Thursday, April 30, 2009

Navigating the Gray Area

There's such a fine line between having special needs and being treated specially (read: differently). Well actually, I don't think the line's so very fine for the people who have the special needs. My son, along with many other kids with health issues, will tell you he wants no special treatment, whatsoever. None. He's not interested in being a "poster child" for his disease, he doesn't want to educate people, or even make much of a difference in the world right now. He's fifteen. He wants to hang out with his buddies, talk about girls, make stupid videos and annoy anyone over the age of 21. The last thing he wants is to be constantly reminded of his unfortunate roll of the genetic dice.

But the problem is, he does have needs that are special. Things that might occur outside of the house....when he's at school, or with friends. Things I must address with teachers, coaches, and administrators. And this is where I run into problems. If I make too big a deal of things, I am setting my son up for special treatment... Sideways glances, sympathy, perhaps even preferential treatment (all of which are unwanted!). But if I play things down, inevitably an issue arises that a teacher may not be prepared for, and my son gets in trouble and embarrassed in front of the whole class for something like being in the bathroom for too long. 

Some people get it. But those are usually the people who ask questions. The ones who step outside of their obvious comfort zone and really try to understand. The ones who don't, are the ones who are quick to nod "Yes," when asked if they understand fully, and declare, "No!" when asked if they have any questions. The ones that don't want to deal with it, and cross their fingers that nothing happens on their watch.

Kids can be heartless and unthinking. My son has had kids come up to him and matter-of-factly say, "You're gonna die". That kind of blatant idiocy doesn't bother my son. He knows that these are the same kids who would be calling him names or bullying him for other reasons, if they didn't have something so easy to use. 

But unfortunately, sometimes it's the most well meaning people who can unwittingly do the most damage. People who want to know how to handle the situation or want information, but are afraid or too uncomfortable to ask. The best advice I can give, simply as a mom, is to just inquire from the heart. Be honest about what you want to know, and be ready to hear what that person has to say, even if it might make you uncomfortable. Look them in the eye and really listen. Take them at their word and don't try to read anything deeper into what they tell you. That's what I do with my son, and sometimes he reveals how he's coping. Or, sometimes he says nothing at all. But it's his story to tell... How he wants. When he wants.

If you want to read other stories of people who have been affected by disability discrimination, go visit Diary of a Goldfish

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's So Bloomin' Great About Spring?

So it's official... Spring has sprung. Everything is green. No, literally, everything... my car, the sidewalks, the dogs... there is a lovely lime green dusting of pollen blanketing my little corner of the world, and it's making my life hell. I want to claw my eyes out, they itch so badly. Everyone's coughing and complaining. Headaches abound. Sneezes echo throughout the house. 

Then there are the animals. A rather large snake in the gutter. A groundhog out on his daily jaunt, before scurrying back into his hole. Deer parking themselves on the driveway, taking their own sweet time getting out of the way (hello, deer? we have a bus to catch!). They don't want to be hurried while scoping out their dinner options (hostas or azaleas?). Bats flying a little too low for comfort. Thankfully, no swine in sight. Oh, and the horses. The expensive show horses that live next door. They have now been sprung from their barn and are galloping free. Only problem is now we have to be extra quiet, as we don't want to scare them (God forbid!). 

But as annoying (and frightening) as they all are, these signs of life renew my spirit. Maybe I am just relieved because now that there are leaves on the trees again, I feel hidden away from everyone (which I love). Like it's just me and my little family, alone together. Or maybe all the pinks and reds and yellows from the roses and lillies and peonies brighten my mood. Or maybe I am hyper aware that spring leads us ever closer to summer vacation, which is the ultimate cure-all. 

But what I suspect is going on, is God is gently, and ever-so-pleasantly, reminding me that my little problems aren't very earth shattering. Seasons continue to change, life continues to bloom and I need to start looking at all the beauty around me and stop thinking everything revolves around me. Because if, in fact, it did, trees would grow kleenex, and deer would serve me ice cream in bed, while they pack the boys' lunches and find my husband's keys. 

Hmmm...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Family Ties

Nothing like someone else's brush with death to teach you a thing or two about yourself. Now let's see how long I actually ponder these lessons before I back-burner them, and get caught up in the chaos and buzz of daily life. I give myself a month. And that's being très generous. Most likely, I will be complaining about some everyday nothingness by week's end.

I think someone more spiritual, or more perceptive, or maybe just smarter, would be all over these signs and incidents and feelings beating me over the head. I am just getting more confused.

My brother, with whom I am not very close, is suddenly extremely ill. Like ICU, intubation, kidneys failing, kind of ill. My gut reaction was guilt (of course), nausea and sadness. But none of that lasted very long, and I've gone into some sort of 'third party' mode, where I am being very rational and objective about the whole thing. 

Except the part about my mother. Even during this awful awfulness, she is driving me nuts. In my robotic neutral mode, I feel for her, and I know this must be heart wrenching. After all, isn't this the EXACT thing I feel like I'm destined to face? The one thing that keeps me awake at night? Worrying I will have to watch my beautiful, moody, maddening boy die? Where's my compassion? It's all mixed in with the annoyance I feel about her little digs toward my sister-in-law, and the way I feel she's, on one hand, acting like my brother is on death's door, yet on the other hand, playing a game with the actual information. AND HOW SICK AM I to even be paying attention to my mom's constant martyr, attention-seeking behavior??? 

Ultimately, I want to be a good example for my boys. I want them to see how family is there for each other. But that lesson started years ago. That's one thing I really recognized that I wanted for them early on. Perhaps because I didn't have a close relationship with my brother. And it makes it really hard now to just kind of jump into action and "go home," when I am closer to my mailman than I am to my family.

My boys love being around each other. They miss each other when one is gone for even an afternoon. They play together. They fight, and then apologize, unprompted. They share. They laugh and tell each other secrets. They help each other and show each other new skateboard tricks. They stick up for each other. They love each other, although they sure can bicker like two old women. No one makes one of them madder than the other. But then it passes, and they talk it out. Feelings aired. Wounds mended. In their own, bizarro teen, but honest and open way.

They are so ahead of me on this. I should be taking my cues from them. Please God, let it last forever. 

Bored?

Then come visit me over at www.momswithoutblogs.com


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kids These Days

I got quite a shock while at computer last night, watching the Idol results show, when this appeared on my Twitter stream...

"Who are these people singing on Idol?"

Uh... excuse me? Not only should you know, you should be alternating between squealing with delight, jumping for joy, and staring reverently at the TV with a single tear streaming slowly down your face. Then you should be breaking into dance, hopping around the kitchen (ignoring stupid, never-really-very-good, mummified KC), searching for your iPod to relive that magical Band of Gold moment over and over and over again. Can I just tell you that at the tender age of 12, although I had not been abandoned emotionally and physically by a husband, I felt every ounce of angst poor Freda sang about? Being rejected and dateless at my very first Sadie Hawkins dance was just as, if not more, painful. 

So, in case that previously mentioned tweet was indeed reflective of the younger generation's knowledge of all things disco (and not some sick joke), I have compiled a list of the absolute best of the best for your dancing, singing and general boogying pleasure. No need to thank me. Just get up on your feet, people!

MacArthur Park 
Boogie Wonderland 
Last Dance 
The Boss 
More Than a Woman
Shake Your Body Down to the Ground
Night Fever
Le Freak
Ladies' Night
She's A Bad Mama Jama
Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now
Dancing Queen
Shake Your Groove Thing
The Hustle

And, one more thing about this week's show... I have to say that I know the judges are all into 'making it your own' and the contestants are obviously embroiled in a fierce game of one-upsmanship when it comes to song (re)arrangement, but when you take the danceability out of disco, you remove its soul. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Clean and Sober

Yes, it's true... I'm a recovering memeaholic. I want to share my story with you today to tell you it's okay. I am here for you, whether as an intervener or an enabler. I can do either. But for me, it's better if I don't go anywhere near them, as the temptation is still, and probably always will be, so strong. 

I started off as a casual memer, just participating in one every now and again. It was an easy way to produce material without having to think too hard. When my mind was blank, the meme would be a quick fix. However, my recreational use soon turned to addiction, and I found myself sitting on my bathroom floor, laptop in hand, eyes glassy from a morning spent trying to figure out if my photo was indeed wordless or perhaps wordful. That's when I first suspected that I needed help.

But by then, it was too late. Not only was I memeing every day, I started supplying them to others. That's right, I became a dealer to help feed my habit. Pretty soon, my mind just shut off completely and I wasn't able to think for myself, or write any original material. That's when I knew I had to step away completely. Make a clean break. Better to go cold turkey and endure the pain of withdrawal than risk overdose.

So, I have been clean for a couple of weeks now. However, in honor of Friday's Feast (F2), a newer meme by the one and only CaJoh, in which I never got to participate, I am going to share a poem that Sweet Mr. Beans wrote. I solemnly swear that I won't link up. But I encourage all of you to check him out and play along... If you think you can handle it. It only takes once!

Ode to a Pork Chop

When the sizzling wonder meets my eyes
I seem to be hypnotized
I would like to savor
Its rich flavor
Why would anyone give it away?
That scrumptious little pork filet.

Oh, and I am allowed to comment on other people's meme posts. Really, my therapist said so.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Take the Tiara Off the Toddler!

Sorry, but yes, I am going there. I try to stay away from too much controversy, but I have to believe with all my heart that SURELY everyone in our little sphere will agree with me (or at least not take offense). If I do offend anyone, and I do get run out of town, I'll enter the Blogger-Pisser-Offer Witness Protection Program and be in touch under my newly assumed identity. 

SO. Down to business... 

I have recently found a TV show on TLC called Toddlers and Tiaras. The title is self-explanatory. I have thought and thought about how I want to go about wording my diatribe, but I've decided to keep it short and to the point. 

There is SURELY no need to explain to anyone how demeaning, absurd, offensive, sexist, superficial (which is putting it mildly), misguided, objectifying, and misogynistic the pageants featured on the show are (or any pageant, for that matter, but I don't get quite so angry when they involve grown women). Don't even give me the whole "but it improves their self-esteem" argument, because I simply do not buy it. Sorry. I can think of a bazillion ways to boost a child's self-esteem that don't involve fake eyelashes, spray tans, "shaking their booties", and FAKE TEETH. 

I feel slightly better. But I am angry at TLC for exploiting these girls (and a smattering of boys) even more than their own parents are. 

I guess I would be happy to have an open and respectful dialogue with anyone that sees some other side to this. No, I take that back. So feel free to rant, if you must, because I certainly have, haven't I?


I am going to just leave it at that. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Olly Olly Oxen Free


I am playing hide and seek today... see if you can find me! 

Hint: It rhymes with Toms With Haute Clogs. Sort of. Well, okay, maybe not so much.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Keys to the Kingdom

I think I've figured out the cure for all my parenting woes! I am feeling like a bit of a genius here, and while I don't want to gloat too much, I just have to take a minute to pat myself on the back.

I am going to start making my kids speak with a British accent. I don't care what they actually say, as long as it is pronounced in that crisp, proper and decidedly smart sounding manner that our friends across the pond use.

While in Whistler, we encountered quite a few Brits both on the slopes and in the village. Many of them being young children. My husband and I were completely entranced by them. In fact, one poor little boy on the lift with us was at serious risk of being kidnapped and consequential assimilation into the classless Williams household.

Admittedly, these children were extraordinarily polite and engaging, but I am telling you, they could have been swearing at me and I would have been charmed by the lilt of their voices and the sophistication of their cadence. 

I am convinced that by simply changing the sound of what comes out of my boys' mouths will make them much more tolerable. We'll deal with the content later...  After mum isn't feeling quite so cross.

Cheers!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Teen Talk, Part I

So, yet another series in a series of series. Remember RootWatch '09? The 12 Panic Attacks of Christmas? Well, this new idea of mine, Teen Talk, could very well go the way of those, once I grow bored or get distracted, yet again. But enjoy, nonetheless...

video


Monday, April 13, 2009

Moving Sale (NOT A Review, Cleverly Disguised As One)

By now, most of you know about the lovely jewels created by my good friend, Annie, over at Beadiful Things. Although it took me months to stop calling it Beaudiful Things (which is stupid and makes NO sense at all), I knew from the get-go that I would be a lifelong customer. She is amazingly talented and her craftsmanship is impeccable. She creates pieces that just scream 'me' (a little bohemian, a little rustic), but she also makes quaint, ladylike pieces and chic, sophisticated pieces. Now that I have a haircut that I loved, but now hate, I have been pinning my bangs back daily with her cute lil' bobbies.

And I say all of this, not because it gets me any entries into a contest, but because she is someone I sincerely believe in, whose work I love, and I want to make the world a prettier place by dolling up as many of you as I can! 

She has a new storefront here. And I am going to plagiarize now (or cut and paste, to use a more politically correct term) so I will be sure to get the details right. She's having a sale, and here's the scoop, in her very own words:

And, in celebration of the fact that I can now accept discount codes and you can enter them in at checkout and get the discount taken right this minute rather than waiting for me to refund you, here's one that you can use until Friday 4/17/09 (at midnight): BLOG10. That's good for 10% off any purchase.

Oh, and she's really funny and smart, has gorgeous kids and a wonderfully honest, straightforward outlook on life. So, even if you're not in the market for cool new jewelry, you may want to check out her blog here.


Hear Ye, Hear Ye...

I have an announcement. A proclamation, of sorts. And please believe me when I tell you that I mean this with the utmost respect and sincerity, and truly do not want to upset or offend anyone... 

I hate everyone and everything involved in the airline industry (except pilots. hi! i love you! oh, and the air traffic controllers! love you, too! don't do drugs!). 

I have never been a huge fan of flying. But there used to be these nice people involved that at least pretended like they wanted to make my travels tolerable. And I swear I am not making this up, the counter people would not only greet you nicely and check you in... they would take your luggage from you! Was it all just a dream??

Now everything is self-serve. So I have to check myself in, weigh my own luggage, and then haul it over to the belt to be whisked away. And the one or two people that are actual employees have clearly been instructed to either ignore everyone or bark condescendingly. By the time I am at the gate, I am a sweaty, stressed, defensive mess, ready to take out my frustrations on the vacant, uncaring woman telling me my flight out of that hell hole is going to be so late, I am sure to miss my connecting flight! 

It's all so demeaning and depressing because they have finally figured out that they can treat us anyway they want, because we are trapped. There is no alternative. Trains have their own set of nightmarish issues. Cars are limited by time, distance and gas prices. And it's darn near impossible to get your hands on a covered wagon these days. 

So we're at their mercy. And they know it. Which, I suppose, is fine. But I guess what I am wondering is, where is fundamental human decency? The smiles? The "pleases" and the "thank yous"? Are people too busy to be pleasant? I'm not even asking for something as outlandish as nice. Is it really too much to ask?
 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Home

Oh, the tales that I could tell. However, a mild case of jetlag, eight days of laundry, and some serious cuddle time with the dogs are standing in the way. Here's a quick preview for any of you who may be curious (or extremely bored)...

Here we have a photo of the boys before I decided they need to be shipped off to boarding etiquette school. Although I didn't want to kill them yet, the groundwork had already been laid.

And here, a photo of hubs and me after the traumatic boot incident of '09, but before the wipeout that resulted in a disturbing eye injury and the end of my burgeoning professional stunt-skiing career.

And finally, a glimpse of the last meal of the trip. Why did it take me so long to start drinking?


Lots of fun and adventures were had (not necessarily by me) but glad to be back...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Sense of Belonging...

No, I am not back from "vacation" yet. I am missing you all terribly and, although I am surrounded by mountains, snow, nature, and needy family members, I can't wait to get home! 

Since I have nothing of value for you to read here, let me take this opportunity to introduce you to some of the smartest, funniest, and decidedly imperfect women in and out of the blogosphere. 

Head on over to Moms Without Blogs, at your convenience, and be prepared to be welcomed, reassured and, validated. These gals are the real deal, and somehow I have tricked them into including me!

My first post is up, but if you get plenty of me here, poke around and check out the other ladies. You will be amazed... As am I.

Thinking of you all,

Monday, April 6, 2009

Vacation Sneak Peek #2


There are people that I travel well with... and then there's my family.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Vacation Sneak Peek #1

There is simply no better way to start off a vacation than to have to unpack (and repack) all of your luggage on the floor of a crowded airport, at the command of a rude and completely useless airline worker, in order to redistribute the weight of all your crap to avoid a $125 overage fee.

Wish you were here!

Kisses,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wanted: Rose-Colored Glasses and Advil

I had begun a worthwhile, thoughtful post about sportsmanship and parenting, but, I am sorry, I just have to get this off of my chest...

If my headache doesn't go away, today's travel across the entire lower 48, and up into British Columbia will be a huge nightmare for everyone involved (including innocent bystanders). It feels like a migraine, but I am sure it is just stress. Why do I do this to myself? We are all packed, we all have legal, current passports (by the skin of our teeth, as you will recall), and the pets have been whisked away to their caretakers. So what gives? Why can't I just relax and roll with it? 

Part of it is the actual traveling itself. I am not big on flying, and I have cut back on the drugs I take after the Great Overdose Incident of '97. I, personally, don't really remember too many of the details, but my husband has still not recovered. If he's telling the story accurately (and not simply employing hyperbole to shame me), it involves the boys (then toddlers) running loose on the plane while I'm sprawled out on the floor, alternating between singing and puking. 

Another part of it is my children. Although they have been traveling fairly well now for a few years, I just never know what will come out of their mouths, or when they will get into a giant throw-down over, well, anything and everything.

Oh, and of course we have somewhere between 8 and 85 pieces of luggage. Not only is skiing expensive, it requires way too much (heavy) equipment. 

My immediate plan is to continue to blog while away. I am counting on my mood lightening and presenting you all with fun-filled, snow-laced posts of a perfect family get-away. Cross those fingers...