Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I wasn't going to write about it.

I was so worried this little blog was starting to reveal too many intimate details of my children's lives.  Details maybe they did not want the world to read, see, or know.

Now I feel it can only help (us, others, you?) if I talk about it.  It is not hurting my children to illuminate this journey we've been on for months. Years if we really trace it all back.  We have been walking this unknown path together, sometimes getting pricked by sticker bushes, other times tickled with dandelion puffs.  All the while moving closer to things making more sense.

Things are starting to make a lot more sense now.

Grayson has been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.  His sister is on her way to being diagnosed as well.

As I've mentioned before, Grayson has always been a little too much like me with his awareness.  "Hyper-sensitive," I called it.  "Connected to the universe" I say.  He was a baby like no other: acutely aware and reactive to his surroundings, sounding off with cries wails when the light, temperature, temperament of people near him changed.

I heard all the parenting advice for both of my kids.  Some meaning well.  Some just meaning mean:

"You're spoiling him by holding him all the time."
"He just needs Day Care." 
"Boy, you sure have your hands full with this one!"
"You have very high maintenance children."
"She is a spirited one."
"You are not disciplining them well enough."
"He reminds me of this kid with autism I babysit."
"Nothing wrong with spanking sometimes."
"Maybe they need less sugar in their diet."

Looking back, Grayson and Abby were teaching me from the very beginning.

They were showing me who they were and what they needed from the world before they could walk.  Grayson expressed himself in poems:  Mommy, dat horse sings for hims food.  Abby, our ballerina, has never remained seated in a restaurant that has piped in music.  She has done interpretive dances for audiences all over: Ruby Tuesday, Outback, and Silver Diner.

But both of my babies suffered when I wasn't getting it.  (For Grayson) Why won't you sleep?  Why do you hate play dates?  Why can't you just sit in the swing for a few minutes while I cook dinner? Why won't you wear anything with seams? (For Abby) Why do you scream when Daddy washes your hair?  Why are you always naked?! Why do you talk SO LOUD all the time, child?  Why am I cleaning up yet another mess?  Did you seriously just hit your head again?


Thank God I have enough experience in special education to know about sensory integration issues.  Both kids have them.  Both kids are struggling in their day-to-day lives because of the sensory issues.  Both kids needed evaluating and soon.

Grayson has been in Occupational Therapy for four weeks and it has produced absolute magic.  Not kidding when I say magic.  His behaviors have gone from crippling worry (stomachaches, sobbing before school, headaches, migraines resulting in hours of projectile vomiting, meltdowns, tantrums, debilitating irrational fears, obsessing and perseverating over time and numbers, roller coaster mood swings, you name it Dude had it) to becoming a well balanced, happy, (according to his teachers) animated jokester of a child! 

Had I not witnessed the change myself, I would not believe it.

I'm here to tell you Occupational Therapy works. (For Grayson, Therapeutic Listening has worked the most, he had SEVERE auditory discrimination stuff going on.)

Don't you just want to live here?

If your child is like mine or sounds a bit "difficult, sensitive, hyper aware, touchy, fragile," send me an email and I will be happy to talk with you more in detail about the steps it took us to get our Pediatrician/Occupation Therapist diagnosis.  It's not easy and sometimes insurance makes it feel like juggling chainsaws but it's possible.  And holy love of nutmeg, it is SO worth it!

From now on, I intend to write about Sensory Processing Disorder often.  I am reading everything.  All of it.  The entire internet full of it.  I am obsessed with helping my children live the best life they can.  And along the way guess what?  I'm beginning to understand myself.  Yeah, shocker.  I'm the one who gave it to them.  Damn you, genetic pool of wonder.

Don't worry, we will still have loads of marital, canine, children faux pas to show off around here but no more hiding away the good stuff.


Sensory Processing Disorder.  Don't let the Disorder part scare you.  It's just "Order" with a crappy prefix.  Oh, and if you're worried that Sensory Processing Disorder is not real (maybe your doctor doesn't recognize it because it's not yet listed in the DSM-V), remind yourself that labels are only as important as the treatment.  I could not care less if they called it Spatula Prostate Dysmorphia.  It would probably get put in that DSM-V book if that were the case.  Ha.

Let's rejoice in the journey.  Our seamlsess, 100% cotton, sound-proof, balance beam walking, yoga ball bouncing uphill journey.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Marley has nothing on our Sadie Girl.

The Queen is on a roll.  First a cookie heist early in the week, now an emergency morning trip to vet for a nail removal.

Our Royal Highness is still coming off her anesthesia which is always dramatic.  Right now she is crying out about ex-boyfriends that did her wrong and puppies she never got to have.  I hold her in my arms when the memories are too much; when her wide pupils dodge purple pelicans and wavy dog crates.

They call it Special K for a reason.

Here's what happened:

Yesterday Grayson's OT came to our house for his appointment.  She had two little ones in tow and although our dogs are kid friendly, they are also 70 lbs.  I had them outside, with full access to the sun room, for an hour.  It was 30 minutes of full moon howls and beying at the sliding glass door like their domestic lives were not worth living in toasty sunshine and fresh air.

Cesar would be so disappointed in me.

Then, it got quiet.

Ah, Sadie must be finally sun bathing and Sparrow may be hunting for squirrel pooh.

Another 30 minutes later, we said goodbye to our guests and opened the sun room door.

It was a sun room crime scene.  Shiny drops of red atop blotted paw prints of pink galore.  I fully expected to find one of the dogs passed out on our lawn with her paw dangling by a tendon.

After the cleanup.  Can you see the dark spots?

Sadie slinked in by me and I could tell right off the bat it was her.  After full inspection, we determined her back nail had been cut horizontally somehow past the quick;  a painful bloody mess.

She let me clean her up a bit, then nurse her paw until I could get her to the hospital in the morning.

Our Queen is resting quietly now and dreaming of swimming in marshmallows (She dearly loves the double puffed.)

 Her sister is worried she might catch it too.  
Not sure you can catch what Sadie has.  
(You have to be born with it.)

In case you are wondering about how this happened, I have a picture story for you.  From what we can glean from the evidence, Sadie (and Sparrow?) ripped apart a section of our fence to tell the neighbor we had made the grave error of locking the big glass door.


Hello daylight.
Goodbye security deposit.

 From the looks of things, it would seem this has happened before?

My favorite part is the fact that none of the little wooden parts seemed chewed up or destroyed.  She obviously also took an engineering course in college. Sadie is as careful as she is methodical.  And feisty as she ever was.


Dear Sadie Girl, I will never lock you out of your kingdom again. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

14 Ways to Say I Love You

A friend of a friend of another FB friend had an awesome idea.

They thought to implement 14 acts of kindness in honor of Jack's birthday.

Who's Jack?  He is Anna's son.  If you don't already know him, go here. 

To honor Jack's life my family came up with 14 things we could do too.  Grayson came up with most, he was a rockstar.  Abby, Andy, and I were pretty much his roadies.

Grayson's List
  • Take Jack and Eddie-Lou's garbage out to the curb for them
  • Get bones for dogs in Humane Society
  • Make a squirrel deflector (?) so birds don't have to fight for bird seed.
  • Invite a friend to play at recess who usually doesn't play with others (Hello.  As your mother, I am wishing you already did this.)
  • Give a card to the nice neighbor who is always picking up dog poop in his yard
Abby's List as dictated by her
  • Painting rainbows, loves, and kisses for Sophie
  • Help yourself
  • Get worms for robins
  • Give away my favorite book to kids who don't have houses.  Maybe Grayson's favorite book.
Andy's List as dictated by him
  • Take newspaper in for neighbors
  • Give $ to guy in front of 7-11
  • Tip car wash jars all week even without getting your car washed 
My List
  • Leave a really good book I've already read hidden somewhere for someone else to find
  • Comment on blogs every day to let them know I enjoyed their writing
  • Babysit my friend's kids so she and her husband have a night out
  • Leave a card of appreciation for our mailman
  • Give a small gift of appreciation to my really nice McD's drive-thru lady.  I just love her.

Three days later and my family has done pretty well.  We have, of course, ventured off our lists but the idea is in the kindess, not so much the act.

Here's What:
  1. Andy took a picture in front of a sign for a fellow Marine and held the door open for her while she dragged some things inside the building.  (I happen to know he would've done this anyway but it's fun hearing about the nice things our significant other does throughout the day.  Also, I hope she did not look like Elizabeth Shue.)  
  2. Abby helped me get dressed this morning.  HUGE act of kindness because it takes me nine million hours to wake up.
  3. Grayson asked a new student to play with him and his friends at recess.  There aren't any new students at his school so I'm a little skeptical.  I did, however, catch him helping up a friend who had fallen after school.  
  4. I have given a card of thanks to someone I appreciate.

Thank you, Jack, for helping us all move toward kindness in your name.  It is an honor.  You are a true gift.

The Case of the Missing Biscuits

Counsel would like the court to note Exhibit A:  Something missing from the pantry.  Hours before, this something was located safely underneath that large box of kitchen bags you see there on the floor.

Counsel would like the court to note Exhibit B:  Perpetrator One pointing to the empty biscuit container with her pretty little guilty face.

Is there anyone in this court of law who might know what happened to the stolen box of biscuits?  Do remember you are under oath.  Please raise your right paw paw if you know what happened to the biscuits.

That's your left paw paw but whatever, thank you for your honesty. 

Now, would Perpetrator Number Two please raise your right paw paw if you ate all the biscuits from the stolen biscuit box?

Thank you, Judge.  I rest my case.

Sadie Girl, you might be 11 years old but you still got moves like Jagger. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Donuts with Dad

Friday might have been my favorite day in a long time.

Grandpa T graciously accepted an invitation to go to "Donuts with Dad" at Grayson's school.  T woke up early, drove an hour through rush hour DC traffic to get here, then immediately got a flat tire upon pulling into our neighborhood.  I found him like this as I was returning from dropping off the kiddos to school:


Within 20 minutes, T got his nice dress pants all scuffed at the knees, his hands grungy from tire dust, his truck temporarily running with one anemic looking donut.  We washed our hands then took him to G's school to enjoy a better kind of donut.  The boys had a great time bonding over stories of dogs, football, and flat tires.  Grayson's shoulders were down and his face mellow when I found them.  Comfortable, content and happy.

Then I got to take my dad out for a bite to eat while we waited for his new tire to get to the tire shop.  I never get time with him all by myself so I talked faster than a teenager and cursed more than a Marine.  We got caught up on his boys, my brother, and his retirement plans.  The check came before I was ready.

We had to be at NTB by noon to get the new tire. We plopped ourselves down in their waiting room, watched Judge Mathis, and chatted some more.  Although he's a grown man who can handle the duty of waiting for a tire all by himself, it was hard for me to leave.

Finally, I had to shut my pie-hole, and leave him to go pick up Abby.  By the time I reached my minivan, I was a mess.  I couldn't even pull my sh*t together enough to pick up Abby from preschool.  My sweet friend got her for me while I blew my nose in the hallway and told everyone I have horrible spring allergies.

I do.  Apparently I'm allergic to donuts.

If you're reading this, T, thank you.  Thank you for changing your tire in my driveway, eating a donut that was probably stale, ordering a waffle you weren't hungry for, and listening to me on fast forward.  Thank you for being there when we need you the most.  When I need you the most.

Oh, and tell mom to get her tires checked...May is "Muffins with Mom." 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Spring always pisses me off.

Winter is such a welcome retreat for this hideaway girl who loves nothing more than snuggling up in blankets with a steaming mug of something needing more honey.

Spring is a mix of bloom, renewal, and dusting off.  Unicorns and rainbows.  Gag.  As the weather warms up, all this blue sky fills me up with dread to work harder, try something different, push forward. 

I like the old stuff.  Nothing was wrong with our old rhythm.

We're moving soon.

We have twelve weeks to get out of here and on to new dirt.  Without official orders we have only rumors about where that dirt is located.  Rumors of this variety are typically true but I'm waiting for orders before selling our furniture.     

This is when I begin the mourning.

Last time, about twelve weeks before leaving our sweet neighborhood in Pennsylvania, I took a long drive to say goodbye to our old lives.  What began as a quick ice cream run to Sheetz ended up thirty minutes of intense therapy.   There wasn't one mile of it I wanted to forget.  I can remember driving past the Tiny Tots where I stuck Grayson in for a couple of weeks.  He cried like I was never coming back even though I only left him there for two hours a week.  His devastated sobs silenced by the front glass door still haunts me.  He hated that place.  I hated that place.  Nothing about it should've make me nostalgic but there I was, heaving heavy sighs into my Half-Bakes Ben & Jerry's as I drove past it.  Suddenly every inch of it became holy. 

After circling my tiny 5 mile radius, I drove the gamut.  I mourned for the wooded trail I ran on with my friend Blythe.  I felt sad for abandoning Shopper's Food Warehouse, Dairy Queen, and our favorite Mexican place.   Next to New, my favorite consignment shop where Grayson and pregnant I spent several of our most tender moments shopping for precious things and new baby onesies held its own time capsule of happy.  I grieved leaving Black Dog Cafe, Ollie's Garden Center, and Phoenixville Hospital, where both of our babies were born.  Marni, Vinnie, Cara, Andy...these people and these places defined our lives in Pennsylvania.  We had sewn each memory tightly together over our four years there. 

 There's an Abby in my belly.


Not quite 2 yo Grayson with our neighbor and dear friend, Vin.

It was hard to leave.

Now four years later, I can tell I'm starting my "goodbye drive" here in Northern Virginia.  I see my eclectic neighborhood streets through the eyes of a short timer.  Everything is holy. The daily trip down the same roads to our children's schools makes my jaw ache.  That dip, this turn, slowing down for that cop who sits right there at the bottom of that hill..  It's all going to be someone else's place to fall in love with.  Our time together here is almost over.  The fence surrounding our house that has stood sturdy as a moat for years suddenly seems pale and droopy to me now instead of staunch and proud.  Everything is starting to take on the hue of a memory. 

I am beginning to memorize all the things I don't want to forget:  Our 86 year old neighbors Jack and Eddie Lou's Sunday best in their driveway every weekend.  Hotpants across the street (her name I think is Sharon) leaving her tired old pit bull's leash on a mailbox while she finishes her run.  Mr. Ives waving to us from his garage.  The bazillion soccer kicks and football tosses in our back yard.  A lifetime of living.


 Easter egg hunts. 


Surviving a 10 month deployment alone with a 4 and a 2 year old.  

That lopey fox ducking across the street like an exotic cat.  Our reliable backyard cardinal always brilliant through the bush when I look.  Jenna, my soul sister who just gets me for no reason in the world other than serendipity, oh how I will miss our "runs" where I make her walk really fast just so I can kvetch about everything and still breathe.  My preschool mom friends, these women who I cannot think of leaving without puddling up, they who have lifted me up every single day of my Virginia life.  I was very needy a couple of years ago.  My own family who I don't get to see often enough but feel closer to just because of geography.  Trader Joe's, Doodlehopper, Tillie, our hiking trails, my favorite lady at the McDonald's drive-thru, the always patient Dr. Henrickson. 

Damn you spring and all your plans of work and change.


This girl was really hoping for a few more weeks of easy winter.