Sunday, January 30, 2011

Autism: The Fight for Normalcy

When MW was 3, his Dad and I took him to a child psychologist because he was having anger issues in the head start program he was in.

We didn't know he was Autistic then, but I had been reading anything and everything I could on his symptoms and had met a lady online who had an Autistic daughter and had gently pointed out that she thought MW might also be Autistic.

Within 10 minutes after meeting and working with MW, the child psychologist told us without a doubt that MW was Autistic.

My first reaction? Intense relief.

I had been arguing and fighting with Doctors since he was 18 months. I knew something was "off" with him. I had been repeatedly told that he was "precocious" "high strung" "manipulative"...etc.

Now that I had a diagnosis I could work towards getting MW specific help.

First, I had to learn what Autism meant. I already knew the symptoms of it through dealing with MW's behavior...but I had to learn what he was experiencing inside his head so that I could understand and help him.

For those whom have followed my blog, you know a bit of our journey.

One of the milestones in MW's and my life was a question I asked the psychologist.

MW could not be outside the house for longer than 20 minutes a day. I had to get everything done in that space of time. Every errand had to be condensed into one stop.

Back then they did not have the mega super stores they have now where you can basically get all your shopping done in one store.

Taking MW with me on my errands was a nightmare. He would cry and scream primal screams the second I stepped into a store. I would spend a good hour preparing him for my entry into a store to try and prevent the screams.

Along our journey I had learned that over head lights and sounds were extremely invasive on his nervous system. Close your eyes and think of walking into a supermarket. The bright lights, the clanging of cash registers, the raised voices of people. The intercom system announcing specials of the day. Now imagine the filter in your brain that closes off the nonsense noise is broken. You see, hear and smell everything.

MW's endurance of the overwhelming flood to his nervous system was about 20 minutes a day. That is all he could handle before he shut down and screamed in agony.

I asked the psychologist if MW would ever out grow the inability to be outside the home for longer than 20 minutes a day. She told me, "No. He would probably never get past that 20 minute mark."

I couldn't accept that. I wouldn't accept that for him. What kind of life would he have?

I started taking MW to the Mall. One stop shopping that had multiple shops inside with their different sounds, lights, environments.

I would entice him to go further and further into the mall with, "Let's go get some ice cream at the ice cream shop." Or "Let's go get a toy at the toy store" Or "Let's go look at the cool sword shop".

Little by little he stretched and his system learned how to adjust to the different sounds and smells.

When he was 5 and wanted a new pair of flashing tennis shoes I took him to Target directly from daycare and tried to find him some.

Target did not have them. I braced myself for his screams of frustration...but the screams did not happen. He was calm.

I gently asked if he wanted to try Payless which was right down the road. He surprised me with, "Yes Mom. Let's go there."

I packed us back in the car and drove to Payless. They didn't have the flashing shoes either. I slumped inside knowing MW would have been pushed past what he could handle and steeled myself for his raging frustration.

It did not come.

When I told him there were no flashing tennis shoes, he calmly accepted the news and patiently waited while a store clerk measured his foot and found him a cool pair of tennis shoes that didn't have lights in them.

I paid for our purchase and headed out. Halfway home it hit me. We had done it. We had shopped for an hour and a half and he hadn't screamed! We had gone to multiple stores and MW hadn't cried. He had compromised on an item that he had been fixated on...and he had not fallen apart.

We. Had. WON!

We had taken that 20 minute diagnosis and had crushed it. It was the proudest moment of my life.

Now we face another hurdle.

MW is 13.

Right now we are faced with another diagnosis.

A psychologist had told us that MW loses concentration every 15 seconds.

He is very good about bringing his focus back...but he loses it..every 15 seconds.

This means someday:

He will not be able to drive.

He won't be able to go to College.

He won't be able to hold a real job.

He won't be able to live on his own without help.

MW is starting to realize this.

The other night he lay on the couch and said, "Mom, I want to have a real life. I want to be able to drive. To have a good job. To go to College. I want a real life."

It tore my heart in pieces.

He left the room and I put my face in my hands and cried.

Lord V came in the room and saw me crying. I told him what MW had said and we both sat with heavy hearts, aching at the unfairness of it all.

It was so damn unfair. So unfair that this beautiful boy could not have the same life that we all take for granted.

Later that night I took MW to his once a month Autism game night, where he got to hang with other Autistic kids while parents talked to each other.

I talked about what MW had said. How he wanted to drive and have a normal life and how it broke my heart.

Each parent shook their head and shared in the heart break. They threw up their hands and said, "What are we going to do?" "What is going to happen to our kids?"

I left that night without an answer.

But, this morning I awoke with a new resolve.

I'm done crying. I'm finished.

I am not going to accept this lack of life for our precious MW.

I. Am. NOT.

I'm done sitting on the sidelines. I am not going to accept this new diagnosis.

We are going to fight. MW is going to beat this.

He will drive.

He will have a good job.

He will live successfully on his own.


He is too precious. Too wonderful. Too amazing to accept anything other than the best life he can possibly have.

I won't accept anything else.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Morning Show

I dropped MW off at school early this morning and headed towards the gym and my hour of torture.

While paused at a stop light the sun peeked through the fog and illuminated the sky in a brilliant shower of swirls and colors.

I found a little dirt road that faced towards the sunrise and pulled my truck over.

I hopped out with my Iphone clutched in my hand and scrambled up a dirt embankment so I could try and capture the suns show.

It. Was. Spectacular.

A few more of the pictures can be see here: a kats eye view and haphazardkat365

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Two Claws UP!

Lord V and I watched a really good movie last night via Netflix Play it now.

Movie: The Maiden Heist (2009)

Stars: Christopher Walken, William Macy, Morgan Freeman and Marcia Gay Harden.

It was sweet and LOL funny in a very subtle way.

The actors were wonderful in their understated roles.

It was a movie you had to watch closely to catch all the subtle movements of the actors that once you see them, they do not fail to leave you laughing in surprised delight.

They obviously had a lot of fun in their roles.

I absolutely loved this movie!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blank Pages

My 3rd grade teacher once handed us a blank sheet of paper and told us to draw anything that came to mind while she played "The Nutcracker" on the old classroom record player.

I remember closing my eyes and immersing myself in the beautiful, magical notes of the song.

I longed to fill my blank page with the images the song swirled inside my head but I could not. I was a woeful artist.

That blank page and my inability to create anything adequate on it haunted me for years.

In college I thought: Well I can't be an artist so maybe I can become a writer and describe the images trapped in my head.

I wrote a couple of books over the next few years but the colors and images inside my head were still trapped. The blank page continued to haunt me.

I turned my efforts to fill that page with photography.

My first attempts were as inept as my drawing skills. I chopped off peoples heads, one of my fingers were always in the shot, I snapped billions of pictures where only a handful were passable enough to pin to a family album-but I felt something stir inside of me.

I kept shooting. And shooting. And shooting.

Digital cameras caught on and started quickly replacing film and I was suddenly free to shoot as many pictures as I wanted.

I became a mad woman. I took pictures of everything and slowly the blank page that haunted me for so many years began to fill with the swirls and colors of my minds eye.

When a writer or artist is asked: How do you find the time to do what you do? How do you do it?

I understand their answer.

You write because you cannot not write.

You draw because you cannot not draw.

I don't go anywhere without some form of camera. I've become known as "the picture taker".

My page is less blank these days. I'm obnoxious in my passion to fill it with my images but have found nothing but support from family and friends in my pursuit.

Thank you Mrs. Traci for placing that page in front of my 8 year old person.

and thanks to my friends and family for your sighs and patient smiles as I make you all pause so I can take one more shot. Just one more. more...

Photo blogs of mine:

Vita non est vivere sed valere vita est

Mobile City: Iphone Images

A Kats Eye View

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Monsters and Angels Among Us

I watched Datelines video clip of the woman who had brought the little 9 year old girl to meet the Congresswoman Giffords in Tucson.

How horrible would that be--to be the person responsible for another person child--and then to lose her in such a monstrous way?

We have been saturated with details of that horrific day.

The crazy young man who loaded his guns and snuffed out the lives of strangers because...because he could.

And the heroic people who fell upon others to protect them from the bullets, giving their lives so others could live.

What thin line separates us from monsters and angels?

I am sad, Peeps. Sad for the parents who lost their precious little girl.

Sad for the woman who covered her face during an interview and wept at the loss of the little one she had been entrusted with.

How do they ever come back from such a loss?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A House of Sickness

MW was sick yesterday with the flu. He seems to have rebounded today but I find myself with the hung over feeling of on coming flu :(

Will I be able to keep my date with the gym?


Friday, January 21, 2011

Found: Lost Pictures of New York Blizzard

This video is heart warming. And as photography is a passion of mine--it has an added warm meaning to me :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011


It's official. The Holidays for our little family is officially over.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays are finished for awhile.

Playtime is over. It's now time to embrace the meat of the year 2011.

I have made a considerable dent in my New Year resolutions but I still have major goals to work on.

A mini goal I have for the rest of this month is to hit the gym every day until February 1st.


I am already shuddering under the burden of that goal...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


It is my Friday, Peeps!!

For those of you who's Wednesday is just a Humpday (the 13 year old in me giggles that word) who are experiencing bitterness at my rubbing in the fact today is my FRIDAY *cough-rub rub-cough*...know this...

My days of having Wednesdays as my Fridays is soon coming to an end. BOO! :(

After 16 years I am moving from my Engineer position to an Admin position with another group...provided they finally send me my offer letter *mutter*...

Normal hours: no more getting up at 4:30AM for long 10 hour days.
Normal work days: Monday-Friday. No more weekends and no more Holidays :D

I'm tired, Peeps. I'm feeling my age and am ready for some normalcy.

It does seem odd to leave the group I've been in for the past 16 years, but I'm ready.

I'm embracing change, Peeps :)

A dawning of a new era.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

365 captured moments: New Blog

I have borrowed the idea of capturing 2011 with 365 snapshots.

Cuz I needed ONE more photo blog to keep up, right?! :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tomorrow He is 13...

Happy Birthday to my Mini Warrior.

I shall hide my Mom promised ;)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

MW Celebration

Today MW and his stepbrother celebrate their birthdays.

His official birthday is not until Tuesday--but as they are both in the same classroom at school and therefore share the same friends, it's easier to do the combined birthday bash of bowling/arcade playing/package ripping/cake eating/soda swilling goodness!

My baby is turning 13, Peeps.


I shall follow MW's command of:

"Now Mom...I'm growing up. No crying at my birthday!"

and swallow my Mom tears (at least in his immediate presence)

There shall, of course, be pictures.

( be continued)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Shh! Don't Wake The Man Child!

It's Saturday, my morning to sleep in, but my eyelids sprung open at 6:49am exposing my eyeballs to a brand new day.
I toyed with the idea of forcing my eyelids to recover my eyeballs but it was too late. My eyeballs told my brain, "HEY! A new day!" and my brain sent my hips, knees, elbows and spine out on the highway of "Get the hell up!" I did.

And here I am, sleepy, creaky and un-caffeinated, hiding upstairs in my Hello Kitty office because there is a soon-to-be-13 man child that has a blood hound nose for freshly perking coffee and...god help me...

once awakened the beast will begin his daily regiment of "let's break Mom with 3 billion facts and questions squished into the time the coffee finishes perking".

Which pretty much goes like this:

Hey Mom?


Which do you like best. Mario or Luigi?


I think I like Mario better because he's shorter and plumper than Luigi and has a bigger mustache.


Do you think Mario is plumper than Luigi?


Hey. That's-a not-a nice-a! I'm-a not-a fat-a!

Yes-a you-a are-a!

I spit fireballs at you!



Thats-a what-a you-a get-a for-a calling me-a fat-a!

Momma-mia Mario is-a spitting fireballs at me-a!


Hey Mom?


Who do you think eats more mushrooms. Mario or Luigi?


I think Mario because he's fatter.

Do you think Mario is fatter than Luigi?



Well-a you are-a!

How-a rude-a!

I'm-a not-a rude-a!

yes-a you-a are-a!

No-a I'm-a not-a!

Mom! Do you think Luigi is rude?


Hey Mom?


Hey Mom?


Hey Mom?


Hey Mom?


Do you like Mario in red overalls or blue overalls?


God. Help. Me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's Very SPLOOSHY Outside!!

The cold snap is finished and the %$#! blessed Northwest rain has returned!

I darted out on my lunch time and snapped a few iPhone pics of Portland in the rain.

Go HERE: for more pics :)

Beats snow. Gotta say that!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy 1-11-11 !!

When I was little I was a dedicated night owl. My mother would insist I get to bed by 7pm thinking I would get 10-11 hours of needed childhood sleep.


I used to lay awake hour after hour and amuse myself by watching the digital clock numbers tremble then slide and click into place.


222 was always the last one I would see before I drifted off to sleep.

My mother would wake me up at 6am and be fanatically worried that I had some terrible blood disease because I was exhausted after a supposed 10 hour sleep :)

It would never do to tell her I lay awake all night. That would get me a clout across my head for failing in my sleep duty.

I do find it humorous that after all these years I am no longer a night owl. Now the latest I see the clock is 11:11 and then I'm off to drool land.

Happy 1-11-11, Peeps :) Do something special today.

I command thee! ;)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Let's take this journey together...

We've made it through the first week of 2011.

How's everyone's New Years lists coming?

Given up yet?

Crossed anything off yet?

I've crossed of a couple of major things off my list this week.

I still have huge ones to accomplish yet.


I paused last night to capture this sunset pic to remind and mark this day...the first week of January 2011.

It's done, Peeps.

51 more to go.

What will we accomplish. What will we all have seen over the next 51 weeks?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sweet Baby Boy of Mine

On the Saturday nights I have my son, it is a ritual of ours for me to leave a note for him on the kitchen table and to go upstairs (before leaving early for work on Sunday morning) to kiss and hug him goodbye--as he goes to his Dad's on Sunday before I come home from work.

I lumbered upstairs at 5 this morning to hug and kiss my sleepy boy goodbye.

There in the soft glow of the animal lamp beside his bed he lay sleeping. He was curled up with his arms wrapped around his battered stuffed cat, Butterscotch...and for a moment I saw the little boy that has all but disappeared inside a rapidly growing teenage body.

I felt my breath hitch. I was running behind on heading out to work but I stayed for an extra moment and just breathed in the sight of him.

I slunk quickly downstairs and grabbed Chanda then crept back upstairs and captured the moment with a quick flash of Chanda's eye.

He stirred and I quickly hid Chanda behind my back. He is in the stage of hating having his picture taken--but my Mom's job is to capture his childhood.

This is the last week of his 12th year of life. He turns 13 in a week. An official teenager.

He stresses me out. He gives me grey hair. He makes me spew Mother phrases at him that I swore I would never use...

But. Dear God. I love this boy. With every cell in my being.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Slaving over the New Years List...

One of my things I put on my New years list was to move my photos off of my laptop and secure them onto external hard drives.

2 days later I am finally done with that chore!!

Over 50 THOUSAND photos...gah!!

389GB of space used.

How do I even start sifting through all those photos and organize them??

*flops on the floor exhausted*

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Day 4 of the New Year

How's the New Years resolutions going? Scratched any off yet??

I made an ambitious list this year and have found that as the days pass I have not scratched anything off it, only added to it!

God help me...

I have determined that this year I am not going to sleep walk my way through it. I'm going to embrace each and every day that blooms into life.

I predict an exhausted Kat by 2012 ;)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Evening Sunset Via iPhone :)

More HERE:

A really nice ending to my day :)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy New Year!

And the Sun rose on the 2nd day of the year 2011 spearing shards of light into the sleepy workers eyeballs as she stood warming her bowl of grits in the break room of work.

Happy New Year, Peeps!

We were so exhausted from our Christmas that Lord V, MW and I chose to ring in the New Year at home with just our little family. No company. No running to and fro...just...relaxing.

It was really nice :)

How was your New Years Celebration?