I originally started this blog a few years ago to chronicle Noah's daily struggles with autism. It was a dark time in my life - a time when I felt that things would never get better. It was a time when I felt that all my hopes and dreams for my son and for our family had died. In my efforts to help Noah recover from autism, I began a journey that inadvertently led me to rediscover myself. I learned how to laugh again. How to dream again. How to live again. How to love again.

Autism Schmaustism. He's still our son.

This is a blog celebrating our family. Our kids. Our life.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Letter To Myself At Twenty


One of my favorite blogs is doing a “Letter to Myself at age 20” and I couldn't resist. So, here we go!

Dear Leslie. Sweet little Leslie.

I know that you’re having a rough time right now, but I want you to know that this year – your 20th year – is going to be one of the most life changing years of your life. This is the year that sets you on the course of your future.

But that happens towards the last half of your 20th year. The first half basically just sucks.

Look, I know that you’re heartbroken right now. But trust me when I tell you that in six months time, you will be living in England and dating the man that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.

The One-That-Broke-Your-Heart? Forget him!!

I wish I could take the pain away, but, honey, I can’t. Your broken heart is what propels you to toss your cares aside and move overseas. If I stop you from that pain, you will never leave. And what’s across the ocean is wonderful. It really is.

In the meantime, just to make you feel a bit better, let me tell you that in 8 years from now, you will run into The-One-That-Broke-Your-Heart and you are going to be shocked at how he looks. Honey, it ain’t pretty. You need to learn that looks fade. And men in their late thirties do not look like they did in their early twenties. The One-That-Broke-Your-Heart is no exception. Plus, he’s gotten all nerdy.

Really. Cherish the good times and move on. He did you a favor. Trust me.

Now, you know that guy I told you that you’re going to meet in England in 6 months from now? Well, let me tell you that 15 years later, he is still smokin’ hot. You did good, girl!

Also, you need to know that Boone’s Farm is NOT your friend. And neither is Red-headed Heather.

Sweetie, you weigh 105 pounds (we’ll talk about that later). You have never touched a drop of alcohol in your life. You do not have a tolerance. TRUST ME.

Do not drown your boyfriend troubles in cheap wine. Do not go to Red-headed Heather’s. She will make you feel like crap and you will consume an entire bottle of wine in 15 minutes. You will then head back to your house where there’s a party going on downstairs and spend the rest of the evening throwing up all over Motorcycle Eric.

Actually, you haven’t met him yet. So, when a guy pulls up to your house with waist-length hair and a motorcycle, turn around and walk away. Otherwise, his admission that you’re too goody-goody for him will have you going over to Red-headed Heather’s and making a very stupid decision.

Besides, you spent two hours puking on him. He saw what came out of your mouth. He is never, ever going to kiss you. So just hang up that daydream and move on.

And let me interrupt and say that the guy I told you’re going to meet in 6 months time… well, he loves your innocence. Now, do ignore him in 7 months time when he invites you back to his dorm room to listen to records. After all, he’s still a guy with only one intention. But he’s a good one. Not like The-One-Who-Broke-Your-Heart and Motorcycle Eric.

Speaking of which, you will run into Motorcycle Eric 6 years from now at the North Texas Irish Festival.

1. He will not remember who you are. Even though I’m sure it took him three days to wash all of your puke out of his hair.

2. You know that loveable charming, goofiness that you found so endearing about him? Sweetie, let me tell you a little secret. It’s called marijuana. And 6 years later he’s still smoking it. And, trust me, it is NOT attractive.


3. He ended up marrying some girl he met in Arizona named Cactus Flower.

And that pretty much sums it up.

Here’s a few other things. Do not cut your hair above your ears again. I know that this is 1993 and the impish waif look is in, but sweetheart, you are not Kate Moss. Or Linda Evangelista. Keep the hair at least past the chin, okay? If you don’t listen to me, you will make the mistake of chopping off your hair two more times before you turn 30 and all of your pictures from your 20’s will showcase your terrible choice in hair.

You will eventually become a stay-at-home mom. There really is no need to get that Master’s degree in Linguistics. Trust me when I say that you will never visit Hong Kong, so you do not need to study Cantonese in depth.

Actually, go ahead and get that graduate degree. But do it in Occupational Therapy because that’s where your life is headed.

Do not spend so much time obsessing over your job. You will a full-time mom by the time you’re 31. If you don’t listen to me, you are going to lose a lot of people in your life. CAREERS ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT.

I know you won’t believe me, but you make some really bad decisions because of your job. Mom is going to get cancer in a few years and you are going to go to work instead of supporting her at the hospital when she has her double mastectomy.

A very good friend of yours is going to have a stroke and you are going to visit her only once.

Honey, I know that when you get scared, you hide and pretend that everything is okay. But you can’t do that. When you’re 29, you are going to hit the lowest point of your life and if you alienate everyone in their time of need, you’re not going to have anyone to turn to when it’s your time of need.

And you will never, ever, ever get over the guilt of letting down the people you love.

Now, there are a few things about your 20th year that are still the same 15 years later:

1. You still think Birkenstocks are the greatest shoes in the world.

2. U2 is still your favorite band.


3. You will still have never visited Eastern Europe, but will still want to.

4. You will still want to adopt a child. (Actually, you will already have 3 children who were adopted, but you would like to adopt one more)


5. You still put on New Order to liven you up when you’re feeling down.

6. You still have your Levi’s jean jacket.


Oh! One more thing. When you’re 30 and go to Kirsten’s party at her parent’s house (yes, you will ALWAYS be friends with her)… do NOT consume approximately 4 lbs of Brie rolled in walnuts. You may think you’ve died and gone to heaven, but when you wake up the next morning and step on the scale, you will think you died and went to hell.

If you don’t watch it, you will gain 5 pounds in 2 hours and 5 years later you will not have lost that weight.

Remember: Cheese is NOT your friend.

Oh! One last thing. Girl. Go put on a bikini. Pronto! You weigh 105 pounds. In 6 month’s time, you will be living in England, dating the guy of your dreams, and stuffing your face with European chocolate. You will gain 20 pounds in 4 months.

Put on a bikini and get yourself to a beach ASAP. It will be the last time your butt is cellulite free. TRUST ME!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cheap Communication Devices for Nonverbal Children - Works-for-me-Wednesday

I did it! I realized what I can write about on Works-for-me-Wednesdays.... THERAPY STUFF.

I'm a terrible cook, terrible cleaner, have no real skill in life except for being a stupendous collector of useless trivia... but I sure know my therapy stuff.

OT, PT, Speech Therapy, ABA, Sensory Integration, Auditory Integration, Learning Disabilities, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Autism, Autism... it's my life. My kids have gone through more therapists than you can possibly imagine and I've mentally filed every single tip and tidbit I've ever learned... and I even came up with some of my own.

So there ya have it. I'll give therapy tips on Wednesday. And here's my first one...

If you have a nonverbal child then you know how difficult it is to communicate with him/her. Not only is our Noah completely nonverbal, but he has cerebral palsy, too - which makes it nearly impossible for him to learn sign language. Plus, he stims a lot by flapping his hands and doing odd little twisty things with his fingers... so sign is out of the question.

Traditional Pecs are out of the question, too. (PECS stands for Picture Exchange System, where a child can go through a book of pictures or pictures velcroed to the fridge, etc, and bring you the picture to show what he wants). But... Noah eats the pictures, so PECS are a no go.

Our biggest problem is that we are trying to Potty-Train and we're having a hard time getting Noah to signal to us when he needs to go. He is completely dependent on us for dressing and undressing - basically all of his personal needs. We have to figure out a way for him to tell us when he needs to go the bathroom.

I was looking through a catalog at his OT clinic a few months ago and came across these....


You attach it to the wall and put a picture on it and record a 20 second message. This way, the child can tell you if he's thirsty, hungry, needs to go to the potty - whatever you want. Do you know much they start at???

$66.95!!!!

Isn't that nuts??

So, I went to CVS and found some clearanced voice recording photo frames on clearance for...

$7 bucks!!




I don't have an actual picture of what we've done because I'm without a camera right now, but we took two frames and put a picture of a toilet in each frame and then recorded "I need to go potty."


Now, technically, Noah's 7 and is too old for the phrase "go potty", but should he learn to speak, "potty" is easier to say than "toilet", so that's why we use it.

We have one picture frame on the back of the toilet and we press it whenever we take him to the bathroom.

We have the other velcroed to the fridge for a central location point in case he has an accident and we push the button "I need to go potty" and then take him to the bathroom where we push the button again.

It's very new, but we're confident he'll get the hang of it. And if not, hey, we're only out $14 bucks for two photo frames, instead of $130.

Works for me!

Works-For-Me-Wednesday



I have long wanted to participate in the Works-for-me-Wednesday fun over at Rocks In My Dryer. But I honestly have not been able to come up with any contributions. Yesterday I asked my mom what I could write about and we brainstormed for a bit and this is what we came up with.....






Do you hear the silence? Nothing. We couldn't up with anything!

Let's face it. I'm not exactly a person that people look at and think, "Now, there's a woman who is full of great wisdom and good ideas."

Know what I mean?

So, in lieu of having absolutely nothing to contribute - no tips, no helpful hints, nada - I am directing you over to Christine's blog.... because her WFMW post is sure to rock your world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Prepare to be INSPIRED





I saw this video on Kelly's blog (The Dawson Diaries) and, quite honestly, I don't think I've ever been more inspired by anything else in my life. I don't know if it will touch you the way it touched me.. but it touched me deeply.

Nick Vujicic is a young man in his twenties. Cute as can be. From Australia. Preacher's kid. And just happened to be born without arms and legs.

His testimony is amazing. There are no other words. Just amazing.

At one point in the video he mentions that as a child he would cry and pray to God to give him arms and legs. And he would tell God what a testimony it'd be to His greatness if he was miraculously healed. But God had other plans for him...

Have you ever prayed that prayer? I have. Many, many nights I would cry and pray for Noah to wake up in the morning completely healed from autism. I would say, "God, don't you know how many people would come to know that you are true? That you are real? Just heal him. What a testimony it'd be."

But it never happened.

Maybe God has other plans for Noah...

I know the video is long, but it will be the quickest 8 minutes you'll ever spend. And if you can't watch the whole thing, at least watch the first two.

For me, it touched me spiritually and emotionally. But even if we share different religious views, I think you'll walk away with a different perspective on life and realize how nothing - absolutely NOTHING - is impossible.

In fact, let's take that word out of our vocabulary.

Let's banish the word "impossible".

Now, sit back. Relax. And prepare to be inspired!

Monday, January 26, 2009

NOT Me! Monday



It's Monday! Time for MckMama's NOT Me! Monday...

After last week's admission that I sometimes pass gas and blame it on Noah because he can't pipe up and rat me out...

Well, I most certainly was NOT embarrassed that I blogged about it.

Nope. NOT me.

So I did NOT stand in my kitchen, did NOT stare out the window, and did NOT get the sudden thought of "Man, what am I going to do if he starts talking some day and sells me out?"

Nope. I did NOT think that.

I did NOT go white in the face wondering if his first words might be,

"I'm tired of you farting and blaming it on me."

Nope. That thought did NOT occur.

And I did NOT - NOT for even a split second - joke to myself, "I really should cut back on speech therapy in case he spills all my secrets someday."

Nope. I did NOT think that.

Because that would be bad.

Very Bad.

And I never, ever think joking thoughts.

Nope, NOT me!

And since Noah does NOT have sleep issues and is NOT frequently up at all hours of the night, I did NOT go into Noah's room the other night, sit on the side of his bed, and attempt a conversation that did NOT go like this...

"Noah Bear, you know Mama loves you more than anything in the world, right? And Mama wants you to speak more than anything in the world, right? Well, when you do start talking, you have to remember to keep Mama's back, okay?"

And he did not look me straight in the eyes and... SMIRK.

No he did NOT!

So the conversation most definitely did NOT then include several words like, "Disney World", "Lots and lots of ice cream", or"As many hot wheels as you want".

And most definitely, absolutely, positively, did NOT include the phrase "Your own room..."

No, I did NOT have a 15 minute one-sided bribing conversation with my child in order to preserve my dignity.

And, no, I do NOT recognize the irony in that statement.

Afterwards, I did NOT head to the bathroom, did NOT glance at the clock, and did NOT notice that it read 12 o'clock on the dot.

And flashbacks of 5th grade slumber parties did NOT come flooding back to me.

And I did NOT remember being ten years old and scaring myself silly by standing in the bathroom at the stroke of midnight saying "Bloody Mary" three times fast without peeing myself.

And since I'm now a mature 35 year old mother of three and NOT an immature 35 year old - umm, mother of three, I did NOT glance at the bathroom mirror...

I did NOT get the heebie-jeebies.

I did NOT throw open the bathroom door.

And I most definitely did NOT run out of there like a frightened school girl.

And since none of this happened, I also did NOT make a flying leap from the bathroom to my bed in an attempt to throw myself under the covers.

I did NOT halfway land on my husband and most certainly did NOT almost castrate him in the process.

So he did NOT wake up in fetal position moaning words that are NOT not printable here.

No. I did NOT almost trade the family jewels in exchange for a sketchy memory of grade school slumber parties.

And I did NOT feel like a fool.

Nope. NOT me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday - Saving Money


I've never done a Works-For-Me Wednesday post before. Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer sponsors it each Wednesday, but I never remember to do it.

But today, my friends, is a different day. And I did something so cool and wanted to share it with all of you and then I remembered.... it's Wednesday! I can join the cool bloggers today and participate in What-Works-For-Me.

Awesome!

So, I don't know about you but we do most of our shopping online. While it's amazingly beautiful where I live, it's basically a shopping cesspool. There's just not a lot of shopping opportunities out here.

Well, today I was ordering a bunch of craft kits for our upcoming semester of pre-k Zoology and I was buying them off of Oriental Trading Company.... even though I swore I'd never buy from there again because the craft kits are always missing pieces and the foam smells so bad that Sim literally made me leave them all on the back porch to air out before he'd let me bring them inside... yada yada yada.

BUT, it is a good bang for your buck if you have a class full of 3 - 5 year olds to entertain for 14 weeks. And I do.

So Oriental Trading Company here I come.

Okay, the cool part is that I went to this little site called www.RetailMeNot.com. You can enter any store you want and it'll pull up ALL the coupon codes out there. It pulled up at least 10 for OTC, including one for TWENTY DOLLARS OFF.

I mean, I nearly hit send without checking RetailMeNot.com first.... but I did and saved myself 20 smackaroos.

It's sooooo cool. So be sure to check it out before you order anything online. You might end up saving yourself a pretty penny.

Works for me!

Monday, January 19, 2009

NOT Me! Monday



Mckmama over at My Charming Kids usually does "I did NOT do that" Mondays - where she gives a review of all the things she did "not" do during the week.

They crack me up.

The Riggs did one today, too. Click on the "Praying for Abby" link on my sidebar to read what they had to say.

Anyway, thought I'd join in. After all, we should all have the ability to laugh at ourselves.

So... here's my list of "I did NOT do's......"
************************************************************************************

I did NOT spend the entire week eating raw onions and garlic and then, in gastrointestinal distress, accidentally pass gas at the dinner table and blame it on my 7 year old nonverbal child with autism… knowing full well that he could not defend himself.

I did NOT do that.

And I did NOT just mention on this blog that I accidentally passed gas and blamed it on my child because that would not only be unladylike, but also indicate that I’m a bad mom.

I also did NOT blame it on the dog when we were sitting on the couch watching American Idol.

And I did NOT just mention on this blog that I did that.

I also did NOT go into the kitchen to make zucchini muffins and grate up an entire cucumber before I realized the difference.

And I did NOT look at the crumbs on my kitchen floor and call my dog over to eat them up.

And I did NOT throw away my daughter’s lipgloss because it made her look like a 12 year old and not a 4 year old.

I did NOT buy my son a one dollar clearance dinosaur at Walmart and then drive by the bank on the way home and throw it in the dumpster because he was being ungrateful.

And when my son said “I hate you and Daddy’s going to be mad at you and hit you on the head and make you crawl into that dumpster to get my dinosaur…” I did NOT say, “No, Daddy’s going to hi-five me and then smack your ass.”

I did NOT say the word “ass” in front of my child.

And I did NOT tell the whole world that I just used the word “ass” in front of my child.

Because that would be bad. Very bad.

And I would NOT do that.

I also did NOT entertain the thought of going back to work outside of the home just so that I could go clothes shopping.

I also did NOT buy my 5 year old son a purple flowered apron at the local Mennonite store and then buy him blue shark gummies to appease him.

He also did NOT have bright green poop after eating them.

I am also NOT jealous that my husband and above mentioned five year old are about to go to England and Wales for two weeks while I stay here with my other two kids.

I am so NOT jealous. NOT even a teensy, eensy little bit. Nope. NOT me.

I also did NOT give my husband a list of my favorite chocolates to bring back with him (Crunchie bars, anyone?) and did NOT threaten him with his life if he eats them all on the plane.

I also did NOT arrange to meet an old high school friend who I’ve not seen in 12 years at Ikea in a few weeks. And I did NOT specifically mention that it had to be when my husband was in England so that I could buy whatever I wanted.

I did NOT do that.

And finally, I did NOT throw a package of mini marshmallows and toothpicks on the table and instruct my younger two kids to make geometrical figures just because I knew it would occupy their time while I type this out.
I did NOT do this because I know that my four year old would just eat the marshmallows and then get a sugar high.

I did NOT tell myself, “Awww, who cares. It’ll wear off.”

Nope. Not me.

When it rains.....

I'm still here! Just going through a bunch of stuff lately.

We are embarking on a new dietary lifestyle after finding out that Noah is riddled with yeast and fungus (fungi?). Thought that chapter of our lives was closed ages ago, so I've spent the past week digging out all my old books and staying up late with Google.

I'll write more about it as soon as I can do so without hyperventilating.

Plus, I've rediscovered my intense love for my food processor (it rivals my intense love for my Dyson vacuum cleaner) and have spent the last few days with my head stuck in bowls and bowls full of pico de gallo.

I stink. I mean really stink. Like, garlic is pouring from every pore of my body.

I'm remaining in hiding until this passes.

Oh! And I got offered a job. Yep. It took me 4 1/2 years to come to grips with being a stay-at-home mom. Seriously, 4 1/2 years I have fought this. For 4 1/2 years I've felt trapped. I've felt like I was no good at staying at home. I felt like I wasn't a good mom. I should work and Sim should stay home. I missed my job. I was good at my job. I was a career person. Blah Blah Blah.

The day I turn to Sim and say, "Hey, you know what? I LOVE being a stay at home mom. I LOVE homeschooling. For the first time, I am so at peace with this and can't imagine doing anything else. I am HAPPY, HAPPY, and HAPPY"...... well, you know what happened?

My old job called and asked me to come back.

They need me.

*#$#%)$%$)&$!!!!!!

Funny how things work, isn't it?

And then we get struck with the Candida and Fungus nightmare and the endless hours of researching and cooking and refiguring what we should be doing with Noah....

And wouldn't it be so easy to just escape all that and put Noah back in school and go back to work so that I could earn money to do the things we need to do with him?

And then I read two autism books about kids recovering and it brought back all the guilt I've been feeling right back to the surface. And I realized, "Crap. It's too late for Noah. It's too late.
This is it. This is how it's going to be. Forever."

And all I wanted to do was to go back to work, put the kids in school, and go back to how things were before.

But you can't go back. Ever.

Especially when God shows you what you need to be doing. And you can call me a quackpot or a nutso or whatever, but I know I'm where God wants me to be. Doing what He wants me to do.

But isn't it funny that when Satan sees a way in that he'll just blow the door wide open? He just busts on through. It's like he finds that wound in your heat and sticks his finger in and just twists.

"You're not good enough. You'll never be good enough. It'll never get better...."

He gets us when we're vulnerable.

So, as you can see, it's been a rough week. I've spent a lot of time soul searching.

I'm turning down the job. I'm resuming homeschooling this week. And I'm about to make some sugar-free zucchini muffins for breakfast this morning.

And then I'm going to scoop my kids up, give them big wet smooches and tell them how proud I am that God chose me to be their mother.

And I'm going to take it one step at a time.

And this is just a season we're passing through.

It will get better.

And Rome wasn't built in a day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Praying for Abby


Do you see the little girl in the pink cap? Isn't she adorable?

Her name is Abby.

She's four years-old.

She has leukemia.

And she needs your prayers.

Tomorrow, Abby starts her most intensive phase of chemotherapy. The problem is that there's a good chance she might not survive.

You see, not only does Abby have leukemia, but her family recently found out that she has a gene marker that makes her FOUR TIMES as likely not to survive the first year.

She nearly didn't survive the last round of chemo - and it wasn't nearly as intensive as the next round is going to be.

Abby's family is asking that EVERYONE please pray for Abby as she starts her intensive chemo tomorrow.

And I'm asking that YOU please visit their blog for more information on how you can specifically pray. Also, there's a video posted today that will give you more information on Abby's journey.

If you do one thing today, please let it be this.

Thanks.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What REALLY Counts...

If you are not reading Amy's blog, then:

1. What in the world is wrong with you???

and

2. Get yourself over there now. Like in NOW, as in ASAfreakingP. Got it?

She did an awesome blog that I think a lot of us moms can relate to - and really put things in perspective.

It's like she saw me sitting here in the same yoga pants (and I don't even do yoga) and stained shirt that I've been wearing since Friday, with no make-up, and stringy hair and literally thought, "I'm going to do this post for Leslie".

So go over there and read it. You can thank me later.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Who Wants to Come to My House?


I was watching the Patrick Swayze/Barbara Walters interview the other night and went into the kitchen during the commercial break. I breezed passed Sim and in my most sultry voice said, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner"..... and he just looked at me... like I was an idiot or something.


I just stood there, you know, sort of... um... embarrassed while my husband and 5 year-old looked at me like I'd lost my mind.


I finally explained that NO, I'm not insane and that I had just uttered one of the biggest lines in movie history. You big doofus.


Turns out.... my dear husband had no idea what I was rambling about and has never seen - nor ever cares to watch - the movie Dirty Dancing.


How could I be married to this man for all this time and not know that he hasn't seen one of the Greatest.Movies.Ever.


Is it possible to get an annulment after 12 1/2 years of marriage? Because, clearly, I'm married to a stranger.


So I've got it in my head that I'm just going to use one of those bungee cords that I've become quite fond of lately and strap him into his recliner and then make him sit and watch Dirty Dancing.


And then I might just make it a double feature and make him sit through Ghost, too.


And since I'm feeling particularly sassy, I might even put on Steel Magnolias.


And because I'm just cruel and heartless and used to torture worms as a child and just have a plain 'ol mean streak in me, I might make him watch Beaches, too.


And because he'll be tied to his chair and won't be able to make a run for the border, I might give him a pedicure and paint his toenails hot pink and let Nandi play beauty-parlor with the Hello Kitty lipgloss she got for Christmas and the bows and rubberbands she got in her stocking.


I might even brush the bottoms of his feet with peanut butter and let the dog go to town.


Then, we'll put on some Celine Dion and poor his beer down the sink and fill the bottles with hot pink lemonade.


Because anyone who has made it to the age of 37 without ever seeing Dirty Dancing deserves to be tortured.


Don't you think?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

You wanna go where?


This is an actual conversation we had last night at supper:


Eli: "I wanna Qatar."

Me: "You want to go to Qatar?"


Eli is silent. Looks puzzled.

Me again: "Did you say 'Qatar'?"

Eli smiles: "Yeah, Qatar."

Sim: "And what about you Nandini?"





Nandi: "Yemen."





Only later did we realize that Eli was saying he wants a GUITAR and Nandi was doing her best rock chick impersonation by saying "Yeah, Man!"

Hmmmm.... and we thought it was our excellent geography tutorials.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Rediscovering My Roots.... And I Don't Mean My Hair

Let's face it. I'm a bad Southerner.

I don't watch Nascar. I prefer drinking water over Dr. Pepper & Ice Tea. And the only reason I know who Tony Romo is is because he's dating Jessica Simpson and I've seen pictures of them together on People.com.

He plays for the Stars, right?

Can ya'll just hold on a second while I make sure my doors and windows are locked? I think the Southern Police might be coming to evict me from the great state of Texas and I want to make sure I finish this blog post first.

Where was I? Oh yeah. I'm a bad, bad Southerner. I've even been told I have a mid-West accent.

I may spontaneously combust into flames at any moment.

However, and this is my redeeming quality, I have discovered that since I had kids I have slowly started returning to my roots. And let me tell you.. those are some major country hick roots.

I have found that I want to recreate certain childhood memories for my own kids and, therefore, am slowly turning into my parents.

First of all, there is my return to country music. I absolutely hated it growing up, but now I'm finding that I can't handle hard rock anymore. My ears have become sensitive. Plus, I have to be careful what I listen to with the kids in the car. So, I've discovered that most country music is pretty alright.

A big shout-out to Trent Wilmon for putting out the best country album I've ever heard and to Billy Currington for doing THAT video.

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang!

I am converted.

Second of all, I have rediscovered my undying love for duct tape and bungee cords. Duct tape is awesome. I would wager that it could fix and hold together anything. It is pretty much the greatest thing this world has seen since John Cusack taught teenage boys everywhere that the way to a girl's heart was to stand below her window and hold a boombox over your head.

And bungee cords? Well, what can they NOT do? They can tie down the trunk of your car. They can hold a suitcase together. They can secure a kid to the back of a chair.

Everyone should own a few.

Now, third on the list of Leslie Is Rediscovering Her Roots is the fact that I'm contemplating introducing my children to the world of sports.

Currently, I'm reviewing the alphabet with Eli and the other day we did the letter "F". His little workbook had a picture of a football in it and I asked him what it was.

Ya'll, he did not know.

His eyes got big and he started to panic (he hates getting the answer wrong).

"It's a ball!"

"Yeah, but what kind of ball?"

"Ummm.... ummmm... an inflatable ball?"

"Do you know what kind of inflatable ball it is?"

"No"

"Well, guess."

"A basketball?" "A baseball?"

"It starts with the letter F".

"A fishball? A... a.... a...fanball? "A flowerball?"

Ya'll, I was stunned. I may have the only 5 year old in the entire United States of All That Is Good and Great America who cannot recognize a football - or even conjure up the word football - but can sing every word from every song on Josh Groban's entire Christmas CD.

Clearly, this calls for Early Childhood Intervention.

I contemplated signing him up for sports, but then visions of spending the next 7 years of Saturdays sitting on a fold out lawn chair on the sidelines of some field eating stale nachos and drinking tepid lemonade put me off the idea so fast you wouldn't believe it.

I think I'm going to have to buy myself a football and teach him how to throw it in the backyard.

Simeon, God Bless Him, is a fantastic father, but he is the least athletically inclined man I've ever met. He's more cultured than sporty. I mean, come on. He grew up a country that produced Shakespeare and Dickens and the Spice Girls. So I'll take care of the sporty things and leave the more refined, delicate, cultural lessons for Sim to tackle.

Such as teaching the kids how to make a really great cup of tea and how to hand roll their own cigarettes.

Now, football is HUGE in the south (or is it just Texas?) and the fact that I am acknowledging and actually contemplating buying a football means I'm one step closer to making my Daddy really proud of me.

And last but not least, I realized that I should be able to get back my "I'm a Proud Southerner" card after I watched Talladega Nights the other day and thought it was The.Funniest.Movie.Ever.

Ever.

I loved it. And that is huge for me. Huuuuuuuuuuge! I am much more of an indie film and foreign film lover. But I absolutely loved this movie.

My mom hated it. She found it incredibly offensive. But my dad loved it. Which means while most girls grow up to be like their mom, I'm slowly turning into my father.

Case in point...the other day, I actually told my 4 year old to come over and pull my finger.

Now, I didn't actually do anything because that would be gross and I'm much more refined than that. But the words pull my finger actually escaped from my lips.

Anyway, I loved the movie. I thought it was hysterical. Sim, however, was horrified that I found it so humorous. I think some of the American humor must've escaped him or something. In fact, he looked so horrified that you would have thought I'd just sprouted 16 heads and told him I wanted us to start watching WWE Smackdown.

I couldn't quite understand why I liked the movie so much. It just felt familiar to me.. like home.

And boy howdy, you should've seen Sim's face when I told him that. Clearly, I am not the woman he thought he'd married and I could practically see him doing mental math in his head to determine how much child support he'd have to pay if he started divorce proceedings.

So there you have it. I don't gag at the sound of country music. I understand that boy butts do look good in a pair of wranglers. My beloved birks are now held together by a mixture of gorilla glue and duct tape. I have at some point in the past 12 months used a string of bungee cords as a laundry line. I might -gasp! - buy a football. And I watched - and adored - Talladega Nights.

I may even see if I can find my old orange sateen "Von Erich Country" jacket for Nandini to wear when she gets a bit older.

Shoot, I might even take the kids to Pancho's so they can fight over raising the flag for another basket of sopapillas.

We might even buy a tetherball.

I am Southern. And I'm proud of it.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year

I hope you all had a great New Year. I trust it was better than ours.

Mother Nature decided to bless me with the most monstrous cramps ever, so I spent the better part of the evening curled up in fetal position on the couch shouting,

"Please God let it stop. Let me go through menopause. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaase!!"

I'm quite certain Sim was wishing the same thing.

I'm sure he was thanking his lucky stars that he was blessed to spend his New Year's Eve watching his wife roll around in agony with a bottle of Aleve in one hand and the remote control in the other. I'm positive he wasn't wishing he was in London or Sydney or New York with a gorgeous blonde supermodel on his arm.

No. Not when he could spend it with me.

I am the picture of all that is beautiful and healthy.

Fortunately, though, the weekenders were in full force (we live on a lake) and they brought truck loads of fireworks with them to add some color and cheer to the evening. We were able to see them all from the sunporch. Well, actually, I just layed on the couch and craned my head - but the kids loved them. Made them feel like they were celebrating a holiday or something.

Finally, we declared an end to the festivities. It'd been a long and tiring evening. So we put the kids to bed at the late hour of 8:30pm and crawled into bed ourselves - me with a hot water bottle in tow for my kill-a-horse-cramps. We watched the movie "Waitress" and then decided to be rebellious and turn the lights off at 11:20.

Then we spent the next 3 hours silently cursing the weekenders who continued to light up the sky with their fireworks until 2:30 in the morning. The entire scene was repeated last night, too - and probably will do so until they return to their big houses in the city on Sunday night.

You get no sleep on New Year's and 4th of July if you live near a lake.

Let's see. The kids were up by 6:00 the next morning and helloo 2009. You look a lot like 2008. Sibling fighting. Laundry that seems to breed like rabid bunnies. And we've already had one overflowed toilet, a child who emptied 16 ounces worth of cod liver oil on the floor and rolled in it, one sick dog, 2 kids who peed in the bed, a husband who locked himself out of the house, $558 in car repairs, 3 dental appointments made for next week, a burnt supper, and laundry that mildewed in the washer because someone (that would be me) forgot to put it in the dryer.

News Alert. This just in. The kids have informed that the dog has thrown up on Nandi's bed.

Great. Just peachy.

Hmmmm.... you know it looks a lot like 2008.

So bring it on 2009. Let's see what you've got. I'm ready for ya.

Here's hoping that your New Year is puke, pee, and poop free.