Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Joys of the Season -- Christmas Cards

It's that time of year again: the annual cards are arriving in the mail every day from far and near. So far we have only received 5 cards, but I'm sure next week will be big. I mailed my cards yesterday. Go, Laura! Of course, they were totally impersonal -- a picture of the boys in the snow (see my post from a few weeks ago) I had printed out online, slap on a computer-generated address label, a return address label and a Christmas stamp, and put a huge stack of them in the mail box. Ahh, relief!

Of the cards we have received, two are from the same extended family, who shall remain nameless. These have some issues I must address. The first included the "catch-up on the year" form letter. It was generally OK -- telling about the big events of this family, what the kids have been doing in school and extracurricularly.

The issue I had was everything was very, er, religious. Now, I'm not intolerant of religion. I try to be accepting of those with other religions. (Well, calling agnosticism/atheism a "religion" is a stretch.) Anyway, I am fine with Christians sending cards talking about remembering the "reason for the season," etc. I, personally, find the reason for the season to be about giving gifts to friends and loved ones, getting together with loved ones, etc. Yes, I am one of those horrible secular people who has turned Christmas into the Santa-centered holiday it now is. And I don't take offense at people wishing me "Happy Holidays" instead of Merry Christmas. I won't boycott Target because of this. I will continue boycotting Wal-Mart because it is evil, but I won't boycott a store because the employees get the Christians in a tizzy by saying "Happy Holidays" to be more inclusive of non-Christian Americans.

Anyway, back to the cards. The form letter brought up a few things that made me uneasy, but the main one was this: Billy Graham Crusade. The phrase just gives me chills.

The other card that I couldn't handle seemed OK until you read what was printed under the cute picture of the kids: "Merry Christmas from the Smith's" followed by the first names of the parents and kids. Now, this family's last name isn't really Smith. I am using Smith to protect the innocent -- the two boys pictured above the horrible grammatical error. It's possible the boys and their parents are actually property of "the Smith," but I doubt it. I just don't get it. The parents are both educated people who are pretty smart. Do they really not know that adding an apostrophe doesn't just make something plural? Now, I would give them the benefit of the doubt if their last name ended in X or something. "Merry Christmas from the Ajaxs" Hmm, that doesn't look right. Maybe I should do apostrophe X? Now, it would still be wrong, but understandable. More understandable if their last name was actually "X." But, it's not. It's a normal last name, that is made plural by adding a regular old S, not by adding an apostrophe S! Arrggh! And, I could also overlook this error if it were in an email message. But, it's not. It's in a Christmas card that they had printed out. Did they not even proof read this before they had it printed and sent out to family, friends and acquaintances (and grammar nazis)? Or is it nazi's?

Friday, December 09, 2005

I'm back!

And I'm tired! I keep going to bed too late at night. Last night I almost made it to bed before 11. Well, I was in bed, but I insisted on reading before turning out the light. Then when Harrison woke me up at 5 am, I was still feeling brain dead. Fortunately he went back to sleep!

My latest crazy idea: I'm going to write a novel. Or maybe a book of short stories. Well, I at least have an idea to start with. I've been thinking about it at night when I'm drifting off to sleep. I have my main idea, but then I keep coming up with problems. If I have to research this thing, it's not going to happen, so I'll see if I can solve the problems in some non-research way. Perhaps sci-fi, so I can have everything happen in a different world, with human-like beings, who don't necessarily act exactly like humans. That way I can have them do things humans wouldn't and no one can complain that my story is unrealistic. Yep, I'm getting ahead of myself. I have to write something first, before people can start tearing apart my writing!

Or maybe I'll use talking dogs....

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Let the feasting continue!

I accidentally typed, "fasting" which is probably a better word for this blog!

Following the examples of Allison and Kristen, I give you


1. I'm a member of this group:
I own about 500 of these plastic figures. It's a sickness, but I can't stop. I even took that picture on the website of the Nativity scene. Yep, those are part of my collection.

2. I finished 2nd in the 7th grade spelling bee. When I was watching the finals, the guy who beat me (and really didn't deserve to, since he got to spell the same word I'd just misspelled) missed a really easy word that I could have spelled with my brain closed. I coulda been a contender!

3. I have completed 3 sprint length triathlons.

4. I slept with a security blanket for many, many years. I still have Banky, but I don't sleep with him anymore. We have a platonic relationship now.

5. In grade school, I was in remedial PE. It was called COPE class, and involved lots of riding a scooter back and forth across the gym floor. I repressed this memory for several years, then remembered it in high school, and my mother confirmed that I, indeed, had had motor skills issues as a child.

6. I limped down the aisle when Jay and I got married (well, anyone who went to my wedding would know that...) . I had ACL surgery on my knee 6 weeks before hand, and it didn't heal properly. I had another surgery a year later, and now have a normal gait again, and my quadricep muscle back, which totally disappeared when I had my gimpy leg.

7. I got to see Jude Law do a nude scene in a play in London the summer I studied abroad. He was just a young guy starting out then. Every girl in my program had a crush on him after that play (and probably some of the guys, too - it was a theater program, after all!).

8. As a preteen, I had huge crushes on David Letterman and Alan Alda. So, so, pathetic! I watched two episodes of M.A.S.H., followed by Late Nite every weeknight. My girlhood crushes were more acceptable - Harry Hamlin from "Clash of the Titans" and the kid from "The Black Stallion."

9. In college I was a ropes course counselor (this involved getting up too early on Saturday mornings and sitting on a platform high in a tree), and was into rock climbing and the use of "cams and biners." Prekids, I also used to scuba dive and ski a lot. Don't I sound rugged and outdoorsy? Haha.

10. I went from being a super geek, ultra-involved honor student in high school to being a complete slacker/procrastinator in college. I guess that's what college is for, right? Well, I was involved in some clubs in college, but wasn't compelled to be the treasurer, president, director, vice-president or similar in any of them!

Getting Good Photos of Young Children is So Easy!

Can you smell the sarcasm in that title?

Last Friday I decided I'd take the boys to the mall to get some Christmas pictures, and hey, while I'm at it, Harrison's 18 month pictures done at the same time. Brilliant idea, Laura! Would you like to introduce a pack a wild dogs, a bloody carcass, and some baboons, as well, to liven things up?

So, I set up an appointment, dress the boys in their matching red sweaters and khaki pants, get some more floofy clothes for Harrison to wear, some goldfish crackers, hair gel and a comb, and baby wipes. I'm set!

We arrive at the photo place and get to wait about 20 minutes. That's always a great idea with the young kids. Keep 'em waiting! Then, the fun of the photo shoot starts. The photographer wants Hutton to kneel and hold Harrison's hands. Hutton doesn't know how to kneel, so his butt collapses on his heels, but hey, he's holding Harrison's hands, so that works. The photographer gets a few shots of this pose. Move on to the snowman prop. Hutton starts trying to lift it, takes the hat off, crushes the hat, etc.

OK, move on to the individual shots of Harrison. Things seem to go pretty well. I change his outfit a couple of times. He poses with a train prop while wearing a train outfit. I know these pictures will turn out great! We leave to go kill an hour at the mall.

Because the boys were both so good (relatively speaking), I take them for ice cream to kill time, as I only have the umbrella stroller for Harrison, and trying to shop with two young boys is always a bad idea. And we return to get the pictures....

Which are really sucky. The ones of Hutton kneeling, holding Harrison's hands, are OK, though Hutton has his weird half smile on, where it looks like he's using his tongue to press out his bottom lip. Plus this draws attention to the fact that he has a cold sore. Eh, they're OK, though. The snowman shot the photographer captured (and when I saw photographer, I mean the 18 year old who works there probably making $7 /hour) features Hutton trying to knock the snowman's hat into his frozen brain, while Harrison looks great. Of course the 2 pictures of Harrison are both bad. One is off center, and he looks disheveled. The other he is sitting, but has a terribly pained expression on his face. No train shots. So, out of the half hour of work (and I mean on my part, trying to get the boys to cooperate with having their picture taken), there are 5 pictures ranging from mediocre to really bad. I'm just not very happy that I've gone to all this trouble for 5 bad pictures.

I finally buy one of those poses of the boys together, figuring it's a good picture of Harrison, and not the worst picture Hutton's ever taken. Then I set up another appointment to bring Harrison back for his 18 month shots, because I still have a coupon, and I'm not going to waste a coupon, dammit!

Feast or Famine

Well, my blogging seems to be feast or famine -- three posts in one day, followed by several days of nothing! Then again, calling my posts "feasts" is a stretch, too. It's more like when I go too long between meals, then get hungry enough to eat at McDonald's, and get a combo meal and eat the whole thing. And then afterwards feel gross for stuffing my body with bad food.

Fortunately, the McDonald's thing doesn't happen too often, even though Hutton always asks for McDonald's, or "M Donald's", when we are leaving his speech therapy appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I try to only get Hutton food there when we go, and wait and eat a better lunch at home. The problem is, we only have a half hour between speech therapy and the school bus pickup, so it's a rush to drive home and get him lunch, and "M Donald's" is so fast and easy....Of course, he always mentions going to M Donald's when we are at the speech therapist, so she thinks Hutton only eats crap, I'm sure!

The other day my sister ran into my best friend from high school in the grocery store. My friend, Sharling, had switched jobs a while back and lost my contact information, so got my email address from Emily and wrote me yesterday. We're going to try to get together when I go home to Nashville for Christmas next week, which will be good. She has a 19 month old son, so I'm sure Harrison and Hutton will love playing with him. It's very strange to think that it's been 10 years since Sharling and I have been really close. We drifted apart after college, when we both got real jobs, then I married Jay and moved to Florida. We've only seen each other a handful of times since then, and I would really like to keep in touch with her this time around.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Snow fun

After Harrison's nap, we went outside to enjoy the snow and wait for Hutton's bus to drop him off from school. We all had so much fun walking through the yard in the snow, and even Jay came out for a few minutes. Sally, one of our dogs, had the most fun, tearing around like a greyhound. Here are some pictures:

Cool NYC people news

My friend, Eva, lives in New York and works in the Bronx Zoo. Well, she doesn't work there, she works for the Wildlife Conservation Society, but her office is at the Bronx Zoo. Sounds cool, doesn't it?

And, as if that weren't cool enough (living in NYC and having an office in the zoo and getting to see the cool animals whenever she wants), she's married to a cool guy, too - Jeff. Jeff and his brother are independent filmmakers. They have made 3 or 4 films now. The first one, Suckerpunch, is one Jay and I own on DVD. It's a little, er, violent and disturbing, but interesting, nonetheless. And my friend Dawn's 3-legged dog, Mona, has a part in it! I haven't seen their other films yet, but these include, The Fittest and...wait for it...Ghetto Dawg II, Out of the Pits. So, I had heard from Dawn that the latest film was a departure from the more violent films. Well, The Fittest was, too, but that's beside the point. And Eva even got to do some sound effects in this one. I got this email today from her:

"Yeah, baby! Jeff's horror movie, Salvage, got into Sundance...yes, the top festival in the country. He is sooooo excited. And, an agent has already called offering to represent the Crook Brothers. Oh, please, please, please....we've been hoping and wishing for a little luck (and to get out of debt.) Talk to you soon!

So, if you ever hear of the movie Salvage, run, don't walk, to see it! Hopefully it will actually show up in a theatre, as the earlier ones didn't make it to theatre, or were in some smaller film festivals.

A lovely, snowy day

Well, as you can see from my absence since Sunday, I am not doing well making this a daily log. But, I do what I can!

As you may have guessed from the title, it's snowing today. The first snow of the season here in Woodinville, and it's coming down in pretty, fluffy flakes and sticking to the trees and ground. The boys were both so excited by the snow, and when we got home this morning from Hutton's (yes, I'm going to call everyone by their real names, now, as I don't think anyone who ventures onto this blog will use them against me in any way!) speech therapy session, he rushed inside to get the snowflake magnet from his magnetic calendar. He showed it to me so proudly and said, "Snowflake!" and then we put it on the calendar to mark the first snow.

Hutton's therapy is going so well! I don't know if it's his biomedical stuff - he's done 6 rounds of chelation, which is a metal removal technique that helps the body detox, and the last round seemed especially helpful. The first 5 rounds were this spring, and then over the summer I took a long break for his body to try out different things, like a regular diet. Prior to the "regular" diet, he was on a gluten and casein free diet for about 9 months, and though we saw improvements at first, when we added gluten and casein back, his behavior seemed similar, and his speech continued to progress. He still doesn't drink regular milk, though he eats cheese and yogurt. On that front, I am planning to take him to another doctor to try NAET, an allergy elimination technique a few of my friends with autistic kids say has helped their kids.

Anyway, after his last round of chelation, he had some bad behaviors for about a week, which I think could have been from yeast overgrowth, which is a side effect of chelation sometimes. I treated him with an antifungal, and then a few weeks ago we went to his homeopath, and he was given his "remedy" again. So these things, in addition to his speech therapy, ABA therapy, supplements, and school are all playing a part in his progress, I'm just not sure which is the most helpful! But the past week in particular has been especially good -- he is now saying, "Look, Daddy/Mommy! I see a _____" instead of his old, "What's that?" which he would use to draw our attention to something, even when he knew what it was.

I my various readings, I saw there was yet another new yahoo group devoted to a new method of treatment for autism, using Valtrex and MB12. So, of course I signed up for that group, too, to add to the hours of reading I already do on all the autism boards. I find it quite funny (I won't use the term ironic, because I know what it really means!) that I am the parent who spends so much time reading up on autism and its possible causes and treatments, and half of my readings are very complicated medical and scientific reports I don't really understand. Reports that discuss ethyl versus methyl mercury, methyl sulfation in the brain, viruses, bacteria, vitamin supplements and what they do, etc., etc. Jay is the parent who spends 90% of his time watching the stock market, which is his new job, working from home day trading.

Now, I'm getting to my point. In college, Jay double-majored in computer science and...
CHEMISTRY! So, why I am the one making my head hurt trying to figure out if MB12 is better than regular old B12 at improving the methylation (I don't even really know what that means, and how it differs from sulfation) in the brain, if ALA alone or ALA + DMSA are better at chelating mercury, if using antivirals will help? Hmm, I don't know, but I guess it's like everything else in the life of the hausfrau -- if I don't do it, chances are it won't get done!

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