Saturday, January 30, 2016

Feeling Loopy

It's funny. I often get into these intellectual thought-loops where ideas buzz through my head, moving from one connection to the next. One idea to the next. Until it all comes back around to a thought I had days or even weeks earlier. Sometimes years earlier.

I was having an argument (as I often do) with Tyler about intelligence and whether or not the measurement of IQ was any indicator of real ability. How being "smart" is no guarantee to being "successful". He pointed at me and said "Look at you. You have a high IQ and you're just sitting there. If you're so smart, why aren't you rich or successful?"  Yeah. He blows my mind on a regular basis. How do you respond to that? How do you take the weight and summation of a life half-lived (if you assume I am middle-aged at this point) and condense that into a couple sentences that will explain to an attention-lacking teen all the reasons (excuses?) as to why my life doesn't measure up to his standards.

I don't feel like a useless failure, most of the time, until I talk with my teen boy. Heh. Maybe I'll just print out this article for him to read. I can pretty much track back the places in my life where I was derailed to an early age.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Odd Things Come to Mind...

I haven't done a stroll down memory lane post in a long while. The brain tends to focus on getting through the day and time to just let thoughts drift isn't available. I did have a funny memory come to mind the other day when I was talking with Max about growing up in the 1970s.

In the early 70's, my family relocated, once again, to Massachusetts and eventually we bought a house in Bedford. It was a quaint little town with many old colonial influences and a crap ton of history. We were in a newer neighborhood (at that time) on the outskirts of town. All houses, no businesses. It was 10 minutes, by car, to the nearest strip mall, and our new town had a few of those.

In my many attempts to impress on my spendthrift son the joys of saving money, I mentioned that my brother and I also received a weekly allowance, but 25 or 50 cents a week didn't really go far in most places. There was the Ye Olde Bedford Country Store just off the main drag that had a great assortment of penny candy (I think it's a chiropractor's office now, sadly) but if you could reign in the urge to spend for a couple weeks, the place to go was Bowen's Toy Store.

This particular strip mall I am remembering had a number of different businesses, but the ones I remember best were Bowen's and RuthAnn's (a drug store). Years later my favorite Italian restaurant also opened in that mall, right across from where Bowen's used to be. I miss their chocolate mousse cake.

Back to Bowen's. You had to have at least a dollar to get anything good in that store, unless you were happy with the junk in the gumball machines. I did luck out with some pretty cool rings with big fake gemstones. I think that is also where I got my mood ring, but that machine was one of the 50 or 75 cent ones. Every now and then, when the stars aligned, my brother and I would have enough money to get something REALLY good. A personal favorite was:

SuperElasticBubblePlastic! Yeah. You had to say it all in one breath as one word. Ha! I loved this stuff. You'd squeeze out a small wad, stick it at the end of this short and sturdy straw and blow into the other end. They were like bubbles that lasted for the whole day. Not quite as sturdy as a balloon, but they didn't pop as easily as a soap bubble. Somewhere in between. Like a super light-weight beach ball.

Plus that plastic gunk smelled like a cross between gasoline, model glue and magic markers. I'll bet sniffing it was really bad for you, but it was hard to resist.

A tube of this could keep me entertained all day long. I had fun explaining this stuff to Max. Naturally, he wanted some. Explaining why they don't make it anymore was difficult. The wiki said something about noxious fumes. I can believe it.

Then there was that one Sunday, after church, when my Mom needed something at the drug store, so, naturally, my brother and I begged and pleaded to be allowed to visit Bowen's again. My Dad must have been in a particularly good mood on this particular Sunday, because not only did he allow us to browse the store while my Mom was doing her errand, he also allowed us to buy some of THIS:

Now Crazy Foam is really glorified shaving cream. It was meant to be used in the bathtub or shower as a funky and fun way to lather up. Much more fun that your standard bar of ivory soap! (This was before the days of shower gel.)

But how do you play with this stuff on a hot summer day when your parents have no interest in running you a bath?

Once we got home, Dad said (and I quote) "It's just soap. Go ahead and play with it in the backseat of the car. It could probably do with a good washing."

Yeah. I don't think Dad had any clue what 2 kids and 2 brand new cans of Crazy Foam could do.

Remember that episode of The Brady Bunch when Bobby put too much laundry soap into the machine? Yep. It was just like that in the backseat of the car. Now, my Dad had a temper. My brother and I had a total blast covering each other and the seat in soapy foam. It...was...awesome! It was also navy blue vinyl seats on a hot day in August, so after a while, we were done playing. Then we looked at the aftermath and were trying to come up with a way to diffuse the atom bomb (aka Dad) when the garage door went up. *gulp*

My brother and I were both talking at once. My Dad turned a bit red for a moment and said "just go get the hose." After that, it was back to squeals of fun as Dad turned the ice cold hose on us both and rinsed out the back seat too. He didn't say a word about the mess and I don't think he told our mother either. We were running around the car, squealing and getting sprayed. So much fun. I am still amazed that my Dad kept his cool. He never kept his cool. Never. Which is why, I think, the memory is such a strong one for me.

Maybe he realized that the whole mess was his idea in the first place. He was the one who told us to go ahead and play in the car. Rational explanation, eh? But Dad was not known for being super rational when he was mad.

Maybe he saw the humor in it. Both his kids covered in soapy foam from head to toe and the car full of foam up to our waists. It must have looked hilarious! I'll never know. I think I'm the only one who remembers this incident. It was a good day.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Gender Fluid

Happy New Year! Had an interesting discussion with my youngest boy.

Max ripped a giant hole in his favorite performance wear pants today at gym. I told him he had to wear the new royal blue pair Santa brought or I could get him another in black because there was no way he was going to wear leggings with giants holes in them. I had to go through the whole speech my mother used to give us about not letting her children leave the house looking like hobos. He countered with "but all my friends wear jeans and stuff with holes in it. On PURPOSE. It's fashion, Mom!"  *le sigh* But he did eventually agree to a new pair in black.  On Amazon, I see they are having a winter coat/jacket sale too. "Max, do you need a new winter coat?"

Max: Yeah. I want to get a pink one.

Me: Um...what? Did you say pink?

Max: Yeah. Pink. You got a problem with that?!

Me: No, no. I just wanted to be sure I heard you correctly. Are you sure you want a pink coat?

Max: Is there something wrong with a boy wearing pink, Mom? Are you being sexist? Colors are for everyone. I can wear pink if I want to.

Me: Oh I agree! I'm happy to get you a pink coat, if that's what you really want. I just worry that other kids might give you a hard time about it. I think you should be able to wear any color you like. But there are still too many people stuck in the mindset that "pink is for girls."

Max: I want to be a pretty pretty princess. And I don't care what other people think. I want a new shirt too. One that sparkles. Boys should be allowed to wear pink AND sparkles.

Me [now pretty sure he is messing with me, but he seems dead serious]:  OK. Let's see what Amazon has...

We find a pretty coat in a pinky-purple shade and he says YES! Add that one to the cart! I'm wavering. It has faux fur around the hood. Then I spot a cool looking Under Armour hoodie in pink and black. "Oooh! Look Max. Pink and it's Under Armour too!"  That gets him off on a tangent and he finally settles on a hoodie with matching pants in lovely shade of aqua. I'm thinking we've dodged a bullet, but no.

Max: OK. Now go back to the page with that coat. I still want to be a pretty pretty princess. I can totally pull it off, Mom. Why are girls clothes so much cooler than boys? Most boy stuff is ugly. Oooh! What's that! *points to the screen*

Me: Uh. It's a lace shrug.

Max: See? Do they have stuff like that for boys? No.

Me: Well... I might be able to find you a cute bolero jacket or something...

Max: OK! I want one of those. With sparkles. Mom? Am I gender fluid? I want to show everyone...I want to...everyone can wear what ever they want. It's ok.

I nod and smile. I get it. He wants to break the mold. Be outside the fashion box. Trendsetter, if you will. He might not have all the buzz words down (and don't ask me where he got the term "gender fluid" from...I suspect that's from his big brother who is constantly accusing him of being and acting "gay". I know that's a teen boy thing and it's how all his friends talk. But I still get disappointed when I hear it. I just wish other parents would discourage that nonsense the way we do. "That's so gay!" is like the worst insult in the world to them. They, almost all those boys, are so homophobic at this age. Their hormones are out of control and they are just figuring things out, but GAY is not the worst thing in the world. *grumbles*

Anywho, Max finally cracked a grin and told me he was messing me on the whole pretty pretty princess thing. He didn't really want the pink coat. But he'd totally wear it if I got it for him. Just because. And he'd be proud about it too.

Now I have to find him jeans with holes and something sparkly to wear. He WAS serious about that part. *grin*

Monday, November 23, 2015

Birthday Updates

I am very late for my update on Max @ 9 and a bit early for my update on Tyler @ 14, but here we go.

Max turned 9!  It's been a pretty great year for our youngest boy. He is athletic, smart, friendly, outgoing, and a beautiful person - inside and out. He has amazing friends, plays soccer with skill and finesse, and took up tennis over the summer. He wowed his instructors at tennis camp. This fall he attended a "take your friend to class" workshop with his tennis expert best-pal, Sean, and came home full of excited stories of how impressed the tennis pro was with his ability. "This kid is a natural!" Yes, I now have dreams of raising the next Arthur Ashe circling my brain. It may become a reality, since both boys have now expressed an interest in lessons (but I'll save that for my next update.)

I'm so proud of the kind and gentle soul Max is becoming. He loves his friends and family, is not ashamed to kiss and hug his Mommy, and loves to wear shorts - even on the coldest of days. He has 6-pack abs and a burning desire for play-dates every day of the week. He loves to play catch with his Nerf football; especially with his Dad and big brother. His fondest desire waffles between a kitten of his very own and Pokemon cards. *snort* Every dime he saves is almost instantly spent on those goofy cards. He has 2 albums full and ziploc bags and tins stuffed with more.

My only source of sadness with my boy is the up and down nature of his relationship with his big brother. I relish the times they pal around together...taking walks down to the school fields and playground, biking, or playing catch. But those moments are too few. Most of the time it's the teen pushing his little brother's buttons until a fight breaks out. He takes perverse pleasure in making Max cry. *sigh*  I really pray it's a phase and the boys will one day be the best of friends, but being nearly 5 years apart in age is a tough hurdle to overcome. I should know. My little brother is 5 years younger and the gulf between us is vast.

Tyler is turning 14! His birthday is just 10 days away. I am amazed at how much he has grown in the past year, both mentally and physically. He and I are now the same height and he has grown very weight-conscious. He's been working hard to slim down and has gone from a men's size medium down to a boy's size 14-16. I never would have called him "fat", but he is much happier and leaner these days. He's been asking for a set of weights to augment his daily workout routine (he does floor exercises in his room and walks or bikes nearly everywhere he wants to go) so his Dad bought him a set of 10 lb hand weights as an early birthday gift. He loves to show off his "guns" to me and I kid that soon he'll be asking me to buy him tank tops instead of regular t-shirts. He hopes to gain enough muscle in the near future so that he no longer needs to use words to intimidate, people will hesitate to give him crap purely based on his physical bad-assery. *grin*

I just wish he wouldn't use his powers of intimidation for evil. I hear from his teacher that he is actually very good with the younger special needs kids at his school. Patient and helpful. I'm pleased he is able to maintain a calm and patient demeanor at school. It's taken a lot of work and maturing to reach this point. Tyler feels ready to return to a mainstream school environment, but there is red tape we have to work through to achieve this goal. At home, however, I think Tyler takes his pent up frustration and anger out on his little brother. He teases and goads unmercifully at times and it makes my heart hurt for Max. I know home is Tyler's "safe space" where he can unload and unwind. but it's hard on us at times. I pray his level of maturity continues to grow (and his sense of humor too.)

Tyler has discovered the joy of internet trolling. There are certain groups and topics he just loves to verbally attack...feminists (sigh), the fat acceptance movement (sigh), gender equality (sigh), terrorism, and gamergate. He basks in the flame wars he incites and just can't resist poking the bear at every opportunity. The kid loves to argue. He is drawn to controversy ("Mom! Vote for Donald Trump! He's a genius! You agree, right?!" *gag*) For years I've told him he'd make a great criminal defense attorney, and that tongue-in-cheek comment seems to have taken root. He frequently talks about becoming a lawyer. We will do everything in our power to help him achieve his goals. We hope to have him mainstreamed in at least a couple of classes before the year ends in the hopes that this will ease his transition to high school next year. High school. HIGH SCHOOL. Yeah. I'm just letting the terror wash over me for the moment. *breathe* *breathe*

Back to my new-and-improved, more independent boy. He leaves the house frequently to hang with friends or walk to the store. YES! and oh shit. So far, this year, he broke 4 bones in his foot horsing around with friends and broke his little finger taking a spill off his bike. We've added an orthopedist to our laundry list of doctors now. Thankfully, Tyler now sees the wisdom in taking his calcium supplements. No more chewables, however. He can swallow pills like a BOSS. Seriously, the kid will take his ADHD med, sleep med and, like, 4 vitamin supplements and swallow them ALL at once. Sometimes without any liquid. *gag* I can barely manage one pill at a time.

Really, I am over the moon that Tyler is able to maintain his friendships. I can only guess that his buddies are exceptionally understanding and patient or they are just as surly and ornery as he is and birds of a feather...yadda yadda. *wink* Unfortunately, the head of his school's child study team has taken this new-found ability to socialize as further proof that his autism diagnosis is incorrect (in her opinion) and he needs to be re-evaluated. Followers of my blog know the struggles we've had with that school district over the years. Mrs. W made up her mind when he was in 3rd grade that Tyler was "emotionally disturbed" and all his problems were just evidence of poor parenting and the school treated him as such. It took years of testing and multiple doctors confirming each other's findings to finally get the accommodations he needed. But many in the school still treat him based on Mrs. W's opinion and NOT his IEP or doctor's recommendations. She is still on a mission to prove us and the doctors' wrong. She even made Tyler's new therapist's jaw drop at the garbage that comes out of her mouth. She drops psychiatric and medical buzz words into her conversation but, he says, she has NO IDEA what they really mean. Clueless. And terrifying that someone so clueless is in charge of all the special needs kids from pre-k to 8th grade.  Yes, I am a little angry.

Despite these hurdles, Tyler is still making remarkable progress. I just wish he could see it. He is proud of the progress he'd made, physically. But emotionally and with school, he is deeply frustrated and depressed. He doesn't have confidence in his ability to learn outside a special needs environment. He thinks he's been held back at the pace of "stupid" for too long and has fallen hopelessly behind, academically. I am hopefully that high school will be a fresh start and he can put these awkward middle-school years behind him. He just needs to TRY. I know he can do it!

I love my boys with a white hot motherly passion and want the world for them. These teen years tho...they just may kill me. I am as hands off as I can be with my older boy. He needs to make some mistakes and learn some hard lessons in the coming years. But I'll have his back, when ever he will let me. *grin*  Pray for wisdom and strength. We're all going to need it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Silent Running

John is in California this week, so I am playing single mom. Today I woke at 6:30, made eggs for the boys at 7:15, and got both boys to school more or less on time. I rewarded myself with a hot chocolate and a bagel from D&D and sat at my desk to watch the rest of Silent Running (this is the 1973 sci-fi film, NOT the one about the Jamaican bobsled team - that one is Cool Runnings.)

Why was I watching a little known film from the 70s? It's rather convoluted.

See, Netflix recommended I watch Zathura. When Zathura came out in 2005, besides being busy with a child and a newborn kitten, I was all "Weak! It's just a copycat of Jumanji - cursed board game with a space theme rather than a slightly un-PC African adventure themed board game and a less-than-stellar cast. Feh. Why bother..."  Yeah.

But Netflix had a good rating for it and it kept popping up in my recommendations, so...I watched it the other day. And it WAS good. Sure, similar idea to Jumanji, but it held up well with it's own story line. So that got me thinking. Were there other sci-fi movies that I'd passed on that were actually worth viewing? I did a Google search on "underrated sci-fi movies" and found a bunch of articles various people wrote with their recommendations. I breezed through looking for hidden gems. Most of the time I was "Seen it. Seen it. That's not underrated, it's just crap! Seen it. Oh! What's THIS one???"  The first of my discoveries was Flight of the Navigator (and strangely, a day after I watched it, 2 people on Facebook mentioned the movie. Weird.)

Now how did I miss Flight of the Navigator?! Sarah Jessica Parker! I love her! Oh...1986? That was a complicated year.  Work. College. Boyfriend troubles. Anywho, I watched it. Cute movie. Very much for kids.

Back to the underrated lists... and that's when Silent Running came up. I read the description of the film on Amazon and it totally didn't ring a bell, so I started watching it last night. About 20 minutes in, I remembered seeing it before. Once. On TV. When I was a kid. I hated it then. Time and maturity have improved my appreciation of the film, somewhat, but ugh that Joan Baez soundtrack was awful. No offence intended to fans of her music, it's just not my cup of tea. By the second time she started to sing, I wanted to hurl a shoe at her to stop her caterwauling. Save the trees, oh won't someone think of the children, whine, ugh, shut UP already. I agree with the sentiment, but yikes.

Bruce Dern was amazing as the botanist Freeman Lowell...but I hated the way the movie ended. I would have done it differently. LOL I'm willing to bet it sparked many heated conversations back in the day. Anyone else seen it? Watch it then comment. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


I'm one of those nutty people who goes all out for Halloween. I decorate the house, dress up, give toys, treats AND glow stuff to all the kids...yeah. This is my favorite holiday, by far. Sadly, this year I was sick for 3 weeks leading up to today. House? Not decorated. Toys? Never got around to purchasing goody bags or do-dads. I have some glow stuff left over from last year and hubby ran out yesterday and bought the dregs of the Halloween candy from 2 stores.

I'm feeling a lot better today, but still not 100%. I spent 2 hours cleaning up weeks of accumulated crap out of the living room so that I could GET to the front door to answer it tonight without killing myself on stacks of mail, shoes, leaves, twigs, sand, papers, books, boxes, on and on and on. I've been looking everywhere for the vacuum and just didn't SEE it tucked back in the corner of my bedroom. (I swear, I looked there 4 times!)

I have a costume on, of sorts. I look like a giant pumpkin. Hey, it's a start. I've eaten something, caught my breath, now I'll attack the rest of my to-do list. I may not get everything done before the bell starts ringing, but I'll give it a try.

Meanwhile - Tyler is going OUT for Halloween this year. I repeat! TYLER IS GOING OUT! He hasn't left the house on Halloween in YEARS. He came to me almost 2 weeks ago at the height of my illness to tell me what he wanted to dress up as for Halloween. I thought the fever was getting to me. But no, he was serious. He showed me a picture a few days later of a video game character named Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid.  I analyzed the picture from a veteran cosplayer's perspective and broke it down into pieces. Grey flight suit. Tactical vest. Long black elbow and knee pads. Thigh holster and assorted canvas/velcro straps. Black all weather boots. Black headband with long ties. Face mask (optional). Easy!

I began looking on Amazon for all the component parts and got excited as the costume took shape. Flight suit? Too expensive. Grey long-johns? That works. I went through dozens of types of knee and elbow pads looking for just the right look and price. Found the PERFECT boots ($50 ugh), thigh holster, straps, amazing vest...then I looked in the cart. Almost $200 in gear. *gasp*

I broke the news to Tyler. If he had his heart set on it, I was ready to break the bank. He was the voice of reason. "It's ok Mom. That's too expensive. What else can I go as?"  Ugh. It broke my heart. He was so jazzed! He doesn't get jazzed very often. I suggested we go to a costume shop and have a look around, but he didn't like that idea. I suggested he just wear his usual hoodie and I could get him a scary mask. Nope. Just a balaclava and be a terrorist? Better idea, but nope. Finally his dad suggested a pillowcase with eye holes. He could be a ghost. I think Dad was kidding, but Tyler liked the idea.

So keep your eyes open for a spooky teen ghost out on the streets tonight. Oh, and the Green Lantern. Max is a superhero once again. LOL It's been a different one every year.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A small light in the darkness...

I was in a very dark and low place in my last entry. Things have improved somewhat since then. Teen boy is still very very unhappy with his school situation. The small space and the addition of some really unruly elements have made things completely intolerable.  We are working with his school and the CST and have yet another meeting scheduled next week. Tyler wants to return to the mainstream school system. The special needs therapeutic environment was really helpful in restoring his desire to learn and being supportive of his unique learning style. But the trade-off was being schooled with kids who are very impaired and highly disruptive in the classroom environment. Ty complains about the chaos a lot, but I think being around the differently-abled has also taught him a bit of patience and shown him that things could be worse.

He has matured an amazing amount in the last year or so. Even in the last couple months! It's like someone flipped a switch on and he's gone from being a virtual recluse to just walking out the front door and walking to friends' houses to hang out or to the gas station for a soda. He's been playing a lot of football at recess and after school. His fitness level continues to increase and he's even begun a daily workout routine with floor exercises. He proudly held his arm against my yesterday and said "Look Mom, I have some color!"

He's recently asked for a weight set and a scooter. I like the idea of the scooter. He can coast and kick his way from place to place and it's more light-weight and portable than a bike. The problem we are running into is most scooters are made for little kids (ages 5-11) and very few are made for big kids and teens. I remember these awkward years between 13 and 16. The need for independence kicks in, but you aren't old enough to drive. I rode my bike all over town, but Ty has always been a little unsteady on a bike. I suggested a more sturdy and lower-to-the-ground model like a mountain bike, but he doesn't really get the difference between that type and his 10 speed. I wish the local bike shop hadn't shut down. This is the kind of thing where it's really helpful to see them in person and get a test ride.

I have mixed emotions when I hear that front door slam. We are still working on him letting us know when he is leaving and where he is going. He figures if he has his cell phone on him, we can always just call and ask. LOL Teens. *exasperated sigh* But at the same time, when I heard he'd just up and walked down to QuickChek to buy snacks I was so proud of him. How do I explain the magnitude of that. He went from a boy who never leaves his bedroom to a teen who just walks out the front door and keeps walking all the way into the next town where the convenience store is. And buys stuff. On his own. With his own money. It's terrifying and amazing. I am so proud of him, I cry every time I think about it.

And I'm crying again.

Oh, and have I mentioned that he broke his foot? Yeah. First broken bone. He did it when he was horsing around with some friends. He fell off a rather tall stone wall and landed on his foot funny. Fractured it. And yet, despite the pain, he is still walking ALL OVER THE PLACE and playing football.

I got rather used to him being the introverted shut-in. He was safe and I always knew where he was! And I worried that he wasn't socializing much, other than on-line through his video games... now I worry even more because he's out there, walking, all over town, and breaking bones... ugh, my poor heart.

So proud. And so very terrified. So very much like his mother at that age. He even told his dad that he didn't care if we lost power because he and his mom could just read a book. He loves to read. Just like his mom. *sniffles*

I love you so much, Ty. I love the young man you are becoming. We just need to work on that teen boy attitude toward feminism, gay rights, and the need to mercilessly tease younger brothers. We'll work on it. :)  Things WILL get better for you in school. This I vow. I'm ready to start homeschooling tomorrow, if necessary. Just watch me.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

I need a little wine with my whine...

It's a shame I don't drink. Today I could really use a box of wine (or 2.) It was the first day of school and both boys left the house unhappy and both came home miserable. It's especially worrisome from the teen boy. He hasn't passed judgement on his new 8th grade teacher...yet, but he is VERY unhappy with the classroom move. Apparently the school took away their spacious former home-ec room and stuck his special needs class in a closet (or office). 10 kids, some with sensory issues, crammed in a little room all day. He was ready to kill himself by the time he got home.

No, really. He talks about how much the world sucks, life sucks, our country sucks and nothing is redeemable...certainly not within his lifetime. So why is he alive? He's completely miserable.

Now I remember being completely miserable in 8th grade too. I often thought I'd be better off dead. Heck, the world would be a nicer place without me in it. Hearing the same talk from my newly minted 8th grader is sad and scary. Kids today are a lot more likely to take their own lives than they were when I was this age. The internet is oh so helpful in oh so many horrible ways.

Yes, he has a therapist (in school and out) and a psychiatrist. Yes, we try to be encouraging and supportive every day. We go out of our way to make sure home is his sanctuary and safe place. It's not perfect because he'd rather not have a little brother and he finds the idea of parents rather annoying too...except when he's hungry. We provide food. That's our only redeeming quality.

Food was a source of comfort to me too when I was in jr. high. I wasn't fat, really, just a little over weight. But some of my classmates made sure I felt like a blimp and my parents weren't much better. Tyler put on some weight in 6th and 7th grade, but we are never negative toward him. He decided he wanted to make a change over the summer so we made a couple of suggestions. He cut down on his soda consumption and the quantity of junk food. He ate more egg whites and cheerios. He feels a bit more comfortable now that he's dropped some weight. He's back into a pant size he wore in 6th grade. It was odd going from a men's medium back to a boy's 16-18 when shopping for back-to-school clothes. His eating habits still aren't great, but he is more conscious of the quantity. He looks good. But he's still miserable.

"Have his doctor put him on an anti-depressant!"  Yeah. I thought of that. He reminded me today that a former "medication happy" doctor put him on one of those and it made things worse. He is now very anti-anti-depressant. Maybe his new doctor can encourage him to try it again...but he has to be very careful. If he comes off as another "pills will fix everything" type, teen boy won't go back to see him ever again. As it is, the boy barely sees the use of seeing a therapist. "They don't do a damn thing, Mom! It's just a waste of money."

I'm at a loss. He needs a hobby. Something that gets him out of the house now and then. Or friends with a fun hobby would be even better. Or a big brother. Something. OK, internet, if you have any bright or wise suggestions, I am totally open to them.

That last paragraph/cry for help is funny because no one even bothers to comment on my little blog anymore. But I'll put this out there, just in case. You never know where help will come from.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


Max brought his extremely full backpack into the family room and proceeded to clean it out (it was packed with junk from the last day of school.) After a couple minutes of pulling things out, one by one, he got frustrated and asked, "Mom? Can I just dump this out on the floor?" 

I got as far as "Umm..." (because my brain was busy trying to process the potential repercussions) when he just upended the thing and shook it 5 or 6 times. It was like a classroom exploded. Fragments of broken crayons, pencils, lidless markers, tiny scraps of paper, and crumbs of every size and description went everywhere. 

I got an "Oops. I'll clean it up..." when he saw me cringe. After discarding all the larger items, he said "Can I just vacuum up the crumbs and stuff?"  

"Sure. But you need to clear off the rug some more so the vacuum can move around. Yep. Gotta move those cords out of the way. Video game stuff goes on the shelf. Mmm can go in that white basket. Dirty socks in the hamper. Hmm, you'll have to pull the rug a bit to flatten it out. Oh wow, look at all those crumbs over there too. Make sure you put those markers away. You can toss those empty boxes downstairs...ok! Ready to vacuum?"  

He did the whole room and picked almost everything up and put it away. I was so proud and pleased, I gave him some cash as a reward. When ever he was tempted to half-ass part of the job, I'd gently nudge him with a suggestion. He's such a good kid. And a handy little cleaner! lol

We are almost ready for back-to-school. I just need to fill out all those pesky forms. Every year! Really, why can't they just put this stuff online?

Monday, August 10, 2015

The vacation that wasn't...

When the normally frugal hubby says "Why don't we book a mini-getaway in August - just 2 or 3 nights somewhere fun," I was all over that! It took weeks of painstaking research, but I found the PERFECT family destination. I waiting 1 day to get approval from the hubby and teen boy and the room we needed was sold OUT. Back to square one. Then the hubby suggested somewhere beachy - how about heading down to the shore? We haven't done that in ages. Try Atlantic City.

OK. I got to work. We have a detailed list of things our vacation destinations must have and finding them all in one location is very very difficult. Hubby made a couple suggestions and we swiftly ruled out a bunch of places until I landed on the Tropicana website. It had the requisite indoor AND outdoor pools, hubby's requested boardwalk/beach access, fun family activities, a room with at least 2 queen beds (doubles are just too small), and close to other area attractions. Ding! We have a winner!

Or so I thought.

Remember when you were a kid and the whole family piled into the car to head out on a vacation? It was often a VERY long drive and, if your family was anything like mine, the drive was just an invitation to pain and misery. The Dad would always yell, at least one time, "If you don't cut it out right this instant, I will turn the car around and just go home!" Maybe he even pulled over and pretended to start turning around. Mine did.

Well, we did it. Yes, the boys were squabbling a lot. No, we didn't turn into our parents and make the threat. The boys ASKED if we could just go home. Did they love the swanky resort hotel with all the nifty amenities? No. It was loud, smoky, too big, had none of the cool sounding stuff the website made sound so fabulous, and the all-important indoor pool was small, outdated, run down, and crowded. Vacation ruined. None of my boys could find a single redeeming thing about this trip. They wouldn't even TRY, even after I suggested going to the aquarium ("Why would I want to go there? I can look at fish on my computer at HOME when ever I want!"), playing mini-golf (boring), the beach (too crowded), the IMAX theater (nothing good playing), any local arcades ("Skee-ball is fun...for about 10 minutes. I'd rather be at home playing my video games!") so we gave up. Why force them to stay, have them act out and beat on each other out of sheer boredom, and spend all that money for nothing.

We turned around (the next day) and WENT HOME. Yep. The threat is real, kids. They just might do it! ;)

p.s. The teen boy told us, shortly after getting home, that he's sad the trip didn't work out. He's not totally averse to going on a trip. He just wants to go back to somewhere he's been before. Like the Holiday Inn in Albany NY. He likes that place. Albany, y'all. Albany. They have a nice pool. And there's that go-cart place. OK, son. We can make that work.

Nice view...but it ain't ALBANY!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

What happens when...

What happens when an 8 year old consumes an entire jar of dill pickles in one sitting and then drinks the juice? (Yes, DRINKS the JUICE.)

"Mom? I pooped my pants. I thought it was just a fart, but..."

And so, recorded here for posterity and as a lesson to other pickle-loving children - don't eat the whole jar and, for sure, do NOT drink all the juice.

(Note to spouse - this might be a better way to go for the next colonoscopy. The pickle cleanse.)

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Beautiful Girls

What do you do when you're awake in the middle of the night, unable to sleep? Me, I watch a movie or read a book. Tonight's selection was Beautiful Girls (1996) with Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, and a bunch of other favorites. I'd never seen it before, believe it or not, but it got me thinking about friendship.

Being a military brat and moving as much as we did in my early childhood, I didn't have that small town, one circle of friends from birth-to-death kind of experience. I did, however, identify with the lead character in the movie just a bit. Yes, he's a guy and the movie is from the male perspective...but I, like him, left home and left my old life behind me. For very different reasons, I often find myself reluctant to return home.

Let's get back to the friends thought. I've had several circles of friends in my life. The first was a small circle in the age 2-5 time frame. Fond memories from a foreign country where only one of my friends spoke English (another US transplant in Asia.) Then there was the second circle from age 5-8. A neighborhood clan of all ages that got along well and were all-inclusive in our play. Age 9-14 was a tough one. All of those friends moved away at various times or I lost touch with them when I changed schools after 8th grade. I'm actually sad that I lost touch with a lot of those friends. In high school I only made one really close friend. There were a few other near friends on the periphery and one very good friend who moved but we managed to keep in touch, but my BEST friend and I were inseparable. Even when I left for college, she was always around. I made a couple new friends away at school, but when I dropped out to work full time, we lost that daily interaction and a lot of the closeness. My BEST friend was still there. For a while.

Then I got serious in a relationship with a guy. We got engaged after many years of dating and my BEST friend was terrified by the idea of me getting married and moving away. Then, she died. Very suddenly and without warning.

I go home and there is one college friend I look forward to seeing, if we can find the time, but going home is really hard. My life just isn't there anymore. I changed. And like the character in the movie, we just don't fit in back in that old life. That isn't home anymore.

The movie has a sort of happy ending with the Timothy Hutton character realizing home ISN'T his home anymore. He has a new life and his girlfriend really is the one. It took seeing his old life up close with her suddenly in it and how he no longer fits to see he is a better person with her and living far away from that stagnant little home town. Satisfying, right? So why did I bawl my eyes out?

Because I do have the one who makes my life a home and a family, but I don't have that weird circle of friends to visit and remind me of what I'm not missing. Does that make any sense? I wish I had a circle of friends who were happy to see me, ready to embrace me back into that old home town life, tell me they missed me, and make me happy I've moved on. Ha. I wish I'd kept in touch with the circle of friends I had in middle school. Those are the connections I most regret letting go of. It was a traumatic and damaging time for me and I was desperate to start over with my new school. But those friends...they were off-beat, smart, loyal, damaged, fragile, and targets - just like I was - and they accepted me unconditionally.

I miss you guys. Valerie B. Karen R. Karen Y. Joan who couldn't decide if she wanted to keep her Dad's last name or change it to her Mom's after the divorce...I miss you guys.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Nikon Coolpix S3600

In case anyone was wondering what nifty little purchase I made on Prime Day... I got a Coolpix S3600. It's pink on the front and purple on the back! *squee* It fits into my purse better than my cheapy "smart" phone does and has better specs than my full sized DSLR. Which is kinda sad. But I'm happy to have something very light weight and easily portable. 

Now for the bad parts. The internal memory holds 5 (FIVE!) pictures and it didn't come with an SDHC card. That stinks, but it was quickly remedied. (Those little cards are pretty cheap these days.) The next problem came when I tried to off-load the 5 (FIVE!) whole photos I took. I plugged the USB cable into my hub and the entire hub powered down. Boom. 


So I juggled plugs and moved the cable to one of my front USB outlets. Boom, all the front ports shut down. WTF. One visit to the Nikon website later and the less than helpful help article recommends I use an available REAR USB port. Why?! For gosh sakes, whyyyy?? 

Double Harrumph. 

This is going to take some gymnastics and major cable wrangling... wish me luck. I should have gotten the newest version of this little gem. It has WIFI. WI-freakin-FI. Dang it. But hey, it was cheap. tongue emoticon and PINK.

Update:  As I suspected, the cable was bad. It was causing a short. One cheap replacement cable later and I was in business. Camera charges, syncs/transfers, and works great. Photo example below:

Max at Lake Mohawk Pool

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Job Search

So after my FaceBook post on modern job-search techniques and looking for help for my unemployed friends, I decided to take a peek at listings for myself. Why? Well...after busting my ass in the working world for decades, I took 13 years off to do one of the world's best 24x7 jobs - mothering. But that gig doesn't pay well and all my friends' awesome vacation photos are making me insanely jealous. That vacation thing looks GREAT and we haven't been able to afford one in many years.

I spent over an hour last night combing through hundreds of job listings and only found 2 that even remotely appealed to me. One was as a sales associate at Barnes and Noble. Because...books! Everyone knows how much I lurve my books and the thought of sharing that daily with other book lovers was very appealing. Until I saw the fine print at the bottom that mentioned lots of bending (nope), lifting (nope), standing (NOPE), and occasional cleaning of the toilets (nope nope nope I won't even clean the boy's bathroom without a hazmat a public bathroom is a no go.)

Then there was the listing that said I could do the job from home and they needed someone IMMEDIATELY. It was the shortest job ad I've ever seen. One sentence that asked for intelligence (check), computer proficiency (check), and a high level of knowledge in 2 things I'd never heard of - Sterling Order Management (I Googled it - it's an inventory management database thingy) and something called SIM (no idea). [insert sound of penalty buzzer]  I could probably figure out the database pretty quickly, but they want someone who is already an expert. Rats.

So the search continues.

Anyone want to hire a disabled work-from-home person with mad computer skillz? I'm happy to work nights. Teen boy has me up half the night, most nights, anyway. :D *sigh* Back to the search.

My dream job would be at home, on the computer, but I'd also love a job where I had to wear a superhero (or villain) costume, in a wheelchair or other less mobile but seated position, using a computer or hand-held device, that had to do with books, writing, comics, movies, photo taking/editing, or music. There's a job like that, right?

Friday, July 03, 2015

How To Flunk English

The husband has been cleaning out a crawl space that has basically gone untouched since the year we moved into this house. He brought me the contents of a box that contained items from my high school years. One folder contained a bunch of term papers, essays, and other writing assignments from various classes. From an English class, I found this comic gem -

How To Flunk English
October 24, 1982

The many ways to aid you in flunking English come under two basic subjects: flunking at school and flunking at home. Flunking at school is relatively easy. In the area of class participation, there is one basic rule to follow - never raise your hand and always say you do not know the answer when your English teacher calls on you. The second area is class work. Have several excuses ready if your teacher catches you not taking notes or day dreaming (spacing out) in class. For example, when you are caught not taking notes, tell your teacher that pens burn your hands because you are very sensitive. If he or she catches you day dreaming, tell him that you are into transcendental meditation...

Oh how I wish I'd continued that essay. It was left incomplete, sadly. I was hilarious! ;)

Edit: I found a finished copy deeper in the box! Continuing...

...for relaxation and you need to relax because of your frayed nerves. Additionally, listening for your teacher to say "um" or use other grammatical and speech errors while he/she is lecturing can help you to ignore the topic of his speech.

At certain times during the school year, your teacher will pass out an object called a "test". Avoid writing anything on this at all costs. Naturally, after a certain amount of time, your teacher will ask you to stop by after school to discuss your difficulties with him. Do not avoid this meeting. On the contrary, go see him/her and be prepared to be very confused and stupid (on purpose, of course.) This way you can complain to your parents about the communication problem you have with your teacher.

At home, flunking English can be relatively simple. When you go home either never take your text book home, or don't open it if you do. Studying for a test or going over your notes (hopefully you will not have any notes) is the wrong thing to do. Asking your parents for help with your English homework IS a sure way to get everything wrong. Parents have not been to school in such a long time that they do not remember half the things they are supposed to know.

If you do bring home your English book by accident, you can still put it to good use. Use it as a plate for your onion and garlic sandwich while you work hard on your algebra homework.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


"Mom? I'm bored." 

I think to myself...and so it begins. 

"Can we do a science experiment?" 

Oh good! I've got some of those. I dig through our collection of Magic School Bus science club mailings and read off the choices. Bacteria and Fungi? No. Weather experiments? Yes! Build your own weather station...sounds fun! So we get to work. 

An hour later we have a wind vane, a rain gauge, a thermometer, a wet sponge (something about air saturation/100% humidity and rain), and two bottles connected together that are supposed to show a "vortex" or indoor tornado. I think we did that one wrong. 

After reading all the interesting facts and filling out the scientist's workbook, Max says, "Mom? Weather is boring..."

Maybe we'll try Bacteria and Fungi next. *gulp* 

Imagines our house as ground zero for a new plague outbreak. With zombies. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

McDonald's Breakfast

Once upon a time, I would swing through the McDonald's drive-thru several times each week on my way to work. I looked forward to those thick and juicy sausage patties, crispy hash browns, and generous portions of scrambled eggs. Or I'd choose a nice sausage McMuffin with egg - the egg would be perfectly round and thick after being cooked to perfection in a form on the griddle and the muffin was high quality (like a Thomas' English Muffin), brushed with butter after being lightly toasted. In other words, quality ingredients made the same way, every day, hot and fresh. I could count on it.

Then things began to change. The sausage patty got smaller and thinner. The portion of scrambled eggs got smaller and smaller. The hash browns were no longer crisp on the outside and soft inside...they were just mushy and often squashed into a greasy stain at the bottom of my bag, all glued to that sad paper sleeve. The egg McMuffin? The egg was no longer cooked perfectly round and thick, it turned into a sad shriveled little yolk with only the slightest amount of white clinging to it. And the so-called muffin - ick! It had been substituted with this crumbly bun-like substitute that fell apart at my first bite. It was more like a biscuit! I hate biscuits. It wasn't even toasted any more. And it tastes horrible. Grainy, doughy and slightly sweet. All wrong.

I stopped going through the drive-thru at McDonalds. Breakfast there is no longer a treat. Sometimes months will go by and I'll kind of forget how bad things have gotten and I'll remember the good times when the food was great. Then I'll run through and grab some breakfast only to be bitterly disappointed.

I think today was my last sausage McMuffin. My heart can no longer take the crushing let-down.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Special Needs Parenting Whine

My blog hasn't been very entertaining, lately. It's gone back to being a therapy tool where I spill out all my frustrations, failings and sadness.  This post isn't going to be amusing either. Sorry.

It's the end of the school year and that means all those fun end-of-the-school-year things. Field Day was an absolute blast for Max and an absolute nightmare for Tyler. Yes, they made him go outside and tried to make him participate. He has learned that the only way to get out of situations that he can't handle is to "play sick". This so called special needs environment he's been in seems to ignore him when he is trying to tell them he can't handle something. So he cries headache or stomach ache and goes to the nurse. Then we get a phone call.

They used to let him call home from his classroom when he was starting to feel overwhelmed, but that suddenly stopped about a month ago. Right about the time his teacher vanished. We still have no idea what happened to her, but who ever took over the classroom obviously has no idea how to help my son. They ignore his requests to call home and do things like send us text messages every day asking for a permission slip or pestering us about whether Tyler will be attending XYZ event. Awards ceremony? No. Crowds + buffet dinner with associated food smells + music + endless presentations and talking = meltdown. Field Day? Yeah. We asked them to exempt him from that event. Why? Bright sunlight + heat + crowds + noise level + loud music + allergies = meltdown. End of year BBQ at some park 30+ minutes away? Bus ride + crowds + sun + heat + noise + BBQ food smells = meltdown. Hello?! DO THE MATH.

How many times do we need to tell them about his sensory issues? No, we are not coddling him. No, we are not letting him "get away with stuff." No, we are not encouraging him to just "stay home, nap, and eat ice cream."  YOU are trying to put him into situations where he just can't cope. Simple. And pestering us with daily text messages and emails and ignoring everything we say about WHY our son won't be participating is not going to push us into changing our minds.

Or is it. Poor John got so worried over the constant push to make Tyler attend the end of year BBQ that he finally broke down and gave permission for Ty to attend ONLY if he could drive him there, personally (thus avoiding the bus) and ONLY if they had the understanding that if Tyler was feeling overwhelmed, John would just take him right back home. The problem? This was the day before the event. Tyler needs at least a week to get used to the idea of needing to be somewhere he doesn't like. Sometimes more time. He'd already been told he didn't need to go to the stupid picnic. Now, they bullied and pestered poor John into telling our boy he was going.

no notice + breaking a promise + being pushed into something = meltdown

Thanks for that. Did he go to the stupid picnic today? Nope. He has barricaded himself in his bedroom, eaten nothing, and refused to go to school. At all. He might not go tomorrow either. Not that it's a big hairy deal. That's the last day. A half-day. But still... None of this drama was necessary.

Get your act together, ILA. You should know better! If you want to have a fun event that is more inclusive, why not have it INDOORS, in an environment the kids are familiar with (like, the school), break the kids up into smaller groups and maybe have something fun in each classroom (chess/board games in one, video games in another, food in another, music and dancing in another, perhaps a short outdoor activity like a water balloon fight) and let the kids choose. Limit the amount of kids in each room and rotate so everyone has a chance with one quiet room for kids who are done and just want to chill.  Tyler would be all over THAT kind of party.


And they wonder why these kids sometimes beat their heads against a wall. Hell, I want to do that now.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

On being poor...

Max told me the saddest thing today. Just because he has pocket money for snacks, his friends think we are wealthy and ask him to buy them things. I said, "I hope you corrected them...because snack money for you is about ALL we can afford. We are so very far from rich." (Plus I just worry about him going hungry all day if he doesn't like what they serve for lunch.)

He told me "No way! If I told them we weren't rich, no one would like me. Nobody likes poor people."

I was horrified and deeply sad that he thinks no one would like him if they knew he wasn't wealthy. I told him no one in our town is "wealthy". If we were truly rich, we'd be living somewhere ELSE. (No offense to my fellow town residents. LMAO But if we won the lottery, we'd be moving to a McMansion compound near the shore.)

I just don't know where/how he picked up on this burden of shame society puts on people from lower income brackets. There is nothing wrong with being from a working class family! Sure, we'd all like to be better off, have nicer stuff, and we play the lottery (I never said we were the smartest of smart people. lol) But I come back to the core of the issue. Pocket money. We always make sure Max has a little spending money. School Store day, in particular, is a big deal. Max LOVES buying the little trinkets from the school store once a month. Is it true that hardly any other parents give a buck or two to their kids, just in case? Is Max really the only kid walking around with $2 in his pocket every day?

I know we had issues over this kind of thing in the past. In Kindergarten, we'd give Max just enough change to buy an ice cream at lunch. There was another child who started begging Max for money. That swiftly turned into demands for money, but a teacher overheard one day and called this child's parents in for a discussion about their child extorting money from our boy. They felt really badly and made the boy pay Max back. We were careful to instruct Max that the money we gave him was HIS and he did NOT have to give it to anyone. Nor should he feel like he had to buy things for people. If his little "friends" told him they wouldn't BE his "friends" if he didn't fork over the cash, then that meant they were not his friends to begin with. No true friend takes your money.

Yes, we had to revisit this in first grade. Max was spending his pocket money on friends and coming home sad because he couldn't afford the snacks he wanted. Or the school store items he craved.

I have a feeling this is going to be an on-going battle. He is a people pleaser and loves being the center of attention. The temptation to "buy" his friends is very strong! I fell into the same trap when I was in 7th grade. I was so desperate to be liked, I spent my hard earned babysitting money on gifts or snacks for girls I wished would be friendly toward me (instead of hateful bitches.) *sigh* And no, it didn't work. It never works. You can't buy real friendship.

Then there is that deeper issue. Where DID Max get the impression that being financially restricted (i.e. POOR) was something to hide? To feel shame over? We can't help where the economy has placed us. Heck, we are luckier than many. John makes just enough that I can stay at home with the boys. We are in debt, can't afford real vacations, and are one paycheck away from total disaster, but we limp along and make it work. I never say "don't tell your friends we can't afford to buy you Under Armor or name brand sneakers!" I have no hesitation in saying we do most of our shopping at Walmart. I've never even seen the inside of a Trader Joe's and I have no problem telling people that.

I'm going to have to dig deeper and see if I can figure out where this is coming from.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

It's officially only an hour into this year's Mother's Day celebration...but so far, so good. My children are all sleeping like the little angels only I know they are. *grin* But seriously, I wanted to write a special Mother's Day message to my boys.

Without the two of you, I wouldn't be a mother. Despite what you might sometimes think, I really wanted this job. Being your mother is the best part of my life, to date. Sure there are challenges, but that's life. I just want you to know that no matter how tough things might get, I'll always be your Mom and I'll always be there for you. Yes, even if I'm dead. I'll haunt you (in a good way) until the day you join me in the hereafter. I have to keep an eye on you and make sure your life turns out ok. I'll try not to butt in too much but you know I'm always ready to give advice. If you want it.

That's it. I love you both so very much. I don't need cards, flowers, candy or jewels. That stuff is nice, but I'd be happy with a bagel and a hug. Really. Cinnamon raisin bagel. Lightly toasted. With cream cheese. In bed. And a hug. I'm off to the bedroom now to wait...


Happy Mother's Day to all my Mom friends, single Dads, pet parents, step parents, and people who step in every day to help care for kids. You all deserve a special day of pampering and love.