1 year ago

Emmett Things

I still hesitate to write about Emmett. I don’t write as specifically about his brothers. But his brothers are neurotypically normal. Emmett is the mystery who we are just finally getting to know. I hesitate because while I have come to see that the world needs to know more about what Autism is, I also understand that Emmett remains a human person, with his own precious dignity.  I fear that writing about how he navigates the world with a disability in some way objectifies his personhood. I don’t think I do that, but I don’t know. Maybe my word choice somehow does. Maybe using the word “disability” is harmful. He can read what I’m writing, right now. He’s standing here, reading what I type out loud. He laughs when I type funny things. He laughed as he watched me write this story.

I have read numerous times from autistic bloggers that the day they realized there was a name for why they were the way they were was the most liberating day of their lives. In the many moments when Emmett and I are reading together, I have found gentle ways to talk about Autism with him. I don’t know how much he understands, but I hope that eventually he will get it and find peace in it. The same peace I felt when I was told I have AS: Ah, there’s a reason for all of this, I’m not just mad. I continue to write about him, to share to the eyes that will read, but also to Emmett.

You’re my heart, little Bear.

Property of C. Svellinger

Emmett turned 6 just before Christmas and in these short weeks since, his conversational development has noticeably picked up speed.
He still has trouble finding the words to express himself. For example, we were at my brother’s house, celebrating the Epiphany, and there were a number of families there which we did not know. A little boy sat down at the table next to Emmett and engaged him in conversation:

“What’s your name?” He asked.  Emmett covered his ears and said “NO.” So I explained to our new friend that Emmett likes to meet new people but has a hard time finding the right words to say, because, as a matter of fact, he loves words, and aren’t there so many to choose from? I asked the boy his name, and the boy, instead of saying his name, spelled it. “T A D!”  Emmett enjoyed that. He had been sitting with us, his hands hovering over his hears as he listened to us talk. He looked Tad in the face as I asked him to say hello.

“HI TAD!” Emmett exclaimed with a flourish of his hands.  He was excited to say this. The moment passed, and Emmett seemed very pleased with this very small social interaction.

Property of C. Svellinger
At home, we do a lot of practicing. Emmett takes lines from every movie he’s ever seen, and he appropriately inserts them into his daily obstacles. Below are a few of my favorite most recent ones. Comment below if you can pick out the movie Emmett uses to speak from. :)  (sometimes he uses multiple movie quotes to piece together a sentence)

Jude was crying, and it was time for his nap. I was trying to finish a school lesson with Lexington. Emmett was sitting in the room with us, seemingly ignoring the whole scene when he spoke up, “It’s alright, Judie, you’ll be okay.”

I stopped mid sentence to watch. Jude threw himself on the floor and wailed louder. Emmett sighed, “Welcome to the club, toots.” and left the room.


Emmett in frustration to Lexington while playing Nintendo: “Watch where you’re going, sir!”


Emmett in frustration to Collin and Lexington while playing with LEGOs:  “You insolents!”


Emmett refusing to eat a cooked carrot Craig was offering him during dinner: “It’s the trash bags, Dad.”


To me while I handed him his lunch: “Doctor, you’ve done it!”


And finally, my favorite:

This week, Emmett caught strep throat from me. A sick kid with autism is a completely different world than a regular sick kid. Instead of laying lethargically on the couch, complaining that his “neck hurts”, it’s literally the opposite. I knew something was wrong the morning Emmett slept an hour later, but came downstairs and immediately began running laps in the living room, bouncing off the couches and rebounding from the walls. He was asking for food more frequently than usual when I noticed the telltale swollen glands protruding from his neck. He allowed me a glimpse of his throat and yep, tonsils the size of golf balls.

From what I understand, this kind of behavior is generally typical for someone who has a different reception of pain and difficulty explaining it to others.

I got him to a doctor asap, got him started on some medication, and finished out our day in our pajamas. It’s been a few years since Emmett has been ill with more than a cold, but I remember well enough that bed time doesn’t come easy when he’s sick.  And sure enough, after we’d put the boys to bed, Craig and I listened as Emmett loudly jumped around the room bellowing the Toy Story song “Strange Things [Are Happening To Me].”

I can tell you right now without a doubt, that song choice was not an accident.
That’s all for now.

3 years ago

A Svell Update in 7 quick(ish) Takes

Since Jude was born, time has grabbed me by the collar and dragged me around like a rag doll.  Here’s an (rambling) update! Linking up with Kelly :)

I. Jude was baptized on Mother’s Day and it was the best

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
Photo cred: my little bro, Philip. Jude’s Godparents, my Brother in law and my soon to be Sister in law are standing witness. I’m proud for Jude to have such strong examples of Christian faith. (this is the first time I got to hold one of our babies while he got baptized)


…even though I wore my first pair of spanx which did such a good job of holding postpartum me together that I didn’t feel my pants falling down underneath the shirtdress I was wearing. It wasn’t until we sat back down that I felt somewhat thug lyfe and realized my waistband had slouched to my thighs. hm. Shirtdress kept it a secret. But obviously I cannot. And unlike The Duchess of Cambridge, I did not look disturbingly fabulous, nevertheless my vanity has learned to shut up because how special is it to have your newborn baptized into the Catholic church on Mother’s Day? Most special. Best day.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
One for the wall, folks. You. look. good.

My wish of a photograph of mama with her boys in one frame, granted.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

Property of Carolyn Svellinger


II. Jude is either the best baby, or I’ve reached baby-whisperer status.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

Aside from some breastfeeding frustrations which have mostly worked themselves out, he truly takes a sad song and makes it better. But that’s not why we chose that name.  FYI, there is the less musical but possibly more interesting Saint Jude, cousin of Jesus and patron saint of impossible cases. Just saying.
Other than that, he stops the ladies in their tracks at the grocery store, has started giggling, and his pretty dimples have turned me into the worst cheek pincher. worst.

III. Emmett has learned to burp at will.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

Something we’ve learned from Emmett (4 yo with Autism, and recently discovered hyperlexia) is that when he wants to do something, he says “Hello, [insert action]”  e.g., “go to park!” and if there’s something he doesn’t want to do, he says, “GOODBYE, change your diaper*!”.
Craig and I use this way of speaking to get him to stop or start doing an action.  “Goodbye crying!” I’ll say, and he usually grows quiet.
So after sitting through Mass on Sunday listening to Emmett forcefully burp everything short of the ABC’s, we loaded into the car and asked Emmett to “Goodbye, burb”. His response:

*burps* “Hello, burp.” *burps again*

‘kay. Phase, pass soon, plz.
*[Yes, he’s still in diapers. needs larger ones asap. con’t find any. Another drama reserved for another day.]

IV. Lexington turned 6 this month and is facing the turmoil of balancing his inner dialogue with the outer.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

When asked to count silently** in his own head, he became distraught that his head preferred to be singing “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.”

O, tumultuous year of 6.
**He often needs to know exactly how long a drive is going to take. So to help him understand the difference between minutes and seconds, we tell him to count to 60, fifteen times. Makes for a niiiice quiet drive. Never.

V. Collin says his favorite part of our new house is the snacks.


This year he’s picked up the torch of Accident Prone from Emmett. Which is fine. But I’m a wimp when it comes to dealing with blood– mainly, mouth injuries. I could lay down in overwhelm with the magnitude of empathy I absorb from Collin’s mouth trauma and sleep it off in PTSD land.
In January, he bashed one of his two front teeth inward.  Very slowly and painfully, it’s healed, but remained crooked and slightly wiggly.
Sunday (Father’s Day), he smacked his face into the tile floor and pretty much sealed the death deal with this same tooth.
I just want to swim in a pool of Margarita. But I can’t really, because it makes me sleepy and I’m not allowed to do THAT.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

Since writing this post on Tuesday, we’ve had Collin’s tooth extracted.

The positives: I don’t have to LOSE MY MIND when I catch him trying to chew on an ice cube 5 minutes after busting his face. The pediatric dentist we went to was a child’s wonderland, painted and decorated to the nines in anything a child would think is amazing. The dentist and the assistants moved and talked slowly and in a way that a 2 year old can understand instead of scaring the crap out of him. (I have zero patience for adults who fast talk and use figurative language toward children anymore. It’s probably because we have Emmett.) All around, for a tooth extraction on a 2 year old, it was an excellent experience.

I said to him I said, “Collin, I’m so proud of you. You are my hero of the day. You did such a great job.  You had to do something very difficult today, but you did it!”
To which he replied, ” …doing a poopy?”
Resilient, my people are.

The Negatives: Collin will be wanting for the complete set of front teeth for the next 4-5 Christmases. My heart breaks for him.  My hair loses its pigment for him.
Growing up has become, for me, the understanding that I have to undergo the trauma of seeing my child in trauma, and then having to come home with them expending that tornadic toddler energy and having to cook dinner, and be up throughout the night tending a breastfeeder, never able to sleep it off. And repeat. FOREVER.
Boy, this is tough stuff.
And boy, this is how parents gain weight because the only consolation for me has been drinks of caffeine and sugar. And cookies. And the rare occasion of escapism…

VI. …which right now comes in the form of Netflix on my iPhone while I’m nursing Jude down for the night. 

Netflix is relatively new to me so I’ve lined up a bunch of shows to get me through nursing sessions and nightmares of bloody teeth.  I started with Once Upon a Time.  Aside from some painfully (o, the pain) bad acting, the story line is exciting and I lurrrrrve beating the fairytale backstory and afterstory horse to death. Who knew the worlds of Rumplestiltskin, Maleficent, Snow White, and Captain Hook and so many others could ever collide? I eat that stuff right up.  Plus, it’s super light on bad language and sex stuff.

VII. A new house, you say??? 

Whereabouts? The East side of Cincinnati.

Turns out, I’m a Westsider. And I miss it so-ho-ho ba-ha-haaad. 

On Instagram I bellyached about having to shop at an IGA where they manually enter each thing by item code and there are no touchscreens and they ask “paper or plastic?” But the whole truth of the matter is that there is a Target, and Kroger and Walmart and Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A and Chipotle and Jungle Jims and HOBBY LOBBY and Michaels and Joanns and The Sleep Number Store and hashtag somuchmore all within 20 minutes of me.  So be quiet, Carolyn.
Quiet, you.

But the house! The funny thing about it is that there are a few things absurdly reminiscent of BUMPY BRIDGE HOUSE.

The much loathed Bumpy Bridge House.
Surrounded by trees? Check.
Arbor Island smack dab in the middle of the back yard? Check.
Large spiders? Check.
Dark, dungeonous kitchen? NOPE.
Peeling laminate all over the counters and cabinets? NOPE.
Terrbile flooding septic system which backs up into the house? NOPE.
Roaches? NOPE.
Mice setting up living quarters in each of our vehicles? NOPE.
Floody basement? NOPE.
Big pond of death in the front yardNOPE.
Burgundy everywhere? HELL NO.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

Surreal-ness. After being married and living in a different place nearly every year for 6 years, it feels weird to unpack into a place where we can say “Hmm, I don’t really care for it that way. Let’s change it, let’s build it, let’s fix it, let’s make it look beautiful.”
There’s something deeply satisfying about thinking of ways to organize and bring beauty to our home– and then doing it, which I’ve never felt I could while renting because my brain is small and I am limited by renter/ownership status of a thing. I know. I know there are books and blogs out there about that stuff, but it’s never been important enough to me. Until now. Here’s hoping that momentum sticks for the next 20+ years and I don’t keep the house stuck in a decorating era like so many poor, poor houses fall ill to. To? I don’t know how I’m supposed to finish that sentence.
It’s a great little house, and I’m a big fan of the kitchen and blue powder room. We are blessed and grateful.  Lexington’s still “imagination-ing” up a name for it. Stay tuned.


So that’s what’s up. Bye now.

3 years ago

Here I am! {Convos with the Bros.}

If you’re following Svellerella on Facebook, you’ll have noted I took an accidental-on-purpose blogging vacay this month.  If you’re not following me on FB, go on then and do eet because that’s where I share my extra/side/extremely glamorous behind-the-scenes info and give you all heads ups about the giveaways and stuff I’ll be doing in the future. I’m also super active on Instagram posting all the pictures of my children like a big ol’ PARENT.  Or don’t follow, that’s fine. The blog still turns, but won’t be returning to its full-throttle excellence until January.

The accidental-on-purpose blogging vacay has been great.  It’s good to know I can step away whenever and not feel like the internet will break if I don’t blab about nothing to no one on it.  But I guess I am a true and blue blogger because the itch to type remains, and here I am to scratch it.

Craig, myself, and the brothers three are still here, enjoying our family, and happily NOT relocating for Craig’s job.  I’m relieved and feel like I can breathe again, and have a baby in the springtime.  Meanwhile, we’re on a house hunt which we’re hoping will end by the summer. I’m so excited about this owning-a-home part I cannot squeal girly enough. Don’t worry though, I’ll make sure to wax and wane about it over the months to come. Craig’s doing great, and he’s my knight in shining armor who showers me with bags of mini Twix when he knows I’m stressed out.  A husband to a fourth-time prego wife knows better by now, and boy do I feel like a dainty hippo princess.

Why am I blogging right as Christmas falls upon us and everyone has so much free time to read blogs? Cause I wanna.  And for two other reasons: Emmett turns 4 next week, so I have to do a little birthday post for him.  And secondly, Collin The Terrible Two Year Old is talking so much I’ve got to take some of this down because um, he’s my child and I think everything he says is angelic and cherub-y, of course.

And don’t worry, Lexington won’t let anyone forget him without a fight.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger


Lexington: Collin, go and get that LEGO, right there.
Collin: I can’t do it, bro.

Carolyn: Collin, what color should Mommy paint her toenails?
Collin: uhh. BLACK.

Carolyn: Collin, are you kidding me? You pooped again! WHY!   ((seriously it was like #5 for the day))
Collin: Uh, cause, Momma.

Lexington: *takes walk of shame to the corner*
Collin (spectating): Not good, bro. Not good.

Collin (every morning): Hi, Mom. awww! Hug! Kiss!

Carolyn: No, not right now. You can have an orange later.
Collin: NO! BAD BOY, MOM! Oh-gee righhh NOW!
Collin: Not good, Mom.

Collin: Wetz watch Weh-monhead.
Carolyn: Lemon head? I don’t understand you.
Collin: WEH. MEN. HEAD! Righh dere! Wook, mom.
Carolyn: Ah, Robin Hood.
Collin: Sss’yes, Mom.  WEMONHEAD!

Collin to Nan (what they call my mom): Nan, Ban-dain on toes?
Nan: Yes, a band-aid.
Collin: A boo-boo? Aww. Okay, Nan?

Collin: One more oh-gee (orange), please, Mom?  Fank- youmom.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger


Lexington: Wait– WAIT. You and Dad are the BOSS?!
Carolyn: mm-hm.
Lexington: The bosses of this family?!
Lexington: Because you are married?
Carolyn: Yup.
Lexington: –and you are in LOVE?!
Carolyn: mm-hm.
Lexington: *slaps forehead* I just can’t believe it.

Lexington (at Target): Something smells disgusting. I bet it’s coming from that pink aisle with all the girl stuff in it.

Carolyn: Wow, it’s hot up here.
Lexington: I dunno about that, but I smell victory. …yep. Nothing but the smell of victory up here.

Lexington (to Collin): Here, I’m playing a little lullaby for you to get all snoozed and boozed and sleepy.

Carolyn: Did someone get into the dessert? I smell chocolate.
Lexington: Well, I don’t smell chocolate, but I do smell something delicious like potato-banana-breath.

Lexington: Mom, the world needs Froggy Town.

Lexington: COLLIN! Take your “no” voice and put it in your mouth.  Take your “yes” voice out.  That’s the voice I like.

Lexington: Once upon a time in a far away land, there was a town full of color and buildings but there was a black magic wand which made everything turn into dark, black, DISGUSTING …carpet! And there were spiderwebs crawling around spinning puke at everyone. And there was a mean doctor who made the mean spiders feel better.  And there was like twenty…nine spiders stomping.  And superheroes came to save the world. And the whole village turned back to what it was before. THE END.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger



Emmett (upon first seeing the Christmas tree set up in my parent’s living room): It’s a very good Christmas tree! It’s ah-beautiful! You made a good Christmas tree! BEST Christmas tree! MERRY CHRISTMAS TREE!!

Carolyn: I love you, Emmett
Emmett: Yes, Mother.


Property of Carolyn Svellinger

…more on Emmett later because his birthday is next week!  Talk soon!

4 years ago

Some Svell Convos Heading Your Way.

No, not smell convos. Svell.

But if you told me 5 years ago that I’d have to man-handle someone else’s solid turd, sans protective gear, while taking a shower, and also read a book on business law, all in one week, I would have laughed and asked just who do you think I am?   But I am.  Cukoo-ca-choo.  (just FYI, my life was just changed this very instant as I learned that the cukoo-ca-choo in “I am the Walrus” is actually “goo-goo-g’joob.”  My whole life is upside down. I can’t believe it. Who am I? What is life?)

Business jargon and business buzz words make my skin crawl.  I think mostly because that kind of language is normally so sugar-coated and bushes and bushes beaten away from plain-speak that as soon as salesmanz shine their sparkly teeth my way, I cringe, recoil, and have an urge to summon a Thor-ish hammer.

My husband is in sales. Figure that one out.

Anyway, every now and again we get into little tiffs over certain business verbiage.  Lately, Craig asked me what I felt when I heard the word “processes” pronounced “process-eez.” He likes to get me going with a good nail scratching down the chalkboard in the realms of grammar and pronunciation.

process-eez, property of C. Svellinger…to satisfy your intense curiosity about if one can actually pronounce processes with an “eez” ending, the actual answer is …maybe.  If you want to sound like an item hanging off a carpenter’s belt.  Answers.com appeased me with it’s reflection, and note that I added emphasis by bolding some words with great delight:

“In recent years there has been a tendency to pronounce the plural ending -es of processes as (-ēz), perhaps by analogy with words of Greek origin such as analysis and neurosis. But process is not of Greek origin, and there is no etymological justification for this pronunciation of its plural. However, because this pronunciation is not uncommon even in educated speech, it is generally considered an acceptable variant, although it still strikes some listeners as a bungled affectation. In a recent survey 79 percent of the Usage Panel preferred the standard pronunciation (-ĭz) for the plural ending -es and 15 percent preferred the pronunciation (-ēz). • Although the pronunciation for process with a long (o), (prōsĕs’), is more usual in British English, it is an acceptable variant in American English.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/process#ixzz2xgzB8RUc

Ah, new favorite set of words.  Bungled affectation.  I can’t wait to use that!
…says the blogger who most likely wins the blue ribbon for bungled affectations…

bungled afectation, property of C. Svellinger
my sunnier reaction to “process-eez”

Next time you hear someone say “process-eez”, ask if any local business-eez in the area are contributing to charities dedicated to fighting terminal illness-eez.  And smile. ding!

That doesn’t mean I’m smart or anything. I was recently asking Craig a business-y question to which he replied:

“You’re the Smee.”
Carolyn: …    …        …aaaaand… so… who’s the Captain Hook?
Craig: S.M.E.: Subject. Matter. Expert.

I’ve never been good with acronyms.  Don’t even ask me what ROTFL means.  It’s dumb.  Acronym speak is dumb.  Business jargon is dumb.
I protest both. ELL. OH. ELL. IDEC. IDK. C’est si pas branchouille, c’est chébran. <You wanna blow someone’s brains out, try French slang.  I can’t even.


Well I dragged that on for way too long.  To the cuter stuff, then:

property of C. Svellinger

Carolyn: Lexington, how on earth are you still hungry?
Lexington: I’m hungry every time I wanna be hungry.
Carolyn (to the sky): When will it ever stop!?
Lexington: When I’m full.

Collin running to me with a figurine in hand: JESUS!!!
Carolyn: This is actually Joseph.
Collin: …Wah-kee.

Lexington: Can I come out of the corner?
Carolyn: You need to stand there and think about how you can be more careful when playing.
Lexington: Okay, I will. *salutes*

property of C. Svellinger

March 28 marks the first time Emmett has spontaneously offered a reaction to how something tastes:

Emmett making eye contact with Craig: Wha-wre-yewd- OOING, Daddy!!?

Lexington: What does U.S.D.A spell?
Carolyn: That’s kind of like a code for a longer word.  It means United States Department of Agriculture.
Lexington: …But what does it spell?
Carolyn: I just told you.
Lexington: Mom. You’re speaking Spanish.

I am planning a post on Confession …dare I try before Easter?  I hope. But you don’t hope because IRL I FACK that I’m a slacker, FWIW. YMMV.


IRL = In Real Life.
FACK = Fully Acknowledge.
FWIW = For What It’s Worth.
YMMV= Your Milage May Vary.


Just dumb. IMHO. no.