September 29, 2011

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, "Heard" items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post.

Friday Fragments are the brainchild of Mrs.4444 and you can find more at Half Past Kissin' Time.

*****

Someone shared a beautiful post in my reader this week called "It's Not Fair." The post was written by Susan Niebur at Toddler Planet, who battling metastatic breast cancer. I've been thinking about cancer a lot lately, since earlier this month I found out that a good friend of mine has stage 4 breast cancer. I haven't read much of Susan's blog, but this post struck me. It's beautiful, and so true.

*****

Did anyone else watch Terra Nova?  I am pretty sure that they made this show just for me.  It's like Jurassic Park meets Lost meets wrecked future Earth.  I so love it.  It will probably get cancelled.  But I'm going to watch the hell out of it while it's on.  And probably own it on DVD someday.

*****


Yesterday, Sam used the potty in the morning before school then again before bed.  In between?  HE DID NOT PEE.  Like, at all.  What the hell?  Does this kid have a bladder the size of a watermelon?  Maybe he didn't really drink anything at school, but he drank like four glasses of water after school.  Aside from the weirdness, this is HUGE.  He did not wear a pull up all day and stayed dry, and went in the potty.  I'm so proud of him. 


*****


My friend Liz has a blog now called This & That.  You should check it out.  She is one of the most awesome people I know - smart, generous, caring, and excessively creative.  She has some great ideas and thoughts to share.


*****


I'm suddenly super tired and feel like I can't think, so I'm gonna wrap it up.  Hopefully I'll get to visit everyone's posts this weekend!


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Fast and Furious

So, a bunch of months ago when it came out, Justin and I went and saw Fast and Furious. I made fun of it when I first heard it was coming, because really? Since when do you just get to take out two 'the's and make a new movie of it? Do over? But then I saw previews and they sort of blew my mind because they pitted The Rock against Vin Diesel. WOAH. The following has been sitting in my drafts folder for months, and it's really all I can say about the movie, so I thought I'd just go ahead and publish it, because it still blows my mind and makes me giggle. 

Watching the big fight scene between The Rock and Vin Diesel was insane. It was a rage fueled hurricane of shining sweaty muscles and baldness.



Also, if you forget at any point where the movie takes place, don't worry. The show the Christ the Redeemer statue that stands over Rio approximately 1,547 times in this movie.
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September 27, 2011

A Letter Overdue Part 1: Sam

Dear Sam,

I've been meaning to sit down and write this for almost five months. Every year, I try to write you a letter on your birthday. Maybe one day you'll enjoy reading them, and I love being able to look back and see what you were doing and who you were becoming each year as we celebrated your birth. Now, suddenly, it's the end of July and you have been five years old for almost three months.

Five suits you well. You are still a bean pole - knobby knees and a waist so small your pants fall if we're not careful! You're tall for your age, and when you hug me standing up now your head rests between my belly and my chest. You've grown up some, but you're still so affectionate. You give me all the hugs I can handle, and you recently invented something called a "super kiss" where you kiss very noisily many times in a row.  When I wake you up for school in the morning, I carry you into the living room and we sit on the couch together and cuddle while you watch a show. 

Sometimes I forget how much you're growing up, but then I'm snapped back to reality by something. The other night at dinner, Daddy suddenly noticed that you'd lost your first tooth! Sure enough, there is a big space in the very front of your bottom teeth. That night I wondered how it could possibly be that I have a boy old enough to be losing his baby teeth.  You've gotten really smart too - you're already doing some math and know all your letters, now you're starting to learn about words.

You challenge me a lot because you want to know what things mean that I've known the meaning of for years and years.  Recently, you asked me what 'cancel' means, but that was a fairly easy one.  When you ask me why I'm always telling you what to do and what it's time for, I hear myself telling you it's because I'm the parent.  I guess you can't understand why parents say that until you're a parent yourself.

Now, you're in Kindergarten.  I am a little shocked at how well you've adjusted to getting up at 6:30 every day and spending an entire day in school.  On the first day, you got on the bus like you'd done it a million times even though it was a new stop and a big bus.  We had a little hiccup on the second day when you didn't get off and I had to go pick you up at the end of the route, but you were pretty unfazed by it all.  I love that when I ask you how school was today, your answer is always 'fun!'

I pack a lunch for you every day, but today you forgot it and got hot lunch.  You're still a picky eater, but luckily today was hot dogs.  Which meant you ate a bun and milk for lunch, but that's better than nothing.  It's so strange to hear you talk about standing in line for hot lunch and to walk the halls of your school and join the PTA.  Sometimes, I am caught off guard by having children at all, let alone one who is old enough to be in Elementary School!  I just don't know how it happened!

It's been a long road, but you've peed in the potty three times now.  It's hard for you because you have some sensory differences and the pressure of holding it in feels good to you.  But it seems like you're slowly starting to learn how and when you need to let go.  I can't wait for the day that you do it every time and Grandma Edie told you when you go in the potty for a month she's going to take you to Disneyland - how fun will that be?! 

With Kindergarten comes other kids, and let me tell ya, I am getting a taste of things to come.  You've met some friends at the bus stop, but there is one boy in particular I'm not sure about.  I worry about you because you are a little different, and I am afraid the other kids will not be nice about it.  I am your Mom, it's my job to worry.  You're such a happy little boy, and I don't want that to change.  Sometimes, I don't want you to have to learn about the heartaches that can happen in the world.  I love you so much, but I know I can't protect you forever.  That won't stop me from wanting to - I don't think that will ever change.

You love to play the Wii, your favorites right now are Donkey Kong Country Returns and Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars.  Your favorite thing to watch right now are old Mario Brothers cartoons and two specific episodes of Community - the claymation Christmas special and the one with the time hoodie.  Your favorite foods haven't changed, and your favorite ice cream is plain vanilla.  You love to read books, and still love the Magic Treehouse books.  You got your own library card recently and checked out a bunch of books.

There are so many things that I want to remember about you, which is one reason I write these letters.  But every year I know that I'm leaving out a thousand things I'd love to remember about you.  You are still such a great little boy, and I can't wait for all of the adventures we're going to have while you're in school!

Happy Birthday, sort of... maybe next year your letter will be on time, but you and your brother keep me so busy!

Love,
Mommy


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Because it's funny.

funny gifs
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September 25, 2011

"The Panic Virus"

Autism has become a fairly hot topic in the past few years, and I've been interested in the subject for quite a while.  I've read a couple of books previously about the subject, including Jenny McCarthy's book "Louder than Words."  Despite McCarthy's 'mother's instinct' and conviction that vaccines caused her son's autism, and that she was able to cure him through diet and therapy, I finished the book believing neither.  I ran across "The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science and Fear" by Seth Mnookin at the library when I was looking for a new audio book to read, and it sounded right up my alley.

It's hard to even know where to begin.  This book is a wonderfully well executed look into the world of vaccines and the medical crisis of misinformation spread about the 'connection' between autism and the MMR vaccine.  As a young married man planning to have children, Mnookin heard many stories about vaccines from his friends - a lot of them had concerns about the safety of vaccines for their children.  He decided to explore the topic for himself and seek out the facts, and "The Panic Virus" was born.

Mnookin starts the book by speaking about vaccines in general, all the way back to the first inoculations created against Smallpox.  Vaccines have always had some controversy surrounding them, from the first time someone decided to score their skin and rub infected pus on it to inoculate themselves to the first polio vaccines and bad batches that paralyzed children after they were administered.  It's not a surprise that a controversy would come up regarding the MMR vaccine, mercury, the use of thimerosal and whether it's linked to autism.

Unfortunately, in this case, the medical crisis that follows the controversy is one of epic proportions.  There are schools in California where 40-60% of the children are not being vaccinated.  Dozens and dozens of children who could be hospitalized and even killed by diseases which are wholly preventable.  This is absolutely a health crisis.  The panic virus that Mnookin is referring to is misinformation itself, which spreads like wildfire with the help of the modern day media. 

Andrew Wakefield is one of the most major players in this story.  The doctor who first published a study claiming that autism and digestive problems were a direct result of receiving the MMR vaccine has since been stripped of his medical license.  A formal retraction of the article has been issued by the journal in which it was published, and it's been revealed that Wakefield had a financial stake in proving the link.  Before publishing his study, Wakefield filed a patent for an alternate measles vaccine, so if MMR stopped being used, he stood to make a good deal of money.

Wakefield was just the first in a long string of people spreading information with no basis in fact through the media.  Having an autistic child is not easy.  Some parents are dealing with children who are non-verbal, can never be toilet trained, are unable to show emotion, are violent or profoundly unable to take care of themselves.  It is absolutely a difficult situation, and I can see how these parents would WANT to reach out and grab hold when someone is giving them an explanation for WHY this happened to their child.  In my mind, that's what makes the behavior of those perpetuating this idea even more reprehensible and irresponsible.  They are taking advantage of parents emotions and questions about a condition whose causes are still largely unknown, and they're doing it to make a name for themselves.

Mnookin discuses Wakefield in depth, as well as David Kirby, author of the book "Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic."  Kirby added (and continues to add) a lot of fuel to the fire of parents who are blaming vaccines and the government's vaccine program for their children's autism.  Despite the lack of evidence of any link, Wakefield, Kirby, and Jenny McCarthy all have huge followings in the autism community, and continue to attend events, give talks, and provide information to parents all over the world.  To me, this is especially surprising the case of Wakefield, who has been exposed as an unethical doctor who basically fixed his research, was nonobjective and stood to gain financially from his own findings.  His research showed contaminated samples, and how much of a surprise can that be from someone who took his control samples by drawing blood from the guests at his own child's birthday party?  Yet he now lives in the United States, and continues to book speaking engagements and spread his ideas.

Though at least half of the book is devoted to looking at vaccines as they relate to autism, Mnookin also explores vaccines in general.  He gives great background information about studies regarding mercury poisoning and mercury content in vaccines, as well as some history of other public health scares and people mistrusting the government (for example the debate over fluoridation of the water supply).   Mnookin explores the reasons why people are able to believe in ideas that have no basis in fact, especially on emotionally charged issues, and how we decide how much proof is enough.  On of the major points made here is that you cannot prove a negative, that those like David Kirby who ask for the government to prove all vaccines are 100% safe for every single person are asking for the impossible.

Study after study has failed to find any link between the MMR vaccine and autism.  The British and American court systems have both conducted in depth, several year long investigations and found no causal relationship.  The doctor who most heavily promoted the idea has been stripped of his license.  Yet, people continue to insist that there must be a link that they "just know" that their child was made autistic after vaccination.

Within this book, you'll read several stories of sick children.  Children who have been hospitalized in pediatric and infant ICUs because they caught preventable diseases from kids who were not vaccinated.  Particularly distressing is the story of a six week old baby who couldn't fight off the pertussis (whooping cough) that she came down with before she was old enough to be vaccinated.  Can you even imagine knowing that your child died from something so preventable?

It's absolutely true that Mnookin is using these stories to appeal to our emotions.  However, there is also a point to be made.  Other than in this book, where have you ever heard the other side of this story?  I've heard accounts like Jenny McCarthy's in abundance - my child got the vaccine and s/he changed.  But as one parent of a child who died of whooping cough points out, she contacted the Oprah show and other news outlets and none of them responded with any interest in her side of the debate.  These parents deserve to be heard as well, and to be recognized for the hardship they've gone through.

The tragedy here is that children are being hurt.  Millions of dollars have been spent fighting a battle with vaccines that has no basis, when that money could have been spent on the actual children - autism research and tools for the children that are affected by autism.  Families whose budgets are stretched to the limits by trying to provide the best for their children are spending their money on 'miracle cures' and remedies based on the idea of autism as a bio-medical condition with a root cause in some vaccine or virus.  Meanwhile, Hib, whooping cough, and measles outbreaks are threatening other children with serious illness and even death.

I went into this book already confident that vaccines do not cause autism.  I came out of it appalled that the media is still perpetuating this myth, and that people are still believing it.  If you've got doubts about your child's vaccines, this is a wonderful book to read that will give you straightforward, scientific facts about the lack of evidence that there is any link whatsoever between autism and vaccines.  Beyond that, it will make you think about how you make decisions about what you believe and when to give up and admit that an idea just isn't so.  It's well written, well paced, and held my interest every step of the way.

In the epilogue, Mnookin returns to his baby boy and the future he sees for him:
"As my son grows older, I hope that ... he will feel empowered to make his own decisions and will have the self-confidence to challenge traditional wisdom. I also hope that he learned the difference between critical thinking and getting swept up in a wave of self-righteous hysteria, and I hope he considers the effects of his actions on those around him. Finally, for his sake and for that of everyone else alive, I hope he grows up in a world where science is acknowledged not as an ideology but as the best tool we have for understanding the universe, and where striving for the truth is recognized as the most noble quest humankind will ever undertake."


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September 22, 2011

Friday Fragments: Sick & Tired

Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, "Heard" items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post.

Friday Fragments are the brainchild of Mrs.4444 and you can find more at Half Past Kissin' Time.

*****

Wow, I have been a terrible blogger lately.  I'm barely managing to post once a week.  Sam's finally back in school, tomorrow will be the end of the 2nd week.  We are all REALLY tired from the adjustment to getting up every day at 6:30 (we're not really morning people).  Also, Sam brought home all the new germs from his classmates so we've been sick.  How is it that he managed to barely be sick, just some coughing, over the weekend and yet here I am feeling completely exhausted and stuffed up and generally bad, and Danny's nose is running like a faucet?!  Oh well.  It's definitely good that he didn't have to miss any school.

Soon, my Mom is going to start watching Danny once a week while Sam's at school, and I'll be able to start writing again.  I really can't wait.

*****

Toy Story vs. The Office


via Geek in Heels

*****

So, TV is back!  And if you've been around here at all, you know how I loves the TV.  I've been watching some new stuff - so far I have enjoyed New Girl, it made me laugh out loud several times.  Also, Zooey Deschanel is just flippin' adorable.  I watched Ringer with Sarah Michelle Gellar, but I'm not really sure about it yet.  I also checked out Revenge, even though I wasn't sure I wanted to.  It seems interesting, I'm a little intrigued by it.  What new shows are you watching?  Which old favorites did you enjoy this week?

I happen to be watching the season premiere of Grey's Anatomy while I type this.  SINK HOLE!?!  Love it.  I live near Seattle, and we don't have NEARLY as many disasters as they do on this show.  Good thing.  Also, gotta love Derek's response to Meredith's "I got fired."  He said "What did you think was going to happen?"  GOOD QUESTION, GREY!

*****

This is hilarious.




via MamaPop 

*****

Tomorrow, in Mt. Vernon (about 30 min south of here), they are making a 16,000 pound potato au gratin.  I might go.  I feel like I should because that is a huge dish and when am I going to get a chance to be around 400 pounds of cheese again?

*****

On Wednesday, the State of Georgia put convicted killer Troy Davis to death.  I had not heard about his case before I saw chatter online on Facebook and a few blogs.  I am anti-death penalty.  I have not always been, but changed my mind after watching Timothy McVeigh on the morning of his execution.  That day, I felt like it was absolutely wrong.  I could write a whole post about it, but I really think that Amie at If You Seek Amy said it WAY better.  Check out her thoughts about Troy Davis.

*****

And, to end on a little bit of a lighter note, here are a couple of things I've found and pinned on Pinterest lately that I love.

SO CUTE!


I want to make this SO bad.  Pumpkin Coffee Cake.


HA!


Creative, fun, gift wrapping idea.


These are so adorable, I totally need one.


A photo by the lovely Lotus.  So cool.


All right, that's all for this week!  Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

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September 13, 2011

"Awesome"

You know what is "awesome"?

When on the 2nd day of Kindergarten, your kid doesn't get off the bus. 

Then you tell the bus driver that your kid is on the bus. 

And he calls out his name a few times and no kid comes. 

And then you are like, WTF? 

Then he makes a final call and says the kid is not on his bus and that you will have to call the school.

And then you try not to totally freak the fuck out.

Then you wonder how hard he really looked.  And even though you KNOW that your kid is probably fine, your heart rate is about double normal.

And then you don't have the number for the school, so you have to go back to your house.

Then you call the school and the secretary checks and says that he did get on the bus.

Then you are super pissed because they say you have to go to the middle school, which is like 20 minutes away to get your kid.  And also, you are worrying that your kid will be freaking out, which is making you anxious.

And then you wonder why they are not being MORE HELPFUL to kids who started school YESTERDAY and might need a little extra help with bus stuff for a few days.  Especially since yesterday, your kid was sitting on the bus and didn't get off until the driver called him and he came up and saw me.  Especially since your kid is special ed, and has an IEP, and blah blah blah the bottom line is that part of his sensory issues is that he doesn't always hear/respond his name when you talk to him.  Especially when he is crazy tired because he just started going to school and learning for 7 hours a day and adjusting and COME ON PEOPLE.

Then you get to the middle school and at least the REASON he is there starts to make sense since the buses are now loading up with middle schoolers.  And you walk in the front door and practically bump into the bus driver.

And then he tells you that things will be okay and you can see your kid through the glass in the office and he is totally oblivious to anything being really wrong and seems pretty happy and you are relieved but at the same time you are sort of trying not to yell "WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE?" at the bus driver as he tells you that he makes sure all the Kindergarteners sit at the front but Sam must have slipped away to the middle of the bus and then he didn't respond to his name being called and I wonder why the hell the driver didn't take 5 seconds to walk down the aisle and actually LOOK for my kid and I shakily tell him that Sam is special ed might need extra help and he tells me that he has a kid with Autism who is graduating college this year and I wonder why he doesn't apologize in any way and just tells me things will be okay and both he and the secretary tell me I should remind Sam to sit in the front and watch for his stop and I am like HE IS FIVE DUDES.

And then you walk in and your kids is like, "Hey!  Mommy!" and he is fine and you say woah, that was silly, you had a long bus ride and he tells you that he knows he gets off at Huckleberry Park and you are kind of like, what?  You know the name of that park?  And he says that the other kids were talking and he tried to get them to be quiet so he could hear the bus driver but they were not listening and then through conversation you realize that he may actually have heard his name, but didn't know he was being talked to because there is another Sam in his class, Sam V.

AND THEN YOU GO HOME AND OH MY GOD ITS ONLY THE SECOND DAY OF KINDERGARTEN AND GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.

Yeah, that's "awesome".
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September 2, 2011

New Blog, and Stuff

Sooo.... we're moving.  On Sunday.  And we're only about 60% as packed as we need to be.  As it is, we'll be leaving stuff behind.  This whole thing happened really fast because once we decided to move I realized Sam is starting Kindergarten next week.  So, we either moved fast, drove Sam to Kindergarten every day at first, or had him start at one school and transfer a week or two in.  Neither of the last two options appealed to me, so here we are.  Moving on Sunday.  I am crazy anxious, and also, I hate packing.  So much.  I LOVE the arranging and unpacking that happens on the other end... but trying to get everything boxed up sucks.  Luckily, since we're moving out of my father-in-law's house and no one else is moving in right now, we don't have to have everything out right away.  Mostly, we just have to make sure we move all the furniture and anything too big to go in the car.  We're leaving behind a lot of books and random other stuff we don't use that often, and we'll work on packing and moving it throughout September.  BUT, with all this craziness, I haven't had much time to sit and write (or do much of anything).

I DID, however, manage to start another blog!  Way to add more to your plate, Rachael!  But, it's really not.  See, a couple of weeks ago Justin and I were at Barnes and Noble looking at blank books, and there was a 5 year, one thought a day journal.  I looked at it and thought it was a good idea.  Just one idea each day, one tiny piece of life recorded.  Of course, my first thought was not that I should buy the book, but that I should put it online.  Thus, SNOTW - Life. Abbreviated.  There's a button over to the right in my sidebar that will take you there if you're interested.  I'm enjoying it so far, especially when I just want to get something out there.  I would love to have time to write MORE every day, but it's a good way for me to make sure I write at least a couple of sentences every day.

All right, off to fill out change of address forms.  Or pack something.  Or pull out my hair.
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