On my To Be Reviewed Stack!

On My To Be Reviewed Pile!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Politics and children's welfare

I remember watching a story on Dateline a year or so ago that I can still remember vividly to this day. The sight of cribs next to each other, in long lines. Children who have disabilities that convince parents their children have no quality of life and they should turn them over to the state run institutions. These children were never allowed out of their cribs, it got the point these poor children couldn't even stand anymore from lack of use. There wasn't anyone who wanted these children. These poor babies. There's so many people from the United States that wanted these children. They had to go for years, jumping through all these hoops for years to adopt the children. And now in direct retaliation because the United States passed a bill in 2010 because of abuse inflicted on prisoners. Holding these small babies with disabilities as pawns in political games is unconscionable and Vladmir Putin and Russia should be ashamed of themselves.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Jack the Ripper

My husband and I have very different tastes.  Sometimes I wonder what even attracted us to each other.  

One of my obsessions is death.  Dying, Autopsies, Ghosts, etc.

The biggest obsession I've ever had, Jack the Ripper.  I love all things Jack the Ripper.   I've tried to look at every website I can with info on Jack the Ripper.  I've read books, including the Patricia Cornwell novel where she gave her theory on who the Ripper was.  

One of my guilty pleasures is the movie "From Hell," starring Johnny Depp as an Opium addicted detective on the murders.  It's a really good movie.  


This year, I went crazy on Amazon.  I added a bunch of books on Jack the Ripper to my wishlist.  My two sister-in-laws are so super great to me.  They feed my book addiction.   This year, one of the presents I received is "Jack the Ripper: The Casebook."  I just opened it this morning, so I have not had a chance to read the book, but I'm dying to start!!

This casebook isn't just a paperback book.  At first, my husband and I were impressed by the fact it sealed tight with magnets.  Then I opened it up to look at it a bit more. It looks like an actual casebook from the 1800s. It has tons of information written about the victims, the neighborhoods, night guards...what a detective on the case would have kept.   And the part that had me squealing like a child?  They have sections where there are wax paper "folders" where the copies of letters (in a copy of his hand, in paper made to look 130 years old) are kept.  

I'll be taking some pictures as I read, and will let you know about the book as I read it.  But if you are a Jack the Ripper nut like me, just from a cursory glance through it, makes me convinced you'd love it!

I'll be taking some pictures as I read, and will let you know about the book as I read it.  But if you are a Jack the Ripper nut like me, just from a cursory glance through it, makes me convinced you'd love it!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012

We're all settled into our beds on this Christmas Eve, and can't help but think that this has been the best Christmas Eve we've had in years.

We have our little tradition down now.  My Dad and I go visit Mom's grave and wish her a Merry Christmas.  We then have lunch together.  The boys go out to lunch and then shopping with my step-mom.  Then we meet up back home.

We order something for delivery, the boys open their one gift, which is always new pajamas, and then baths and PJs.  We decorate gingerbread men, track Santa on Norad, waiting for him to visit our family in Scotland.  We then get our cookies for Santa and shuffle the boys down the hall to read.

This year we were more prepared, we had the presents wrapped already, the stockings filled up.

For a month now, I've been savoring this year as our last year with Santa.  The boys are seven.  It's a miracle that the older kids haven't ruined it for them yet.  But I don't hold out much hope for next year.  So, every little thing I wanted to hit on this year.  My husband and Jamie had a talk about Santa, and he's pretty much figured out that the Santas he's been seeing aren't really Santa.  That Santa is so busy and has so many children to see.

But he surprised us this year.  He wrote a letter he wanted to leave with Santa and his cookies. It said that he was so happy that Santa said he'd visit our house first in WV (from the Google phone call he got), and that he believes in him.

It made me want to cry.

Jamie is so excited about Santa.  And for an Aspie who deals in the black and white, I love that he's gung-ho in believing in Santa.  Iain totally believes, and I love that about the boys.

I hear this song during the holidays every year, and it makes me cry.  As the boys get older, and Santa takes a back burner, the tooth fairy fading into the shadows, Big Bird already a faint memory, Mickey & Company not to be far behind.

Tomorrow we'll awake to squealing children, so happy that Santa visited them, wanting us to come out and see.

And I will do it with a smile, because maybe next year I won't have the magic of Christmas anymore.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Has Society Changed, Or Just Me? Christmas Edition

Christmastime is here, along with all the obligatory airings of shows from our past, to indoctrinate a new generation.

Okay, that sounded harsh.

My husband and I have been laughing over this for the last few days, and I thought I'd pass the question onto you.  Have times/society changed, or have we just grown up?

Example 1:  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  This movie is blatantly intolerant.  Rudolph's own father doesn't like him because he doesn't look "normal."  Even Santa is a right bastard toward him.  And Hermie the dentist...  Now that I'm older, I know that dentist is just a euphemism for gay.  But he is berated and made fun of.  So Hermie and Rudolph can't take it anymore and run off.  They go to an island of misfit toys, and are nicely thrown off the island there.  It isn't until Donner goes missing looking for his son, and it inconveniences Santa, and they all return, do they notice that they just might have treated Rudolph and Hermie badly.  Just might no positives.  At and the very end, Santa is about to cancel Christmas because of the storm, and he just makes an announcement saying Rudolph is guiding the sleigh, THEN asks him.  What is Rudolph going to do, say no to the boss?

Example 2:  Rudolph's shiny new year.  Basically another version of Rudolph's make fun of someone because they don't look normal.  They run off because their feelings are hurt, and then when they realize they need him, everyone goes hunting to find them and bring them back.

Example 3:  Jack Frost.  The pretty girl in the village has a crush on the idea of Jack Frost.  He saves her and falls in love and asks to become human so he can be with her.  She takes him in, but keeps him friends only, while talking about how much she cares for him and so forth.  Because.... wait for it, she's in love with the handsome prince.

Example 4:  The Wizard Of Oz.  Glynda, pretty much summed it up by saying only bad witches are ugly.  Umm, I've known some pretty women who are downright ugly on the inside and people who aren't very attractive having the biggest hearts.

Example 5:  The Year Without A Santa Claus.  We are told, and teach our kids that Santa loves the children, and makes the yearly visit to reward good boys and girls.  In this movie, he decides no one appreciates him, so he'll just take a year off.  We're teaching our kids Santa isn't doing it for accolades and presents, and he's shown as wanting them.

Okay, I may have taken these a bit too far.   But I remember watching these movies as a child and loving them.  It's STILL a part of my Christmas tradition and I'm 38.  But things stick out to me now that never did before.

So is it that society has changed since the 60's when these movies were made, or that I'm just grown up and see it for the hypocracy it is?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Review: Mrs. Drew Plays her Hand by Carla Kelly

Title: Mrs. Drew plays her hand
Author: Carla Kelly
Publication Date: September 11, 2012

Book Description:
After her husband's death, Roxanna Drew is left with more beauty than fortune. Now, desperate to escape the perils of her past life, she must learn to trust the dashing Lord Winn---a broken man with a past of his own. This award-winning romance by bestselling author Carla Kelly is a moving and memorable book you won't be able to put down.

Review: 5 out of 5 stars
This book was a thoroughly enjoyable book from start to finish.  I can't believe I'd never heard of the author before, but I am definitely putting all her work on my TBR list!

This isn't like your typical romance novel.  It doesn't rely on characters being thrown together and descriptive sex scenes to draw you in.  Ms. Kelly is able to give you a full description, both physically and character-wise in her writing, and you immediately get drawn into the characters in the book.  This children are portrayed as children actually are, given the situation they are in.  They don't put on impish airs just to further the story line.  The characters behave as adults and how you would expect.

And in every novel, there is a "bad guy," and an obstacle the couple must face.  In this book, it is taken care of early in the novel, not thrown in there as an aside at the very end to give it a dramatic ending that makes the characters act contrary to the way they behaved throughout the novel.

This was an excellently written book, and found myself sitting in parking lots just so I could continue reading. It only took me a few days to read, and I must admit to being a bit disappointed when the book ended.

I would definitely recommend!!

 Disclosure: I received this book from a contest on the GoodReads website. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and this review is unsolicited.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Death, regrets

A few years ago, I lost my mother.  The sudden-ness, the regrets, the what-ifs I have been struggling with for years.  There are so many things that go through your mind.  The one big take-away from that event, is to never let an opportunity go by to tell the people in your life that you love them.  That you appreciate them.  That they're the most important people in your life.

I do this multiple times a day with the boys, and it's only increased since Friday.  I tell them over and over how much I love them, that they are the most important things in my life.  They smile, tell me they love me to, and probably think "gosh mom, give it a rest already."

Tonight I thought to myself, my mom always told me she loved me.  She always told me she loved me before she left.  When she died, I knew she loved me.  I'd give her the usual, I love you too, but it's always a reflex. Not that it's not true, it's just that it's said as a reflex and doesn't sound sincere.

I now get the "I Love you Too's," but one day it will be reflexive from the boys.  That's what I wrestle with almost daily since Mom's death.  Did she know that I really DID love her?  Did she think it was reflexive?

I think this is something we all wrestle with.  And I'm sure plenty of parents in CT are asking the question, "Do they really know how much I love them?"

I think they did.  I think my mom did.

But take this as a wake-up call.  Never pass up an opportunity to tell the people you love that you love them and they are the world to you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Newtown massacre ... a mother's perspective

This morning, I was at Physical Therapy and saw a pop-up on the TV saying there had been a school shooting.  It was early into the story, so the cable channel just switched back to whatever they were talking about before.  I thought, "Jeeze, not another school shooting," and went on about my day.  It's so truly sad that it's gotten to the point that when you hear about a school shooting, you just go "not another," and just keep going about your life.

I've read so many posts today, so many thoughts, that I may be plagiarizing some of my thoughts, but I must get it out.

My children are 7.  They would have attended that school if we lived there.  The thought of parents going to the firehouse and not seeing their kids and not getting answers if their babies were okay, had to be agonizing.  I already know that if I had been a parent, I'd be in jail because I'd be forcing my way in the school to find my babies.

The majority of the children killed were in kindergarten. Five and six year olds.  Little babies with their whole lives ahead of them.  Little babies who were eagerly awaiting Santa to visit.  Little babies who had made their Christmas lists. Little babies excited that Winter Break was about to start.

Now there will be no Santa, no dreams of being a ballerina or fireman.  My son lost his tooth today, there will be no Tooth Fairy to visit them.

Think about your typical morning.  These were families that got up the same as every other morning.  Probably looked for their Elf on a Shelf.  Jumped around the house shouting, making a mess, arguing over what terrible thing their parents were packing for lunch.  Trying to decide what color shirt to wear.

There were probably irritated parents this morning.  Saying "c'mon, let's get moving!" while ushering them out the door. Listening to the petty daily squabbles between kids.  Trying to get teeth brushed, their homework in their book bags, planning what they were going to do for the weekend,   Maybe some parents had already left for work before the children woke up, didn't get to kiss them goodbye.

And in an instant, a moment, all of that is taken away.

I cannot imagine the pain the families are going through.  Cannot imagine the guilt (maybe their last words to their child were in anger).  Cannot imagine waiting for hours to learn about their child, and then having to take that long walk to the school to identify their babies.

I think the saddest part for me is that these little babies did not know the shooter.  They weren't making fun of him or bullying him, they were living their cute, fun little lives.  And some stranger came in and tore their world apart.  Did not really know what was happening.  How terrifying their last few moments on this earth were.  These babies were completely and totally innocent.

And the surviving children?

What they saw today is something no child should ever see.  What they heard, no child should ever hear. What they are feeling now upon learning their best friends are dead, they should never have to know that.

Tonight, I held my babies longer, gave them extra kisses, told them once again how much I love them.  We put Iain's tooth under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy.  Thinking that this could have easily have been my babies suddenly gone.

As far as the shooter, that's a whole new post.

Goodnight angels.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt...

Today is my 38th birthday.  The world still turns, life still goes on...

This is sort of my yearly look back at my life.  I've had a rough year this year.  Being unemployed since March hasn't been easy.  But in some ways, I think this time was much needed in my life.

I had a chance to finally decompress after the last three years.  Time to slow down, time to re-prioritize,  time to refocus myself.

Being the ambitious person I am, I always wanted to succeed, go further, do more.  In the last year I've learned that my children are my top priority in life.  I've realized that I have sacrificed alot of my time the last three years on my career, and not them.  When they needed me most, after losing their grandmother.

Spending the summer with them, we had a chance to reconnect.  We did fun things. We spent time together. I reminded them every day that I loved them more than anything. I think I was able to finally connect with them, without the specter of my mom being gone and feeling guilty that I abandoned them when she died by withdrawing into my safe area.

We had a fantastic time in Disney World.  Watching them still in awe of the characters, still believing in them, watching the excitement on their faces.

Spending the time needed to work on getting my sons the support they need in school, making people listen, learning the options available, becoming a better advocate for the boys.

And spending the time to work on me.  Doing physical therapy to try to eliminate these debilitating pains, taking to someone to get my head clearer.

The past year was about figuring myself out, fixing my priorities, working on myself.

Now what the coming year will hold, let's just see!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No one is immune...

I heard on the radio tonight, that over the Thanksgiving holiday, Rhianna posted pictures of Chris Brown half naked in her bed.

In case you've been living under a rock, Chris Brown beat the crap out of her in a moving car a few years ago.  He had a restraining order put against him.  The restraining order is gone, and guess who is back together.

It goes to show, ANYONE can be a victim of domestic violence, and ANYONE can remain in the cycle.

All of us have a friend who has been verbally or physically abused by their mate.  We tell them over and over again to get out, get safe, you're worth more than that.

Rhianna, a beautiful, talented, rich, smart woman is caught up in the cycle of abuse.  She has a huge support system, tons of fans, but she still fell back in the cycle.  If anyone had the self-esteem and the ability to get out, she did.

The biggest result of this is to show just how addicting the cycle of abuse can become.  It doesn't discriminate by racial lines, ethnic lines, income lines.  It isn't just the poor, battered woman with no options of places to go and stuck in the situation.  It isn't the "ugly" woman afraid that she'll never find anyone better that forces her to stick around.

The psychological dependency is something anyone can have.  It's pervasive, it can affect anyone.

You tell your friends, they're beautiful and deserve more, but they don't believe you.  You tell them they deserve respect, but they don't believe they do.  You get angry, thinking that they deserve better, you grow ever more frustrated, you pull away thinking, "I've done all I can, and she just won't listen!"

The Rhianna situation also goes to show that anyone can get caught in the mindset that they're not good enough.  That the abuser can make anyone believe anything he wants.

I feel sorry for Rhianna, as he's already abused her and his history since the incident is just as violent by him throwing tantrums and hitting people or trashing green rooms.  The man is dangerous, and apparently Rhianna is sucked in.  If anyone could escape, it would be her.  But she wound up going back.

Like I said, we all know someone who is living in this kind of relationship.  It's so easy to offer advice. It's so easy to get angry that they won't take your advice or your help.  But don't give up on them.  They're not ignoring your advice because it's easier to do so, they're locked in a co-dependent relationship with the abuser.  Your friend may want desperately to get out, but they can't.  Their excuses of no money, nowhere to go, not knowing what to do, may be excuses, but it's only to justify in their minds something that they know is un-justifiable.  Their lifeline to hold onto so they don't have to face their addiction.

Don't give up on your friend.  Even if it's only to clean up the new mess, they need you and your turning your back on them will only cause them to cling to their abuser more.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tomorrow I become...

Tomorrow I become the parent I swore I would never be.

When Jamie was diagnosed with autism, I swore I would never let it define him, let him be told he can't do something because of it, would never let anyone look down on him.

Tomorrow I break my promise to myself and him.

Tomorrow he starts riding the county school bus with an aide and in a harness.  The short bus.  With all the connotations that comes with.

I know it's for his own safety.  He's had issues with keeping him seat belt on and will take it off and run around the bus when they're taking him to school.  I know this way he'll be secure, won't be able to hurt himself, will have someone to help him transition from daycare to school.

But tomorrow he joins the ranks of the "kid on the short bus." Any semblance of him being like anyone else will be stripped away when they put that damn vest on him and parade him out to the short bus.

Tomorrow is when the boys really start to go off in two different directions.

Tomorrow is when autism takes him from me, he starts down a road that I don't know where the hell it will lead.  A road that means I may not be able to be there for him.  A road where he will forever be "different."

I know it's a bus. It's no big deal.  But it is for me.

For months now, I've watched Jamie regress.  The vocalizations get more frequent, louder, lasting longer.  The manic behavior is more pronounced and frequent.  The anger simmering right there on the surface.  The problems at school getting more frequent.

I don't want this, I want to stop it, I want to make him the cute OCD baby he used to be.  I don't want his life to be hard. I don't want for him to carry a stigma, I don't want people to find weakness in him.  I don't want people to mistreat him because he's different. I don't want to have to put him in a "special" school. And I can see where this road begins.

Tomorrow I put him on it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Autism and the Fraternity of Hope

When you learn your child has autism, the first thing you scream in your head is "HELP!!"  Who can you talk to?  who will understand your challenges? who will understand your children?  I've gone through alot of that in the last 2 years since Jamie's official diagnosis.

First it was the grandparents who didn't want to believe anything was wrong with their grandchild.  Then it was the school system that found it inconvenient for your child to cause them trouble.  Then it's the public in general who look at you like you're a terrible parent when your child has a meltdown in public.  Then it's the other children who look at your child in the midst of trauma and ask "what's wrong with him?"

Where we live, there are plenty of children with autism, but we're left to flounder.  We get no support from the schools, the school system, the county...  I was fortunate enough to run across a local autism support group that I thank God for every day.  They help me understand, they know my struggles, they understand my child.  The events that we've gone to as a family have been some of the best we've had, as every one there had children with autism.  If my child yipped or yelled, no one cared, no one stared.  If he had a fit, they ignored it.  To just sit down and not have to keep your eye on your child every moment in fear that something will happen, you don't know how good that feels.

It's still a very limited group.

Then I found Google +.  Found the autism circles, autism parents, autism advocates.  You don't know how comforting it is to just get a post that you're not screwing things up, it's "normal."  To read about other children's big "firsts" they're experiencing, and being proud of them.  Being screwed by the school system and powerless to do anything, and having people offer me suggestions.

And today, I met a woman that I had met on G+ that I will be forever thankful to for her help and support.  I have a big IEP meeting coming up.  One where it has to be completely re-written because it was written wrong, the county isn't following the IEP, they're attitude is "oh well."  And this person drove 3 hours to come meet with my husband and I today, to explain things, to give us an insight as to what they're doing, to understand our concerns for Jamie.  And next week, she's driving down here again to go to the IEP meeting with us.  To be our/Jamie's advocate.  To help Jamie get the services he needs and is entitled to, that the county keeps telling us he's not.  We're going to have someone on our side for once who has the knowledge to call them out, who knows if what they're saying is correct or not, who's only focus is to make sure Jamie gets what he needs.

This woman isn't getting paid to help us/Jamie although I would do it in a heartbeat if I had the money to do it.  She's doing it because she has children on the spectrum, she knows how schools/counties operate, she knows their stalling tactics, and she wants to help a little boy she's never met get everything he needs to succeed in life.

I know there are people who think differently, there always are in groups.  But I've found the Autism community to be a Fraternity of Hope for me.  I see us all cheering on each other's kids, offering suggestions, offering encouragement, feeling other parent's outrage.  I would have gone crazy without the people I have had the opportunity to meet on G+ in the autism community.

So, as a mom who most-times feels alone in the fight with the world for my baby.  Thank you my G+ family. Thank you for your support, your self-lessness, and your kindness.  I hope one day I can contribute as much to you all as you've done for me.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lilla Rose Flexi-Clip FaceBook Party Nov 1-8 - Giveaway

If you're anything like me, I have hair that is HARD to control.  My hair is fine, hard to keep back.  What I love about these, is that they come in 7 sizes... to cover baby fine like me, up to super thick hair.  And it's more than just clips, they have headbands, You Pins, Bobby Pins, Hair sticks, and O-Rings.

Consultant Sarah Ives and 11 Teams are having a Flexi-Lover Competition, for those of us who LOVE Flexi and want to hold a party November 1-8 on Facebook. RSVP @ http://tinyurl.com/TEAMJENN

It will be just like an at-home party, but will be held on Facebook.  Throughout the week, Sarah will post pictures of Clips, give you ideas on how to wear the clips, and be there to answer your questions. If you purchase anything from Sarah between November 1 and November 8, come to the party page and yell "TEAM JENN!!" 

Sarah has also graciously offered a Buy 3 Get 1 Free deal for new customers!  Buy 3 clips, then email Sarah at sarahevan5@aol.com to tell her the 4th clip you'd like and the size, and don't forget to mention "TEAM JENN!!"   Party Order Link - http://tinyurl.com/Flexi-Order

And just for making a purchase, you will be in the running to WIN a Flexi-Clip from Sarah!   If you make any purchases Nov 1-8, be sure to enter it on the form at http://tinyurl.com/JENN-RSVP .  You get get entries just for RSVPing to the party and if you make a purchase, you get extra 25 entries by entering "TEAM JENN!!" in the "Get Your Flexi" Box!"

** The top two *largest* customer purchases during the week will win an item from It's a Blessing

Even purchasing 1 Flexi-Clip will help me. But at around $14 a clip, you can buy 4 for the price of 3, have a chance to win yet another Clip, and get a handful of Holiday presents bought with 1 purchase!