A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Insurance Assurance

"You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all wanna change the world"
-The Beatles
"Ummm excuse me, City Hall?? Can you please pass legislation in the state of Michigan to require insurance companies to cover diagnosis, treatment, and services to all people with Autism Spectrum Disorder?"
"Hello? Anybody there?"

Pink Ribbons

"She wishes she was a dancer
And that she'd never heard of Cancer
She wishes G-d would give her some answers"
-Our Lady Peace
I spent yesterday morning walking a 5k to help raise awareness and funds for breast cancer in support of my friend Tami F. It was a great day with perfect weather and loads of people in the streets of downtown Detroit. 
This is Tami!
This is Tami and her husband, Gary who has gone above and beyond for his wife during this whole cancer journey.
Here's the graphic that was on the back of T-shirts. Tami's dad Sam lost his own battle with cancer in January. 
At the end of the day, this delicious cake was waiting for us. Good motivation to finish, right?!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Real Me

"Everybody I know seems to know me well,
but they're never gonna know 'cause I run like hell"
-Led Zeppelin
This blog has been voted #1 blog... by my mom. Seriously, my mom loves my blog! She says that even though we speak often (a few times a week), she feels like she gets the chance to know what's really going on with me (my thoughts and my feelings) by reading this blog. Here's her exact quote:
"I love your blog. It keeps me up to date on your thoughts. We talk about {Little Bird} everytime we talk, but your blog is more intimate. Love ya, Mom"
(peek)
She's right. I don't do intimacy very well. I kinda keep people at a safe distance. I guess I feel more comfortable letting it all out here than I do putting it out there to others. In fact, I am often times pretty closed off and don't let many people in. I put on a happy face or tell the truth with an "I'm having a rough day", but I rarely tell the whole story. Maybe I feel like other people just wouldn't "get it". The truth is that I do feel so alone with all this, partially since I am, but also because there are a whole lot of people in my life who really just do not get it. I'm not a BFF kind of girl and even though I have had many friends my whole life and I am always making new friends, I never really show all my cards. I'm sure the shrinks and therapists of the world would have a field day with me. Actually, any time I ever tell a new therapist my story, they wind up with their jaws on the floor. It's not been easy, but it has all made me one tough broad. So, I'm not entirely a bitch; I'm just a little closed off sometimes. I guess I can't get hurt as easily this way. You'd be surprised how many 'friends' I've lost or let go of since really recognizing that Little Bird is "different", simply because they just couldn't give what I needed or because they weren't comfortable with the situation. Good riddance, I guess. The truth is, when tragedy strikes your life, you're given the opportunity to see who your real friends are and who really matters. Wait, did I just come up with a blessing that might have been brought on by Autism?? Naaaaaahhhh!
So, I guess if you want to know the real me, keep reading ;)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

melting pot

Little Bird goes to a public school. It's called a "school of choice", which means that kids outside of our school district can enter into a lottery and if their number is called, they get to attend our school. This program is so beneficial for the kids whose home school districts are not as well funded or just not good schools. But it's also beneficial for the kids in this district who might otherwise just be around kids of their own socio-economic standing, religion, color, background, etc. As well, our school district gets government money for being a "school of choice". Win-win all around, right??
Well, there are so many people who tell me in their hush-hush whispered voice that there's a little too much diversity for them. I've even heard them complain that their kid would be the only kid of their race in the class. Really? Well, welcome to the life of all those "minority" kids that grew up going to your schools. I'm hoping to raise my kid to not be able to see a difference between her and the rest of the kids: whether they look different, act different, have different abilities, etc. I love that the classrooms are her school look like the freaking United Nations! How boring it would be if every kid in the school were the same. How could my kid learn about other cultures or other ways of living? Everyone's the same??? BORING!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vacation

"Vacation: all I ever wanted"
-The GoGos
I'm tired. No, I'm exhausted. By around 3pm I just don't think I can go on anymore. I can't see how I can possibly do the rest of this day, week, month, year, life. That's when I recharge with heavy doses of caffeine. I always chuckle when I see that the only option for coffee for the parents at the therapy center where Little Bird spends afternoons is extra bold. Someone somewhere must know we moms of kids with special needs NEED extra bold coffee!
But today, not even that heavy afternoon dose of coffee was enough. I might be so far past the point of rescue; there may not be a coffee bold enough for today. My exhaustion is physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. I need a break. I'm not asking for a vacation, but I'd like to send Autism on a little trip. So, please, Autism please take a vacation from my life. Let me off the hook just for a day.
fgjdahjjjkjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj oops, sorry! I must have passed out on the keyboard ;)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Salty!

"Rubber ducky, you're the one..."
-Ernie
About 6 weeks ago I started experimenting with Epsom Salt baths for Little Bird. I know it sounds weird to those of you who are not members of the Autism world, but those of us who are fighting this fight are trying all kinds of things that we, too might have thought were weird. There are too many f'ed up things about Autism to list, but one really BIG one is that no one really knows what might work for ALL kids on the spectrum, so we've all gotta try so many things before we find what will work for our kiddos. G-d willing, something WILL work!
I've tried a lot of things that I used to think were a little wacky and are often times inconvenient... Gluten Free, Casein Free, Soy free, egg free, probiotics, cod liver oil, anti-parasite drops, etc. I read that epsom salts were a detoxifying agent, helping kids with sensory issues. Epsom salts are made of magnesium and sulfate- both thought to be low in kids with Autism. I started with about 1/4 cup of salts in a warm bath for about 15 minutes. I gradually worked her up to 1 cup salts in a full tub for about 30 minutes. This evening, she got so quiet in the bath, I got suspicious as I was folding laundry on the floor of the bathroom. I hopped up to take a look and she was sprawled out in the tub, completely relaxed and loving it. She is going to sleep so well tonight. Not that she doesn't sleep well every night. Thank g-d we don't have the sleep issues that many families have.
I'm a natural skeptic. But, I'm willing to try things, especially if I think it can help Little Bird. You know I'll do anything in the world if I think it will help her. I do, and I'll keep on doin' it.
Here are a few links with more info on epsom salt baths:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Just another day...

"It's just another day
nothing in my way"
-Keane
I feel like the busiest mom on this planet. Yes, I'm sure other moms are as busy, but I'm doing all this with just one kid- not multiple kids. Little Bird is in school (where she gets therapy services), physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, PLAY therapy, applied behavioral analysis; she sees countless doctors, psychologists, a chiropractor, etc. I get her to all those places (usually on time), schedule and arrange for each appointment; I'm the point person for all the therapies, doctors, making sure that it's a cohesive system and that I can get everyone on the same page. Don't even get me started on how many grocery stores I schlep to in order to keep her on a clean, healthy gluten free/casein free diet. Did I mention that I also have a job that keeps me busy for about 15 hours a week?
Trying to help a kid overcome special needs is like working constant overtime. I always feel like I need a break. However, when I get one, sometimes I don't know what to do with it. I can't believe I've become the girl who rarely does things for herself. Part of that is because I don't want to spend money. You know that in the state of Michigan there's no insurance coverage for Autism related services, right??? I digress. Anyway, I had a fairly light day planned today: drop Little Bird at school, have a meeting, pick her up, run to Chiro, home for lunch, and off to run more errands, play at Friendship Circle, then figure out what to make for dinner, etc. Well, yesterday I got a letter home from the principal: Swine Flu has hit Little Bird's school!! So, no school today. That means I need to find a sitter so I can still get to my morning meeting. Well, 15 minutes before my meeting she texts to cancel. Of course, I dragged Little Bird to the meeting. Thank g-d I can be flexible.
Actually, the sitter canceling was just the beginning of a rough day. My kid is especially autistic today: displaying more symptoms that usual. This happens sometimes. It sucks. The good news is that not every day is as bad as today. All I can do is keep on doing what I'm doing; keep working with her, the therapists, the doctors, etc. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it- I still wish it wasn't me!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What I got

"You get what you get, not deserve"
-Tragically Hip
Ok, so last week a woman I know updated her facebook status to read "we get what we deserve. period." And I'm just not feeling it, so I commented "disagreed."  I mean, I tried to cut her some slack and figured that maybe she was pissed at someone and she was trying to send a message to that person, but NO! She actually replied that she really does feel that way. I don't. I can't figure out what I could have done to deserve Autism in my life. I can't figure out what 5 month old Shay did to deserve a stroke; can't figure out what so many of my amazing friends did to deserve the cancer that is making them miserable. 
I remember a few years ago, my friend and neighbor Carol asked me how I ever got over my fear of airplanes (something she has yet to do). Without missing a beat, I replied, "I got real problems." It's so easy to think something is a big deal until you are faced with a REAL big deal. Nothing puts things into perspective like a real problem. I still wanna give this woman the benefit of the doubt and assume that she doesn't really mean that we get what we deserve. I do think that it takes a big struggle to put things into perspective, but for her sake, I hope she stays in that state of bliss that only comes from ignorance. Because I, like others who have been faced with real struggles that they did NOT deserve, wouldn't wish them on anyone else.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I heart Shay

"Hey, have a heart"
-Bonnie Raitt
Today is a very special day. Today we celebrate the 5th anniversary of my friend Shay's heart transplant. She was given the most wonderful gift ever: the gift of life. 
If this sounds familiar to you, it's because I've talked about Shay before. If this is all new to you, then CLICK HERE and read all about it!!

The Weed Man

"I'm your pusher man" -Curtis Mayfield
For all of you who think I've mellowed out so much as I have gotten older, I'd like to show you who still comes to my house:
It's a little different these days, but still...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Au Revoir, Calories!

"I want candy"
-Bow Wow Wow
Ok, that's it. I'm moving to France. I was giving a small piece of this chocolate bar to Little Bird today (ok, fine I had a piece too. Ugh, ok ok two pieces) and the nutrition panel caught my eye. Apparently the French don't deal with calories, they call it "energy". I love it!!! If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me- I'm done with calorie counting. From now on, I'll be watching my energy levels :)
Au Revoir, calories! Bonjour, energy!!
UPDATE: for those of you keeping track... this chocolate bar is Parve (no dairy for Little Bird)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nine Inches

"I'm just a (girl) with a new haircut
and that's a pretty nice haircut"
-Pavement


Well, it's done. Little Bird is officially 9 inches (of hair) lighter. There were actually a lot more people at the event that I had expected, which is a nice thing and it's nice to see so many people doing such a good thing. However, we did have to wait a little bit longer than I had planned to, which meant I had to entertain Little Bird! We spent a little time looking at other people getting their haircuts and talking about Little Bird getting hers done. Finally, it was Little Bird's turn and she suddenly lost her nice, calm demeanor. A very nice stylist measured and remeasured and remeasured her ponytail (since Little Bird kept pulling it out and walking away from her). We got the 9 inches all measured and ready to cut.

Okay, here we go.....

Deep breath....in....out....in... and.... SNIP SNIP!



Little Bird was so upset!! She hates having her hair brushed. So, I think having a comb run through her hair was more upsetting than the actual cutting. A very nice lady who was also donating her hair, took pictures for me while I held Little Bird's hands.

No, I am not on Facebook while she's getting a haircut. I'm simply putting a Dora episode on my iPhone in attempt to distract her!!



It's not working.....


After it was all over, they were still friends....


Front and back views



She is so adorable. I swear, she looks more grown up! I can't be sure, but I think after Little Bird, the hair stylist might be reconsidering her willingness to work with kids again!!!

Look how freaking cute this is!!


When it was all over, we were asked to write WHY we donated this hair.
In case you can't read that, it says "practicing random acts of kindness."



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

"Darling don't you go and cut your hair"
-Pavement
I'm feeling a little nervous about cutting Little Bird's hair off tomorrow afternoon. Today, alone, 4 people told me how gorgeous her hair is. Have I made the right choice? Will I regret it? Actually, I know that I will miss it, but I think the benefits outweigh any feelings of regret I might have. Another little girl who has lost her hair as she's undergone treatment for cancer will get to wear some of that gorgeous hair on her own head- and her mommy can fight with her about brushing it! SO, before I lop it all off, here are 3 pictures I took in the last few days of her pretty, pretty long hair. Goodbye gorgeous locks, goodbye tangles, goodbye knots.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day... to ME!

"Hey Mama
I wanna scream so loud for you
'cause I'm so proud of you"
-Kanye West
Toot Toot! No, I'm not singing along to Midnight Train to Georgia... I'm tooting my own horn.
Last week we paid a visit to a neurologist that we've been seeing since Little Bird was 6 months old. In fact, our first visit with him was August 3, 2005. I will never forget that date because it was the first time that it was real: my baby was not like the other babies. So, we hadn't seen this doc for about a year and a half because we've been seeing other neurologists who specialize in neuromuscular stuff. This guy is more of an all around neuro guy. Ok anyway, so he spent some time with us last week and admitted that having seen her as an infant, he's very pleasantly surprised with her progress and presentation today. He didn't think she'd be where she is now. And you know what??? That's because of ME. It's because I'm such an amazing mommy, working my (small, toned) ass off, getting her the best therapies around, best doctors around, and never, ever giving up. I'm tough. Seriously, one tough b*tch. Little Bird is so lucky to have me and all my tenacity. Just as lucky as I am to have her and all her sweets. I mean, look how sweet this little pie has been:

Happy effing mother's day

"Mama Mia"
-Abba
Happy Mother's Day. I'm sick. I have a really bad upper respiratory thing. I should be on drugs. Strong drugs. My mother's day started in the 5am hour when my very loving husband shook me awake and said "you need to go check on her." She's always been in a crib since she wasn't strong enough to climb out on her own. Well, now that she CAN, she needs to be in a bed. Plus, she's too big and we've waited way too long anyway. So we took the side of her crib off yesterday and put a gate up on her door. That way, she can get up and out of bed and just play in her room, right? Well, Greg is way too nuts about her all the time, so of course he needed to check on her all night. Apparently in the 5 o'clock hour, it was my turn. But when I went in, she was not in her bed and not interested in sleeping anymore. I put her back in bed and told her it was still night time and she needs to stay in bed. I got back into bed and tried to fall back asleep. That was when he started complaining to me about having been up most of the night checking on her, making sure she didnt fall out of the bed, etc. Finally at 615 I couldn't lie in my bed anymore, unable to fall back asleep, listening to Greg's kvetching and tossing and turning with great dramatics; listening to Little Bird at her gate shouting "open! open!" I got up. I brought her downstairs, poured tea with honey (my staple for the last 3 days), turned on the tv and gave in to what she wanted. I feel like shit, I'm exhausted, I'm pissed at Greg for not respecting that I'm sick, that I need rest too, that it's Mother's Day....
It's not all bad. I did get some nice flowers from Greg and Little Bird yesterday, along with some chicken soup. I got to spend some quiet time alone last night since I was too sick to go out, so Greg went out and Little Bird slept and I got to lie in bed and rest up. Of course, the NyQuil didnt kick in until 1130! I'm extra sensitive today because I'm burnt out. I've been working nonstop with Little Bird for the past 4 years and I'm tired: emotionally, physically, spiritually exhausted. This is a really rough, slow process and sometimes it feels slower and slower all the time. I am grateful for the report that came out yesterday about kids recovering from Autism, even more grateful for the encouragement I get from other moms whose kids are so much better than they once were. Nothing worth it is easy, right? RIGHT??

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Heaven on Earth

"Just like heaven"
-The Cure
This afternoon I had the rare opportunity to relax for a little bit in my gorgeous bedroom. I had a hot cup of my favorite tea, Constant Comment, and my new book, "Honolulu". The pillows were placed perfectly, the drapes were pulled just right to let in some sunshine and give me a view of the blooming trees in my yard. I read a few pages and sipped my tea. Ahhhh, this is heaven.
All the sudden, I got this weird feeling... I was lonely. I kinda wanted my little girl to come cuddle with me. However, in my fantasy, she just cuddles and doesn't talk constantly (careful what you wish for, by the way!). I also realized that if she came up, I'd probably have to endure the sounds of Dora, Pinky Dinky Doo, or even the cast of Sesame Street, which has come back into heavy rotation around these parts. So, I was suddenly fine being alone.
Of course, just then Greg and Little Bird come racing up the stairs and into my room. I asked "what are you doing in my heaven?" But that's when Little Bird jumped onto my bed and said "big hug! big hug!" It was heavenly after all...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Midwestern Grrrrrrl

"This is Detroit
See the skyline
A commotion on the assembly line.
This was Motown
This was New France
Where the Chippewa did the fire dance."
-Sam Roberts
It was 20 years ago today... Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.
Oops, wrong anniversary. Actually, it was seven years ago today that G and I packed up our kitties, Shugie and Cassidy (OBM), stuck 'em in under our airplane seats and left Los Angeles for good. We still talk about the third hour of the plane ride when Cassidy's tranquilizer wore off and she escaped her cage. Poor G grabbed her, ran to the bathroom and shoved another pill down her throat. Once we got here, we stayed in a hotel for a few days and saw those big Canadian geese out the window. Our kitties had no idea what hit them or what was in store for them. It's like the nature channel outside our windows April-October! 
Seven years seems like a long time, especially since I don't feel like I've aged seven years. I certainly don't look like it.... right??!! I'll just assume you said "no way! you still totally look like you're 25- especially with your new pink hair"**  More on the pink hair later.
People ask me ALL the time why I moved to Michigan and depending on whether they look like they can handle my sarcasm, I'll answer "obviously for the weather." This works especially well between the months of December and March :)
I love living here. Sure, it would be great if there was a Jamba Juice or a Coffee Bean in town. I wish all my family and friends from LA could be here too. Yes, by the end of February when the snow is dirty and it's been grey for days, I am totally over winter, but I've come to embrace the seasons. Apple picking and cider in the Fall, sledding in Winter (plus, in our business every snowflake is a penny!), the pure bliss of Spring, and during the Summer days when I relax with a book on the boat, there is NO where else I'd rather be.
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See, it's not just my mom! (since Jan 1, 2010)