Friday, October 31, 2008

The WEAP years ~ The end of an era

September 2006

Mina started working with the Wisconsin Early Autism Project two years ago after being on the waiting list (for funding) for one year. I worked with her as much as I could during that year, but I had another child to care for as well. Try having 30 minutes of uninterrupted floortime with a 3 year old when you have a 1.5 year old... I did my best. I did a lot. But, she needed much more than what I could do. During Mina's first month with WEAP I think I cried almost every day about how quickly she was responding, how much she was talking, how happy she was. These girls came over every day with so much energy, energy that Mina needed so much that I alone just couldn't provide. They were Mina's cheerleaders. Six hours every weekday were full of success, praise, treats, pony rides, spaghetti arms, and super fun and creative learning time.

I know Mina loved it about 95% of the time, and if it wasn't for WEAP, I don't know how I personally would have managed. When we were on the waiting list, not recieving any services, I was so tired. I was stretched beyond the max. Everything else slipped to the wayside. Jason and I were fighting all the time, I was worried all the time, I had terrible guilt because Leta didn't get enough attention, everything seemed so dark and impossible and I just had to keep my chin up and keep trudging through because I wasn't going to let Mina down. By the time Mina got her waiver slot (Katie Beckett/Medicaid) and started therapy, I just felt totally broken.


Now, two years later, our time with WEAP has come to an end. This month it was determined that Mina no longer meets Level of Care to qualify for Medicaid. In other words, she has become too high functioning. Just like that, she goes from 33 hours per week of in-home therapy to nothing. This isn't exactly the ideal way to end things, but I'm so grateful that we were able to get the help we did when we did.

Today was Mina's last day. We had a graduation party this morning.

Thank you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to Margot, Stacey, Dr. Sallows, Jordan, Sara, Stephanie, Sharon, Jennifer, Claire, Melissa, Andrea, and Morgan. Thank you, WEAP. Thank you, Wisconsin, for funding this. Thank you to the village who has helped us so tremendously. Thank you for making such a difference in our lives, and Mina's life. You have given our brilliant child the tools she needs... to give back to YOU, to share the amazing things that are going on up there.

I have tears streaming down my face and Mina is telling me it's okay, not to be sad, and that SHE IS HUNGRY and so I should feed her and get off of the computer. Thanks for bringing me back from my sentimental moment, Mina. ;)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yay heat! And nursing woes

Hooray! We have a new furnace! It works and it's pretty (so Jason says) and I love not wearing a scarf around the house because I hate it when my scarf ends go in the sink. We need someone to affix some sheet metal for us. Anyone? Anyone?

Also, Cullen has been waking in the night more and more, and because I'm weak and I didn't learn from my mistakes last time (slow learner) I'm afraid he's decided that 1-2 times a night it's time to wake up for a meal. I think he's getting some molars because the latch seems kind of off. I think this is a sign that I should wean him NOW. I will have to get earplugs, though, if I have to not feed him in the night. I'm sure to get scolded for it when I go see the doctor. Well, maybe. His last appointment was with Dr. Awesome and she prescribed a book on how to stop feeding your baby at night. Maybe Dr. Dude will have different advice. We'll see!

That's all folks. My baby calls.

Monday, October 27, 2008

They're not just the hottest, they're the COOLEST!

Our furnace has been on the fritz for a while. Today it was pretty cold out and it was obvious that the furnace wasn't doing it's job. 64 degrees may have been balmy in my childhood bedroom, but I hate it when Cullen's fingers and toes are cold and being cold in my own home actually makes me really depressed.

Fortunately, my brother-in-law happened to be doing some work in town. You see, I married into a heating and cooling family. (cue angels singing)
Unfortunately, the prognosis is that we need a new furnace. !!!!! Is right. I don't swear a lot (stifled laughter) but this is one of those occasions when I think we can all agree it can't be helped.
Because my brother-in-law and father-in-law are so heroic, know people in the biz, and care about keeping my family warm, this might not be as horrible as it would otherwise be.

I hope I can return the favor somehow and not just by staying married to Jason. ;)

So, we have no heat tonight. It's a little chilly but I've got a kettle on the stove staying warm so I can have hot tea all night. The fan is circulating the air. I've got blankets and towels blocking drafts, the kids are bundled up, and you know, the laptop is keeping me warm.

Maybe I should bake something.

I guess a fireplace would be kind of nice.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Time to introduce MILK!

I'm not sure...

Do you think he likes it?

I guess maybe.

Okay, he LOVES it.

Yesss... YES! He took the milk down! Mwahahaha!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Long Overdue Birth Story

Seriously? I never wrote Cullen's birth story? I can't believe it. I scoured my blogger archives and my livejournal archives... Nada. I have written about new boots, Celebrex commercials, everything else. I remember that I didn't want to write it for a while because I felt guilty for the troubles that other people have had birthin'...

ANYWAY! Today Cullen is ONE YEAR OLD! So of course, we must travel back in time to the day he was born.

The night before I was determined to have a baby, even though my regular doctor ("Dr. Awesome") was out of town and the resident "Dr. Dude" would be delivering my baby...

I had a funny feeling in my toe that conditions were right and with the proper encouragement we could have that baby. Jason and I had twinkles in our eyes as we laid down to bed. I woke up in the wee hours with a sort of quiet crampy, icky feeling. It was quiet enough that I wasn't sure. I laid there for a short while, riding out some more icky cramps, feeling a bit sick.

Finally at around... Oh, I don't know, 4am? (Should have written this when all the details were fresh!) I got out of bed to see if I could time any of it. I don't remember timing anything though, I just remember having one that I definitely for sure felt was a labor pain. I knew then that it was time to call Laura.

"NO... NOT YET..."
"Okay... See you soon..."

That's about how it went I think. I think it was after I called Laura that I woke up Jason and we got ready to go. I was mostly ready. Anything we were doing to be ready at that point was extra. I was feeling okay. I remember having one or two big contractions before getting in the car, and was mostly okay in the car which was one of my big worries. The car can be a terrible place for pain.

I think it was maybe 5:30am when we got to the hospital. I spent some time in triage, getting checked out. I was just starting to have some pretty bad contractions, but some were okay. It was kind of inconsistent and I was surprised when they said I was 7ish cm dilated. I thought I would be maybe five, or worse, that it was false labor.

Still, it took about three hours to get to ten. I was in a hospital gown, on all fours on my birthing bed with my bare butt in the air when the doctor arrived. That is a story that, I'm proud to say, made my friend actually spit out her coffee. I should maybe point out that at the time I sort of... well I felt a little funny about Dr. Dude, because he's the same age as my peer group, and I don't know, I didn't get the "doctor" vibe from him? So here's this young dude who isn't my husband being greeted by my bare butt in the air...

Of course, it only gets worse from there. Suffice to say... I got over it.

Anyway, I remember he kept checking and telling me, "There's just that last bit of lip yet..." As if I could do anything about it. I suppose he was telling me so I knew not to start pushing yet.

I sat on the side of the bed for most contractions, with my feet on the ground, leaning into Jason, and breathing in his t-shirt. My husband always smells good. I don't know what it is. When I smell his skin I am instantly calm. During the postpartum dark days I frequently took little "smell Jason" breaks. This probably sounds insane. Anyway, it's true, so now you all know my secret to happiness--huffing Jason's pheromones.

It was about 8:30 when Dr. Dude gave me the go ahead to start pushing. I wasn't in a good position for pushing. I was just a smidge too reclined. I was past the point of being uh... verbal though, so nothing was done about this. I felt a little powerless at this point but kept pushing anyway. Dr. Dude started applying some pressure on the perineum and telling me to push "right here"... It wasn't long after that! At 9:11am on this day one year ago, our baby boy was born!

I had one stitch and Cullen was perfectly healthy.

I had so much fun that evening with Stephanie, Laima, Laura and Tim sitting around (a bit doped up) thinking of baby names and laughing. I'll always remember that. I was so glad to have them there, passing the time, sharing hearty laughter.

My dear Cullen. You light up my life. Now I have two boys whose skin smells amazing and brings me joy. You are my last baby and you are ONE now! Not such a baby anymore... Your sisters adore you and love (LOVE!!!) to take care of you. Your daddy, once nervous around babies, is now an expert and loves to take care of you too. You're lucky you have so many awesome caregivers around! You make it easy though, you never cry for very long.

Right now you're standing at the edge of the coffee table knocking all the books off, one by one, but I think what you're REALLY doing... is pooping.

Happy, happy, happy birthday. Now it's almost over, and it's time for you to go to bed. I love you so much, my beautiful boy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What's on everyone's mind right now:

My hair, of course.


Lowly unkempt housewife, depressed, letting the house go, letting herself go.


With makeup, and out of pajamas, and NEW HAIRCUT!

This is housewife's idea of "doing hair":


This is Dr. Mom doing Bill Clinton impersonation:

Thank you, thank you very much.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cleaning is not my favorite

Shocking, I know.

My mother tells me that she cleans the floor on her hands and knees. Her floor always looks fantastic so that's what I did today. It looks okay but it took longer than I expected, made me sweaty, and it's going to be filthy again in about an hour. I think I'll go back to leaving it dirty, at least until the kids are grown up. :P

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Illustration Friday - "Late"

This is pretty much what I was scribbling in my journal 90% of the time when I was in high school. I probably didn't say "WTF" though...

Leta goes to the dentist

I have to confess that sometimes I am just so grateful that Leta is a fairly neuro-typical child. She can be nervous and shy, but she also likes to challenge herself, and she takes a lot of pride in being a big girl, and being brave.

Today Leta went to the dentist for a cleaning.

She went in without me, smiling, with her head held high. Cullen and I terrorized the waiting area. Leta came out 30 minutes later with play money, a new toothbrush and toothpaste, and the biggest smile ever.

"Mama, they painted my teeth! We talked about my Halloween costume too, did you know that she asked me what I was going to be for Halloween? And I said a UNICORN! Mama there's the bathroom, did you go to the bathroom while I was getting my teeth cleaned? Did you get a drink? Did you know that I got to pick a TOY out of the DRAWER? They got new toys in the drawer, did you know that?!!"

I love all of my kids so, so so so much, but you have to know that if they were all like Leta, or Cullen, or Mina, I would not be the picture of inner poise you see before you. I can only handle ONE of each. ;)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This is a post about butter.

For most of the night I have been trying to think of things on which to spread this unbelievable butter. I thought I was buying butter from down the street but it's actually from Minnesota. I feel a little bit guilty about that, being from the dairy state after all. Minnesota butter! But oh! It's heavenly. I never knew butter before I tasted this butter. In fact, I never really liked butter that much! Oh sure, it's better than margarine, probably, but it always sort of grossed me out. Until today! I'm in trouble now. I don't know if I can go back to regular old butter.

I could, I really could. I was thinking today about what I used to live on--IGA mac and cheese, Ramen, frozen peas and corn. That's really it. I didn't drink soda (at home). I did smoke A LOT. I also weighed 110 lbs. And now my life is so full of really good food. I was thinking, could I go back to eating that way? Of course I could. And I wouldn't be sad about it, I really wouldn't. I would be sad about whatever circumstances led to my having to eat that way I'm sure, but you know, I can always make food about surviving and not about doing something really fun. It's sort of a hassle anyway. So yeah I could go back... But every once in a blue moon... I would dream of fancy butter.

Obligatory Fall UW Arboretum Walk

To prove I was there. And I look like (expletive), and the sun flare doesn't hide that.

I promise I was going 2 miles per hour when I took this on the drive through the Arboretum.

I just really wanted to capture the feeling of being inside of a giant bright yellow tent.

Lovely prairie. You can't really tell but this is several feet taller than me in most areas.

The trails are pretty easy here.

Nice shot of Cullen's back!

Leta is HOLDING A CATERPILLAR! It lasted for about .002 seconds and I'm so glad I was able to capture it.

Let's pretend Mina was pulling the wagon the whole time. In reality she was whining about being tired for almost the entire time. She did get to switch places with Leta for a little while... I think everyone was pretty tired but I was determined to force everyone to enjoy this short lived season!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tidbits #8763422

I have a couple of more meaningful blog posts writing themselves in my head, but then there is all this other junk happening that clog up the creative juices, so I thought I'd just empty them out here.

Everyone loves tidbits, anyway.

-Last week I chaperoned my first ever field trip to Schuster's Playtime Farm for Mina's class. I was really impressed with her class and she did a great job.

-Leta went on a field trip with her preschool class, too! She really had a great time and talked endlessly about it. I didn't chaperone that one, though, mostly because Leta goes to school before Mina and I still had to take Mina to school and then there's Cullen and I just didn't want to go to another farm, okay?! The hay! It makes the insides of my eyelids all scratchy!

-Spent way too much on winter boots, Smartwool socks, and the perfect shoes today. Mina got these Merrell shoes. They are a cinch to put on and she likes them. Mina has trouble with shoes, and it's important that she can put her shoes on herself and that they're easy so she feels good about herself.

-Have to work on being more on top of changing the furnace filter. The last time was at the beginning of summer and the last few days the heat just hasn't been kicking in. I bought a new box of filters and changed it and boy was it GROSS. Unbelievable. It took a while for things to start working but now everything seems fine. I had to turn it off and on a few times to get it to work. I'd really like to pay Jason's brother to just do some maintenance on it periodically when he is in town. I know it's a pretty crappy furnace but if we can go a couple of more years without needing a new one that would be super...

-I want to have some note cards made of some of my paintings/drawings. I have my ideas which ones I want, but I'd appreciate it if you could just wander over to the art blog and just comment on the ones you think would be good on notecards. Of course I will have my dutiful husband take better pictures of things where appropriate.

-I donated blood this morning. Five more pints and I get my picture taken for the Wall of Fame! This time I stuck with my trusty right arm vein and it did not disappoint. Last time I stupidly went along with it when the phlebotomist insisted that lefty would be the big performer. It stung going in, it hurt the whole time, bruised terribly and was sore for two days. Righty never hurts me, not even a little.

That concludes this edition of Tidbits. Thank you for your patience. I'll have something cool to say soon I'm sure.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shout Out to My Parents

I was thinking, today, about how lucky I am that I have two parents who both, still, and often, separately, tell me they love me, how proud they are of me, and other such words of encouragement and praise.

Thank you, to my mother and father, for your nurturing ways.

On a completely unrelated note, Leta has been saying "ridiculous" lately, like all the time. It reminds me of Jonah Hill, the Superbad guy. It's ridiculous! *Wild hand gesturing* I don't know why.

I hope I can nurture Leta's future career in comedy, and not in the way that all comedians are products of horrible childhoods...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What the...

How did it get to be Wednesday already? I'm glad I didn't announce to the world that I was trying to write every day. OH dang...

I'm watching the debate. MUST RESIST RESPONDING IN BLOG!!!

*breathe breathe breathe*

According to the American Frugal Housewife, nothing works better on chapped lips than EAR WAX. Go ahead. Try it. And then tell me about it. Also, you should brush your teeth with a mixture of honey and charcoal. MMMMMMM! I bet that would take care of any dandruff you might have, too.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Illustration Friday - "Strings"

If you are a mom wearing crocs in public then you might have this problem. Tee hee!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Sunday Sunday! Randomness...

We were in Appleton over the weekend for Jason's brother's wedding. It was a lot of fun and I mean that. I knew plenty of people and did lots of catching up.

Tonight I'm tired. I worked a little on my towel rug while watching Desperate Housewives, diapers are in the wash, I have dishes and a little unpacking to take care of.

I was considering having some art postcards printed up.

I like this idea more every time I think about it.

There was something I was going to write about tonight and I'm just typing all of this banal crap, hoping it pops up... It's not happening, though. I'm still drawing a blank. This will have to be good enough for tonight. I hope everyone had a great weekend.

EDITED TO ADD: Ahh! I just remembered. I was going to mention that on the way back from Appleton we saw signs for a tractor pull. It must have been over with by then because we saw a lot of tractors coming away from the area with the signs. I think what a tractor pull is, is some sort of competition involving tractors. You can read about it here if you so desire.

I really, truly love Wisconsin. I remember when I was a kid and I wanted the world to know that not everyone in Wisconsin is a redneck or a farmer. And honestly, I grew up in a liberal arts college town where all of my friends parents were artists, musicians and teachers. It didn't feel very rural midwest to me. Now I do think there is something charming about it all. I like living in South Central Wisconsin especially because it's just slightly warmer than where I'm from, there is a lot of Farmer's Market and Community Supported Agriculture action which is delightfully hippy-hillbilly... Hippy-billy? Hill-hippy. Something. It's granola, folks. It's neat, though. The sense of community around here is what I like. It just "feels" right.

/Wisconsin advertisement :D

Thursday, October 09, 2008

You didn't think I would do it, did you?

Operation: Towel Rug is in full swing. Jason says, "That's great, honey! I can't wait to use it up at the cabin someday..." (We don't have a cabin)

The problem is that we are no longer using the grey/blue color scheme in our bathrooms. SO the question is, who is getting this beauty for Christmas this year???

Hey, I needed SOMETHING to take my mind off of the fact that Mina needs to have a tooth pulled. Yeah. We went to the peds dentist today and while the experience was great, the news was bad. Poor kid. She was so good though, I was really proud of her. Then, at the end when they let her pick out a toy, she said, "I'm not going to pick one because I think we have enough toys at home," a ha ha ha! I have her totally brainwashed!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Uses for old towels

Times are tough.

We are used to everything being so disposable, and when something gets a bit worn, or is the wrong color for this year, or just tired of it, it gets tossed. Maybe donated. But come on. Good Will does not want your holy socks and underwear or your broken toys.

I suggest you all pick up a copy of The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Child. It will make you feel pretty spoiled with your store bought detergent and the way you threw out that perfectly good string.

I have a hefty pile of ratty towels right here, and while I know it's always good to have old towels around because you never know when you'll have a leak, an overflow, a bout of food poisoning... But what are some other interesting ways to salvage old towels?

I did some googling and found lots of suggestions. Rags, dustmops, diapers, draft catchers, and pot holders were pretty popular. I also found some more creative projects.

I've been wanting a good terrycloth robe for a while. I could fashion one out of my old towels as this person has done.
Towels always take up so much room in the pool bag. Why not turn your towels into a pool bag? I love it.
I have a couple of these bibs that I got from a friend, and I have to say, they are truly the best bibs. TOWEL BIBS make a lot of sense to me.

I think what I might do with mine is make a braided towel rug. It sounds like the perfect craft for cold evenings at home with the family during this election season.

If I had a dog I might try braiding some dog rope chew toys. I could make a ton of them. Would you pay a dollar for one so we can buy gluten free pretzels?

Illustration Friday - "Sugary"

I drew this lil cutie a hundred years ago but it seems pretty sugary to me.

EDITED TO ADD: If we're going to be friends I should probably warn you that I'm a reckless exaggerator. ;)

Monday, October 06, 2008

High School Reunion

I went to my ten year high school reunion this weekend. I know you are all thinking, "My god, she's just a wee baby! I had no idea! Boy do I feel old!" Right? Stop it, stop it right now, you are boring me. Anyway, it was a really good time, and I'm sort of "coming down" off of the big weekend and feeling quiet. I'm also very busy obsessively checking facebook to see if anyone else posted pictures.

It was also great to see my aunt Patti, and visit my friend Sarah. The girls had a lot of fun this weekend and are now suffering from fun withdrawal. During the two minute ride home from Mina's school Leta kept saying, "I don't have anything fun do do right now! MOM I need something fun! Give me something fun!" and I said, "How about staring out the window and thinking?" That's MY idea of fun, anyway.

I have a lot to do today including some (lots of) housework, figuring out what to do for this week's Illustration Friday submission, hopefully working out, having a team meeting, going to an appointment and blah blah blah blah! Wow, exciting to read about, right?

Sorry. I just wanted to break the ice a bit!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Six Years Ago...

Can you believe this chubster? I thought we were getting a newborn!

I get a little choked up every single time I look at this black and white picture. The day Mina was born, I realized there was so much about life that I knew nothing about. So much that this little baby had to teach me.

September 30th, 2002... In the evening my sister-in-law-to-be Laney called because she was procrastinating practicing the violin. I remember telling her nonchalantly that I would be in labor that night.

I was sort of disappointed as we climbed into bed and nothing was happening.

I fell asleep watching Conan O'Brian... and woke up at 12:30 am, October 1st (Mina's due date!) having a VERY strong contraction! My water broke when I went to the bathroom. It was CONSTANT gushing, I remember sort of laughing and fumbling around trying to do something about that.

I woke Jason around 1 am and he suggested we try to sleep some more, which is what they tell you to do in Lamaze. I laid down to have another violent contraction. I told him there was no way I could sleep and that we should get ready. My contractions were coming full force. Jason started timing them--3 minutes apart. He called the doctor, my mom and dad and started getting the car packed up, while I was on all fours just trying to hold the baby in.

The drive to the hospital seemed to take forever. We got there at 2. I went into the emergency room doors and fell to my hands and knees, having contractions, breathing, sweating, my pants falling down... I remember imagining that my pain was going out through my fingertips and into the ground. It was the most surreal thing... Jason came in after me and they wheeled me up to the maternity ward.

They checked my cervix--8 cm they said. The doctor was called and he got there very fast. They strapped a heart monitor to my belly and the baby's heart rate was dropping, so I had to lay on my side while they gave me oxygen and it came back up. It wasn't long before I was at 10 cm dilated. I pushed through a few contractions and out she came, at 3:27 am, a very plump, hairy, healthy girl. Jason was crying and I was so relieved. She was 8 lb. 13 1/2 oz and was 21 1/4 in. long. It was a Tuesday morning. I had a frozen diaper in my disposable panties and a new little person in my arms. We stayed until Thursday morning. I had one stitch.

Today is a sick day, unfortunately. Mina's class called to sing happy birthday and say they missed her and hope she feels better soon.

Being sick hasn't stopped her from being full of questions.

Who are all the people you know who have died?
How did they die?
What are all the jokes you know?
How long can you go without blinking?
Who is your favorite person?
Why does wine make you kind of sick?
What if we drank water and ate healthy food all the days and all the nights?
Who is your favorite baby?

Mina, you are a very strange kid and I love you for it. You are curious and sensitive, thoughtful, creative... You are endlessly fascinating and beautiful. I wish that every moment of your life could be happy and I get sad when you are sad. I hope we can make you strong without making you tough, make you wise without making you jaded. I hope we can teach you to behave without traumatizing you. I hope we can teach you to create without stifling you. I hope we can give you wings that will take you far. You think being a kid is scary--it's nothing compared to being a parent hoping and praying for their child.

Thankfully, I suspect that you need our help a lot less than we think you do. You're already strong. You're already wise beyond your years. You know things before we have a chance to teach you, and you are already so much more creative than I could ever be. We just have to try, try, try not to crush your wings.

Happy birthday to you, Mina. You are one cool kid.