Curriculum Review: VocabularySpellingCity.com

I’ve been given a premium membership to VocabularySpellingCity.com for a candid, personal, online review.
VocabularySpellingCity.com helps students study word lists using 25 different learning activities such as MatchIt SentencesHangMouse, and Word-O-Rama.  Parents can create their own spelling lists, find published lists already available on the site, or use any of dozens of  free teaching resources on topics such as analogies and compound words.  Be sure to come back in three weeks to read about my experience.


There might be more free memberships available for bloggers.  If you’re interested, find out how you can review VocabularySpellingCity.com.

The spectrum of autism ties

Since my “induction” into being a mom of an autistic child, I have studied hard to find the ties that connect autism to us. I’ve researched all ends of the spectrum, from biological, medical, environmental, neurological, and sociological ties. In these 7 years since I have been baptised by fire, I will admit that I am in no way a global expert on autism. I can, however, look at autism globally and see the ties that many people try to make with their theories.

From what I’ve witnessed in our autism community, some actions, attitudes, and axioms are very polarizing. We have a very turbulent community, almost heartbreaking in its non-support of each other as we all cling ferociously to our hypotheses of the cause of autism. We even have a dichotomy within our community of people who want a cure for autism, and those who support “neurodiversity” and are happy with being autistic, claiming it is their essence so why destroy it. I have attested on various occasions of intense debate among all levels of the spectrum, the “cure-bies” (the ones that a cure), the “bio-meds” (the ones who believe that autism is caused by vaccines), the “neurodiverse” (autism is a neurological part of their brain, please accept it for what it is), and those of us who see all sides and just want all of us on the spectrum to support each other.

How can the “outside world” take anything that we say for fact if we are all shouting different messages with varying degrees of intensity, often drowning and cancelling each other out?

In my experience, you need to look at all sides of this issue. It is such a monstrosity that if one doesn’t take time to study each level of the spectrum, he/she would be foolish. I have much family experience with autism from not just my son, but also other family members including myself. (Yes, I have Asperger’s traits as well.)  You could say that not only does autism run in my family, but it gallops. 🙂

So, I take this personal knowledge with me when I engage with my spectrum of autism friends. I try to take a loose end and make a tie with it so that hopefully after I’m finished with all my interactions, I can see a web of support, love, and understanding within my wonderful spectrum.

Milestones and musings

We’ve had a couple of huge milestones here at the Den. First, Casey learned how to ride a two-wheeler bike! After much practice, telling him that we can’t put the training wheels back on because he’d only bend them out of shape again, he has started to master bike riding! I can’t tell you how much of a thrill it is to see him finally bike riding independently. For a while there, I thought we were going to have to shell out beaucoup money for one of those three wheeler bikes.

Another huge milestone is that Casey *finally* pet a dog without getting scared. This. is. huge. In the past, he would run away from dogs, either screaming or crying. This time when he saw this little fluffy puppy, he said “I’m not scared of dogs any more, Momma.” He then went up to the owner, asked if he could pet the dog, and asked, “Which way do you pet him, Momma?” It was so wonderful. I hope this fear doesn’t regress. Oftentimes, kids with autism will progress, then regress. I hope he continues on this path of progress.

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A while ago I reported that I was put on Abilify to stabilize my ever-changing moods. One of the horrid side effects with that medication was feeling that you are in a perpetual state of sleepiness. You can literally feel the sleep in your head, at the base of your forehead. Please note this is one patient’s experience. Your mileage may vary. 😉 I went to my nurse practitioner psychiatrist, and complained about the side effects. I am now on Lamictal, which is another mood-stabilizing medication, mostly used for bipolar patients. Thankfully, I was already off the Abilify for a week since I ran out (the weaning off process wasn’t too bad, except for a few wacky dreams). The titration process for Lamictal was brutal. The first two weeks I was on the 25mg dosage, and I was so irritable. Take cranky and multiply that times 1,000. That was me. When I was graduated up to 50mg for the next two weeks, the irritability finally dissipated. I started feeling level, a lot more balanced.

Now I’m up to 100mg of Lamictal, and I’m starting to feel that sleepiness again, but at least this time it’s not a constant fog that invades my head. It waxes and wanes during the day. I can almost set a clock to it and know exactly when it’s going to happen.

My impression of Lamictal versus Abilify thus far is that I like Lamictal much more. One caveat, however. You need to take it at the exact same time every day. Do. not. miss. a. dose. Trust me on this one.

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I’ve been wanting to go on a political rant for the past few days. What the hell is happening to our country? First, let me disclose that I am a conservative. I will not apologize for my beliefs. I strongly believe in the Constitution, the 2nd Amendment, and One Nation Under God.

This Cap and Trade bill, aka “Cap and Tax” is a tragedy. What’s the deal with the 3:00am extra pages to the bill? Doesn’t anyone in Congress read what is given to them? Then, I read an article that explains how some countries want to amend the Kyoto Protocol, which caps rich countries’ carbon emissions while developing countries are not capped, to “focus on rich people everywhere”. Now, I am by no means a wealthy person. But, if someone wants to drive an SUV, live in a large house, and fly their private jet to their vacation, let them do it. We should not live in a Nanny State.

And what’s the deal with Michelle Obama being elevated to some fashion icon worthy of celebrity status? I’m quite pissed that she is using tax dollars to purchase a $6,000 handbag, then she has the nerve to wear $500 tennis shoes to a food bank? I’m sorry y’all, but this boils my blood. They can talk about ‘distributing the wealth’ and looking out for each other (cue the Kum Bay Ya guitar strumming), but the Obama’s think nothing of jetting off to New York for a glitzy date, a Paris shopping spree, and rubbing it all in the faces of Americans, while so many Americans are struggling to make ends meet.

Ugh. End rant. I could go on, but I don’t want to raise my blood pressure more.

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Here’s a tune to sum up how I feel about our current economic mess.

Shutting Detroit Down- John Rich

Parenting the Parent

When you take care of your kids, you make sure they get enough rest, eat nutritious foods, get enough exercise, and wear clean clothes. You also make sure they are clean themselves, their surroundings are clean, and that they get their homework done. Plus, you try to teach them right from wrong, how to get along with others, and teach them to have faith in a higher power.

No wonder why you are so exhausted as a parent! Plus, you still have to take care of the house, any other duties outside of the house (as in a job if you work full or part time), and try to be a good spouse to your spouse.

So, when do YOU fit in to the equation? If you’re anything like me, you fall by the wayside. Weight piles on. The house looks like Toys ‘R Us threw up. Dust bunnies are planning a revolution in your house. Your last date with your spouse was sometime early last year, or maybe even sometime last century (hey, I can say that with complete accuracy! The century didn’t turn over until 2001.) Stress tears you apart so quickly, and it affects every aspect of your life.

What do you do? Well, for me, I’ve been hiding for the past few months because I was so overwhelmed with everything. I don’t know how to take care of everything plus myself at the same time. But, remember the old saying “if momma’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy”? Yeah, it is very true. If you’re not happy as a mom, it affects every aspect of your life, and it really affects your relationship with your kids.

I am trying to take better care of myself, or parenting myself better. I am trying to care for myself like I care for my kids. Thanks to Santa (you know who you are- and another huge thanks to you!), we got a Wii and a Wii Fit for Christmas. I’ve been trying to use the Wii Fit once a day for 20 minutes so that I can get my exercise in (my gosh that thing kicks my butt on some exercises!!) I am drinking more water, trying to make better food choices.

However, I am still very hard on myself. I need to learn how to be nicer, kinder to myself.

The house is still a wreck since we returned from Florida. I will always have a huge pile of laundry to do. I did manage to declutter part of my computer desk. I started therapy again. I don’t know if it’s part of my depression or just part of my perfectionist personality that I want everything done NOW, then I get overwhelmed because I don’t know where to start, then I give up. Then, nothing gets done. Is this the lesson I want to teach my boys?

Ironically, I haven’t been very tearful lately. I’ve been taking new medicine- Abilify, 2mg- along with my Cymbalta and Topamax. I guess since I totally messed up on finishing my incomplete classes, I’m trying to pick myself up and look at things with a new view- i.e. the parenting lens. Is this how I would treat my kids?

Unfortunately, sometimes I am very picky with them. I do expect a lot from them. But do I do to them what my mother did to me- no way! I don’t make them be house slaves like I was when I was 9 years old.

I want to take better care of myself so I can take better care of my family. I’m hoping that my friends out here in my blog community can help support me in this goal. 🙂

Depression’s effects on family

It’s hard to be a parent. It’s even harder to be a parent when you have depression. I am seeing the effects of my depression on my sons and it makes me just want to give up even more. Sheesh, if I am screwing up this much as a parent, then why am I even still here on this earth to do more damage?

My stepmother wrote me an e-mail asking me why I’ve given up on myself. Let’s see: I don’t see any value in myself. I don’t see anything likable/ lovable in myself. My house is a wreck. We have no money. I keep pushing people away because of my depression. No one really cares about me, so why should I care about myself? I know- pathetic sounding and a pity party sounding comment as well.

All I want to do is sleep. I don’t want to deal with the world anymore. I haven’t seen the point of the holidays in a long time.

We are going to going to DH’s family for an early Christmas this weekend since his parents are in Florida for the winter. Have we done any shopping? Nope. Do we have any money? Every single penny we have goes right back to bills and food. We need to get new winter coats for the boys. Kerry needs to get his glasses ordered. I still need to pay for my teacher certification renewals.

I don’t want to deal with the holidays because it’s all pointless to me. I hate the commercialization of everything. But, ironically, I want to be able to provide for the boys the Christmas that they want. I also would like to have a nice present besides stocking stuffers. Last year I got a toaster. Granted, at the time I was happy because it is a practical gift and I do like practical gifts. But, I don’t want anything like that this year. I want this house to be improved. I want paint. I want a finished garage. I want the upstairs and the basement to be finished. Of course, nothing a little money can’t fix. Sigh.

I wish I could just pull out this empty sadness that I constantly feel and kill it, instead of wanting to do the unspeakable to myself.

Casey’s parapro for sensory breaks told me yesterday that she’s seen a change in Casey’s personality: more anxiety, crying more. Gee… all the stress at home, my depression is really wreaking havoc on the poor kid.

Would everything/everyone be better without me in it? The voices keep telling me yes.