#15 – Things I sorta already knew…

but learned again recently…

Never say never.   The finality of it will feel like a challenge.  (Insert far too much self-analysis here.)

No matter how careful I am, I am not careful enough to keep from splattering big dark blobs of hair color all over the carpet every time I dye my hair.

If I forget to put the sheets in the dryer until 11:00 p.m., then we have to wait until 11:40 to go to bed.

I’m too old to stay up until 11:40.

Taking a cat to the vet costs at least $500.  They always find a problem.  It’s just the same as taking your car to the shop, except there’s fur.

IKEA seems like such a good idea, until I get there, and then it just makes me achy and sad.  Like nachos.

I don’t have enough space for my junk.  (I went to IKEA looking for junk storage.)

It’s really hard to let go of the stuff that I like to make room for the stuff that I love, sooooo…the stuff that I love is waiting in drawers and closets and piles and boxes.  Waiting.  And the stuff that I only like is hanging on the walls.  Sigh.  😐

Dark purple Mario fruit snacks look a lot like little balls of cat poo when I spy them on the floor in my dimly lit living room.  Their grape scent momentarily confuses me.

One of my son’s biggest challenges is communicating his long-term goals.  And by “long-term,” I mean what he wants four minutes from now.  He starts every goal by communicating only the first step: “I want Mama up.”  His ultimate objective is a mystery that only he can know until each step is completed, in order, one at a time.  I try to get more information by asking “I want Mama up because…??”  On a good day he will finish the sentence – “I want Mama up, because I want Mama to be standing.”  😐

When Oreo cookies go on sale, husband or I must buy them.  Must.  Buy.  Them.  Double Stuff.

My older brother knows way more about books than I ever will.

I used to love playing jacks.  The metal kind.  They were heavy and offered a satisfying tactile experience.  The new, too-big-for-little-fingers, neon-colored, sticks-to-itself-rubber jacks just aren’t the same.  😐

Giant umbrellas will pop open in the car.  Twice.

If I really enjoy the hotel jacuzzi, then I will not have a card key to get back into the building until I am freezing again.  Freezing.  In a wet swimsuit.  In the dark.  Other hotel guests will stare at me when I walk around through the parking lot to find an open door.  I will not find an open door.

Six quarts of crock pot vegetable soup = six quarts of trash if you add just one ingredient that doesn’t have quite the right flavor.  I added two.  😦  Tarragon and green onions…what was I thinking?!?  Darn it!

If I decide at the last minute to take my cat to the vet, then I will forget to do something else, like put my son’s lunch in his backpack.

If I forget to put my son’s lunch is his backpack, my sense of self-worth in the motherhood department will look like a ball on New Year’s Eve – sparkling and determined (until the wrong is righted), then dark and low for a really long time.  Oy.

I can never have enough tin ornaments.

When I am at my lowest, a thrift store visit is sometimes all the pick-me-up I need, especially when it yields cheery little creatures.

Happy Tuesday!
♥♥

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!

♥♥

Tiramisu, OCD, Pennies & Pasadena

Sweets for me and my sweets

There’s tiramisu in the fridge again.  (Insert contented happy dance here.)

It’s such a mess to make, but so worth the effort and the cocoa dusted counter tops.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate grout?

It’s everywhere in my home and nowhere in my dreams.

And this evening, my grout is cocoa powder brown.  😐

But like I said, there’s tiramisu in the fridge again.

And it’s the good kind.

The almond kind.  

It’s not the rum kind.

It’s this kind.  🙂

OCD and then some

The little boy is going through an increased phase of obsessive compulsive behaviors again.

He has some of these behaviors all the time, but every month or so they intensify for a while.

It makes us tired.  And frustrated.  And teary.  And sometimes really, really mad.

He will insist we do things for him that we haven’t done since he was a baby, or ever.

Tonight, for instance, he called me to come into the bathroom as he was finishing his shower.

“Mama, pull the plug?”

I’ve really never pulled the plug for him after his bath time, but suddenly, he is desperate for me to do it.

When I refuse and explain that it’s his responsibility to pull the plug, he starts a tantrum.

I leave the room.  😐

He has also started asking us to push him or carry him everywhere again.

THAT makes me lose my mind.

I sit at the dining table with my cereal and he wants me up so that I can carry him three feet, from the kitchen to the couch.

I ask if his legs are broken.

Sometimes, he gets the point.

Sometimes, not so much.

And just now, he was standing in the kitchen with me.

He was waving a cloth napkin in his hand.

“Mama put the napkin down?”

He wanted me to take it from him so that I could put it on the counter.

Um…

no.

You get the picture.

Exhausting.  Exhausted.

Penny for your thoughts.  And your patience, please.

Before we weened ourselves away from the little boy’s private psychologist, we got one last piece of great advice.

She suggested we offer him a penny every time he waits patiently at a red light.

Until we started doing that, he would absolutely freak out in the car.

He doesn’t like to wait.

He doesn’t like things he can’t control.

Traffic + his being in the backseat with a limited view = intersection of all anxiety, mine and his.

I’ve written before about being pelted in the head with McDonald’s toys, having my seat kicked, having my ear drums pained by sudden blood-curdling screams, and having papers and magazines torn to pieces.

All because of red lights.  Or pedestrians.  Or bicycles.  Or buses.

Being in the car pretty much sends my kid into the deepest recesses of his autism.

Or at least it did, until we started the pennies.

Now, things are usually okay.

And this week we took the pennies to Vons and threw them into a CoinMaster machine.

$16.00.

Unreal.

He bought another nightlight.  😀

Pasadena Partners

In the wake of some marital strife – no, you don’t get details – I have concluded that the husband needs a fabulous weekend like I had in Pasadena.

I suggested it today and though we do have a lot on the calendar in the next several weeks, I think it will work with some creative planning.

So, husband, start thinking about all the guy stuff you wanna do.

I will help with reservations.  🙂

And that’s all she wrote.

Happy Thursday.

♥♥

Right Back Where We Were

The little boy had a meltdown last night.

I didn’t plan our afternoon very well and we all paid for it.

I scheduled our contractor to come over around 4:00 to finish up the baseboards in the boy’s bathroom.

I knew he would probably call and say he was running late.  I was right.

Even when he told me he would get here at 5:00, I knew it might not be until 6:00 that the doorbell rang.

That’s just how home repairs go.  Everything takes longer than you think and if you’re the last stop of the day, you’re at the mercy of the delays in the job before you.

I get it, but none of it means anything to the little boy.  He just wanted to take his bath at the same time he always takes his bath.

But he couldn’t, because I wouldn’t let him go upstairs with the nails and broken boards and the man in there doing work.

I couldn’t let my kid strip to his birthday suit and take a steamy shower in the room where this guy was cutting and nailing and putting epoxy.

My son’s lips got twisty, his eyes filled with tears, and he started to knock things over.  First the little trampoline, then a foot locker in the front room.

Upstairs, the contractor was sweating away and probably hearing all of it, including my own deteriorating demeanor.

The whole situation kind of sucked.

Husband finally managed to get the boy interested in the bathtub in our room, but it was dusty and had to be cleaned because we never use it.

Once husband had wiped the whole thing out and filled it with clean soapy water, the little boy stepped in.

But he never sat down.  He had bubbles and water up to his knees, but the tears kept coming and he just didn’t enjoy the experience.

After a couple of minutes, he stepped back out and just stood there.  He was still very upset.

It was around 8:00 p.m. when our contractor finally left.  I walked him outside and apologized for what he witnessed as he worked.  He was gracious about it and even apologized right back for coming so late.

Back in the house, the little boy was finally settled into his evening computer time.  He was mostly over the disappointment of the bath issue, but his mood was volatile until time for bed.

I was already at the end of my emotional rope.  Today, I feel kind of numb from it all.  I went for a walk to clear my head this morning, but I really just muddied it further.

There is too much to do, no one to help me, and I am tired.

The boy’s upsets take everything out of me and leave me defeated sometimes, especially when there is anything else dragging me down.

My lovely Pasadena weekend seems like such a distant memory.

♣♣

Reading People

The little boy has a crush on a girl in his summer school class.

He walked up behind her this morning and tried a sly one-armed hug.  It sort of worked.  She didn’t hug back, but she looked at him sweetly and didn’t seem to mind his very forward gesture.  He didn’t notice her response.

A few days ago, my son’s aide told me that he is the class clown.  He loves funny sounds and music and goofy toys and he likes to laugh, so I guess the other kids watch him sometimes.

He is always recognized by his schoolmates when we’re out and about.  Even the kids who are older and have never been in a class with him will point him out to their moms and say “hi” as we walk by in the grocery store or at the mall.

My kid is kind of a rock star.

At the park, the other children are always fascinated when he doesn’t respond or even seem to understand that they are talking to him.  He has the best sand toy collection, so they are very motivated to figure him out.  They ask me a ton of questions.

My son takes in a lot of his surroundings, maybe even more than most kids, but he doesn’t quite know how to read facial expressions or body language.  He typically just stares when another kid talks to him.

People amuse, entertain, and befuddle my son.  He likes their oddness and their quirky mannerisms, but he doesn’t always know what to make of their efforts to communicate.  Or my efforts to communicate, for that matter.

Today, we went to the store after his swim lesson.  I bought him a big bag of Ruffles, his current favorite snack.  As we drove home, I extended my open hand toward him in the backseat.  Without a word from either of us, he placed a chip in my hand.  I said “thank you” and reached back twice more before we turned onto our street.  He gave me a new chip each time.

I really didn’t consider the miracle of that until I pulled into the garage.  He could have put anything, or nothing, in my hand.  He could have kicked my hand, like he has done before.  Or he could have become agitated and yelled “no Mama’s hand go backwards!”  He has done that before too.  😦

Instead, he did what any ordinary person would do.  He read my body language.  He understood my gesture and complied with my silent request.  Ordinary?  Extraordinary.

The chip experience reminds me of this post from Into The Woods, Living Deliberately.

It’s the little things, you know?

Happy Wednesday!

P.S.  We’re spending a lot of time at the popper fountains this summer.  What are you up to?

♥♥

The Last Day

School gets out for the summer in fifteen minutes, but my son is already home.

He has been here an hour and is sleeping in a ball on the couch.

He looks small, uncomfortable, sweet…defeated.

The aide said he hasn’t been himself today, but I think the opposite may actually be true.

He is the same as ever, but school is different.

There are last minute parties, girls in white dresses and boys in first ties.

There are proud parents everywhere and an entire class toting pillows for a special movie hour.

There was an all-school picnic, another assembly, a shorter recess and a field trip to the park.

Morning announcements were canceled for graduation and there was less structure to the schedule.

There is a buzz in the air this week.

Everyone is excited.

Everyone, except my kid.

He is the same as ever, completely himself, completely overwhelmed by multiple changes to his routine.

The school nurse called me in early to take him home.

I had just finished assembling twelve little tokens of appreciation for the office staff – a bag of M&Ms, a picture of the boy and a teeny note of thanks tied with a pretty ribbon.

It was all I had time and money to do this year, but I was pleased with myself for getting it done.

Then the phone call.

I took the M&Ms with me, but I couldn’t stay to see them to their intended recipients.

I made twelve.  I handed out six.  😐  Sigh.

The boy is stirring on the couch now.

Time to assess the damage done to his demeanor by all these extraordinary things.

It might be a very long afternoon.

Thank goodness there are so many extra M&Ms.

Happy Thursday!

♥♥

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!

♥♥