Holiday Brain Dump

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.  🙂

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A Little Relief, Please

I left the school in tears again today.

The little boy started out happy and was looking forward to his morning run with his classmates.  But there was an assembly scheduled first thing, so they didn’t do the laps.  My son had a complete meltdown.

After ten minutes of trying to calm him and offering to run with him myself, I realized I had to leave and let the aides deal with whatever he dished out.  It killed me to walk away while he was so distraught, but I had to.

I drove to a thrift store.  Browsing there would cheer me up.

There was a man in the store who reminded me of Willie Nelson, partly because of his looks, partly because he had a lovely southern accent and gentlemanly way about his speech, but mostly because he was singing.

He wandered through the store much like I did, only extroverted and conversational with everyone he passed.  The last word or two of each sentence he heard reminded him of a song which he would then happily sing as he browsed some more.  Hymns, carols, interesting old country hits, he knew all the words and he carried the tunes.

He walked and looked and found more clerks and customers with whom to exchange pleasantries.  With each of them, he found a new song.  And he had a lovely voice.  A lovely, homey, comfortable, Willie Nelson voice.  And I love Willie Nelson.

But I was in my autism fog, blue and teary, with a lump in my throat and no courage in my demeanor.   I didn’t want to be one of the people this man spoke to.  I didn’t want to be one of his songs.  So I had to navigate through the store carefully, being small and quiet.  And I’m not very good at that, so it stressed me out.  Lovely song man stressed me out.  And made me stay in the store longer than I wanted, just so I could avoid him.

Once I finally made my escape, I headed to the grocery store.  That was rife with even more awkward social moments.  I still can’t believe I asked a twenty-year-old produce boy if he had fresh zucchini.  😳

My mind raced this morning – everywhere I try not to let it go.

When I got back into my car, I flipped on the radio and was annoyed to find Gloria Penner at the Editor’s Roundtable, discussing unemployment.  I usually love Gloria Penner and the editors too, but people without work at Christmastime?  Too depressing for me today.  I pushed another button.  I thought music might boost my mood.

Nope.  It didn’t.  Four more stations – all playing sad ballads or songs of despair.  I wanted a lift, you know?  I wanted something to pull me from my melancholia.  I’m not the type to indulge the sad music.  I was looking for a way out of that.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I could turn to a Spanish station.  I understand a lot, but I probably wouldn’t be able to translate lyrics fast enough to be bothered by them.  I could tune out the words and just hear something musical and cheery.  Fighting back a fresh wave of mom tears, I pushed another button on the radio.

I sold myself short.  I understood every word.  And do you know what they were talking about on the Spanish language station when I tuned in?  Oh, you will never guess.

Sangre.  That’s what.  Sangre en el papel y en la taza.  Sangre de hemorroides.

Seriously?

I’m depressed.  I’m looking for something to cheer me up and these people are talking about hemorrhoids on the radio.

Hemorrhoids.

Pain, itch, general discomfort and sangre.

In Spanish.

On the radio.

Well, what do you know?

That cracked me up!  No pun intended.

I laughed in Spanish too.

Ha!

Happy Friday!

I’ve lost track of my photos, so if these are duplicates, I apologize!  😀

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♥♥

Green and Red

We put up a few more Christmas decorations today.  Just one more little box and we’re done!

I love how our house looks when it’s all decked out for the season.  I wish we could carry the sparkly glow of that through the whole year without diminishing the special feeling of it in December.

We dim the lights and burn some candles whenever we have guests, but there’s nothing quite as romantic, cheery and welcoming as holiday lights.  The trees, the garlands, the string of fat old bulbs on the backyard fence, they all just add so much to the fun of day-to-day living.

I often think I’d like to keep the backyard lights throughout the year and simply change their color for each season.  They’re very festive and seeing them out there makes me feel like I’m in Bazaar Del Mundo or something.

But enough about that.

The little boy went to school as happy as can be this morning and seemed the same when I retrieved him in the afternoon.  Unfortunately, I just found a red card in his backpack.  Apparently he was “not following directions, pushing others and slapping the classroom aide.”  Blech.  Will it ever end?

I had lunch with a dear friend today.  He asked me what I thought would happen to my son after I was gone or just too old to care for him.  My friend wanted to know if I thought my son would ever be independent and capable of living alone or being in a relationship.

I confess, those questions circle my brain on a regular basis.  They put a lump in my throat at least once a week and occasionally motivate a full blown sobbing panic attack.  All of that is laced with heartache, but I try very hard not to let it get the best of me.

For the most part, I am full of hope for my son and I consciously choose not to worry too much about his future.    There’s just no way to know it or to control it, so I can’t borrow the trouble of it while I’m busy getting him through elementary school.  I simply can’t afford the energy that would require.

I do know that he has come a long way since he got his first diagnosis around 18 months.  For a while, we weren’t sure if he would ever talk.  Now he talks all the time and he has an infinite capacity to learn new words and to correct himself with each sentence he tries.

He constantly labels things aloud, narrates whatever action he sees and is eager for clarification or fine tuning of his vocabulary.   I just see all that growing and, I think as it does, it will naturally improve his ability to navigate successfully through the social nightmares that surround him.

I guess I gave some shortened version of this response to my friend.  I know he worries about my son too, so I hope he was okay with this answer.

I feel like I’m rambling now and, really, I’m more than ready to sit on the couch with the remote in one hand and a fudge bar in the other.  (No cracks about that please.  Or the fact that I linked to Walmart.  What can I say?  The fudge bars are good and Walmart sells ’em cheap.)

Oh, just one more thing – RageAgainstTheMinivan cracked me up again this week.  I swear, she’ll probably think I’m a nutso blog stalker or something, but she’s really funny and you all deserve a laugh, so here’s a link to one of her recent posts.

Enjoy!

Day Twenty-Nine 2010 Pumpkin Demise

Flat as pancakes out there.

Pumpkin pancakes, mind you.  Just like IHOP.  :mrgreen:  Not.  Heh heh.

As usual, there are a few other pix in there too, including a couple of the little boy with half closed eyes and really dirty teeth.

He’s the sweetest, smartest, cutest, kindest, most beautiful baby boy that ever lived.  And, no matter what, I tell him that every night.

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Happy Monday!

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Did That Actually Work?

My son was completely on board with going to school today.

He ate something, he turned off the computer without argument, and he dressed with enthusiasm – undies, pants, shirt.

When we got to the socks and shoes, he decided he would rather sit on the couch.

He sank into the cushions.  My heart sank into my gut.

I was okay with his missing yesterday.  He was coughing and he really seemed like he wasn’t feeling well.

But today?  No way.  No way! He could NOT stay home.

I told him three or four more times to put on his socks and shoes.

And then he uttered the dreaded words, “no school.”

“Yes, school.”  I said.  “Please put on your socks and shoes.”

No response, except heavier limbs sinking into the couch.

Again I said “please put on your socks and shoes.”

Still nothing.

With huge and purposeful concern screwing up my face, I quietly stated “I’m going to have to talk to Santa and tell him not to bring any presents on Christmas.”

The little boy ran down the hall and grabbed his socks, then sat on the floor and put them on in front of me.  The shoes came next.

Did that actually work?!?

It did!

He understands the fairy tale.  Santa brings the presents.  Ha!

I cannot tell you how much that cheers me.

He always looks forward to Christmas.

We decorate the calendar, we mark off the days, we celebrate and we have traditions, but I never know how much of it he believes.

I have always wanted him to experience the same sense of wonder and joy that I did at his age – the anticipation, the merry making, the singing, the yummy food – all of it.

But especially Santa, because my feelings about Santa are hopelessly intertwined with my love and memory of my dad.

I’ve always had a lump in my throat waiting for the moment when my dad came to mean as much to my son as he does to me.  The Santa thing makes me feel like it’s actually possible.

To the little boy, Santa and Grandpa are both snapshots in front of him, one maybe not so different from the other.

If he gets the two a bit confused, I’m okay with that.

For me, they’re sort of the same person anyway.

Yes, the presents are foremost in the boy’s mind.  He has been circling pictures in the toy catalogs for a week, but  today I saw a glimmer of something in him that I haven’t seen before.

For some reason, it makes me feel hopeful about the holidays and about my son’s ability to live an enchanted life.  And that’s my father’s legacy.

This is good.

On Saturday, I was gone for several hours.

Our house rules are a little different when I’m away.  😉

For example, husband has no scotch tape preservation clause in his daddy manual.

I’ve decided I’m okay with that because look what I found when I got home:

We should all see our names like this at least once in our lives, right?

A few minutes after I arrived, he started methodically taping those pens to the wall down our laundry hallway.

He affixed them at a variety of heights and distances from one another.

I wish we’d snapped a photo of that too.

There was a mysterious order to it that we will probably never understand.

In case you’re a glutton for punishment, here are your pumpkin pals…

Day Nine 2010 Pumpkin Demise

Happy Tuesday!

P.S.  If I ever order veggie fajitas at Applebees again, I’m gonna ask them to go easy on the poblano pepper sauce.  My tongue doesn’t feel right.  😳

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