Monday, August 30, 2010

I Don't Like Mondays

The silicon chip inside my head is officially switched to overload!

After Firstborn's diagnosis and Rosemary's Baby's return to gluten (which is actually not going too badly, by the way!), we had yet another setback!

Rosemary's Baby's tutor, who works with him five days a week for just over six hours a day has gone on a sudden month-long medical leave. At present, I think I'd better not say any more than that because I might live to regret it, but rest assured, I am not happy about this. Not at all.

Because she waited to do this until her job became legally secure, and because she has a set return date (which could change at any time, and probably will), and because we live so far from the nearest city, the centre she works for can't hire a replacement right now. Instead, they've trained ME to do the work until the end of September. So I have two kids, two dogs, a cat, a crazy falling-down house, an overgrown farm-sized vegetable garden, and now her job to do too.

But I will survive this, and I'll get a better understanding of how my kid's therapy works, which I think is actually a really good thing. I hold out hope we'll get a new tutor in the end as well. I'll keep you updated, and post before-and-after shots of me when it's all over. Because that'll be amusing. For you.

We are also nearing the end of the month, so my photo project is coming to a close. I'll be sharing my favourites over the next few days.

Have a happy Monday! Or at least try to get through it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stop the World! I Wanna Get Off!


Well, my first week as a 37 year-old woman has left me a little shell-shocked. After my wonderful birthday, things went just a teensy bit downhill.

Last Monday, I had to take Firstborn to the Children's Hospital in the big city for a full day of developmental-type assessments. When Rosemary's Baby's pediatrician suggested I have that done "just to see", I thought the whole thing was a bit silly. Firstborn is doing better than well in school, has a nice tight-knit little group of friends, and aside from a few mild tantrums of late (school starts up again in 2 weeks--isn't this happening to ALL parents right now?!), he has really given us no reason to worry. But he does have some odd little quirks, and I wasn't going to pass up the chance to hit the city for a bit of shopping, so we made a day of it.

The neuro-development specialist started out by playing some games with him and asking him questions while I filled out several reams of paperwork. When she asked him to tell her how he'd know he felt happy (I don't even know how to answer that, but I think the stock answer they get is something like "I feel good"), he stopped to think about it for a minute, then answered, "Well, first I'd take my finger and I'd trace over my mouth. If I was smiling, I'd know I was happy!" Pretty logical, no?! Well, a few more of these meanderings down the road less traveled is how my kid ended up with a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome!

It turns out that even if a kid is very functional in his life in general, if that kid happens to have enough little quirky qualities that fall just outside what's considered normal, he can in fact land himself at the mild end of the autism spectrum. So now I have TWO kids on the spectrum. And I'm kind of wondering if the Captain and I should have ourselves looked at!

I know this sounds rather serious, but I'm choosing to take it in stride. This diagnosis is very different from what we're dealing with with Rosemary's Baby, who needs significant intervention just to learn to speak. Back in MY day (heh heh), the adults in Firstborn's life would consider him a bit nerdy or eccentric, shrug their shoulders and move on. Today we say he has a "disorder". Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to have this information because now I know what to look out for if he starts to run into problems, and we can get him help. But looking at my relatively normal (if slightly weird) kid, I can certainly understand why some high-functioning adults with autism might argue that their condition is not a disorder, it's a difference.

Okay, climbing down off my soap box now, because on Wednesday, things got worse!

Rosemary's Baby has been on a wait-list for pediatric allergy testing for 11 months and finally last week, he got his appointment. The good news is that the allergist found no environmental allergies, so the pets won't have to be sent off to the hot dog factory just yet. The bad news is that he suspects possible Celiac Disease. This, in itself, came as no surprise whatsoever. I've mentioned before that we've seen benefits by removing gluten from Rosemary's Baby's diet (and I promise to go into this in detail at some point in the near future, since a few of you have asked about it). We also have a bit of gastrointestinal difficulty in some of the men on my side of the family. So I wouldn't be surprised at all if this is what's happening. But in order to confirm that this is the case, I have to undo 11 months of really hard work by reintroducing gluten to his diet for the next seven weeks. And at the end of that nightmare, he might still get a negative result. Bye-bye, sanity!

And finally, it's the great tomato blight of 2010! I had to go out and pull up a dozen dead tomato plants from our garden yesterday. That makes up about half of our tomato crop. It seems to be happening to all of our neighbours too, so I can only guess that the weird weather here hasn't helped matters. I've salvaged what I can of the rotting green tomatoes, but it'll definitely be a smaller haul this year. Here's a look at the aftermath:

That gaping hole of red plastic is where all the dead plants were. Boo hoo!

Lest you think I'm a complete tale of woe, something fun did happen this week as well. While the tomatoes fought a losing battle against the elements, the pumpkins have spread themselves all over the garden, and one has already even started turning orange!

I foresee a lot of jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin bread this fall!

I've also forayed into the world of green tomato recipes and tonight I'll be trying an insane thing called green tomato raspberry jam. Even if it turns out to be horrible, I'll have a good story to tell. Wish me luck!

Happy Monday!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cake


Today is my birthday, and I'm having a much better one than last year! I started out my day by putting Beatles Rock Band on at full-blast and treating my family to a noisy 7:30 AM performance of "Birthday". Then I splashed a little Irish cream in my coffee, pigged-out on a sugary, fatty breakfast and opened my presents (presented to me still in the mailing package they arrived in, and with a festive "I didn't wrap anything, or take the tags off." Aren't men great?!). It seems that the way you start your day is the key.

Last year, I woke up to a day that was grey and miserable and raining. I'd had to make my own cake because the Captain had been away all week and I'd just plopped it on the kitchen counter to decorate it, when my sister called to wish me a Happy Birthday. I wandered away.

When I came back to the kitchen no more than ten minutes later, the Captain was where I'd left him, drinking coffee and surfing the net in the dining room. Firstborn was still sitting at the table reading, and Rosemary's Baby was still standing in the middle of the kitchen. But something was different. He was covered in crumbs.

I turned, filled with dread, to see what he'd done to my carrot cake. It was still on the counter. It still looked, for all intents and purposes, like a rectangular sheet cake. But the centre was pitted with half a dozen little fist-sized holes. Rosemary's Baby had clearly enjoyed a good portion of my now-ruined birthday cake before it had even been iced. And at this point, I burst into tears.

I should say now that it was just starting to dawn on me this time last year that Rosemary's Baby was autistic, so I was already kind of going through a period of grief, and having him wreck my cake magnified things a little. For the rest of the day, I walked around growling at everyone and wishing the whole day would just end.

Even when you get to an age where you know it's just another day, it's kind of disappointing to have a crappy birthday. So this year, I went in with the intention of taking control of what kind of day I had. In addition to making sure my day started out just right, I originally intended to order myself some cupcakes (I pledge to never again make my own birthday cake) but the Captain was around this year, and wanted to mess around in the kitchen. So, with the help of Firstborn and Betty Crocker, after lunch today, he presented me with this delicious fire hazard:

Yes, there are 37 candles. I'm guessing he wanted to take a subtle dig at me like I did him a couple of weeks ago on his birthday. Here's the cake I made for him:

"What? I just thought you liked Oscar!"


Today, I've taken some time for myself, laughed at my kids, talked on the phone, enjoyed the weather, and eaten enough sugar to put myself in a diabetic coma. I'd call that a good birthday!

Happy Sunday!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th


I actually have nothing to contribute to the superstition that is Friday the 13th, but I thought it was high time I posted again. I think by now my regular followers know that I frequently lose my mojo and disappear for days or weeks at a time, but I do like to post an update before everyone forgets all about me, and Friday the 13th seemed like a fitting day to reappear from the dead.

To start with, I've been reading a very interesting book called Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl. I assumed this book would be much like all the other self-help-for-your-most-superficial-closet-related-problems kind of book (and for the record, I love those books), but it is actually very much not what I expected. It's what I'd call half-fun, half-philosophy. The ideas in this silly-looking little book are actually quite challenging. The author deconstructs the lifestyle of the French and ends up presenting her reader with such a common-sense approach to life that I'm kind of left wondering how we here in North America could've possibly missed something so obvious. It's really gotten me thinking about how we rush through life here, missing all the beauty and joy in small things, bombarding ourselves with so much choice that we're overwhelmed, and stressing out over the mountains of "stuff" we own, instead of surrounding ourselves with a few things we really, really love. Who'd have thought that a bargain book in the "beauty and grooming" section could be so thought-provoking?

I have also been deeply immersed in my August photo project. And when I say "deeply immersed", I mean I've been snapping shots of everything from the potted plants to my kids in silly poses between trying to clear the kitchen counters of all the fruits and vegetables that have started coming in at lightning speed. Our recent heatwave, and lack of proper air-conditioning, have made it all a little painful. Here are some highlights:


The aforementioned heatwave. I love how kids can take something we find miserable and turn it into an opportunity for fun.



Anakin is getting big, and now interacting semi-appropriately with the dogs.


The Captain has been home on summer leave for a couple of weeks, so we've been drinking his proper home-roasted coffee every morning.


Doesn't this old Eaton's catalogue house have character? My neighbour and I took her kids and Firstborn to her parents' place for a swim yesterday afternoon and I got a few shots of this old house. Unfortunately, it's no longer fit for living in, so they built themselves a new place on the property and will be having this one torn down. Between the loss of all the old buildings and the Enid Blyton books being updated for a more modern audience (What?!! The kids don't exclaim "Rather!" and "I'm jolly confused!" anymore?!!), in 100 years, I wonder if there'll be any evidence of the past left.

And on that very depressing note (Way to go, Captain Killjoy!), Happy Friday the 13th!