Small Successes



Sherry Antonetti of Chocolate For Your Brain now hosts this meme at  and so I’m gonna try this week getting back on the ol’ success wagon so here goes nothing:

1. Tuesday I caught up with all the laundry and actually got a load of dishes in and out of the dishwasher.

2. I have all the tax paperwork organized…now that I am sure I am allowed to file, let the fun begin.

3. I have had a beautiful and fruitful discussion on faith with my neighbor/book club leader. I am so blessed God brought her into my life!

What successes do you have? Big or small, please share them!


Measured Disappointment

Today was awards day at Shelby’s school. Shelby got an award. The Gifted Gator award. It was a new award for her so I was kind of excited to see her get it.

Well, Will was whiny, I couldn’t get any pictures and 90% of the kids in kindergarten and first grade got the same award. It was disappointing because I had tried to find out more about the award beforehand and the school had nothing about it in the handbook, the website or anywhere. And to make matters worse, I feel bad about being disappointed. I’m happy Shelby got all Cs and Ss for her special classes and is doing satisfactorily, no doubt, but I don’t know it warranted ceremony. I’ve never been a huge fan of participation awards and that’s essentially what this award was. The kids who got citizenship awards…now they were individually recognized and had behaviors to back up why they got them. That deserved the pomp and circumstance. But, sadly, Shelby’s award really did not.

It wasn’t a total wash. Joey clapped enthusiastically for every child and I was really proud of him for that. Shelby’s behavior was stellar. I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in literally five years. And when Shelby’s name was announced, her friend Lars, who is in her class, said “YEAH!” and started clapping. That touched my heart. Here was a child with autism cheering on one of his peers with autism. It was a total win for both of them, even if only his parents and I knew it.

Monday Shelby’s classroom teacher will give out more personalized awards for the kids during a smaller ceremony. This is much more our style. Shelby will be recognized for real accomplishments and it will be celebrated with people who know her and appreciate her.


So, today is better, right?

First off, the boys and I got out the door ON TIME this morning to get Joey to school. Huge progress, HUGE!!! This was after I made Shelby the ultimate breakfast of the last slice of garlic bread which she insisted was ALL her little tummy would accept. And it’s warm outside today. And sunny.

And guys, for real, I got three loads of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away. And dinner is in the crock pot cooking. And the dishwasher is running now. I’m on track with prayer. And this after the shenanigans of yesterday and then an acid reflux attack last night (totally my fault for not putting sugar in the sauce on the homemade meatball sub). And today I got a cat nap not because of tummy troubles but because I felt like I earned it.

I feel revived and productive. No, not everything I wanted to get done today did, but so much did that I know I really was in the right by taking it easy yesterday.

Only bummer today, I ran out of Mio yesterday. I’m still not digging plain water and the Mio really helped out a lot but it is so cost prohibitive…I know, first world problems.

Minor Mommy Annoyances

Last week Shelby had a GI virus. She doesn’t get them super often but since she is still in diapers, they are a rather big pain. As most readers know, Shelby was diagnosed with autism at age 2. She is now six and a half. And while changing her diapers (and sometimes having her “help” by attempting to change them herself) and trying to get her to sit on the potty and do SOMETHING is annoying, something else is even moreso. People’s “suggestions” that her problems are solely diet related and they KNOW the solution.

It’s annoying because we’ve investigated all of that. The majority of her GI issues are viruses. She goes to public school. She has to have assistance in washing her hands and sometimes she puts things that are not food in her mouth. Like a lot of kids. But because autism is in the lexicon when it comes to Shelby, immediately people who do not know us well, particularly other parents on the autism spectrum will pipe up with diet advice. She’s gluten-intolerant or allergic, no, it’s soy! No, it must be casein! Au contraire, we’ve eliminated, she still got sick and worse yet, she went on a hunger strike.

Right now gluten sensitivities are on the rise it appears in the general population. Or at least it appears that way. So even more people tend to be quick with their arm-chair diagnoses. The only time Shelby has ever had issues with food we’ve narrowed to two foods. Fast food french fries and corn/popcorn. Now corn is one of the alternatives to a gluten-free diet, so we’d be really in the hole if she was gluten-intolerant. But it’s not a vegetable, it’s non-soluble fiber, so she maybe has a sensitivity to that. The french fries seems to just be a fast food thing because fries at home have no affect on her and it happens with fries from all fast food places.

And Shelby doesn’t have diarrhea more than an average kid does (I live with two, so I should know) and it typically coincides with a virus going through her classroom or the boys having one. I know people mean well, but we’ve lived in “autism-land” for four and a half years now, so, yeah. We kinda know our kid and her habits. And I realize that plenty of people both off and on the autism spectrum have benefited from eliminating these things from their diets, but that means nothing for anyone else necessarily, truly it does not.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a pretty minor annoyance I live with but I feel like it’s one that people should be aware of because no one likes receiving parenting advice and that’s kind of what this boils down to. And for an issue that I’m not really “battling” all the time.

And so it goes…

Mommy-guilt. Today I was lying in bed most of the morning because of the latest heat-guided missile event in my intestines in the last five days. I only feel relief while lying down. They are random, uncomfortable and mostly annoying. We can’t find a trigger, I think it’s just a weird virus as my kids have all recently had lower GI viruses. The other most likely scenario is that it is hormonal, because it’s not unheard of in my storied history.

Whenever I have to spend time in bed like that, it makes me feel worse because every second in bed is one where I’m not cleaning or playing with someone. Only Will is home today, and he was more than happy to watch a video and play with cars and trains. He loves making up scenarios. Thankfully, dinner tonight is leftovers and I did feed him lunch. Still, it’s annoying, I realize I do need to take care of myself and that while some pushing through the pain is okay, completely ignoring my body is a mistake too.

Boy did I ever learn that this past Christmas. Waking up Christmas Eve with the muscles in my upper back and neck spasming was an ugly wake-up call. I couldn’t drive myself to mass (Jeff offered to take me, but I was scared of them getting worse while at mass and not being able to get myself out the door and then there was the issue of a couple of our kids having sniffles and illness likes to snowball here).  I was pretty much useless to clean, cook or do anything. It was supposed to be Jeff’s vacation, but being the awesome father and husband he is, he jumped right in. He even gave me a get out of jail free card for his family’s Christmas gathering Christmas Day, but I made it. I’d had building tension that I ignored, no pain, no gain, Kristen! It’s Christmas, no time to rest!

But I felt awful, we didn’t make the gingerbread Spongebob Pineapple I promised. (It’s still here, waiting to be opened.) We didn’t get any cookies made and poor Jeff in taking care of me, forgot to buy potatoes to bring to his family’s dinner. (Christmas Day he got instant ones from Walgreens and doctored them so well, no one was the wiser.) Yes, that was totally my fault. If I had gotten a bit more rest, if I had stretched my body a little more, if I had neglected Jeff’s presents a little and paid to go to urgent care, if I had LISTENED to my body and slowed my stubborn butt down, none of that would have happened.

I try not to think of these days as a wash when I force myself to lie down for a couple of hours. But I can’t stop thinking of breakfast dishes in the sink, a little boy playing by himself (he will often snuggle me if I’m really not feeling well), and the thousands of other things I’m ‘neglecting.’ I wonder, did Mary or Elizabeth or Hannah or any of the Biblical mothers ever go through this? This mommy guilt? What about St Anne? Or Sarah? Or Rebekah? Or Leah and Rachel? Or is this a guilt trip found only to us mom in the 20th and 21st centuries?

Jennifer Fulwiler’s post about when she finally got the diagnosis of the pulmonary embolisms helped her to let go of some of that guilt resonated deeply with me. Both because I have been guilty of the degree of laziness she describes and because of the enormous weight I attach to moments when I can’t be productive. My mother has often told me that every generation of moms has different pressures, different distractions, and different expectations that makes life difficult. I am beginning to realize how true that is, and I am trying to cut myself some slack, really I am. It’s difficult, but no one said this whole mothering thing wasn’t going to be.

Seven Things I found on the Internet and need to share (code: my life has been told in posts already this week…so….)

— 1 —

This story is over at People  Magazine. People Magazine! Amazing stories like these of parents who chose life are getting picked up by msm…so celebrate!

— 2 —

Today is the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, read Jimmy Akin’s post on things to know about St Paul.

— 3 —

At a Rosey Outlook on Life, Violinmama shares the beautiful pro-life art her young daughter created.

— 4 —

Is Michael Bloomberg’s ban on Big Gulps ridiculous, perhaps, however, this right here, is bat-shit-crazy.

— 5 —

If you are not a reader of Mary Tyler Mom, you should be. This piece is tear-jerking and beautiful.

— 6 —

Ann Voskamp gives us a wonderful survival plan.

— 7 —

Finally, Katy of I Want a Dumpster Baby celebrates her twins and sobriety.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Big Relaxing Sigh

Shelby and Joey are back to school today. Joey could have gone yesterday, but with Shelby being out, it meant a whole new layer of complication in getting him to and from school.

Will and I are settling back into some version of routine. Jeff was off Monday and had a teacher workday yesterday and another one again today. Tomorrow he starts a new semester with new students. Exams are over, he lets out a big exhale every year about this time.

And the weather is now properly January weather. 20 degrees when we woke up this morning. Not complaining though, especially after reading Cam’s post about Michigan.

But the sun is shining and my kitchen still feels so clean it’s hard not to relax and enjoy this moment.

The Cult of Grazers

We have an on-going food issue at our house. It is, in a word, grazing.

Grazing is not necessarily all a bad thing. Many scientists are now suggesting multiple smaller meals a day vs three monster meals, but in our house it’s an issue.

Particularly with the boys. Shelby’s no angel, she loves her some junk food, but she also loves apples and oranges and a few veggies. And she always eats regular meals.

Joey and Will would be okay if they would at least occasionally consider something other than well, crap. If I allowed them to live off of saltines and dry cheerios, they would be happy. But let there be chips, or anything sweet…it has to be hidden. And they don’t forget that it’s *somewhere* in our house. I have tried to incorporate healthy alternatives like carrot sticks and apple slices to no avail. We’ve even tried frog on a log (my kids, it turns out, HATE raisins with a passion). No, my little boys are content to stick with a limited and mostly processed diet. And they would rather complain of starvation that choose between carrot sticks or a piece of fruit.

I realize my brothers and I were probably like this too. And I realize I am incredibly blessed that Shelby is as good an eater as she is. I see all these cute ideas to get kids to vary their diet. Expensive Bento-style lunch boxes, stories that go along with the lunch and all the foods in the lunch are incorporated into the story…and they all seem like so much work.

Which reminds me of a story I heard one morning on NPR a couple of years ago while on the way to drop Shelby off at pre-K. And this quote from Ellyn Satter:

 “The rule of thumb is the harder you work to try to get food into your child, the less likely your child will eat.”

I keep offering healthy options. I typically request one bite to try a new food. However, if it is something you requested, you better eat it all. I am tempted to ask for the Bento-style lunch boxes or at least inserts as birthday gifts from grandparents because I think Will would really enjoy the idea of everything being in its own spot and I KNOW it would be right up Shelby’s ally.

And although we have struggles at home, I know it’s not a complete failure. Joey typically eats everything offered to him at school and tries all new foods. And Shelby has been known to test her palate quite a bit at school. So, there’s hope yet Will will follow in their footsteps and who knows, maybe their habits will find their way to our dinner table…until then, the cult of grazers we are.


Other Great Stuff I’m Reading all-over

From Erin a great definition and explanation of why racism is a sin.

From Calah a blistering (and deservedly so) response to Michael Voris.

From Papa Tripp a beautiful retrospective of Barbara’s decision to write.

From the guys at CMR a brave waiter who stood up for a child with disabilities.

From Kathleen her answers to some of the propositions brought up in NPRs series “Losing My Religion” from some of the de-converts interviewed.