Carlsbad Staycation

Our room at the Grand Pacific Palisades had a view of the ocean.

It was beautiful.

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Unfortunately, the flower fields below were cleared for the season.

Instead of colorful blooms, all we saw was a lot of dirt and this big pile of manure.  Heh heh.

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Our room was downwind, but it wasn’t that bad.

The view went a long way toward making up for the “aroma.”

The little boy didn’t seem to mind.

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I don’t think the room is of great importance to him anyway.

He’s all about the water features and this place surpassed all of our expectations in that department!

The play area next to the family pool was great.

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The pool itself was walk-in warm, really clean, and fairly large.

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Because of its location right next to the water play area, I didn’t have to get out of the pool to keep an eye on my son.

The hotel also has a separate adults-only pool with a few lanes marked off for lap swimmers.

As a plus-sized mom with a splashy child, I appreciated being surrounded by families, and not by young fit singles or childless lovebirds.

Both pool areas have hot tubs too.

Despite some negative comments on Yelp, I gambled on this place and I was pleasantly surprised.

It doesn’t hurt that the service is excellent and that the restaurant on the property is a Karl Strauss Brewery.  🙂

I would definitely book a stay there again.

After husband left us to go to work in the morning, the boy and I checked out and headed down the street to the Museum of Making Music.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this place, but I am so glad we went!

The museum is very small and only takes a few minutes to walk through, but it houses a remarkable display of unique and old musical instruments.

It is clear that the exhibits are lovingly cared for and designed with curious kids in mind.

There are buttons to push and music to hear and each room includes at least one instrument meant for visitors to play.

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My son enjoyed this immensely.

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The last room of the museum is entirely hands-on.

Even I couldn’t resist playing Twinkle Twinkle on one of the harps.

The boy loved this drum thing.

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The admission to the museum is only $8 for adults, $5 for older kids, and $0 for those under five.

I felt like it was easily worth that and if I’d remembered to do it before we left, I think I would have tossed a few more ones into the donation jar.

Overall, this was a very pleasant little getaway.

What have you been up to?

♥♥

Babysitting & Playing Hooky

Babysitting the nephews today.

They are sweet and they make me laugh.

Kids say the greatest things.

From the seven-year-old:

“You smell like your house.”

“Me and grilled cheese sandwiches are like two peas in a pod.”

And my own child, wide-eyed when I told him I would be taking his cousins to the park in his absence:

“My chin hurts too much to go to school today.”

Hmm…

I’m a big softie and a huge proponent of family first, even ahead of school.

The nephews and I are picking him up a few hours early and going to lunch and a park with him, instead of without him.

They are only little once, right?

Right.

I haven’t written anything here for the past few months.

I guess I have been feeling kind of private and withdrawn, and this is not the place for that.

But these boys, all three of them, have reminded me this week that life is good and sweet and short.

And my favorite bloggers have continually shown that some of the loveliest, most interesting lives I know are lived right out loud, in front of the world.

I don’t have to be all that.

I can be something in between.

I can just be a good mom and aunt who writes now and then.

So what the hell, here I am again.

♥♥

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.

♥♥

Long Beach Flea Market

I don’t know how often I can come on here and say the same things.

Life is hard.  And easy.  And ugly.  And beautiful.

Life is hard…

because my autistic son needs everything to be a certain way and, despite the good intentions of everyone in my life, very few really understand how insanely difficult it is to parent him.

He seems so incredibly normal – whatever the hell “normal” is.  He is beautiful.  He is smart.  He is talkative and cheerful.  He is happy and animated and very cooperative.  Until he isn’t.

Over the two-week break, he hit me a few times.  😦  He pushed me too.  On one of the days he had a meltdown like I can’t even describe.  He screamed, he broke things.  The usual.

He yells about everything.  “No take the plate to the kitchen!”  “No mama say!”  “No mama singing!”  “No music!”  “No.  No.  No!”

And then there’s the OCD stuff…

He has a thing about the pantry door.  He has to close it a certain way, at a certain time, repeatedly.  He chants his little chants, he swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and SLAMS it closed.  And all of the things that hang from the inside of the door go crashing to the tile below.  LOUD.  LOUD.  LOUD.

And the bathroom door.  He closes and opens it too.  All the time.  Just because.

He writes math problems for himself every night.  He leaves the papers all over the table.  He does this when I am in the pit of the day’s fatigue.  Consequently, his math papers never get picked up.  Our house is an overwhelming wreck.  It depresses me.  I am tired and life is hard.

Life is easy…

because I have three fabulous moms and a good friend who listen to all of it.  Life is easy because husband knows how it is and he’s here everyday seeing it, feeling it, and being in it with me.  And when he isn’t here to make it easier on me, he’s out there to make it easier on me.  He works so that I can take care of our kid.  And our house.  And our laundry.  Our never ending, steaming mountains of laundry.

Life is ugly…

because of stupid, evil, mean people who make me sick with worry for my son…and his future…and the potential dangers that await him.

Life is beautiful…

because the yelling, pushing, screaming, toy throwing little boy is also sweet and kind and funny and he makes up songs about silly things like my jiggly arms.  😀  I love him.

Life is beautiful because I get to see my good friend every few months and we always have a great day together somewhere.  On Sunday, we went to the Long Beach Flea Market and I bought a water fountain.  It’s perfect for our little yard, but it weighs a gazillion pounds.

Life is beautiful because the vendor wanted $75 and we talked him down to $50.

Life is beautiful because my friend carried the dirty top part of the fountain a great distance to my car for me.

Life is beautiful because there is ibuprofen to ease the pain and stupidity of carrying the lower section of the fountain by myself.  Day four and I am still achy breaky.

Life is beautiful because we had a very pleasant lunch at Bono’s Long Beach with the best creme brulee I have ever tasted in my life.  The portion was HUGE and my friend didn’t want any.  🙂  Thank you, silly friend.

Life is beautiful because I also found a book for my brother, a liquid timer for my son, and some Bit-O-Honey candy at Powell’s (best old timey candy store ever) for my husband.

I got these guys for me:

Their bodies are hinged so you can sway their little legs back and forth if you want to.  I know you want to.  🙂

Life is life.

Happy Wednesday!

♥♥

A letter, a nervous knock-out & a couple of pumpkins.

Post This

I got a letter in the mail last week.

I’m talking about an actual, two-page, handwritten letter, complete with family update, inside jokes and miscellaneous witticisms.

Are you jealous?

I am lucky.

Truth be told, I invested a few notes of my own to get this amazing return.

What can I say?  I have a thing for pretty stationery.  And stickers too.  I can’t just stockpile it all forever, so I sent cards to six or seven people on my address list a few weeks ago.

And I got a letter back.  🙂

It came from a 90-year-old friend of the family.  She lives in town, but I never see her, so it was lovely to read something she had written just for me.

I highly recommend that you send out some notes.  These days, snail mail is a luxurious treat and it’s still relatively cheap to send.  You might even get something spectacular in return!

That’s your assignment…

Go!  Write!  Now!

TKO OH NO!

The boy had the big sedated dental appointment last week.

I think we did a good job talking to him about it.  We explained it well in advance, I put it on the calendar, and we brought it up everyday for almost a month.

He knew what would happen and he even seemed proud of himself for having the information to talk about.  “We’re going to the sleep dentist!”

He was quite a little trooper too.  We explained the food restrictions and he never even asked for his morning chocolate milk or snack.

He dressed and rode in the car without complaint and he waited patiently through every part of the process at the hospital.

He wore the gown, he held out his arm for blood pressure, he got on the scale and he used the bathroom when we told him to.

He was a model of compliance…

right up until the moment he was on the table in the O.R.  😦

I was right there with him and I really do think that helped.  I kept my cool and I saw his body briefly relax when our eyes locked, but it was a losing battle.

The nurses, the anesthesiologist, the other techs – five people in all – surrounded him and tried to do things quickly.

I get it.  There are a zillion kids out there, only a limited number of surgical teams, rooms, etc.  There is no space or time for letting my autistic son catch up and comply.  They had to assume he never would, so they just dove in and grabbed him.

As you can imagine, he freaked the hell right out.  I stayed calm and talked softly, but it was tough to watch.

It took all of them to hold him down.  Well, all except the one wise nurse who heeded my warning about too many people in his face.  I figured she was the only parent in the room.  Before I even finished my comment, she took a step back.  I love her.

The others forged ahead and managed to get the mask over his face.  He collapsed back onto the table pretty fast, but his eyelids were purplish and fluttering, so I knew he wasn’t done struggling.  It made me sad to see that.  I kissed him and told him what a good job he did.

They put a tube up his nose after I left.  The gas through that would knock him out harder.

One of the nurses took me back down the hall.  As we walked, he said “you know, your son is only going to get stronger.  Next time, maybe you can ask the doctor for some medication to make him drowsy in pre-op, so that the mask isn’t as traumatic.”

Why the hell no one suggested that this time, I don’t know.  It kind of pissed me off.  😡

I made it back to my husband and ripped off my tight paper goofy suit.  I made Husband promise to erase the memory of that vision from his head.  Those suits aren’t really meant for rubenesque women.  😳

Husband followed me out of the building.  I led him thirty yards from the door and behind a big pillar near the parking garage before I started crying.

There wasn’t really anything to say.  I was sad that only one of us was allowed to go in and I was tortured by the fear I had seen in our son’s little face.  Husband understood and hugged me.  Then we ate bad food and waited.

The boy woke up hard and was mad about having to stay so long in the post-op bed, but he was basically okay.

He came through everything emotionally and physically drained, but he was eager to go back to school the next day, so we knew he would be fine.

The net result of the whole experience was positive.  We learned some things for next time and the boy’s teeth are in pretty good shape.

And the most important thing?  During the struggle in the O.R., he said “all done” over and over again. That may not seem significant, but it’s really quite huge.

He doesn’t communicate well under duress.  He loses his words and sometimes violently tantrums or becomes eerily still and stuck when he’s upset or frightened or hurt.

This was a worst case scenario for him – a cold scary room with weird lights, odd noises, and a bunch of strangers grabbing at him – and he perfectly articulated how he was feeling.  “All done!”

All done, indeed.  😐  I felt that way too.

I don’t think I realized until I dropped him at school the next morning just how much dread and anxiety coursed through my body in the days before the appointment.

Looking back on the last few weeks, I am reminded that heightened stress often keeps me from writing.

I am so glad we don’t have to do this again anytime soon.

I don’t think my kid, my blog, or I can take it!

Fall Decorating

I stowed a few pumpkins in the china hutch this week.

Then I came to the conclusion that I need to get the hutch out of this room.  😦

It’s just too huge for this choppy, awkward space.  I love it, but it limits what else we can do.

Stay tuned for the next round of what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-house?

Sigh.

It never ends.

Happy Wednesday!

♥♥

Sweaty, Loud & Colorful Hike

The husband and I took the little boy for a walk at
Otay Valley Regional Park
this morning.

It was sweaty.

It was loud.

It was colorful.

It was beautiful.

You should try it!

Happy Sunday!

P.S.  Do any of you know if those are blueberries in
the pictures 3rd and 4th from the end?
I’ve never seen them growing before…is that them?

♥♥