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Taking one day at a time...

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  • Sunday, July 31, 2011

    Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot...

    *Liv has had a fever for a couple of days. Yesterday's fever wasn't too bad...100.6 at its highest for the day. It started on Thursday evening and was at its highest on Friday at 102.7 degrees. She's got a cough, a little congestion, but nothing other than that. She gets crabby, but knows when to rest. She's on the mend.

    *Jack started feeling out of sorts yesterday at my Mom's. I'm hoping he doesn't run a high fever, but I wouldn't be surprised, especially with all the "beauty shop" he's been playing with Liv. She dresses him up, puts a crown on him, and gives him princess high heels to wear. Did I mention the lip gloss she shares with him? They've had a lot of contact lately. If he's sick on Monday, there isn't much chance of him finishing out day camp for his last week. We'll play it by ear.

    *Liesl and Leia seem fine, but that can change at the drop of a hat. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they weather through it unscathed. In a house with four kids between six and nearly 2, the germs will migrate between them and we have no control over it.

    *I have two assignments left for my two classes and then I'm D-O-N-E. I'll be sitting in the pool with a Blue Moon when it's all over.

    *Salvation Army comes tomorrow to pick up a large donation. It's just the tip of the iceberg, but it's quite a bit. Once I'm done with my last two homework assignments, I can concentrate on the basement and I'm giving myself two weeks to get it finished. It's "go time," as if this whole summer hasn't been "go time" already. Heh.

    *I think I broke my pinky toe for the second time in a month. Dining room tables are unforgiving, especially when it's my Mother's mission set.

    *There's never a dull moment around here. With four kids, if it were dull, I'd be worried.

    Saturday, July 30, 2011

    A Little Faith...

    Next week is Jack's last week at day camp. Unfortunately, his aide's last day will be Tuesday because he has to go back to work at his school, which is on a different schedule. If the park district can't find a substitute aide for the last three days, Jack will have to stay home. Upon finding out that Dave's last day would be Tuesday, I was content with letting Jack miss the last three days of day camp. However, Hubby was not and I think he has a valid point. Jack has come such a long way in such a short period of time and he has made friends who love him, quirks and all. It would be a shame for him to miss the last three days. So, we're hoping the park district sends a replacement aide for the last three days so that Jack can enjoy the rest of his time there. We have to give him the chance. After all, a little faith goes a long way. If I "throw" him in, he just might swim better than I think he will. Plus, Dave has prepared him very well and he loves his little group of friends. Perhaps he'll be just fine and I'm overthinking it for no reason at all. Overthinking is in my nature.

    When I picked Jack up from day camp yesterday, one of his friends asked me if I remembered his address. He'd given it to me a couple days before, but I hadn't written it down. His friend, Justin, said, "I really wants a playdate with Jack. I want him to come to my house to play and I want to come to your house to play with Jack." It broke my heart because it was such a genuine and beautiful request I'd never received before. I met with the boy's sister, obtained their phone number, and will be calling Justin's mom once camp is done. Jack has never had a real friend he wasn't already related to. Most kids just don't want to be with him because they don't want to take the time to understand him. Justin seems to have invested a lot of time in getting to know Jack and he really likes him. So, I must set up a playdate as soon as I can. Justin and Jack are counting on me.

    Of course, I bawled my eyes out afterward. I didn't mean to and I didn't do it in front of the other kids, but I was deeply moved by the whole moment. Dave totally understood and assured me that there will probably be many other kids that want to have playdates with Jack, too. Dave served as a bridge between the neurotypical boys and Jack and he effectively helped them understand what was going on if Jack had different reactions to situations. Sometimes he did it with humor, sometimes he explained in simple, age-appropriate terms. Whatever he did, he got that group of boys to rally around my son and boost his self-esteem and confidence, making him feel accepted. I couldn't be more happy with the results. I have a happy boy who laughs, swims well, talks nonstop and makes sense, eats like crazy, and has the physical outlet he needs to keep his mind stimulated enough to slow him down. I could've easily put him in extended school year for one month, four half days a week, where he would've sat in a classroom and gone out of his mind. Instead, I chose day camp. I think the extended school year wouldn't have done for him what camp has done. A kid like Jack needs a lot of physical stimulation to give him something to think about, which in turn slows him down. It's like nature's Ritalin, I guess.

    Underneath all of the layers of high-functioning autism and sensory issues, Jack is just a regular kid, struggling to make sense of a world that challenges him daily. That's the best way I can sum it up. And we're doing our best to keep his struggles manageable. Summer day camp was the best idea ever.

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    Burning The Candle...

    I have been burning the candle at both ends lately. I wake up early and stay up late doing homework. I'm not getting nearly enough rest and I don't know how I get through my days sometimes. It'll all be over soon once my classes are finished in two weeks. Still, it's a bitch right now.

    At least I won't have to retrain myself to get up for work early once I go back in a month. I've been waking up early all summer long, so my body has never gotten used to sleeping late this summer. Sigh. I long for it, though.

    There's so much to do in the basement, still. I feel like every time I go down there to get stuff done, I wind up not even making a dent. It's so overwhelming. Perhaps I'm just making my expectations too high. My hope is that the basement will be done by the time I go back to work. Just looking at it, though, makes me tense. Leia won't let me go down there without screaming her head off until she's purple and I come back up. That little girl has stamina and can scream for hours. Ugh. By the time I get anything done, it's time to pick up Jack from day camp.

    Have you ever tried organizing a room you can't move around in to sort through things? It's overwhelming and sometimes it's just easier to say, "I'll do it tomorrow." There have been way too many "tomorrows" lately. I just don't see myself getting anything significant done down there until I'm done with these classes. I just don't have the time, the patience, or the will right now.

    I'm burned out. I didn't think it would happen, but I really feel like I'm burned out by how much I've taken on this summer. WTF?! I need a vacation, but it's weeks away still. And I won't get my basement done while I'm away. We come back from vacation and I go back to work two days later. The basement HAS to get done before then, so my time is very limited right now.

    There I go again...burning the candle at both ends. By the time I go back to work, I'm going to be anything but relaxed. Gah!

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    A Great Use For Popcorn, If You Didn't Already Know...

    Every night, after Hubby uses his computer, he retreats to his mancave in the basement to watch sports or movies. Last week, Livie asked me, "Why does Papa make popcorn and go downstairs at night? What does he do down there?"

    Thinking fast on my feet, I simply told her, "You see, Livie, your Papa likes to wash his feet a lot...with popcorn."

    Her response was, "He does? Why does he like to wash his feet so much?"

    I told her, "He absolutely hates when his feet are dirty."

    " that's where I get it from. I like my feet clean, too. I think I understand now, but I don't understand why he just doesn't use soap." I just shrugged my shoulders.

    A few days later, I hear Livie talking to Hubby in the next room, asking him, "Papa, why do you like to wash your feet so much in the basement at night? Do you really wash them with popcorn?"

    His response was, "What are you talking about, Livie?! Who told you that?"

    She said, "Mommy says that you like to wash your feet a lot in the basement at night...with popcorn."

    I could feel him staring at me through the walls. Heh. The next thing I heard was, "Aaaaaammmmmyyyy! Why are you telling her things like that? It's not funny!"

    I replied, "Touched a nerve, did I?" He wasn't very happy about it. He thinks Livie's going to go to school and tell her friends that he washes his feet in the basement at night with popcorn.

    A few days later, she asked me if I was just joking. I told her I was and that it felt good to play a practical joke on her and Papa. She smiled and let me know that she thought it was very funny. Now, it's a running joke every night. Hubby makes popcorn, but before he goes down to the basement, he asks her if she wants some popcorn before he washes his feet with it. She just smiles and says, "Sure, Papa."

    I think it's important to keep relationships fresh by being completely unpredictable and funny. Just make sure the joke is harmless (and never overuse that skill) and all will be well. Heh. I don't know what made me say that to her in the first place, but she should probably get used to that sort of thing around here. It's a talent she will inherit in no time at all. Apples don't fall far, after all.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Like A Breast Orgasm...

    I'm getting to the home stretch of my two graduate classes this summer. I completed all of my homework for this week yesterday. I have one assignment and three major projects (two of which are shared, so the burden is much less) due in the next two weeks. It'll be a breeze compared to the other week when I had thirteen assignments due. That was a rough week. I'm glad it's leveling off and the work that needs to be done is more than manageable. It's almost over and I'll never have to worry about getting this endorsement to cover my butt ever again. I've busted my ass this summer in so many ways. Having all of this classwork has really kept me in a zone where I'm disciplined to manage my time and my deadlines, all while the kids are asleep. I'm an excellent time manager, so this whole summer has been right up my alley. I'm great at multitasking, but I sometimes wish my brain would just slow down and not try to manage so much all at once.

    As soon as I get the paperwork saying I successfully completed the coursework in these classes, I can send it in to the state board and have it appear on my certificate. It's one less thing to worry about and it can open up a few more doors to other schools, if I choose to leave my current one. I like where I work, though, but if I had a chance to work at Liv's school, I would jump on it. I could walk to work everyday. Heh. Having this endorsement is just a little more security than I already have, so it doesn't hurt to have it.

    All I know is that I'm almost done with these classes and the relief I'll feel when it's all over will be like that breast orgasm you have when your nursing baby eats after you've become engorged and think you're going to explode. Yeah, THAT good.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    D Dynamite Plum...

    This is what happens when you let your five-year-old daughter watch, "The PowerPuff Girls."

    Liv created and enacted a dramatic storyline where she is D Dynamite Plum, the superheroine. Liesl is the Nice Witch who helps her out as she defeats the enemies. Our dog, Java, is the Nice Fire-Breathing Dragon, who really has no significant role in the dramatic play, but is lovable nonetheless. I, her loving mother, is the Evil Witch of Darkness who needs to be annihilated. Her stuffed animal, Bunny Bunny, is The Mayor who calls her and tells her about the problems I'm causing the town. And Leia is Princess Unicorn Pink Pussy, who I think helps Liv with the karate chops on me. Yeah, that last one is no typo; the name, "Princess Unicorn Pink Pussy," had me rolling on the floor with laughter, but Hubby was not amused by it at all. Heh. Anyway...there's a definite storyline in her dramatic play, parallel to one you'd see in "The PowerPuff Girls." Her finale is a series of moves to defeat that nasty Evil Witch of Darkness so she can save the town from disaster.

    This is The Pinch.

    This is The Slice.

    And this move is The Kick, which makes sure that I, the Evil Witch of Darkness, never come back to harm the people of Townsville ever again.

    How's THAT for dramatic play?

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    The Woman Who Made Me Who I Am...

    My beautiful Mother is 70 years old today. I can't believe it. She seems so...young. It still feels like yesterday when she would pick me up from grade school in her enormous '79 Buick, come to my piano recitals, and go on my Girl Scout camping trips with me. She always held me when I was hurt or sad; she always explained things logically when I was thinking irrationally as a teenager; and she respects all of my decisions as an adult. When I was three or four, I remember her stroking my hair as I fell asleep for naptime in her big bed; I remember it like it was yesterday because it is a wonderful memory for me. She loves me, even with all of my shortcomings. And she has taught me how to be a good Mother. Everything I've learned, she has helped to teach me. I have learned more from my Mother than any college textbook or degree I've ever gotten. She's researched and read all of the autism books right alongside with me and she gets my boy. She gets him like no one else but me. My Mother never half-assed anything in her life. She's meticulous, extremely articulate, and the best writer I've ever known. She has sacrificed a lot for her family in her lifetime. She's beautiful, inside and out. She walks into a room and has a warm presence that people can feel. Her smile lights up the room. She's a pianist, an artist, and a creative soul.

    She is such an integral part in my children's lives. She always has fun activites for them to do when we visit her every Saturday and doesn't ever fuss about the mess they create. She feeds us all; she comforts us all; she has been my best friend for my whole life and now she's doing the same for my kids. She's not just their Grandma; she's also a wonderful friend who they know loves them unconditionally. They can't wait to see her every weekend. Jack looks forward to Saturdays like you wouldn't believe. The picture above shows Mom and Jack waiting for the candles to be lit on her birthday cake this past Saturday.

    And this picture above shows Jack and Mom blowing the candles out. She is everything to my children and to me and Hubby. There isn't a person in the world who can say a bad thing about her. She lives a very hectic life, holding down a full-time job, keeping a house clean and orderly, taking care of those around her. She may be 70, but her views are very modern. She's an amazing woman who has done amazing things with her life. She's raised three children who adore her and would do anything for her. And she has eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild, all of whom think she's the greatest person they've ever known.

    We are so lucky to have Mom! To know her is to love her. She is a kind and gentle spirit with a fierce loyalty to her family. I can only hope I become as great as her someday.

    Happy Birthday, Mom! We love you!

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Alas, Poor Yorick...

    There's something about playing with a replica of a human skull in the pool at Grandma's house that makes Saturdays so much fun. Who knew that you could actually fill it with water and pour it on someone else's head for a good time? Heh.

    We know exactly how to have fun and there's never a dull moment at Grandma's.

    Saturday, July 23, 2011


    Hubby and I took Liv, Liesl, and Leia to see his Mom and Dad yesterday while Jack was at camp. They only live a few blocks away, so we walked. The girls had a great time tearing up their house and eating their food. It was a lovely visit. Hubby's parents had been on vacation for almost a month, so it was great to see them. We missed them so much!

    We also surprised Jack. Usually I pick up Jack by myself, but this time Hubby and I took the three girls to pick him up from day camp. He was so surprised to see us all! He was beaming as he said, "Hi, everybody! You're ALL here!" Hubby got to meet Dave, Jack's one-on-one aide, finally. They hit it off right away and even discussed future playdates. It was awesome! I'm sure Dave was happy to see where Jack comes from and all that estrogen he has to deal with in one house. Heh.

    It was a lovely day that started out stormy. It was made better by seeing Hubby's parents. And it was topped off by Jack's killer smile and early bedtimes for all but Liv. She's our night owl. It was a great day for everyone! Yay!

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Staying Wet...

    I think we're melting. The weathermen might say it didn't reach higher than 99 degrees, but I think they're full of shit because they don't want people to panic. Once people hear triple-digit temperatures, they freak out. I still think it's been over 100 degrees the past two days, but some people think the weathermen are gods. I think it's totally possible the temps got that high the last two days.

    Jack has been a real trooper at day camp, and yes, I sent him on the hot days. I knew they'd spend most of the day in the indoor pool, so I wasn't all that worried he'd be suffering in the heat. Are you kidding? That boy was having the time of his life, practicing his swimming and diving.

    Our pool toys are sticking together, it's so hot. The pool water is so warm, I have to get OUT of it to cool off. And it's so hot here that once I've been out of the pool for five minutes, I have to get back in to cool off, even though I came OUT to cool off in the first place! The first ten minutes is quite refreshing, but after that it feels like bath water. Yeesh. I do have a killer tan, though. Heh.

    It doesn't look like the heat is going to end anytime soon, so if I intend on going outside, I am going to be wet, either by the pool or in the sprinkler. At least no one will know I'm sweating.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Best News EVER...

    Jack has been working so well with his one-on-one aide at day camp this summer. He's learned to swim and socializes well with his peers, who just happen to think he's a really great kid. Duh. His aide, Dave, had told me last week that he was going to need to be out next week for professional development that his principal wanted him to attend. That left us in a pickle. If the park district's human resources office wasn't able to find a substitute aide for Jack next week, then Jack would have to stay home. Not good. It would've been a terrible setback for my boy who has accomplished so much these last almost four weeks at camp.

    Yesterday, Dave told me that he was able to get out of the professional development meetings. He explained to his principal about the amazing achievements Jack has made with him and his peers and he was able to get out of having to go. Such good news for us! I kept banging my head against the wall, thinking about how hard next week was going to be for Jack, how difficult the transition would be for him, and what the repercussions would be if he had a meltdown the sub couldn't handle. Dave set my mind at ease by being able to get out of his meetings next week and I am so happy for Jack! He can continue to make great strides and not miss a beat. He will be more than prepared for school when it starts, since he'll already have experience being out of the house for six hours a day, which was the whole point in enrolling him in day camp (and the socialization part, of course).

    There are only two more weeks of day camp left after this week. Jack will really miss Dave and I have a strong feeling that Dave is going to miss Jack just as much. They've both learned so much from each other. They've really formed quite a bond, a friendship, and a respect for each other that I have never seen before. My boy couldn't have gotten any luckier this summer.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Patting Myself On The Back...

    O. M. G. I am in the purging mood. I am throwing stuff out left and right. I am donating stuff left and right. I am cleansing my basement and my head. It's a bit unnerving and somewhat relieving. I still can't believe I'm doing this. It's so not like me.

    I have also completed twelve assignments for my two graduate classes in just two days. I almost feel manic. I have one more assignment to do for this week. Since I wrote this post last night, that last assignment is probably already done.

    I'm also able to make time for all my kids. How? I don't really know. Jack gets me in the wee hours of the morning when most of you are still sleeping, and he gets me before bedtime, too, when we have reading time. Livie gets me during the afternoon when we can have pool time while the babies are napping and again for reading time before her siblings go to bed. She also gets me from the time the others go to bed to the time she goes to bed. The babies get me in the late morning and late afternoon/early evening. I spend my mornings purging my basement after Jack goes to day camp. The only one who doesn't get much time with me is my husband, unless he's in the pool with us. He's in bed before I am because I'm up late doing homework. That won't last long, at the rate I'm going and, thankfully, he understands that life sometimes gets in the way. I'm managing my time pretty well, all things considered. My plate is full, but my marriage and my kids aren't suffering. Pretty soon, the homework will be over, the basement redecoration will be complete, and life will get back to normal just in time for school to start and me to go back to work. We still have a vacation coming up after my classes are done.

    All in all, I'm doing much better than I thought I would be. It was all daunting at first at the beginning of summer, but now that I'm in a serious groove, I can't stop. We've accomplished quite a bit in just one month and it's only going to get better from here.

    I'm on fire. I don't know why or how, but I'm on fire.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow...

    I love the Salvation Army and I only make donations to that charity...ever. I love that the proceeds from the donations they receive go to keep their Adult Rehabilitation Centers open, making it possible to help those who need it. They helped someone I dearly love turn his life around almost thirteen years ago. It changed him forever and he didn't do it alone. The Salvation Army and his own strong will to change are what saved him.

    That's what I keep telling myself as I pack up things to donate. You see, it's not easy for me to part with books. I don't know why. Clothing is easier to part with for me, but not for my husband who has high end clothing he needs to donate. My clothes were easy to pack up; I don't get attached to clothes. Books are a totally different story for me, though. It's pretty painful.

    So, as I pack up my life's worth of books I've loved over the years, I just keep telling myself that someone else will buy them, love them, and one more person will turn their life around with the Salvation Army. After all, it's all for a great cause. I just wish it didn't hurt so much. I mean, they're just books, right? Several hundred...Sigh...

    In the grand scheme of things, I guess it's a small price to pay for someone else's journey to sobriety.

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Not Putting Off The Inevitable Anymore...

    Since the heat is so intense outside, I have no choice but to tackle my basement redecoration. I can't stay in the pool all day long; I'm cooked as it is right now. So, this morning I'll start filling the garbage cans, yet again, and save the afternoon for some pool time.

    I hope Jack doesn't overheat at day camp and gets plenty of pool time to wear him out. I worry about this kind of heat when it comes to the kids, whether they're home or not. I know the camp has certain rooms that have AC, so hopefully Jack will be comfortable or he'll get a second time in their indoor pool.

    As for me, I'm tackling homework when the kids go to sleep and trying to do as much purging of my basement crap during the day. I'm already beat just thinking about it. Sigh.

    Sunday, July 17, 2011


    I am inundated with homework. I know it's only two graduate classes that are six weeks long, but it's a real bitch. Seriously.

    I have twelve assignments due this Friday. TWELVE. And I knocked EIGHT of them out last night after the kids went to bed! One of the four I have left is pretty big. I think I'm going to die. Ugh.

    This is much more overwhelming than I thought it would be. That's okay, though. When it's all over on August 12th, I never have to worry about this particular endorsement ever again. Right now, though, I think I'm going to puke. It's just so...much.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Heat Wave...

    Oh, it's going to be hotter than hell here in the next few days. I see lots of pool time in my future. The water will probably be as warm as pee, though. Heh.

    I guess it's the perfect time to work on my basement. *Cough, cough* Or do homework...

    I'm brown now and it's only mid-July. I look like I'm from India. In fact, when I'm naked, I look like two completely different races. You sooooo wanted to know that one. Heh.

    I'm having a great summer, so far, and have been accomplishing a lot. Next month, Jack's day camp will end, my classes will end, and we'll all go on a wonderful vacation Up North. And then it'll be Back-to-School Mode, which seems like it's coming so fast. Last summer seemed to last forever. This summer seems to be going by fast. Ho-hum.

    I'm going to enjoy the hell out of it, even the searing heat waves. You know where to find me...poolside.

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Finding Nemo...

    Yesterday after Liv's gymnastics class, she and I snuck into our park district's pool to see if Jack was swimming. I spotted him immediately. He was the kid jumping into 5-6 feet of water and swimming like he was a fish. His aide, Dave, was right there with him, making sure he was safe and developing his technique. I wouldn't have believed how well he could swim if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. Jack can swim! The best part is that he's only been in that pool for two weeks and he's caught on so quickly.

    Jack has every bit of a swimmer's body. He's long and lean and quick. And no one ever taught him how to breathe in and out of the water. It just came naturally to him. Dave moves farther and farther away and Jack keeps swimming to him. It's an incredible sight to behold. I think we may have discovered another thing Jack can be exceptional at with practice, since he's so good at it now with so little experience. And Dave treats Jack like he would his own son and he informed me of how rewarding it is for him to be working with Jack. I believe him because Jack hugs him, lets him carry him on his shoulders, and rests his head on his chest when he doesn't know I'm looking. Dave is not some high school or college kid; he's a grown man slightly younger than me, with a family, and works as a teacher. He came into our lives for a reason. He is an instrumental part of our journey through Jack's autism. He has no idea how much confidence he gives Jack. I'll be sad when day camp is over next month because I know how empty Jack will feel without Dave. They have forged a friendship built on trust.

    As I watched him, I felt a lump in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes. Dave saw me before Jack did and he had Jack do his tricks so I could see them. When Jack spotted me in his water world, he beamed with pride and excitement that I was witnessing his accomplishments. I never saw a smile that wide in my life. I gave him a big smile and a thumbs up, choking back my tears of joy. He continued swimming after I left and I think that just by showing up and surprising him with my quiet presence, I made his day. Like Nemo, Jack is a bit different from his peers, but he succeeds in spite of his differences. What I saw yesterday shows me that Jack can master any activity he loves, with or without me.

    Autism can bring many gifts you'd never expect. Music and swimming are Jack's things and what wonderful gifts they are!

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    My Parents...

    Happy 49th Anniversary to my parents!

    It's been quite a ride for you, weathering storms and making it out of them when others have failed. I wish you nothing but the best on this day and all days to come.

    We love you!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Two Graduate College Courses At Once Is My Limit...

    I'm not procrastinating. Really, I'm not. I just didn't get around to starting to fix up my basement yet. I spent part of yesterday just researching for my assignments for the two classes I'm taking this summer. Let me just tell you is kicking my ass. Two graduate-level classes at the same time is kicking my ass. It'll be worth it, though. For now, it is...just WOW! I have five assignments due by Friday and I cranked out three of them last night. I should've seen that coming because it's the shorter summer session, but I just didn't think of it.

    After doing my research, I gave myself some pool time and was grateful that the garbage men finally came in the afternoon. I had absolutely no room left in the cans for even a smidgen of dog poop. After last week's purge, we were left with a tiny amount of space in our two cans. Last week had a holiday, so we were screwed out of garbage pick-up last Tuesday. I am so glad they came yesterday! We had no room left! So, technically, I couldn't really work on the basement either. Heh.

    Today, I have two more assignments to crank out, hopefully in the morning, and then I can pretend to work on my basement. Having a family of six, we really need those two garbage cans we're allotted. Anything that disturbs that means the next purge has to happen in stages, not in one week. We were dying over here!

    So, today's agenda has homework on it for me and I don't know what else. Maybe a nap, if I'm lucky? Yeah, I know...whatever. Do I even remember how to nap?

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    The Icing On The Cake...

    I called in sick yesterday. I did not feel like doing any housework, so I called in sick. I did nothing. No Basement Duty (see the previous post), no cleaning, no nothing. It's just what the doctor ordered. Heh. After busting my ass all last week rearranging bedrooms/dressers/closets, I needed a day where nothing was expected of me. And I got just that.

    I probably can't do that today, but I had a good excuse yesterday...the garbage men had not yet come and I had no more room in our garbage cans for anything else. So, it was the perfect day to "veg" out and be a blob all day. Today, I continue the Summer of the Purge.

    The icing on the cake was Jack's day at summer camp. He went on a field trip to a carnival and had the best time ever. He rode all the rides, at least twice each. He even drove the bumper cars and enjoyed it so much! We could never get him to go on carnival rides before, but without us, he was able to let go of his inhibitions and do whatever the other kids were doing. He's beginning to look to other kids for their reactions to certain situations and he's matching his own to theirs, which is a HUGE milestone for a kid on the spectrum. He knows we're his comfort zone and we won't push him if he's not receptive to things. Summer camp is different, though. We have adequately prepared him for his adventures and thrust him into a world that is outside his comfort zone. He has handled it better than we ever expected, which is just like Jack...full of surprises as long as we let go.

    It seems like he has a whole lot more fun without us around, which is bittersweet for me. It shows me, though, that he's growing with and because of those around him. I cannot be a Helicopter Mom or a Tiger Mom, even though he's on the autism spectrum. He HAS to be able to spread his wings, whether I like it or not. It's the hardest part of being his mother...the letting go part. I know the whole letting go part is difficult for any mom, but it is especially hard when your child is on the autism spectrum. You always feel the urge to protect him and those around him from him. Yet, there's a certain freedom I'm experiencing by letting him show me what he can do and I'm positive he's feeling the same way, too. We're both not in control, yet we are. I guess we're both out of our comfort zones, but we're learning so much from it. It's a very strange feeling, but I can't say it's a bad one.

    Way to go, Jack!

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Basement Duty...

    Basement Duty happens this week in the House of Eatmisery. We finished the bedrooms/dressers/closets swap last week and now we'll be creating an art studio for Liv and a playroom for all the kids in the basement. This is no small task if you've ever seen the amount of art supplies I have. We also have to curtain off Hubby's mancave just to protect his sports memorabilia and massive plasma TV. This is going to be crazy, but at least it won't interfere with the kids' routines. I have a feeling it's going to take a few weeks to complete because there is so much that needs to be thrown out. The garbage men only come once a week, so I'm sure we'll be asking to "borrow" our neighbors' garbage cans just to throw out our normal garbage. Heh.

    I'm exhausted just thinking about all of this, but once it's done it's done. Wish me luck.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    A Great Kind Of Tired...

    We were so busy this past week, rearranging our bedrooms and it was all so very exhausting, physically and mentally. We also had our annual block party yesterday. It was wonderful, now my body needs the rest.

    Just for one day, I'm going to rest my head and body and enjoy the time before I have to start rearranging our basement this coming week. I never realized how big my house was until I started throwing things out. Amazing!

    Today, I'm not going to think about the impending challenges my basement will give me. I'm just happy that very soon my kids will be able to play everywhere and anywhere they want and I can sit down, at some point, and listen to the happy chatter of occupied children. Heh.

    Saturday, July 09, 2011

    Lump In My Throat...

    I got the following email from my niece, who I'm sure wanted to make me cry. Read on...

    They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

    But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn't look like "Lab people," whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.

    But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous owner.

    See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike.

    For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls --- he wouldn't go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes. I guess I didn't really think he'd need all his old stuff, that I'd get him new things once he settled in. But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn't going to.

    I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like "sit" and "stay" and "come" and "heel," and he'd follow them - when he felt like it. He never really seemed to listen when I called his name --- sure, he'd look in my direction after the fourth or fifth time I said it, but then he'd just go back to doing whatever. When I'd ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.

    This just wasn't going to work. He chewed up a couple of shoes and some unpacked boxes. I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell.

    The friction got so bad that I couldn't wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in ‘full-on’ search mode for my cell phone amid all of my unpacked stuff.

    I remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the "damn dog probably hid it on me."

    Finally, I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter's number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter. I tossed the pad in Reggie's direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I'd seen since bringing him home.

    But then I called, "Hey, Reggie, you like that? Come here and I'll give you a treat." Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction – maybe "glared" is more accurate – and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down ... with his back to me. Well, that's not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the shelter phone number.

    But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that, too. "Okay, Reggie," I said out loud, "let's see if your previous owner has any advice."
    ____________ _________ _________ _________

    To Whoever Gets My Dog:

    Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner. I'm not even happy writing it. If you're reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter. He knew something was different. I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time... it's like he knew something was wrong. And something is wrong...which is why I have to try to make it right.

    So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.

    First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hordes them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn't done it yet.

    Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll bound after them, so be careful. Don't do it by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.

    Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I'll go over them again:

    Reggie knows the obvious ones ---"sit," "stay," "come," "heel."

    He knows hand signals, too: "back" to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and "over" if you put your hand out right or left.

    "Shake" for shaking water off, and "paw" for a high-five. He does "down" when he feels like lying down --- I bet you could work on that with him some more.

    He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business.

    I trained Reggie with small food treats. Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.

    Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening. Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

    He's up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they'll make sure to send you reminders for when he's due.

    Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.

    Finally, give him some time. I've never been married, so it's only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He's gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.

    Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new.

    And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you....

    His name's not Reggie.

    I don't know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie. He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn't bear to give them his real name. For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I'd never see him again. And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything's fine.

    But if someone else is reading it, well ... well it means that his new owner should know his real name. It'll help you bond with him. Who knows, maybe you'll even notice a change in his demeanor if he's been giving you problems.

    His real name is "Tank.” Because, that is what I drive.

    Again, if you're reading this and you're from the area, maybe my name has been on the news. I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.

    You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could've left Tank with ... and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call the shelter ... in the "event" ... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.

    Luckily, my colonel is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he'd do it personally. And if you're reading this, then he made good on his word.

    Well, this letter is getting downright depressing, even though, frankly, I'm just writing it for my dog. I couldn't imagine if I was writing it for a wife and kids and family ... but still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.

    And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.

    That unconditional love from a dog is what I take with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things ... and to keep those terrible people from coming to the U.S. If I have to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love.

    I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

    All right, that's enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. I don't think I'll say another good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much

    the first time. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

    Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.

    Thank you,
    Paul Mallory

    ____________ _________ _________ _______

    I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

    I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.

    "Hey, Tank," I said quietly.

    The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.

    "C'mere boy."

    He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months. "Tank," I whispered.

    His tail swished.

    I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

    "It's me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me."

    Tank reached up and licked my cheek.

    "So whatdaya say we play some ball?" His ears perked again. "Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?" Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room.

    And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

    If you don't have a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye, then you're totally not a dog person, or human for that matter.

    Friday, July 08, 2011

    Worse Than The 48-Hour Labor I Had With Jack...

    We officially completed the internal moves inside our house. Our office is now our BR; our spare BR is now our office; Jack has his own room; Liv has moved into our old BR and shares the room with her twin sisters. Closets were swapped; dressers were swapped. All is complete. Now, to tackle the basement and create an art studio/play room, all the while preserving Hubby's mancave. Holy shit! I'm exhausted.

    It feels as if we moved into a brand new house. Actually, it feels like a brand new house. There's some fine tuning that needs to be done, but the majority of it is complete. It was very important to us that we move our bedroom into our office so that no child had access to the back door with the pool just a dozen feet away. I feel safer knowing that no one gets in or out without our knowledge.

    There is absolutely NOTHING easy about moving a king sleigh bed down one floor. I'm glad that's over. Now, the craziness can really begin as I try to create floor plans for the basement and arrange everything accordingly. There is much more purging to be done, but what a cleanse it is! Sigh.

    Thursday, July 07, 2011

    Good, Good, Good...

    For the past two days, one of our neighbors has been watching Liv while Jack's at day camp. Liv and her daughter are very good friends and classmates. Denise has graciously let Liv come over, play in their pool, and has fed her meals while we've tackled the enormous task of rearranging bedrooms, closets, and furniture. Liv has had the best time of her life and has been on her best behavior. It was much easier to do all of these moves with one less body in the house. And she had fun while we toiled away! Yay!

    My boy Jack has been enjoying day camp so much! He's gone on two field trips in two weeks, both to the beach and one also to the zoo. He's been on his best behavior and has made friends, who have accepted his differences. His aide always has great things to say and he's pushing Jack in many good directions. Jack has almost mastered swimming in just six days. Wow! Things are certainly going well for him and I couldn't be happier about it. These six hours away from home each day are preparing him for the full days of school he'll have in the fall. And he's socializing and learning HOW to socialize, too! Everyone wins!

    We're almost done with our move. The biggest stuff has already been done. Now, we need to move the furniture (beds and office furniture) to their new rooms. The basement, however, will become part play room for all the kids, part art studio for Liv. This is no easy task and much, much harder than the bedroom and closet swaps. It will take me all summer to finish the basement because I'm going to take my time and make it nice for them. It entails me getting rid of a lot of my own stuff, which isn't always easy for me. However, it's all for a good cause.

    Purging can often bring so much relief. Sigh.

    Wednesday, July 06, 2011

    I Am A Machine...

    I accomplished SOOOOOOO much yesterday. I'm very proud of myself. I put most of my clothing into large bags for Salvation Army to pick up. I've officially made the spare room closet mine because the spare room is going to become our office this week. Our current office will become our bedroom. Liv will be moving out of the bedroom she shares with Jack and into our current bedroom, which she'll share with Liesl and Leia. We will move our bedroom into our current office. It sounds complicated, right?

    Today, I will tackle my office closet, which is stuffed to the gills with the kids' projects, arts and crafts stuff, and many things I can't even remember are in there. That closet will become Hubby's. It feels as if we're moving into a new home. My feet are aching from all the running around I did in this house yesterday. It's all good, though. Things are happening smoother than I expected.

    While Jack was at day camp yesterday, I tackled my closet and dresser, which was no small undertaking. It felt good to purge. Liv was down the street at a friend's house for the whole afternoon and I'm grateful for that. She'll be there again today, so we can get a whole lot done while the babies nap. Thank goodness her friend has a pool, too.

    Despite this horrendous sore throat that won't go away, I'm able to get shit done around here. I'm taking two classes this summer and I do my homework after the kids go to sleep. It's the only way. I'm very good at managing my time and I try my best to use every minute I can wisely.

    Yesterday, we drained our pool, moved it to air out the grass underneath, which happens to smell like a stable gone bad. Every time I open the back door, it smells like dead horse. We bought a new ground cover for the pool, so we'll set that up today and fill the pool up again. While Hubby is tackling that, I'm purging the office closet and the rest of the week can be for moving the furniture and setting up their rooms.

    I will get my living room back at some point. I am finally resigning myself to letting them have some toys in their rooms so that my entire house doesn't look like a playroom. I can deal with helping them clean their rooms once or twice a week. It's better than picking up all the rooms on the main floor several times a day. Maybe once Jack has his Brio table in his room, he can play with his Lightning McQueen cars at 4am, instead of coming downstairs and leaving announcements on the answering machine or putting his favorite Spanish guitar CD's in the player. Heh.

    Next week, we'll set up our basement so that most of their toys can be down there and they can play there, too. We need to babyproof it, though. Liv will have a little art studio down there and Hubby will curtain off his man cave. Everyone wins!

    It's all coming together nicely. As long as I'm a machine, I can do it. I envision the plan; I draw it out with floor plans; I make a list of priorities; and I act on it, one thing at a time. That's how I roll. Thank goodness Hubby and I make a great team! We work together very well.

    Tuesday, July 05, 2011


    Is it just me or are Liesl and Leia the most precious twins in the whole world? I am their mother, after all, and apples don't fall far. Heh.

    Monday, July 04, 2011

    The Best Of Times...

    My Sister came for a visit from Kansas this weekend and it was just lovely.

    My kids enjoyed some great times with their cousin, Decky.

    Leia loves her Ciocia with all her heart and put on a show.

    Liv loves her cousin Decky and she misses him so much. They have so much fun when they're together.

    Jack had a blast hanging out with his cousin, in and out of the pool.

    Liesl did a great job, was friendly, very verbal, and turned the pool water brown with a ruthless shit in the kiddie pool, despite the swim diaper. Like any good mother, I hosed her off outside before she hit the showers. Her wonderful Uncle bleached the pool afterward.

    My, my, my twin girls have grown! They'll be two years old in early October. It's hard to believe. Their Ciocia was there with me the morning they were born and had to go back to Kansas that day.

    I must say this was one of the best visits ever. I miss my sister and I cherish every moment with her while we're together. What a wonderful Fourth of July weekend!

    Sunday, July 03, 2011

    A Lazy Day...

    We had such a blast at our cookout yesterday! It's always great to spend time with family. It was hot, we ate a lot, and we're all exhausted. That's what it's all about.

    Today is a laid-back kind of day. We're going to relax, plan out next week's bedroom swaps, and I'm going to do some homework. I'm having a great summer, so far.

    Maybe we'll see some fireworks from our porch or find some land in our pool. Ugh. Soooo not looking forward to seeing that.

    I hope you're having a splendid weekend! What are your plans?

    Saturday, July 02, 2011

    Family Updates...

    *I went to the doctor yesterday. Second time in almost three weeks. What I have is a viral infection that antibiotics won't do anything to help. What started as bacterial sinus and ear infections, which responded to the antibiotics, has now morphed into a viral attack on my throat. I tested negative for strep, so I'm glad about that. The only thing that will cure me is time and Advil for my sore throat. Bleh.

    *Jack has had an amazing first week of summer day camp. The other kids have come to accept him and his quirks and they've really reached out to befriend him. He's made friends with Jude and Justin, but Michael is extra wonderful to him. Yesterday morning, Michael came over and held Jack's hand and they walked to the park field house together as it started to rain. Michael actually sought Jack out, told him to grab his hand, and they smiled at each other and walked away from me. When I picked him up, he was playing "tag" with the other kids. Such a wonderful sight to see, my boy interacting with other kids his age. There are moments when you just can't see the autism at all. This tells me he's able to cope better around others and is learning to self-regulate when he needs to. This is exactly what we hoped would happen, but we didn't imagine it would happen so quickly. It's a process that he can only get better at. Jack is also learning how to swim, courtesy of his one-on-one aide, Dave. He's almost got it and it won't be very long before he masters it completely. When I picked Jack up yesterday, he saw me from afar, ran to me with the biggest smile I've ever seen, and thanked me while he hugged me. He told me he had a GREAT time at camp. He was especially delighted to tell me that he went poo at camp. Unfortunately, he did not know that the urinal was not meant to be pooped in. I'm grateful that Dave let him know that the urinals are only for peeing. Heh.

    *Liv seems bored out of her mind without her brother home. She even said she really misses him when he's gone. I'm thinking she needs a special excursion next week. Perhaps a playdate or a special trip to the movies or a pedicure. Or all three. Heh.

    *Hubby went to the doctor on Thursday. He's got what I had three weeks ago...ear infection (same ear as mine was), raging sinus infection, etc. He's on three meds, though, whereas I was only on one. He's got augmentin (same thing I got three weeks ago), prednisone, and Flonase. I hope it all works for him because he's an absolute bear when he's sick. Must be a guy thing.

    *Liesl is adding an insane amount of words to her vocabulary everyday. She sometimes drops the ending sound or the second syllable of some words, but at least she knows that every object has a word and she's trying to say them all, pointing and letting us know what everything is around her. If Liesl puts two word phrases together by the time she's two, she's considered "average," according to the doctors.

    *Leia is ahead of Liesl in the language department. Leia frequently speaks in four-word sentences now. She reminds me of Liv, always talking from the moment she wakes up until the moment she goes to sleep. Leia has grasped language completely and has a tendency to speak for Liesl.

    *My Sister is in town and we're having our annual Fourth of July cookout. I don't plan on taking off my bathing suit or being dry the entire day. I can't wait to see her and her family! I wish all of them could've come.

    That's it in a nutshell for right now.

    Friday, July 01, 2011


    I have a sore throat again. Actually, since the last day I took those antibiotics (on the 25th), I've felt like whatever virus I had was coming back. Now, Hubby has it and he's on THREE meds for it. He's got the augmentin that I also took, a steroid, and Flonase. His ear infection is also in his left ear, like it was mine.

    I think I need to go back to the doctor today. I can't live like this. Whatever it is, I want it out of my body. While I don't have an ear infection this time, this virus is living in my throat and I would like it evicted for good.

    Ridiculous. I would really like to NOT spend my summer unable to swallow. That's just fucked up.