Meatballs, Sniffles & Christmas

My son just ate a meatball.  It wasn’t a homemade masterpiece, but I don’t care about that.  It was this…

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and that is good enough!

When I put the bowl in front of him, he did his usual visual inspection and sniff test, but then he just popped the spoon into his mouth with a meatball on it!  Then he did it again.  And again!

He ate three meatballs and several bites of the pasta and sauce along with them.  For a child who exists primarily on crackers and chocolate milk, this is progress!

Sniffles

We needed some progress today because the morning hasn’t gone well.

The boy is home again with his constantly sniffling nose.  That nose drives all three of us absolutely batty.  I’ve written post after post about that nose.

It keeps us up at night and makes us nervous all day.  I swear, it sometimes seems that nose is just as responsible for my son’s challenges as any cognitive issue ever has been.

This morning, he was so annoyed by it that he started slamming his bedroom door to show his frustration.  Since we have such a tight, pressured schedule in the morning, I have no patience with that behavior.  Whatever the cause, I simply don’t have time to indulge it.  Unfortunately, I let stress get the best of me and I went overboard in response.

First, I yelled up the stairs and asked him to stop.  He slammed the door again. Then I heard myself asking him if I should call Santa and cancel Christmas.

Cancel Christmas!  Can you imagine?  I am horrible and I regret it.  It made him cry.  My lecturing loudly to him didn’t help.

What the hell is wrong with me?  After the events in Connecticut last week, what business have I to do anything other than hug my child and not let go?  I am weepy over my failure.

Cancel Christmas…sheesh!  Christmas pretty much got cancelled last year.  Remember?

There is no way I would take the joy of this season away from my son (or myself!).  So why did I say it?  Why?  Because I am an ogre.  I am a very stressed-out, over-tired ogre.

Back to the sniffles.

My son doesn’t like the doctor and he has a horrible time getting any medicine down his throat, so he just keeps sniffling.  It’s an impossible situation.

Yesterday, the school called me to come get him an hour early.  He was hitting himself, losing focus, disrupting class, all in frustration over that nose.  I didn’t get the message until it was time for him to get on the bus.

When I finally spoke to the teacher, I felt the need to promise her something.  I said I would take him to the doctor.  Honestly though, I don’t really want to.

His pediatrician doesn’t have anything new to say about this, so going to her feels like a huge waste of time for all of us.  I requested a referral to a specialist instead.  The specialist can’t see us until January 7th.  Right.  Of course.  It’s a week before Christmas.  😐

Speaking of Christmas

On a lighter note, I had lunch with an old friend this week.  It was very nice to relax and chat without having to worry about my son for a few hours.  (Thanks for playing single parent all day, husband.  🙂 )

After lunch, my friend and I went to a new Goodwill store in my mom’s neighborhood.  Shopping the thrifters at Christmas is so fun.  You find the weirdest, best stuff ever during the holidays, and it’s usually marked way down so they can clear it out.  I went to the Spring Valley AMVETS store this week too – one of my favorites.

Here are my latest treasures:

seven sugared fruit
(They’re not strung for hanging, but I love them!)

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a painted alphabet sign
(This is kind of hard to photograph since it’s already on my wall.)

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When I mused out loud to my friend about why I was drawn to the sign,
she  immediately said “because it has cute sheep.”

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So true.  So very true!  Baaa.

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and a big purple ornament

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Ornaments are a problem for me.  I can’t resist them.  They bring such excitement to my son, I find myself buying them all year.

Mostly I pick them up at thrift stores, so they’re not pricey, but they do take up space.  I try to weed out the broken, worn, or uninteresting ornaments every year, but I’d rather just add more trees, if you want know the truth.

I love ornaments, even the cheap kind that impress with only their immenseness.  Please note giant green, gold, and blue orbs personally selected by the ten-year-old:

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I also have a thing for the painted tin ornaments from Bazaar Del Mundo.  Someday, I will have a tree just for them.  For now, there are a few on the big tree and a few hanging from the chandelier:

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That’s All, Folks.

The child has discovered a long forgotten disposable camera.  He has decided that taking the entire roll of me is the thing to do.  Unfortunately, the flash is blinding me something serious.  Gotta go!

What are you up to?

♥♥

Holiday Brain Dump

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Bad Mommy

I waited too long to get my son an advent calendar from Trader Joe’s, so now they’re sold out and I feel like a bad mom.

Well okay, I felt like a bad mom before I went to Trader Joe’s.

Today, I made my son cry.  And I made my mother cry.

Just for good measure, I asked my husband if there was anything shitty I could say to him too.  Wisely, he offered no suggestions.  😐

The little boy’s upset was related to homework.  Or rather, my upset was related to the homework (and to the accompanying note of parental reprimand from the teacher.)  The little boy’s upset was related to homework and to my reaction.  Big surprise.  Might I just say, AGAIN, that I am baffled by the papers that come home with my son?

Getting him interested in looking at them is a daily nightmare for the two of us.  He is tired when he steps off the school bus.  He wants a snack and then something mindless to amuse himself for the rest of the afternoon.  Homework is painful for my child and painful for me.  We both hate it.

But enough about that.  It’s an old, worn-out problem with no solution.  I work daily not to care what the teacher or anyone else thinks of how we handle it.  Or don’t handle it.

Moving on.

Bad Daughter

I made my mother cry because I reminded her that we weren’t the best of housemates when I returned from college feeling all independent and snappy two decades ago.

I had moved back into the house with her and my dad and she and I argued sometimes.  Who wouldn’t have?  Headstrong twenty-something suddenly sleeping in her old twin bed?  I was unpleasant.

Ultimately, mom and I came to a mutual understanding that I needed to find myself a real job and somewhere else to live.  It was an excellent idea, and I am the better for having done just that, but now mom is worried.  She hadn’t remembered the low points of that summer until I burst her rosy impression over a cheap plate of pancakes at Denny’s this morning.  Sorry, Mom!  😦

So, two for two.  My son cried.  My mom cried.

I cried too, but that came after I had filled my cart at Trader Joe’s and then discovered the item I had come for, the advent calendar, couldn’t be had.  I bought every seasonal chocolate product the store carries.

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And yes, I waited until I was in the car to open the teary flood gates.

Okay, so changing the subject completely…

Husband Update

Husband is mending more each day.  He might even go back to work tomorrow – driving in his own car!  Yippee!  He is still uncomfortable at night and if you watch him for a few minutes you will notice how much he favors his right side, but he’s getting there.  The ribs, the collar bone…they are repairing themselves.

The Mission Inn Festival of Lights

We drove up to Riverside on Thursday to spend one quick night at The Mission Inn.  We sort of owed it to the boy (and ourselves) to do something spontaneous and fun to make up for the Palm Desert accident weekend.  The Mission Inn was the perfect answer.

The Festival of Lights is amazing.  There are animated characters, lighted horse carriage rides, giant nutcrackers, icicle lights, garlands, candles and falling snow too.  There are real reindeer and vendors with gingerbread, roasted nuts and miniature doughnuts available every night during the holidays.  There are Christmas carolers and a roving Santa in the restaurants.

The sleeping rooms are luxurious and full of charm.  The spa products in the bath are rich and fragrant and the windows actually open.  The beds are very comfortable and loaded with extra pillows.  The linens are crispy white and super fresh.  There are big fluffy bathrobes in the closet and the package we got came with a divinely citrus-scented aromatherapy candle.

The hotel itself is a work of art.  There is a rotunda with a spiral staircase.  There are gorgeous plazas and flowered balconies.  There are stained glass windows, catacombs and an amazing clock.  The hotel pool is walk-in warm and landscaped to feel private, even though it is surrounded by sleeping rooms.  Everything is beautiful.  Everything is humbling.  And we didn’t even see it all.  We saw a lot, but we missed far more.  Next time, I think we’ll take a guided tour just for the heck of it.

My favorite thing was the twenty-foot, ornately carved church pew sitting in the hall outside our room.  I told my husband that I would gladly tear up the inside of our house and completely rebuild our decor to accommodate that pew, if only they would let me have it.  Sigh.

One of the best things about the trip for me was the little gray striped cat who appeared at the pool when we went for a swim.  My own gray baby passed less than a week before.  It was comforting to see a similar little face so clearly interested in my activities.  When my son splashed near, this cat was just as reserved and removed as my Poupon, but when my son wandered away, the cat came a little closer and talked a little more insistently to me.  I wish I’d gone back down to visit with the cat once we were dry and dressed.  Maybe next time.

Before I change the subject yet again, I have to mention Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s, the store across the way from our room.  I went in once with my husband and son and immediately I knew that I’d have to return again without them.  When I did, I bought a painted metal bird and a weird little nativity set.

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Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s is jam-packed with the most interesting little trinkets, wrapping paper, bath soaps, whimsical tins, garden treasures, dishes, tiny paintings, knick-knacks and Christmas ornaments ever!  The hours aren’t set in stone, but it seemed to me there was someone behind the register most of the day.  It will take you some time to see everything, so be prepared to browse for a while!

Happening Now

The little boy has liberated some empty magazine files from my bedroom and is constructing makeshift body armor with scotch tape.

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thomas magazine rack armor

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The husband is playing computer games and I am dreaming of pajamas, ice cream and a better camera. 😦

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The last remaining cat has finished eating dinner alone in the kitchen.

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And tomorrow our routine starts all over again.

What are you up to?

P.S.  That Santa plaque at the top of the post is something I picked up on clearance in Bazaar Del Mundo a few years ago.  It reminds me to tell you how emotional it was for me when Santa stopped by our dinner table at the Mission Inn Restaurant the other night.  It was the first time our ten-year-old had ever met him.  Because of the many challenges our son faces just getting through a “normal” day, we have never bothered with shopping mall Santas and their incredible lines.  We’ve never been to any event where Santa was a main attraction and even the occasional Santa in front of a store or at an amusement park has always been too removed or surrounded by other children for us to have a meaningful experience.  This time, Santa came to us and asked our son what he wanted for Christmas.  Our sweet little boy told Santa what we already knew…he just wants pencils.  🙂

♥♥

Thankful

The last few days have been kind of nuts.

My husband was in a cycling accident out in Palm Desert last Saturday morning.  He’s going to be fine, but he has two cracked ribs, a broken collar bone and a lung that is, to our great relief, re-inflating on its own after a partial collapse.

He’s upstairs in bed at the moment.  Until yesterday, he had to sleep sitting up.

On our first morning home after the accident, I watched as his head sort of bobbed back and forth, then ultimately smacked into the wall.  I thought the impact would wake him up, but he was exhausted.  He just started snoring, with his head tipped back like that.  I went out and got him one of those half-doughnut travel pillows a few hours later.  I don’t know if it really helps.

Last November, after we took this same trip to the desert, I told my husband that I wanted to do it again in November 2012.  I said I wanted to stay at the same hotel, have him enter the same bike event, take the boy up the mountain tram again…do everything the same…because I loved that trip!  LOVED it!

My husband’s response to me a year ago is really ringing in my head this week.  He said that there was no guarantee the trip would be the same.  He said that anything could happen to make it a totally different experience.   But I was relaxed and happy and I wanted to believe we could sustain those feeling by committing to the same activities a year later.  I was a bit annoyed with him for suggesting otherwise.  And he seemed annoyed with my naive optimism.

Well, here we are a year later, and it turns out husband was right.  It was a totally different experience and somehow, I knew it would be.

Instead of taking our son up the mountain to play in the snow, we dragged him with us to the Emergency Room to play on his iPad.  It was not quite the sparkling repeat my son and I had hoped for.  The little boy made it through four long hours at the hospital, and then he completely melted down.

I had to leave my husband alone in the waiting room while I took the boy outside to self-destruct.  He kicked and screamed and tore things to pieces in the backseat as I stood next to the passenger door, staring in frustration at the hospital entrance.  The entire van rocked with the force of his upset.

I could tell from the sound of my son’s whining voice that he was getting sick – from stress, from fatigue, from hunger for something more than vending machine snacks – from all of it.  That was the worst moment of the weekend for me – trapped in that tortured space between my broken husband and my sorely disappointed, autistic son.  I couldn’t help either one.

Sleep that night was difficult for us all.  I woke up every time husband made a sound or moved oddly, and husband woke up from pain at regular intervals.  His meds worked great.  Until they didn’t.  Those long minutes of waiting until time for the next dose were hard to watch and even harder to experience.  Husband was just really uncomfortable.  And the little boy woke a few times with his usual dry, sniffy nose and his newly sore throat.

When morning finally arrived, I took the boy for pancakes, so husband could get more rest.

On Saturday, the two of us had gone to the same IHOP, while husband was off for the bike ride.  I felt well rested that morning –  I was energized, refreshed, and excited for our weekend plans.  I had even put on mascara and earrings.

But Sunday, after that night of listening for husband’s breath sounds and worrying about the little boy and the change of plans, it was different.  I had on the same shirt, but it was wrinkled and so was my face.  No make-up.  Bags under my eyes.  Unwashed, barely brushed hair.  I thought about all those differences as I ate the very same pancake breakfast.

When we got back to the hotel, husband was a little more settled into the routine of injury.  He definitely wanted to go home a day early, but he managed to take a shower and concluded he could handle a brief stop at the Children’s Discovery Museum too.  Our son seemed relieved that there would be one fun thing before the long drive home.  All things considered, that little boy handled our broken promises very well.

The next few days are kind of a blur now.  The most depressing of them was also the best of them – three and half hours in another hospital to get a follow-up x-ray.  Ultimately, we were relieved to be told that husband’s lung was looking better, but the hours leading up to that were a swirl of confusion and disbelief.

Everyone there could agree my husband needed to be seen, but no one could decide how to handle the paperwork.  The paperwork!  Really?  I snapped at an E.R. nurse.

I regret that because I have friends who are nurses and I know how hard their jobs are, but I don’t regret expressing my annoyance at the lack of organization and efficiency in our mid-town hospital.  They should have thought about the patient first and the paperwork later.  It still makes me mad.

Now we are a week out from the accident and I do believe my husband is feeling a little bit better.  It is very clear that he won’t be driving anytime soon and that has presented us with a few logistical challenges, but we will figure it out.

Husband’s bruises are large and alarming.  He is still quite vulnerable from the cracked ribs and broken collar bone, and there is an overall lack of comfort that will likely continue for a while, but this could have been so much worse.  He could have died or been left with a traumatic brain injury or some other devastating permanent problem.

Save for a few gouged knuckles and other small scrapes, husband also came away with most of his skin intact.  That’s saying a lot for a cyclist.  Huge, bloody, asphalt-filled abrasions – road rash – are just another part of the sport.  But husband fell straight over and was injured by the impact of the fall more than anything else.  He was spared from too much skin grating slide and that’s no small blessing.

In a few days, some family members will come to our house for turkey and pumpkin pie.  Every adult in attendance has had some kind of accident or major surgery in the last several years (a few of them have had a lot of both), but they’re all going to walk in and sit and talk and think and eat and laugh at our table.  We are all so lucky.  And I am so thankful.

♥♥

Motivate Me

It’s hard to get started again.

My son presents us with ever evolving challenges.

I could write about that a lot, actually.

But it would mean exposing that a lot of our recent vacation to Lake Arrowhead kind of sucked.

Who wants to read that?

Just enjoy the pretty pictures.

My mind is cluttered.

Tomorrow I will walk.

My house is cluttered.

I have started to thin out my collections.

Over two hundred books are already gone.

Clothes, shoes, purses, baby blankets, crib pads, toys, kitchenware?  Tons of it boxed and ready to donate.

Magazines bagged and waiting for a friend.  (Look out, Leighann, you will need a moving truck to get them home.)

I am sorting and tossing.

I am thinking and scheming.

I want to turn my house upside down – organize, rearrange, make it over…and over some more.

And paint.

I have become obsessed with painting the inside of my front door.  Think purple, navy, or apple green.  Maybe even orange or fuchsia?  Something bold.  Something brave.

This place needs a pop of color.  A BIG pop of color.

Stay tuned.

I think I’m about to be seriously motivated.

Maybe I will write about something too.  😉

Happy Almost Tomorrow.

♥♥

My Little Angry Bird

The boy is home from school again today.  Second time this week.

Lingering sniffles set the mood, but it was a frustrating failure to instantly shuffle cards like a pro that sent him over the edge.  😦

I tried to help him learn it, but he wanted to do it himself, so hit me and threw a toy into the air.

I got mad and he started sobbing.  Right away, I knew he wasn’t going to go to school.  He just had that look about him.

He probably wouldn’t last long there anyway.  He sometimes hits his teachers and throws things in the classroom too.

In the past few weeks, the school has called on three separate occasions and asked me to pick him up early.  Last Friday, it was only twenty minutes before my phone rang.

It’s inconvenient.  There’s no denying that, but it’s really more heartbreaking than anything else.

He wants to grow up right now.  Today.  Completely.  All the way.  And he is distraught when he finds he can’t.

Somehow, my child perceives adulthood as a frustration-free zone in which he will magically know how to do everything, his words will come easily, and he will be in charge.

My poor little boy, if only there were a way to get him to really understand how very untrue that is.

The teacher made a great social story book for him.

It’s all about growing up, how you have to do it a little at a time, and even when you get there, you have to obey grown-up rules.

I think it helps him.

But this morning he was frustrated beyond reason and then paralyzed by my upset.  All he could do was sob and sit there on the couch, waiting for me to make it better.

Seven days of school to go and I have to be okay that he is desperate to miss one of them.

When he is older and (I hope) employed, he won’t be able to skip work just because he has a bad moment at home.  He will still have to go.  He will still have to listen to a boss and do his work.  He will have to learn how to smooth things out in his relationships and still manage his responsibilities.

I am intensely aware of this fact.

But he’s nine years old and he has challenges that other kids don’t have, so he gets a free pass this morning.

And a popsicle.

And then we’re going out to lunch.

P.S.  He dressed up for Gold Rush Days at school a few weeks ago.  And yes, Forty-niners did so eat Nutri-Grain bars.

♥♥