Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Implications of Trust

Trust is defined as (shortened format, but with a list of four, how short is that?)
1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
2. confident expectation of something; hope.
3. confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit: to sell merchandise on trust.
4. a person on whom or thing on which one relies: God is my trust.

This word feels hollow to me. At any point that I have felt the need to say the word, I have been anything but trusting. I have perhaps HOPED that I had the confidence needed to achieve that state of trust, but I lacked the actual state of that word.

The things I truly trust I never question, the word never comes into play in the relationship. It is a given. Things like my paycheck WILL come if I work my hours. I have NEVER (okay maybe once) questioned the arrival of my paycheck from my company. I trust I will wake up in the morning. I trust my alarm will go off (and I am gravely disappointed when it does not!). I trust that insulin will bring my blood sugar downward. I trust that my car will start every morning (and if I don’t I buy a new car…). I trust that Bob will come on the weekends and be my wonderful man. I trust that my children will come to me with kisses. I trust that the floor in my apartment will not fall from beneath my feet. I trust. I trust these things. These tangible, material (for the most part) things.

But do I trust (truly?) that the 250 bucks I took away from my budget can be accommodated? Do I trust that God will provide? Or do I chant that God will provide hoping to convince myself?

Trusting in something means that you have confidence in that something. If I have confidence that God will provide, then I should not worry my head about my budget any longer. Why is that so hard? Why should I have fear when I want to trust so badly? Is it the intangibility of the whole God thing? How do I make God more real in my life? Is that really my question?

There are plenty of day in day out struggles in life. Every day is a struggle. Every day, also, is a blessing. I know, I trust, that making accommodations so I can have the family time I can only have now is the right thing to do. I understand that spending my time cleaning this building when I have no time to play with my children and enjoy their youthful surprises is a personal crime, one for which there is no reprieve from the sentence incurred.

Why does the word infinity often seem so profound when the word finite is so much more applicable to our lives? Have we forgotten that we all eventually die? There is no time……..

I am winding my way back to trust. Because if what I expect to be provided is not, then something else will fill it’s place. Just as suitable and just as appropriate. And I will be spending less time appropriating my budgets as I am spending more time living. Here’s to life. While it lasts.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What Gives?

I have too much stuff to do. It is time to start paring things down because my life is becoming ridiculous.

I have two jobs. I have my main job. This job is 8-4:30 Monday through Friday with health insurance bookooo benefits job. Very Important Job. My second job is acting as a caretaker for the building I live in. It pays (if that’s what you want to call it) a $250 rent credit per month.

If you have ever had to tweak your budget, you KNOW, that 250 bucks is 250 bucks. There is no way up, down, behind or around it. That’s a lot of space to add to a budget.

In keeping with this twosy thing I have going with my jobs (2), my kids (2), but not my boyfriend (just 1), I also have two budgets. The first budget is my money budget. I never get excited about it because I never have anything left in it. My “other” budget is my time. Depending on the day, one budget is more pliable than the other. The thing about my time budget, though, is that there is a finite amount of time I have. I have so many hours in the day and that is that. I can’t try to find a better job that pays me more time, and I can’t bargain with the sun and moon to crack in an extra hour in the 24hour per day cycle that is established.

There is a thin line where the money and time budget meet (and piss and moan at each other I imagine as well). Usually the money budget stomps all over the time budget. I don’t have the time but I need the money, so I stomp on the time and everyone who is close to me (including me!) suffers because of it. If I take liberties with my time budget occasionally my money budget suffers, but normally due to the fact that I have to dedicate so much of my time accomplishing the essentials of the money budget, if I fudge my time budget my time budget suffers in turn. It’s a nasty game we play, us budgeters.

So I am faced with a problem. A.Serious.Time.Budget.Problem.

My time budget has been permanently altered. There is no going back to the budget I had before. I must accept these changes. Changes (in shortened format, like the 1040EZ) are as follows:
1. Therapy appointments – twice a week – after work
2. Home Therapy programs – every day all the time, every 1-1/2 hours and also as needed
3. Support Group – Twice a month, after work, after a therapy appointment (FREE CHILDCARE WOOT!)
4. IEP meetings & preschool special education assessments – Whenever they can manage to get 10 professionals all in the same room at once, I have to be there. No budging on this one. During Work Hours.
5. Home Medication – Constant but short, not very time consuming but is a rabid emotion consumer and causes time to feel more pressed than it is, or as pressing as it really is.
6. Specialist Appointments – Drs Drs Drs – Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Endocrinologist, Rheumatologist, blah blah blah blah blah. Psychologist every other week, during work hours. Psychiatrist once every three months an hour and a half away during work hours. Endocrinologist every three months an hour and a half away during work hours. Rheumatologist (I don’t know yet)…..
7. County Mental Health Social Worker Appointments – Before work or after work twice a month, coordinate care and acts as advocate
8. Work.On.Saturdays.To.Make.Up.Time.Missed

So what do I do? Can I honestly expect to add all of this without taking anything away? How do I take something away? What do I change? Even if I do, CAN I AFFORD IT (Damn stupid money budget).

I don’t know and I’m trying not to care.

So, do you want to know what I’ve tentatively decided to do?

Bye Bye $250 Bucks………..

I’m no longer the woman of two’s. Beginning in March, I will be the woman of onesies. One Job. One Daughter. One Son. One Boyfriend.


God Help Me.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I Can Do This...

There is a certain comfort to be found in my children’s smiles. There is a certain comfort in knowing what the next day holds, what the schedule is going to bring. There is a certain comfort in spoonfuls of peanut butter. There is a certain comfort in glucometers where I know which button to push, even though the words on the buttons were long ago rubbed off. There is a certain comfort to be gleaned from the expected. The normal. The day in, the day out of diabetes, autism, and life. There is a normalcy that we enjoy in our life. There is an expected place for everything. Where we keep our brush. Where we keep our insulin. No surprises.

I’m not up for anymore surprises, I am okay with things exactly as they are right now.

I can do this.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


I hear that loving trains is practically a pre-requisite for being on the spectrum.......

(This is a picture I hung up at my desk at work)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Blessed with Strep Throat

Yes. I said blessed. Cursed in many ways, but in other ways blessed.

I am not so sick today that I can't get things done around the house, but I am too contagious to be at work. So.......after starting antibiotics last night, today I got my check, went shopping, cleaned the building, cleaned my apartment, thought about taking a nap but when blood sugar was low sleep eluded me, so I had a cup of coffee instead, and now, here I am writing a blog entry (and the mother of all run-on sentences)!

I am doing the OC New Me !! Challenge. My challenge was weight, and I said I wanted to lose ten lbs. Well, my initial weight was 175 (MOTHER OF GOD!). Ya, I gained more than I thought. But for the last couple of days I have been weighing in at 168. Woot! I can't believe I lost 7 lbs doing basically diet alone. I have run 4 times but that doesn't count for much. I won't qualify for the drawing because I need to mail in the money order, but still, that was pretty groovy eh?

I'm planning on buying a slightly used treadmill with my tax refund. I'm also planning on buying four new tires (nothing too extravagant), a couch (or rather a platform bed for bob and he'll give me his couch), and plane tickets to Denver for my Mum's graduation with a nursing degree (in May!). I filled out my tax stuff today and it is a fairly hefty amount. God knows I'll be needing it with the medical bills I have crawling up my butt since I no longer qualify for secondary medicaid coverage for the kids (seriously, with TWO jobs I made under 25,000 last year, and yet I am supposedly well-to-do enough to cover a few hundred additional dollars a month for medical expenses! I think not!)

I bought Gracie a pair of el-cheapo Walmart boots today. They are fabulous! Only nine bucks, but since she got her orthotics none of her shoes fit but her tennies (which really really need to be washed). Gracie is a shoe-horse. She LOVES shoes unlike anything you'd imagine, and she has been super upset about the limitation to one pair of shoes, when she has several super stylish pairs in the closet just dying to be worn! She spent the day with me as I cleaned and shopped, and now she is napping (tired little peanut).

I talked with Gracie's PT and she thinks that with a few more months of physical therapy, the thera-togs we have on order being used daily under clothes(weird hip brace thingies that pull her legs forward), and her SMOs that she should be walking well and building up strength in her lower body. That is good news! We may be finished with physical therapy in a few more months then! The flip side is that her PT has some serious concerns about Gracie's sensory issues and developments. She asked Gracie's pediatrician for an order for an Occupational Therapy evaluation, so I'm thinking that Gracie's physical therapy may well end up being replaced by occupational therapy.

Gracie starts preschool next year, and she has her early education evaluation in the next few months. I intend to request that the school district perform additional special education evaluations on Gracie at that time. I have a few concerns, mainly her interactions with peers (she is extremely withdrawn although she does have two best friends at daycare!) and her sensory issues. She has a very limited food intake I think because of texture and color issues, hates for me to touch her head, and is extremely sensitive to sounds. Her issues at dance and gymnastics with sound and her anxiety has me worried enough to get it checked out. With Sandis, I think if he had gone to a real preschool rather than just a day care mockup, we would have caught his ASD a heck of a lot sooner. The staff in a true preschool setting are trained to look for developmental delays, where day care staff usually isn't. I think that if Gracie is having issues I'd rather find out sooner rather than later, so I'm making sure she is in preschool next year so we have access to early interventions and early special education services if we need them.

I've gone round and round in my head about this stuff. Am I super sensitive to things like this because of Sandis's diagnosis? Because of that fear I purposefully did not mention anything about Gracie's sensory issues, wondering if I was overreacitng. The fact that the PT told me she has some concerns about Gracie helped me to feel that I wasn't overreacting and some of the things I've been seeing with her others have seen as well. We'll see where we go from here eh?

Gracie's diabetes has been good lately, which is nice. We had two numbers up aroud 215 and 216, and then a 175 and a few mornings in the 150's, but other than that we are still holding steady. She is my peanut, and I love her mightily! I know that when it is time for short-acting that we will do okay. I have so much confidence in myself and peace with my life. It doesn't always feel that way, but it does right now.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

My Responsibility to the Public

I just had a conversation with a coworker that made my blood boil. I decided to take this conversation and turn it into an opportunity to share with you what my responsibilities are to the general public in regards to my children, both with varying types of childhood disabilities. (The intent here is not to debate the degree of disability in my children, but merely to communicate where my responsibilities as a parent truly are).

A comment made by my coworker was along these lines: “If you have your child in a store or a public restaurant or area and they are making other people uncomfortable, or having a fit, you should take them home. You should not allow your child to be inappropriate and disruptive while out in public and it is your responsibility as a parent to remove them from the situation and not allow them to act like that.” Woah nelly. The whole thing came from an event she was relaying to me about how a three year old and her family was thrown off a plane because of a temper tantrum the child was having. She left out, until much later in the conversation, that the family was accommodated with tickets to a different flight with presumably less passengers on it. Perhaps that worked for the family, but for me, my initial response was “What? If they tried to do that to me they’d have a lawsuit on their hands. If one of my children is having a meltdown it is more than likely due to external reasons and they need to be helped through the situation, helped to feel safe, and they need to know that in the midst of their meltdown their parent is there to help them, not isolate them because of their inability to modulate their emotions properly. In addition, if my son were having a meltdown before a flight and I was kicked off of a plane with no accommodations for a different flight then they would have a discrimination suit on their hands. My son’s differing ability to process external stimuli is no reason to exclude him from activities.”

There is SO much that goes into this, so please excuse me if I don’t go into all analytical aspects of my debate. Suffice it to say that I have so many times been in a store, restaurant, etc and been the recipient of rude and hurtful remarks regarding the behaviors of my son or daughter. I try to arrange my schedule in such a way that my son is in stores very little, and when he is at the most opportune times for his best behavior, but there is always those exceptions. Add to that, how will he ever learn to integrate his senses and behaviors in these most challenging environments if he is never exposed to them? Each visit to a store or restaurant is challenging for my son, and it is also challenging for every other person at the store. Is that a reason to deny him the opportunity of experiencing those environments? Absolutely not.

Following the conversation were stories of being in the store and witnessing mom’s with toddler’s and children’s tantrums. I hear the judgement in my coworkers voice, and I’m thinking in my head “Do you know how many times that has been me?”. Then I’m thinking of the mother and the child, and I’m imagining the pain they go through with each of these experiences. If it is difficult for onlookers and other shoppers, imagine how difficult it is for the people actually IN the situation?

I feel tears in my eyes, and I feel the beginnings of anger. Anger that other people don’t think that my son should be allowed in stores or restaurants so THEY don’t have to feel uncomfortable. I’m angry that my daughter, who also has high sensory integration needs, is judged by behaviors that at this point she can’t help. I’m angry that someone wants to tell me I don’t belong in the store because of my children’s disabilities. And it pisses me right off.

And next time….Next time we have a melt down in the store (and there WILL be a next time) I am not going to be ashamed. I am going to ignore people’s stares. I am going to offer my children the love and support they need to get through this most stressful time. That is my responsibility to the public, right there. My responsibility is to raise children who are not necessarily appropriate as children, but to raise them in such a way so that as adults they are as appropriate, socially and morally whole, and as independent as they can be. What will YOU be doing when the next meltdown happens? Will you be judging my parenting skills? Or….will you be thinking about this post, and wondering how you can help? Will you say a prayer for our tender souls and bid us well as we learn and grow?

I hope you will. In times like those, I need those prayers much more than the judgements.

No More Cable and Tuesdays With Morrie

A couple of month’s ago, due to Charter’s complete lack of customer service and anxiousness to infuriate its customers, I shut off my cable, completely. That means no more tv channels, at all.

It’s tough getting used to not having the old standby of tv. I spent so much time convinced that I had no time to read, when in fact, I was spending my time watching tv rather than reading.

Since confining the tv to DVD use only, I’ve managed to read three books. That isn’t huge amounts, but compared to no books before, that is a pretty big feat. I actually don’t have a whole lot of time to read, but I do have some time.

I finished a book called “Tuesdays with Morrie” yesterday. This was such an enjoyable little book, that I had to bring it to other’s attention. It really examines what is important in life, and it addresses the eventuality of death.

This book really touched a spot inside of me. I think it would be easy to do that. With the kids lately, I’ve really been thinking how each of their diagnoses has taught me to be a better mother. I’ve been thinking how before diagnosis with Sandis I was always so hell-bent on being the disciplinarian, when what I really needed to be in most instances was compassionate. I needed to realize and accept limits rather than just deny that they existed. That is a hard thing to do.

As a parent, I am constantly bombarded by what is deemed acceptable for my kids. I am bombarded by other parents, by tv, by school, by day care. So much of what I encounter is telling me what my children should be. So little of it is telling me to learn what my children CAN be. All of this parenting hype has not helped me learn my children’s limitations, to understand their fears and help them overcome them, or to see their tears as a cry for help in hard situations rather than another failure to live up to society’s expectations.

It is really hard to have different expectations for your children than other parents, the school, the day care, and society. It is really stinking hard to say, you know what? It is okay if Sandis moves around a lot when we go out to eat and is disruptive to other eaters. We’ll just sit in the least obtrusive booth and help him learn ways to deal with his anxiety so hopefully as we go out to eat more he learns what is acceptable. And you know what else? If Gracie throws the mother of all temper tantrums when we are out and about, it is OK to give in to her and help her feel more grounded. I don’t have to be the unfeeling disciplinarian. I don’t have to make society’s rules my rules. Because every child is different. And these are my children. And what is my role? Is it more important that they fit into society’s mold? Or is it more important that they grow up into spiritually and morally whole confident individuals?

Parenting is a fine line to walk. Tuesdays with Morrie really talks about that society and expectation bit that helped me see my life with my children a little differently, and lent confidence where perhaps confidence has been lagging. We can have confidence in our choices and our lives, even if we walk the road less traveled.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

IEP Written Correspondence - Letter #1

A key trait of effective parental advocates in any IEP is written correspondence. I have learned this through extensive conversations with Sandis’s social worker, personal advocates, special education teachers I know, and parents of children with existing IEPs. The point is to get in writing a communication trail that can be verified and holds everyone accountable. Phone conversations carry so much information, but they are he said/she said when it comes down to documented communication.

I have posted letter #1 in my written correspondence with Sandis’s school for his IEP journey. I had a lot of help from an acquaintance of mine who is a special ed teacher and sits in many IEP meetings. One point she made clear to me was to respect the politics of the school and then point out behaviors I am noticing and concerns I have with Sandis that I have witnessed in the school and in the community. She also told me to include things I am doing at home that have helped Sandis see improvement.

I plan to have written correspondence with Sandis’s case worker once per week concerning Sandis’s IEP.

January 23, 2007

I have been putting a lot of thought into Sandis’s IEP and I wanted to share my chief concerns and observations concerning Sandis with you.
1. Sandis’s hyperactivity and impulsivity were some of the first challenging behaviors that Sandis had at school. This behavior is seen at home and in the community as well. Some of the things that I am doing at home to address this behavior is brushing/joint compression every 1-1/2 hours, spinning, and visual schedules. A lot of Sandis’s hyperactivity is in part due to physical stimming in response to outside stressors and sensory overload. I’d like to see a visual schedule used with Sandis daily in the classroom as I think that the use of visual schedules along with the brushing and spinning has notably reduced hyperactivity at home and in the community.
2. Sandis has many problems with sensory integration. Sandis has a large increase in physical and vocal stims when in situations that are high anxiety for him. Examples at school are spacing out, spinning, pacing, playing with hands, sucking and chewing on items or clothing. Sandis has higher anxiety before, during, and after transitions and in new situations that he is unfamiliar with. Sandis also has high anxiety in settings where there is a lot of noise, a lot of movement, and a lot of space. It is quite common to have all of these things in a classroom! I personally have observed Sandis in his classroom and have witnessed some of the stimming he does in the classroom (rocking, pacing, chewing, spinning). Currently I have Sandis going to Occupational Therapy twice per week where they do things like the brushing/joint compression regimen, spinning, large muscle group activity, and listening therapy to help him with his sensory integration. I also allow Sandis “breaks” from normal activities if he has having too hard of a time staying on task with us. I think it would be incredibly helpful for Sandis to have sensory breaks at school on a regular basis. I also think a wonderful goal for Sandis on his IEP would be for Sandis to recognize when he needs a sensory break. Sandis has a quiet area (his bunk bed) where he can retire to at home with his cars if he needs a few minutes for a break. This is not a punishment but rather a time for Sandis to calm down and get himself out of sensory overdrive. Sandis needs help learning to listen to when his body has had too much and he needs a break. I would love for Sandis to have a Quiet Area in his classroom or in the school where he can go to unwind with a few select items to help calm him.
a. Music – Sandis has a lot of problems with hyperactivity and impulsivity during music. In the community, when I take Sandis to church (another loud and musical event) I make sure that I only take Sandis when I can be 1:1 with him. I do brushing/joint compression before and during church, and I allow Sandis as many breaks as he needs. Sandis greatly enjoys music, but the sensory demands for him are very great and need to be met!
3. Social - Sandis has quite a few problems with bullying. Sandis has had problems with bullying at the bus stop, during class, during breakfast, and after school during kid stop. Some of the reasons Sandis has problems with bullying is he fails to understand nonverbal cues from other children, he does not engage in regular eye contact during conversations, and he has very little conception of personal space. Sandis’s deficits in social conversation have limited his ability to make and keep friends, initiate and participate in activities with other children, maintain conversations with peers, listening and offering feedback, participating in group activities with peers, and conversation outside of monologuing. I myself have witnessed parallel play in his classroom, but very little interactive play with his peers.
a. Generalization Skills – Sandis has in the past avoided favored activities because of bullying. Sandis does not tell teachers or me about instances of bullying often because of the “No Tattling” Rule. I have reinforced to Sandis how important it is to tell teachers and myself if someone is being mean to him at school. I would like this reinforced to Sandis at school and I would like Sandis to have help understanding when you need to “tattle” and when a secret is not okay. I believe this is pivotal for Sandis’s safety.
4. Transitions – Sandis has a lot of troubles with transitions. At home it is often difficult to move from a task that Sandis does not enjoy to a task he does enjoy just because it requires Sandis to move from one thing to the next. Sandis will often engage in more physical and verbal stims during transition periods and he is also more likely to be impulsive or aggressive during these times. At home we have used visual schedules, brushing/joint compression, spinning, alerts before the transition, and timers to help ease transitions. I have witnessed Sandis during transitions in the hall at school and have seen that he has a very hard time staying with the group, staying on task in the bathroom, and following the class from one place to the next. Sandis is often very far behind or forced to hold the teacher’s hand to help keep him with the class. Sandis also has tantrums more often during periods of transitions. Sandis’s tantrums may be short lived, but they are injurious to him socially when they happen on any regular basis at school. Sandis requires 1:1 help during transitions at home and in the community.
5. Through conversations with Sandis’s teacher, I have learned that Sandis struggles in following busy worksheets and does much better with help focusing on one problem at a time, rather than trying to focus on one worksheet with many problems on it. I think it would be wonderful to try and find remedies that will help assist Sandis go through tests and worksheets. I do know that what has helped Sandis with some of his worksheets was to have someone cover up all of the text except for the text associated with the problem he is working on.
6. Organization – Organization is a major concern in all areas of Sandis’s life. If something is not right in front of Sandis, he will lose or forget it! Sandis has had problems with keeping track of his snack, mittens, back pack, lunch box, papers going to and from school, Guided Reading Books, Boots, Snow Suit, library books, sensory and fidget toys. At home, I assist Sandis in organizing all of his things and ensure that everything he needs is in his backpack. Sandis needs help to actively organize his paperwork and possessions he has at school. I am not sure of the best way to do this, but I would like to see someone at least overseeing Sandis’s organization.
7. Aggressive Behavior – Sandis has had some problems with aggression both at home and at school. At school aggressive instances would include spitting on other students, pushing, and hitting. At home Sandis is aggressive some towards his sister, but is mostly aggressive towards inanimate objects such as hitting walls, kicking walls, throwing toys, etc. Sandis is generally aggressive in situations that have a lot of sensory input (i.e. High noise volume, a lot of activity) or when he doesn’t understand what is expected of him. At home we have talked about alternatives to this type of aggressive behavior. I also try and prevent the high stress situations which will lead most often to this type of behavior. I would like Sandis to have a Positive Behavior Plan at school that addresses Sandis’s most challenging behaviors and has actions put in place to help prevent them and a positive reinforcement plan for his continuing good behavior.

I do appreciate all the time Oak Hill has spent in evaluating Sandis and I am looking forwards to our IEP meetings as we put together appropriate interventions for Sandis. Please contact me when Sandis’s evaluations are completed and we can arrange to meet and review them.

Thank you and please contact me with any questions!

Sarah C. Rittmann

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Turned Inside Outward

Oral Surgery + Tylenol 3 (for 3 days, I know I'm a wuss) + gastroparesis + no physical activity = very terrible terrible unheard of constipation


This post is probably bordering on unpostable, but what the hell.

I seriously can not believe how bad constipation sucks. It has never been a real issue for me. The past two days I have spent way too much time grunting and pushing, and making extra certain that I'm only using the one private bathroom at work. And it sucks. My legs are sore. My hips are sore. I'm bloated. I feel like I'm turned inside out and twisted. All for the sake of two godforsaken turds that really didn't look quite as humongous as they felt. And I'm afraid there may be more.

I called the doctor today and they recommended an enema if I didn't have success with today's said turd. Which I did. I would jump for joy but if I do my insides will fall out. So i'm just gonna sit here and worry about tomorrow.

I've drank a ton of water. I even took a laxative. No more T3. And I'm praying that I dont have anymore of this gastric distress constipation issue. It sucks. Really.Stinkin.Bad.

On the bright side, my blood sugars have averaged 127 for the past two days, which is largely due to a complete lack of appetite. Woofrickinhoo!

(Come on people, lets look at the bright side of these things.....)

As an aside, I apologize if the turd terminology is offensive, but I just felt like sharing.....This won't be my best nor proudest post, but in hindsight, it may be my funniest ;)

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Sunday Solution

I haven’t been to church in quite some time. It’s hard for me to admit to that. I think of myself as a person that goes to church. I am a member of a church. I am just not an attending member of my church.

The main reason I am not an attending member of my church is it is just too hard. I’m a single mom, and Bob doesn’t like to go to church with me. It is hard to keep Sandis with me, and it is hard to keep Gracie with me when I am busy keeping Sandis with me. My son has a hard time in social situations that require certain acceptable behaviors, and church is a big one. He has trouble with the noise. He has trouble with the people. He does not understand that you don’t run up and down the aisles during the sermon. He loves the music, but it hurts his ears. He doesn’t know what to expect next. Church is terribly hard for my son, and he requires 1:1 at church. Add to the equation my three year old, who because she is three, also requires 1:1, and I am outnumbered. Church is too hard, so I just haven’t gone.

I tried for some time, but I had unrealistic expectations of what Sandis would be capable of, and I had unrealistic expectations of what I would be capable of. We always left unhappy. Church was not a nurturing loving place for me, it was an endless cause of my sense of failure and disappointment.

It has been over three months since Sandis’s diagnosis. I have learned so much about his capabilities and I’ve learned so much about setting him up for successes rather than failures. Sandis has been begging to go to church, and I have found a thousand reasons not to. Well, this week, we went. Sandis and I that is. Gracie stayed home. It was a success.

I have changed my expectations. I used the brushing regimen before we left for church, before Sunday School, and at the start of the church service. I didn't have to struggle with Sandis to be in Sunday school all alone. I didn’t have to worry about annoyed teachers who can’t understand why Sandis starts screeching during music. This time, I sat with Sandis through Sunday School. I was there with him, so I didn’t have to struggle to leave. During Sunday school music, I sat with him, rocked him, and had hands and ear plugs ready just in case it got to be too much. We made it through, he even had fun!

We went to the main church service, and this time I didn’t feel like I had to stay the entire church service. We stayed until it was our time to go. We didn't have to live by anybody else’s rules but ours. We stayed until Sandis told me that he’d had enough. And then we left.

And you know what? I changed my expectations to be what I could reasonably expect from myself and Sandis, and we had awesome results. Next week is Gracie’s week for church, and I can’t wait! I’ve decided I can go to church every Sunday, and the kids will take turns. I don’t have to set myself up for failure by saying I need to sit through the entire service if the kids just can’t do that yet. Each child won’t have the anxiety of a pissed off mom when they go to church as I will have only one child to attend to and a lot less stress. We are finding our peace with church, and we get to Praise God a little more because of it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sick Day

I'm taking a sick day today. I don't know how I got it into my head that I could somehow afford one, but I'm taking four hours paid and four hours unpaid. And then I'm working tomorrow. I just missed the healthy train and caught the rotten train yesterday.

I had a short and sweet oral surgery yesterday removing a small lesion from my left cheek. It was short. It was sweet. A couple hours afterwards it was fairly painful (I know I'm a wuss, but it WAS six stitches), and then a couple hours after that the nausea hit me.

I woke up on and off with nausea last night, and this morning was so icky that I just couldnt drag my butt into work. Add to that two unusual days in a row where my blood sugars bottomed out through dinner and I had to skip dinner boluses two nights in a row. And then gastroparesis rearing its icky ugly head making me feel like a bloated fat balloon every time I put something in my mouth, not helping with my dinner time lows, and certainly not helping with the skyward 250 -280 sugar I have been experiencing at 1am because of delayed digestion. If this continues, I may have to consult a gastroenterologist (sp?) but for now, I'm gonna see if just not eating doesn't do the trick for a few days. Plus Im sure my T3 didn't help with my absorption much last night.

So here's to feeling better by later tonight, and Arby's for dinner. Because, damn, I am NOT going grocery shopping tonight! (Although I truly need to!)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

This is Hilarious!

Gracie is dressed up as a "police officer"... (or so she thinks!)

And most hilarious of all, as Sandis is maneuvering spongebob around in his video game, his arms move where he wants spongebob to go. Behind him, over his head, to the side......It's funny as hell to watch! (he doesn't even notice my giggles are at his expense!)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things

I got this idea from Thyme Moves On…

Sandis & Gracie’s Smiles
Gracie’s Dimples
The face Sandis makes, tongue sticking out and eyebrows raised, when he is excited
The stupid dance Bob does when he is being a dork
Sandis telling you something that makes no sense at all, because he got it from a movie
Gracie coming for ravenous hugs and kisses after an raging tantrum
Bellybuttons that are half innie half outie
Brown eyes
Hairy legs
Running in the rain
My son realizing that snakes can’t jump, and for some reason, he thinks pigs can’t either
My peanut’s curls
Leather seats (only if I am not wearing shorts)
Pushing the heated seat button for Bob’s seat when he isn’t looking (GOTCHA!)
Snuggling with my pumpkin and peanut, but not all at once
Squeals and screams, laughter mixed with anger
Hand lotion
Red lipstick
Brunch on Sunday with Bob and the kids
Playing twister

Monday, January 15, 2007

In Need of an Extra Pair of Hands

1. Wake up to alarm (5:30am)
2. Draw visual schedule
3. Wake up children and pull out of bed (no lazin around under covers in my house!)
4. Get dressed, brush teeth, drink coffee, fix hair, apply makeup, test blood sugar
5. Morning stretches with Gracie
6. Morning brushing with Sandis
7. Check and Record Gracie’s blood sugar.
8. Pack up snack for Sandis
9. Pack up lunch for me
10. Ensure hats, mittens, and jackets are on all.
11. Ensure that Sandis has backpack.
12. Troop on out to the car.

All of this to a litany of verbal prompts, physical cues, my reminding voice, and their annoyed sleepiness. I’ve managed to add a 2 minute visual schedule scrawl, 2 minutes of stretching, 4 minutes of brushing, and 1 minute of glucose testing into my morning routine. Nine minutes added to my morning routine. How easily could you add nine minutes to your morning routine?

I haven’t touched on my evening schedule and how these things also permeate it. I didn’t get around to mentioning that the brushing regimen should be done every hour and a half, and before any activity where Sandis needs to be focused and less hyper. It doesn’t even touch on the 1 minute spin I do for my son right before bed, or really whenever he asks for it. It doesn’t reflect the several visual schedules I draw each day, and the reassurances I voice when things do not go as scheduled. My morning schedule doesn’t reflect the evening shot or three blood sugars done at night, one inbetween 1 – 3 am. It also doesn’t include those things which aren’t quite yet in my schedule, things like putting on and taking off thera-togs and carb-counting on a three year old’s scale.

That PCA (personal care attendant) that Medicaid could help us cover is feeling a lot more needed. I understand that a lot of families do this on their own, but I’m trying to figure out how to cook dinner, change clothes, test blood sugars, and do a brushing regimen ALL AT THE SAME TIME. We are making it, but we could do so much better with an extra hand around here.

Friday, January 12, 2007

My Blessings

I give myself license to be sad. I’m not depressed. I’m very happy with how life is moving forward and the care I have been establishing for both my pumpkin and my peanut. I can be sad and I can grieve and then I can get up and go about my business, because what needs to be done will always need to be done until it is done.

I applied for SSI for Sandis today. This was an interesting experience. It was interesting because I don’t consider Sandis disabled, but I went to the Social Security office to apply for federal welfare for a disabled child. I guess it all has to do with politics and jargon. What will qualify a child for SSI is different from what I consider disabled. Also, qualifying for SSI will allow Sandis to have the services now that he needs so that he can function at an independent level (or as close to it as possible) as an adult. That is what we want, right? So I go in and I try to establish that disabled label for Sandis, all the while my insides revolting with the litany of “” What is circling in my head is different from what I have to tell this Social Security interviewer. I am conflicting and it gives me a headache, makes me fidgety. It was a hard, draining experience. But it is over now, and all I have to do now is fax in remaining IEP documents and medical records as I receive them. We are on our journey. We already were, but we have completed one additional leg.

Amidst feeling overwhelmed yesterday and today, and the sadness resting heavily on my temples, I realized that all of these things that have made me sad and overwhelmed are also in so many ways my blessings. Despite Sandis’s difficulties, I honestly wouldn’t change him. He is my pure of heart little boy with joy and energy that will move mountains (literally and figuratively perhaps?). Gracie’s diabetes and joint problems only serve to tug her closer to my heart. The therapy she undergoes now and the regimen for her diabetes care she will always have to follow will foster in her an outstanding and unusal perserverence, organization, and strength. Each moment I spend amidst their giggles, their screams (concerning some sibling outrage), their snuggles, and their energy is a moment well spent.

I asked Sandis a month or so ago if he chose me, or if I chose him, and he had responded with: “You chose me, mommy, duh!” I knew he was right, I had asked for him. In a broader sense, I know I also chose my peanut and her challenges. I am suited to her, and she to me. She challenges me in ways that only she can. My children’s challenges are my journey, my lessons, and my blessings. Isn’t it amazing how God works?

There is a psalm I recant in my head at times: “For I am still confident that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong, and have faith, and wait for the Lord.”

I end in my thoughts my own added phrase: “For God has not forgotten me…..”

I am not forgotten, and our journey has only just begun!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Questions Without Answers

I’ve been dropping Sandis off at school at 7:15 in the morning for the past few weeks. Doing this gets me into work ½ hour earlier than normal and that means 2-1/2 hours extra at my job per week. It is worth it. This morning, still dark at 7:15, I watched my son saunter on up to the school’s front doors. For whatever reason I fought tears. It is hard to explain why I was sad, am sad, but I am.

Yesterday I talked to Sandis’s teacher and she explained how Sandis has been struggling more at school since coming back from Christmas break. He isn’t struggling academically so much as struggling to stay involved with the class and interact with others in appropriate ways. She mentioned things like excessive spinning, more aggression, and several tantrums/meltdowns per day. I talk to his teacher often. This is only his second week back. Things aren’t getting better.

Since Sandis was diagnosed October 19th I have had the opportunity to learn so much about autism and what I can do differently to help him make it in my home and during family activities. In so many ways we are at the cusp of great breakthroughs at home. We have also achieved great things in these two months. We have begun using visual schedules often, and have taken a frustrating morning routine and made it manageable. This is huge as our mornings often resulted in three people in tears screaming. Yes, that three includes me. I’ve taken steps to address Sandis’s sensory issues by starting up occupational therapy, doing different things around the house intended to ease his auditory discomfort, and back-scratching as my second job to help calm him. I have stopped being annoyed excessively by what I now recognize as stimming, and I’ve tried to teach him more appropriate ways to accomplish whatever it is he is trying to accomplish by stimming. And we have had huge successes. There is a lot still to work on, but we have had huge successes.

The school has known about Sandis’s diagnosis almost as long as me. There have been no changes. They are in evaluation stages for the IEP. Things are getting worse. Sandis is having problems with aggressive behavior, and damnit if you knew my son you would know that things are bad if he is kicking, hitting, spitting, or pushing. He is overwhelmed and underserved. I know that his IEP when it starts will address these issues, but the waiting is just serving to piss me off.

I asked Sandis’s teacher point-blank yesterday what Sandis needed to succeed in her classroom. Her answer (off the record she says, of course, my luck): “He needs a para-educator all day. Not so much does he need the para-educator to complete my class, but to succeed he does, and to succed in first grade he will. If he does not start first grade with a para he can and will not succeed in first grade. I do not want him to start first grade without a full time aide”

Point blank. My son, a para-educator, help all the time. All day. Every Day.

Previous recommendations from Sandis’s teacher was perhaps an aide only in the afternoons. She has changed her stance, and I will push for what she said, even if she will not say it out loud at an IEP meeting (but why not? School politics?)

It makes me sad to think that my son can not do this on his own. It pushes that word disability a little more forward in my thoughts. I don’t think of Sandis as disabled, but in the school environment he really is and he needs accommodations.

Perhaps this is grief? Grief that he cannot do this alone and things are different from what I ever imagined and so different from what I had hoped? Grief over my son’s struggles?

When I think about this, my mind goes glare white, and there is pain from temple to temple. I am trying to stop tears, I am trying to stop fears. They will not go. I can’t pretend. This is real. Stop.

How is it possible to love this little child so much? How is it possible to break a little with every hurt he encounters? How is this depth of feeling and sorrow possible?

For all of this grief, there is of course my infinite love for my son countering it. My only hope is that others will see him and experience him for all of his joys as I experience him. Is that a reasonable hope?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In Our Own Time

I can not control other people. I may try. I may get pissed, irritated, upset, irrational, and freaked out about whatever it is I am trying to control. But there are just some things that are outside my circle of influence.

Case in point. My kids have dance and gymnastics on Monday nights. Gracie this week was pretty darn shy about going back into that dance class. So she is three, I guess dance class with it’s loud music and louder shoes can be pretty overwhelming for my timid peanut. I wasn’t real happy about this at all. Gracie was content to sit on my lap to watch her dance class. I was pissed about having her sit on my lap during a dance class that :
1. I’m paying for, in seemingly astronomical amounts
2. I’d prefer to watch a dance class where she is actually IN the class. It is not nearly as fun and amusing watching other people’s kids look goofy. I want to laugh at my OWN daughter.

So, I tried to force her. I told her that if she doesn’t go in the dance class I won’t pay for it anymore (I’ve already paid for this month, is it too late for a partial refund?), because I’m not paying for a class she refuses to participate in. I tried to put her in there and shut the door. This resulted in screams and the teacher annoyingly giving her back to me with a “She’s pretty upset, why don’t you have her sit with you?” And then finally, I dragged her with me to the other side of the gym amidst kicks and screams telling her that I am not going to watch a class she is not in, and if she won’t participate, I am going to go watch her brother. This didn’t help either as I couldn’t watch Sandis in gymnastics as I had to herd her to a back room where she would be less likely to injure a young gymnast with her flailing arms and legs.

As you can see, I am not the most effective parental pouter. In retrospect, I probably would have done better letting her sit on my lap and watch the class so she can absorb that it really is okay and when she was ready she could hop on in to the class and participate. Instead I was stuck in my “MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEM MONEY MEMEMEME MYMONEYMYMONEYMYMONEY” circular crap. It didn’t get any better when the class switched out to gymnastics, but I did let her sit NEXT to me, and she occasionally threw a half mother of all fits because I wouldn’t let her sit on my lap. Finally, at the end of the class, she ran to sit with her gymnastic buddies, for exactly four minutes, just in time to get her hand stamp.

I grumbled under my breath to the gymnastics teacher to which she simply stated: “They will participate and do it in their own time, in their own way.”

What a lesson to be learned. What a lesson I need to learn. Despite any amount of screaming, yelling, pouting, and threatening I may want to do (sometimes even bribing), she really will do it in her own time, in her own way. And this goes way beyond Gracie, it stretches into all aspects of my personal life. I’ve even learned this from Bob lately, as he has taken steps to reconcile certain things in his life that I have been bitter about for well over a year. In his own time. In his own way. And all my bitterness and anger did nothing to speed the process up. In fact, it probably slowed it right down. Brought the process to a grinding halt.

So what do I do about this? I’m gonna make a point to try and recognize what is mine, and what is not mine. I’m gonna ditch that bitterness and that anger. Because really, just as I approach things in my own life, we are all going to take our great steps and our little steps in our own time, in our own way.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Star of the Week

My boy is a star. And man oh man oh man is he ever excited!

I receive general weekly correspondence with Sandis’s teacher and his school. Last week there was a surprise in my packet of info….Sandis was selected to be the star of the week for this week!

Now, don’t go to overboard with this. Every child in Sandis’s class at some point gets to revel in being the star of the week. But this week is Sandis’s week, so that means it is super special to me, and ridiculously cool and special to him.

The star of the week gets to have pictures of himself and family up on the Star bulletin board all week. They also get to bring in their favorite book. They get to draw a picture to be displayed on the Star bulletin board all week. They get to be the line leader ALL week (although Sandis is either always hand in hand with the teacher or assistant during each transition that requires leaving the room. Otherwise they would lose him. Which is not good.) They get to pick special songs to sing and get to do all the special kindergarten chores. So the star of the week is a six year old (or five year old) star in all aspects of kindergarten life. And lastly, they get to bring in five toys. Five toys to share with all their friends and gleam over. Sandis brought his bible, remote control car, hot wheel car launcher, picture of his bestest cousin Anita, and his skateboard.

Sandis this morning was explaining to me how special a day yesterday was for him.

“MOM! Yesterday was a very special day for me!

1. It was the first day of the week
2. It ws the first day of the week that I was a star
3. I got to lead all the lines all day
4. I got to pick the song we sang
5. I got to share my remote control car
So, Mom, yesterday was very special for me wasn’t it mom?”

He was so concise and clear, it was hilarious. My normally bumbling, running, jumping, ridiculously silly boy was so clear as to why yesterday was such a big day.

And honestly, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Sandis really needs to celebrate himself right now. He needs that boost of self confidence as he ventures forth to seek a new friend.

My Star of the Week. Ah man, it gets me all teary inside!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Ralk On!

It is early. Well early for me. My coffee is bitter, biting me with every sip. The air outside is also bitter. It is a nice combination that only serves to give my nerve endings an added jump. Bitter taste. Bitter coffee. It is funny, those things that give added value to any experience. Wind whipping. Coffee biting. Cold cutting. (haha, cold cuts) Experiences measured by the severity of the conditions.

I went for a run today. Yay! After a 12 – 13 week hiatus (honestly I’ve lost count, I probably ran last in October) I ran about two miles. Well, not exactly ran. I ralked. Haha. I ran some. Then walked some. Then ran some more. And I So 24 minutes later and successfully done with my run, I LOVE it! I FREAKIN DID IT! I thought about running every day this week but couldn’t drag my ass out of bed at 5 am. I’m hoping if I run Saturday and Sunday the habit will run with me on Monday. All I want is 30 minutes a morning. Thirty stinking minutes.

Good heart. Good health. Stupid freakin sugars. Gimp stinkin knee. Glorious mind. Straining legs.


…..but I need to start doing physical therapy exercises for my knee again so it doesn’t go stupid on me.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Best Friend Needed............Please Apply Within

“Mom, Gage doesn’t go to my school anymore. I don’t have any friends anymore, he went to his old school.”

He is trying to be brave. He is holding his face up in normal alignment. He is trying to be brave.

I talked to Sandis’s teacher on Tuesday about this. She said he had had a really tough day, and that his best friend had gone back to his old school. Sandis’s ONLY friend. Gage is the little boy who waits with him while he takes the extra time he needs to move from one thing to another. Gage is the little boy who so patiently waits, without judging, through Sandis’s frustrations and tantrums. Reliable Gage. My sons friend. Gone.

I asked Sandis about Gage leaving yesterday and he said Gage still went to his school. This morning his story is different.

“Oh, baby.” I say.

I feel my face fall. I feel tears fill my ears. I know that I can not hold my face in normal alignment. I know I can’t hide how much this hurts me. Sandis sees me and his face falls as well. His hands go up to hide his tears and he sobs “I miss him so much, mom. I don’t want to be alone. I miss him so much.”

Sandis and I pray. We pray to God that he will watch over Gage and help him know how much Sandis misses and loves him. We pray that Gage will find new friends at his new school easily. Then we pray for Sandis. We pray that God helps Sandis find a new special friend at his school. My son sobs. Sandis’s cries are not wails, they are defeated, mewling sobs. The sound is heart-wrenching.

I encourage Sandis to seek a new friend, and I tell him how awesome and fun of a little boy he is. I tell him how lucky his new friend will be to have him as a friend.

Inside I know how hard it will be to find that new best friend for Sandis. I know that this friendship was carefully supported and enforced by his teacher. You can not engineer love, but if not for the staff at Sandis’s school the kind and shy little Gage may never have paired off with my exuberant and boisterous Sandis. I have a whole lot of trust to place in God and in the staff at Sandis’s school that they will make similar efforts in helping Sandis to pair off with another child. I hope there is a child that is pining for the energy and love that Sandis has to give.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I’ve got some sort of virus ravaging my blood sugars these past few days and it is pissing me right the heck off. That being said, I’m up in the 200’s a lot more lately than in the 100’s, and I have to pee CONSTANTLY.

I think the virus gods need to lay off and the good health gods really need to pay me a visit. I’ve had enough of basals at greater than 100%, corrections that inch me down only a mite, and small amounts of carbs that blow my blood sugars into the skyline. This resistance crap is driving me batty, and the occasional acquiescence that sends me plummeting just crabs me even more!

I’m pretty tired of peanut butter, cheese, and celery for breakfast, lunch and dinner in an attempt to rein my sugars in. I can only get so happy about pot roast sans carb accompaniment for so many days in a row.

Pffft. Phooey on you blood sugars.

I would just be thrilled to chime in under 225. But still over 60. Damn.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Art of Generalization

Until recently, I really didn't think about the skill involved in generalizing the things we learn. We all do it fairly often, and we do it instinctively. We use generalization to take lessons we learn in one situation and transfer that lesson into new situations. A few of the variables may be a bit different, but the lesson remains the same. We save ourselves a lot of heartache in the process! I've been thinking more about generalization and the role it plays in our lives lately for one main reason. One little guy in my life just doesn't do it all that well.

A few months ago Sandis, Gracie, Bob, and I were all sitting at the table for dinner. Sandis was precociously blowing bubbles through his straw into his drink. Bob very politely explained to Sandis that it was impolite to blow bubbles through your straw into your milk at the dinner table. Sandis listened and processed this information, then promptly proceeded to blow bubbles once again into his drink. Bob, frustrated, reminded Sandis what he had said and told him to stop. Sandis very matter of factly responded with: "It's not milk Bob."

That explains Sandis's inability to generalize right there. Because his drink was something other than milk, and Bob had said milk, whatever Bob had said simply did not apply. (This also says quite a bit about the literalist in my son, but if you ask me, they are one in the same.)


I cannot tell you how many times I have felt like I was going to blow my top as Sandis calmly corrected me concerning something such as this. Man, this really used to make me BOIL! Now that I understand autism a little better, it doesn't make me as mad, but there is no handbook of how to handle this for everyone else that deals with Sandis. Usually when he does this he just sounds like a major smartass. Which he is, but this isn't intentional smart-assism!

So that brings me to this point, how do you teach something that just seems so, well, intrinsic in our personalities? How do you teach a child to generalize information in a way that will work every single time? How?

I don't even think there is a way. If my health insurance paid for speech therapy, we could work on generalization skills in social situations once a week, but Blue Cross Blue Shield only covers speech therapy for "organic" causes or traumatic injury causes. (What the hell? Autistic youth aren't deemed worthy of appropriate speech in social situations? Or they just figure that this is federal government disability coverage territory and they want nothing of it? Bastards...) But I digress....

One major issue for Sandis in the area of generalization is bullying. How does bullying fit into the generalization problem area? The "No Tattling" Rule. If Sandis is picked on or bullied, because of the no tattling rule, he doesn't tattle. AAAACKKK! Do you have ANY IDEA??? how many times the no tattling rule is reinforced during a day in the modern day kindergarten?


So how do you teach a child to discern that some tattling is okay and some tattling isn't okay? Especially a child that isn't well-versed in social do's and don'ts in the first place?

This is one issue Sandis's teacher and I have taken on. Hopefully we will see some good results and make some good headway. But it is hard to wonder what generalization factor will be next......and I wonder with that what impact this inability to generalize information will have on Sandis's life as he grows older. I really don't know if this type of thing can be taught, but I guess I'm gonna do my best to try......

Monday, January 01, 2007

Dare to Play Twister?

Sandis much preferred spinning the wheel to playing the game, but we all have our part (just as in life!) and I suppose that the wheel was his part! Gracie showed us all how flexible she truly is, and Bob? Well Bob was just goofy....

Bob later played the guitar and sang some songs for us. Sandis felt the music in a way that perhaps only Bob understands. Bob is a great guitarist, drummer, and singer. Bob brings music to our lives. He is the musician in our lives! And damn, he sure can strum that guitar!

Bob and I later settled down with some champagne and some love, and the kids wiped out in the pink tent. I find so much peace and joy in making memories with my family, with Bob as a part of our family. He is an addition, but it is as though he has always been a part. He IS a part, and we are so blessed that he is with us!

I also managed to get in some end of the year interviews. It was fun for me, and I figured I'd enter in the questions we asked and the answers we got here!

What was your favorite thing about last year?
Sandis - going swimming in the summer
Gracie - playing with the toys at school
Bob - getting a new Iron Man watch
Sarah - Finishing two half-marathons.

What was your favorite song last year?
Sandis - Broken Boy Soldier by the Raconteurs (bob prompted him on this one though)
Gracie - ABC's had a farm
Bob - Woman by Wolfmother
Sarah - Forever for Her is Over for Me by the White STripes

What was your favorite Christmas gift?
Sandis - Tent! (go Bob!)
Gracie - Tent! (go Bob! can you imagine him grinning ear to ear at this point?)
Bob - The watch (I gave him that watch, last minute thought I had.....)
Sarah - My winter jacket (Bob picked it out all by himself, and bless his heart, he bought me a junior's MEDIUM the first try, so he had to take it back and get an XL)

What was your favorite movie?
Sandis - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (he knows the damn movie by heart, seriously)
Gracie - Spirit the "horsie" movie
Bob - Munich
Sarah - Lil Miss Sunshine

I hope you all had a happy new year and good luck in your ventures in the future!