Sunday, April 12, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom

Saint Easter Fairy

I grew up believing in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I can't tell you exactly when I found out the truth about each one but I don't remember being very traumatized. It just seemed like a fun tradition, so when I had my own kids, I kept that tradition going. Recently, I've been second-guessing the wisdom in keeping those traditions alive. Do I really want to have to explain to my children that I've been lying to them all this time?

Doing without these traditions has benefits though. We've had to leave the Tooth Fairy notes on more than one occasion explaining that there was a tooth left but she probably couldn't find it under all the pillows so could she please come back and try it again? We were as polite as possible even though I knew full well that Tooth Fairy just fell asleep on the job!

The belief of Santa Claus brings with it an endless amount of questions that you have to try and come up with an answer for. Questions such as: How do reindeer fly? How can Santa get in when we don't have a chimney? I haven't been good all year, am I going to get coal? Why didn't Santa get me (fill in the blank) from my list? We provide answers for all of these but it's only more lies. And how do you tie Santa into the birth of Jesus?

The Easter Bunny is even harder to explain. We're supposed to be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and in order to do that, we put on new, frilly clothes and have a giant bunny come and hide colorful eggs that may or may not be filled with candy and treats. Where was the connection again?

I don't mind giving my kids a quarter or fifty cents when they lose a tooth; it's fun. But why does it have to be the Tooth Fairy that does it? Why can't it be Mom and Dad?

Why couldn't we explain the true story of St. Nicholas and let our kids know that Santa is really the spirit of Christmas? That the point is to look out for others the way that God was looking out for us when He gave us Jesus?

Why can't we have an Easter celebration without a giant rabbit? Couldn't we have an egg hunt and let the kids know that the eggs represent new life, the new life we have with Jesus? Couldn't it be about God instead of bunnies and candy?

The thing about starting my kids on these beliefs is I don't know how to stop them. My kids are 10, 8, and 6 and they all believe 100% in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. I've decided to tell them the truth before but I always sabotage myself. Before we went to Grandma's last night to dye eggs, I had decided that when we were done, I would tell the kids the truth about the Easter Bunny. Well, on the way home, a small brown bunny ran across the road. I stopped the car so all the kids could see it. When it finally ran off in a flash of white fluffy tail, I turned to the kids with uncontrolled enthusiasm and said, "Maybe it's the Easter Bunny!" What is wrong with me?! Of course the kids were excited. They thought it was great that they got to see the real Easter Bunny. Corban decided after we got home that maybe it wasn't actually the Easter Bunny, but he knows the real one is out there. So that meant I had to be the Easter Bunny for another year. They found eggs around the house this morning that you-know-who must have hid. It certainly couldn't have been Mommy and Daddy.

So how do I back track and get out of all this without breaking their hearts? I love to watch them light up whenever they think that one of the Trifecta of Holiday Gift-Givers has been to see them. They're so sweet. But it can't last forever. Sometimes I feel bad that I've let it go on this long, much less started it altogether. Because, really, Santa and the Easter Bunny and Miss Fairy have nothing to do with their respective holidays. They are NOT what my kids should be focused on. The question is, do I tell them now or do I let them find out on their own?
Friday, April 10, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom

To Sassy, From God

God is so good. Last night, Sassy and I were heading to a baby shower. We were driving and listening to the Christian music station when her favorite song came on, "Here I am to Worship." She sang along quite enthusiastically and I soaked up every second of it. When the song was over, she asked if I thought "Our God is an Awesome God" was going to come on. It comes on occasionally but the odds of it coming on before we got to the church building were slim so I just answered a generic, "I don't know." Another song came on and her question was forgotten. But when that song was over, just as we were exiting the freeway, "Our God is an Awesome God" began to play. We were very excited and I told Sassy that God was playing it just for her. But that wasn't all He had in store. We noticed a rainbow in the sky as the song was playing. It's probably been years since we've seen one. But here we were, listening to her song and looking at this beautiful sign from God. As we pulled into the parking lot, the song ended and the rainbow was blocked from sight, but I made sure she knew that she'd just been given a very special gift from God. I'm so thankful that He made Himself known to her in that way. God is so very good.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom

A Good OCD Day

I was walking through Walmart the other day, looking at all the Easter goodies when I saw it. It was as if someone read my mind and put up a display just for me. Just looking at it made me happy. They had arranged all the Easter candy by color. One whole section of the aisle was just for the yellow candy. Yellow peeps, yellow M&Ms, yellow suckers, yellow cookies. And then there was pink, green, orange, blue. Each little section was color coordinated. It was a dream come true. You laugh, but looking at it made it seem that everything was right in the world somehow. Why can't everything be arranged like this?

I love walking through fabric stores and seeing the bolts of calico lined up by their colors. I love passing the aisles of scrapbooking paper or ribbon or anything else that is arranged this way. Even swatches make me smile.

I love to see things organized and in their place. Of course, you wouldn't know it by looking at my house. I love to organize, not clean and yes, there is a difference. My favorite articles in my scrapbooking magazine are the ones that show other crafter's workrooms. I finally got a room like that of my own. I can sit and look at everything for hours. I think I'd rather sit and look at the nice organization than actually make anything in there.

The other day I went to my mom's and organized her pantry and finished putting her office together. It was a good day. I like it when everything has its place. In my house, most everything has a place, it just isn't always in it. And I'm okay with that sometimes. As long as I know that it has a place to go whenever I get around to cleaning.

My kids get frustrated because I'm always moving things around. But I can't help it if I think of a more efficient way to store something. That's just the nature of the beast. And while I am not actually OCD, those tendencies are quite obvious in many members of my family. The worst thing for my kids is they are just like me. Well, the boys are anyway. Poor things!

My husband surprised me with a great gift one day. He brought home a catalog for kitchen remodeling. It had all those great organizing things like drawer pull outs and pantry dividers and baskets and shelving. He's so good to me. And you know I love it when the IKEA catalog comes in the mail. Forget the furniture, I want to look at the space savers and bookshelves.

I would rather organize my scrapbook stuff than make a scrapbook, and I love to scrapbook. I need to make a career out of this but I'm not sure how. I've actually looked at the professional organization companies but I'd rather work for myself. Wouldn't it be great, though, to actually make money doing something you loved? What a concept.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 | By: Slacker Mom

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

PLOT: It's sort of a spoof of Walk the Line. It's the rise and fall of a singer throughout his career.
STARS: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows
This movie follows the same basic plotline as Walk the Line but it's completely irreverent and inappropriate. There are a few good moments here and there but the best thing about the movie is the songs. The filmmakers have crafted completely original songs for this movie. The styles range from Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan to disco. They're great. Skip the movie and check out the soundtrack instead. (**)

Made of Honor

PLOT: A single guy's best friend runs off to Europe and comes back engaged. He agrees to be her maid of honor even though he's just realized he's in love with her.
STARS: Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan
This is basically My Best Friend's Wedding all over again. But this one is much nicer and more fun. Time is actually spent setting these two up as best friends who are very much a part of each other's lives. So when Patrick Dempsey realizes he loves Michelle Monoghan, you believe it. They all head off to Europe for the wedding, with Patrick coached by his friends in how to steal the bride. Humiliation ensues, as expected, with the requisite happy ending. I liked this one better than a lot of the other chick flicks that have been coming out lately. I think Patrick Dempsey is smart to be picking movies like this and Enchanted. That's where his bread and butter is. (Does anyone else remember Can't Buy Me Love?) This movie is fun and sweet. (****)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

PLOT: The true story of how one of Jesse James' own gang members assassinated him.
STARS: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell
I have heard so much about this movie, I was expecting to be blown away. I really wasn't. Affleck is Ford, he joins the James gang having idolized Jesse his whole life. He's let down though and plots a way to take him down. That part is easy to understand. I got lost in another part of the plot where Jesse is trying to track down certain members of his gang. Who was he tracking again? Who is secretly plotting with whom? And who is who exactly? It got a little confusing for me.
However, I am going to recommend this to anyone who is a Brad Pitt or Casey Affleck fan or if you're just a student of acting studies. These two are amazing. As Jesse James, Brad Pitt goes from confidence to suspicion to depression to resignation. Sometimes all in one scene and with few words. He can see the end is coming and yet he's powerless to stop it.
And Casey Affleck. He's not just the tag along little brother of Ben Affleck. If you've only seen him in Good Will Hunting or any other side kick role, you are missing out. This came out the same year that Gone Baby Gone came out (another great movie). He's so good. His Robert Ford has spent his whole life almost worshipping Jesse James. He doesn't just want to be like him, he wants to be him. But reality never holds up to our illusions. You can see the exact moment that Robert becomes disenchanted with Jesse. Robert is a man who longs for grander things and sometimes fools himself into thinking he's got it but ends up worse off than he ever expected. These two are the only reason to see the movie but they are worth watching. (***)

30 Days of Night

PLOT: A small town in Alaska is attacked by a band of vampires during their 30 days of no sun.
STARS: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George
Again, it's a vampire movie...had to see it. I don't sit through too many horror movies. I'm not a big fan of being scared. This one had me on edge until pretty much the last 15 or 20 minutes. That's when I had a few problems with plot points and believability.
Now, the vampires in the movies are not of the Twilight type. There is a reason this is rated R. They have mouths full of the nastiest fangs I've seen on a vampire. They've been dormant for years and are now coming out to...take over the world? Have a snack? Not exactly sure why they were coming out at this particular point in time. But they decimate this little town. There is a small band of survivors that keeps moving closer to a big utility plant just outside of town where they think they will be safe. No surprise, they don't all make it.
At the risk of being thought completely deranged and psychotic, I have to tell you my favorite scene of the movie. It's an overhead shot of the vampires attacking the town. What you see is people running everywhere. It's hard to distinguish between the vampires and the townsfolk because it's dark and it's total chaos. But everywhere you look, there are huge puddles of dark red blood on the white snow. It's a massacre. I'm not much for gore, but I loved the way this scene was filmed. It was a great shot.
I'm giving this movies 4 stars. Scary movies are always better seen on the big screen.

My Rating System

I've decided to give my movie reviews a rating. I at least like most movies but I wouldn't necessarily want to watch them over and over again. So here's the system I've come up with. Since there is no key with a "star" on it, I will use the asterick for my star.

1 star (*) will be for movies that are not worth your time. They are a waste of studio money and you will wish you had that hour and a half of your life back.

2 stars (**) will be for movies that I would only sit through if it happened to be on TV when there was nothing else on.

3 stars (***) are for movies that I would check out from the library or watch from Netflix. I might have been entertained but I didn't put in too much effort or money.

4 stars (****) are movies that I would go to see at the discount theater or maybe even pay matinee prices to watch. It's worth the trouble of finding a babysitter and even paying for tickets.

5 stars (*****) are movies that I would pay the full, $9.50 movie price to see. (That's saying a lot because I'm cheap, uh...I mean, frugal!)

Underworld; Underworld, Evolution; Underworld, Rise of the Lycans

PLOT: Vampires are in a war against lycan (werewolves). The story is told from the perspective of one of the vampires.
STARS: Kate Beckinsale, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, Scott Speedman
I had to see these movies because, hello? they're about vampires. Plus, any movie that has a girl kicking serious butt gets a thumbs up in my book. Kate Beckinsale is great as a death dealer vamp. She doesn't look like the heroine of Pearl Harbor or Serendipity in this movie. There is a story line about her falling in love with a vamp/lycan hybrid but it doesn't rally dominate the movie. There are definitely inconsistencies here. The lycans are portrayed as so fierce and viscious it's hard to believe they haven't wiped out all the vampires. And the third movie brings back a character named Sonia who was only quickly referred to in the first. But when they showed her in the first, she was blonde and then she was brunette in the third. I know it's a small thing but really, how hard is it to go back and look at the first DVD and see that you need to cast a blonde? I loved the whole history and backstory for these movies. People who you think are good, aren't. Those who seem evil may not be. But I have to say my favorite thing about this movie was discovering Bill Nighy. I've heard his name hear and there but never really saw him in anything. Actually, I have and you probably have, too. He plays Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. You know, the guy with all the tentacles on his face? Yeah, that's the guy. Can't say his acting really caught my eye in those movies. But I feel like I stumbled upon a hidden gem in this movie. Whenever he was on the screen, I couldn't take my eyes off him. And not in the same way that I can't take my eyes off Colin Farrell or Russell Crowe. No, I just loved watching him act. He has an accent that seems to float between east coast upper class and pompous British. I'm currently looking through his movie archives to see what I can add to my playlist. But even without Bill Nighy, these are good movies. If you have any interest in vampires or that type of lore, I definitely recommend all three of these.

Adventures in Autism: Peete vs. Peet

Adventures in Autism: Peete vs. Peet

World Autism Day

Today is World Autism Day. In honor of this day and of my Bubba who was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism at the age of 23 months, I wanted to share some stats about Autism. If your life has not been touched directly by Autism, you probably know someone who has. Please take a moment to read over this. Feel free to share it with anyone who may benefit.

Autism is a neurobiological disorder for which there is no known cause, prevention or cure.

1 in 150 people are diagnosed with Autism. It affects more people than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.

It occurs 4 times more often in boys than in girls.

Autism impairs the ability to communicate and relate to others.

It typically results in rigid routines and behaviors and can range from mild to quite severe (to the point of a person being "locked" inside themselves without the ability to communicate or even "notice" others).

Some children are this way from birth while others seem to have just "lost" skills and regressed (as was the case with Logan).

Parents are usually the first ones to detect anything is wrong while many pediatricians take a "let's wait and see" approach. As a result, many of us parents find ourselves having to educate our pediatricians in the latest research and therapies.

Early intervention is absolutely critical.

Intervention and therapy can include physical, occupational, and speech therapy; biomedical intervention; special diets; social training. All of these are expensive (speech therapy is around $200/hr) and most are not covered by insurance.

Every child has different symptoms and responds to different therapies. There is no one way or standard for treating this.

Raising a child with Autism is hard, very hard. It's a lifetime job. It's lonely, frustrating, maddening, sad, surprising, depressing, rewarding, draining.

Autistic children look "normal" and so if they act up in public, people assume that you just have a bratty child and should be disciplining better. Many are even quick to let you know what they think about your parenting.

Many couples with an Autistic child end up divorced.

Many pediatricians don't keep up with the latest information that comes up about Autism because it's all anecdotal. Meaning, there isn't concrete medical research to back it up. How can there be? Every child has different traits and responds to different things. There is no way to do any conclusive studies when that's the case. And the funding is definitely not there. And so moms of Autism are experts on the subject. We've read all the books, studied the research, tried every option. You have a question about Autism? Find a mom of Autism, not a doctor.

I feel especially lucky in that Bubba responded so well, so quickly to intervention but he will always have his "issues" and life wasn't always this easy. He lost speech around 13-14 months and didn't speak again until he was 4. CJ and I didn't go out together once in 3 years. For 3 or 4 years, I HATED going to church. It was just a battle of how long we could make it before Bubba was just too unmanageable and we would have to leave.

It's hard to call on even family and friends to help. If you're not even sure how to deal with your own child, how can you ask someone else to? Honestly, it's even hard to keep loving your own child when he's been biting you, screaming at you for hours, trying to claw your eyes out or even choking you, and all this during a time when you never hear him say mommy or daddy and definitely not I love you. Maybe he never will? How can you ask someone else to give him the same kind of unconditional love? It's not realistic. And so as moms, we are typically isolated and alone. No matter how many fits someone may have witnessed my son throw, they have never seen him at his worst. I'm not even sure if Dad (in my case at least since I'm the stay at home parent) has seen the depths that I have.

If it's possible to have a "typical" case of Autism, Bubba is not it. Most kids deal with more issues than he does. If you know Logan, he seems like a "normal" kid nowadays. This should not be your picture of Autism. Autism is not just having a quirky kid. If you know someone who has an Autistic child, just stop and give them a hug. It's nice to have physical contact that doesn't come from having to restrain or redirect a speeding freight train of energy and determination.

I know this is long, but if you read this, parents of Autistic children will thank you for taking the time to try to understand it better. God bless your day!