Monday, 30 March 2015

This Child

His face is looking very full right now, even though his legs and body seem to have gotten longer. He fills out before he fills up, so I know that right before a growth spur the will look very solid and husky.

I mentioned something briefly before about him being diagnosed with ASD (autism) in November.  It's been a long, complex road, often thrown into doubt.  He met all his milestones as a baby and was always affectionate and interactive.  His speech seemed to be developing, and though he was mostly mute by the age of three, I'd heard from a lot of parents that boys his age don't start talking until 3 or even 4 years of age.  Same with potty training.

Despite all of this, I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that something was off.  It came and went, of course.  Some days, I was soothed by the day care providers at the day care we both attended (he to school, me to work).  They would shake their heads and tell me nothing was wrong with him and not to worry so much; that he would develop in his own time; I even got the occasional impression from certain people that I wasn't being a very supportive mother by just assuming something could possibly be wrong with him; as if I weren't "accepting" him for who he was and that thinking some things about him were "off" made me a bad(ish) parent.

Hands down, the most destructive thing for us were the people who, meaning well, told us definiteively there was nothing wrong with him.  Because with autism, early intervention is so, so important.

It's hard to explain exactly what was off about Afon.  It was normal things, but things that were pushed to the extreme of normal.  Like, he colored on the walls.  Okay, so do lots of children.  But I mean, he.  Colored.  On.  The.  Walls.  It was a constant thing, day and night, coloring on furniture, clothing, body, cabinets, floor, blankets, windows.  And no amount of correction or chastisement dissuaded him.  Or his bull-headedness about getting into things.  It was a constant intervention for me to keep him from breaking things.  And as you can imagine, it's hard to keep a 24 hour surveillance on a curious toddler, and I was pretty darn savvy about household safety.  Locks on the doors, cabinets, drawers, and refrigerator.  But he still managed, and he was never gentle.  It's like he didn't know how to handle objects appropriately.  At all.

There were a whole handful of things I'm probably forgetting that, by themselves, are just quirks and normal kid things--but altogether, paired with the genes of a parent diagnosed with Asperger's making inheritance a strong possibility, and an increase in uncontrollable behavior (pulling off diapers and using the toilet wherever he stood in the house, refusal to wear clothes without total meltdowns, and spontaneously ripping pages from books he had contentedly been reading moments earlier), we knew we had to get help.

So I talked to the doctor, but we are on government health insurance, and that always takes a long time.  It's like, their thing.  So my grandmother offered to pay for us to go to a private psychiatrist, a pretty, friendly woman who has been in the field of autism for 25 years.  Needless to say, she nailed him as ASD, after a thorough and comprehensive three-stage evaluation.

With an official diagnosis, we've been able to pursue therapy and treatment, but it doesn't happen overnight.  All of this happened right on the cusp of Christmas, and you know that government offices don't function well normally.  There was a lot of e-mailing back and forth, calling and leaving voice messages, waiting out the weekend because of course we weren't contacted until Friday, trying to find missing paperwork, etc.

As we speak, we've fallen into a therapy black hole; the places that take Medicaid are not currently accepting any new clients and/or are impossible to get hold of (think, number disconnected or voice mailbox full).  But he has been approved by the county, so we know we will be able to put him into a special needs class, as soon as that paperwork (finally) goes through.

And you know, he is improving, on his own.  It just probably would have saved us a lot of frustration if we had chased after these doubts head on to begin with.

If you think your child might have autism, or have any concern for him in any way, don't hesitate to get him checked.  In the end, you are your child's parent, and you know what is best for him, no one else.  Don't underestimate the power of instinct, nor the peace that comes with knowing for sure.

Sunday, 29 March 2015


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Afon:  On the last chilly morning of spring, he poses for me in front of the door.  He knows by now what it means when I say, "Mama take a picture.  Go stand over there so Mama can take a picture."  Otherwise, it is extremely difficult to capture him on camera.  He has a knack for keeping his face down and away at all times.  (I have no idea what he's pointing at, and he did not care to verbalize.)

Roan:  Perched in the rocking chair upon "official" morning waking, when he is in his best mood.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Old at the age of 29

I was officially diagnosed on Monday with {fibromyalgia}.  I can't say I'm surprised, but at the same time . . . it is so alien to think of myself in terms of being ill.  I.  Have.  Fibromyalgia.  I have a chronic illness.  It will never go away, and I will have it for the rest of my life.  I am one of those people you read about in magazines or inspirational lifestyle blogs or who get interviewed on Oprah.

I am old at the age of 29.

At the same time, I don't really believe it.  I'm just sick?  For no reason?  How can I just accept this?  I have two children who need me, one who has autism.  I have so much I want to do and too much to offer.  Why would God make someone with all these potentialities and then hold her back?

Then I think, I should come to terms with the fact my life is going to have to be different than I always hoped it would be.  That I'll have to turn down trips and visits and experiences.  That I'll have to let go of hobbies and vocational aspirations.  It's humbling; and it is good for me to practice surrendering to God's will.  But--


I don't want to lie down and take it first without a fight.  I have to be sure, otherwise what am I giving up?  If it turned out that there was a misdiagnosis, or that I could have done something to ease my symptoms or put them into remission, why would't I attempt that?  That's just asking to grow a secret garden of regret.

So what is the next step?

It's going to be a slow process.  Hours, weeks of logged research, money spent on books and food, and the emotional strain of going after doctors and putting myself out there for ridicule and criticism. It's overwhelming, to say the least.  There's tons of information out there; I'll have to sift through what is genuine and what is fad, what is right for me versus right for other people.  Not looking forward to that.

Here's where I'm starting:

As you can see, an already intimidating list.  I don't even know where to begin.  Advice?

'Cause I'm too young to feel this old.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

#5Faves: Embroidery

Looking and loving and not having the time.  Someday.  I've never done more than a little cross stitch here and there, but this medieval type art has my name all over it.  Brought to my attention by people like {Jenna} and {Molly}.  Here are my five someday favorites:

1 // Dala Horse by {Lovahandmade}
2 // The Little Prince by {WilsonHomecrafts}
3 // Butterfly Girl by {Taetia}
4 // embroidered dolls by {charlottelyons}
5 // Three girls in hats by {LiliPopo}

Linking up with Jenna of Call Her Happy for {Five Favorites}.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Coming Soon // etsy!

I'm opening at etsy shop to sell fine art photography prints on greeting cards.  This is something I've thought of doing for several years now, locally, but it made me weary to think of going around and supplying the mom and pop stores individually with stock, convincing them to sell, and restocking regularly.

So, etsy.

Setting up takes a while, though, and I have to have reliable internet for a reasonable length of time to do so.

I'll definitely be giving some away on the blog, though, so keep me bookmarked and check back every couple of days to win a freebie.

And tell your friends!  Kthxbai.

Sunday, 22 March 2015


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Roan:  Saint Patrick's Day, I found a delectible leprechaun in the grass with a shamrock tucked behind his ear.

Afon:  Looking smart after Sunday Mass.  His hair is growing out into curls again, for which I am very glad; but the bright blonde is darkening irreversibly.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Bored to Death

A Review of Disney's Maleficent

This review was {originally posted} on my fairy tale blog, {Spinning Straw into Gold}, on June 12, 2014. With the release of Cinderalla, I thought it appropriate to share it here, especially after {Haley's review} and {Kendra's adept comparison} of the two.  If you have some things to add about Maleficent, stay tuned, because a round table discussion on it is forthcoming on SSiG.

The first thing I do after watching a movie is to head over to Rotten Tomatoes to peruse the film reviews by proper critics.  The second thing I do, if it is a fairy tale movie, is to hit up all my fairy tale blog peeps for a more balanced perspective.  Sadly, my colleagues have been rather silent on the matter, with a few exceptions, so I suppose I ought to help get the ball rolling.

Before we go on, let us first note:  Here there be spoilers.

We've been hearing about Maleficent for years, but in the end my experience of the film can be summed up in one word: bored.  I don't know if I'm the best judge of entertainment, since I have a peculiar and finicky taste, but from the opening voice-over to the ending credits, I found little to hold my attention.  If it had not been for the pretty costuming and talented actresses, I might have lost interest entirely.  It was just all very tepid, underneath the fancy CG.  I didn't feel there was much at stake.  Maleficent lost her wings, and her love, but she was good and happy before she met Stefan and during his absence.  If she could walk into the castle to curse a baby, surely she could have retrieved her wings while she was at it.  Even the curse is tamed to a sleep-like death, without a desperate, last minute intervention from a good fairy.

"Mom, is that you?", {source}

The supporting characters are boiled down to their lowest common denominators, becoming tedious distractions rather than tools to help the story along.  Certainly not characters in their own rights, with complexities and inner goings-on.  

Stefan  is a kind of caricature born out of the necessity for a villain, and his motivation is weak.  The filmmakers need to give us a little bit more to work with if they want us to meet them in the middle; it's hard enough to believe that a kind boy, who would throw away his iron ring because it hurt a magical creature he only just met, would then become so heartlessly ambitious so as to turn around and try to kill the same creature, someone he cared for enough to have spent time growing up with her.

The pet raven is given a speaking voice by occasionally taking the form of a human but still doesn't have much to say.

In the end, Maleficent and Aurora alone are given room for growth and exploration, while the other characters and plot developments move around like props.  But even poor Aurora's character is charming and bland.  Her greatest moment is when she speaks out to the witch hiding in the shadows and does not recoil from her.  Not much of a monumental and memorable game-changer.

For me, the most engaging moment of the whole movie was when Maleficent stands over the sleeping Aurora and wills her curse undone, only to have it thrown back in her face.  And I credit all that to Ms. Jolie's powerful acting.  (Also done well in the moment she realizes her wings have been taken from her.  Maybe a tad melodramatic, but so wrenching and real that it made me hurt for her!)

{Adam of Fairy Tale Fandom} writes,

[Maleficent is] about two people and how their hearts become darkened by ambition, anger, bitterness and revenge. It’s also about how one of them starts to regain some light through exposure to someone who is good and innocent.

and I think he's absolutely right.  But I feel like the key relationship, between Maleficent and Aurora, is not given any time to develop, what between Maleficent watching her in her sleep and Aurora playing in the Moors with the magical creatures which are all show and no soul--the eeriness of Faerie is lost in this film, and I'd like to think I've cultivated a good radar for it.  In Brave, for instance, that otherworldliness remains intact.  It's hard for me to suspend disbelief and get behind Aurora's running away to the magical Moors forever, when it's just.  So.  Boring.

laughing and twirling and playing with magical creatures can only entertain me for so long

Besides that, there were a lot of other little frustrations.  How did the writers choose which elements of their original movie to keep?  When does one draw the line?

"We won't have Maleficent turn into a dragon, but we still need a dragon, so we'll have someone else be it."

Or, "there's no need for thorns around the castle, but it's such a major element to the original, so we'll have thorns protecting Faerie instead."

Even the spinning wheel is chosen because Maleficent happens to see it when placing the curse.  I much prefer the mystery of not knowing to that.  Why would a benign fairy even be named Maleficent, for that matter?  I hoped it would be a name she took on, as she did her new staff and cloak.  But apparently her parents had a strange sense of humor, or else didn't have {a dictionary} on hand at her christening.

irrelevent but still interesting, source

When I was a little girl, I lived and breathed Sleeping Beauty.  It was my absolute favorite Disney movie.  I wanted to be Aurora/Briar Rose.  And I never wanted or needed an explanation for the, well, maleficence of Maleficent.

While I'm all for revisionist re-imaginings and villainous back stories, I worry this new trend is overlooking an important aspect of fairy tales: the fact that there is evil and ugliness in the world, just as there is hope and unspeakable beauty.  To try to reason away these things (or, as the case may be, relegate them to a bland, mortal antagonist) steals a little bit of their wonder, and it robs us of one of the great consolations of fairy tales.  Whatever the reasons may be for them, dragons exist, and so do wicked fairies.  Yet there is always hope: a low door in the wall, a maiden's tears; a magic circle, a fairy godmother; a hole in the spell, one last gift-bearer overlooked and forgotten.  The bad is not absolute, though it may seem impenetrable as a wall of thorns.

And even death becomes only sleep in the end.
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and souls deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

{pretty, happy, funny, real}


succulents on the front porch // old and well-loved sandals, a bit stringy, but going strong // my pretty baby


old friends meeting new additions


behind the scenes of the grandbaby/nephew photo shoot.  I don't know what's happening here, but apparently, everything is falling to pieces


there we go (had to remove nephew #2 to make it work in the end)


my grandmother holding my baby son for the first time--four generations between them

Linking up with {Like Mother, Like Daughter}.
Capturing the context of contentment in daily life.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

5 Favorites: Catholic Creatives

Surprise, surprise!  This is a huge interest of mine.  If I'm not drowning in my own imagination, I'm shooting and editing photos, doodling, {blogging about fairy tales}, crocheting, planning that novel that's taking me twenty years to finish, or writing the occasional poem.  It can be kind of lonely for a straight-laced Catholic girl, though, when she braves the last frontier of the inter-webs to find her kind.  So it's really nice to find like-minded and like-souled people out there.  Whether it be for art, photography, or digital designs, these creatives kick it and are real Catholics, too.  I love it!

I found all of these girls on Instagram.  Thanks, {Blessed Is She}!  Images belong to their respective shops/creatives.  And visit {Melody} this week for more Five Favorites!

1 // {elleizahbeth}

Inspirational calligraphy and prints, but my favorite thing in her shop are these feathers.  Very midwestern and trendy.  I love the texture that is so visible on them.

GiedrÄ— was at the recent Catholic Women Blogging conference in Indiana, so you might already know her.  Wish I was there!

Check out the Modern Modesty Project, a styled shoot that captures young women so that their true beauty--their souls--shines through!

Jiza is just launching her rebrand and soon to open her creative print shops at the end of March!

5 // {Be A Heart}

I would be amiss not to mention Erica, who diligently provides fresh wallpapers for lap tops and cell phones to those who subscribe to Blessed Is She.  Not surprising, since she gave the tranquil, deep lavender look to the BIS online presence!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Kitchen Alchemist: GF Irish Soda Bread

"In which I try to make healthful, affordable, easy meals:
in other words, throwing together ingredients in hopes of creating gold."

It's a blessing that I've converted to gluten-free for my health at a time when the GF movement is picking up and running.  There are plenty of recipes to be found online, and special ingredients are becoming available even in your run-of-the-mill grocery store.  So to celebrate Saint Paddy's Day, I was able to whip up an {easy gluten-free Irish soda bread}.

I picked this recipe because it had the least ingredients, and the ones most readily available to me.  I followed the directions, but it was a little undone inside after the allotted time baking and cooling.  Still, it was quite delicious.  I just wish GF breads didn't look so grainy.

Here's the markup:

Time // A
Ease // A-
Presentation // B
Affordability // C
Health // A
Taste // A

Good scores, overall!  The only thing is that almond flour is pricey, and if you add butter to this like is traditional, you significantly bump down the health grade.

We are Catholic, and my children's great grandfather (husband's father) was named Paddy and worked as a docker in Cork, where my mother-in-law was born and raised.  My children are somewhere between a half and a quarter Irish.  But Saint Patrick's Day isn't about nationalism for us; though that is the main allure for people in Ireland and America.  For us, it's a special day to commemorate the British saint who peacefully converted the entire land of fierce and loyal people; who, in turn, preserved civilization in the so-called "dark age" abbeys and became missionaries to the rest of Europe when it was plunged into true spiritual darkness.

I love Saint Patrick's Day.  In Wales, where we live on and off, it is a high feast which calls for a break of the Lenten fast.  One day, I would like to make a pilgrimage up Saint Patrick's Mountain, or {The Reek}.  Maybe when the children are older and can come along.  But today we are keeping things low key, with this traditional bread, corn beef and cabbage, some {Irish folk songs}, and maybe a movie (I recommend {The Secret of Kells}-- more on that later--or The Secret of Roan Inish).

Saint Patrick's Day links:

Saturday, 14 March 2015


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Afon:  I could tell he wanted to be doing what Grandaddy was doing, so I got him his journal and a pencil, and he worked happily alongside.

Roan:  Now a complete butterball.

This week has been very tense, but not without its rewards.  We are currently visiting family, and it feels like every time I sit down to blog, Roan wakes up at that exact moment wishing to be nursed, or Afon needs a diaper change, or my grandmother requests a drink of water and as a dutiful granddaughter, I know I need to ask her if she needs anything else.  And so, things.  The lap top gets pushed back and I'm busy living life.  But it's been about a week, and I find that blogging is a very important outlet for me.  I begin to feel a mounting pressure after a couple of days of not blogging and a need to release that pressure onto the digital page.  I'm all writer.  If this were the pre-blog era I'm sure that would translate into the need to journal, write letters, or create a poem (and has in the past).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...