Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Another Christmas is upon us and guess what -- I'm sick. What is it with me being sick at Christmas? I'm frankly quite tired of it. The bright side is that I won't be going to the emergency room this year. I did my stint at urgent care yesterday afternoon. I have the world's worst bladder infection; at least the worst I have ever had. I won't go into details, but just trust me when I tell you that it is beyond anything I've ever gone through in my entire life, and given my medical history, that's really saying something. However the bright side is that as long as my fever doesn't spike I don't have to go to the hospital. The next step is IV antibiotics, so I'm really hoping that the cipro does its thing quickly and I start feeling human again.

In happier news, there is knitting to share. Some of these were finished some time ago, but I thought you might like to see the gifts I gave to Beastie's teachers and his two classroom aides. I don't quite have enough energy to post all the details, but they are all in my ravelry.

This one is the Cherry Garcia Cowl done in a chunky wool/acrylic; it's very cute on, although this picture doesn't give you much of a reference for scale. So i'll give you the very unattractive nostril shot as well.

Next one is the Crocheted Fan Bookmark Scarf. I fell in love with this in someone else's projects page and blatently copied it, right down to the yarn choice. Imitation = flattery.

And finally, a set of lace wristlets in Manos silk blend. This yarn is SO yum. You have to go find some and try it for yourself, trust me.

Now I'm off to go play x-box with the teen and watch the ice continue to fall from the sky. If it's going to be this cold, miserable and nasty, it should at least be snow. Happy Christmas Eve!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

We've got balls!

I am oven-less. It is truly depressing to be without an oven at Christmas time, but a new one isn't in the budget until January, so there you have it. Meanwhile I had to get my fix of holiday sweets taken care of some how, so this has been deemed the year of the no-bake dessert.

First up, we have Rum Balls. These can be made with bourbon, but I'm more of a rum girl.

4 c. sifted confectioner's sugar
3 c. finely crushed nilla wafers
3 c. finely crushed walnuts
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/3 c. corn syrup
1/3 c. rum
1/3 c. water
extra confectioner's sugar

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients and stir. I use a rubber spatula to scoop up about teaspoon size balls of the yummy. I drop the ball into the powdered sugar and then roll it between my hands into a ball. Put the balls in an airtight container with wax paper between the layers and refrigerate. Makes about 60 rum balls.

SOOOOO simple and SOOOOOO good. The rum makes your tongue tingle a little but it's in such tiny amounts it can't hurt anyone. You would get sick from all the sugar before you got drunk.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Put on your aprons!

I have recently fallen back in love with my slow cooker. Not that I ever really fell out of love with it, but my stupid tiny kitchen makes it tough to store it, so I had been keeping it in my pantry where I would often forget about it's existence. So when I finally did some seriously kitchen cleaning, cleaning so serious it included throwing out ALL of the plastic food storage and the 3,792 lids I had been keeping for said plastic containers. I bought one very nice set of rubbermaid storage containers and that's it, the rest are history! So anyway, this massive cleaning has freed up space in my kitchen cabinet for my slow cooker and now that I can see it, I think to use it much more often.

As any of you who really know me know, I'm a cook, not a baker. I don't measure; I toss and throw and dash and dab until things taste good. Great for when I'm cooking, not so great for when I'm trying to replicate that awesome meal I made three weeks ago. I don't have the discipline or patience to bake, I'm all about the throwing stuff together and calling it a meal. Not that the ample men in my house ever complain, but sometimes I regret not knowing what the hell I just did. I get into mad scientist mode and before the balsamic vinegar scent is out of the air I've forgotten what I used to make the dish. This became abundantly clear last year when I attempted to contribute recipes for our ASA fundraiser cookbook. Me, one of the best cooks I know, was stymied for recipes. Oh, I managed to contribute my fair share (about 20, I think) but it occurred to me that maybe my life would be easier if I started writing these things down.

Now add to that my new favorite online toy, springpad, which has a place for just this sort of thing (recipes, shopping lists, meal planning, etc) and I have newfound motvation to keep track of my culinary exploits. So, dear blog reader, I present to you the first in what is hopefully a series of "what I am cooking today" posts in hopes that we all will benefit from my desire to become more organized.

Mexican Mac n' Mmmmmm
(forgive the naming, I can't promise they will get better)

1 1/2 lbs browned ground beef, drained (i browned w/onions, basil & oregano)
2 cans condensed tomato soup
2 c. milk
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
2 T. Taco Seasoning
2 boxes Macaroni & Cheese (uncooked including cheese powder)
1/2 c. velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 c. shredded colby-jack cheese

Mix all the ingredients in slow cooker, stir thouroughly. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Now, I will put the disclaimer here that I've only just put this in the slow cooker 37 minutes ago, so I'm guessing on the time based on my past experiences. I'll let you know my thoughts on it tomorrow.

Now that I've gotten all that off my chest, let me share some pretties with you. My favorite Ravelry group, the Harrisburg Sock Knitters has once again had another of our wonderful exchanges. I was lucky enough to have the tremendously talented Crimson Orchid as an upstream (yes, I know she lives in Canada, just because we say we are from Harrisburg, PA doesn't mean we won't keep you from playing with us just because you're not lucky enough to live here). She sent me the most yummy stuff...

Okay, for starters, that's an autographed copy of the Yarn Harlot's "Free-Range Knitter". Which thrills me to no end, because the only time I was lucky enough to meet Stephanie in person I had her autograph a book for my swap partner and was too stupid to get her to autograph my own copy. Can you say, 'star-struck' anyone? So once again, karma has smiled on me and I've been granted a swap partner who is a bit smarter then me. She also sent me incredible chocolate (notice how the bag is already ripped open, pre-pic), some amazing yarns, Canadian 'jam type spread', chocolate truffle hot cocoa mix (what can I say, I'm a simple girl, just give me chocolate & I'm happy) and of course, her awesome stitch markers, in all my favorite colors. Go check out her etsy shop to appreciate just how beautiful her work is; I promise you won't be disappointed. The purple yarn is from Mama Blue. It's Sea Merino Semi-Solid in the colorway "Dainties" and it's a gorgeous fingering weight. The striped is from Sunnyside Ellen and the colorway is called "Pirate Cove", which I just love! Thank you so much!!!

Yay!!! I love being spoiled!!!

Next post, knitting photos & an update on the Mexican Mac n' Mmmmm! Yay!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Welcome to the world of the employed...

So mucho excitement here in happyneedle-land lately. For starters, I got a job. I know, it's a shocker. I haven't had a "real" job since I had to stop work because of being pregnant with the Beastie and I haven't earned a steady income since Material Whirled moved to the west coast. But all that has changed, I have entered the land of the employed. And oh boy, did I land a dream job! Let me tell you all about it...

My friend Beth co-owns my LYS, Uncommon Threads. She also owns The Alpaca Yarn Company. This is clearly someone who it pays to be friends with. NOT that I am friends with her for those reasons. We are friends because she makes me laugh and that she is even MORE anal-retentive about things then me, which makes me feel like the normal one. Add to that the fact that she is super smart, has great taste in men, pets and friends and works harder then 2 average people put together and it's obvious why I like spending time with her. So when my LYS went to Stitches East & they invited me to go along and help out at the booth, I jumped at the chance.

I love going to shows. I love selling yarn & notions & patterns. I love helping someone who only has a vague idea of what they want to make and helping them see how certain yarns will be perfect for the project or helping them find the perfect pattern for the yarn they just fell in love with. I get a thrill when someone buys enough yarn to make a sweater or when I give them the confidence to tackle socks or their first lace stole. So yeah, I go to help out at shows for totally selfish reasons; I go because I get off helping other people fulfill their yarny dreams.

So anyway, during Stitches while we were hanging out at the hotel on Friday night Beth was poking around on the computer and we were talking about ravlery and blogging and plurk and twitter and all sorts of virtual marketing possibilities that are out there. Turns out Beth was looking to hire someone who had exactly the skill-set that I've been unknowingly honing with all my online yarn obsessions. She asked me if I wanted a job and I said yes before either one of us had a chance to sober up. So, my dear blog friends, you are now reading the personal blog of the Marketing Director for The Alpaca Yarn Company. Yay!!! Sounds all sorts of professional, doesn't it?

My first duties were to get set up on ravelry (check), set up a blog (check), get up and running on plurk and twitter (check, check) and lots of other stuff that thrills me to no end but would probably bore you to tears. The best parts, I can work from home, while Beastie is at school and I can work around his doctor/therapy/specialist schedule. I can still do those two+ hour calls to the insurance company. And, I can do it in my jammies, because we all know how I'm ALL about the jammies.

So yeah, I'm more then a little excited about this opportunity. It feels so good to be working again and using my brain and let's face it, the money helps too. Thanks Beth for giving me this chance! Hang on folks, it should be a fantastic ride!!!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Lunchbox lifesaver

I was recently able to participate in a sample program through bzzagent involving Smuckers Uncrustables. For those of you who don't know, Uncrustables are frozen peanut butter & jelly sandwiches that you can pop into your child's lunchbox in the morning and by lunchtime they have thawed to the perfect eating temperature. I know it sounds silly, but even taking my eyes off of Beastie for a minute while I make a sandwich can be enough time for him to climb into the windows, take his clothes off or run and hide in his bedroom. And of course he usually does these things as the bus is coming down the lane and I am frantically trying to get him out the door. I figure life is hard enough for us, if there is one little thing that can make it easier, I'm crazy not to take advantage of it. Plus we all know how much Beastie, and most kids with autism crave consistency, so this is just one more (EASY) to give him the sameness that he loves. I have some coupons for these little pockets of sunshine, so if anyone wants one, hit me up at the next ASA meeting or drop me a comment and I'll mail you some and you can see for yourself what a lifesaver these can be.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

update on Beastie's eye exam, ASA Blog & Stitches East...

Beastie went to see Dr. Aristimuno again yesterday. Overall she is happy with the improvements we see with the glasses compared to without them. She says that the cupless optic disc is probably a birth defect and there isn't anything different we should be doing. We will probably never know if it impacts his vision, but it's just his version of "normal". The MRI shows no swelling or tumor in the brain that could be causing the optic nerve bundle to be so compacted, so there isn't really anything else to do for it. We discussed his lack of peripheral vision & again, there probably isn't anything we can do about it and it is probably another thing he was just born with, or without as the case may be. We also talked about vision therapy and I got her views on it, more to have a more informed answer. She doubts that it will help Beastie, given the fact that he already gets so much "table time" work that forces him to work with his eyes. She is unsure about his resistance to crossing mid-line, although she reports that she has heard that before with kids with autism.

We go back again the first week of June for another complete exam. Until then we just keep doing what we are doing but let her know if he seems to have any changes or difficulty seeing even with his glasses because it could mean that he is having a degradation in vision.

It is SO freakin' frustrating that he can't tell us what he experiences, what he sees, what the world looks like to him & if the glasses are helping. I mean isn't it bad enough that he has autism, sensory processing issues, tummy issues, etc, etc? Do we have to have vision complications too? I'm not one who usually stomps my feet & says, "that's not fair!" but just for the moment I feel I might be entitled to a little whining. That I get to yell, "Hey God, enough already!"

But whining doesn't help & it sure as hell doesn't fix things or move us forward. So, time to suck it up and deal with it, right? It could be worse, he could be blind or need surgery or have a brain tumor or whatever. I just have to keep reminding myself, it could always be worse.

On a happier note, Autism York has a new blog! Check it out, subscribe if you're interested & please feel free to give me feedback.

I leave tomorrow morning for Stitches East. I'll be there Friday & Saturday, working at the Uncommon Threads booth. If your there, be sure to stop by and say HI!!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

election day & the most edible nephew ever

I don't often talk about politics, especially online. But I do feel passionately about the right we have as Americans to vote. I truly don't care who you vote for, just please, please, tell me you voted.

Okay, on to our regularly scheduled blogging...

We have a baby!!!

No, not me, but my brother & his wife. If you remember I shared a 4-D ultrasound photo a few months ago. Now we get to see the results...
Introducing Nathan Ryan; born on September 24, 2008. Isn't he the most beautiful baby?

And more of the gorgeous; proud pappa and my amazing brother Matt with our new little bundle of love.

Oh and this one? The teens swear that Nathan is throwing gang signs. Too funny not to share.

Now I'm off to get my allergy shot, hit Uncommon Threads for a little bit and then off to vote. I hope you all make it to the polls as well.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Why can't it be the year 2023?

So still more catching up to do. Remember how I said I have committed to moving to Mexico as soon as feasible? We have fallen in love with the northern Yucatan peninsula. The amazing city of Merida is close enough to the coast that we can have modern amenities and yet we can still have that dream house on the beach. And oh my goodness, I've found the house I want. It's not crazy expensive and is actually doable in our budget. Of course, it's not practical at the moment, but it has given me something to dream about.

But, enough about the dream world, let's get back to the present.

We just celebrated Halloween. Although celebrated would be a misnomer. Beastie has no interest in trick-or-treating, so I dressed him up & took pictures and just gave him treats here instead. But he did look awfully cute.The other bummer is that we don't get trick-or-treaters where I live. It's back a private lane, next to a longhorn steer ranch. You don't get much of anything around here, let alone little kids knocking on doors. But I had fun hanging with the Beastie & playing with the photos and lord knows, we don't need all that extra candy laying around here.

So in more spinning news, my last swap partner sent me the most decadent batt from loop that I had been secretly coveting for quite some time.
LinkIt's called Chocolate Chip Mint and it was 3 ounces of delicious bamboo in chocolate, vanilla & mint. I slurped it all up and spun it into a to-die-for single:

I'm not 100% sure what I am going to do with it yet, although simply sitting it next to me and petting it has been working out pretty good so far.

I mentioned I'm selling my PT Cruiser. What I don't think I told you is that I bought a new car. A spiffy mom-mobile, the Kia Rondo. I LOVE it!!!

It's loaded with leather everywhere, heated seats, a "basement" in the back with loads of storage cubbies, a 10 speaker Infinity six-disc CD changer & best of all, Beastie's wheelchair fits in the back perfectly. It's got 8 air bags, so I don't mind letting the teen drive it (he loves the 'pick-up' of the V6 engine) and when I drove it out of the showroom it had 6 miles on the odometer. My first new car! Squee!!!

Maybe tomorrow I'll hit you with some knitting news but for right now I've got to dash & take the teen to the doctor. Happy Monday!!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

as promised...

See, there has been spinning. This is a mixture of about twenty different fibers, all put into a big bin and then pulled out in bits & carded on hand carders for a more deliberate placement of colors. I love this skein quite a lot. It will be available for purchase on Material Whirled soon.

Noro Ruffle scarf -- wonderful ravelers have come to my rescue and are sending me some bits of their leftover noro kuryeon sock yarn in this colorway so that I can finish this scarf.

It is loosely based on the Cascade Ruffle scarf pattern, but "amplified" with more rufflies to make the noro have a bit more life. I think I am going to wash & maybe even throw it in the dryer a bit when it is finished to see if I can fluff it up & soften it a bit.

Next up, my plurkswap goodies. I was totally and completely spoiled by MsKnottyKnits. She sent me fiber (which you will get to see in an upcoming post) and chocolate and a lotion bar and a sock monkey and, and, and, and... let's just go straight to the pic:

Oh, and see those post-it notes, the ones on the cute little notebook? They are the coolest post-its EVAH! There are 3 little packs of flaggie post-its and they say "Look" "Like" and "Love". How perfect is that for the knitterly girl? Damn perfect.

Okay, I don't want to spoil you guys with picture overload, so next post you will get to see pics of the little people, including the new nephew who is so stinkin' cute will be hard pressed not to nuzzle your computer screen, I promise.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

wow, two months? really?

I know I hadn't blogged in a while, but I cannot fathom that it has been two months. There is entirely too much to even begin to do a catch up, but I'll hit you with the highlights.

* there has been much knitting
* Beastie is happy in his new classroom
* there has been spinning
* I am going to be working at stitches next weekend
* medium played varsity golf
* my PT Cruiser is up for sale
* Penn State is undefeated
* Red Lion beat Dallastown
* My nephew was born (happy, healthy & gorgeous)
* medium got his driver's license
* Beastie has adjusted well to his meds and we are seeing improvements
* I started getting allergy shots weekly
* I still plurk constantly
* I started a garden at Molehill Empire
* I went to the Big City Reunion
* medium got a bass guitar
* sparky still works too much, but it has gotten a little better
* I am seriously committed to buying a house on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico when we retire
* I have read the entire "twilight" saga, save for "breaking dawn" which I am 2/3 finished
* I'm not sure if I'm going to my 20th high school reunion or not

Okay, that's all I can think of at the moment. Right now I've got either a seriously bad 3 day long allergy attack or a cold, I'm not sure which, but either way, I'm off to bed soon. I've missed you, blog land -- pics with the next post.

Monday, September 01, 2008

my thoughts on Risperdal...

Anyone who knows me knows how anti-medication I am and how much I dislike the idea of medicating my kids, regardless of their conditions. However, with that being said, let me tell you how excited we are with my son's progress using Risperdal, "the autism drug". For several years we were afraid to try medications because we were afraid Beastie would not be able to tell us if he was suffering from side-effects. We have finally hit our own personal "rock bottom" over the summer and we were out of new things to try. We decided to get in to see Dr. Karen Kennedy at Meadowlands and on her recommendation we tried Risperdal. Our rationalization behind this was because we had seen a noticeable increase in Beastie's cognitive abilities whenever he was taking cold medicine or when he had undergone a surgical procedure with sedation. It seemed to us that when we used chemicals to slow his brain and body down he was much more likely to be able to concentrate and focus. As I said, we had been doing 3 years of 30+ hours a week of ABA/VB and we did a five month stint of a strict GF/CF diet with little to no noticeable improvement.

When we started the Risperdal we told no one other then his TSS. We sent him to camp and all of the people at camp were asking, "What's different with Beastie?" Within a week we were noticing significant increases in his cognitive abilities and especially his receptive language. We have been on the medicine for 5 weeks so far and have seen none of the side effects sometimes reported. We were told to expect to see changes after about 8-10 weeks. We are just beginning to see increases in expressive language. Up until now our little man has had almost no functional verbal communication and everything he said had to be prompted first. We are now noticing him beginning to use verbalizations to answer questions and express his needs. For example, before when we knew he wanted a drink we used to have to prompt him to sign "drink" and make a "d-d-d" sound. Now we ask him, "What do you want?" and he spontaneously says, "D-d-d" while signing. We directly attribute this to the Risperdal. We believe that it helps his brain to "slow down" so that he can process what we are asking and formulate an answer. We have also noticed decreases in his constant need for movement. He can now sit in circle time or watch TV or watch a movie or listen to a story, all things that were very difficult or nearly impossible for him a few weeks ago.

Now I know every child is different and I am sure Risperdal won't work for every child with autism, much as the diet did not work for us, but I hope that other parents who might be in similar situations as us will be willing to try it and see if it helps their child. And as I said at first, for someone who is pretty adamantly non-medication, that is a huge thing for me to be saying.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

one of the hardest days ever...

Today is one of the toughest days of my life. Not that today will be tough in particular. I have no Hurculean tasks on my schedule, no doctor visits, no taxing phone calls. If I get motivated I might do the dishes, there is a shower in my near future, the laundry is in the washer now & I may even take a nap. Sounds pretty normal and boring, doesn't it?

So why is today so hard for me? Today my baby started kindergarten. Yes, I know, kindergarten is hard for any mom. We all get tearful, especially if our little one is getting on the bus. Especially if he will be gone all day. Especially if he doesn't talk, can't feed himself, can't tell someone if he is hurt or scared, doesn't understand playground rules or can't explain why the recess bell sound is terrifying to him.

But even all that isn't why today is so hard for me. Don't get me wrong, all those things bother me too, but I've been through this before. Beastie has been in preschool for two years. He's ridden the "short bus", he's been in a school setting. He even did a full day camp this summer with great success. So I can handle all of the normal first day of school fears, first day of kindergarten fears and first day of sending my autistic child out into the world fears.

What I can't handle is the disappointment. See, when Beastie was diagnosed with autism three and a half years ago, we were told we caught it so early (19 months) that we would be fine. We would just work really hard, get the best therapy that was available and he would be okay. I told people, "Yes, he has autism but it's okay, we caught it early and we will just work really hard and he should be able to start in normal kindergarten in three years." I said for years, "He is the hardest working (two)(three)(four) -year-old you've ever met." Last year, I began to realize that even with all that hard work, I was wrong. We wouldn't be starting "normal kindergarten". We can't even go to "normal autism classroom kindergarten" -- Beastie is enrolled in a special classroom for those with the highest level of need. Plus his level of need is so high he has to have his one-on-one independent therapist in school with him every day. If she can't be there, he can't be there. It's a huge let down from my hopes of three and a half years ago.

So who am I disappointed with? Beastie? Never! He works so incredibly hard to do a fraction of the things that other five year olds do. Am I disappointed with our school system? Not at all. We are blessed to live in an area with one of the best programs in the state, in one of the best states in the country. Am I disappointed with his behaviorial services, the people who work with him every day, set up his treatment plan & teach him how to be as successful as he can be? Absolutely not. Beastie has a dedicated group of people on his "team" who go above and beyond the call of duty, often for free or for little pay to help him learn and grow. Do I blame his pediatrician who gave him his vaccines? No. I made that choice and I would do it again. Autism may suck, but it's better then death.

So who does that leave? Me.

And yet I know I have done everything "right". I've been told hundreds of times, by hundreds of highly skilled professionals that I am the best possible mom I can be, not only to Beastie, but to his two brothers as well. I have even started seeing a therapist to help me get past the "mommy-guilt" that so many mothers of disabled children feel. And yet, when you get right down to it, I have a terrible time getting past it, I know I shouldn't, and yet I still blame myself. I should have done more, I should do more, I should be more, I should teach more, I should research more, I should, I should, I should....

I exhaust myself with the guilt.

So, at the end of the day, my dear, sweet Beastie will get off the bus, over 8 hours after I put him on it. He will probably be napping. He will surely be exhausted. But he will most likely be happy. He loves school & loves interacting with others. And I have to learn to accept that that is enough. I have to let go of the dreams I had three and a half years ago. I have to focus on making today the best it can be and hoping for the best for tomorrow and I can't think about first grade or high school or life. I cannot set my self up for more disappointment. I cannot have any more days as hard as today, one of the toughest days of my life.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

questions people ask...

Does Michael Phelps have Asperger's? I've heard this question more then once today. I even asked it myself as I listened to an interview his mother gave. But what put me over the edge was when someone asked the same question over on Yahoo! Answers and the dearth of uneducated responses, ("how can he like have that? he talks in interviews... he interacts with people") prompted me to jump out of my usually quiet shell and give a somewhat more educated response. I've copied it below, in case anyone else may be interested...

You know, I heard the interview with his mother and I thought the same thing. The way she described how he focuses and what happens to him psychologically when he is in the pool is very reminiscent of how those with Asperger's interact. My 19 year old son was diagnosed with ADHD back in the 90s when it was the diagnosis du jour (and the same time Phelps would have been diagnosed). I never felt that he was properly diagnosed, but there was never a better explanation for his behavior. Fast forward to today, my youngest son has severe autism. I have learned tons about both autism and Asperger's through my volunteer work with the Autism Society of America. Now I am convinced that my oldest son actually has Asperger's, not ADHD, even though it was never diagnosed.

For those of you who made some uninformed statements, let me tell you a little about kids with Asperger's. They are usually smart, very smart. They can hold conversations, in fact they can talk & talk & talk if the subject interests them. They do make eye contact, if they chose to. They have problems with social skills, they are never quite sure how to appropriately interact with their peers and are often bullied throughout adolescence. They are often dyslexic. They tend to hyper-focus, find a topic that interests them and then become experts on it, the best at it, pioneers in their field. Most of them go to college, get married and have families. Many of them work in the tech sector or in other highly involved, complex fields.

I don't know if Michael Phelps has Asperger's or not. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he did, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. He is an amazing young man who has done amazing things and has made an entire nation stand up and cheer. Which lots of people with Aspeger's have done in the past & will continue to do in the future.

Learn more about Asperger's here:
See a list of famous people with Asperger's or Autism Spectrum Disorder here:

Thursday, August 07, 2008

a quick update...

This will be quick, because I have 10,000 other things I should be doing, even though I would rather be here. A couple of quick updates:

~ Beastie's MRI came back clear! No brain tumors, no scary stuff, just a normal beastie brain. Well, ya know, normal for the beastie.

~ Given the fact that his issues are now "just autism", we went ahead and started him on Risperdal, the autism drug. It's only been a week, but so far the results look promising. More being 'here', more eye contact, doing better in drills, doing things he has had a lot of trouble with in the past, less temper tantrums, etc. Plus the verbals seem to be going up. And no, we're not just seeing these things because we want this to work. If anything, we are skeptics. Remember, we tried the Gluten-free/Casein-free diet that works wonders for most kids with autism and it did nothing for beastie, not even a tiny improvement even after 5 months of strict diet. So at the moment, we are just the tiniest bit optimistic.

~ My secret pal Laura loved her Christmas in July gifts, including the hand knitted socks I made for her. She's had me twice in a row as an upstream, so I'm glad she likes my presents. It's tough to buy for the same person two swaps in a row because you've already sent a lot of your "go to" gifts (ie special hand cream that I love, stitch markers from a favorite etsy seller, etc).

~ I have dropped out of the UFOlympics and signed up for the Ravelympics along with several other members of the Harrisburg Sock Knitter's group on Ravelry. I have registered my everyday baby blanket, which is almost done, my yeti baby sweater, which just needs the hood knitted and then to be seamed (ugh) and last but not least my pride & joy, the heirloom baby blanket, which is considered "advanced" crochet by the pattern designer and also by those who rated the pattern on ravelry. I'm afraid I've bitten off a bit more then I can chew, so I think I am just going to focus on the heirloom blanket and hope I can at least get that completed.

~ I still can't smell. I go to get a cat scan tonight to see if it's allergies or sinuses. Then in 2 weeks I go to have that lovely prick test done to see exactly what it is that I am allergic to -- fun, fun, fun.

I think that's it for the moment. Or at least all I have time to post.


I almost forgot about the spinning! Yes, there was spinning yesterday! Here's the proof!!! It's a 2 ply merino & silk blend, spun fingering weight, about 300 or so yards by my best guess. Hard to tell since I can't find a part of my niddy noddy so I can't measure, but I'm estimating. It might be a little longer, not sure. I do know that it's pretty as sin and that I can't believe I went so long without spinning.

I had lost my spinning mojo, but my friends on plurk had me itching to sit at the wheel again. And then it was 'my' day on the Stitch n Bitch calendar. The day where my yarn was featured.

The two combined had me digging thru bins and finding all the components of my spinning wheel and getting it oiled and set back up. I spun for about 2 - 3 hours yesterday. My fingers instinctivly knew exactly what to do, as if I had never stopped. However my hips quickly reminded me why I had given up the hobby all those months ago. Yes, today my hips still hurt, but I think as long as I am careful and don't do the marathon 8 - 10 hour spin sessions like I used to do and treat it more as a hobby then as a profession like I used to, I will be okay. Oh yeah, and if I take my meds like a good girl. Why does it always come back to taking my meds?

So now I'm really running behind on my work, so the hybrid crochet/knit sock I am working on will have to wait for my next post. Yes, you read that right, a sock that is both knit & crocheted. Wait till you see it!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

who I am...

first go here:

when you get your 4 letter personality type, go here:

Click on your 4 letter personality type to learn all about you

I am in INFJ & here is my profile:

My description fits me perfectly -- how about yours?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm a winner...

Twice in one week, I won something. And I honestly never win anything. Last week I won $100 on a scratch off lottery ticket. The money went for.... wait for it... yarn (shocker). And then it put some gas in my gas tank. So yeah, that was about it for those winnings.

Then today, I found out I won some of WendyKnits leftover Wollmeise. Yay for the random number generator that picked my comment.

And in a delicious bit of universe karma, I spent most of my day giving away stuff too. As I think I mentioned before (sometimes I forget what I plurk vs. what I blog) York College gave us used computers to give to families dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorders. So this morning, I spent some quality time with the random number generator at and distributed 22 laptops and desktops to local families. Then of course, I made a mistake when I notified some of them, but I've got it mostly all straightened out now. Pickups are this Thursday & Friday. Yay!

And then I learned a new skill today. I love it when I learn new things. Today I learned how to take a google spreadsheet & turn it into a form for use on websites and blogs. When people fill the form, it automatically slings the answers into my spreadsheet. No more taking hundreds of emails and converting people's random way of submitting information for me! No siree -- yay google!!! Oh, if you wanna see my handiwork, you can find it here.

I have knitting to share, but I can't, at least not till Santa delivers his Christmas in July package to my secret pal.

Oh, I do have some knitting news though, I joined the Ravelympics, on the Team Harrisburg Socks. I'm a WIP Wrestler! I'll be completing all the baby objects for my nephew, due at the end of September. He's gorgeous already, dontcha think? Look out little man, you got a boatload of snuggle, cuddles and squishy knitables coming your way!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Christmas in July...

One of the coolest things I've done since joining Ravelry was to become involved with the Harrisburg Sock Knitter's group. I joined pretty much on day one and it has been exciting to watch it grow. Tonya, our fearless leader, is a big fan of swaps, so this month we did Christmas in July. I got the biggest, bestest swap box ever!!!

It was filled with 3 different skeins of sock yarn. Three! Including Sockotta, Regia & Socks that Rock. Some amazing handmade jewelry that my swap partner, Kathy, actually made herself. Awesome flex needles -- so awesome in fact that one pair is not in the picture, but currently in use working my Lady February sweater. More of the swappy goodness: 2 notepads, matching tote bag, "Knitting on the Road" from my Amazon wishlist, the newest Vogue Knitting, a beautiful glass dove ornament, handmade soap & a gorgeous jewelry box.

More photos of the yum can be found on my flickr.

Just the sunshiney lift I needed this week. Thank you Kathy, you are amazing!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

the week that was....

It has been a really long week. We did the MRI. It did not go smoothly, but at least it's over & they say they got good pictures. We are waiting to hear the results.

I went shopping for Beastie's birthday. What should be a happy occasion was sobering because I was buying him toys designed for ages 12-18 months for his 5th birthday. That just makes me indescribably sad. Of course, I probably have pms too.

On a happy note, there was knitting! I worked on sweaters. Because, you know, it's 10,000 degrees with 40,000% humidity, so let's knit sweaters! Pics of those in progress coming soon.

There is was also some sock knitting for a special someone. I can share a pic, but I can't say who it is for, at least not yet.

These are my red rag wool socks. Made from O-wool balance, 50% wool, 50% cotton. The pic is from my cell, so forgive the quality. And I realize they look like little person socks, but they really are big enough to fit even my monster-sized feet. I knit them on size 4 needles, which is just like sock candy at that point. My tolerance for tiny needles is decreasing as my desire to have more FOs increases. Something about that darn progress bar on the left side keeping me honest & on the right path.

And I made a Wordle. I have no idea why the word "going" is so abundant. I guess I am often "going" to do something. I wish the word "accomplished" were in there somewhere. At any rate, here you have it...
(click to see it bigger)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

finding my inner farmgirl

As a person I have changed so much over the past 10 years or so. Obviously, being Beastie's mom has had a lot to do with that. But moreso, I think it is finding contentment in my life & that I am no longer searching for whatever it was that I had been searching for; seems I have found it without even realizing.

I've always been going, going, going, driving to find that thing that would complete me. The thing that would make me feel that I had finally accomplished enough, been good enough, been successful enough. But of course, it was never enough.

Then God brought me John. Or I should say He let me find John. And from there, my life began to change. Slowly at first, but eventually I began to settle down. Not settle, mind you, but began to find the contentment I had always sought. I was a soccer mom & a career woman and a dang good cook and I had found a place in my life that made me happy. I devoted my life to O & A (Orin, my oldest & Alex, 2 years younger). Life was good.

And then God found fit to give me Beastie. And wow, did that throw me for a loop. O & A were practically teens. Did I really want to do this all over again? And then, we had our angel, our perfect little boy, except he wasn't perfect. He was broken. But God only showed me a little bit of that broken at a time. If he had hit me with it all at once, I would have crumpled. So I took my broken little boy and worked as hard as I could to find him the best people to help him get through life. Beastie started developmental therapy at 9 months. He got an autism diagnosis at 19 months. He was evaled for seizure disorder at 3. He went to a feeding clinic to learn to eat when he was 4. He had surgery on his legs this past winter to help him walk. He got glasses two weeks ago. And now, three weeks before he turns 5 we realize that there might be neurological problems going on in that sweet little Beastie brain of his. More issues then just the autism. Issues that might be really, really bad. Or maybe just something he was born with and something else we will learn to live with. For the next 3 weeks I'm just waiting for someone to tell me what they see when they look at MRIs & brain scans. And waiting for someone to tell me it will be okay, no matter what.

So while I was busy being Beastie's mom, I gave up my career. But I still had the drive and the desire to accomplish more. So I co-founded a designer handspinning business. It thrived. I thrived. I devoted my heart and soul to it. But because everything happens for a reason, I had to let it go. God took it out of my hands and took my business partner and soul mate 3,000 miles away. I gave it up, but felt that I still needed something to occupy my energy. I helped to start our local chapter of the Autism Society of America and became the president. I figured it was my job to help other families cope with this devastating disease. I've volunteered probably 1,000 hours the past year, at least. I've fought for the things I believed in & helped others find the resources they needed to move forward. And all the while, I kept chugging along with my family, doing what needed to be done, every day, and yet still thinking I needed more.

But recently, I've started to change. I've started to embrace the real me. I'm learning to accept that I don't always need to be in charge. I don't need to lead the parade or be the top name on the list or have control of every little thing. I am beginning to say 'no' when people ask me if I can do something. I am scaling back my life outside of my home & focusing on what makes me and the people I love happy. I am embracing my inner farmgirl and learning how to breathe again. I am realizing that I don't need to impress anyone, don't need to change the world single-handedly, don't need to be the very, very best at everything. I can just be me & and that is good enough.

I've been blessed to find a wonderful group of friends in the online community Plurk. They make me laugh constantly, give me something to strive for and hug me when I am scared. Together we are embarking on a journey called the Plurkette Hencircle where we will challenge each other and ourselves to strive to be what it is we are each searching to become. Oh, and we will have fun. We will laugh and cry and grow and together, they will help me find that inner farmgirl that I have been searching for for so long.

Friday, June 27, 2008

One word meme

So here's a different type of meme; you can only answer with one word (believe me, it was tough!)

1. Where is your cell phone? purse
2. Your significant other? Sparky
3. Your hair? frizzy
4. Your mother? quiet
5. Your father? gone
6. Your favorite thing? hugs
7. Your dream last night? forgotten
8. Your favorite drink? Riesling
9. Your dream/goal? serenity
10. The room you're in? computer
11. Your ex? frustrating
12. Your fear? death
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? here
14. Where were you last night? here
15. What you're not? stupid
16. Muffins? occasionally
17. One of your wish list items? contentment
18. Where you grew up? Pennsylvania
19. The last thing you did? errands
20. What are you wearing? capris
21. Your TV? DVRing
22. Your pets? children
23. Your computer? laptop
24. Your life? busy
25. Your mood? anxious
26. Missing someone? grandpa
29. Favorite Store? wine
30. Your summer? hot
31. Like someone? teens
32. Your favorite color? green
33. When is the last time you laughed? breakfast
34. Last time you cried? breakfast

more tests...

So the happy news first: O's girlfriend Diane and her mom & sister arrived safely last night. It took them nearly 12 hours to get here and Diane's car started to overheat around Pittsburgh, but all is good now. They got mostly unloaded last night and moved into the new apartment. Her box spring won't fit up the steps to the 3rd floor where they are living, so they are going to be sleeping on a mattress on the floor, which is ironic, because when Sparky & I were dating, I had a mattress on the floor of the 3rd floor for the exact same reason.

Leaving in just a bit to go out to Breakfast with them all to celebrate O's birthday and to meet Diane's mom & sister for the first time. I can't imagine what her mom is going through. I'm a wreck and my baby only moved 8 miles away. Diane is moving closer to 800 miles away to be with O. Ah, young love.

So the not so good news... The neurologist appointment didn't go exactly swimmingly. We are doing an MRI under sedation on July 15th. I'm not going to talk about all the maybes. Just suffice it to say there are a lot of possibilities about what is going on in that little Beastie brain and most of them aren't very good. As I learn more, I will share, but for right now the bottom line is there is something wrong with his left eye where it connects to his brain (optic nerve/optic disc). The problem might be just in the optic disc, but it might be in his brain also. There is also a possibility that this is something degenerative. The MRI will give us a better idea and so until we get those results, I am not going to think about it too much. If you pray, prayers are deeply appreciated.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Five words you don't want to hear...

Monday night we had a fierce thunderstorm. Shake the house, rattle the windows, make you cringe kinda fierce. I looked at the clock and it was 10pm on the dot. This is the time that my oldest, O, was to get off work. I thought about sending him a text message telling him to drive safe & to maybe take the long way home. The way home that is main roads instead of windy back roads. But of course, I was afraid he had already left work and I didn't want him to try to read a text in the bad weather, so I just let it go.

At 10:20 the phone rang and I heard those words that every mother dreads, "Mom! (sniff, sniff) I wrecked my car. (sniff, sniff, sob)" Now of course it could have been a million times worse. It could have been, "Ma'am, I'm sorry to tell you..." or "This is Dr. So-and-So..." but instead it was my sweet little baby calling me to tell me he wrecked his car but miracles, he was okay. The car, not so much. It would have flipped over except for the convenient tree that was in the way. The tree may have saved his life. The tree that caused $2300 worth of damage to a $4000 car.

So my yesterday was spent getting repair estimates & making contingency plans. Because the timing of this was really, really bad. Not that there is ever a good time to smack into a life-saving tree before running your car down a scary-steep embankment, but this timing was exceptionally bad. See, tomorrow O becomes a man. Not in the Jewish way, but in the way where he is moving in with his girl friend and starting to pay rent & leaving his mommy-nest. And Friday he turns 19.

So this isn't a boo-boo that I can put a band-aid on and kiss it and make it better. This is a big deal thing.

We have a plan in place where he takes dad's car (the PT cruiser), dad takes my car (my 2 month old Rondo), I drive the monster SUV until dad can buy a new car this weekend (probably an Optima). When dad gets a new car, we will sell the monster SUV (a Ford Excursion) to pay off most of my Rondo. Meanwhile, we will save up the money to do the repairs to O's car (a cute little convertible Chevy Tracker). When it is fixed, we will unwind the process and sell the PT Cruiser to pay off the balance of my Rondo and take whatever money is leftover to buy A, the 16 year old brother, his first car.

Yeah, it took me about 2 hours to figure that all out. You think you're confused, all you had to do was read it! Imagine how much brain power that took from my stressed, sleep deprived brain.

In happier news, today I am going to go pick up thirty computers that York College is donating to our Autism Society of America Chapter. Twenty-five desktops and 5 laptops. We will distribute them to families in the area who need a new computer (these are two years old, we have families using computers that are over 10 years old). Yay York College!

Tomorrow Beastie goes to the neurologist. I'll update after we get home.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beastie's new glasses

Sparky went scuba diving today, so I had a fun filled day of cleaning, knitting, watching a myriad of different sports and Beastie chasing. Beastie was a handful, with no daddy or brothers anywhere to be found. He did however do the best thing ever today. He wore his glasses for 45 minutes straight! That's the good news. I'll show you a pic before I tell you the bad news, so you can see just how cute he really is...

So after 45 minutes of wearing the glasses, playing, doing the things a Beastie does, he quietly slips to the back half of the living room. The part of the room where I can't see him without becoming a contortionist. By the time I think to check on him, the glasses are off and he is chewing on them. I start yelling, "NO". He flings the glasses and comes running at warp speed to climb up on the sofa. He starts yelling back at me in Beastieese. I have no idea what he was yelling, but he was pissed at me for yelling at him, that's for sure. I found the glasses (just a scratch on the 2 day old lens, no big deal) and then cuddled him and explained how proud I was that he wore them for so long and that I wasn't mad at him, but that he was not allowed to taste his glasses. And before you ask, yes, the glasses are the toughest substance known to man and the frames are the kind you can literally tie into a knot without damage. Lord knows if there has ever been a child who will test that tolerance, it's our Beastie.

We go to see the pediatric neurologist on Thursday to figure out more of what's wrong behind his left eye. The pediatriac opthamologist saw some stuff she didn't like when she had him under anesthesia last week, so it's another round of specialists and probably MRIs and possibly more surgery.

But for now, let's all just focus on how cute he is now that he can finally see better.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yay Summer!

School's out & Beastie is now in a full day summer program. So with that life change, I suddenly have more time to knit & clean & blog & do all those things I haven't had time for in oh, I don't know, FIVE YEARS!

So I've been having fun on Plurk and Ravelry and Twitter and all sorts of other social things, but have neglected my blog duties. I think it's because I have blog envy. I want to be able to add buttons and badges and progress bars and links and all that other cool stuff that you just can't do on livejournal. So my solution has been to not blog at all -- yeah, I know, real mature of me.

We just got back from a week at the Outer Banks. It was hot, as usual, but we mostly had a nice time. My best friend came along, but she is in the midst of a marriage meltdown, so that was a cloud that we all had to contend with throughout the week. My heart hurts so much for her. She doesn't deserve this at all. We all thought he was a good guy and now he is basically been turning into a wanker. It sucks.

In knitting news, I actually spent most of May crocheting market bags for Beastie's 7 teachers and therapists as end of the year thank you gifts. They all loved them and seemed to appreciate them.

OTN right now are about a billion things, but foremost among them are a pinwheel blanket, a baby hoodie, a pair of rag wool socks and a stunning crocheted baby blanket.

My upcoming nephew will be warm, if nothing else.