A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Genetic Lure of Codeine

While nestled into my bed, waiting on the effects of codeine cough syrup to come over me, I had a series of thoughts. I was partially convinced I was having one of those moments where I needed to get up and write them down because there were some good things floating past my slowly drug induced mind.The other part of me, the part in control of actually get up or nah, decided to stay firmly tucked into my well made bed. I was waiting on what I've come to think of as The Wash to take place.
I'm particularly susceptible to codeine. Any sort of opiate thing, in fact, and I don't tend to get along terribly well. They gave me morphine after a surgical procedure once and the intense vomiting that occurred moments later is post-op legend. But codeine is morphine's saccharine cousin. I'm sick, need to sleep and not cough all night so I carefully ladle out the dose prescribed - not more - and wait.
Last night I did the same and The Wash was quick and strong. About ten minutes after having slipped into bed the itching began. This is apparently a sign that I've got a wee allergy but I don't mind it. It's indicative that the sleep is coming and that's what I crave.
Deep, relaxing slumber - a sick girls best friend.
My face began to itch, my nose and my chest, my legs and feet. The itching rolls across my skin like a weird "Hello" and I know that behind it is a pull down into blissful rest. I slept so well last night that I probably built up tonight's rest too much.
I dosed myself, again exactly the right amount - never more. I climbed into bed and waited. I waited some more. Soon I realized it had been 30 minutes with no sign.
I rolled over and considered why I might not be sleeping. The addiction demon on my shoulder encouraged me to TAKE SOME MORE. I get the addiction demon very honestly from my father's side of the family. He comes out when I'm out drinking apparently also. I try not to listen to him because he's real and he destroys lives. Also opiates can stop you from breathing so I definitely ignore him in terms of medicine. But that lure, the idea that "just some more" is starting to pull.
I remind myself that while codeine isn't morphine it's a bad thing to take too much of any medicine. I remind myself that they give you morphine when you die and eventually it helps your body forget to breathe. Codeine is also an opiate, I remind myself, and everyone reacts to drugs differently. "You don't want to be one of those people who died in 2016 and everyone thinks is so great now that your'e dead," I tell myself and roll over again.
The problem begins to gnaw at me as I cough again, and again. Dry coughs, the kind that hurt and are small, but shouldn't exist if my cough medicine would just kick in. I want to sleep, why am I listening to Miles sing in the next room? 
I want to sleep. I want the deep dark night to pull me into it and out of this terrible sickness for a few hours. I want escape. I drank the thing that said drink me. Now please, take me out of here.

It was right about then, when my mind was twisting with frustration over it's lack of sleep that I woke up. My husband was placing his hand on my forehead to check my fever, and to check on me to see if I was alright. 

I had been asleep all along.


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Never Ending Therapy of The Vince Guaraldi Trio

I spent my lunch hour yesterday searching for something that would be perfect to take to the twin mom's Bingo party tonight. Unlike funerals where one would search the "freezes beautifully" section of food.com I was looking for "something that moms who wipe more butts than most people can imagine" would enjoy. This usually involves chocolate or booze or both. I settled on something called a chocolate chip toffee brittle. As I drove through the woods headed to the grocery a thought floated through my head in my mother's voice, "Apparently named by someone who doesn't actually know what brittle is."
That snark was so real, so accurate and on point with something my mom would've said that I began to cry driving through the stupid storm that was picking up. The road I was headed down doesn't have much for street lights so I sniffled and tried to get ahold of myself. It's a perfect road to slide over a bit too far accidentally and slam into oncoming traffic.
Right about then is when the Vince Guaraldi Trio saved me.

Most people know the Vince Guaraldi Trio quite well thanks to their work providing music for the Peanuts. That in itself is nearly enough to put anyone in a happier place. When I was in college though, I learned that the chart Linus and Lucy has magical stress relieving powers. It worked like this...

The basement of the music department at my university was where all of the practice rooms where. Dank, cool little rooms down one cement block hallway painted what was probably a cream color in some past decade. The doors would be closed and you'd hear the same bars over and over, rarely a whole piece. You'd hear the fingering that was tricky, you'd hear the notes that were always being over or under blown, you'd hear music dissected, pulled apart, into the pieces that the listener doesn't always discern but the musician has to master to make it whole. I was a secondary music education major and also a world class procrastinator. This meant that I spent more than my fair share of time in practice rooms LATE in the day. 

Nearly every room was fitted with a grand piano, if not there was an upright shoved into the corner. There was something soothing and peaceful about being in the womb of that sterile place with music floating through the air. It wasn't comfortable, yet it was a place I liked to be. It was like being with your tribe, even though everyone was in a room alone struggling with bars that were defeating them.

As the evenings would progress the stress level would increase. People were getting tired, there was other studying to do. But the music also had to be practiced. When the event horizon of stress and sleep deprivation was reached - a door would open and suddenly you'd hear the base line being plunked out. 

Another door would open, and join in.

Within moments doors were opening down the hall and the familiar tune of Linus and Lucy would thunder and echo through the halls courtesy of 20 or so music students having a stress break. Banging away at the keyboard, playing those notes of our childhood joy for no reason at all other than the peer pressure of it was one of the most cathartic moments of my life. We struggled with 8 bars of this or 4 bars of that BUT As God As My Witness, we'd all master Linus and Lucy and make it ours. It was a concert of one song, played loudly and with joy. It was a musical stress scream that let out our frustrations and reminded us what we loved, music.

As I pulled into the grocery store parking lot yesterday I realized I was smiling, remembering how happy that stupid tune used to make me. It could take away the stress and how annoyed or bad I was feeling about what I was working on. 

I guess it still works.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Terrorists and Coconut Oil

I had one of those days at work where you look like crap and people keep asking if you if you're okay. People asking you if you're okay when you are not actually sick is code for "You look like shit, what's up?" The what's up is I didn't get sleep for reasons and life and kids and stuff and so hair was in a claw and makeup was haphazard at best.

Sometimes my best is just being clean.

I went over to Sally Beauty after work and acquired a coconut oil hair mask (also works on cancer, arthritis and diabetes according to the Internet) and went home to soak in a hot tub with this tropical goop soaking in my hair. I completed my buffet of beauty products with a oatmeal and honey mask and slipped down into the hot water. 

That's when the terrorists arrived. 

"POOP," declared one of them. "HIIIIIII," declared the other.

I had determined to relax. I desperately needed silence, hot soapy water and goopy stuff smeared on my face and hair to make me a human girl again. So I told these terrorists, "No, Daddy is going to change you. GO AWAY."

No less friendly words were ever uttered to two boys than those. "VILE WOMAN!" their stomps and flailing declared. "What do you mean you won't cut your bath short to change our disgusting diapers this very minute! You're our servant! COME! MOTHER! WIPE OUR BUTTS!" They acted all of these words out in a sort of performance-art dance that included throwing themselves on my bed and making shrill noises. 

I exhaled and put them on ignore. Coconut oil doesn't cure poopie diapers. It's sad but true. I held fast to my determination to remain in the water. As the tub continued to fill I grabbed the Mr Bubble and dumped some of it in, then some more. The smell of pink filled the air (how does it smell like pink?) and I considered that I could just live in this bathtub forever, were it not for the pruning.

The pruning is a deal breaker.

I'm out of the tub now and in my jammies and diapers were in fact changed by the husband who had already said he'd do it before the little beasts came demanding it from me. They seem to think it's special MOMBONDING time and I'm oddly not keen on that. 

Maybe coconut oil DOES cure poopie diapers. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bring Her On and Let Her Scream

A close friend asked me this morning "So how much of the day do your twins scream?" and I was surprised by the question. I guess it's a great question though, and it wasn't meant meanly or rudely at all. The question was actually based in a concern for how we as parents handle it, how's the family handling this disability?

I guess that's when it struck me how lately I've been venting my frustrations in this space, my emotions driven by tears and anger and often just me looking for a way to cope. Just like HoneyBooBoo, it makes better entertainment when shit is off the rails but let's face it, even THAT family couldn't eat those huge bags of potato chips as individual servings EVERY day.
Sometimes it's not screaming and carrying on. Sometimes it's holding a baby doll and surfing YouTube for videos of people making food out of Play-Doh (that's a thing) or watching hotel commercials. A major difference is that I don't know when this peace and calm will erupt into hellfire and damnation. His love of doing what you see above can literally run hours. Those are good hours. SO VERY GOOD.

It's when the eruptions occur that I am driven into writing some days when my other options are nil. 12 year old boys are big, their tantrums are bigger.

But that's not who they are completely. They're also little boys, somewhere between 2 and 12 in great big bodies that don't match what's going on inside of their heads.
They love and snuggle. They're very affectionate. They laugh, they howl with laughter when something is funny. They love Snoopy and Elmo and lots of shows.

They're people. They're just people with brains that don't work right and because of it sometimes their world is wrong, and they don't know how to tell you what they need.

Sometimes, just sometimes, they are assholes.

They're selfish because they don't understand boundaries and social norms. That might not "technically" make them assholes but I can promise you their receptive language skills are strong, and they know when I say no and they start screaming that they are trying to FORCE the issue with bad behavior. They are like a two year old pushing your boundary.

Two year olds can be total assholes. So I stand by my previous statement.

Right now behind me is Miles (pictured above) humming Jingle Bells in a frantic hum that is too fast, as though the bells themselves were being chased by something scary. Charlie is twirling a string, his chi as we call it, and seeking his inner peace.

It's been like that most of today except a bit earlier when I asked Miles to please stop playing the Barney theme song slowed down to sound like some demonic dirge.

It's not always hell. It's really not.

But as an autism parent you can't ever stand down. I can't have a beer right now because they would literally stand behind me and scream until they got a drink of it, which they wouldn't, then that would make MORE screaming. OR I would have a drink, feel nice and  relaxed and chill and they'd crap all over the house - thus killing all my calm joy and in my opinion wasting a lovely drink.

Maybe they would just start screaming for reasons undefined. That happens. Something happened. You never know what. And then there is running and screaming. It's not a toddler it's a 12 year old boy running and screaming and flailing LIKE a toddler. But he's not, he's 12.

I guess my point is this - we can go whole days without screaming. No they don't scream all the time. They can say words and frequently do. "Poop" is one of the tops lately. Charming right?

I think the one who needs to scream most days is me. It's not a luxury that's well regarded sadly.

Friday, November 25, 2016

With Cigarettes and Whiskey

It's weird to write ugly things about your family. I'm not sure why that's true except that it's very American to pretend that we're all the Cleavers and keep that Jerry Springer portion of the family under wraps as much as possible. When you're relating tales of the most Springeresque part of your clan, good friends will nod and acknowledge, "Every family has one/it/them." You tend to tell the short sound bites, the funnier bits, usually in relation to something else that's happening. I guess that's how my mind got to wandering down the darker corridors of Thanksgiving past, the day arrived and I had time on my hands for recollection.

I had very different families growing up. One was divided into maternal family and paternal family and the gulf of education and socio-economics that defines the lot of us. One was divided by TIME - the time before Matt was born and the time AFTER Matt was born. Entire lifetimes of tragedy, grievance and sorrow occurred in the years between 1968 and 1979.

This isn't about that time.

It's about the first thing.

My mother told me once, rather bitterly, that on her wedding day while pinning on her corsage my grandmother said to her, "You know, I would never have married your daddy if I had met his people first." They were laborers, they worked with their hands. They worked hard. They built houses, they were brick masons, they were repairmen.

They were beneath her.

She told my mother that, I believe, because she'd just met the future in-laws and most likely they were what my son would refer to as "a show".  They smoked nonstop, drank brown liquor and were loud. They were uneducated, they were uncooth - my paternal grandmother having given birth to my dad at the tender age of 16 while my grandfather was at war.

They, were younger than I am now.

Holidays with these people were unpleasant. For reasons I won't ever QUITE understand we ended up there for Thanksgiving quite a lot. The houses, whether my grandparents or aunts were always choked with smoke, thick smoke that stuck to everything, that got into your clothes and you could almost lick off the nicotine. I can remember as a small child stepping outside into the freezing cold Indiana winter up in Advance, Indiana, and breathing in the FREEZING ass wind with relief. It was sometimes the only place I could breathe.

The smoke was the easy part.

My grandmother carried with her a huge bag which had her piddlin' in it, which amounted to cross stitch and embroidery she would never finish. At the bottom of said bag was a bottle of Wild Turkey. After an hour of two of not so surreptitiously adding it to her beverages she'd insist on trying to teach me how to cross stitch. My mother would wander by and in a quiet, ladylike way she'd remind me that the back of your work shouldn't look like shit or you're doing it wrong. Of course, she'd say it very nicely, and not with those words.

My grandmother was from a large family of 9 children and it seemed like every last one of them was some sort of alcoholic with the exception of Aunt Sally. Aunt Sally was, as they said, a witch. Her hair was dyed what my mother referred to as hillbilly red and piled high, like Loretta Lynn's hair if only it were red. She would sip coffee, smoke and tell fortunes at the kitchen table. She and her husband seemed like nice normal people in the loud, drunk holiday chaos. The rest of them, however, were a blur. There were hugs and kisses with smudged lipstick, and faces needing a closer shave - all reeking of the sweet burned smell of whiskey. Everyone looked old to me, so very old and slightly ill.

They liked to tell horrible stories, of people who died. Of how Butchie was run over in the driveway when he was four because someone didn't look behind the car (I can't even recall who, just that Butchie was a cousin I never met - my memory is failing about whose child he actually was), of Uncle Redd and his infamous trip through the Mechanicsburg Bridge (he died) and his time in prison. Of boyfriends and girlfriends lost gone or dead and how they went.  They'd laugh, and toast to the dead even little Butchie who was run over in his own driveway.

It taught me from a very young age that these were people to be cautious around, they wouldn't look out for you.

Fights would start sometimes before the meal, before the blessing. It would always be about some previous transgression, or some older grievance. My grandma stole my grandpa away from Aunt Sally in their youth - I would've always guess SHE had the biggest grievance but she rarely said a word. The words were slurred, angry, hateful. Sometimes things would be thrown or it would just be suggested we have the prayer and eat. People would retreat to corners and eat, and maybe make up after their blood sugar returned to normal or they'd leave quietly only to return and do it all again next year.

After everyone had eaten and the men were in the easy chairs watching the Lions or the Cowboys the other stories would start, about how Uncle Redd built Grandma and Grandpa's house after he got out of prison, because only Grandpa would come get him. It was his way of saying thank you. There would be other stories, jokes, happy memories and you had to soak up those stories - your tiny glimpses that these people weren't completely horrible were hard to come by and had to be appreciated.

Somewhere into the second football game the best thing that could happen would be that my grandma was asleep. If she WASN'T asleep that's when some of the craziest conversations of my life would take place. She would, in her Wild Turkey drunk slurred speech, start giving me MAN advice. How to get a man. How to (and this one is one of my faves) GET MY WAY with a man. I could literally see my mother seething as she politely let these conversations go on, knowing I was going to get a huge talking to about how INSANE my Grandma was. There was no way to escape her drunk hug as she advised, year after year, about how BLOWJOBS were really the secret. I started getting these conversations when I was about 10.

That's right, my grandma was giving me advice about giving blowjobs and how I needed to use them to make men give me my way. I was never exactly clear what my WAY was supposed to be about? Money? Shopping? It was all very vague and truly based on the pretty crap existence she seemed to be living hadn't worked out that well for her, really.

I've been thinking about these loud, obnoxious drunk relatives of mine for a while today.  We stopped spending as much time there somewhere around the time I was 12, apparently at some point either Mom put her foot down or Dad just got sick of it too. I have a vivid memory of being called out of my cousin's bedroom, where I had retreated with a book, to find we were packing up our stuff and leaving. I don't know why or what happened. I can't imagine WHAT the transgression was that was so great that my Dad pulled the plug on our holiday meal but it was something. I remember my Aunt and Grandma following down the driveway begging him to change his mind, walking in my socks on  the wet ground because I'd come so quickly I didn't put my shoes on and I didn't have time. I never asked what happened, but I know after that our visits were less frequent.

I can't imagine what was worse than glassware being thrown and oral sex advice being dished out by grandmas but apparently that thing had happened.

I think a large portion of my adult life has been spent endeavoring to be the opposite of those people.

Some days are better than others. But I'm trying, Ringo.



(Source: apanelofanalysts, via likiteesplit)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Match My Overcompensation

When I was growing up Mom always told me when I didn't feel good I should dress up. I'd feel better with my face on, a pretty dress, something that outwardly said LOOK HOW AWESOME I AM. There is some truth in that, some sort of Tony Robbins gibberish where how you outwardly behave then impacts how people treat you and then how people treat you impacts how you feel yadda yadda yadda.
It kinda works, is my point.

I have a similar tactic for when life is exploding in various forms with my kids. The more crazy autism is making my life and me, the more I dig in to some Betty Crocker- Pioneer woman version of myself. Yesterday was one of those days.

Miles has this thing where he demands I change him when he poops. That doesn't sound unreasonable, actually, and it isn't. I certainly wouldn't want to go around with poop in my pants. However Miles also has a sensory issue with poop. So - and now this is where it gets GRAPHIC so go ahead and look away now. I'm warning you.

He'll poop one tiny smidget of poop. A WEE poop. THEN, at THAT moment he'll start shouting in my face "POOP! POOP!" Yesterday by 9 am he'd done it six times. 'Why don't you set him on the potty?' you might ask with great incredulity because you've raised kids and know a thing or two about potty training. Well, gentle reader, I do. Frequently but not as frequently as I should. The main reason for this is simply that he tends to scream the whole time and frankly sometimes I'm just not fucking up to it.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I'm human. Sometimes I'm just doing my best to function and what that includes is a level of skilled nursing I wasn't prepared to have to live. Sometimes chaos wins.

Yesterday however, I drank a bunch of coffee and pinned a bunch of workouts on Pinterest (because that burns calories amirite?) and decided I wasn't going to let the day be so very fucked. I was going to be a good MOM WHO DID THINGS WITH HER KIDS instead of some mom trying to dungeon in World of Warcraft on her very wittily named Demon Hunter (Murdurhobo, her name is Murdurhobo - I slay me) anyway I was going to DO STUFF.

Miles was my main trouble maker so I decided we'd bake something, anything, because he LOVES to help bake. My mom left me with a terrible applesauce bread recipe. I mean, it's just not good. I'd vowed for a long time to find a new one, mainly because she used to make some version of applesauce bread that was good and not like the recipe. I found one on the internet and Miles and I spent some quality time stirring and mixing.
In fact it was enough activity for him to chill him the eff out for a while. He got bored with planned activity when I put it into the oven and decided to go watch youtube videos of hotel commercials and people making pretend food out of playdoh (that's a thing, no really).

That was right about when Julia and Louis started fighting. He likes to tell her the shows she watches either aren't real or are stupid. He does this because he's 14. She then starts sobbing and gets mad and yells about how he ruins everything and it's just this whole brother/sister dynamic that is both soul sucking and annoying as hell. At that point I enlisted her to go with me outside to gather pinecones and some more firewood. 

She thinks that it's great, trudging through the forest edge, picking up pine cones and to top it off it was actually cold outside so it took her mind off the injustice that had been wrought by Shimmer and Shine being criticized. 
Adding things to the fire, twigs, pine cones, witches, is entertaining to the kids and so we sat and burned various things from the woods for a while and no one thought to be critical of a talking sponge who lives in a pineapple while we did it. 

This peace lasted a while. But the sun had to set and with it came more fighting, more demands for a diaper, time on the toilet with screaming the likes of which not heard since Torquemada was around, and general wearing down of my I AM A GOOD MOM I AM SPENDING TIME WITH MY KIDS mentality. 

I did choose a workout and did it and I admit I felt some better. I felt less like crying and screaming so that was a plus. It cleared my head to enough to realize it was time to do some more together stuff so I decided to make a potato side dish I'd seen online and Miles could help with - there was stirring involved. Julia came to consider helping but she was busy being Elsa apparently so it was just me and Miles. He ate a piece of raw potato and seemed upset with me that it wasn't as tasty as raw batter. While he stirred and I chopped, the sounds of Elsa and her brother playing Battlefront came from the living room - there was peace in the Empire apparently, after all.
These potatoes? Pretty damn good if I do say so myself. 

I cleaned up dinner and loaded the dishwasher and realized I HAD SURVIVED a day. It wasn't the worst day. It wasn't a cry in the shower because the world is so wrong day. My husband just had them for three solid days while I was gone and he needed a day away to watch football and chill -so it's not like I was unduly abandoned.

I'm not sure if my need to over-compensate when I'm so frustrated works well or if it just makes me super exhausted in the end. I just know it's my go-to coping tool so in it's own way I suppose it works for me. 

What I do know is that at the end of the day we five sat around a fire watching Luke learn about his heritage and snuggled as though there had been no stress in our day. There had been no fighting, no tantrums, no hysterical screaming when asked to use the potty. It was just us, snuggled up and in various stages of nodding off, happy and loving each other.

I guess that's the goal. Achievement unlocked - Happy Kids.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mini Pretzels and Man Hands

My mini rant today is about the in flight snacks on airlines, specifically Delta. I told a close friend of mine that in Atlanta we're insanely brand loyal. We drink Coke, we fly Delta. So it's Delta on which I fly and Delta is the warm bosom of familiarity to me when I take to the skies.

Knowing their routines, their banter and chatter is comforting when you're racing through the skies at insane speeds and at 35k feet. I like knowing the DRILL.

But I find it annoying that on shorter hops their snacks are ABSOLUTE SHIT.

Once upon a time you got peanuts and a beverage. These were the dark, ancient times of air travel. It's possible these medieval times exist on other airlines but I don't know about it - as I'm from Atlanta and we fly DELTA.

In a perfect world, one just short of them serving you food, they offer the perfect accompaniment to their quite excellent coffee - BISCOFF cookies.

These cookies are so damned good they are almost a sin. They're like some delicious variation of what a pecan sandy aspires to be. Slightly caramelized, they are amazing both as an accompaniment to the delicious Starbucks coffee served or just dunked straight the hell in some black coffee.

On shorter hops,less than 90 minutes is the magic line in the sand based on my own travel experience, you get...MINI PRETZELS.

These are possibly the stupidest snack in the world. While you do have the option of getting a soda, water, juice or some more PRETZEL APPROPRIATE beverage with it - do you SEE how small this thing is? I think an adult doesn't actually have to chew them.

Additionally all the do is make you angry you didn't actually have a snack. Here's your pop, here's your  mini-pretzels for your giant man hands. Take it easy there GIGANTOR, don't eat them all at once!

I was thinking about this on the way home from Indy, about how this is one of the stupidest refreshment services I ever encounter. People might argue that they're free but I just paid a fortune in airfare no they aren't free they're calculated into the cost I can guarantee you that. So I'm PAYING for micro-pretzels. Nano-pretzels, if you will.

I think a huge problem with my level of dismay would be best stated as the complete lack of satisfaction they provide AS a snack. If someone had set out a huge tray of cheese and sliced a cheese cube in half and gave that to you, that's what eating these pretzels is like. It could be good, but it's just....eh.

Part of this whole "these don't satisfy anyone" may simply be due to the huge calorie deficit they represent.

Delta Airlines - Biscoff Cookies (2-pack)
Calories120Sodium
Total Fat5 gPotassium
Saturated2 gTotal Carbs
Polyunsaturated0 gDietary Fiber
Monounsaturated0 gSugars

Biscoff cookies come to the table with 120 calories and a bit of fat. They aren't a meal but generally I land after a couple of hours and I'm not going to die if I don't eat soon. In fact there were plenty of instances where I didn't get to eat for hours (mostly due to other people being quite rude) and Biscoff cookies kept me alive, like some sweet delicious foreign hard-tack . 

Mini-Pretzels though? 
Calories45Sodium
Total Fat1 gPotassium
Saturated0 gTotal Carbs
Polyunsaturated0 gDietary Fiber
Monounsaturated0 gSugars
This is the sort of snack that people who say things like "Oh dear I forgot to eat today" might consider a real snack. This is the devil's work, in snack form.

It's complete bullshit. That's what it is.

Luckily I was wise on my outgoing flight and ingested a chicken biscuit and a sweet tea because it's Atlanta, so when I landed in Indy I wasn't ready to eat the entire city. But on my return flight there were delays, there was so much WALKING, there was construction, there was nothing but annoyance on my sojourn north and I had no choice but to slam a bunch of popcorn chicken, fries and a peanut butter and chocolate shake from Sonic.

I hope you are happy with yourself, Delta.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The Space Between...

....the tears we cry, is the laughter keeps us coming back for more.
                                                                                              ~ Dave Matthews

It gets harder and harder to be an autism parent as they age. I'd say we are in one of those "omg this sucks" times right now. I posted on FACEBOOK that my life exists in between changing shit filled diapers. This is possibly one of the truest things I've ever posted. It's raw, it's unedited and if you had to walk a mile in my shoes you'd get poop under your fingernails I can promise you that.


Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. It's just that getting to GOOD seems to be harder and harder.

It's not as though we won't work through this and find our way to "our" version of normal. I think we will somehow. It's just overwhelming some days. Sometimes it's overwhelming days in a row. Weekends when we go out improve their mood, but it doesn't do a damn thing for the fact that time is still just divided up into the spaces between when diapers need changed.
I have captured here a moment in time. The kids are playing in the nature center and being silly. This moment of parenting relaxing and joy is about to be interrupted by....MILES who has begun to pull on his diaper. Changing a 12 year old boy is a delight lemme tell you. Changing a 12 year old boy in a dank bathroom in a nature center, A+++.

This is every moment in our lives. LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE DIAPER. LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE DIAPER. Insert some screaming for no reason. LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE DIAPER.

Why aren't they potty trained at 12? I don't fucking know. You tell ME how to do it. When you sit a child on the potty at 12 and he nearly breaks the thing screaming and thrashing, it tends to run you down. Especially about the 10th time he does it.
Is it all bad? No it's not. But it's getting to this point where it's running us, as it does sometimes. Sometimes Autism runs the show around here and everything else suffers.
We do our best but we fail because we're humans. I just wish I knew how to make it better. How to mentally survive the never ending diapers that stretch out in front of me to eternity.

Some asshole shot this bald eagle with an arrow. He lost most of one wing because of it and can't fly. He's kept safe here at this retreat we visited a few days ago. Sometimes I think the husband and I feel a little bit like him. Trapped. Nothing really wrong, we've got food and shelter and what we need.

But we are trapped for the rest of our lives by autism. We'll never be free.

If you think that isn't daunting, bless your heart.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Word Up

Words are powerful. Words are meaningful. Words cause me to make note of people, whether it's because they've said something interesting or because they've said something intensely stupid. Words are generational. The meaning of words can change, ebb and flow. Words can hurt. Words can empower.

Words are amazing.

Miles like to watch shows on YOUTUBE and he's forever calling up show's I've forgotten, such as this weekend it was FIREMAN SAM. It's sort of a silly show about a small island with one child who must be taught the boy who cries wolf story every single week. But Miles seems to like it. This weekend, Julia discovered it and sat to watch several episodes.

I've never really put a lot of consideration or worry into titles with gender qualification. FIREMAN is what we said when I was little. I don't believe it means you have to be a MAN. The name of the show is exactly FIREMAN SAM because it's an older show.

What amazed me, interested me was Julia who told me she was watching Firefighter Sam.

Now we've all said firefighter in the world for a long time. I KNOW women who are firefighters and I don't think twice about that word either. I am sure it's meaningful to the women who do that job, but for me I guess I've always been rather neutral.

We sat and talked about firefighters. Do firefighters do this, do firefighters do that? Can I be  a firefighter? Why are only boys firefighters on that show? I'm going to be a firefighter.

That's when it hit me. She has never lived in a world where fireMAN was a thing. The word fireMAN didn't register with her even. It's firefighter. It's gender neutral. She recognized it was off that there were only boys being firefighters. She doesn't live in a world where that makes sense.

It made me really happy.

I am just not sure she can wear that crown with her bunker gear...

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Political Diversions

"A lady doesn't hate things, a lady says 'I don't care for that.'" is a quote that rings in my mind almost daily. It applies to a lot of situations, and the verbiage doesn't have to be exact. There are so many times I want to say FUCK THAT FUCKING SHIT but somehow manage to mumble a more socially acceptable "No, thank you." or possibly even a "None for me, thank you." These phrases cost me nothing, and they allow me to communicate in a civil fashion with people.

My grandmother was the stickler for that phrase. She'd drop the N word at her leisure, she'd whisper the word cancer and refer to all Catholics as "Damned Catholics". That same woman was a walking how-to manual of social graces. If she was a bad person behind closed doors, she knew how to behave as a human being and at least PRETEND to be well mannered and polite in front of others.

I'm not saying that it's great that she pretended to be a nice person. I'm pretty confident that the people who weren't in keeping with her thoughts knew she was kind of an asshole. It really wasn't a big secret.

Both of my grandparents were very politically active during my childhood. If you want to know HOW politically active, I can tell you that I didn't understand for years that all kids didn't go hand out buttons at the polls. That was a thing back then. As people walked out you handed them a button, a nail file (no really), a hand fan, some sort of geegaw with your candidates name on it. I'm guessing, in reflection, that the adults knew who to give them to because it was a small town and you knew how people had voted because no one was shy about their political affiliation.

Being a Republican or Democrat weren't fighting words. Nor were they an indictment of your character. We didn't openly insult one another, scream obscenities or malign people based on whether or not they voted this way or that. We didn't feel a need to beat our chest about it either, other than a rather copious amount of yard signs and bumper stickers which my grandmother seemed to have quite the penchant for. Surely there were disagreements in policy, spending, taxes, etc. But the truth was that back then, how you voted was like where you went to church - everyone did it and nobody felt any need to fight about it.

The neighbors next door to my grandparents were democrats. Two doors down were Republicans. Across the street were CATHOLICS (can you believe it?). On the other side of them were PRESBYTERIANS. (I know - can you believe this diversity?) My point is, however, not once did I ever hear any of those people described that way. Never (Wait maybe the Damned Catholics though). We'd have huge block parties all together, and no one fought. No one argued or called names or lost their minds because someone was different than them. They talked sports, they talked local events, they talked families and music and movies.

They were friends.

A lot of my friends aren't voting the way I am going to vote this election. I don't really care. Some people are spending a lot of time and energy blasting their points of view on Facebook and other social media. My question would be this, why? You're voting for X? Cool. You enjoy that. I'm serious. ENJOY your vote. YOU get to vote. It's America. We get to VOTE here. 21 states in the Union don't use the popular vote to guide their electors so if you live in one of those states, your vote is just a PR move anyway - sorry. But it's a right and it's important.

But when you constantly blast negative words, hateful words, based on news reports that aren't real, based on sources that aren't verified or are being misquoted, I'm quietly just questioning why your'e behaving this way. You aren't swaying anyone. The people who agree with you, like those who thought my grandmother was completely ok with dropping the N word and hating Catholics, think you're great.

The rest of us kind of think you're an asshole.

I think the world could use more social graces. Your constant blathering and frothing at the mouth about this or that candidate doesn't further your cause or make you or your party look better - NONE of them. I can understand why statements by some candidates give you pause, or even cause you to feel some really negative things because some sort of insanely negative things have been said. Hateful things have been said. I understand being upset, on lots of different sides. What I can't understand is hateful bigotry, misogyny, and blindly accepting misinformation because it fits in with your preconceptions of X.

I'd love to know what music you're listening to, what books you have read, and what's bringing you joy. What are your kids doing and are you having a good hair day? I'll take a repost of silly memes any day over the faux-informed political ranting that seems to have taken over the world.

Frankly, I don't care for that.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Windmills and Cornfields

One year ago I had the adult responsibility of driving from Chicago to Indianapolis on the occasion of the death of my father. I hadn't made that drive in more than 20 years, but it was one I could do without GPS and without much thought.  The stretch of land between Chicago and Indiana was flattened by glaciers marching south one foot a day, about 16,000 years ago.
I can't remember how to get voice mail off my phone but I remember this nugget. My brain is so bizarre.
The view south has been unchanging for my entire life with huge swaths of farmland as you head south, more industrial Gotham landscapes as you head north. The farmland was what brought our family there after the revolutionary war. Every time I have ever made that drive I've been cocooned in that familiar comfortable feeling of home. I'm with my tribe, these flatlanders are mine.
As I drove last year, however, in northern Indiana I was amazed at what I saw - WIND TURBINES.

There were hundreds, maybe thousands dotting the landscape across the northern land of Hoosiers on either side of interstate 65. I stopped for gas and walked out to the edge of a fence to see what they were like.

What were they like? They were like magic. They sing. Perhaps hum is more appropriate. I stood there listening to them, watching them creak and turn in the wind and thinking how amazing it was that something like this had cropped up across these fields.

I wondered if my Dad had ever seen them. He would've thought that they were really amazing. His childlike wonder with things like this could be very endearing.

I have had intermittent moments of sadness and brief tears for my dad. It feels unfair, unkind, that I wouldn't keen and mourn for him as I did my mom. Sometimes I feel like it's because Mom's death was so unfair, so preventable, and there was a FIX and she was denied it because she was too weak for it. But Dad's world unraveled so fast and terribly after January of 2015 that truly, most of the year my heart knew it would've been better for him to have dropped dead from the heart attack.

It was what he would have preferred to be certain.

365 days ago exactly I stood beside a plowed under field, next to a gas station, and felt wonder at how amazing the world can be. When there were such beautiful things in the world as windmills that sing across the farmlands of northern Indiana there was no way for me to feel despair or lost in the world.

Nearly every day since has been like this. Not every one. But many of them. The future is an amazing place and I'm looking forward to everything. Especially the singing windmills.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Numerous and Belligerent

I have a cadre of friends in this life that are of various sorts. The thing that they all have in common is that the real ones are unmistakable, like a welcome albatross that I wouldn't part with no matter how smelly or terrible it became.
A real friend is still your friend even if he asks you to a dance and you opt to go with someone else because, as you tell him, Person X asked me first and I'm afraid he'll be really sad if I don't say yes and you're really good looking - you can FIND a date. That real friend not only forgives you when you toss a card from your locker at him and say "Hey, I got this for your birthday but forgot to give it to you." - that same friend will then give that card BACK to you on your own birthday. That same friend is STILL your friend if you had a habit in high school if ignoring him when you had boyfriends, even though he might yell at you about it later. A lot. You had it coming though, so it's OK. It sounded something like "YEAH I LETTERED IN SWIMMING BUT YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT BECAUSE YOU WERE GOING STEADY WITH SIMON AND NO ONE ELSE EXISTED." That's actually verbatim, but to be fair I think wine coolers were involved.
My own children set up a watch post on our porch today to wait for the much loved, much exalted Uncle Fred. Falling into the category of Family I Choose, Uncle Fred is a magical being who sends Hot Chocolate treats for Christmas and who sweeps in every year at least for lunch and cuddles with my short humans.
If you went to high school with us, chances are high we gossip about you. Sorry, we did that then too. We're kind of bitchy. We probably say nice things. Unless you're a loser. Then you know, we shake our heads - and call you a loser. It sounds something like "...and then he decided to be a loser and I haven't heard from him."

Every person I'm "friends" with isn't this sort of friend, but my real friends - the ones whose funerals I will go to or who will go to mine, who I will or did cry when their parents die(d) because they are like my own family, they are a precious commodity. I don't have to question who I am in their lives, if they care, or if I matter to them. When I'm with them, I'm reminded of who I am. It's easy to forget who you are sometimes as a parent of four, two of whom are special needs. In fact when I'm with them I'm more myself than I was before they arrived.
Real friends aren't hard to spot in the world. I think that sometimes it's easy to confuse people you spend time with, with friends. People who seek you out, who care how you are, and who GET you are your friends. All those sappy memes floating around Facebook about "what real friends are" and "removing toxic people" are pretty spot on. They're sappy as shit. But they're also pretty spot on. Humans are flawed and can be horrible. But even the most flawed humans can be amazing friends, if they're real.

Not Fred of course, that son of a bitch is perfect. :)

I'm on this course of thought today mainly because I got to spend a few hours with this guy who once gave me the Millennium Falcon in 8th Grade and I love him as much as can be. But also because one of my favorite authors has been going through the ringer with a best friend, a not real friend that disguised himself as something true. Watching her write about the devolution of the closest relationship of her life has given me pause in all my relationships, and made me hold the real ones closer in my brain. It's a sick condition that so often other people's misfortune gives us reason to appreciate what we have, but it's true. I work on trying to appreciate things for their value - not just because they aren't the bad alternative.

But I too, am a flawed human.

I am truly the luckiest person in the world. My friends are amazing, numerous and belligerent. I love them all.

Monday, September 26, 2016

If You're Going To Hang Out With Us...

There are things you're going to have to know if you're going to hang out with us. The first one would be something like "We Live In A Rainbow of Chaos" which I believe Cezanne said. It's not always good, it's seldom timely, and truly it's messy in a way it's difficult to properly explain.

Consequently, I'm pretty sure that if you're reading this you haven't ever been to my house and you probably haven't ever hung out with us. Most of the reasons for that are on us - truly, we're trying to spare you. Maybe we like to pretend we have it so much more together so I can present you with the HEY LOOK HOW AWESOME WE HANDLE OUR SHIT moments here. Probably not. I promise you, those who have hung out with us can attest to us as a group being at the least tardy and probably a show that's hard to handle.


It's just how we roll.

My oldest son has a best friend, however, who doesn't really ever spend time with us. We love the kid, but we don't want Louis to be embarrassed about how things go down around here so we mostly sanction him going with his friend to THEIR place. It gives Louis a great opportunity to GET AWAY from crazy life and we hope keeps him from being embarrassed at the age of 13 by his 12 year old brothers who hump pillows in the living room  and poop their pants.

That's the the harsh reality of the doin's at our house.

We decided that maybe it was time to change this over the weekend. It was county fair time, everyone's favorite, and so we'd invite his friend and the boys could spend a "little" time with us and then go off together. Hanging out at the county fair as a teen seems like a right of passage, so we felt it was time we gave this a try.

As always we ended up with a late start, but the fair goes until Midnight or some nonsense so who even cares? Deep fried foods await, in the cool evening breeze they'd be even better. We'd warned his friend we'd leave between 3-5 and we finally kicked off at the later end of that interval.

On our way the first harbinger of doom showed up. The air conditioning wasn't blowing "cold" unless the car was going pretty fast, as soon as we slowed down it'd start blowing warm. We'd just HAD this issue and had to have work done. As we headed into fair traffic the temperature gauge on the car went up, up UP. We got lucky and were at a left turn and as the noxious smell began to infiltrate the car we not only turned left but pulled right into an AUTOZONE.

In the backseat Julia has been accosting B (the friend) nonstop with tales of every toy she's brought with her in her survival backpack. There's a boy in the car, there's someone in the car who hasn't heard EVERY SINGLE STORY she knows so he's getting an earful. The boys had been exchanging teenage eyerolls in silence and gesturing to theirs phones surreptitiously but now that we're stopped Louis has gotten out to help his dad and B is alone, victimized by a 6 year old talking machine.

It's decided we blew a fuse so a package of fuses is obtained. Apparently the fuses are in a wonky place and the husband obtains some pink polka dot gardening gloves of mine from the trunk and sets to work.

About this time Julia shrieks. "MILES TOOK A TOOTH OUT OF HIS MOUTH! THERE IS BLOOD EVERYWHERE!!"

B looks at me in shock as I casually open my door and get into the back of the van with a handful of ever present napkins. We stock napkins like the pilgrims stocked bibles. Miles hands me the tooth and says "Toof mouf - he goes aaaaaaaaa" and shows me. Blood is running down his chin, so I wipe him off and show him how to press the napkin into the socket. I examine the tooth, guessing a 12 year old molar (which we think has been causing him behavior issues recently). He decides it's fun to soak napkins with blood and throw them up front. B stares at me in silence, unsure what to think pretty obviously.

About then Charlie puts Julia in a bear-hug headlock and she screams. Once again I have to get up, get out, get in back and this time move Charlie up to sit next to B. Charlie proceeds to poke the bottom of B's shoe repeatedly saying "Shoe. Shoe. Shoe."

The fuse is dropped, the fuse is lost. A smaller fuse is tried. It blows as soon as we drive around the parking lot. The car begins to overheat again and poison again fills our world from the stink of the car.

Did I mention it's hot? I go inside and buy 7 waters and every chugs in the high 80 degree heat, miserable now having sat in this car almost an hour. It's sweltering, Charlie is poking B's shoe, Julia is chatting nonstop about toys and suddenly the hood closes -the FUSE is replaced. Except now it's OVER an hour later and will take us a long time to get into the fair in the fair traffic and OH HELL SCREW IT.

We let the boys decide where we would go to dinner, and that we'd call a birthday dinner for Lou.
This is the part of the story where you learn that even when things go completely sideways with us, hanging out with us can still be pretty fun. The boys chose SHOGUN which is one of my favorite restaurants and with the orders that they could have anything they wanted they were some pretty happy 13 year olds.
They started with some drink that you have to knock a marble or something down into so that the carbonation activates or SOMETHING. I don't know, but they were intensely happy about it.
Then they got to order fillet and scallops so really, I'm pretty sure they didn't miss those deep fried foods on a stick AT ALL.
Miles amazed us by being into the miso soup immediately, we suspect he'd been here with school. Lucky kid gets to go to SHOGUN with school.
Julia was hilarious, she didn't realize that there would be FIRE at the table and so wasn't prepared when the first big blast took place. She solved her issue however and truly enjoyed the rest of the show.
We'd always feared taking the twins there, we weren't quite sure HOW it would go however it went so well we know now it's a place we can go. Julia has asked if we can go there for her birthday. Heck yes we can.
The lesson here is - our lives are crazy. We truly have some nutty things happen in such a regular way that I think we try to save most folks from them. But maybe we're wrong about that. Maybe you'd like coming over and hanging out.

Even when everything goes wrong for us, somehow it ends up pretty good.

Super Lucky Cat knows.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Running From The Rain

I'm an intensely half-assed runner. As in, I am really not invested in it. The things I like about it are the caloric burn and oh that's about it. I am a duplicitous creature, though, and it bothers me to be bad at things (unless those things are  housekeeping or cooking or domestic chores). But I was two days in a row with no work out and I felt an intense desire to burn some calories off as well as just sweat and not be cooped up in my house. So with rain threatening to the west I decided I could do a mile before it started raining. I took off up the stupid hill which doesn't look like a hill at all unless you're on foot, and into the wind.

It was really a perfect day to be outside for a girl who mostly walks and half-assed runs. Personally I don't think it'll ever be MY THING as I've got some arthritis in one knee and I'm fat as hell and I have no stamina and oh god I could do this ALL DAY. There are REASONS why it's not going to be my thing, yet there I go, giving it another try.

Today I half-assed ran down our street, down the main street to the next neighborhood and the length of THAT street and back. I had a plan. I was going to push myself and do the running intervals I was supposed to do for a change. My plan was SOLID. The rain was west, and while the wind was picking up - seriously I'm going ONE MILE. Even my big ass can go ONE MILE in 20 or so minutes. I'm not fast. I stressed this on my whole "half-assed" part right?

So there I am running down the sidewalk and heading toward the next street when something squishes under my feet. I was busy cursing that bitch on C25k who is all "START RUNNING" like she's my boss and just kept going, much to the chagrin of the passing cars I'm sure. Oh well if you don't want to see a fat girl working out don't leave your house. We are legion.

About half way down the next street over the mist began. It wasn't bad, more of a Seattle type of event. Enough to annoy your glasses but not enough to complain about. By then I was struggling to obey my digital overlord when she told me to run so I was settling with walking fast. The street next to me also has a stupid hill that you don't notice except when you're on foot and when I headed back UP my entire body said YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVEN'T WORKED OUT IN TWO DAYS AND WE'RE DONE NOW SO JUST QUIT. It was right at about that moment that the entire sky said HAHAHAHA YOU CAN'T OUTRUN ME NOW and then well....nature happened.

As I walked/half-assed ran down the main street back toward my house I stopped under the canopy of trees as I realized what I had stepped on when I went by earlier. Persimmons! Persimmons, that most Hoosier of fruit, base ingredient for persimmon pudding which was one of the the great childhood cakes of my grandma's house.The owner of this house clearly does not know that you're supposed to put a ground sheet under your tree and that they're ripe when they fall, not a moment before. All these persimmons are getting crushed under my feet and the feet of others.

Philistine.

I made it home, soaked and sweating at the same time which is a delightful combination. Now I really need to go home and get some persimmon pudding. If you haven't ever hard it, here is the realest recipe - my grandma would approve. You have to put cool whip on top, however. It's a moral imperative.

If anyone needs me I'll probably be napping, dreaming of ground sheets and plump, small, orange bombs falling from the sky. There's worse ways to spend my afternoon.




Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Penny Candy and Dirty Old Men

When I was growing up there was a gas station less than a block from my grandma's house called Smitty's. Their gas pumps had long since stopped working, one was sideways on its concrete island. The canopy was still in place, for a while, until a tornado blew it away one spring. The bays were closed up and full of varied junk. The best part about Smitty's was - they had penny candy.

They had real penny candy, pieces of candy that cost one cent. Various kinds of candy, candy that was not meant to be sold individually. They also had ice cream bars for twenty five cents. It was exactly the sort place a budget conscious elementary school kid would value.

It was also crowded. The shelves were full of cans of oil (so long ago oil did in fact come in cans), and other auto related items, some of which appeared not to have moved in my life time. Behind the counter sat Smitty, and beside the counter sat varied old men in rocking chairs or on stools. Jay and Silent Bob perhaps, if they were ancient, grizzled and grease stained.

Another important fact about Smitty's, in fact THE most important fact, was that it was forbidden. VERBOTEN. We were NONE of us allowed to go there. It stood at the halfway point between the elementary school and my destination. Hundreds of children walked right past it daily, none daring to go in with the crossing guard so close and attentive. Why was it forbidden?

Dirty old men.

That was the answer that we were always given. "It's full of Dirty Old Men. You aren't to ever go there."

But during the 70s when children were sent outside and expected to stay outside and candy cost a penny, the idea of dirty old men wasn't fearsome at all. Why did WE care if they were grease stained? Our small neighborhood cabal of children worked it all out. Our mothers thought these men would hug us and get our clothes dirty, so we decided to go in small groups and NEVER let them hug us. Problem solved.

Getting TO Smitty's was the logistical problem. It was nearly in SIGHT of my grandmother's house. We couldn't just walk down the street no way, we'd be caught. What we had to do was run a gauntlet of backyards, all the way across and then back toward the school and them come toward Smitty's from the opposite direction. There was a small chance of being spotted even then, as there was a small window of street crossing where we could be seen from the front porches. However the lure of penny candy and twenty five cent ice cream is strong, and we vowed to run and they'd never see us.

To be fair, and possibly clear the reputation of the proprietor and customers of Smitty's they were never anything but nice to us. They never tried to hug us or do any untoward thing. We'd come in, stay clustered together, pick out our scraps of candy or maybe do a big splurge and get ice cream. Then we had to get it back to a safe place to eat it. The only truly safe place was Sheryl's house because both of her parents worked, so we would run the gauntlet in reverse (really fast if we had ice cream) and rush into her family room to consume our hoard of sweets while listening to some Barry Manilow Live.

You might think that living in a Mayberry Like Utopia we didn't really have anything to worry about in terms of perverts and child molesters. Maybe our parents were so wrong when they gave us that unheeded warning. Except that no, they weren't wrong to worry even in the 70s. A man pulled into a driveway in front of us once, and called us over to ask directions. He wasn't wearing pants - and was jerking off. We didn't know what he was doing, we were 7. We just knew he was naked and he wasn't supposed to be. Another time walking home from school, that short half block to my grandmas, a man followed us and opened the door of his car, calling us to come get inside. Child abduction, child molestation, flashing, these things were a thing - even in the 70s.

Because my grandpa had been the mayor I spent days/weeks after both incidents being followed at a distance when I went to and from school by a black and white police car. I'd given statements, I'd described the men. I never saw them again.

As a testament to childhood immortality and stupidity, those events never scared us off from going to Smitty's. There are times now that I wonder if those men saw us there, or if the men at Smitty's were unfairly maligned. Even in the 70s we should've had a better idea what the dangers really were.

To borrow a phrase from my favorite show, the night may be dark and full of terrors but the day has is own kind, we just didn't know it then.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

In Between Workouts and Coffee

I'm having one of those "both sides of the coin" Autism Mom mornings. I'm probably not actually supposed to capitalize those letters in Autism Mom but I'm going to as I think it should be a proper noun. Anything that can run the gauntlet from amazing to infuriating to fucking vile in less than six hours should be a proper noun.

Amazing is often my early AM hours. Usually Miles will steal into my room. If my husband hasn't come to bed yet (he's a night owl) Miles will sleep on his side and find his own comfy spot. But if it's after 6 am or so and the bed is fully occupied he slips beside me and will whisper "snuggle" to me. This morning he was drowsy and heavy lidded, not saying a word as he rested his head on my chest, just under my chin. His warm breath was on my neck as he wrapped an arm and a leg around me and I just rested there, holding him tight and feeling perfectly in love with him. I looked at his long lashes and his perfect pouty lips, and I couldn't remember a moment of him shrieking, tearing at his skin until he bled and then tearing some more. I couldn't remember him trying to hurt his siblings, or me, or breaking things because he could. I just see that baby they handed me, while his twin waited to be born, and I love him so much.

Infuriating usually pops up AROUND breakfast time. For whatever reason, despite his obvious DESIRE to eat, being told to eat often provokes rage. I've tried "suggesting". I've tried just mentioning there was food to other people. There is screaming, there is stomping. Sometimes he throws his food under the table (delightful). Today he apparently threw Cocoa Pebbles all over my dining room.

HAVE YOU EVER FUCKING HAD TO CLEAN UP COCOA PEBBLES THAT HAVE BEEN TOSSED HITHER AND YON?

I have. About 10:42 this morning. I don't want to talk about it. Let's just say it's over.

Fucking vile would be a range of topics in the world of Autism Mom world. It's not stuff we like to talk about, and I'm not sure why. I've written about trying potty training. Our dislike of poop and pee being all over our house is generally why it gets discarded. We've failed again so that means we've got 12 year olds in diapers. We have 12 year olds who are HEADLONG INTO PUBERTY in diapers.

That is exactly as gross as you think it is.

I don't think of it as gross, really, as I'm doing what needs to be done. I think of it as a job that must happen and I must do it. These are my children and they need this help from me, the person who brought them into the world and didn't get their DNA quite right somehow. (No I don't blame me, well maybe I do because DNA but that's a different post). What I know is they need me to help them, and so no matter how gross what I have to deal with is - I divide it into the sub-parts of this job and I get it done. What are the sub-parts?

  • Prep
    • Get diapers
    • Get wipes
    • Get an extra pair of shorts (or 2)
    • Get a bag for the dirty diapers
    • Open the bathroom door so you don't have to touch it with your hands (because if you have poop all over your hands omg you can't get that fucking door open I promise you)
    • Get down the box of butt creams (yep)
  • Bring in child
    • Assess situation - wet or muddy?
    • Clean as necessary
    • Assess skin condition 
      • If needed refer to contents of butt creams and apply what is needed
      • If not needed clean appropriately
  • Put dirty diapers and wipes in bag. A walmart bag specifically
  • Put clean shorts on child if necessary (usually is)
  • Tie up bag and take to top of stairs so it can be carried away
  • Wash hands for an eternity. Then wash them again. Then use hand sanitizer. Sniff hands. Wash again if necessary.
  • Give child shorts to put on
  • Carry bag away and throw it in the garage trash can
  • Lather, rinse, repeat ad infinitum 
It becomes vile because...they are 12. They poop like men. They are anatomically becoming men. You ever tried to clean poop out of pubic hair? IT ISN'T FUCKING EASY FOLKS. 

It's noon now, and I will most likely experience two of those three feelings again before I walk out the door for my day. People will say things such as "I don't now how you do it." To which I'll just always tell you the same thing.

I don't have any fucking choice.


The coffee thief himself, surfing Youtube this morning.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Wet Like Fish

I always think, wrongly, that giving the twins a shower instead of a bath will be easier. Time-wise, it IS easier. I can get them in and out of the shower in under ten minutes. But if you haven't ever put into a shower and TRIED to bathe a 12 year old who may or may not be having it, you'd realize quickly why this isn't always the best option.

It's my selfish side that wants them to shower. I don't want to risk the poop in the tub. I don't want to have to clean up the INCREDIBLE mess of water they make. I don't want to sit and WAIT for them to have enough time playing.

I'm a dick like that.

The trade off is the struggle. Sometimes they're super into it. They think it's fun, it's different. They don't mind getting under the shower head and they laugh a lot. Sometimes, not so much. Sometimes it is a FIGHT and if you've ever tried to FORCE someone under the shower head while not getting soap in their eyes you realize that the proposition of a shower is a dodgy one at best.

This morning, however, I embarked on SHOWERQUEST as I'm going to start calling it with what I'd call a medium level of success. There was a little grumbling about washing their hair but overall clean was accomplished in an efficient manner and we are all ready for out day should we end up going out for a adventure.

This brings me to the true down side of SHOWERING 12 year old boys. They're tall. They're VERY VERY TALL now. Whether they are happy or Defcon 1 about it, the gravity of the shower of water raining down doesn't change. Reach your arm up to rinse their hair under the shower and you've just created the autobahn for water to run the length of your arm, into your armpit, soaking into your bra and shirt. It's unavoidable.

It looks like this.

I know, I'm a major artist.

So I sit here, soaked and moist in unpleasant places content in the knowledge that my kids are clean and we're ready for today. I accomplished all of this early so that they had time for their hair to dry before we went out.

It occurs to me, though, now I could really use a shower...


Friday, September 02, 2016

Pastimes of My Poorer Self

We wandered over to South Carolina yesterday, in search of Jack in the Box (found) and something to do (also found). We ended up at the botanical gardens on Clemson's campus. We decided that with nothing better to do that blistering hot day, we'd go for a stroll.

As usual, this turned into a mushroom hunt.
I am always a little amused by hunting mushrooms for photos, as though I'm on some photo-safari of fungi. I suppose I am. But they're strange little things, with their shapes and colors and I'll admit, I'm always going to be entertained by this, at least a little.

If I happen to be observing the flowers, or the trees, and miss a fungal family I'll hear calls of "MOM! Mushroom!" and I bend down, getting low to meet the mushrooms on their level. After all, that's where they keep their secrets and I usually see the best stuff down there.
I wonder if my oldest even remembers from where this tradition arose. When we left Florida and moved to what I then considered hell and now find to be home, we were so in debt we could barely function. Months without income had taken it's toll. With three small boys to keep entertained the local parks were our frequent destination, and taking strolls through the new, alien landscapes ended up with Louis amazed at the quantity and variety of mushrooms.

We didn't have anything LIKE that in Florida. I am sure there are mushrooms. But they are Florida mushrooms and probably transient, sexual predators or in a rock band. Regardless, it was new and so taking pictures of mushrooms became a form of cheap entertainment that's now assigned to me every time we step into a woods.

I kind of like it. The mushrooms are kind of attention whores, they like it too.





Saturday, August 27, 2016

Half Runner Beans and Broken Hearts

The end of August is the herald of heartache in my life. For 11 years it's been a bittersweet time, as within a 48 hour span I am handed the anniversary of my beloved niece's birth and the death of a close friend. Add to that the events of last year and frankly, I could skip the end of August ad infinitum. If I could just jump from say, oh, August 20 to around September 4 or so that'd be great.

We recently drove up to the farmers market that's up near the mountains (but not quite IN the mountains) and everything reminded me so much of our huge gardens when I was little.
By the time Matt was born the huge gardens had gone by the wayside. But when I was little my grandparents, parents, and all of my grandparents neighbors all grew gardens that were about a half acre or more in size. They were massive to plant, massive to keep up, and massive to harvest.

It was a normal course of the day to be handed a basket and sent out to the garden to pick food for dinner. I can distinctly remember being shocked to learn, at about age 7, that you could also buy these things at the store. My grandmother had a basement that ran the length and width of her house which had a fruit cellar at one end. It was full of Ball jars with our vegetables for the year.


The farmers market reminded me of those days, when my Mom was young and not dying horribly or dead. She was younger than me, by quite a bit. Those days were so long. The hours in the gardens were interminable, hot and bug laden. I didn't really enjoy them one bit, if I'm honest. I would grumble and stomp around barefoot up and down the aisle, seeking the zucchini that I knew I would be required to eat, or pulling off some tomatoes that I knew I could talk them out of making me eat. Muddy, dusty feet, the smell of earth and green life growing all around me coupled with my mom calling me to hurry up were a theme of my childhood.

It seemed like those days were never going to end, and now I look back and they were forty years ago and I am confused about how that happened exactly. I don't think I could tell you how to can vegetables, or how to tell what's ripe enough to pick.

But I used to know. I was a different person then.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

History Lessons

We grow up learning the history of our state from a very early age. Even though I've been a Hoosier ex-pat since 99 I could still pretty accurately tell you the story of the Pigeon roost massacre, the Battle of Tippecanoe, the New Harmony community (like Shakers but not Shakers) and other intricacies of that boot shaped place. I know that Clinton is as far east as Prairie grass grows, and that The Region is a real place. I can tell you how my own family came to Indiana after the revolutionary war (land grant), where they settled (Nineveh) and the true stories of how we got to where I sit now in the grand scheme of things.

My kids are learning a different history and sometimes that's weird to me. They are learning the history of the place they are from, Georgia.
They are learning the lessons of tornadoes that caused devastation, and families that created a local art form that is legendary.
What is a little interesting is that it's seeping into my own brain. I knew as soon as we came into this room at the Northeast Georgia history museum that we were seeing some Meadors family work. It's interesting, that little nugget of history has made it into my collective knowledge base of these 8 years.
Each state has it's own thing, it's own history and it's story. It's what defines the people of that place. It's too bad, in a way, that there isn't enough time in school to learn these intricacies of each state. We'd understand WHY sometimes I think, when we cast our eyes across the Union, if we understood what came before.
 For me Georgia always represented a civil war place and that was about it. But having lived here so long, I've learned that the civil war is just one thing that happened here. Just like the Pigeon Roost massacre is just one thing that happened in Indiana, it doesn't define the whole of the place any more than that. When you don't live here, and you see the snippets of this place, it's easy to see it through the wrong eyes. I think that's true of everywhere.

It's one of the 13 colonies, most people forget that. Folks usually think New England - but no, we are one of them.

Some really amazing things are here, were here, and will be here. I think maybe that's why I like it so much. I dislike being so far from my family, my family beyond my walls. I love being in this foreign place that has become my home, that my children call home.
This stupid snake isn't one of those amazing things though. What on earth would possess someone to make this damn thing. 

"Ceramic snake killed by ex-pat Hoosier" is the first thing that came to my mind upon seeing it. Stupid snake.