Chocolate and cherry and I don’t even like cherry*

I am supposed to be at Amy and Mia’s play tonight but am instead sitting here in the kitchen with Adam. We had to leave after ten minutes because the sound system was acting up and the loud buzzing was sending Adam into a panic. So I brought him home and Dan and Liam stayed and I’ll go tomorrow night instead.

Remember last year when Amy was in Fiddler on the Roof and I spent three weeks making her costume? This year they’re doing Annie Jr. – Mia is an orphan and Amy is in the New York ensemble so I had two costumes to do. Thrift store, shapeless plaid jumper and ratty old sweater for Mia and a perfect pale pink dress for Amy. I paid $20 for the lot, ran it through the washer, and hacked six inches off the hem of the jumper. Two costumes in less than an hour. Boom.

I’d promise to post pictures but I don’t think I’ve manged to get last Halloween on here yet – so who are we kidding?

About the leaving early… we’ve been going through the testing process and it looks like  Adam’s got autism. Not a big surprise, it’s obvious his behaviors are a little different from most other kids. Hopefully we’ll be able to find some ways to help him overcome some of the sensory and social issues that stress him out.

*Adam and I are eating Tootsie pops. Guess which flavor I got?

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New Address

Did you notice the new address? The automatic redirect will be ending in a few weeks when my domain name expires. So make sure to update your bookmarks so you can still check in to see me NOT writing here.

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I miss this blog

I’ve just spent the last hour going back over old posts and reading all the silly things my kids have done, all the stupid things I have done, and all the wonderful, funny, supportive, touching comments you have added.

It’s crazy to go back six years when I first start writing and see pictures of my girls looking so young. And it’s nuts to read through my pregnancies with the boys who both seem so big now. My baby will be four in January. FOUR!! I feel old.

Life right now…

The Good: The book is doing well. It is getting good reviews and I was invited on one of our local morning TV shows two weeks ago. I’ve done several appearances and signings where I have been able to meet readers. It has all been very surreal.

The Bad: We had to say goodbye to Lola. Her anxiety kept getting worse and nothing we did seemed to help. After she bit the mailman at the beginning of October, things started going downhill rapidly. We honestly didn’t know what to do about her. An answer to prayer came when I was connected with a family with one dog already and a big, fenced backyard out in the country where Lola would not have people walking by all day and dogs or neighbors on the other side of the fence. Saying goodbye was gut-wrenching and we all still miss her. No more pets for this family.

The Ugly: Adam continues to have breathing problems. Last weekend we were in the ER with him and I was afraid they would want to admit him, but his oxygen levels stabilized and we were able to come home. Our pediatrician wants us to get some genetic testing for him because while he doesn’t have any obvious disorder, there are enough red flags that could point to a genetic disability.

He has missed a lot of school because he has either been sick, or he has been up all night coughing and unable to breathe so he’s completely exhausted the next morning. The school has been very supportive. They have a team of counselors and teachers who are working with him on his motor skills, his social development, etc and he is making a lot of progress. Still, it’s hard to watch him struggle. My heart aches to think of it.

It’s just life. Ups and downs… joy and pain… step forward, step back. We’ll make it.

I hope all of you are doing well and you are having a wonderful Christmas season.


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Hey? Guess where I haven't been?

Here, obviously.

The biggest reason being that I am totally swamped right now with book promotion. Oh, and work. And being a mom. And trying to find time to work on my next book.

And somewhere in all that we did get the Halloween costumes finished and they were fun and the kids had a great time and I ate all the Almond Joys they got while Trick or Treating.

I’m doing (slightly) more writing over at my author website and I have a big book blog tour starting at the end of November. I’ll post Halloween pictures soon, I swear! As soon as I can get them off my camera.

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Stairs… so many stairs

The garden has been rather lackluster this year:

Behold…the sum total of my zucchini crop (butter provided for scale only. I did not grow the butter.) Zucchini is probably one of the easiest vegetables to grow in the WORLD. You can throw a rotten zucchini into a compost pile and a whole new plant will sprout before you know it to bestow its benevolence upon you in the form of ridiculously large and numerous vegetables.

But not at chez Laylabean, apparently.

All the other plants performed in a similarly dismal fashion. The tomato plants are enormous and have completely engulfed their fragile metal cages, but there have been only a handful of tomatoes. Likewise the brussel sprouts. Gigantic, towering plants with leaves as big as dinner plates, but so far only one (ONE) brussel sprout.

Not that I care too much. Not really. It’s been an off year for me in many ways and this is just one more thing. I don’t even like zucchini that much and even though I had high hopes for the brussel sprouts, the best I can manage when viewing my harvest is a decided meh.

I usually get very excited in Autumn at the prospect of farmer’s markets and fruit stands and gardens with all the fresh fruits and veggies. But this year, even my beloved O’Henry peaches or the thought of a tomato fresh off the vine and warm from the sun couldn’t shake me from my apathy.


That about sums it up.

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Hat buried in the sand

So…Kindergarten. Kinda hating it right now.

We knew it would be a challenge for Adam because of his physical delays and his social issues. He continues to struggle with low muscle tone and while it doesn’t slow him down that much, his delays are pretty noticeable in a room full of five-year-olds. He simply is not as agile or flexible as they are and he sometimes struggles to keep up.

On top of that, we have long suspected he may have a mild form of autism or aspergers syndrome. He does not like strangers, takes a loooong time to warm up to new authority figures, has a deep fear of being left, is easily startled, and is quickly overwhelmed by noise, lights, crowds, etc.

But in spite of these challenges, mentally he is either right on track or ahead of his peers. We had no doubt that cognitively, he was ready for Kindergarten. I had long talks with the principal at orientation and with Adam’s teacher at assessment and talked about all this. We agreed to take a wait-and-see approach and let him get into the routine before making any decisions.

Mrs. B (Adam’s teacher) has been great. We met earlier this week and she has some concerns, mostly with his attention span and his socialization. She suggested we get the school psychologist to observe him for a few days and had all the consent forms ready for me to sign. I was happy to agree, we are as anxious as anyone to give him the boost he needs. Plus, I can tell that Mrs. B genuinely cares about him and wants to do what she can to help him.

The principal, though, is another story. I have had a run-in with this principal before with Mia. Remember?

About three weeks ago the principal (Ms. S) called me to see what she could do to help Adam. They had had two assemblies in the week and both times he had to go sit in the office and color because he was too overwhelmed. Ms. S. told me she had offered him a book to look at and he turned away from her and wouldn’t respond… as he does when he is forced to interact with strangers. I told her that was not unusual behavior for him, reminded her about our talk at orientation, and expressed my willingness to do everything we could to help him. She said she would send home consent forms for the school psychologist to evaluate him, but she never did. When Mrs. B had the forms for me the other day, I mentioned the phone call from the principal and she was surprised. Apparently they hadn’t talked about him at all, despite the principal telling me she would meet with Mrs. B.

But that is a small detail and completely understandable. There are a lot of kids at the school, I certainly don’t expect Ms. S to remember every detail about each one and the start of the school year is always hectic so she may have forgotten. Again, understandable.

There is a special needs preschool at this elementary school, literally steps from the Kindergarten classrooms. If you’ve been with us from the start, you know that when Adam was a baby, he was in an early intervention program where a therapist came to the house every week and helped him learn to talk and walk and climb stairs, etc. That program ended when he turned three, so we had him tested to see if he qualified for the preschool equivalent — which is held at the preschool in our elementary school.

We were happy when he was ineligible for the program because it meant he had been progressing very well. But, they tested cognitive skills almost exclusively and of course he blew all those tests out of the water. The fact that, at age three, he couldn’t get into the chair by himself to take the tests did not seem to be a factor. I raised the issue of his physical and social challenges but was assured they were no big deal and would get better as he got older. And if it didn’t? Well, there is a special needs preschool literally steps from the room where he will take Kindergarten so you’ll have all these resources to help you when the time comes.

So here we are and up until today, I thought we were on the right track. Then this morning I got a phone call from the principal wanting to put him in an extended hours Kindergarten class for the kids who are needing a little extra help. I was all for it until she told me the focus of the class — phonics.

This is the kid who knew all his numbers, shapes, colors, and letters by the time he was three and a half. This is the kid who loves going to the library because they have the alphabet painted onto the carpet and he gets to walk on the letters while saying each one. This is the kid who fills up my driveway with chalked ABCs and who can spell the word rocket. He knows the alphabet forwards, backwards, upside down, and inside out. He knows the difference between vowels and consonants. He knows that “C” makes two different sounds. He can read street signs. He can even do this…

I really don’t think phonics is part of his set of challenges.

I pointed all this out to Ms. S. and she argued that they had had two assessments and both times his scores were low. I told her I was at one of the assessments (pre-Kindergarten with his teacher) and if the other was similar, he wasn’t answering the questions because he didn’t trust the teacher/evaluator yet, NOT because he didn’t know the answers. And then she said, “Okay, well so can I go ahead and sign him up for the class then?”


I told her again that this was not a solution for him. We know he needs special help, but NOT in phonics. He is a pretty laid-back and cheerful kid, but he’s not totally unaware. He knows there are things he can’t do that other kids can do. And I am not about to put him in a special needs class where he might start doubting his ability to do the one thing he really excels at and is really proud of himself about.

And then she said I had to come in for a meeting next week to discuss it.

So, I will. And I’m going to take these with me (click to enbiggen):

We did these yesterday. I helped him draw the snowman but all the other work is his. And as he was writing, he was naming each letter and telling me the sound it makes and a word that starts with each one. All without me prompting him. He wanted to talk about it — he can talk about letters and numbers for hours.

But Ms. S does not want to hear this. She wants to be able to put a little check next to his name on her spreadsheet so she can show the superintendent how her school is helping kids with low test scores. She doesn’t want to consider that the score might be the result of something other than knowledge of the materials.  She wants to slap a label on him so he will fit into a program that has been developed from studies and statistics and averages, not on individual child needs. I do not doubt that she wants to help. But she is not an educator, she is a bureaucrat.

And I will not trust her with my kid.

What bothers me the most is that after we meet next week and I decline the class again, there will be a note somewhere in his file saying how the school tried to offer him this special program but the parents refused. Not, oh hey, the parents made some good points and after reevaluation, we decided they were right and this isn’t the program for him. No. The parents refused. Which means, the parents are unwilling to help them help him.

(Yes, mama spent the day looking into alternatives.)

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And I can't seem to get the polka right

So that’s how this is going from now on, huh? I pop in here, drop a bunch of whine on you, and then flounce back out for a few weeks – or at least until I have more complaining to do?

Well, yes.

That does appear to be the pattern, I admit. But not on purpose!

Okay, kinda on purpose. If by on purpose you mean that I really don’t have much to say except for the occasional whine right now and not a lot of mental bandwidth at the moment to pour into das blog. So, it stinks, I know, and you totally deserve your money back and everything but I…kinda spent it already so let’s just…well, maybe if you stick around long enough I’ll come up with something that will seem worth your investment. M’kay? Thx.

Let’s start with this one:

I have the dumbest dog on the planet.

I believe most of you already know this because, how could you not? Her stupidity is overwhelming and will actually come leaking out all over you if you get too close to her.

Last month we had her into the vet for shots and crap and we mentioned how difficult it is to control her anxiety. So he cheerfully (and rather quickly) offered us some anti-anxiety medication for her. Brilliant! She horks the pills down in hotdogs like there’s no tomorrow, but they’re kinda expensive so we try to only use them if we have company coming over or if she’s going to be in some other stressful situation.

The key question then, of course, is what stresses Lola out?

Answer? YES.

Bird in the backyard? Check.

Neighbors over the fence? Of course.

Adam won’t stop playing with the doorbell? What, are you NEW at this?

Plus approximately a frillion other things that may or may not send her into batcrap insane mode at any given time.

We messed around with the dosage on the meds and went through a few days of this:

Which pleased me greatly because I am evil, but in the grand scheme of things, is probably not the best thing for her. Probably. So we did some more adjusting and maybe, possibly have it about right. Except for on the days when we don’t because she is a moody little turd and some days she’s higher strung than others and hello? I thought we took care of this when we had her girl parts removed. (???)

So she continues to be unpredictable but I do admit, she is getting better as she gets older.



I was on the phone with my mother and holding Liam, who has been sick and had fallen asleep in my arms. Adam was outside drawing with sidewalk chalk and I heard the front door open, a crash, Adam started crying, and then… the almighty howl of the dammed started echoing through the neighborhood.

I’m pretty sure I said a bad word (sorry, mom) as I threw down the phone, plunked Liam on the couch, and took off after Lola. She was two doors up the street in a standoff with the mailman, who she had already bitten once. Yes. My dog bit the mailman.

When she saw me coming, she took off running again and I could only shout an apology at the poor mailman and keep running because, dude – crazy dog is on the loose. I chased her all the way down the street and around the corner and there were two little kids out playing in their yard and I was screaming at her to stop and get back here and she dropped into her aggressive crouch against the two kids when…

Their two giant black labs came shooting around the corner, followed by the kids’ dad. At this point, Lola is baying up a storm and making so much noise I can barely hear the dad holler to me that his dogs are friendly. I yelled back that mine wasn’t and no one should touch her and he can feel free to go ahead and sic his dogs on her because, dude, I was MAD.

Fortunately, the man and his dogs are all more civilized than we are because they just stood there and kept her attention until I could grab her and haul her off. More apologies to this family and by the time I got back down our street, the mailman was in his truck and starting to drive away. I flagged him down, groveled some more, and asked him if he was hurt. No, he said, she had “nipped” him but it was nothing serious. I gave the go ahead to pepper spray her next time and even offered to buy some for him and he laughed and said no way because he loves dogs. Ugh! So many very nice people in this world! What’s a girl to do?

My boys were both standing at the end of our driveway sobbing and screaming because they thought I’d run away from home and left them, and Lola was squirming and whining in my arms because she knew she was going to get it when we not in public. I herded everyone in, locked the doors, and… just ugh! No, I didn’t hurt her. But she did get a good scolding and I swatted her on the nose with a rolled up magazine. Hard enough to sting.

THEN, I had to call animal control. Because my dog had attacked a government employee, who is probably obligated to fill out some kind of report in triplicate and I wanted it noted that I was fully cooperative. They had an officer at my door in less than two hours. We got busted for not having her licensed (fee = $10) and were told to keep her under house arrest for the next two weeks. If the mailman decided he needed medical attention, we would be on the hook for his bills, but I talked to him again the next day and he said he was fine and it was no big deal and not to worry about it anymore.

I love the mailman.

Lola, however, did NOT get off so easy.

This is her new muzzle ala Lady and the Tramp and boy does she hate it! It’s really soft and padded so she can breathe and even drink with it on, but she can’t howl and she definitely cannot bite.

She wears it on walks or if she starts nipping or howling. Also, if the boys are going in and out, I either lock her in her crate or put the muzzle on because she has proven she cannot be trusted not to take off. The animal control guy recommended it and said that eventually she’ll figure out that if she doesn’t want to be muzzled, she’d better not be stupid.


Thank goodness we had just had all her shots updated when she was at the vet. We’d let the rabies one expire so it was very, very lucky she’d had it.

Oh, and the animal control officer said we were already in his system because we’d adopted the goat. I’m actually pretty proud of that and on most days, I’d much rather have the goat than the dog. Ugh!

On a brighter note…

One week!! My book comes out in one week!!

You can go here for more info and to see the trailer.


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