Stronger…

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I’ve noticed a reoccurring thread among a great deal of the other autism moms I know lately – it seems a lot of us are having a harder than normal time lately with our kids, and the “I hate Autism” bug is definitely going around.  For all of us, the journey into this world is different – but that doesn’t make it any less difficult.  In fact, honestly, I think those differences make it all the more difficult.  It’s tough to be able to relate in such an ever-changing world.  Some of us wish more than anything to be able to communicate with our children, while some of us would give anything to be able to take our kids out into the world without having to pack a Rambo style bag of sensory reinforcements.  Some of us want nothing more than to go an entire day without our child harming himself, or berating himself, or hating the life he has been given.

In the face of all this, it’s so easy to fall in step and get angry, which then turns around and only makes us feel more lost because we don’t really have anywhere we can direct the anger.  It isn’t our children’s fault they can’t stop spinning, or have complete meltdowns when something doesn’t work just right.  So who do we blame when we get mad?  Ourselves.  WE aren’t doing enough.  WE aren’t paying enough attention, listening hard enough, teaching the right way.  From there, it’s just as easy to start to hate ourselves, and to question every single thing we do as parents.  Mommy (and Daddy) guilt is hard enough with a neuro-typical child – but oh man, is it ever a beast when you have a kid with special needs.

So, I thought I’d focus in the other direction today.  I sat here this morning, thinking what good things have I learned from this?  In the 2,274 days that I have been a mother – I’ve learned a lot.  in the 3 1/2 years that I have “officially” been raising a child with autism, I’ve learned a hell of a lot more.  So, in the hopes that maybe some of us can be reminded of how lucky we are – despite the pain, the uncertainty, the constant battles waging inside ourselves, in our homes, and in our children’s lives – here is my list of good things autism has done for me:

1.Autism opened my mind, and my heart.

As some of you already know, I’m living a life far, far different than I had ever expected.  I didn’t grow up dreaming of big white weddings, picket fences, or any of the other things many little girls dreamed of.  Instead, my dreams were filled with packed courtrooms (yeah, I really did want to be a lawyer) and libraries the size of my house.  I had tall order dreams, and the attitude to match.  I didn’t have the time or patience for things like kids and family.  Did that ever change.  Kaleb was a surprise – and he flipped my world on its axis quicker than you can say “diaper”.  But it wasn’t until the real struggles started to kick in – the night terrors, the seizures, the sensory issues, the parade of therapists marching through our doors – it was then that I really, really realized just how strong I was going to have to be.  It was then that I started to look around me, at the other families I knew, and really appreciated each one of their individual struggles.  That was when I looked back at my past and saw just how foolish I was not to have taken the time for kids and family.

I stopped rolling my eyes at the mom struggling with the screaming child in the grocery store.  I stopped grumbling under my breath when it took someone ten minutes to vacate a parking spot because they couldn’t get their kid buckled in.  I started seeing, really seeing, what was going on around me.  And instead of being impatient, or irritated, I was sympathetic.  I was understanding.  It didn’t matter if the scene I was witnessing was with a special needs child or not – that parent was struggling in that moment, and I finally understood what that meant.  Because of this, because autism taught me to see with more than just my eyes, I am better.  I am a better friend, I am a better daughter, sister, spouse, and mother.  I no longer listen with just my ears, our touch with just my hands.  Being a mom to kids on the spectrum opened up an entire world I never knew I was missing.

2.  Autism has given me patience.

Loads, and loads of it.  Okay, this isn’t always true.  I will still yell at you if you cut me off on I-4, and I still want to scream inside when I get stuck in the checkout lane manned by the world’s slowest grocer.  However, it’s nothing compared to life pre-autism.  I can watch the same movie over and over and over again without becoming a babbling mess of crazy.  I will watch Planes with Mason ten times a day if he wants – just because I get to hear him repeat the movie, and his words get a little bit clearer each time.  To be able to hear him go from saying some incongruous babble to actually clearly repeating Dusty is a small miracle in my world.  I will sit and wait while Kaleb takes ten minutes to say something so completely odd, I spend half the day trying to figure out what it means.  But even knowing it’s coming, even with him starting off with “Mommy, almost because every time I told you once…” I’ll sit.  And I’ll wait.  Because it’s obviously important to him, or he wouldn’t push on and continue to try and get it out.  Because four years ago the kid couldn’t even say Mommy.

Do I suffer fools more gladly?  No.  I don’t think that will ever really change, it’s just who I am.  Do I stop, and take the time to help a stranger, even when I’m in a hurry?  Yes.  Because I’ve learned what it’s like to struggle with even the most mundane tasks.  I’ve come to understand how sometimes just having someone take the time to hold the door open for me can make my entire day.  When a friend calls me and puts their child on the phone, I don’t roll my eyes, silently frustrated because we were having a conversation.  Instead, I sit, and I listen, and I smile.  Because that kid is special to me, but that kid is the world to my friend, and I want to share in that joy.  I have learned to be patient – the conversation can wait, but the kid on the other end of this phone is going to grow up so very fast.

3.  The big moments in life are nothing compared to the small ones.

In this world – the world of autism – therapists, doctors, specialists, particular diets, particular fabric requirements and noise levels reign on high.  It’s a world where you find yourself with a contingency bag in the backseat of your car, and you panic if you don’t have it.  Where you only go to certain restaurants, certain grocery stores, certain parks, and you’re willing to pay out of pocket for a million different things a million other families will never need.  This world is full of battles.  Large scale battles with schools, doctors, insurance, therapists… they’re huge.  They happen every day, and they will drain you.  The stress of these battles will suck the life right out of you if you let them.  But we don’t – because we also have the little battles to wage day in and day out.  Brushing teeth, getting dressed, tying shoes, eating, drinking, sleeping – these are things no parent with a special needs child will ever take for granted.  They are just as important, and just as draining as the big ones – but the victories are oh so sweeter.  Kaleb actually brushed his teeth – with toothpaste – last week for the first time in history.  It took everything I had not to squeal out loud and jump up and down like a teenage girl at a One Direction concert.  But I was doing it inside – because we just had a major victory in our world.

This has translated into the rest of my life, this celebration of the small things.  Taking the time to appreciate at the end of the day all of the little things that are right in my world.  Sure, there are still big battles happening.  We still have to pay bills and be adults.  We still get stressed out, tired, overwhelmed and frustrated.  But we survived another day, and that is better than good.  That’s brilliant.  There is no instruction manual for life, or for parenting (though plenty of people try to write them), you do your best, and you celebrate the small stuff.  Because it’s the little things that are biggest.  Those are the memories your kids will carry with them as they grow into adults.  Those are the days they will look back upon, remembering how proud you were of something so small.  Those are the things that will reinforce your love when teen years and hormones hit.  They won’t remember you going to bat for them in elementary school – they won’t remember you parading to one IEP meeting, one doctor’s office, one therapy session after another.  They will remember you cheering like a fool when they finally learn how to tie a shoelace, or use a fork the right way.  So, I’ll say it once again for good measure:  It’s the little things that are biggest.

4. No matter how ugly the world can be, the future is still bright.

Sure, raising a kid in the 50’s sounds like a great idea.  You could let your kids out to play, and not worry about them until the sun went down.  You wouldn’t have to worry about things like STDs, pedophiles, cancer, preservatives and pesticides.  Kids weren’t attached to electronic devices, rude to their elders, oh, and gumdrops fell from the sky.  For some reason when something scary happens now, we romanticize the past – the 1950’s more than most.  But let’s be real for a minute – things were not any better back then than they are now, not really.  Polio ran rampant, racism was everywhere, there were no civil rights, and for crying out loud, there wasn’t even air conditioning!  You want to point out the violence in our society, or even point a finger at the war in Afghanistan – fine.  But here’s a fact people seem to forget often enough – 36,516 Americans were killed in the Korean War (1950-1953), while to date, 2,229 Americans have been killed in the war in Afghanistan (2001-present).  The grass isn’t always greener.  Yes, these are scary times – but could you imagine raising a special needs child back then?  When doctors were still doing adverts for cigarettes and there was no such thing as Behavioral Therapy?  How much better do you really think your child would be without the technology and science of today?  Without widespread social media allowing us to advocate for our children?

Our kids have real hope.  They’ve got all the potential in the world to become the most influential people of the next generation.  They have access to therapists and doctors who understand them – they aren’t being written off as a lost cause.  And if they are – you have the right to fight for them, and fight hard.  There’s a meme that’s been circulating for a while now in social media, showing quite a few influential people who were believed (or known) to have autism – and they struggled.  Not just a little bit, but a lot.  Nobody understood them, they were weird, outcasts who were just this side of being considered crazy.  Every time I see a news report a tragedy of some sort, after wanting to rail at the injustice of it all – I realize my kids are still better off.  As insane as the world has gotten, there are some really bright lights in the future, and I’m glad my kids will get to be a part of them.

5. Autism has shown me just how strong I really am.

When I was pregnant with Kaleb my biggest fear was that he was going to be a girl.  Don’t laugh, I’m serious!  I had nightmares about it for months.  I was a tomboy and a bookworm growing up, I didn’t know the first thing about hair or makeup – I’m almost 30 and I still can’t match my clothes.  I look back at it now and I can’t help but think how little faith I had in my own ability to adapt.  That’s certainly changed.  Look at yourself before your children were born.  Now look at what you’ve accomplished.  Look at all the battles you’ve fought, big and small alike.  Look at how hard you’ve persevered, how strong and tall you stand for your kid.  Look at the walls you’ve knocked down and look at the mountains you’ve climbed.  Look at how far you have come.  Take a second and think about every single change you’ve experienced, every challenge you’ve overcome.  What were your priorities before?  I’m willing to bet they’re a whole lot different now.

Every day you face life head on – there may be days you want to crawl under the covers and refuse – but you don’t.  You stand up, and you fight.  You fight doctors, teachers, school boards and other parents.  You fight coaches, hell, you fight your own kids.  But the one thing you should never have to do is fight yourself.  We aren’t perfect – we’re parents.  We screw up, we’re uncertain, we get just as lost and confused as the best of them.  Nobody is 100% certain 100% of the time.  And if there is such a person – He or She is a fool.  Life is about adapting.  Making small changes here and there to make things work for you.  Life with autism is constantly adapting.  It’s almost always moving, reforming, regrouping, and attacking.  And you are there – adapting right along with it, making room for the changes, fighting on the front lines with the rest of us.  Every single day we are a little bit stronger.  Every day we straighten our spine, square our shoulders, and say “bring it on, world.”

Your kids are better for it, but perhaps more importantly, you are better for it.  Look at you then, and look at you now.

Now try and tell me you aren’t strong.

Autism is a lot of things.  It’s a long, rough, sticky, and emotional road.

Nobody said it would be easy.

But it sure is worth it.

aut strong

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Decency Defied…

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What happened to Customer Service?  What about Common Decency?  Common Sense?

Apparently, they’ve all vanished in the suck hole that is corporate America.

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I’m so angry at the stupidity, and lack of human decency I’ve been assaulted with lately I could seriously break something.  For starters, I can’t get a single pharmacy in this town to fill a stupid prescription – but instead of telling me they can’t fill the prescription – they take it, and then wait for me to call two days later to see what the heck is going on before saying “Oh.  No, we can’t fill it.  See, you have to do X, then the doctor has to do Y, then the insurance company has to do Z.  After you have done that, run a marathon through giant fields of dog feces, climb the Empire State Building like King Kong, invent x-ray vision and win the state lottery in at least 30 states… well, after that maybe we’ll consider it.”

Okay, yeah, a bit dramatic really.  But the first part of that statement is actually fact (but for all the fat lot of good it did me sitting around waiting for a phone call for two days, they may as well have told me to do the rest).  So my question is…

Why didn’t you tell me this in the first place?!  Why did you sit in your stupid little pharmacy, behind your stupid little counter, with your stupid little coat, and not inform me that you could not do what you said you could do?  Why, when you attempted to put my order in your little computer box there, did you not immediately think oh, we can’t fill this just yet.  Let me call this person and let them know what has to be done first, so they don’t waste their time?  

Heaven forbid we use a little bit of common sense or decency here people.

Now – truthfully, it’s been a month since that happened, but in light of recent events, I felt the need to bitch about it again, so, sorry for that.

Today – the problem today – is a certain corporate wedding dress chain that decided to pull a stunt that I will likely be bitching about for DAYS.  Once again, a surprising (or not so much?) lack of common sense, human decency, and just plain good customer service has caused me the mother of all headaches.

Now, when I started this little adventure, I knew there were going to be snags.  I knew there were going to be things that stressed me out, and I knew things weren’t going to go perfectly smooth.  However, I also never envisioned myself going insane over any of it.  Did I expect to be a little panicked at times?  Of course.  I did not however, foresee myself on the phone yelling at some dimwitted store clerk like some lunatic on the Oxygen channel.   I picked out the bridesmaids dresses months ago.  I did this to give my girls (many of whom are out of state) plenty of time to get in, pick the one they liked best out of three (see – I’m a nice bride.  I gave my girls options because I wanted them to feel happy and beautiful. Nice bride.), and get it ordered in plenty of time.  Then came snag number one:  one of my dresses was discontinued.

Okay, no big.  I went in, I picked out a new dress, put it in the system, gave the girls a heads up, and that was that.  A few small bumps in the road later, and everything is still hunky dory.  Until today.  One of my girls went in last week to pick up her dress, only to learn they weren’t carrying them in stores any more.  No big, we can order it.  Well, apparently, if you order a dress, you have to pay in full – no deposits, no payments, just cold hard cash in hand.  Again, okay, we can work this out.  And we do.

I call the store today to order the dress, since the store informed my bridesmaid that the dress would take anywhere from 6-8 weeks to come in.  Not wanting to cut it too close, I call ready to get it on the way.  Only to be informed that it’s been discontinued.  It was discontinued weeks ago.  Not only did they not inform the bridesmaid when she physically went to the store – they didn’t bother to so much as send me a freaking carrier pigeon.  At first I’m stunned.  That gave way pretty quickly to serious anger.  I would love, love to know why nobody even thought to give me a call and inform me that my freaking bridesmaid dress was discontinued?!  The girl on the phone informs me that they don’t like to call the brides more than three times – since they don’t want to bombard us with phone calls.

This is a joke, right?  You people fill my e-mail with more junk mail on a daily basis than any other company I’ve ever given my email address to.  And you don’t want to bombard me?!  This is not some idiotic blowout sale offer.  This is not some stupid “Downtown meets DIY” email.  This is a good freaking reason to call me!  Not to mention, I’ve got 17 voice messages from you people from the month of December alone with a bunch of offers that don’t even apply to me!  And you choose now not to call?

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I ask how I can get the dress, what other stores have it, etc.  Apparently, they took every single one of these dresses, mailed them up north, and sold them at a freaking clearance sale!  There’s one dress left in the entire country, a grand 4 sizes too big, and it’s in New-freaking-Mexico!  Yeah, and how much is that going to cost in alterations?  Well, stutter-stammer-stutter later – she can’t give me that quote.  Of course not.  Because it would cost more than the dress!  Then she proceeds to apologize for the “Miscommunication”.  Miscommunication?!  Lady, there was no communication.  How about we call a spade a spade here?  I make it very clear I’m not happy about having to pick a new dress with so little notice (try none) so late in the game, I hang up, call the corporate office, and leave a not so subtle message requesting a supervisor call me ASAP.

I find a new dress – well, should I say – I find the exact same dress minus one decorative detail, on the website.  I click on it, check out the shipping…

5-10 days.  DAYS!  These people are telling me it’s going to take two months to get a dress in, when I can order it off the website and get it within two weeks?!  Are you joking?

So, there you have it – everyone is going to go in, get fitted, go home and get on the computer.  Cause this is just plain nuts.  It makes me so sad to see how little effort people put forth anymore for other people.  Chivalry may not be dead, but common decency is certainly nearing extinction.

I feel better now, I’m going to go get my kids off the bus, and hopefully at least one of them is in the mood to snuggle with Mommy, cause this chick needs a hug.

The Assignment…

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OH for the love of Pete (who the hell is Pete, anyway?  What’s so special about this guy that he pops up in all sorts of non-swearing swearing?).

If I have to hear one more second of this whining, screaming, slamming, smacking, shrieking, throwing, kicking meltdown extravaganza I may very well go lock myself in a closet with a stocked mini-fridge and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.  And by fully stocked I am not talking about Juicy Juice here.  Okay.  Deep breath.  I am not actually naive enough to believe that would do me any good.  For starters, my bedroom closet is the Party Express Catch All right now – all of my party supply crap bins are in overflow mode and I haven’t quite felt like dealing with the mess.  There’s barely room enough for me to grab clothes, let alone get comfortable with a mini-fridge.  Even if there were, I’m well aware that the drama would follow me.  That’s kinda how it works.  Mom has a headache?  Let’s see how loud we can be!  Oh well.  It’s a nice fantasy at least.

Apparently there’s just something in the air today.  Don’t ask me what, because if I knew that I’d have found a solution to this by now.  But both of the kids are completely on edge today.  I’m sure part of it has to do (at least on Kaleb’s part) with the fact that he was up at 4:30 this morning (again) and he still has a cold.  Mason… well, he’s just Captain OCD when it comes to those damn matchbox cars.  Heaven forbid they don’t line up just right  every single time.

So, here’s the deal.  Kaleb, as I said, was up well before the crack of dawn (for the third time this week).  First he was in our hallway, then behind the couch, then on the couch, then under the desk, then attempting to build a house with blocks – at five in the morning.  miraculously, at this point Mason was still asleep, and judging from the stuffy snores coming from his general direction, in need of more sleep.  And Kaleb was in no way helping to maintain his brother’s peaceful snores.  After hearing the blocks go crashing down, I jumped out of bed again and ran out to see what was going on.  Of course, Kaleb’s answer came at a decibel about 7 octaves too high for the current situation and I just about had a mini omg-he’s-going-to-wake-mason stroke.  I sent him back to his room, informing him for the third time so far that it was way too early to be running about the house like a giant sound wave.  I gave him a book, closed his door quietly, and went back to bed.  For all of ten minutes before he emerged again only to go rummaging through the pantry.

This went on until it was time for his alarm to go off.  After he informed me that he kept leaving his room to avoid the alarm I wanted to smack myself.  His alarm wasn’t even set!  I had purposefully left it off because he stayed home from school sick yesterday, and I didn’t know if he would be going in today until I was able to see how he was feeling.  Obviously, he was feeling well enough to get his hyper-active loud and proud tush on that bus.  After arguing over his clothes for ten minutes (I had given him a tee-shirt to wear under his long sleeve hooded shirt because it was supposed to warm up today, and he insisted on wearing the tee-shirt over the hoodie.  He looked absurd, but it so wasn’t worth the fight before I’d had any real caffeine, so I let it go), arguing over his applesauce (I want pudding! Than you shouldn’t have gone running around the house at the butt-crack of dawn), arguing over his blankie, and finally fighting over his refusal to untie his shoes… we finally got him on the bus.

Of course, Mason woke up 30 minutes later.

I had to go grocery shopping, and this morning was the only real chance I was going to have, so I packed up the kid and off we went to CrazyLand (AKA Walmart).  After discovering a couple quarters in my jacket pocket we checked out the gumball machines.  I then spent the next 78 minutes of my life listening to my three year old insistently asking for cupcakes (“We get cupcakes?  Cupcakes?  My cupcakes?  Cupcakes Mommy?  Pleaaaassssse?) which I did end up buying, and will end up eating all by myself because oh man were they good today!  We did our shopping, and got home with just enough time to put away the groceries and get the Mini-Monster on the bus.

Daddy and I had to leave immediately after to go sign a contract for the place we’re renting out for the wedding rehearsal party – or so we thought.  Twenty minutes in traffic and one closed bridge later, we found ourselves going over all the details I have literally gone over on the phone more than half a dozen times in the last 8 months.  So, instead of signing a contract, we ended up working it up, and were informed it would be emailed to us.  *sigh*  Who knew this wedding business was so complicated?  I have a whole new respect for those brave enough to make careers out of planning this nonsense!

Got home, did dishes, etc… all the other normal daily crap, and realized with a start that I had all of three minutes before I had to leave to get Mason off the bus.  Everything was hunky dory until we got home.  Milo, in his typical “OMG-you-were-gone-forever-now-I-need-to-be-loved-right-this-very-second-loveme-loveme-loveme fashion, came bolting through the living room at light speed.  In the process, he managed to run right through the cars in the middle of the living room floor.  The ones Mason had painstakingly lined up this morning.  The ones I went out of my way to avoid all day so as to prevent another matchbox car catastrophe (you should have seen the hallway last week.  There was a 75 car pileup in front of the bathroom door).  And just like that, everything spiraled out of control.

Mason lost it.  LOST.  IT.  Dropped down to the ground like he couldn’t stand the pull of gravity for one second longer.  Then the kid let out a scream worthy of a high soprano opera star.  After that the real fun began… again.  Throwing the cars all over the house with as much force as possible.  Screaming what sounded like jumbled obscenities at the dog.  Repeatedly hitting himself in the head as hard as he could.  Normally, I’ll let this go until he figures out how to calm himself down, despite my overwhelming desire to make the kid stop smacking himself.  Partly because he really needs to learn how to calm himself down.  But mostly because every time I try to intervene he ends up louder, more angry, and more violent.  Unlike Kaleb (who always aimed his physical anger at yours truly), Mason has a tendency to aim his anger at himself (which I’d honestly prefer, he’s really going to hurt himself one of these days).  So I usually sit close by, and monitor him until he seems more receptive to me involving myself.  But considering he was on the verge of slamming his face into the floor with some serious force, and I had to get Kaleb off the bus in under five minutes, it was time for Mommy to jump in.  This of course resulted in more screaming, more face slamming, and more frustration for both of us.  I set him down, grabbed up all the cars, lined them back up, and he stopped.  He looked at the cars, then looked at me, gave me a face, yelled at me not to touch his cars (“My cars!  Mason’s cars!  You understand?!”  At least, that’s what it sounded like), and went back to putting them in the proper order.

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Crisis averted.  Well, crisis stopped at least.  Until Kaleb got off the bus seven minutes later.

This time we didn’t even make it down the driveway before the meltdown started.

Every week Kaleb receives a homework assignment.  This might seem a little crazy for kindergarten, but considering he’s actually doing first and second grade work, it’s good for him.  Typically, he comes home with a packet on Monday, and it is to be turned in on Friday.  The packet usually consists of five pages.  The first page is vocab/sight words for the week (so far he’s known them all already), as well as a list for me to fill out of what he’s reading each day during his 20 minutes of required reading time.  The second page is typically some form of math assignment.  The third page usually asks him to write out sentences using each of the vocab words on the first page, the fourth page is a comprehension assignment – read the paragraph, answer two questions about the paragraphs.  The last page usually asks him something random (what did you do last weekend, what is your favorite food etc) along with a place for him to draw a picture of his answer.

This hasn’t been a problem for quite some time – he generally enjoys doing his homework.  However, last week she upped the ante a bit – I’m guessing because she picked up on what we were coming to realize – it was too easy.  So, she added two new pages.  Another math assignment (with the world’s most absurd word problem.  Why do people insist on coming up with the most obscure problems for kids to solve?), and another writing assignment.  This was more of a creative writing assignment, so I didn’t really think it’d be difficult – given Kaleb’s outrageous imagination.  Oh was I wrong.  Daddy and I have been fighting with Kaleb about this homework since Wednesday.  He did the normal four pages and then came completely unglued at the sight of the two new ones.  One meltdown after another, and the homework still wasn’t done as of this morning.

So, when he got off the bus today I asked if he had homework – since he missed school yesterday I assumed he did.  He immediately started to spaz out.  The whining, dropping to the ground, high pitched “I hate homework” shriek.  All the way back to the house, barely shuffling along (once he got off the ground) fighting and complaining about the prospect of homework.  When he was finally somewhat calm I sat him down and told him he needed to finish last week’s homework – today.  He didn’t have to worry about this week’s homework right now, but the work from last week needs to go to school tomorrow.  The last thing we need is for him to get into an early habit of turning in his work late.  When he started to whine again, I informed him that he had until the end of the day to get it done, or I was going to take the Lego Airplane out of his room until his homework got finished.

Needless to say at this point, as I am sure you’ve figured out where we’re going from here – a gigantic meltdown ensued.  Pencil thrown across the room, a six year old thrown onto the floor, brain rattling, glass shattering shrieks, punctuated with high-pitched whining shouts of “I don’t want to do my homework and you can never, never, ever make me do things I don’t like!  You need to be nice to me because you are a Mommy and you can’t be mean!”  This went on for a few minutes before I got down on the floor, and informed him that if he was going to continue carrying on he needed to take it to his room until he was calm enough to talk to me.  His response?

“I HATE YOU!”  

Now, I am well aware of how freely this phrase leaves the mouths of children.  I said it plenty as a kid myself.  But oh… I was so completely unprepared for it.  The kid completely rocked me right out of my shoes.  I told him as calmly as I could to go to his room, then immediately walked away.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.  The first time my child told me he hates me.  Five minutes later he came out of his room, and asked for milk.  I told him once more that I wasn’t going to give him a single thing until he first – apologised to me for the terrible thing he said, and second – did his homework.

He offered up the apology quickly enough, and I then spent a few minutes trying to make him understand just how terrible it is to say what he said.  I’m pretty sure it went in one ear and out the other.  I then told him to do his homework.  He asked for help with the word problem (yeah I don’t blame you kid – we’re going to be in deep crap when he hits middle school math), and I sat down to work it out with him.  As soon as he had an answer put together, I told him to write it down and finish his homework.  Enter Meltdown mode.  Again.  After another five minutes of screaming, back to his room he went.

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Now, an hour later, his homework is done, dinner is in the oven, and Mason is in his room screaming at his cars again (I swear on all that is holy I am going to melt those suckers down and throw them in the river one of these days).  It’s been one heck of a day, and I am very much looking forward to bed time.  I love my kids – more than anything – but I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to start applying wrinkle cream at night (ha!  Like I’ll ever remember to do that!).

I hope you all had a better day than we did!  And I really hope tomorrow is better – though I’m not super optimistic, stupid early release days.

8 Days a Week…

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Okay, it’s been more than a week, so obviously I haven’t been that great at blocking my time to write lately.  Though, to be fair, I spent all day yesterday with the world’s worst headache and the perfect mold of my bottom on the couch to prove it.  I could barely look at written words, let alone be the one writing them!

Mason is sick – we kept him home last Friday because he had a slight fever and a leaky nose.  He was fine Saturday and Sunday, runny nose again Monday, fine Tuesday and Wednesday, and then there was this morning.  The kid’s nose looks like it’s trying to run the Boston Marathon and with all the coughing and sneezing going on he sounds like a bad Allegra commercial.  No fever (hopefully it stays that way), but he’s just about as miserable as he can get.  Currently he’s curled up in bed watching The Backyardigans between bouts of sneezing, coughing, whining, and attempting to fall asleep.  So, after a phone call to cancel an appointment to do dinner tasting for the wedding, a phone call to let his teacher know he was going to be absent from school, and another phone call to let the bus know they don’t have to drive all the way out here, he is officially taking the day off.

The book contest I entered last year starts back up again in less than a month, and I decided to take another go at it.  Probably futile, but what the hell, right?  Of course that means going through and doing a crap pile of editing, which I honestly don’t believe is anybody’s idea of fun (maybe I can blame yesterday’s headache on that).  I guess you never know though, maybe I’ll make it further this year than I did last year.  Truthfully I was shocked I made it past the first round last year, so I might as well throw it out there and see what happens.

Kaleb decided on a 5am treck to our bedroom this morning, which included singing to himself, and driving me, Daddy and Milo all a bit nuts.  Of course, making me crazy seems to be a special kind of talent for him lately.  He’s been super lovey lately – which I adore – except when it entails him gluing himself so tightly to my rear end I can no longer tell where he stops and I begin.  I was all about the snuggling yesterday afternoon, since we spent the majority of the time curled up on the couch watching a How It’s Made marathon.  Until you throw in the fact that my very cute 6 year old is physically incapable of sitting still or staying quiet for more than 30 seconds at a time.  Have I ever mentioned that my child doesn’t posses an inside voice?  As far as I’ve been able to tell, Kaleb has three noise settings – whisper, loud, and ear-shattering, migraine murdering, glass rattling LOUD.  Of course, this third level is the most frequently used, and quite often a source of trouble for the Monster Man.

He spent the weekend trying to scheme up ways to earn 124 points – and he was specific.  This was the number he NEEDED to have.  He needed 100 points for new Legos, 20 points for a new Build & Grow kit from Lowes, and 4 points so he could watch TV at bedtime.  Of course, every time he brought this up I had to remind him that he already had four new Lego sets in the cabinet that hadn’t been built yet (birthday and Christmas presents), and we weren’t buying new ones until the ones he already had were built.  So, of course he spent the rest of the weekend cashing in points to built the sets he already had so he could set about working toward his goal.

I’m still really pleased with the points system, not only is it helping keep him a bit more on the “more cooperation, less trouble making” side of the law in the house, it’s helping him understand the concept of money and spending (something his mother obviously never really learned well).  I’m waiting to hear from the school to schedule another IEP meeting, which, if all goes well, will require some reworking of the points system.  At the last meeting we had, it was decided that we would wait until January to see if he was ready to lose the harness on the bus.  His bus driver commented not that long ago that he felt Kaleb was ready to be done with it – which I’m taking as a very good sign.  Hopefully we can get rid of the thing and be done with it – which means we’ll have to edit the points board, since a good number of the points he earns every day are from wearing the harness to and from school without complaint, getting a 100% on his daily bus log, and actually riding the bus home in the afternoon (there was a good month there where he was refusing to get on and I had to go pick him up every afternoon).

So, I suppose in preparation for this I should start figuring out some replacements.  I’m not sure what though – what kind of chores can I give my stubborn six year old to do around the house?  He makes his bed almost every day (1 point), puts his laundry away when it’s folded (2 points) keeps his dirty clothes in the basket (1 point)… there’s also cleaning his room (1 point), cleaning the living room (2 points – since usually more than half of it is Mason’s mess), flushing the toilet (1 point – you wouldn’t believe how big an issue this has become), brushing his teeth (1 point) with toothpaste (2 points – though thanks to Dr. Barnes, it’s not nearly as much of a fight as it was a couple months ago)…

I mean, I can think up a hundred things to have him do, but rarely are they consistent, need-to-do on a daily basis type of stuff.  I don’t really want him unloading the dishwasher – for one thing, sharp knives, glass and ceramic dish and bakeware… those aren’t a good mix for my pay-no-attention-to-what-I’m-doing kid.  Plus, he can’t reach 90% of the cabinets that contain the items he actually could put away.  We’ve tried the laundry thing before, but aside from the fact that I hate doing laundry, and it’s torture to have to stand there for an additional 40 minutes while he has constant meltdowns because his shirt isn’t folding perfectly – that’s something I tend to do while they’re in school.  So, thoughts on that?  Helpful hints or ideas?  He’s not big enough to push the beast of a vacuum around the house (and come on, I’m not Martha freaking Stewart, my vacuum under almost no circumstances runs more than once a week, at best).  Dusting… see previous statement.  I’m not homemaker of the year.  I’m barely homemaker of the minute on a good day!

finally finished putting up the new decor in Mason’s room (and yes, we are talking almost a year of me trying to accomplish this, if you must know).  Got all the letters down, new posters, shadowboxes, and decals up.  Then came time to touch up the paint in the places it came off with the letters (note to self, maybe using hot glue to attach them to the walls wasn’t the best idea in the world).  Annnnnd I totally screwed the pooch.  Instead of using the light blue paint from Mason’s room, I somehow (I am entirely blaming this one on Daddy, cause he is the one who gave me the paint) managed to use the blue from Kaleb’s room – which is significantly darker.  Doesn’t look like it when it’s wet… sure as heck looked like it dried.  So, now I’m going to have to find the right paint, and paint over the patches of dark blue all over the kids room.  And yes, I painted them all with the wrong paint.  How was I supposed to know paint gets darker when it dries, not lighter?  Is that some sort of universal painter knowledge or something?  Honestly, the last time I painted a wall I came within seconds of trailing paint throughout the entire house in the shape of my footprints (I have pictures to prove it).

I set up Mason’s drum set this weekend too.  I’m already regretting it.  I had to confiscate the drumsticks two days ago because world war three broke out over who got to play the drums (ahem, they are Mason’s drums – Kaleb got a keyboard for Christmas).  Santa should have brought me a nice set of noise-cancelling headphones.  And a bigger bottle of aspirin.  It’s extremely entertaining to watch though, if your ears can handle the racket.  Kaleb knocking out “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on the keyboard, and Mason beating the hell out of the drums – they make quite the sight!  Until they decide to try and out-noise each other.  That’s my cue to go hide in a dark corner somewhere.

Oh, and Kaleb has become completely obsessed with time.  Everything from demanding an exact minute dinner will be ready (When it’s done!  That’s when!  Which will be next Thursday if you don’t stop getting under my feet!), to counting down minutes (Mom, it’s 4:58.  Only two more minutes until 5:00 and it will be evening.  Mom, it’s 4:59, only one more minute until it’s evening.  Mom, it’s 5:00, it’s evening now.  Does that mean dinner is ready?), to letting everyone know exactly how many minutes are in how many hours.  Of course, the last one has got me amazed at certain points.  We were sitting at the dinner table talking the other night about the time I took him to Tampa to go see Laurie Berkner (yes.  I drove all the way to Tampa to watch a 45 minute kid’s concert and it was entirely, 100% worth it).  I said something to the effect of spending 6 1/2 hours in the car to take him there and back.  He asked how many minutes are in 6 1/2 hours.  I told him to figure it out – I asked him how many minutes are in 6 hours (expecting this to take a minute, thinking I might be able to get a mouthful of food in), and he immediately says 360.  Ummmm okay… so add thirty minutes.  He immediately starts beaming and says “390!  There are three hundred and ninety minutes in six and a half hours!”  I looked over at Daddy and silently asked if that was right – he took a minute to do the math and agreed that it was.

My six year old is better at math than I am.

Middle school is going to suck.

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Schooldays…

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Okay, we’re one week into the new year, and my personal resolution for this year (aside from not going insane or turning into Bridezilla – a frightening possibility) is to get at least one post out a week.

I haven’t really been on here in months – to be honest, I haven’t really been on the computer all that much in general.  There’s just been too much stuff happening in our real space for me to jump into cyberspace.  But I’m getting back into it – starting now!

Today is the kids’ first day back to school after a very long winter break.  Really, really long.  Seriously, I am not one of those parents who laments the kids going back to school.  No way.  Bring it on! 

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Give me a couple of hours in the day where I can actually have a phone call without sounding like a schizophrenic.  “I’d like to make an appointment for… No!  Get that out of your mouth now!”  And don’t get me started on food.  It’s a beautiful thing when I can make myself lunch, and actually get to eat it!

Did it suck standing outside for fifteen minutes in freezing cold waiting for Kaleb’s bus?  Um, yes.  Very much so.  But that’s why we wore layers.  Because for the first time in nearly 3 weeks, my house is still quiet at 7am.  There is no screaming, singing, dancing, jumping, pounding, drumming, laughing 6 year old standing at Mason’s gate doing everything in his power to wake up his baby brother.  Mason is actually sleeping in.  He might be a pleasant person today.  For the first time in almost 3 weeks he might actually go a morning without screaming like a banshee and throwing cars all over hell and creation.  I.  Love.  School.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my children with all of my heart.  But boy is it nice to actually drink a cup of coffee in less than six hours.

On the flip side of that, I’ve started to hit the panic button with this wedding planning nonsense.  Who knew there was so much crap involved?!

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The look on poor Daddy’s face when I said “I’m probably about to make you completely insane for the next few months” – well, the look said it all.  At least he’ll be in good company, as I’ve already hopped onto the crazy train.  I’m honestly finding myself stunned at the amount of money people can get away with charging for certain things.  I should have gone to pastry school.  Or hell, I’ll just open up a business making bouquets with silk flowers.  We’ll be rich I tell you!

Okay, enough of that.

Originally, I was going to talk about this whole new bout of Jenny McCarthy madness that has swept up the cybersphere again, but I’m not going to.  The woman gets around enough without me adding to the chaos.  I will say this though – it saddens me to think of how many kids are catching so many easily preventable diseases based on the words of an ex-porn star and a disgraced ex-doctor.  It’s one thing when the beliefs are your own.  It’s another thing when they’re the beliefs of idiots and you’d just rather follow along than look for your own solutions.

Moooooving on…

Seriously, writer’s block.  I’ve got nothin’.

Oh, wait!  Yes I do!

Mason has a new favorite “thing”.  It isn’t a toy (we’re still obsessed with cars, people.  I have no hope of that changing).  We can’t figure out where it came from, but I have to admit, it’s ridiculously cute.  Ready for it?  It’s… “Dot Com!”  Now, just hold on a second and I’ll explain.  That actually is his new thing.  For some unknown reason, he’s following up names now with “Dot Com!”  It’s “Dusty Crophopper… Dot Com!”  and “Milo David… Dot Com!”  And yes, apparently now the dog shares Mason’s middle name since apparently Mason has decreed it so.  It started out with Daddy calling Mason a monkey.  Mason said he wasn’t a monkey.  Kaleb said he’s a person.  Mason said he wasn’t a person.  We asked Mason what he was if he wasn’t a monkey and he wasn’t a person.  He said “I’m a Mason David!”  True enough.  He then went through the house saying “Mommy —– Dot Com!  Kaleb —– Dot Com!  Daddy —– Dot Com!  Mason David Dot Com!  Milo…. David!  Dot Com!”

But it’s not just names.  It other things too.  The garbage truck (Dot Com!), lunch (Dot Com!), diaper (Dot Com!)… all this and more.  He’s definitely a goofy child.  If only we could figure out where on earth he picked this up!  Anyway, as far as updates go – not that much has changed in the world of Monsters.  Daddy has Mason watching Dukes of Hazard and Kaleb watching (more like obsessed with) Tree House Masters.  I got a Doctor Who tee-shirt for Christmas I want to live in.  Daddy got a new workstation.  And Milo is still going insane every single time the neighbor’s dog goes out to pee.

That’s it.  That’s pretty much all I have at the moment.  I probably only have about twenty minutes of quiet left before Mason gets up, so I’m going to go eat something, guzzle another gallon of coffee, and pretend like it’s not ridiculously cold outside (that’ll be the only time I bitch online about the weather today, as at least it’s not snowing, raining ice, or in the negatives).  Have a good week cyberfriends (how many times did I use the word cyber today?).  Till next time!