Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Backpack

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 hmm...toys 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. Not...a...one. 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. 

Harrumph. 

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 suit...so 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

Because...Science!

"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.

*sigh*

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.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Holy Moly

It was an exciting day today as Max made his First Holy Communion in the Roman Catholic Church...or as I like to think of it:  The day my boy officially became a cannibal.

That's a Catholic joke. Don't get freaked out, go Google transubstantiation. LOL

But seriously, it was a beautiful day. Max looked dapper in his new suit and all his church school friends looked fabulous. The girls were all very traditional in gorgeous white dresses, crowns and veils. The boys mostly wore dark color or gray suits, but one fella wore a stark white suit, white shirt, black and white bow tie and very shiny black and white shoes that reminded me of spats. I leaned in to John and whispered "I am your host, Mr. Roarke! Welcome to Fantasy Island!" *giggle snort* He was not amused. He was too busy trying to look serious and attentive because the whole proceeding was being filmed by a video professional. Since we were basically in the front row, I expect people will be seeing a lot of us. I hope I didn't rub my nose or touch my face too often. I tend to fidget.

Max did fabulously well. He and his pal Sean P. were part of the posse that delivered the gifts/offerings up to the altar. He never missed a beat and performed all required actions with style. We were instructed to take NO photos during the service, but John wanted to get a shot of the boys bringing things up, stealthily brought out his cell phone, got it into camera mode and then chickened out when the priests and deacon came down off the altar and were practically standing next to us. I was trying hard not to giggle. No way was he going to get away with a sneak photo with the god squad standing so close.

He did take lots of photos after mass, then we had a nice brunch here at home. Glad Max's grandma Lois was able to make it. She's had some major health issues in recent months and was in and out of the hospital, but she's doing much better at the moment. We missed seeing my parents but my mom had major back surgery a few months ago and still isn't up to making that long drive. Plus my Dad sorta wrecked the car in a minor accident last Friday. It's always something. But Max had a good day and I think he feels sufficiently loved and supported even with our tiny family.  I may have over-done it with the First Communion party supplies (at one point I was doing brunch for 8 or more, so...) but the dining room looks super spiffy and I think Max liked me making a fuss. Win.

I have a ton of extra bagels, so if anyone is hungry over the next day or two, stop on by. I have cream cheese too.

My handsome boy!  Special thanks to Jen for her studio session/photos.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Mental Mother

Often, late at night I find myself rehashing conversations I've had with my kids...in my head. My teen is rapidly maturing and developing his own viewpoints on the world around him. Sometimes those viewpoints are so far removed from anything I think or feel that I'm left momentarily speechless. Taking into account the fact that our conversations are largely one-sided because teen boy is autistic and his delivery of thoughts is frequently a rapid brain dump with my take only being a source of argument with his opinion always the correct one, it's difficult to get my ideas across.

We had a largely one-sided discussion on religion earlier with Tyler stating that all religions are a crock, there's no such thing as "God" and people who believe in a faith are deluded. He called all religions "magical thinking" and blamed them for many of the problems in the world. He is a super logical kid and often a very linear and b&w thinker.

I tried to get across the idea that even if you don't believe in the more miraculous aspects of organized religious beliefs, you can't really argue with the basic tenants of doing unto others and just generally not being a jerk. I got a response of "Jesus wasn't real, mom. Why do what a fictional character tells you to."

Yeah. Speechless.

So, here I am, rehashing how that conversation could have gone better. "Son? One very important thing I take away from the teachings of Jesus is the idea of unconditional love. Love for the world and love for our fellow man. I feel a sense of responsibility to leave this world a better place by being kind and being a source of goodness and light. Just because a good idea comes from a source you think is fictional doesn't mean it isn't a great idea that you can apply to your own life. There are absolute truths in this universe that very wise and enlightened people have come to accept, no matter the source. I love you and want to help you in your journey towards becoming a good man. Don't be distracted by the pomp and circumstance of organized religions...simply seek out what is the central message of faith. Be enlightened. Reject darkness and embrace light. I won't ever force my own beliefs on you, but encourage you to expose yourself to a variety of faiths and seek your own answers. As long as your heart remains open to hope and love, you'll be ok."

Huh. Not too bad for a 4am ramble. I'll just leave this here in the hopes that one day my son will get curious and read it. Then he can continue this conversation in HIS head at 4am. Love you, my boys!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Shh! I'm working here!

Does anyone else get a running commentary in their heads from individual body parts as they work? No? Just me then... This is how my morning went.

Self:  OK! Wake up and get to work. Lots to do before company comes next weekend! First up, pick up all the dirty laundry and put it into baskets.

My Back: You aren't going to try and move those without help, are you? You'd better not!

Self: Now to just move these into the hallway... [PUSH]

My Back: Oh my GLOB! You ARE trying to do it without help! No! NO! Stop it!

Self:  Ow holy crap, that hurt. OK, OK! Calm down. I'll sit for a minute. [Darling husband comes in, freaks out over more laundry to do and lists all the reasons why it can't be done before pushing baskets into the hall.] Thanks honey! What's next... Dining room needs to be picked up, large things moved about to make room, table cleared, room vacuumed, and new rug laid down.

My Back: You can't be serious. You've already taken an Aleve. Take the hint, Woman!

I set about picking up toys, trash, more clothes, costumes, legos, art supplies, and so on - sorting into various toy bins, boxes, and trays. Trash pile grows and lego table over flows. Video games missing for months are found. Max fights over which things are trash and which are trinkets to be kept. The mess on his desk grows higher. Bending, stooping, pushing, pulling, moving the big toybox across the room...

My Back: Hello! You need to sit down. Now. I'm serious! If you don't take a break right this second I'm going to make you fall over in pain. I mean it! SIT! Sit down! I'm counting to ten...1, 2, 3, 4, 5...

Self: Oh for the love of...fine! I'm sitting! [plops down on dining room chair in the nick of time]

My Knees: If you think you're getting up again, I can tell you now, you are seriously mistaken.

Self: Come on, you guys! We've made a dent! Look! I just want to clear off that little side table, move it back where it belongs, moving the chairs over there, have Max stack his snack stash on the table and then I can vacuum! Then we can roll out the new rug!

My Back: No. I'm done. You stay sitting or I'll quit on you for the next three days. Then how much can you do? Hmm? Ha!

My Knees: Listen to Back. I'm done too. And you'd better put Feet up or they are gonna start barking at you.

Feet: Ruff! Bow wow wow wow! Grrrrrr!

Self: *sigh* Fine. I'll take a break. Can I get some quiet now?!

Body parts all sigh with relief.

Self: Don't get too comfortable. We have more to do...

Feet: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

And so it goes. I'm sitting and resting. Kinda. I better eat something before my stomach starts in on me too. No one wants to hear THAT conversation. Stomach has a potty mouth.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Irreplaceable

The dryer broke this weekend, but unlike when its inefficient and water wasting partner broke down, this time I didn't get my hopes up.  Nope, no heading off to the Lowes website shopping for a shiny new washer/dryer set because I knew my resourceful and mechanically inclined man was going to fix it. See, this ancient and inefficient pair are rather like the equivalent of a classic car...before the advent of complex catalytic converters or computer controlled fuel injectors.  Mechanically inclined men can just run out to one of those ubiquitous junk yards and find a replacement part, hunker down, get greasy and fix the ancient hunk of junk.

Sometimes it stinks having a mechanically inclined man. ;)

Thursday, April 02, 2015

I'm fully aware of autism, thanks very much...

International Autism Awareness Day. Yep. Check. Am I wearing blue? Heck no! My son would have a fit! My contrary teen on the spectrum HATES the color blue and all things "Autism Speaks." (You wave a blue light bulb or puzzle piece in his direction and I can't be responsible for your safety. Be warned!)

We've had a couple of recent discussions about "Autism Awareness Month" and all the hoopla going on in his school. He has described to me (in very inappropriate and colorful language) the posters, shirts and activities going on around him. He did NOT appreciate the "art" project he was forced to do involving a ribbon covered in puzzle pieces. I mean, seriously? You are making the autistic kids do an autism awareness project?! REALLY?! How stupid is that! Like THEY aren't fully aware. Duh.

Two favorite moments from these discussions:

  • The moment when he blurted out his feelings about a certain poster in the hall that says "Does your child have Autism Spectral Disorder?" It was designed by a kid. Did you notice the problem? Tyler did. "What the hell is autism spectral disorder? Where you think you are haunted by dead autistic kids?!?!" His observation came at the rapid-fire rate that is Tyler's normal mode of communication and I about fell off my chair laughing. 
  • The other moment was when Tyler snatched a blue sheet of paper off my desk that was printed with the t-shirt design contest his old school was running. Design an Autism Awareness Month shirt. "Let me do that! I have the perfect one!" Max instantly objected to Tyler using HIS blue form, so Tyler took a blank sheet of paper and in about 60 seconds he'd sketched his own shirt design. The "shirt" was wildly inappropriate, of course. It contained a certain 4-letter word starting with F and a drawing of a hand with the middle finger pointing upward and the instructions that this be a blue shirt with white letters. You know, because...awareness. *facepalm* yes, but I was really impressed at the level of art talent in his sketch! 60 seconds and he'd done a perfect line-art drawing of a shirt and a hand/finger with legible text. He really DOES have artistic talent, but has no desire to utilize it. Sad.
No, I won't be posting a scan of his shirt design. It's very very inappropriate. But that brings me back to the point I'm trying to make with this post. This awareness month hoopla is rather painful for those of us who struggle with autism every day and particularly painful for my ASD teen. See, I think, like your average teen, he is struggling with self-identity right now. There is a particular autistic teen in his school that is, erm, highly noticeable? He loudly stims in the hallways and sometimes escapes from his aids and randomly shows up in other classrooms while wearing underwear on his head or some other unusual behavior. 

Tyler doesn't approve. He doesn't like making a spectacle out of himself (unless he feels he needs to take a stand, then he will loudly protest.) He doesn't want anyone to think that he and this boy have anything in common. He finds the "autistic" label embarrassing and maybe inaccurate. 7th and 8th grade is a really hard time under normal circumstances. Imagine you have something about you that makes you different when you don't want to BE different. He won't admit to that if you ask him directly. He will tell you different is good. Better to be different than one of the boring sheep that follow the herd. 

Ah that lovely teen attitude coupled with ADHD, ASD, sleep disorder, anxiety and depression. We are having fun. Not. We are wearing blue. Not. I take the few moments of levity and cherish them, because they are links in my mom armor that help me survive another day. 

Please consider lending your support to organizations that provide services and support directly to people with autism and their families. Like local charities that provide help, training, and job opportunities are very important. Flashy awareness campaigns and sales of things that are blue only benefit that big corporate entity, typically, and not any actual autistic people.

Monday, March 23, 2015

I'm not dead yet!

My 49th year isn't off to a great start. There have now been two times in my life where I felt close to death. The first time I spent a week in the hospital recovering from emergency surgery that finally confirmed just how damaged my reproductive organs really were. Before I got to the hospital, I was lying on the bathroom floor in the fetal position after vomiting my guts out from the pain. The husband stood over me, worried, and asking if he should call an ambulance. I stupidly said no and we drove to the hospital. Worst car ride of my life.

The second time I thought I was going to die was Thursday morning (3/19). I woke just after 5am to a tidal wave of dizziness and nausea. I barely made it to the bathroom. I spent the next two hours spewing evilness out of every orifice. I've heard the term "flop sweat" before and chuckled at the depictions of it in movies (water pouring down the face, etc.) until it happened to me. An hour into my misery, I broke out into a sweat the likes of which I'd never experienced before...pouring down my face, blinding me, filling my ears, nose draining, everything dripping off my chin into the waste basket I had clutched to my chest. Why was I holding my trash can? I had to sit on the toilet and there was no where else to be sick. My nightgown was drenched and clinging to me. I had sweat running down my back and legs and I was sliding around on my toilet seat trying desperately to stay upright. Thank goodness I'd opened the bathroom window a crack the night before because the cold winter air blowing in was the only thing keeping me from losing consciousness.

I was burning up and the blackness kept creeping in around the edges of my vision. I was sure that if I passed out, I was dead. The boys would find me slumped on the toilet...I'd die just like Elvis did. What a lasting memory THAT would be. So I fought to stay conscious. I'd lost all the strength in my legs and arms. It was all I could do to hang on to the trash can. I'd have long since called 911, if I could have managed to get to a phone. I'd gather myself now and then to yell HELP, but no one heard me. John and Max were still sleeping downstairs in the guest room (Max gave up his bedroom to his ailing grandmother and was keeping it open for her, but was too scared to sleep all the way downstairs by himself.) Tyler was asleep in his room, with his door closed. My bedroom door was closed. He might as well have been miles away. Grandma was in the hospital again...but even if she'd been home with us, she never would have heard me. She takes her hearing aid out to sleep.

I would bang on the wall now and then too. Praying someone would come. Finally, close to 7:30, the boys came upstairs to get ready for school. Max heard my weak cry for help. He took one look at me and turned almost as white as I must have been. He ran for his Dad and I got "What?! What's wrong?!" I don't think I've ever been happier to see him in my life. I was spent. He watched me heaving into the trash can and waiting for the nausea to subside then asked what I wanted him to do. Poor guy had to help me out of the drenched nightgown, clean me up and half carry me to bed. I wanted to lie down (he brought me a bowl, just in case) and see if I started to feel better. I was stupidly resisting that little voice that was screaming at me to go to the hospital.

It kept running through my head. What is making me so sick? Oh God, I'm going to die. Was it the left-over birthday pie? It was days old. Probably shouldn't have eaten it. Could food poisoning make me THIS sick? So so sick. Never been this sick before. Not even the last stomach virus just a few weeks ago, which was really bad, but...not THIS bad. omg. I almost wish I'd die because that would be better than feeling this way.

Then I fell asleep. When I woke a couple hours later, I was feeling a little better. I spent 2 days in bed and the only thing I ate was a bowl of chicken noodle soup. I drank lots of water trying to re-hydrate myself. Now it's days later and I am still recovering. I get dizzy easily. Everything I eat makes my stomach hurt and my digestion...ugh. But I didn't die.

I'm still here. And a little surprised that I am.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Where is the love?

I got a phone call from my parents on my birthday. They seemed fine and I thought all was right with the world again. The next day I got a card from them. That is their typical delivery method for birthday gifts, so I opened it with some vague hope of a check or gift card. (Theirs was the only card I got via actual snail mail.) It was empty. If you refer to my previous post, this was a message from my mother. You don't gift us in a way we expect? No gift for YOU!

Yeah, I know it's petty. Yes they are in their 70s or older. No, it wasn't totally unexpected. But it still hurt. A lot. By yesterday morning, I was a wreck. I sat down and wrote a letter to my mom. I haven't sat down to write an actual snail-mail letter in many years. I unburdened myself in a cathartic outpouring of emotion, tears and hurt. Then I set the letter aside. I wanted to just stuff it in an envelope and send it immediately but wisdom prevailed. Best to sit on these things for a day or two and revisit them in a more calm state.

My mom made it a point in a more recent phone call to let me know that I "forgot" to get her a birthday gift. It's all a matter of perspective. See, spending weeks trying to convince Tyler to get in a car for 6 hours to go visit his grandma for her birthday was a major undertaking. The whole family getting into a van and heading north at a cost of $70 per fill up (we needed 2), food on the road, sleeping in strange beds...then a pricey gift certificate to her favorite restaurant that, yes, was partly a Christmas gift too because we can't AFFORD more than that...it was all her gift. But she didn't see it that way. Nope. I forgot.

So...no gift for me. Bad daughter. BAD BAD daughter. *sigh*

I'm still on the fence about sending that letter.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How does she DO that?!

I got a call from my Mother last weekend. Apparently my taste in birthday cards sucks. She called my card to my Dad "offensive." Ouch. And my gift? They "didn't get it." I put a lot of time and thought into that gift too. Tried to find something truly unique and personal. Usually I just send food or books to my Dad. You can bet your sweet bippy that is what I'll be doing going forward. Or maybe it's time to just stop gifting? Can you be too old to appreciate birthdays and gifts?

I dunno. All I know is my mother really hurt my feelings with that phone call. She made me feel small, stupid and thoughtless. How does she DO that?! I am almost 50 years old, but after 20 minutes on the phone with her, I feel about 12.

I sent an apology note to my Dad. Tried to keep the snark to a minimum (anyone who knows me knows how hard THAT was.) I just wanted to convey my thought process in card and gift choices, how mom's call made me feel, the fact that I was still feeling hurt, and that I was sorry if I really did make him feel that badly (or it could all just be a typical Mom exaggeration.) Plus I told him I was proud of him and his years of service to our country.

That's something I never get from them...the sense that they are proud of me. I just get this constant barrage of disapproval and disappointment. I sure hope my boys don't ever feel that way. I'm going to check in with them and see.

I am VERY proud of my boys.