A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.

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.


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.


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.


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.