Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mother-Daughter Day

Today was Olivia's last Monday off track, and my last day off  of work this week, so she decreed it mother-daughter day, and came up with a whole list of things for us to do.  It took us all day.  In fact, it is well past midnight, and I only just tucked her in.  I am a little exhausted.  But it was a great day.

We started off with Nutella on French toast for breakfast, eaten on the couches in front of the TV, watching episode after episode of her favorite Netflix series, H20.  Then we got dressed and took Piper to PetSmart for a bath and a trim.  That was not part of the official itinerary, but it was fun nonetheless.  Then we went through the automatic car wash. After that,  we took a drive through the drive thru at McDonalds and got lunch to go, which we ate at the duck park.  Duncan tagged along for lunch, so after we finished eating and chasing ducks, we dropped by his future place of employment, which opened today.  Olivia got a drink called Sharks in the Water, blue liquid with floating gummy sharks.  I got a Nailed It, and Duncan got a Rootbeer Fizz.  Hopefully, he will be able to start working there next week, but in the meantime, it was a good excuse for a little extra sugar buzz.

After all that, we retrieved Piper, then we headed home for sidewalk chalk and laying in the shade of the tree in our front yard. We were supposed to ride bikes, but we instead we opted for just laying around and chatting for a while.

a girl and her art
Next up was a trip to the library. Olivia borrowed movies, I borrowed books.  We had to run to Walmart for a few things, and as Olivia reminded me, even though we had already had plenty of sugar, treats were required from Walmart, because after all, it was Mother-Daughter day.

When we got home, we should have cooked dinner, but instead we ate our second treats of the day and watched one of her movies from the library.  Leftovers then were served, more treats were obtained, and we ended the day by spending a good hour designing ball gowns and learning to draw dogs,  reading a chapter of her current book, Ever After High, book 2, then watching one more episode of H20. I am now thoroughly caught up on all the adventures and hijinks of H2

At 11:45, when I finally insisted that the day had to end, Olivia said, "But we haven't cuddled yet!" How can a mom of a nine year old turn that down?  You know that request isn't going to last forever.
So we cuddled. On her bed. Surrounded by stuffed pigs and pandas.  What a fantastic day.  And I am not too proud to admit that right now, I feel a little tiny bit mommed out.  Also, I can wait for the next Mother Daughter Day.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Visiting Home

Sometimes my brain switches on at midnight, and there is nothing I can do to turn it off, except get up and eat and type for a while.

Today I dropped a washing machine on my toe.  Miraculously, I still have all my toenails.  But it does hurt like the dickens. And I need a new pedicure.

Yesterday we packed up and headed up to Logan to put in our time on the house up there. Pulled weeds, fertilized, planted some new bushes and said some prayers and incantations for a long life for them.  Waved to a bunch of old neighbors, got ice cream and ate at Angie's (did not attempt to clean the sink) then played in a hotel swimming pool for the rest of the night.   Dan was working a football game for USU, which gave us a good excuse for a working vacation for all of us.  We weren't even gone 24 hours, but it is amazing how nice it feels to get away from the stresses of the house and daily life for even a few hours.

It is also amazing to me how much Logan still feels like home, and yet how small and run down it all seems now. One part of me is ready to move back in tomorrow and resume the life we left.  The other part, maybe even a bigger part, wonders how we ever fit all our stuff into that little house, and what has happened to the neighborhood.  It all seems so old, and small.  That part also thinks about how much we would miss the little spot we have made for ourselves here on the edge.  Life can be so contradictory at times. It is funny to think that Olivia barely remembers living there. She did not remember Aggie Ice Cream.  We LIVED at Aggie Ice Cream, since it was right across the street from where Dan worked. To me, that all seems like yesterday, but to her it is a different life. Her life is here, and for the most part, it is for all of us now.

Warm California Sun

Seriously, I think this was the first real vacation I have ever had in my life. Sure, most vacations are fantastic.  Most are also exhausting,  crammed with a million places that everybody wants to go, and too many things to do, and laundry, and making sure kids don't drown or get sunburned and everybody  is fed and there is gas in the car and blah blah blah.  This vacation, was a VACATION. We slept in.  Watched too much TV.  Laid on the beach. Ate a lot. Like  A LOT.  Went to the pool. There was one day we managed to make it out the door for the traditional mother daughter pedicure.  Best vacation ever. I came  home rested and relaxed instead of feeling like I needed another vacation. I also came back ready to go back.  I am already in desperate need of  a little more beach?Alisa time.  I am counting the days til Thanksgiving.

Mother of Boys

Even when one of them is celebrating his 25th birthday, you cannot get these boys out of the potty joke mode.  Here is Mitch at dinner with the family for his birthday.  You will notice he is sitting next to Will.  Will made a joke, and gave Mitch what I think must be the best laugh he has had in a lifetime.

 Those two could not pull it together for several minutes.  I won't repeat the joke It was one of those you had to be there moments.  Also, I'm pretty sure Mitch and Will will remember this moment for a good long time.  Brothers., Gotta love em.   It was a pretty great moment during a really fun night.  We missed Alisa and Erwann though.
Grandma and Grandpa came along, of course.  We stopped at Costco and bought the biggest birthday cake I have ever seen.  I think it weighed at least 20 pounds. Grandpa had to carry it, it was that heavy.

A day or so later, Mitch got his REAL birthday cake, made with love especially for him:

If you can't tell, that is a CAMO cake.  Which honestly, was way more impressive to me than to Mitch.  But come on, a camo cake?  That is pretty awesome, even if you are all grown up.  He will never be too old for me to make him a birthday cake.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Working Man, Worrying Mom

This lovely September Saturday was a day of triumph at our house:  Duncan earned his first "real" paycheck today. It is the first money he has earned on his own, at a real job, and not just doing odd jobs for family or friends. He got the chance to work at the Weber State football game today, helping out with the sound for the TV broadcast.  It was just a one day job, but it will give him a little money until his real job starts, hopefully next week.  It was also a great confidence booster for him, being given a job to do, and doing it by himself.  And I learned something important today too: sometimes, Duncan is not limited so much by his disability as he is by my anxiety about his disability.

See, if it had been up to me, Duncan would not have gone to work at the football game today.  Dan's friend called yesterday to tell him that he had an opening for one of our boys to work with him, and in my head, I was thinking, Will. It should be Will.  I wasn't even going to let Duncan know about it. I automatically assumed that Duncan would not be able to follow through or pay attention throughout the whole game.  I thought that he should wait for a chance to work at a game where Dan was able to be there with him, or where both he and Will could work together, so there would be somebody there to keep an eye on him.  Make sure he was paying attention. Make sure he didn't wander off.  Protect him from the mean guys.

As it turned out, Dan just blurted out to both boys that he had the chance for one of them to work at the game. Will had a ton of homework to get done, and, being that he is determined to get good grades this year, wasn't too interested.  Duncan, upon hearing that the job paid $100 for an afternoon of   holding a microphone,  jumped at the chance. And I cringed inside.  He is going to fail, I thought. He is going to get mad during the game and walk out.  He is not going to know which direction to point the mike. He is going to be bored, hungry and thirsty.  He is going to have to go the bathroom and not be able to find it.   And on and on and on went my doubts.  In my defense, I was only trying to protect my sweet boy from hurt or disappointment.  I never doubted that he could actually perform the job, I only doubted his social skills in dealing with everything else that goes along with performing a task with a bunch of other people, especially when nobody else there knew him.

I don't know if  Duncan picked up on my worries, but what happened next was that Duncan started doubting himself.  He said he wasn't sure he could do it.  He was worried about what would happen if he did something wrong, or if he dropped the microphone.  And I heard myself saying things to him like, "it's just a football game... the world won't end if you make a mistake"  and "everybody is worried about doing new things they have never done before" and "if you goof up, you won't be the first person to goof up" and "you can do it, just go have fun, and at the end of the day you will be $100 richer."  And somewhere along the way, in the process of convincing him that he could do this,  I also convinced myself.

Sometimes I try so hard to protect him from the hard stuff.  He is just so darn guileless, and so kind, I don't want anybody to ever hurt him.  I worry all the time that people will be so busy seeing  his weaknesses that they won't see  how his strengths are so much greater.  I worry that they won't give him a chance to show them what a great person he is.  And like all moms, I want his life to be wonderful all the time.   But the truth is, autism is not a free ticket to a stress free life.   He is going to have to learn by failing sometimes.  He is going to have to face his fears and overcome them by jumping in over  his head, just like we all do.  He is going to have to learn to put up with jerks. And I have to learn how to let him do all that.  I have fought his battles, and advocated for him his whole life, and now I have to learn to keep my mouth shut and let him try new things.  I intend on being his advocate for the rest of my life, but  I realized tonight that if I ever want him to actually make that much discussed "transition to adulthood", I have to let him start fighting some of his own battles.

So, off he went.  I dropped him off at the production truck (okay, I admit,  I did  go with him to make sure he found the guy in charge), drove home, and worried only slightly for the rest of the day.  I didn't hear a thing from him all afternoon, and I figured no news was good news.  At the end of the game, he called me and I headed out to pick him up.  He was waiting in our designated meeting spot, and climbed in the car, characteristically quiet.  I asked him how it went.  He said, "It was fine, but I only did it for the money, you know.  And they played Zelda music at halftime."

Welcome to the world of work, my boy.  We all only do what we do mostly for the money.  If they play your favorite music at half time, then you don't have much to complain about.

Friday, September 5, 2014

September 5, 1989

Aren't the late summer mornings of early September just about the most beautiful days of the year?  This particular Tuesday morning was the day after Labor Day, and, unbeknownst to us childless types,  the first day of school.  I had been in labor since around five in the morning, and at about 8:30, we headed off to the hospital to deliver our first baby, as nervous and jittery as any first time parents have ever been.  To our great horror, we discovered that our well planned route to the hospital was slowed considerably that morning by school zone after school zone.  We would drive a few blocks, trying our best in our anxious hurry to stay within the speed limit, only to have to slow down to twenty agonizing miles per hour as we passed through flashing lights, crossing guards, and hoards of little kids off to their first day of the 1989-1990 school year.  It seemed like there were more schools on our way that morning than I had ever noticed before.

Oh, if only we had known there was no rush. As much as I might have been hoping for a speedy labor, there was no possible chance of me not getting to the  hospital on time.  It is a good thing that at that moment, I didn't know I had a very long day ahead of me.

We were well prepared though. Mitch was four days late, and we had already been waiting nine long months for him.  I was so sure he was going to come early.  I so much wanted him to be born on my mom's birthday, the 30th of August, and I just knew if I wanted it bad enough, I could make it happen.  No such luck.  It was my  first run in with the fact that babies have minds of their own,  and by the time we had made it four days past my due date, I thought I was going to explode from the anxiety of it all.  I had packed my hospital bag several weeks before, just like the parenting books had instructed me, and I had double checked to make sure I had every item on the list: extra pillows, extra film and batteries for the camera, robe, slippers, extra socks, a change of clothes, diapers, baby clothes, car seat,  blankets, snacks, all of my makeup, a hair dryer and curling iron, phone numbers of everyone we would need to call, extra change, pen and notepad (whatever for, I have no idea) and a baseball.  The baseball was to massage my back in case I had back labor.  We were prepared for anything. I think it took us two or three trips to load everything in to the room with us.  We must have looked like we were planning on staying for a week.

I was determined to have a natural childbirth.  Upon arriving at labor and delivery, the nurses determined that yes indeed, I was in labor, and I was already dilated to a two. And I only had to get to ten.  I could do this! We had been to four weeks of childbirth classes, and Dan was ready to coach me through this, just like we had learned.  My determination held firm until two o'clock  in the afternoon, when after what seemed a lifetime of contractions that really HURT, pacing the hall, and discovering that it is nearly impossible to breathe through a contraction with only your poor clueless husband as a coach, my nurse told me I was dilated all the way to a three.  A THREE?  In five hours I had progressed one centimeter?  And I had to get to a TEN? Call that pain doctor, and call him now.

Well, I had to get to a four before I could have the epidural.  And of course, then the anesthesiologist couldn't get there for another hour.  And I was on the verge of hysterics.  Dan was tossing the baseball and reading his Sports Illustrated. The nurse finally took pity on me, and got in my face and got me breathing right and got me through the next few contractions.  By the time the anesthesiologist showed up, I was back in control, and feeling like I could do this, but I felt too dumb to say so, after the doctor showed  up.  So I had the epidural.  Half way through the procedure, after he botched the first attempt, we found out he was a student. Or a resident.  Or something other than a full fledged anesthesiologist. He finally got it placed, and by the time he was done, I was out of my mind again.  He must have turned it up on overdrive or something, because in a few moments, I could feel nothing.  After eleven straight hours of pain, it was heaven to me to be numb, but turns out I was a little too numb.  I couldn't move my legs, let alone feel them, which when you are about to give birth, is not a good thing.   My OB, when he showed up, was none too happy with that anesthesiologist.

Anyhow, right after the epidural was in, things started happening.  I think it was because I was finally able to relax and let my body do it's job.  I don't remember how long I had to push.  I remember the nurses having to get my legs into position for me, and I remember thinking, holy crap, I  don't want to do this, but there is no other way out.  I do remember a lot more pushing than my later babies, but I couldn't feel a thing, so it didn't really bug me. What I remember most is at 6:09 pm a beautiful bald coneheaded baby boy with huge blue eyes being handed to me.  I remember being completely overwhelmed by his uniqueness, and by the fact that he was just himself, a whole new person.  His eyes were wide open, and taking in everything around him. We immediately noticed, in spite of his baldness, that he had a perfect blonde cowlick right in the top center of his forehead, and we knew that he was going to have quite the hair do one day. The doctor was shocked that baby Mitch weighed in at nine pounds even.  Just a few days before, he had told me to expect a seven pounder.  Mitch looked tiny enough to me.  The moment that I laid eyes on him, my life changed forever.  Instantly, I could not remember a time when I didn't know that face.  Instantly, I could not recall what my life was like before I knew that little person.  I didn't know that I could love somebody so completely at first sight.  And every day since has been a new adventure.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Post Labor Day

I had a lovely little vacation to California to visit Alisa and Erwann this weekend.  I went by myself, courtesy of a combined birthday present from Alisa and Dan, and we spent  nearly five solid days doing not much of anything besides laying on the beach, laying at the pool, eating way too much and playing with her kitties. Seriously, I could live like that forever. It is a good thing that the original gift was a round trip ticket, because if it was up to me, I may have never come home.  I have a few pictures which I will post after I clean out my dropbox, which is full to overflowing with junk, and which will currently not hold any more pictures.

Now, alas, I am home, attempting to bake a chocolate cake for Mitchell's birthday, and failing miserably. This is the second time this recipe has failed me.  I am blaming the recipe, and not my abilities.  But what bothers me is that it is the recipe on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa container, for crying out loud.  You would think it would be dummy proof, and I really am not a dummy when it comes to baking. Not ususally anyway. Oh well. Good thing Costco sells cake.

Also of note on this second of September, Dan started a new job today, doing PR!  He is really excited, and we are  hopeful for good things to come.  He deserves something good, he has worked hard for a new opportunity.

I also still need to post first day of school pictures for Will and Audrey. They both started school last week, just in time for Olivia to be off track for the next three.  Have I mentioned how much I love public school?

Duncan has a new job too, that he will hopefully start up next week. With most of us gainfully employed now, things seem to be looking up.  Now, being the pessimist that I am, I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop.