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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tiny Giant

"Daddy, could you get the elephant soap down for me please?"





"Sure buddy, why?"





"Cause I want to wash Monchichi so that you don't have to do it tonight."








*sigh*








Sometimes it feels like God is in the room with you.


Like right now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Urgent Memo

To: My Parents

Subject: Why I’m Not You

Just in case you didn't already know it,
few simple examples of why we are different.

So, so very different.

I serve my children hot dogs. Yes. Oscar Meyer. Stop hyperventilating Mama, the German Deli is not always open and the Polish Deli is overpriced. So yes, sometimes, in the name of convenience and sticking to a budget, I go with the poisonous American brand.

I do not microwave every beverage my children will drink until it reaches appropriate “room” temperature. I have never heard of anyone developing pneumonia from cold milk and sometimes, when the kids are thirsty, they aren’t thinking “yummy, some lukewarm water would be so refreshing right now.”

I cannot superglue Monchichi’s socks to his feet. I know they are bare. I have tried everything. I refuse to carry him from room to room and he doesn’t show a natural ability to fly so until I let you know otherwise, bare feet it is.

You remember Mama, that sandwich that you used to make for me all the time, on rye bread, with the tomato that would get soggy and the Polish sausage that would permeate throughout my 7th grade Spanish class? Yep. Not gonna do it. Lunchables, Mac n Cheese, Chicken Nuggets. There may be plenty of other reasons my boys get picked on in school, but soggy, smelly, sausage sandwiches will not be one of them.

I will not be offering my sons’ friends Tripe Soup. I know I loved it as a kid, but that doesn’t mean that all of my friends wanted to eat cow intestine lining. For the record, I still love it. No. I won’t take it for lunch.

Superman has spent the night at his best friend’s house three times in the last year. That is more than my entire childhood. He didn’t have to put on an exorbitant play, where he dressed like a bunny rabbit and made his younger sister sing along to songs such as “Please please please let me spend the night at Karen’s house and I swear I will never ask for anything else as long as I live youarethebestparentsever!”

My children will not be Polish Scouts. Not because we are unpatriotic, or we don’t love the uniforms or the great outdoors. But remember all the bad stuff I used to do? Remember how you had to ground me and take down my bedroom door and threaten me with deportation? Where do you think I learned how to do that stuff????!!

Dinner will sometimes consist of a casserole. As in, a one-dish meal. Not soup, salad, entrée, dessert, coffee, tea, and ubersnack before bed. Just some meat, noodles and cheese. Please stop crying Mama.

I’m trying to take the Catholic Guilt thing down a notch or two. So I will not be telling Superman that God is always watching him. I want him to be a good boy too, but 25 years later I still have trouble going pee sometimes. It’s kinda creepy, ya know?

Now
that being said, If I am half the parent you both were to me, I will consider myself a success. And I will always be grateful for the unending supply of blog material.

Proud to be Polish,

Your Daughter

Jo

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bastard

Last night
for the umpteenth time since we’ve been married
my husband left me.

Usually it’s for another woman.
Or he just gets bored.
Or I’m too high maintenance for him

This time he proclaimed “There’s just no chemistry.”

I tried everything.

I begged.
I pleaded.
I cried.

I hiked up my skirt.
Wore painful heels.
Promised new moves in the bedroom.

Nothing.

He wouldn’t budge.

And I was left caring for our boys while he was
the big man on campus
traipsing through bars
looking for some floozy to take home.




And then I woke up.


And I. WAS. PISSED.

And.

He acted like NOTHING had happened.

He even brewed my coffee this morning.

The nerve!

He kissed me, told me he loved me, and dressed our boys for school.

And all I wanted to do was smack him for cheating on me.

I’m pretty sure he would have looked at me, dumb-founded, and yelled “What the hell was that for?”

hmph.

Men.

*I should really stop eating apple strudel before bed. Maybe then I can dream about puppies, rainbows and fuzzy little kittens instead.


**I love you honey.**

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Snowman that Won't Melt

Monchichi makes sure that we exercise our family motto of “just roll with it” on a daily basis. If it’s not the growing collection of mystery cans strewn about the house, it’s the pile of half-consumed water bottles he keeps adding to each day. It’s kind of sad really; like a little cemetery for plastic that has caught monchichi’s eye and met its doom.

Currently we are on a major snowman fix. It’s a blessed curse though. His passion for the little man with the button nose ensures that we have a highly desired item that we use for reinforcement. Our mostly non-verbal son even tries to pronounce it: ‘Snowm”

The problem? Hello! We live in “Never Snows a Day EVER Sunny California.” Usually, like when I am at the beach in October, I am very grateful for our location on the map. But unless we are willing to (which we are NOT) relocate to Big Bear Lake for the duration of winter, monchichi’s exposure to snowmen is somewhat limited to pictures, cartoons, and Christmas ornaments.

Until I bought this:




Which he loves.
A lot.

It runs on electricity and a tiny little fan, so it never melts.

Ever.

Not at breakfast.
Not during movies.
Not at night.

Let’s just say my OCD is taking a beating because I am not good at tolerating large, inflatable Snowmen in random corners of the house. But I am learning. For monchichi’s sake.

Call it exposure therapy.

It’s either that, or a trip to somewhere (*shudder*) cold.

Plus, I can decorate Mr. Snowman for different holidays. He will be covered in hearts next month, wearing a green hat for St. Patty’s, and I’m already brainstorming his Halloween costume for this year.

Because I have a feeling he will be sticking around.

And if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

5 Going on 15

I am getting Superman dressed for Polish school. It is a rare rainy day in Orange County. After digging in the kids’ closet for something warm and rainproof, I emerge victorious, a blue and red jacket that has been hibernating in the very back for almost a year.

“I am not wearing that to school mommy!”

“Honey, it is raining outside and you need to be warm and that’s what jackets do; they keep you warm and cozy.”

“No! All of the kids will make fun of me! It’s puffy and big and everyone will laugh at me!”

Crap.

I thought I was good for another couple of years, but I realize I have to have a super condensed version of the “it doesn’t matter what other people think, always be true to yourself, people who make fun of you are only doing it because they are insecure about themselves” talk before my little dude falls apart in the hallway. I am baffled by his stress level. Doesn’t this happen during the pubescent years?

I give him my speech, emphasizing the fact that he can take the puffy jacket off as soon as he walks into the classroom, but he is unfazed and crying. What is happening? Clearly I am unprepared to deal with this. He has never shown any fear of what others may think of him until now. He wears sandals and crocs with socks on, a representation of his Eastern European roots. Just last Wednesday he picked out fluorescent green Halloween socks and paired them with his new black sandals. Ew, okay? But I let him do it, because I love how free from worry and potential judgment he is.

Until today.

What the hell?

Who made fun of my little boy? Who planted this little seed of doubt?

Because I will find you and teach you a thing or two about tolerance and individuality and freedom of expression. You don’t mess with a 5 year old and his mama.

Just when I think I have a particular phase of childhood completely nailed down, there’s new drama just lurking around the corner. This time though, I am witnessing my little guy give in to the same false idea I have been battling myself for decades: What others think of you is of paramount importance.

NO!

This calls for a massive intervention. I’m talking tights and tu tu’s. For him, not for me. You don’t want to see me in a tu tu. Take my word for it.

But anyway, I have to undo this quickly before he starts asking me to buy pimple cream and hair gel.

*sigh*

Crap.

Friday, January 23, 2009

STOP!

This has been a four letter word in our house since Monchichi began to walk. When he first graduated from crawling, we had no idea what was in store. Even prior to his official autism diagnosis, we knew things weren’t going according to plan. He began to elope instantly; the more you wanted him to stay close by, the faster he would take off. And we learned very early on that shouting “STOP” somehow made his usual clumsy gait much faster. It was the magic word that would refuel him.

Going anywhere beyond our bolted front door became a liability. It is still a problem today; one we take very seriously. He is taller now, and much faster. He has greater purpose in each stride he takes. He is more curious about his surroundings.

He has no idea that a street full of moving cars is dangerous.

None.

The only reason he is respectful of heights is because he’s fallen off a jungle gym or two. He has learned through experience.

He has no idea that a stranger with a big smile and soft words is a potential kidnapper.

None.

These are all very abstract concepts for a very concrete little boy.
These are all things that he cannot just “experience” and learn from.

So we have to protect him. Protect him from what he doesn’t know and doesn’t understand.

And in the meantime, he elopes like I eat.
Everyday, quickly, often.

I should be in much better shape just from chasing after him whenever we are anywhere that is bigger than the shoe closet.

I know people will wonder about us if I try to stuff him into the front of a grocery cart at the age of 16, so we work super hard during therapy, going on community outings, Monchichi and his entourage. If I take too long picking out the perfect seasonal fruit, he’s halfway to the UPS store down the street. His therapist could have, maybe should have, called CPS a long time ago. But she is sweet and presses on, trying to get us to master the latest goal: Not losing my firstborn son.

Recently, after a particularly hairy afternoon, I came home and unpacked the groceries, only to find that in my haste to locate my disappearing child, I purchased $150.00 worth of canned tuna, batteries and beets. None of which were on my grocery list. You can see how this particular “habit” of his can become quite costly.

Over the years we have tried everything, except a leash. Strollers, gates, doorknob covers, and intricate barricades have all seen their doom when our determined monchichi decides it’s time to exit the area.

Does anyone know if Alcatraz is for sale? Isn’t that place airtight?

In all seriousness though, aside from updating our security features within and around the house, how much control do we really have? Someday he will tower over us and I am not prepared to wrestle him to the ground if he decides to chase after a big rig.

Ah. But that is way too far into the future for me.
I like staying right here. In first-grade fairy tale land.
Where the children are smaller, more predictable, NOT going through puberty.

I am just going to sit right here for a bit.

Until that is, I have to chase him down again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Recipe for the Perfect Family


One highlighted blonde, in a red, curve hugging sweater, drinking the evening away with her boss, who happens to be dating the owner of the sports bar they are in.

One hot twenty-something guy, facial hair in all the right places, sitting two tables over with some rowdy friends.

One jukebox, playing Prince, much to the dismay of the Hot Guy. The girl with the highlights doesn’t care.

One lengthy debate between Blonde Girl and rowdy friends about religion.

One nosy Hot Guy who decides to invite himself into the discussion and begins to express his views on the matter. Blonde girl is at once intrigued and annoyed.

Two pitchers and one hour later, a feisty game of pool.

A dash of flirty name-calling.

A smidge of watermelon flavored lip gloss.

A heaping serving of mutual attraction.

One passionate kiss.

One promised phone call.

One date that lasts two weeks.

Add love-stricken Roman Catholic Blonde who forsakes all that she has been brought up with and moves in with Hot Guy.

Bring to a boil two Polish Parents who are not very happy. Not at all. NOT AT ALL.

Mix in months of pleading and proving them wrong.

Sprinkle in a sweet and unexpected surprise.

Quickly add one Civil Ceremony in a cheesy Long Beach, California Notary Office. Blonde girl has never been happier (though by now she has returned to her natural brunette. Well, almost natural).

Gently fold in one excruciating morning, one of the happiest and most painful of her life.


Prepare a large, expensive, Roman Catholic wedding. Polish parents can show themselves in public again.

Add another positive pee stick.



Stir in massive amounts of love, patience, laughter, tears, hugs, and kisses.

Marvel at the finished product.




A perfect family.





Against all odds.
*(I would have loved to put in a beautiful and recent FAMILY portrait, but I COULDN'T FIND ONE!!!! Off we go!)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dear Mrs. Jones

I am writing to you today, to let you know that I am having a difficult time keeping up with you. Try as I might, I am always several steps behind your perfectly proportioned tush. You are the epitome of calm, cool, collected. You rarely have a hair out of place, the sun’s rays shine on your $200 highlights in all the right places, and your glowing skin is almost as bright as your smile.

Your clothes cling to your curves; natural, womanly curves that are free from bulges and handles, curves which lack any evidence of your two previous pregnancies, and because of this, I must admit, I often have unpleasant thoughts about you. These thoughts more or less appear when I am trying to stuff my way into double digit jeans, by far tighter than my bra, which could easily host another set of twins or two in each half-empty cup.

I wonder if you could maybe step it down a notch. I feel it’s only fair, since no matter how hard I try, I cannot, and most likely will not, ever get close to resembling you and your perfection. For the love of God, could you look disheveled once in a while? It doesn’t take much. For some, myself included, it is a constant state of being. We are mothers after all. How do you keep the oatmeal out of your hair? The bbq sauce off of your blouse? The double fudge chocolate cake out of your mouth?

You are everywhere. At the mall. At church. The school parking lot. You gather at the park with your beautiful circle of friends (after all, your kind typically travels in herds). Your car is always clean and your children’s clothes neatly pressed. You take family portraits every six months and they hang perfectly in your tidy house, which rests on a lush lawn, maintained by your muscular and doting husband.

You are smart, articulate, and have regular adult conversations that do not include topics such as potty accidents, time outs, mac n cheese recipes, and the ever important consistency of your offspring’s stools. You couldn’t find a Walmart t-shirt in your closet if your life depended on it and this is why, Mrs. Jones, I sometimes want to slip some laxatives in that venti nonfat caramel machiatto that you wrap your lips around each morning. I feel bad, because I know us mommies need to stick together, but you make it really hard to have warm feelings toward you when you sashay while I waddle.

I hope you understand where I’m coming from. If you would just ease up on some of that milf-ness of yours, I may consider coming up to you one day and offering you my mac n cheese recipe.

Lord knows your thighs could use it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

125mg + 125 mg = Too Much Medication


“I can get you in on the 12th of February at 4:15 p.m.”


“Wonderful. Thank you Dr. Marci. In the meantime, can we start decreasing some of the meds? It just seems like so much.”


“I want to decrease the Klonopin first, but in order to do that, we have to go up on the Depakote. So increase the Depakote evening dose by 125mg and in two weeks do the same for the morning dose and then we can talk about decreasing the other two meds.”


I am rolling my eyes now at the phone, trying hard not to stick my tongue out too.


Real Mature Jo.

Epilepsy came into the picture two months after Monchich’s autism diagnosis, almost five years ago. It started so innocently. We thought he was falling asleep in his highchair during meals and even giggled at some of the faces he was making.

But it wouldn’t stop.
It got much worse.

And one week later he was dropping in the front lawn, conscious but immobile, unable to fight against the seizures taking over his tiny two -year- old frame.

Helmets, homeschool, surgery, hospitals. Those were words we were throwing around eight weeks after they told us he was severely autistic. That's when the Merlot began to flow and I started to shut down.

Several neurologist consults later, monchichi was on his first of many medications, and we kept our fingers crossed, hoping this would do the trick. When the seizures progressed, the “Out with the old, in with the new” game began.

And we are still at it.

After his major seizure breakthrough in July, when he had over 100 episodes in less than 12 hours, we added a third drug, Depakote, to the mix.

Now you can barely see his morning yogurt or evening pudding through all of the pills. And each time he swallows them, I am struck with an odd combination of feelings….like I am curing him by poisoning him.

Which is the lesser of two evils?

Of course he can’t function without the meds. His seizures would take over his life. He would be so limited; it's not even a possibility. But three very strong drugs? With a zillion different side-effects just lurking around, ready to strike at any moment?

It scares me.

So we do blood labs
And renal ultrasounds
And make sure things are working properly.
And we wonder how much the medications are clouding his already fuzzy and fragile mind.

He is such a trooper.
And sometimes I am just getting by.

Like bittersweet gratitude with a strong dose of resentment.
Like
Enough Already!

So tonight I will add more chemicals to his thick chocolate pudding, hoping they do the trick so that I can start flushing the other pills down the toilet.

That will be a holiday in this house.
*Got milk? Monchichi's daily cocktail. In an imperfect world, these drugs give him a chance at a normal life, and I know in my heart we will figure the rest out*

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dusty Capes



It’s a well-known fact that childhood comes with many milestones; especially in the beginning. It seems like with each passing day, some new goal is reached, and, in our biased hearts, each one is deemed worthy of a front page headline.

What you don’t really hear about though, is how with each day, certain milestones replace favorite behaviors. Words that were once mispronounced (“timbles” instead of dimples) become full sentences: “I would like mac n cheese for lunch, not hot dogs mommy.” WHAT?

You quickly realize that those beloved quirks were possibly taken for granted. You feel sad. And a little scared. And old.

Such was my ride home from school today, with Superman in the backseat, asking a million questions about snacks and video games (that’s a whole new blog post right there). It suddenly occurred to me that it had been a really long time since he bounded into the house and asked me to zip up his latest superhero costume (there’s a reason his blog name is Superman you know). His fake muscles became commonplace at the dinner table, the park, and the grocery store. Sometimes he was four superheroes in one afternoon. Sometimes he was a hybrid superhero: BatVaderRanger. His costumes were always there and they put smiles on many peoples’ faces.

And then one day they were gone.

And I didn’t even realize it until this afternoon.
And once I did, I got really, really sad.

So I asked him, almost pleadingly, if he wanted to dress up in one of his costumes when we got home.

“No mommy.”
“What about that great Transformers one?”
“Oh! I love that one!”
“Good! Let’s put it on at home!”
“No mommy. I want to wear it for Halloween.”

For Halloween??? But that’s when EVERYBODY wears costumes. That’s when it’s normal and acceptable and not as cute.

But he wouldn’t budge.
He was so against it
Like he was far too mature for something as silly as wearing a cape to watch tv.

So I gave up trying to convince him and stopped short of using my all-powerful, all-inherited gift of Catholic Guilt and I let it go.



Because.

I can handle dust gathering on his capes and costumes.
I can handle the faux mohawk he’s been sporting to school all week.
I can even handle the occasional sass that comes out of his adorable little mouth.

What I can’t handle



is the thought of ever having to

let him go.








Monday, January 12, 2009

Writing What I Know

And I know this.

Life in our household is a constant ebb and flow of love and hugs and special needs interventions and piano lessons and a family trying to make it all work. And somehow it is working. But I don't share enough of it with people. Especially on what is supposed to be a blog about our family life.

Below, the first installment of a more honest and updated version on what is going on behind closed doors that will soon require an alarm system of some sort because Monchichi is beginning to figure out those plastic child-proof door knob covers REAL FAST.


The need to gravitate towards anything remotely shaped like a bottle or soup can is overpowering. He is like a drug addict, always needing more, and when he finally gets the perfect one, his hands shake as he tears off the wrapping. It is a stim we want to stop. Badly. I cannot tell you how tired I am of making mystery can dinners. If I forget to label something before he gets his hands on it, I’m stuck trying to make pasta sauce with jellied cranberries because I didn’t grab the tomato sauce instead. But that’s the thing. You have to just go with it. Nothing is predictable except that it’s all unpredictable. And somehow we make it work. Now, for obvious reasons, we would like to stop Monchichi from stimming on these soup cans and water bottles because society does not look too kindly on people who walk around with refried bean cans as their pets. It is awkward to look at and hard to accept and it will make him a constant target. I wish I could give people the benefit of the doubt, but let’s face it: human beings are mean and judgmental and I can’t always be right behind him kicking the crap out of anyone that dares to make fun of my monchichi. Can I? Because, God. I want to. I want to protect him from all of the stares. I want to protect him from the people that speak in fast, full, sentences and then stare blankly at him, thinking that he is a rude little boy that doesn’t know how to answer back. “HE HAS AUTISM,” I quickly and loudly offer. “HE IS NONVERBAL.” I say almost apologetically. I may as well just get on with it. “My son is not just another bratty six year old, who, unlike me, is not bored with whatever you are saying to him and purposefully ignoring your nasally voice. He is developmentally delayed and suffers from autism and epilepsy, takes way too many anti-seizure meds that should have him in a comatose state and watches Disney Pixar’s CARS way too often but I let him because I am a guilty mom who packs pudding in his lunchbox everyday and still lets him fall asleep on me even though he is quickly approaching fifty pounds and makes my lower body go numb. Have a nice day.” This is why, like clockwork, I wake up and eat carbs by the fistful at 2:00 a.m. every night.







Seriously.

*Note the sleek can model is my *ahem*, New Washer! Have you heard about it????!!!*

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Is it Possible?

I think I am in love.





And I don't mean with my husband.





Or my kids.





Or even my cat.





I think I am in love with this:



My seratonin levels are skyrocketing and everything moves in slow motion when I am near it.
I think about it at work, I overuse it at home. I hope it doesn't get sick of me.

I even took the relationship to the next level and started using fabric softener for the first time in my life.

I am in love with the fanciest appliance I have ever owned.

I am even being extra careless with my food in order to ensure that the laundry pile does not run out.

I know.

It's sick.

But it's my sickness and so far I am loving every second.

Got any dirty clothes?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Violated

I had a different post in mind for tonight; something warm and fuzzy. Instead, I feel like venting.

I went to my classroom this afternoon, wanting to spruce up the place after having a three-week vacation. Upon entering I noticed that over 30 of my books were thrown all over my floor. After closer examination, I realized that someone had spelled out F**** U using my kindergarten storybooks. I immediately felt sick to my stomach and took some pictures using my cellphone before I quickly put the books away. I was in disbelief; our school, our tiny little slice of heaven in the heart of Orange County, is not home to vandals. It was only mere minutes later that I went to one of my computers and noticed it was on. Sure enough, after the screen saver came off, a porn site emerged. ARGHHHH!!

I locked myself in the room because now I was getting creeped out. I had lots of work to do and now my energy was being spent on the anger welling up inside of me. THE NERVE!!

I looked out the window and noticed that my best friend's classroom (only ten feet away) was also vandalized. Her outdoor bulletin board had a an unsavory phrase spray painted on it it black. I contaced the head of Admin before I left and she came to school to do a walk-through. She found more graffiti and suspicious items (such as a hacksaw) left in classrooms.

It saddens me that this type of mean-spirited behavior gives certain people a thrill. You wanna toilet paper your neighbors house? Be my guest!! Porn sites and F*** U's in my kindergarten classroom? You've got to be kidding me.

Anyway...it could have been worse and the damage is reversible, but it seriously chaps my hide that these punks did this and got away with it........................