Thursday, April 10, 2014

Alone at last...

I only seem to write when I'm alone. Since that is almost never, these days, you'll understand the spotty nature of my blog posts.

Today, my alone time is courtesy of one child being at baseball practice with his dad and my normally housebound and antisocial child being out at a friend's house. Whaaaat?! YES! Tyler left the house, of his own free will. He has made a new friend at his new school and the boy happens to live right down the street. J came over here first and scoped out our place, then the boys left together. On...their...own. My eldest has left the house. He just walked out the front door without even saying bye.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Highly conflicted, that's for sure.

On the one hand, I am super proud of his independence, his ability to make a new friend so quickly, his desire to be social, and his fearlessness.

On the other hand, who IS this new kid? Do we know his parents? Should I have spoken with them first? Can I trust this kid (who also has some special needs) to be smart and safe with my boy?

[insert worried Mommy hand-wringing]

I am NOT a helicopter mom. I know Tyler has pretty good judgement and I trust him. Most of the time. He is not a follower and has a pretty well developed personal moral code. I want to show him that we trust his judgement and not be too restrictive.

I think, when he gets home, I'll point out how much trust it took to just let him walk out the front door. Just a gentle reminder that I care and was worried, but still let him go have fun.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt 2014

Yep! It was a good day. Mostly. Pre-teen hormones coupled with autism = highly unstable and volatile. Don't touch because he might explode! Heh heh. Just back away slowly. It's a land mine in there just waiting to go off.

On another note, as I sat here fiddling with the 129 photos I took today, I itched my chin and was chagrined to discover a long, bristle-like hair. I have 3 hairs on my chiny-chin-chin that I pluck out with tweezers. As I looked far too closely at my face in my magnifying mirror, I also noted a lot of white hairs in my otherwise brown eyebrows. I plucked those out too. Then I saw how much silver there was on my head.

It's a losing battle. I know this. I started getting silver hairs when I was in high school. I can't recall if I ever told this story, but round about junior year, I spotted my first white hair in my rear view mirror in my car as I sat waiting for a friend. I plucked it out and examined it, figuring it was a fluke. It was a really long hair, so I decided to keep it for posterity. High school stress was making my hair turn white, hardy-har-har. I tied it to my rear view mirror to remind myself to chill out.

My friend Kathleen hopped in the car for the ride home, spotted the hair on my mirror almost immediately, snatched it and let it fly out the car window before I could utter my first syllable of objection. A true *facepalm* moment. Once I explained what it was, she felt really badly for tossing it out. Ah well. I had a feeling that hair was just the first of many. And oh boy was I right.

What's going on?

It's been a hectic couple of weeks. John went out of town to a conference in Dallas for a week - the same week Tyler started at his new school (he did GREAT, by the way.) That left one stressed out Mommy to handle all the logistics on her own. By the end of the week, I was fried. Ex-haus-TED. So, naturally, I got sick. I could feel the sore throat starting Thursday night. By Saturday, I was an achy, snotty, froggy-throated mess. So, naturally, I just went to bed and stayed put. Thank goodness hubby was home by then. He brought me soup. (He's a lovely man, my hubby.)

Sadly, I got my poor hubby sick. He spent 4 days in misery, just like I did. We muddled through the week and by Thursday, the boys were re-wearing socks. Ha. The laundry somehow falls through the cracks when the Mommy and Daddy are sick and tired. (I wonder at what age we should teach Tyler how to run the washer. Hmm. ;)

So here we are...Saturday morning at 6am. What?! I know, right? Anyone who knows me, knows this is a very strange thing. I am NOT a morning person.

Tyler was sleep walking again. He burst into the bedroom sometime just after 3am babbling about something being censored and acting very frantic. No clue. Hubby guided him back and tucked him in. I have a feeling hubby forgot to give Ty one of his sleep meds last night. Heh. I'll ask him once he wakes up. Hubby went back to bed sometime around 5am and I am still sitting here. It's hard to wind down after being startled awake like that in the wee hours.

Did I mention poor Max? He had baseball practice again last night. They had it in the gym at his school. I supposed because it's been raining for 2 days and the fields are a wreck. But they decided, for some nutty reason, to play dodge ball. Max and I had just talking about dodge ball a few days earlier. He wanted to know what my favorite and least favorite parts of gym class were. Dodge ball was a least favorite, for me. He had never played and was curious how it worked, so I shared some anecdotes. His eyes got very big and he told me he didn't think he'd like the game very much. Last night, he found out the hard way that, no, he really doesn't like the game very much. He got hit in the eye with a ball. Hard. This is after being kicked in the head in gym the previous day and hit in the head with a bathroom door at baseball practice earlier in the week. 3 hits to the head in one week.

It's never dull in this house, that's for sure. Today is the town Easter egg hunt. I will hope for some sunshine and enough energy to take some nice photos. I photograph the hunt every year and would hate to miss it! I haven't had many chances to take pictures all winter long and am eager to get snapping.


Uh oh. Maybe I'll try to squeeze a nap in first. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Consumer Cellular is made of Awesome!

I am so confused and elated.

So, the hubby agreed I needed a new phone to update my 10ish year old flip. My birthday was the event that sealed the deal. I did my homework and found a phone and plan that didn't break the bank (go Consumer Cellular! The old folks plan! AARP Discount FTW!) The website was a breeze to sign up. Super clear and easy to follow. Then they asked for my AT&T Wireless account number.

As far as I knew, that is my cell #. Right? I log on to the AT&T website, and then on to the Wireless site, then the Go Phone site and look up my account. First pain in the ass.

No sign of "account number" and just my cell #. Second pain in the ass.

OK, so I put that into the Consumer sign-up page. They send out my new Moto G (great discounted price!) and give me a tentative activation date of 3/20. Then I get the call from Consumer. They need my "account number" to transfer my old phone #. It's not my cell #. *sigh* 3rd pain in the ass. Not Consumer's fault.

So John calls AT&T Wireless because, apparently, they HIDE the account number on PURPOSE so you HAVE TO CALL THEM. 4th pain.

He gets the full court press to not switch. 5th pain. Including an offer to use our banked minutes to pay for our new plan. Oh? Plus they are able to match Consumer's pricing pretty closely. *double sigh* I already have my Moto G in hand. A&T asks, is it locked? John fiddles.

Yup. 6th pain. Locked phone. Pretty standard. He gets his options. We can send the new phone BACK to Consumer, cancel with them, buy the same phone, unlocked, from Amazon (for $50+ more) and go with AT&T and use our banked minutes to pay the bills. More than enough to pay for, like, a year of service. We can't refuse that offer. So John calls Consumer Cellular back to cancel with them and arrange to return the phone.

But wait...what's this? The super nice customer support guy GIVES JOHN THE UNLOCK CODE so I can keep my new phone and use it on ANOTHER SERVICE. What? WHAT?? John is now at an AT&T Wireless store to get a new sim card for my new phone so we can finally activate it with my old account info.

Stay tuned. That may be the 7th pain in the ass. But honestly, how awesome is Consumer? I am still scraping my chin up off the floor. I tell you what...when my AT&T minutes run out, I am going back to Consumer in a heartbeat. I was a customer for about 4 days but I love those guys. :D

Edit: *facepalm* Yep. I jinxed myself. The AT&T Wireless store was unable to unlock the phone. Something to do with it never being activated on any network and the Motorola database taking days to update and recognize activated phones. They did try to activate it with a random available phone number, then deactivate, then unlock and transfer...every permutation they could think of. SO...the phone is going back to Consumer and we got the same phone, unlocked, off Amazon, at a higher price. *le sigh*  It would have been awesome if it had worked out.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Life on the Autism Spectrum

The more we read and discover about autism, the more I find myself saying, "But...I was just like that as a kid too. Still am." John often tells our son, "You are just like your Mother!" So, I started to wonder. By today's standards, would *I* fall on the spectrum?

As a kid, I had a hard time making and maintaining friendships. I usually only had one friend at a time. Friends were complicated and I seemed to hurt their feelings. A lot. I found the best kind of friends were girls who were passive and quiet. They were perfectly content to let me call the shots and dictate our play. I was highly imaginative and created elaborate scenarios for us to act out. I did LARP and CosPlay way before I even knew what the heck that was. *grin*  But honestly, I would much rather spend my time just quietly reading a book in my room. People were hard. Being outside was hard.

I know my mother struggled to understand me. Brushing my teeth was a nightly battle. I hated it! I hated taking baths or showers. I could go days without even brushing my hair. I just didn't think about hygiene. It wasn't a priority. I HATED having my hair washed. My poor mother actually broke my front teeth on the edge of our steel kitchen sink trying to force my head under the water to rinse out the shampoo.

I wanted to spend time in my own little world. A world that I could control and function as I pleased. Being pushed out into the real world...going to school was hard. I never voluntarily raised my hand. I didn't talk. I kept to myself, head down, and just tried to survive each day. Yes, it made me a favorite target of the school bullies. I was weird! I stood out. Anything different must be crushed...that's how it felt to me. I was being crushed. Daily.

I wasn't a happy child. I coped as best I could and did manage to get good grades and survived all the way to college. I had a best friend who was just as damaged and different as I was. Sadly, she didn't survive.

Now I am the parent. In the beginning I tried to do all the things a regular parent is supposed to do. I brought my boy to playgroups, playgrounds and enrichment classes. He was indifferent, but never outright objected to it. He was ok with pre-school. He was managing in early elementary school. He didn't have very many friends and was "quirky" but he was getting by. I didn't push the hygiene thing. I left the tooth care to his daddy (and it was a major struggle).

He didn't seem as sensitive as I was. Not as emotionally fragile. I had hope that he would coast through school like I did and would ignore the "regular" kids. Not let their teasing and cutting remarks get to him, like I did.

My boy was fine. A little different, like me, but fine. Until he wasn't. He had learned to cope up to a point and then middle school hit. Every class was a change. So many decisions, things to keep track of, different schedules every day, so many teachers with different personalities, wants, and ways of working. He broke. School broke my baby.

A quote from the new DSM-5 makes so much sense -  The onset of the symptoms is in the early developmental period (but deficits may not become fully manifest until social communication demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life).

I barely made it...pray that we can help my little man make it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Play Date

Max has a play-date scheduled for today, so imagine my surprise when he comes running into the kitchen not long after school let out. "What are you doing here?! Did you walk home???" I worried that his friend's mom had forgotten to take both boys home with her. Ha! But no. She drove him here because he insisted he needed a drink and his home had what he really wanted. He helps himself to 3 squeeze bottles of flavored sugar water (you know...the junky crap that has no real juice in it) and runs back out the front door to share with his friend Sean and little brother Jake.

I am so so sorry, Jen. Three boys on a sugar high for the whole afternoon... yikes. I have to say, those drinks were something Max picked on his last trip to the market with his Dad. He knows Mom insists on 100% juice, or water. But, even on a sugar high, I expect Max won't cause any damage.

I hope.

Well... Maybe a few footprints on the furniture.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Doctor Who - The Movie

The doctor saves the new millennium? Yes, it had a very low rating...but I can't resist watching anything in the Doctor's chronicles.  Yes, there are many inconsistencies in the current accepted history of our Doctor. Half human?? The "Eye" is the heart of the TARDIS? Yeah, some of the plot points were sketchy, at best. But I loved Paul McGann's portrayal of the Doctor. Actually, his was the best performance in the whole movie. Doctor Grace whatshername was very soapy. She was not believable as a cardiologist in the slightest. She didn't have the proper...what's the word...gravitas? Yes. The Asian teen character was pretty good but don't get me started on Eric Roberts as The Master! Cheese-y! Sorry Eric. Over all, it was entertaining. I rather liked the Gothic revival TARDIS interior. LOL It's a shame Paul never got his own shot as a series regular, but I'm glad someone had the passion for Doctor Who to take a stab at reviving the old franchise. Just look at it now!

Monday, February 03, 2014

Ender's Game

Just watched Ender's Game. The book series was such a big part of my formative years. I hate that Orson Scott Card's politics and beliefs have cast a pall over what could have been something truly epic. I boycotted the film release in the theaters but a thoughtful editorial made me rethink not ever seeing the film. I really want to share the books with Tyler. I guess I'll have to think about the discussion...does a writer or artist's personal/controversial view points have to affect how we view their work? Can something be enjoyed simply "as is" as long as there is nothing IN the work that reflects those negative view points?

Perhaps a discussion on the flaws in people, first. I don't want to make excuses for the guy. And I am certainly not one to reward bad behavior, bigotry, or hate speech. But the books...oh the books are so so good. It's a crime. It's a tragedy. 

I can't look at the works of Vincent van Gogh now without thinking about his tragic life and mental illness. It "colors" my appreciation of his art a bit. I see it with new eyes. I still remember how I reacted when I first saw Starry Night back in high school. I didn't know anything about the artist back then. It was a purely visceral and teenage critical opinion with absolutely no preconceived notions. Thinking about it now makes me chuckle.

Yeah. No preconceived notions. I think that is the way to play it. Appreciate the work purely for what it is and forming his own thoughts and opinions. Right now he won't really care a fig about the writer. He's not at that level of emotional maturity yet. Heck, I didn't start wondering about the people who wrote the books I loved until I was in my 20s. LOL

Saturday, January 18, 2014

It's been one of THOSE days...

I got my feeling hurt today. A group of people that I thought were friends...but it becomes plainly obvious that while I like them a great deal, they don't really give me a second thought. Yeah. Ouch. The husband was no help. I try to share feelings with him and he gets impatient and tells me a) you don't see them very much anymore so...out of sight = out of mind. and b) unfriend them all off FaceBook.  I know he is probably right about a) and b) is just plain childish. They probably don't even know they hurt my feelings. By not posting this on FaceBook, I am showing that this is NOT just my way of trying to get attention. No one reads my blog anymore. It's like it was back in the early days of AOL Journals. A true journal again. My private little place to share thoughts and feelings here on my corner of the internet. My very lonely corner of the internet.


I do miss having a bunch of readers tho. Supportive comments really do help a person feel better. Sometimes it sucks being a disabled introvert. It's very isolating. Yes, it takes a lot of energy to be social, but that doesn't mean I NEVER want to be with people. I like people. I like a lot of people. I miss people.

Don't mind me. Hurt feelings and a lot of tears today.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Play Date

Tyler had a friend over today. It's always fun watching him interact with friends. It's a pretty rare thing, so I always pay close attention. I try to remind Ty to be nice, do what his friend wants to do as a priority, and to be hospitable. After a couple hours of play, I figured the boys must be getting hungry or thirsty. I dropped a few hints, but Tyler doesn't work that way. Finally I asked if anyone was thirsty. Aiden responded with, "Sure, what do you have to drink?" I was floored when Tyler proceeded to name every beverage we have in the house. Funny...the rest of the time when he asks for a drink he doesn't seem to have ANY IDEA what we have. *snort*

Aiden decided on a cherry Coke. Max gamely went to fetch one from the basement. Chuckling to myself, I reminded Tyler that not everyone is "weird" like us drinking room temp cans of soda and maybe Aiden would like a nice cup of ice...?  Aiden grinned at me and said, "Oh, everyone is weird to some extent. I like my soda this way too. Plus it feels pretty cold!"  I like that kid.

I had to laugh again when, at one point, the boys seemed to run out of things to do and Tyler suggested that Aiden go home so they could play on Xbox together. *facepalm*  But I guess it's nice that virtual Aiden is just as much fun as the real deal.

I'm just glad he got a drink and a snack. As the Mom, I feel my play date duties have been fulfilled if the visiting child/children have fun, have a drink, and at least one healthy snack. In this case, Max's sack of pistachios came in handy. He and Aiden demolished them!

Play date success!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Snow Day

We finally had another snow storm. We had a good one back in October but then it was just minor dustings since then. Not enough to make a decent snowman or go sledding. But last night we received a few inches! Now I'm glad I invested in the new snow gear for the boys. I thought I'd jinxed them for the whole season by being prepared.

I got Max bundled up with a minimal amount of grumbling. He has a long sleeve shirt, a sweat shirt, regular pants, ski-bib snow pants, a parka, 2 pairs of socks, snow boots, ear warmers and a Ninja Turtle hat on. Oh, and gloves. The main fight was over him wanting to still wear his Superman tee. I don't understand what these boys have against long sleeve shirts! Tyler had on a summer weight tee and a hoodie, sneakers with no socks and said he was ready. It's 18 degrees out with a wind chill of -5. Not ready.

After much argument, Tyler put on 2 pair of socks, his sneakers (he won't get boots), 2 tee shirts, regular pants, his snow bib ski pants, and last year's winter coat. I didn't see if he put gloves on. I did get him fingerless gloves for Christmas. He hates the way it feels when his fingers are covered. I'm pretty sure he will hate how COLD his fingers get even more. But he has to learn these things for himself. No one can TELL him anything. (Gee, that sounds uncomfortably familiar...) I am pretty sure he is hatless as well. Neither boy will wear a scarf. They both have balaclavas I bought last Christmas. Bet they forgot all about them.

As they were leaving, Max did a little scene from A Christmas Story. He fell on the floor and yelled "I can't get up!!!" What a ham. I hope they have fun sledding behind the high school.

As a side note, I bought Tyler those new snow pants this year. The only color in his size was brown. I knew he wouldn't really care what color they were, but brown snow pants reminded me of ME at his age. I had this orange, avocado green, brown and white color-block style winter coat with brown snow pants. Ugly as all heck. But I bet that coat was highly visible in the snow. Ha! Very 1970s.  I won't tell Tyler I had almost the same ski pants as his when I was his age. He won't appreciate that. :)

I remember my grandma made me a hat to match. Orange, green and brown stripes with a MASSIVE pom pom on top. Hideous. Matching mittens too. The woman could knit up a storm, but between my mother and her - I was a fashion nightmare. :)  I'll have to dig through my Mom's photos and see if she has any pics of me in the snow back then. I'm pretty sure she does.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The one where Tyler gets a phone...

First off...Happy New Year!

I am having a Mommy moment. Not sure how I feel. John took Tyler to Best Buy today and got him his first cell phone. It's an inexpensive Tracfone with, like, 20 minutes to start. (I think John wants to see how he budgets his time.) My little boy has his own phone number. *sniff*

The discussion started innocently enough. He went over to a friend's house and the friend's Mom only uses a cell phone. There is no land line there. Tyler felt awkward asking the Mom to use her cell to call home and talk to us. So, when Tyler went over there again, I loaned him my phone in case he needed to call us. It's a very old phone. And pink. And sparkly. Tyler said he'd rather just try to Skype us on his iPod, but their wifi is kinda flaky at times. There were a couple friends over there, last night, for New Year's Eve. All the other boys had their own phone.

They are 12.

I am still trying to wrap my head around it. I didn't get my own phone until I was a teen. Even then, it was a gift from a friend and I just plugged it into the jack in my bedroom. So it was the house line...not my own phone number. Still, I vividly recall the sense of independence it gave me. I could call a friend and talk in the privacy of my OWN room and not have to stand in the kitchen anymore. It was a big deal!

Tyler, on the other hand, seems very nonchalant about having his own phone. Yeah, it's not a smart phone. But anyone can call him and he can call anyone. Yes, he could do that before with our house phone. Are we the only ones left in America with an actual land line? lol

I don't know. Maybe this isn't that big of a deal. But it FEELS huge to me.  How long before he is texting almost non-stop. I wonder...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Cards

I did it! All the cards are addressed and in envelopes. I just have to slap on return address labels and lick them closed. Oh, and put on stamps. I found out the hard way one year that the Post Office doesn't like it when you try to mail 50+ cards without postage.

I just want everyone to know that even if this is the only thing you get from us all year long, it's an envelope full of love and hugs. Anyone who knows me well knows I am TERRIBLE about social niceties like birthday cards or thank you notes. I just don't think about it, forget or remember when it's way too late. The last time I sent thank you notes was, I think, right after we got back from our honeymoon. You know, wedding gifts? I had neat little thank you cards printed up. Oh! I think I sent notes to people who sent me baby gifts too. I think. If I didn't...thank you! Aww, you guys know I appreciate you...right?

I know I've set a terrible example for my boys. My mom made me write thank you notes for every gift I ever got when I was living at home. I think that was the only time I wished fewer people loved me. *grin* Hand cramp!

But seriously, this is the one time of year I spend a couple days focused on family and friends. The process starts with me updating my address file. This year I cried as I deleted a couple more names. We lost some family and friends this year. I put extra love and hugs into the envelopes going to friends who lost parents or are going through a divorce. This time of year is going to be hard for them. We love you guys!

Then I try and catch John to see if he has any changes or updates. Like his new boss (who I still need an address for)... He's been sending cards to the same group of friends for as long as I've known him. Well...I send the cards for both of us. Which leads to another thing I think about. If something ever happened to me, would he send cards? I am thinking he would miss a couple years then start to feel guilty if any of our friends continued to send him cards anyway. ;)

Then I wonder what other people's rule of thumb is. We've only received, like, 3 cards so far this year. I didn't send any last year. If someone misses a year, do you drop them from your list for the following year? I keep sending until the post office returns a card (mail forwarding expired?) or I know something happened to the recipient or John says I don't work for/with that guy anymore. But that's just me. Once a year. We're still here. We love you. Hello? Hee hee!

Finally, it's time to take one last flip through and see if I missed anyone. If you'd like a card and I missed you this year, be sure to let me know! Seriously. I don't trust my brain. Meanwhile, I have my headphones on and am enjoying the Christmas Classics channel on Pandora Radio. Tyler yells at me when ever I forget and start singing out loud. Oops. Sorry son.

Happy Holidays Y'all!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Our Elf and other Christmas Nonsense

Every year it seems like something falls through the cracks. Last year, I had to 86 the Christmas cards. I simply ran out of time and the boys would NOT cooperate and take a photo together. Not the first time. A few years ago I resorted to this:

If they won't dress up and pose, I can paper elf them! Muhahaha! But seriously... This year I have a gorgeous new family portrait to use, so I am super happy with our card and eager to send it out. Last year I got the boys Lego advent calendars when they were on sale in November. It was also our first year hosting an Elf on the Shelf. She kept me hopping! This year? The elf came out right on time, but I forgot the advent calendars. By the time I remembered, the Lego ones were over $60. No way. I crossed my fingers and hoped the boys wouldn't notice. I also forgot to get some Hanukkah gifts and chocolate coins for Max's celebration - so I dug into the stocking stuffers and we used left-over Halloween candy to play our dreidel games until my Amazon order came in. He was happy. He also noticed the absence of his annual advent calendar. Rats!

Another quick visit to Amazon and I finally settled on these cute and inexpensive advent calendars from a Vermont chocolate company. A chocolate a day? Hey, I'd be thrilled. I gave them to the boys tonight. They have 11 days worth of chocolate to eat in order to catch up. Tyler was thrilled. Max? Not so much. He really REALLY likes the Lego calendar. This is why they can charge $60 for 24 days worth of minifigs and blocks. Note to self: Next year, order the Lego calendar really early. Maybe start looking around Halloween.

Back to the elf. I've only forgotten to move her once. So far, so good! Last night she left the boys this:

It was perfect. Tonight, she plans to make one of those rainbow loom rubber band bracelets for Max on his loom and she is adding jingle bells. Too bad we don't have any more red or green bands. There is one of those pesky cracks again. I also can't find the cornstarch. Snowflake the elf wanted to make indoor snow angels tomorrow night. Hopefully I can track down the cornstarch and the cutting board by then.

Last year Snowflake got the boys a kit to make a gingerbread Christmas tree. Turns out you really need beaters or a food processor to mix the icing. It was a tasty tasty mess. But Max still had fun putting it together and decorating. This year I think Snow is going to bake a Christmas tree braided cinnamon roll and leave some colored icing to decorate it. I have a list of ingredients. Just need to get to the grocery store. I also want to make and decorate sugar cookies. Maybe cupcakes too. Too ambitious?

So...what else have I forgotten? I think my Christmas shopping is done. I think.

Uh oh. I just remembered. I never ordered new Christmas PJs for the boys. They always get new jammies for Christmas eve. *sigh* Back to Amazon...

Friday, December 06, 2013

That's one for the books...

I haven't related a tale from my misspent youth in quite some time. Basically, every time I think of something funny or interesting, I find that I already talked about it here. Did I really run out of stories? Then my friend Emily posted a funny anecdote on FaceBook about a recent visit to the doctor and his comment that he'd never seen "one so big" in his entire career. She had a cold sore. It must have been very very large. ;)  It reminded me of an amusing incident from when I was 12 or so.

As I've related a few times in the past, I was an outdoorsy child. Not by choice, mind you. My mother would chase us kids out of the house and tell us not to return until the street lights started coming on. So I spent a lot of time sunning myself while reading. I also spent many many happy days avoiding the summer heat at the pool on the local air base. Back then, most Moms didn't worry about sun exposure. If we started to get red, they'd make us sit in the shade. As a result, I'd be dark brown by the time summer vacation ended. Nicely toasted. As winter arrived, that summer tan would fade and I'd have a nice new crop of freckles on my arms, legs and back to admire.

One year, the tan had faded everywhere but my left shoulder. I still had a large patch of dark skin there covering my shoulder blade and up over the top of my shoulder. I was 11ish. The next summer, the dark patch vanished as the rest of me turned the same shade of dark brown. But once again, by winter, the tan was gone everywhere but that large patch on my shoulder. This time, the area was covered with dark hair. I was a hairy child anyway...a fine peach fuzz of light brown. But my shoulder looked like it could use a shave. For a young girl headed into puberty, this was NOT acceptable.

My mom pointed it out to our pediatrician. He poked at my skin, scratched his chin and decided to send us to a specialist - a dermatologist at Children's Hospital in Boston. This was not our first visit there. I already told the story of my spinal curvature, I think. Now my mom was nervous. I started hearing whispers of "cancer" and other horrible possibilities. My vast and active imagination went into overdrive. Could that persistent tan KILL me?!

The dermatologist was very nice. He had a big magnifying glass with lights built in. He studied my skin carefully. He took a scraping (OUCH!) for biopsy. He consulted a couple books. Then he asked if he could bring in some colleagues. I was feeling particularly vulnerable in my backless hospital gown, but sure. The more the merrier, right? First it was 2. Then it was 4. Soon it was 6 or 8 people poking, squeezing, pulling and staring at my shoulder and conferring in varied whispered tones.

The doctor finally approached me and said, "This is extraordinary. We've never seen a some scientific term I no longer remember this large before! May I take some photographs? I want to submit your case to some medical publication I no longer remember and possibly get it published in some medical text book I no longer remember too!"  He seemed very excited. I nodded numbly and he took a bunch of photos of my back from various angles. I still had no idea what was going on. Was I going to die? Hello?

Finally, the doctor explain things in simple terms. It was a giant mole. "See how the darker skin is slightly raised? That is also why the hair there is darker. Moles often have more and darker hair." Ah. Still wasn't feeling better. I already felt like a freak of nature. This was just confirming things. He went on to stress that I use sun screen and avoid too much sun exposure. There was a higher risk of melanoma. I remember THAT word. He gave us a bottle of something that might possibly fade the skin discoloration a bit and make the "mole" less noticeable.

I did use the skin bleach stuff a few times, but it was hard to apply myself and there was NO way I was asking my Mom for help. Hello awkwardness and body shyness. Puberty is so so much fun.

The next summer, I hardly ever took off my swimsuit cover-up. I wanted a suit with wide straps. I spent most of my teens hiding my shoulder. It wasn't until I was a senior  in high school that I got a strapless prom dress. Even then, I had a cardigan.

To this day, if I get too much sun, my shoulder darkens. So I wear a swim shirt now. You won't find me in tank tops either.  And I never did find out if my back was featured in any medical publications. Any dermatology students out there? You might have seen me.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Happy Hanukkah!

Max decided again this year that he wanted to celebrate Hanukkah. I've always found researching and studying other faiths extremely interesting, so I've not had a problem with that. I love that my little boy is open minded and curious. He embraces everything and everyone and you'll never find me discouraging that. I posted this photo on Facebook a few days ago on the first night:

A Jewish friend left a funny comment about being unaware that Max had converted. I jokingly reminded him that Max had "converted" last year (the first time we celebrated Hanukkah.)  We were promptly accepted and welcomed by said friend as "members of the tribe." I love my friends. *grin*

My parents aren't on Facebook, but I have other relatives who are. My aunt showed my Mom the above photo and accompanying comments with a "You never told me Max converted!" My Mom, of course, was dumbfounded. I'm willing to bet my Aunt was joking and told Mom "Your Daughter doesn't tell you anything, does she." But my mother has no sense of humor, so she took this information literally and promptly called me to remind me she was there for Max's baptism and is his god mother...yadda yadda.  Oy gavalt. (See what I did there? hee hee)

I had to reassure her that Max didn't REALLY convert. Honestly. He is seven. When he is more mature, if he really wants to convert, I won't have a problem with that either. She'd have a cow if she heard me say that. Such a yenta, my mother. Also a bit meshuggina but that's common in my mishpocha.

Being me, of course, I can't let this extremely amusing misunderstanding go. Max will be wearing his yarmulke when we go visit at the end of the month and I'll coach him to start calling his Nana "Bubbe" instead. Maybe I can talk my mensch of a husband into taking a video. It should be SUPER funny.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day of the Doctor

I found myself torn on Saturday. Do I watch the global simulcast of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special...or do I wait until Monday when I can see it in IMAX 3D at the cinema? It was a nail biter.

I decided to watch it on Saturday (twice) AND last night. I still cried four times on Saturday and twice in the theater last night. It...was...EPIC!  This is only the third or fourth 3D movie I've ever seen in my life. The first one was with those silly cardboard 3D glasses with one side red and the other side blue. The third was with my boys and it had those slick black ones that look like real sunglasses. Last night was of the slick variety (and yes, I did get a little dizzy in spots and had to close my eyes.)

The one thing I really wanted to see was a Dalek eye-stalk popping out of the screen at me. And I got it! Plus explody bits that made me duck! Some of the best parts were the special sequences made just for the movie theater audience. The Centauran lecturing us on movie theater etiquette was fantastic. I'll never look at popcorn the same way again. Then the intro by David Tennant and Matt Smith was hilarious. In 12D! What? Only 3D? Well, that's disappointing. Hee hee! Really excellent job of turning a 1 hour television special into a 2 hour movie theater experience. I hope they release the theater version on DVD with all those extras on it.

Lastly, it was just a joy to be in a theater full of people who shared my love of the Doctor. They got it. I came home on a warm and fuzzy cloud and wasn't able to sleep. At all. It was a school night and John is in the city today. He left at some ungodly hour this morning so I was in charge of getting Max to school. My alarm went off just as I was finally nodding off. No sleep for me!

I drag myself out of bed, get dressed, find clothes for the boy, contemplate lunch options and then go to get him up...and he doesn't want to get up. He has a sore throat and is sniffling. After some minor drama, I call him out sick and we both crawl back into bed. Mine. I wish I could say he fell promptly back to sleep. Nope. He tossed and wiggled, chatted a bit, coughed at me, sniffled a lot then finally said he wanted to get up.

I tried to snooze for a bit but my mind went back to the theater last night and I finally just started typing. I'll get some sleep eventually. I hope. It's going to be a very long day.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

*gasp* She's a NERD?!

OK, this probably won't come as a very big surprise to most of you, but yes. I am coming out. I am a nerd. A total geek-girl. What am I nerding out over now? The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who and the fact that I have a ticket to see the premier special event in IMAX 3D! *squee*  I am going alone, incidentally. I am the only one in the house that is a fan of Doctor Who. The rest of the sanctimonious miscreants I live with just look at me with various levels of puzzlement, mocking and outright scorn. :P

They don't know what they are missing.

But on to my real problem. The last time I got to seriously nerd out was the midnight release party of the 6th Harry Potter book. Yes, I did dress up a bit. I am itching to cosplay for Doctor Who too! I want to dress up as River Song (aka Melody Pond.) I have the perfect outfit in mind. Yes, River will look like she's packed on some pounds, but I could pull it off, I think. I just need a wig.

A little crazy. Buying a wig so I can look like a curly haired strawberry blonde for a night. But if it looks good, maybe I'll just adopt River's look permanently. I could have curly hair, if I wanted to. Yet, I continue to hesitate. I've found 2 wigs that look fab...with the price tag to match. The $170 one is certainly a no. I can't spend that much. The $86 one is giving me pause too. *nibbles cuticles*

I...just...can't...commit. It's too much. Isn't it?


I need a source for cheap wigs!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Mommy Moment

Max and I took some extra time after school today to go play on the playground. I stood with my mom friends and chatted while our boys had a ball playing on the climbers and slides. It makes me happy to watch Max cheerfully interacting with his friends.

Then I started thinking about our recent struggles with Tyler. I found myself thinking back to when Tyler was this age. I'd bring him to the playground to spend time with kids too. But unlike Max, who can charm his way into any group, Tyler often had/has problems relating to other kids.  Instead of giggles and fun, I'd observe this:

Waiting to be noticed.

Playing on his own NEAR kids.
I found myself welling up with tears. I had sunglasses on, so I don't think my friends noticed. I wanted to tell them how much I appreciate their friendship and how great their kids are, but then I would have totally lost it. Max treasures his friends. So do I. It's a small miracle that I witness every single day that most parents probably take for granted.

Say a little prayer for us as we wrangle with ongoing issues at school. They want to take our beloved square-peg eldest boy and ram him into one of their perfectly organized round holes. We know it's not going to work but we have to show them that they can deal with all kinds of pegs, with a little effort and flexibility. It's not about shaving off his corners and making him fit! It's about tossing out the stiff old mold and replacing it with something soft and pliable (like play doh) so that pegs of all shapes will work. Flexibility, people!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


I chose not to focus on all the negative things that happened yesterday (drama at school with Tyler) or the government shut-down...instead, I'll think about another bright spot.

In the supermarket with Max, we took a detour through produce to select fruit and veggie trays for his at-school birthday celebration on Thursday. Max stopped in the apple isle and had me read each sign. He wanted to know the names of all the apple varieties. So many varieties this month! He found the "pink ladies" particularly amusing. Then he pounced on a yellow packet at the end of the isle. Caramel wraps for making caramel apples. Yum! I agreed to buy them. We need something to make with all the apples I want to pick this weekend.

I am not a baker. My mother used to make decent pies and apple crisp, but I won't attempt it. Especially now. What if it turns out amazing? I can't eat pie. LOL Shortly after discovering the caramel wraps, Max discovered ready-made candied apples dipped in coconut shavings. He wanted to buy those too. They looked so pretty... No. We were making our own. Who wants store made ones? I did grab a bag of natural coconut shavings so Max can decorate his apples. I'm still surprised he wanted it. I don't think he has ever tasted anything with coconut, but it sure does look pretty.

Hopefully my next entry will have beautiful photos of our apple picking adventure. I haven't been to a farm in a few years. All the walking was too daunting a prospect. I'm nervous, but the desire to take photos of a fun family outing is trumping my doubts.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Marble

I love this time of day - waking up in a semi-daze in the late morning knowing the boys are at school and there is nothing urgent to do and nowhere to go. I lay in bed and let my mind drift. Most of the time I rehash things that are troubling me. Stress often takes over and I can't stay in a restful state for long, but every now and then my addled brain takes a detour down memory lane and I meander through well-worn territory.

Today my mind took me back to my grandmother's old Victorian in Hudson, NY. I've blogged about memories of her home before. Today I remembered a few things I don't think I've consciously thought about in decades. For one thing, her basement. I was too frightened to go into the basement, let me say first. So all my knowledge of the space is second hand. I remember my father telling me it had a very low ceiling and you had to stoop to walk around. The floor was packed earth and it always smelled like walking into an open grave. Yes. Creepy! It was very dark down there...the only light a bare bulb or two. I recall a coal chute opening outside the house and a double storm-cellar-door type opening in the rear of the house. I remember looking down the staircase that curved around a tight corner headed down into the dark from the kitchen. The unfinished walls in the stairway had open wood beams backed by raw plaster that had been converted into make-shift shelves. Jars, boxes, bulbs, tools...all sorts of odds and ends lined the staircase headed down into the gloom.

Why think about a space I was too frightened to enter? Well...I found myself thinking about the foundation of the house. Stacked stones with mortar added in decades later to try and block out wildlife and moisture. Great wood beams added to try and shore up what was slowly crumbling away. The house was leaning, you see. It was not really noticeable on the first floor, but on the second and third floors? Oh boy!

That thought about the sloping floor is what brought to mind the marble.

There was a whole bag of marbles in the beginning. They must have belonged to my Dad or his brother. Some were chipped and scratched, so they had obviously been well played with. They were beautiful! No one makes marbles like those anymore. You hear people talk about "cat's eye" marbles. There was one in the bag that was the actual semi-precious stone cat's eye. It was glossy with glowing layers of browns and golds. But that wasn't my favorite. Mine was a pale blue orb that seemed to glow with it's own light. It was completely crystal clear and fairly large.

My brother and I would have marble races in my aunt's old bedroom (the room we usually stayed in when visiting because of the two twin beds and day bed occupying the space.) We would set a couple marbles down by the door and watch them quickly roll away toward the front of the house. See? Sloped. It made us giggle! Kids making their own fun. What could be better?

I never used the pale blue marble for these races. I didn't want it to get scratched. That marble was the focus of a lot of daydreams. It became my crystal ball. I would stare into it and imagine it had magical properties. I could see the future! There were stories that ran through my did this magic crystal orb end up in a child's bag of marbles? I could sit here and write all day!

But let's skip ahead. My brother and I would often ask my grandmother if we could keep various things we'd found over the years. Sometimes she would say yes. Often she said no. I came away with a collection of old 45s that had belonged to my aunt, some books...however, she always said no when we asked if we could keep the marbles. I have no idea why.

So one visit, I pocketed the pale blue marble and took it home. I had to do it! It TOLD me to do it!

I know. It was a very naughty thing to do. I had that marble for years and years. I often kept it in my purse. Eventually it ended up in a keepsake box. I know I still have it. Somewhere.

So yes. I've been lying in bed thinking about a marble. My first crystal ball. I hope I find it one of these days.