Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Several weeks ago (August 15th to be exact) we took Spencer to the movies for the first time. I'm obviously very late in blogging about this, but I want to have a record of it for my increasingly failing memory.

Although Spencer has never watched any other Pixar movies we thought that Toy Story 3 was the most appropriate movie out there at the time. We'd been talking about it for a while and decided that it was finally the day. It wasn't a disaster, but it wasn't a smashing success either.

The original plan was to go to the 2:20 showing at the Harkins closest to us. We got there around 2:10 thinking that the less time we had to sit in the theatre the better. Toy Story had been out for months and we figured the theatre would be empty. Wrong. At 2:10 they couldn't even sell us tickets because there weren't enough seats left (although they never said the words "sold out").

What do we do now? Spencer is really excited to go now because we've spent all day hyping it for him. Going by memory (because we don't have phones with web access) we drive to another Harkins. Memory fail, it's not even playing there. So we drive to another Harkins. Damn. Not there either. So we get a snack and then drive to an AMC.......where Spencer is a full price ticket (he would have been free at Harkins). It cost us $30 to go to this little movie.

He was really excited during the previews. Then the movie started and about 15 minutes into it he dropped his water bottle on the floor between the seats. I simply bent over and picked it up, but the whole experience really freaked him out. I think he thought his bottle fell really far and that he was never going to get it back. He started sobbing uncontrollably- the kind of crying where no sound is even coming out. We got him calmed down but it was the beginning of the end. He had no problem sitting through the whole movie, but he told us every 4-5 minutes that he didn't like the movie. I think he thought it was scary. And you know, I can see his point. Spencer's entire TV/movie experience consists of Baby Einstein, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Einsteins, Caillou, Sesame Street, Clifford, Curious George, Barney and Little People. The scene where the toys are headed toward the fire was downright horrific compared to anything else Spencer has ever seen.

We got through the whole thing though and I see the potential for more movie going in the future. We just won't bring any water bottles. Oh, and by the way, Spencer is still talking about dropping that water bottle. It comes up at least once a day. This is a sample of how he drops it into the conversation:

Me: Spencer, you need to help clean up your toys/get dressed/eat your dinner/take a nap/get in the shower/put your shoes on.

Spencer: No mommy, I can't. I'm just so sad (with pouty face and teary eyes and bottom lip sticking out).

Me: Why are you sad?

Spencer: Because I dropped my water bottle at the movies.

He's either emotionally disturbed or a master manipulator. I don't know which one is preferable.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Milk: Part 2

You know how you get into the routine of something and then it's easy to do? You exercise every day and then that's just what you do. You exercise. Or you get your lunch ready the night before work so you're not rushed in the morning. It's hard to remember to do it when you start, but then it just becomes part of your bedtime routine.

I think I got out of the routine of blogging when my life was taken over by the hutch redo. It's easy for me to blog a lot when I'm in the routine of blogging. When I was covered in sawdust and inhaling toxic fumes I got used to not writing though, so recently I've been getting into bed every night and remembering the blog for the first time since the night before. Then I think, hmm, maybe I'll deal with that thing tomorrow.

Or, maybe I can't blog because my house looks like this on a daily basis:

Whatever the reason, I'm going to get back into the routine. Starting with this little peach of a story.

We went grocery shopping last week. A gallon of milk was $2.19 and a half gallon was $1.00. We bought 2 half gallons of 2% for Spencer and 2 half gallons of skim for the adults. We came home, unloaded the groceries, put everything away and went about our lives. Until 14 hours later when I walked into the laundry room and saw this sitting on top of the washing machine. $4.00 worth of milk was dumped down the drain. Then Spencer and I went back to the grocery store and bought 4 more half gallons of milk.

It was pitiful.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I live in the wrong place. I know this. I accept this. It doesn't make my craving for fall any less real.

I long to live in a place where the leaves change color. Where there is a crispness in the air starting in mid-September. Where you can go to an outside activity in October (pumpkin picking, perhaps) and wear pants and not overheat from doing so. Where you can wear a sweater or a scarf and not look ridiculous. Where you can decorate with fall decorations and not feel like an idiot because it's 93 degrees outside in mid-October. Where you can sip apple cider and it feels warm and cozy because there is just a slight chill in the air. I look forward to these things every single year and am disappointed every single year when fall doesn't come to Phoenix.

This is what I want my life to look like for the next 3 months:
It depresses me to no end that this is more my reality:

Moving on.

Last year I bought this sign in July. I tried not to. I resisted during two trips to Michael's arts and crafts.
I'd like accolades that my first fall decoration purchase of 2010 happened a whole month later, in August. I kind of love it. I kind of already have it displayed because the fallness of it is quite subtle.
P.S. Let's not talk about the Christmas ornament I bought today. Damn you Hobby Lobby!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Drumroll Please

I moved out on my own in January, 2001. My aunt gave me her old dining room table and matching dish hutch at that time. When Michael and I got married in December, 2001 it became our dining room set. We moved the set to Colorado in August, 2002. We moved them back to Tempe in December, 2003. We moved them to Maricopa in May, 2006 where the table became our outdoor patio table and the hutch stored overflow and seasonal dishes in the garage. The hutch was once again put in the garage when we moved to our current house last year. I have been looking at it with a critical eye for the last 6 months thinking I could do something with it. I could make it prettier. I could make it more functional. I could bring it inside and actually use it for dishes. Gasp.

So, I sanded the entire thing with 50 grit sandpaper, then 80 grit sandpaper, then 220 grit sandpaper. We spent hours cleaning up dust after I was done sanding, including vacuuming and scrubbing the walls and ceiling. I used heavy duty varnish stripper on parts that couldn't be sanded. I used heavy duty varnish stripper cleaner to clean the varnish stripper off. I took off the doors of the top and used wood filler to fill cracks and holes. I conditioned and stained the whole thing. I waited for it to dry. I stained it a second time. I waited for it to dry. I sealed the whole thing. I waited for it to dry. I bought all new hardware for the doors and drawers. I visited 8 different craft stores to find the perfect paper and then Michael and I decoupaged 2 different types of paper on the back and sides of the open shelving. I stayed up late working on it. I ate a lot of sawdust. We choked on the fumes for days. I checked Spencer's breathing in the middle of the night, certain that he was slowly dying from fume intoxication. I spent hours on the internet to find out why our gas dryer and gas stove top smelled like kerosene when we turned them on (it was from the fumes burning off in the air). We spent hours air fluffing all of our laundry so it wouldn't smell like kerosene until all the fumes cleared. I cursed at myself for ever taking on such a project. And then, suddenly, it was done.

(circa 2002 in our Colorado apartment)

(circa 2 days ago) This is just a sample of what it will look like with my polish pottery displayed on the open shelving. These are not the actual pieces that I will be using. That is still a work in progress.
I still need to buy some little things, like plants and such, to pretty it up and fill the top. Do you remember when my favorite piece of pottery broke last year?

My dad is going to glue it back together and it will go on display on the hutch.

I'm also getting these 2 bad boys as birthday presents from my mom and dad and Michael and myself. I won't feel like it's really done until I have these 3 pieces up there.
When I got started on this whole thing I was thinking it would be fun to refinish Spencer's dresser. I no longer feel that way.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

An exciting development

We have hardware!

And antiquey looking paper!

We're getting there. It's almost done.

P.S. We don't have a lamp growing out of the wall. The last picture is turned on its side.


I've been kidnapped. Entrapped. Held for ransom by an unyielding piece of furniture from the 1970's. The last part of the project was supposed to be the "easy" part. Ha! Michael and I both worked on it for 2 hours tonight and got less than 1/3 done.

I am very good with words. I love vocabulary and grammar. Language is my strength (which might explain my choice of career). Math. Not so much. Measuring. Not at all. Michael helped me with all the measuring for this part of the project. He said something about 3/8 of an inch and I looked at him, like a deer in the headlights and said, "I have no idea what you are talking about. That makes no sense to me whatsoever."

Somebody save me. Make it end.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Michael looked at the ol' blog today and was surprised I haven't posted anything new since Thursday. I reminded him that my life has been taken hostage by the damn ________ (insert project name here) that I've been working on. I eat, breath and sleep this thing. It's always on my mind. I've been working on it non-stop for days (OK, there might have been some TV watching in there too). I will never be so glad as the day it's done.

A preview

I like to think that I saved a couple bucks by using large sunglasses instead of safety goggles. I might change my mind when my eyeballs, crusted over with sawdust, fall out of my face.

Just kidding. My eyes are fine. The sunglasses totally worked.

I'll post pictures when I've been set free from the tyranny of this damn thing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


We have 2 refrigerators. It's the best thing ever.

Refrigerator #1 is in the kitchen. Outside it is overrun with baby announcements and Spencer's artwork. Inside it keeps the food that we use most often. Milk, eggs, jam, cheese, fruits, veggies, etc.

Refrigerator #2 is in the laundry room. We keep extra items in here. Extra milk, about 4 bottles of champagne (???), spare yogurts. Stuff like that. We keep a lot of bulk stuff in the freezer too.Spencer and I went to the grocery store this morning. It was not a planned trip. We just happened to be by the store when I happened to remember we needed a few things. I can never, ever remember if we have extra milks in the laundry room refrigerator. It could be 30 minutes after purchasing milk and I can't remember if there is extra milk in there. Anyway. I called Michael at work while Spencer and I were standing by the milk and told him I was buying us milk (skim), but I couldn't remember if Spencer needed milk (2%). He said that Spencer's milk level was just about the same as ours. I said, OK, I'll get him some milk too.

We bought our groceries and then we came home. And then I looked at the milk levels. And then I laughed. This is Michael's idea of "the same". Need a closer look from a different angle to get the full effect? Go ahead. Laugh. I did.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Office

My office is up and running. I weeded through about 2,000 pounds of materials and paperwork to make a neat, organized spot for myself. It's pretty nice in a "office in an old school" kind of way. The pictures came out way blurry. I apologize. We need a new camera, but new cameras are expensive so it keeps getting pushed down on the list of items to buy.

Here's my little table for evaluations and therapy sessions. At the most I will have 3 kids in a group. The majority of my sessions will be 2 kids.
Here's my materials shelf.
Here's a corner. It's way less blury in person.
Here's my bulletin board. Maryellen- look close. Do you see it? No? Look again. There on the left.
Yep. I still have it. Remember when Cody drew this circa 2006? The knee cap freaks me out just as much today as it did 4 years ago.
In non-office related news, I'm passing on a request from my friend Megan. Her friend Maggie is the program supervisor for Best Buddies Arizona. Best Buddies is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

They are a great organization and they are in the running for a $200,000 grant from Pepsi as the "program" the D-Backs are supporting. Here's what you can do to help:

Vote 25 times a day via text by typing the message “dbacks” to 76462

Vote another 25 times a day on EACH of your computers by visiting www.mlb.com/pepsirefresh, select the AZ Diamondbacks logo and vote!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Calm down time

We have several wonderful libraries close to us. Each one has their own toddler story time and, during the school year, Michael and Spencer go on Tuesday when I'm at work. Spencer likes to pick books out of the big baskets after story time. Some of his favorites are the "time" books by Elizabeth Verdick. We get at least one of her books every week. I can't even estimate how many different times in the last year we have read these books.

Here's a good example of how these books are written (from Listening Time):
Sit criss cross applesauce,
hands on knees please.
Put away the wiggles.
Put away the giggles.
Listening works better when your body is calm and still.

(and yes. That is from memory. I can recite the whole book)
I sometimes feel like Spencer believes we are crazy when we tell him some of the stuff we tell him- like he has to take a nap or he has to pick up his toys when he dumps them all over the living room. It's like we're telling him to stuff green lizards into his ears. It's really helpful to have a book with the same messages so he can learn, in his own 2-year-old way, that every kid has to do the same things we make him do.

Spencer and Michael brought home a new, never before seen "time" book this week. It could not have come at a more opportune time.
I think all of my readers know that Spencer was a DIFFICULT newborn and he was a pretty intense infant. He has grown into a pretty great kid though. He's still stubborn and he can be shy, but luckily he can be bargained with. Lately he has been FREAKING OUT and having the hugest meltdowns about lots of things. They're not even temper tantrums. They are meltdowns. For example, my mom recently gave him a bar of soap with a little soap frog in it. The bar broke in half in the tub a few nights ago and Spencer absolutely lost it. He was sobbing and screaming and he could barely breath. It took at least 5 minutes to calm him down. The same thing happened when he dropped a little bit of his food on the floor and Ginger ate it.

Anyway. We are going to be implementing a calm down time procedure. It will be different than time out. Time outs happen on his bed. I'm going to have him help me pick a new place for calm down and then we'll put some items there (books, stuffed animal, etc) that can help him CALM DOWN. Then maybe, just maybe, he won't grow up to star in a reality show (ahem: Jersey Shore) and go around punching people in the face and getting arrested because he never learned the fine art of CALM THE HELL DOWN.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My new job

I'm going public. I'm ready to make this statement.

My new job is da bomb!

I have had enough speech therapy jobs at this point in my career to be able to tell within the first week if it's going to be a "good" job or a "bad" job or an "OK but with irritating features" job .

Here's my "stream of thought" list of why previous jobs were less than ideal and how my new job compares.

1) I have my own office. It's not huge, but it's big enough and I do not share it with anyone. The door locks and I have the key. That means evaluation and therapy sessions will not be interrupted and my stuff won't be stolen. Always good.

2) Last year I would go up to 4-7 weeks between paychecks. Sometimes I would get paid 2 weeks in a row. Sometimes my paycheck would be for 1 week, sometimes 2 weeks, sometimes 3 weeks and sometimes 4 weeks. It was always an adventure. A horrible, nerve-wracking, we have no money to buy food adventure. I worked until Wednesday at 12:30 this week. I submitted my billing when I left and less than 24 hours later I had my check in my hand. (And there is not a penny of it left 5 hours later but at least now we won't be evicted.)

3) I have always, always, always had to call parents, schedule and reschedule my own meetings and do every single page of the evaluation report and IEP (Individualized Education Program) including corrections, copies, sending home copies and filing. We had our first little special ed. training this week where I was told that all of the stuff I just mentioned will be taken care of by the Special Education Director. All I have to do for the IEP is the present levels, goals and service time. All I have to do for evaluation reports is the speech/language section. Meetings will be scheduled for me. Paperwork after the meeting is not my responsibility. Now, all of you non-speech therapists out there are probably thinking: cool. Sounds nice. My reaction: my jaw dropped literally to the ground, I gasped for air and I got a little bit teary eyed. Then I called my mom and told her about it and her reaction was to get off the phone so she could call her speech therapist friend, because it's just unheard of. Words just cannot express how phenomenal this is. It's like 80% of the tediousness of my job. Gone. Seriously. Just imagine that you have always had to unload the dishwasher, put all the dishes up, load the dishwasher with dirty dishes, add the soap, turn it on and then handwash dishes, dry those and put those up and then wipe down the counters. And then mop the floor. And now, after years, someone tells you that all you have to do is add the soap and press "on". That's a good comparison.

4) I am working less hours for more money. There's nothing more to say about that.

5) Supplies. They actually have therapy and evaluation supplies. A lot of them. Like, so many I had to get rid of some of them to make room in the office. It's unheard of.

I know that there will be negatives to this job. It's just a reality. There is no perfect job out there. I will probably find myself complaining about something or other during the school year. That's just a reality too, because people, myself included, just complain. It's human nature. But, I have really, really high hopes that this is the job for me. And I'm very happy to be there. Once my office is neat and organized (which will be soon since I can't stand it being undone), I'll take some pictures and share them.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Just in case there was any doubt....

We've got the proof that Spencer is actually growing.

2008, 2009 and 2010

(I like how the pictures lined up next to each other looks like 3 brothers)

Monday, August 2, 2010

What you can do when it's not 114 degrees

We had a big monsoon storm on Thursday afternoon. This was the sky as the storm was rollin' on in. Love it.

We got another big storm on Friday night/early Saturday morning. I actually stayed up just so I could listen to the rain. It's so rare an event I didn't want to miss it by doing something normal like sleeping at 1 am. It was really cool on Saturday morning (if you consider 88 and muggy with a light breeze to be cool). We decided to take Spencer to the park/splash pad.

We had a blast. I don't know where all the other families were, because the park was empty. What could they have possibly been doing when there was an awesome cloudy day to enjoy?