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Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Oink"


Now.

This may come as a complete surprise to some of you, but I am a bit of a hypochondriac. Loosley defined, this means that I am terrified of sharp inanimate objects, most living organisms, anyone wearing a white lab coat, and pretty much everything invisible to the naked eye that can be inhaled, exhaled, and/or absorbed through the skin.



Other than that, I'm just like you.



So most of the time it's manageable and really, I don't think it affects anyone in a negative way (Shut up Husband, Sister, Mom, Dad, Children, Grandma, Best Friend, Doctor, Pharmacist, CoWorkers, Cat, LadyInLineAtTheGroceryStore).



But sometimes, my fear gets the best of me and I start getting a little anxious and my loved ones flee in opposite directions until the "all clear" alarm sounds many many hours later. Because really I've been told that I can be a bit unpleasant and sort of frightening when consumed by what others deem to be "irrational" fears (Hey. That cramp in my thigh so could have been the beginning stages of a brain tumor).

Usually I can calm myself down pretty good and lately it doesn't even involve copious amounts of Psych Ward Grade tranquilizers (because I ran out) and dareth I say that recently I even resemble someone with just a slight nervous disorder rather than the second half of the DSM IV (the first half is mostly foreward, preface, copyright, acknowledgment crap anyway).

Which brings me to my next point. That book is heavy!

Now only the good Lord knows why I went into teaching, since according to most articles written by people who obviously know what they are talking about and who work for such highly renowned publications as STAR, STAR WEEKLY, WEEK of STARS and WEBMD.com, we have the most filthy job (second only to those girls on the Vegas strip, though now that I think about it that may not be the same definition of the word "filthy.") ever and come across every germ known to mankind. Don't even get me started on the Pink Eye Crisis of 2008.


So becoming a teacher was obviously a premeditated act on my part in order to combat my fears by using a well known behavioral modification technique known as "desensitization" (I sooo have not been in therapy for the greater part of my adult life) or I had no idea that my classroom would be a giant petri dish of grossness and now it's too late to change careers because I'm not qualified to do much else and really what would I do with all of those flashcards anyway?


But the issue at hand here folks is that we are in the midst of an outbreak and rumor has it that the CDC has NO idea what's going on (a government-run agency, uninformed and confused???? What's next?? Long lines at the DMV???) and so I have to take matters into my own hands and warn you all that the Swine Flu is coming and I don't know about you but that sounds like just the thing to pop up and fester in a sweet and innocent kindergarten classroom.

So I beg you people.

Keep your germ-infested, snot-dripping, open-mouthed-coughing, marker-sucking, adorable kiddos away from me. Because if you don't, I will teach them the alphabet in Polish instead of English and also throw in some curse words which will come in handy when they are shipped off to Eastern Europe (the crappy part, not the the nice cobblestoned part) to work in a vodka distillary for failing Kindergarten.

I hope you understand.

*cough*

Now excuse me. I have a phone call to make.

"...............911, what's your emergency......"

"um...there's this tickle in my throat and..............................."


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just Call Me "eeeeee"

It is something that us Mothers wait for from the moment our child is born.

That day that he or she will look us in the eyes and call out our hard-earned name: "Mama!"

It's the least they could do really, after assaulting our bodies for nine months, then redefining "painful" on their way out. Upon entering this world they begin voicing their demands, and they take our hearts hostage. So it's only fair that they reach this particular milestone in a timely and efficient manner. After all. We ask for very little, don't we?


But.


What if your child can't utter that word? What if you wait around and as the months pass by you still don't hear the sounds that your child needs to make in order to get around to saying "mama" already. And that's not all. What if your child doesn't distinguish you from the less important" people in his life and you are just a face among many who coo and purr and cuddle with him?

I waited for Monchichi to give me a sign that he knew I was his mom for what seemed like eternity. The days turned into weeks which eventually turned into years.
Sure. He didn't recoil from me when I went to hold him or kiss him.
But there was no firm understanding that I was the one he would always count on, the one that loved him above all else, the one that tried to memorize the butterfly-like movements he made in my womb.

I showed no one the extent of the pain that I felt, but inside I was screaming, begging him to let me know he was aware of our bond. I felt betrayed and the anger swelled everytime I watched him give the same generic welcome to me that he gave to strangers. It burned my insides and I tried to put out the fire as I held my child to my heart and desperately whispered in his ear "I'm your Mama, baby. I will always be your Mama, even if you don't know it, even if you don't care."

I did not know then that this was just the beginning of a long, unpredictable and devastating journey; His autism diagnosis did little to comfort me, to motivate me to take his disconnection less personally. Instead, it took away what little hope I had held onto that this was just a fleeting phase, something that would soon be replaced with long and lingering private exchanges between a Mama and her Firstborn.

The emptiness that followed when each day passed and there was no change was excrutiating.

Was I driven by Ego? Was I really so self-absorbed that the only thing I cared about was whether or not my son could say my name? Could point me out in a crowded room? Yearned to be nurtured by only me?

Only a mother could understand my desperation.
And that my Ego had nothing to do with it.


And then, it began to happen.


It was a slow shift at first.

There was the time he held my gaze longer than anyone else's. And he began to whine when I left the room. I was petrified that I was imagining things, that it was all in my head, that my existance was no more important to him that it had been just months ago. But he continued to pine for me, in small doses, and I savored each one as if it were the last. His chubby arms would reach for me as I passed by his playpen, and even though I was heavily pregnant with my second, and my vericose veins began to protrude in warning, I would hold him each time he made the silent request. It had been almost two years since he was born and he finally began to give a damn about me.

He is seven now. Tiny for his age and as flexible as they come, he folds himself into my arms every chance he gets. He wakes me in the morning by nuzzling his head into my neck and he stares at me for seconds at a time, his grin growing as I stare back, the love between us palpable to anyone within a hundred mile radius. His daddy has to keep him occupied so that I can use the potty when we are gathered in our bed, the evenings spent with our hearts and limbs awkwardly intertwined. It is often said that though the umbilical cord was cut in the delivery room the day he was born, an unbreakable and invisible one has grown in it's place. He points furiously at me when he wants his way, and he has learned that when he coughs, even if it's fake, I scoop him up and whisper his name softly, asking him if he is okay. Needless to say, he coughs often.

I dropped him off at school this morning, his fourth day of second grade. The aides met us outside, and as I walked him over towards their friendly, smiling faces, my son, the one that at one time in his life could care less about my mere existance, shifted his gaze to meet mine and held his body tightly against my chest, his usually wobbly legs wrapped purposefully around my waist, his discomfort at parting ways with me apparent in his body language. And as his tiny voice strained to make the sound I have come to cherish in these last few months, I did all I could to keep from bursting with pride and love and gratitude.

"eeeeeeee. eeeeeeee."

Yes.

That is my name.

And as I got into the car and nursed the ache I felt at having to leave him behind,

I realized that "Mommy" never sounded so perfectly sweet.

And like all good things,

Was totally worth the wait.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Homemade Polish Tomato Soup. No, Really. It's A Recipe.



1 can of Campbell's Tomato Soup.

Ha! Just Kidding! You wish it were that easy, you.......weird, non-Polish person!!!

Okay.



1 Polish Grandma, cane included. If you don't have one of those, I will happily let you rent mine for an exorbitant fee.
An array of veggies, such as carrots, onions, Italian squash, celery, lots of tomatoes with the skin steamed off, and 1 clove of fresh garlic, chopped.


Saute the aforementioned veggies in 1-2 tablespoons of butter. You cannot substitute with Olive
Oil or margarine. Rented Polish Grandma will spit on you if you do.



Feel free to put your Rented Polish Grandma to work by having her watch you over your shoulder and make critical and demeaning remarks about your cooking, the fact that you aren't Polish, and that your house is a cesspool. I mean, you may as well. You're paying big bucks for her.

1-2 large heaping tablespoons of each, flour and sour cream
1 tsp sugar
3 bullion cubes. Prepare stock as directed. Bring to a slow boil.

Place the flour, can of tomato sauce, sauteed veggies and sour cream in a blender.



Push the "blend" button until it looks disgusting, like this:



Add this mixture to your slow boiling stock and mix thoroughly. Add sugar and a pinch or two of salt.
Viola!
Oh! I almost forgot. You need some noodles. So boil those and toss them in.



Finished product. Except there's no caption in real life. That's just fancy photo editing on my part. I know. Multi-talented I am.

Finally, have Polish-American son on hand (mine's not for hire, something about Child Labor Laws, or some crap like that) to taste whether or not you failed in your attempt to recreate a beloved dish that has been enjoyed by Polish people for centuries. Really. It's like the only thing my people have enjoyed since you know, the whole WWII thing, and Communism, and the fact that our country has been wedged between bigger, stronger, less polite neighbors throughout its' torrid existence. So the least you could do is respect the damn recipe and try and get it right for pete's sake.



*Clearing Throat*
Don't worry.
You probably did fail.
But you can always come over here and have some of mine.
Unless of course you're Russian or German.
In which case you don't need an invitation, because you'll probably just storm in here and take it without asking.
Na Zdrowie.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Economic Strife Makes For Bad Catholics.....

Or so the headline will read in our local community newspaper come Monday morning.

Because.

Our family was chosen to bring the gifts to the alter this morning, which included a giant basket of money donated to the church by law-abiding parishioners.

We walked proudly to the front and met the priest.
He proceeded to tell us what a good job we did and thanked us.
Monchichi proceeded to try and take off with a $1.00 bill.

In front of everyone.

The priest chuckled.
Best Husband Ever intervened.

I was disappointed he didn't reach for the $20.

Hey.

Mama needs a pedicure.
God likes pretty feet, right?


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Don't Drop the Soap!

*********Fair Warning.....this post includes explicit details that may require you to burn your computer, cell phone, or other electronic devices upon reading**************************

I don't know what you're up to this fine Saturday morning, but I just got done giving grandma a shower. Just take a moment to picture one 32 year old mother of two and one 84 year old WWII survivor splashing and sudsing in a tiled shower together.

If you just threw up in your mouth a little, then I'm sorry.
If you didn't, then you have a stomach made of steel. And you should really get that checked out.

Anyway.

It was an impromptu shower, not because grandma doesn't get bathed regularly (is there such a thing as Geriatric Protective Services, because if so, she does get bathed regularly) but because it isn't always me that does it but today it was and really, I don't mind giving her a scrub down once in a while because the woman has endured more than her share of bullhonkey from me, her oldest grandchild. In fact, it started when I as a baby and laying on my tummy, just minding my own business. I was adorable, of course, especially in the keister region, and she came in for a kiss and to thank her for her hospitality, I pooped in her face. And I proceeded to give her sh#$ well into my early twenties.

So if I can undo some of that "crap" by giving her a once over with a detachable shower head and having the courtesy to dry her off and style her hair, then by all means,
bring on the soap on a rope.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Laziness or Pride. Either Way, Here's a Sneak Peak.

Below is an excerpt from my book that I am working on. Let me know what you think.


My mom had a dream last night. The Pope, John Paul II, the only one that really matters to Polish Catholics, appeared before her to let her know that Monchichi would talk one day. She tried to give him a $100 bill and he refused to accept it. My mamusia was raised in communist Poland, where you survived by bribing your way out of speeding tickets and slipping the nurse on call a little something so that you wouldn’t die in the middle of childbirth. She was pleased that the Pope remained honest by not accepting her money in exchange for such good news. His face was so kind and serene she tells me, and there is a glow about her, her hazel eyes ablaze with conviction. She is talking so nonchalantly about this dream, making me almost believe that it took place in reality, right here in her upgraded kitchen among the dark slabs of granite and stainless steel appliances. I am forcing myself to listen, tilting my head and nodding with enough enthusiasm to make it convincing that I believe she and the Pope are right and Monchichi will soon string words together to form holy sentences instead of pointing and grunting and moaning his way through the day. Who am I to burst her bubble? If these REM-induced promises keep her hopeful then I will not be the one to crush that hope. It is enough that I am forced into this uncertain reality, where Monchichi and I will remain, until someone comes up with a solution that proves worthy of our undivided attention. I want to scream at my well-meaning mom; “Don’t you think I would cover my house with crosses and pictures of saints and douse every square inch in holy water if I thought that it could heal my son and give him the words he struggles for each day?” I bite my tongue for now, and give her this moment, this tiny piece of hope that she can hold onto and masticate on and ponder over as I inwardly roll my eyes and feel my blood pressure rise. I am jealous of her faith I think, no matter how blind I may judge it to be. I resent her ability to hand it over like that and just leave it all up to a greater force that I cannot seem to connect to. Sure, I genuflect in front of the hanging crucifix above my bedroom door each morning, offering my day up to God, but it is still half-assed and I am still unwilling to relinquish all control because I am stubborn and unconvinced. Or a sucker for the kind of pain that knocks the wind out of you the second it hits. Either way, my dreams do not entertain the Pope over chamomile tea. Rather, I am left to fend for myself when darkness falls, as alternate versions of my life freely occupy my mind, a mind that yearns for the kind of miracles that my mom speaks of, the kind of life that the Pope promises. But he does not visit me; maybe because he knows I would roll my eyes at him too. Instead, I wake up, my mouth dry and my head heavy as reality slaps me square across the face, and I mentally prepare myself for another day of therapy and developmental jargon. I peel myself off of my sweat-soaked sheets, and quietly kneel in front of my bed, my hands folded the way my grandmother taught me, my eyes falling on the metal Jesus hanging from his wooden cross, my lips moving in perfect rhythm to the memorized prayers of my ancestors.

Because I know better than to give up.
Or give in.
And as if on cue, Monchichi enters my room and gives me a look that says "I'm counting on you."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vacation Update #2



8:00 a.m.





11:30 a.m.





2:30 p.m






5:00 p.m
*since the closest internet connection turned out to be five miles down a severely winding road that I was too chicken to drive, all updates are done post-vacation and not in real time*

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vacation Update #1

I am making good on my promise to keep you informed of our progress during this short but very much needed family vacation.

Day 1 - Today

EDT: 8:00 a.m

Actual Departure Time: 12:00 pm. After the house was picked up, the fish tank cleaned out, the trash cans emptied, the car packed, the ice purchased, the El Pollo Loco Drive Thru Lunch ordered and the Blockbuster videos returned.

Number of times Superman asked how much longer: Ten times too many.

Ounces of unsweetened iced tea consumed by Mommy: 32

Number of potty stops: Two (this is a miracle for our family) Usually our trip is just one big Toilet Tour of America

Number of times I yelled "Slow Down You @#$$%!!" to Best Husband Ever (*sheepishly*): 12345566 (I'm rounding down).

Number of times Superman said something cute: Once.

"Mommy, I'm sitless"

"You mean restless?"

"yes. restless."

So ninety miles outside of our destination (Huntington Lake) we are stopped at a hotel with a nice pool and a comfy suite and the kids are enjoying room service. My kind of camping folks.

We stopped here to give my mouth another day to heal before we enter the remote Sierras where no one can hear your screams.

Okay.

So.
I hope I haven't left anything out.
Try to contain your excitment.

And I'm so glad you've decided to join us.

Aren't you?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

"Johannesburgesusfrijolestortillas"

What's in a name?



A lot of food refrences in the title one of this post. It was a nickname given to me by my spazzy little sister and her perfectly proportioned spazzy little friends when they were in high school.



The food refrences? Total coincidence.



But there have been others.



Joey

JoMamma

Bartlobitch (homage to my twelve letter Polish maiden name)

Barfsomemoreguts (this particular introduction was an amazing way to make new friends)

and

Barkalarkalarkawicz (*sigh*)



Now, finally, at the tender age of 32, I am mostly known as Jo. Not my given name, because Joanna, though I do love the name, sort of makes me feel pretentious and stuffy, and I have at least another decade before I am either of those things.



But despite my own often unpleasant experiences with nicknames, I have always been a sucker for them.



Rarely have I honored others' birth certificates and called them by their full names. I am always looking to shorten them. Used to be because it was cute. Now, as a full time mom, teacher, and wife, it's mostly to shave off precious seconds as I'm barking orders at people.



When my best friend was pondering names for her still in-utero little girl, my greatest concern was what her nickname was going to be. When she finally settled on naming her after a famous California University (NOT UCLA) I had to go home and really give it some thought before settling on one that I was happy with. Four years later, I still don't know how to spell her full name correctly and don't really give a darn.



When our oldest son was born seven years ago, his name had been picked out carefully, with a lot of love and forethought. The whole package, first, middle, last, flowed nicely, rolling off the tongue and pleasantly coming to an end with a soft "n." Five seconds after I met him, I blurted out "monchichi" not knowing where the hell that came from and learning only months later that it was the name of some popular 80's childrens' monkey-like toy. ????? But it felt right and it sounded right and he has been Monchichi ever since.



Oh. And let's not forget the benefit of being bilingual. Because for every english language nickname, you better believe there is an equally adorable/humiliating/random one in Polish. Monchichi is often referred to as "dziubek" (translated as the beak from a bird), and "dupus" (a cute way of saying little ass....no, really).



Superman came about because of, obviously, his fascination with superheros and donning caped costumes. He currently also responds to "E," "Monkey," and on occassion,

'Getyourassoverherebeforeicomeandfetchit."



No one is safe. Everyone I meet gets christened with a new moniker, whether or not they ask for one. My husband. My sister. My next door neighbor. What is this fascination with calling people by something other than the name they were given?? Almost all of us do it. Just the other day, while I was engaging in quality television (aka Tori and Dean on Oxygen) I heard them repeatedly refer to their kiddos as "ladybug" and "monkey." And I loved it. Especially when Tori went even further and shortened her daughter to "bugs." So Sweet! I mean, her birth name Stella ain't so bad either, but BUGS! You can't beat it!



So......what do you call the people in your life?



Are you the Jane's and Matt's and Laura's of the world? Or do you go by something a bit.....less traditional?



Like Mad Cobra, or Sistah Soldier, or........Stretch?



Because your name says a lot about you my friends.



And for some reason, ever since "Barfsomemoreguts" was replaced with "Jo" I have a lot more love, tolerance and success in my life.

Friday, August 7, 2009

*Insert Whiny Voice*

Can I be completely honest here for a second?
I have a love/hate relationship with blogging.

I began my blog late last Spring, after being inspired by a childhood friend. And ever since then, my motivation to write my blog has ebbed and flowed. Sometimes it feels liberating and a great way to hone my craft. Sometimes it feels like I'm standing in the quad at my old high school, the jocks and cheerleaders on one side, the goths and trouble-makers on the other, and me, somewhere in the middle, struggling to fit in and find my place.

And another thing.

I was totally unprepared for all of this pre-existing blogging greatness. These writers. I have been spoiled by family and friends telling me that I have a bit of talent in this department and though I don't claim to be the next great American Author, I always thought I had a little something-something going on in this area.

And then I began to browse the internet. And I began to read other women's blogs. Like this one, and this one, and this one too. And it hit me. That I am not that unique, that I'm not that special, and that I am about to have a total tantrum.

I am suffering from Blog Envy.
And PBI. Perceived Blog Impotence.
I am being a total brat.

Don't get me wrong. I love all of the blogs I listed above. And many, many, many more. But as I continue down the road of Social Media, and engage willingly (sort of) in twittering, tweeting, twerping, tramping, and anything else that will get a new reader to my site (hey, just trying to stay afloat in this supersaturated market) I am becoming more concerned with stat numbers than about writing a great post because it feels right.

So what the hell do I do now?

Because there is a part of me (larger than I care to admit, and I'm not talking about my waist) that sort of gives a damn about what you think of me. And though I love getting compliments from family and friends, I need to expand my readership beyond you crazy cats if I'm ever going to sell my book (aka, not give it away for free to everyone I know). It's not even finished yet, but I have my whole book touring route planned (think Giant Bus with my toothless face printed on the sides).

How do I make nice with the cheerleaders and the goths? In high school I just wore my Doc Martens with my cheer skirt and called it a day. But this blogging/internet/rat race thing is scary you guys. It's exposing my greatest passion, other than my family, and hoping that someone (other than you MOM, or you Best Husband Ever) thinks that "hey, maybe she's onto something here."

I know.
It's an ugly side of me that I didn't want to expose, but I chose the whole "Truth" theme for this blog for a reason, so blah blah blah blah blah.

I bet you didn't know I could be so petty. (Shut up Aggie).

So, if you're a veteran blogger and just happened to stumble into my little corner of the internet, please, please, show me the way, great master.

And, if you are a friend or a family member, for the love of God, share me already!

I will hash out the details of my Blog Pyramid Scheme later.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

At Least You Don't Need Teeth to Type.

People.

Take care of your teeth.

Because if you don't and you end up with a toothache and you go to the dentist thinking you have a cavity and she looks at your x-rays and does this little slow, displeased nod and then tells you that she is referring you to an oral surgeon for extraction and to not worry because these are the two furthest back teeth in your mouth and you still have a gorgeous smile and no one will notice and if it really bothers you you can get implants someday and then you go to the oral surgeon the next day with your best friend and your legs feel like jello and they numb you up so that you can't swallow and you are beginning to panic and then you hear a bunch of cracking and feel enough pressure to see stars and then you go home and lay down and can't move and finally look in the mirror and your face is the size of a small country and you keep hearing family members making "denture" references and you use your experience as a scare tactic to get your almost-six-year-old to brush his teeth longer then three seconds and you spend the day feeling uber sorry for yourself because you are only 32 and you feel like a homeless lady because you are two teeth short..........
well, that would just suck, wouldn't it?

This PSA is brought to you by someone who is going to love and nurture the crap out of the teeth she has left.

And i'm thinking that I ought to get diamonds from the tooth fairy.
Like a boatload.

And I dare you to make denture jokes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Self-Made Millionaire. Almost.

There was the year of "The Carnival."

I was nine years old and living in an apartment complex in North Orange County. The place was super saturated with kids and there was never any shortage of friends. We didn't need formally arranged playdates; we just rushed outside each day and met in the stuccoed halls where the laundry rooms were, or in the black tarred alleys where our skateboards and rollerskates would glide over the smooth surface. It was the ice cream man's paradise. Our neighborhood surely provided him with enough sales each day to live a life of luxury.

And I wanted a piece of that pie. So the wheels began to turn and soon I came up with a way to fill our summer days with fun and my pockets with big shiny quarters. I was the child of immigrant parents after all, and we came to this country for a better life. It was my turn to taste the American Dream.

I began to put my plan into motion. I secured a large section of lawn and began to strategically build my summer "Carnival." There was a dilapitated pool, filled partially with water and partially with the leaves from the tree it was placed under. I had a balance beam, and hula hoops. There were jump ropes and obstacle courses. Baton twirling lessons. A boom box playing Whitney Houston. Roller skating races. It was, by all accounts and purposes....my first small business and I was making some serious cash. Kids were flocking to my homemade spectacle by the dozens and I was on my way to a Kmart Shopping Spree. Until someone's dad showed up and complained that I was "stealing" money from the children and demanded a refund. I was shut down before lunchtime and my dream was shattered. But something inside of me had been awakened and an Entreupenur was born.

My next endeavor was selling homemade purses at school. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. VanDyke, had a huge cabinet filled with construction paper and I had a huge backpack to put it all in. I lugged my loot home each day, and after scribbling through homework (who needed school when I was going to make millions soon) I began to construct purses in various sizes and hues. I made tiny notebooks and borrowed pens from my parents' junk drawer, and since I had no overhead, I was looking at a 100% profit margin. I sold my goods at Morse Elementary School black-market-style; there was no doubt that I was the product of a communist country. My business blossomed quickly and soon I was considering the prospect of hiring some help; until Mrs. VanDyke caught on to my underground operation when she went looking for pink construction paper and found only sad little sheets of yellow and brown (who wants a yellow and brown purse, anyway?). I was subsequently shut down.

My spirit would not be shaken though, and by sixth grade I was back in the game, in a new neighborhood, with new friends. I convinced them to begin a resteraunt with me, and we named it "Kid's Diner." We spent afternoons working on the menu, and the logo, and we even planned for live entertainment, choreographing dances to our beloved Paula Abdul's greatest hits. My mom worked for Hunt Wesson at the time, and our garage was stocked full of pudding and popcorn and sloppy joe sauce. Again, very little overhead. We raised money through club dues and solicited our business through colorful fliers made on my girlfriend's tiny Mac computer. We used bubble font and felt powerful and industrious. Our operating hours were "after mom and dad leave for work until mom and dad come home." Opening day finally arrived and our customers showed up and began to order from the menu. Steak? We're out. Hamburgers? Not today. Fries? That's tomorrow's special. A sad little wilted chef salad and five dollars later and we were high fiving all the way to the bank. Until a parent called and complained that we were "ripping off" her kids and demanded the five dollars back. Again, my hopes and dreams were dashed by "the man." Or the woman in this case.

So of course, as an adult, I feel that had I not been bulldozed by overconcerned citizens, parents, and teachers, I could be a rather wealthy businesswoman by now. Living the high life. Taking shiny quarters from customers in exchange for....something. I could have been the next Wild Rivers, or Louis Vuitton, or....Chuck E. Cheese.

Which brings me to my next point. I have this great idea for a line of vending machines for pregnant ladies and their pets.

Come on. Whose with me?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Camping's Not for Sissies.....or for People Who Like to Bathe

I have to admit.

Sometimes, going somewhere with a special needs child, well, it can be a pain in the keister.

I'm probably not supposed to say that. I'm probably supposed to just go on being a beacon of inspiration for other parents of children with Autism by displaying unwavering strength, stamina, and patience.

But that would be a load of doodie.

Because it is hard sometimes.

Most of the time.

I don't whine very often around here, but when I do, you know it's for a good cause. Mainly to make myself feel better.


Our family prides itself on trying to exist within the most possible realm of "normalcy" we can. We go to the beach, we go bowling, we've taken an intercontinental vacation......and in ten days, we will go to the Sierras and go camping for a week.

And I am scared out of my mind.

Not of actually camping. My first trip was in the comfort of my mother's womb and I was hooked. The tent isn't nearly as cozy, but we make do.

Nope. I am terrified of Monchichi and his growing height and speed and desire to explore the world at his whim. I can no longer strap him into the carseat and place him a safe distance away from the campfire. I can no longer rely on his stroller to keep him safe so that I can finish my People magazine in peace. I am no longer more entertaining than the millions of hazards that exist on your average campground. And I am not willing to give up a yearly family tradition just because it will be inconvenient and frightening.

So I am at a camping crossroads, so to speak.

I have reached the fork in the trail.

I am caught between a rock and a river.

Sorry.

I am not gonna lie to you and tell you that I am looking forward to this little trip 100%.

I am feeling stressed out and overwhelmed; kind of like I do when I take the kids to the park by myself only a million times more. This is when our parent training and Monchichi's therapy is truly tested. How much have we gained? Where are we going from here? What more can we do, as a family, to keep on truckin?

It would be easy to close the curtains, turn on the A/C, and bask in the lonliness and frustration that sometimes seeps into our lives as we face daily hurdles and navigate around new obstacles. And believe me. There are days. It is never perfect, and you can never plan enough, and even the best intentions turn out disasterous once in a while.

But to give up on what life has to offer because it takes a little more foresight and a lot more energy, well, that would be like giving up on Monchichi. And in the words of his therapist, that is Not A Choice.

So we are packing for success.

A glimpse of our not-so-mainstream supply list:

Zip ties for the tent, so the stinker can't escape in the middle of the night.

Battery operated cause and effect toys. And lots and lots of batteries.

Books about Wall-E and Lightining McQueen, and Tractors.

Soup cans. Corn cans. Bean cans. Not to eat; to peel and play with.

Pillar Candles

Candlesticks

Bright Orange Construction Fencing. Yards of it.

Blow up pool

Battery operated tent fan

Spongebob Squarepants Paraphenilia

And anything that is cylindrical in shape, unbreakable in design, shiny in appearance, and full of liquid.



To omit these ncecessary and potentially life saving items would be an amatuer move. And we are not amatuers.

But we are parents who are trying super hard not to give in to the status quo and accept limitless limitations, just because our son's medical records look different than yours.



So, ideas, suggestions, prayers and praise are most welcome.



And since I've done my research and discovered a tiny little cafe with wi-fi not far from our campground, I will give you updates on our sanity, or lack thereof.

You know.

In-between chasing, pleading, bribing, redirecting, yelling, priming, reinforcing, taking solar-heated showers from a vinyl bag, and maybe, if there's time, eating polish sausage right off the grill.