Friday, March 29, 2013

What A Week.

It was some week here in the crazy house. The first half of the week was fantastic, albeit a little crazy. Today...well today was not so great.

Starting with the good--my financially-responsible-for-our-family husband decided we should refinance our house. I call him the financially responsible one because I literally know NOTHING about our finances. I don't pay bills, I. DO. NOTHING. It's horrible, I realize this. When poor Marty was in the hospital on the ventilator, in addition to the horror that was that entire experience, I was all too aware that bills were probably going unpaid. The day he came off of it, I was all, "OH, I'm so happy to SEE you, and can you give me your password to our bank account so I can make some payments so that we continue to have electricity?" We swore that he'd be my Yoda and teach me all there is to know about living as an adult, and yet, it still hasn't happened. It's on my to-do list. ANYWAY...he got all of the information, threw some forms in front of me to sign, and told me when to be there to close on the new loan. Now, I don't know all the details (because again...I am not the one who knows these things), but what I DO know is that our total house payment is going down by almost $400.00 a month! That's a lot of money to us!! When you couple in the fact that one of our cars will also be paid off shortly--that's about $700.00 extra a month. There aren't words for the happiness that this brings. We love our preschool, and it's not the most expensive in the city, but it's definitely up there--as in our monthly preschool payment was almost double our old mortgage. Yeah. So, now we have a little breathing room to pay a few more things off, and then work on our house to get it ready to sell in the next few years. When the kids finally go to Kindergarten in public school, I will be the crying parent dropping off her children that first morning. Only my tears--they'll be tears of joy. For the extra money. And the ability to finally move out of our tiny house and into something more comfortable. Tears of joy, I tell you.

The extra money leads to the next exciting event of the week. I'm going on Spring Break, y'all!! Monday night, I looked at the local weather forecast for this coming week--my spring break. I saw chances of snow and almost cried. I sent a desperate but not totally serious text to my friend Julie--something about wanting to just get in the car and drive south, and she was all, "I'm in--let's go!" I talked to my amazing husband, and the next thing you know, we're booking a stay on Amelia Island! A girls' trip--just her and I--to go somewhere warm and do absolutely, 100% nothing. Temps in the mid/upper 70s. Sign me up. I have to admit--I'm having some pretty severe guilt issues over this. My guilt complex is a whole 'nother post though, for another time. Marty said to go (I'm making it up to him by sending him on a golf weekend later in the year...), I'm going. We leave Sunday and come back Thursday. My biggest worry is blinding someone with my pasty, frightening skin. Hope everyone wears their sunglasses.

I was riding on the high of the trip and the extra money, but then came crashing down today. Now, if you're a male reader, you might want to skip this part. I promise not to go into uncomfortable details, but this part does involve me mentioning reproductive "stuff". I'm not embarrassed to talk about it in the least, but I know not everyone is as down with that kind of conversation as me. So...feel free to skip ahead. A little background: in 2005, I had an exploratory laparoscopy. I had some symptoms of endometriosis and we were in conversations about trying to have kids, so this was a logical step. When they got in there, they found a tumor on my left ovary and a TON of endometriosis (I'm on my iPad and can't link, but a quick google will give you all the info you want). They removed the ovary to be on the safe side, because I have a significant history of breast cancer in my family and ovarian and breast cancers are related. So...I woke up to no ovary and the news that my fertility was in the crapper. Yay. This is why we have twins--we had to do IVF to conceive, because Marty and I are the least two fertile people on the planet. Anyway, endometriosis isn't something that goes away once you have surgery. It's going to come back repeatedly until either menopause or a hysterectomy. Fast forward to today. I was talking to some of my co-workers about wanting a new OB/GYN. I wasn't crazy about my last guy, and I have a whole fun PTSD issue with that particular office, as that's who treated me when I was pregnant and we thought Amelia wasn't going to live. I cried in that waiting room more times than I care to think about. I wanted a change of scenery. My friend recommended her guy--but he's a Gynecologic Oncologist. I've never actually HAD cancer, so I was unsure, but she told me that she felt like if I told them everything--the history of breast cancer in the family, the endometriosis, the tumor on the removed ovary--that they would see me. I've always felt like, because of all of that complicated crap, I needed someone who was better than the average OB/GYN, so I called them. They were wonderful, and got me in today. Now ladies, you know how long it can take to get into an OB/GYN. They got me in the next day. This is unheard of. Part of their initial screening--since it is technically an oncologist--is to do a pelvic ultrasound to see what things look like. I went into this with no expectations of anything--I've had a hundred of these in my life, so no big deal, and I didn't think anything was wrong. Whatevs--who cares. They take pictures of...well, I'm not sure what all they take pictures of, but the pictures immediately go to the doctor, who talks to you about them right away. When the doctor came in today, I was totally shocked. First of all, I was shocked by his bedside manner. He was literally, without a doubt, the nicest doctor I have ever seen. Ever. And believe me, I've seen a lot of doctors. He didn't sit across from me--he pulled up a chair and sat beside me. Patted my arm. Asked about my life and expressed interest. Hugged me when I left. Gave me his cell phone number. And get this--he is the director of the entire department at UK. He's very well-known all over the COUNTRY. Highly respected, well published, quoted in health magazines all the time. And he was that freaking nice. I was blown away. But the other shock to me was what he said as he sat down. Apparently, my remaining ovary is twice the size it should be. This indicates that it probably has a mass on it. Now, he didn't imply it was anything other than another endometrial tumor, so I'm not thinking I have cancer or anything, but endometrial tumors are considered pre-cancerous, meaning you don't want them. So...long story short, he is recommending a full hysterectomy. And not only that, he thinks I need a full-on open surgery, versus laparoscopic surgery, which means recovery will be a bit rougher than average. You all, I can't tell you how shocked I was. It's funny--I'm a glass-half-empty person. I go into every appointment thinking the worst and then feel foolish when all is well. I was blown away that something was actually amiss. Now, I'm not attached to any part of my body that could become cancer. I've seen two loved ones suffer and I have no interest. However, I am not looking forward to a lifetime of hormone replacement. So, despite the fact that this man is literally tops in his field, I'm getting a 2nd opinion. I just need to hear someone else say, "Yep. You need to yank that shit out of there." If all is confirmed, surgery will be early summer. What a fabulous way to spend summer break. Another reason to enjoy this upcoming vacation as much as possible, right?

Alright, I've rambled enough. Writing this blog is so therapeutic to me--writing helps me to put everything in my life into perspective. If you read to the end, I sincerely appreciate you listening. I'll return the favor any time. I'll be back with more funny kid anecdotes and other crazy tales of our life next week (along with some vacation stories--yippee!). Enjoy your weekend--and your spring break!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Light It Up Blue

Every year, I work hard to raise funds for March of Dimes. MoD is a great charity that funds both research on prematurity as well as support for families of premature babies. Anderson was in the NICU for 43 days; Amelia was a 99 day resident. We saw the MoD at work every single day. Last year, we were the 8th highest collecting team in Lexington, which was a fabulous honor and an amazing tribute to your love for our family, and for families everywhere dealing with prematurity.

This year, though, with Anderson's recent ASD diagnosis, we have decided to spread the charitable love. Instead of doing MoD, we are going to participate in April's Autism Awareness Month "Light It Up Blue" fundraiser.  April has been designated the official "Autism Awareness Month". I'm not going to spew statistics here (1:55) because it's all over the place and I know you've heard it before. Autism Speaks is also a great organization that has already provided me with a ton of autism information--I already feel indebted to them. I want to pay it forward by collecting donations for this more-than-worthy cause.

I've set up a fundraising page, just like I've done in the past for MoD. It's an easy donation--you just click the link and follow the directions.  We would be thrilled--absolutely thrilled, and completely grateful--if you'd make a donation in Anderson's (and all kids and families affected by autism) name.  It's actually pretty cool; you can donate in the name of anyone, so if a child with autism has touched your life, feel free to leave a message and share about him/her. I'd love to read them!  We are starting with a goal of $500.00; I'd love to surpass that and reach our yearly total of $1,000 that we usually raise for MoD.

You can visit our page and donate by clicking here.

The other very cool part of this is that, on April 2nd, which is the kick-off to the month-long event, cities all over the world are going to "Light It Up Blue" in support. Buildings will use blue lighting to show their support. We plan to do this here at home with our porch light and a blue light filter--if you are so moved, it would be awesome to see how you light it up, too! Try it yourself, or take pictures of any blue lights you see when you're out and about. Look for those on Tuesday, April 2nd!

Autism is the biggest issue in our life right now. We are learning how to work within and around it, and it is something that is on our minds every single day.  Nothing would mean more to us this month than your show of support for families like ours. Consider donating--as always, donations are tax deductible.  Thanks so much for considering it...

With Love,
Anderson and Family

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Day in the Life...

I haven't been complaining about it because there for awhile, I was getting on my own nerves with my incessant whining, but we are STILL dealing with sickness in this house. We are on week 6--no joke. The kids have nagging coughs and random stuffy noses (and Amelia has had another go round with the Scare Eye), and Marty has a full-on cold/sinus infection thing going. He's doing well with it again--he's doing the whole "sleep sitting up" thing in the janky wanna-be recliner that is our couch and loveseat pulled together. Hey, it works.

Today, he's had a constant headache, and has therefore been a little grouchy, so being the fabulous wife that I am, I decided to get the kids out of the house so he could relax a bit. Now, I only took one kid at a time; I'm not THAT nice or that crazy. Early this morning, I took Amelia to get a much-needed hair trim and to Old Navy to start stocking up on spring clothing for the kids. She's the ideal child to take out in public--she's amazingly well-behaved. It's almost ridiculous how good she is. We had an enjoyable time, and she picked out some really cute $5.00 T-Shirts.

Cuteness in the backseat with her haircut and sucker

After nap, I decided to take Anderson to see some elevators/escalators. We haven't taken him in quite awhile, and he was kind of antsy today, wanting to do something. I decided to take him to the mall because they have an abundance of escalators and elevators, plus a lot of other good distractions for him to enjoy. We started out in Macy's, watching the escalators. He made it very clear that he didn't want to actually ride the escalator, but he was very content to stand and watch people get on. It's interesting; he's getting more noticeably....different...out in public. Obviously, we're used to him and the quirky things he says and does; he says crazy things at home and we barely bat an eye. Yesterday, he was sitting at the table and started saying, in a very flight attendant-like voice, "Just a reminder, there is no smoking on elevator #1". A script from an elevator video on YouTube, obviously, but Marty and I just looked at each other, smiled, and that was it. Had anyone else been in our house, I'm sure that would've seemed a tad on the bizarre side. However, when we are out in public, I'm more aware of the differences--non-typicalities--in his behavior. But the thing is, I LOVE his behavior. I love how excited he gets when he's watching elevators/escalators, or when he's looking at a really cool fan, or just enjoying a leisurely fence walk. I don't do anything to try to stop him or encourage him to act more 'normal', and I don't know whether that's the best thing to do or not, but it's what feels right to me. He's not hurting anyone, he's not disturbing the shoppers or other elevator/escalator patrons, and I think he's just so stinking cute.

Our next stop was JC Penney's, where Anderson's mind was officially BLOWN. The escalator was broken, so everyone wanting to get to the 2nd floor had to use the elevator--this meant that there were always people waiting for the elevator, and they were more than willing to let my little blonde cutie push the buttons. I got some interesting looks...many people just smiled at him (because how could you not?), some people spoke to him, some asked if we were waiting to get on--and then some gave me the quizzical look that said "What the hell are you doing?". I never feel an obligation to explain anything to people when it comes to Anderson; I think if they really have questions, they'll ask, and I'm happy to answer any questions because I am in no way ashamed of or embarrassed by him--not anything he says, anything he does. However, I did tell some people that we were just watching the elevators, which then lead to even more curious looks. Here's how I see it: parents of typical kids take their children to inflatable places, to the park, to see movies, etc. because they want them to have fun entertainment experiences. In my eyes, me taking Anderson to watch escalators and elevators is no different. It's what he likes, therefore, it's what we do. We did this for a good 30 minutes, and then he decided he was done.

Our next stop was the park--it was pretty warm and we are expecting snow tomorrow (OH.MY.GOD. WHERE IS SPRING??), so we decided to enjoy the weather. I realized he's much more agile this year on the equipment--I couldn't keep up and at one point, I couldn't find him at all. We saw a few other kids who were obviously on the spectrum, which always makes me feel good to see out and about. Representing, you know? We had the best time running around, sliding, walking along the fence, playing elevator. Seriously--I had the most fun I've had in a long time. I think I needed the time outside just as much as he did. We ended our day out with Culvers--he always assumes we will eat there when we're at the park. It's kind of a tradition.

He totally found this empty garbage-can holder and of course made it into an elevator.  The other kid got sucked into the bizarre game. Poor guy.

Now we're home, watching the NCAA Tournament, which is totally uneventful around here without UK playing. Hoping for NO SNOW tomorrow and warmer weather on the horizon.  What are YOU doing this weekend?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More Than Enough.

Dear Anderson,

I have a secret to tell you. When I was younger, before Daddy and I decided to have any children, I dreamed of having a little boy. Oh, I loved little girls, too, but I just knew that I was meant to raise a son. Call it mother's intuition, call it a sixth sense, call it what you want. I knew before anyone else that you'd find your way into my life.

The day I found out you were my boy, that sweet wiggly little peapod on the ultrasound screen, was one of the happiest days of my life. And yet, I wasn't surprised. I knew you were coming long ago...seeing your little flickering heartbeat just restored my faith in what I already knew. You see, in the few years before that day, I'd started doubting myself, doubting you, doubting whether any children would make it into my life. Your Daddy and I wanted you very, very badly, but it just wasn't happening for us. And yet, there you were, right next to your sister--the boy who already held an indescribably special place in my heart.

In the days before you were born, you were all I could think about. What would you look like? Would you tolerate being born prematurely? Would you need to be intubated, or would your lungs be strong, like you had already proved to be? I worried, and I listened to all of your little movements on the monitor. You woke up around 5:30 every morning (you still do!) and wiggled until I woke up. You got hiccups right after I ate breakfast. I felt more connected to you in those last few pre-birth days than anyone else in the world.

When you were born, you were so tiny, so blonde, so cute. You had personality, even as a premature little guy in the NICU. You held those eyes wide open, looked all around, even though you were supposed to still be safe in my belly. The nurses loved you. You sailed through your time in the NICU, and came home right before your due date. You were strong--both in will and body. You walked very early--9 months adjusted!--and you were always so very aware of your surroundings. And your laugh...oh, your laugh. That belly laugh was so contagious. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing I felt when you laughed that big laugh that seemed to come right from the center of your being. I still feel that way, to this day.

I was the first one to know you were different. I knew, and no one else even suspected a thing. The connection we have, you and I--the one that began before you were even conceived--it continues to be strong. You were different, and I felt it. I saw it in your eyes, in the way you experienced the world. I saw how certain songs and sounds got your attention in a way that others never noticed. I watched you become fascinated with how ordinary things work, how things move. Other people thought you were just playing, but I knew it was more than that. It was calming, soothing to you to watch movement.

I have to be honest with you. When I first realized that you had autism--way before anyone else, years before you were diagnosed--I was terrified. I was scared that I wouldn't know how to be your mama. How to meet your needs, help you grow, how to help you navigate the world that was becoming more and more confusing to you. I felt so unprepared, so uneducated, and so uncertain about the future. I worried day and night about you, about us--your family--and how everything would play out.

But Anderson, YOU have eased my fears. Not the books I've read, the research I've scoured, the IEP meetings and conversations I've had with special education teachers--you. You have overcome so much in your short time here. You've overcome speech delays to become an amazing communicator--even if you don't always communicate like everyone else. You consistently find ways to meet any challenge thrown in your path. You work so hard every single day. You are amazing, little boy. The sky is the limit for you! I have no doubt that you will be exactly what you want to be--whether that's an engineer, architect, elevator designer, musician--you will succeed. I know it.

You are also the most lovable, sweet, sensitive boy I know. Your teachers absolutely adore you; every person who works at your preschool knows who you are and goes out of their way to speak to you (and Tofu) when they see you in the hall. You are charismatic and unique and just wonderful, and part of what makes you this way is your autism. So, you'll never hear me say that I hate your autism, you'll never see me show any resentment towards it. It's part of you, and there isn't one tiny cell, one molecule of your body that I don't totally and completely love. If I'm frustrated, it's because I wish the world was different, more prepared for you. If I'm sad, it's because I'm upset that things aren't easier for you. My frustrations are not about your autism, just about how difficult it might make your journey through life.

You and I, we are connected at the heart. You're one of the loves of my life, and I want you to know that you are absolutely, 100%, without a shadow of a doubt, the boy I've dreamed of since I dreamed of becoming a mother. You are my dream come true. You are perfect. You are more than enough.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Confessions of a Working Mom...

Let's get real for a minute here. The internet is a world of stigmas and judgment. I'm an internet nerd; over the years, I've been a part of several online support groups, bulletin boards, and social organizations focused on various issues. While there are a ton of benefits that come with being a part of this giant social sphere that is the interwebs, the nastiness, superiority complexes, and the know-it-alls can bring you down if you let them. Parenting especially brings out the Judgy McJudgersons--I've seen vicious arguments over breast versus bottle feeding, co-sleeping versus non-co-sleeping, vaccinating versus non-vaccinating, organic versus non-organic, etc. etc. The list goes on and on. I mean, I've seen people dropping f-bombs in conversations about car seats! While I understand completely that parenting brings out the strongest emotions in people, because having and then raising children (which are two different things) is the most difficult and important job in the world, I just don't get my panties in a wad (who started that saying, anyway? That's so nasty..) over issues like this. To each his or her own, I say. Parenting is rough, and honestly, we all make choices that we think are best, and do what we have to do to get by. What works for you might not work for me, and that's alright--we are making the best decisions for our families, and our kids are a-okay.

I have to admit, though, that the stay-at-home mom versus the working mom debate always gets to me. Despite the fact that I'm comfortable with the idea of me working, that I actually love my job, and that my children's preschool is fabulous, I think I still have this underlying guilt that I never stayed home with my kids. It wasn't in the cards for us financially, but honestly, I don't know (and never will) if I was even cut out for the whole 24/7 mom gig. It's funny; if another mama said this to me, I'd wholeheartedly jump in and tell her that there is NO reason to feel guilty about this, that her kids are just fine even though she worked outside of the home, that it's a non-issue. I BELIEVE this...and yet, the guilt exists. I don't even want to play the "what-if" game to think about what would be different if I had stayed home; there's no way to know for sure, and nothing ever comes from that cruel game except self-doubt--and God knows I have enough of that as it is. an attempt at reverse psychology (and to make all of you other working parents feel better), I'm going to share some of my working mom confessions. You know, to counteract the guilt. Because admitting my flaws--airing them out--always makes me feel better. Seriously.

Here we go:

1. I don't wash my hair every day. I'm frigging TIRED when I get to bed every night. I have sleep issues, too, so my sleep isn't always great, and sometimes I hit the snooze button one too many times. There's this fine line between the time I can wake up and take a complete shower, and when I have to take a partial shower. I think that time is like 5:42...anything after that, and it's just a wash-off. I mean, have you seen my hair? It gets curlier every year of my life. It takes some serious work just to tame the beast, much less make it look good. A few times a week, sleep wins. And my hair is dirty. Sorry.

2. I don't always go to bed with a clean house. In fact, it's a rarity. By the time our nightly routine ends at about 8:30 (when all the bathroom breaks and water requests are finally finished), I'm doing good to brush my teeth and wash my face, much less clean this house. We know that we need to work harder on getting the kids to clean up their messes--it's a goal. It doesn't always happen. The other issue here is that I firmly believe that everyone--working parents included--needs a little bit of "me time" every day. Those after-bedtime hours are all we get. I like to take at least 30 minutes to check in on my favorite blogs, read a little bit, watch a little TV. So, lots of times I go to bed with toys on the floor, papers and backpacks all over the table, and dishes in the sink. Actually, that last one is rare but that's only because Marty hates dirty dishes in the sink in the mornings, so he takes care of them. Thanks, Marty! :-)

3. Even though I only get about four hours a day with my kids, there are many days that I look forward to bed time. Parents are human, people. Working parents deal with their job--which, no matter how much they love their work, is still WORK--and then come home to work some more, taking care of children. Just because we grow up doesn't mean we don't get over-stimulated, cranky, and just flat out tired, like the littles. I work hard to be patient with them on their worst days, give them as much love as I can before they climb into bed, but yes--I still look forward to bed time. And I think that's okay.

4. I listen to inappropriate music. Okay, so that doesn't relate at all to being a working mom, but it does relate to being a mom in general, and it's something I want to confess. Just because I have small children doesn't mean my musical taste immediately turned to easy-listening. I take pride in being a music snob--I may not judge you on your parenting decisions, but I will judge you based on your choice of music. My personal taste leans toward indie/alternative and acoustic, but I have some guilty pleasure music. I listen to some rap--catchy beats draw me in. I've got Nelly and Jay-Z on my iPod. I also listen to some good old dirty Prince music, and even a few current pop selections. The more curse words a song has, the better, in my book. Do I listen to them in front of the kids? Definitely not. When you have a kid with echolalia, you know better. But, I do listen to them when I'm alone in the car (part of the reason I can't see myself in a minivan...) or in the rare moments that I'm alone in the house. I rock them out, complete with dancing. It's my personal release.

5. I bribe my kids with candy and screen time. Okay, not a lot, but sometimes, it gets the job done. The kids have had just about every antibiotic in the book lately, and even with the little "add the flavoring" deal at Walgreens, some of that stuff is NASTY. If I have to offer up four Skittles or M&Ms to get them to take it without spitting them out, then so be it. If watching an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse gets them to eat more than a few bites of dinner, I'm calling it a good day.

I could go on and on here, friends. The list is endless, and holy hell would I be judged in some internet circles for a lot of this! But here's the bottom line: my kids are GOOD. They're fantastic, actually. Amelia is pretty academically-advanced and her speech is really coming along. Anderson is having good days at school and making academic progress, too. They're both kind, loving little people. They're very well-behaved in public, and just generally happy. My parenting choices, while potentially arguable, are producing some wonderful citizens. Guilt aside, we are doing okay.

What are YOUR confessions? Feel free to air them here--makes ya feel better, I swear!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Everybody Loves A Parade..

First, I thought you might like a mental image of my surroundings when I sit down to blog. I make a pot of freshly-ground coffee, light a warm, spring-scented candle from Yankee Candle, lock the bedroom door, play some Enya, do some deep breathing exercises, and let my thoughts and feelings just flow through my fingers to the keyboard.


If it wasn't completely embarrassing, I'd take an actual picture of my surroundings as I type this, but you'd be tempted to call CPS. I'm at the kitchen table, which is covered with the following random items:  the kids' backpacks, a Trader Joe's bag of costumes for my school's version of the Harlem Shake (yep!), a bowl of leftover Valentine's candy, some tools from Anderson's little toy Home Depot tool kit, two dirty breakfast plates, a pink watch, some flushable wipes (not used--we aren't that dirty!), a plastic bowl that Anderson has been carrying around lately, calling it a camera, and a Tap Light. And my coffee. That one is a non-negotiable.  Oh, and no Enya here--in fact, Thrift Shop is playing on iTunes. Somehow seems fitting, given the scroungy table.

Yesterday, we decided to go to the local St. Patrick's Day parade.  We didn't take the decision lightly--it was in the middle of nap time, which is automatically a frightening thought. It was also sure to have a big crowd, and as I mentioned before, Anderson is showing some signs of being nervous around strangers.  But, the weather was gorgeous, both kids love being outside, and we were all a little restless--so we went.

Throughout the entire car ride, Anderson kept saying that he wanted to go to the parade and play with toys--um, sorry buddy. Parades don't usually have toys! We did tell him that there would be music--he absolutely loves music (gets it from me!), so he was still sold on the idea.

However, we pulled into the parking garage and the anxiety kicked up a notch.
"Mom, we aren't going to ride the elevators...we aren't riding an elevator, Mom. No elevators, Dad..." and on, and on... Didn't matter that we kept telling him there would be no elevator riding--he was sure we were going to put him on the elevator. Even as we were walking down the steps--in the actual act--he was still clinging to Marty and talking about not riding an elevator. Thankfully, once we got to ground-level, he relaxed a little bit.

We chose a spot that wasn't too crowded, right in front of the old that has a huge set of steps.  Anderson LOVES him some steps, so he immediately wanted to go walk the steps. It was all good--we had about 20 minutes until parade time, so he and Marty did some cardio, walking the steps. Amelia hung with me and played in the dirt. Sister loves the dirt.

Marty convinced Anderson to come down and get ready to watch the parade. He did alright with this, although he kept talking about wanting to go up the steps.  There were a few hairy minutes in there, where he was antsy and jumping around and getting a bit too close to our neighbor's green beer ( beer), and he got upset when we said his name a little too loudly. He used some echolalia then, to talk about him being sad, but fortunately the parade started and we could hear the bagpipes in the distance, which redirected him. Crisis averted.

Initially, he didn't want to get too close to the road, so he hung back and watched with Marty.  I held Amelia near the road and we took in the sights and sounds of the parade.  Amelia, being the Daddy's girl that she is, decided she wanted to have daddy hold her, so I was alone near the road--and then I felt some little hands on my legs. Anderson joined me up by the street--I was proud of him.  It was a pretty big commotion, and I was happy to see him wanting to get closer.

You can tell he's a little nervous--clasping his hands.

 There were several dog rescue organizations with dogs in the parade. I don't know what the heck happened to him, but suddenly he's terrified of dogs. Our dog was put to sleep in October...I'd think he'd still be used to them, but whatever. Every time the dogs would go by, he'd practically climb me like a spider monkey and say things like, "The dogs are not going to hurt you.."  As soon as they'd pass, he'd immediately want down, though, which I thought was good.

Post-parade, we wanted to check out the tents and see what activities they had to offer. Anderson initially perseverated about wanting to go back to the steps, but we didn't give in. He then reverted to whining about wanting to play with toys. We ignored and stayed the course--it was at this point that I was tempted to scrap the whole thing and head to the car, but that would've been too easy, and not fair to Amelia.  It's a hard balancing act, when you have one typical kid and one not-so-typical kid.  We struggle with balancing his needs with hers at times like this.  We try to push him to get through these kinds of anxiety-provoking experiences because we want him to be able to get out and learn to enjoy them, and we also want Amelia to be able to have some of the common childhood experiences.  Obviously, if things had gone too far south, we would've ditched, but he was tolerating it, albeit with some serious whining going on.

We found a tent that had some little booths, things for sale, and face-painting. Amelia had had her face painted before and was pumped; Anderson was definitely not interested.  People had dogs everywhere, he was nervous, so Marty took him to walk along the edge of the fence (he loves fences--very soothing for him to walk along them and look at the passing posts) while Amelia had her face painted. Anderson wanted to go back to the steps, so Marty took him...and of course THEN he decided he wanted his face painted as well. This is huge for him, though--HUGE--so back to the face-painting tent we went.

I have to tell you, I was so proud of him. He did AMAZING.  Even smiled a few times.  In general, he doesn't enjoy having his face touched--he doesn't like to wipe it and often fights us on this. What a big step for the little guy.

Afterward, we went back to the steps for a little bit. There were tons of kids playing on the steps--why do kids love them so much? Being the lazy person that I am, I sent Marty up to supervise the kids and I sat on a little island below.  They went up and down, up and down...over and over. Good exercise, right?  Really we were thinking that they would sleep well later.

Taking big steps. See Marty texting in the background? He's texting me, telling me he's ready to go.
When Marty mentioned that it was getting close to time to leave, Anderson got upset. However, Marty just set a timer on his phone and told him we'd leave when it went off. That's Anderson's new thing--he likes to have a timer set when he's finishing an activity. It's like he knows he needs that definite ending, something that indicates it's time to do something new. We set a timer before bed every night, at his request, so that he knows when he has to get in bed.  Hey, whatever works.  So, Marty set a timer, and we left when it sounded.

This morning, when we woke up, I asked Anderson if he liked the parade. He enthusiastically said yes.  It's funny...he was so incredibly anxious for most of the time, but he looks back on it as a happy experience. So we will continue to participate in these little life experiences, even when it's hard for us, because even though it's scary for him, he really does derive pleasure from them.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, though--it's so hard for us to see him so anxious. I can't speak for Marty, but I don't think I will ever get used to that.

He's marching around right now, pretending to play the bagpipes.  My little leprechaun.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Big Love

She comes into the living room, galloping clumsily, her little pink Converse shoes slapping against the floor.

"Hey Mom! I want to wear my feetie-feetie pajamas!"

Trying to clean up the last of dinner, I barely glance up at her, tell her to go pick out any pajamas she wants.  The house is a mess, homework isn't done, and we are running about ten minutes late on bath time.

It's just she and I; her brother and Daddy gone on a quick adventure to "the big hill" to alleviate some of his anxiety.

 I hear her open her armoire, I yell, "Don't make a mess--don't throw all of your clothes on the floor!"

"I won't, Mom!"

I throw the dishes into the sink, sigh at the mess on the counter, grab some cleaning supplies and head to the bathroom to start the bath.  She's still shuffling through her clothes and I feel the impatience rising in my chest, burning up into my throat, threatening to come out in a rush of angry words. Instead, I plug the tub, turn the water on, squirt some bubble bath at the hissing stream.

"Amelia, right now! Start taking your clothes off!"  I yell, not quite keeping the irritation out of my voice. My mind is wandering to the ten things I have to do after the kids go to bed--there are lunches to be made and I have work emails just waiting for responses.

I walk into her room; she's standing with her pants around her ankles, shoes still on, playing intently with a necklace.

"That's it! You are not following directions! Let's get those clothes off NOW!"  I pick her up, pull her shoes off in one quick tug, yank her pants off, pull her shirt over her head. She doesn't make any noise, just looks at me, and the guilt immediately washes over me.  I take the bow out of her hair gently, she asks if she can take some toys into the tub. I say yes, whatever she wants; I'm feeling bad about losing my temper.

She gets into the tub, and I assume my position on the floor. She plays quietly with her Minnie Mouse and I watch. She pretends Minnie is swimming, makes her talk in a raspy, high-pitched voice, her eyes wide as Minnie dives deeper into the water. I start to relax. The house is unusually quiet with just her and I there, and it's peaceful. 

Suddenly, she looks up. Looks me square in the eye.

"Mom, am I your baby girl?"

My breath catches--I'm hoping she's not doubting me.

"Of course! You are always my baby girl!  You're my favorite baby girl. My very favorite girl in the WHOLE. ENTIRE. WORLD."

And then, she smiles and looks at me in a way that she's never looked at me before. It's a look that says she completely understands what I'm saying, everything I'm trying to convey with those words. She sees that they are an apology, a statement that, in its simplest terms, tells her that she is half of my heart. My big love. I am positive, as I look into those gorgeous hazel eyes with mile-long lashes, that she understands me. 

She smiles, and she says, "Thank you, Mom."

She's growing up, this one.  She's smart, and funny, and caring, and patient with me. She's amazing, and I never, ever want to take her for granted because she is a true miracle.  Teaching me every single day. Love.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Little Anxious

Our approach to dealing with Anderson's autism diagnosis has been to focus on staying pretty laid back.  We weren't always this way; during Anderson's younger days, I would expound on my worries about Anderson's quirky behaviors, and Marty would give me a dirty look and say, "He doesn't have autism...", mimicking Arnold Schwarzenegger's "It's not a toomah!" quote in Kindergarten Cop. It evolved from this, to me crying over his hand-flapping and Marty saying, "Hmmm. Well, something isn't quite right, but it's not autism", to finally me handing Marty some research on autism without batting an eye, and him saying, "Yep, that sounds like him!"  Funny how that works, the cycle of grief. Denial, anger, acceptance. And believe me, finding out that your child has any kind of disability involves grieving. That grief represents different things for different people; for me, as harsh as it may sound, it was the death of my dreams of a 'typical' childhood for him.  It was letting go of those societally-influenced images of Anderson as a soccer superstar, an advanced learner, stellar athlete and elite problem-solver. The upside of finally getting through the process and actually taking time to grieve the "what might've been"s is watching the fog and clouds roll away and seeing new dreams emerge. My new dreams for Anderson aren't anything like the old ones, but they offer so much more promise, a bigger reward. The beautiful part of creating these new dreams is that it shows you what is truly special and wonderful about your child.  It's kind of like taking a highlighter and coloring over the most meaningful, thought-provoking, significant parts of your child's personality and character.

The biggest downside of Anderson's personal autism, at this point, is his anxiety. This is the one issue that we cannot seem to figure out how to handle, and unfortunately the one that seems to be getting more significant as time goes on.  He's a worrier, and he gets that honest; I'm definitely a worrier by nature myself. However, as you can probably guess, he doesn't worry about typical things that might be stressful--the things he seems to struggle with are really just part of every day life. For instance, for whatever reason, he worries a lot about the change from day to night.  At least once a day (if not more), he says, "It's not getting dark!". If we don't acknowledge him, he will continue on with, "Hey Mom. It's not getting dark. It's not dark, Mom...Mom, it's not dark yet..."  Sadly, it gets dark every day.  Now, he doesn't have a meltdown or anything when it gets dark, but it is something that clearly weighs heavily on his mind.  Another current source of anxiety is having company in our house. Even if it's someone he loves dearly, like Nana and Papaw, he seems to both enjoy their visit and stress over their presence. This has manifested as him clinging to us, asking us to go in the kitchen with him alone while leaving our company in the living room, wanting THEM to go in other rooms, or in some cases, wanting them to leave altogether.  He can't quite explain WHY he wants people to leave (but I'm hopeful that someday he will..), but he is able to express that he isn't totally comfortable with visitors. Unfortunately for him, we will continue to welcome company in our home. Our hope is that we can find a way to help him cope--we just haven't been successful yet.  The part that is the hardest for me personally is that seeing him feeling so anxious really puts my laid-backness (it wouldn't be one of my blog posts without a made-up word) to the test. It's all fine and good to take everything in stride when things are calm, but watching your child physically struggling with anxiety is pretty gut-wrenching. His heightened anxiety = MY heightened anxiety.  We are working on it.

In the meantime, we're just enjoying time together. Anderson would rather be outside than anywhere else in the world, so the warmer weather means he's a happy camper. So...we play outside, play inside, and deal with the anxiety as it happens. We will get there. In the meantime, there's this.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Recent Run-In With The Law...

Let me preface this post by saying I took some NyQuil about half an hour ago, so if it rambles or becomes incoherent, that's my excuse.

I had a recent run-in with the law here in Lex Vegas, when I got pulled over on New Circle Road.  Now, let me say...I have been a very lucky person when it comes to getting pulled over or dealing with the police. I've never been in any real trouble--the closest I've ever come to having an authentic police incident involved a scary redneck-type dude calling the police on my friend Matt and I when we were geocaching (and geocaching is awesome...not nerdy at all. Just sayin'.).  It was actually a funny story--we were in a nearby smaller county, and all of a sudden, three police cars were speeding toward us.  We pulled over and the cops carefully approached our windows, like we might potentially be armed or something.  After an awkward attempt on our part to explain geocaching (It's almost impossible. Try it.), the cop realized we were in fact just nerds and not the pimp/prostitutes he was looking for. Yes...apparently there's a prostitution problem in this little county. Pretty sure my sweatpants were a dead giveaway that we weren't who they were hoping to catch.

The first time I was ever pulled over in my entire life was in college. I was serving at Bella Notte, and I was leaving work after a particularly crappy night which ended with me getting severely stiffed on a tip by a rowdy group of out-of-towners. Even my boss took pity on me and gave me extra money that night--I'd busted my rear for these men and my tip on a $200 check was $4.00.  I was already crying when I got into my crappy 1982 Chevy Station Wagon (aww, yeah...I rocked that b*tch...), and no sooner had I pulled out of the parking lot, when a cop turned on his lights and pulled me over. Naturally, I did what all young women do when they get pulled over. I started crying even harder.  I wasn't trying to pull a fast one on the guy, though; I was genuinely upset. I was pretty much broke and knew that paying for a ticket wasn't really in the budget. The man was the nicest cop in the world. He pulled me over for expired tags...when he saw my face and heard that I was just leaving work and in college, he took serious pity on me and let me go. I was just incredibly appreciative for the understanding.

My next pull-over happened about three years ago. I was heading home after a late-night store run for diapers, and I was driving fast, as I pretty much do quite often. I know, I know...not a good idea. I'm working on it. Anyway, not only was a I driving pretty fast, I also ended up running a red light--and he was of course at said red light.  He got behind me and followed me for a good 1/2 mile before turning on his lights.  I pulled over and started shuffling through the glove compartment for my registration, and then grabbed my license--and then remembered that it was expired. Awesome.  I quickly decided on a different tears this time, but I may or may not have done the unthinkable--I might have used my children as a way to try to get out of a ticket. I'm not proud of it, people, but it worked. Aside from looking incredibly disheveled, which I'm sure just confirmed that my story was true (which it was), I managed to throw into the conversation the fact that I had 18 month old twins at home, and that most days I didn't even manage to brush my teeth, much less go and get a new license.  He was a little more skeptical than the last cop and  ran my tags to make sure I wasn't some crazy criminal, but he came back, gave me a good lecture on safe driving, and asked if he should be worried about my oral hygiene.  When he cracked that joke, I knew I was good. I came out of that with a warning and a promise to drive more carefully.  Which I did. For awhile.

This brings us to last weekend.  I was driving on New Circle, which is our small-city version of an expressway.  I had Amelia with me, and we were jammin' to some MGMT (this song, if you're curious), and I guess the overzealous singing and dancing got the best of me, because before I knew it, I looked down at the speedometer and I was going...well...a little over the speed limit. I glanced in the mirror behind me to check for police, as every speeder does, and I noticed the local police paddy wagon in my rearview mirror.  I didn't even really give it much thought, other than, "hey, the paddy wagon is for big disturbances, it doesn't pull people over!", and I went on. For about a half mile.  I glanced up again, and that paddy wagon was behind me with its lights on. The paddy wagon. This.

See? It's for violent criminals, not moms who are just trying to get to Target...

 I quickly pulled over and glanced back at Amelia, who was looking at me like I was crazy.  I grabbed my wallet and tried desperately not to think of all the people driving by who were either thinking that I was probably being pulled over for selling drugs out of the back of my CR-V, or that I was some crazy drunk-driving mama. I rolled down the window...and I knew I was in for it when the officer started by saying, "I just have ONE question for you--do you KNOW what the speed limit is on this road? Because you BLEW past me back there!".  Ummm, youch.  Now, if I'm being honest, I haven't been talked to like that since I was a mouthy teenager. I learned that day that my reaction now is similar to my response then--my instinct is to give it right back. But for one, I am an absolute respect-for-authority believer, and for another, my daughter was sitting in the back seat. Of course I have to model good citizenship for her. I gritted my teeth and answered his questions quietly, kind of wishing Amelia would get scared and start crying so that maybe he would tone it down a bit.  She was a total traitor that day--she was dead silent back there, just listening and taking it in.  He told me he wasn't giving me a ticket, but that I needed to slow down (or that was the gist of it, anyway...his words were definitely not that kind). I said my "yes, sir"s and he went back to the paddy wagon to go bust a crack house or something. The first thing I did when he walked away was turn around and look at Amelia. Instead of the stunned or scared look I expected to see, she looked straight at me and SMILED. I was shocked.  She's usually such a chicken--especially around strangers.  So, instead of consoling her, as I had expected to do, I just quietly put my license away.  She proceeded to drive the knife a little bit further into my back by saying, "Mommy, that powice officer told you to SWOW DOWN!".  Just like that.  I agreed with her, and told her that we always do what police officers tell us to do, all the while cursing silently in my head.  I drove very slowly to Target and have been more careful every since.  Marty finds this whole thing hilarious--he asks her to tell just about everyone what the police officer said to Mommy that day. The PADDY WAGON, PEOPLE. It was a bad scene. Also a pretty funny one.

Nothing new around here--I'm on my 3rd go-round with the household illness, hence the NyQuil (which is kicking in pretty nicely, by the way), and Anderson went to Urgent Treatment tonight for more ear troubles. Good times...good times.

A few cute pics from recently...

Friday was Girls' Night Out with this one. Went to the UK Gymnastics meet. Very interesting...
I love this, even though it's blurry. We went to LHSC's Literacy Night. He was dancing and wearing a sombrero. :-)
Cried himself to sleep in my lap before the doctor today.  I let him sleep there for a good 45 minutes. Man, do I miss sleeping babies..
Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

On Childhood

Without going into a lot of unnecessary details that could potentially put me into the category of "oversharer", one of the things I've been doing for my mental health lately involves delving into some of the darker parts of my childhood.  I've learned two important facts of life recently:  1)  Even if you *think* that your childhood doesn't impact who you become as an adult (ie. you think you're a normal, functional adult), it actually plays into the person you become way more than you would've ever dreamed, and 2) You have to actually think about and acknowledge the bad things that have happened in order to properly heal, move on, and make positive and lasting changes. Neither realization is all that comfortable, especially at first, but once you rip that particular band-aid off and start the process, it's pretty amazing.

Part of remembering my childhood (and let me be clear; it wasn't all awful. I have plenty of fantastic childhood memories...) involves thinking about childhood in general.  When I think of childhood, I think of innocence and wonder.  Childhood where I lived was playing outside until it got dark (and, gasp! WITHOUT adults breathing down our throats...), riding bikes to other parts of the neighborhood--again, without adult supervision.  Childhood was a huge game of hide-and-seek that spanned four or five yards, playing kickball in the court, running to greet the ice-cream man and licking dripping Bomb Pops off of our dirty hands. Even with some of the not-so-positive parts, I so fondly remember that feeling of being carefree, enjoying my friends and family, never once feeling "bored" and always choosing to be outdoors over indoors.

It is almost alarming how much childhood has changed since I was little.  I cannot even fathom letting my kids run around the neighborhood without being able to keep an eye on them. Even scarier would be thinking about them riding their bikes all over the place. But all of those large differences aside, many kids today would actually prefer to spend their time inside, watching movies, playing video games, using their iPads and iTouches.  I cannot tell you how many times, as a classroom teacher with kids outside at recess, someone would come up to me and start whining that it was too hot, that they were bored. Reflecting back on my days as an elementary student, I don't think I would've ever been bored outside; we had contests on the monkey bars to see who could skip a bar and go all the way back and forth, and who had bigger blisters on their palms.  If we weren't playing on the monkey bars, we were jumping rope, hula hooping. Just last week, I was watching some of our current students attempting to practice jumping rope in P.E. for our upcoming Jump Rope for Heart (remember that??).  I was absolutely blown away--they had NO idea how to jump rope! I watched one little guy hurl the rope over his head, jump it, and then stop. Hurl it over his head again, jump it, stop.  It was a slow-motion version of jumping rope. He had no concept of how it even worked. The bottom line is that kids today don't know how to play outside if there isn't a fancy jungle gym or play set. So vastly different from my own experiences.

I've made a conscious decision to help my own personal children (which is what I say at school when I'm talking about my kids--so as not to confuse them with the "my kids" that are the students in my school) at least be aware of some of the simple pleasures of childhood--especially when it comes to being outdoors.  I'm making an effort to work on limiting screen time (which has gotten out of control around here with all of the sickness...) and encouraging craftier, more imaginative play. Now don't get me wrong; I am not a craft master. I don't scrapbook, I don't own stock in Michaels or Hobby Lobby. It's just not my thing and I'm not wasting time feeling guilty over it; I can show my kids fun and love in other ways and they are not deprived. However, I can easily pick up some markers and some crayons and start drawing a picture of something fun we did earlier in the week. I can take my kids' endless requests for pictures and we can tell stories about them. These are easy things to do.  And...when it gets warmer, we will spend as much time outside as we can--and without all the bells and whistles. I can't wait to go out and just blow bubbles, play in the sand, take walks and pick "flowers" (aka weeds).  They're old enough now to get games like Hide and Seek, and we might even get a Slip N' Slide this summer.  I'm bringing childhood back.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Like Seinfeld..

This post is about nothing.

Actually, I had a post in my head--I wanted to write about all the funny things that the kids have been saying lately. We've found that age four has been the age of saying-all-things-funny around here. They are really starting to make sense of the world, and they're finally able (well, sort of) to put their thoughts into words. The result is constant humor--they say the most high-larious stuff all the time. So, I started writing...and then I realized I couldn't remember a damn thing they'd said! All I remember is laughing at them. Clearly, I need to make an effort to write down the funny stuff, because my aging brain isn't going to keep up with it. Sigh...

So, instead, I'll just do the whole stream-of-consciousness thing (and honestly, I couldn't even remember that term--I had to sit here and think for a good 30 seconds! I think the kids are draining my ability to remember things...).  Here's what's been going on around here this week.


SICKNESS! Oh.My.Gosh. We just cannot get well.  It started with Amelia back in the "Trip House" days.  She got better, we enjoyed oh, maybe five days of nobody being sick, and then Anderson started.  Same old funk--cough, fever, took him to the doctor, got antibiotics, blah blah blah.  He started to get better...then Marty got sick (which prompted the whole PTSD post...).  We made it through that one fairly unscathed, and then Amelia started snotting/coughing/nastiness again. I mean, REALLY???  No fever or lethargy, so she kept going to school, until one day I picked her up, and yowzah, she had a seriously funky eye!  Side-bar: We call it "the scare-eye" in our house because not all that long ago, Marty got pink eye. It was a pretty bad case, and his entire eye socket swelled up--he looked like he'd been punched. Anderson coined the term when he looked at Marty funny and said, "Daddy, you have a scare eye!", and then proceeded to scrunch up his face in an attempt to imitate the jacked-up look.  He was right--it was kind of frightening--so pink eye is now known as "scare-eye" around here. In fact, when I went to the kids' preschool to pick up Anderson and ask about their pink eye policy, I literally almost said, "Hey, what's your policy on scare-eye?"  They'd have thought I was insane.  Anyway, Amelia went to the doctor, where we discovered that she has bronchitis, scare-eye, and an ear infection! More antibiotics for her. Two days later (this past Wednesday), Anderson--who is still on antibiotics, mind you--spiked a fever and started acting like he was in pain, which basically meant that he was acting anxious and using a lot of sad echolalia. He DID actually say that his ear hurt, which I was excited about because in the past, he hasn't been able to verbalize any of his physical feelings. However, that was slightly short-lived because he is prone to saying all kinds of crazy things, so it was hard to actually believe him.  But then, he woke up twice in the night crying, which is not at all like him, so of course he went back to the doctor. Ruptured eardrum. New antibiotics, plus some fun ear drops (think about how fun this is with a kid with sensory issues...).  That was Thursday, today is Saturday. I am coming down with respiratory gunk, Amelia is hacking up a lung, Anderson is stir-crazy and still not thoroughly enjoying the ear drops and is also coughing. We are in a bad way around here, folks. I've said it before and I'll say it again--I want to market a Lysol bomb that you set off in your house and it settles and disinfects. You know, like the bug bombs you can use when your house has a bug problem. I totally think this is marketable. In the meantime, if you want to send some healing vibes our way, we will take them.


Amelia currently has a little bit of chaetophobia, which means she is afraid of loose hair. She's also afraid of fuzz.  Sadly, I find this hysterical.  Apparently Anderson does, too, because he often torments her about it.  It all started one night during bath time, when Amelia saw something floating in the water and asked what it was. Not thinking about her weirdness, I said something to the effect of, "Oh, it's just a little fuzz..."  Screaming and wrestling ensued, as I had to at least rinse off the shampoo before letting her get out. Anderson started imitating her crying, saying, "It's an fuzz, it's an fuzz!" and pretending to want to get out of the tub.  Since then, every once in awhile when they're in the tub, he will say, in a very girlish, drama-filled voice, "It's an fuzz, it's an fuzz!", which often morphs into "It's an hair, it's an hair!" because he knows that will get her going as well.  I know...mean to laugh at your kid's phobia. I'm one to talk--I have some odd phobias myself--but it's pretty funny watching him tease her. Almost like he's a typical brother irritating his sister.  That boy.


I recently told Amelia that I am a teacher. I've said this to the kids before and they've looked at me like, "whatever, can you get me some fruit snacks please?". However, this time when I said it, her little eyes lit up and she excitedly said, "Like Ms. Wiz (Liz...)?"  Amelia LOVES her teacher, Ms. Liz.  Like, really loves her. In fact, one day I was teasing Amelia and asked her if she was Daddy's girl or Mommy's girl. Hoping she'd pick me over Daddy, just as a jab at him because she is clearly really a Daddy's girl, she got this very contemplative look on her face and finally said, "I'm Ms. Wiz's girl!".  So, when she realized I was a teacher like Ms. Wiz, she was soooo excited! This made me excited, because like I said, she really is a Daddy's girl, so I was kind of hoping this would buy me a little more of her favor.  Unfortunately, it didn't really play out that way. Now she just thinks everybody is a teacher. I try to convince her that people have lots of different jobs. She isn't buying it. Oh well.

And now, speaking of teachers, I'll leave you with my new favorite video of one of my kids. This is Anderson, "reading" a doctor book. Actually, he has the whole thing memorized--beginning to end. If you look at the words on the pages, you'll see he knows it word-for-word. He also "reads" with expression, AND (and this is my most favorite part), he holds the book with the "teacher book grasp".  You know, with the thumb and pinky, the ways teachers hold the book when they read aloud to the kids. He holds the book up to show the class. Melt my teacher heart! My stupid memory ran out of space so you only get to hear a few pages, but wow. LOVE. Also, ignore the messy room. Remember--sickness around here!!

Enjoy the weekend...