Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rest in Peace, Barbara Curtis

I have not posted in a long while, but today learned of the passing of a lovely woman, Barbara Curtis.  I never met Barbara face to face, and I wish I had, but I had spoken to her over email several times.  Her wit, enthusiasm, and confidence inspired me to have George tested for Autism.  Just last week we received the official diagnosis, Autism Spectrum Disorder (possible Asperger's).  If it weren't for Barbara's encouragement, I might not have had the nerve to go forward with the diagnostic testing.

Barbara converted to the Roman Catholic Church a few years back after a hard life of liberal femininism, and  is survived by her twelve children, several of whom have Down Syndrome among other special needs.

Donations to help her family can be sent to:

Barbara Curtis Mommylife Memorial FundPO Box 682
Lovettsville, VA 20180-0682
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Has it really been over a year since I last posted?  Wow.  So much has happened.  Let's see:

Surgery and recovery were fine.  As a bonus, I have not had intense back pain since the surgery.  I had pain for years attributed to an old injury.  As it turns out, it was my gallbladder.  Amazing how nerves work, isn't it?

George still loves being a big brother.  He is delighted by everything Ellen does, and takes his big brother responsibilities seriously.

Ellen is now a year old, and has just started to walk.  Of course, she still likes being in a "boat" with George.

Today, like most days, she ended up covered in food.  Where George was finicky about getting food anywhere but his mouth, Ellen prefers the "cover me entirely" method.

She is just like her Mama...always has a phone in her hand.  The amusing part is that she was actually holding it correctly and babbling into it.

A few months ago I recorded her making the strangest sound.  She still likes to make it, just slightly less demonic sounding now.

I love my daughter, she's such a hoot!  I have more videos but it will have to wait, my phone is being douchy.

Anyway, let's see, what else? George started preschool (3 days a week) this year, unfortunately it is in a town 30 minutes away.  But, it is the best school hands down in the area.  Next year he will be going 5 days, which I think will help him with a steady routine.  We are going to try to have him tested this summer for ADHD/Autism.  This will be an involved, complex diagnostic testing process, but hopefully it will help us determine if we need to seek additional help or qualify him for special needs programming.  He has some major behavioral issues such as hyperactivity (more so than should be normal), inattentiveness, detachment, aggression, and anger.  Some of these problems seem to be rooted in my own behavior, and when I changed how I reacted to certain situations, his behavior also improved somewhat.

One of his cousins has Asperger's, and the way his mother described the boy's early childhood sounded eerily familiar.  George exhibits many similar symptoms and I decided to see if there is a connection.  My research has uncovered studies that indicate a genetic link for autism.  Since autism and ADHD share similar characteristics, I figured testing might yield some results.

Only time will tell, and I'll try to update when I find out anything.

Looking ahead to the future?  A trip to Disney World, I'm running Vacation Bible School this year, and we eagerly await Ellen's first (real) words! Ciao!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Surgery, Baby, Life

Time for an update (and yes, I plan on posting more often. This is my public diary, isn't it?)!

On May 5th, I went into the hospital for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Sounds scary, doesn't it? That is a complicated term to say I had my gallbladder removed with minimally invasive surgery. There are a total of four tiny incisions on my stomach (for inserting various instruments and for removing the organ) that hurt very much badly right now, and I am minus one organ.

It started out a couple of weeks after Ellen was born, I went to bed one evening with an ache in my back that felt like nerve pain. It gradually got worse over the next couple of hours until I was writhing in pain unable to get any relief. Then the pain moved into my abdomen, right under my right bottom rib. It went away after a few more hours leaving my stomach tender to the touch. I had four of these attacks over a period of two weeks, each one worse than the previous.

After an unfruitful trip to the ER (where an ultrasound and CT revealed nothing abnormal), and a trip to my PCP, I was finally sent to a surgeon who said if it looked like a duck, walked like a duck, and quacked like a duck, it was most likely my gallbladder. He decided not to do a HIDA scan (which uses a radioactive tracer and is not recommended for breastfeeding moms) but to just get the darned thing out.

So I have been spending the last week recovering from surgery, keeping hopped up on Vicodin, and watching old episodes of House (see a trend here?) while being bored out of my mind. I was able to nurse Ellen after the first day post-op, and she has been my constant companion.

I am so ready to have an adult conversation. Getting a bit tired of this one-sided "Are you poopy? Are you hungry? Good grief your farts STINK!" conversation with this tiny creature who does nothing but sleep, cry, eat, and sometimes poop.

I am so ready to be recovered. So sick of sleeping on the couch, I miss my pillow-top bed. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


The birth of one Ellen Rose Sparkman! On March 31, 2011 Sean and I welcomed the newest blessing to our growing family at 4:39am. Ellen weighed a delicate 6lbs, 12oz and measured in at 20" long. She has my blonde hair but her Daddy's face, and we couldn't be happier!

George loves being a big brother, and is super affectionate towards his baby sister.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Oh Dear

It's been a while since I've posted last, hasn't it? Lots of stuff going on lately. First of all...

George is going to be a big brother! Sean and I are so excited, and the baby is due on April 15th. Yes, Tax Day. I have been sick the entire 11 weeks so far with 24/7 "morning" sickness and have lost 10 lbs due to not being able to eat. Hopefully it will get better soon.

I am still working at George's daycare, not much to say here except that I'm one of the bus drivers, AND I get to (am forced to?) drive the bus with no A/C and a bad transmission. Yes, the pregnant woman (and they know I'm preggers) is driving the stifling hot bus on the longest run. Oh well, what doesn't kill me makes me stronger, right? Right?

I learned of a job opportunity last week through my mother-in-law that inspired me to send in my resume. They apparently liked the resume and asked for a sample of my work. It's been three business days since I sent it to them, and still haven't heard anything back from the recruiter. I pray that if it is God's will for me to have the job, so be it, but that He give me the grace and strength to accept the outcome.

And in other news, a tree fell into the bedroom of my sister's apartment Monday night. She and her family are okay. Red Cross put them up for the night and they moved into another unit the next day. Please keep her and her family in your prayers, that would be a heck of an experience for anyone.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Uh Oh

Holy cow it's May and I haven't posted on my blog in over a month! My, how time is fun when you're having flies.

Some new developments to update, I have a job for the summer as a school-age teacher for my son's daycare! Now if I can just find a regular teaching job for next year...

Anyway, I must be getting back to my resume. Hope to post something more substantial soon.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Dog is the Town Slut (and Other Pearls of Wisdom)

Okay, the title doesn't have much to do with the post except to say that although I was guaranteed she was fixed when we adopted her, she turns out to be quite fertile and in heat.

I was driving home today listening to Shop Vac by JoCo, when I began to remember (for some strange unrelated reason) the show Home Improvement. Last year I began to watch the series on DVR mostly in order, and discovered something that I didn't realize when the episodes were was a good show!

Please bear with me for a moment, I'm not talking about the fandom obsession with Jonathon Taylor Thomas that was all the rage when I was a pre-teen, nor am I necessarily talking about the acting or improbable situations. I was instead struck by how down-to-earth and realistic the family dynamics were. In most "family" comedies today the main male character (sometimes the husband but more often than not a live-in boyfriend, ugh) is portrayed as just plain dumb with no redeeming qualities.

Tim Taylor, however, was more. He was a show-off and pulled stupid stunts, sure. I think that's indicative of many guys. But he was first and foremost a husband and strong father. He was involved in his children's lives, stuck with his wife through thick and thin, and wasn't afraid to do what was right for his family. In addition, he was smart and understood quite often what his sage-like neighbor, Wilson, was advising even if he couldn't paraphrase very well. Something else I always liked was that he was portrayed as a "manly-man", not some wimpy effeminate, androgynous, pussy-whipped wanna-be girlie-man.

Besides the strong main male character, the other thing Home Improvement had going for it was the strong family support. Each member worked to build up the family without going overboard (7th Heaven, anyone?), and everyone had a definitive role that was flexible over time. When faced with an outside problem they often banded together in a united front.

Why can't television today have similar qualities?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Children In Worship

Below is an excerpt from the website for St. Andrew's Anglican - Grand Prairie:

Why Children in Worship?

John Westerhoff, a leading educator in the Episcopal Church believes that children are necessary in worship.

Westerhoff believes that faith is "caught" not "taught" and what better way for children to know what faith is all about than to be a full part of the community.

When a child is baptized in our midst and made a member of the church of Christ, the adults of the congregation promise to be active in nurturing that child's faith. We need to work together to nurture our children in their faith and to be nurtured by them in return. Children give us the gift of trust and a fresh point of view; adults can share the gift of acceptance, experience and the wisdom of the church through the ages.

May we Suggest:

  • Relax! God put the wiggle in children … don't feel you have to suppress it in God's house.
  • Use a gentle touch: an arm around your child's shoulder, your hand in his/hers to give reassurance and appropriate attention.
  • Explain quietly the parts of the service.
  • Help your child find the pages in the prayer book. It is okay if they stand on the pew to see and sing.
  • Do not be distressed if your child does not find the proper page.
  • Sing the hymns, pray and voice the responses. Children learn good behavior in church by copying yours.
  • Always remember that the way we welcome children in church directly affects the way they respond to church, God and Christ. Let them know that they are at home in this liturgy of praise and thanksgiving.
Ah, what a relief it is to visit a church like this. Almost all of these guidelines can be applied to toddlers, the exception being helping them find the pages in the prayer book since they can't read yet.

The part that struck me the most was the reminder that we ALL vow to be active in nourishing the candidate's faith during a baptism. This goes along with the last of the guidelines that reminds us that "the way we welcome children in church directly affects the way they respond to church."

Involving George in church is one of my biggest concerns right now with his development. Toddlerhood is the perfect age to introduce a child to the wonders of Christ and His church. This is the age where children begin to learn what is appropriate behavior and make associations. For example, just the other night I was reading George his board-book Bible at bedtime when he pointed to the crucifix hanging on his wall. This being Lent, I thought it was an appropriate time to introduce the basic concepts of the Cross, so I got the crucifix down and let him hold it and examine it. First he pointed out where Jesus' feet and hands were, then began to finger the nails. I explained to him that Jesus had a boo-boo where he was nailed to the cross, and George pointed to a scratch on his own leg and said "boo-boo?"
What a wonderful opportunity to explain that Jesus was hurt, nailed to the Cross....and then opening up his picture book to the Resurrection, I showed him that Jesus rose from the dead! Obviously the concept of the Resurrection is a bit much for a two-year old to handle, but a child that young can still begin to understand what I then explained to George...

When we do something bad, it makes Jesus sad. But He died on the Cross and rose from the dead so that when we tell him we're sorry, he forgives us. Just like when you misbehave, I'm sad. But when you tell me you're sorry, it makes me happy and I give you a kiss.

After this, George took the crucifix and rubbed it on his leg saying "no boo-boo." I had to hold my breath to keep from laughing. Hey, he's starting to understand, right?

*On a bit of a side note, St. Andrew's is carpeted which helps a great deal with the acoustic problem of George's naturally loud voice (a gift he inherited from me, I'm afraid).

**The picture is courtesy Fr. Timothy Matkin

Thursday, March 11, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes is hosted by Jen @ Conversion Diary.

I have discovered that I am at peace with my decision to join the Roman Catholic church.

Corgis are loud. And ferocious. Well, at least that's what they want you to think.

I finally found a mommy group in this area and am so excited about it.

My Lenten rule has helped me to lose 7 lbs so far. Praise God!

Apparently, I have a creepy house. My mother-in-law freaks out every time she stays with us, jumping at every noise. Tonight, our babysitter nearly called the cops because the wind was causing our canopy on the back porch to creak. Of course, I must also admit that the first time I heard the ice maker drop ice in the middle of the night (empty house, tile floor, new fridge, and we were sleeping on air mattresses in the dining room) I thought it was a gunshot.

Speaking of creepy houses, for some reason as I'm typing this I'm getting all sorts of shivers down my spine. And I keep looking towards the window expecting to see a person standing there...2nd story.

The best news of all, I'm subbing for GPISD! I'm finding subbing to be somewhat rewarding, and am looking forward even more to being a permanent teacher. Now if I could only find a job.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tiber Swim Team '10

Here I come!

As some of you know, I have been in a period of discernment for the last couple of years to figure out if God is calling me to Rome or if I'm just imagining it. I finally got my answer today. Many things have led up to this decision, and it is not a decision I make lightly. I will happily explain more as time goes on, but suffice it to say that I feel I need to make my decision known.

Also, if anyone in the Grand Prairie area (or nearby cities) could recommend a conservative, child-friendly, non-happy clappy Catholic parish, please let me know!

May the blessing of God be upon you.