A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.
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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Diamond Birthdays Part One

In the month of April 50% of my family has a birthday.

This is pretty much the month after which we go broke for a while. True story.
As a family of six we do a lot of birthdays at home. We don't live near any family, so usually it's just us and a cake and presents. We'll try to go somewhere fun, do something fun, but we don't do the whole HAVE ALL THE KIN OVER FOR BIRTHDAY thing because well - ours live hundreds of miles away.

We've been lucky to have Aunties Suzie and Debbie here on the rare occasion, but generally it's just US. For that reason when you get to school and finally have lots of friends, we tend to DO IT UP.
The girl chose to have her party at an indoor play land called Everland which is pretty freaking amazing. She'd been there before, as a pre-schooler with her Daddy while I was at work. We invited her whole class and the girl scouts and waited to see what would happen.
To say that she and her friends had a ridiculous time might be the understatement of the universe.

What was great though was getting to see her with other children. Not her family, just children who know her in ways I don't ever get to see - that SCHOOL version of Julia that isn't the home version of Julia but is probably on the path to being the person she'll become in ways I haven't fathomed yet.
It's also sort of enlightening to see how other people react to your child. Watching other children, seeing how THEY see her. I'm not neutral. There is a certain amount of "Oh wow they DO like her" that I think other parents feel too. You want your kids to be liked, you want them to be around people who are good to them. I felt really good seeing them all playing with her so joyfully.

We had a choice, we could have goodie bags and a character present OR skip both. Well goodie bags are just crap no one wants in their house. Small toys that break, stickers that end up where they should not, etc. No parent wants goodie bags. MAKE NOTE YOUNGER PARENTS. NO ONE WANTS THIS.

We decided to have Elsa come out, thinking she would come out and sing Happy Birthday and do a photo op.

WOW were we wrong.
She came out and every little girl in the place LOST THEIR MIND. They started blasting LET IT GO - and while all the little girls belted it out word for word, Elsa grabbed Julia and starts twirling her around the room. At some points she grabs every other girl and also dances and twirls them.

It was possibly one of the most exhuberantly joyful things I have ever seen in person.

Elsa stayed for photo ops afterward - you can see she's a bit exhausted. The girls are completely amazed if you can't tell.
She will never be six again. She will never have another Kindergarten birthday party. It wasn't cheap but I'm so glad we did it. Watching her joy and excitement was worth it.
Every once in a while, I think it's ok for all your dreams to come true. Especially if it's your birthday.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Festival Season Kicks Off

So over a month ago I noticed someone showing "interest" on Facebook in an event called Bear on the Square which takes place up toward the mountains in Dahlonega. I thought it looked kind of cute so I made note of it too, hoping maybe we could go. We love festivals, always have even in the BEFORE KIDS TIME and I'm hoping we really get back to them this year more often.

It's a challenge to take two severely autistic kids out to festivals. First of all there's the diapers - changing diapers in a port-a-potty is almost always impossible as you have to take off their shoes and I think we all know that standing barefoot or in socked feet in a port-a-potty is one of the circles of hell. Plus I think you'll get smallpox doing that, or something like smallpox. We're vaccinated but who wants to risk it?

I didn't know there WAS a bear to meet but we ran right into him when we got there. The kids all thought that was great.

The festival was a pretty damn good one. There were TONS of stringed instruments for sales, and folk crafts - (REAL crafts not stuff done with glue guns made at Michaels). Officially it was an Appalachian Art and Music Festival and it didn't disappoint at all. I kind of wanted to pick up this stringed instrument called a panjo, I am totally going to next time I see one. I have no idea why but it was pretty cool. Next time!

I usually pick up a piece of jewelry at these kind of festivals, and Julia was excited to get to pick up a ring as a souvenir. It's fun to have pieces that not everyone else has. The ring she picked up has the quality of being "purple" in my opinion. She was pretty excited however, so WIN for the almost 6 year old.

Now see this? This is $32 worth of root beer floats.
Festival food is always a crap shoot. Sometimes it's over priced, sometimes it's really reasonable. Sometimes it's amazing and OH WOW SO GOOD and sometimes it's like holy hell what did we just buy and why? Unfortunately this day we chose all the wrong food. ALL the wrong food. These root beer floats were possibly the WORST root beer I have EVER had, flat and warm with cheap ice cream in it. UGH not good. Oh yay we had free refills. We left the mugs behind because we didn't want reminders of this travesty of wasted money in our home.

That was possibly the only real low point however. There was the MOST immaculate port-a-potty in Christendom and I was able to change both twins without fear of plague and flesh eating bacteria being present. So that particular piece of Special Needs Parenting was actually pretty easy yesterday.
While my kids might identify their new balloon animal friends as the best part of their day, I have to say I think it was the music.
The entire place was like the O' Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack on fantastic repeat. If you like that sort of thing (which I do) it was pretty amazing. Every few feet there was another small group of either bluegrass or old timey musicians, playing and singing and it was just lovely. You didn't have to go find a spot at a main stage to hear the music, it was a few feet away while you bought soaps, rings, jellies, etc.

If you don't know the difference between Old Timey music and Bluegress the festival's website has some helpful information for you.

Ok it's funny, you should read it.

Home Depot had a booth set up for kids to do crafts, so our three little guys all made little wagons. It was evident Miles has been to Home Depot frequently with his class, as he grabbed the hammer immediately and went to work. He knew exactly what to do. Charlie wasn't quite as interested and needed a little more help but I think they all liked this part and now various princesses and Tigger have "a sick new ride" according to my oldest.

I'm going to have to have a better DIAPER plan for the summer festivals. Sometimes we just change in the van (not ideal for poop lemme tell you) so I'm going to be thinking on that a lot. I'm not going to let their diapers hold us back from all of the experiences out there for us. They loved the music, and they got new toys to play with and it was an all around great day.
Miles managed not to flip out over dogs, and we left with lots of handcrafted goodies to enjoy. Those two things alone were completely worth the day.

It was a perfect family day out. We need more of these.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

President Carter Wrote Back

If you read the other post, you know that this made us cry ...and why.

Thank you Jimmy Carter. You're an amazing human being.

Monday, April 04, 2016

The Thing About Work Travel

I don't actually like to leave my family to travel. I HATE not being surrounded by my chaotic world of children and annoying husband. (He and I annoy the shit out of each other despite how much we love each other. I think that comes from being together so long.) I miss all the things that annoy me about all of them the moment I walk out the door.

It always reminds me of the line from "I Love You To Death" - which goes "I miss him so much, I forget everything I hate about him."

That's how I feel from the moment I step out the door until the moment I return.

Except for the one thing, I love to travel.
It's not the leaving or being alone that I covet, althought there is some value in that sometimes. There is some peace and self recharging that happens at thirty five thousand feet for sure.
I can drink coffee and no one is beside me stealing drinks, which is surely a luxury in this life of mine. I bitch about that a lot, but it annoys the living hell out of me. However, given the option I would always take having small humans to steal my coffee vs. not.
What I love is the sensory experience of being in a new place, or visiting one that isn't home. I want to soak up this new place on the Earth, it's sights and sounds, it's flavors. I want to experience it all.
I think I kind of walk around like a slack jawed tourist, finding amusement in childish things but I don't really care, it's way too much fun just to enjoy everything as it comes to me than to pretend to not.
People totally stared at me taking these pictures. DO NOT CARE.

That's the fun of it.

I do actually have to do work, and as it turns out my job is usually exactly the same I'm just sitting in a different place which is fine, I kind of think that's cool in a modern world sort of way.
But all in all, no matter how much fun I'm having being solo and having adventures I'm missing my humans a lot.

No matter how exotic your foot flush is, there's no place like home.



Sunday, April 03, 2016

Sleep of the Not So Dead

If I lay down in bed I can be assured of a visitor or two. Or three. It usually starts with this boy. Yesterday I was in the grips of sinus hell and the medicine combating it which sent me to nap repeatedly throughout the day, leaving my oldest child in charge as the husband was even sicker than I.

This boy came into bed, draping his legs over mine and whispering "SHHHHH" as he prodded me into the snuggle position he wanted. He thought it was hilarious to take a picture snuggling in bed. Shortly after he found his spot, the girl showed up, shoving into the other side and saying she needed mommy.

My head was spinning, and aching, and I closed my eyes and tried to drift off despite four legs draped across me and an elbow in my side. I might have gotten fully asleep except that then the door opened again and Charlie came in, and demanded a spot beside Miles but he actually wanted to be beside me so he grabbed my arm, draping it across Miles, and resting my hand in his.

By that time I weighed about 500 pounds, cold medicine pressing me into the good mattress we'd bought using my mom's brand biases. I slipped in and out of sleep, based on which child was poking me, prodding me or fighting for the spot closest to me. 

At some point my husband sent in the oldest boy to remove the ruffians from my clutches and I slipped into the dark silence of medicated sleep. It's a really good sleep, isn't it? I love it when I don't feel good. Such a heavy, healing sleep happened for the next hour that I woke up feeling human, which was a nice surprise.

I think I'm chalking yesterday up to allergies - which is good because I'm not up for being sick AGAIN. I'm also not up for allergies but I'll take what I can get. It beats the living hell out of being sick yet again.

Friday, April 01, 2016

All Your Taste Is In Your Mouth

When I was in 7th grade my dad decided he'd had it with the super judgy small town life and we were going to move where our name didn't matter and blend in with the masses. In the middle of the school year he bought a condo in Indianapolis and away we moved. I moved from a small middle school with people I'd known my whole life to a gargantuan monster of a school that had busing (if you don't know what busing is look up Brown vs. the Board of Education) and more students than it could handle. Teachers were overwhelmed and students were some of the biggest jerks I had ever run in to by and large.

I hated it. I was bullied. I was taunted. I was physially attacked. I was hit so many times by one girl that when I retaliated that the teacher simply looked up from her papers, shuffled them, and went back to reading. It was a middle school nightmare, the stuff sit coms and middle school suicide dramas are made of on Lifetime.

This isn't about all that.

In my art class was a girl who was just a little different. When I joined the class she'd said, unsmilingly, "You can sit here I guess." That was as close to a warm greeting as I had there. We were making batik pillow cases. I didn't know what the hell batik was. She laughed at me for not knowing, but showed me how to use the wax, and helped me pick colors to help me catch up with everyone else.

About a month in to my new life, when I was about as desperate as a 13 year old can be in hating a new school and all the new people, she looked at me across the art table and said "My parents are going out of town this weekend. Can I stay with you?"

I was flabbergasted and also ecstatic - YES YES YES YOU CAN STAY WITH ME.

When Monday came, everything was different. I had a friend. I had a friend who was fierce. She wasn't "fierce" in the way that kids now say it by putting on too much make up and too tight clothes. No, she was fierce like water or wind can be when they go from docile to destructive. She was a force of nature. She was smart. She was funny. She was intense. She burned brightly and joyfully - and beside her I could leech her energy and feel the same. She made me turn back into myself again, and sometimes be more than I was because she didn't accept that I coudln't.

We discovered the mysteries of sex reading Judy Blume, and various porn that came our way and consulted one another incredulously for the veracity of these things. This was before the internet - word of mouth went a long way back then. Unfortunately it was usually wrong, however so is the internet so nothing's new under the sun after all.

If I stood behind her she was like the greatest shield you ever felt. She was impenetrable. No one was going to get through her and to you if she didn't want them to. If you needed her, she was never going to let it happen.

We went through the teenage things together as girls and that's a bond that forges deeply in you, I think. The person who was there when you went from being a child to turning into a woman is someone who probably knows parts of you that you've even forgotten. More than that though, her coming into my life changed it for the better in ways immeasurably. She saved me from terrible days. With her in my life I no longer went home after school and sobbed until dinner. I no longer dreaded waking up.

She made me a part of things, and it didn't even matter if it wasn't the greater whole - it was HER greater whole and it was huge.

People either liked or hated her in school. Usually that had zero to do with the way she treated them but rather their ability to accept her as she was. She didn't care, you see, if they accepted her.As you can imagine that wasn't a popular way to exist at 13-14 years old. She never stopped existing like that. She chose her own path and if you didn't like it you could get the hell out of the way.

She could be vicious, but it was rare. It was more likely that she'd dismiss you with a coldly delivered "All your taste is in your mouth." Taste and style were important. If you didn't have any, that was just an absurd way to be. She'd disregard you quickly if that were the case - unless she loved you despite herself, in that case she'd tease you about it but lovingly.

Complicated. She was complicated.

I got to see her for the first time in probably 20 years or close to it, on Monday.
MS is fucking with her life in ways I can't even begin to describe. Just google it and read some of the crap things it does to you, and then just know she's probably got that going on. I'm not going to drag out all of her challenges, but really MS, screw you.

I took a long layover and made my way up to the home where she is staying so I could see her.

 We went out for beers and some food truck food.
It didn't disappoint. I wasn't entirely sure if she could have it but she insisted she could so YOLO. She also probably wasn't supposed to have beer but she only had like 3 drinks of what I ordered her so it probably didn't do anything bad.

Her fire is still there, her passion, her joy. This disease is such bullshit. I was so careful while I was there not to let her see any hint of how much it upset me, to see her so broken. She wasn't broken  - she was a broken person who just refused to be broken. Still fierce. Still Eileen.
We were two little girls who discovered the world together. Our lives went different directions, both of them our own choosing and I think are both happy with our choices. She always tells me I'm her Mother Warrior - and how amazed she is by all my children.

We both cried when I left. But suddenly, she stopped and took both my hands and asked "Do you remember at high school graduation practice when I showed up with my hair in curlers?" I responded that yes, I did. "Why did I do that?" she asked me. "Because you got into a fight with your mom about what you were going to wear."

This amazing look of calm came over her face and she said "Good, I knew you'd remember. You will always remember for me."

Yes Eileen.

I will always remember for you, as long as I can. I promise.