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Disorders on the Autistic Spectrum: My Daughter or Myself?

Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, and people with it therefore show significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported.
From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspergers

Our almost-8-year-old daughter has Asperger's Syndrome.  Having a child with any degree of Autism is, ohhhh, like the worst nightmare EVER.  And we have a 3-year-old, too.  So, multiply parenting difficulties by a 2.7 million, and you have our lives.

I mean, it is seriously overwhelming.

But I'm starting to wonder about myself.  Because I begin and end most sentences with "my kid has Autism."  Here's what I mean:
  • "Dear Professor, I'm sorry my final paper will be late.  My kid has Autism." 
  • "Hey Husband, can you gas up the cars, do the dishes, go through the mail, and pay all the bills...I can't get to it.  We have a kid with Autism." (Just in case he wasn't aware.)
  • "I'm gonna write a book about raising a kid with Autism.  But I can't right now.  I'm so busy-- my kid has Autism." 
  • "Hello, yes, IRS?  Okay yeah, way, way sorry we haven't paid our taxes in 8 years -- our kid has Autism.  Can we work this out?" (Thankfully, this hasn't actually happened. YET.)
  • "What, Officer?  I was doing 96mph in a 25? Oh shit, sorry.  You see, I have a kid with Autism, and right now I'm racing to McDonald's for Chicken McNuggets, because, um, she has to have those chicken nuggets." (Thankfully, this hasn't actually happened yet, either, but it's certainly in my future.)

Okay, so procrastinating makes some sense, right? (I mean, my kid has Autism after all, and life is hard.) But I find, too, that I get mad at people for opening up the most innocent of conversations.  Examples include, but are not limited to:


Someone: Have you seen "Avatar?"
Me: NO!  We have a kid with Autism! We can't do anything! Ever! It sucks! We are so stressed out! I can't even finish a load of laundry! My husband can barely get to work! I'm trying to finish a second Master's!  I WISH we could go to a movie, but that's like totally foreign to us now.  Must be nice. Going to movies and all.  Hmph.


Someone: Heeey, good to see you!  How have you been? 
Me: Dude, I'm fuckin' stressed.  We have a kid with Autism...well, Asperger's really, but same damn difference.  Our house is inside-out.  Our lives are upside-down!  We are so stressed out. OMG, it totally sucks.  I'm losin' it - I gotta tell ya, losin' it.


Someone: So, what are you doing for Easter? 
Me: Oh, fuck, I have no idea.  My kid has Autism.  That means we can't do normal things.  Or maybe we can.  Fuck, I don't know.  I mean, the smell of eggs would really bother her.  I don't know if I should dye eggs.  She'd get frustrated searching for them so I don't know if I should do an Easter egg hunt.  But fuck, I have the little one, too, and she'd love that shit.  I don't know what to do OH MY GOD SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME

Someone: I'm so worried about my son.  He's struggling in math. I wonder if something is wrong.  I get so worried.  I don't know what's going on.
Me: **&^#@!!!!!(%^%@$%$!!@^!!!**


But then, there's the famous backpedal, or the "Next Day Apology" as my friends have come to know it.  I used to administer the Next Day Apology after a night of drunken debauchery that usually included nudity and kissing strangers on the street.  But now (because my kid has Autism), I don't drink much.  Now, I'm just a straight-up whack job.  No alcohol necessary.


Me calling Someone: Hi, uhhh, it's me.  Yeah, so you know, well, this is awkward.  Ahem.  Um.  Ok, I'm really embarrassed about yesterday.  I'm sorry I yelled at you about Avatar.  You see, ever since this Autism thing really took hold..."

Okay, so let's review.  People with Asperger's often have:
1.  Significant difficulties in social interaction
2.  Restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests


HEY WAIT A MINUTE OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK?

Dryers, Dishwashers, Dinosaurs and Other "Don'ts"


It all started with this thing.  It used to be called "Pound-a-Ball," but I see that someone figured out it shouldn't be called that.  It's now called the "B Whacky Ball."  This is a great toy for a 1-year-old; it runs ya $14.99.  But...buyer beware.

O.D. got one of these for her 1st birthday.  After the party, I was trying to teach her how to play it.  These were my instructions:

"Ok, put the ball in the hole.  GOOD!  Ok, now put your stick in your hand.  GOOD!  Now, you take the stick and pound the ball down into the hole.  Um, no not quite...oh wait! There ya go!  YES! Pound the ball.  Bang it!  Go ahead.  Pound it hard, so it goes all the way in.  GOOD!  Uh-oh...did it get wet?"

I thought, hmmmm, this doesn't sound right.  I found myself looking over my shoulder for child protective services.

Over the years, I've noticed that as parents we say very, very strange things to our children.  And children say very, very strange things to us.  I've polled some friends and asked, "What weird things do you say to your kids? What weird things do they say to you?"  Here's the current list.  I'm sure it will grow.

Things we've said to them:

Places they've been:
  • "Do not jump up and down in the dishwasher!"
  • "Please get out of the dryer." 
  • "Are you in the closet?" 
What belongs, and what doesn't:
  • "I've said this enough times, and you should know, we do not put our fork between our toes."
  • "Our sippy cup does not belong on our feet."
  • "Your feet do not belong in my butt." (There's a foot theme here, I know.)
  • "Things that have touched your bottom don't go in your mouth."
  • "Please do not put your dinosaur tail up your nose."
  • "My bra does not go on your face."
What should not be ingested:
  • "We do not eat the things that come out of our noses."
  • "We don't drink the water that has the snails in it."
Just plain wrong:
  • "Aaaand, what don't we do at preschool?  Touch our private parts, that's right!"
  • "Don't touch each other in the bathtub."
  • "When people come over, we should have clothes on."
  • "Please wait -- I can't turn into a princess when I'm on the potty."
  • "OH MY GOD! You do that in your room, not in the tree house!"
Things they've said to us:
  • "You're going pee-pee, Mommy?  Lemme see!"
  • "Ya wanna play with me?" (as she grabs her crotch)
  • "Wanna come play checkers in my rainbow house?"
  • "Don't fight the love!" - as spoken by a 7 year old.
  • "Mom! Stop texting your boyfriend!"
The Most Wrong Thing Ever, A Completely True Short Story:
(Honey, you know I have to tell this one.)


When O.D. was 3 years old, she was obsessed with the solar system.  She still is, actually.  Kids on the Autistic spectrum have a tendency toward such things.  Fortunately, her conversations about astronomy have come a long way since this happened.

One day, O.D. was running through her standard list of questions, the ones she asked us every single day for a like an entire fucking year.  I was fucking sick and tired of answering these questions, so Husband was answering.

O.D.: Do you like to play with Mercury?

Husband: Yes, I like to play with Mercury.

O.D.: Do you like to play with Venus?

Husband: Yes, I like to play with Venus.

O.D: Do you like to play with Jupiter?

Husband: Yes, I like to play with Jupiter.

O.D.: Do you like to play with Pluto?

Husband: Yes, I like to play with Pluto.

O.D.: Do you like to play with Uranus?

Husband: Yes, I like to play with my anu-- hey, wait a minute!!


What weird exchanges have you had with kids? Come on, you can tell me, right there in the comments.  I won't breathe a word of it.

DAUGHTER, F*king Go To F*king Sleep!!

I can almost tolerate the mess.  I can almost tolerate the whining.  I can almost tolerate 147 episodes of Word World.  But what I cannot tolerate is the bedtime bullshit.  I have two daughters.  One is 7, closing in on 8.  She has Asperger's Syndrome which fucking sucks the world's most grotesque dick.  But at least she fucking goes to bed.  The 3-year-old, however, just pisses me off.

I'm a night person.  The nights are "me" time.  I do extremely, extremely important things at night.  I watch TV and eat snacks.  I step out for a smoke.  I arrange and rearrange pillows.  I kick my snoring husband.  So, little child, you can fuck with me during daylight hours all you want (well, after 12pm anyway), but DO. NOT. FUCK. WITH. MOMMY'S. MOONSHINE. MOONTIME.

We start the process at 8:30pm.  She purposively deceives me with extraordinary acts of obedience...at first.  She goes to her room and turns off her main light (we leave the closet light on -- fuck being Green when you have kids).  I go with her.  I lie down with her, yes I do, because I can't fucking listen to the fucking crying, so I lie down with her until she drifts off.  And then the ritual begins.

"Mommy, are you gonna sleep with me for just a little bit minutes?"

"YES."

"Mommy, you turned off the yittle light and I can't see my white milk!"

"You can see it fine."

"Mommy, I need new water!  This one's yucky!"

"Your water is fine."

"Mommy, I need my tums-tums.  My tummy hurts!"

"Your tummy is fine!  It does not hurt!"

"Mommy, I'm hungry.  My tummy is rummbleeen!"

"There's nothing else to eat tonight."

She cries a little.

"Daughter, if you want me to stay with you, you need to lie down and be quiet."

She gets up.  Circles her bed.  (It's actually a foam egg-crate on the floor -- that's another story.)

"Okay, Mommy.  Just oooonne minute...lemme jus' put this blanket on you. Ok?  Ok, mommy?  I will put this blanket on you?"

She gets a Dora blanket and tucks me in all nice.  She makes sure the blanket is perfectly lined up, no corners are folded under, and that it's right-side-up.  She lies down.  For one minute.  Then she gets back up, takes my fucking blanket, and repeats the entire ritual, only this time tucking herself in.

She situates her pillow.  Drinks some water.

Then she starts scratching my back and playing with my hair.  OMG, that feels really good.  I guess she feels badly about ripping the Dora right off my cold body. (Or, she's trying to get me to fall asleep first so she can call her other little nocturnal buddies and find out who's picking up the keg on the way over.)

Then she starts singing to her feet.

(Problem is, this is insane amounts of cute, and I giggle a bit.)

After the foot serenade, she begins careful examination of her Strawberry Shortcake doll.

When she gets up to poop, I've had it.

Good night.  And thank you, Benadryl.

Diets, Dibs, and McDonald's ("D" Classfication: Diets/Dining)

di·et 1
1. The usual food and drink of a person or animal.
2. A regulated selection of foods, as for medical reasons or cosmetic weight loss.
3. Something used, enjoyed, or provided regularly.
from: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/diet


Ok, so look, here's how I diet.  I'm pretty good at maintaining my weight, or at least using those pills that make you pee out one extra pound of water.  Last year, I was successful (on one attempt out of one-hundred), at reducing myself from my-jeans-are-tight-oh-god-help-me-I-can't-breathe to ok-now-I-can-breathe-a-little.

I once used an online diet calculator.  I wanted to figure out how many calories I should consume per day in order to lose ten pounds.  But those diet calculators want you to actually type in your current weight!  What?!  They can't be serious!  I don't know my current weight. Because I don't do scales.  I do not weigh myself.  Ever.  I have a number in my head that I believe to be true.  If I were to discover that the number in my head is lower than the actual value, I would be forced into exercise.  Which is basically the same as suicide.  And my kids need me.

In addition, I will not get on a scale at the doctor's office.  I don't mean that I get on it and turn backwards so as not to see my weight.  I mean, I don't get on it.  Ever. (Well, unless I'm pregnant and they give me that bullshit guilt trip about the health of my unborn child. Jerks.)C'mon, nurses!  When you say, "Can you just turn around and not look at your weight?", is it because you don't think we can hear the clunk of that metal doohickey? The louder the clunk, the fatter you are.  And that platform you step on?  I draw the line there; things that "give" when I step on them are not okay.

(Oh, hold on...quick shout-out to a good friend I promised to mention in today's post: Thank you so much, Patriarchal Society, for my high self-esteem and deep love of my own body!  Love you!  Also, thanks for the awesome pool of men you've provided.)

But I digress.  Ok.  So like I was saying, here's how I diet*.  I first calculate how many calories I should consume.  I have heard that no adult woman should go below 1400 calories a day.**  It's just too few.  Yeah, right, I think.  Watch me defy forty zillion years of evolution.  I'll go lower!  This is diet fucking limbo...and I'm gonna win.  Brittney Spears got her "Beach Ready Bikini Bod!" on 1300 calories a day.  I'm going with that.  She's someone to emulate.

My diet plan is easy, and super delicious:

  • Breakfast: an ice cream treat.  
  • Lunch: fast food.  
  • Dinner: hot chocolate. (You will burn more calories if you drink it in front your kids at dinnertime.  It takes a lot of energy to yell, "Eat your vegetables!" as they beg to have hot cocoa for dinner.  Also, "because I said so" burns 50 calories per utterance.)

Now.  You can't have just any ice cream for breakfast.  It has to be something like an ice cream bar or Dreyer's Dibs.  Counting calories is much easier this way because you don't have to measure out your portion.  At the most advanced diet level, all you have to do is count.  For example, Dibs have 380 calories in a 26-piece serving.  Says so right on the box.  Counting out 26 Dibs is way easier than Googling "Calories+baked+potato" and then trying to figure out if your particular potato is small, medium, or large.  Besides, it takes forever to bake a potato.  Dibs are always ready. 

You probably won't even be hungry for lunch because of the stomachache you caused yourself at breakfast.  But if you are, here's what you do.  Drive through McDonald's.  McDonald's is your Diet Buddy.  That's because they have the calorie content listed right on the package of the food you are eating!  Let's look at the cheeseburger: 310 calories, and only 108 of 'em come from fat.  Ok, that's rad.


After 26 Dibs and one cheeseburger, you've only consumed 690 calories.  Congratulations!  Order a medium coke at 210 calories.  If by now you are feeling lightheaded and nauseated, go ahead and have a banana.  That's about an even hundred.  You're now at 1,000 calories.  For dinner, use a 113-calorie packet of hot cocoa mix and you've hit 1,113.  

How you choose to consume your remaining 200-ish calories is entirely up to you.  But here are some random facts.
  • Tequila, 80-proof: 64 calories an ounce
  • Jagermeister, 103 calories an ounce
  • Blowjob (the drink, people!):144 calories, 2.5 ounces 

Cheers!


 


*I'm not kidding about this.  I have done this diet.  It fucking worked.  I was malnourished, but slender. Please don't do it.  Or if you do, don't sue me.
**Some assholes at the American College of Sports Medicine are now saying it's a minimum of 1200 calories a day for women, 1800 for men.  I hate men. 


References (I really do look this shit up.)
http://www.dreyers.com/brand/Dibs/flavorlisting.asp?b=1391 
http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/nutritionexchange/ 
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/10/25/business/food.583.1.jpg
http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-hot-cocoa-mix-i14194
http://www.calorieking.com (Tequila)
http://www.thedailyplate.com/nutrition-calories/food/jagermeister/jagermeister 
http://www.drinknation.com/drink/blow-job





Degrees of Separation ("D" Classification: Degrees)

procrastination-humor
From 
http://successelixir.net/procrastination-humor/




This is gonna be quick.  And way written bad.  'Cuz I'm in a hurry.  'Cuz I'm supposed to be doing something else.  But that something is so painful a task, I just keep separating myself from it.

I'm a few classes away from my second Master's degree.  And I'm starting to seriously wonder how I ever got this far in the first place.  I have a midterm due in 14 hours.  I haven't done the readings.  I don't even understand half the terms in the midterm assignment.  If I don't get up to pee, even one time, it will be tight.

I started to work on this thing three days ago.  Then I got a call to pick up my sick daughter, who, I should mention, never ever gets sick with a fever.  She picked that day, the one day I wasn't procrastinating, to blow out her internal thermostat.  Way to fuck up my shit, kid.

I restarted yesterday around 4pm.  Here are some things I've done since 4pm yester-evening, when I should've been studying...things I decided were of the utmost importance:


  • Sprayed perfume in my hair.  I wanted to smell nice for myself.
  • Sprayed air freshener around the house.  I want the house to smell nice for myself.
  • Taken about 50 smoke breaks.
  • Read several articles about the dumb-ass teenaged Olympians who thought it would be wise to party with cigars and beer ON the fucking Olympic ice.
  • Did a little online banking that sooo could have waited.
  • Put on a bra, which again, sooo could have waited.
  • Did some stretching, which I almost never do: I was worried about poor circulation and varicose veins, given that I'd supposedly be sitting for a couple dozen hours to write this midterm.
  • I.M'd my friends several times after telling them, "I'M GONNA BE OFF THE BLACKBERRY UNTIL FRIDAY AT MIDNIGHT!! DON'T WORRY WHEN I'M ABSENT FROM THE BLACKBERRY."
  • Put in an emergency call to the babysitter, "Please help!  I have to lock myself away for the next 36 hours!"  Then when she arrived, I spent 45 minutes shootin' the shit with her.
  • Just now, looked up how to spell "varicose" veins on google, and found ads for several vein treatment centers in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas.
  • Created a list of "D" words on my BlackBerry Notepad, so that my blog description will be all the more clever.  Worse than that, I spent some time actually thinking up "D" words.
  • I've taken vitamins, set up my desk with myriad caffeinated beverages, and eaten several times...because I don't want to get tired or dehydrated during this long process, when I will be working straight through.
  • I've snapped at everyone who talks to me, "Don't interrupt me!  I'm working!"
  • Fell asleep at 10pm last night after proclaiming to God and everyone, "I will not sleep until Friday at midnight!"
Mind you, I haven't been able to think about anything else, or concentrate on anything else, or make any decisions about anything at all.  The exam has been occupying every single cell in my brain.  But every time I sit down to work on it, I suddenly feel that it's extremely important to count the blades of grass on my lawn.

Fourteen-point-five hours to finish.  Eh, it'll be fine.  But I should really, really go downstairs and hang that painting, which I can't do until I clean the walls.  Nope, forget it.  That room should first be repainted entirely...

What a Crock! Part I ("D" Classification: Dining)


Who the fuck knew?  And why weren't we told?
A slow cooker is also called "stonewear." I guess there's a piece of stone under the metal.  Additionally, slow cooker temperatures vary based on whether or not your stonewear has metal coils around the sides, or just on the bottom.  The common name for a slow cooker is the brand name Crock-Pot.



It simply does not matter how hard I try.  The kitchen and me are like my husband and the stairs.  We are not compatible.

I am sick and tired of feeding my kids crap.  There is simply a limit to how many times per week (or per day) you can say, "Oh, just order pizza -- it won't hurt...just this once."

Since I cannot cook but desperately want to learn, I've decided to begin with the Crock-Pot.  Everyone, and I mean everyone says, "Oh yeah, the Crock-Pot's easy.  Ya just throw it all it in, turn it on, and come back 8 hours later."  Oh, ho ho...noooooo.  It's all a big lie designed to help already insecure people confirm that they are utter failures in the kitchen.

Step #1.  Choose item to be "prepared fast, cooked deliciously slow!"
I chose "Turkey and Corn Chowder with Barley."  My husband is allergic to chicken (yes, chicken).  But he loves corn.  I prefer to stay away from beef, pork, and fish (the fish because of the mercury -- thanks so much, Big Business).  So in a 300-page cookbook, I have, ohhh, four options.  Roughly.


Step #2.  Purchase ingredients from store
With my husband and 3.66-year-old daughter in tow, I made my first trip to the newly-opened Henry's grocery market.  I took my new prized possession, Judith Finlayson's The Healthy Slow Cooker with me to the store.  I did not compose an ingredients list.  I took the whole fuckin' book.  With numerous botched attempts at cooking under my belt, most notably the time everyone's eyes were watering for three days because I used entirely too much garlic on the potatoes, I was determined to make no mistakes.  (People say my standards are too high.  They can shut up.  Perfectionists are people, too.)

I scanned the recipe, and carefully studied the list of items I would need.

I needed: cumin seeds.  Have you ever tried to buy cumin seeds?  I don't recommend it. Because cumin seeds pretty much don't exist. Ground cumin seeds exist.  

Husband was saying, "Honey, this market is not the same as the grocery store!  They probably won't have it here."  I was saying, "Yes, they will.  It's a specialty health-food store, meaning that all the weird ingredients that natural, healthy cooking requires should be here."

YD (Young Daughter) was loading up the grocery cart with apples ... apples she will never eat, but we must nonetheless purchase because she has dropped them on the floor of the store.  Bounce, bounce, bounce, THUD.  "Uh ohhh!  I dropped'd it, Mommy!"  BIG, proud smile.

Next thing I needed was "hulled" or whole barley.  Husband repeated, "It's not gonna be here.  Honey, I've talked to the store people and they told me, this is not like a regular grocery store, and normal things you would find there won't be here."

I repeated, "Honey, it's a specialty store and I need specialty items.  They will have it. SHIT! Where the fuck is YD?"  My Husband was watching her, but as you'll see, he was also really fretting about the barley.

From across the store, YD shrieked, "Moommmmyyyy!!!!! Dadddyyyyy!!!! Ohhhh, look!! Carrots!"


Well.


There she is.

This went on for an hour.  I was wandering the store, losing my child several times, grabbing her hands out of the bulk oatmeal bin, searching desperately for hulled barley and cumin seeds.  All the while, Husband was begging me not to put the barley in.  I insisted on the barley because, given that I cannot cook, I can't be improvising on the ingredients, especially since that particular ingredient is listed in the mutha-fuckin' title of the dish.  I wasn't cooking "Turkey Corn Chowder without Barley."

I needed: cracked peppercorns.  Not whole.  Not ground.  Not crushed.  Cracked.  Didja know you need a mortar and pestle for that shit?  Who has that in their kitchen?

I needed: chicken stock.  With Husband's chicken allergy in mind, coupled with my desire to avoid beef and pork, I naively opted to cook this turkey chowder (with barley)...which calls for fucking chicken stock.  I was thrilled to find "No-Chicken Broth" in the store that doesn't-have-things-other-stores-have.  Hmph.  

Husband went on, "We really don't need the barley, honey.  That's not even corn chowder, if it has barley!  Barley isn't supposed to be in corn chowder.  They're not gonna have it here.  Honey, this store isn't like the regular grocery store."

Still optimistic, I said, "We'll find it, don't worry.  OH!  Chili powder! I need chili powder."

"Chili powder?  I don't think we should put that in there, do you?  It's gonna be fine without chili powder. I don't think that's a good idea if YD will be eating it, do you?  Chili powder's not a good idea, honey." 

Hey, fucker, while we're at it, let's also take out the turkey and the corn.  Then it'll be perfect.

I picked up my purse, found my daughter neck-deep in the 4-foot tall bulk raisin bin, and declared (loudly), "FORGET IT.  Let's GO.  I'm done with this!" And I started to walk out of the store.

Husband said, "No no. Let's go look again."

And the tirade began:

"You know..." (And I saw Husband's lips twist around.  He was deciding if he was mad at me for the verbal public flogging, or if he was going to burst out laughing.  He knows what it means when I start with "You know..." and I narrow one eye.)

My hands were waving around as I began to pontificate, loudly, "You know ... I try to feed my family in a healthy way, and you keep leaping to these negative conclusions, effectively making it IMPOSSIBLE for me to even attempt to cook anything!  But you're right.  Forget the barley.  Let's drive through McDonald's and get our daughter a double Big Mac.  GAAWWWD!! But you know, you're right anyway!! We're gonna spend all this time wandering the store, while YD beats up all the apples, then we're gonna spend $100 on ingredients which I am going to RUIN, and we're gonna throw the whole fucking thing out.  I'm done.  Let's go.  This is impossible.  I can't cook!  Crock-Pots are supposed to be easy, but they're not!  Cumin seeds??? Really?  THEY DO NOT EXIST! Let's just take our hundred bucks right now, and put it in the fireplace.  Same damn difference."


If anyone was staring, I'm sure my Husband was waving them by behind his back, like how the hero in the movies gets everyone else out of the bank first.  Then he is left alone to negotiate with the whack-job with the bomb.

"No no, honey.  Let's ask again..."

I stared, hard, at Husband.  I was deciding if I wanted to be my former dysfunctional self and stand my ground when it meant hurting myself.  Leaving the store with no ingredients at all would have destroyed the possibility of making a fool out of Husband later, when the soup came out awesome. And there is simply NOTHING I love more than being right.  (Of course, me being right was contingent upon the soup being awesome later.  Please let it be awesome, please let it be awesome, please.)


Then, from somewhere around hip-level, a voice! "Mommyyyy!!  I'm done at the store!  We're done at de stooorrre!  We don't need the store anymore!  I wanna goooo!!  Daaddddyyy!!!"

A Henry's employee appeared with a balloon.  Alas, this bought me some time.  Husband was still staring at me, waiting for my verdict. "Hmph.  Okay, Husband...but it's all gonna go to the trash anyway.  I don't know why I even try.  You got the hundred bucks ready for the toilet?"  We located our child (again), and trudged on.

During our 20th trip to the spice section, we found large jars of every spice you could ever imagine.  These were self-service jars, where you get a baggie, put in what you need, and write the PLU number on a handy little sticker.  Guess what's there, in the store-that's-not-like-other-stores?

CUMIN SEEDS.

But the jar was empty.  All the other jars were full.  Cumin seeds -- empty.  Y'know why?  Because this is probably the only place in a ninety-mile radius that has them.  

Guess what else was there, in the-store-that's-not-like-other-stores?  CRACKED fuckin' pepper.  Damn right.  So glad we stayed!

I still needed: chili powder, hulled barley, and other wickedly unfindable ingredients.  Including raw turkey breast.

YD suddenly lost her balloon.  And the-store-that's-not-like-other-stores had very high ceilings.  This was going downhill.

I hurried to the butcher.  I sounded smart.  Like I knew what I was talking about.

"Hi.  Can I get two pounds of turkey breast?"

"You want it sliced?"

Shit, I have no idea...
"Yes, please.  It's for a chowder that I'm making in the Crock-Pot." BIG proud smile, reminiscent of YD's earlier shit-eating grin over the apple bouncy balls.

"Sooo, what does it call for?  Sliced turkey?"

"I'm gonna cube it." (I was way, way proud of this.)

"OH!  Cubed.  Ok.  I'll cut it this thick." She raises her thumb and index finger to indicate the thickness.

"Yes! Perfect!"

"Now, remember, this is already cooked.  So don't put it in the crockpot at the beginning of the cooking time.  Put it in at the end."

"OH!  Definitely!  Right.  Thank you."

We left the store, right around the time YD was banging together two glass jars of lowfat, organic salad dressing...to make music.

I had "not-really-chicken-stock," "pearl barley" instead of "hulled barley," or even "pot barley," some kind of chili powder that I hoped would work, and no cumin seeds.

Husband then said, "Let's go across the street to Ralph's and get your cumin seeds."

We went.  I opted to stay in the car on my BlackBerry and Instant Message everyone I knew about the horrors of finding cumin seeds. Husband returned to the car, proclaiming in that voice-from-the-heavens kind of voice, "I have found them!"

The bill at the end of this shopping trip? One-hundred dollars.  Just as I'd predicted.

We returned home.  I gave YD the organic, bruised apple, which she didn't eat.  Husband heated up some MSG-loaded, instant hypertension-inducing Gourmet 88 Chinese food, and I had some ice cream. 

"I'm gonna cook this chowder tomorrow...."