A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.
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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Traditions Born In Necessity

My brother texted me earlier to tell me that THE EASTER BUNNY CAME. He seemed pretty excited. He went on to tell me that he'd just gotten home at 2 and had remembered that Mom used to hide eggs all around the house. So he did, and was pretty happy about it.

So was I.

It reminded me, having forgotten, why we used to do it that way. When I was a little girl we'd go to the city park where instead of eggs they would just have scattered these candies about for the hunt.
They were wrapped, but this was all you got. It was still a pretty big deal, warranting a pretty dress and shoes for the occasion, there is no question where my own daughter gets it.

However one year nature didn't cooperate and the Saturday before Easter there were storms - and no hunt. I was heartbroken. When I woke up Easter morning my mom informed me that the Easter bunny felt so bad about the hunt being cancelled that he just came and hid eggs at our house - so I spent my morning hunting eggs all over.

The same thing happened the next year and boom, we had a family tradition.

Around here our traditions evolved around necessity, around having two special little guys. This year they evolved some more as Daddy is sick as can be. I made a general announcement that the Easter bunny will be making a SPECIAL trip to our house this evening as Daddy has special work to do to help him and he was quite sick this morning.
That seemed to be quite well accepted and allowed for some much needed rest for the Paterfamilias.
We decided to try rolling our eggs in whipped cream (vs shaving cream) and food coloring to see if we could make some pretty eggs.
I thought we were making something to eat. Sad.
But everybody got into the action which was good. It's fun to dye your eggs new ways. But you gotta have good old Paas on standby right?
The Bunny will be making an appearance after while, there will be great surprise I feel certain. Luckily Daddy is well enough to help him in his many candy related chores.
I hope he likes our offering.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Egg Hunts You Can't Find On GPS

Our day was nearly ruined. It started with rain. No back that up. It started last night when the girl said "I can't wait to see my Easter dress" and I responded "Well we're going to a farm, so I thought you'd just wear your cute flowered overalls."

Oh dear. No. That was the wrong answer. Luckily the husband had run to Walmart and I sent an emergency ACQUIRE SOME SORT OF DRESS text. He shot back some photos and I picked one and we were set.

Then Saturday arrived. The husband was full blown sick, switching places with me as the most deathly ill person in the house. He came to bed freezing and shivering and chilling, and wasn't much better when it was time to go. I loaded up the address in my phone as this Easter Egg hunt farm is up in the mountains and I didn't really remember where it was.

That was the first problem. Most places in our mountains can't seem to be properly GPS'd. I find this to be problematic. I know that there are people who crave spots the GPS doesn't know but I am not one of these. I WANT TO HAVE EVERY INCH OF THE EARTH MAPPED AND PINGING A DAMN SATTELITE. So we made a turn we didn't recognize and ended up rolling up a mountain, eventually onto a one lane road.

We'd laughed about the "last gas for 20 miles" sign except when we were halfway up the mountain with no sign of it ending and our gas light came on. The time was ticking and we were losing. We asked one then two locals. With no signal we were stuck trusting their directions - none of which were QUITE right it seemed as they kept us going mountain-ward. Eventually we circumnavigated an entire lake community, a mountain or two and our gas gauge was dropping further and further below the line.

(Photo credit - things I saw while lost)
Suddenly - I GOT SIGNAL. I made a frantic phone call to some really nice people at the farm who, despite me having no signs or landmarks for a minute or two were able to piece together where I was from the sign at a church - AND GOT US THERE right on time. Low on gas, nerves frazzles, but ON TIME.

We lined up and got ready...to GET SOME EGGS.

Miles has to wear his hood up like a Sith. I don't know why.
Louis had to help Charlie, but he didn't seem to mind, and even though he's "too big" for all of this I think he kind of likes participating. Don't tell anyone.

The hunt itself went quickly, as they do. It's a nice big field and no one seems to mind the twins, even though they're kind of big for it. I am sort of thinking maybe we'll just end up filling eggs or something ourself next year - Julia is still little enough but Miles and Charlie won't understand why they are too big. It's hard being a great big little guy.
They dont conceive of being 11. They're just little tiny guys in their own minds.
Charlie looks drunk. He is not drunk. I promise.
It's a very nice spot, however, for egg hunting and even better than that, there are other things to do there. Like, take a train ride. We may officially be getting too big to get on these little trains together.
With my husband feeling worse and worse we crammed into a little train car for a tour of the farm. It began to rain, but we were in the covered caboose with no worries, except that we were crammed into a little train car.
The oldest boy suffered the indignity of the whole thing rather well I felt.
After that we headed into the gem mine to pan for gems, and buy pretty rocks, and just look at stuff in general.
We got to swing a bit and play before it was time to head home and get Daddy to bed where he so desperately needed to be.
The twins love to swing so much, I wonder sometimes how much it would be to put in a REALLY sturdy wooden swing set like this that THEY could use for a long time. They would love it.

All this being said, we had our Easter egg hunt and the fun of the Hillside Farm once again. We survived being lost in the mountains, almost running out of gas and a rain storm that threatened our day. Eggs were obtained, joy was had, and really that was the point of it.

I've got my husband tucked back into bed sick as hell, and my kids are doing random things and I'm just relaxing and thinking about how much my mom would've liked the photos of the kids today. We would've talked about all of them, and laughed at Charlie's silly swing face, and his silly drunk face. I miss having her to share these moments with, but I'm glad I'm still making these memories with my little people.

I asked Julia what was her favorite part of the day.
She said "Everything."

I'll take it.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Invisible Children

Everyone hopes that their children will do/be/achieve greatness in the world. I think that's normal. I mean, we've always said "We just want them to be happy" and that's quite true. But when they hand you that baby after hours of blood, sweat and agony, they are also handing you a clean slate of possibility in the form of another human. This child, this mewling pink thing could be anything. They might invent the cure for cancer. They might be a great poet. They might be the world's greatest car thief. You don't know what they will be - but the possibilities are endless.

They are endless until you learn your child has a disability for which there is no cure, no end, and no meaningful improvement from. Then you learn to set your sights lower, reduce the scope of your dreams, and be happy for what you have. We used to say that Charlie would be a pilot, when he was a toddler. He LOVED planes - still does. He loved them the way my brother Matt loved trains. We'd laugh, "Charlie will fly helicopters. Charlie will fly planes one day." It was a little meaningless game all parents play. It was heartful, and happy and silly. It was also dead wrong.

Charlie will never fly a plane. Unless it's some sort of death plane - he'd be fine at flying at that.

My twin boys will likely live our their lives with me and their father and some day have to live in some sort of a home unless their siblings have the means to afford some one to help care for them in their own home. They won't write literature, fly planes, cure disease or create anything lasting on this earth. But they will have been loved, and safe, and happy. That's as good as I can ever hope for. If we get more than that on any day, I will count it good fortune and be grateful.

I won't give up hope for improved treatments or therapies for them, but I also won't live my life waiting for them. I accept that this might be it. They might be EXACTLY like this until the day I die. That's ok if that's how it is.

They're invisible on the earth. I see them, but the world really won't ever see them or regard them. There won't be people who remember them fondly except our immediate family, no people who look up to them, or regard them as peers and comrades in arms. They're singular, each alone even as they are together.

Imagine my surprise when last night we reviewed papers from school and this was in Miles work.
It says:
Dear President Carter
This month we are studying about peacemakers. We were taught about how you were a peacemaker.
I want to thank you for your work in domestic and foreign affairs.. You gave people hope.
Sincerely
Miles McNeal

His class all wrote letters, and they were taken to former President Carter...and READ TO HIM.

Now, I'm positive he had some help writing the letter as I can't recall the last time Miles brought up DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

But here's the thing.

Jimmy Carter heard a letter written by my Miles. Jimmy Carter, former president, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, heard a letter written by Miles.

I literally burst into tears when I learned this. My invisible child was heard by him. He probably won't remember, it was probably one of 50 letters from Special kids he heard that day. That doesn't matter.

One of the most important figures of the late 20th century (whether you life him or not) heard of my child. It is something I would never have dreamed was possible. It makes me happier than I can ever explain, unless you have a disabled child yourself. In that case, I know you understand.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Park Under The Chicken

When we were in the mountains a couple of weeks ago one of our goals was to stop at a place the husband had been to a while back. He wanted me to see the place.
So this place was so ridiculous and fun. She's a local artist who essentially makes yard art, but man it's just yard art of the highest order.
For someone who has no interest in yard work at all, I have to admit that I suddenly want to landscape and have all the yard art ever. This is just adorable. I want to be THAT neighbor. I want to have weird, unnecessary things in my hard.
The kids loved the really giant things, like the dragon and the king kong. Hey look there's my shadow! I'm giant too!
Do you think my neighbors would care if I buried a car in my yard for art?
What if it was cute? They probably would. Also I wouldn't tend the shrubs so it would look all life after people shortly. So no to that I suppose.
I have so many decorating aspirations and I swear this life sucks them all out of me. THIS IS SO CUTE. I want a little camper and to decorate it. I'm sick today so all I can do is imagine what it would be like to have such energy to decorate things and stuff.
When it was all said and done, we decided we are going to be THOSE neighbors and I got two pieces of yard art and sorry not sorry.
The pig is a real working weathervane.
Yes, I need to work on my flower garden, I know.

I have this GREAT IDEA for flowerbed edging...but it sounds like a lot of work so you know, haven't done it. But it would be SO CUTE.

Some day.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Part Two: Professional Bull Riding Is a Thing

So the plan was pretty straightforward, pick up the boy in the early evening from the Boy Scout flag retirement ceremony at the American Legion and then come home and do...ok well nothing. Based on my morning I was pretty down with that.

Then I got a message from one of my oldest friends, who has a cool TV related job and he said "Hey, I'm in town for the PBR and wondered if you'd like to come out and bring the kids?"
It's probably both a sign of my age and my mental state that my first thought was Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. It turns out he wasn't inviting us to swill beer from a can, however, it was far better than that. The Professional Bull Riding Thingamajig was in town and quite near us too. I had never seen such a thing so it was a go.
I went over to the Legion and luckily they were burning up the last flag. We went home and busted a move to meet up with Bryan at Gwinnett Arena. It has a different name now but whatever. They aren't paying me to advertise for them.
Bryan has a cool TV job and they were filming the competition. We learned that like in football if you call for a ruling, these are the guys who review the tape.
Louis and Julia were pretty enamored of all of it, and I gotta admit - Bryan has a pretty cool job for sure. Now for the next part I failed because we got to go in through the back, where the bulls come in and out AND we got to walk by some of the riders (including the world leader wooo!) which was all pretty cool. It was neat to see all of the behind the scenes stuff, none of which I got pictures of because I was so busy making sure my kids didn't get in the way of interviews or any of the people actually working back there.
I have known Bryan for a million years, it was so awesome of him to think of us and it was great to see him. I look like crap in this picture but I don't even care, it was epic.

Then we found our seats and discovered that hey, bull riding is a thing. It's a really FUN thing.

video

video
Can I say first of all that 8 seconds is a really long time? I mean, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on how long seconds are just based on cool downs on video games. The cool down on a video game is absolutely nothing like the 8 seconds of riding on a bull that would really like to to kill you. It would really really like to stomp in your head, but not for meanness. Just because it can.

I also learned that there is American Bull Fighting. I was feeling a bit like Hemingway when they said bullfighting was coming up. But then I learned that the version of Bullfighting featured here was really like playing Last Licks with a bull.

Playing Last Licks was a game we'd play in middle school and some in high school where you slapped someone and took off before they could get you back. The idea was to get in the "last lick" or slap. The bull did not seem to dig this game. The bull gets points in this game for acting like a jerk though so who can say?
The kids were really into it. This was probably the most sedate Miles was the whole time. The loud fun music, silly clown and the excitement with each ride had all four of them ecstatic the whole time.
I would not have guessed that Professional Bull riding NOR American Bullfighting would hold any interest for this crew, but they were all completely mesmerized.
It just goes to show you that your day can start off as total crap and by nightfall you're watching cowboys get tossed around like ragdolls on top of really angry bovine. You just never know what your day is going to bring.

We saw more than one guy go the full 8 seconds, I have to admit it's impressive as hell because wow how do you do that? 

It was a fun, laughter filled end to a crazy long ass day. I can't believe how much fun my kids had or how much they liked it but I'm so glad we went. Thank you again Bryan for thinking of us. It wasn't an event I would have expected to like, or for my kids to like, but it was really amazing and ridiculously fun. It was an awesome Saturday night.

And Bryan, you're welcome for me not telling those guys in the truck to call you Boychick. That's the best poker name ever though. Sincerely - Long Liz.

Saturday Part One: Wax and Poop and The Pride Swallowing Siege

I have to divide my day into two parts. Part two was divine. This is not about that part.

I woke up yesterday without much ceremony or issues, changed the twins, toddled about being me. I had a lot of stomach upset however, and without being too graphic - we'll just say it was the House of Tokyo effect and my friends from back in the day will understand completely.

As an adult I'm equipped to emotionally and physically handle such issues with mostly grace although I can admit I had some coffee anyway, knowing full well it would contribute to my situation.

The twins however, did not warn me they didn't feel well. That whole "not communicating" thing is problematic in these areas and they slugged down their share of coffee and right about then the pooping began. And continued. By 10 am I had changed six diapers I would describe as horrific. One was a downright disaster of hazmat proportions. I got them cleaned up and by 1030 am EVERYONE impacted had a healthy dose of immodium to stop the works.

My house, however, smelled like death poop. It smelled like if death had been eating rotten corpses and then had pooped in my living room. I washed my hands repeatedly and still, the house was just ugh, so gross. So I lit my little owl candle melt thingy to bring the wonderful smell of some Middle David smelly good things to life.  I poured my self a cup of coffee and sat down to see what's new with Frank and Claire on House of Cards.

The kids were upstairs doing whatever it is they were doing. Louis was off at a Boy Scout thing, he'd been gone since the day before and my world is always worse without him however I had managed to wrangle the crazy while my husband got some well deserved sleep.

It was quiet. I watched one then two episodes of House of Cards, and I marveled more than once at how the kids hadn't ever come downstairs, it was unlike them. Our stairs creak MADLY however so no one can really sneak anywhere around here.

Diaper issues can be so frustrating. You don't expect to be changing horrible diapers when your kids are 11 but here I am. I'd lie and say I don't resent it but I do fucking resent it a lot. I'm not wired for this whole special needs kid thing. I do, however, love my children. So what that means is that despite the toll it can take on my person many days, I would still do anything for them. These two hours alone with my coffee were resetting me, refocusing me and letting me get my perspective pointed more positively.

That's when Julia came downstairs and said "Ewww, Mom what's in my water cup?"

I wandered into the dining room and looked into her cup, still sitting there since breakfast (I'm lazy, sue me.) I couldn't quite make out what I was seeing in the cup, fleks of something, something....reddish?

That's when my eyes did a cinematographer quality slow sweep into my kitchen where I beheld....WAX.

Wax all over the counter, down the counters, on the stove, on the toaster, on the floor.

FUCKING WAX EVERYWHERE.

My Middle David wax melt with wonderful smell had been gotten into and flicked, smeared and whatever else - all over my kitchen.

This is the pride swallowing siege part of my life. I can't scream. I can't even really punish. I knew who it was before he came down the stairs, covered in wax. It was my Charlie, who loves the smell of these scented wax melts so much he can NEVER resist putting his hands into them, thus they can never be used without total supervision. I thought I had achieved that because they were upstairs and I was downstairs and seriously HOW did he come downstairs, flick WAX everywhere and take drinks of Julia's water - depositing wax and then LEAVE? HOW?

There are about 1000 videos and tips on Pinterest and youtube and the WEB in general on how to remove wax. Most of the involve an iron and I am allergic to my iron. Also, I'm not sure where it is. So after having a serious sobbing cry on my kitchen floor I figured out that the low melting point of this wax makes it pretty easy to get up with scalding hot water, never mind the skin on your hands though.

Autism parenting is just too damn hard some days. This was entirely too much to deal with before noon.

Here is my Jerry Maguire quote that in my opinion sums up Autism parenting on so many days.
It's an up at dawn, pride swallowing siege that I will NEVER fully tell you about. Ok?

Monday, March 07, 2016

Triangles and Wommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

I fell into bed early, and slept like someone who had a full day of fresh mountain air that was crisp and full of goodness. I slept hard, drooling on my husband's pillow until the sound made me sit straight up in bed.
It was was Julia. I heard her voice say something and I sat up. I could see down the hall, though, and her door was shut. I sat up on the side of the bed, waiting for more words.
"Triangles, triangles, T T TRIANGLES..." the voice continued. It wasn't Julia but I couldn't figure it out. It was such a tiny voice.
It occurred to me that it was Miles, and autism had woken him up or was making him chatty in his sleep. There were more ABCs and random words. Sometimes Autism is the puppy-baby-monkey of life. I got back under the covers and closed my eyes when I became aware of something else.

WOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

The earth was making a sound. Or, something was. This loud hummming, this sound. I got up and looked out the window to make sure I wasn't ground zero for some invasion but no, there was nothing. In fact I realized it wasn't a sound I was hearing, It was a sound I was feeling. I crawled back into bed, aware that the whole world was buzzing and wondered if I was dreaming.

I opened my eyes again, and realized that I was only feeling this because it was so still, so very quiet. The whole world was buzzing to me. I knew what the feeling was.

It was Everything.


Sunday, March 06, 2016

Go Chasing Waterfalls

I personally never listen to advice from people with names like Left Eye so we decided to go chasing waterfalls today. Luckily, Georgia has lots.
We set out today without an agenda except for our breakfast spot, and wandered north toward Tennessee. I still can't get used to the idea that Tennessee is north. It's hard wired into me that it's south. But no, north we went and into the Georgia mountains, past the Rabun Gap and into the land of magical scenery. It's just so beautiful here, I am so glad the warmer weather has returned.
Why are waterfalls so amazing? I'm not really sure. Maybe it's the huge rush of water, and the invigorating spray of the icy cold mist coming off of it. Maybe it's just the whole "majesty of nature" sort of thing. BEHOLD! NATURE! Something like that. 
But there is something about them. The allure is so strong that a 13 year old boy who can't stop talking about video games will climb out on the furthest rock he can and sit enraptured, just watching the fall happen. It was probably the quietest he was all day. He sat up on that rock and just gazed, watching everything happen as more and more water fell over the cliff. "Look Mom! A rainbow!" he called back to me. I got lucky and got it on film. I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to tell his friends how much he liked that.

I can admit it though, I really liked it a lot. It's the sort of place that makes me feel recharged, renewed. The air is fresh, made crisp even by the cold mist coming off those falls. You can feel the power of the falls even from a distance. The noise is beautiful and deafening at the same time.
It's the kind of place where my children photobomb me as my husband takes my picture, and I'm pretty amused by it. Pretty sure there are no other humans in the world I would rather be photobombed by.

So random "it's in the DNA" fact, my son can be a lot like my brother in his mannerisms. This stance by my oldest son, is exactly the stance of my brother Matt when he is considering something. He shifts his weight exactly like this, when he's thinking about doing something etc. My son is considering climbing out on those rocks at this moment. He hadn't committed to it, but he was definitely thinking about it. He was eyeing them, and the water and if he could get that far out without getting wet.

Many people keep their autistic kids on a tight schedule, but we've always found that didn't work for us as a family. What works better is being aware of their needs, and their wants. Today we had no schedule and no plans. We didn't eat lunch, we had a late breakfast and an early dinner.
There weren't any complaints, there rarely are. We wandered the mountains in search of adventure and we found some. This waterfall was just one stop we made.
I will always chase waterfalls. They fill up my heart. It's the best feeling in the world.