August 30, 2011

Hands are Not For Pulling Hair

I found a parking space in the lot at school this afternoon, which meant I could get out and wait for Moe with the other moms Jelly likes to get out of the car too. She is perhaps a little too comfortable at Moe's school now, so I am constantly trying to keep her close to me and out of the way of the many parents and kids filing out of school.

This is not the kid whose hair Moe pulled.
But he's just as angelic looking as this girl.
Moe's class came out but I didn't see Moe. One of the classroom aides said he was still in the room and would be out in a minute with his teacher, Ms J. I figured she was changing his diaper or putting his shoes back on for the umpteenth time.

When they finally came out, she said "it was a rough day today." She then told me that Moe pulled a classmate's hair (the cutest, littlest boy's adorable red curly hair). Apparently, he's been getting more and more aggressive in class.

My hunch is that Moe is having a tough time adjusting going back to the full school day. He's been tired, and like me, when he's tired, he's on a short fuse. When Moe is frustrated, he needs that deep pressure input to calm down. So he bites or grabs or pulls. It used to be that he would bite a chewy or a toy if it was available. Then he started sometimes going after the closest adult, especially if that adult was the one causing the frustration. He's never gone after other kids before.

But a couple of days ago, Moe hit Jelly. He didn't punch her or anything, just kind of played the drums on the top of her head for a second. It surprised her, but nothing more. We didn't think much of it, as it wasn't even directed at her specifically; she just happened to be in the way. But now it sounds like other kids have also been at the receiving end. Today, Ms J said they did a slightly longer circle time and Moe was probably tired and wanted to go home. "If only we could give him the words," she said.

I'm trying not to overreact. On days like this, I start to feel that I keep losing more of my sweet, fun, happy, go-with-the-flow little boy and that nothing we are doing is bringing him back. I know that he is growing and changing. I know lots of little kids can be aggressive. I can even tell myself that frustration is good - it means Moe has an opinion about how he wants things and might even get motivated enough to use some words. But this type of behavior is scary, and the only thing I can think right now is "I don't want this."

Last month, we were approved by the regional center for some one on one behavioral therapy services. I got in touch with the provider today and scheduled our intake appointment for later this month. I am thankful for this help, although 12 hours a month doesn't seem like much. I have such a huge list of things I want to work on, from adaptive (self-help) skills and toileting, to safety concerns and aggression. I don't even know where to start.

What is so frustrating about Moe's autism is that I never know what is coming next, but there is always something. The issues just seem to pile one on top of the other. In addition to the aggression, we're dealing with spitting, screaming (a high pitched blood-curdling screech that I'm sure has caused me permanent hearing loss), putting everything in his mouth (including leaves and flowers when we're outside), as well as the constant taking off of shoes, and the things we've had for a while like running off, taking off his diaper, stealing food, and generally getting into everything. That's not to mention the "regular" autism stuff: issues with regulation, inconsistent sleep patterns, lack of speech and communication, and fine and gross motor delays.

We came home from school, and Moe crashed on the couch, all giggles and smiles. Jelly is currently chasing him around the house, imitating everything he does, and shouting "come one Moe!" and he doesn't seem to mind. I hope tomorrow is a better day, but for now I'm soaking in this little bit of happiness. I might need the reserves later.

August 29, 2011

Life Imitates Reality TV

When Jeff and I got engaged, I watched a lot of reality wedding shows. When I was pregnant, I couldn't get enough of TLC's A Baby Story. When we bought our house, I found an endless supply of decorating and landscaping shows. Though to be honest, my design show obsession really started when I was working at Microsoft on TV products and would record an endless supply of Ultimate Kitchens with host Tori Ritchie. I loved Trading Spaces (the early years with Genevieve, Vern and Ty) and Designer's Challenge. Fun fact: that show was hosted by Chris Harrison, now host of The Bachelor.

And now? I'm watching House Hunters.

Yes, we've finally decided to sell our house. I do love our little house, especially now that it is clean and clutter-free, but it is small. I'd like a bigger kitchen so that two people can actually work at the same time. I'd like to have a separate family room or playroom so that I can have a mostly toy-free living room to relax in. I'd like to have a bedroom big enough for Jeff and I to have separate dressers. I'm cramped with just 4 drawers!

Our current house almost fits the bill. The backyard is beautiful. The kitchen could be opened up. A second story master suite could be added. We've thought about it. I've designed it in my head. But although we like our neighborhood quite a bit, and got incredibly lucky that we are in a great school district for Moe, I want to be able to walk places. I'd like to be closer to one of the many adorable downtowns in the Bay Area. I want to be able to walk to a park with Jelly, and if  I can stop on the way for coffee, even better.

It's a good time to buy. Interest rates are low, and although prices are still high, the market is not as competitive as it was a few years ago. When we were looking, it was standard practice to give an offer at least $100,000 over asking price. Offers were accepted on a single day, and any offer with a contingency would be laughed at. We had bid on eight other houses over the course of a year before we found this one. We moved in just a month before our wedding.

Because it's a buyers market, it's not a great time to sell. But our first open house had a lot of traffic and we're on this week's broker tour. Besides, I've watched a lot of Curb Appeal and Designed to Sell, so I'm pretty sure we have this in the bag.

August 26, 2011

Old Ski Boots

His old ski boots traveled with me for many years. 
Yesterday I donated them. 
He would have wanted someone to use them. 
Still, I cried.

This week’s assignment was to to write a story as a tweet - just one hundred and forty characters.

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August 24, 2011

Rise and Shine

Last Thursday, I should have written an R post. I didn't.

Last Thursday, I was at the memorial service for the friend that inspired my Q post, Queen Bee.

But this week, we must carry on with our lives. It is how we honor those we've lost. And it is necessary for those that live. And so today, I will cover both last week's R and this week's S.

That's right, dear readers, rise and shine, we're going back to school!

It's been a big week for us. Moe started back at our school district's autism preschool program. He is in the same classroom, but with a new teacher. There are no new kids in his class, and our favorite aide is back, so there is some consistency there. Moe is doing okay with the transition back. His summer program was just a half day, so it will take a little while for him to readjust to the longer day. He is tired at the end of the day, not always a bad thing.

Moe's new teacher seems nice, but she is young. He bit her on the second day of class. Last year, this news would have crushed me. This year, both Jeff and I had the same reaction: she needs to learn to be faster.

On Tuesday, Jelly started her nursery school program! I was very brave and didn't cry. She didn't either. Jelly loves talking about her new teacher and I think she is going to have a great time at school. She carries her new owl lunchbox around with pride.

Getting two kids up and ready for school can be a challenge. I'm learning to pack lunches and get backpacks ready in the evening. Fortunately, Jeff takes one kid to school and I take the other. And the hectic morning is so worth it. Having some time to myself two mornings a week is going to be heavenly.

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August 22, 2011

Vaccines In Schools

Today was the first day of school, and it seems a fitting time to continue writing about childhood vaccinations. Many people believe that your child has to be vaccinated to go to school. They are certainly supposed to be. However, parents can get exemptions for their kids. The process for doing this varies from state to state, but here in California, a parent only needs to complete a Personal Belief Exemption (PBE) form.

It is necessary to allow these PBEs. There are children who are medically fragile or who have a history of serious reactions to vaccines, including dangerously high fevers or seizures. Certain religious groups may be opposed to vaccination. All of these children should have the right to go to school. However - and this is a big however - unvaccinated children should be the rare exception.

In my mind, that means just a few kids each year. But we can put a real number on this. From a public health perspective, we need to maintain high enough levels of immunity in the population so that diseases cannot spread. This is often called "herd immunity."

The concept of herd immunity is important to understand. A large percentage of a population needs to be inoculated against contagious diseases to keep those diseases from spreading. This ensures that those who do not have immunity are less likely to come in contact with someone who has the disease. The herd immunity rate is different for each disease, but range from 80-95%.

There is a wide variance in the herd immunity, even for a single disease. The actual level of immunity needed will vary depending on the specifics of the outbreak, including the effectiveness of the vaccines and closeness of the social network. A classroom would be a very close social network. Have you ever experienced a lice outbreak? It can spread pretty fast, and that requires actual physical contact. Ever see a cold go through a class? Last year, one cold took out half of Moe's class in one week. Imagine if that cold were measles or polio; it would be devastating.

The CA Department of Public Health publishes the vaccination rates for kindergarten classes in California. I looked at the 2010 rates of PBEs. At Moe's school, 5% of kids in kindergarten have exemptions. That's pretty good. An outbreak of most diseases would likely be contained quickly. This was the highest number of PBEs in all of our district.

The district we'd like to move to, however, has one school with a 16% PBE. That means only 84% of kids in kindergarten at that school are fully vaccinated. That is dangerously low. A major outbreak could definitely occur.

A few other schools in neighboring districts had similarly frightening rates of exemptions:
  • McAuliffe School: 12%
  • Leroy Anderson Elementary: 22%
  • Simonds Elementary: 30%
But even more interesting are the private schools:
  • Casa di Mir Montessori: 20%
  • German International School: 36%
  • Waldorf School Los Altos: 76%
Yes, you read that right. Seventy-six percent of kids in the Waldorf School of Los Altos are NOT vaccinated. I realize that this is (unofficially) part of the Waldorf philosophy, but this number was still shocking to me.

What is most interesting to me about these numbers is that many of the schools with the lowest rates of vaccination are at the schools with well educated parents who think they are doing the right thing for their children. They think they are enlightened because they question "big pharma" (who, by the way, only makes 1.5% of their profits from vaccines). They "trust their instincts" about vaccines, believing that so many vaccines must overwhelm their little babies' immune systems. But most parents can't possibly have an instinct about this. They aren't trained to evaluate risk. It is why we have science, and the evidence overwhelmingly tells us vaccines are safe.

 Q: If everyone else is vaccinated, why does it matter if I don't vaccinate my child?
A: First, your child could come into contact with someone else who has the disease. It only takes one. Second, each child matters. If a class has twenty kids, it only takes 3 unvaccinated kids to drop below herd immunity levels. But be aware, even if your school has a 95% vaccination rate, that means at least 5% of the kids are at risk, but probably more. Herd immunity levels may contain a major outbreak, but any unvaccinated child could still get sick. Third, you are not just putting your child at risk. Your child could infect someone else, including a child too young to have received the vaccine.

Q: If vaccines aren't 100% effective, why should I put my child at risk for the possible side effects of the vaccines if he isn't going to be protected anyway? 
A:  Vaccines are not a guarantee against the disease. Yes, a child can get a vaccine and still get the disease, but it is much less likely. Even so, when most people are vaccinated, any given person is much less likely to come in contact with someone else who could infect him.

The risk of the vaccines themselves are very low. For example, according to the CDC, a person who gets measles faces the following risks:
  • Pneumonia: 6 in 100 
  • Encephalitis: 1 in 1,000 
  • Death: 2 in 1,000
But the risk of major side effect of the MMR vaccine (encephalitis or severe allergic reaction) is literally one in a million.

Q: We use other ways to fight disease, like healthy eating, exercise, and dietary supplements. Isn't that enough?
A healthy lifestyle is important. I don't want to underestimate that. A strong immune system helps fight off or lessen the effects of many diseases, especially common colds and flus. But as one person in my mom's group said, "when measles comes around the Burger King eating, obese, never sees the daylight, TV-addicted, vaccinated kid will NOT get it and your kids WILL. It is a biological fact."

Please, please, please vaccinate your children. It is the right thing to do.

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August 16, 2011

Autism, Vaccines, and Parental Advice

I am on a number of mailing lists for parents of special needs kids. Recently, the following question was posed on two of these lists. (I cleaned the language up a bit, since I think the author probably isn't a native English speaker).
Hi, I am kind of confused with wich vaccines to avoid for my 18 year old baby. I know one is the MMR but what about the DPT, flus shots, HIB, and Hepatitis? I have a 3-year-old diagnosed with autism that have all his vaccinations up to date and I don't feel comfortable doing the same thing with my younger baby that is presenting a mild speech delay already. Also, I am concerned if I don't vaccinate my son, what kind of precautions should I take so they don't get sick? 
Questions like this break my heart. This mom is clearly scared, but also so confused by the mass of information and misinformation out there about the autism-vaccine connection.

I was the first to respond. I usually do respond to these. I make my point known then stop because it is too aggravating to debate in this kind of forum. Here was my response:

This is a tricky question, and you'll get different answers from different people. It is a debate that, sadly, divides the autism community. My perspective is that you should not skip any vaccinations. There is no scientific evidence of an autism-vaccine link. There is, however, a link between increasing rates of diseases like whooping cough and measles because of reduced rates of vaccination. If you choose not to vaccinate your child, you are putting your child, and other children, at risk for those diseases.

This sparked some lively debate, which was, for the most part respectful and completely unhelpful since she got all of the possible answers, from "don't skip any" to "delay some" to "skip them all." There were, however, a few responses I want to address.

No flu shots here either.....My NT [neurotypical] daughter at the age of 8 got H1N1 and I didn't even know it was the flu. She had a slight fever and bad cough...but, went to school (oops) for 2 days before I thought she was sick enough to go to the Dr. Got tested and it was positive! I felt bad...but, no one else got it (her best friend, her twin brother with autism, the rest of the family, etc). That proved to me that the FLU shots were certainly not needed. 

To which I responded:
It's great that your daughter had a mild case of the H1N1 flu. Indeed, for many, it turned out to be quite a mild strain. Unfortunately, some people did die from the H1N1 flu (and other flu strains every year). One family's experience (positive, negative, or neutral) does not prove anything about how another will react. 
I want to respectfully put forth another opinion. I am a firm believer, especially with things like whooping cough, measles and other potentially deadly childhood illnesses, that we have a public health responsibility to vaccinate our children. Evidence, not fear, should guide our decisions.  
Yes there are absolutely valid exceptions, but those cases are rare and certainly should not be the rule.
She then responded:
Understood but although selfish, my responsibility is to my kids not the public.   But I certainly respects others opinions.  If my kids get one of those illnesses, I take full responsibility.  It is a chance I am comfortable taking.
Excuse me? This may be a chance you are comfortable taking for your own children, but if you don't vaccinate your kids, you are also taking that chance with my kids. Are you going to take responsibility if one of them gets sick - or dies - because you chose not to vaccinate? And how exactly would you do that?
I also got the following response:
I'm a mom who has seen some pretty dark years with autism. I would have traded measles for autism in a heartbeat.
How horrible! Is she really saying that she'd rather risk her child dying? Does she also let her child drive in the car without a seat belt? I doubt it. It is so easy to say we'd take one risk over another because most people don't understand how to assess risk, and we haven't grown up seeing our friends and neighbors suffer from these diseases. And why is that? Because we have vaccines! I remember going to work with my dad and meeting another doctor who was disabled because he had polio as a child. Our parents remember these diseases, and we all got vaccinated. In one generation these diseases all but disappeared in this country. I'm afraid it is going to take some pretty bad outbreaks of these diseases before some people get the picture.

I think Shannon De Roches Rosa, one of the founders of Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, said it best as part of this same discussion:

I'm concerned about any recommendation to delay vaccines, even an empathetic recommendation based in a complex understanding of vaccine and autism issues plus autism parents' fears, reality, and concerns. Worried parents (and those who oppose vaccination) will likely interpret such recommendations as evidence of a vaccine-autism connection, when no such connection has ever been made -- despite the enormous amount of autism research diverted in that direction over the past decade. 
Delaying vaccines will leave your child vulnerable to diseases that are on the upswing. And, having just listened to my mother's best friend's story of her daughter being stricken by measles encephalitis at age 5, lying comatose for months, and her parents being told that she'd never recover (unlike Roald Dahl's daughter Olivia, she did); and having had conversations with parents whose children have recently died from whooping cough, it's important to remember that most of us don't have the context of living with vaccine-communicable disease that used to give immunization the urgency it deserves. 
Later this week, I'll be writing about rates of immunizations in schools. Sneak preview: it isn't pretty.

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August 14, 2011

BlogHer Wrap-Up Part II: Special Needs Mini-Conference

When Moe was first diagnosed, I did not want to go to parent groups or seek out support.  I didn’t want to hear their stories. I didn’t want to be forced to imagine a future other than the one where Moe is just fine.

I have wonderful friends, who, while they may not always “get” what it means to have a special needs child, certainly get me. But most of my day to day socializing was with a moms group I joined when Moe was a baby. They are wonderful mothers, but because of Moe’s therapy schedule, and his delays, I could no longer do what they were doing.

I was stuck between a community I no longer fit in and one I didn’t want to be in.

Then I found blogs. And I started commenting. I wrote my own blog, and got comments there. I hopped on Twitter, and I found a community. And I liked it.

Fast forward to last Friday, August 5, 2011. This virtual community in which I had at first reluctantly, then avidly, become involved, came together at BlogHer. And now I am no longer satisfied with having just an online community.

Imagine how it felt to sit at lunch with Ellen, writer of Love That Max, and fierce advocate for ending the use of the “R-word.” Imagine how it felt to get a hug from Laura Shumaker, and hear her say “it gets easier.” Imagine how it felt to meet Liz Ditz, Jennifer Byde Meyers and Shannon Des Roches Rosa, founders of Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. Imagine how inspiring it was to hear Robert Rummel-Hudson speak about his daughter, Schuyler, and disability rights. Imagine what it is like to meet the funny and beautiful Julia Roberts, founder of Support for Special Needs, and this conference’s fearless leader.

It was also nice when people were excited to meet me! Like when Caryn (Living with Logan) accosted me in the lunch line. I was thrilled.

I think my tweet during the conference sums it up: “Do you know what it is like to be in a room of people who truly know you, though you’ve never met before? I do.” It is empowering, comforting, inspiring, and emotional. It feels right.

I met so many wonderful people, too many to list here (though I will be updating my Resources page with many of their blogs). And having even this brief real life connection has now strengthened our online connections. We are already plotting and planning our next conference, and I hope I’ll be able to meet up with many of these wonderful people soon, since many of them live here in the Bay Area.

I’m not going to summarize the panel discussions from the conference. I’m sure other bloggers will do that (the link-up is here), and you can read the (somewhat confusing) transcript over at BlogHer’s Virtual Con. But I do want to include a few of the moments I found most inspiring and thought-provoking.


“I don't care what you think of my kid. My kid has every right to be here. He's not living up to anybody's expectations but his own. And if you can't see that, that's your problem….There's… a real kind of fear mongering about kids with special needs. Oh, my God. You have a kid with special needs would be the worst thing in the world and you have to lay down and die… I don't know how you people do it. How many of us hate our kids? We love our kids. The thing is having other people see that we don't just love our kids. We respect our kids. And we demand that other people respect our kids too. So just have the confidence to demand it.”


When we talk about how much money goes into special education and goes into all the things that we need, people talk about that money, it makes me wonder, do people talk about the burden of bridges that don't collapse or on the burden…if your house catches on fire or if your community is hit by an earthquake? I talk about shifting the discussion of what our families and what our kids need to something besides…an economic budgetary issue.


All those people who have this problem, I bet you 90% of them went to public school. You went to school. You are the beneficiary. You are seriously going to take that away from the people who come behind you? School board meetings make me crazy.


We can frame this whole discussion in terms of civil rights rather than in terms of entitlements or funding…These are the programs that when times are good, well, then we can afford them…Almost…luxuries and when times get rough, all of a sudden, our kids, their lives and the things that…give their lives power and meaning, they're on the table.

From the audience:

I wanted to comment on what Rob said about disability rights being the most important political movement of this century. It is. It is the most important political movement of the century because it strikes at the heart of our fascination with independence. It strikes at heart of our desire to be isolated, strong, powerful, self-reliant individuals and that's American dream, right? That you can make it on you own and all that. That's the so, when we're pointing out to people that our kids need services, which is, of course, what we do all the time as advocates…We're their worst nightmare. We have to make it less of a nightmare, which all of our blogs do…say we're all on this continuum capacity. I really don't like disability. I like capacity. We're all on a capacity continuum and we're all going to be disabled if we live long enough.

Inspired? Want to be part of a wonderful, supportive community? Do it. If you have a child with special needs, join us over at Support for Special Needs. If you need another kind of support, find it. It isn’t scary or depressing. I promise.

Thanks also to @MrsLaLa101, @elXcel, @DanaSearsFam, @littlebitquirk, @marfmom, @aureliacotta, and everyone else who danced the night away at BlogHer!

August 12, 2011

BlogHer Wrap Up (Part One)

As most of you know, I was in San Diego last weekend, attending the BlogHer conference. It was my second blogging conference, but this one was much bigger. Over 3,600 people (primarily women) attended. It was incredibly well-run and organized. Those BlogHer people work hard.

The highlight of the conference was the Special Needs Mini-Conference (SNMC), and deserves a post all of its own. We will be doing a link-up on Support for Special Needs on Monday, so I'll save that post for then.

Call Me @wantapeanut

The conference environment is strange. You introduce yourself with your twitter handle. Popular bloggers are minor celebrities in this world, and you feel like you know them even though, of course, you only know what they've chosen to tell you on their blogs. If you recognize your favorite blogger, a difficult task given that the most you've probably ever seen of her is a very small, square, avatar, you might introduce yourself. Most of these bloggers are really nice and happy to have you tell them you appreciate their words.

There are some bloggers that you may have gotten to know a little better, either through commenting on each others' blogs or on twitter. I can't tell you how many of these conversations started off with "you're much shorter/taller than you seem in your picture." That is, of course, if you manage to find those bloggers, which happens someone randomly. Twitter, it turns out, is not a great way to find people in real-time, and if you don't have a phone number, you'll end up looking for someone sitting "at a table between the buffet and the coffee." Only they were there twenty minutes ago and aren't there now.

Sorry, I don't do product reviews

There is a hug expo hall where brands courting mommy bloggers (and vice versa) give away "swag." There is good stuff there and you could sign up for manicures and fake eyelashes. I didn't take much, though I did feel free to eat Dove ice cream at their booth. Yes, it was delicious (try the peanut butter).

The conference seems to have become about how to make money off your blog. I get it: people spend a lot of time blogging, and want to be compensated. We value the opinions of the bloggers we've come to know, and marketing research has shown that people trust the opinions of other bloggers more than many other sources. I wouldn't mind working for one of those companies running social media campaigns. But I don't plan to make money off my own blog in this way. (Book deals are welcome.)

For the same reason, I wasn't as interested in many of the sessions. Many people didn't even go to the sessions, preferring to explore the expo hall or attend sponsored private sessions and parties that surround the conference. These private sessions provide great opportunities to meet and talk in smaller groups, but also seem to scatter the conference a bit.

It's about the stories

The reason I blog, and the reason I went to the conference (outside of the SNMC) was to meet people and hear their stories. By far, my favorite times were those that featured great writing, including the Voices of the Year community keynote, and the Listen to Your Mother open-mic night. They stories filled me with tears and incredible laughter.

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August 11, 2011

Queen Bee

The  phone buzzed and we flew to your side, in swarms of three and four until we completed our hive.

We flitted around you, busying ourselves with whatever work we could find.

Straightening sheets.

Talking to nurses.

Taking turns watching kids in the lobby.

"Isolate a honeybee from her sisters and she will soon die."

In a group whose constant buzzing often keeps us out too late, we had only a few words.

We're here.

We'll take care of your girls.


We love you.


This post was inspired by my visit to a friend who is losing her battle with cancer. During her fight, we have been wearing honeybee necklaces, and she took to calling our group "Heather's Hive."

The quote above is from the book The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men (Longgood) and was quoted in The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd.

August 8, 2011

Book Club Review: In Stitches

Are you passionate about your job? Have you found your calling? Maybe you always knew you wanted to be a teacher or firefighter or songwriter. Or maybe you realized it later in life, after trying other things that just didn't feel right. Perhaps you were pushed into it, maybe even fought becoming an artist or poet because it wasn't practical, or didn't want to follow your dream to go to law school because you were afraid to fail. But then you found it, that role you were always meant to play. And it felt right.

Before I had children, I worked as a product manager for technology companies. I fell into it, working my way up from my first job in customer service and tech support. I had a great time and I was good at it. I met very smart people and even found a niche in user interface and interaction design. But I never considered it a calling, like I was meant to work on consumer electronics products. I miss working quite a bit, but it wasn't difficult for me to take a break from my particular line of work.

That's not to say I think being a stay at home mom was my calling. I love my children deeply, but never imagined that I'd be a stay at home parent for this long. I am grateful that I have been able to be here for Moe, be intensely involved in his therapies and get daily updates from his teachers. But I'm not ashamed to admit I want more.

But more of what, exactly? I honestly don't know. I think about all the specific knowledge I've learned as Moe's mom, and consider putting that knowledge to good use. But I don't want my entire life to be about autism. I am looking for something to do that uses another part of my brain. I want to solve different kinds of problems. But the specifics elude me.

It is a privileged problem to have. So many in our world do not have time to think about their calling. They do their jobs because they have to put food on the table and pay the mortgage. I am lucky my husband can do that for our family. Writing this blog is the closest I've come to finding something that I more than enjoy, that I feel compelled to do. I miss it when I don't write most every day. Too bad I'm not getting paid to do it.

This post was inspired by Anthony Youn's memoir, In Stitches, which gives readers a look into the training of a medical doctor who discovers his passion is plastic surgery. As a member of From Left to Write book club, I received a copy of this book for review. You can read other members posts inspired by the book on book club day, August 9, at From Left to Write.

August 7, 2011

Things I Learned at BlogHer 11

I am back from the BlogHer conference in San Diego. I have a lot to do: business cards to sort through, notes to review, thoughts to process, and sleep to catch up on. I'll be writing more about the conference, as well as sharing a book club post, this week. But for now, here is a brief list of some things I learned at BlogHer.

  1. Never wear new shoes to the first day of a conference, no matter how comfortable they seem out of the box.
  2. Twitter is great for many things, but if you want to find someone in a crowd of 3600 people, get a phone number.
  3. Everyone has a story to tell. Some will make you cry, but some will make you laugh so hard you can't catch your breath. We need both kinds.
  4. I am not too old to party until 1 a.m. three nights in a row.
  5. I am definitely too old to party until 1 a.m. three nights in a row.
  6. I may still find use for my Sociology, Communications, and MBA degrees.
  7. Online connections are important, but nothing compares to looking someone in the eyes and telling them "I understand."
  8. Big things can start in a small room.

Thanks to all the wonderful people who made my first BlogHer so great! You know who you are.

August 4, 2011


"He's perfect," the pediatrician declared at Moe's first visit. He was only six or seven days old. She meant only that he had ten fingers and toes, was eating and growing, recovering from the act of being born.

I think back to that day. "Liar!" I want to yell. There was a bug in the program. A glitch. Someone put the blue wire into the red slot. He is broken. Fix him.

I gasp, ashamed. What kind of a mother thinks her son is anything other than perfect? I look at him. Perfect curls. Perfect little teeth all in a row. A perfect laugh. Possibly perfect pitch. Full of life and energy. He is everything he is meant to be.

I'm the one who is flawed. Anxious. Easily overwhelmed. Controlling. Unable to live in the moment. And perhaps a little too hard on myself.

Oh well. Nobody's perfect.

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August 2, 2011

A Brief Update

I've been busy. I haven't had time to write much, and though I'd love to post some pieces of great genius before I leave for the BlogHer conference in two days, it's not looking good. Here are some of the things I've been up to instead of updating my blog:

  1. Taking Moe to the potty every 20 minutes.
  2. Wiping pee off the floor in between aforementioned trips to the bathroom.
  3. Preparing for BlogHer, the conference I'll be attending in San Diego this weekend. Figuring out what clothes, shoes and electronic devices to bring, let alone what sessions I'm attending, seems to be a full time job.
  4. Spending a lot more time on Twitter. See #3 above.
  5. Some other exciting things that I'm not ready to post about yet but that will be sure to both give me lots of blog fodder and completely suck up all of my time.
I'm looking forward to some great networking, learning and fun this weekend. I'll be a little out of my element, as I am really uncomfortable walking into large social situations where I don't know anyone. But I will know a few people, and am looking forward to connecting with the bloggers from From Left To Write and The Red Dress Club. I am really excited about attending the Special Needs Mini-Conference on Friday, where I'll have the chance to meet, hug, and probably cry a few tears with so many of the bloggers who inspire me on a daily basis.

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