Proud

I’ve been pretty excited about January 21st for a long time. My family always celebrates MLK Day with a big todo and when it fell on the same day as President Obama’s inauguration? Well, I was ready to celebrate.

We were going to watch the inauguration on TV and then MLK’s I Have a Dream speech on YouTube and then we were going to have cake and it was going to be great.

Things changed though, when Jess from Diary of a Mom, who does so much fantastic advocacy work, ended up with an extra ticket to the inauguration, and I jumped on her coattails and rode them all the way to DC.

Algernon rode her coattails too.

Algernon rode her coattails too.

I have a lot to say about our amazing day in (and eventual escape from) DC, but you know what is exhausting? Inauguration Day. Or more specifically, getting away from Inauguration Day. I will tell you all about it tomorrow.

Before I go to bed though, I will let you know that after I got home, we very happily watched Dr. King’s speech, complete with lively commentary from my three kiddos.

Then we sang happy birthday to Martin and had our cake, which was delightful.

Sam insisted on chocolate. Because, you know.

Sam insisted on chocolate. Because, you know.

In sum, today is a day that I was proud to be an American and proud of the leaders and heroes we get to learn from. It was exciting to be able to listen to the president and his terrific speech that was so much about equality and fair chances and then come home to kids who are so very interested in figuring that whole thing out for themselves.

So, not just proud to be an American, but proud to be a parent of such great little kids. (And proud to be a friend to the wonderful Jess. Thank you so much for taking me with you. You are a blast and a half to hang out with.)

Happy Inauguration Day, America. And Happy Birthday, Martin!

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate…

I’m featured in JuiceBoxJungle‘s newest episode about vaccines. You can watch it right here:

More parenting videos on JuiceBoxJungle


I’m a little nervous about this whole subject, because it is so charged. Know that if you disagree with me that I understand that you are doing what you think is best for your child, just as I am doing what I think is best for my child. With that, this is what I believe.

I have vivid memories of sitting in my first pediatrician’s waiting room after having my first child, Sam, and looking at posters on his bulletin board about the MMR vaccine and autism. Those posters said vaccines were safe—and important. I also vividly remember a year or so later when Sam spent a lot of time lining up his trains. It made me cold just to think about what it could mean.

At that time in my life, with a very young child and absolutely no knowledge of autism other than Rain Man, autism seemed like a death sentence for a family. I thought that all children with autism could not communicate and would never live independently.

But I gave Sam the MMR. And I gave him the polio vaccine. And I gave him the chicken pox vaccine and the flu shot, and whatever else the pediatricians said were on the schedule.

If you are a reader of this blog, you know that Sam did not turn out to be autistic. But Jack, my second son, did. And I saw absolutely no correlation between vaccinations and Jack’s autism. I truly do not believe that vaccines have done any harm to my children. (Quite the opposite, in fact.) I continued vaccinating my children, including my third, completely neurotypical son.

What I do see is that my children don’t have to worry about measles, chicken pox, mumps, polio, or any other of the many terrible diseases that have been almost entirely eradicated in the United States because of widespread vaccinations.

Obviously every family needs to make the decision about vaccines for themselves. But in a society where we are all so connected, every decision affects my community. What if someone doesn’t vaccinate his or her child and there is a measles outbreak? And then that child carries it to school, where she infects a newborn sibling of a classmate? Not to mention that no vaccine can protect everyone one hundred percent. I am counting on all of us to protect our children together. And, frankly, I don’t want any child to suffer through a preventable disease.

I believe that people who do not vaccinate their children are letting the rest of us protect their children for them.

I think we have forgotten what it is like to live in a world without vaccines. People died all the time from what are now preventable diseases. I don’t want to go back to that time.

In the video above I say that autism can’t threaten my family, but that measles can. Even if vaccines caused autism (and the studies linking them have been shown to be not just bad science, but dishonest science as well), autism isn’t fatal. Measles can be. I would much rather have an autistic child than a dead one.

I almost hesitate to write about autism in the same post as vaccines, because I don’t see them as being related. But that is sort of the topic here, so that’s what I’ve done. I’ve come a long way in these past few years, since I read that sign in my pediatrician’s office. I’ve learned a lot about autism, and how it is not the end of a family, but just the beginning of a different path for that family. I’ve learned more about immunizations and I’ve learned more about autism and I have no qualms about vaccinating my children.

And this autistic guy?


I wouldn’t give him up for anything. He’s perfect exactly the way he is.

I can only speak for my family. Every family is different. Every autistic person is different. What holds true for my family does not hold true for everyone. I very much believe that we should live and let live. Along those lines, if you are new here, please try to be civil in the comments.

Speak Now For Kids

Many of you, my readers, have kids. Not all, but many. Many of you also have kids with special needs. Every single one of you has a stake in upcoming health care reform legislation. Those of you with kids, or plans to have kids, or who care about kids has an interest in making sure that children and their particular needs are included in health care reform.

(I know. I’m being serious. Chill out. I’m allowed.)

Speak Now For Kids is a great new campaign aimed at getting your thoughts about health reform to legislators. They invited me to a lunch meeting with some other bloggers the other day to tell us about their campaign. Of course I arrived late and had to leave early because, um, DC traffic sucks, I had to drop Quinn off with Alex during the meeting, and did you know that if you try to loiter in your car near certain downtown buildings, security guards will insist you move? Yeah.

Anyway.

I’ll go a little more into the campaign in a second, but for those of you getting bored and looking for Blue Bear Goes to Congress or something, I’ll tell you what you can do to make your voice heard. Go to the Speak Now For Kids website, click on Speak Now, and enter your own testimonial about what you think is important concerning health care reform as it relates to kids. You can write something, submit a photo, or even submit a video. Speak Now For Kids will make sure that your information and your concerns get to Congress. Talk about an easy and fast way to get your voice heard.

I put in a testimonial. I have health coverage—good health coverage—and I still pay $70 a WEEK in co-pays for Jack’s therapy and social skills group. And I have to compulsively count the number of sessions to make sure we don’t go over our yearly limit and end up with hundreds of dollars in therapy bills. People without my type of coverage simply cannot afford to give their children therapy. And with a public school culture that you have to fight every step of the way to get adequate services at school, there aren’t many options for low and middle income people. There is an autism waiver program in my state, but the wait list is months, if not years long.

There are so many ways that children can benefit from real health care reform. The costs of autism coverage is just one of my personal concerns. I’m sure all of you have your own. This is an easy way for you to make sure your legislators know what you care about.

The Speak Now For Kids campaign wants to give a voice to children in the current Congressional health care debate. They are using social media and other innovative strategies to let people use their own voices and their own stories to show the importance of children and health care. The National Association of Children’s Hospitals is sponsoring the campaign, and is partnered with the Children’s Health Fund, the March of Dimes, First Focus, the Children’s Defense Fund, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Obviously each of these groups has their own agenda and their own points that they want included in health reform. But they’re asking for your opinion too. They want to know what is important to you. And I think that’s pretty cool.

Take a couple minutes to write down your story today. Be sure to do it soon because Speak Now For Kids wants as many stories in the next couple of weeks as possible.

Do it, or the bear gets it.

Ice Day

I knew I liked this new president of ours. President Obama bitched about the snow closures the other day, just like I did all over Twitter on Tuesday night.

But then all the DC people came down on him saying that he shouldn’t talk about DC like that. To this, I have to say: Grow a sense of humor, people. And also? If I was pissed that I had to take a day off of my stay at home momming to take care of my kids on a snow day, imagine how annoying it must be if you’re the president and your kids keep running into the Oval Office asking if they can go play in the snow.

Okay, that’s out of my system. I was annoyed by the snow closure on Tuesday because, c’mon, there were two inches of snow. My grass is taller than the snow. (My neighbors’ grasses are shorter than the snow, but that’s another post entirely.)

But yesterday, Wednesday? I fully support that snow closure day. My kids and I walked around the corner, up a short hill, and across a street to play with friends. We almost didn’t make it. The street was a fucking sheet of ice.


Quinn fell down trying to cross the road, so I went out to save him and promptly got stuck, not having the momentum to move forward or backward. I tried to move my feet, but they just skidded around and then I fell down too. Eventually I got us across the street without being hit by a car and we went sledding in my friend’s backyard.


It is so a hill. (I know. When she invited me over to sled in her backyard, I was like, “But your backyard is flat, dumbass.” But it turns out that there is actually a slight incline perfect for small children. And it dead ends into a fence, so there’s something there to stop them. You know, all abruptly like.)

Quinn recovered from his street crossing trauma a little once we got there, but he did look a little bit like a yokel because I was only able to find one mitten for him that morning. Never fear though! Stimey is nothing if not creative. What the hell else are socks for?


After the kids tired of ice sliding, we went inside and I guest decluttered my friend L’s house. We worked on her kitchen, where I helped her declutter her crafts cabinet. Excited about all things crafty, she showed me her bead stash, which her three-year-old daughter promptly dropped all over the floor.


Have you ever picked up sixteen thousand beads?

It’s totally awesome. Look at L’s dog, Luke. For a second he thought that he’d hit the motherlode in terms of small, brightly colored treats. I think he might have eaten a couple of them.

We finally left poor L in peace and walked home. Again, we almost didn’t make it. I’d had to cancel a lunch date where I was going to meet Thrift Store Mama for the first time. I was really sad, but I think it was the right decision. I don’t know that we would have made it there alive. I eventually had to put Quinn on our sled and push him home. He just couldn’t maintain verticality.

Thinking I had done the lion’s share of my parenting for the day, I made lunch, then I put on The Jungle Book for my kids and sat down to rest. Shortly thereafter the doorbell rang. It was Jack’s other friend from up the street and her just barely four-year-old brother. They wanted to play.

I didn’t.

At some point I realized that there was no parent around and I asked if their mom or dad knew they were there. The little girl told me that not only was her mom at work, but that she had pinkeye too.

I took a step back, studied the little girl’s eyes and asked if her dad knew they were at my house. She cheerfully told me no.

Seems like a problem.

I made her go tell her dad where they were. By this time Sam was involved and there was no way I was going to get away with sending this little girl away. I guess it was worth it, what with all the positive social interaction that Jack got out of it.

I took this photo right before E tackled Jack in a bear hug.
Also, see how the grass is taller than the snow?

So that’s our ice day right there. As I write this, I’m waiting for the two-hour school opening delay to pass, so I can finally pass my children off to the school officials who are supposed to be taking care of them on Thursdays.

Although if you have an anxiety-ridden child, a two-hour delay may make them think that they are going to school from 10:50 p.m. to 3:05 a.m. *coughSamcough* Then, once you convince him that school will start at 10:50 a.m., he will remain convinced that he has to go to school until 3 in the morning and he will be concerned that he will be too tired. (Thinking of you here too, M.)

Ironically, the roads seem to be worse today than they were on Tuesday, when school was closed. I hope it’s easier to drive on the roads than to walk on them.

My Sister Got Married!

Hey, guess what? My family went to California and my sister got married!

I know, I know, you are aware of this and probably sick to death of hearing about it, but I’m pretty delighted with our whole trip. I’m still trying to decide if I should bore you with a travelogue of the days leading up to the wedding because we packed a lot of stuff into five days.

Regardless, I am going to tell you a little bit about my sister’s beautiful wedding. She was married at City Hall in San Francisco, which is a gorgeous building and a wonderful (and apparently dirt cheap) place to get married.

They hired a photographer to take advantage of the setting and event. I piggybacked on his efforts and took photos with my lame little camera at the same time he took his professional photos. So, Ann and Stephanie, when you get your photos back? That little flash of light to the right of every photo is from my camera. Sorry. But look!

They’re the dots up there in the middle.

I missed a good chunk of the ceremony because I was trying to talk Ann and Stephanie’s younger son down from separation anxiety. He was NOT COOL with not being right in the middle of the ceremony. Fortunately, the ceremony was about five minutes long, and then the little guy got to go get his hug from his mom(s).

And Quinn caught the bouquet!

Well, not really, but he HELD the bouquet.

Congratulations to my sister, Ann, and my sister-in-law, Stephanie. You have already shared so much and created a beautiful family together. Here’s to many years of more of the same and even better.

Much love to your family!

*****

And sorry for this, but I’ve got to politicize this a little.

How does this…


…threaten this?


Because I’ve thought about it and thought about it and I really, honestly cannot come up with anything that is even slightly threatening about two people who love each other making a legal family. And I really can’t see how same-sex marriage threatens opposite-sex marriage. I can’t find any sense in it.

Honestly, if anything is threatening my man/woman marriage, it’s me being an asshole. Gay people have little or nothing to do with it.

*****

Read more about my trip to my sister’s wedding at DC Metro Moms.

*****

I’m not a very political gal, but I gotta do this. I’m not under the delusion that I’m going to be changing anyone’s mind about how they’re going to vote. But if you’re in California, please vote no on 8. And if you live anywhere in the United States, please vote for Obama.

But mostly, please vote. (Just not in my line. I don’t want to be there for hours and hours.)