A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Everyone Knows What Autism Is

I think most people genuinely believe that, with no ill intent. It's untrue of course. But thanks to Rain Main, everyone THINKS they know what autism is. First of all Rain Main is make believe, so there's that. Plus, I've seen a LOT of autistic kids in the past ten years. I never once met a Rain Man.

Most people's first exposure to autism was Rain Man though, which never occurred to me until recently. A Tom Cruise film gave the nation the WRONG idea. It was a good movie, to me, at the time. It's probably still a good movie. I'm not sure, I haven't seen it since the twins have been alive. Perhaps I would feel different about it. But I understand why, looking at the Rain Man, you'd think that Autistic kids are just a bit challenging and quirky. Maybe need a bit of looking after.

That'd be so easy wouldn't it? Most days I'd give anything for them to be like the Rain Man.

My first exposure wasn't the Rain Man, it was someone's kid where I grew up. Their kid was autistic, and he sat facing the wall staring off into space, sometimes he'd rock. That's what he did the couple of times I saw him. That was autism to me. I suppose that with that burned into my brain from such a young age, anything better than that is DOING WELL in my book.

There are a lot of people on TV I've seen lately who after a long, casual conversation will pop out with "I've got Autism Spectrum Disorder" and the media jumps all over it. The wave it around "Look here we have some Autism for you to see".

But they don't bring the cameras to the severe autism classrooms where the ten year olds are in diapers,and don't do two way conversations. It doesn't make for good TV I suppose.

I've been thinking lately though, that instead of making everyone feel good about Autism, about how not scary it is and oh look here is another person on a TV show who is on the Spectrum, maybe they SHOULD scare you.Maybe it should scare the fuck out of people so that they're aware, so that they understand that sorting out why this happens and what's to be done MATTERS.

You look at a BRILLIANT mind like Stephen Hawking and you think OMG FUCK ALS IS SCARY. LOOK WHAT IT DID TO STEPHEN HAWKING. You see the ALS challenge and see beautiful people posting videos and you see omg THEY ARE GOING TO END UP LIKE STEPHEN HAWKING. It scares you. You donate money. Because you don't want the people you love to suffer and die from ALS.

Autism doesn't kill anyone, so it's never going to be as scary as something terminal. But it wrecks lives. It changes futures. And it destroys dreams. One in 68 children are diagnosed with the autism spectrum disorder. Maybe it's time we gave it some honest, not so pretty attention. My children's future is that I'll take care of them, or their siblings will. At some point they'll end up in a home, which is ANATHEMA to me but I know it has to happen some day. They'll never fall in love, have children, have jobs, have their OWN lives. They have no future other than existing and being loved, which is ok by me but I'd kind of hoped for more for them.

Maybe my wish today isn't directed at you. It's directed at the media. Stop making Autism pretty. Stop showing it's pretty face all the time. Show what it's like at it's worse, and all the in between. Let everyone know what autism really is.

That's probably too much to ask so early on a Tuesday but I ask anyway. A bit ranty I know. I might need more coffee.

Monday, October 27, 2014

She's Big Time Now


I'm a bit like Don Corleone. I spoil my children, and they talk when they should listen. I also let them sleep with me forever and ever and ever. 
My youngest child is the most spoiled child in that regard. The oldest boy was out of my bed quite late but was out by the time he was three-ish. The girl is a solid four and expressed zero desire to ever leave my bed.

She had her reasons you see. There are noises outside. There are trains, and bugs, and airplanes and helicopters. Even though she knows what these things are, they scare her in the dark and she needs me. She needs me -and I cannot resist her.

So we've been talking to her though, about getting to sleep in her own bed and it was agreed that if ONLY she had a sound machine, she'd sleep in her own bed. She wanted a sound machine that was an Elsa doll that would sing LET IT GO. We settled on one that played lullabies and projected a friendly moon and stars on the ceiling. 

I admit, I was skeptical. This isn't my first time at the parenting rodeo and I'm a bit immune to kids telling me that if they JUST HAD THIS ONE THING EVERYTHING WOULD CHANGE. 

Except that, it did.

She was excited and ready for bed. Ready to turn on her machine. She snuggled down into her bed and we turned it on and I kissed her goodnight, and retreated to my own room. I waited.

I read a book. I waited some more. She didn't come. 

The next morning she insisted we call grandma and grandpa to tell them that she is a big girl like her cousins. She extolled the virtues of her sound machine. 

Last night, it was the same. I waited for her. And she didn't come. At 4 am she ended up in my bed because Charlie was screaming for unknown autism reasons and scared her. She tells me tonight she's ready to sleep in her bed again. 

Because she's a big girl.

And suddenly, I'm all out of babies. 


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Praise The Lard and King Kong Bundy

Our Aunties came over to visit and have dinner Friday, so we headed to our favorite local BBQ joint, Praise the Lard. The place is a riot, WWE (WWF) themed, plus Jesus themed, it's full of kitsch and roadside YOU ARE GOING TO HELL type of signs. Like this.
I thought there was just the one anti-christ. Am I remembering this story wrong? Regardless, I was so glad our aunties came to visit. Julia is always so excited to see them, and we don't get a lot of visitors so the Aunties coming through a couple of times a year as they travel the corridor between Indiana and Florida is always a treat.
When you live really far from your family, even little visits mean the world. It's something you take for granted when they live close, but when they are far away, even just getting to see them for an hour is such a treat, it's hard to explain how much it means if you don't live it. I've always had a very close family though, so it probably explains why for me it's so important.
There is just something so comforting about the bonds of our own tribe. You know these people, they're yours. You don't have to explain yourself, they know you. My Aunt Suzie was the ONLY person my mom would let hold me, and babysit me, after I was born.

It's like coming home, only home came to me.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Don't Remember What I Was Going To Write About

I am playing a video game, I am texting with my best friend, and I am trying to get my mind right. She is trying on dresses in a dressing room, and I am feeling envious of how cute she is. Because girls are like that.

I had plans for this morning. Yes, this is me bitching about my morning.

Why is it SO DAMN DIFFICULT to have a quiet, relaxing morning? I want to know. There has been immodium given. I am considering a long shower with my stress relief stuff from Bath n Body Works.

I am having one of those moments where I need to reconsider my own fortune, my own luck, and how flipping good I actually have it. It's a challenging morning for that. All autism moms go through this. Hell, I think ALL MOMS in general go though this. It's like this in my mind "I LOVE YOU BUT OMG LEAVE ME ALONE".
I can't say those words. I want to say those words so much.

They follow me around. Especially the girl. She has to be where I am. It's on my nerves today. Why? I'm such a jerk, how can I be annoyed that she wants to be near me because she loves me? REALLY? Is that what I'm about? I'm THAT parent? NO I AM NOT.

This is the part where I remind myself that I am not that parent.

I'm human, that's how I can have these thoughts and think these things. I'm feeling overwhelmed and honestly, I'd like two days where I could be selfish and do nothing but just be. But if you knew the truth, the husband could use two days like that too. Maybe that's something we should consider. Just, a break. Not from each other or anything weird but just to go somewhere with a book, and silence.

I love my kids. My kids are my world. I guess sometimes, I need a bit more ME. And I'm pretty damn selfish so that's a lot to say. But I do. I need space. I don't need to not be a mom, Just once in a blue moon, I'd like to sit in this room, or some other room, in quiet. I don't want to hear the raging tones of twinkle twinkle little star. I don't want to hear the screams from downstairs and wonder if it's a problem or not. I don't want to say "omg what's that smell" knowing full well it means the immodium did not kick in yet.

This morning's blog post is a mini tantrum mommy style. I look at the news of people who had to bury their children, and I know I don't have any damn problems. In the face of that, no. ZERO problems. I'm sitting here on my high speed internet in my home, with the heat turned on, and I had a lovely egg for breakfast. My daughter has soccer later. I have new furniture in my living room.

I don't have any problems. I have selfish complaints.I hate selfish people so that means I'm going to have to get past them right now. So after she gets done showing me dresses, I'm going to shower and change my attitude.

And hopefully, the immodium will start working.

I'll leave you with this.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Made These Humans

We were watching The Goldbergs last night, which is one of my favorite new shows btw, and Beverly (the mom) gets a tshirt made with her kids faces on it. She loudly declares "I made these people, I made them with my own body." She's proud. BEHOLD THE WONDER OF HER FAMILY.

I laughed. But I get it. I feel like that every day. Look at these toes I made. Look at this smile, I made this person, LOOK AT THOSE FEET. Even if it's just biology and hey even one cell organisms can reproduce, I bet if they were sentient they'd say "OH MY GOSH LOOK WHAT I JUST SPLIT INTO ! NOW THERE ARE TWO OF ME !"

I feel even more amazed this week after my pap smear. I've known for years that I had a bicornuate uterus, meaning it was heart shaped and has a bit of a septum. It's not like an egg shaped perfectly for growing humans. When I was pregnant with Julia, my doctor was VERY concerned about my ability to carry her to term and was shocked I had ever carried to term much less twins.

I saw him again this week for my annual (ooops which had been over two years) and he was looking through my chart, and told me that when we did my ablation, he had noted that my uterus has a very pronounced septum. His exact words were "No medical book would say you could carry children at all, it's amazing that you have four children. It should be impossible."

Behold, the wonder of my family. I made them with my own body.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nice People Are Nice

A couple of months ago, we were at a Gwinnett Braves game  and while we were up in the suite a REALLY nice lady came up and offered us and the only other family in the suite tickets to an Atlanta Braves game. I had been a couple of times with my friend Chuck but had always wanted to take my family there, it's an Atlanta institution - and I definitely wanted them to see Turner Field. You can't live in Atlanta without rooting for the Braves even when they suck. We said thank you and YES and a few weeks later we connected to make it happen.
Baseball games are fun but weird things for us. Having to constantly watch the little ones in so much of a crowd can be hectic. I think getting food was the most harrying part. But then, we grabbed our food and headed to our seats.
The end result is snacks and treats of the kind that little people like, and who am I kidding - big people like them too. I mean, ball park hot dogs are the best thing ever.
CHRISTA THAT IS CHEESE NOT MUSTARD ! CHEESE I SAY ! NO MUSTARD !
Baseball is a weird bonding experience. Louis has never played but he likes to go. And the crazy antics they do to keep the kids entertained is both absurd and fun.
So Julia and Louis remembered that the love each other and laughed through most the game as much as they cheered. The twins didn't fuss, and there were treats and music enough to keep them happy too.
It was a bit challenging changing the twins in the hot ass bathrooms at Turner Field. Like omg sweat pouring down my face and having to having them step out of their shoes onto the floor (thank god they were clean floors thank you thank you) because these bigger pullups do not have tear away sides you HAVE to take off your shoes. You become very aware of floor cleanliness when your kids have to put their socked feet on that floor. But we managed and I didn't pass out from heat stroke so that's a plus.

We had such a great time I am so grateful for the gift of the tickets. It was a great day together as a family. And, my son got the hat of our people - which is obviously very important.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Because We Always Go There

17 years ago yesterday, a boy and a girl had their first date. They ate Greek food at her cousin's restaurant before his shift at the BW3. If you jump forward 17 years exactly, that boy and girl became a family. A family that has, without fail EVERY single year since moving to Georgia travelled north to Burt's Farm in Dawsonville for our pumpkins.

Our First Year looked like this:
And then the next year it was like this:

The next year it was a bit like this:
I am MISSING a damn picture but two years later it looked like this:
Then there was TWO years ago:

We're a Burt's Farm October family. My pictures are scattered and it makes me want to scrap book and collect them better. Burt's Farm means it's time for FALL and everything that comes with it.
We eat treats and have a little picnic, this year featuring BBQ nachos. BARBECUE? NACHOS? I'm in. SIGN ME UP. They were just ok though. A better idea than execution. 
After our treats we rode the hay ride and listened the pumpkins tell us how GOD GUTS US or something like that. 

Sometimes I write about us just doing stuff, random family stuff, like this. You might think it's a sort of boring "this is what my family did today" kind of journaling. But it's not. 

My doing family random things is me showing you that even if you have very special little guys, you can live your life. It's not easy. I do diaper changes sitting in the back seat of the van and we do some gymnastics to get it done and I pray to the God of the Pumpkins that they didn't poop because OMG that's hard to clean. So before we go in we change two big boys diapers, and then we go in for the day. Sometimes there are tantrums if there are lines, or screams if there dogs (Miles) but all in all, they have fun despite anything bad that happens.

I don't write a lot about the ugly poop filled parts of the day. But they are there. 

But they don't stop us. They don't stop us from celebrating 17 years since our first date, or all the days in between that made us a family. 

I can't wait for Halloween. It's going to be a great one this year! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Some Days Have More Costumes

We made the trek across town to the twins club fall party which was featured bbq this time (yay for living in the South). Louis chose to be Muldoon from Jurassic Park, his current obsession. He's going to be going around yelling SHOOOOT HER!! SHOOOOT HER !!! I can see it now. 
 There was a bounce house for everyone and although the twins were the biggest boys in it, they were also the happiest boys in it. It's kind of hard, more than hard, because although they are big ten year old boys, they still very little boys. Bounce houses are still amazing to them, they're just the biggest very little boys inside.

 The bounce house featured a slide which a brave 4 year old ventured onto without fear.
 The twins are Ninja Turtles and I was kind of excited that they GOT IT this year. They knew we were dressing up in costumes for fun,and were willing to put them on. Not so much the masks, but at least I managed one pictured. Charlie was sort of unamused by it. But he didn't freak out and that's also a win.
 We had a Costume Parade complete with treats along the path which was a perfect practice run for Halloween in two weeks. I think all four of them are ready for the main event.
 Julia made a little friend who at first I think she was annoying, but then finally the little girl realized that Julia was ENAMORED of her, she had on an ELSA costume you see and well isn't that all you need to know? After the parade, they compared loot.
 The party was at a park, and obviously next to the bounce house, being able to play on the playground was a huge attraction. Luckily Muldoon doesn't feel obliged to hunt Ninja Turtles.

 I wish I had an action shot of the FURY with which she rode this thing. I was cracking up - ROCKING IT WITH RAGE. It must've been a lot of fun.

 I always love things that make Charlie so happy. He's my little guy who would rather spin a string than play with toys, so all opportunities when he gets to play and does so are great. He was playing with his siblings and bouncing, laughing like crazy in the bounce house.
We should get a bounce house. If I ever build a house, I'm definitely putting one in.

After a full and fun time at the Fall Party, Julia had soccer and so we sat in the hot sun but cold wind while she played.
She's the blonde whirlwind on the field. Well the blonde.......goofball.

We sent Louis to a trunk or treat event with his friend's youth group at a nearby UMC and he got to work and help out the trick or treaters. He had a great time and I think he got a much needed break from the chaos of our house for a few hours.

I think it was a much needed break even in the middle of a busy fun day. This life is loud and chaotic.

But it's ours.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It Was International Night

Middle School brings new things, such as the International Night Fashion Show and Cake Walk. To say that this even was "under billed" might be a huge over statement. The boy and I went, and the first clue was that the parking lot was packed.
The entire center of the school was ringed with tables themed to various countries, with crafts, and foods that were free, or a nominal fee to try.
I love school events. Wandering the halls, watching all the kids act crazy, or behave quite well. I love how they're all learning and growing, these boys that I've watched since they were 5 and 6.
And it's probably ego but it makes me feel good to do this simple stuff with him, just to watch his wonder and excitement. Above, he's making a paper flower for his little sister. The girl manning the station? No idea how to make them. Luckily, I was a girl scout and making paper flowers was a requirement :) .

While we wandered and tasted and made crafts, my mind went to a friend of mine who just died.


She was my friend while I was trying to get pregnant. She was my friend who was the self appointed expert on all things motherhood. A lot of things I find myself gravitating to as important, are things she used to say over and over. Her kids were her WORLD. SCHOOL IS THEIR JOB she would say. YOU HAVE TO BE INVOLVED IN EVERYTHING THEY DO, she would say. She helped me find the best pediatrician.

I didn't think she was a perfect mom, but I thought she was a good mom. As a friend, she was definitely someone whose opinion and values mattered to me. I listened to her, and believed in so much of what she said.

So there I was at international night, tasting chicken satay, and laughing as my son played the various instruments with his friends, blinking back my tears.

In the course of 12 years, 11 I have been gone from there, my friend drank herself to death. Her alcoholism existed even when I knew her, but I never perceived it. She was good at pretending she didn't have a problem - for a while.

I find it unthinkable, that someone whose world revolved around her kids, could change into someone whose world revolved around booze. But that's how powerful it is. She couldn't even stop for all the things she believed in, all the things she loved.

I know that the bubbly, bossy girl Michele and I were friends with hasn't existed in a long time. She changed as the demon took hold of her and turned her into someone else. So I guess I can't mourn the person I knew suddenly dying, as that person hasn't been around in years and years.

But I regret the loss to her children, of the woman I knew. Do they even remember her, and her passion for them? Do they know how they were EVERYTHING to her? The mom who did crafts and participated at school, vs. being a sick drunk prone to rage - do they remember? God I hope they do. I do.

I mourn the loss of hope, of future, for her. I regret the missed chances, the grandchildren, the firsts she won't get to see now. I mourn the girl who I knew, being lost in the bottom of a bottle.
This is how I will remember her. Round cheeked, smiling, and with bigger hair than was actually appropriate for the decade.  I saw another picture of her online, thin, bony, sharp featured. I don't know that girl.This is the girl I know.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

It's So Fluffy I Can't Stand It !

When we walked into the fair, it was one of the first things she spied, THE UNICORN FROM DESPICABLE ME. And there were minions. "It's a MINIONS PLACE " she declared. "Daddy," she announced,"Is going to win me that unicorn." And obviously, there was no way that it was NOT going to happen.

It was a trip to the fair (an annual event - so annual that today my timehop is that we went to the same fair LAST year) that was a little different all around this year. To start with when we pulled up, the girl began to squeal from the back seat "THIS PLACE ! WE CAME BACK TO THIS PLACE OH YAY!" and was so excited, she instantly knew what we were here today, even if she didn't know the word FAIR.

Another big change for us is that Miles is in the MIDDLE of potty training. In the middle in terms of, is not really potty trained but is working on it. But not enough for us to be comfortable in public in underpants, so we put him in a pull up. By nightfall we realized, we're being jerks about this and we are going to have to go to the next step as he was HATING the pull up.
He rode some different big boy rides this time with Louis, and while he had his moments of being the unruly kid he can be, his biggest frustration was the pullup. So we're going to figure out how to do this, knowing we're going to have accidents. Potty training with a kid you can't have conversations with is a challenge.
The food was just OK this year. Louis got a hotdog made of alligator, I guess that's exotic (ok really eating alligator down here really isn't exotic) but it was different. The food wasn't bad, it was just "eh".  My BBQ wasn't from the same big award winning BBQ trailer as last year and it showed. It wasn't bad, just kind of super average. I guess if you never had BBQ you'd think it was good maybe?
One of the biggest events at the fair, a milestone crossed, I don't have a picture of, and that was Charlie riding his FIRST big boy ride. Charlie isn't a HUGE fan of rides, and has been left out more than a bit the last couple of years. Too big for the baby rides (which he likes) and too immature for the big ones plus he doesn't like many of them - Charlie isn't a thrill seeker - it's been frustrating/sad as a parent seeing him standing at the side watching his siblings ride, even when it's a ride he won't like.

We took him on the boat which he liked, and that wasn't new. But what we did take him on that he went nuts and LOVED was the big Bavarian Curve thing. Blasting music, DJ barking nonsense, and riding around at breakneck speed - who knew that Charlie would put his arms in the air and yell WHEEEEEE as it went? Well he did. He LOVED IT. Noted, Charlie LOVES the thing.
We decided that next year we are going to a different fair, as this one while nice, is lacking in the crazy DEEP FRIED FOODS ON STICKS we love so much. I want to eat your crazy thing deep fried on a stick. BRING ME YOUR WEIRD FOODS, I will eat them on a stick with glee. It's more traditional and while nice, maybe good to rotate in every couple of years for variety, it's just not as wacky as we're looking for. Plus it lacks all the 4H competition stuff and we like that stuff.

It does have a nice animal interaction area. We were glad Miles enjoyed the goats, lately he has some animal fears, and he went right up to the goat and pet it - he seemed to like it a lot. However, the bunnies were RIGHT OUT as were the chickens. That's ok, the goat was a victory in that regard.
I have not gotten a candy apple in years, because I thought my teeth wouldn't like it - they aren't as good as they should be. But I've got two new crowns and decided to put them to the test. Oh man, it was as good as I remembered. Louis shared with me and he apparently had never had one or didn't remember the crunch cinnamon apple awesome of them. It was delicious.

So the fair had milestones, Miles just needs to wear underpants, and Charlie has ventured into big boy rides. And unicorns will be yours, if you tell the universe that Daddy is going to win one.

As we drifted off to sleep, she put the unicorn on the table beside her and said "I'm going to have magical dreams because the unicorn is next to me."

I bet she did.