Wednesday, June 10, 2009
These are the places we enjoy:
1. The Children's Museum
2. The Zoo
3. Botanical Gardens
6. The Mall
7. most restaurants (The kids are well behaved if they are eating.)
8. Therapy places
Now the place I would like to add to that list is church. When I was Jack and Ingrid's ages, I spent several days a week at church. I loved the building and the people. I have memories about Sunday school, Wednesday night suppers, Friday family game nights, Family camps, well, a lot of things. I want that for Jack and Ingrid, but it is difficult to make this happen.
I have emailed pastors and met with them, and they told me Jack is needed in the church family. (I was actually asking them to recommend more special-needs friendly churches.) But Jack is not welcome in childcare during church, so we are only invited to Sunday school. We have tried to have him attend church with us (the pastors encouraged this explaining everyone is welcome), but I felt uncomfortable. There were lots of questioning looks from people. I still feel like our family is viewed as such unwanted outsiders by many people in the church.
A special-needs ministry is not offered in so many congregations. It may not be necessary in all churches, but I think we need to find a place where all four of the Busbys have a place and are loved just the way we are.
This is Ingrid's brace. She will have something like this until she reaches skeletal maturity, maybe longer. Skeletal maturity will be in her late teens.
Ingrid attends physical therapy twice a week where she is working on her gait and exercising the muscle in her thigh that controls her knee (something she hasn't used in about a year).
I am constantly amazed by this girl's spunk, tenacity, and humor.
There's a wonderful bakery and coffee shop right across the street from my school The last couple months of school, I got into the delicious habit of walking over during my planning period 3 or 4 days a week to get a medium coffee and (this was a habit even later in the school year) a croissant with strawberry butter. Divine.
I would walk over, smiling, order my coffee and treat, smiling, fix the coffee with loads of sugar and creamer, smiling, and walk on back to school. Most of the time I would yell out, much like a five-year-old, to a stranger or friend, "I like your sweater! or I love your hair!" Compliments and smiles would abound. Okay, now I don't want to exaggerate. Sometimes I would just jam out to my "new to me" ipod, but most of the time I would be happy and engage with the world around me.
The last few weeks of school, one of the baristas at the coffee shop asked me if I'd ever read the book Matilda. Yep. Well, she explained, I reminded her of Miss Honey. It made my day. What a character! A couple days later she went on to admit that many of the regulars had nicknames, and my nickname was Miss Honey. I loved it.
Well, not always have I been Miss Honey. I have to thank chemical regulators for that help. Yep, I'm on anti-depressants, and I am not ashamed. The last few years have been difficult ones. Jack's diagnosis, Joe and my denial over his diagnosis, our cautious and secret acceptance of his diagnosis, my control mechanism (also known as National Boards) didn't last forever, Ingrid's diagnosis, Ingrid's surgery in November, and my admitting I needed help. I called my doctor and cried on the phone to her nurse. I was in to see a doctor the next day. It was the most awkard appointment I have ever had. The doctor told me it would just be a bandaid, that I needed to fight more for Jack and get a parent advocate (she had moved to Memphis from CA the month before), and I cried. Finally I walked out with a perscription in my hand. A couple months later, I saw my doctor and she listened and understood.
In November of this year, before anti-depressants, I might not have been Miss Trunchbull from Maltilda, but I was no Miss Honey. I could not rest long enough to see the positives of my life. I could not chill in order to create the comfortable environment that usually comes so early and easily in my classroom. I was off. I was angry at the world, for celebrating holidays and life in general.
I think about how quickly Jack goes to sleep at night. He has such a routine to bedtime: bath, teeth, massage, 3 books, prayer, music, and light off. Every part of his routine allows him to begin to rest, to calm, to take it easy and figure out what is important. That is what my medicine does. It allows me to finally live the serenity prayer. And I thank God for that.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
* Note, before reading this decide whether or not you want to read some gibberish that is slightly pity-party-ish. It really is, but I will try to make a decent point by the end. *
So, Joe and I overhear a lot of comments about our kids when we are out. For instance: "Look at that gimpy baby!" or "Now, that's just pitiful," (also about Ingrid). We mainly just have stares regarding Jack's odd behavior. Sometimes the brave child will ask us what's wrong with him or why he doesn't talk. (Which I think are honest and appropriate questions.) Today I heard a 12 year-old girl (approximately 12, at least) explain Jack's odd behavior at Petco to her younger brother (Jack was excitedly flapping his arms because he found a toy, well a dog toy, that he was getting) by saying, "He's a retarded fag." It was almost too much, and I just laughed. That is how someone is explaining my four-year-old's behavior? I am frustrated because some people never accept differences in others. What is a solution to this frustration? I am not sure.
But my winner for the oddest insult we have ever heard about our kids was from an older gentleman walking into a French bakery while Jack and I were leaving. (Picture is from approximate time period.) "Look at that hair," he spat, "he looks like a little German!" Well, I guess stereotypes, labels, and cut-downs have been around for quite awhile. I just want to help my children build up enough callous to protect themselves while still being thin-skinned enough to feel other people's pain.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Jack runs until he gets to the Japanese Garden. At that point, Jack and Ingrid get completely freaked out by the koi.
Jack gets in the stroller. Ingrid pushes him. He crosses his legs. She doggedly pushes on.
Fast forward to Easter afternoon. We have returned from grandmother's house, stuffed and sleepy. Joe volunteers to take the kiddos on a walk around the block while I get my lesson plans done. Joe returns quickly. He yells for me to come outside. I run out to the porch, and Joe, Jack and Ingrid are hanging out with a white goat and a black dog. (We later discovered the two are best buddies.) The goat and the dog had followed them home from the walk. Neighbors came out to discuss our options for finding the goat's owner. We laughed and took pictures. The goat trampled flowers and tries to eat things. Finally, a neighbor came out who knew the owner of the dog and goat. Joe and the neighbor walked the pair back home. It was quite an Easter and a great reminder of why I love my street.
When I was little, I believe my favorite book was The Big Orange Splot by Pinkwater. The narrator vividly tells the story of a plain, boring old street where all the houses look the same and everyone says, "This is a neat street..." Well, one day a bird flies over one of the houses with a can of orange paint in its beak, and drops it on Mr. Plumbean's house. (I know, kickin' names.) Anywho, so he decides to leave the splot, and people on the street get annoyed because it is no longer a neat street. Well, Mr. Plumbean does paint one night, but he adds to the splot--he adds tons of colors and drawings to make his house his. He slowly talks his neighbors into making their house a home one at a time as they attempt to talk sense into him on warm summer nights under his tropical tree, holding glasses of lemonade. At the end of the story, all of the houses are different: a pyramid, castle, hot-air balloon, etc. When people pass they would say, "This is not a neat street." But the people would say, "This is us and we are it. These are all of our dreams... (or some type of seventies propaganda like that--and I do say this in jest.)"
So, back to my street. I believe the street where the Busbys reside is my own perfect street where all of our dreams reside.
First for instance:
Easter, three years ago
My grandparents and parents were coming over for brunch, and Joe and I were working on preparing the feast. Jack was crawling around, unaware that an Easter Bunny should have arrived. (We had no time for this type of foolishness.) Joe walks to the door--probably to take a trash bag out--and yells, "Sally! The Easter Bunny came!"
I thought he was joking until I saw the front yard and porch. Multi-colored eggs, at least 36, were all over our porch and yard. What the heck!? We didn't put them out there. It was absolutely magical. Jack went out and had his first egg hunt ever. The Easter Bunnies were the women who live in a house down the street. They stayed up late on Easter Eve, ringing in Easter with a few, and filling plastic eggs with candy and a dollar for every kid on the block. Then, about 3 in the morning, the 2 EBs made their rounds, apparently with lots of loud, SHHHH!sss and laughter.
This tradition has continued every year. We put out posters thanking the "Easter Bunnies" on our porches and leave "bunny" food and drink for them on their porch. What fun!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I have been teaching my seventh grade students propaganda techniques. We focus on advertisements and commercials in 7th grade, and this week, while watching real and student-created commercials, I did my own public service propaganda campaign. It started off with, "Guys, April is Autism Awareness Month, and I want to talk to you about this because in the last 3 years I have learned a lot more about autism. My son, Jack, (pass around picture of Jack) has autism..." This was the first time I have shared this information with my students because until now it has been too raw. One of the unspoken rules of teaching is to never cry in front of your students. Before now I know I would have cried, but now I know this whole autism thing is what it is, and, honestly, the Busby Family is better because of it.
I told my students that Jack sometimes does things that are weird, especially since he looks like a normal kid, and that probably people who see us out sometimes wonder why we don't beat him more often. (The students smiled but did not laugh.) I tell them that Jack is different and learning to do things that might come naturally to them, like use language and make eye contact. I told them that Jack has helped me become a better teacher because I realize that all of them have worked hard to come this far, and that every single student I have has many people who think he or she is wonderful (and I am included in that number). One of my students asked me how I felt when I found out Jack had autism. I told him that I cried because most parents expect to have a typical child and it was hard to hear he would not be typical. I also mentioned that as a middle school teacher, I knew that students could be cruel, and I didn't want Jack to be bullied. (My students solemnly nodded.)
Jack processes things differently from neurotypicals. He flicks, flaps, says, "Ta Dadda Dadada!" when he is excited. He grinds his teeth and pops his jaw. He needs constant deep pressure, movement, input to his system. Joe and I work to help him discover things that he can do that help him learn, focus, and fit in. I just hope as he is working to fit into the neurotypical world, the neurotypicals will widen their sensory acceptance a little bit.
While Jack was having ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) this afternoon, Ingrid and I drove over to a neighborhood church for their egg hunt. Ingrid liked the basket (it was very much like a purse), but really saw no need to hunt eggs when a playground was much more appealing. The eggs were more like multi-colored obstacles to her end goal--the slide and swings.
One boy helped her, after forceful prodding from his mom, and he threw a couple of eggs in her basket. She sat down and looked at them, but really, the playground was calling to her. I got one picture before she dove onto the closest step. In the second picture the basket handle, hooked onto the bottom of her cast, hangs precariously as she deftly snakes her way to that first step. I love that wild, wild girl.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
My favorite color is brown. My bridesmaids, the best group of women ever, wore chocolate brown dresses, and looked fabulous. I think brown is such a calming color, so warm and rich. I love it. Before brown was my favorite color these were my favorites:
1st grade (first time I remember answering that question): aqua
5th grade: red
7th grade: purple
8th grade: gray
One of the things we must work with Jack on is answering questions like what is your favorite color, food,... We have some time since I do know favorites change.
All that said so that I might be allowed to tell my favorite Monroe family story. My mom cringes when I tell this story, and now she shames me into keeping quiet, but I think it is fantastic and want the world to know. Where my mom sees danger and stupidity, I see frugality, a spirit of adventure and friends (yes, my parents are my friends) finding humor in something we knew, even then, was ridiculous.
And this is the story, my FAVORITE story, of my childhood
My mom made an amazing casserole. It was spicy and rich, meaty, with noodles and crunchy water chestnuts--really delicious. She didn't make it often because it was an all day event to prepare the casserole for baking. But when she did make it, Dad and I would think about it all day at our places of work and school, and we couldn't wait to get home. Dinner would begin early and end late--all three of us stuffing ourselves silly.
Well, the day began like any other Best Casserole Day. Dad and I walked out of the house drooling, very much looking forward to the dinner of the day. Mom got to cooking. Apparently, the recipe calls for the cook to put some of the heated ingredients to the side until one can mix all of the ingredients together before baking. Mom was at that step--putting the heated ingredients to the side when something bad happened. She used a glass bowl to hold her heated ingredients. Well, apparently, these ingredients were mighty hot and the bowl was not, so the bowl shattered. Meat, noodles, glass shards all over the counters and wood floor. And I ask you, What Would You Do? I remind you that this was the Best Casserole Evah.
So, Mom did the only thing she could do. She picked up the meat and noodles, picked out as much of the glass as she could see and continued baking.
Skip on to dinner. Now, Mom explained what happened to Dad and me. She was a little concerned about eating it at this point. We weren't. Are you kidding me? Please. We've eaten a whole catfish before. It would be just like that. And it was. We dug right in--slowly this time--very slowly, actually. Especially after we discovered some crazy long glass shards, but it was such a fun meal. We laughed the entire time, and the casserole was just as good. We felt just like a Saturday Night Live sketch.
We didn't finish the casserole that night since it was a serving for 12, but we did finish it eventually. No one died. No food was wasted. We appreciated every bite of that casserole. And I have never had a better meal.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I started this in graduate school. I was such an awful grad student--namely the fact that I didn't have enough self confidence to say anything in class discussions. I would sit there thinking of what I would like to say but would only dumbly nod and smile. I would follow a couple of my professors out of the room telling them what I would have said had someone not jumped in right before I was planning on FINALLY saying something or maybe I would email my comments to the teacher even later. I am such a dork.
Looking back, class meetings should have been pleasant, but for me, they were always a difficult three hours. In the beginning of each class I would draw three blocks. After the first hour I could color in the first block. The second block I would split in half and allow myself the pleasure of coloring in two blocks--one every half hour. I would split the last block into twelve even sections. Every five minutes = another tiny, tiny square to pattern in--I brought no box of Crayolas.
So, since then I see unpleasant times as merely blocks to pattern. The time goes by faster, rhythmically, and the memory of it is a little more elegant, orderly and artistic. Like a fixator on Ingrid's leg--
Joe and Ingrid will fly solo to Baltimore Monday, see her doctor Tuesday, have surgery Wednesday and fly back Thursday. Joe is a saint, but he needs thoughts of friends right now. It will be a difficult week.
BIG GIRL INGRID! Here is the entire story of her birthday-- a little long, but some people will appreciate it!
My last day of teaching was March 9, 2007, before Ingrid was born. Thankfully, it was a half day. I was absolutely ecstatic that I had made it! I was even happier after my doctor's appointment that day. For reasons unknown, the c-section was moved to Thursday, March 15. (It was originally planned for March 19.) I drove home thinking, "I know my little girl's birthday, and it's only six days away!"
Saturday and Sunday we did fun things with Jack. We went to Lichterman Nature Center and had a picnic at Tom Lee Park. It was very windy, and Joe flew a kite.
Monday and Tuesday Jack stayed home from school because he had a sinus infection. Beau Beau spent the day with us Tuesday.
Wednesday I went out to lunch with Paula Raines and had coffee with Christy and Claire Lino. We talked about Joe and my choices for our baby girl's name.
Thursday, March 15, 2007 Ingrid Irene Busby's birthday!Joe and I stayed up late the night before and woke up early. We were SO excited!
We took a few pictures with the newspaper and bags that we were taking to the hospital. While driving to the hospital, we narrowed our baby's name to two choices and then just remarked on how beautiful the trees were on the drive.
We checked into the hospital and began the slow, nervous wait until our little girl's arrival. We checked in at 10am. I had an IV inserted. I answered a lot of the same questions for the nurses and anesthesiologists. I got the sour acid shot and the anti-nausea patch. Our c-section was scheduled for noon, but noon came and went. The hospital was very busy--many babies were being born on March 15, 2007! There was a little rain that day, and one of our nurses said that rain always brought out the babies.
At 12:45 Nurse Natalie came in with a wheelchair to wheel me to the operating room. On the way there, I saw my doctor at the nurses' station. She waved brightly to me and said she see me in a minute.
Spinal tap and then Joe was there with video camera.
Dr. Donato came in and said hi to me and asked me to remind her whether I was having a boy or girl (she had been out on maternity leave during some of my pregnancy). I told her a girl. She asked about names, and I said we hadn't decided for sure, but we were thinking of naming her Ingrid. I didn't mention our other name choices. I think Joe and I had decided that we were having a beautiful daughter by that point, a little Ingrid.
She continued to do prep work for surgery. At this point I really don't know what they were doing, and of course, it is all so normal to the nurses and doctors. They prep, assist, and perform c-sections everyday, but for Joe and me, it was the day a birthday miracle.
The first thing the Dr. Donato could see of Ingrid was her ear. She then said that the baby had a lot of dark hair. Dr. Donato had a little trouble getting Ingrid out of the insicision site. She tried vaccum extraction, but that did not work. She then went back and made the insicion a little longer. And out came our baby girl! She began to cry immediately, and so did I. Joe was talking about how beautiful she was and saying, "Oh! Oh!" And I was crying and so happy. The nurses suctioned her and FINALLY, with prompting from Dr. Donato ("Mom wants to see Ingrid too!"), I was able to see Ingrid. She was beautiful. Ingrid kept trying to open her eyes, and she would stick out her little tongue--so hungry already!
On our way out of the operating room, we thanked Dr. Donato. It was a marvelous day.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Scene: Sunday evening, breakfast table, dinner has been served
Players: Ingrid (picking at second dinner), Jack (devouring Jasmine rice and chutney), Joe and Sally
Sally: And then, we'll work on alliteration until Wednesday... (Walks to kitchen and turns on faucet to get something to drink.)
Joe: (Pretending to listen to lesson plan discussion) Oh.
Jack: (Looks up from meal to mom at kitchen sink.) Water!
Sally: You want water? Okay!
Joe: Get him some water!
Sally: (Hands Jack water.)
Jack: (Drinks thirstily.)
Sally: Wow! Did you hear that?
Joe: I did! He asked for it all by himself.
Ingrid: I want water, please.
Sally: Yay! (Gives Ingrid water.)
Jack: (Makes eye contact with Sally and hands her his cup.) More water.
This play is based on a true story of tonight. My cousin's daughter Emily asked me at the Monroe reunion how to talk to Jack. "If he doesn't know how to talk, how do we talk to him?" Well, my answer fumbled around with learning language, etc. "Like Helen Keller?" she asked. Emily is smart. And this short dinner play tonight made me think we might be getting to some pretty exciting The Miracle Worker moments with Jack.
Joe and I celebrated our anniversary a week ago. Ingrid, Jack, Joe and I were driving back to Memphis from a Monroe family reunion in New Orleans. We had a really nice time, and the kids did remarkably well. (Of course, we had fairly low expectations--for our kids, not the family--going into the weekend. But still.)
Joe and I met our freshman year at Ole Miss (1996). Ole Miss is a smaller state school, and I had seen Joe around quite a bit. At the time, I didn't know his name was Joe, or really anything about him. I did know that he was friends with a good friend of mine, Emily, and I secretly thought he had the most attractive eyes I had ever seen, a really cute face, and seemed pretty funny (from afar). So, I guess I could say I was crushin' pretty hard on this random blond haired boy.
Well, early in November, Emily's and my composition class was canceled and we decided to hang out in The Grove. We were writing a letter to Emily's little brother, giving him pointers for his first date. (This included a very witty multiple choice test.) Surprisingly enough, Joe and a group of his friends walked by. They too had experienced class cancellation. (Oddly enough, this doesn't happen too often.) Emily waved to Joe, and he walked over to our table to say hi. Their conversation continued until his friends walked away, and Joe remained. At some point, he sat down with us and began to help write the Are You Ready For Your First Date Test. The three of us laughed and bantered witticisms back and forth for hours. At some point Emily whispered to Joe that I had a crush on him (ooooo). Now, I hadn't told Emily, but I guess it was pretty obvious. (At least to Emily.) So, Joe asked if we (Emily and I) wanted to all go out some time that weekend. (He wasn't super-brave, but he was also--at that point--not super interested in me.) Emily declined. I quickly gave him my dorm phone digits--4201. (Joe still has that peice of paper.)
I had to cancel our first date because I was going out with someone else at the same time, but Saturday night we did go out to dinner. It was there I fell in love. Joe was my very own Bill Nye the Science Guy. (I had a HUGE crush on Bill. Anyone with intense passion for academics is pretty cool to me.) When he nibbled his potato chips into a topographical map of New Orleans to explain why it could flood, I was his. So, that night I called the other guy and broke it off.
Six years of dating (with a short break up), we were married in Oxford. And we've lived happily ever after.
My Aunt Kay sent me Jack London's "To Build a Fire" when I was in grade school. I think that one book had the greatest impact on me as an elementary school student. I felt so much as I read of the multiple missteps taken by protagonist as he comes to the realization the reader has already embraced--he will die. It is a cold, desperate read. One that is very similar to London's tale is The Road, the book I finished during Joe, Ingrid, and my last trip to Baltimore.
I continue to think of The Road and wonder how the Busby family would fare in similar circumstances. The world we live in is so protective, forgiving of our weaknesses. I believe that Joe would have to go it alone. How could we hide to evade passing bands of cannibalistic soldiers if Jack screams? Run from roving, crazed thieves if Ingrid cannot run? Make our way to the warmth of the South if I'm having seizures? Yes, Joe would have to go it alone.
And these are the things I think about when I read a book that I think is good.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Ever since reading A Stranger and a Friend in graduate school, I held a very special place for Hortense Powdermaker. She was a remarkable anthropologist.
And now I am going to make a big, giant leap. It possibly will not make sense. I want a tattoo. I have never before wanted a tattoo, and now I do. "What of?" people ask. "Where?" people ask. And I answer, "I don't know. I don't know." But I do know that I want a tattoo. I am seeing them more like visual documentation of a life. And I have quite a few things going on in my life that I would like to document. (But I am open to suggestions and comments.)
I Am the Messenger
The Book Thief
Just an idea: Joe and I do not choose to keep the majority of books that we have read. Most we pass on to friends or donate to Goodwill. Missy, my friend and neighbor, came up with a great idea for those books. Create "lend or take" stickers. Put one in the front cover of the book with a short, personal review of the book and just leave it anywhere--in a McDonald's, on a park bench, at a museum. Worst thing that could happen--the book is thrown away. Best thing--someone picks it up, reads it, and continues the trend. What the heck? It's worth a try.
I remember answering that question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" a lot. At first I said a ballerina because I had this kickin' tutu and leotard and thought it would pretty cool to walk around in that all of the time. Then, in first grade, I had a teacher who ate yogurt in the morning while we worked on our board work and drank a Coke in the afternoon while we played on the playground. "Are you kidding me?" I thought. "This is a job? Bossing people around, eating and drinking all day? Heck yes!" So for the next five years I wanted to be a teacher.
My reasons for wanting to be a teacher expanded past the yogurt and Cokes. During my school days I would study my teachers constantly and then imitate at home. I would plan lessons in my lesson plan book, average grades, make tests, teach to my imaginary, yet very unruly, class. I have always been a little obsessive, so I didn't get many gifts for any holiday that were not centered around my dream to teach. By the time I was in fifth grade, I had a wall sized chalk board, bulletin board, an overhead projector, and teacher's guides. When people asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I would answer, "A teacher," and then steel myself for the next response. Either the adult would ask why and find my nerdy, adult-like focus hilarious or would say, "Oh. That's nice." Either way, I felt embarrassed.
So, surprise, surprise, I am now a teacher. It is different than what I imagined it would be to teach, and most of the time, it is better than I imagined it being. I love what I do. Last year I applied to be a National Board Certified Teacher. The process is a long one. It consists of 4 entries in a portfolio. And 6 essay test questions. A teacher has three years to bank scores while working on passing enough entries to earn NBCT status. Right before Thanksgiving this year, I received the email letting me know I had passed. I am now a NBCT. I wouldn't have been able to do all of the work I had to do without the help of Joe. He was an incredible support.
And when he asks that question of kids in those elementary years, which isn't very often, he listens to the answer--sincerely.