Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Can Your Child "Recover" from Autism???

Get ready, I am hopping on my soapbox, BIG TIME!!! When I found out Dominic had Autism, I took just about every single book out of the library that had to do with Autism and related disorders. One of the very first books I read was a book by Jenny McCarthy (the actress).  She also has a son with Autism and I was curious about how she came to terms with accepting the diagnosis.  I used to like her until she started the charge against vaccinations and  how harmful and full of toxins they were. She claims there is a "link" between Autism and vaccinations, even though studies show that is not the case.  When she was with Jim Carrey (the actor) she seemed to be everywhere.  Now that she's not  riding around on his coattails anymore, do you really even hear too much out of her???  Whenever she would be on television she always seemed to be carting around an enormous amount of attitude.  Jenny McCarthy claims your child can "recover" from Autism.  What I think she does is give a lot of parents false hope.  There are lots and lots of parents out there that are looking for that one "cure" that will make their children not have Autism. There are plenty of supposed "experts" only too willing to take your money and not give you anything in return!!   I fall into the other camp of parents that put all of their energy into research.  Our family has participated in numerous research projects.  The only thing they cost is your time!!  Out of all the websites out there, I have found the best one to be the Interactive Autism Network, ( It is a great starting point to find on-going research projects as well as other useful and helpful information.  I highly recommend the website, especially if you have just received the diagnosis of Autism for your child.  I have lost friendships and been laughed at because I don't subscribe to the whole biomedical and anti-vaccine approach to Autism.  All I can do is speak for myself and my family. I'm not by any means an "expert" on Autism, I'm just a mom whose son has it!!  You have to do what you feel is in the best interest of your child.  Our family will continue to participate in research projects, because that is what I feel will help our family and other families out there.  Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Time and Attention

Lauren was 8 when Dominic was born.  She was used to being the "princess" of our household.  I think me getting pregnant and then giving birth to Dominic kind of rocked her world.   The February before Dominic was born, I lost my 101-year old grandmother.  Then, shortly after the holidays of 2004, my father-in-law got ill and my hubby traveled back to Cleveland every weekend, except one, for three months.   After his dad passed, we traveled frequently to Cleveland to visit his mom and then moved her closer to us in 2006. To say Lauren didn't get enough attention during this time frame would be an understatement.   Dominic was very fussy, he rarely slept and between him crying, me nursing him and trying to support my husband with all that he had going on with his parents, it didn't leave a lot of time for Lauren.  I think back to those times and wished I could have spent more time with her.  Dominic required so much of me that Lauren's needs and wants sometimes got lost in the shuffle.  I try really hard these days to give Lauren my time and attention. One of my favorite things that Lauren says to me randomly is, "I love you." She says it to me just about every day. She and I are very close and I feel blessed that our relationship is so good. I have tried to raise her to be kind and respectful to others.  My dear, sweet Lauren turns 16 this Tuesday.  Enjoy the time with your children, the time goes by in a blink of an eye!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Too Much Tanning?

Just when I thought I'd heard and seen it all, I heard about a mom accused and then arrested for supposedly taking her young daughter into a tanning bed!!  This chick has been in the news more than a few times in the last couple of weeks. She has the nickname, the "Tanning Mom."  I heard a newscaster comment that they thought the woman had been burned in a fire.  If you haven't heard of her, Google "tanning mom" and you'll find her :)  I was thinking that the woman has a lot more problems than just tanning.  The Today Show interviewed her recently to get her side of the story.  The mom herself visited the tanning salon 20 times over the course of a month.  I would qualify that as excessive.  She keeps saying she didn't take her daughter into the salon and/or the tanning bed and the salon denies the charge too.  She claims her daughter got burned by being outside.  That's a possibility,  I guess.  I was thinking if the salon and/or the mom admitted the little girl was in a tanning bed, then the mom would go to jail for child endangerment and the salon would probably lose their license.  I wonder if this mom is thinking ahead to 10-15 years from now when she most likely will have some form of skin cancer.  I wish I could roll back the clock and have made better decisions when I used to tan during those hot Maryland summers.  I would actually use baby oil with absolutely no SPF anything because I wanted that deep, dark tan!!  I definitely use the sunblock now for myself and the rest of my family.  I hope the "tanning mom" realizes she might need some help and do what's best for her and her family.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Inappropriate Commercials

During dinnertime, we usually have the television on in the background.  A few weeks ago during dinner, a commercial came on.  Let's just say, it was for men with certain private "issues."  It was about 7 p.m., which I consider to be prime family time.  Lauren  and Dominic were there with us at the dinner table.  They didn't really notice the commercial, but I did and I kind of went off about it.   My family is used to me getting up on my soapbox :)  It seemed pretty inappropriate considering the time it was on. I don't think a little kid like Dominic's age (7) should have to be asking their parents what Viagra is!!   I can remember when certain feminine hygiene product commercials were considered to be pretty taboo.  Those commercials are all over the place now, on at all different times.  I understand that advertisers need to make money, but having those type of commercials on during the time frame of 7 - 10 p.m. seems kind of tacky.  Anybody else offended by some of the commercials that have been on television lately??  Call me a little old-fashioned, but I think some of them are pretty inappropriate!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why I Love Being a Stepmother

This Mother's Day will be the 22nd that I have known my stepson.  When he was little he used to sit on my lap and snuggle with me. Hard to believe, but in about a year and half he will be 30.  When his dad and I got married in 1995, he was a junior usher at our wedding.  We have a mutual understanding and respect for each other and I am very proud of all that he has accomplished in his life.  When he got accepted into two graduate schools, he asked me which one he should choose.  They both were excellent schools.  One was about an hour away from us, the other was a couple thousand miles away. We would have really loved it if he picked the one closest to us, but I told him that it would have to be his decision. He ended up picking the one a couple thousand miles away :)  I have tried not to tell him what to do, but rather help guide him towards making good decisions.  He has grown from a little kid into a man.  I have never tried to take the place of his mom.  I think that's a mistake some stepmoms make.   He has a mother that has done a wonderful job of raising him.  My two children adore their older brother.  When he comes to visit us, we are the "Fab 5" again.  When he isn't with us, we miss him terribly.  Thank goodness for Skype!  It has become an integral part of our Sunday morning to talk to my stepson.  I think it kind of cracks him up when we all try and crowd around the computer. Last week when we talked to him on the I-Pad I had it turned the wrong way and I think he could see every pore on my face until Lauren (my computer guru) turned it around the right way.  He said, "that's a little up close and personal!"  I treasure my relationship with my stepson and feel honored to be part of his life.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Those "Other" Mothers

I have been super blessed to have had "other" moms throughout my life that have helped mold and form me into the woman I am today. You know these women, they are the ones not related to you by "blood" but rather related by love!  One of those "moms" was actually my own mom's best friend.   Her name was Mary Ann.  She was never able to have children of her own and she kind of "adopted" my brother, sister and I.  Mary Ann and her husband, Harold, lived right next door to my family growing up and I spent quite a bit of time at their house.  I love to bake (as I've mentioned many times in my blog) and so did Mary Ann.  She was known for her amazing, "Mary Ann's Chocolate Cake."  She also made the most incredible cookies with cream cheese.  I am lucky enough to have both recipes in my recipe collection. When she and her hubby moved to Iowa, I visited her a handful of times. Sadly, both Mary Ann and her husband have both passed on, but they are never far from my thoughts. This is from quite awhile ago, hence the bad perm and big glasses, but I still love this picture!!  

Another "mom" that was very special to me was my mother-in-law.  This is the second Mother's Day that I have not had her with me and I still think of her often.  My husband was her only child and sometimes she and I would have our moments with each other, but by and large she and I had a pretty good relationship.  Her name was Cecelia, but I don't think I ever called her that.  My stepson's nickname for her was "Umba" because I think he couldn't say Grandma when he was little.  Towards the last couple years of her life, she told me she really didn't like that name anymore, so we started calling her "Momma."

Last, but definitely not least, my third "mom" has to be "Auntie."  She was married to my mom's brother.  She and I have forged an incredibly close relationship for which I am thankful for all the time.  My "Auntie" loves my family and is always willing to let me go on and on talking about them (which with my big yap can sometimes be a  long time)!!! I can be 100% myself with her (she has known me since I was in diapers).

She has had to deal with a lot of loss in her life, but she keeps on "plugging" along. She has to be one of the strongest women I know.  Her daughter (my cousin) passed away a little over a year ago.   That truly has to be one of the hardest things a mom can go through.  She and I are so "busy" that we have to plan out our phone calls about a week ahead of time.  I adore her and love her with all of my heart.  If you are lucky enough to have one or more of those "other" moms in your life, tell them how much you love and appreciate them, ALOT!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Breastfeeding vs. Bottle Feeding

All the fuss surrounding what Hilary Rosen said about working moms vs. stay-at-home moms made me think of another "debate" that seems to stir up a lot of emotions between moms.   Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding your baby. This is a subject that I can truly say I have been on both sides of.  When I was pregnant with Lauren, one of the things I thought about a lot was that I wanted to breastfeed her.  Since this was the first time I was pregnant, I really had no clue what it involved.  I thought your baby just put their mouth on and started sucking away.  When Lauren was born after a very long labor, I was exhausted.  The nurses (to their credit), really tried hard to show me what to do. After we brought Lauren home from the hospital, I kept trying, but it really hurt and I was incredibly frustrated!! I gave up after a couple more days. Once Lauren got on formula,  she and I were much happier with each other.  Dominic, on the other hand, took to breastfeeding like a duck to water and I nursed him for 18 months :)  Some moms use formula, others like to pump their breast milk.  I think moms should be supportive of each other no matter which they choose, some moms have no choice because of medical or other reasons.  It bugs the you know what out of me when I hear moms get up on their high horses to discuss which is "better" for your baby.   Those first couple of weeks bringing home a new baby, whether it's your first or your last are non-stop between them crying, pooping, changing diapers, etc.  The last thing an exhausted new mom needs is someone in their face telling them what they should or shouldn't be doing.  Try instead to bring a meal or offer to watch the baby for a little bit so the mom can rest!!  I would love to hear other mom's experiences with this subject, please feel free to weigh in!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Riding in an Ambulance

When you see an ambulance with its lights flashing whizzing past you, do you ever wonder what emergency they are going to/from or who's inside?  Well, I have been in an ambulance, not once, not twice, but three times!  The first time was back in 1997, when I thought I was having a heart attack.  The paramedics came and took me out of our house on a stretcher.  On the way to the hospital, I remember asking them if they thought I was having a heart attack, they said, "we don't think so Mrs. B!"  After some tests, it was concluded that I hadn't had a heart attack, but instead had a gallbladder attack.  I had surgery shortly after that and was matron of honor at my sister's wedding about 10 days later.  The pain was worse than giving birth (which in Lauren's case was 32 hours of back labor)!! The second time I had to call an ambulance, it was because Dominic hit his head at school and I brought him home to let him rest.  As soon as I got him in the house he proceeded to pass out and I couldn't wake him up. I called 911 and the paramedics came within 5 minutes.  I rode with Dominic to the hospital, where he got all kinds of tests run.  Thank goodness he was okay.  The third ambulance ride was when Dominic started behaving erratically one Saturday morning (staggering around and then collapsing on the floor).  I thought he was having a seizure.  Again, I called 911, they came immediately and again we rode to the hospital.  They ended up keeping him overnight for observation.  He was fine and got released the next day. It's been determined that Dominic gets migraines (just like me).  Ambulance drivers and paramedics have a hard job to do every day.  I can't say enough good things about them.  I know I couldn't do what they do!!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grocery Shopping

My husband likes to go grocery shopping and so do I.   We both go to our favorite grocery stores every week and we both like to use a list and coupons.  I like Kroger and he likes Meijer.   He likes to go into the grocery store and only go to the aisles where he needs to go.  I like to go up and down every aisle, just to make sure I didn't miss anything that I forgot to put on my list.  I don't spend hours and hours clipping and sorting coupons like the people on the TLC show "Extreme Couponing", but I do like to see how much I can save at the store.  I probably spend about 1-2 hours a week clipping, sorting and filing my coupons.  I have a store loyalty card for Kroger and I get special discounts for using it. On my shopping trip to Kroger this week, I saved $45.46 using digital coupons, paper coupons and my store loyalty card.  I bought a six pound  "Perdue Oven Ready Seasoned Roaster" that was originally $11.99, marked down to $7.99 and I had a $1.00 off coupon to boot.  I would never in a million years pay almost $12.00 for a chicken, but I'll pay $6.99!! My husband finds good deals on toilet paper, paper towels and other toiletries (like toothpaste and shampoo) at places like Rite-Aid, Walgreens and CVS.   The hubby is so excited when he comes home from shopping and tells me he got things for free! When we get too much of something in our small "stockpile" I like to donate the items to charity. I have found that the "house" brand of a lot of the things I buy on a regular basis taste identical to the "name" brand items, not always, but usually.  It's pretty rare that I'll buy something without a coupon.  What kind of a shopper are you? do you buy something because it's on sale and/or have a coupon? do you not buy things on sale? or do you not use coupons at all?  When Lauren asks my husband to buy a certain item at the store, the first thing out of his mouth is, "is it on sale??"

Making an "Impact"

I had someone very close to me ask me this question many years ago, "why do you stay in touch with so many of Dominic's...