About this Blog

Here you will find information and writings by Carrie Dalby, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as the ups and downs of life.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas greetings


Image taken from http://thatartistwoman.blogspot.com/2008/12/how-to-make-nativity-silhouette-art.html
I'll have to try this sometime.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Live and Learn

My blog this week is short—a carry over from my “Never List” last week. One of my readers (hello, cousin!) wanted to hear about number six: NEVER leave a bag of bird seed outside over-night. This is something I've learned within the last few years, yet still temp fate with when I'm forgetful (see number four on the previous post.)

I've been living in the deep south for thirteen years but I'm still learning the local culture and rules. One big thing to remember, yes do write this down if you are older than twenty-five, is that night life in the south is active. I live within in the city limits—suburban, residential with surrounding businesses, but there are a few pockets of wooded areas and a creek nearby. Opossums and raccoons are frequent nocturnal visitors. Both make short work of a plastic bag of bird seed. They especially like the premium seed, with the nuts and berries. I don't like paying good money to feed over-sized, rat-like critters.

Don't even get me started on the daytime issues with squirrels... they can chew through the lids of five gallon plastic paint cans!

There is still time to comment on the list from last week and sound off on your own experiences.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A List of all Things NEVER

Whenever I say never I usually break my own rule or find an exception to the rule but the following are pretty much set as absolutes for me now.

1.NEVER trust people who name “Lucy” as their favorite Peanuts character.
2.NEVER judge a parent because his/her child is screaming/etc in a public place. If you feel the need to judge, check how the parent is REACTING to the child.
3.NEVER leave pens unattended—even for a few seconds—while a toddler is in the room.
4.NEVER rely on your memory once you hit twenty-five—write everything down.
5.NEVER allow your checking account to get below $10.
6.NEVER leave a bag of bird seed outside over-night.
7.NEVER walk for a prolonged period on cement in the summer while barefoot.
8.NEVER assume your husband will feed the children while he's babysitting.
9.NEVER forget that the habits you despise in other people are usually those you have, too.
10. NEVER go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Okay, so I borrowed the last one. I just love that movie... if you don't know what it is you're missing something!

Tell me your experiences regarding these topics and add your own, too. Be sure to let me know if you want me to expand on any of these on future blogs.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Visions of clutter danced in her head...

Why is it that whenever I try to organize my desk I end up with more piles of stuff to go through than before? I've allowed the papers and books that need filing and sorting to pile up over the last few weeks. Because of the clutter I've avoided my desk the last five days. Sunday night I decided to tackle the issue after I got the kids to sleep. I'm down to three semi-orderly stacks.

On top of the regular mess are stacks of Christmas cards, Christmas stationary, and Christmas coloring/activity books for the kids.

I remember the days when I'd have all my Christmas envelopes addressed before Thanksgiving. I don't even have a great picture of the kids to order prints from. And I can't decide if I'll be doing standard cards or Christmas letters or photo cards.

About the photo experiences I mentioned last week—my high hopes were shattered. A toddler is harder than an infant needing support! Plus, when I'd say someone's name to get them to look at me the other two would look at the one I called, not at the camera. At least I know they all can smile and look at the camera... just not at the same time!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kodak Moments

This week I have the daunting task of taking a group shot of the kids. Not just any shot, but one that's worthy to stuff inside countless Christmas cards and hang on the bulletin board at the pediatrician's office.

Taking a picture of one child is easy.

Two kids, not so bad.

Three makes me appreciate the freedom and cost saving benefits of a digital camera.

Last year I took close to a hundred pictures over two separate days. I quit before tears could turn to wailing—several of us were on the verge of crying. I settled for a picture that none of them were blinking, and the boys were both smiling and looking at the camera. The princess, well, she was looking at the Christmas tree.
Mental note- stand in front of the tree when trying to get a baby's attention.

Here's a sample of one of the better pictures, altered to protect the guilty and for therapeutic reasons:

Yes, I caught the baby before she fell over!

I think this year will be slightly easier. Last year I was dealing with a princess who had to be held by her brother and a year-three-old. Is it just me or are three-year-olds more “terrible” than two-year-olds?

This year it's eleven years, four years, and fourteen months. It could result in extra pain and suffering, since the youngest is now able to run away, but I'm going to keep my expectations high.

I might even attempt to take the picture while on an outing to our favorite location. That would mean dressing the kids in respectable clothing and keeping them clean while we tramp around in search of the perfect photo spot. Visions of Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit setting her kittens loose in the garden while she finishes preparing tea come to mind.

Might need to rethink that idea...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Surfer Girl

I took last week off to recuperate from a family weekend in New Orleans. We celebrated my middle child's fourth birthday by going to both the Audubon Zoo and Aquarium. The kids had a blast, and so did Mommy and Daddy. We all love animals—even the little princess. Her favorite word right now is “turtle”. She used to say “fish” but since she learned how to say “turtle” everything in the water is a turtle. So, here's a picture of a group of “turtles” eating broccoli from a diver at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Love those smiles.

As for my writing life... it ebbs and flows. Last week the tide was out—wrote a little over a page, total, on my WIP. This week I have big plans, so I'm starting it off right with my Monday blogging (to be posted on Tuesday). I even did a page of journal writing yesterday.

In my defense, the princess is teething—cutting four side molars. Last week she was a screaming, clingy, feverish, non-long-nap-taking banshee. So, besides being tired from the mini-vacation I had my hands full with the littlest. And then the tiny birthday party for the four year old. Plus my oldest... well, he was in school a good deal of the time and is holding steady.

So, since it's still quiet time, let me close this and see if I can add to the page count of my project.

No such luck—she's awake.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Haunts

Autumn has returned to the Gulf Coast. I hope it lasts this time!

I survived Halloween weekend. Yes, that's worth noting. There are two candy-monsters under the age of four in my house. (The oldest child only likes suckers—yes, an actual perk of his sensory/eating issues.) We did a church sponsored fall event Friday night and then went to a local family attraction for trick-or-treating Saturday evening. Plus my husband brought the boys to a few houses in his friends' neighborhood on the way home. It's more than I've ever done for Halloween.

I never went trick-or-treating as a child, and I turned out normal... well, sort of...
The neighborhood in California I spent most of the first 14 years of my life was the highest street on a hill—considered a mountain to some people. The deal was us kids got the leftover trick-or-treat candy so we picked out the good stuff at the store. I think eight kids is the most we ever got at our house, and that only happened once. I did wear costumes to school and since we got the big bowl of candy at the end of the evening I never had a desire to take my shy self “door-to-door scabbing” as I liked to call it. I'm pretty sure all my siblings went trick-or-treating with their friends at least once, though.

My favorite Halloween memory is from the home I lived in when I was in college. The house had a balcony across the front and you had to walk under the balcony to reach the front door. I spread a dark sheet across the second story railing and blew bubbles for trick-or-treatsters. It was challenging to time it right so the bubbles were at face level when they turned to leave. By then I'd be crouched down so they couldn't see me. The kids loved it—it brought smiles instead of scares, though it did startle some people at first. Good clean fun.

Love the weather but Halloween is a take-it-or-leave-it in my books. National Dress Like a Freak Day... maybe I could get excited about that. In the past twenty years I've only dressed up twice. Unless you count being a frazzled mother as a scary costume.

P.S. I got a response back a week or so ago from my September letter to Senator Sessions. It appears to be a standard form letter about health care rather than anything specific about mandatory vaccines that I wrote about. Hmmm...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Confessions of a Blogger

I usually write my blog posts on Mondays and let them sit overnight. Sometimes I'll think of tidbits to add but most of the time I make little or no changes. But the time-buffer is reassuring. It allows me to catch mistakes before publishing my words for others to scrutinize. I'm a poor speller and queen of type-os, but I'm expanding my knowledge of grammar and punctuation everyday.

I'm typing this right now—on Tuesday. Yesterday, I used my writing time to add about three-fourths of a page to my manuscript. Anything added to the story is worth celebrating—especially this past week. Two weeks ago I edited my first two chapters into one which took several digits off my page count. Quality, not quantity is my new mantra. I can't allow myself to morn over the reduced page count.

After all, don't we all want to reduce numbers?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Perfect Ten

Today is the National Day on Writing-- how cool is that?


There are currently ten children from the ages of one to thirteen in my house, so that's all I can say at the moment!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back at It

Last week I added two and a half pages to the first draft I've been working on for an extended amount of time (it's embarrassing to say how long). That's two pages more than the past several weeks combined. I joined a critique group last month and I figured I'd have an easy ride the first few months since I had four completed chapters.

When I submitted the second chapter to the group last week I realized I've used half my reserves. It took me an insane amount of time to get those forty-odd pages and I realized I need to get my fingers in gear so I don't look like a total washout with nothing to submit in another month.

I want to work on my novel at least four days a week. My goal is a completed first draft by my next birthday. If I keep to my minimum for four serious days a week (even if it's just fifteen minutes a day) I'll reach my goal with time to spare. Since I have three freakazoids running around the house I'll probably need to use that spare time.


On September eighth I urged everyone to write their senators in regards to mandatory vaccines. I am happy to report that Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama responded to my letter. Part of his closing remarks are “Rest assured, I do not and will not support mandatory vaccination.” Let's hold him, and any other politician who claims such, accountable to that statement.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Who Done It?

I've been trying to figure out where the past week went. My Franklin-Covey day planner is littered with scribbles about the baby's naps, shopping (several times) at the seasonal children's consignment sale, and exercising.

Some of the one-time events were bringing my youngest to her one year check-up and attending the local writers' meeting.
The princess is now twenty-one pounds and six ounces and thirty inches tall.
I managed to write twice during the past seven days. Sad but true.

So, after watching Castle on ABC last night I'm revved up to have a killer week with writing. Castle is the only show I'm watching right now. It's not the greatest show in the world- all those have been canceled already. But it has enough charm, humor, and intrigue to keep me tuning in each Monday since it began last season.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do You Love a Banned Book?

It's banned books week!


Some of my favorite authors have banned books and books that have attempted to be banned from schools and libraries. Katherine Paterson, Madeleine L'Engle, and Laurie Halse Anderson are three that come to mind.

Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia is my favorite novel of all-time. Some parents have concerns about it because the main character has a crush on his young female music teacher (what kid hasn't had a crush on a teacher?) and also because a death in the book. No spoiler beyond that- just READ it. It won the Newbery Award for a reason!

Madeleine L'Engle ranks in the top five Christian fiction writers of the last century- I'm talking with the likes of Tolkien and Lewis, may they all rest in peace. Some people are scared of the book A Wrinkle in Time because it doesn't meet their ideal of religion- that it's too “new age”. If you want correct doctrine don't go looking for it in a novel... but you can find universal truths in the symbolism therein.

The most recent attempts at banning were blogged about by by Laurie Halse Anderson at her site last week. http://halseanderson.livejournal.com/264680.html
Twisted, one of her novels on the chopping block, is possibly the most eye-opening novel I've read. As a parent it made me fear for my boys upcoming teen years. Heavy, yes. Uncomfortable at times, yes. Worth it for the learning experience, yes! It's a novel I'll allow my children to read once they reach a level of maturity in which the topics can be digested properly. A wonderful talking point to encourage conversation between parents and children.

Parents need to read what their children are reading. Literature can be a gateway in which scary, tough, and heavy topics can be approached in a safe, third person way. Books are tools, learn how to use them appropriately.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The Little Princess turned one on Friday. She slept through most of her dinner party- thank you, Nana, for preparing the turkey feast- but was in good spirits when she woke up from her late nap. I allowed her to eat an ice cream cone cupcake without eating dinner. (She enjoyed the left-overs Saturday for lunch.)

She did keep her tiara on long enough for me to get several great photos of her wearing it. I had to get a doll stroller for her present- girls are fun to buy for! Thankfully Fisher-Price makes a sturdy stroller for toddlers. Of course big brothers have enjoyed playing with it, too. Whether it's because large, pink toys are a novelty or because it allows them to push something while running and crashing remains an enigma.

The most memorable moment... well, at least the funniest... was when she opened (with help) some clothes and actually held them up to admire them and exclaimed “oooh!” Such a girlie moment! When opening clothing gifts my boys always throw them behind their backs and grab for the next gift. Classic!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


First, I'd like to shout out a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sister-in-law! You're the bomb! My oldest was due on this day, one year ago, but she was over-cooked... like both my other turkeys.

It's been a week of knitting. (I know I should have spent more time writing- I'm loosing the momentum I had last month with the WFMAD challenge- but cognitive therapy has taught me not to “should on myself” so I won't regret my time spent with yarn.)

I actually completed one knitting project I've been working at for a a few weeks then started and finished a second AND third piece, and now I've began a fourth. They are all hats, children's hats- including one preemie, so they're small projects. But just the right size for a busy mom. After I finish this hat for my little princess I'll start on projects for my friends' children. E-mail your requests- I'd even do big people hats for my friends, too.

Almost two years ago I started knitting a blanket... a baby blanket, but the largest knitted project to date. I worked on that thing over a year- it took longer to create than my baby girl. It felt great to complete it but the dragging on without an end was an emotional beating. It's satisfying to complete a hat in a few days. Heart-warming to see my girl toddle around while trying to pull her hat off and on and watch my preschooler shake his head around to giggle the jingle bell on his hat. (I'm not ignoring the oldest- he wants to keep his two hats that still fit him.)

So, more knitted projects around the bend. And hopefully more writing, too!

(Pictured is the hat I made last winter for my baby girl- too small now!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Have You Written Your Senator?

I subscribe to the “Ask Dr. Sears” e-newsletter. In the newsletter last week the following link was listed in the vaccine information section.


Vaccines are a hot button topic for me. I'm not anti-vaccine, but I'm anti-mandatory vaccines. I believe parents and the children's personal doctors know what's best for each child. I don't think there should be a one-size-fits-all schedule for shots. And the thought of my children being taken away from me (for not following guidelines by people who have never seen my children's medical records) is about the scariest thing imaginable.

Following Dr. Sears' advice, I've sent my senators the following letter and urge you all to do the same.

I am writing in behalf of my children about my concerns that the soon to be available H1N1 vaccine will be made mandatory. My family has a history of autoimmune diseases and I have to space my children's vaccines further apart than the standard recommendation in order to prevent an immune system overload (which has the potential to trigger neurological disorders.)

I have no issues administering the older, established vaccines on an adjusted schedule for my young children but I believe it is in my family's best interest to pass on a vaccine that is so new, without a track record of long term side effects.

Freedom of choice has made our country great. I hope that you will speak out against mandatory vaccinations which have the possibility to tear local families apart in the general interest of safe guarding the country at large for a flu that is inherently no more dangerous than any other flu that sweeps the nation each season. Please keep our freedom of choice open and never allow vaccines to be mandatory.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Weaned (No, not the baby)

This is a follow-up to my August 4 Blog post, the one about my oldest son and our Autism journey. Missed that one? Might be good to back and read it before continuing.

The medication weaning is complete! There is now only one prescription (which our local doctor is willing to prescribe) and three over-the-counter supplements/medicine to deal with. But twice a day is much better than five times a day (yes, one of his medications had to be given five times a day!) He has not regressed in any areas and even started back to school without issues. He's still happy and sleeping well.

One major gain has been his willingness to try new foods. He's eleven and hasn't eaten anything green (not counting the occasional grass/weed eating over the years) since he was two years old and would have the biggest melt-down if I tried placing anything green on his plate.

This past month he's eaten the leafy tops of broccoli stems several times, wedges of green bell peppers twice, and once allowed me to place three peas on his plate- though he asked for them to be taken away a few minutes later. Plus, he actually ate pork chops that were cooked in a crock pot! This is a kid who only ate chicken/fish/shrimp that's breaded and crispy.

I wondering if either of the medicines we'd dropped gave him a bad taste in his mouth. Things that make you go hmm.... But he did self-limit his diet well before starting medication because part of the eating problems are sensory issues.

No luck on the piano lessons yet. Have not heard back from the two teachers I've contacted. On to the next plan: more networking!

(The picture is his Play-Doh art featuring the interior of Count's Castle from Sesame Street.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crisp Weather Inspires Me

Autumn is in the air, albeit for only a few days. Just enough to engage my senses, reminding me that my favorite season is only a month, or two... or three, away. Such is life on the Gulf Coast. Sometimes autumn comes in September, other years it's just a few weeks in November. And don't even get me started on winter! It doesn't visit here as often as I'd like.

For the record I hope for an extended autumn (a minimum of two months) and at least a dozen hard freezes over the winter. (That's the only thing that will reek havoc on the mosquitoes!) And snow... dare I even wish for snow?

The highlights of the past week consisted of a “happy face” for my oldest each day of school, registering my middle child for his “exercise class”, allowing my baby girl (a toddler now, as she weebles and wobbles and often falls down) to play outside for the first time, and getting out (by myself) to finally see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

I barely accomplished listening five music CDs for homework this week. But I plan on continuing the music, as well as the WFMAD, challenge. I have written every day this month with the exception of Saturday. I spent several collective hours reading an on-line book, well 238 pages of it, and taking notes. Historical research for a story that's on the back-burner of my mind. I found reference to the book In Freedom's Birthplace: A Study of the Boston Negros by John Daniels (1914) in a short story collection I read for my book club. Serendipity: historical tidbits when I least expect them! And my two typed pages of single spaced notes were all I could get out of my day but I think it was worth it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Music, the pulse of life.

This is what my self-imposed homework consists of: listening to music.

Music energizes and inspires me... and I've been avoiding it the past few years. Probably because if I listened to more music I'd feel like writing and since I wasn't writing it would produce feelings of guilt. So rather than feeling guilty (or better yet actually writing) I've limited myself to non-music days, weeks, and years. I think in the past three years I've only listened to a couple dozen of my CDs. I don't own an iPod or MP3 player or anything similar. My car is old (but paid for) and only has a cassette player. I will listen to the radio in the car- if there isn't a screaming baby on board. But with a houseful of little ones, the actual moments of QUIET are music to my ears these days.

I used to be such a music junkie. During the first eight years of life I listened to whatever my older sisters and parents did. Highlights (or low lights) of those days were Roger Whittaker, Barry Manilow, Alabama, The Beach Boys, Culture Club, and Billy Idol.

When I started developing my own tastes I bought WHAM!, The Jets, Debbie Gibson, and New Kids on the Block. I won't deny I liked these people- I just won't spend much time revisiting them.

Then I graduated to rock music: Boston, Europe, Nelson, and others. But I also developed an appreciation of classical music at that time in my life. I would go to the local Sam Goody's in my denim and leather jacket (yes, it was denim and leather, complete with Skid Row and Firehouse buttons adorning it) and buy J.S. Bach, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. Once I was told that I “didn't look like the powdered wig type.”

I later expanded my search for musical excellence and embraced country. This was the year that Diamond Rio, Martina McBride, and Little Texas emerged. But I also embraced the always in-style Patsy Cline with her deep, haunting vocals.

After that I dabbled in the new age and world music scene digging the likes of Enya and Ottmar Liebert.

In the past dozen years there hasn't been much growth in my musical life. Besides getting new albums from my favorites I think the only “must have” musicians/singers I've added are Hanson, Emmy Rossum, and Linkin Park. How's that for a mix? Of course once or twice a year there will be a song I hear on the radio that's totally grooving and whenever I do get an MP3 or iPod, I'm sure I'll purchase those single songs.

But that's me: a big fan of a couple dozen singers/groups across the musical board. (Those listed by name total about seventy-five percent of my CD collection.) Having that broad range of interest helps when choosing music to help me set the mood for my writing.

It's all the rage now for authors to have a “play list” on their website for their different novels but I was doing that fifteen years ago. Does that make me old or what? Each of the novel-length stories I wrote in my teens has a soundtrack listed in my notebook for the story. I'd put in music, get the vibe going and then zone out writing. The next thing I'd notice was silence because the CD has finished. Those were some good times.

So, my homework... This past week I've made an effort to listen to more music. I haven't gotten past Mitch Malloy yet (pictured above). He's in a class all his own, singing several types of musical genres and is the best out there, in my opinion. But I did watch Phantom of the Opera (Emmy Rossum) the other night- does that count?

This week I pledge to listen to at least five CDs by five different artists as well as continue to WFMAD (Write Fifteen Minutes a Day- see previous blog.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm participating in a month long writing challenge hosted by Laurie Halse Anderson called “Write Fifteen Minutes a Day” (WFMAD). Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my favorite authors- check out her latest book Wintergirls. She did WFMAD last summer as well and I wrote every day except twice and they were on Sundays. The Sabbath is suppose to be a day of rest so I didn't feel guilty about missing those few days.

For last year's WFMAD I was on a roll with a story. It's one I started piecing together back in 2002. I had character bios/photos, maps, and about seven pages before I started WFMAD. By the end of the writing month last summer it had grown to about thirty-eight pages with lots of updates and tweaking of characters. Yes, I averaged a page a day. For a mom who hadn't spent much time writing in the past decade that was HUGE!

I kept going a few days after the challenge ended but the document has been untouched since then- rotting away its forty pages.

Of course I have good excuses: about a month later I gave birth to baby number three and everything I'd established fell through the grates. Even that last month of pregnancy was void of any logical or creative thinking. I was on autopilot. Sorting and reorganizing baby clothes was about all I was good for, beyond caring for my boys of course. Excuses, in three varied sizes!

So here I sit, a year later, over a week into the WFMAD challenge and I still haven't touched my manuscript. I don't want to write anything until I reread it because that helps me get in the flow. And I've been avoiding reading it. But how do I find the flow without reading?

I can't!

I'm off to read so I don't have the excuse of not working on it. Plus, I'm giving myself homework... more on that next week.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

There and Back Again

Was I missed last week? Did anyone notice?

There was no wandering with me. Wonderwegian was wandering alone. But I'm going to share my journey now.

There and Back Again:
An Autism Tale

My oldest son was born in July 1998. He reacted to the Hepatitis B vaccine given in the hospital and he had to be re-hospitalized within 24 hours of bringing him home. He had a low sucking reflex and was always a fussy-up-half-the-night-every-few-hours baby. But he loved to be held. Ear infections were frequent so he was on anti-biotics every few months the first year of life. At about eight months old he contracted the Roseola virus (HHV-6).

He hit all the physical milestones the first year but never slept through the night. He was never a big talker, only said "mama" and "bye-bye" and such sporadically. He'd reach for things, but not point, screaming until I figured out what he wanted.

After he was a year old he self-limited his diet to include mostly crunchy and/or beige-yellow colored foods. By the time he was two years old I was worried. He had dark circles around his eyes and wouldn't interact with his cousins or kids at church. We were living in an older rental house so I had him tested for lead poisoning and vitamin deficiency since he was such a picky eater: negative for both. The doctor was not worried because he showed love and affection and made eye contact with me. She did prescribe an allergy medication.

During his 3-year check-up the pediatrician saw enough “red flags” to send us to a neurologist and psychologist. After going through various testing in August-September of 2001 he was labeled PDD-NOS. (9/11 for me was an autism attack.) After escaping from reality for a week by immersing myself in the first four books in the Harry Potter series I buckled down and started doing autism research on-line and read a LOT of books.

I changed his diet to the GF/CF diet in October of 2001. He only asked for milk the first day. I told him "Milk is bad for your tummy. It gives you a bad tummy and a bad head." End of story. The nighttime screaming that had been a part of our lives since the firs year of life stopped. He still woke up every few hours but he wasn't screaming with what I now know to be gut pain. He stopped dragging his head across the floor or rubbing it on the wall- something he'd done for a year or more.

He started preschool services through our local school system in November 2001. His only language was a few basic words like "cookie", "home", "mommy", and memorized songs. He could not sit in a chair for more than a minute.

I found the NIDS (NeuroImmune Dysfunction Syndrome) yahoo list and website for Dr. Michael Goldberg in December 2001. I followed the stories of other families just starting out and listened to the inspiring stories from “old timers”. Our extended family members have immune related diseases/disorders such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer's, etc, so NIDS seemed logical.

I continued to seek more information and searched and prayed about what else to do for my son. I even went so far as to visit a local chiropractor who did chelation, but when he said he'd never do it on a child because it was too dangerous I moved on to other ideas.

We also went to an allergist who did skin prick testing on him and said since my son didn't react to milk or mold or pollen he did not need to be on allergy medicine or restricted in his diet at all. I kept his diet GFCF but we dropped the allergy medicine.

After a rough/emotional summer vacation I decided to commit to the NIDS theory and I called to make an appointment in July 2002 (my son just turned four). I also decided to switch from GFCF to the less-restrictive NIDS (low allergy) diet. There was no regression in his behavior/speech/etc.

Our appointment with Dr. Goldberg was in October 2002. We started with an anti-fungal medication. After the die-off (worsening of symptoms) the school workers noticed improvements in focus and trying to communicate more. They were small improvements, but noticeable.

Since that initial medication, we've added (and rotated) anti-virals (those HHV-6 numbers from his infant year were sky-high), allergy medication, and SSRIs. Plus we did a round of IMGG for about a year in 2003-2004.

The gains were slow and steady, almost too small to notice at times. And we've had rough times/regression when certain medicines didn't work for him. But within the first few years with Dr. G my son was sitting for school work for up to 20 minutes at a time, speaking in two words phrases, learning to do math, and reading.

My son has been in a regular classroom with a paraprofessional since second grade. He does still receive tutoring with a special education teacher for about an hour a day, adaptive P.E., thirty minutes a week with an OT, and also services with a speech pathologist.

I became pregnant in 2005 and followed Dr. Goldberg's pregnancy guidelines. When Baby boy #2 was born in November 2005 I opted out of the Hepatitis B vaccine- the hospital didn't push it when I said my older son reacted to it. We've followed the alternate vaccine schedule since. He has only been on medication FOUR times in his life. He's a happy, healthy chatterbox. He's never had sleep/night issues and he pointed on schedule for his development. He has creative play and a vivid imagination. He is the BEST therapy for his big brother.

I gave birth to a healthy baby girl last September. She's met all milestones and just a few months ago had her first ear infection/need for medication. She's developing above average as well for all milestones.

My oldest is going into fifth grade this year but is still two (or more) years behind academically. His weakest subject is reading comprehension. This past school year he responded better to peer tutors than the teachers/aides and doesn't like to be shadowed- he's becoming more independent. He loves interaction but has the expressive language (and social skills) of a two-three year old. He still does a lot of scripting, which interferes with social skills. He's happy and is able to work at a desk for an hour at a time. MAJOR improvement in attention span over the years!

I haven't seen any large gains over the past few years though he's much healthier than he was. This October will mark seven years with Dr. G. Maybe it's a seven year itch but I want to see if my guy will regress without the medicine or hold his own. His HHV-6 levels are now finally close to normal and his other immune panels have been holding steady for over a year.

The autism world is very polarized like, religion and politics, when it comes to philosophies on the right way to treat it and what causes it. I had to pray over which route to follow when researching autism/PDD/etc so part of me feels like it'd be like turning away from my testimony. I'm not second guessing our journey because I know Dr. G has helped my son and my two healthy younger children are proof to me that Dr. Goldberg's theory is as close to the truth as possible. We've been blessed.

But for now I've decided to focus on behavioral and educational boosts. Which will take additional money/time/energy. I can't do medical and behavioral right now- I'd be stretched too thin: mentally, financially, and physically! I'm in the process of weaning my son off medication, searching for a piano teacher, researching ABA for older kids, plus a dozen other things.

And that is why I didn't blog last week... I was sorting this all out in my head. I'm ready to travel forward, once again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Resettling back into a routine after a vacation is like trying to sift curdled milk with a gold mining pan.

Last week was a dream. Even the hours in a minivan with three kids and a grouchy husband were enjoyable- at least for me. Hey, I didn't have to chase anyone! Plus the sky was blue and there were plenty of snacks within reach.

If you want to feel like your “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere” (name that country singer) then visit a village in the Midwest that's surrounded by Amish farms. Call me crazy, but I'd up and move to Arthur, Illinois, tomorrow if I could. The weather was a nice break from the humidity of the Gulf Coast, though I have been up there when it's been sticky hot. The snickerdoodle cookies at the local Country Cheese and More bakery were as delicious as usual. (I only gained one pound! And no, those two dozen I picked up on the last day didn't make it home, but I had help.) The Amish crafts are gorgeous to look at and I was able to bring home a piece of oak furniture, which is the best physical keepsake of the trip.

Though I'm sure my children would disagree. They were spoiled, as usual, by grandparents and aunts. And having time with cousins, an uncle, and great-grandma was wonderful, too. Besides the daily trips on foot to the main street they had fun on the front porch with sidewalk chalk, a couple afternoons at the local school's playground, a trip to Rockome Gardens, and a festive luau party.

Memories of family time and adventures with horses, buggies and trains to last until next time. Which hopefully will be in the not too distant future. It's been about three and a half years since our last visit- much too long!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

... and she flies the coop...

I'm here on time this week. Blogoriffic!

My timeliness blooms from guilt: I won't be posting next week and I wanted to make sure I get this week's post up. The next few days will be filled with packing and laundry and cleaning. Saturday the family heads north on a fourteen hour drive to reach my in-laws' home. Thankfully the trip will be split between two days, allowing for a stop in Nashville to return two of my nephews to their home and see my sister and the rest of her family.

I love to travel! I haven't been more than forty-five minutes away from home since last June when I was blessed enough to travel (flying first class no less!) to the Boston area to visit with my oldest sister. I was six months pregnant and away from my boys for the first time. Need I say I was spoiled and self-centered during that visit? Such an odd feeling to get away from it all... (See photo above.)

But this time it's interstate travel and car seats and too many pit stops. French fries on the floor and cranky kids.

It'll be so worth it, though! Seeing the world go by one mile marker at a time. And if I'm lucky, a book-on-tape to listen to... as long as the kids are quiet enough and the narrator's voice doesn't annoy the driver. I'll have my bird book next to the seat and my journal within arms reach as well. And a camera, though I probably won't remember to use it much.

The days ahead will be filled with family, fun, and a little frustration, I'm sure!
Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Literary Defeat

I've lost a battle with a book. Not just any book, but a classic. A standard from this past century in the literary library of the greats. One of the most referenced works I've come across in articles and books about the craft of writing. And I quit!

My brain was having too much trouble wrapping around a text which is out-numbered by footnotes on many of the pages. In the five to ten minutes of reading time I get here and there throughout the day it was too difficult to keep track of the train of thought an hour or two later with such detailed references. Nearly impossible to grasp the details while being pulled at by one child and questioned by another.

But I need the information from this book- which has been sitting on my shelf for nearly a decade. Plot is my weakest link and I believe the knowledge in this book will help me with plotting my stories. I finally dusted off the book two weeks ago but have accepted defeat on page twenty-six.

Instead, I cheated.

I goggled “Hero's Journey” to find a tidy outline of the steps in the travels of a character rather than trying to trudge through The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. And I found a gem on an educational website which translated nicely to be printed out on two pages in document format. It now rests on my desk; encased in an archival page protector. The crisp page glaring like a white flag.

I've surrendered the fight, for now. I'll try it again when my brain functions better.

P.S. I try to stick with nonfiction reading during the day. So now I'm rereading Herself by Madeleine L'Engle (one of my favorites). The collection of quotes is just the thing to be able to read a few pages here and there. Plus it's uplifting and empowering. And at night I'm reading Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson.

P.P.S. The book that won is on the left side of the shelf, white with red swirls and a blue text box. L'Engle is the shortest book in the center of the inspiration and how-tos.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I'm getting closer to catching up on projects around here. For example I'm down to one scrapbook to catch-up on (see blog posted May 20, 2009). Though by the time I order pictures again I'll have at least 3 months worth of new pictures to attend to. But as my baby girl grows, I take fewer pictures each month. And we haven't had a major outing since March so there isn't a photo-documentary waiting to be freed. Translation= it should be easier to keep up on things from now on... or at least this next time.

One thing I have done lately is taken several videos. Those have been fun. Just thirty-ninety second snippets of my kids at play: recording their laughter and movement.

Oh, and my mother gave me a little photo album of random pictures of me from the time I was a toddler until my twentieth birthday. So those will have to be placed. Some might be duplicates from shots I already have in scrapbooks. If that's the case, I'll pass them along to unsuspecting family members so they can strategically place the oddball photos instead of me.

The photo on this page is from the batch my mother gave me. Yours truly, in my Wonderland, October 1995. It was in this room where “Wonderwegian” was born. I was always changing things around. Posters on the ceiling as well as globes and record albums hanging, too. And that's just a third of the room, with my “black and white wall” taking up the main backdrop. The other walls (and ceilings) were covered with a colorful assortment of rock posters/albums and nature prints.

My taste has always been all over the place but I like to think that now I have less clutter.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm Melting!

Last month we were blessed with unseasonably moderate temperatures along the Gulf Coast. So far June is making up for May's easy days. The heat index is 99 right now, the thermostat is reading 95F. One can only pray for afternoon thunderstorms to cool things off a bit but this week doesn't haven't much stacked in favor for rain.

Yes, I'm talking weather.

Out of topics or news, you might be thinking. Not really.

Exterior climate affects my interior climate.

Ask my family- they'll let you know I've been running hot lately. Easily frustrated and short tempered. Diffidently not my usual self. But 'tis the season for stress and anxiety- at least for me. Trapped inside during the summer much like northerners are trapped inside during the winter.

My oldest son has trouble regulating his body temperature, as part of his immune system issues, so he over-heats easily.

Mosquitoes are attracted to my middle child like squirrels to magnolia blossoms. (Yes, those critters eat the magnolia buds!)

The baby doesn't need to be around heat or bugs.

And I don't want to either, if I can help it!

So we spend a lot of time indoors.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer, here I come!

A picture of the boys enjoying a rain puddle in the "sink hole". They love to splash and get dirty. But, thankfully, they do like to get clean after!
This school year passed quickly- today's the last full day. I've been busy with two kids at home while my oldest goes to school. Baby number three was born last September, a month after school started here. That last month of pregnancy I spent running around trying to make sure everything was in order. During that month the soon-to-be middle child, a few months shy of turning three, quit taking naps. I blame myself. It was I who changed up the routine. I hardly slowed down to rest and when I did I crashed in the recliner with the little guy.

So, when baby number three came home, there was no downtime during the day. I'm still trying to regain a since of “quiet time”, if not a nap time, with the now three and a half year old. And I'm suffering through the his crankiness in the middle-late afternoons.

Over the summer I plan on keeping a schedule, more or less, to help keep us from chaos. The oldest needs lots of tutoring. The middle child needs lots of physical activity. The crawling girl needs constant supervision. And I need a creative outlet. Wish me luck on the balancing act!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I scrap, therefore I am

I enjoy scrapbooking, when I'm in the mood. It easily becomes over-whelming because lately I only get around to doing it about twice a year. I have six albums I work on so the work multiples, everything from ordering more prints to keeping supplies well stocked. I have “the family album”, which is currently in its fifth volume and includes any pictures from friends and extended family. One album for each child- the oldest is on his fourth book, the middle on his second, and I'm determined to fit the baby's first year in one volume! Plus I have an album for my husband's sport/hobby pictures- skydiving, fishing, etc. And then I do pages of the family/kids and send them to my in-laws.

Lately I've been thinking about switching to regular photo albums or maybe even digital to save time. But I'll use up my supplies and keep thinking about that because scrapbooking is therapeutic for me. Let me count the ways.

1. I feel like I'm recording my family's history, contributing to their since of worth in the years to come.

2. It provides a creative outlet as I craft a (hopefully) visually pleasing page of memories.

3. It's relaxing to focus on the page at hand, temporarily neglecting the current issues looming above my head.

4. It's nostalgic to focus on the milestones of rapidly growing kids.

5. It helps me remember that “this too shall pass”.

6. I feel like I've accomplished something as I see the albums get thicker.

And on and on.

I'm not a master scrapper or anything. I rely heavily on decorative paper and stickers. (I only buy supplies when they are on sale.) But I think I do a decent job.

I just caught up with my baby girl's album- up through March 2009, which is the last time I ordered prints. Her album is extra fun because I'm doing a fairy tale theme throughout the pages, and for those who know me know I love castles and books.

Five more albums to go! And by the time I'm done, I'll already have several more months to catch up on from April 2009-whenever.

At least the picture taking slows down as the kids get older, for the most part. Those first six months are full of “Kodak Moments!”

Monday, May 4, 2009

Birthday List

The years keep sneaking up on me. I had a nice weekend, even though I'm dealing with a sick/fussy baby. But since my birthday is almost the middle of the year I've been thinking about my goals for 2009. I have a goal for each of the following eight categories: Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Emotional, Social, Family, Financial, and Professional.

I've made progress/kept up with five.

A flat-line in two areas.

And a back-track in one.

Which, if the stats on New Year's Resolutions are true, is above average!

I've come to the conclusion that it might be better to actually commit to my goals for the year – and assess last year's- on my birthday rather than New Year's. It would keep one less thing to do out of the rush of the holiday season. It would utilize the drama of aging as motivation to reach for the next level. And by the time the holidays come around I'll (hopefully) be well established with my new habits as opposed to giving up because the end is near.

That's all well and good for next time around but what do I do with my current list?

Do I see it as an opportunity to have an “extra” five months to meet/keep my 2009 list?

Or do I use my enlightenment to chuck my 2009 goals and start a “By the time I'm 34” list?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Life is like a box of chocolates..."

At this point in my life I'm eating from the “bittersweet” section.

Most of you know that my oldest child is “special needs”. He suffers from a dysfunctional immune system, which causes neurological interruptions (N.I.D.S.). He has outwardly autistic behaviors as well as internal medical conditions (an active viral infection, food allergies, trouble regulating his body temperature, etc). He's been developmentally delayed since toddlerhood. He'll be eleven years old this summer but he's behind his peers in almost all categories and subjects. But he's also the sweetest kid I know, artistically inclined, and a joy to be with. He's doing a great service in my life, teaching me more about the world and myself (things I embrace and things I'd rather not deal with, but we are where we're at for a reason.)

Since he is my oldest I didn't know what to expect and therefore didn't know what I was missing when he failed to reach developmental milestones. Through years of medical intervention and close monitoring of blood work he is showing improvements, both on the numbers showing in his lab work and his developing of new skills and abilities.

Now with my three and a half year old son I'm seeing the miraculous blossoming of a healthy child. He's not asking the magic “Why?” questions every other minute, but wonders how, where, and when things happen. And that's when he's not busy telling me what he's going to be when he grows up. (Within the last week he's declared he's going to be a skyscraper builder, firefighter, race care driver, and concrete mixer.) This little guy is already “writing” letters to his friends and actively seeking information on anything and everything.

I'm experiencing all the stages my oldest missed because his body was sick and he wasn't able to learn/develop along the typical growth chart. I'm watching little brother surpass older brother with language, socialization, and imagination.

I'm seeing just how much my oldest is trapped in his own world. I'm realizing that after all the gains he's made over the past seven and a half years of treatment he's still grossly behind his peers... and even behind his younger brother.

I'm criticizing myself for slacking off my efforts with him during the past few years, feeling I've neglected the oldest by dividing my time to care for the younger two.

I'm over-whelmed with all the hours and effort I'm needing to put in with him to help him be better able to have a higher quality of life.

I'm aching for the world to see the beautiful soul who peeks out from my son amid the chaotic symptoms of a harsh illness.

But thankfully I'm accepting the massive journey ahead of us and recommitting myself to the up-hill climb.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Special Education Hoops

Monday afternoon I received a phone call from the principal at "A's" school. It's been a year and a half since the principal called- and that phone call was in regards to extreme behavior. Dr. Principal (yes, she has her doctorate) tells me right away that I'm on speaker phone and A's teacher is also in the room. Double whammy.

The principal tells me about the standardized testing they are doing this week and that the children in A's fourth grade class take their tests in the morning and he does his in the afternoon, in a separate room. (This set-up is part of his I.E.P. to allow him the best environment for testing, which usually translates to less distractions and more time.) She also says that the aide that usually works with him is assigned to a different child this week. THEN she tells me A will be sent to a “holding room” during the mornings and asks if I would be willing to just keep him home during the mornings and only send him in the afternoons this week.

I say “I suppose I could arrange to bring him later. Before lunchtime or after?”

She seems to be stumbling around her words, hearing the uncertainty in my voice, because she then tells me the room is a first grade classroom with a competent teacher... and two adults will be in the room with him. “How do you think he'd do?” in the other classroom she wants to know. I said if he was allowed to do activities he enjoys he should be fine. And then she remembers that he rides the bus and me having to bring him to school might be a hardship.

I have the idea and agree to keep him home in the mornings IF he becomes a distraction to the first grade classroom.

I sent him to school Tuesday morning with a new box of crayons and notebook, knowing he can happily draw for hours to keep himself occupied. There was no phone call or note so I assume he did fine. So, I sent another new notebook with him today.

But the longer I think about it, the term “holding room” conjures images of animals locked away. As if my child is livestock to be moved around when convenient, or inconvenient as it may turn out to be. That Ammon's structure/routine is not important to them since they are willing to toss him into an unfamiliar room, with no adults (or children for that matter) who understand his quirks.

Hear mommy growl under her passive facade.

It appears he won't be getting any schooling this week, just babysitting and standardized testing. Maybe I should just keep him home and do workbooks with him here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

25 Random Things

25 Random Things

I have a phone phobia. If you've ever gotten a call from me, consider yourself lucky.

I had both nails on my big toes removed when I was 18 due to nail-bed damage.

I want to get the rest of my toenails removed. I use to work at a retirement village and thought it was sad the seniors had to wait all month for a podiatrist to come by to clip their toe nails because they could reach them to do it themselves. I don't want to have to worry about my toenails as I age.

I like the transitional seasons-Spring and Fall- better than the extremes of Summer and Winter.

“Care Bear” is my most widely used nickname. It's been used at home, school, and work through out the years.

Before I was married I wanted 5-6 kids. After having one I changed my mind to 2-3 so I think I'm maxed out.

I think it's easier to answer quiz questions than come up with 25 random things...

I've never used a tanning bed, and I don't plan on doing so.

I had a “Tiny Toons” lunch box during high school.

I have no middle name.

The only graduation ceremony I participated in was for Middle School.

I've got no class. High school graduation class, that is. But I usually put class of '94 because that's what I would have been...

I have an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned December 1995.

Keep thinking about dying my hair but I'm too chicken.

I've worn a fake “suicide chain” (chain connecting a nose ring to an earring) on several occasions- though I don't think there is photographic evidence. And yes, it was in public. Teenagers!

Never had my ears, or anything, else pierced. And don't plan to.

Fearful of needles.

I'm a weak swimmer.

Scared of most fires/flames.

Small candles are okay in moderation.

I think I'm running out of steam...

I use a Franklin Covey day planner to keep myself on task.

I'm a habitual list maker.

There are currently 5 aquariums/tanks housing fish/reptiles/etc in my house right now.

I wish there were only two aquariums...

Thursday, January 22, 2009


This morning frost covered the grass and the bird baths were iced over- up to 1/8 of an inch around the rim. All the other cold nights this month only produced some frost on the rooftops. There was even a glittering layer of ice crystals on the canvas of the folding chair on the front porch.
I enjoy the winter while I can... it goes so quickly here, if it decides to visit.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Wouldn't it Be Nice"

I put the title in quotes because I'm mentally signing that song. Mentally, so as not to create noise pollution.

Wouldn't it be nice to get a whole new wardrobe every month? To pass on the discarded clothes to others and refill the drawers and hanging spaces in your room with a complete new assortment of adorable, and sometimes even trendy, outfits.

Such is the life of Princess S. She turns four months this week and each month I have to bump her wardrobe up to the next size. At birth she wore (filled out in most cases) 0-3 and 3 month clothing. At one month she was wearing 3-6 months. At two months it was 6 months. At three months she wore 6-9 months. Now, she's on to 9 and even some 12 months (depending on the cut- she has a long torso).

Both new and used clothes keep coming our way; thanks to generous family members and friends and even my son's bus driver (not to mention my impulse buying of things so sweet and cheap I couldn't pass up over the years) we more or less have her first year of clothes taken care of. I always thought I'd use gender neutral clothes with a girl, like I did with my boys, but it's just too much fun playing dress-up. I'm loving purple tones more than ever. So whenever I do need to buy something to fill-in the gaps I gravitate toward purple and lavender and wisteria...


On a side note, the goldfinches are arriving! My favorite time of the year to bird watch in the yard. The goldfinches usually stop here mid-late January through March. Long enough for them to start looking gorgeous in their summer plumage before they head back north. But it's a good thing they don't stay around all year- I couldn't afford to feed them. Thistle seed is pricey. “Gold” seed for the goldfinches. And when you get 60-100 goldies eating from your feeders for a month (it takes a few weeks for the numbers to max out and some start leave earlier) the seed bill adds up quickly!
But it's worth the (short term) expense to watch them change and have them here for the Great Backyard Bird Count. I can always count on them for some impressive numbers (to my standards) on my daily counts. http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Week After Christmas

Writing Exercise, edited for privacy:

The Week after Christmas
Adapted from the classic poem written by Clement Moore

'Twas the week after Christmas and all through the room
the natives were restless, awaiting the moon.

Stockings, once hung on the fish tank with care,
caused the oscar to wonder why they're still there.
Toys and messes were strewn across the floor,
trains, markers, and papers galore.

A and N were hustled to bed,
while visions of presents danced in their heads.
On the sofa was J, sprawled out like a pet,
flipping through channels and surfing the net.

With a sigh of relief I settled into my seat
got comfy and cozy and propped up my feet.
And S in her jammies, looking so sweet,
had just settled in for a long bite to eat.

The hustle and bustle was starting to slow
and the birth of a new year will soon be a glow.
From our family to yours we wish a good night
and the light of the gospel to light up your life.