This Ain’t a Scene, It’s An Arms Race…


A recent trend in my house is the “Human” movement.  Eat like a Human.  Be polite like a Human.  Walk like a Human.  Talk like a Human….

It’s totally my fault.  Quite frankly, I wanted Kaleb to stop shoveling food into his mouth.  So, it became a thing.  Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe I’m teaching my kids that it is important to be able to adapt to society instead of expecting society to adapt to them.  Maybe it’s a bad thing.  Maybe I’m making my kids think I think they are less than human…

Who knows.  I’m pretty good at failing.  But at least I fail like a human.  I could eat like a Hamster… just sayin’.

I didn’t realize until recently how much I’ve been struggling with the growing that is happening.  Because I’ve given a billion excuses why I don’t write on here anymore – and they’re all bulls**t.  I enjoy writing.  But the problems aren’t funny anymore.

Today is Autism Awareness Day.  And I spent a good portion of my morning trying to come up with something to write – because if any day should beat the hell out of an autism mom’s writing block, it should be today.  And in a way, it did.

But here’s the thing.  You’re here.  I don’t know how you got here.  If you stumbled on it, I’m sorry, or thank you – depending on your circumstance.  If you follow…. well what the hell do you need autism awareness for?  You’re bloody well aware of it, aren’t you?  You’re reading this crap for a reason.

Today made me feel really big – I wasn’t just a supporter of monsters – I was the slayer of dragons – that kind of big.  And it was the dumbest thing that made me feel big.  We went to a birthday party today – the monsters, Leah, and myself.  Truth be told, I felt defeated before we even left to go. As far as people go, human kindness isn’t a thing I do well at.  I’m not selfless.  I’m not good at patience.  And I have a friend who personifies those things in such a way that I am left in awe.

I feel like I live in awe sometimes.  The people who touch my life, who touch my children – these superior specimens of what being a real human means… they are remarkable.  They are patient when I’m irritated.  They’re calm, even when they are panicked.   They are the most beautiful reminder that every day someone is stronger than me, braver than me, and I can be more than me.

But they are also human.  Remember, that’s the theme.  Be a human.

Parties have always been stressful for me with the boys.  Kaleb wants to control every aspect of every inch of every party.  Mason wants to create chaos.

Actually, that is the whole story of my life.

The one creates the chaos in an effort to control, and the other takes the control because he totally gets the chaos.

So generally speaking, I spend 99% of my time at birthday parties hunting down one kid or the other, trying to prevent the meltdown, or trying to prevent the budding dictatorship over all other party kids.  I didn’t have to do that today.  I got to just let them be.  It was huge.  Monumental.  I was inside, my kids were outside, and I wasn’t freaking out.  Neither were they.  It doesn’t get any bigger than that.  Dragon Slayer.

In the past month, we have tackled so many things I would have told you were next to impossible before.  They faced their fear and climbed the lighthouse.  Okay – maybe don’t talk to me about that one, because it’ll be a cold day in hell before any of us enter a lighthouse again – however, as Mason will tell you oh so proudly – he did do it.  And that was huge.

We went to the beach – such a simple thing that used to bring me great joy and eventually grew into something I abhorred.  It had become a three ring circus.  Between the bags of supplies, chairs, Kaleb flipping his shit every time sand got on something and Mason being both obsessed and deathly afraid of the waves… it wasn’t fun.  We stopped going.  But last week, it was heaven. For five hours we sat there, in the sand, with the wind whipping around us and the sun constantly hiding behind the clouds.  And just played.  No fighting, no freaking out, no meltdowns.  Just fun.  Mason ran to the water all by himself and filled his bucket.  Kaleb sat in the sand all day with only one passing mention of concern about sand on his glasses.  It was beautiful.  Glorious.   We’re growing.

We went to the Space Center.  This was fueled by Kaleb’s current obsessive love of all things space (Hey did you know, by the way, that the sun is a star?  I have now learned this little nugget about sixty seven times.).  The place was mobbed.  There were people everywhere.  All of the up close tours were sold out.  Who knew that many people liked rocket ships?  We spent the entire day.  And they were incredible.  No meltdowns when people pushed into us, or lines were long.  Same thing with the zoo.  No big.  We do this every day.  I mean… Who are you people and what did you do with my children?

We can finally start doing stuff.  They’re ready.  They learned how to ride their bikes and can handle being told no when asking for a second cucpcake.

It’s autism awareness day.

What bullshit.

You’re either aware or you aren’t.  I have had blue lights in my front yard for five years – because my husband made a wonderful gesture to me.   Oddly enough, it hasn’t impacted people… Not one time in five years has someone asked me what the blue lights are for.  And that’s okay.

I don’t want you to be aware of Kaleb and Mason.  And neither do they.  You don’t need to be aware of them.  You need to know that they are special – because they are.  Not special needs – that’s not what I’m talking about here.

I don’t want you to pretend to get it.  Because you don’t.  And I don’t.  Nobody does.  Nobody will.  It’s individual – like them.  It’s personal.  It’s intimate.  It’s not a frog on a biology table.  It’s not a textbook or an app.  It’s not about how you communicate – it’s about IF you communicate.  Autism is not a disease.  my kid is not dying, and he will get on just fine whether or not you enjoy his facebook status. He’s different – and he will irrevocably change the world – because he sees things you will never see.  Because he looks at the entire universe and he doesn’t FEEL small.

He feels inspired.

And because my really difficult, really different kid who wants so bad to be just like you is inspired –

the future just changed.

The ripple effect reaches a lot farther than the current imagination…

So think BIGGER.

Be a human.


Change of Ideas…


It’s a bit late, but Happy New Year!  This year, I have decided, is going to be a year of change.  Positive (if occasionally difficult) change.  And not just for me, but for the Monsters too.  I’ve never been big on resolutions – I accidentally typed revolutions there – and almost left it, since in a way, that’s what is going to be happening in our home.  Anyway, I’ve never done the New Years Resolutions thing.  My take on it has always more or less been “What’s the point?”  You make a decision, and you either stick with it, or you don’t.  What’s it matter what day of the week, month, or year it is?


This year there are quite a few reasons I’ve decided to jump on board.  The first is the boys – they are both at an age where they understand that one year has ended and another has begun.  A new year filled with new moments, memories, and adventures.  So, the significance of that was easier to convey than say, a random Monday.  The second, and truthfully more pressing reason came to me in the middle of the night when I woke up and couldn’t fall back asleep.  I kept thinking about the day that had just passed (not a good one) and dreading the day ahead of me.  And like an Acme Anvil, it just fell on my head.

I don’t want to live like this anymore.  I don’t want my family to live like this anymore.  The constant bickering and petty battles.  The selfish and competitive environment I’ve unwittingly created.  The bad habits, the innate laziness.  The refusal to acknowledge error in judgement, or just plain poor decisions.  That all starts with me.  I sat there in bed, in the dark and all I could think was This starts with me.  So.  Over the next few weeks I spent a lot of time looking around, at me, the boys, everything.  I didn’t like what I saw.  I didn’t like my short temper or lack of patience.  I didn’t like that I constantly felt exhausted – physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I didn’t like that Daddy and I weren’t really communicating beyond conveying schedules or picking petty arguments.  It drove me to the brink of insanity to realize just how terrible the boys relationship is with each other.  Nope.  No good.  I’ve failed.  Now it’s time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and fix the mess I’ve made.

I’ve got my list of resolutions, my own person Monster Family Revolution as I have come to think of it.  Some of them are big, life changing even and won’t end when this week, month, or year does.  Some of them are small, minor changes just to see if I can create a better home environment, experiments, if you will.  Others are projects I’ve been putting off or avoiding that I need to finish for my own sake.  And here they are…

  1. Quit Smoking.
  2. Cut back on booze.
  3. Ride my bike a minimum 5 days a week, 1 hour per day.
  4. de-clutter the house.
  5. Finish editing book.
  6. Start shopping out book.
  7. Cut down on caffeine.
  8. Stop intervening with boys when they argue.
  9. Enforce New World Order.
  10. Create allowances and chore system for them to work for the things they want, instead of incessantly whining about the things they want.
  11. Come up with one single plan to deal with misbehavior and Stick to the plan no matter how angry I get.
  12. Find a reason to smile every time I feel like doing anything but.
  13. Stop yelling so much.
  14. Take 5 minutes per day, per child, to be grateful for at least one thing about them.
  15. Be honest with myself about myself, and more proactive in my relationships.

And there you have it.  It’s hefty.  It’s a bit scary when you look at it all written down – and there are basically sub-parts to every item on the list.  So really, that’s just the beginning.  But change doesn’t happen over night, and I at least know enough to start small.  Allow me to break it down for you.

The smoking thing?  That’s going to suck.  And it’s not a thing I’m putting off for six months, it’s actually happening.  Daddy and I both agreed that when all of the cigarettes we had in the house were gone we were done.  Well, I’m on the last pack.  And then that’s it.  Done.  Which honestly, will be easier for me than for Daddy.  He’s been smoking longer, harder, more than me by a long shot.  I’ve already quit twice – for nine months at a time.  It’s a crutch for me.  An excuse to escape the chaos and have my own five minute time out before my temper blows.  This is going to make #13 pretty damn difficult.


The booze thing… that’s going to be hard, and yet it isn’t all at the same time.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an alcoholic.  But I enjoy a couple drinks at the end of the day when the kids are in bed, and I can let go of the stress of the day.  But It’s gotten to a point where I feel like the train needs to slow down before it runs away.  So, plain and simple, I need to cool it.

7 months ago I was riding my bike at least 10 miles a day, six days a week.  Then we went on vacation, and when we came back I couldn’t get back into the habit.  Truth be told, I didn’t try very hard.  Which pretty much sucks.  I find myself more and more missing that one hour a day where I got to clear my head and really just embrace doing something good for me.  I felt better, physically and mentally.  I was sleeping better and feeling more rested.  I had more patience and more energy.  Why the hell didn’t I get back on that bike?  For one thing, it was summer vacation, and while getting up before the sun had been an ingrained habit before our trip, it was dreadful afterwords.  And I’m lazy.  It was much easier to just sleep until the kids got up than drag my behind out of bed at 5am.  Which is dumb, because again, I cherish that early quiet time of the day.

This week started the bike routine again for me.  Monday I couldn’t – I don’t mean some lame ass excuse came up, I mean I quite literally could not get my bicycle out of the garage (we had another leak under the concrete and all the tool benches were blocking off access to both the bicycles and the washer and drier).  By Tuesday I was able to get it out and took off full force like an idiot.  First of all, it’s been 7 months, I don’t have the stamina I had before.  Second, and most fatal to my plan, I forgot the check the air in my tires, rookie mistake.  I made about a mile before I was leaning over the ditch trying not to puke.  Yesterday I had air in my tires and was good to go.  got about five miles before I hit my limit. Today didn’t happen, primarily because it started raining.  I’m motivated, but I’m not motivated enough to ride my bike in the cold and the rain.  I’ll do one, but not both.  Anyway, this one is important.  And probably the key to me being able to get through the rest of the list.

And on to #4.  That’s pretty straightforward I think.  Get rid of stuff.  We have too much crap, and if I’m being really honest with myself, I have a bit of a hoarding problem.  I keep the most absurd crap.  Tuesday I went through a few of the kitchen cabinets (under the sink, snack cabinet, cleaning supplies, etc), and threw away a ridiculous amount of junk.  Yesterday I started on my office area.  Went through my desk and often found myself muttering “What is this?!”  Today I’m going to try and tackle the rest of my office – of course I have to move it out of my bedroom since most of my shelves and such got moved to make way for the Christmas tree.  But enough is enough.  Room by room, bit by bit, this crap is gonna go.

Then there’s the book.  Last February I decided to take thirty days and finish a book I’d been playing around with, researching and writing on and off for more than two years.  And I did it.  Yet I’ve been “editing” the damn thing ever since.  I’ll go two chapters, walk away, and open it back up three months later.  Enough is enough.  I like it.  Every time I open it back up and start to read it I think I might really have something here.  Then I quit.  No more.  I’m going to finish editing that sucker by February 1st.  Work on summaries and query letters by February 15, and start reaching out by March 1st.  That’s that.

The caffeine thing is pretty self explanatory as well.  I drink too much soda, too much coffee, and I need to cut back, plain and simple.  Intervening with the boys however, that’s tough.  Over the last couple of years it’s become a sort of running joke – you can’t leave them alone together for more than ten seconds before one is screaming and the other is crying.  But it isn’t a joke, and it’s not funny.  They just don’t have any kind of solid relationship.  And quite frankly, I know a good bit of that lands on my shoulders.

I’m faced with a bit of a catch 22 here.  Daddy works from home.  If we had an office with a door – we might be having a very different conversation.  But we don’t.  He works out of the dining room – which he converted to an office when I was pregnant with Mason and we had to move Kaleb into the room we used as an office.  So, he works not just from home, but from the center-most point in our house.  With no door, and only three walls.  Which means when they start screaming and he’s on the phone, I need to put a stop to it – STAT.  As a result, over the last couple of years they haven’t learned how to deal with their problems between each other.  They run to me.  To mediate.  To tattle.  To argue their case.  Is this normal?  In any other circumstance I would say yeah, it’s what siblings do.  But to this degree?  No.  They can’t work out their problems because they aren’t given the opportunity.

So I have to find a way to let them deal with their squabbles while also not interfering with their father while he works.  I’m open to suggestions here, by the way.  Which brings me to the New World Order.  There are some changes on the horizon, ones I’ve gradually been implementing even before New Years.  But now it’s go time.  The allowances also tie into this.  Beds made before school each morning.  No whining, no excuses, no exceptions.  Rooms cleaned up before bed each night.  No whining, no excuses, no exceptions.  If I find something that belongs to you in a place it does not belong it is mine.  You will have to find a way to earn it back.  There’s more to it than this, but you get the point.  They’re old enough now that chores can be implemented, and if done properly, allowances made.  At the moment, Kaleb is dying to have the Minecraft game for my Xbox.  I have a jar in the kitchen for him.  Each time he completes one of his chores he earns money.  When he’s earned enough money for the game (plus tax – he’s got to cover that too) I will happily take him to purchase it.  He can then pick the next thing he wants to save for – eventually I’ll be happy if he just saves his money, but at the moment I need a motivator, something he wants badly enough to start forming the good habits.  Bonus money is given for being kind and thoughtful to one another (making sandwiches for Mase and Leah when he was originally just making one for himself), doing what is asked of him the first time without mouthing off…. you know, the kind of crap you want your kid to be doing but are just now realizing you’ve totally lost your grip on his behavior.  As for Mase, he wants some milk truck from Toy-R-Us…. earn the money kid.

But in the meantime, when they decide to act out (like I don’t know, say taking an entire box of Cheerios and dumping it all over the bedroom floor?), I need a plan of action.  A consistent, every time plan of action that I can implement to different degrees depending on circumstance.  Don’t ask me what that is.  Haven’t gotten there yet.  But when I do, I need to stay consistent with it.  That’s still a work in progress.

As for the rest of the list – well, I think that says enough on its own.  I need to stop focusing so much on what is going wrong and focus on what is going right.  I’m hanging this list in multiple places around my house to remind myself that this is key.  Smile more, laugh more, yell less, focus on the good, let go of the bad.  All that typical self-help mumbo jumbo that people swear by.

I just realized how long this was.  Sorry about that.  But now the list isn’t just in my head or above my desk.  It’s here, for you to read.  And help me keep myself honest.  I don’t know when I’ll post next, because for the sake of being honest, being a non-smoker probably isn’t going to put me in the best of moods.  Plus, I’ve got a book to work on, a house to de-clutter, and a New World Order to enforce.  But above all, I’ve got an attitude to change, and this time I’m going to stick to it.




Do They Know It’s Christmas…


I’ve been trying to write this post for over a week, but it has been next to impossible to get anything accomplished over the last 10 days – let alone find 30 minutes of quiet to write.

To start with, for the second year in a row Mason came home from school the week before winter break started with some sort of plague that wiped out everyone in the house but Kaleb.  It all started with a cough.  Then the runny nose, the fever, the aches, that damn cough… Mase was Patient Zero, Daddy went down next, and then I succumbed as well.  I think I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating – Mason is the most miserable human being on the face of the planet when he is sick.  It’s almost unbearable.  And I don’t just mean as a mom who hates to see her babies not feeling well.  He is a whiny, screaming, squealing bag of incoherent misery.  Everything is cause for nuclear meltdown.  Every.  Single.  Thing.


The wheels on the bus are making noise when he plays with it on the windowsill.  The sheets on his bed aren’t pulled perfectly tight.  The television isn’t loud enough.  His dinosaur won’t stand up.  His shirt is crooked.  His pants are touching his ankles.  Every.  Single.  Little.  Thing.  He screams, and he cries (and he coughs) and he throws everything he’s got into it – like he’s in the final battle at Mordor and everything depends on his war cry distracting Sauron from Frodo tossing the ring.

Of course, as if this isn’t bad enough, dealing with sick Mason after he got you sick too is just cruel and unusual punishment.  Especially when by the time you get really sick he’s starting to feel better and all you want to do is curl up and sleep, but all he wants to do is play airplanes on your face.

So, Mason came home sick, and it all went downhill from there.  Daddy was sick by Monday, I was down for the count by Wednesday.

Tuesday afternoon a neighbor friend from down the street was preparing to move and getting rid of some furniture.  She was selling an absolutely gorgeous entertainment stand, and as fate would have it, we were in desperate need of something better than the junk we were using.  So, with the help of our neighbor, poor Daddy dragged his miserably sick butt out of bed to lug the thing home.  Where it sat in pieces for four days because we were both too sick and tired to take the old ones out and put the new one back together.

Then, for the third time in 8 months a leak sprung up somewhere in the house.  Luckily, Daddy is hyper observant (I probably wouldn’t have heard it for another week) and caught it rather quickly (or so we thought).  So, off went the water while he tried to figure out where it was coming from.  Even after getting all creative with a broken headphone and some random software, he still wasn’t able to find it, so it was time to call in the reinforcements.

On Thursday it took two leak detection guys and over four hours to find this stupid leak – though they did manage to also break the valve in the garage which now has to be rebuilt.  Yet again we are faced with cutting another hole in the garage floor.  Only this time, it’s in the most inconvenient place possible – under Daddy’s tool box, next to the billion pound workbench.  So the garage was rearranged (again), the concrete cut into (again), the leak fixed (again), and another giant mess to be cleaned up (again).  But at least we had running water.  Living in a house with three sick people and only turning the water on a few times a day to fill pitchers and toilets was not my idea of fun.

In the meantime, I had promised the boys that we would make Christmas cookies for their classes, and go shopping for their teachers on Wednesday & Thursday.  Without water.  We did manage to get the cookies baked on Wednesday, and then decorated while they sought out the leak on Thursday.  Followed by a trip to three stores.  With miserable Mason, and miserable Mommy.  Suffice it to say there was a lot of screaming and crying involved.

We did eventually find the energy to put the new entertainment center together on Friday – and it’s freaking amazing.  Well, until Daddy had to spend hours and hours running wires – that wasn’t so awesome – but now that it’s all together, I’m in love with it!

Just to make matters better – or not – Kaleb is back to binge eating whatever he can scavenge while we are all sleeping.  I’m not going into massive detail on this today, I just don’t have it in me to hash out right now.  But it’s a big problem, and one I’m getting really desperate to put an end to before he ends up making himself really sick.  I actually have a lot to say on the subject – so look for it another day.

So, getting back to it.  While all of this is going on, the neighborhood is having their yearly judging of everyone’s Christmas decorations.  I am obsessed with this competition.  I don’t have any idea why it plagues me the way it does – but for years I have been fixated.  I want that damn sign, and I want it badly.  So every year my poor husband goes above and beyond to win it for me.  The lights dance to music playing from the entrance way.  And not just the house lights.  The lights around the flowerbeds dance too.  Then he set up a projector and screen and we played Christmas movies, handed out popcorn (after he fixed my popcorn machine) and hot chocolate (a challenge with no water) and had ourselves a grand old time with a bunch of friends and neighbors.

We didn’t win by the way.  One of our neighbors did (Congrats!) – I swear next year that sign is mine.

Regardless of the stupid award, the movies on the yard was really cool, and when you add in the dancing lights and speakers Daddy added to the golf cart we are totally Christmas obnoxious – and I adore it.

So now here I sit, still coughing but no longer wishing for a faster death, four days until Christmas.  My house is a shining beacon of musical festivity, my living room looks like real grown-ups live here, all the Christmas cookies are gone and we still haven’t put the star on the tree – but things could be worse.  They could be better, sure.  But they could be so, so much worse.

Even with all the chaos of the holidays, the parenting wins and fails, the stress that comes with life in general – I’m grateful this week.  I get to spend Christmas with my family.  I’m blessed enough to see the looks of joy and awe on my kids faces Friday morning when they see that Santa has made his way here after all (there were some close calls this week).  I’ll be able to share a meal with family, laugh and talk and sing and play with those I hold dear.  And that’s one hell of a good Christmas gift.

Merry whatever-you-celebrate folks.  Here’s hoping 2016 brings good fortune, great joy, and peace to us all.


I Pity The Fool…


Yesterday was a mixed bag for me.  For starters, when Kaleb had his yearly physical on Tuesday, he couldn’t read the eye chart – which was bizarre considering he’d never had a problem reading it in years before.  Honestly, at first the nurse and I both thought he was just screwing around – when we realized he really couldn’t see it I immediately called Sho-Sho to see if she could get him an appointment to have his eyes checked.  So, yesterday morning I picked him up from school for his eye appointment.  Honestly, I was anxious.  Nobody likes having someone messing around with their eyes, and Kaleb had only been to the optometrist one other time, when he was way younger.  I prepped him as best I could, and promised if he was brave and did as the doctor asked I would put Minecraft on his tablet and he could play after he got home from school until dinner time (He’s on the tail end of an electronics ban).

So, off we went.  It helped that the eye doctor is a friend and mentor to my mom, and the same person who gives me my exams – she also knew enough about Kaleb to take a really light approach with him.  After a series of tests, which he handled like a champ, we were informed that he’s near-sighted.  After the issue at his physical, I couldn’t say I was totally surprised, yet I was still a little shocked.  So, the boy needs glasses.



This should be interesting…

The appointment took way longer than I expected, so I ended up just bringing him home with me, since there was only an hour left of school and there wasn’t a whole lot of sense in sending him back, especially when his eyes were going to be sensitive to the light for a while.  As promised, Minecraft (the newest obsession) was installed on his tablet, and off he went to play.

Kaleb’s first flag football game of the season was at 5:45 last night, so we ate an early dinner, loaded up the car and headed out.  He was really excited to play (even though it’s not “real football”), and I spent the car ride reminding him of what he should (and shouldn’t) be doing on the field.  By the time we got there he was pumped and ready to go.  He helped me carry the stuff out from the car, and then took off to join his team.  It was obvious right from the start that it was going to be a bit of a difficult night.  Not like he wasn’t going to behave, but he was really spooled up, and I could tell immediately that he was going to be all over the place.  His coach is a good guy, and super patient with him, even when Kaleb is jumping all over him and constantly invading his personal space.

The game started, and things didn’t get off to the best start for Kaleb.  He was told where he needed to stand, but he was too busy spinning around and shouting to really pay attention.  His teammates were getting frustrated with him, but eventually he pulled it together and got into position.  As the game progressed things headed downhill.  Kaleb was on offense, standing to the right of the center, supposed to be blocking.  Time after time he would get distracted and his teammates would have to yell to him until he would snap out of it and go where he was supposed to.  After each and every play he would shout and scream – if his team progressed, he would scream “Yeeeeeeesssss!” and basically try to fist-bump everyone – if they didn’t gain any ground or missed a catch he would scream “Nooooooo!” and stomp around in circles for a minute.

Regardless of any of this, I’m proud of him.  When the ball is snapped he’s paying attention, and at least trying to block.  He’s keeping his hands to himself, and he’s having fun.  Three years ago I couldn’t even imagine that he’d be out on a football field, interacting socially, of his own free will.  But he’s out there, and he’s doing it.

The clock continued to count down, and about ten minutes into the first twenty minute half I’m frustrated for him.  The kids on the other team are laughing at him, his own teammates are frustrated with him, and he doesn’t realize any of it is going on.  And then it all went to hell – for me anyway.

The lady sitting to my left had a kid on Kaleb’s team.  She and another woman had been talking for the majority of the game, and I’ve picked up on enough snippets of their conversation to learn that they’re both teachers (though I have no idea where).  At this point, the kid playing center is yelling at Kaleb and telling him (once again) where his position is.  Kaleb at this point finally stands where he’s told with a little huff and a stomp – not the angry kind, but the kind of out of control, wild and crazy Kaleb mode kind.

Then the women next to me start commenting.  Now granted, we got there early enough they obviously don’t realize they’re talking about my kid.  But the fact of the matter is, they’re sitting in a group of people they don’t know – it’s poor form to talk smack about someone else’s kid – especially when that kid’s parents could be sitting right next to you.  The conversation started like this:

“That’s how I feel all day long.  I just told you what to do, why don’t you do it?”

“I know, right?  What is he doing?”

“*giggling*  I don’t know.  How many times do you have to be told where to stand before you do it?”

“What is wrong with that kid?”

You want to know what is wrong with that kid?  NOTHING.  He’s accomplishing a goal, despite so many odds stacked against him.  Hell, he can’t even see the ball and he’s still out there!  Here’s the real question – what is wrong with you?!  He’s a little kid, sure he’s all over the place, but he’s still just a kid.  And come on now, seriously, at this point it’s not hard to see that he’s different from the other kids.  You’re teachers – are you telling me you have had absolutely no interaction with special needs kids?  But what kills me is the absolute gall.  You wanna talk shit about my boy?  Fine.  But do it when you get home.  Not when you’re sitting on the sidelines with a bunch of other parents.  If you’re going to be cruel to a little boy who just wants to be part of the team, do it where other people don’t have to sit and listen to you spew your ignorance.

At this point, I’m in a spot.  I could turn my head and throw a bunch of venom in my voice, informing them that he’s autistic.  I could start a fight.  I could be a complete and utter bitch – we all know I’m more than capable of it.  But I don’t.  I opt instead to do what these women obviously aren’t capable of doing.  I hold my damn tongue.  First of all – my kid’s abilities and limitations are absolutely none of your business.  Second – the last thing I want is to have these horrible jerks looking at me with pity.  They don’t get to pity me – it’s my turn to pity them.  Your world is tiny compared to mine.  My mind is open, my heart is open, and I was at least raised with enough class to keep my thoughts to myself if they weren’t polite (when in the company of strangers at least!).

So I kept my mouth to myself, as I so often tell the boys to do.  I left fingernail indentations in my palms, but I kept my mouth to myself.  When halftime came and the kids all came running over to the sidelines, I gave Kaleb a high-five and handed him his water.  While he drank I reminded him once again not to yell in people’s faces, or hang off the coaches, and try really hard to get into position when the rest of his team does.  I didn’t even glance at the women next to me.  Until he went back to the huddle.  Then I looked – and offered a silent challenge.  Say another word.  Now you know.  That kid you were talking about?  His mother is sitting right here.  Say something else.  I dare you.

The last play of the game, the other team had scored and was going for a two point conversion.  Kaleb actually managed to strip the flag off the kid with the ball – after he’d already crossed the line and got the points – but that doesn’t matter.  He did it – he really, really did it – and he was so proud.  He wasn’t the only one.  I wanted to take that flag home and put it in a frame.

I’m not going to lie, after we got home and the kids got settled into bed, Watson (our elf) moved to a new locale and I had a glass of wine – I cried.  My heart hurt for my Monster Man.  He was doing something he loved – and yes, he was doing it poorly, but he was still going out there and putting in the effort.  He shows up to every practice and every game.  He watches training videos and reads articles to try and improve his game.  And all the while he’s being laughed at.  But the blessing in disguise?  He had no idea it was going on.  I did.  But he didn’t.  He just kept on being himself and enjoying the sport.

Both of the boys have games tonight, so we shall see how it goes.  But no matter what I’m proud.  I’m proud of them both for putting on their cleats and walking out onto that field with their heads held high.  And I will sit there and cheer for them both, for every time they manage a block, or strip a flag.  I’ll cheer, and I’ll know that in this moment, we are the real winners – no matter the outcome of the game.

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word


Okay, over the last two years I’ve struggled… not so much that you’ve seen because I’ve basically written four posts in two years.  I have had a million excuses why I haven’t been writing – some I’ve given to you, all I’ve fed to myself.  But I need to get back into the habit.  I need to get writing again.  I need to get back to a point where I can take some time every day and be honest with myself, without feeling guilty for doing so.

Speaking of guilt – I’m full of it lately.  I’m especially guilty of being ridiculously impatient and short tempered.  As I sit here right now, It’s 6:24am.  The boys and I leave for the bus stop in exactly 21 minutes.  They’re playing together in Kaleb’s room – which means they are three feet away from me, separated only by a glass french door, a poorly made one at that.  And they’re loud.  Which is the name of the game when they actually get together (which is basically only when they think they’re supposed to be doing anything else), and that’s okay, as long as it’s good yelling.  But I’m still in “seeking coffee” mode, and hearing that entire container of LEGOs just spill out onto the floor as they run around with the world’s most obnoxious Christmas stuffed animals ever made… It’s all I can do to sit here and tell myself to shut the hell up.

They’re playing together.  That’s progress.  They’re playing together in Kaleb’s room and he’s not screaming at his brother to get out while Mason cries and sobs dramatically over some stupid toy he wants to look at (with his hands).  So what if there are now 4,562,847 LEGO pieces all over the carpet?  So what if it’s December 2nd and I’m officially over the “Let It Snow” song the ridiculous Polar Bear and Penguin are singing?  They’re playing.  And I’m drinking this cup of coffee so fast I may end up burning my esophagus in the process, in an effort to not care so damn much.

I need to get off my horse and look at my kids for who and what they are – tiny people with big voices, big imaginations, and apparently access to the world’s most annoying sounds locked in their little brains.  But they are just that – kids.  So why is it so damn hard for me to let them be?  Why is it so hard to sit here right now and keep myself from scolding them on their volume; their mess; their “backing up sounds” (which genuinely make you feel like someone is scratching your tombstone after about thirty seconds)?  Where did all of my patience go?  Where did the humor in the situation go?  Because that’s the honest problem here.  I stopped writing, because I stopped being able to find the situations funny.  It wasn’t funny when Kaleb continuously urinated all over his bedroom for six months straight.  It wasn’t funny when he suddenly lost 20lbs over two months, and there wasn’t a damn cause any doctor could find.  It wasn’t funny when Mason started peeing on his carpet, because he loves to emulate Kaleb.  It wasn’t funny when the dog started following suit, because, well, he’s a damn dog – if there’s pee, he’s gonna cover it up with his own.  Sometimes my life isn’t funny.  More so than not lately.

So I’m going to shake things up.  This is my space.  This is my place, my soapbox, and I’m going to use it.  But it won’t always be funny.  Sometimes it’ll be ugly.  Sometimes it’ll be heart-wrenching, and sometimes it’ll be gross, and maybe it’ll be funny on occasion.  But that’s my life – in true form – that’s what my world is.  I can’t sit here and pretend that there aren’t days I wake up and want to just scream.  That there aren’t times I lock myself in the bathroom just to cry for a few minutes – sometimes happy tears, sometimes tears that stem from frustration, anger, or fear.  Life is messy.  Life with autism is even more so.

I’m going to try.  I’m going to try to get back to a point where I can write on here and really let go of some of the impatience and frustration.  And I’m going to do it honestly.  Because I need this, and maybe some of you out there need it too.

Today though, I’d like to share a big moment.

Monday afternoon I was putting my empty Christmas bins back in the attic, while the boys were… just being themselves.  Kaleb was waiting for me to finish picking up because he wanted to do an ornament craft that required supplies I had to fish out of my closet.  Mason was… well I don’t really even know what Mase was doing, biding his time until I couldn’t see him, I suppose.  All of a sudden, as I’m coming down off the ladder the both of them start shrieking and screaming.  Mason is crying, Kaleb is shouting, pandemonium had broken out in the kitchen.

I ran in from the garage to figure out what was going on.  Turns out, Mason took the box of candy canes off the counter (thus, biding his time), which he was not supposed to do.  Kaleb then took the candy canes from Mase, which he is not supposed to do (if your brother does something wrong – come get mom – it’s not your job to police him, it’s mine).  Which started the shouting, which lead to smacking and hitting.  Lately, I’ve been in a “Welcome To Thunder-dome” mood – I’m not stepping in when you two go at it anymore.  Learn how to resolve your problems.  By the time I had reached the kitchen and Kaleb told me what happened, Mason had locked himself in his room and was sobbing dramatically (I’m going to make millions off this kid when Hollywood gets ahold of him).  Kaleb wanted me to get the craft supplies and I said no, sorry kid, but you don’t get rewarded for hitting your brother.  He told me he was sorry, and was promptly informed that I’m not the one who needed the apology, I’m not the one he hurt.

*Side note* I’ve been struggling a lot lately to explain to Kaleb the meaning behind a genuine apology.  He’ll do something wrong, and apologize only because he believes it will get him what he wants.  Suggestions on how to rectify this are greatly appreciated.

So, he goes to Mason’s door, and tries to talk to Mase, who yells at him (through a slew of dramatic sobs) to go away.  Kaleb comes back to me and says “Well, he’s never going to accept my apology.”  To which I reply, “Then I guess you’d better figure out a way to make things right.”  So for five minutes Kaleb just stands in the kitchen, thinking.

I’m out on the porch when Mason finally decides to leave his room, all hiccups and stifled sobs (seriously, when did my kid start manifesting Sarah Bernhardt?).  He walks out to the kitchen and Kaleb looks at him and says “Mason, I’m really sorry.  I shouldn’t have taken the candy canes and it was wrong to hit you”

*Whoa.  Back the truck up.  Did that just leave his mouth?  For real?!

Mase then says (again, he’s still doing the can’t catch my breath from crying so hard thing) “It wasn’t your fault.  It was my fault.  I shouldn’t have taken the candy canes.”

*WHAT?!  What is going on here?  Did I fall into an alternate universe?

Kaleb says “No, it was both of our fault.  You shouldn’t have taken the candy canes, but I shouldn’t have taken them from you, and we shouldn’t have hit each other.”

*That’s it.  Who are you and what have you done with my children?

After basically a repeat of the whole conversation when Mase once again tried to take all the blame and Kaleb once again took responsibility for his part in it, they both apologized and forgave each other.  Meanwhile I’m convinced I’m having a stroke, or maybe the stress has finally gotten to me and I’m hallucinating.

They came to me together and said they accepted each other’s apologies and asked if we could make ornaments.  Um.  Yeah.  Yep.  You can make all the ornaments you want after that little display.  And they did.

IMG_3824I was humbled, and flabbergasted, and astonished, and so very proud.  They might actually turn out to be okay humans one day.

It just reminds me, once more, that kids are full of surprises – and sometimes those surprises don’t even make you want to throw up in your mouth a little.

Happy Wednesday people, thanks for tuning in.



I actually have about ten other things I should be doing right now.  Instead of doing those things, however, I’m sitting on the back porch writing this while Mason covers himself in enough dirt to make Pig Pen from Peanuts look like the most sanitary person who ever lived.  The reason behind this is pretty simple – I’m fuming over an article I just read, and rather than bother Daddy while he is actually working – I’ve decided to vent this frustration on here.

The article isn’t about special needs kids, autism, or any of the normal hoopla that would get my blood boiling, though it does involve a kid, so I guess that counts in a way, right?    Anyway, the article was about two parents right here in the Sunshine State who were arrested and charged with felony neglect.  You see a headline like that and the first thought that pops up is “Great, another shining example of the assholes that populate this state.”, or at least that was my first thought.  Until I kept reading.  These people – who I do not in fact believe to be actual asshole parents – were arrested because….

Their ELEVEN year old son was found playing basketball in his backyard unsupervised for an hour and a half.

Yeah, you read that right.  And maybe you’re one of those people that sees a million things wrong with that – if you are, you should probably stop reading right now, because we aren’t going to see eye-to-eye on this one.  Here’s the long and short of it:  The parents were running late (caught in traffic, rain, whatever), and when the boy arrived home there was nobody there.  It doesn’t say where he was to begin with, or how exactly he got home, but the point was, nobody was there.  The kid didn’t have a key to his house, so instead, he hung around his back yard shooting hoops until his parents got home.  A nosy-ass busybody neighbor (in my opinion) saw the kid out back playing alone and called the cops.

The parents arrived home and were promptly handcuffed, searched, and taken into custody, while the 11 year old and his 4 year old sibling (who I’m assuming was with the parents at the time) were taken into foster care.  Where they bounced around from place to place for about a month after a relative decided he/she didn’t want to take care of the kids.  I’m not going to get into all the details of the article – if you want to read it for yourself, feel free to check it out here.

Before I really get into why this pisses me off so much, allow me to suggest a ‘fun’ little experiment.  Open up another tab, and Google “Parents arrested for child playing outside” – and tell me that the sheer number of different articles, cases, situations and stories doesn’t completely blow your mind.  Because it blew mine.  I found myself caught between wanting to hit something, and feeling like I was going to throw up.

What the hell is wrong with society these days?!  Okay, legit neglect is a horrible thing, and every single person guilty of legitimately neglecting a child should be put in the stocks for the public to abuse at will.  However, SO, so many times parents are being wrongfully accused of neglect because they allow their children to do something that all children should be allowed to do.  Have a little bit of freedom.  Play outside.  Ride their scooters.  Enjoy the playground.

Yes, there are an alarmingly massive amount of horrible people in the world.  And there are far too many awful things that people do to other people.  Nobody is denying that, on any level.  But for crying out loud, when did we all become so f*ing paranoid that our children don’t even know what it feels like to have a sense of independence?  I overhear people all the time, and see it on Facebook and social media… “Kids these days…”  Everything from they have no manners, no self awareness, no world awareness, no common sense.  They are selfish, greedy, entitled, too engrossed in electronics… well WHOSE FAULT IS THAT!?!?

I’ll tell you whose fault it is – ours.  It is our fault.  This generation of parents vacillates between one extreme and the other like it’s a flippin’ Olympic sport.  We’re either “helicopter parents”  or we are “neglectful, lazy parents”.  Where did the middle ground go?  When did we start calling parents who believe that being outdoors, using your imagination, getting some exercise, and learning to socialize without the use of a handheld device “free-range”?  These are kids we are talking about here people, not chickens.  Everything either must be organic or it’s going to kill you.  There’s a serial killer, kidnapper, human trafficker or drug dealer behind every tree and bush.  Our entire lives are documented for the public to view (um, hello fellow bloggers!), privacy is non-existent, and we act like petulant little brats when our posts, pictures, and tweets don’t get enough “likes”.

You know what my life looked like as an 11 year old kid?  I basically lived outside.  I spent all of my free time either in a tree reading a book (and I had multiple scars from falling out of those blasted trees), crashing my bicycle into a ditch, or running around the woods playing with my friends.  Were there eyes on me the whole time?  Not that I’m aware of, unless my mom & grandparents were capable of astral projection (which would actually explain a lot).  Did I get hurt?  Sure.  I just told you I fell out of trees constantly and my bike was basically totaled at least once a week.  But was I stupid?  No.  I knew the deal – stay away from traffic, pay attention to what is going on around you, trust your instincts, never go farther than this house or that corner, be back inside by dusk, and for the love of God, use your brain.

And oddly enough, I’m still here.  I did (of course) sometimes cross the line, and I got myself into quite a few bits of trouble – because that’s what kids do.  But I learned my lessons each time I was grounded and forced to stay inside.  Being stuck inside watching tv on a beautiful day was a punishment.  I gained a sense of independence by being given the chance to have some freedom.  From 5th to 9th grade I used to walk the mile to and from school (which was entirely my choice by the way, the bus actually did come to my house, unlike the asinine way they do things in our county, where you only get offered transportation if you live more than two miles from your zoned school – but that’s a different subject for a different day).  I must have locked myself out of the house on 30 different occasions throughout those years.  Sometimes I got creative and stacked various things on top of each other (garbage can on top of the grill) to climb up to the second story and wiggle my way into my bedroom window.  Other days I just played outside until someone came home.


Now, I get it.  Apparently the world is a vastly different place than it was all those years ago (what a difference 18 years makes!).  Because it couldn’t possibly be that the news prefers to run scare pieces over positive ones, significantly more than they used to.  Couldn’t have anything to do with every freaking lunatic who has a social media account posting story after story about the terrible things people do to other people – children often being the main focus.  No way are we just so f*ing plugged in that we have managed to completely unplug our ability to “go with our gut” and follow our instincts.  Right?!


When I say I get it though, I’m not just saying it.  I really do totally understand how so many parents these days think.  Maybe even more so, because I had the insane fortune of being blessed with a kid who thinks that bolting through a busy parking lot when he has a meltdown is a great idea – after having just given ALL of our personal information (names, address, ages, etc) to the cashier at Winn Dixie.  Paranoid doesn’t even begin to cover how I went through the last few years with the Monsters.  I wouldn’t let the kids play in the back yard – at all – because we live on a golf course, and at least three times a  day some idiot with a bad swing is driving through my yard on a golf cart searching for his/her ball.

Every time I thought about sending them outside to play I was bombarded by my own sense of paranoia.  What if they get hit in the head with a golf ball?  Sure, the odds are pretty astronomical, but still, if it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all.  It’s not like they do background checks on the people riding around on the golf course, what if some freaking wacko decides to take my kid when I have to run inside to pee?  What if my kid steps on a bee?  He might be allergic to bees!  I don’t have an epi-pen.  OMG why don’t have I have an epi-pen?!

Seriously, I was the queen of reasons why my kids couldn’t play outside.  For years Daddy has been shouting from the top of the “our kids watch too much television” train, and for years I’ve come up with what I felt were totally logical justifications for this.  It’s educational.  We don’t have anyone nearby with young kids.  There are too many kids at the playground, they’ll get overwhelmed.  It’s too hot to be outside.  It’s too cold to be outside.  It’s too wet, too sunny, too green to be outside.

And then one day I realized just what a paranoid freak I’d become.  I was sitting inside with the boys, who were both pale and pasty, and they were fighting – as usual.  Finally I hit my limit and couldn’t take listening to the bickering anymore, so I ordered them both to go outside.  I grabbed a ball and we headed out to the backyard.  Where they proceeded to stand there and stare at me, like…. okay, now what?  I stood there, exasperated, and said “Just… go play!”  And as they just stood there looking at me with these confused expressions, all I could think was have I really failed so badly that my kids don’t know how to play outside?

Yep.  I certainly had.  And that was it for me.  All of those idiotic excuses and justifications flew right out of my head, replaced by little mantras like “a little dirt doesn’t hurt” and “fresh air is better than air conditioning”.  Now, Kaleb can usually go whatever way.  Most days he’d rather be inside with a book or his art supplies.  But Mason?  That kid lives for being outside.  So now on a near daily basis he spends at least a couple hours outside, pouring dirt on his head, digging holes in the base of the trees to drive his construction vehicles through, and hunting for spiders.  Are my eyes constantly on him?  Um no.  Point in case, I’m staring at my computer screen right now.  I know where he is in the yard, and what he is doing, but he doesn’t need me to be constantly monitoring his every move.  A little freedom is healthy.  When we go for walk/scooter rides they are allowed to go only so far ahead of me before they know to stop and wait for me to catch up.

I no longer feel the need to stalk them on the playground, or constantly remind them to slow down, speed up, stay here, go there – because with the bits of freedom I’ve given out, they’ve become more consistent on following what they know are the hard and fast rules, versus feeling the need to constantly push boundaries because they are being stifled at every turn.  Summer rule #2 – no television between the hours of 8am-12pm or 2pm-8pm.  That two hour break consists of “quiet time” where I don’t have a problem with them taking some down time in front of the tube – it lets them have a break and get ready for the afternoon, while I get to actually accomplish some things (like eating without having a four year old sinking his teeth into my sandwich every time I blink).  As much  as I fought against it, now I like the idea of the television being more of a novelty – for all of us, because as much as it pains me to admit, Daddy was right – we wasted far too much of our lives with our eyes glued to screens.

Basically, I think as a whole society needs to take a chill pill.  Let the kids have a little freedom, loosen the leashes, and enjoy the outside world.  Maybe if we all took a little more time to relax and just enjoy everything around us that is real and present, we wouldn’t be so miserable all the time.  I know Mason is certainly a lot happier covered in dirt than he is planted indoors being “educated” by a bunch of cartoon characters.  Life is about balance.  Compromise, middle grounds, and enjoying the lives we have been given.  Not arresting parents who actually allow their children to do normal kid things.

Pig Pen

Many A New Day…


Obviously, I haven’t been on here for a while.  7 months in fact – and even before that my posts were sporadic and random and pretty depressing for quite some time.  I don’t have some b.s. excuse for it, I don’t even have a legit omg my life has been so busy excuse.  The truth is, I haven’t written on here because I just haven’t felt like it.  Actually, if I’m going to be honest, I might as well go all the way – there are a lot of things I haven’t felt like doing.  Not just in the last few months or even the last year, but by searching back almost five years I can find a pattern.  I’ve been drifting, and it’s finally about time for me to pull out the oars and paddle myself back to where I want to be – back to me.

Allow me to explain.  Just under a month ago I was getting ready to go to a friend’s wedding.  As I stood looking at myself in the mirror, the first, most startlingly prominent thought it my head was I am really unhappy with myself.  It was one of those lightning bolt moments – the kind that start of as one kind of thinking, and then take this totally unexpected turn that leads down a rabbit hole I didn’t even know existed.  The thought stayed with me, hell, it practically stalked me.  At first, I thought I’m just not happy with how my body looks right now.  I’ve never been big into fitness, I eat what I want, drink a case of Diet Pepsi a week, and can easily put back a 6 pack of Bud Light without batting an eye.  So my initial line of thought went something like this…. I’m turning 30 in four months.  And I totally have a beer belly.  That is so not happening.  I refuse to start the “next chapter” of my life with a freaking beer gut.

So Monday morning I put the boys on the bus, pulled out my bicycle and rode for an hour.  Whoo Hoo!  I accomplished something physical, and not only did I not die, but I felt pretty damn good about myself.  So I made a resolution.  I’m going to do this every day.  I’m going to ride my bike every day come hell or high water.  And I did.  Each day I went a bit further, a bit faster, until I hit ten miles, when I decided it was time to work on my stamina and speed.  Now my goal is to hit ten miles in under 40 minutes.  That’s a tall order for someone as inherently lazy as I am, but I’m working on it.

Here’s the kicker – riding the bike turned out to open up a whole new can of worms.  Each morning I had this entire hour where it was just me and my thoughts.  And the more time I spent letting my mind wander, the more I realized that the day I stood looking in the mirror, I wasn’t just thinking about my stomach, or my arms.  I was thinking about me.  I am really unhappy with myself.  Not just my appearance, but the whole me.  Where did I go?  When did I lose who I am?  In this life of chaos, meltdowns, chores, dishes and errands… where the hell did I go?  Where is the girl who took time every day to just enjoy my kids – for who they are, not who I want them to be?  When did we stop doing stuff together?  When did I decide that taking them to the playground for two hours is too taxing?

I used to do stuff.  Not just with my kids, or my husband, or friends for family – but for myself.  When did I stop enjoying writing?  When did I stop taking pictures?  When did dinner become this miserable obligation instead of an enjoyable time spent talking about our day?  When did I start feeling guilty for taking a night or two just to lay in bed and read a book and enjoy spending time alone?  When did everything become so burdensome?  When did I become such a pessimist?  I’ve always been a “silver lining” kind of person – where did she go?

So I started taking stock.  Real, honest, serious stock of myself, my actions, my thoughts, and my life.  Was I depressed?  No.  Was I happy?  No.  I wasn’t really anything.  I was living in this fog – this world filled with obligations and commitments, while I ignored all of the good and beautiful around me.  I wasn’t communicating with my kids – not on the level they need me to.  I was barking orders, losing patience, and being a freaking dictator.  I wasn’t communicating with my husband – I was getting my ass on my shoulders basically every time I thought he was looking at me sideways.  I wasn’t keeping in touch with friends or family, I wasn’t doing anything I genuinely enjoyed doing – with the exception of watching Grey’s Anatomy on Friday mornings – and that’s just downright pathetic.

Is this really what I want for my life?  Is this what I want my kids to think of twenty years from now when they look back on their childhood?  Do I want them to think “Our laundry was always done and dinner was always on time” or would I rather them think “We used to make forts in the living room and have movie nights.”  Do I want them to remember how spotless the kitchen was, or how much fun we had pretending to be police officers at the playground?  When they look back at dinner times, will they remember sharing good memories from the day, or being yelled at for tapping their chairs with their feet, or not using their silverware properly?  This was not the childhood I envisioned for my children – this is the living, breathing nightmare I had growing up when I silently vowed I’d never be a parent – because I was afraid of being this parent.  This impatient, fire breathing, chore dictator who never took the time to chase bubbles, or let my kids put me in imaginary jail.

Some serious changes needed to be made, and it was high time I stopped ignoring the problem, and started facing it head on.  Because the problem was me.  I wasn’t broken, but I was pretty bent out of shape, and let’s face it, the only person who can fix me is me.  My kids were acting out because I was acting like a tyrant.  I wasn’t listening to them, or spending any amount of enjoyable time with them.  My husband was feeling neglected because I was too busy suffocating myself in misery to really pay him any attention when it came down to it.  So, enough.

I started reading this book – Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  I’ve never been the kind of person who checks out the Self-Help section, but this popped up on my kindle and before I could rethink it, I downloaded it and went to town.  And I can honestly say I’m really glad.  Because she made me stop and really analyze myself, my habits, and the world I’ve created for myself.  It wasn’t long before I decided I’d spent enough time contemplating change, it was time to implement it.


Step 1 – Be healthier.  Kaleb has been struggling to put weight back on since last fall when he suddenly lost nearly 20lbs for reasons nobody has been able to determine.  I was harping on him all the time about eating better, getting more exercise, etc.  Well, how fair is that when he sees me eating a flippin’ ice cream cone for lunch and sitting on my lazy ass all day?  I need to be a better influence, and set a better example.  Be the kind of change I want to see in my world.  Riding my bike is great, but the boys are sleeping or at school when I do that, so they aren’t exactly seeing it.  So, I got rid of the junk, replaced it with healthy options, and started having family “walks” every afternoon.  Walk is in quotation marks because the kids aren’t actually walking, they are riding their scooters, but at least we are getting out of the house together and getting some exercise.  Added bonus?  I discovered that if I put whatever meat I made for dinner in a salad Kaleb would eat it like it was the best thing I’d ever cooked.  In fact, I’ve heard more compliments on my cooking in the last few weeks from him than I have since the first time I made him blueberry pancakes.  Another added bonus?  The boys are getting along better.  It would appear (go ahead and say “duh” anytime here) that spending more positive time together, riding scooters and making up silly games has actually cut down on some of their constant animosity.  Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t freaking angels, and they still drive each other crazy – but the arguing has cut down considerably.  They’ve been more patient with each other, they are speaking more nicely to each other, and they are actually playing together without being prompted.

Step 2 – My negativity.  Wow have I become a freaking negative person.  I mean, I have actually caught myself putting myself into a bad mood simply by focusing on all the things that are wrong or bad in my life, instead of being grateful for all of the things that are incredibly wonderful.  I resented my kids and my husband for completely asinine reasons.  I didn’t like getting up in the morning.  I hated that the dishes and the laundry (my two least favorite things in the world to deal with) were never ending.  The house was always a mess.  My to-do list was too long and nobody helps out around the house.  Why should I be the one taking out the garbage or cleaning the gutters?  Why am I spending three hours cleaning toys and messes that I didn’t make?  Why can’t you just be quiet!?!  Stop running, stop jumping, stop shouting – stop being children and just grow up already.  

I was a freaking bowl full of rainbows and sunshine, wasn’t I?  What gives me the right to chastise Daddy for telling the kids to be quiet – they’re kids, they’re supposed to be loud – and yet turn around five minutes later and yell at them to be quiet.  I stopped enjoying them for who they are, and instead focused on all the things they weren’t.  That had to stop now.  I’d already been doing a pretty good job of quashing my early morning grumpiness – getting up and riding my bike provided me with a perfect opportunity to wake up, enjoy the fresh air, and be more pleasant when it came time to get the monsters up and make breakfast.  I also had the energy to actually make breakfast, not just chuck some cereal in a bowl and set it down with a quick don’t make a mess before secluding myself out on the porch.  So, the mornings were easier, but the rest of the day – well, that can be a struggle.  It’s pretty hard not to lose your patience when you answer the same question seven times in a span of sixty seconds because someone isn’t listening.  Take a deep breath.  Let the kids be kids.  If they fall and get hurt running through the kitchen, maybe they’ll think before they run through the kitchen again.  Not likely, but maybe.  Stop jumping in every time they start to bicker -they have to learn how to figure out their problems on their own eventually, why not start now?

So what if Mason gets covered in dirt playing in the back yard?  He’s a little boy, and little boys tend to get dirty.  No more of this “I’m too busy” crap.  What chore, what errand or dirty dish is more important than my children?  None.  Do the chores have to get done?  Of course, but not at the expense of my kids having fun memory-making adventures with me.  I’ve also started a “Positive Journal”.  Every night before bed I write down three things each child and Daddy did today that I thought was either positive, funny, or just helpful.  Nothing negative.  Then I do the same for myself.  What am I proud of myself for today?  I need to start looking at life in a better light, and stop focusing on all the petty ugliness.

3 – That leads me to here.  The house.  I love this house.  I hate this house.  Some days I couldn’t imagine ever living anywhere else.  Some days I felt like I could watch it burn to the ground and not shed a tear.  What’s wrong with the house?  Nothing.  Again, this is all me.  I’m carrying around this insane amount of resentment.  This absurd image of myself as June Cleaver with a spotless house, and perfect hair.  Considering I can’t remember the last time I even turned on my blow-drier this is the most unrealistic expectation I’ve set for myself yet.  I’ve never been a great house keeper – and the truth is I probably never will be.  Mostly because I hate cleaning.  I usually only really clean things when I’m pissed off – and that’s yet another pathetic way to go through life.  I don’t want to live in a pigsty.  I also don’t want to look back at the end of the week and wonder just what the hell I spent all my time doing.  I needed to find a balance.  And then it struck me – we have too much stuff.  Why on earth are there toys in Mason’s room that were Kaleb’s from when he was a baby?  Why have I held on to all of these things that nobody plays with?  And for crying out loud, how long am I really going to keep putting up with the fact that I can barely open my closet doors – let alone reach my clothes?!

It’s time for a purge.  An all out, no more hoarding cards from ten years ago kind of purge.  No more “I might wear this one day”, or “They might want to play with this again” – enough is enough.  First I did the boys’ rooms – and I filled enough garbage bags to completely fill the back of the Tahoe.  Then I loaded the boys in the car with me (after explaining what was happening), and we took it all to Goodwill.  They said goodbye to their toys, I said goodbye to clutter.  Then I took an empty box and set it on top of Milo’s crate by the front door and had a talk with the boys.

“Here’s the deal – from now on, mommy is not cleaning your toys.  Before I make breakfast every morning your beds will be made, and your rooms cleaned to my satisfaction.  Toys and books will no longer be left laying around the house where they don’t belong.  This box?  This is the new Goodwill box.  If I come across something that belongs to you and is not in the proper place I will shout “Goodwill Box!”  You will then have two minutes to find the offending item and put it away before I put it in the box.  Once it goes in the box, it doesn’t come out without a lot of work on your part.  All outside toys will be picked up before you come inside, or they go in the Goodwill box.”

Strangely enough, this is actually working.  I haven’t cleaned a toy in almost two weeks.  And that has cleared up a shocking amount of free time for us to play.  New rule #1 – we don’t get to have fun until all our work is done.  Of course, that leaves me with my closet.  Which I’m working on – honestly it’s a lot more difficult to get rid of my own stuff than it is everyone else’s.  So far I’m about 1/3 of the way through, and you can barely walk through my bedroom without tripping, but I’m getting rid of stuff, and I’m reorganizing.  I’ve also started collecting laundry every day and putting it in one basket by the garage door.  The minute it’s full, the laundry goes in.  So instead of doing a mountain once a week, I’m doing a small load every other day or so.

4 – Now I’ve cleared up time to play with the kids, made housework easier, and have been working on my attitude, so here comes the kicker.  Me.  I feel like I’ve lost some vital parts of myself over the years, and it’s about damn time I do something about that.  I can’t keep putting everyone ahead of myself 24/7 – it’s burned me out and made me angry, resentful, and rebellious toward minor tasks and problems.  So what are some things I stopped doing?  I stopped taking pictures.  It was a really sad moment for me to turn on my camera and realize there were pictures from Kaleb’s birthday in November still on the memory card.  I used to take pictures constantly.  Big things, little things, happy things, sad things – I wanted to capture those memories to look back on years from now when my kids are grown and I can no longer picture their dirt filled faces chasing after bubbles in my mind.  So, another resolution.  Take pictures every day.  It doesn’t matter what we are doing, if they are just sitting down to eat lunch or reading a book on the couch – take a picture.  Get back in the habit of enjoying a hobby I’ve loved since I was a child.

Writing.  Years ago I got an idea for a book.  I took notes, did some research and walked away from it.  In February I finally had enough information, my story line was pretty much complete, and my character outlines were done.  So I forced myself to sit down and write.  And I did.  I wrote 65,000 words in 30 days.  And I was damn proud of that.  Then I walked away to give myself a “break” so I could come back to it fresh and make my edits, adjustments, etc.  Only now it’s June and I haven’t touched it.  Until this morning that its.  I said no more procrastinating (I hate editing.  I get myself too tied in knots).  I grabbed my laptop, grabbed the kids, took off for the playground, and spent an hour editing while they ran off their morning energy.  I was about 30 minutes into this when Kaleb came over and sat down next to me.  Without saying a word, he watched from my side as I read through and made changes on a chapter.  About ten minutes in he said “Wow mom!  You’re a great writer!  That’s a lot of chapters, I bet you’ll sell that book for a lot of money!”  I laughed and told him that would be nice, probably unrealistic, though it was a dream of mine to one day write something that tops the charts.  I think the words he said next will echo through my brain for the rest of my life:

“You said dreams can come true if you work really hard.  And you work really hard all the time, so I think your dream has to come true.”

In my forgetting myself, and not following the paths that truly make me happy, I missed yet another vital piece of my family’s puzzle.  I’ve said before I need to set an example for the kids – be the change I want to see in my world.  The best way to teach my kids to follow their passions, and really pursue the things that make them happy – is to do that myself.  No, I can’t just drop everything and forget all responsibilities, but I can certainly show them that hard work and dedication pay off – even if it’s just knowing that you accomplished a goal for yourself.  I think the morning playground/writing sessions are going to be a thing now.

5 – I’m working on my mom skills, my patience, my household skills, my personal goals, and clearing my life of clutter.  What’s next?  My relationships.  I see Daddy every day.  He doesn’t travel anymore, and is instead working from home – which has certainly presented a new list of challenges and rewards.  But seeing someone every day, and seeing someone every day are not the same thing.  I need to pay better attention to subtle things – but I need to do it while still being me.  Make the time to be who he needs me to be, without losing who I am and who I want to be.  Make more effort to understand the way he communicates, instead of trying to make him communicate my way.  Let him be him, while I am me – because we are in this together, but we don’t have to have the same brain, same thought processes, same views on life to be with one another happily.  We need to learn to let each other be ourselves and love each other for those differences – not in spite of them.  He sometimes sees the world as black and white – when I see technicolor.  He’s fascinated by how things work, I’m usually just happy that they work at all.  He needs order and understanding, I need organized chaos and spontaneity.

I need to stop nagging.  I need to stop doing things in hopes of receiving praise or acknowledgement and just do them for myself.  Do I really need a pat on the back because the house is clean?  Do I seriously need him to drop what he’s doing right this second to help me fix my bike?  No.  The house is clean because that’s part of my job as the person who insisted the house be run by me, my way.  If I was willing to compromise on how the housework is done, then I could complain about not having anyone to share the load with.  But the fact is, I like things done my way, and that’s my problem.  Nobody else’s.  Does it matter if he sleeps in on the weekends?   Not really – He works hard throughout the week and deserves some down time just as much as I do.  Plus, I’ve come to enjoy my early morning bike rides, and the breakfast fiasco with the kids – that’s our time together, and I should cherish it, not resent that I don’t get to sleep in.  Besides, whenever I have a chance to sleep in I can’t anyway.  So what’s the point in bitching about something I don’t even like to do?!

That’s where I am.  I’m doing my best to get back to myself – I’m going to be me, but more.  I’m going to appreciate who I am, and work to be who and where I want to be.  I’m going to appreciate, love and respect my kids and my husband for who they are – not who I wish they would be.  I’m going to stop nitpicking and start enjoying.  Cherish that Mason brings me wildflowers every day, and checks to make sure the bracelet he got me for Mother’s Day is on my wrist.  Love that Kaleb shares my love of the written word, and encourage him to write his own stories.  Find fun and humor in more situations, laugh more, harder, and more honestly.  Respect that I am not the person I used to be, but know that it doesn’t mean I can’t grow into someone even better.

I’m going to try to write on here more often, because I miss being able to connect with the world this way.  Welcome to my mid-life crisis.  I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I will.  After all, roller-coasters are one of my favorite things in the world – might as well enjoy the natural one that life put me on.

Thanks for reading this absurdly long post.  It’s good to be back.  Now I’m going to go enjoy my life.