Little Bits of Halloween

The first thing I decorate in my house for each new season is the china hutch.

In the Fall, I usually stow away my small collection of blue and white Delft (and other) figurines to make way for miniature pumpkins, leaves, and all things natural.

This year, I am so eager for our HOT HOT summer to be over, that I can’t wait for pumpkins to appear in the grocery store.

I decided the little Delft troops and I could get the party started without them, so I made some hats.  🙂

(This amazingly cute photo of a baby chick in a felt hat got my wheels turning.  Thank you, random little-felt-hat-making cute baby chick owner!)

Here is what I did this week…

Got the cat plate from mom #2 many moons ago.  He kinda fits right into the Halloween theme.

I made this little banner thing too.  I’ve never made anything like this before and I can see all its flaws in this picture, but it was fun to do and now I know what I would do differently.  (Like maybe have my ten-year-old print the letters because his handwriting is officially better than mine now.  😳 )

This is what I have labored over this Labor Day.  What did you do?

Happy Monday!

♥♥

Best Magazine Ever!

When Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion magazine called it quits a few years ago, it broke my heart.

Those lovely pages were such a sweet delight in my humble little life.

I guess the decision broke a few other hearts too, because now Mary and the gang have decided to try again!  Yippee!!

I hope they don’t mind that I am sharing the graphic from their e-mail blast today.

Click on this link to find out more!  😀

Happy Friday!

P.S.  Just one more day of the little boy’s Fall break from school and then I will start mending my wounded routine.  Look for more posts soon!  😀

♥♥

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!

♥♥

The house, a dresser and a beautiful cake stand.

Will someone please tell me why I decided to get the entire outside of the house painted?  It’s loud, and today is just the power wash and prep.  😦  Next week will be unbearable.

We need to do this and, for the first time ever, we can actually handle the expense of it.  Sort of.

Wait.  No.  Not really.

I wish we were having the inside painted too.  Remember how my wall looks, the one right inside my front door?  You know, the first impression wall?

A few years ago, I tried to gussy it up with honey-pot orange polka dots.  Fail.

It’s the wall at the bottom of the stairs, where the boy has repeatedly bashed his makeshift cardboard sleds, over and over and over and over again.

Polka dots don’t help that.  No, siree bob, they don’t.  😐

The fact that there are men in my yard, preparing to paint the outside of my house is really quite painful and confusing to me as I look at this inside wall.

Oh well.  Home maintenance is a beast of burden.

We did do one thing to improve the interior of our house this week.  We bought a ginormous dresser from IKEA.  I wanted the blue one, but at the last minute I wisely thought better of that impulse.  I don’t want to be committed to blue if we ever do get the interior walls re-painted.  It might not go, you know?

We had glass cut & polished for the top of it and we stuck it in our kitchen to use as a buffet and some much-needed major storage.

This thing is HUGE.  If we ever lose the house, we can just live in the dresser.

I can’t tell you how nice it is to finally have all of my baking items corralled into one spot.  It’s life changing, I tell you!

My favorite thing about this?  I can fit all of our daily-use cloth napkins into one of the smaller top drawers.  All of them into one drawer.

In a drawer and out of sight means I don’t have to fold the napkins ever again.  This is possibly the most liberating thing I’ve ever experienced.

Thank you, IKEA and C&C Glass.

Last week, I found this interesting cake stand at a thrift store.

It reminds me of an old fan.  It has such great lines and not a single spot of rust or any damage.  I can’t wait to put a pretty plate of something tasty on top.  😀

Maybe you can come over to eat some.

Here’s the boy.

Happy Friday!

P.S.  It’s killing me that the BlogHer 2011 Conference is happening in San Diego!  I know I will be there one day in the future, but I have a long way to go before I find a comfortable public voice and can commit to speaking with it every single day on my blog.  I am in awe of the wonderful writers who will gather just miles from my home to talk, share, laugh, and cry this weekend.  There are some incredible people out there, writing with deep conviction about everything from the mundane to the extraordinary.  They’re amazing.  I want to be one of them.

♥♥

Days Of Our Lives

Friday and Strange Men

There are men in my house.  Two of them.

They’re putting new vinyl in my upstairs bathroom.

They are loud and animated, speaking Spanish at lightning speed.  I can barely keep up.  My Spanish is rusty.

I have yawned about thirty times since they arrived at 9:15.  They were over an hour late.

I waited to eat.

As I listened patiently to the compulsory explanation of lost phone messages and misplaced directions, I just wanted to pour the milk over my cereal and sit down.

Whatever, dudes!   Please do the work and GET OUT of here!

And just like that, they were gone.

Vinyl installed.

Baseboards ruined, but nailed back anyway?!  What the heck?

He did mention that one of them had swollen from moisture…

“Maybe your cat has peed in that corner?”

Um…no…but my son has, repeatedly.

Laughter.

Flushed cheeks.  Why did I tell them that?!

My embarrassment may have motivated a thoughtless answer to facilitate a hasty exit.  Did I actually tell him to nail the swollen baseboards back to the wall?

Maybe I did.  How inconvenient of me to request such a thing.  😐

The contractor will have to fix them next week.

And the plumber will drop by this evening to install the new toilet.

It’s taller.  It’s a grown-up toilet, because we are grown-ups.

The vinyl feels good to the tootsies.  It’s thicker and squishier than the builder grade crap that was in there before.

Thicker and squishier is better for my freaked-up feet.

Don’t ever get tile, you know?  It’s unforgiving.  And by that, I mean that your feet will never forgive you.

Saturday and Upset

The little boy had a three-hour, house-destroying tantrum tonight.

He smacked the computer monitor in anger, he got a warning, then he smacked it again.

So I shut it off.  And he lost his mind.

LOST.

HIS.

MIND.

The husband had to follow him around to be sure he didn’t break anything of value.  That angered him more.  He really just wanted to rage through the house as he pleased.  I guess he thought that would get us to turn on the computer again.  It didn’t.  But it did make me cry.

He finally tuckered out and fell asleep, but not before breaking a couple of toys, putting fresh gouges in his bedroom wall, busting a small chair to pieces, and further destroying his window screen and curtain rod.  It was a long night for all of us.

I must exercise first thing tomorrow.  It will help me to deal with another trying day, if we are meant to have one.

Sunday and Familiar Men

I woke to find the husband and the boy in the kitchen making pumpkin bread this morning.

We only had one really large can of pumpkin in the cupboard, so husband almost doubled the recipe.  Almost.

He employed some impressive mathematics to get the measurements right for the rest of the ingredients.  I admired his painstaking care, but suggested he throw out half the can of pumpkin next time.  I hope there is a next time.

We ended up with two small loaves, two big loaves, and a bundt pan full of batter.  We have lots of bread.  Lots of really delicious, oh-geez-how-will-I-ever-lose-weight, warm, cinnamon-scented loaves of yummy.

I love these familiar men in my kitchen.

The little one has basically recovered from his upset and is actually very huggy.  Sweet pea.

We stayed in our jammies all day long, except for twenty minutes this morning when I followed through on my exercise vow and took a brisk walk through the neighborhood.

It was a good day.

Monday – Exercise & Veggie Burgers

I walked again.  Twenty minutes of cardio.  Yea!

Then the husband and I took the little boy to the popper fountains.

He loved it.  He always loves it.

He’s always hungry after playing in the water, so we actually got to go to Island’s and enjoy a meal without pancakes for a change.

He ate some fries and an entire chicken strip.

For him, that’s a LOT.

Tuesday and We’re Back to Square One

The boy didn’t want to go to school this morning.

I think that Friday tired him out.

His class spent two hours at the new little park adjacent to the campus – sort of a treat for being good this year.

Unfortunately, it opened a whole new can of anxiety for him.

He likes clouds and there really weren’t any, so he was in the sun for two hours.

We sent him to school with sunscreen, but he won’t wear glasses or a hat.

He just doesn’t like to be out in the open with the sun in his eyes for that long.

It’s sort of the intersection of all of his sensory issues.

I explained this morning that today was a regular school day and there would be no extended time in the shadeless play structures of the park.

He calmed enough to go, but even the regular schedule proved too much for him. He came home with a yellow card.

Yellow is just a cut above red and way below the much coveted purple.  He hates yellow cards.

The aide explained that he doesn’t like to wait, so he pushes the little girl in front of him quite forcefully if she stops in line.  Not good.  The line stops frequently.

I just had a conversation with him about this, but I don’t know if it will make a difference.

As I type, I can hear him freaking out in the other room.  He’s on the computer and not exercising the greatest restraint when it comes to displaying his frustration.

Husband is sitting next to him, so today I am deferring to his judgment and closer proximity.

I’m drained this afternoon.  Don’t know why, really.

Perhaps a diet of pumpkin bread and stress?

Just heard a more chipper, musical sound from the little boy.

Maybe it’s safe to venture back out there after all.

Are you still here?

This is a long damn post.

Happy Tuesday!

P.S.  What are you reading this week?  I just started The Help.  So far, sooo good!

♥♥

Gifts of Yum and Stuff and Rain

The doorbell rang on Christmas Eve.

To my delight, Fedex came bearing a box of homemade marshmallows from lovely Lisa in Washington.

That’s right, homemade marshmallows!

Lisa mentioned her latest batch and I made a wishful comment, but it didn’t occur to me that my wish would come true.

I have my very own tub of yummy, fluffy, perfect, quickly-disappearing goodness.

Thank you, Lisa!

They.  Are.  Heavenly.

In fact, my taste buds tell me they’re a close cousin to divinity, one of my all-time favorite candies.  And we all know what “divinity” means, right?  😀

Lisa became part of my cherished new extended family when her deceased sister’s sweet husband married my sweet mom-in-law last New Year’s Eve.

Did you follow that?  No?  Suffice it to say, Lisa is family and friend and thoughtful to boot.

The Mistress of Marshmallows, that’s who she is.

The most unique gift I received this year was the mixed bag of goodies from Tongue in Cheek Antiques French Brocante.

My wonderful mom-in-law follows Tongue In Cheek’s blog and was inspired to order this little collection of French curiosities just for me.

I love it!

There are little medals and a key and a fabulous shoe.

I love the bright blue ceramic heart, the big black flower button and the miniature Paris banner.

There are numbered tags and a key plate and the teeniest plastic statue of Queen Elizabeth.  (I guess a bit of Britain climbed into the grab bag too!  😀 )

All of these trinkets were wrapped in French documents from 1922, two typed and one handwritten.  Charming.

It will be fun to see which objects inspire art from me this year.  My wheels are already spinning.

Thank you, Jenifer!

Christmas went by in a blur of food and family and mountains of Trio.

The week before it brought a ton of rain.

I snapped a few wet photos in the yard to catch the mood.

Enjoy!

And Happy Tuesday!

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♥♥

How I Miss Thee

What a nice week!  Christmas has once again come and gone, but the house still feels cheery and we played tourist today, so I’m in a good mood.

We drove over the bridge to snap a few photos in front of the Hotel del Coronado’s giant Christmas tree.  There were a lot of people crammed into the lobby with the very same idea, but we forged ahead and enjoyed a short walk through the downstairs shops as well.

My favorite of those is Babcock & Story Emporium.  Since I am not usually alone when I go to Coronado, I never have quite enough time in this store!  The shelves are jam-packed with the sweetest things – little birds and baubles and dishes and soaps and carved wood this and that.

The prices always seem prohibitively, touristy high at first glance, but I am convinced I can find sale items with more time to scout them out.  Hey, wait a minute!  Now that I think about it, it’s torture to go there!  Someday I will drive back by myself and spend all the time I like.  😀

This afternoon, I was on high alert with the little boy and his gotta-touch-everything instincts.  He’s VERY into candles this month.  Sensory thing – has to smell them all.  And I mean all.  Babcock & Story has a lot.  😐

He dropped a big glass candle jar at Vons on Christmas Eve.  Had it been a preferred scent, I might have taken the damned thing home and peeled the broken glass from around the wax.  But no, he had to break a stinky one – pine or something.  I put it in the cart and tried to pay for it, but the store manager checked me through and wouldn’t take my money.  Thank you, Vons Manager.  My kid and I owe you one.

Back to playing tourist…

After paying $15 (ouch) for a two-hour stay in the hotel parking lot, we bid adieu to the Christmas Tree and made our merry way to Old Town’s Casa Guadalajara for Mexican food.  Culture!  Color!  Melted cheese!  Who could ask for anything more?  Free parking?  You got it!

I ordered the same combo plate I order at every Mexican restaurant I visit: a chili relleno, a cheese enchilada with salsa verde, and vegetarian black beans with lettuce and tomato instead of rice.  Delicioso!  Guadalajara makes a spicy chili relleno.  I always forget that and for a few minutes I can’t get enough iced tea.  It is this meal that makes me know I can never be a vegan.  God help me.  Poor cows.  Poor my stomach.  It’s a LOT of cheese.

Anyhoo, after we finished lapping up our puddles of yummy, we walked across the parking lot to the Bazaar del Mundo shops.  This is one of my favorite places the day after Christmas.  Bazaar del Mundo is always a feast for the eyes and a boost for the shopper’s soul, but on this day it’s holiday sparkly and full of half-price fun.

The little boy picked out this enormous green ball for just $3.00:

and I added a pink armadillo to my tin ornament collection:

Pink armadillo.  Heh heh.  He’s funny, right?  I love him.  LOVE him!

Oh my, I am suddenly so sleepy.

Grammy and Grandpa turned in two hours ago, not far behind the little boy.  Husband is down the hall, getting hopelessly lost in his new video game and I am wondering why we’ve both kept our eyes open so late into the night.  It’s 11:29.  Husband has to work tomorrow.  I’d better go rescue him while it’s not too late to put our heads on the pillows today, instead of tomorrow.

Night night.

And Happy Sunday!

P.S.  I have missed you and I will be back to regular writing sometime this week.

♥♥