Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dear Daddy


Me again Daddy.  I guess you have figured out by now that if I'm writing it means two things, I've got material and Mommy's burned out.

So here is how we did her in today.

Since her little Mommy and Me mishap our Tuesdays are now wide open so today we went somewhere we have never been before... to one of those indoor germ factories play places.  Mommy heard this one was clean and good for little ones so we gave it a go.

I loved it Daddy, I climbed and played and tried to keep up with the Crazies but, well, you know how they run, I ended up just hanging with Mommy.  

The Crazies found a friend and sure enough it was a little girl just their size.  The Crazies just loved that little girl and they said they were a "team" and kept going down the slides together holding hands.  Mommy was trying to cheer for them but she couldn't because she had a lump in her throat and tears in her eyes, and I think she was telling herself that this is how life would be if Hadley was here.

I just let her keep holding me, Daddy.

Lucky for Mommy, more kids joined the "team" soon and she felt better.  But then (here is where Mommy got tears again) she heard someone say "watch out team, don't step in the pee pee" and she didn't even need to look, she knew that the person who belonged to the pee pee puddle belonged to her.   So Mommy climbed in and pulled Parker out and started to clean it up but the people at the front said they needed to do it and Mommy was secretly relieved.

Once we managed to quarantine the play area, Mommy changed Parker and we moved on to the cafe to see what damage could be done there.  We did pretty good, I sat nice (had no choice, she strapped me in) and the Crazies ate while they sat down, stood up, sat down, stood up... the usual ants in their pants routine.  Who could blame them though?  There was a big fat Christmas tree right in that cafe, those shiny ornaments are like magnets.  Parker (who else?) just could not sit in his seat and eat his grilled cheese so Mommy gave up and let him eat in front of the tree.

She packed us up and we left really nice.  Once we were outside and Mommy was hanging onto all of us like we might run (because we will) Mommy looked in the window and saw it... little piles of chewed up grilled cheese hanging right on that Christmas tree next to those ornaments Parker was loving.  Merry Christmas Play Place, Parker left you a present.
Oh and on your way in today Daddy, could you grab Kenna's car seat?  She peed in it really proudly on the way home and Mommy is about done with this pee business for the day.
Thanks Daddy.


Monday, November 29, 2010

The Up Side of Autism

I have been around a few typical teenagers lately and have to say that I think there just might be a few things that could be considered perks to having a teen on the autism spectrum...

1.  Fifteen years and counting and I have not had to endure a single boy band concert... except when my own mother, as part of her motherly penance, took me and my group of big haired friends years ago.  But so far so good in Ashlyn's case.  She has no interest and if she did, she would need ear plugs and industrial headphones just to step inside anyway, defeating the purpose of going in the first place.

2.  Fashion is a non-issue.  As long as it is comfortable she does not care.  I have ventured into one or two of those stores where you come out smelling like you dipped your body in their cologne but I think it was more for me than her.  For the most part, she could care less what she wears, what you wear, what I wear.  It's nice.

3.  While there may not be an over-abundance of eye contact going on over here it is not because she is staring down at a phone, texting someone who she would much rather be talking to than me, until her fingers fall off.

4.  You never have to wonder what she is thinking.  It just comes right out.  She will tell you if you are late, early, too loud, in her way, smell bad, you name it.  There is no beating around the bush and actually you can't say "beating around the bush" because if you do you will be told that that does not make sense.

5.  Curfews are a non-issue.  I remember the days of negotiating with my own mom and also the nights of trying to tiptoe in the house after the day of negotiating proved unsuccessful.  I can happily brag that I know where my teenager is every Friday and Saturday night.  If she is pulling an all-nighter it is because someone forgot the melatonin.

6.  We are saving on car insurance and on a million arguments over why she can't borrow the car.  For a little while we wondered if driving may be an option someday but Ashlyn put the kabosh on that when she remind us that she does not know her own strength so would "only push the gas pedal all the way down."

7.  I am still her friend.  I have noticed that there are other people, usually around the age of 15, whom she would much rather see than me but for the most part, time with Mom is still on her list of things she can tolerate and I can pretend that I am cool until the rest of my kids become teenagers and tell me otherwise.

8.  She is affectionate.  We never hit the don't-even-breath-on-me phase.  She will hold my hand, dish out the hugs and would no doubt sit on my lap with the rest of the kids if we weren't the same size and everyone could fit.

Ashlyn and her Papa at her first black tie event
9.  No drama.  Okay, we have our fair share of drama but it is more of the you-screwed-up-my-schedule or the-bus-is-late variety not that mean teen girl drama that occurs in every other household.  There is no catty, she said this and her boyfriend did this, going on over here which leads into my final and favorite thing about my teenager with autism...

10.  She is kind and innocent.  There is seriously not a mean, malicious bone in her body.  She will treat you the same whether you are rich, poor, famous, homeless, 2 years-old, 90 years-old, can't speak, can't shut up, she does not care.  She will never speak behind your back, whisper about your new 'do or spin the truth.

What you see is what you get and in an all-is-right-in-the-autism-world moment I know that I have a lot more to learn from her than she does from me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Small Things Saturday

Despite my first attempt at getting a watching-the-first-snowfall shot it still was my favorite "small thing" of the week so here is a revised, pee-free shot...
I had to do some major cropping because this was a bare-butt snowfall-watching event.

Happy Saturday,

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Window Washer

Just last night I was telling Mark that I could not wait for the first snowfall this year because the kids are going to love it.  Ashlyn has always loved the snow and Parker and McKenna have finally hit the age where they get excited about just about anything (a successful trip to the potty sounds like Christmas morning over here).  This morning the snow started falling and Parker came running through the house yelling "It's snowing! It's snowing!"

I was excited to see him excited and was thinking this was a heartwarming little moment and conjuring up my Small Thing post for the week as I grabbed the camera.  So I'm trying to get his picture at the window at an angle that will capture his sweet little face and the two or three snow flakes actually falling  while minimizing the amount of fingerprints on our doorwall and I hear water... not a big deal... I was in a cleaning frenzy and, although there was a remote chance I would get to removing the fingerprints, the dishwasher and washing machine were both running.  So I'm snapping pictures and look down and see a stream of pee shooting through his pj's onto the floor and trickling down the heater vent.

I'm sure there is some catchy phrase about not getting so caught up in the small stuff that you pee on yourself but it is not coming to me right now.

Maybe he was tired of waiting for me to get to the fingerprints so thought he figured he would just give them a squirt???

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Holidays have not been my favorite for the last three years or so.  

Hanging six stockings instead of seven and filling one less Easter basket is enough to make me want to sleep through the day all together.  But I have a wonderful husband and four living children who would not dare let me stay in bed during their waking hours so I have learned to face reality and scale holidays back to what I can handle.  I just don't have it in me to manage the craziness of big parties and the hustle and bustle of all the holiday happenings that were our life before.

But Thanksgiving I can do.  Actually I think I'm pretty good at it.

If there is one thing that losing a child has taught me it is to be thankful.  

I struggled with this in the beginning, the thought of being thankful when I was bitter and felt cheated out of a lifetime with my daughter, but her last breath left me with an understanding of the fragility of life that will forever change the way I cherish life around me.
Thanksgiving 2007 in the NICU

I wake up every day thankful down to my toes to have a house full of living, breathing children because I know things could have turned out much differently.  Of course there are days they can push my patience to limits I never realized I had but in every tantrum, mess or sibling argument there is always a moment when my mind quiets and I am reminded that I am lucky for the simple fact that they are alive.  

The gratitude I now have for life is hard to explain.  I have watched life stop when I had no idea that it would, to watch it go on and on each day never ceases to amaze me.

When I put my kids down to sleep at night I am very aware of the fact that there are moms out there who pass by an empty nursery each day that they have never been able to use but can't bear to take down and when my husband is running late from work I immediately run through my head to our last conversation to make sure I told him I loved him and the answer is always yes, because I never forget, and I dish out the I love you's like candy in this house. 

Sometimes I wonder if it is morbid to think this way, to live each day like it could be the last, but it has become the only way to find peace for us.  
I don't think I will ever look back and regret living my days so consciously, reminding myself often that all I have is to be cherished.  
I don't think my children will look back and be sad that the dishes were piled in the sink while we were all playing hide and seek or that Mommy and Daddy ran to them a little too quickly and smothered them with kisses if they got hurt because we were a tad on the paranoid side.  

I think, at least I hope, that we are building our family with a contagious amount of love and gratitude and a deep appreciation for the fact that Thanksgiving is the one holiday that we have in the bag.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Daddy


Well Daddy, if I could talk I would have told Mommy that going to our little Mommy and Me class this morning was probably not a good idea.

She is that way she gets when only she can say she is crabby because if you say it, WATCH OUT and we had already used up lots of her patience before she even pulled out of the driveway and you know how Mommy thinks our teacher is a has-been preschool teacher who cannot get a job anywhere because she is a little on the obnoxious side and she never stops talking and asking questions that are none of her business?  Well I knew that this would not be a good day for Mommy to be in the same room as Mrs. Nevershutsup but she packed us up and took us anyway.

We did pretty good at school.  We made hand print turkeys and all the sudden I said a word.  It was  "YAY" and I was so happy with that word that I said it and said it and said it while I emptied every bin in the room.   McKenna sat a little close to kids that were not Parker today and Parker, he had ants in his pants as usual and Mommy had to hold him by the foot to keep a little bit of him at circle time but other than that no problems.  (Yay!)

But Mrs. Nevershutsup?  She was over the top today.  She was always talking in one of Mommy's ears while Mommy was trying to listen to us with the other.  She pried too much about Sissy and about your work and told Mommy stories that she could have lived her whole life just fine without hearing.  I knew we were in trouble once Mommy stopped talking to anyone over three feet tall and her eye started to twitch a little.

When it was time to leave I let Mommy put my coat on real fast so we could get out of there.  But Daddy, Mrs. Nevershutsup did not take a hint.  She FOLLOWED Mommy to the car and I knew we were headed for trouble.  She said she was helping but she just kept asking Mommy more none-of-her-business questions and I could hear Mommy thinking to herself that she should be nice and thankful that this woman was trying to help but Mommy decided she would be thankful for Parker and our automatic doors because he will push any button in front of him.  So Mommy got us in the car and put Parker by all those buttons and he pushed away and left Mrs. Nevershutsup out there in the parking lot asking us how much our van costs and why Mommy doesn't learn to sew so she can make our Christmas clothes.

Mommy knew she should open that door back up but she just could not do it.  She got us in our seats and climbed into hers and did her fakey-nice smile and waved to Mrs. Nevershutsup whose mouth was still moving outside that window.

One more place we can't go back to Daddy... but it was all Mommy this time.

Good thing you have a few days off this week, I'm sticking with you til Mommy's patience comes back.

Yay!, (had to get it in there one more time)


Parker being a turkey
McKenna with her turkeys (no picture of me, I hit the crib before Mommy lost the last of her mind)

One last look at Fall

The photos over at Trendy Treehouse get better and better each week and mine, well, they just stay the same.  We received a "like" last week which is great but after looking over all of the entries I thought I should just give it up since I'm not a photographer and the contest is a little out of my league but it's another week and I'm delusional as I mentioned yesterday so here I go again.

I have decided that I just like the process.  I like finding out the topic and spending Monday nights pouring over the million pictures we have taken of our children's every move to find one that fits and also looks like I can manage a camera okay.

So with that long unnecessary introduction that I promise was not a ploy to get compliments on my photography skills (or lack thereof), here is my entry for {Fall}

Visit the real photographers here...


Happy Tuesday--- it's our Friday, hope it's yours too,

Monday, November 22, 2010


McKenna is plugging away in physical therapy, well not really plugging away, the girl barely moves a muscle but we are taking her every week just to kid ourselves that she is actually getting something out of it.

So today she resumed her usual, I'm not doing a thing here stance and the therapist decided we were going to push her limits a bit.  Mark went with her and I stayed with the boys and as we rounded the corner for our millionth lap around the building I saw McKenna heading down the hall on her little therapy bike crying her eyes out while pedaling.  Now, the rational part of me knows that sooner or later the girl does have to do some work and the therapists push-her-a-bit strategy is necessary but the irrational Mommy of the 2lb. 10oz. preemie who spent the first three months of her life crying in a NICU incubator wanted to give the physical therapist a little push of her own, take that stupid bike helmet off, unstrap her feet from the pedals and head out the door, never to return to that awful place again.

So I'm thinking I have issues (if you know me in real life or have been following me for long I'm sure you are laughing at the fact I'm saying this like it is a new thing) but really, I like her physical therapist and I know she wants the best for McKenna and I know McKenna needs to get stronger, but the minute I hear that little girl crying I flash right back to the days and days and days I spent helplessly watching her fight for her life in the NICU and I start having Ally McBeal-like visions of what should happen to whoever is making her cry.  (I hope the one person who watched that show besides me is reading this so 1 someone gets my visual.)
Ms. McKenna's first home

I'm not sure what the point of my ramblings are today other than that there are a lot of levels to being a mom.  Whether your kids are sick or healthy or preemies or angels, raising kids is not for the faint of heart or for the mildly delusional.

I am going to have to get myself and my case of post traumatic stress disorder together.

Either that or just go back to school to be a physical and occupational therapist, teacher and pediatrician so that I can get my kids through their first 18 years my way :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Small Things Saturday

I love a good storyteller.
Never could I hold everyone's attention this way.

I have no idea what he was saying but it was interesting enough to make a 17 month old ponder in the Tinker.bell chair for two seconds so that I could snap a pic.

Oh and I love finding El.mo pj's on CLEARANCE, you would have thought it was Christmas when I handed out these things.  I have to admit I got a little over excited when I saw them in the store.  I need a life, or maybe just some time to shop in the women's section.

None in Sawyer's size but he is wearing El.mo undies over his diaper which seemed to make him feel enough like a three year old to cancel his fit, plop his binky back in and toddle away after the El.mo clad troops.

Happy Saturday!  What is your "Small Thing" to appreciate today?  Join the blog hop or just comment below...

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm the guest

So today is my first shot at being a guest blogger and I'm very honored to be in two places at once.

If you are visiting from Life is a Spectrum or Multiples and More thanks so much for stopping by, I hope that you are entertained for a minute or two.

If you are a regular visitor, thanks for always visiting and hope you don't mind an extra click or two.  You can read my posts at either of the links above.

To the Amandas... I truly, truly appreciate the features...  if you happen to be a mom to multiples or to a kiddo with autism or lucky enough to be a little of both you have hit the jackpot, these sites are amazing!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dear Daddy

I remember the moment my not-yet husband told me that his future wife would not be able to stay home with the kids.

He was a teacher at the time and financially it just would not work.

For as long as I could remember I had wanted to go to college and then work in special education but only until I had babies.  Then my grand plan was to stay home just like my mom did (thanks Mom!).

I was blissfully ignorant and completely in love so I shrugged off his comment and told myself all would work out someday.

And it did.

The minute our children were born he changed his mind and I got my way.

So now, although my shifts do not actually ever end and there are times I wonder if this is what I signed up for, I would not change a thing.

Besides working hard to climb the public education ladder and putting in very long days for our happiness, I realize that my husband is missing out on a lot.  There are a few aspects of Mommyhood that I would be perfectly happy to miss out on too but there are also a million others that are priceless.   I decided to start capturing the good and the bad once a week or so in a letter to Daddy.

Here is our first entry:

Today we had our first playdate at our new friends' house.

I don't think they will be calling again any time soon.

Parker was so nice to the boys but he just could not stop opening all of their drawers and then he put the big kid's toy in their fireplace and you know how sometimes he lets his chewed food fall right out of his mouth when he is full?  He did that.

Next, Mommy thought McKenna had eaten her lunch really fast but she had not.  She had actually stuffed that big peanut butter sandwich into a little tiny pretend bottle of nail polish.  It was the little girl's favorite.  Mommy could not get it out.  It is soaking in the other Mommy's sink.

I really was not that good either, Daddy.  I was sweet and smiley as always but the stairs just kept calling my name.  The other Mommy had to get out the gates.  They don't use them anymore.  She put them up and all of our new friends cried and cried.

We almost got out of there without anymore trouble but then McKenna fell.  She cried and cried and Mommy held her.  Lucky Mommy was holding her because she caught all the pee on her shirt and pants so that it did not get our new friends' couch wet, only their floor.  So now Mommy was all wet and so was McKenna and you know Kenna, she wanted new pants right NOW.  The other Mommy tried to give her some pants but they were blue.  Mommy put us in the car while McKenna yelled "don't want the blue pants" over and over on the porch for all the neighbors to hear.

It was fun but we are all glad it is over, especially Mommy.
She is drinking while I type.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Birth Day

In some circles, babies born to families after the loss of a child are referred to as "Rainbow Babies." The idea is that the baby is like a rainbow after a storm. "Rainbow Babies" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.

I was asked to repost this for a friend and was glad to do it since it goes perfectly with my picture for Shutterlove Tuesday's theme today.

First moment with Sawyer, my little rainbow baby

Visit Trendy Treehouse to see many more entries.


Monday, November 15, 2010

We'll take the vacation package

I have always written about how amazingly well Ashlyn does.
And she does.

She can talk you in circles, debate like no other, just got a 3.5 GPA on her first high school report card and is the kindest, most pure-hearted person you will ever meet.

But autism can still kick our butts.

I say "our" because if it is kicking her's it is kicking mine.

There are days when the computer is running slow or she forgot a pencil for History class or the bus does not come on time and she just cannot bounce back and she is old now and the sensory toys and calming games don't have any pull anymore and I feel helpless.

Yesterday we had a "drop whatever you were going to buy and get out" moment for the first time in a long time.   For a brief second my mind drifted.

Wow, I forgot about this.  This hasn't happened in ages, we've come a long way.

The second that thought was over my butt kicked back into gear because I had a red faced, possible steam coming out of the ears, teenager rocking back and forth at my side and a nice little crowd of shoppers, who needed to just go back to looking down at their prospective shoe purchases, on my hands.

This was no time for reflecting.

We got to the car, the walk in the cold air softening her meltdown, and she was so sorry and upset and all I could think about was that there is no vacation for her.  No matter what she does that darn autism can creep up, overwhelm her and the rest is history.

I would love to give her a break.

Cry mercy once in a while and give her a chance to sail through social situations, laugh at an unexpected surprise or manage a day of high school hallways stress free.

My magic wand does not seem to be working though so for now I called her out of school for the day and gave her some time at the safest place to be a teenager with a case of autism that won't leave you alone...


For the most part, we can manage a grocery store without having to abandon a full cart in aisle five and can totally enjoy a trip to the mall (as long as I don't make her try anything on and no toddlers are in tow), but there are a million autism moms out there who are at a loss right now because they don't make shopping carts big enough to buckle in an 8 year old and the tile pattern in the mall floor is way too repetitive to get their 5 year old to actually veer into a store.

If you know one offer to help.
Check on their stock of groceries before you head to the store or offer to babysit once in a while.
They may not even know how much they need you.

Hopeful Parents Blogging for Awareness

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Small Things Saturday

I love mornings with a house full of pj wearing, sippy cup toting little people.

Before everyone is at full speed and the house is still semi-quiet I always take a minute to take it all in.

A good dose of little boy bedhead makes me smile every time.
I swear when he is 16 and his morning starts at noon I will still love this look (maybe minus the sippy cup).

What is your "Small Thing" for today?  Comment here or grab the button and join the blog hop...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Snakes and Snails and Puppydog Tails

Life with Parker can seem like mommy bootcamp at times.

The move has been no exception.

We have yet to childproof to the full extreme and my little man is taking full advantage.

In the last four days he has...
  • let himself and his sister out of the house (one wearing nothing, one wearing a shirt) 
  • dumped a large plant, creating a sandbox in the living room
  • learned to open each new gate
  • taken down each gate he cannot open
  • started the dishwasher more times than I can count
  • helped himself, and anyone else who is interested, to whatever they may want from the fridge
  • taken off the handles that open our windows
  • pulled down a blind or two
  • connected, disconnected and reconnected all tvs, cable boxes and dvd players
  • unrolled toilet paper, decorating both toilet and potty seat
     and last, but certainly not least in the clean up department... turned on the water supply to our washer BEFORE it was hooked up, transforming my new laundry room into an indoor waterpark.

I have to admit by today, 
okay maybe yesterday 
or the day before,
I had reached the why can't you just sit still for a second phase.

My patience was wearing very thin and my head was spinning from managing everyone and constantly keeping an eye on future prospects for trouble.  So today I tried to make a conscious effort to not lose my cool (or voice from yelling) and have some fun.

We hiked through the yard
Taken 2 seconds before Parker said "look there's berries" and I had to race in and redirect

and dug out every imaginable toy in hopes of running off troublemaking energy.
And I had intended to make this a big long rant post about the craziness of life with boys but then I flipped through the pictures I took
and found that *someone* wanted to remind me to cherish these precious, crazy, hang-on-to-them-while-you-have-them days.

Thanks Baby Girl.

Do you have a "life with boys" story?  I know there are more "Parkers" out there but our paths have yet to cross.  If you can relate, post your best story in the comments, whether it is from 2 days ago or 20 years ago, I would love to know I'm not alone :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We made it

We survived the move, more details to follow.  Since I am on my own in a barely baby-proofed house that no one is interested in napping in I only have a minute.

I managed to get our internet back up just in time for Shutterlove Tuesday over at the Trendy Treehouse.  This week's theme is "brown"...

To see more entries visit


Friday, November 5, 2010

No one told me this either

We are moving.

Moving day is one day away and if you walked into our house right now you would never know we are going anywhere.

I have found another aspect of losing a baby that know one told me about.

Packing is paralyzing.

Every time I open a closet or drawer I stumble upon one more Hadley thing and I don't know what to do with it so I stop and try to start again somewhere else.

A year or so after we lost her I was able to fumble through her NICU items and fold up her unworn pink.  I put everything in a pretty box and put it up in our closet.  I cannot look in there often but I never forget it is there.

What I forgot about was the hidden pieces of grief.

I forgot about the social security card under my socks that had the audacity of showing up in our mailbox with the others and the "you can make it a little longer" note written by a dear friend of my mom's while I was still pregnant, hiding under my sweaters, holding beautiful thoughts of all I would look forward to in my life with triplets, and the cards and vases and dried flowers from her memorial, all more than I could bare to look at on a daily basis.

I had even forgotten about the bracelet.

When you have a baby in the NICU you get a hospital bracelet to wear that matches theirs.  You wear it until your baby comes home to identify you as the parent.

Mark and I had three.  As each baby was born we looked at each other and laughed in amazement as the nurses put on one after the other after the other.  We were in awe of our arms full.

After a few days of wear we each needed one less but I never took mine off.  I wore it until the ink started to fade and then carefully removed it because I was afraid to lose one more detail of her life.

While packing up my drawers today it slipped right into my hand along with grief too heavy to carry and I was useless once again.

I don't know how to pack up my daughter and the life she never had.  I don't know what to do with the memories collected on her shelf or her ashes or the clothes she did not wear.  A cardboard box falls entirely short.

I'm not sad to leave this house because all of the important things are coming with me.

I'm sad to do one more thing without her,
to go one more place without my whole family,
to keep on going with pain that is easier to put in a drawer than to face.

There is no guidebook for living after losing a baby, no section on how to pack your child's ashes, so I am learning I have to write my own...

And as this chapter begins I have decided what to write.

I will bring her to her new home just as I brought her to her first.

I will carry her.

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