Monday, December 24, 2012

The Magic of the Season



It's been a rough couple of weeks here on the Crazy Train, which I realize is no way to begin a Christmas holiday post, but it's true.

The holiday hubbub makes it hard for my darlings to deal with regular, everyday stuff, as was evidenced in Princess's school behavior two weeks ago (which will get it's own post, I am sure).  It made for a terrible week full of disciplinary action plans, visits to the principal, and tears.  I was sure the week couldn't get any worse until the tragedy in Connecticut occurred.

The Sandy Hook tragedy has left people across the nation mourning the loss of 27 human lives, most of which were too young to even comprehend.  On top of that unfathomable loss, the media managed to use this awful event to vilify Asperger's syndrome as well.  That unfortunate side effect has left parents like me-- parents of children on the autism spectrum-- doubly reeling with sadness and outrage, as we are left to defend our children and loved ones from the ignorant hate-mongering that abounds on social media and the news right now.

Add to all this stress two children with the flu and one mommy with a very high fever, a massive sinus infection, and what sounds like an emphysemic cough, and you can see why this Christmas season has been a little lackluster for me.

A funny thing has happened, though...

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Newtown Tragedy and Asperger's Syndrome

The tragic shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday is just unfathomable.  I get a lump in my throat and my eyes burn with tears just thinking about it.  How are those folks in Newtown, Connecticut even breathing today?

The Newtown Fire Dept flag at half mast, courtesy of BusinessInsider.com

How will I breathe when I go back to work?  This week, when I walk into the elementary school at which I work, will it look different to me?  Will I be able to look at the faces of the children I see and greet and hug every day, and be able to hold myself together?  Will I be able to reassure these children that they are safe-- and really mean it?  Will I break down when I'm unable to stop the thoughts that this shooting could have happened at my school?  To my kids?

I'm sure I'll do whatever needs to be done, just as my co-workers will.  But no matter what happens, being at work won't feel safe again for a long, long time.

So many things about this tragedy are beyond comprehension.  No one, except for the shooter, can ever really know what would lead a person down a path that would end in massacring children.  Doctors, neighbors, teachers, school counselors, and news anchors can spend countless hours speculating about the mental state of Adam Lanza, but only Adam could have told you why he did what he did.  I have listened to many of the details given about this young man whom, by all accounts, no one really knew, yet about whom everyone seems to have plenty to say.  Adam Lanza was obviously troubled-- any stranger could discern that from the events on Friday, December 14th-- but that is really all we will ever know for sure.

What troubles me about all the press this young man is receiving, however, is that many in the media are trying to link Adam's murderous rampage to his Asperger's syndrome diagnosis.  Please, please, PLEASE-- could the media just once do their research before treading into waters they don't understand...  While I, and parents like me, are out trying to spread autism awareness, the media continues to muddy the waters of understanding with ill-guided comments and suggestions about the relationship between autism and violence.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Paramore, Twilight, and Endearing Sarcasm

Birdie began reading Twilight this weekend.  *collective gasp*  Yeah, I know-- what was I thinking?!

*image courtesy of the coolest-vampire-art-gallery.com

Glad you asked.

What I was thinking was, my eight year-old daughter is going to get half-way through the second chapter of this Twilight book and realize it is a sappy, teenage romance novel.  (Which I totally dug, by the way.  Like, super nutso, I-have-to-get-my-hands-on-the-next-book-as-soon-as-I-finish-this-one dug it.  Not exactly a Twi-mom, but close.  Too close.)  Upon that realization, I was sure-- completely sure, as a matter of fact-- the book would be once again safely tucked away in the box from whence it came.

Weeellllll... yeah, no such luck, folks.  Birdie is completely hooked.  Hooked and racing around the elementary school, making recommendations to every grown-up and older student that she can find.  And as for her own classmates, instead of recommending it to them, she is telling them that "parental guidance is suggested for the content of this novel, which means you should ask your mom if you can read it first."  Go ahead and roll your eyes.  I did.  It seems I have created another raging Twi-hard.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Vote for My Buddy... PLEASE!!

Soooooo...

Hubby found this cute pet contest in which to enter our Buddy, the star of my Hairbrained Musings' pictures.  It's sponsored by 1-800-PetMeds and it's called PetMeds Next Pet TV Star Contest.  Seems kind of poetic, doesn't it?!  My Buddy (aka Beanz-- I don't think I've ever used his "given name" in my blog), the furry little medical disaster that keeps his veterinarian's BMW payment current, has entered a contest to win a spot on a PetMeds commercial.  That's right, Trainees!  You know, if Buddy could speak, he could probably give user reviews on half the medications distributed by PetMeds!  How awesome would it be if our cute little beast could pay for some of his own damn vet bills by winning this contest?!  He could have all the allergic reactions, and eat all the rare coins and corn cobs he wants!

The picture we submitted that will hopefully bring home the gold medal

So, Trainees, I am asking you-- my dear sweet friends-- to help my Buddy/Beanz win the PetMeds contest.  Wouldn't you just love to see his adorably ugly mug on TV?!  You could tell all your friends how you knew Buddy before he became famous, when he was still just a humble housepet.  I just know you'll help a doggy out by voting...


So here's all you do:

1.  Click on this link:  PetMeds Next Pet TV Star Contest

2.  Vote for Beanz by clicking the "VOTE" button, 'cuz he's totally the cutest pup in the contest.

2.  Share the link with all your friends that appreciate a star-quality pooch when they see one, and have them vote for Beanz, too!


Those three simple steps may be all it takes to change my "Buddy" Beanz from an allergy-ridden, money pit of a pooch, into a TV superstar that can earn his keep around this joint!  You, my friends, could be this dog's ticket from Crazy Train to Gravy Train.  Please, PLEASE-- help my adorable little beast out, and VOTE!!!!  Voting begins tonight (November 29th) at midnight ends on December 14th at 11:59pm.

Oh, and by the way, you can vote once every day of the contest!!  (That's 15 votes for each of ya, if you're doing the math!)

Doggy kisses all around if we score a win!  ;)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Field Trips Suck... the Life Out of Me


Princess's stress face :(
Princess:  Mom!  Mom?  MAAAAHHHHHHMMMMMMMM!!!!  WHY AREN'T YOU ANSWERING ME, MOM?!  

Me:  Shhh!  *whispering fiercely*  What is the matter, Princess?!  Why are you yelling?!

P:  *sounds of something plastic having the life beat out of it*  My alarm clock. ISN'T! WORRR-KINNNNG!!!  IT STILL HASN'T RUNG! *hysterical sobbing*


Me:  Honey, it's only 5:00 a.m.  It's not supposed to ring for another hour.  Nothing is broken.


P:  Oh...  Are you sure?!  If we are late to school, they will leave me behind AND I WON'T GET TO GO ON THE FIELD TRIP!! *sobbing again*



Of course.  The "Field Trip Freak Out" is happening.  Again.  I was hoping we were going to avoid the field trip anxiety this year.


Me:  Shhhh!  You will get there on time-- I promise.  Please try to go back to sleep.


Field trips are a living nightmare for lots of spectrum-y kids, my Princess included.  Where most kids are bursting at the seams with excitement about what adventures a field trip day may have in store, the spectrum-y kid is tallying up all the ways that the day could go horribly wrong.  A field trip is a day chock-full of the unknown, and for kids with autism, that's worse than punishment.  On field trip day, the regular school activities, the surroundings, the seating arrangement, the bus ride, the lunch schedule, the grown-up in charge, the bag in which lunch is carried-- all these things are mostly likely different.  Ummmm-- can you say "not good"?!    For a kid that poops at the same time and place every day, a kid who can't find her milk glass at the dinner table if you set it in a different spot by her plate, a kid who gets angry if she outgrows clothes without being warned that the outgrowing might happen soon-- for that kid, this many changes in one day is enough to induce a full-blown panic attack!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankfulness Is A Matter of Perspective

*borrowed imaged*

I am not going to bore you to death with a long, drawn out post about how I'm thankful for family and friends, not being cold or hungry, and not being broke.  If you have been anywhere near a blog or Facebook in the last month, you have seen these trite sentiments more times than you can count.  It's not that I'm knocking trite sentiments (much), but you, my friends, know that I am thankful for these things!  Anyone worth their salt would be!

What I am going to share with you are the things that I am surprised I am thankful for.  There are a few things that I would never ever have suspected in a million years that I could be grateful for, but upon reflection I have realized these things have made my life better in some meaningful or impactful way.  You probably have a few of these surprising sources of gratitude in your life, too-- you just need to turn things on their ear for a moment and look at them from a different angle.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Should a Teacher Break the News that Your Kid is Weird?

Lunch in the Teachers' Lounge is never dull.  Every day at noon, several of my co-workers and I break bread together and talk about whatever is on our minds.  We talk about our kids, our families, our extracurricular activities, and any of the hundreds of other things friends might discuss over lunch.  As you might have guessed, however, our number one topic of choice is our students.  And why wouldn't it be, right?!  We are all (I assume) working at the elementary school because we love kids, and we want to help our students succeed.  It is obvious that the teachers I work with are a very compassionate bunch, and I am often floored by the level of concern and involvement they have with their students.  Frequently, we will spend lunch talking about how to reach a particular student's needs, or discuss strategies to use in class.  Recently, discussions have veered more toward Parent/Teacher conferences, since we have just completed the first grading period.  Consequently, I have never seen my co-workers look more stressed!

I never realized-- or took the time to think about-- the level of anxiety that a teacher experiences during a Parent/Teacher conference!  One would just assume, because the teacher is the one at the meeting with the grades and the behavior reports and the information, that the teacher would feel confident going into a conference.  Wrong!  Teachers get nervous, too, y'all.  It's not usually the discussion of grades that make teachers shake in their conference shoes, but rather the topic of behavior.  And not so much bad behavior as "weird" behavior-- as in Crazy Train-style weird behavior-- that makes teachers squeamish at conference time.  I have discovered during my daily lunches in the Teachers' Lounge this fall that teachers are often afraid of having the Your-Kid-Is-Acting-Weird Conversation!  The teachers worry about what to say, how to say it, and when to bring "it" up.  They worry that they will say too much or too little.  They worry that the parents will get mad, or get offended, or get up and leave!  Who knew?!


*image courtesy of NYC Educator

Sunday, November 4, 2012

More Hairbrained Musings-- the Halloween Edition (16)

More moments and musings from a never-idle mind...



*Halloween these days has more T&A than Cinemax.  I think there is a real potential for profits if Party City and Fredrick's of Hollywood would just merge into the same company-- they already sell many of the same products two month of every year.  Hookers and college coeds around the world would rejoice!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Flu Shots

I've had it up to HERE with flu shots.  And by here, I mean there, because I passed my limit with shots about three years ago and kept going anyway.

image courtesy of Free Stock Photos.biz

I'm not talking about the flu shots for myself, but the ones for my kids.  I'll get my flu shot every time it is available to me, because the pros of the shot outweigh the cons.  For me.  When it comes to Princess and Birdie, however, I cannot envision a single scenario or incentive that would make the headache of getting them vaccinated worth it.  No lotto winnings, no promise of luxuries or prizes-- no one could possibly incentivize that experience enough to make me go to a flu clinic with my daughters ever again.  Ever.  I have given it my best efforts in previous years.  I mean, come on-- protecting your child from a preventable illness, in my opinion, is what any good mother would do!  W-heh-helllll.... I am done with being a good mother by this definition.  It. Ain't. Worth it-- their immunity to the flu, I mean.  I'd rather spend 10 days of my life nursing a flu-ridden child back to health, than spend the 40 minutes it typically takes to get through the flu shot clinic.  I am being completely serious.  Those that know me well know I do, on occasion, resort to the use of hyperbole when describing certain events, and my husband was sure this was one of those times.  This is not one of those times.  I really would rather deal with fever, sweats, chills, body aches, and vomit for over a week, than sit at the flu shot clinic with my children for less than an hour.  Hubby finally came along last year so that he could get the full experience, too-- and now he knows I was not joking.  When I mentioned it was flu shot season again in October, Hubby suggested that instead of getting the free shots that our healthcare provider doles out, I might ought to look into the nasal mist vaccine, which would cost us about $70 for the two girls.  Seventy dollars versus free, and we both felt like we would be getting a terrific deal if there was no drama at vaccination time.  It is THAT BAD!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Roxy the... What?!

Meet Birdie's friend Roxy.

See Roxy sit?  Sit, Roxy, sit.

I see you squinting at the screen, wondering if your vision is failing you in your old age.  You're wondering did I upload the wrong photograph...

Now you're feeling clever because you've concluded that Roxy must be an imaginary friend that is supposedly sitting in the chair...

And some of you are wondering, now that you think about it, what the hell a spaghetti squash is doing sitting in my living room chair.  If you are thinking that is the most jacked-up, redneck fall decor you have ever seen, then congratulate yourself for being wrong.  Again.  That spaghetti squash, in fact, is Roxy.

Deep breath, people.  I don't need anyone hyperventilating with laughter yet.  I haven't even gotten to the good part!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Miraculously Fantastically Magical Sticker

Never-- and I mean NEVER-- underestimate the power of a sticker.

No, that's not a typo.  I meant to write "sticker".  And by sticker, I do not mean "a pointy-ended object with which to poke at things".  The sticker to which I refer could more aptly be described as "cute, colorful, sticky-paper praise".


In general education classrooms, stickers have been employed for many, many (we're talking since-the-dark-ages-when-I-was-in-Kindergarten many) years as one of the ways teachers indicate a job well done to their students.  I used to love getting a sticker on my paper when I was in school (even in high school), because I knew before I even saw my grade that I'd done well.

When you take those same little sticky-backed disks of paper and hand them to a special education teacher, and they are instantly imbued with magical qualities.  Scoff all you like, but it's true!  Stickers, quite often, are the currency of special education.  Stickers provide for students that need to practice better behaviors a couple of things.  One-- they provide students with a visual tally of the times they exhibited good behavior, which becomes a reminder that they ARE capable to doing what they need to do to be successful.  Two-- the stickers (when enough have been collected) can be traded in for any number of desirable things that reward hard work-- extra time at a favorite activity, a trip to a prize box, a special treat, quiet time, or whatever rings the bell of the kid needing motivation.  The stickers are currency, and when the price (or prize, as it may be) is right, kids will work hard to earn them.

Making Time to Volunteer at School

Now that school is back in session, I am sure many of you-- especially parents of elementary-aged students-- have been hounded harassed encouraged to volunteer in your child's classroom.  Many were asked to sign up as volunteers at the very beginning of the school year.  However, now that the first quarter grades are about to go out, and the first of the school seasonal parties are about to begin (as in the nebulous "Fall party", which usually mashes Halloween pumpkins and Thanksgiving turkeys into one non-denominational celebration), teachers may be requesting some help again to fill in the volunteer gaps.  Or, maybe now that school is underway, you have realized that you want to be a bigger part of your child's school experience.  Maybe because you want to keep tabs on get to know better his/her teacher and classmates.  Maybe you realized that volunteering is one of the best ways to keep up with how your child is progressing at school.  Or maybe your child has asked you help out.  Whatever your reason for wanting to volunteer, I know that this is sometimes easier said than done...

Volunteering can be hard to work into your schedule, particularly if you are a working parent.  But do not fear, there are still many ways that you can contribute to the success of your child's classroom, even if you cannot carve out time in your week to be at school.  My friend Carol, one of the administrators for the website National Nannies, has compiled an excellent list of 10 things that you can do to help out your child's teacher from home.  You should take a moment and check out her suggestions:

Link to Carol's article on NationalNannies.com:  http://www.nationalnannies.com/blog/10-ways-working-moms-can-volunteer-at-school/

Aren't these great ideas?!  You're child will be so excited that you have taken some time to devote to his or her class, and the teacher will be ever-so grateful as well.  Please don't feel like you've missed your opportunity to volunteer-- it's never too late to offer a helping hand!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Red Rock Overlook Hike in Pictures

I know I haven't written in nearly a week, and for that I am truly sorry.  I have tons and tons of ideas floating around in my head, many of which are in various stages of my writing process and sitting in Blogger waiting for me to get back at it.  I am also working on a guest post that will be showing up pretty soon...

But enough with the excuses!  I thought I would share with you, in pictures, why I have gotten little to no writing done today.  It was just too beautiful outside to be sitting inside with my laptop in front of me!  Hubby and I took the Crazies to Red Rock Overlook, a nearby park, for an afternoon hike and geocaching adventure.

Princess, styling & profiling in her very
"fashionable" hiking gear... she yelled "GEOCACHING"
just before I snapped this.  :)

And they're off!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Little Things

At my house this isn't always the case!
It's the little things, really, that make motherhood so rewarding:


The extra long hugs, especially when you know your kids don't usually love them.

The charming I'm-so-proud-of-myself smiles of accomplishment.

The crayons found hidden in your underwear drawer by only God knows who, that make you laugh out loud at 6:00 a.m. when you find them.

The almost compliments received, like "you'd be pretty today, Mommy, if you weren't wearing make-up.  Or that shirt."

The hilarity of going out without the children, thinking you look great for a change, only to discover one of your charming offspring used your shoulder as a tissue when she hugged you good-bye, and so now you look like maybe YOU are the one that uncouthly blew your nose on your shirt.  

The countless pieces of artwork that threaten to swallow your fridge whole.

The shampoo bottles in the shower that have all been filled to the top with water.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Campers, the Next Chapter


Greenbrier Lake

Last Friday after school, the Crazy Train rolled into Maryland's Greenbrier State Park for our second pop-up camper adventure.  We figured, what better way to spend a three-day weekend than in the woods?!  Although it was a somewhat whinier trip than our first, it seems that fun was had by all.  Even the cooler temperatures and drizzly Sunday couldn't spoil the fun for my ladies.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Awareness & What A Diagnosis Is NOT

Aahhh... the magical diagnosis.  In the world of special education, a child's diagnosis is the compass rose and key that educators use to draw the map of that particular student's learning plan.  The diagnosis, by definition, is an evaluation of an individual to determine what is contributing to their educational and behavioral difficulties.  The diagnosis, therefore, is a tool.  It is a tool parents and teachers use to raise awareness and understanding about a child's particular set of behaviors, and nothing more.  It is most decidedly NOT meant to be an excuse for academic and behavioral shortcomings. It is not permission to stop parenting.  It should, instead, be a parent's notification of hard work in the near future.

I'll just apologize in advance-- this may turn into a bit of a rant.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

More Hairbrained Musings (15)

Another collection of moments and musings.  (Some of you may have noticed this is no longer a weekly post.  You may have also noticed my other posts are less frequent, too-- I didn't want my Musings to overtake my blog, so they will just begin to happen when they happen, but I doubt they will ever go completely away.  It's waaay too fun to vent!)



*To bathe or not to bathe should NEVER be the question.  When in doubt, err on the side of cleanliness.  Please.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rubber Pellet Gun... A Fantasy

Image from Christmas Story 2
Some days my kids-- and possibly your kids, too-- make me crazy.  We all have those days when our tolerance for all things b.s. go right in the crapper, and all we have left is our imaginations and divine intervention to keep us from losing our goop.  Many of us even have a secret fantasy that we play out in our heads to make the crazier days more tolerable.  And by secret fantasy, I mean we have a mental Calgon place, where things are calm and (insert favorite adult beverages here) flow like water.  On the really crazy days, though, my mental diversion isn't to an exotic locale.  Mine is a rubber pellet gun.  (I'll wait while you finish laughing at me.)  I have been threatening and joking about getting one for years, and I am sure it could solve all my most aggravating problems.  My sanity sometimes hinges on a couple of ounces of imaginary toy gun.  Are you worried yet?

If you aren't worried about me yet, you are about to be.



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Don't Be an Ass



We are all asses.  There-- I said it.  You.  Me.  Your mom and dad.  The President.  Mother Teresa.  Your priest.  Your mail carrier.  Your favorite elementary school teacher.  You name it-- no matter who you come up with, they are all asses, too.  Now why in the world am I calling you and everyone you know an ass?  Well, you've heard the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover", haven't you?  It's an adage for a reason:  Everyone, and I mean everyone, is guilty of looking at another human being and making assumptions about them based on what they see.  And you know what happens when you assume...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy Campers

Shenandoah River State Park, with Massanutten Mountain in the distance

As I have mentioned several times before, my girls seem to find a sense of peace outdoors that they are unable to attain anywhere else.  Maybe it's the wide open spaces, the absence of crowds, or the fresh air.  Maybe it's the lack of blinking, dinging, flashing electric devices... whatever it is, my husband and I try to exploit this knowledge whenever we can.  We go hiking and geocaching quite a bit during warm weather.  On a couple of occasions, my husband has even taken the girls camping.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What A Waste (previously published on ScaryMommy.com)

For those of you that missed it back in July, here is the article I wrote for Scary Mommy's Society page.  


If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times.  It's the old one-two kiss-of-death combo that used to destroy my self-confidence.  A friend or acquaintance, thinking that she is paying me the highest of compliments, will say something like:

"It is such a waste that you don't have your teaching certificate/ haven't gone to grad school/ haven't gone to law school/ blah blah blah (pick one or all).  You could be doing so much more!

And there it is.

The remark starts off sounding like a compliment... but then its implications crash down around me like a rogue wave.  I have to face the fact that this person thinks: 1.) I have a big brain (yay, me!), and 2.) it's gathering dust.  Ouch.  Funny how something that I assume was intended as a compliment-- I refuse to believe otherwise-- ends up making me feel completely invalidated.  Or at least, it used to.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Affection- A Sensory Fairy Tale

Image from stockfresh
Not too long ago, in the kingdom of Autism, lived Princess Crazy, of the Crazy Train Crazies, and Birdie, her Not-A-Princess twin.  While ruling the land of Second Grade in Kingdom Autism, the lovely Princess Crazy was quite the stingy girl.  Where most all the other children in her kingdom were willing to hug and kiss and say hello, Princess Crazy would go out of her way to avoid activities such as these, deeming them an "invasion of her personal space".  *gasp*  Right up to the end of her reign in Second Grade, the princess would not bestow her love and affection on the grown-ups in her kingdom, with the exception of an elite few.  (Quite frankly, it seemed that most of the grown-ups that did receive Princess Crazy's hugs and kisses were grown ups upon which she depended for food, shelter, transportation, and good grades... but I digress.)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

This Week's Hairbrained Musings (14)

Another week of moments and musing...



*When a having a conversation with a country girl, and she says "Well, isn't that something?!", you may as well stop talking right then and there.  She either doesn't understand what you're talking about, or doesn't give a damn.  Either way, you are wasting your time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Change is Good



So apparently, change is good!  I mean like, really good.  So good, in fact, that I am beginning to worry that I have somehow gotten off the Crazy Train and entered another, parallel universe, where my children are incredibly agreeable, and the happytime-to-meltdown ratio is much, much more favorable than I am accustomed to.  I keep waiting for the proverbial crap to hit the proverbial spinning blade, but so far no dice!  I am really digging living in this Twilight Zone!

Part of me is not 100% convinced that this fan we speak of isn't just pointed in someone else's direction during the school day, and that I am just happily outside the splatter zone.  I'm wondering, if that is the case, do I even care that my Utopian illusion is just an illusion?!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

This Week's Hairbrained Musings (13)

Another week of moments and musings.



*No matter how busy or active you think you were over the summer, nothing compares to the fatigue you feel at the end of each day during the first week of school!  The entire staff-- and most of the kids-- looked completely whipped when the final bell rang Friday.

*When I see the words "light" or "low-calorie" on a food package, I automatically assume that I should eat twice as much to feel satisfied.  FAIL.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Birdie and "The Talk"

Safety Birdie-- the kid that keeps on amazing me!
Last night, just before bed, Birdie sprung a question on me that I wasn't expecting to hear for quite some time.  I don't know why it surprised me.  Nothing should surprise me anymore, and it usually doesn't.  My girls have proven time and time again that, if nothing else, they are precocious.  I guess my surprise was just a result of not feeling confident that I would handle the topic with the right finesse.

But I'm getting ahead of myself... let me set the stage for you a little.  For the last couple of weeks, Birdie has been bouncing around the idea of starting her own blog.  So cool, right?!  One of my fellow blogger friends, Perry Morgan, suggested several months ago that Birdie might enjoy blogging, but I was hesitant to mention it to her.  Then out of the blue, Birdie asked if I would help her make a blog!  (Sorry, Perry-- you were so right, dude!)  She wants to blog about her fantasy world she calls "The Dimension" and all of the magical creatures that live there. She plans to provide illustrations, as well as an "English to Dimension language dictionary".  I think it sounds like a fabulous creative outlet for her.  She also very politely pointed out that I could list her blog on my blogroll "so that other people could find her on the internet and enjoy her imagination."  Ha-- I love that kid!  I assured her that if she made a blog, she would be at the top of my list.  :)

So, back to the question that left me feeling unprepared...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I'm the Look@Her Guest this Week!

This week, it is my privilege to be the featured mom in Ms. Mommy HH6's "Look@Her" column!  

Say hi to Ms. Mommy HH6!
For those of you that have been following my blog from the beginning, you may have noticed that I haven't really delved a whole lot into Princess and Birdie's diagnosis stories.  If you have been curious about our diagnosis journey, this Look@Her article may scratch that itch for you.  It's definitely worth checking out!  

You know what else is worth checking out?! Ms. Mommy HH6's blog-- that's what!  She has something for everyone on her blog, whether your a mom, special needs mom, military wife, or a girl just looking for the 411 on new products.  Take some time after you've read about me *hint hint*, and click around her site as well.  :)

So without further ado, click here and read my profile feature on Ms. Mommy HH6!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Big Shift

Except for the date, this is pretty accurate.

I have spent all summer trying to ease Princess and Birdie into the idea of third grade.  I have subtly changed their lunch time from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., which is a pretty big deal.  I have casually mentioned from time to time some of the differences between 2nd and 3rd grade, like working in groups more often, having different seating arrangements, and reading more chapter books.  I have talked about who their teachers will be and how they compared to their 2nd grade teachers.  The Crazies seemed to take the info in stride, and with little worry.  Then, when Back to School Bootcamp began, the first week went so well that I thought my girls were finally going to be relieved of most of the anxiety that they experience this time of year.  Uhhhh-- I was wrong.  They just decided to hold off on the worry for a day or two.  Maybe the good news that we weren't moving helped delay the insanity.  After all, Princess was over the moon that she would get to spend another year at school with Prince Charming.  Unfortunately, reality began to set in early last week, and we have been stress-central on the Crazy Train ever since.

And here I thought I might actually be dodging a bullet...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Adventures in Home Decor Shopping

This is a tale about a little sensory-overload experience that most people refer to as "shopping".  At my house, we lovingly refer to it as "gambling with disaster".  Shopping at the grocery is bad enough, with all the food samples, and the pretty packages filled with all sorts of enticing yummies for which the kids beg.  Shopping at a home decor store-- now there is a much messier, and totally uncontrollable can of worms to deal with.  Whew-- my PTSD is starting to flare up just thinking about it!

Home decor shopping.  *wince*  Normally, I look for reasons not to go shopping, but sometimes it's just unavoidable-- a means to an end, if you will.  When we recently removed the aquarium from our living room, I got it into my head that it was the perfect time to redecorate our living room walls-- thus, the need for shopping.  Sounds great, right?!  Who doesn't look forward to prettying-up the house a little?!  Shopping with a purpose-- that I can handle.  So, with visions of what my new living room decor might look like, and excitement at the prospect of freshening up the place, I loaded the girlies into the car and we headed to Home Goods.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

This Week's Hairbrained Musings (12)

Another week of moments and musings.




*Public restrooms are full of learning opportunities, and most of them are lessons you'd rather not learn in a public restroom.  (Tampons, anyone? Or floor tp? *gag*)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Guest Post at Ms. Mommy HH6

Good Morning, Trainees!

Today I have the privilege and honor of guest posting on the blog Ms. MommyHH6!  Ms. MommyHH6 is quite an impressive lady, if you aren't familiar with her blog.

Here's a brief bio, in her own words:

Army wife of 10 years, mother of 2 beautiful little miracle girls, special needs advocate, avid book reader, social media/tech/Apple geek, aspiring author…
Founder/Group Leader of MOSNAB: Moms of Special Needs Army Brats….
Moderator/Guest Blogger/Group Leader at MSNN: Military Special Needs Network….
Admin at Army Mommies 101
Graduate of Gaston College and Belmont Abbey College
Former Paralegal and FRSA
The focus on Ms. MommyHH6 is moms! All moms, especially military moms and special needs moms.
I really love this lady's writing, and I feel we are kindred spirits in our desire to advocate for our children and raise awareness.  It also doesn't hurt that she used to live not too far from where I grew up-- Carolina girls just have that extra something, you know!  ;)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes

We've got a whole lot of change going on here at the Crazy Train in the next couple of weeks.  I know you've heard the whole "change is good" nonsense that people like to spew about.  Hell, even I make this comment from time to time!  But I don't usually say this in reference to me and mine.  At my house, change is most decidedly B. A. D.  Change isn't what makes the world go 'round-- it's what brings the world to a screeching halt for my Crazies.  Change makes Princess and Birdie grumpy and tearful, and makes mama want to hide in the closet with ice cream or wine!  Somehow, Hubby tends to score more hours at the office during times of change, and therefore misses out on most of the excitement.  I'm thinking this is not a coincidence.  Regardless, you get the point-- change and I aren't on good terms.  At least not most of the time.  Change does have it's moments-- just not very often!

(not my photo)

Monday, August 13, 2012

And We Have an IEP Winner, People!

Last Friday was Birdie's long-awaited IEP planning meeting-- and I am so glad it's over!  (It was quite quick and painless, once we got started.)

During the whole process to acquire special accommodations for Birdie at school, I have been a bit of an emotional wreck.  I find this fact funny, since I know how the system works, know the language of special education, and understand all the hoops that must be leapt through to get services in a public school setting.  I can't imagine how a parent without a background in public education could fair the waters of a typical IEP meeting and leave feeling anything but overwhelmed!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Aw Shucks, People Think I'm Great!

Guess what, y'all!  I've been nominated for some more bloggy love awards. Before I go any further, though, I want to apologize to those that have nominated me for so taking so long to respond to these honors.  I am so flattered that you love me enough to send me this accolade!  You have truly made my day!  I have had so much going on this summer, however, that these kept piling up, unanswered-- but I am making that right this very second.


First of all, I have received three new Liebster nods!  Woo hoo!  My original Liebster Award came from Laura at Stroller Parking Only back in July, and you can see my post here.  Since then, my adorable friends Tricia at Today With the Tennerys, Sarah at Daily Messes, and Leigh at 1 of a Kind have also nominated me for this honor.  These ladies have wonderful blogs of their own that you should really check out some time.  Each have a little something for everyone, and I am sure you will love them as much as I do.  Forgive me ladies, for not going through all the hoops that come with an original Liebster nomination-- there's only so many random facts about me to be had!


I have also had the honor of being nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award!  Melissa at Figuring It Out As We Grow and my bloggy friend at Too Smart For Her Own Good have both nominated me for this, and I think that is super cool!  These two ladies are also worth your time to read!  I enjoy their insights into motherhood and life in general.  I hope you take the time to check them out as well.  :)





The Rules:

1.  Include award logo in a post or on your blog page.
2.  Answer (10) questions about yourself (*the same ones that I answer below).
3.  Nominate 10-12 other fabulous bloggers.
4.  Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blog, letting them know about the award.
5.  Share the love and link the person who nominated you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

This Week's Hairbrained Musings (11)

Another week of moments and musings.


Sorry, y'all-- Buddy is taking a photo break this week.  :)



*Someone needs to explain to my daughter that the moisture in her underwear is most certainly NOT humidity, because she won't listen to me.  Can you say euphemism?!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Nova Scotia

This week on the Crazy Train, we are very happy to have my mother and sister visiting with us.  Birdie was so excited about their impending visit, in fact, that on Friday, while awaiting their arrival, she planned a very special event for them.  When when my mom and sister got here, Birdie enthusiastically told them about the wonderful trip to Nova Scotia that they had the opportunity to be a part of.  Yep, that's right-- Nova Scotia.  Don't ask me why.


Image from Cross Canada Train Tours


By now, my mother and sister have learned that sometimes Birdie's big plans happen, and sometimes she moves onto other things before bringing them to fruition, so they weren't much worried about Nova Scotia.  After a few minutes of excited banter, Birdie moved onto a different topic, and that was the last mention of the trip on Friday.  Saturday afternoon, however, Birdie started making preparations for a day of "travel by train" to the vacation wonderland that is Nova Scotia.  She set up most of the top floor of our townhouse, including her bedroom, the bathroom, and the hallway, as different stops on the vacation tour.  She was very proud indeed of her Nova Scotia wonderland by the time she finished Saturday at dinnertime.  Everything was in place for the big event on Sunday.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

This Week's Hairbrained Musings (10)

Another week of moments and musings.




*You know you have a problem when your own veterinarian giggles and says to you "you may very well have the world's most expensive dog."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Crazy Train Olympics


I have to admit that I'm not much of a fan of televised sports.  Not even the Olympics arouses my interest much.  I will occasionally watch the beach volleyball, since those are about the hottest athletes to ever walk the face of our planet.  A bit of the high diving competition never hurts, either-- those insane divers are fearless and amazing!  (They make me just dizzy watching them.)  I will watch some gymnastics too, for the same reason I watch diving-- gymnasts are truly unbelievable!  I wish I could do those things, so I live vicariously through them for a few moments, until it becomes depressing how obviously low their BMIs are, and I begin to feel the need to self-medicate with ice cream.  (It also occurs to me that those little girls could totally kick my ass.  I have never even imagined myself in as good of shape as they are in!  Even when I played basketball and spent hours everyday in the gym, I didn't hold a candle to the fitness level those girls achieve!  Ugh.  But I digress...)

I have tried this week to interest Princess and Birdie in watching some of the Olympic competition.  Why not, right?  After all, the Olympics only happens every four years, and there are some great lessons in sportsmanship and dedication to be learned there.  Even if the girls got totally addicted to watching the games, it would all be over in a few days, and life would go on as normal (no possibility of fixating on it they way they did with the Pocahontas movie or Sonic X ).  I tuned into the equestrian event, thinking the horses might tickle their fancy-- not even a flicker of interest.  We also tried swimming, water polo, volleyball, and gymnastics, all with flagging enthusiasm.

After many attempts at watching many different sports, Birdie finally asked me "I don't understand.  Why do these people practice these sports so much, Mom?!  Wouldn't it be better to know that you are the best at a sport naturally, without all the practice?"

Monday, July 30, 2012

What a Week for Delirious Mom!

This past week has been jam-packed with activity on the Crazy Train!  The word whirlwind comes to mind.  I don't know how so much could possibly happen in one week, and happen so painlessly at that.  (I should probably knock on wood right about now! *rapping on my head with my knuckles*)  I just give you a brief recap of the week, with the little funny bits that deserve mentioning added in.

Posing for a photo op: Prince Charming, Princess & Birdie
No one looks particularly enthusiastic about the camera.

Monday:  The Crazy Train took a ride to The Natural History Museum, accompanied by Princess's future husband and mother-in-law.  We had an absolutely nerdy blast and stayed over 4 hours.  Four hours, people!  That's like a year in being-social-and-on-the-spectrum time.  No one was more surprised than P's future MIL and me-- we both kind of figured we'd spend more time in the car than at the museum.  We had no drama, no meltdowns, and no security issues.  The only fallout from the whole event happened hours later at home.  Birdie briefly worried that her stuffed dog could possibly have gotten cancer from the full-body x-ray he received during the security check at the Ronald Reagan Building.  Once I showed her the "cancerous spot" was really just a piece of black paper stuck to her stuffy's ear, all was well in Birdie-Land again.

Friday, July 27, 2012

This Week's Hairbrained Musings (9)

Another week of moments and musings.



*The paperwork you have to fill out, and the orientation sessions you have to attend when starting a new job are designed to weed out the weak!  I mean, seriously-- if you still want to work for public schools after watching the blood-born pathogens video, you're either crazy or REALLY love your job.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

COOLEST NEWS EVER!!!

I have really awesome news, Crazy Trainees!! 


Drum roll, please... 

I am being published by the Scary Mommy herself-- the one and only Jill Smokler-- on her website ScaryMommy.com! Woo Hoo!

*lots of giddy happy-dancing going on at my house right now*

For those of you unfamiliar with Scary Mommy, this is one awesome blog by one funny lady that takes a very honest, in-your-face look at motherhood.  Jill has recently published a book entitled Confessions of a Scary Mommy and she has an enormous online community of mommies that share with and support one another.  Jill publishes a series on ScaryMommy.com that she refers to as her Society Posts, which are written by guest bloggers.  Yours truly-- moi-- is this week's guest blogger! *some cabbage patchin', then the running man, a little sprinkler action-- ooooohhhh, yeeeaaaahhh!*

I AM SOOOOOOO STOKED!  

This is truly a very big, bloggy honor, and I hope that you will click on the link below and read my latest article "What a Waste". I feel like getting my article printed here is a MAJOR accomplishment and compliment.  :)

http://www.scarymommy.com/what-a-waste/


Give Scary Mommy, AND ME, a like on Facebook too, while you're at it-- if you haven't already.  Wouldn't you just love to get more Crazy in your Facebook NewsFeed?!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Birdie's SPED Evaluation & Eligibility

You may recall that back in May, I referred Birdie for special education services (<--see the post about this here) at school.  Although it wasn't fun, it was necessary, and Birdie was approved to be evaluated for services.

The series of evaluations began almost immediately, and for those of you with children that receive special services, you know how long this process can take.  Birdie was observed in the classroom, to get eyewitness accounts of her difficulties handling some of the "constructs of a typical learning environment".  She was evaluated by an educational diagnostician, who basically assesses and diagnoses learning difficulties of students, using a battery of tests and interviews.  Birdie was given a psyche evaluation, which is more tests and interviews.  I was interviewed.  Birdie's medical history was required, which included listing all Birdie's missed milestones, medical issues, and relatives with any sort of mental health issues.

Can you say "probed"?!  That's how you feel at the end of all this.  Probed.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

This Week's Hairbrained Musings (8)

Another week of musings and moments.



*The last thing you ever want to admit to yourself is that your kids drive you crazy because they are so much like you.  Therefore, I refuse to admit this.  Denial is better.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Understood Rules

Yesterday was a horribly disagreeable day here on the Crazy Train.  The day started off rocky, and continued at a consistently bumpy cadence the rest of the day.  For whatever reason-- the alignment of the stars, the toss of the dice, the smell of the laundry hamper (your guess is as good as mine!)-- peace was not to be had between Princess and Birdie.

The civil unrest began shortly after breakfast, when I went out to get my morning exercise.  (We have a sidewalk loop right in front of our townhouse where I try walk a mile or two each morning.)  The girls declined my invitation to come out an play while I walked, stating that they were "in the middle of THE most awesome story show ever and didn't have time."  Whatever.  They were getting along nicely, so I let it go.

Twenty minutes into my walk, just as I was getting to the good part of the Harry Potter book I'm reading, Birdie came charging out the front door.  She let the whole neighborhood know that "Sissy tried to strangle me with her bare hands!  TWICE!"

Vicious, aren't they?  (borrowed image)

Great.  "So what did you do to cause that reaction, Birdie?"  Guess I'll finish my walk later.

"Uhhhhhh, nothing?!"  She said this like it was a question.  Which meant the answer was decidedly not "nothing".

Versatile Blogger Award

I know you guys are tired of hearing about my awesomeness, but I just don't care!  ;)  Story of a Girl nominated me for The Versatile Blogger award, and dang it-- I'm gonna take a minute and embarrass myself toot my own horn.  Again.  Hey-- at least you're learning all sorts of strange and interesting things about the Conductor of the Crazy Train.  That has to be good for something!  (Blackmail, possibly?) 



Sunday, July 15, 2012

Unexpected

Summer has had its highs and lows for Princess and Birdie, as expected.  When spectrum-y kids go from a highly structured daily schedule like school, to a loosely scheduled, mostly by-the-seat-of-your-pants daily routine, things are bound to be unpleasant at times.  I know I could make life more predictable for them, scheduling every moment of every day if I wanted, but (and it's a very big but) I feel I would be doing them a disservice if I did.  My little ladies have to learn flexibility and adaptability somehow, and honestly, school isn't always the best place for that.

Princess trying to look happy about the 100º weather, Birdie-- not trying

As much as it pains me to do it, I intentionally sabotage our day on occasion (not much, but some) in order for the girls to "practice" dealing with things not going their way.  I may rearrange the events on our Summer Schedule, for instance, and do Wednesday's activity on Monday-- "accidentally".  I may get to the library a few minutes before it opens so that we have to wait to get in. *gasp*  I may offer mac & cheese for lunch, only to "discover" we don't have any in the pantry.  I may invade their ever-sacred personal space without asking, or "accidentally bump into" one of them, so that they have to practice dealing with unauthorized contact appropriately.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

This Week's Hairbrained Musings (7)

Another week of moments and musings...



*An 8-hr car trip with two very unenthusiastic 8 year-old passengers is the stuff drinking-problems are made of.  It may also be the precursor to a straight jacket and a thorazine drip.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Liebster Blog Lovin'

The blogging community is so supportive and encouraging.  Bloggers of all creeds, races, and walks of life come together to encourage, comfort, and support one another in their bloggy endeavors.  There is always copious amounts of love to be had in the blogosphere!



One way bloggers show their love and support is through the Liebster award, which is a lovely token of appreciation from one blogger to 11 others, to let them know they have "put together a pretty great blog."  The Liebster is specifically for blogs with less than 200 followers-- which makes it the perfect way to showcase the new kids on the bloggy block.  :)

Laura from Stroller Parking Only sent me the Liebster love, and I couldn't be more humbled.  Laura is from Canada, and is the mother of one infant and one labrador retriever.  She is direct, honest, and hilarious, and if you haven't yet visited her blog, then I insist you do soon.  You won't be sorry!  :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

To Infinity and Beyond!

How do we manage to have such dorky conversations at the dinner table?!

Tonight, we were talking about how Brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoli are all cruciferous vegetables (don't laugh yet-- it gets dorkier), even though they seem so different.  What makes them cruciferous, Princess wondered.  I explained that they are all related because the flowers on the plants have four petals that resemble a cross, thus "cruciferous", which is Latin for cross-like.  Princess didn't like this explanation.  "A flower shouldn't make them RELATED.  Broccoli rocks, but cabbage and Brussel sprouts suck!  I mean it!  That's just dumb."

He does look dumb...
"You want to talk about dumb", said Birdie, "then let's discuss Buzz Lightyear for a minute.  (So she was the one that left the Toy Story DVD lying in the floor earlier... hmmm.)  That idiot likes to use the phrase 'to infinity and beyond!'  Like there is anything beyond infinity!  It's infinity because we don't know where it ends!  Duh."


(I warned you it would get dorkier.  Doesn't everyone talk about cruciferous vegetables and infinity with their little ones?  I say make each moment a dorky teachable moment.)


This was not the first time the subject of infinity has come up at the dinner table.  About three weeks ago, the whole family had discussed the idea of infinity to some extent over dinner.  The whole conversation made my brain hurt, and I was glad when it was over.  I should have known it wasn't over for good.  Things have a way of getting repeated again and again around here.  I'd say it's like deja vu, but it isn't as baffling as that.  My kids just cannot let things go.  Ever.  Even when you think they finally have.  It takes very little to revive a long-forgotten topic-- like seeing the Toy Story DVD, for example.  That was all it took to set my expert conversational-track-jumper into action, making the leap from cabbage to infinity in a single bound.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Corn Dog"

This handsome fur baby is my Buddy.  You may recognize him from my weekly Hairbrained Musings posts.  He is a bit of a local celebrity here on the Crazy Train.  He is the funniest, most ridiculous, most loving, most(ly) well-behaved (he is still a pup at 17mo) dog a girl could ask for.  He is also completely and undeniably stupid-- sometimes.

Dammit-- I AM smiling!!  YOU say "cheese" and I might look more excited.

Being a pup, Buddy still does "puppy stuff", like getting hyper for a few minutes and running around like a nut, or occasionally peeing in an "inconvenient" place (like on my mom's couch-- sorry Mom).  He gets a little "frisky" sometimes, too.  Especially around sweaty women-- and me.  (Notice I don't count myself in with the sweaty women, no matter what may be true.)  It's gross and funny all at the same time, the way Buddy will sit at your feet and whine with "desire" right before he jumps up on the couch and tries to make your shoulder his bitch.  Now that I think of it, it's actually gross and sad... oh, what am I saying?!  It's freakin' hilarious!  But I do hope that one day he outgrows his amorous side, or at the very least adjusts his sexual preferences to not include me.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Got Tagged!



Woo hoo!  Go me-ee, go me-ee! 

I'd like to take a moment to thank the academy, and all those important people in my life that helped make this happen... *hehe*  

My bloggy friend Diane at Our Adventures with Riley chose me for my first blog award, and I am so flattered!  Somebody thinks I'm fabulous!  What fun!  I'm pretty sure this is an honor, right?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Big Day in Small Town NC

My girls have spent the last couple of July 4ths at our house in the suburbs of Virginia.  This year for Independence Day, however, I packed up my car and drove south to the small town in North Carolina where I grew up, and where my folks still live.  Now that they are old enough to really enjoy it, I thought it was high time Princess and Birdie experience this holiday of patriotism, greasy grilled food, and amateur pyrotechnic displays in a place and way that I recall fondly from my youth.  I think that they are really happy that we did.

We started our day bright and early with my home town's "Big Day" celebration, which kicked off with a parade.

Birdie waiting for the parade to start

The lead unit in the parade, right after the
police car escort and the National Guard color guard