressed for a month. I have to hand it to him, though. I gave him a gentle push in the direction of his closet with instructions to purge, and ten minutes later there was a sizable "Donate" pile. Booyah. Next up are old toys, and then I need to get the book situation under control and hopefully, we'll be somewhere near something close to a normal amount of clutter.

Holy crap, my shoulder is killing me.

Yesterday we had PJ's follow-up at the autism clinic at CHOP. The visit went well and Pete and I felt a little better in knowing that a lot of PJ's current difficulties have to do with the transitional period he is in, along with his age. She told us what we already sort of knew- just hang on and it will get better. What might take one child a month to get used to could take PJ four months. Or it could take a week! Either way, we just keep breathing and get through this. In other news, my current coffee intake rivals twice what I was drinking in college. Sigh.

Now it's time for this old fatty to go dive into the Advil and go to bed! :-)

"Head under water and they tell me to breathe easy for awhile..."

It's 2013, and my To-Do list is on!

I am full-swing into the typical "New Year, New Life" nonsense, and I only expect it to last about a week or so and, knowing that, I am trying to milk this burst of motivation for all it's worth! There's stuff to be cleaned, crap to be purged, and other such lofty goals to meet with gusto.

It's PJ's first full week back at school and hopefully, there will be a New Years transformation for him as well. The adjustment to school has been a challenge for him, particularly adhering to the classroom rules. Pete and I are working on better methods of communication with his teachers and in-school therapists so we can execute some of their behavior modification methods at home, hopefully, providing  PJ with some continuity about what's expected of him.

I'm feeling a little less discouraged then I was a few days ago. It's not that handing PJ's manic energy or getting him through his ABA drills has become any easier, but more because my perspective has had an overhaul. I remember his first few months of Early Intervention. PJ's therapists would come to the door and he would tantrum on sight! He started Early Intervention in October, but it wasn't until January that we saw a change in PJ. He became cooperative with the expectations of his therapists and, because of that, began to thrive. Seeing him struggle right now is difficult, on a thousand different levels. It sometimes feels like we are watching nearly two years of work unravel before our eyes. I just have to have faith in where PJ is, in his therapists and teachers, and remember that PJ always rises to the occasion.

Marla and I are also hoping to rise to the occasion as, in a haze of New Years Resolution fever, we joined our local YMCA. Marla's joints aren't what they used to be (thaaaaaank you, Lupus. And by "thank you", I mean "Go fuck yourself.") so we are working out in the pool. Right now, our goal is to just keep moving, letting the resistance of the water be our exercise for now. It might be a long road for Marla to work on getting her endurance back, but we'll paddle our little asses off until we get her there. I've also managed to hit the treadmill a few times. A friend has set out a list of challenges and one is to walk or run 700 miles this year. I only have 698 to go. Heh.

Oh, also? We totally got yelled at by an old lady there! How am I nearly 36 and still getting yelled at by my elders (and also, how I am nearly 36 and still giggling about getting yelled at? Have I learned nothing??)??? Although to be fair, she yelled at us for stopping to look at a sign on the wall. Which was clearly hung there for people to, you know. Look at.

And lastly...hockey is back!!!!!! I need some orange and black in my life!!!! BOO YA!

Now, back to my To-Do list. Goodnight, friends!

"The things I dream that I can do, I'd open up the moon for you..."

Things on Thursday: On Motherhood...

I had a post planned for tonight, about our last few days of vacation, and about PJ going back to school yesterday. He got on the bus with a big smile on his face, and my mama heart was a little bit sad to have our fun, snuggly, busy winter break come to an end.

It's all there, but on this ice-cold night, the third of this new year, my heart is breaking for another mama. I have come to realize that motherhood is a kind of a sisterhood. It's not without its cliques or battles or nastiness, of course, as any sisterhood is also a "human-hood". We're all human. And I think it's that simple, common denominator of humanity that makes every mama hurt when one mama hurts. Our babies are their babies and vice versa.

Motherhood is a heady, powerful thing. The same body that I curse for being too fat or torture into submission with hair dye and eyebrow waxes carried another human being within it and then kept it alive with this body alone for half of a year. That in itself is pretty amazing, and yet it somehow pales in comparison to what a mothers heart is capable of. I look at my son and feel something that I can't truly describe, as mouthy and talkative as I am. One moment you're ordinary and the next, there's pee on a stick and you're extraordinary.

Our hearts are full of our children and our families and yet, somehow, when there's another mama hurting, there's always a little extra room. The members of this sisterhood hold no rank or file. Famous and wealthy or poor and unknown, when it comes down to it, a mother is a mother is a mother. Tonight, I'm filling that extra space in my heart with another.