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…

abc123 can

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!)

DSC08766

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

DSC08772

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

DSC08778

So true.  So very true!  Baaa.

DSC08779

and a big purple ornament

DSC08768

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:

DSC08781

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:

DSC08794

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

DSC08673

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.

DSC08674

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.

DSC08669

DSC08670

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.

thomas magazine rack armor2

thomas magazine rack armor

DSC08647

DSC08661

DSC08664

DSC08667

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

1127122004

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

DSC08654

DSC08655

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.  🙂

♥♥

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.

♥♥

Brain Dump & A Rip Ryder Mailbox Man

Potty Dream

Last night, I dreamed that I was married to Matt Damon and we had a toilet in our dining room.

Matt Damon sat at the dining table and told me he knew we would be together forever when we picked out the toilet because he thought to himself “this toilet will last for the rest of our lives.”

I know why I dreamed this.  I think it had more to do with the toilet than the Damon.

I needed to get up and go, you know?  It was the 4:00 a.m. calling.

My befuddled brain tried to embarrass me awake.

Pee, in front of Matt Damon?

Never.

Eyes open.  😯

Wide awake now, thanks.

And back to real life, very real life…

Dearly Departed

A couple of my friends from high school recently lost someone very dear to them.  Their experience got me thinking about why I started my blog.

I blabbed in the beginning about my childhood friend, Betsy.  She died of breast cancer in 2003.  We were both 38.

Even now, I wake up everyday and instantly think of her.  She is on my mind as I fall asleep and she is sometimes in my dreams.  I also see her in every young mom with a ponytail.

I talk to her constantly and sometimes feel like a fool for doing it, but I do it anyway.  And sometimes I hear her talking to me and I take her advice, or I roll my eyes.

She still informs all of my major life decisions and many of the teeny ones too.  I knew her a long time and I usually know just what she would say.

I’ve written about her a lot – for example, here and here – but coming to this post today, I realize I don’t know if I can write about her very much more.

The rest of what I know and think and feel about her, and myself, and our friendship, is all kind of private.  I can’t have it taken apart by anyone on the internet.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to mention any of this, except that I feel I somehow owe an explanation to Betsy herself.

She was the one who always told me to write.  I’ve been thinking about that a lot this month and I decided that if I don’t write about her, then I have to write for her.

To that end, I entered NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction contest.

Three-Minute Fiction

You know that moment after you leave a big school exam or a job interview and you realize exactly how you sank yourself?  Entering this contest kind of worked like that for me.

I was thrilled by the writing challenge, I got exponentially more excited after I submitted my piece, and I was glued to the Three Minute Fiction Facebook fan page for a good three hours afterward.

Then I started re-reading my story.  I read it over and over and over again.

I saw its flaws unraveling before me and I got kind of depressed and embarrassed.  😦  It wasn’t good.  It still isn’t, and of course, there is no opportunity to edit.  I hit “submit” and now NPR editors are seeing it (and me) with all imperfections exposed.  Ugh.

Several days have passed and I am feeling a little better about it.  I can see what I did wrong and I am learning from it instead of turning red.  It was a good exercise and I will enter the contest again.  You should too.

And speaking of good exercise…

An Update On The Boy

I have been trying to write about him this month, but nothing feels quite right.

There is progress, but there are set-backs too and I can’t think of the best way to talk about all of it.

Instead, you get a video of his favorite activity.

And yes, the video ends because I sneeze.  🙂

Happy Wednesday!

♥♥

Jeans

My son is wearing jeans today.

I buy a pair every year, I put them in the closet, and I offer them regularly.

He rejects them every time and reaches for his pull-on sweats and khakis instead.

We buy out his size in those at Target twice a year.  😐

But this morning, he went upstairs to change and he came down in jeans.

Just like that.

He zipped the zipper and he buttoned the button, all by himself.

And he seems happy and comfortable – even enough to race around on his Rip Ryder before Daddy takes him to school.

When did my baby get so big and what could possibly be next?

Will he actually eat a vegetable?

I can’t wait to find out!

Happy Tuesday!

♥♥