A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Secret of Pizza and Reptiles

Our weekend was filled with making homemade pizzas, and attending a reptile show. There are important things I should share about these things.

I've been a ball of stress all weekend and I don't know why. Delayed reaction to Chuck's death? PMS. General stress over life with four kids and a tight budget? I don't know. But despite the fun of the pizza making it was peppered with STOP IT! DON'T DO THAT! Don't EAT THAT! Don't do that! Stop eating so many pepperoni.
Maybe it's lack of sleep. Maybe it's being 45. But they managed to have a fun time making what turned out to be really tasty pizza despite me. I also messed up the pizza dough, possibly because of the small print on the package (I was supposed to prebake them) or possible because I had a herd of tiny humans jabbering and making excited noise while I was throwing it together. I'm not sure which. Possibly both.

The point being, they are having fun despite me and I wasn't a cool fun mom last night. I was stressed out and annoying.
Today was a fools errand, as I am completely terrified of snakes. Did I mention I am completely terrified of snakes? What did the guy taking money have wrapped around his arm? Snake.
Lizards I cam somewhat deal with. Mostly. If I don't have to touch them. I can appreciate that some of them are downright pretty. But snakes, no.
Bunnies, however, are AOK and meeting this one was lovely. I could have a bunny. I don't want something to take care of. But this bunny was adorable.
I am unsure what sort of lizard this is, but it's been consigned to the closet due to nonstop fighting about it.

Charlie got his own kind of snake while we were there, and of course I don't mind this kind either.
My stress level mounted the whole time we were there. I kept nearly walking into people wearing snakes. Or backing into people wearing snakes. Or having to see snakes. Snakes that were loose and wrapped around a human. I went outside with Miles more than once, to have a sweet tea and get some air. The place would become oppressive and sweltering and hot and did I mention hot and it seemed smaller and swaying sometimes.

My temper grew shorter.

I became stressed, even when not pressed by snakes. Everywhere had danger, obstacles. The twins were clinging to me, Julia wouldn't stay nearby. They were driving me nuts. Eventually we headed out to the car while their Daddy sorted out the last few things to pick up.

In the car I could feel my own stress mounting.

I'm sitting here now, feeling the stress just laying there under the surface. Miles is yelling about something. It's a happy yelling. Charlie may be asleep.

When we came home I made my husband a coffee, and then Louis decided he wanted one, and I burned the shit out of my fingers emptying the refillable keurig thing. Note to self you can't go two in a row.  I really wanted a coffee. I did not want to burn myself again emptying it. So I poured a water and came upstairs to escape.

Except there is no escape. This chaos is my life. Today I'm not handling it that well. Possibly with some dinner and a good night's sleep I will feel better.

What really matters is that despite it all, despite this day which was weird and not so good for me (just for me, I think the others had fun), I wouldn't be anywhere else right now. This would always be what I choose, despite it's wear and tear on my soul sometimes. I would always choose to be sitting here with a sadly empty Tervis tumbler of water, with a 10 year old singing the PBS Kids jingle over and over. I'd be annoyed that my Sims3 is taking so long to download. I'd be thinking about something else to play instead.

But no matter what, I'd be right here.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Netflix is Ruining My Life

I blame the Internet really. Stupid Internet bastards talking about stupid Internet shows that I couldn't get on cable. So it happened, we decided to check out streaming Netflix, and I sat down with the tablet one day and thought, "I'll check out Orange is the New Black, I hear that's good."

That's when the time suck started. Hours and hours sucked into a vortex of doom where I was motionless, glued to the story of Piper Chapman and her crew.  I am an embarrassing number of episodes into the series, only two weeks into having Netflix.

This is how it happens. This is how we become the boneless slobs of Wall-E. It's NETFLIX. Why get up? In ten seconds the next episode will start. OH NO WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT OMG WHY IS PIPER IN MAX OMG CRAZY EYES IS SO SAD THIS STORY IS HEARTBREAKING WHY IS THE SYSTEM SO CRUEL WHAT IS DIAZ DOING THAT GUARD WON'T MARRY HER THIS IS ALL INSANE WHAT DID RED DO WHY IS SHE IN JAIL ....

Addiction. This is what addiction feels like.

I bring my tablet to work, and sit at the table, eating my food like a zombie and am glued to the next episode. I am reminded of ladies soap operas from back in the day. Let me tell you something, Edge of Night and Search for Tomorrow had NOTHING on this.

I can't stop watching.

I have lost 10 hours of my life or more. Maybe 12, I've lost track of where I am. Episode numbers mean nothing to me, I've melted into the story.

If I had worked out for 12 hours in the past two weeks vs sitting on my ass watching a show, I'd be that much healthier and fit. I could be working out right now. Instead, I'm writing, bitching about Netflix, which I love. Because I DO LOVE IT.

I also hate it. Mostly it's just the theme song I hate. I don't hate the theme song. I hate the time it takes up and the credits. I don't want to watch it. But I end up watching it because I'm on wifi and it will buffer and act stupid if I try to act stupid.

You know if I fired up an episode right now I could probably....wait no, no, focus. I'm writing. But really I am dying to know, did Alyx really get out? Is she in witness protection? Will they send her to North Dakota to work at a Payless?

You guys, I love OITNB. I am late to the party. But I may never need another show.

Until I find out what this House of Cards thing is all about...





Monday, July 21, 2014

Christmas in July

It was Christmas in July at the local minor league team's game yesterday,and our Autism support group SPECTRUM had free tickets for families of Autistic Children so we we headed over despite the clouds. My children took this opportunity to make silly faces while we posed for the Gwinnett Daily Post photographer.

The rain was southwest and far away and I felt pretty good that we could make it at least until the 7th inning stretch for Miles favorite song.

Right about the time we got settled and were comfortable, it began to sprinkle. When we had been saying hello to Santa they told us that there was a suite available for us, in case the boys needed a quiet place. We thought we should maybe check it out in case there was room for us. Turns out - there was only one other family in there!
The game didn't have a big turn out because of the drizzle, which started right when we got to the suite, and continued on through the game. But we didn't care because we were under the awning woooot!

Julia was enamored of the mascot but he had been far away from us when we were down in the stands, so she didn't get to meet him. We heard a knocking on the glass behind us and suddenly...
There he was! He came up and goofed with the kids and I think even the 11 year old thought it was fun. But please don't tell anyone as that wouldn't be cool AT ALL.

The view from above was great, even if the stadium emptied more as the rain continued. It was awesome and we destroyed the Durham Bulls. I mean we ran 8 runs in one inning, that kind of destroyed.
Now we did have to tell Julia to quit yelling GO WHITE GUYS GO which was kind of hilarious, but other than that and nonstop bathroom trips due to copious amounts of soda pop it was a pretty awesome day.

All in all, I think we decided we could get used to this suite life.
Cozy comfort, snacks, and baseball? WITH nice clean and room bathrooms for diaper changes?

Seriously, count me in.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Wonder of The Whale Sharks

I didn't realize it had been five years since we had visited Georgia Aquarium. How did that happen? Well of course there is the fact that it's HELLA expensive. (I'm bringing back HELLA).  But they had a good offer on annual passes and we LOVED the aquarium in the past so back we went.

It never occurred to me, until we were INSIDE that the girl had never been there. We are now at the stage where she is such a part of our lives in Georgia that I don't realize we had years here before she joined us. She bounced through the open atrium leading to the exhibits shouting THIS IS AMAZING at the top of her lungs. 

Then we got to the big tank.


The big tank at the Georgia Aquarium is one of the wonders of the world to me. Fish bigger than anything I've ever even imagined are swimming right in front of us. It's peaceful, it's majestic and I can't begin to describe the level of peace it gives me. I think I could sit there, with a drink, and just watch the fish for hours.

We saw the penguins which weren't there when we were there last, and the new dolphin show which is now a staple as the twins think dolphins are the BEST THING EVER apparently. They loved them on our dolphin cruise at the retreat and now this. I thought Charlie was going to come unhinged he was so ecstatic.

The twins have definite things they like vs show disinterest in for sure. So we try to plan our visits to allow time for restroom/diaper changes, and being aware that sometimes it's just too much for them. But the plus side of us ALWAYS going and doing so much is that they like it and participate. You just have to realize that when you say "LOOK OTTER !" they might wander off to look at a dustbunny.

But that's ok too. The see the otter, in their own way but the dustbunny is more interesting at the moment. Things they ARE interested in you can hardly tear them away from.

As for me, I can't wait to get back and sit in wonder of the whales, the sharks, and the creatures of the deep.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Can't Find My Coffee Addiction

As a former two pot a day girl, I have to admit, I do love the coffee. But for health reasons and maybe just because I get enough sleep now (mostly) I have cut way back. In fact, for the past few months, I've been about a two cup a day girl. One cup first thing. I normally wake up thinking, mmmmmm coffee.

The first thing I do is stumble to the mecca of the Keurig to create my delicious dark beverage that will transform me to zombie to human. It's a magical elixir and I am truly a willing servant of it's powers.

But the last two days, some thing's...off. I didn't get straight up and run for coffee. In fact, I've been up 45 minutes and have yet to make a cup. I am considering foregoing the normal "good" cup I have here daily and just drinking the black death tar we have at work. Yes it's that bad. I don't even enjoy it. I just drink it for the drug it contains and treat it like a necessary evil.

Am I this close to kicking caffeine? SHOULD I kick caffeine? I mean, WHY should I? It doesn't keep me up at night, doesn't make my heart race, it doesn't do anything but make me happy and wake me up a bit. So should I kick it? 48 hours of massive headaches and wanting to kill everyone who looks at me sideways await you all if that's the way I go.

The more I think about it, the less terrible that cup at works sounds, in fact, it sounds like it might be quite good. Oh hello addiction, there you are.

Back to coffee I go.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Where Is My Phone

I normally wake up about 7am. My normal routine is to sit up on the edge of the bed, look at the phone for any emergency OMG messages (there never are any thankfully) and then stumble downstairs to fire up the Keurig.

Get my pills, take my pills with some almond milk, load the Keurig.

This morning, while I was waiting for the brew cycle to end, I reached for my phone on the counter.
It was gone.

I quickly looked in the cabinet where I got my coffee cup from. I looked where the turbinado sugar and creamer are kept. I looked in the refrigerator. Where is my phone? I looked in the cabinets again. I checked the garbage. WHERE IS MY PHONE?

I checked the bathroom I didn't use, the cabinets, the fridge, the trash and all around. No phone. I know I HAD my phone. I was reading the messages from over night. Where did it go?

I made my cup of coffee (tan and sweet thank you) and ambled up the stairs to the computer room thinking maybe if I finished my cup it would clear my head.

There sat my phone. Next to the keyboard, near the monitor which I had flipped on. Apparently I took a journey into the computer room, sat down, turned on the monitor and sat and looked at things. I had no memory of even having gone into that room.

This is why I am not allowed to do things pre-caffeine. Apparently I am some sort of latent sleep walker.

But I found my phone.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

So How Was It?

Last week the question was "Are you alright?" I wanted to answer with Marcellus Wallace response to Butch every single time, "No, I'm pretty fucking far from alright." But I didn't. It because apparent that other people weren't just checking on me, but that somehow me being alright helped them be alright. So I said I was alright.

I wasn't ever "alright." But I said I was because people needed to hear it. As days wore on, it became closer to being true.
Five of us traveled to the mountains of West Virginia to bear witness to our friend's burial, to say goodbye and to make peace with everything, including how unfair the universe can be. 17 hours of travel by car, up and back, into a place you can't get there from here, we sang most of the way and distracted ourselves from our duty and mission.

When  it was over, the question changed. "How was it?"

I don't know what to say. It was a beautiful place. It was a terrible two days. We actually laughed a lot. I felt horror and anger and range and unbelievable sadness. I felt at home when the Masons came to give him his final rites. I thanked the men who have traveled East for being there and said to them how much it meant.

What it really was for me, for the first time, was closure.

I never needed closure before. I never needed to find peace with a death. People die, sometimes people die unfairly or too early. But I guess somehow, I always accepted death and it's seemingly random timing. This time I couldn't accept it or even know it was real.  I knew it was real but I couldn't get it into my head that he was dead.

But he is.

I think, despite everything, what brought me to the place I needed to be were the Masons. Their white aprons, white gloves and their somber but respectful words just settled over me and I realized this was it then. The Masons were saying the words and we're done.

I actually am ok. I'm sad, but the bewildering loss and raging anger seems to have faded. I know it just is a new world now and I am now moving in it and finding new adventures. I am okay with where I stand today. I wouldn't have chosen it, but we rarely get a choice in how the world moves.

I am ready to stop grieving.

So mote it be.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Let's Go Back To The Start

26 days and almost exactly to the hour that we shot this picture, my friend Chuck left the world. That isn't a long time.

I wrote about our last lunch as the three amigos, lunch buddies with ridiculous senses of humor and kindred spirits that made us perfect companions in our adventures at work and lunch. I think I never laughed so hard with any people in my entire life, as I laughed with Dave and Chuck at lunch. Dave leaving to start a new life full of adventures without us was sad.

Chuck and I trudged onward, eating lunch and making plans to go see Dave sometime soon. We're obviously not going to be doing that.

I've had a lot of death in the past two weeks. A bit more than I was mentally ready for. I learned about the Jewish funeral rites, which was fascinating and rather comforting. I liked the end, when everyone helped in the burial. It is action, from the family and community to perform one last service for the dead, so that the business of living can begin again. You do this for the person you loved, and life starts back up again. The person lives in your memories and the pain gets less as time goes on, until you are just left with the happy and sad fades to grey.

On Tuesday some of the best people I know are getting in a van and driving to do our last service to Chuck, to bear witness to his funeral and say goodbye. We can't fix where we are today, nor all that has happened. But we can do this one last thing and so we will.

I am ready for the sad to fade to grey.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Autism Never Takes a Vacation

Autism doesn't take a day off even when you take it on a nice vacation retreat for families WITH autism. It hangs around to make sure you remember it's there, in frustrating and upsetting ways.

For instance, we visited Fort Frederica while we were there, which is British fort from pre-revolutionary days. It's pretty interesting, they've marked the entire encampment out with street signs and the foundations of many buildings are there. It was, in fact, a small town. So while we were being mesmerized by history, Miles was asked to quit pulling on his sock , as he's been ripping holes in his socks every day.

And it was on.
For you see when the mood strikes, Miles cannot be told no. To hear NO is to hear that which destroys his sense of self and also kills all past and present puppies. I have to assume this is how he translates it, based on the tantrum that erupts. Our time at the fort was then punctuated by screaming and crying, and stomping, and his newest trick, scratching himself.

So while these two contemplated blowing up a sailboat in the inlet, Miles stomped and cried and was determined not to do what we were doing.
He stomped and cried around the ruins of His Majesty's magazine while we looked at the cannon and the view of the ruins. He wasn't going to have fun. We couldn't make him. He wasn't going to be made to enjoy this place. And he made sure it was difficult for us to enjoy.

You see that's autism. Irrational responses are par for the course. You might get 100 awesome, traditional responses from "Hey sweetie don't pull on your sock." But when you hit 101 you get a child who cannot be reasoned with, who gets further and further into the fit when you try to reason with him. Miles has nearly perfect receptive language skills, he understands everything that is said to him. But something goes wrong with how his brain processes responses, very often. It takes a toll on your patience, I admit.
While these two walked on the ruins (probably not supposed to, I dunno), and Charlie just held hands and looked around, Miles stomped his way toward the the exit as we finished our visit. The best trick, often, is to use EXTINCTION. We just stop paying any attention to him. Sometimes it doesn't work, especially lately, and he ratchets up the screaming and scratching until you really do have to intervene for his own sake. Sometimes though, if you just ignore him long enough, the tantrum runs it's course.
At that point, his baby sister is often the best medicine, as she will tell us he is her hunnybunny and takes him in hand.
By the time we get to the exit, whatever episode was happening, THE SOCK INCIDENT I'll call it, is over. They've held hands and giggled all the way through the rest of the fort.

Sometimes I think people don't realize that we have so much go on in the way of meltdowns and tantrums even when we are out. That's probably because I don't share them that often, as I want to remember the happy moments. But in fairness to all the autism parents out there, I felt like I needed to share that even though there may be a scene of epic proportions, we still GO.

And so should you.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Water Babies

 I wasn't brought up going to the coast of the proper Atlantic for vacation. In my childhood, the Gulf of Mexico (which is the kinder gentler Atlantic Ocean) was where you vacationed. I think I've always had a serious bias toward the white sands and crystal blue waters of the gulf. Mentally, I felt like the Atlantic was rough (not as rough as the Pacific OF COURSE as they say) but just not a beach or ocean I'd CHOOSE. I have now vacationed on the Atlantic three times in my 45 years and my bias is definitely shifting. At least it's neutralizing. Maybe it was just watching the insane fun four children can have on ANY beach that has melted my heart.
 We learned that the tide there goes out incredibly far, a ridiculous drop in tide of 9-12 feet. It didn't matter though. We just kept walking out to it, chasing the surf, which wasn't rough at all thanks to the tide, and swimming in the water.
 The girl had been afraid of "sea crabs" as she called them. She told me that they would pinch her toes, and that her toes had bones in them. She asked me to please protect her from sea crabs, which I agreed to do. Luckily there was no toe pinching. We did torture some clams by digging them up and then lobbing them back into the ocean. Sorry clams, EVOLVE.
 We missed lunch because we were at the beach too long, so we decided why not check out this little bakery called SMALLCAKES.  We ate giant cupcakes and called that lunch.
 That's valid vacation lunch I'm pretty sure.
 After dinner was done, we decided to make one more vacation based decision and head out to a local ice cream shop called Moo Cow. I had salted caramel, the kids had various chocolate or vanilla and the husband had the WINNER which was a peach. His was absolute best. My son ordered a blue drink also, which made me love him because I LOVE BLUE DRINKS. I have a whole pinterest board dedicated to blue drinks, if that tells you how much I love them.
One of my favorite treats from this place were the Boylan's sodas we tried. The birch beer was a really delicious take on root beer, and the Shirley Temple was was more crisp than expected. The Shirley Temple's of my childhood were syrupy sweet. Thinking of this makes me want to make them for my kids.

We collapsed in bed and slept like the dead. Vacation exhaustion is awesome.