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?

♥♥

Good Morning To You, Spam-I-Am

The little boy’s latest cinematographic endeavor…

please pardon the shaky camera work – he is only eight, after all!

I love that he pauses in the middle to play a few notes on the piano.  🙂

And…

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That one actually sounds like it was written just for me, but my spam filter caught it.  All of the identifying info was linked to a giant online beauty supply store.  Maybe they thought a few insults hurled into the universe would get them some “angry” traffic.  I just find it too annoying for a response.

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Ooohhh, sorry to hear you’re on your deathbed!  I acknowledgement you so much too! 😀

Spring break starts right now!

Happy Friday!

P.S.  Julia continues to bloom her little rosy heart out.

Julia’s neighbor, Charisma, is fiery orange.  The detail of the blossom is blurry in the picture, but you get the idea.

They’re perfect pals.

♥♥

I Don’t Think He’s An Armadillo

I went to Kobey’s Swap Meet on Saturday.  I hadn’t been to it in a couple of years.

I knew it couldn’t hold a candle to the amazing Rose Bowl Flea Market where I went a few weeks ago, but I was unprepared for one of the bigger differences between the two.

Kobey’s is a weekly neighborhood swap meet.  Obviously, it’s much less expensive to get in and it’s a great deal smaller.  My expectations were in line with that and I was okay with it.

What I had forgotten is that Kobey’s has a much more typical Southern California pedestrian beach vibe than the Rose Bowl Flea Market.  I don’t recall seeing anyone without a shirt in Pasadena.  It’s casual there, certainly, but there’s also an unspoken code of more formal conduct and dress.

The explanation for that may be as simple as the Rose Bowl’s proximity to Hollywood and Beverly Hills.  Or it could be its reputation as a world class shopping destination.  After all, you do hear about the Rose Bowl Flea Market on national t.v. and in pretty decorating magazines.  Whatever the reason, it just has a slightly different caliber of clientele.

Not true at Kobey’s.

I worked very hard to avoid seeing bare nipples and butt cracks this weekend.

I guess I’m kind of a prude when it comes to seeing very private body parts in public.  In general, I just don’t prefer it.  And I am pretty much repelled by it when it’s not at the beach or a pool.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the beauty of every size and shape, man or woman, young or old, fat or thin.  It just that I think there’s an appropriate time and place for things.

Unfortunately, there was a shirtless guy at Kobey’s on Saturday and he was clearly following the same route I was through the market, because I couldn’t seem to shake him.

At one point, I even turned in the opposite direction just to get away from him and his bare nipples.  He was walking a few yards in front of me, but the density of the crowd was forcing the gap between us to shrink.

I abruptly turned and went back down the row I had just come up, but when I reached the center aisle, there he was again.  Ack!

Truly, there was nothing wrong with this man’s physique.  My issue with his nakery isn’t about that.

It’s just that it was a little warm, I presume he was perspiring and had removed his shirt for that reason, and it kinda grossed me out to think that the crowds might make me smash into him.  Would he be slimy?  Blech.  Put your shirt on, naked man!

As much as I enjoyed the sunny walk and browsing through the vendor stalls, I was actually relieved to reach the exit and finally get away from him.

That said, I do recommend Kobey’s.  It’s a nice way to spend a morning and it doesn’t require a huge commitment of dollars or time.  Maybe you even like shopping with shirtless guys?  There’s a little bit of everything for sale there, including fresh flowers, produce and a variety of new and used merchandise.

I bought a few children’s books at 50 cents a piece and for another $4.00, I got this guy, whom I don’t think is an armadillo:

I’m calling him Gourdy.

He is hand-carved, hollow inside, and filled with a handful of beans or pebbles.

If you shake him, he makes a pleasant, mellow, maraca sound.

I love him.

Love him.

LOVE.

Him.

He’s far more appealing than shirtless guy.

Seriously though, nipples aside, I had a good time.

Wow.

That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

Do you love Gourdy too?

What do you think he is?

Write me a note.

Happy Tuesday!

♥♥

Wounded, But The Shooter Is Sweet

Sometimes I am wounded to the core by my son’s disdain for my singing.

I can’t stand it.

I don’t have a bad voice and I love to sing.

He won’t let me.

I feel stifled.

And sometimes I feel wounded to the core by his annoyance with books.

Granted, there are occasions on which he actually enjoys them and will let me read him a page or two.  He might even read a sentence himself, but those occasions are exceptional.

In general, my kid doesn’t like to look at books.

Sad.

I come from a family of book lovers.  A family of book collectors.  And a house full of music.

Sigh.

Now I am ordered not to sing, not to read, not to be.

My heart breaks over this on a daily basis.

And it feels like a slight to my father, the one who mastered a love of books and beautiful song.

I know a conversation with my dad today would only reveal a man determined to appreciate the strengths of a boy.  My dad would caution me to overlook these minor and probably temporary let-downs.  Of course, I always heed that imagined advice, but the whole of it makes me very sad anyway.

Just now, the little boy and I were in the guest room, stripping the bed after Grandma’s visit.  He was singing, humming really, with his lips forming a perfect “o” and his little head tilted upward, like the children at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

I thought I would try to engage him with a book from the t.v. special, complete with music and lyrics for two of the songs.

He saw Snoopy and the other characters on the page and seemed very interested, so I showed him a second Charlie Brown book.

He sat on the floor, turned the pages himself, pointed at Snoopy and was smiling and happy.

Then he started singing Jingle Bells.

I produced a board book with the music and lyrics for that song too.

But then I made the fatal error.

I decided to sing the words and point to the notes so he could follow along.

He lost his mind.

“No read a book.  No read a book!  No sing!  No read a book!  Mama, no sing!”

I tried to calm him down.

Too late.

He took the item nearest him – the dust jacket for the Peanuts book – and ripped it in half.

It made me mad.  It really did.  With all the fury of impatient generations behind it.

I ordered him out of the guest room and closed the door and now I sit here pouring out the emotion just to get it gone.

Because I know the little boy loves music. I KNOW he does.

And I know he will come to love books.

But in this moment, I am overwhelmed with his disdain for my love of them both.

Overwhelmed.  Sad.  Stricken with grief for the unfairness of time and loss and death and the mismatch of generations.

I miss my dad.

I just miss my dad.

And I wish I had let my mother sing.

Now it’s 7:00 p.m.  The little boy is clean and dry, snug in his room, and headed for dreamland.

He closed the door to the bathroom during his shower tonight and got the place as steamy as a sauna.

When I popped up to check on him, the steam poured out and engulfed me.

Through the fog of it, I found him standing on the edge of the wet tub pointing a full bottle of water straight at the light fixture.  I shudder to think what hazardous scheme had hatched itself inside his busy brain.  Sheesh!

I have ridden a roller coaster of emotions today, partly fueled by sleeping only four hours last night and partly fueled by the little boy’s destructive nature.

He broke things today.

I replaced them or I fixed them or decided I didn’t need them.  I cried a few times and just kept going.

I went to Pier One and Trader Joe’s and Petco and Von’s.  I came home, I took down Thanksgiving and put up Christmas.

The boy was excited to help with three trees, two garlands, and a wreath.  Husband hung a cheery string of outdoor lights and inflated a silly two-foot Santa on the front lawn.  We ate Thanksgiving food all over again and I chopped up the decorative gourds to scatter in the corner near the ever-flattening pumpkins.

What a day.

Now I’m going over to my new couch to sit next to my sweet husband to watch something with Bruce Willis in it.  Anything with Bruce Willis in it, please.

Over.

And out.

Day Twenty-Six 2010 Pumpkin Demise

I was enchanted by a beautiful hummingbird in the yard today.  Now THAT was a photographic challenge.  Didn’t get any really great shots of him, but it was wonderful to watch.

Enjoy!

Oh, I almost forgot…

Happy Friday!

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♥♥

Where did the week go?

Thursday evening – finally cooling off after kind of a hot day.  Blech.  I wasn’t meant for heat.

Husband and son are out for their evening bike ride, so I thought I’d take advantage of the quiet in the house.

The afternoon was a little noisy.  Inside and out.

The twenty-somethings next door spent the afternoon constructing a four-foot bike ramp.

When my son opened the door with his own bicycle, he was very interested in the big boys and their super fast, helmet-free disaster moves.

The first kid crashed and provided an instant and colorful visual to accompany my no-jumping-off-the-neighbor’s-ramp-until-you’re-bigger rule.

Thank you, crashing friend of neighbor kid.  I appreciate your effort to help illustrate my point.

Things are going well at school this week.

I still don’t have my hands on the amended behavior form :-x, but I’m not going to think about it until tomorrow.

The new teacher seems nice and has the right demeanor for the classroom.  Even more importantly, my son’s new aide is spectacular.  Spectacular!

I got teary in the car after talking to her for a moment at school today – teary from joy and relief and more joy.  She has brought music back to my son’s education.

I can’t tell you what that means to me.  Well, wait, yes I can, but I should probably sing it.  😀

When I got home this afternoon, I asked my husband if he has ever considered that autism may be the universe’s way of whacking us over the head for taking music and art out of the schools.

Husband thought I meant that autism is the universe’s revenge, but that’s not what I mean.  In fact, it’s really just the opposite.

I think that it’s a gift to us, like a magic pair of glasses or earphones.  In a way, autism has helped our society to appreciate the symbiotic relationship between science and art and to harness its power to effectively reach our kids.  Our kids.  My kid.  Music is one of the best ways to connect with my son.  Today, the aide told me that he gave up his computer time to join the class in an end of the day song!

Yeah, so, I got teary, because I like the other aide a lot (the pregnant one), but I love this aide.  She’s the right one and she’s assigned to work with my little boy.  I was not surprised to hear that she is almost done earning her own special ed teaching credential.  She’s a natural and I wish there were more of her.  Every kid in that school deserves an aide like this.  Really, they do.

I wish I weren’t so tired all the time, because I think I could do it too.  I think I could be a good aide or a teacher.  I took the CBEST test when I was pregnant eight years ago, but that’s it.  I never took classes and never pursued a credential in any other way.  Life happened and I didn’t have time.  And now I’m tired.

I don’t know that I have it in me to teach all day, every day, but I’m starting to wish I could at least substitute a few days a month.  I love the kids, especially the kids in special ed.

If I could balance some education classes with my son’s schedule and needs, if I could figure out how to get more rest, if I could get a handle on the things that fatigue me, then maybe.  Maybe! Just maybe I could do it.

If I don’t get too intimidated.

I have friends and family members who have been teaching forever.  They know everything about education.  I don’t.  Or at least, I don’t know anything more than how to move my kid through the system without major damage.  Even that isn’t certain until I get the amended behavior form tomorrow.

I also get a little intimidated by the fact that I have now put all my failures as a parent on the internet.  Would you put your kid in my class?  Maybe, maybe not.  Hmmm.  Lots to think about.

Okay, the boys will be back soon and I am fast losing focus anyway (yet another reason I occasionally doubt my potential to be anything else :|).

Here they come and I want to post this, so wrapping up now.

Buh bye.

Oh, and Happy Thursday.  😀

P.S.  Stay tuned for some before and after pix of the little boy’s room.  We’re going to change it up a bit in the next couple of weeks.  (Goodbye, Winnie the Pooh!  I will miss you and your lovely blueness.)

♥♥

Madness and an Easter Video

I am mad at the world today.  I just left my little boy at school.  He doesn’t want to be there and I don’t blame him.  There is no art.  There is no music.  There is no one who can understand him.  There is no one he can understand.

Today was the first morning he was actually crying wet tears as I walked away.  Wet tears.  He hates school.  That is generally apparent, but TODAY?  Today with the actual wet tears?  Crap.

I didn’t even make it to the car before I started sobbing.  Usually I get off campus before I lose it, but not today.  Nope.  Tons of other parents and a couple of staff members saw me this time.  Great.

And it’s raining and I don’t have a good jacket anymore.  My favorite has a busted zipper and a small tear on the inside pocket.  It’s still hanging in my closet because I can’t part with it. I have four other jackets and they all suck.

It’s San Diego, you know?  Even when it’s pouring rain, you don’t need a very heavy jacket and I just can’t find a good lightweight number that fits me and doesn’t look like I borrowed it from my super tall brother.  Once you hit plus sizes, the world thinks you don’t mind looking like a man.  That makes me mad too.

I’m also mad at the developer of our neighborhood. The freaking houses are too close together and this morning I had nowhere to go outside and lose my mind like I wanted to.  When you have a few acres you can do that.  Lose your mind.  Outside.  Because no one will hear you.  You can take one of your cheap plates out of the cupboard and go smash it and no one will do anything.  Can’t do that here.  Nope.  Neighbors right on top of you.  No plate smashing.  You have to leave the plate in the garage when you realize you’re out of luck with that.

I’m mad at mean people and people who don’t get it too.  Autism is hard.  For me.  For my husband.  For our families.  For our son.  Our poor son.  If you knew how often he is paralyzed, just standing in our house looking at us because we don’t understand each other…well, you would cry.  Probably a lot.  But you won’t see that, because we can’t let you come over.  The house is a wreck.  All the time.

I’m mad today.  And sad. And weepy.  My kid is in jeopardy.  (Which I learned to spell by saying “Jay-Oh-Par-Dee!”)

The teacher is on board with the dilemma.  She is a good teacher, committed to finding a solution.  But still, whatever she comes up with, it won’t be music or art.  It won’t be anything that compels my kid to love school always and forever.  Will it?

I’m mad at peanut allergies too.  Not because anyone in our family has them, but because our school is a peanut free zone.  I get it.  Kids could die if they come in contact with peanuts.  I don’t want to be responsible for making somebody die, but I want to send my kid to school with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I can’t.  So I’m mad.  That’s one of the four or five foods he eats, you know?

I’m mad at Filippi’s Pizza too because it’s really good and I’ve been craving it for months, but it’s too far away and too complicated for me to get there.  And they don’t serve anything my kid will eat (except croutons and ranch dressing), so it’s not someplace we ever get to go.  I hate you, Filippi’s.

And speaking of going places with my kid.  I love him, but I sure would love a break with my husband now and then.  Why doesn’t it ever work out?  When my mom has time, we always have a conflict and we have no other babysitters.  It sucks.  We qualify for respite care, but seriously, there is no way I would ever leave my wet tears son with someone I don’t know extremely well.  Other moms in my shoes feel the same way.  The problem is, everyone we know has their own giant schedule from hell.  No time for other people’s kids, let alone a child who doesn’t communicate well and will probably miss the toilet when he pees.  We’re screwed.  No respite.

I’m mad at the DMV too.  My license is up for renewal this year.  Thank goodness.  Really.  My current picture is tired, surprised, resigned, fat and hideous.  Ask me next time I see you.  I won’t let you see it.  I’m mad at the DMV because I know that getting a good picture requires a fight.  They’re not too keen on snapping seconds, but there is no way I’m going through another four or five years with a horrible picture again.  Won’t do it.  So I’m stressed out about the confrontation.  And it’s weeks away.

I’m mad at myself today too.  Really mad.  Mad for crying.  Mad for raising my voice.  Mad for wanting to break a plate.  Mad for buying sample paint a week ago and still not getting it up on the wall in our bedroom.  Mad for having tons of ideas and not finding the time or motivation to implement them.  Just mad.  And sad.

Whatever.

I miss my kid.  😐

Click here for the cuteness that is.

♥♥