Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stupid Product: Baby Bangs Headband

There are Stupid Products on this blog that have made me laugh until I've cried.  Today's Stupid Product, the Baby Bangs Headband, just makes me cry.  We live in a culture so obsessed with body "perfection" that it produces product stupidity in the form of  Armpit Whitening Cream and Booty Pop Panties. While I think these products are stupid, I'm okay with the fact that they exist because at the very least, these products have been inflicted upon grown women who should know better.

Today's product, however, is about beautifying babies.  You heard me.  It's a beauty product for babies.  Specifically, the Baby Bangs Headband is meant to beautify those sad, sad baby girls who struggle through the shame of infantile baldness.  That's right.  These babies are babies.

*Give me a minute.  I'm crying again.*

Here's an snippet of an episode of the Tyra Banks Show in which she interviews a woman beaten down by the indignity of a daughter who is constantly mistaken for a boy.  Baby Bangs to the rescue!  I have no idea why the person who posted this video decided to take out the sound and replace it with a running, on screen transcript, but the music really underscores the abject misery of this poor mother's plight, don't you think?  

People, the Baby Bangs Headband is one thing and one thing only. It's a toupee. And what do we do when we spot another human being wearing a toupee? We laugh, and we pity that person. Why is that? Because toupees are obvious, ridiculous, and stupid looking. This is not to say the person wearing the toupee is ridiculous or stupid looking...just that the thing atop his head is. Any amount of baldness looks better than a toupee. Any.

Like Huggies Jeans Diapers, the Baby Bangs Headband is not about making a baby feel more comfortable with her appearance.  It's about making MOM feel more comfortable about baby's appearance.  To these moms, I say, "URGH!"  Then, I take a breath and say, "If you're trying to make her look better, you're kind of heading in the opposite direction, here.  Also, if you're hung up on her looks already, you might as well check her into the eating disorder clinic by the time she's seven, because baby?  She's gonna have a complex."

Really, isn't it okay for a kid to just look like she looks?  Do we really have to impose a cultural expectation of beauty on someone who can't even say the word?  Should we be imposing it on our older daughters?  Is there anyone out there who will stop the MADNESS inherent in our appearance obsessed society?

Actually, I'm not that worried.  I know exactly who will stop this particular madness.  As well intentioned as Baby Bangs buyers might think they are, the BABY will be the sensible person who takes a stand against baby toupees.

Seriously, how many babies do you know who will keep something on their heads for more than five seconds?  Enjoy that full head of ridiculous looking fake hair while it lasts, ladies.  URGH!

(Thanks to Onica H., of Kent, WA, for today's DOOZY of a Stupid Product.  Thanks to Onica, also, for having the common sense not to put a rug on any of her babies.)

The wonders of the Wii


Mom, today I learned that I bowl MUCH better when I look like this.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today's video treat comes to us from the How it Should Have Ended folks, uber creative and snarky geniuses who create silly alternate endings for popular movies. I've watched almost all of their videos (well, the ones related to movies I've already seen) and look forward to each new installment.

The ending to this one actually had me shouting and hissing at my computer screen for a moment. All that I hold sacred was destroyed by all that I hold ridiculous and nerdy beyond belief.  I wondered if I could ever let my nerdy beyond belief husband know of this work of blasphemy. Surely, if he were to ever learn of the existence of this video, the Trekker in me would never know another moment's peace. My dismay changed to delight when the REAL ending occurred, and all was right with the universe again.

Intrigued? Good!  Watch it, note the victor, and know that Star Trek is KING!


Mom, today I learned that the makers of this tea aren't trying very hard to get me to want to drink it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jacko's been all over the news this week, what with the anniversary of his death sneaking up on us like it did.  Today, however, it's his former pet chimp, Bubbles, who's making headlines.  Do you remember Bubbles?  I didn't. I'm just the right age, but I seem to have blocked the existence of this primate from my mind.  Maybe it's because he was subjected to performances like this:

Whatever the reason for my Bubbles related amnesia, there is, in fact, a chimpanzee who used to belong to Michael Jackson who is in need of funds to cover the $15,000 per year cost of his care at The Center for Great Apes in Florida.  According to news reports about Jackson's will, his estate is being split between his children and his mother, with the remainder going to charity. One can only assume the Center for Great Apes was somehow left out of the charity list.  Poor, forgotten Bubbles.  Poor, forgotten Center For Great Apes.  (Gosh, I hope the charity money didn't go to the Center for Average Apes.  That would be cold.)

But wait! You can help the penniless chimp by "adopting" him for $150 a year!  I know what you're thinking.  $150...$15,000...those numbers are tad far away from each other.  The Center is likely banking on the fact that very few Michael Jackson fans have the means to adopt a whole chimpanzee for $15,000 a year, and that far more would be willing to adopt a portion of a chimpanzee for $150 a year, so $150 a year it is.  It's kind of a chimp timeshare...a chimpshare!

Patrons who cough up the money for room and board for Bubbles will have a chance to interact with Bubbles at special open houses at the Center, which is not a public preserve or zoo. 

What do you say? Isn't $150 a small price to pay to shake the hand that once held the hand of the King of Pop?  If you think about it, it's kind of a bargain.  Of course, I'd make sure my $150 is adopting the hand before I made the commitment, but that's just me.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Mom, today I learned that I'm the kind of Star Trek fan who will take a picture of a movie screen.  Yes, I'm that nerdy.


I also learned that making a big bowl of popcorn is only helpful if you actually bring it to the park where they're showing the movie.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Mom, today I learned that I might need to work with Miriam on her priorities.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

There are times when I review a product and think pioneers must be rolling in their graves over the laziness of the people of today.  Our progenitors lived a life of work from sun up to sun down without the modern conveniences of our world, and while I think a ghost of one of my progenitors would graciously agree that my dishwasher and microwave are essential appliances for a mother as busy as I am, I can't say she'd be so forgiving of what I'm about to share with you. 

Yes, today's product is something no ancestor could ever condone.  Honestly, if that ghost were to ever find me in possession of today's Stupid Product, the Twirling Spaghetti Fork,  I would burst into shameful tears and beg her not to think me a black mark on the family name.  There's convenience and then there's just plain laziness.

The Twirling Spaghetti Fork is exactly what it sounds like it is: a motorized fork that twirls your spaghetti for you, because, you now...twirling spaghetti is ridiculously hard work.  I know the last time I served pasta, my family was exhausted for days.  I think I even pulled a muscle or something.  I know I went to sleep (after crawling laboriously to my bed and deciding to sleep on the floor rather than pull myself up to its height) praying to the heavens for a way to make twirling spaghetti a little easier.

I should interject that I do believe there is a segment of the population which could benefit from a product like this.  I know many people with arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome who might have a hard time with the twisting motion necessary to twirl spaghetti on a fork.  I was ready to give the product semi Awesome status for that reason, alone.  That was until I saw this:

Twirling Spaghetti Fork makers, if you're going to make a product that will be of benefit to only a small portion of the people of earth and require them to buy their own batteries to operate it, you could at least make it work.  It's a lot to ask, I know, but come on!  Someday, I'll have arthritis AND carpal tunnel from all this typing, and I have a ghost to impress!


Mom, today I learned the people who work in this office building have to know their colors in order to know which newspaper is theirs.  Also...they're very trusting...and I have enough newsprint to keep us warm all winter.  (Kidding!)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I mean...I wasn't even born until 1976!


Mom, today I learned that Liberty Park makes impossible demands on its visitors.

For your Tuesday viewing pleasure, I'm posting a video I watched earlier this month. The quality isn't the best, but I assure you, it's worth watching. Every time I see this on another blog or website, I have to take some time to watch it and smile.

The woman doing the filming explains what she knows at the beginning of the clip. I hope someday the world will get to see the professionally filmed version, but until then, this will more than do. Enjoy!

(Author's note: If you want to read a humorous account of my own marriage proposal click the link and read it on my other blog, Sarah...Phenomenally.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

If only flash mobs had been invented...


Mom, today I learned that if you can't designate your site as a historical one, you can always designate it as a hysterical one.  I'll be buying one of these for my house as soon as I find out where they're sold.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Mom, today I learned that I was completely right last year when I said my husband can fall asleep in any positon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Mom, today I learned that Facebook has indeed taken over the world.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Really, Wal Mart? Really?


Mom, today I learned that the Redbox machines at my Wal Mart are inexplicably blue. Resistance is, apparently, futile.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Richard and I discovered Improv Everywhere last week and spent the late hours of one evening watching quite a few of their surprise productions. This group plans elaborate productions in public places and videos the reactions of unsuspecting passers by with hidden cameras.

In today's video, the participants stage a spontaneous musical production in the middle of a crowded mall food court. Just try not to laugh! Also, just try not to crave the Panda Express! Mmmmm...Panda Express...

I guess a smile is worth something.


Mom, today I learned my sister isn't any better than I am at wrangling a real hug out of my teenager.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The biggest news in the world of news is that an unlucky Michigan woman, desperate for medical treatment, shot herself last week. No, no, she wasn't suicidal.  She just needed actual treatment for a previous shoulder injury and had only been offered pain medication.  The woman had been told that due to her lack of medical insurance, she would be not be seen by a specialist and could only be treated if the injury were life threatening.

"You want life threatening? I'll give you life threatening!" she may have said as she pulled the trigger and sent a bullet through her wounded shoulder.  Unfortunately for her, she hadn't seen any episodes of Lost or Alias and hadn't learned that shoulder wounds are rarely life threatening, so the hospital superficially treated her new wound and released her again.

News outlets and bloggers all over the net are profiling this story as proof that health care in this country is just as broken as politicians would like us to believe.  The new rallying cry of health care reform in America might just become, "When people have to shoot themselves to get treatment, change is needed."

I'm going to go out on a blogging limb and say that I think change is, indeed, needed in the health care arena.  However, I think pundits should choose their poster children carefully.  I don't think this woman's situation highlights a need for better health care access as much as it highlights the need for good mental health care access.

I mean, our employer has just moved to a health savings account plan for us, and until we meet our high-but-not-as-high-as-some deductible, we're paying $265 a month for my daughter's asthma meds.  That's $265 a month just to ensure my child can breathe, and we HAVE insurance.  This is a burden, for sure, but even if we didn't have insurance and I wasn't sure how to manage her condition, I don't think I'd be shooting her in the lungs to get help.

This is not to say that I don't feel for this woman. She's in pain and out of work and has no way to cover the expense of fixing her shoulder, and so her condition continues.  Pain can make people do and say things they wouldn't normally do or say.  The same is true of poverty.  Just come to my house when that time of the month coincides with a lack of funds to pay for chocolate.  It's not pretty.

Of course, in times that desperate, I'm much more likely to turn a gun on someone else...

Wonder if he got a discount for this.

Mom, today I learned that car manufacturers are getting a sense of humor.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Mom, today I learned Aaron Jr.'s love of Mountain Dew may be turning into an obsession.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Awesome Product: The Pillow Tie

With just over a week before Father's Day, some of you may be scrambling for the perfect gift for your dad or husband.  Many of you will wait until the last minute and grab him one of those most overused of gifts: the necktie.

Mother Load readers, today I exhort you to NOT wait until the last minute, but I also exhort you to buy him a tie.  I know, I know, I never thought I'd recommend a tie for Father's Day, either.  But then again, I'd never seen a Pillow Tie before today.

Here's a recent video.  Check it out.

People, I think this might be the coolest thing I've ever seen, and this is coming from someone who owns two Perfect Brownie Pans.  AND I think ties are silly and meaningless conventions, and I'm pretty certain I wouldn't wear one if I were a man, no matter what my profession.  To me, ties are the ultimate Stupid Product, hanging from a man's neck like an over long piece of striped jewelry and often obstructing his air flow in the process.

But you put a pillow in it, and BAM! Awesome Product.  If you're going to wear something simply because convention says you have to, you might as well get some enjoyment out of it. The Pillow Tie blasts a great, big hole in the paradigm that says fashionable clothing can't be functional.

It must also be said that there is value in this product's ability to make a statement to boring speakers everywhere.  Anyone can fall asleep in a meeting, head bobbing and jerking in that characteristic way.  Boring bosses or lecturers see this and are bound to think the sleeper just had a hard night.  Inflate a Pillow Tie and snuggle down purposefully in front of him, and he's going to realize something about himself. 

The only thing I'm left wondering is when the makers of the Pillow Tie are going to branch out into women's clothing and accessories.  There are so many things I don't wear because I don't see the point.  If you put a pillow in them, I'd be your biggest fan.

Speaking of which, you can become a fan of the Pillow Tie on their Facebook fan page.  If you're planning on buying one, you might want to wait until after Father's Day, so you don't ruin the surprise.  Happy Father's Day and happy napping to dads everwhere!

(Thanks to Tami C. of Washington, D.C., for the heads up on today's Awesome Product!)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Yes. Yes, I do.


Mom, today I learned that the people at Edwards have learned of my absolute awesomeness.  It was only a matter of time.

Sung to the tune of "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" from Oklahoma!

Dreaming of beautiful flooooring!
I'm gonna have some someday.
Today I'm ripping up caaaaaarpet!
Everyone out of my waaaa-aaaaay!
Oh, what a beautiful day!

There's a bright, golden haze in my front rooooom!
There's a bright, golden haze in my front rooooom!
It comes from the carpet that's covering the flooooor!
But gold carpet, I tell you, your days are no mooooore!

Dreaming of beautiful flooooring!
No more gold carpet for meeeee!
I'm gonna salvage that woooood flooooor!
Oh, what a great floor you'll beeee-eeee!
Everyone just wait and seeeee!

All the children are begging to help me.
All the children are begging to help me.
"We don't like our toys,
And we love to destroooooooyyyy!
To rip up the carpet would bring us such jooooooyyyy!"

Dreaming of beautiful flooooring!
Family projects are so fun!
My kids are going to work now.
We'll work until the job's doooo-oooone!
Yes, as a mom, I've just WON!

Stupid Product: Fetus Cookie Cutter

The first thing I saw when checking out today's Stupid Product, The Fetus Cookie Cutter, was ad copy bearing the words, "Looking for a cookie cutter in the shape of a fetus?"  Everything I need to know about the people involved in the sale of this product is contained in those few words. There's a note of expectancy, a hint of assumption in those words.  We know there are people out there scouring the web for a way to consume fetus shaped cookies.  Let's bring joy to their lives!  Let's tell them their search is officially OVER!  Let the fetus eating BEGIN!

WHO (other than cute, curly haired bloggers who lampoon Stupid Products every week) looks for cookie cutters in the shape of a fetus?  I have many cookie cutters in my house, mostly of the Christmas variety, which I use to punch out biscuits (I'm not a big sugar cookie fan).  I am currently looking for a heart shaped cookie cutter for Valentine's Day, a star or flag shaped cookie cutter for Independence Day, and I would absolutely love a tie shaped cookie cutter for Father's Day (shhhh...don't tell Richard).  But I have never and will never be looking for a fetus shaped cookie cutter.

This is because I'm sane.  Okay, I'm marginally sane, but I'm sane enough to know that eating fetuses is frowned upon in most civilized societies.  I'm pretty sure I learned this in school the day they taught us to also not eat bugs, paste, dirt, or chalkboard dust. I can only deduce from this knowledge that eating a cookie in the shape of a fetus is bad and wrong and bluchy.

This product reminds me of the chocolate babies I reviewed back in February.  I can only imagine this cookie cutter is meant to make delicious cookies to serve at a baby shower.  Strangely enough, I feel the same way about fetus cookies as I did about Chocolate Babies back then.  No mom-to-be in her right mind is going to want to ingest something that looks like the fetus she's carrying in her womb.  Giving a fetus cookie to a pregnant woman is like saying, "You're planning to eat your young, right?  Here!  Let's practice!"

Maybe you think there's nothing wrong with this product.  I'd like to say that you're entitled to your preference, but really, I just think you're bluchy.  But lucky for you, according to the website, you fetus eaters can get your fetus cookie cutter for 5% off in honor of Cookie Monster's birthday.  This announcement is followed by the words "NOMNOMNOM!" which scroll happily across the page directly above a representation of a human fetus, and a little bit of my soul dies in the process.

I think I'll go eat some chalkboard dust and ponder on the end of humanity as we know it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Today's Outrageous News story is a day late because there was absolutely nothing blogworthy on any of the news sites yesterday! was down to a choice between a family suing a college for not admitting their 13 year old daughter and the city of Boston trying to decide whether or not to turn public restrooms into restaurants. Meh and blech.

Today, however, I learned that NASA has unveiled plans for its Face in Space program.  NASA wants YOU (yes, you) to upload a picture to its Face in Space website.  The photos people upload will then fly to space on board a shuttle and, uh, drink Tang or something.  Aha! The news is alive again!

I actually think this news is more cool than outrageous, and I'm putting it on the blog to give all of my readers the heads up.  Most of us will never be rich enough to afford a private space flight, at least not until they saturate the market with them and the price comes down.  This is probably my only chance to fly in space, so I'm definitely uploading a photo.  I just have to find the right one...

The finalists:


So space will think I'm mostly harmless (and that I have my own towel).


So space will know I don't take any guff.


To introduce space to my wilder side (and my friend, Becca).


To let space know this is one way aliens WON'T be entering my brain.

Which pic should take a ride on a space shuttle?  You decide!

For your viewing pleasure today, I have found you two videos containing two very different interpretations of the "Diva Dance," a song from the movie, The Fifth Element (a personal favorite). In the movie, a very tall, very blue alien diva stands before an audience on a luxury space liner and sings an aria in a beautiful, operatic voice. The song then morphs into something of a techno opera piece, and from this, we have the Diva Dance.

In the first video below, a woman recreates the notes of the Diva Dance with her own beautiful voice. What's amazing about this is the fact that the movie version of the Diva Dance at times features an electronically manipulated human voice because most human beings couldn't possibly sing this, yet here is Laura singing along with her non blue, non alien, non electronic voice and hitting every note. (You'll be able to hear the movie version's synthesized sound in the second video.)

Speaking of the second video, I added it because it cracks me up every time I watch it. YouTube truly is a magical place full of people doing really silly things in front of cameras. Never leave us, YouTube, okay?

WHY didn't I take him up on it?


Mom, today I learned that grocery store employees don't appreciate flair.  I asked to take a picture, and he offered to just give it to me.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Mom, today I learned that the people at Sears do not understand the following words: "You've already sent me that part two times and it doesn't fit the hose.  If you just send it to me a third time, it will, again, not fit the hose, and I will be even more upset than I am right now."  (Lucky for Sears, they sent me a repairman who pronounced everyone at the company other than him to be idiots and then fixed the actual problem.)

Friday, June 4, 2010


Mom, today I learned that every pregnant woman in the world should have a shirt like this. 

(Thanks to my sister in law, Mary D., for being a good sport and letting me take her picture.  I'll give you the chocolate as soon as you calm down...)

Awesome Product: Doggie Doo Drain

Maybe it's a coincidence that both my Stupid and Awesome Products for this week deal with poop. Maybe it's fate. I did try to hold this one off until next week in order to space out the feces related posts, but I'm just too excited about it to wait.

The Doggie Doo Drain is an ingenius little product that allows dog owners to flush canine yard deposits right into the sewer.  If you want to know the truth, when I checked out the link, I didn't even know my home had a sewage drain or how I would attach the Doggie Doo Drain to one if I found it.  This commercial shows how ridiculously simple the process is (and how ridiculously clueless I apparently am about these things).

I've had two dogs in my lifetime, and I can say that this aspect of owning a dog is the reason I've only owned two dogs in my lifetime. (Okay, and there's the drooling and the barking and the tearing up of the furniture and shoes and the general not being anything like cats thing.) Had I had a Doggie Doo Drain, I might have had a more enjoyable experience as a dog owner.

According to the product's website, the Doggie Doo Drain has won awards, and I can't say that I'm surprised.  This is one of those inventions that makes you think, "Why didn't anyone think of this sooner?"  It's simple, practical, and environmentally sound.  What more do you need?

Now, if they could just make a Kitty Doo Drain...  Nah, I'm still holding out for the day my cats realize the toilet is for more than just drinking.

(Thanks to Becky B. of Ogden, UT, for introducing me to today's Awesome Product!  She's pretty awesome herself, so I'm not surprised that her awesome finding powers are so advanced.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Well, she does really like oatmeal...


Mom, today I learned that I need to teach one of my daughters the concept of a "single serving."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stupid Product: Huggies Jeans Diapers

I saw today's Stupid Product about a week ago at the grocery store and all I could do was sigh and take a picture. I had thought Huggies Jeans Diapers would only warrant a "What I Learned Today" post until Mother Load reader Renee P. of Wichita Falls, TX, alerted me to the existence of this commercial.


Really, Huggies? REALLY? Did you really just say the coolest you'll look POOPING YOUR PANTS in your commercial?! REALLY?

Breathe, Sarah. Breathe.

Okay, the only good thing this product has going for it is the fact that it's only going to be inflicted on the public for the duration of the summer. Also? I don't have TV, so I don't have to watch this commercial during that time. You guys aren't so lucky. I'm very sorry for you.

Speaking of the commercial, am I the only one who heard something other than "full of chic" the first time I saw this? Was this intentional on the company's part, do you think, or did I just spend too many years working with foul mouthed teens? I don't know. When you hear a baby say his diaper is full..full of ____ and the next syllable has a "sh" sound, your mind kind of goes there. Poo on you for that, Huggies.

But let's not confine our criticism to that monstrosity of a commercial. Let's look at the product itself. Its limited edition status combined with its ridiculousness put Huggies Jeans Diapers firmly into the novelty product category. This is a joke diaper. It's meant to make people look at a baby and laugh. Any coolness gained from wearing it is only implied by the makers to make it seem like they're not laughing at the parents who buy these, which they seriously are.

I've heard it doesn't cost any more than regular Huggies diapers, so that's a plus, I guess. If the people at Huggies expected moms to pay more for a diaper this pointless, they'd be getting more than a Stupid Product review from me.

A final note: Babies don't care. No, really, they don't. If you dress your infant in diapers that look like jeans, your child will not feel cool or hip or more chic (shudder) than any other baby. If you take pictures, maybe this child will feel cool later in life when he learns his mom dressed him this way, but I'm guessing not. If you think these diapers are cool, then by all means, race out to the store and stock up before they're gone. Just don't do it under the delusion that your cooing, spitting, pooping infant cares where his poop lands.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to find a way to choke down a bowl of chocolate cream of wheat after writing this post.

Thanks, Huggies. You've ruined my favorite breakfast. REALLY!

Breathe, Sarah. Breathe.

(Thanks to Renee P. for the heads up on the commercial for this product. I'll forgive you for making me watch it as soon as I wash my eyes out with soap.)

This! Is! Jeopardy!


Mom, today I learned that our 1989 version of Jeopardy is more than happy to reward mediocrity.  (The fact that the Final Jeopardy answer on which we both lost all of our money was "What is inane?" is just too fitting.)


And I learned that I don't know which I like more...the fact that I won or the character names Richard chose for us.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I've always been a sucker for prankster shows like Candid Camera, so when I discovered the wealth of such clips on You Tube, I decided I had found Heaven and promptly stopped trying to get in. Now, I spend my days living a life of lascivious license.

Okay, so maybe that last part's there purely for its alliterative value...

Just for Laughs is a show I don't know much about other than the fact that it's extremely funny. I watched quite a few of their pranks today in search of the most blogworthy one. After the 58th prank and a near stroke's worth of laughter, I realized my task was impossible. Preferring not to burst any blood vessels in my brain, I stopped with this one, so it's the one you'll see today. I encourage all my readers to check out the related videos. Just take deep breaths before each prank and stop to rest whenever you can.


Mom, today I learned that there truly are geniuses working in the restroom sign industry.

Update on me and mine

Blog posts for the last couple of months have been less consistent than in the past, so I thought I should bring my readers up to speed (as much as I'm willing and able) on what's been going with me.  Currently, it's one in the morning, and I'm feeling so ready to get things of a blog nature back on track that I don't think I can go to sleep until I've posted this.

Exactly two months ago, my little family went into full on crisis mode as we dealt with an emotional roller coaster related to my oldest child, a son who has struggled all of his life with a condition called Velo Cardio Facial Syndrome.  Never heard of it?  Of course you haven't.  Neither has anyone else except parents of kids with this genetic disorder and the medical personnel who study it.  (I'm not employing hyperbole here.  There are plenty of doctors I've met in my travels who were introduced to VCFS because I told them what it was.)

To give you a quick rundown on VCFS, I can say that it is caused by a deletion on the 22nd chromosome, is present at birth, afflicts 1 in 2000 babies born in the US today, and has a spectrum of about 100 symptoms that can occur to any given child with the syndrome.  For most VCFS kids, those symptoms include heart problems and speech delays.  Some children face problems with their immune systems.  Most develop learning disabilities and lag behind their peers both socially and academically.  In the teen years, mental illness becomes the symptom to watch for.

For my son, Aaron Ray Jr., VCFS was diagnosed at 5 months, just a month after I carried my weak and wimpering baby into a small emergency room in Kanab, UT, and told the doctor that something wasn't right.  She agreed, and we were lifeflighted to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake, where I would spend the next three days hovering over a child I was told was very sick.  Aaron had a silver dollar sized hole in his heart, a hole that produced a murmur so loud, we were met with what seemed like a nonstop parade of medical students asking if they could hear it.

Aaron's heart was repaired when he was 13 months old.  At 3, we knew the speech delay related to VCFS was affecting him.  At 4, he had surgery to repair his palate and finally began to talk (and has really, I mean that...not stopped talking since.)  In school, he received speech therapy but seemed to be beating the odds academically.  In his 13 years, I've tried hard to treat him as a normal child, giving him my love and encouragement and hoping always that the more scary aspects of the disorder would pass us by.

Over the last year, as puberty has set in and the demands of middle school have overwhelmed Aaron, it has become clear that VCFS is still with us and that the symptoms that can appear during the teen years have not missed my son.  The words I have dreaded with all my heart since the day I first saw them related to this disorder are now a trial our family has been called upon to face.  A mental illness we are still trying to diagnose is Aaron's newest VCFS symptom, and we've spent the last two months coming to grips with that fact and struggling to find him the treatment that will help him cope with it.

As a student of psychology, I know, cognitively, that there is no shame in having a mental illness.  When a person's body stops regulating blood sugar levels, people don't wag their fingers and shake their heads.  When a person develops a cancer or deals with hypothyroidism or needs an inhaler for asthma, the world doesn't stigmatize it.  As a student of psychology, I know that mental illness is much the same.  The brain as an organ is just as susceptible to illness as any other, and with the addition of an unfinished chromosome, it's more so. 

As a mother, facing a world full of people who look on mental illness as a blight, it's not so easy to remain objective.  As a mother who has worked for 13 years to help a son with more struggles than most, it's a struggle I'm not always sure I can bear.

My last Couch to 5K post highlighted some of the challenges I face in my quest to run.  I wrote that post ready, willing, and able to overcome every one.  I wasn't prepared for this one.  I have not run since shortly after our world turned upside down due to behavior problems related to Aaron's disorder.  My last run was on April 6th.  When race day came, I was still treading water, passing billboards for the event and feeling like my 5K plans belonged in another life.  I did not run it. 

A few weeks ago, I began to think about running again, wanting desperately to pick it back up.  While life is still stressful and many things are still undecided, we had seemed to settle into a rhythm with it all.  I chose to look at my month away from running and my missed race as a bump in a much longer road.  I decided the best way I could turn defeat into victory was to get back on the road and start again.

To my dismay, shortly after that decision, I began struggling with a new medical difficulty of my own, namely, the attempted mutiny of my reproductive organs.  Maybe they're tired of the stress I've been carrying and have decided to go crazy to get my mind off of other things.  Either way, I've spent the last few weeks struggling frequent bouts of pain and discomfort and overcome by sometimes crippling fatigue. At one point, cancer was on the table, but I'm grateful to say a biopsy showed all was well on that front.  I have a surgical consultation this month, and if we go ahead with a surgical solution to my current problems, I've been told I won't be allowed to run for 6 months.  I truly don't know how I feel about that.  I think I hover somewhere between deep sadness and reluctant relief.

So, there you have it.  Confessions of an overwhelmed mother who is taking things a day at a time and hoping for the best.  Through it all, this blog has been an anchor.  I appreciate so much the readers who keep me writing.  I love reading your comments, whether on here or on Facebook.  They help me to know that what I write means something to someone, even if it just means I've given them a laugh for a moment of their day.  That brightens my days, even the ones I don't know how to endure.

Thanks for sticking with me, and here's to whatever is next.