Wednesday, June 29, 2011


It's amazing how quickly this pregnancy is taking the life out of me. I've never been tired this early before. I guess your body reacts quicker when you've had so many kids. I know I promised a blog post about the desk and I will deliver sometime this week/weekend.

Today the clinic confirmed the pregnancy. It feels so great to have it confirmed. The kids are super excited too. I am due between March 4th and March 9th and will deliver between February 11th, and February 16th.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

And Baby Makes 5!

Thats right! We are pregnant again! I'm due between March 3rd and March 7th making me 3 weeks 4 days to 4 weeks 1 day pregnant - so still very early. I am very excited but also quite calm this time around. We let Anthony read the test to the kids and he was so excited as was Anastasia. David doesn't really care and Charlie has no clue what is going on. One of my best friends just found out she is pregnant and is due March 6th so we are literally due within days of each other!

I'm preparing myself for the comments that always seem to come with pregnancy. So....

1) Yes, we know what causes this. It's hand holding, right? We quit holding hands years ago and yet we still keep finding ourselves knocked up. It's strange. Perhaps it's because we keep sleeping in the same bed.

This pregnancy was planned, and we are quite happy.

2) No, we are not trying to beat any records. Five kids is hardly a record. The record for most children is 69 (you can find the link here) I highly doubt that 5 is anywhere near enough to constitute a record. When I give birth to my 60th child, (which at this rate will happen when I'm 140 years old) then feel free to ask me if I am trying to set a record.

3) Yes, we can afford them. Why is it that whenever a woman gets pregnant people feel as if all social politeness no longer applies? Do I get to ask you if you can afford to buy that new car when I know you are behind on bills? How about can I ask you how you feel you can afford to pay for that new home? Are salon visits really affordable? Are you sure you can afford your tenth pair of shoes?

It is rude to inquire about someones finances, regardless of whether their uterus contains a child. If I was on food stamps or welfare perhaps I can understand your concern about me being able to AFFORD a new child, but it is still rude to ask. For the record, we are not on Government Assistance, and yes - we can afford another child. We wouldn't be dumb enough to have a child we couldn't afford (at least not on purpose).

4) "You can only afford to have more because you have Tricare". Um, okay? And...? Isn't that the point of insurance, and having a job with benefits? My husband chose a job that has amazing benefits. We know it has great benefits. One of them is we don't have to pay out of pocket for prenatal, labor and delivery, or post natal care among other things. The only reason I could afford my wrist fusions are because of Tricare. I don't see why we should feel bad about having health insurance. I'm pro-UHC so I believe everyone should have health coverage. I won't apologize for it.

5) "You're too young to have 5 kids!" Obviously, I am not. I'm turning 26 next month. Yes, I am young. I am not, however, TOO young. I had my oldest when I turned 19. I graduated from High School, I have supported myself since I was 18 years old without help from family, or the government. I may be young but I am an adult and have been for nearly 8 years.

6) No, we are not trying to create a sports team. We don't even watch sports.

7) It's not our fault the world is going to crap. We may have had more children than we needed to in order to replace ourselves, but our carbon footprint is still far less than those who waste and overuse. We don't drive Hummers, we DO recycle and reuse, we use cloth products and we breastfeed (no formula cans). We are less wasteful than many families who are smaller than we are.

I'm sure there are more points to be made, in fact I'm positive. It seems that a womans uterus is everyones business. However, it's annoying. So before you ask me something dumb, or make an ignorant comment why don't you just say "Congratulations" instead and not look like an arsehole?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

on my wall

Tomorrow I shall reveal my nearly complete office space. I love it, it's a place all my own. It still needs paint but that won't happen for a while, so it is what it is until then. I have this poem hanging on the wall and I love it. I need it to remind me that sometimes the dishes can wait and even if I've read that book a billion times I should read it again. For some people the bible is their source for comfort and inspiration. For me, it's my quote book and this was one of the quotes I copied in it when I was pregnant with Anthony.

My hands were busy through the day

I didn’t have much time to play

The little game you asked me to,

I didn’t have much time for you.

I’d wash your clothes, I’d sew and cook

But when you’d bring your picture book

And ask me please to share your fun,

I’d say, “A little later, son.”

But life is short, the years rush past,

A little boy grows up so fast!

Now the picture books are put away,

There aren’t any games to play.

No good night kiss, no prayers to hear;

That all belongs to yester year.

My hands once busy, now lie still,

The days are long and hard to fill.

I wish I might go back and do

The little things you asked me to!

-Alice Chase

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Laying it all out

I am the mother of a child with Aspergers and a Mood Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS).

I have hesitated to post anything about this. Thus far I have only shared this with family (so they can have medical history for their children), and close close friends. I have this rule where I don't post anything negative about my kids or my husband, even in frustration. I didn't want to post this because I was afraid it was painting my child in a negative light. Then I realized - I am treating this just like I fear so many others will treat him once they learn that he is different. It's not negative, it's nothing to be ashamed of, and I need to stop treating him as if something is "wrong" and accept that this is who he is.

I always knew Anthony was different. From the time he was born something was just abnormal. He never cried. I'm not saying he hardly cried. He literally didn't cry for the first time until he was three weeks old. We weren't sure he COULD cry until then. Even as a newborn he wasn't a fan of being held or cuddled. He was much more content being by himself. I remember wishing so hard when I was pregnant with Anastasia for a child who enjoyed being cuddled (and I surely got that with her!).

Around his first birthday we started noticing other things. He would bang his head as hard as he could anytime he got upset. If we restrained him he'd bang his head on US until we let him go and then he'd find the hardest surface and bang his head over and over until he felt better. His forehead was constantly bruised and I would tell his pediatrician who at one point recommended he be tested for Autism. The psychologist only sat with him once, declared he was too high functioning, and dismissed us.

Around this time my other friends children began side playing. Playing along side another toddler, not necessarily playing with them - but they would happily play with the same toy or in the same area. We were attending weekly playgroups and this was the first time someone else noticed something was different about him. The kids would all be playing in the same area, and way across the room Anthony would be playing by himself. If the kids came to where he was he would leave and find some where else to play. Anytime there was more than one child present Anthony would separate himself from the group and play alone.

We knew he was quite smart early on. Before his second birthday he had taught himself how to spell, and write his own name. By his first birthday he knew all his colors, how to count to 20, his shapes, letters, ect. We chalked it up to him being the oldest and therefore having 2 solid years of one on one attention from the both of us. However, once he began pre-k - in which he was by far the youngest student - we knew that his intelligence wasn't just something taught to him. His teacher was astonished on the first day and pulled us aside to tell us that he basically already could do all they'd ask of him that year. There were kids in his class who couldn't say the alphabet yet. Of course we were proud of him! However, it became apparent that what he made up for in intelligence he greatly lacked in other areas. He wasn't like the rest of the kids in his class. He seemed much younger, and although was chronologically younger than most of them, he seemed extremely younger. His maturity, or lack thereof, was extremely obvious. We laughed it off as he was a boy and everyone knows boys are more immature, and he was afterall nearly a year younger than some. I knew, though, that this was more than just that.

When my friends would come by with their boys, all of whom were younger by a year than Anthony, it became harder and harder to ignore. Others began pointing it out as well. He just seemed so much younger than everyone else. They also seemed more into age appropriate activities whereas Anthony (who had learned to read at this point) would spend all day reading the kid encyclopedias and repeating incessantly facts about his latest fascination. Or he'd find directions on how to build a certain thing and follow them to the "T". There was no imaginative play, thinking outside the box, or playing with toys in ways that were different. A block never became a phone, lego's were never used to build anything that there wasn't a direction for. He never played "house" or any of those other games that children play. Playdates were always followed by major meltdowns as well.

Starting around the end of his third year were the morbid thoughts. Horrible morbid thoughts that you never would expect out of a three-going-on-four year old. He'd be perfectly content one moment and the next he'd be crying and screaming. When asked what was wrong he'd tell us some long tale about what he didn't want to happen, such as "I don't want a bad man coming through my window at night and cutting off my head" (this was an actual fear of his that came out numerous times). We couldn't figure out where they were coming from! We never let him watch gruesome TV, he was only allowed to watch Noggin or PBS. He wasn't reading anything that would give him nightmares. He loved to read but we kept him from the grown up books anyway. Without fail these thoughts would crop up a few times a week and we were left trying to calm down a child and explain to him how illogical that was. These moments I felt as if my heart would break, but I was also so angry. WHY can't he just see how those thoughts didn't make sense?! Why weren't the doctors taking us seriously? His pediatrician just kept telling us to tell him those thoughts were illogical, but it didn't seem to do any good. It didn't feel right, either. He was legitimately terrified, and didn't know why. His monsters lived in his head.

In Kindergarten his social awkwardness became so bad he began to get badly bullied. He also stopped doing his schoolwork, which resulted in loss of recess and center time - which further alienated him from his peers. Shortly after the school year began his teacher, whom we had requested, went on maternity leave. Her replacement was awful but as his real teacher was supposed to return after Holiday break we endured it. However, she decided to not return and so the substitute stayed on. The bullying got worse and so we met with the teacher to discuss our concerns. She was no help. She claimed Anthony brought it upon himself for not acting normal and if he would just act normal he'd be fine. She refused to give him harder work to do saying that it wasn't fair to the other kids that he was so above them. I should have given her an ear full, but I'm ashamed to say I didn't stand up for my child the way he needed me to. Instead we decided to homeschool him.

Homeschooling did well but we noticed he was drifting further and further away from the social skills he desperately needed to learn. His pediatrician finally took us seriously after he had a meltdown that lasted over four hours that we nearly had to have him hospitalized for. One of my scariest days as a parent was watching my five year old trying to hurt himself, and my husband having to restrain him. Anthony was hyperventilating, he looked absolutely terrified, and I could tell he wasn't really with us. I was looking up numbers for adolescent wards, and crying myself because I was so scared for him. We finally got him settled down and he spent the next few days in a manic state - hardly sleeping and pouring through a stack of books his size that he "had to get through". His therapist recommended we send him back to public school so that he could gain more social skills, so we did after Holiday Break. His new school is wonderful and he hasn't been bullied at all. He still doesn't have many friends, but everyone is nice to him anyway. He still has numerous meltdowns, nearly one a day at least. He's only had two serious meltdowns that had us worried about him being hospitalized since that one though.

A month or so ago, after being in therapy for 6 months, his therapist decided to have further testing done on him. This was for social IQ and intellectual IQ. As expected, his intelligence scores were in the 99% and above. For nonverbal memory and spelling he scored in the above range but not as high which they believe means he has a nonverbal block of some sort. Once they get everything else under control they believe these scores will shoot up to the 99% and above as well.

He is basically in a state of crisis because his emotions are so out of whack. It also came out in the testing that he hears voices that aren't there. This made me feel as if I got punched in the stomach. They don't believe his has schizophrenia yet, or bipolar disorder, but they do believe he has something which is why they diagnosed with him with Mood Disorder NOS. His therapist believes it is more along the lines of "Emotional Regulation Disorder" so we shall wait and see what further testing and therapy reveals. He was also diagnosed with Aspergers. This isn't something I'm terribly surprised about, given the fact that Autism was tossed around when he was younger, but I'm still in denial about it. I need to get over this, but I have a hard time accepting that my son has something that isn't fixable. Thats partly why I'm posting this. This is who he is. He is Anthony, an amazing gifted boy who loves superhereos and reading. He has quirks and he sees the world differently but that doesn't make him WRONG. I guess, having the labels of Aspergers and Mood Disorder, it's saying that there is something wrong with him. It makes it hard for me because both of those define so much of who he is and yet they are issues that have to be dealt with through therapy and other treatments. I'm having a hard time separating that from saying that who my son is is wrong.

Along with his therapy, Chris and I will be in therapy to learn how to handle all of this. They believe that his IQ is high enough that he can teach himself how to respond appropriately, and which emotions are used when. At the end of it all, regardless of what he teaches himself, he will always have Aspergers. So I guess this blog will also follow the life of a mother learning to accept that and deal with it.

This blog has so many paths, it feels as chaotic as my actual life.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


The reason I haven't been posting on here is we went on a week long vacation trip to the Black Hills! It was our first family vacation, the first time I've been camping and the second time I've been to the Black Hills. The first time I was only 8 so I have very vague memories of it.

The night before we left, Sunday, we were up until about Midnight packing the car, prepping the food for the trip, and making sure everything was ready. We only got a few hours of sleep before waking up at 2:30 in the morning to get the kids up and ready to go. The goal was to be on the road by 3 so that the kids could sleep the first half of the trip and we wouldn't need to stop as much. We ended up pulling out of the driveway at 3:15 so we weren't very far behind. I drove the first part of the trip, it was quite peaceful as no one was really on the road and the kids were asleep. They stayed asleep until 6:30 and we stopped an hour later for a bathroom break and to switch drivers. I had made the kids breakfast trailmix (various cereal and dried fruit) so we didn't need to stop and eat. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. Hills and lakes, greenery, trees... It was so beautiful. There were tons of Beaver homes in the lakes we passed, which I found to be amazing.

Chris driving on the way there

We got into South Dakota pretty early, and most of the towns were extremely small. Less than 1000 people small. We stopped at this gas station and everyone kept looking at us and whispering. I think it's because they had no idea who we were!

On the way there we passed through The Badlands. Oh my goodness. They were gorgeous! We paid to go the scenic route and it took us over an hour to drive through the 13.1 mile stretch but it was absolutely worth it.

I took over 200 pictures of the Badlands, and I would have taken more but I feared we'd run out of room on our camera. It was just absolutely beautiful.

We also saw mountain goats on our way through the Black Hills. We were able to get pretty close to them as well. We also numerous deer on our trip. They are all over!

By the time we go to our campsite (Horse Thief Campgrounds) it had begun to rain a little so I sat in the car with the kids while Chris set up our tent.

As he went to go pull our tent taut he ended up ripping the part off that is supposed to be pinned down. We placed our luggage in that corner to weight it down.

It was very very cold, so I tried to keep Charlie on our side of the tent since the door was on the other side and letting in more cold air. He didn't like that so much.

The kids and I blew up the air mattresses while Chris unloaded the car, set up the pavilion tent, and finished staking this one down.

Charlie liked to play with the pump. It was so cold, about 37 degrees, so I was trying to get the bed set up so I could lay down with him and let him sleep.

I had three comforters, sweats, and a cap on trying to keep warm. Originally Chris was in our bed the first night, but it was so cold. David wouldn't remain in his sleeping bag and we were afraid he was going to literally freeze, so we pulled him in our bed, but even then he wouldn't stay under the blankets. Chris ended up going to the kids bed to keep an eye on all of them, and sharing a sleeping bag with David to keep him warm. Charlie didn't sleep well that first night. He hates blankets and he kept trying to get out of them and I had to keep pulling him back so he wouldn't freeze.

The next morning the plan was to wake up and make pancakes and bacon on our campfire cookstove, but the wind was so awful and it was still very cold so we decided to head into town to a local diner and order breakfast. After Breakfast we hit the Wind Cave National Park. Here is the original opening to the Cave.

On that day the wind was blowing inward. The day previous it had been blowing outward. Depending on the barometric pressure determined which way the wind blows. The story goes that two Cowboy brothers came upon this hole and when one stuck his head inside his hat blew off. He came back the next day with some townsfolk and when he tried to show them what his hat did, it blew in instead of out. Neither of the brothers ever explored the cave, but that year a young man named Alvin McDonald began exploring it.

Anastasia wasn't fond of the caves, at all. She dragged me, literally, down over 400 stairs and across the cave as fast as she could. We only managed a few pictures. I tried to get a picture of the box work in the cave, this cave holds 95% of the entire worlds boxwork, but it wasn't easy to snap a picture of it.

This is a marking of when they mapped the cave back in the 20's

After we got out of the caves we were planning on taking a long nature hike but my legs were quite tired and the two younger boys were in desperate need of a nap, so we decided to hit up Crazy Horse instead and let them sleep on the way there.

His face was completed in 2001. They have worked on his fingers a bit, and the white chalkish drawing the horses head mapped out.

This is what he looked like back in 1993, when I saw him as a young child.

This is what its supposed to look like complete

The cultural center was amazing. There was so much history in there. Crazy Horse was by far one of our favorite things to see and the kids loved it too. Anastasia bought herself a necklace and a bracelet from the Lakota. (We gave each child $50 spending money)

After Crazy Horse we went back to camp and then out to eat dinner. This is what our camp looked like.
The pavilion tent was supposed to be so we could have a bug free place to lounge. However, it was left open and became a bug attraction and something out of a horror movie. When Chris first put it up he did it inside out. Made for quite a few laughs.

This is the the area near our campsite. There were three porta-potties near camp, and then a little further away was a bath house. There were places for RV's, and log cabins scattered throughout camp. There were mini playgrounds and a larger one, plus a heated outdoor pool. The view every morning was absolutely gorgeous.

The next morning we took an 1880's train to the town of Keystone. We shopped there for a few hours, and had lunch at an amazing restaurant. The train is the only one left of it's model still running, and every car attached came from the 1880's. It was about an hour long ride and the kids were so excited. Especially David!

Here is the train and one of the cars
Here is the Engine getting filled with water

The kids waiting to go and me wearing the baby. There were open and closed cars, so we got a closed car there and an open one on the way home.

The car was beautifully maintained.

From the window we saw many neat things. This is a telegraph pole that is still standing!

The staff were all dressed in the cutest little train outfits, and the kids absolutely loved it.

And this poor biker kept getting cut off from the train. I felt awful for him! We sat in the caboose and waved at him every time.

In Keystone we ate lunch at this amazing restaurant called "The Ruby House". It had tons of historical photos and the staff were dressed like floozys and the like. I loved it.

After lunch we went to some candy shops and got handmade taffy, and fudge and then we checked out an Old Tyme Photo place and had our family pictures done! Perhaps this is why I haven't gotten pregnant yet. We have a system of family photos, and if I had a pregnant one this year it would throw it off. Hopefully this means we'll get knocked up!

This is not the one we bought, but I love Anthony in this picture.

We got a CD with all the photo shoots, a copyright release, and the two pictures we chose came in old wooden frames.

Chris and I did a couples shot too... that one was a lot of fun! Supposedly, I'm only worth $2.

These were pictures from the train ride back.

caught off guard, nursing the baby

It was quite chilly and I was trying to keep Charlie warm.

The next morning we made pancakes and bacon on the outside cooker. It was really warm that day, about 82 degrees! It was the only really warm day the whole week.

I didn't realize how awful my arm looked until this picture. This is the position it's permanently in. It doesn't close, or open much more than this.

After that we went to Story Book Island. The first morning here a sweet lady in the diner we were eating in told us about this place. She thought we'd love it. We did! I got tons and tons of pictures of this place, but it was absolutely massive. I think it's 7 acres of just every single story ever come to life, I loved it as an adult and the kids were in awe. And it was completely free! We just bought ice cream!

You can tell how warm it was by Anthony's flushed (not sunburn) face.

Charlie began running a fever the day before we left. It lasted two days. This is the day David started running one. His lasted two days too.

We would have spent longer there but the kids were HOT so we loaded them up for naps and drove back to Keystone to pick up our pictures and then back to Rapid City to meet Elaine and her family (who were also in town on vacation) for dinner. We went by the Walmart there and then went to the restaurant that they chose. However, there were two in town by the same name and we went to the wrong one (on Elaines orders!) and the right one was right by Walmart!

The next day was our last full day there so we went on a nature scenic drive, and then to Mount Rushmore!

The scenic drive is called Needles Point, which is obvious why when there are rocks like this everywhere!

Fun fact - the guy who commissioned for Mount Rushmore to be built actually wanted the Needles to be sculpted into Western Hero's like Calamity Jane. The sculptor decided against that and chose Mount Rushmore instead and Presidents for the subject.

We met some donkeys, or mules (I can't tell them apart) on the drive. They were very fun. They kept coming up to me and backing off, but they followed me back to the car and poked their heads in at Chris and myself!

And this was a Buffalo reserve, and we saw hoards of Buffalo! We think they must be shedding their winter coat.

We were so close to them that we could have reached outside the car and touched them, but there were numerous signs saying that was a bad idea.

Driving there

View from the Hall of Flags

On our Presidential Trail Hike. I always feel bad for Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt.

My little (and Big) South Carolinians! Minus Charlie who was on me at the time.

What it was supposed to look like

Family in front of the mountain

After Mount Rushmore we went back to the campsite to pack up everything non-essential and went to "The Alpine Inn" for dinner. Amazing food! For dinner there is only one meal for adults - steak, baked potato, wedge salad, and garlic bread. It was so good!

On the way home we were going to stop at Wall Drug and Laura Ingalls house in De Smet, but sadly decided against Laura Ingalls as we would have gotten there an hour before close and had to pay $30 and all the "attractions" close an hour before close so they would have been closed. I was very upset, but have been promised a weekend trip there! We did go to Wall Drug and were not very impressed at all, but we ran into Elaine and family coming home from their trip!

This dinosaur sent Anastasia into a full blown panic attack and she flipped out and ran away. The rest of the time there if we mentioned the dinosaur she began screaming and crying. He was a bit scary :)

We got home about midnight on Saturday night. It was an amazing trip, even if it was super cold. Loads more has happened since we've gotten home, but thats another post!

If you want to see ALL the pictures from the trip they are here!