Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm Guesting on Mom-In-A-Million!

Rebekah from Mom-In-A-Million and I decided to do a post-swap about being a working mom (Rebekah) and being a stay-at-home mom (me).  There's always all this hoopla about some "Mommy War" thing in the media, and I'm just not buying it.  Never once has a working mom asked me if I've been sitting on the couch watching Oprah and eating bon-bons all day.  I just don't think the Mommy War is real.  I think it's a myth, like being caught up on the laundry.  I don't know a single mom who isn't far too exhausted to worry about that kind of stuff.  I could probably come up with a better defense of my position if I wasn't so busy staring at the coffee maker waiting for it to finish brewing.

For the rest of the post, click over to Mom-In-A-Million!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Few More Things That Freak Me Out

I need to follow up on this morning's post.  I need to because obviously my therapy session isn't done yet.  There are more doll things that creep me out.

For starters, let's address the fact that one of my readers, a woman named Susan, apparently owns an antique doll that has real human hair.  Real human hair that came off her Nana's head.

Susan said that it "used to scare the crud out of me as a kid; now it stays in the top of a closet, turned backwards."

Yeah, right.  Used to scare the crud out of you.

Susan said she would take a picture of this doll and send it to me, and I promise I'll share it with y'all when I get it.

Also, I realized that antique dolls are like roaches.  If you see one, you know there's a nest of them somewhere else in the house.  When you fall asleep, they will turn into Children of the Corn.  So another thing that freaks me out is collections of antique dolls.

I hope Susan is reading this.  She needs to be checking that closet to make sure the Nana Hair Doll hasn't let some little friends in.

And then there's corner dolls.  They're also called "pouty dolls," and "time-out dolls."  The only possible use I can see for these things is to recreate a trauma scene for training psychiatric professionals.

Corner dolls are possibly scarier than regular dolls because you can't see their faces, so you can't even imagine what they're plotting against you.  And then there's the fact that they don't actually have faces.

Plus, antique dolls pretty much come in one basic costume: Tiny Crazy Cat Lady.  Corner dolls, on the other hand, come with all kinds of outfits.  There's biker chick corner doll.  (What is she sad about?  She has chaps!)  There's Texas Longhorns cheerleader corner doll.  (Still bummed about that loss to UCLA.)

Okay, actually?   The Johnny Cash one is kind of funny.  What you'd really have to do with that one is set it up in a corner with a little CD player under it, so that when people come in, it seems like he's on time-out singing "I Walk The Line."

Phew.  I feel better now, don't you?  Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  Now let's all sit in a circle and sing "I Walk The Line."

Six Things That Freak Me Out

I've been thinking a lot about anxiety lately.  It's kind of a constant factor in this house.   I decided that maybe if I embrace the weirdness, it might help.  So, here are some random things that freak me out.  Thanks for participating in today's therapy session.

1.  Antique dolls.  Oh. My. God.  These things are scarier than clowns.  Because at least with clowns, you're expected them to move.  Antique dolls look sweet and innocent but then when you go to sleep?  They get all stabbity.

Most of them don't even look sweet and innocent, though.  They look like tiny crazy cat ladies.  Or puppets that have been  crafted for the sole purpose of recreating scenes in Alfred Hitchcock movies at 1/8 scale.

2.  The movie Jaws.  Dolls' Eyes.  In Jaws, that nut Quint says "the thing about a shark ... he's got lifeless eyes.  Black eyes.  Like a doll's eyes."  Yeah.  Jaws is really scary and that one underwater scene when the guy's head sort of floats at you gets me every damn time.  Even though I've seen that movie a hundred times.

I've also watched too many shark documentaries, because for the longest time we didn't have cable.  The only place we got to watch cable was once a year, at our rented vacation house on the Jersey shore.  Inevitably, we rented during TLC's Shark Week.  So we watched Jaws and shark documentaries all week and every time a piece of seaweed touched me I panicked.

But.  Still.  You know what freaks me out more than sharks?  Dolls' eyes.  In particular, the ones in antique dolls that open and shut.   That is some scary, scary stuff.

And then I found this ring, and it wasn't even on Etsy, which is normally my source for accessories that seem to be specifically designed to freak me out.

When you lift your hand or put it down, the ring opens and shuts its eye.  Thanks,  Thanks for the hipster nightmares.

3. Clowns.  Pffft.  I know.  So obvious, right?  It's obvious because clowns are freaky.  Clowns are so freaky they take freaky to a whole other dimension.  And the question you have to ask is, "Does anyone actually like clowns?"

I don't know too many people that don't hate clowns.  I might know a couple of people that are not terrified by clowns.

The only people who love clowns, are clowns.  Really.  And maybe people who just hate their day jobs and think, wouldn't it be fun to be a clown and scare the bodily fluids out of my boss?.

The only thing I like about clowns is that they're all evil marketing geniuses.  They've got a lock on that whole circus monopoly.  Their very existence fuels the perception that people, especially children, like clowns.  Thus, deluded Human Resources people hire clowns for the company picnic.  Parents hire clowns for kids' birthday parties.  And of course, there's the king clown, Ronald McDonald.

Once we stopped at a McDonald's that had a life-size statue of Ronald sitting on a bench.  The statue was chipped and worn and appeared to be looking right at me whilst I ate.

"That statue is really creepy," whispered the Peanut Butter Kid.

"Yeah," I agreed.  "It's kind of freaking me out.  I think it's watching us eat."

"You know what would be even creepier?" asked the Peanut Butter kid.  "If it had bugs crawling out of its eyes."  And then she giggled maniacally.

What. The. Hell.

4. America's Funniest Home Videos.  Sometimes it's okay.  Cute kitten popping out of a tissue box.  Baby with pureed squash coming out of his nose.  Dad getting nailed in the crotch with a tricycle.  That's all good stuff, people.  Good stuff.  But just when I've been lulled into finding the show charming, the next video is of a child falling off a swing onto her cranium.  The kid will be lying in the dirt crying, and the Parent of the Year is laughing so hard the flip cam is shaking.

You know what I do when my kids fall, get hurt, and cry?  I comfort them.  I know.  It's just crazy enough to work.  I guess I'm overprotective that way.

5. Mickey Mouse.  Gahh, I know, it's like saying I hate the American flag, right?  I'm not into Mickey Mouse.  I've never thought the cartoons are all that funny, and Mickey in person is basically a 6-foot rat.  I get why people like Mickey.  He symbolizes happy fun time and all that.  However, his voice is like nails on chalkboard.

And speaking of rats...

6. Pet Rats.  These are so disturbing that I'm sparing you any illustration.  I figure the Mickey photo should just about cover it anyway.  We all know what a rat looks like.

I'm not a huge fan of rodents of any type as pets, but of course my kids adore checking them out at the pet store.   We go to the pet store a lot, because it is right near Target, and because it is cheaper and quicker than the zoo.  We refer to PetSmart as the Short Attention Span Zoo.  (If I had more energy, I'd rearrange those words to somehow make the acronym of SPAZ, but I simply can't do it tonight.)

The other day I took the Peanut Butter Kid on a special one-on-one trip to PetSmart.  We had worked on classifying things in her home science class, so it seemed like a great place to go and see how PetSmart sorts its different critters.  All good.

Then we went to look at the rodents.  And I saw something I had never noticed before.  As many times as I had been to PetSmart with my kids, I never really took the time to observe the rats.

They have extremely large testicles.

Seriously.  There is so much going on down there, I thought one of the rats was giving birth.  And I was about to be all, look, the miracle of disgusting rat life, but then I realized they were giant rat testicles.  So I thought, oh my God, that rat has a serious prostate problem and probably needs one of those medicines they advertise on ESPN.  But then I checked out the other rats' junk and decided it was some kind of rampant infection.  Perhaps all the rats at this particular PetSmart had the clap or something.  (What?  I don't know.  They're all in there in the cage together.  All it takes is one bad apple to spoil the bunch, as they say.)

Obviously, when I got home I had to Google it.  Obviously.  Because what is Google for if not typing in "rats large testicles" and seeing what you can find out?  Here is what I found out: rats have extremely large testicles.  Also, I found out that on YouTube there is a Chipmunk version of AC/DC's "Big Balls."

Again, I will refrain from embedding that video here because I love you and I realize you're just trying to drink your coffee in peace.  (On the other hand, if you think that kind of thing is hilarious, then click here.  It's wrong on so many levels.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Big Fun at the Fair: Those Poor, Delicious Animals

Warning: If you are really upset by caged and/or delicious animals, this is not the blog post for you.  Go away.  Shoo.

We went to the County Fair this weekend.  The fair goes on for a whole fun-filled week, so rest assured we're not done.  We haven't even been to a rodeo yet.  Sadly, there was no fried beer.  Obviously the County Fair is the poor country cousin to the Big Tex state fair.  Sigh...

There was nonfried beer, however.  And margaritas.  But of course I couldn't drink because we took two cars in case anyone freaked out.  With our family, and that much sensory input, it's a possibility that any one of us could lose our minds at any given moment.  Except maybe The Absent-Minded Professor.  He's fine with lights and noises and crowds as long as he doesn't have to talk to anyone.  If he has to make chit-chat with people, we're screwed.

Anyway, we eased our way into this.  Little Dude freaked out almost immediately, even though we went through this really uncrowded area first, with animals and other farmish stuff to look at.  There was a very soothing display about rice.  I find rice to be the least threatening of the gluten-free starches, don't you?

But then the cow mooed and Little Dude lost his freaking mind.

It was a pretty lazy moo, as moos go.  I think the cow was pretty resigned at that point:  

It either had a pollen allergy or it was crying.  So, so wrong.

Little Dude wanted to go home, but we were able to calm him down with a lemonade in the shade with just Daddy, while the girls and I looked at more animals.  Then we switched so he and I could sit in the shade and watch daddy and the girls go on the merry-go-round.

We watched from a very safe distance.  Incredibly, Little Dude decided he wanted to go on it with me, as long as we could sit in one of the sleigh seats and not on a pony.  It was his first ride ever, and he loved it.

I, on the other hand, became nauseous, because the older I get, the more problematic my vestibular suckishness is.  I am now so lame that a merry-go-round is just too much excitement for me.

After discovering that he liked the merry-go-round, Little Dude became all kinds of fired up about the fair.  He went on a little train that gently chugged along a 40-foot track.  He also went down the Fun Slide (with his daddy).  The Fun Slide was fun except that Daddy weighs more than the average eight-year-old, so they went really fast.  In an effort to keep a death grip on Little Dude, the Absent-Minded Professor took a pretty nasty elbow burn.  Little Dude got a little bit hurt too, but by then he was wound up like a cheap clock, screaming, "Again! Again! Let's go again!"

There's a limit to how much Fun Slide of Doom I can handle, so we decided it was time for some shade and the Swine Show.  Not just any Swine Show, mind you.  The Class A Swine Show.  I can't be bothered with lesser swine. We enjoyed that quite a bit, because nobody loves bacon like my family.  We judged the pigs on how delicious they looked and whether we liked what their owners were wearing.  The actual judge had some other criteria, which we didn't understand.  We nodded sagely anyway.  Ah, yes.  The musculature.

Obviously, after seeing a trapped, crying cow and a bunch of hogs trotting around, we were hungry for some meat, so we hit the food area.

I am devastated to report that there were no fried Pop-Tarts, fried Snickers bars, fried chocolate, or fried butter.  Darn.

There were corn dogs, which Cookie adores, although not so much after having a mild round of stomach ick later that night.  Word to the wise: Corn dogs are called "corny dogs" here in Texas.  Another word to the wise: a giant fried hot dog on a stick is not the healthiest choice for a nine-year-old who's been out in the sun all afternoon.

The rest of us had cheeseburgers and hotdogs.  That didn't seem Texan enough to me, so I also ordered a Frito Pie.

If you're looking for a food that doubles as occupational therapy for people with Sensory Processing Disorder, Frito Pie is perfect.  It's a gooey mess, but it's so salty-spicy-cheesy-crunchy-gooey good that even the most tactile-defensive kid will want more.  And then scream every. single. time. he gets some goo on his fingers.

I assume that helps build up tolerance, right?  I mean, he kept eating it.  I know there are some OTs that read my blog; I hope you're taking notes.  Although if a person has a textural issue with foods, than this might not be the right activity.  Except that it's delicious.  So maybe it would get them to eat some new textures.  Because who doesn't like chili and melted, processed cheez on top of salty corn chips?

For those of you playing along at home: pretty sure it's just a bunch of Fritos with a can of Hormel and some Cheez Whiz on top.  Or you can go all fancy and do it Emeril style.  I would do that except I hate to cook and Emeril freaks me out. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Basic Training Prepared Me for Motherhood

One the things I have been in my life is a soldier.  Not in some figurative fighting-for-my-children's-rights sense.  I mean I was a soldier in the United States Army.


I enlisted during Desert Storm, which for you young 'uns out there, was this thing that happened many moons ago that made Desert Camo both a military necessity and a bizarre civilian fashion statement.   I enlisted because I was (am) insanely patriotic and also because I didn't know what I wanted to major in; throwing myself into the fracas seemed like an excellent idea.  And surprisingly enough, it was.  I consider myself fortunate that I was never sent to Iraq; I was stationed in South Carolina and then in California.

Not only am I proud of having served in the military, the whole experience made me a stronger, better person.   And, it helped prepare me for the toughest job I've ever had: Mom.

Although I was much more organized when I was in the military, and although I was allowed to swear way more than I can now, there are certain distinct similarities.

Which leads me to this:

The Top Ten Reasons U.S. Army Basic Training Prepared Me for Motherhood

10. We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do an entire day.  Remember that clever slogan?  I remember in Basic Training, we would have had eaten, run, and done weapons training, and it was still o-dark-thirty.  By the time 9 a.m. rolled around, it felt like a whole day had gone past.  Just like being a mom!

9. There is strong ... and then there is Army Mommy Strong.  In Basic Training, I spent quite a bit of time in the position of "leaning rest."  While that sounds restful, really it's the starting point for a push-up.  And you start in the up position, people, not down on the floor.  If your drill sergeant is particularly pissy, you might spend a lot of time frozen in front leaning rest, not actually doing any push-ups, just staying there like that until someone reaches muscle fatigue, starts twitching, and eventually drops.  Which will make your drill sergeant even more pissed and then everyone has to start over.  This kind of thing is excellent preparation for being a mom.  You will reach muscle fatigue, start twitching, and eventually drop many times as a mom.  But this will really piss your baby off and you will have to get. back. up.

8. Army of One.  I don't know what marketing genius came up with that slogan, but it's insane.  An Army of One is just a nutjob with a rifle.  The Army, on the other hand, is a whole bunch of people who have to count on one another.  It's something you cannot possibly do alone.  Being a mom works the same way; even if you're a single mom, you cannot do this all by yourself.  You need support from family, friends, and colleagues.  Otherwise, you lose your mind.

7. Hurry Up and Wait.  I learned the expression "Hurry Up and Wait" in the Army.  This is when you rush-rush-rush to get somewhere, for example, the medical center.  Then you wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And eventually you get some vaccines that you wish you didn't need.  If you substitute "medical center" for "pediatrician's office," you'll see how this applies to mommyness.

6. Going AWOL is not okay.  Also, excuses are the "wrong answer."  One of the worst things you can do as a soldier or a mom, is go Absent Without Leave.  It just isn't acceptable.  Yes, you need a break, but you'll have to schedule that and make sure that someone trained and capable is there to cover for you.  And if you foul something up, suck it up and fix it.  In the Army, if you screw up and try to weasel out of punishment with an excuse, a sergeant or officer is likely to look you levelly in the eye and flatly state, "wrong answer, High Speed."  ("High Speed, Low Drag" usually describes a soldier who is ass-kickingly good.  Unless you suck.  In that case, it's sarcasm.  This is kind of like how I describe Dina Lohan as "Mother of the Year.")

5. It isn't pretty. It is possible to be attractive in the Army, but it's almost impossible to be pretty in Basic Training.  Pretty is not one's natural state when you're wearing Army-issued eyewear called BCG's, or Birth Control Glasses.  Basically, they make you so seriously unattractive that no one would want to have sex with you.  I don't mean that as a mom you're not beautiful.  You are.  You're stunning, you're gorgeous.  Is that new lipstick you're wearing?  But going through a humiliating period of being really fugly does kind of help you learn to set priorities.  It also helps you suck it up when you're three months postpartum and still wearing your maternity jeans.

4. Army chow.  In the Army, they really serve Spam.  Not the annoying emails, the food.  Remember when you read the word Spam, and you thought about canned ham and Monty Python instead of ads for Viagra?  The Army also served "chipped beef on toast," commonly known as SOS (sh*t on a shingle).  I was a vegetarian before I went into the Army, but at that time vegetarianism would have been pretty much impossible to maintain in the Army.  It might be different now.  Maybe now they're serving Boca Burgers instead of Spam.  But I kind of doubt it.  In any case, it's good preparation for your new mommy cuisine of leftover chicken nuggets and tater tots.  However, I would still much rather eat Spam that the pizza at Chuck E. Cheese.

3. SNAFU.  Snafu is originally a military term.  It stands for Situation Normal: All F**ked Up.  I don't think I need to explain the connection to mommyhood.

2. Field Training Exercise (FTX).  Basic Training FTX involves living outside in the dirt for days on end.  You have to dig your own foxhole and stay in it for a long time.  If your Basic Training is done in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, the means you will be sitting in a  hole of non-draining red clay.  If it rains, you will have your own personal Shrek bathtub.  And, yes, you will sit there in your slimy foxhole with the water rising because do you think there are umbrellas on the battlefield, Private?  Also, you have to do this with greasepaint on your face which ensures your skin will look like a "before" picture in a Proactiv commercial.  Ultimately, FTX prepares you to go days without a shower, or sleep, while eating high-calorie meals at odd hours.  Sound familiar?

1. It's the toughest job you'll ever love.  These are not jobs you do for the money.  You don't even do it for the glory, because for every person who thanks you for serving / parenting, there's another person protesting / whining.  U.S. Army Soldier and Mom are both jobs you do because they're important and you believe in what you're doing.

Hooah, moms.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Book Review: This is Gabriel Making Sense of School

[Note: Comments are closed for this post.]

Today's post is my first official book review.  I'm also thrilled to be able to give away a signed copy of This is Gabriel Making Sense of School to one lucky reader!  To enter to win the book, please leave a comment at the end of this post!

Author Hartley Steiner has three quirky boys, including one with significant Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Hartley writes the blog Hartley's Life with 3 Boys, and in her spare time she leaves funny comments on my blog.  You can also follow Hartley on Twitter and Facebook.

She also wrote the book This is Gabriel Making Sense of School: A Book About Sensory Processing Disorder, which she kindly shared with me.

This was a great book for our family.  All four of our children have sensory processing issues, and my own auditory processing problems are so bad that I kind of need a 504 Plan.  My 504 Plan includes hiding in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on to block out some of the noise of my family.

Here's the thing: even though I got a free copy, this book is so great that I'm going to go ahead and buy a few more copies to give to Little Dude's school. Although it is written for kids, this book does an excellent job of explaining Sensory Processing Disorder in a very relatable way. A way that might help our school staff understand my quirky kids.

I might even buy an extra copy to smack our principal in the head with share with our principal, so that she can begin to understand why sometimes the cafeteria is a little stressful for Little Dude.  And of course by "a little stressful" I mean "painfully overwhelming."

This is Gabriel Making Sense of School explains the seven senses, with a separate page devoted to each sense.  I know, you thought there were only five, right?  There's also vestibular, which helps you balance, and proprioception, which helps you push and pull things using your joints and muscles.  The book covers how each of these senses apply in the educational setting, and gives examples of some of the very simple accommodations schools can make to help these children learn.  For example, a child who has proprioception needs might require breaks during school to do "heavy work": pulling a wagon of lunch boxes to the cafeteria, or even just helping to wipe down the tables after lunch.

The book also specifically explains how the school cafeteria can be super-overwhelming to children with SPD.  Perhaps I shall highlight this section for smacking sharing purposes at our school.

I read This is Gabriel Making Sense of School aloud to my children.    We stopped after reading each page to talk about the ways we all experience some of the same things that Gabriel experiences, and to answer questions.  I needed to explain in more detail some of the terms used in the book for my four- and six-year-olds, but my nine-year-olds got it right away.  Some of Gabriel's quirks were so immediately relateable to Little Dude (like not being able to stand tags in shirts), that he would excitedly interrupt with, "that's just like me!"

Both of my nine-year-olds asked to read the book again on their own.

I can't recommend this book highly enough for families dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder.  I think it would also be a great read for any child who feels like an outsider, who has a 504 Plan, or who simply wants to have a greater understanding of the many ways we're all differently awesome.  Little Dude was so happy and excited to read about another boy who was just like him.  When your child is a JEDI, there are not a lot of books about kids like them.  Finding one is a treasure.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bloggy Business Update: I'm Just Like the New York Times

I'm going to be posting a few book reviews on my blog.  I figure I'll post them on Sundays, kind of like the New York Times.  Except my book reviews will only take you two minutes to read.  And they will be accompanied by my snarky MS Paint images instead of professionally drawn artwork.  Another difference between me and The New York Times Book Review is that I will probably have absolutely no bearing on book sales.  Also, I'm only going to review books that I think might be specifically interesting to parents, especially parents of special-needs children.

Other than that, I'm exactly like The New York Times Book Review.

Here's my plan: I'm willing to read pretty much anything.  I love to read because you learn stuff and it also blocks out the screeching wheels of anxiety that turn in my head while I'm trying to fall asleep.

If I love the book, I'll put the review up on my blog.  If I don't love it, I'll just keep my mouth shut.  So if you ever wonder why I never give a bad review, it's because I'm just not putting them on the blog.  Because why would you want to read about a sucky book?  Unless it's one of those celebrity tell-alls, in which case you should look to Mom-In-A-Million, who sometimes reviews books by people like Kendra Wilkinson and isn't always nice about it.  For books that are just awesome reads, sometimes you can catch those on Rants from Mommyland.

Once I've reviewed a book, I'll add it to my Helpful Reads page.

Tomorrow, I'm posting my first official review: Hartley Steiner's book for children, This is Gabriel Making Sense of School: A Book About Sensory Processing Disorder.  Hartley even gave me a signed copy to give away to one lucky reader!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mompetitors - Best YouTube Ever

Competitive moms.  I have to say, I have not met a single competitive mom in Texas.  Regarding parenting, people here are very much "live and let live."  But then again, we're not on the pageant circuit.

I am dying over this.  I. Am. Dying.  Seriously the best thing I have ever seen on YouTube.  Thanks to my awesome friend Amy F. for sending it to me.

Warning: One swear in this.  But totally worth it.

Big Fun at the Fair

Earlier this week, I wrote about the super-duper security measures being taken by our school.  Rest assured that our school security keeps our hallways free of roaming terrorists, chupacabras, and parents.   And kids with untucked shirts.  Because, you know, if the shirt is untucked, the learning can fall right out.

Anyway, a mommy writer named Hartley wrote a comment on that post. She had had a similar experience with a school not being happy about wanting to walk her son in.  Hartley's comment said, "I assured her this wasn't my first rodeo."

And that is now my favorite expression.  Particularly because this weekend I am going to my first rodeo.  Y'all.

This weekend is the start of the County Fair.  I am equal parts so excited I could pee and so terrified I could vomit.  All four of our children, the Young Carnivores, really want to go.  Even Little Dude wants to go, now that we told him there wouldn't be any clowns.  Except maybe rodeo clowns.  Damn, why are there always clowns?

Nothing brings on my anxiety like the possibility of clowns, except the thought of taking all four children to a crowded place where every single person is either hopped up on cotton candy or mellowed out on Fried Frozen Magaritas.  If you were going to steal a child, this is where you would go.  Screaming kids and exhausted parents everywhere.  If some kid is being hoisted out hollering and crying, no one will bat an eyelash.

They talk up the fair pretty good at school, so the kids are pretty much bouncing off the walls to go.  The school district even closes the schools for the first day of the fair, a bit of small-towny goodness that I adore.  It's also a plus for the girls competing in the County Fair Queen contest, because this way they don't have to miss any school for their "scholarship competition."

Strangely, I was not invited to be a contestant in the Fair Queen pageant, or contest, or whatever it is.  It's disappointing. I  may have to make myself a crown out of fried Pop Tarts.  Which, conveniently, are sold at fairs in Texas.  Sweet.

There is all kinds of royalty at this fair: Besides the all-important  Fair Queen, there's the Junior Fair Queen (age 10-14), the Fair Duchess (age 7-9) and the Fair Princess (age 4-6).  I am extremely disappointed there is no Fair Baby Baroness category.  I love nothing more than two-year-olds with Snooki hair and mascara.

There is also a corresponding male role for all these categories but obviously no one cares about that.  It's like the groomsmen in a wedding party: yes, they look good in a tux but whatev, we're here to critique the bride's and bridesmaids' dresses.

I would totally enter Little Dude in the Fair Prince category except that it sounds like it would be the worst kind of social / sensory overload situation and would probably result in needing (even more) years of therapy.  But it would be awesome because he's adorable and I could be all, he's disabled, and then he would get the sympathy vote and probably win.  That's right: I would totally play the disability card.  Because that's what good Pageant Moms do.  That, and trip the other contestants as they walk onto the stage.

Once all the royalty has been paraded about, livestock will be displayed.  There are particular shows for rabbits, turkeys, heifers, and all kinds of other delicious creatures.  There are also shows scheduled for "roasters, freezers, and broilers," and ohmygod I just realized I think they're talking about chickens, not appliances.  The freezer show even has an invitation-only reception beforehand.

I have not been invited.

There is also a barbecue cook-off, and the Young Carnivores and I plan to basically camp out all day for that.  Actually, I'm planning on eating as many meals as possible at the Fair.  This thing goes on for more than a week, so we may not even need to go grocery shopping for the rest of the month.  We'll just eat delicious Fair Food.  I'll probably need to go up a size in jeans by the end of it, but it will totally be worth it.  The State Fair of Texas is also going on this weekend up in Dallas and they are going to have fried beer.  I give you my solemn promise that if my county fair has fried beer, I will try it and report back to you.

There is also a rodeo.  There are some warm-up act rodeos, apparently with lesser rodeo-ers, and then there is a real rodeo with professionals.  Because that is a job.  Apparently.

Everywhere in this country, children say that want to be cowboys and cowgirls when they grow up.  Pretty much everywhere non-Texas, adults will chuckle and pat them on their addled little noggins.  But not here.  Because here in Texas, you can really grow up to be a cowboy.  Or at least a guy who gets some money to ride an animal that clearly would prefer to be left alone.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stark Raving Mad About My Day Job: Guest Writer Mom-In-A-Million

Today's post is by Rebekah of Mom-In-A-Million.  She is awesome and funny and a great writer.  And she works full-time.   We send stupid emails and tweets back and forth quite a bit and it helps us both get through the day.  In the midst of one of these exchanges, we decided we should do a guest post swap and write about Working Moms and Stay-at-Home Moms because we're both totally sick of the media pretending there's some huge battle between us.

As her reward for writing the post, I'm going to send her some open jars of glitter.  

Next week I'll be on Mom-In-A-Million glorifying all that is Stay-at-Home goodness.  And maybe making mention of the parts that suck.

You can also follow Mom-In-A-Million on Facebook and Twitter!

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Stark Raving Mad About My Day Job
by Guest Writer Mom-In-A-Million

There’s been a lot written about the so-called Mommy Wars, where Work-Very-Very-Hard-At-Home-For-No-Fiscal-Remuneration Moms and Work-Outside-The-Home-For-Some-Money-And-Health-Insurance-But-Not-Enough-Paid-Leave Moms bludgeon each other with increasingly PC labels for the ways each spends their day until finally they collapse, exhausted, in a sea of jargon. Or one of them steps on a Lego and becomes incapacitated and the other declares a de facto victory.

Or they both get drunk. Either way.

In my experience, the Mommy Wars are not the pitched battle the media would make them out to be. Instead, the members of each group circle each other slowly, taking the other’s measure, practically sniffing each other’s butts like dogs to try and figure out what makes the other tick.  After a few rounds of questions and some speculative looks, both factions settle into a truce-like state wherein they agree to respect one another.

Then they get drunk together.

I’m on the working side of the putative Mommy Wars. My husband and I agreed that I would work after the birth of our son because my maintaining my career as a non-profit advocacy professional adhered to some important parenting principles we both hold dear, namely providing food, clothing, and shelter to our offspring.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t work if there was the choice not to, I probably would. But if my salary wasn’t quite so critical to our basic functioning as a family, I might work less and spend more time hanging out with the awesome person that is my son.  But I don’t have the chops to be a stay-at-home-mom full time and frankly, I think my kid knows that and would take advantage of my unseemly interest in the Blue Wiggle to watch more tv than most child development experts really recommend.

There are pros and cons to working a steady gig while also being a parent, especially the parent of a child below school age. The downsides are all the time you miss. I didn’t see C‘s first steps; instead I got to see the steps he took later on his first day walking. Sometimes he pops out with new words or ideas and I have no idea where he learned them and have to assume he got them in daycare. And when he got hurt one time, and needed to get stitches, I wasn’t there when he fell, or when he was getting cleaned up by his teacher, or when the EMTs showed up. I got there before they put him in the ambulance but part of me will always think I should have been there faster or I shouldn’t have left him alone at all. Even though not being at work would have meant he was homeless and uninsured in addition to having 10 stitches in his forehead.

Such is Mommy Guilt. 

Then there are the things that ROCK about working. These things are so significant that they require their own list with bullet points and everything.
  • Once a day, five days a week, I sit down to lunch with a group of adults. We talk about all kinds of things, I get to sit in my chair until I’m finished eating and talking, and at no time do I have to puncture the top of anyone else’s beverage nor do I have to cut up anyone’s hot dog. It’s BLISS.  
  • I have a reason and a place to wear cute clothes. Sure, I’m often too broke from paying for daycare to buy cute clothes but when I do have enough money left over to shop, there’s no voice in my head saying “Where are earth are you going to wear faux lizard kitten heels?” because I know that I can wear them to the office and admire them under my desk all day long.
  • I get to keep up with the important happenings of people other than the Elmo. Working around people with no kids, or older kids, affords me opportunities to discuss subjects totally foreign to the world of small children like electoral politics, international affairs, art, music, reality television, and books with words.
  • I don’t have to be crafty. This may not seem like a pro to people who delight in devising wonderful activities with glue, yarn, food coloring, noodles, and those foam letters that I see all over the place nowadays but for me, a person whose main form of creative expression is making up words like “douche-nozzle”, it’s a blessed relief. Instead, C gets to make brilliant art projects at daycare, things it never in a million years would it have occurred to me to try and make. 
  • I will not be forced to take a trip to the nervous hospital after too many consecutive viewings of Roary the Racing Car on Sprout. 
  • I do something incredibly satisfying and meaningful. Not to say raising my son isn’t important or meaningful but I chose a career where I work in service to a greater societal good. My part of that greater good is small but it’s present. And by going to work every day and doing what I do, I show my son the value and satisfaction that come from doing good work.
I wish I thought there was a magic ratio of time-with-kid(s) to time-at-work that would cause things to click into place and make life work perfectly for those of us who have to ride a desk to make ends meet but there probably isn’t. Unless that’s what Stephen Hawking is working on now. I should call him and ask. Maybe bribe him with cookies or something. I bet he'll tell me before he publishes if I bring cookies.

I’m sorry. Where was I? Ah yes, balance. I think it’s a myth. No mom I know feels truly balanced. Maybe Gwyneth Paltrow does but I don’t think I’d like her very well. 

The big take-away I’ve gotten from all the moms I’ve talked to is that we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have. All of us office drones would quit our jobs in a heartbeat if our child needed care that no daycare or sitter could provide. And all of the at-home moms would dust off their resumes and start commuting if the alternative was letting their family starve. We’re all good moms. And we can all be good friends. 

So let’s all agree to get along, stop with the judging, and just get drunk together.  I'll bring the wine.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Elmo n' Cleavage

I caught the new Katy Perry - Elmo video about "opposites."  What do you guys think about her outfit in this video?  Too much cleavage for a kids' show?  Or do you think only the parents are noticing that?  I asked the Peanut Butter Kid about the outfit, and her only comment was that the dress and the hat didn't really go well together.

Maybe it will get more dads to hang out with their kids.

Tell me what you think!

Fun with OCD. Um, Not Really.

One of the things that happens when your children are go off to school is that they learn all kinds of stuff that you wouldn't have taught them.  I don't just mean all that crazy New Math stuff, either.  I don't even mean creative use of the English language.

It seems like a good idea to teach preschoolers about germs.  They're always sticky and their idea of sneeze etiquette is to wipe their noses on your new pants.  So learning how to properly wash hands is an excellent idea.  And learning that germs can be on surfaces like doorknobs, and that there's germs in your mouth, and that germs are bad, bad, bad: All seemingly excellent things to teach a preschooler.


When your preschooler has Asperger Syndrome, he's going to take the video literally.  Even if it is a cartoon.  He is going to think that this guy lives inside him:

Also, he is going to think that guy lives on his blanket.  And the other side of his blanket.  And on every doorknob and possibly every surface in our house.

Now, as you may know, Little Dude is getting over a sinus infection, so last week we used up every tissue available in the Gulf Coast region of Texas.  So while he was at school watching "Scary Germs Live in Your Head" or whatever, I happened to be at Target buying tissues.  And coincidentally, I am a jackass I bought these:

I had to explain that the box did not contain germy tissues.  In fact, I exclaimed, these are awesome tissues that kill germs!  Yay!  Like Jedi tissues!  And now he has a new bedtime ritual of wiping down his entire comforter (both sides) with the anti-viral Kleenex Jedi tissues.

So now, my friends, Little Dude has become Mini-Monk.  He is obsessed with germs.  He usually has new worries each night (like, "Are the Freshbeats real?") but he has been rockin' the germ worry for two nights and he talks about it during the day, too.  He worries and frets and asks me questions in a trembling voice and then is compelled to hop out of bed to wash his hands, and these are not just bedtime stalling tactics.

I'm thinking about going to the library for a kids' science book about germs so he can at least see that they don't have eyes and fangs.  But I'm not sure if realizing that germs are microscopic is going to make things better or worse.

So maybe not so much with the scientific approach.  This isn't a fun obsession like Legos or Star Wars.  Those obsessions are hours of family fun.  This has the potential to be a real honest-to-goodness Lady MacBeth, Clorox-scented obsession.

What do you do when you're watching an obsession begin?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

School Security: Keeping Our Kids Safe from Terrorists, Chupacabras, and Parents

You may remember from an earlier post that our elementary school is not very fond of me walking my son into school in the morning.  The thing is, Little Dude has a really hard time with transitioning from home to school in the morning.  Having me there for even a very short period of time helps to normalize things for him.

Last week when I tried to walk my son into the cafeteria (where his class meets in the morning), I asked an aide, "May I walk him in? I need to speak with his teacher."  The aide said, "no, you can't come in." And the door was summarily slammed in my face.  Slammed. in. my. face. y'all.

So now?  I am going to mess with certain people at this school for sport.

This morning I walked directly into the front office, produced my ID, and said, "I need a pass so I can walk Little Dude into the cafeteria."

The secretary said, "Um, do you just want to talk to his teacher?  I can get her."

"No, I need to talk with his teacher, but I'm going to walk him into the cafeteria."

She took my ID and ever-so-slowly produced a pass for me.  Seriously.  I have seen her produce a sticker in under 15 seconds in the past.  This time, you would think she had to cut down the trees, mash the pulp, and make the sticky paper herself.  A pass consists of a sticker with my driver's license photo printed on it.  There is a special machine that makes it.  I'm pretty sure the scanner actually checks my driver's license against a national database of sex offenders.  So yay.  I'm all about keeping sex offenders out of the school.  However, once the system shows that a person is the legal guardian and not a sex offender, I don't really get the point of keeping parents out.

Look, I get it.  The school needs to be a safe environment, and they need to keep out terrorists and chupacabras and whatnot.   I get it that they're a little tech-happy with the security codes and the driver's license scanner and the fingerprint scanner the students now use in order to check books out of the library.  I also get that the aide and the secretary did not create the policy.  In all fairness and in all likelihood, neither did the principal, for that matter.  I feel kind of bad that the secretary was probably moving slowly because she was afraid that she might get into trouble for letting me in.  However, I don't feel badly enough about it that it's going to stop me from escorting my special needs child to the cafeteria in the morning.

Once I had procured my sticker (and been buzzed into the cafeteria), I made myself at home.  I sat down and had a nice chat with Little Dude's teacher.  We discussed his progress in potty-training and By the way, his teacher is amazing.  I'm starting to love her the way I loved our old pediatrician, Dr. McAwesome.  I want to sit in her lap and have her read me a story about how I can be anything I want to be when I grow up.

Before anyone decides to defend the school's position on keeping me out, let me review some important points:

  • All this cafeteria business takes place before school hours.  Once the school bell rings, the special needs class walks to their classroom with their teacher and aides.  The only thing I'm interrupting is, well, nothing.  There are some kids eating cereal, and there's Little Dude's class.  That's it.
  • Little Dude was absent last week for four days with a sinus infection, so we had to basically start over again with the separation anxiety problem.  By the way, separation anxiety would be better termed "panicked freak-out while child is forcibly peeled from your body from you like industrial-strength Velcro."  (Oooh, another suggestion for the Big Book o' Crazy.  I should totally help those guys write that DSM-V.)
  • I love security as much as the next mommy.  I want to know that my kids are safe, too.  I have no problem with someone politely asking me to get a security pass before I step into the cafeteria.  I do have a problem a door being slammed in my face as an aide hustles my child away from me.  It sends the wrong message to my child and it makes me all kinds of paranoid.
  • Our IEP specifically states that I can be in the school.  Texas education law requires that the school provide in-home training to parents of children with autism.  I asked for in-school "observation" in lieu of the in-home training.
  • I'm his mommy.
I have had it with the weirdly unwelcoming stance toward parents this school has taken.  I am going to be cheerily up their butts all the time.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thank You -- We're Awesome

You guys!  I'm at Number 10 on Babble's Reader-Nominated Top 50 Mommy Bloggers!  To celebrate, I'm watching this video.

It's perfect because Spose is driving my van.  And Little Dude has that comforter.  And I kinda like his Snuggie.

Thanks for all the votes, you guys.  If I can ever do anything for you, just holla.  Like maybe I could kick some IEP meeting butt for you in my new boots.  I'm like Chuck Norris in these boots.

We're awesome.

Why Kids Mess With Your Stuff

One of my friends wants me to write about why children are compelled to mess with everything you don't want them to mess with.  In her case, her three-year-old son is drawn to toiletry articles.  He is particularly driven to utilize her supply of tampons as elements in his latest arts and crafts project.  I'm about ready to put a child-proof lock on the cabinet where my tampons are, because I can totally see Little Dude employing them as part of some incredibly inappropriate Lincoln Log construction.

Small children are scavengers, like Tasmanian Devils, or like me when I'm rifling through the $1 section at Target.  Cookie and the Pork Lo Maniac have always been on the hunt for anything to use in an art project.  Just when I thought they were old enough to play upstairs by themselves, I found them doodling on my wallpaper with ballpoint pens they had stolen from found in my purse.  That was the day Mr. Clean became their new BFF, because he has those wondrous Magic Erasers.  (Not to be all housewifey, but what the hell is in those fabulous things?  Pixie dust?  Tiny little trolls?  Love them.)

The doodling incident was actually preferable to the time the girls decided to use approximately 3.8 million teeny-tiny beads as play food in an elaborate Polly Pocket creation.  My vacuum cleaner now sounds like one of those Fisher Price popper push toys.

The Peanut Butter Kid was also one to mess with stuff that didn't need messing with, but her target was always the refrigerator.  Her favorite activity as a toddler was to get a carton of eggs from the fridge and drop them, one by one, onto the kitchen floor.  We got a lock for the refrigerator, and by the time she outsmarted it, she had moved on to damaging other things.  Things made out of wood.  With her teeth, like a hamster.  She gnawed on  the banister, the dining room table, and her sisters' bunkbeds.   Apparently the teething rings and frozen bagels were insufficiently sharpening her incisors.

Along a similar vein, I've been wondering why she still can't take a bath or shower without an insane amount of drama.  There is always either soap in her eyes or shampoo in her mouth.  I don't know how she gets shampoo in her mouth, but she does, and then there's crying and flailing and foam at the mouth like a panicky, rabid raccoon.

Are you seeing a pattern here?  They're wild animals.

Seriously.  This is probably not the most politically correct take on things, but my children are like wild critters, except they mature much more slowly than other animals.  In order to make them into functional members of society, I have to tame them. So basically my husband and I are Siegfried & Roy, but without the spray tan and hair products.  At any moment now, I expect a camera crew from Animal Planet will show up to document my attempts to housebreak potty-train my youngest child.

Don't tell me you haven't noticed the similarities between potty-training a child and housebreaking a puppy.  When they pee where you want them to, you give them a treat: a Skittle or a Milk Bone, your choice.  You pet them and praise them and call them "good boy."  When they pee somewhere else, like on the rug, you don't hit either a puppy or a child with a rolled up newspaper, contrary to what your grandmother told you.  You redirect them to the correct peeing spot and then break out the carpet cleaner.

Like many couples, before we had kids, we had a dog.  A dog is kind of like a Starter Baby.  Our dog was a miniature dachshund.  She was adorable.  She was also super-excitable and had the tiniest bladder in the whole history of dogs.  When she would see me, she would literally be so excited she would pee.  And she was still quicker to housebreak than any of my kids.

Maybe Siegfried & Roy could offer me some pointers.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Husband is Superman. Also, He's Insane.

Sometimes I am amazed by my husband.  Usually, I'm amazed in a good way.  As the sole provider for a family of six, he regularly works a 60-hour week.  He also mows the lawn (eventually), does the weekly grocery shopping (with at least one child in tow, sometimes all four), and puts up with my ranting nonsense (which is constant).  he's also willing to eat absolutely anything I cook, and that includes leftovers.  All y'all that are married to those dudes who "don't do leftovers," all I can say is this: they would be some hungry hungry hubbies in this house.  Because if I'm going to bother to cook, I'm going to make enough that for at least one night, my only cooking involves pressing microwave buttons.

So yeah: he eats leftovers gladly, works hard, and takes care of us.  Plus, I'm crazy in love with him.  I am still delighted to see him every evening when he walks in from work.  And not only because it's like the freaking cavalry has come to rescue me from the snot-filled depths of my day-to-day drill.  I mean, not only because of that.  But partly.

I used to go regularly to meetings of my local Mothers of Multiples club.  The Absent-Minded Professor would walk in and I'd be all, "Have to go now!  Yes, the meeting doesn't start until 7:30 but I said I'd help set up chairs.  For an hour.  So I havetogonowbuhbye."

Ideally, I would stay out until the kids were in bed.  It didn't really count as a night out if I still had to participate in the Chaos of Bedtime.  I was not the only mommy who thought so, either.  If a meeting ended before 9:00 p.m., a whole bunch of moms would loiter and mill about, muttering, I can't go home yet.  I just can't.

Usually, I would come home to find the house basically trashed, but as long as everyone was still breathing and the kids were asleep, I couldn't have cared less.  I had my night out.

Except one time.

One time, everything seemed fine when I came home.  I had hauled my serially pregnant self out to a "mommy club meeting" and come home to the usual amount of detritus from a fun-filled evening of Daddy insanity. But then the next morning, three little girls were standing silently next to my bed waiting for me to wake up.  Waiting to rat out Daddy tell me all about their awesome adventure the previous night.

It seems that before bedtime, the Peanut Butter Kid managed to lock herself into the bathroom.  She immediately began to freak out.  The Absent-Minded Professor was unable to pop the lock from outside the bathroom.  Therefore, he decided to climb in the bathroom window.  Please note that we're talking about a second-floor window.  In order to access said window, he had to use a ladder.  Our ladder didn't reach all the way from the porch to the bathroom window, so he balanced the ladder on the porch railing.

Because obviously when you're responsible for three small children, what you want to do is balance a six-foot folding ladder on a porch railing and then climb all the way up it.  What's best? Is if you can do this in a place where if you fall and break your neck, you will be entirely hidden by hedges and no one will find your lifeless body and your children will be home alone and one of them is still locked in the bathroom.

Not that this kind of thing sends me into an anxiety spiral.

Of course that night I got the Absent-Minded Professor's side of the story, which turned out to be exactly the same as the girls' story, except that he added some pertinent details like my daughter was panicked and I went into some kind of feral Must Save Child Mode.  Another interesting detail was the fact that when he did rescue the Peanut Butter Kid, she had stripped stark naked in the bathroom as part of her freak-out.

The kids and I got him a Superman t-shirt for Father's Day that year, because in their eyes he's not a crazy risk-taking straitjacket candidate, he's the most amazing, courageous SuperDaddy ever.  And since that's actually the best thing a girl could think about her daddy, I leave it at that.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mommy: The Human Tissue

I've reached a personal low: I can't help my fourth-grade daughters with their math homework because I don't get the New Math strategy for rounding.  Which is now called Estimating.  The only way I know how to round numbers is just in my head.  Which apparently is now called Mental Math.  Cookie and the Pork Lo Maniac aren't allowed to do Mental Math, because they have to "show their strategy," which is the new term for "show your work."  Apparently.  I'm not really sure.

At some point, it's possible that I had enough brain cells left that I could have figured this all out.  However, my brain has been damaged by so many years of children using me as their own personal tissue.

The Pork Lo Maniac and her little brother, Little Dude, have been out sick from school for two days with ooey-gooey sinus infections.   And my middle daughter, the Peanut Butter Kid, has been home on homebound schooling for the whole year so far, so for two days I've been sending Cookie to school as our family's lone emissary to academia.  She's bringing home classwork for her twin sister and I'm afraid the Pork Lo Maniac is going to fall behind, because I am baffled by fourth grade math.  Not the math, exactly, but the crazy way it's being taught nowadays.  (Oy, I'm starting to sound like Andy Rooney again.)

To make things more complicated, it turns out that because teachers all across our country have to teach to their particular state's standardized test, math is now administrated on a state-by-state basis. I had no idea that math could be done differently depending on where you lived, but I guess that shows how math-illiterate I truly am.  I mean, I knew that other countries did things in metric, but I couldn't have imagined that rounding/estimating would be different from one state to another.

(Side note: they are also graphing the temperature in Celsius this week.  I remember doing the same thing in fourth grade and being told that any minute now we're all going to switch over to Celsius.  Bwahahahahaha.  That worked out well.)

Because she's a good sister and she likes math, Cookie tried to help out and teach me enough New Math strategy that I might be able to help her with her homework.  She sang me a song she learned in school about estimating, involving numbers opening doors and seeing their neighbors.  The song had little motions that went with it and everything. It was like some kind of bizarre New (Texas) Math square dance and my brain just shut off.

She explained that it's not like a square dance at all, and she knows, because Square Dancing is an integral part of our curriculum.  I suggested that it would be more awesome if it were a square dance, and demonstrated how it would look.  This was not as helpful to her as if I had actually known how to show my estimating strategy.  

For the Pork Lo Maniac, I told her to just skip the problems she didn't understand and ask her teacher to explain it when she's back at school.  I tried that with Cookie but her anxiety prevents her from leaving anything blank on her page.  We kind of went into a spiral at that point. As I was working her through the anxiety, Little Dude was working his way through a box of tissues because even the smallest amount of mucous in his nose triggers a screaming, hand-flapping sensory panic.  As he was walking to throw out some tissues, he slipped and fell backwards, hitting the back of his head on the kitchen floor.

Triage: possible concussion trumps anxiety attack.

Little Dude was fine, but the crying caused his sinuses to go into mucosal hyperdrive, which to him is of way more clinical significance than a concussion would be.  Between the sinus infections and the anxiety and the slip 'n' fall snot explosion, I spent the better part of my day playing one of my most important roles, The Human Tissue.

I tell you this because at the end of the day, the laundry wasn't done, dinner was some ridiculous wreck of fish sticks, and the house was an extra-special disaster. Because I was busy all day being a tissue.

And that is my New Math.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Big Book o' Crazy

It's Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Week!  ADHD seems to go along with autism, so it got me to thinking about all of autism's fun little friends, which the hipsters call "comorbid disorders."  I call it alphabet soup.  You know: ASD, ADHD, IEP, OCD, WTF.

But ADHD in particular is one of those things you find floating in a lot of families' alphabet soups.  According to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders either have full-blown ADHD or exhibit some ADHD symptoms.  That's, um, a lot.

And yet the Big Book o' Crazy DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) prohibits the co-diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder and ADHD.

Wait, what?

Yeah.  So half of children with autism have ADHD, but (psych!) they really don't, because apparently you can't have both.  Even when you have both.  This kind of thing is one of the many, many reasons that I'm going stark. raving. mad.

The exciting news on this front -- and oh yes, I'm so excited I could pee -- is that the Grand Poobahs of Crazy the American Psychiatric Association are working on the Big Book o' Crazy version 5.0 DSM-V and they're going to change it all up on us.  The psychiatric world is in a tizzy about all the possible changes.  The only thing I am absolutely, positively sure of is this: our insurance company will use the changes to completely screw us.

As far as I'm aware, none of our kids has ADHD.  There's something floating around on the Internet about a new type of ADHD called "over-focused" ADHD, which makes total sense to me until I remember that over means too much and deficit means not enough, and so it makes no sense at all.  It's like saying my extra pounds are caused by overly-chunky cookie deficit disorder, when in fact my extra pounds are caused by overly-cookie exercise deficit disorder.

Obviously, I should totally help those guys write the new DSM.  Some conditions that I would include would be:

  • Odor Detection Deficit Disorder. Diagnostic Criteria: Does not notice that a child needs a new diaper until spouse announces loudly, "Honey, Junior has a little present for you."
  • Juvenile Morning Confusion Syndrome. Diagnostic Criteria: This syndrome is present when a child must be dragged whining and moaning out of bed on school mornings but bounces out of bed at the crack. of. dawn. on Saturdays.
  • Laundry Avoidance Disorder. Diagnostic Criteria: Must have at least two of the following: six loads of unwashed laundry (unsorted); two loads of clean laundry (unfolded); one load of laundry that has been washed and re-washed because you forgot to put it in the dryer and it went sour and you need to wash it again; and/or you have bought new underwear in order to put off doing laundry for another day.
  • Cheap Weasel Syndrome.  Diagnostic Criteria: Are you a medical insurance company?

If any of my kids does have an attention disorder, I would have to call it something like Attention Excess Disorder.  I am doing my darndest to keep the Attention Excess Disorder from blossoming into full blown OCD.  "OCD" is short for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, also known as Why That Detective is So Weird on That Show Monk.

Is it weird that I find Tony Shalhoub's Monk character totally charming?  He makes me feel like Little Dude will have all kinds of career options.

Those of you dealing with ADHD, my heart goes out to you. I'll join you for a bowl of alphabet soup.
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