Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best of everything 2010

This was a pretty damn good year for music, and I snatched up as much of the goodies as I could since I'm insanely obsessed with at least 2 of the bands that had amazing albums this year. I wasn't able to see a lot of movies in the theater this year; however, I did manage to see a few that I absolutely loved, and they will be on this list as well. So on to the list.

In no particular order (until number 1) here is my shortlist of the best albums. You'll not see Eminem or Kanye on this list because, frankly, I'm sick to death of both of them.

For a year, Jonna Lee as iamamiwhoami slowly released several videos on youtube that had sensuality, mythology, and some badass electronica. Her identity was kept secret for months, and with each new video her face was revealed as Swedish folk singer, Jonna Lee. The story of the videos told of the legend of the mandragora, and every song was even more amazing and heartwrenching than the last. In October, the band had an online concert in the woods that was pure imagination and beauty. The band chose a fan from facebook, flew him out to Sweden, and then "sacrificed" him to nature. It was brilliant. I've honestly listened to this album on a loop for hours at a time because it is truly that outstanding.

Broken Bells
Honestly, there are few bands cooler than the merging of the lead singer from one of my all-time favorite bands, The Shins, and the supremely talented Danger Mouse (from such great bands as Gnarls Barkley). This album is bouncy and fun and sometimes dark and creepy. My favorite is "The Ghost Inside" and the video is fabulous mostly because it features the most beautiful woman in the world, Christina Hendricks.

I do love me some moody Interpol music. Their newest album isn't as amazing as it could have been, and some songs, such as "Lights," seems to build up to a climax that doesn't come. All in all, it's a good listen. And since I'm actually going to be seeing them live for the first time in February, they go on the list from sure excitement.

The Dead Weather "Sea of Cowards"
The pure cool factor from this group makes me drool from geekdom. Seriously, you combine Jack White's paley brilliance with Alison Mosshart's sultry badassness and you get a band that is so rad I get goosebumps. Sidenote: If you don't yet have "Midnight Boom" by the Kills, I highly recommend you download that baby at this very second. You will not regret it. Even my 6 year old shakes his ass to it. I can't embed the kickass video "Die by the Drop" so here's a link

The Twilight:Eclipse soundtrack
Right up front I'll say I've not read a single book or seen a single movie from this franchise, but I'll give that writer a bit of credit when I hear the soundtracks. I have zero interest in vampires that sparkle, but I'll listen to a sweet soundtrack any day. This one has quite a bit of great music on it, from the ethereal goddess herself Florence Welch to The Dead Weather. There's even a little Bat for Lashes thrown in for even more adorable goodness.

And the #1 album is, of course, Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs." This album is flawlessness at its best. Growing up in the suburbs myself and having chosen to raise my child in the burbs, a lot of this album seeps into my memories of riding my bike with my cousins to the convenient store for little pocket pies. Of having absolutely nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon but waste time in the department store or go to the movies on a Friday night. It's sometimes sweet and sometimes sour, and it's all glorious. There's the hint of escape or maybe just the understanding of what you give up to get the safety and security of the cul de sac days.

On to movies.
Can there be a "best of" list without the brilliance of "Inception?" I think not. I was actually able to see this one in the theater, and I was blown away by its inovation and intricate storyline. It didn't insult our intelligence with nothing more than impressive special effects; this was a movie with substance. It had a great plot - hey, who doesn't dig dreams - superb acting (can Ellen Page please be in more movies?), and let's face it, eye candy for the ladies. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, AND Leo? My eyes were most pleased.
Next up was Black Swan. I was mostly excited for this film because I love Swan Lake, and I loved the idea of a movie devoted to a ballerina struggling with creating the personas of both the white and black swan. The ballet in itself is breathtaking, and Natalie Portman needs an Oscar post-haste for being flawless. I completely believed that she was this sweet, innocent ballerina driven mad with obsession over being perfect. It gave great insight into the dedication and pain that goes into being a dancer, and yes, there is an incredibly hot girl-on-girl sex scene that even made me blush.
And the last film I'll mention here is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. This movie was just plain nerdy fun. Comic books, video games, ridiculously over the top fight scenes - it was just pure nerdgasm. Michael Cera, who is now quite famous for playing the geeky underdog who somehow manages to usually get the girl, plays Scott Pilgrim, a guy who must battle his new girlfriend's 7 exes in order to win her heart. It's a great story of the baggage that we carry from one relationship to the next, and how each new person has to deal with all the shit that comes with the complicated mess that was left by the last. Plus, it's just hilarious and fun.

In personal life stuff, the very best thing that happened this year was Perrin's amazing progression in both social skills and his ability to function in school. All thanks to this incredible little pill called Risperdal. Seriously, it has saved our lives. My child learned exactly nothing in kindergarten because his moods were completely out of control, he had zero attention span, and he was constantly in a state of fight or flight. Over the summer, he learned his letters, and he has been progressively learning to read. Through the outstanding work of some incredible women in his life - these ladies will be getting their own post - my son is now spending almost half his day in a general education class and making friends. He's happy, healthy, and loving life. And so am I.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yo Yo, Roller Coaster. Pick your metaphor

Getting an accurate diagnosis for children with neurological disorders has got to be the most unbelievably frustrating and seemingly random process. In the last year, we've been told Perrin is absolutely on the autism spectrum, unequivocally couldn't possibly be on the spectrum, is a textbook case of early onset bipolar disorder, and might just have autism-related mood disorders. all of that chaos, how is a parent to even begin to know who is right? I have filled out questionaires, checked off boxes of behaviors, and Perrin has been through countless evaluations over the course of the last 2 years. At the end of it, we are still at the mercy of opinions. There's no scientific test, no blood work to be analyzed. It's just a list of characteristics that are then interpreted by a neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist. And when they don't all agree, where the hell does that leave you? I've mostly listened to other moms and watched how Perrin interacts with other children on the autism spectrum, and for the most part, he's just like them. And in many ways, so very different. Because mixed in with all the sensory sensitivities, rigidity to routine, and mood swings is a 6 yr old boy with his own quirky personality. And he might line up his toys in a certain way because he has autism, or because he has OCD, or just because he likes them that way. It's simply impossible to know. I get told quite frequently that the label shouldn't matter to me; that he's still the awesome kid that he's always been. I do agree that regardless of the diagnosis, he's just Perrin. The kid who loves putting stickers on those paint swatches from Home Depot, who loves ketchup quite possibly more than any other human being on the planet, who has memorized pretty much every line from every show or movie he's ever seen, who collects every scrap of paper he touches, and who can melt anyone's heart with his smile. We go back for further testing with a neuropsychiatrist next month, and hopefully with that will come more answers. What I know now is that he's content and stable. He's learning at school, and he's making friends. He's truly enjoying his life right now, and honestly, what more could a parent want for their child?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fun with mosaics

I'm on a knitting hiatus while I experiment with other forms of artistic expression. First up, mosaics. I was inspired years ago at my sister's wedding by these beautiful mosaics that the owner of her wedding site created all over the place. They were massive and breathtaking, with butterflies and flowers. It looked insanely fun to do, so I thought I'd give it a try. I had some tiles left over from some stepping stones made for a friend a few years back, so I busted them out and got to work.
Step one was really creating the design. I had these little cork shelves lying in my closet, so I used that as the base. Once I got the image exactly as I wanted, I used a mosaic glue to stick em on. This process took forever, but with a little help from Doctor Who, it didn't seem so tedious. End product of step one.

A few days later, I attempted the hard part. Grouting. Since this was my first try, I thought it'd be easier and more convenient to use a pre-mixed grout that came in this tube. You just sort of squeeze it out over the work and push it between the tiles. Huge mistake. The grout was very thick, and it was like squeezing cement out of a tube of toothpaste. When I finished (this whole process took nearly 45 minutes b/c of the thickness), I tried to smooth it out as nicely as I could. However, due to the thickness of the grout, this ended up basically covering the entirety of the tiles with the thick goop. According to the directions, I was supposed to wait 30 minutes and then wipe off the tiles. Well, the grout had dried so much at that point, that I had to scrape it off the tiles. This process took over an hour, leaving gouges in the grout in between the tiles that were difficult to smooth. The end result is that the grout is not level with the tiles nor is it smooth. It's rather crumbly and uneven.

It's not terrible for a first try, but definitely not the result I was hoping for. Next time I will mix the grout myself and actually use the proper grout spreading tool to get the pretty mosaic I'm aiming for.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Your songs remind me of swimming

Summer is here, but it's being very persnickety. It seems for every gorgeous sunshiney day, we get 3 crap rainy days. I've been keeping the boy quite busy at the water park, and he started his summer session at school on Monday, freeing me up a few hours a day. What I've been doing with those days is just about exactly nothing. I've been in a weird funk. Not really blue. Not really tired. Just meh. I'm sort of stuck in this creative rut where I want to make or do something, but I'm floundering when it comes to starting something. I'm not particularly in the mood to knit. What I've been kind of wanting to try is creating mosaics. I saw this gorgeous book at Michaels the other day that showed how to do it, and I felt a slight flutter of inspiration. So, I'm probably going to start glueing tiles to everything, and I feel this may be a new obsession to replace knitting...well, just for the summer. I'll be clicking needles together again in the fall, and I may even have some things up in the shop if I get my ass in gear. My problem is there's so much to do in this life.I want to write, to sing, to dance, to paint, to knit, to read, and do it all NOW! I'm always filled with this urgency, this little knot in my belly that begs me to get up and go.
But alas, that's that. My mom, stepdad, and two of my stepsisters were here last week from Texas. I got to play Chicago tour guide, and I was actually pleased with my ability to not only navigate around downtown with 8 people (my aunt and uncle went with) including Perrin, but to keep from getting too anxious, thus making Perrin anxious. The result was that they dug Chicago, but spent way too much time on public transit for anyone's liking.
We hit up the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, and my mom got to have a Chicago style hot dog, which was her only real goal. They got a real kick out of the Chicago accents, my darling son's included. It was a great time, and I wished it could go on forever.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

If you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread as I walk away

So here's the sweater I started for Kate in February. It's a design based on a photograph of a sweater she liked at a department store. I wrote out the charts for the cable and the lace and did a helluva lotta math to get this thing right. It took the better part of 2 months to complete, but she looks cute as hell, right?
Yarn - Woolease in oxford gray - a little less than 4 full skeins
The pattern itself is based on the shape of "Bobble Blue" in Interweave Knits Spring 2006. Highly modified based on her measurements and the cable and lace patterns.
All in all, I'm very pleased with the results. This was literally the most work I've put into a sweater, and it paid off. I think she likes it :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Florence and the Machine at House of Blues

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine has, without a doubt, the most haunting, powerful, beautiful voice I've ever heard in my entire life. Not only is she an amazing singer, but her lyrics are so enchanting, sometimes painful that it's hard not to cry when you hear her songs. "Cosmic Love" has got to be the most beautiful song ever written in my lifetime, and she has quickly become my new favorite artist. Sorry Tori; you've been usurped.

The entire experience of this concert was amazing in every way. My darling friend Kate (my new concert buddy) and I trekked into Chicago to the House of Blues last night for the show, and we were blown away. The band started with my absolute favorite song on the album "Lungs" called "Howl" which makes me think of werewolves and Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Just awesome. The set list included pretty much every song on the album, since she only has the one album out right now. During "Drumming Song" the entire floor was literally shaking as the audience jumped up and down with the beating of the drum. Florence commented in her adorable little British voice about how awesome it was that we were making the stage shake. She took the time to talk with the audience, which I'm noticing fewer and fewer performers doing during concerts, and it's always something I loved about Tori when I saw her in Austin. It was all very cute and silly, asking us to jump up and down and raise our hands during "Rabbit Heart" and sing along, but it was much fun. Kate and I had a fabulous time, and I'm excitedly anticipating Florence's new album. If you haven't heard her, I highly recommend that you immediately buy her album. You will not regret it.

Here's the set list

2.Kiss With a Fist
3.Hurricane Drunk
4.My Boy Builds Coffins
5.Between Two Lungs
6.Hardest Of Hearts
7.Drumming Song
8.Cosmic Love
10.I'm Not Calling You A Liar
11.Dog Days Are Over
12.You've Got The Love
13.Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Shameless plea for donations :) Please read!

I have this marvelously kind friend named Stacie who rocks my socks. She is a single mother to 3 gorgeous kids, and two of them have autism. Her youngest son, Erik, was just approved for an autism service dog that will be trained to aid him, keep him safe, and be a loving companion to him. The organization, Wilderwood Service Dogs, specializes in training dogs to each specific child, a process that takes a year to complete. Please visit the website at to see for yourself all the wonderful things these dogs can do for a child living with autism. Unfortunately, these dogs are extremely expensive, and my friend needs help in paying for this. This is an opportunity that I would hate to see her and her family be denied because of the cost. I'm working on a few fundraising opportunities locally to help her with this cause, but she needs all the help she can get. Here's where I need you. She has opened a paypal account in Erik's name, and I'm pleading with all of you to donate if you can. I know these are hard times for everyone, but if you can donate any amount, it would mean the world to this amazing family. Stacie is a true warrior who dedicates all of her being to caring for her children, and she's the most loving mother and friend anyone who could ask for. I'll be donating any money I earn through my etsy shop, so if anybody would like to get a cute hat or sweater out of the deal, hit me up.

Donations can be made to her paypal account at

Thank you

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Getting it right....we hope

So here's the story. Several months ago, I felt it was time to get Perrin offially diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, since we felt it would help him with getting appropriate services for school and possibly medication should he need it. His tics were getting more severe, more frequent, and his OCD was getting out of control. We took him to a neurologist, who diagnosed him on the spot. Of course this was no surprise to us since John and I both have TS. The neurologist asked me a few additional questions about Perrin, and based on the speech and social skills delays, he also said "he's on the autism spectrum." That was it. No testing. No nothing. We accepted it b/c based on our knowledge, it seemed to fit. His behavior was similar to autistic children of my friends, so we didn't really question it. Until Perrin's behavior took a turn for the worse, he began to withdraw socially, and his mood swings became much more dire. Two weeks ago, Perrin had a manic episode that lasted for days (brought on by prozac he was prescribed for OCD) that eventually led him into a depression. We took him off his meds, went to a pscyhiatrist, and he was diagnosed with early onset bipolar disorder. Based on what she saw and heard, she said she doubted the autism diagnosis entirely but wanted to hear what the psychologist said. I scheduled an intake with the psychologist, and based on the information I gave her (prior to meeting Perrin) she said that she, too, did not think he had autism. Today the psychologist evaluated Perrin and said that she saw no evidence that would lead her to believe that he was on the spectrum. That all of his symptoms fit the Tourette Syndrome with bipolar disorder diagnosis, which she wholeheartedly agreed with. We also learned that the teaching staff and social worker at his school have felt he didn't have autism for some time, and they believed he was bipolar for days before we got the diagnosis. I feel pretty confident that we've got it right this time. Does the label matter much to me? Nah, not really. Perrin is still the quirky, special, amazing, and CHALLENGING kid that he's ever been, but I know feel that he is more likely to get the appropriate therapy now. In fact, we are starting behavioral therapy this weekend with a specialist in early onset bipolar disorder. She will help us teach the school how to teach him, how to prevent his aggressions, and understand him a little bit better. So that's where things stand now. All of the pain and chaos we've been through for the past few months finally has a face to it, and with medication and therapy, I'm hopeful Perrin can be a happier, more stable child.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy 6th Birthday to my live-in Zen Master

Six years ago at this exact moment, I went into labor with the coolest, funniest, and most incredible human being I've ever known. I won't go into specifics on the labor, cuz nobody wants to hear all that, but I will say that I cherish every second of it all to bring this unique and special child into this world.
When I was pregnant with Perrin, I read this book called "Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting" back when I was a more devout Buddhist than I am today. It was refreshing and honest, and there was one part that rings especially true for me today. The author compared children to zen masters in that they are ever evolving, adapting to what is around them. "They are undeniably present. They are constantly learning, developing, changing, and requiring new responses from us. As they grow, they seem to challenge every place that we might be holding an expectation, a fixed opinion, a cherished belief, a desire for things to be a certain way." Children teach us about the world, about ourselves, how to be in each moment without obsessing about what will happen in the next. Perrin has been my greatest and most faithful teacher in this way. He embodies both consistency and unpredictability. He lives in a world apart from ours, and some days I want so desperately for him to spend more time in ours, and on others, I envy him the ability to exist inside himself without thought or care to the chaos that surrounds him. He is beautiful and strange and has many gifts to give the world. I can't wait to see what he does next.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Just the knitting

This post contains no mention of anything that doesn't involve yarn and needles and sweatery goodness.

The Montera Heather Tuck Bodice or some such nonsensically named sweater has been completed. The sewing was every bit the pain in the ass that I suspected it would be. In the 4 years I've been knitting, this was only the 2nd sweater I've attempted to knit in pieces and sew together. I'm a huge fan of the top-down sweater knitting in one piece b/c I am not gifted in the art of sewing. The following picture may make it appear that I have, indeed, successfully constructed a nifty little cardigan, when in fact, the inside looks fairly jacked up from my ineptitute. However, it looks pretty decent from the outside, and honestly, who in the universe would ever flip it wrong side out and inspect the seams? Only another knitter, and I tend to avoid letting those peeps look too closely at my construction.
So, here are the deets.
Pattern: Montera Heathered Tuck Bodice Cardigan from Classic Elite #9105 Saturday Afternoon Booklet.
Needle Size: US 8
Yarn: Naturally Caron Country. It's a lovely charcoal merino/acrylic blend. Pretty damn soft and fairly decent to knit with; a bit splitty at times, but nice to work with.
Honestly, that's all I'm going to talk about in this post. No talk of any neurological unpleasantness at all :) Just my obsessive knitting addiction.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The uphill battle worth fighting

I posted recently on the difficult, often painful journey through autism that we are taking. Sometimes, when we are in the middle of the climb, it's hard to see the destination. The peak. We can only see what's directly beneath our feet, and each step seems more daunting than the last. It's easy to forget the reward at the top - the breathtaking view. And now that I've hammered this metaphor to death, I'll move on to my point.
I'm honestly starting to believe that the end of this journey can be joy. That, along with a wonderful team of therapists, teachers, and of course me and John, Perrin has a true chance of greatness. That all of my hopes and dreams for him may actually come to pass. I will never give up. Never back down. Never forget that with every day that passes, Perrin learns a little more, talks a little more. I am starting to see the traits that seen in a 5 yr old are frustrating and exhausting can actually be strengths for him as an adult. He's bright and tenacious and knows what he wants in this life. I wish I was a little more like that actually. So I suppose what I'm saying is that (returning to my little metaphor) I am at a point right now where I can look up and see the beauty that is around me while I continue the climb.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Knitting and Life

So, most of my life these days has revolved around autism. Since the Christmas break, Perrin's behavior has been very erratic and sometimes very aggressive. He simply cannot cope with a huge change in his daily routine, and the 2 weeks he was at home with me, though very fun and pleasant, really threw him off, and he's still recovering. However, in the process of getting him back on track, we're dealing with a lot of unpleasantness. Autism is a thief that steals from my child. It takes his joy, his feeling of safety, his progress and leaves behind a child who doesn't yet have the language capability to express his frustrations, his anger. It's heartbreaking to watch your child struggle, to constantly be on the outside, never quite understanding how to play with his friends. My family lives in a bubble, and Perrin seems content most of the time to exist inside that bubble, never leaving the safety and comfort of his home, but the longer we stay inside, the harder it is to leave. I've returned to a sort of hermit-like existence, and I myself am slowly losing my ability to interact with my friends. It's almost easier to not even try to be a part of the world that doesn't understand what our life is like. I know my friends and family care and love us, but with a few extraordinary exceptions, they will never get it. I see the pity and confusion on their faces. I've been told "He'll grow out of it." I haven't yet lost hope that one day Perrin may live what we might consider a "normal" life, but I'm not delusional enough to think that one day he will suddenly wake up and no longer be autistic. I have the same hopes for Perrin that all mothers have of their children. I want him to be happy, fall in love, have a career. But right now I'd be happy with him writing his name, eating with a fork, having a conversation. Things I wish I could take for granted. Perrin is hilarious, affectionate, and has a great personality. He is my whole world. I have to force myself to not make autism my whole world. It is a daily battle.

Now that the bummer portion is over, I am still a knitter. And this is a knitting blog, so now for some yarny goodness. My current project is a lovely cardigan for myself.

I've got the entire body knitted up, currently working on the 1st sleeve. It's been going rather quickly, as the yarn (NaturallyCaron Country in a gorgeous charcoal gray) just flies off the needles. It's a luscious merino blend that is uber soft and should be very warm and toasty. It'll likely take me days to sew up all the pieces, b/c I suck at sewing, but I'm excited about getting it completed. That's all I'm working on right now