A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.
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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Your Dose of Imagacillin

First of all, if you would like to experience the live birth of a real Cabbage Patch Baby - you can go HERE . The video isn't great because of crowd noise and I keep talking because I'm excited HEY BABY! 

Julia is five today, and we decided to make it very special by travelling north to BABYLAND GENERAL where the real Cabbage Patch babies are born.

Once inside the girl thought we were just shopping at an amazing toy store, and wandered around aimlessly for a while, overwhelmed by all the things and not sure WHAT to do. 
Very shortly after we arrived though, the call was made for everyone to come to the Cabbage Patch, a special delivery was on the way. Julia was interested, this was very different - and then something amazing happened - the baby that was born said she wanted to come home to live with Julia!

What are the ODDS? It was pretty amazing.

She went from "oh this is nice" to "MOMMY THIS IS AMAZING!" pretty quickly.

It was all her Daddy's idea and he hit the nail on the head with this one. He was sidelined dealing with Miles who once again didn't feel like participating in anything we were doing.
I know he feels like he missed the magic, but he didn't. The magic came home with us and it sitting beside me right now.

It wasn't a perfect even, but most events in this family aren't. What it was though, was ours and I know a five year old who has a new best friend.

Her name is Ella.
She's so amazed that her baby has the same birthday as her. It's adorable.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

It Went Fast

Five years ago today I was mentally preparing for something I didn't want that was the means to something I wanted more than my own life. Five years ago today, I was on a countdown to Julia's birth.
We went to the Fernbank museum and looked at the dinosaurs. We drove to Alabama on a whim and ate some BBQ that I can't quite remember. It was just the first non "chain" place we ran into. We did all the things because the next day everything was going to be different. The next day we would be six instead of five.

It's hard to get my mind around this. She's going to be FIVE tomorrow. In the fall there will be Kindergarten and the beginning of her steps away from me. I don't like it. I want her nestled in my arms forever.

But she won't stay. So we do new things and I hope create moments she'll remember forever, even when I'm gone. I ask her if she knows how much I love her and she says "I do because you kiss me all the time."

She's right, I do. Sorry, NOT SORRY.

I didn't realize how different it would be to have a daughter. It isn't "better" it's just different in an awesome way. Possibly because I can take her out for mani-pedi and get little flowers painted on her toes for no reason other than that I can.

They are the littlest toes in the house. My last baby isn't a baby, but she will always be mine.

Five should be an adventure. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Ups and Downs of the Travel

The down side of travel started Sunday night as I held a weeping four year old in my arms who was begging me not to leave her to travel for work. I cried too as she told me she needed me home so that she can take care of me. "Who will take care of you there? Who will protect you if I'm not there?" she asks me. I tell her I don't know and feel my own mortality and a future where she does in fact take care of me loom.

The next bit came when I barely made it to the airplane on time because of ATLANTA TRAFFIC AND REASONS which mostly had to do ATLANTA TRAFFIC but also they Braves might have been playing I don't even know, I was too busy not letting people who were texting while driving NOT KILL ME. Which was fun. Not.

I had plans of eating at the airport.but being late and barely getting to the gate on time made that impossible. I rushed to my seat as our crew was in a hurry to get going. At that point I realized ....I was sitting on the engine. Oh hell, that's going to be loud I thought.
It can only be loud if you take off though. And since we were missing some piece of paper that apparently this giant steel bird requires to fly we sat. And sat. For 90 minutes we SAT. I read half of a new gunslinger novel by Stephen King which I had sworn off but now I'm back with the ka-tet once again like a bad penny that keeps turning up.

Eventually we took to the sky. There were biscoff cookies for late lunch and black coffee which wasn't bitter and that made it better.

I got to have a fun dinner with my gorgeous friend Ardith who is so VERY fancy and lovely. I am so underdressed! But really it was so much fun we're going to do it again sometime. I got to meet her husband and experience the amazingness of Toronto which had me slackjawed in awe at this place. I had NO IDEA Toronto is this massive insane city like New York or Chicago.
That photo does not EVEN do it justice. I can't wait to go back and maybe see more in the day. We checked out the Lakeview that was on Diners and Drive Ins and it was awesome. Except they had no malt. Seriously? No MALT???? WHAT IS UP!? YOU CALL YOURSELF A DINER?

I told the guy I was crushed, but I settled for a chocolate shake.

I'm driving around the city in a little tiny car that I covet. It's SO tiny and zippy I love it.

Tonight after a great day at work catching up on my work life, a storm was rolling in. I settled in with the end of this most current tale about Roland the Gunslinger which is different that Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner and finished my book while the windows shook, leaving the drapes open to watch the huge clouds move across the plain. It was a lovely storm.

I ordered my food in and ate fish and chips without any regret and a coke for dinner and one for later which I didn't need but I confess I enjoyed.
For reasons unknown they took my request for ketchup to mean a vat of ketchup. The fish mas meh, the fries were ok. But I ate my dinner in my pajamas and watched TV mindlessly which was brilliant.

It was a good spot for peace and calm for two nights. Thanks hotel room, I feel refreshed and recharged.
I got a vacation to recover from my vacation. Working during the day time isn't even a hardship when you get some mindspace in the evenings.

And now I can't wait to get home, because there are five people I want to kiss and hug and tell them how much I love them.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

And We Had To See A Plantation

Our last day of vacation my family gave in to Mom and we did something girly, we went to a plantation. I picked this one out of the stack of brochures the front desk handed us on check in simply because it's been continuously functioning since the 1600s. I think that's fairly interesting. Plus - they shot part of North and South there and I'm old enough to have watched that mini-series with great enthusiasm back in the day.
A row of live oaks this spectacular needed a southern belle seated at it's entrance, so I grabbed the first one I could find. Seriously, no one should enter this lane other than horse drawn carriage, it's just spectacular.
We learned a lot while  we were there, such as this was the only two story gin house ever built, and that this plantation actually built very nice slave cabins - out of brick, however let's don't forget that they are still slave cabins so "nice slave cabins" is the worst sort of oxymoron. Also the owner had a brick making factory so it's not like he was OUT anything but building from brick. I appreciated that our guide made a firm point of telling the visitors that these all originally had dirt floors and these wooden floors and steps were built for tourists - I think it's valuable for people to understand things like that. 
The house has changed hand many times over the years, and this is like the third or fourth actual house on the property. I'd really like to SEE the others, I wish there were paintings or photos of any of them.
The gardens out front were pretty but I wasn't wowed by them. There were some really nice roses however, and now I'm wishing I didn't hate gardening so much because I'd love to have a nicer flower bed out front. I know exactly what I want but man, ugh, outside? Digging? I don't know if I'm that tough. Probably not.
Interesting Charleston fact I learned on our carriage tour, Charlestonians do not have a southern accent. I realized when our guide said it (Our guide was David Crosby I swear just ask my husband) that I hadn't HEARD a southern accent the whole time I was there. Apparently Charlestonians have more of the east coast accent like you'd hear up north. 

It was a beautiful and lazy southern day, therefore a perfect day to visit a plantation in my opinion. There was a lot of good history lessons being taught, we were lucky who to have tour guides and docents who weren't afraid of telling ugly historical truths which I totally respect and want. 

It's a good bargain too as EVERYTHING in the place is included so you don't have to pay for this and that and the other thing. The house, which I was MOST looking forward to, was sort of the most disappointing. It's a modern house, built in 1936, and the interior walls were taken from the OLD house so it's supposed to be an homage. The current family furnished it with period pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries but it's a mish mash. Also our docent said the library walls were aubergine and they were indigo so I subtract fifty points from her docent score. Maybe they were aubergine ONCE UPON A TIME.

I found a post card but the walls have clearly been painted since these photos were taken.
But just for my own ego, THIS IS AUBERGINE:
THIS IS INDIGO:

THE WALLS WERE INDIGO BLUE BECAUSE IT USED TO BE AN INDIGO PLANTATION! BAD DOCENT BAD BAD BAD. This is a guess by the way. But it makes more sense than saying that those walls were aubergine.

Even if the paint job was recent (and sloppy).

Ok but I really liked the place. The house tour was, meh, lovely. Here are three rooms, don't take any photos because some BS about it being a private residence still (a private residence you make me pay to come inside and you don't actually live in? Ok got it.)

It was quite gorgeous but kind of a let down especially since NOTHING was original in the house. But the rest of the place? It was really amazing and gorgeous.

Delicious ice cream was a perfect part of our day.

We didn't get to see everything because there were some dogs there, and we're still dealing with massive DOG FEAR and as we were about to drive home we just decided it wasn't worth it. We visited two of the slave cabins (each one had a lesson about slave life) and missed the Gullah performance which was a bummer. But all in all, it was a great stop.

Many hours, one storm and one Cracker Barrel dinner later we fell into bed about 1230 am, glad to have gone but so happy to be home. I slept like the dead, happily in my own bed and refused to wake at 7 am when Miles informed me it was "Time to get up now."

It was a great vacation.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Requisite Beach Day, And Another Woman's Hair Up

I was reminded very quickly when we arrived at the beach that there is a reason for pony tail holders (or hair ups as they're called around here since the girl renamed them) or hats at the beach. My long over processed hair immediately began whipping left, right, front and back until I looked more like Cousin It THAN Cousin It. Julia found treasure on the beach, a pony tail holder. You might think, ewww, that's gross. People, you can cook food in sand. It was hot so I was hoping any nastiness has been baked out, I was desperate. I figured worst case scenario I get lice and shave my head. I was willing to take that chance. 

The beach itself was full of beach fun like sand castles and  digging. Because, well you know, BEACHES.
It was hot, in the 80s. The wind was cool, the sand was nice and toasty on ones toes. The water however, omg Atlantic Ocean EFF YOU.
Ice effing cold. Death cold. Gripping claws of icy demons from the depths grabbing you and reaching for your soul cold. Ok, that's what Julia and I thought anyway. The boys liked it a bit more than that. 

What we did have though, was no meltdowns. The beach you see is one of Miles FAVORITE places, he loves even the ice cold surf. We had a day of sun and sand and some very cold water.  

We headed out to a local Mediterranean place (very tasty) called Manny's and had an uneventful dinner where pizza and Greek food was consumed happily by everyone. Despite the cold water it was one of our better days. 

Things went wrong at the beach like they always do everywhere we go. Charlie pooped in his swimming suit - which was kind of amazing and surprising, he's NEVER done that. How do you handle that? Well we realized it as we were leaving, so we just threw them away. We carry spare clothes everywhere we go.

I've talked a lot about the tantrums and the stress of autism raining down on us as we vacationed but I just wanted to point out one thing - none of this is abnormal or "bad".  This is just our life. The most important thing isn't how the tantrums interrupt or disrupt something, the most important thing is how we don't stop. We don't cave in, we don't cease activity or outings because of bad behavior.

Our hostess at the diner that evening, without either of the boys doing or saying anything knew they were autistic. She asked what Charlie wanted to drink, and when Scott answered "Oh he doesn't speak" she smiled and said "Oh it's ok, my brother is severely autistic too." She then went on to talk to us about how much more independent he is now, and that she thinks he might be able to live alone one day. Obviously he's much older than my boys, but her calm acceptance of our different family made me just LOVE this place. About halfway through the meal, as everyone gobbled down their delicious food and the boys watched the various TVs on the wall she stopped back by and said, "They're really doing great." We explained to her that we go out all that time with them and she told us about her mom teaching Autism pre-k, and her family.

It was a perfect end of our last "vacation" night. I don't know that girls name but she gave me hope. I'd like to thank her but I forgot to. So if you're ever in North Charleston - seriously go to Manny's. They're good people there.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Questionable Coffee, Fort Sumter and an Aircraft Carrier

I am sitting in my mostly darkened hotel room while half the family sleeps. I'm up writing and enjoying some really vile coffee. Enjoying is a really loose term. I've offered to share it with the twins and after the first drink they're looking at me like I'm a loon. WHY WOULD WE WANT THAT VILE WOMAN they seem to be saying. I don't blame them. It's not good at all.
Yesterday was another roller coaster of chaos in the land that is autism parenting. Some days we're just not good at this.
We started out our morning taking the ferry to Fort Sumter.
I've always wanted to see Fort Sumter, and today (we were there yesterday) is the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. It seems meaningful to be here now. I would've liked to have gone today except then I think about yesterday's chaos and then add in more people no nevermind I will pass.
The oldest boy was here four years ago with the Boy Scouts. He got to participate in the Flag Raising which I wish had gotten to see, that's the stuff that makes mothers proud you know. But he got to show me all the things he has told me about since he was here.
And he got to show me things he missed before - like this shell still stuck in the old fort's wall. There are a few, which is fairly awesome to think these have been there 150+ years. The girl found a cannon just her size she declared, and stood behind pretending to fire it yelling BOOM BOOM BOOM!
One of our best moments of the fort came from our little family terrorist Miles, who stopped to read one of the placards. He read more than either of us realized he was able to. Was he reading with comprehension? Well I hope so because he understands \English - so it was kind of fun, he read us the first full sentence on his own with very little help and a bit more. At 10 that might not seem like a lot, but for our little guys that was major. Charlie couldn't come closed to it.
It was beautiful at Fort Sumter. I really am glad I've seen it now. And even if the twins don't ever really understand it I'm glad we saw it too. It was really lovely for an old fort.
One of my favorite artifacts inside was the large Union flag that was raised as the screw you to the secessionists back in Charleston. It made me laugh, that takes balls knowing you're alone and outnumbered and still standing tall. It's worn but it's still a great flag.
It would've probably been an ok day if we'd have stopped at that point but we had a full day ahead of us....next up was the USS Yorktown.
The USS Yorktown is the biggest thing I've ever seen on water and I cannot get my mind around the fact that modern carriers are way way bigger. I don't even know how that's POSSIBLE frankly. 
Louis and his dad once spent three days on this ship with the Boy Scouts so this was their opportunity to show us around. I have to admit, It was pretty damn impressive. 
Being in the hangar was hard to keep it straight that you were on a ship. There were just tons of airplanes, a diner, a museum, so many things and it just seems like a big building instead of a ship.
I mean how big is it? The snackbar/diner has an airplane hanging over it. A FULL SIZED AIRPLANE. 
Miles had decided before we got on the ship that he wasn't having it. So it was again another day of up and down with autism. This time the tantrums were a bit worse and the happy times were shorter which made for stress for us all. I'm not really sure if it was because he was out of his element, if he simply hates airplanes and or ships, or it was some other thing we don't understand but he was REALLY mad at us about halfway through exploring the ship.
These creepy mannequins kept scaring us, they've be randomly positioned in crew areas and when you didn't expect it BAM mannequin. 
And obviously I took this picture because ....HIIIIIWAAAYYY TO THE DAAANGER ZOOOONE. It was a moral imperative.

The flight deck was also amazing - and it was up there that Miles really decided to start showing us how done with all of this shit he was.
There he goes, stomping off away from the rest of us in protest. Thank God the flight deck has fences around it for us mortals, I was worried a bit being up there during this tantrum but it wasn't too bad. 
Julia drove the ship for a bit. Her exact words were, "Oh I'd LOVE to drive the ship THANK YOU!" Such a lady. 
Ice cream snack time gave us another break from tantrum. I feel like I may have set a record for most diapers changed on the USS Yorktown. YAY ME! 
One of Louis' favorite parts of the tour is the recipe for 10k cookies that they have posted. Can you imagine? It's pretty hilarious. And only one quart of water! What a tedious pain the butt job.

I really enjoyed Fort Sumter and the Yorktown despite the crazy of autism trying to jerk us around. Miles spent his day in and out of tantrum for no reason. It was heartbreaking and stressful and hard and well, annoying. The ships photographer captured a perfect tantrum. It was so bad they gave us the picture for free.
That picture is a perfect summary of our lives.Louis and Julia and I are just going on trying to smile, Charlie is staring at him like WHATS WRONG DUDE and my poor husband is exasperated. This is who we are most days when the cameras aren't rolling. 

It was a good day but a hard day. There were things to enjoy, lots of laughter and smiles but more tantrums. I hope autism gives it a break today.

















Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Vacations and Autism

Day one on vacation in Charleston and autism is having a field day with making sure that everyone knows who is boss,
Miles decided today that he didn't want to do anything that we were doing, unless he did want to do it. He wanted to do different things, or the thing we were previously doing. The thing we were doing right now? No. Probably not. Or maybe yes. He didn't want to make it easy.
Rain threatened today so we headed to the South Carolina Aquarium for some fish and apparently lemurs. There is a video Louis took of this Lemur jumping on Miles - it was hysterical despite his screaming. Sorry I'm a bad parent, it was funny.
Ok Miles was in the plexiglass and protected, he was fine. And he was fascinated with the lemurs so the shriek was only a mild setback, he even went in again. This is the lemur in mid air, damn reflection! Ruined the image.
This is what Julia has chosen to wear on safari in Madagascar. Seems appropriate.
It was a nice aquarium if small, I confess we're more than a bit spoiled for sure. 

They all liked the outdoor exhibit with stingrays and other fun things. But Miles made the aquarium super stressful despite our efforts to be cheery and put on a happy face. It's weird, we had FUN but it was fun punctuated with "omg we're sorry he's autistic" fun. It wasn't hat bad, it was just the pendulum back and forth that was hard.


We went to a place recommended by friends for dinner. Hominy Grill was delicious per me and the boy, and just alright to the husband.
I had a drink which I paid for all night because my stomach hates liquor like the fire of 1000 suns. But it was really tasty I have to admit. I do miss booze I admit.

The best thing though was the seven dollar chocolate pudding. It was more of a ganache, and it was like 7 dollars worth of heaven and thick amazing delicious wonderful. This was literally the best pudding in the history of pudding on  the earth. Others in the world can simply stop making pudding, we've found the best.


The police never came from the screaming in our hotel room last night, it was autism tantrum central. But it seems that Miles is sick, he woke up with a fever. We've got a day of boats and Fort Sumter so he's loaded up with medicine and we're hopeful for a better day.

Wish us luck!