Escapes

photo of miraj sitar

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Daily Foglifter:  Listening to music assists in pain management, reduces blood pressure, soothes migraines, boosts immunity, enhances intelligence and memory, increases productivity, and promotes relaxation.  Source

A few weeks ago, I received a gift from a reader named Jeff.  After reading my Autism entry, he e-mailed me asking if he could send a relaxation CD to play for my son.  Music is an effective method of relaxation, particularly for those with Autism.  Never one to pass up free stuff, I agreed. 

I will confess that I was a little worried.  When I hear the term, “relaxation music”,  I think of sitars and chanting.  Neither of these things relax me, as I can’t relax when being creeped out.  I had a massage once with some very disturbing demonic chanting.  Completely counter-productive.  When the CD arrived, my apprehension grew when the blurb on the back of the CD case read, “the ideal tempo and rhythm for creative inspiration, massage, yoga, scenic drives, or just winding down.”  At least it didn’t mention meditation.  I don’t have anything against any of these things, I just don’t understand the particular soundtrack people use to do them.

It took a while for me to actually play it.  I usually tune the DIRECTV to my favorite music station (Channel 832, Adult Alternative) or listen to my Playlist on the computer.  I play CDs in the car and since I’m always running late, I never remembered to grab the CD off the desk.

I was feeling really guilty about not listening to it.  Jeff wasn’t pushy.  In fact, he never once contacted me and said, “Why haven’t you mentioned my CD?” or “Have you listened to it yet?”  Of course, that made me feel more guilty.  I immediately put it in my car for the next trip.  And it sat in the CD changer for a week, unheard.

Then, on a day when the kids were being particularly loud and irritable, I remembered the CD.  If it could calm down my rowdy bunch until we got home, that would be high praise indeed.  I turned it on, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, and was pleasantly surprised.  Not a sitar, singing bowl, gong, or chanter anywhere.  Just a guitar and a piano, playing pleasant relaxing music.    It was playing for a couple of minutes before I noticed the kids had gone silent.  Seriously, not a peep.

I drove for another five minutes when the 12-year-old asked, “What is this music?”

I answered, “It’s instrumental.  It’s nice, isn’t it?”

He said, “It’s making me sleepy.” The other three kids agreed.

DING DING DING!  We have a winner!

This is now my “go-to” CD when the kids are getting rowdy.  They immediately calm down.  They may talk, but it’s in a quieter voice.  I use it sparingly, in fear they’ll acclimate to it, but it still works every time I turn it on. For them and for me.

The CD is  “Escapes” by Jeff Gold.  You can buy or download “Escapes” and more music by Jeff Gold by going to

http://jeffgold.bandcamp.com/album/escapes-music-for-relaxing or

www.jeffgoldmusic.com 

When you enter the code “momfog” in the shopping cart you will receive a 20% discount.  A free download is included with the purchase of a CD. 

“Almost all children respond to music. Music is an open-sesame, and if you can use it carefully and appropriately, you can reach into that child’s potential for development.”  ~Dr. Clive Robbins

Nordoff-Robbins uses music therapy to help over 100 handicapped children learn and to relate and communicate with others.

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What Do I Know? I’m Only His Mother

Daily Foglifter:  “Spectrum”–A broad sequence or range of related qualities, ideas, or activities

I had a very busy week last week with the kids home from spring break.  In addition to all the shopping trips we had to make as a family, we also had to go the doctor’s office.  More specifically, the psychiatrist’s office.  No, it wasn’t for my pending emotional breakdown.  It was for my autistic son who has been having some obsessive compulsive issues.  Why in the world I made that appointment when I would have all five kids, I couldn’t tell you.  Although, any psychiatrist worth their salt would suggest it has something to do with my pesky martyr complex.  But, I digress.

I took all five kids to the psychiatrist’s office and got there on time, only to wait for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  My kids were uncharacteristically awesome.  Of course, I made everyone take their Nintendo DS and forbade them to sit within arm’s length of one another, but they could’ve complained.  They didn’t say a word.  It was a proud moment.  There was a funny moment in the waiting room.  A little old crotchety man in a wheel chair, oxygen tank firmly attached, was irate and summed up what everyone was thinking.

Why make appointments if you’re not going to keep them?  It’s very inconsiderate and he’s a SHRINK for God’s sake!  He should know better!

I love old people.

Well, they finally called Mikey’s name and I took the baby and told the rest of the kids to sit quietly in the waiting room while I go see the doctor.  The nurse asked me, “They won’t get up and go outside, will they?”  Um, no.  We may be in a psychiatrists’ office, but they’re not crazy. Of course I didn’t say that.  I opted for the more polite answer of, “No, ma’am.”  She didn’t look like the type who would take a joke very well.

We were ushered into the Doc’s office and were met by a very pretty med student who would be observing.  Another ten minutes passed and Doc finally made his appearance.  He introduced himself and stretched out his hand, but before I could return the courtesy, his pager went off and he went to the phone.  I waited another five minutes for his conversation, which was medical in nature, to end and then he flipped open Mikey’s file.

  • Doc:  “Who referred you?”  Me:  I answered.
  • Doc:  “What’s the problem?”  Me:  “We need new meds for some obsessive-compulsive issues related to his autism.”
  • Doc:  “How many children do you have?”  Me:  “Five”  Doc’s pager goes off and he makes another ten minute phone call for another obviously more important concern than ours.
  • Doc:  “Is the father in the home, or is it just you?”  Me:  “I’m married to the children’s father and we have always lived together.”
  • Doc:  “Who diagnosed autism?”  Me:  Dr. _________.”
  • Doc (to Mikey):  “How are you?  Do you do well in school?  Do you get good grades?  Do you like school?  Do you feel okay?”  Mikey answers all his questions and the Doc turns to his student and says, “There are no signs of Autism.  His previous doctor had a reputation for misdiagnosing Autism.  That’s why she moved to Florida.”  I wasn’t looking in a mirror, but I’m sure the look on my face was one of shock and awe.
  • Doc:  “What makes you think he has Autism?  Has he had psychological testing?”
  • Me (stammering):  “It began with sensory issues, loss of speech, no eye contact…He’s had tests, when he was three and last year.”
  • Doc (to student):  “Do you see the problem?  Sensory issues…a lot of toddlers have this.”
  • Doc (to me):  “Does he have outbursts?  Is there a history of depression in your family?”
  • Me (still reeling)”  “Yes to both.  But he’s not moody.  He only gets upset if his expectations aren’t met or he feels like he was cheated because things didn’t go according to his plan.”
  • Doc (again to the damn student):  “Depression can present many ways…blah, blah, blah.”

Mikey's First Year in School Age 3

I’m not sure at what point I became invisible, but he was talking to this student as if he knew what in the hell he was talking about and that I was inconsequential.  Or very dumb.  Did he think I wouldn’t notice he said that Mikey’s diagnosis was wrong?  That what we thought was autism for the past 8 freakin’ years was a matter of a genetic disposition to depression?  Did he expect me to accept that and say nothing?

Apparently he did.  Every time I tried to explain what led to Mikey’s diagnosis, I was cut off by another dumb phone call or a stupid, uninformed asinine opinion of his.  An opinion he formed in a total of 10 minutes with me and my son.

To make matters worse, I was completely blind-sided.  I had no idea that I would be challenged on my son’s diagnosis.  I was completely unprepared for that.  I didn’t bring in the mountains of documentation I’ve accumulated over the past 8 years.  For God’s sake, I could barely form a coherent sentence, between my shock and his dismissal of anything I had to tell him.  I’m not sure when he decided I was an idiot who wasn’t worthy of his attention, or even his comments, but I suspect it was around the time I said I had 5 children.  What intelligent person has 5 children in this day and age?  Everything he said was to his student.  She at least had the decency to look embarrassed about it.

I was trying to collect my thoughts when he started talking meds.  He believed me about the OCD, (“It’s another way depression presents itself.”), and was writing Mikey a prescription.  It was what I went there for and as I was really too angry to speak or even to know what I wanted to say, I took the prescription and ushered Mikey out of there as the benevolent Doc took yet another phone call.

I’ve been thinking about what to do for the last four days.  The meeker and non-confrontational side of me says not to worry about it.  What we wanted was meds for a condition the Doc actually believes Mikey has.  We got it and as the only requirement will be to do periodic med checks, it isn’t necessary for the Doc to agree with the diagnosis of Autism.  The meeker and non-confrontational side of me is an idiot and a coward.

Mikey is not depressed.  He has Autism.  While it is encouraging to think that even a doctor can’t tell by speaking to him, it’s more insulting to be summarily dismissed.  That man has no idea the hard work it’s taken to get Mikey to this point. He wasn’t there for the sensory integration therapy when Mikey would scream his 3-year-old lungs out because he was forced to touch sand or shaving cream.  He wasn’t there when Mikey would stare off into space when I spoke to him.  He didn’t witness the hand-flapping, the echolalia, the made up language.  He certainly wasn’t there when Mikey used to bang his head against the wall or the floor in order to feel something.  That man doesn’t know anything about my son.

He will learn a great deal the next time we meet.  I have videos, reports, test results, IEPs, and a ton of other paperwork.  He may not want to listen to little old me, but he will be forced to look at the history.  He will have to acknowledge the validity of my son’s diagnosis.  He’ll see the tremendous effort put forth by his parents, his teachers, his Occupational and Speech therapists, and above all, of Mikey himself. Of course, I’ll be respectful.  If, as I fear, he still doesn’t want to listen, I can be something else, if necessary.  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here’s a hint:  It starts with a “B” and rhymes with “itch.”  While it’s not my nature to resort to this, I am quite capable of it.  Just ask my husband.

Picture Day is Stressful for Autistic Children

If all this fails, we will have to find another doctor.  If there is one.  Because Mikey has a disability, he is on Medicaid.  This was extremely helpful when he was younger and needed the OT and Speech therapy, but it’s not served us as well the last few years.  Finding a doctor, particularly a mental health professional, that accepts Medicaid is difficult.  Of course it is.  With what Medicaid pays, I’d be reluctant to accept it, too.  The wonderful world of government health insurance at work, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a cut and dried diagnosis, hence the use of the word, “Spectrum.”  Those on the spectrum have a myriad of easily recognizable symptoms–non-verbal, no eye-contact, no social interaction, sensory integration issues, and stimming.  Some autism cases are very severe and represent what people typically think of when they hear the word “Autistic.”  Mikey presented with all the classic signs of Autism when he began Early Intervention Services.  He began school at age 3 and even attended summer classes so that his therapies could continue.  A lot was required of him and he benefitted from the constant “training.”  I thank God every day for the wonderful doctors and teachers who helped him.  I never thought it might hurt him in the long run.

If this doctor refuses to support the diagnosis of Autism, it will go into his chart and could potentially complicate his future.  Mikey may appear “normal” but he still has issues related to his Autism that will undoubtedly affect his ability to work and live independently.  He will likely depend on his disability benefits.  If Autism is ruled out, these benefits will disappear.  Not because he isn’t Autistic, but because he isn’t Autistic enough.

Monday, Beautiful Monday

Daily Foglifter: Stress contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and other illnesses in many individuals. Stress also affects the immune system, which protects us from many serious diseases.

Normally, Mondays and me don’t get along.  Today, however, I’ve never been so happy to see a Monday.  Did I have to get up at 6 am?  Yep.  Is it going to be another hot day that will battle mercilessly with my current A/C situation and win, making my house a glorified sauna?  Absolutely.  Is something guaranteed to break down, go wrong, or generally suck?  99.9% possibility.  Bring it on.  It’s still a beautiful Monday.

How can that be?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Last week was Spring Break.  All week, all 5 children were home driving me absolutely bananas.  I had to take them everywhere with me–the grocery store, the doctor’s office, and shopping.  It’s usually just me and the baby girl making delightful trips around town, basking in the peace and quiet.  Not last week.  Every trip we took resulted in fighting, yelling, and general chaos.  I know it was bad because when I returned to the grocery store alone TWO DAYS after going with the whole brood, the checkout girl said, “Weren’t you in here a couple of days ago with a bunch of kids?”  How would she remember that unless we made a special impression?  She wouldn’t.  Out of the thousands of people she’s seen in the grocery store, she remembered me, even without “a bunch of kids” at my side.  I can only imagine why.  Maybe it was pure pity for the mother of such an unruly lot.  Maybe it was my face, or rather the color of my face, when I was hissing threats in the ears of my little brutes–a brilliant and disturbing shade of reddish-purple.  Or maybe it was the fact that I actually yelled, “Stop!” loud enough to be heard a couple of aisles away.  Whatever the reason, I was mortified and will now avoid her line in the future.

Aside from errands, it’s also a challenge to have all the kids home all day.  My usually quiet days with the baby girl transform into the kind of days that try moms’ souls.  Days in which my children test the utmost boundaries of my love and commitment to them.   First, they fight constantly.  Things usually start off pretty innocently.  A little pretend sword fighting, a friendly game of Mario Kart, or watching a movie.  It always ends in yelling, name-calling, a loud Smack!, and all the kids running to me as fast as possible to blame someone else for starting the ruckus.

Second, all they do is eat.  From the time they get us until they lay their precious heads down, they’re stuffing food in their mouths.  I’ve never heard the words, “I’m hungry!” so many times in my life. And they’re never hungry at the same time.  Here’s a brief list of what they’ve eaten this week:

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  • 7 gallons of milk
  • 3 (2 lb) loaves of bread
  • 6 boxes of cereal
  • 2 lbs. of ham
  • 2 lb. cheese
  • 6 bags of chips
  • 3 containers of Kool-Aid (each makes 2 gallons)
  • 2 Value Packs of Go-gurt  (each has 24 tubes)

The bank account is trembling in fear and trepidation of the summer to come.

Third, they’re LOUD, even when they’re using their “inside voices,” which isn’t often, the noise is unbearable.  Add the noise of the television or those irritating handheld video games to 5 kids talking at once and you have a cacophonous mess.  I suspect there will be many “lockouts” this summer.

So after the kind of week I had, this Monday couldn’t get here fast enough.  I awoke in good spirits, managed to get the kids up and ready and out the door on time with no yelling.  It was beautiful.  Until #4 decided to be his adorable but difficult self.  He walked to the waiting bus, and when he reached the open door, he shied like a racehorse being led into its stall.  Instead of whinnying he opted for crying and moaning the word, “Mom-my.”  His week at home had reverted him to the mama’s boy he was before he started school.  This mama’s boy tendency is why we decided to put him in Pre-K in the first place.  A kid tried to coax him on the bus but this only increased the wailing.  Then his sister gave it a try and then his wailing became screaming.  I had to get out of the car and put him on the bus.  Luckily I was dressed this morning and not wearing my pajamas like I normally do.  The bus drove off and I could still hear his crying through the open windows.  I suspect there may be a sad face 😦 on his report today, but I’m okay with that.

Me and my baby girl returned home, sat down to watch some Bubble Guppies, and promptly fell asleep on the couch and slept for an hour and a half.  She woke me up with a kiss and a “Hi, mommy” in that precious baby voice of hers.  We played with some baby dolls and had an early lunch.  Now she’s playing with some Tupperware and a spoon.  The house is quiet and amazingly cool.  Dinner is thawing on the counter, a load of laundry is in the washing machine, and the television is tuned to the classical music station.  There is probably something else I should be doing, but I think I’m going to finish a book I started 6 weeks ago. (!)  I’ll return to reality when the kids get home.  Until then, I’m basking in this Monday.  This beautiful Monday.

My Beautiful Monday

“Reading is one form of escape. Running for your life is another.”  ~Lemony Snicket

Finding Peace on Easter

Image via Wikipedia

Daily Foglifter:  “The method for determining the date of Easter is complex and has been a matter of controversy.  Put as simply as possible, the Western churches (Catholic and Protestant) celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox.” (Source)

It’s hard to believe it’s already the end of April.  I think it’s because Easter is so late this year.  I always think of Easter as the official beginning of Spring.  But Spring sprung over a month ago.  Nevertheless, Easter is here and it is the day above all days in the Christian faith.  Christmas may get more hype, but without Easter, Christmas loses much of its import.

Easter requires preparation.  The grand tradition of brand new Easter suits and dresses must be observed.  Have you ever taken five kids shopping for clothes?  It is the nightmare you are imagining, times 10.  Thank God I had reinforcements.  My saint-of-a-mother-in-law went with us and was there to witness the horror.  The kids fought, ran in circles, and couldn’t keep their hands to themselves.  #4 was on his absolute worst behavior and was lucky he didn’t get left at the mall.  When he was hiding in a rack of clothes, the brief but glorious vision of me rushing everyone out to the car and driving off at the speed of light, was almost too perfect to resist.

Besides shopping for clothes, there is also the necessity of getting the kids’ hair cut.  My oldest son is particularly resistant to haircuts.  The unfortunate return of shaggy hair for boys is a trend I could do without.  Of course, I don’t make a big deal about it.  I decided a long time ago that hair was going to be a non-issue.  My hubby has done some outlandish things with his hair in the past and I’ve dyed my hair so many times I have no idea what my natural hair looks like.  If I had to guess, it would be gray or the shade of white that occurs after a horrendous shock or scare.  How could it not be considering what I have to deal with on a daily basis?  Anyway, I try not to be a hypocrite, so hair is kid’s choice.  Within reason.  The rule is two haircuts a year.  One around Christmas and one at Easter because if the kid gets a new suit, he should at least look like a nice kid in a new suit and not a Bad News Bear in a new suit.

My son's hair if it was blonde

Have you ever taken 5 kids to get haircuts?  It’s not as bad as clothes shopping, but #4 certainly gave it a run for its money.  He refused to sit in the chair because he wanted his hair long.  He wiggled and squirmed and whined until I whispered various threats in his ear.  Then he calmed down. Briefly.  When his haircut was finished he refused to get up because he wanted his hair shorter.  He wiggled and whined until I dragged his behind out of the chair and sat him down in a chair.  #4 is the answer to my prayer for patience.  Be careful what you pray for.

I also have obligations outside my family.  As my kids make up a substantial portion of the children’s department at my church, I am a logical choice for head of children’s activities.  I don’t recall volunteering, but I’m it, nonetheless.  It’s not that complicated.  I have to arrange an activity for every season.  Fall is Trunk or Treat.  Winter is the children’s Christmas party.  Summer is a lock-in.  Spring is an Easter Egg Hunt.  That means filling plastic eggs, hiding them, helping kids find them, and giving the kids a cupcake and juice and praying they don’t make a mess of their pretty new dresses and suits.  Of course the kids always make a mess of their Easter clothes, but I do my best.  I forgot to pick up the eggs so I called a dear friend and asked her to pick them up for me.  She graciously volunteered to fill them for me and I gratefully accepted.  Now all I have to do is bake some cupcakes.

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Of course, there is the daunting task of getting five kids and myself ready for Church on Easter Sunday.  It’s not easy.  On a normal Sunday, I’m usually leaving the house with a wet head and have to resort to using the Dog-in-a-Car-Method of styling (hanging my head out the window so the wind can blow it dry.  It is very effective for that messy bed head look that’s so popular.  A little mousse and a the wind whipping my hair for about a mile or so and I’m all set.  I hope that look stays around for a while.)  But on Easter Sunday, it will be even trickier.  The Sunrise Service begins at 7:00 am and is followed by a pancake breakfast.  Of course I wouldn’t dare dress my kids in their sparkling new clothes to eat pancakes swimming in sticky syrup, so that means the Easter clothes will have to ride in the car.  The odds of forgetting a crucial item of clothing (shoes, tie, or the perfectly matched hair bow it took me three hours and five stores to find) are pretty good.

As you can see, Easter Sunday causes a lot of stress and frustration. The question, of course, is Why?  Why do we take a day that is supposed to be dedicated to the Lord and turn it into a week of toil and vexation?  Why is it necessary to have new clothes and shiny new haircuts?  I suppose it’s symbolic of Spring–new beginnings and being able to wear white shoes again.  Easter is also an important celebration and it’s human nature to dress up for special occasions.  Of course, this has nothing to do with the actual point of Easter.  Jesus is not looking at our clothes.  He’s not looking at our hair.  And He certainly isn’t looking for Easter Eggs.

Jesus is looking into our hearts and minds and He doesn’t want to see turmoil, stress, negativity, and distraction.  I hope that my heart is devoid of those things by tomorrow and instead holds Love, Compassion, Faith, Humility, Peace, and above all, Gratitude.  Gratitude for the sacrifice of my Savior, who paid the price of my transgressions when I didn’t even know I owed a debt.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Easter.

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  John 19:30

Whine and Roses

Daily Foglifter:  The term “horse sense” originates from the American West between the years 1825-35.

The temperature outside today went into the 90s and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  It was truly a beautiful day.  I didn’t step outside once.  I spent the day inside.  It wasn’t much different as the temperature inside the house topped out at a cool 86 degrees.  The air conditioner is broken.  We have a window unit and a portable AC unit, but it’s no match for the sun beating down on our undoubtedly damaged roof.

It’s only April and the weather around these parts doesn’t get cooler.  It gets hotter.  And wetter.  It’s unpleasant.  It makes me irritable.  It makes the kids complain.  It’s horrible.  It makes my brain forget how to form complex sentences.  It also makes me forget to use my good common sense.  My horse sense, if you will.

I’ve been doing cakes for years.  I’ve been going to church on Wednesday night for years.  I know that I have to have dinner ready at a certain time if there’s any hope of eating before 9:00 pm.  It doesn’t matter that I know all that.  I still didn’t plan my day accordingly.  Well, I thought I did.  But the heat and humidity through a wrench in the works.

An unexpected result of The Blog has been an increase in cake orders.  That is, they went from nonexistent to one a week for 5 weeks.  I’m thrilled.  I really do love doing it.  But I’ve always had a working air conditioner and it has never been so hot in my house when decorating.

Heat + butter + sugar + vegetable shorteningunstable icing, frustration, and  me violently throwing decorating bags of icing in the freezer when the buttercream roses melt into a sickly pink blob.   

What should’ve taken me a little over an hour took three.  The “roses” were put on the cake and  I managed to get dinner ready exactly five minutes before it was time to leave for church.  I obviously wasn’t going.  I didn’t go as I hadn’t had time to take a shower and the baby, wearing only a saggy diaper, was sitting in the contents of a spilled bag of Marshmallow Pebbles (yuck) and she was covered from head to toe in some unknown substance.

The Horse Cake

I passed the cake on to the equally exasperated husband and he took the rest of the kids to church.  Or so I thought.  I was sitting down eating my cold dinner when #3 and #4 came into the living room.  They immediately started crying when they discovered they’d been left.  #4 boldly proclaimed he was walking to church.  I was SOOOOOO tempted to let him try.

Looking for some peace, I suggested NetFlix, the most wonderful invention EVER, but was deeply disappointed when it wouldn’t work.  I HATE technology!  Instead, I found a stupid, mindless, and sub par movie for them to watch.  And now it’s them in front of the television watching “Planet 51” and being quiet.  I LOVE technology!

Now, as evening approaches and the heat has subsided somewhat, I sit here looking at the garbage dump I call a house.  It has to be cleaned, but I don’t want to do it.  It’s finally getting cool in here and all I want is to take a shower, put on some yoga pants and a comfortable T-shirt, and read.  I wonder which scenario will win out?

The days of wine and roses laugh and run away like a child at play
Through a meadow land toward a closing door
A door marked “nevermore” that wasn’t there before.

The lonely night discloses just a passing breeze filled with memories
Of the golden smile that introduced me to
The days of wine and roses and you

~”The Days of Wine and Roses” lyrics by Johnny Mercer

The Momfog Music Awards

It’s finally here.  The post you’ve all been waiting for.  It’s time for the Momfog Music Awards.I want you to know that I’m taking this seriously.  I am decked out in my Red Carpet Best.

  • Stunning fleece pajama pants featuring smiley faces, peace signs, and hearts.
  • Blue T-shirt with a spot of spaghetti sauce courtesy of this morning’s breakfast.
  • Hair done in a semi-Up-do, random tendrils of hair escaping the purple scrunchy I put in my hair last night before going to bed.
  • Make-up is left over from yesterday.  One eye sporting the smokey eye look, a result of rubbing the left-over eyeliner and mascara in a fit of hayfever, the other completely devoid of make-up.  The pop-eyed effect–it’s going to be huge!
  • Let’s not forget the most important accessory of all–the footwear.  White socks featuring the musical staff is appropriate, I think.

Red Carpet Ready

(Note:  I’ve gotten a lot of comments about the socks.  As a courtesy, here’s a link to wear you can order a wide variety of musical socks.  Buy Music Socks! )

It’s probably a good idea to go over the criteria.  Simply put: My Blog, My Rules.  You will be happy to know that if you responded to What’s On Your Playlist?, you will get an award.  It’s a concept I learned from Little League Baseball.  You participate, you get a trophy!  Yay!  Everybody’s a winner!  Don’t you feel duped special?

So, without further ado…

Image by FlamingText.com

Image by FlamingText.com

Welcome to the Momfog Music Awards!  (Applause)  In the grand tradition of awards shows, I promise the list of awards to be long, overly generalized, and completely inadequate as it relates to the actual music preferences of actual people.  It will also be boring.

I can promise there won’t be lame back-and-forths between two reluctant presenters blandly and badly reading a teleprompter. (Louder applause and some maniacal whistling and screaming.)   It’ll be lame, of course, but as I’m not a celebrity and have no artistic integrity to consider, it will be less painful to witness. In fact, I’m not going to attempt to make clever segues into each award.  It’s going to be a list.  Maybe it will be as painful to witness?  Anyway, on with the awards! (Uncomfortable spattering of applause and concerned murmerings.)

Artist in Exile Award  The winner is Unga Bunga Girl.  This talented poet professes to live in a cave with only The Doors and Pink Floyd to keep her company.  She’s on the lookout for new music so pay her a visit and prepare to be impressed.

Independent Spirit Award   For submitting people I’ve never heard of, the winner is Make Me Believe.  Her choices were Jaymay and Frank Turner.  She is only 15 and I’m…not, so that may explain my ignorance. 

Best Comedic Performance  This award goes to A Life Bewhiskered, aka Eleanor,  who confessed to liking Bon Jovi and then apologized for it.  As we all have our own personal “Bon Jovi,” I applaud her courage and spunk for sharing. 

Apology Accepted

The Indie Lover  With groups like Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, and Guster this award could only go to Jamie.  I’ve been reluctant to admit my enjoyment of Vampire Weekend since most people I know would probably assume it’s some kind of goth freak show.  It’s not.  It’s fun and I like fun music.

The Most British  This is actually a tie.  The first co-winner is xnicc who submitted the English radio station Kerrang!   The other is theianfox for his decidedly British choices of Dove, Mint Royale, and Gorillaz (a virtual band). 

The Aussie Award   As the only Australian participant, teamoyeniyi is the lucky winner!  Of course, her patriotic choice of the first Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian certainly qualifies her for this coveted award.  Patriotism aside, she is in a fight between Love and Bureaucracy, which she documents beautifully in Love versus Goliath.

The Best Group Name With names like Arcade Fire, Gorillaz, and Jaymay it’s hard to believe there could be a more interesting name, but Idle Emma obliged with “Bowling for Soup.”  Idle Emma is from Ireland and her blog is dedicated to art, poetry, and photography.

As we’ve reached the half-way point, I believe now it’s time for the obligatory Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Lifetime Achievement

Selecting the recipient of this award was an easy task.  First, he was one of the oldest to respond.  Second, his description of himself as “an almost 50 year old English bloke that would gladly sell his soul for rock n roll” was by far the most passionate comment.  Third, his blog is dedicated to music, in one way or another.  A visitor is treated to music playing in the background while reading his poetry, which is often about music. 

And the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award is…

Words Asunder!

Be sure to visit his blog and let him know he’s won this coveted award.  While you’re there check out “My Affair With Lady Stella.”  I’m rather fond of that particular poem.

Imagine, if you will, Words Asunder’s grateful speech the goons in the orchestra pit won’t allow him to finish, his uncomfortable escort off stage, and the cut to commercial break, after which we’re subjected to the latest “song” from a future member of “the one-hit-wonder” club.  

Glad that’s over.  Back to the awards.

It’s now time for the more traditional awards. 

Classic Rock/Country Award   Will the lovely Tiffaney please proceed to the podium?  Her particular choices were Country, REO Speedwagon, and Journey. 

The Best in Classical Music   The winner is Jae.  She submitted the only song to fit the category:  Pachelbel’s Canon in D.  It’s a smart choice.  It played at my wedding in lieu of Mendelssohn’s “The Wedding March” from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,”  although I absolutely love that one, as well.

Movie or Musical Soundtrack  Although there were several soundtracks submitted (Glee and Wicked), the award goes to Breakingfreefromme for her submission of the “Once” soundtrack.  Primarily because it’s a less obvious choice.  My Blog, My Rules, remember?

Best Duo or Group  This award is shared by three e-mail subscribers.  They get this reward because they were the only three people who actually shared the same selections.  The shared selections were Adele and The Zac Brown Band, in some combination.  The winners are Stephanie, Mandy, and Becky.  It’s important to note that while these ladies shared selections, they also differed widely in their other preferences.

Christian Music 

Christian Rap  For this unique genre, the award goes to Emily.  She had a wide array of other choices but this one stuck out.

Southern Gospel  On the complete opposite spectrum of Christian music were yo lovee and Mrs. Cecile, the recipients of this award.  It makes sense, as both are veteran singers of Southern gospel.  Also, they share another connection.  Yo lovee and Mrs. Cecile’s husband currently sing in a Southern Gospel Quartet together. 

Now it’s time for the Big Awards of the Night.  You know, the ones you watch entire awards shows for, just so you can adamantly disagree with the winners?  We all know the winners are chosen as part of a Music Industry conspiracy to boost sales.  The same principle applies here.  In place of “Music Industry”, place “Momfog.”  In place of “sales,” place “her own agenda.”   

Soulful Sharing Award Not only did the winner of this award leave answers, he left links, thereby eliminating the need for me to Google anything.  He likes soul of all kinds and left two links to JazzanovaIn addition to being considerate, he has very cool taste in music.  This deserving winner is Comedian Reid Price.  His brilliancy didn’t stop there.  He also left another link to the music of his brother, who happens to be the winner of the following award.

Best New Artist  To complete the genius of Mr. Price, the link he left happens to be to a cover of the Mumford and Sons song, “The Cave.”  As no one seemed to share my appreciation of the Mumford and Sons (at the time), I was stoked.  I assume that people are put off by the banjo or maybe the name “Mumford and Sons” (it does sound like a funeral home or antique furniture dealer).  If that’s the case, check out the Best New Artist with the completely normal name of Chad Price  and rest assured that there’s no banjo in sight.  It’s just Chad and a guitar and it’s very, very nice.

And now, for the Final Award of the Night.  The award to end all awards.  The recipient of this high honor almost didn’t make the cut.  By chance, I happened to notice his post in the “Latest Posts” section of my dashboard here on WordPress only last night.  To think I would’ve missed out on his sheer genius if I hadn’t glanced at the computer screen at the right moment. 

The Blogger of the Millenium

The winner is The Saxton.  What’s so great about The Saxton?  He agrees with me, of course.  He loves Mumford and Sons.  He appreciates their talent, their relevance, their creative use of the banjo and the kick-drum.  Unfortunately, if you try this link, it is inactive at this time.  I’m assuming it’s because he couldn’t handle the sudden influx of traffic that naturally comes from this kind of exposure. If it’s for a more sinister reason, don’t tell me.  I prefer to keep my illusions, thank you.  (Note:  Silly me had the wrong link.  It should be working now)

Mumford and Sons

So, there you have it.  The long, irrelevant, and boring awards show that I promised.  Believe it or not, I did have to make choices as to what to include and what to leave out. To see the complete list you’ll have to peruse the comments of “What’s On Your Playlist?” 

I would love to go into deep philosophical discussion about how “music is the univeral language” and all that, but it seems I’ve already gone over by about an hour.  The local news stations hate that.  So, I’ll just end it with the customary but abrupt wave and a “Thanks everybody!” as the orchestra plays and the screen fades to black.

Disclaimer:  The links to other blogs were my idea.  No bloggers asked for the exposure, but I wanted to thank them for participating in my survey.  Comments are not easy to come by and I hope that if you visit any of these blogs and see something you like, please let them know. 

Disclaimer 2:  If any of the blogs listed here prefer not to be linked to by Momfog, please let me know and I will remove the link immediately.  Any such request will be confidential. 

The Forgotten Cake

Daily Foglifter:  In fiscal year 2010, John Deere reported an income of nearly $1.9 Billion.

So I had kind of a bad week last week.  A stomach virus made its way into our house.  I should say, made its way into me and the baby.  Everyone else managed to avoid it.  Lucky them.  There is nothing like being nauseous and having to change the diaper of a baby with a stomach bug.  Good times.

In the throes of the stomach virus, I completely forgot that I was supposed to do a cake.  It’s Thursday night and I’m supposed to have a cake ready for my husband to take to work with him at 7:00 am on Friday.  It wasn’t happening.  I managed to bake the cake but the decorating would have to wait until Friday morning after the kids got on the bus.

The kids missed the bus.  I had to take them to school and waste a precious hour of cake decorating time.  I had exactly 3 hours to get the thing done.  Not a good thing because this one was a sculpted cake.  Yowza.

Making a sculpted cake is Fun.  It’s also time consuming.  Cakes have to be cut and frozen and cut again before they can be iced and actually decorated.  It’s like doing sculpture, but more tasty.

The First Cut

The Basic Shape

This is the first step in a sculpted cake.  I’ve got the basic shape and now the cake has to be partially frozen so that when I carve, it doesn’t fall to pieces. 

The Second Cut:  Carving the Final Shape

Carving the Cake

This particular cake was easy, thank goodness.  I’ve done cakes in the past that have rounded edges and that is not easy to do.  Of course, the more I have to carve, the better the leftover pieces to eat.  Unfortunately, this is not good for the waistline.  On the other hand, I haven’t had a waistline since kid #2, so, “Chow down” is my philosophy.

The Best Part

After gorging myself on cake scraps, I go on to the next step.

Icing the Cake

Iced and Ready for Fondant

When this is done, the cake goes back into the freezer while I make the marshmallow fondant.  This time, the fondant had to be made white and have the colors kneaded in, individually. This is a giant pain in the butt.  Or, in the hands and arms, I should say.  I have carpal tunnel and this does not help matters.  Sometimes, I can’t feel my fingertips for a day or two after I’m done.  Not to mention that my hands are stained for days as well. 

The Incredible Hulk

I had to make green, yellow, blue, and the dreaded black fondant.  I wanted a picture of that, but I didn’t dare touch anything with my black hands.  It was a mess.  Now, two days later, my hands are a sickly purple color.  I look bruised, or just plain dirty. 

Well, the fondant was made and now came the tricky part.  Covering the cake.  This one was harder than the LEGO head because it had to be done in parts since the cake was irregularly shaped.  There is a lot of cutting and measuring done to get the cake covered completely. 

Covering the Cake

Once that part is done, the rest is easy.  I love adding the details.  Really, the appearance of the cake is all in the details. Any flaws in the fondant can be masked with a cute little detail such as a flower, or in this case, a strategically placed logo.

The Details

At this point, I had exactly 5 minutes to get out the door if I wanted to get the cake to its destination in time.  The teeth were messed up and there could have been more detail on the grill, but time had run out.  Notice anything else missing?  The wheels.  I forgot about that part.  The solution?  Chocolate covered donuts.  The only problem was that I didn’t have chocolate covered donuts.  I would have to make a stop at the grocery store and then do some quick decorating in the car. 

I grabbed the napping baby who happened to be wearing only a diaper and a dirty pajama top and put her in the car with the almost finished cake.  I was covered from head to toe with a fine dusting of powdered sugar but there was a deadline I was about to completely miss.  So I got in the car, hair in a falling ponytail, hands stained a deep purple, and white marks on my clothes and possibly my face, and headed to the store with an equally sloppy baby.  I have no shame.

Of course, the first store I went to didn’t have the big donuts. I had to go to the trusty Kroger.  Of course they had them and I attached them with a tube of store-bought black icing.  The effect was quite nice, though I could’ve done them much better if I had had the time.

John Deere Tractor--Pixar Style

Well, I think this is my last post on the art of cake decorating.  I actually have 4 more cakes to make over the next month, but I’ll just post photos. I’m falling asleep writing about it.  I can imagine how it is to read it.

“She wrote me a ‘john-deere’ letter… something about me not listening enough, I don’t know… I wasn’t really paying attention.”  ~Harry Dunne in “Dumb and Dumber”