Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Love and Prayers for Double Trouble Two

I told myself it would take something extraordinary to pull me back to this blog. Dear God, I never wanted it to be this.

A woman I adore and respect is grieving. Karen Hartman-Mulhauser, who most of you know as Double Trouble Two, has faced some really awful breaks lately, but this morning her heart was shredded. Her two sons, Jon and Jacob, 19 and 18, were killed in a horrific car wreck on their way to school. There are no words that can convey the horror, nothing can be said to erase the pain. Plain and simple, no parent should have to bury a child let alone two, especially so young. As a mom, I can only imagine what she's going through right now.

If you can, send up prayers for peace and comfort in this time. And if possible, donate to the burial fund set up.

We're a small group of bloggers, we're family, we're Tribe. When one of us grieves, we all grieve.

Karen's GoFundMe Page

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Um, hello?

Knock, knock, anyone home? I was just thinking of dropping in and catching up with things. 

So what's been going on...

Teen Queen had her intake evaluation for the vocational day program on the 27th of August. Longest day ever. It was only 4 hours, but a brutally long four hours. Since she hadn't been tested for IQ and other things in the last five years, they had to retest her. Normally, this isn't that stressful, but throw her into an unfamiliar place with strangers who really didn't understand the way Autism works. The diagnostician started with the pattern matching questions; you know, they show you a pattern and you have to match it using colored blocks. Since autistic people think visually, this was a breeze for TQ. She had them figured as soon as they put them down. Like genius fast. Unfortunately, the diagnostician didn't realize that quality didn't translate to words and numbers. The next section was math problems, and without any visuals supporting, TQ was completely lost. The tester was throwing them at her and taking them away to throw another one in a machine-gun pace. If you don't let someone on the spectrum take time to translate the jumble of words and numbers into pictures they can understand, you pile on to their frustration. I once had it explained to me that Autistic language is pictures and to communicate with others they have to translate from verbal language to their language, and then try to figure out how to express the answers they see in their heads into words they can speak or write. It takes time and patience, and she was given neither. I could see her start to lose it, so I interrupted the testing, gave her her noise-cancelling headphones and iPad with the finger-painting app, and gave the diagnostician a quick course on Autism. She slowed down some, but the damage was done. By the end, the state of Texas had assessed her IQ at 74, qualifying her for every program available, but breaking my heart. I know she's so much smarter than what they see. But we managed to get through it and she should be starting the Borger program in October.

Baby Queen is back for her last year in high school. She'll be evaluated in February, and will start Borger next May. She's just happy to have more minions to boss around.

My sight took an unexpected turn into the crapper in August. My right eye is almost completely occluded by the cataract. In three months, it tripled in size and doubled in density. I've had rolling migraines and been in the ER twice for medication. Spouse finally said enough and pushed me to find another eye surgeon. I had my appointment Monday, failed every test spectacularly, and was informed I should stop driving for awhile (cue wirecutter's comments on my driving). My surgery on the right eye is scheduled for Oct. 3, and left eye Oct. 13. Yeah, Friday the 13th. Because of the strength of lenses needed, the degree of astigmatism, and the fact that my deductible is already met and insurance is going to pay 80%, I'm getting everything. I should only need some cheap Dollar Store readers if I need anything at all. I'm thrilled, excited and ready. The pain and strain of trying to do everything mostly blind has worn me down to my soul.

Other than that, things are just going on. Facing another birthday, another year ending and I'm still not sure what I want to do when I grow up. You all were so sweet in your comments and support, I just wanted to let you know how I've been. Hope y'all are doing okay.



Sunday, August 13, 2017

It's not you, it's me

I have tried to write this post every day for the last week and just couldn't get the right words to come out. Maybe it's because I don't have any words left. I don't know. I just know I suck at goodbyes.

So how should I do this? The way most guys broke up with me? Silence, ignoring me until I gave up and went away? Nah, not my style. Write something so egregiously depraved that makes all y'all hate me enough to break up with me? Couldn't think of anything that bad that y'all would believe, so that's out. So we'll go with the old tried and true break up line: It's not you, it's me.

I don't know what it is, if it's apathy or exhaustion, but I just can't muster enough of anything to share. Everything online sucks. It's sad, angry, horrible, depressing. And you can access it with better commentary just about anywhere out there. The memes don't even make me giggle anymore. I don't see anything funny to share, and I refuse to share anything that's meh. So, we've just run out of things to say to each other, it happens, yeah?

It's not you, it's me.

I started this blog almost five years ago, come this November to be exact. I was in a much different state of mind, different life, different needs, different dreams. It was started in response to wirecutter's demand that I start one to keep me off of his. He was tired of me hijacking it with my witty comments. As many of you have noted, our back and forth was something to behold. But he's lost interest in backing, so it makes it kind of boring for me to go forth. The friendship is still there, it's just one of those dormant things. But a large part of the fun for me was our give and take. I've missed it for a long time, I'm just now realizing how much a part it was of the life of this blog. Life goes on, but sometimes in a different direction.

It's not you, it's me.

This has been one of the roughest summers for me with Teen Queen. It's taken a heavy toll on me mentally, physically and emotionally. The transition from school to the sheltered workshop hasn't taken place yet, and TQ's anxiety has reached epic levels resulting in some of the most violent meltdowns we've ever experienced. My job with her is to keep her and everyone else safe until she regains control; I can usually do this with minimal damage to either of us. But this summer, she's gotten bigger/faster/stronger and I've gotten older/slower/tireder (I know it's not a word, but dammit, it's a word.) I know if this doesn't work, I'm out of options. I can't care for her with the intensity of the meltdowns she's having. I'm almost 52; in ten years, I'll be 62, she'll be 32. 72 to 42. 82 to 52. One of us will die before then. So that's one of the things draining me.

It's not you, it's me.

Just know that I've enjoyed getting to know y'all over the years, sharing my life with you. Sharing ups and downs and laughs and tears. I do consider you friends and family. But it's time to call it a day. They always say go out on top, yeah? I'll leave it up for the archives, but there won't be any further posts.

I wish good things and a few weird things for all of you. Good things to make you happy, weird things to remind you of me.

Hugs to all,


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Yes, but is it hot?

It's a mulletmobile

Business in the front,
Party in the back.

When your life can't get any weirder

Today's Book Club selection

My skin orgasmic songs

Someone mentioned Radiohead's Creep in the last post. Here's the version that gives me tingles:

Another song that gave me immediate chills was Ed Sheeran's Make it Rain:

And then yes, The Eagles, anything Glenn Frey sang, but I think that has as much to do with the fact he was my first "rock crush" that lasted into my 50s. Rest in Peace.

I swear, watching the 1977 live concert is a religious/sexual experience.
And yes, I'm going to hell and I'm fine with that.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Wirecutter: The early years

Phteven returnphs

Some people are so touchy


Fair warning

I get this all the time

The answer is always the same, "I do what I do because it's what I do." Every parent has challenges, mine just seem to be a little more obvious. If I was given a choice? That's the second most asked question. Knowing what I know about raising autistic kids, if I knew before I had kids that they'd be autistic, would I still have them? Well, would I also know about the joys? The hugs and sweet cuddles after the storms? The laughs through the tears? The soft hands taking mine for reassurance when we face new challenges? Hell yeah, I'd do it again.

The last few weeks  have been hard. Challenging. Painful. Teen Queen has been having frequent violent meltdowns. Most autistic kids have meltdowns, to varying degrees, either directed inwardly or outwardly. Baby queen has moderate meltdowns when she's tired, frustrated, sensory overwhelmed. She's self-injurious, head banging walls, doors, floors, windows, furniture. I've patched more than a few holes in the sheetrock where she's headbutted. She also whacks herself in the head with her forearm until she has large callouses and calcium buildup on her arm and forehead. We have an MMA padded sparring helmet that we put on her to keep the damage to a minimum, but it pisses her off even more. TQ doesn't normally have the same frequency of meltdowns, but hers are more violent and directed at anyone in her path. Think of a 5'10", 300 pound, pissed off tornado without reason or the ability to register pain. That's my TQ.

When a meltdown occurs, the reasoning part of the brain is shut down, so talking doesn't do anything but aggravate; your voice sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. The best you can do is try to get them someplace quiet away from any sensory stimuli, and hold on. I've been trained on holding and takedown techniques, but when you're wrestling with someone bigger, stronger, and insanely pissed, those techniques don't always work. I do my best to keep both of us safe, away from other people and Max. (Max thinks his one job is to protect me, and when she melts, TQ is an enemy. I have to protect them from each other.)

In the last three weeks, TQ has had 4-5 meltdowns a week, a couple severe enough to need sedation. Better living by pharmaceuticals, right? It got to the point we were both so bruised and sore, exhausted and scared, that I got an emergency appointment with her psychiatrist. We sat down and tried to figure out why, all of a sudden, the increase in occurrence and severity; and the therapist came up with something so simple, so obvious, I'm ashamed I didn't see it. She is in flux.

TQ has graduated, aged out, of the only thing she's known since she was three. She's been a student at PISD schools for 19 years. But she knows that's over. Something good is coming up, but it's new, unknown. Unknown is not good for autistic people who thrive on schedule and continuity. Summer break is hard enough without knowing what's going to happen when it's over. TQ is nervous, scared, stressed, and that's a volatile combination for anyone. So we have a starting place, how do we fix it?

There are programs for people who fall in the category of Mentally Impaired (used to be Mental Retardation, but that's changed for a number of reasons). Two things have to happen to access them: the individual has had to have been tested before the age of 18, and they have to go through an intake evaluation before placement. A lot of parents balk at the thought of having that stigmatizing label attached to their child. Denial runs deep. But if you don't get the diagnosis, you can't access the programs. Then you're child is screwed. TQ was evaluated every five years from the age of 6, she has the diagnosis. I sat in the momvan in the garage and cried for almost an hour after the first test. Her intake evaluation was supposed to happen on July 11, but she was in such a state of turmoil, they couldn't complete it. We rescheduled for August 23. Until then, we're preparing her. She can't attend the Borger Area Learning Center until after her IE, but she can go to some of the social events to get to know the other "clients" and counselors. She'll become familiar with the building and people and hopefully some of the stress and fear will ease up over time. TQ went to the first event last week, Wednesday night. The group went bowling and Pizza Hut. There were some nerves, some tears, she crushed my hand for the first 10 minutes; but when a couple of the other young ladies came to talk to her, she loosened her grip. By the end of the evening, I was sitting against the wall watching my oldest angel take her first step into a new world. Yeah, there were tears.

So, knowing everything, would I do it over again? Damn skippy, I would.

Friday, July 14, 2017

I would travel to see this monument

This would be Grandma Doris

Grandma Evelyn was a renounced Catholic free spirit.
Grandma Doris was a Southern Baptist Lady
and member of the Canadian WCTU
(Women's Christian Temperance Union, and yes, it was active into the 70s).
Tornadoes wouldn't DARE touch her china.

Why did they stop making these?