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!)

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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?

♥♥

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.

♥♥

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!

♥♥

Weak and Guilty

My stomach hurts a lot today, but I haven’t tossed my cookies since yesterday afternoon and I’ve even eaten some dry bread and soda crackers.

Woohoo.

Oh, and 7-up, glorious 7-up.

Yesterday I called the husband to leave work and go retrieve the boy.

He was happy to do it for me, but his car overheated on the way there and created a whole new dimension of chaos for our afternoon.

I dragged my sorry self out of bed and climbed into the van in my jammies and slippers to pick up husband and then drive him to the school to get the boy.  I sunk down in the car seat with my hand over my face to hide from the usual crowd of other moms while husband walked into the office.  We were late, but the little boy seemed fine.

Today, because of the busted car mostly, husband didn’t go to work.  Thank God.

He drove the boy to school, is currently cleaning out my van, and he will pick up the boy at the end of the day.  Somewhere in between, he will deal with his Mazda, which AAA towed away last night.  I love my husband.

I am really weak today and my stomach and back muscles are sore.  It has been a loooong looong time since I was knocked over like this.  I hope no one else gets it, whatever “it” is.

This morning I tried to go through a mountain of e-mail messages and found myself again possessed by guilt over the little boy’s classroom newsletter.  The teacher e-mails it every week.  She always includes a paragraph about homework and her gratitude for the parents who work with their kids to get in back in when it’s due.

We don’t turn in homework.  It’s not for lack of trying.  We work on it everyday.  The little boy knows the routine after school and he is always somewhat cooperative, but it’s a challenge to get the whole packet finished.  We almost never do.

There are certain elements he just doesn’t like and will not work on.  It’s frustrating for me.  I’ve tried everything to motivate him, but everyday he reaches a point of fatigue with it that is painful to witness.

It kind of makes me sad that the few hours I get with him are filled with something so stressful for us both.  He’s not like other kids and I am loathe to force that standard on our family.  So, yeah, we never turn in the homework.

I want him to do well academically.  I really do, but I also want him to have as many moments of happiness and unpressured, gleeful childhood as possible.  School tires him out.  He needs to unwind and step away from it when he’s home.

That e-mail from the teacher also includes the general school newsletter.  There is a calendar with information about the Valentine’s Day dance and sales on school t-shirts and upcoming fundraisers at restaurants or bookstores.  There is also a list of PTA meetings and events in need of parent volunteers.  We don’t do that either.

Yesterday, I met the mom of another child in my son’s class.  She is a teacher herself and had taken the day off to spend time with her son.  I guess she was feeling a little bit out of the daily loop.

We chatted for a few minutes (before I knew I was so sick) and discussed getting special ed parents more involved in the school.  For some reason, that stressed me out.

I already feel that I am painted thin.  It takes everything out of me to get my son there each day, to make sure he has a good aide and to see that he can survive any changes to his routine.  I leave the school in tears on a regular basis and I am always tired.  I don’t see myself getting more involved.

My son has a good routine right now.  He thrives on it and I have no interest in changing it or taking time away from him to accommodate curriculum reviews, special ed resource meetings, or PTA functions.  We don’t go to dances or art nights or sporting events because my son gets in the tub at 5:45 p.m.  It works for us.  It works for him.

But I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilt over all of this.  I do.  I wish I could be that mom – the one who runs the book fair and keeps the volunteer list active and sells spirit wear in front of the flagpole on Fridays.

Before we had our son, I just assumed I would be the mom with the open door and the endless connections to insider district secrets.

I also thought all of the neighborhood kids would be at my dinner table and lounging on my couch and playing with my board games and reading my books.  That’s how it was when I grew up.

We always had extra kids in our house and my mom volunteered and made cupcakes and was at the school a lot.  We went to all of the events and we knew everybody there.

That’s just not how things are for me and my son and our family.  We are living a completely different reality from that.  We don’t really know our neighbors and I couldn’t tell you the name of the school’s PTA president if my life depended on it.  Our focus is very singular.

Being home today, weak and useless, gets me thinking about the things I can’t do, the things I don’t do.  My head is in that newsletter, feeling guilt for what I’m not involved in.  I need to shake that off.  I need to let myself be something that works for my family and not something that meets a standard set by someone else.  Right?

Maybe I should just return the homework half finished on Monday.

What do you think?

P.S.  Happy Thursday!

♥♥

A Post Between Pukings

I’m sick.

Haven’t been sick like this in a looooong time.

Not enjoying it.

Had to call the husband and ask him to leave work early for child retrieval.

Can’t muster the stability required to dress, drive two miles, feign wellness and walk in to get him from school.

Probably shouldn’t anyway.

I saw my mom briefly on Monday and she is sick too, so this is probably something communicable.

Darn it.

I was hoping for a quick bout with food poisoning and a speedy recovery.

No such luck.

And the hub and kid are probably gonna get it too.  Great.

I have never been so appreciative of my electric blanket as I am today.

My hands are freezing.

My neck is freezing.

Don’t want to wear gloves or let my hair down for fear of the pukery ahead.

Pukery?  Is that even a word?  It ought to be.  Just like nakery ought to be.

Foolery.  There’s a word.

I haven’t posted anything in a while.  I don’t even have a good reason for that.  Busy sameness.  That’s all I got.

My friend Leighann sent me one of these dolls and her cat a few months ago.  They’re sitting by the keyboard and kind of cracking me up right now.

They both look utterly horrified by my pukey-ish-ness.

I am horrified by it too.

I cry when I throw up.  Like a big baby.  Sobbing right until the final moment and mournful wails as I go.

Too much information?  You are glad to be somewhere else.  😀

Husband called to ask if I wanted him to get me anything on the way home.  At first I said “no,”  but it hit me that flat 7-up is an amazing elixir in times of troubled guts.

I don’t even drink soda anymore, but I can’t wait for him to bring me a 7-up.

Husband is my hero.

I can’t believe how quickly this has hit me or how almost normal I feel in between the peaks of doom.

Right this second I can sit upright and type and think a bit, but in twenty minutes I may be down for the count and the crying.

Sucks.

My ears are getting hot again.

Happy Wednesday.

♥♥

Blob

It’s amazing how willing I am to let my parenting and housekeeping suffer when I don’t feel well.

So far today, the kid has eaten nothing but strawberry fruit roll-ups, a small stack of Pringles, and a handful of Apple Jacks.

He has been playing on the computer most of the morning and I haven’t even bothered to censor his games.

There’s a fat red gummy worm on the floor in my kitchen, a pile of dishes in the sink and sugar all over the counter.

But I have no guilt.

Guilt would require energy that I need for watching House Hunters and reruns of Friends.

I am a blob of sick today.

I can’t even make myself shower.

I just don’t want to do anything.

The idea of fresh air is somewhat appealing.  That’s an improvement from yesterday, I guess.

I may go out in the backyard and just sit for a while, but I’m not doing any housework.  It will still be there when I am well.

The little boy goes back to school on Tuesday.  I am dreading the latter part of the week when he realizes his aide isn’t coming back.

He usually does okay the first two days or so, but then the week drags on and he starts to lose his mind.  I am hoping I am wrong this time.

I have a ton of appointments scheduled in the next few weeks.  I postponed everything for the holidays and now I’ve got to cram in dentists and doctors and orthotics specialists and car maintenance and vet visits and a bunch of other junk.  And that’s on top of regular meetings with friends and family, which I always schedule first.

I have a lot of plans riding on the boy’s successful return to his classroom.  But if it goes the way it usually does, I’ll have to cancel things.

I guess I’m anxious about that and it’s making my stomach hurt.  On top of sneezing and coughing and aching all over, that’s just not ideal.

I am a blob of sick today.  Ack!

I hope your day is healthier, wealthier and wiser than mine!

Happy Friday!

♥♥

Sick Sick Sick Again

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I have plans this week, you know?

I’m going up to Pasadena on Sunday and I don’t want to be sick.

I want to be well and energetic and clever.

But I’m sick.

And maybe it will pass by Sunday morning.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

But I suspect I will still feel just a tad under the weather.

And so I will not be energetic and clever.

Damn it.

I’m going anyway.

And I’m going to have fun and find neat things to bring home with me and I’m going to see my friend and have a nice meal.

So there.

Take that, you stupid cold!

What are you in the face of my resolve to be rid of you?

You are doomed, that’s what.

Please please pretty please.

It’s Thursday now.

That gives me some time.

And it helps that husband has taken the little boy to Pump-It-Up again today.

They went yesterday too.

I got to take my shower in peace.

You have no idea how much I cherish that.

Usually, I have a four-foot person running back and forth outside the shower door, saying “Mama!” or “I want a snack.”

Today, none of that pressure.

My house has gone to hell.

Our company left, I started taking down Christmas and then I got sick, so now everything is half done and I haven’t swept or dusted in a while.

Sigh.  It never ends.  Laundry piles grow, dust collects, papers scatter, cat fur mats itself into blankets.  All while I’m not looking.  Maddening.

And our house lacks adequate storage.  Its hard to put things away when you have no place to put them.

My greatest wish of late is to have a dining table with drawers in it.

Can you imagine the convenience of that?

A designated spot for place mats and pencils and crossword puzzles and napkins?

That, my friends, would be the ultimate luxury for me.

Alas, it isn’t to be.

We can’t afford a new table and there’s really nothing wrong with the old one.

Reduce, resuse, recycle…oy.

I’d like to reduce this table, resuse it as firewood and recycle the nuts and bolts into a new one.

If only I were craftier.

I just took a ten minute break to cough.

Shoot.

I hate being sick.

Happy Thursday.

♥♥