17 days

Sorry for the silence – 17 days of 24/7 togetherness did me in.  I hope you all had the happiest of holiday seasons.  It was a long 17 days.  Lots of fighting (the kids), lots of nagging (me), lots of fun (all) and lots of frustration (all) and a little bit of sadness.

Christmas went well.  Mickey got a new hybrid record player/CD writer/tape player/radio in a retro design.  He has recently started collecting vinyl, so this was the BEST GIFT EVER!, per Mickey.  That was from my parents and Uncle bought him some vinyl and I got him some Cds.  Minnie got her top 3 items and she was thrilled.  We opened Santa gifts and then went to my parent’s house and spent the day there.  My brother was in good spirits and feeling well – well enough to laugh at the stuffed kidney I got him for Christmas.

We went to Six Flags and got some coaster time in.  We looked at a billion or so Christmas lights – one of our favorite family activities.  Minnie had two rehearsals for dance team, but otherwise we were blissfully dance class free. Everything was good until New Years eve/morning.  As is our tradition, we went out for Mexican food, said goodbye to our favorite light display, the kids went to bed and I woke them for our midnight toast of sparkling grape juice and noise makers.  That was fine.  It was 2 hours later when I noticed the cat was playing with something….

Sherbert is a sweet cat, in general.  She is also not a fan of our hamsters, but has never acknowledged the gecko or the fish.  That changed on New Years.  After 8 months of Spots the gecko living with us, she found her cage, got the lid open and fetched Spots from the cage.  It didn’t end well for Spots.  So, when the children woke up New Year’s day, I had to tell them that their beloved Gecko was gone.  We loved her – I was extremely resistant to getting her – she was rescued from being released outside from a family that had her half dead in their basement. They told Minnie their plan and an hour later we had a gecko.  I ended up finding her to be a delightful pet.  One that hung out on our shoulder, loved attention and was low maintenance.  We had a cover on the aquarium and Sherbert had never even noticed her cage before (unlike the hamster cage, which she stalks daily and has had to be tied to a wall to protect the poor little thing).  I feel like we failed her greatly, but I held her when she died and then I held my children as we buried her and had a funeral.  It was a sad start to 2017.  RIP Spots – you were a good pet.

 

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School, home, fractures and Nutcracker

School has improved dramatically over the last week.  The assistive technology is cutting Mickey’s frustration level down and with his girlfriend gone, that drama has subsided.  It is a good thing.  I wish the same could be said at home.

His O.D.D. is in full swing at the house.  We are in a full on battle of the wills and it is costing him.  We still have no Christmas tree up, our Elf is on strike, notes, cajoling, nagging and grounding have all failed miserably.  Unfortunately, this is impacting all of us.  The children were given two sets of reasonable chores to be done the day after we arrived home from Disney.  Both chores were really cleaning up a rather significant mess that they made. The mess is in the spot we normally put the Christmas tree.  Minnie did do some of it, but is standing firm on Mickey finishing it.  Mickey is refusing.  Today was the last chance we will have for two weeks to decorate for Christmas, as next weekend is a wash with Nutcracker performances. For the record, if they worked together, they could finish these two chores in about 1.5 hours.

Mickey told me that he has earned Christmas and deserves to get whatever he wants.  He screamed at me repeatedly today because I wouldn’t take him out to dinner.  He was nasty and vile, because he isn’t getting his way.  Today was not fun.  Yesterday was 7 hours of Nutcracker and an appointment with the therapist, and Mickey crashed as soon as we got home.  This battle has been going on for a week.  He even drug the two Christmas trees out of storage in an effort to prove that I don’t get a say.

I am not giving in on this.  I will not bother with a tree for a week, so unless something drastic happens in the next two days, Christmas is not happening – because Santa doesn’t bring gifts without a tree and Mom doesn’t buy gifts for disrespectful children.  Minnie is in trouble too, after I discovered how she has been taking care of her stuff (or not, as the case may be).  I am very frustrated with both of my children.  They need a wake up call, and I wish it would come soon because I love Christmas.  I live to provide awesome gifts for my kids and love the magic of the stupid elf on the shelf and going to visit Santa.  Both Minnie and Mickey are avid believers and I enjoy keeping that alive.

So, I am scrooge.  But, Nutcracker dress rehearsal went well yesterday with one notable exception.  Minnie may have fractured her arm during a cartwheel during the candy cane dance yesterday. We went to urgent care today and their x-ray was down, so they asked us to hold for 24-48 hours and see how it goes, while they splinted it.  If it is fractured it is likely a hairline buckle fracture, so the treatment is the same.  Her first question was “will I be able to perform next weekend, and do I have to wear this splint onstage because it will not look good with my costume!” Three performances next weekend. The Dr. said she could dance, though she may not be able to cartwheel, though she is working on her one handed one, so maybe there is a workaround.  The splint may have to stay, but we are going to monitor it and have it x-rayed on Tuesday if it isn’t feeling significantly better. Both kids danced well and even though it was a long day, it was a success (Mickey was starting to lose his cool, because he really only had 3 hours of rehearsal, but Minnie had to be there for the whole day – as a company dancer).  But, he kept it together and we finished off the day.

Happy Thanksgiving

Juse a brief post to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. Today is Mickey’s absolute favorite holiday, because for him it is all about the food. He has eaten himself silly and finally calmed the 100 miles per hour he has been running since he woke up yesterday. He has been on the verge of a meltdown since then, but after our lunch today he was….I don’t know…content? 

This has been the toughest year in my family’s history. My brother’s illness has taken a toll on all of us, but most especially him. We are watching him wither and it is emotionally draining. Each of us has taken on the financial burden of keeping him afloat while he fights for his life. He has been miserably sick for the last 6 days, but today he rebounded a bit to enjoy the day. so, today I am thankful. 

I am thankful for my children – Mickey who never fails to teach me something new, who loves life and music and has a delight and passion that can’t be extinguished. Minnie for her love, kindness and compassion for all living things. She makes us laugh and and makes us proud. I am so very grateful that my parents are close and my rock. I am thankful that my brother is here and that today was the closest I have seen to himself in a month. While I don’t get to see them as often as I would like, I am forever thankful for my niece and nephews and my new great-nephew.  I am thankful for our assortment of pets -Mason, Sherbert, Spots and Minnie & Jack, the fish plus our fosters – Cecilia, Diana, Batman and Robin. While I am not currently loving many things about my job, I am grateful for it. While money is tighter than it has been in years, I am always grateful to be able to support my family and have the extra to help out my brother as needed. We have a roof over all of our heads, transportation in the driveway, food to eat, family to love and a good life and that is all that matters. I hope the same for all of you. 

Disney….again

The kids are sound asleep. 12+ hours in the parks today (Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) + 9 hours yesterday (Epcot/Hollywood Studios/Epcot) = a very quiet evening. 

Mickey has done well. If anyone has suggestions for his seriously annoying case of the “I wants”, I am all ears. I know Disney brings this out in kids, what with most every ride emptying through a gift shop, but his is extreme. I spend half the day saying “no, Mickey. we have already spent your max budget for the day. We aren’t buying anything else.” From that, he seems to get the idea that he can negotiate his way into something else. Things like “mom, if I am good in this line…or what if I don’t ask for anything for the next 30 minutes, etc. This is either one of the more annoying side effects of his particular flavor of Autism, or it is his O.D.D. Either way, it is my least favorite part of every trip and was in particularly high gear today. But, otherwise it was a good day. 

Yesterday the crowds were oddly low for the holiday week. Today that wasn’t the case, but we had a blast. Just a sampling of things we accomplished:

Test track (twice), the updated Soarin ride, the new Frozen ride, Mission to Mars (3 times), Spaceship Earth, Figment, Rockin Roller Coaster (twice), Tower of Terror, Toy Story (twice), Star Tours, 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, meet and greets with Anna, Elsa, Stitch, Jasmine and Prince Ali, Lady Tremaine and the stepsister. Plus we got some pics to use for our Christmas pics. Tomorrow is Animal Kingdom and dinner with the beloved Mrs. B., who taught both of my children in kindergarten. She is probably the person who was most helpful to us the first year I had the kids (when Mickey was in kindergarten). 

Now, if we can just keep Mickey in a good place to enjoy the next day and a half, we will be golden. Generally Disney is his happy place, but as the crowds pick up, he has a harder time maintaining control…even though he really wants to. I am prepared with extra oils and good fast passes, but it is still tough for him. heck, I have pretty significant social anxiety and I hate crowds, so I am on edge too (I promise we are having fun, but it doesn’t mean it is easy, just that it is worth it). 

Good night from our happy place (or at least their happy place, which makes it mine). 

Just life

Nothing exciting to report this week….just life in general.  Mickey is mad at his teacher for coming between he and his girlfriend.  Tomorrow is her last day at school with Mickey, and he is hoping beyond hope that she will at least give him the opportunity to say goodbye.  So, a little hormones and heartbreak.

I had to fight the school a little this week on the assistive technology and how it is being implemented for Mickey. They will now be using it for all assignments, so hopefully we can put a pin in that particular issue and end the near daily complaints from his teacher and battles with Mickey over handwriting.

We are gearing up for both Disney tomorrow and Nutcracker after the holidays.  We had our photo shoot for Nutcracker ads two weeks ago.  The kids are both insanely excited about both.  We haven’t been to Disney since May, which is a lifetime, according to Mickey and Minnie.  Nutcracker will end 4 months of rehearsals every weekend (Mickey), monthly 3 hours rehearsals (Minnie) and weekly weekday rehearsals for Minnie as well.  Here she is in her Party Scene dress and him in his Squire Costume.  This was my cell, not the professional shots, just an fyi.

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Politics

In my every day life I refrain from debating politics and religion as a general rule.  I have political beliefs and strongly held religious beliefs.  I have made the number one rule of my life to be kindness and respect.  In all things.  I don’t have to agree with you to care about you – to count you as a friend, to respect you as a person.  I am absolutely able to disagree about something that I am passionate about and still be your friend, your daughter, your sister.  I grew up in a house divided, the daughter of a die-hard democrat and a die-hard republican.  Two people that are rapidly approaching their 50th wedding anniversary and still in love – maybe even more today than they were 50 years ago.  All this is to say, I learned early the ability to agree to disagree.

So, this election and the months leading to it have been fraught with challenges for me. The nastiness and bitter debates on BOTH sides of the political spectrum have been hard.  I have had to turn off Facebook on more than one occasion, not because my friends disagree with me, but because the nastiness that is rolling through my feed is beyond my comprehension.   See, I feel that one can get their point across without resorting to name calling and blanket hurtful statements towards those that don’t agree.

My children have both come home from schools with half truths and in tears because a classmate said this or a classmate said that.  Most of their tears have come from statements (usually out of context) made by our new President Elect, but the half truths have been from both sides.  Mickey came home around the primaries upset because a classmate said “Hey, Donald Trump is going to send you and all those like you away when he gets elected”.  This was a holdover “joke” that the kid was making about Mickey being gay, you know, because he takes dance.  Minnie came home upset that the man who could be president hates women.  “Why does he say they are fat pigs? Why doesn’t he like girls?”

I have tried to present balanced information to my children.  They have asked why I voted the way I did and I have explained to them that each person, given the ability to vote, has to make the decision based on the issues that are most important to them.  They have to vote their conscience, and I did.  Both my children made their choices at their respective school’s mock elections and they were proud of their choices and so was I.  Both chose a 3rd party candidate because both had concerns with the Democrat and Republican nominee.  I did my job if I taught them to vote their heart.

But, how do I explain to my children that their new president, while smart, dynamic and larger than life, is the same man who mocked a disabled reporter?  How do I explain that something that is not okay for either of them to do, is indeed tolerated – and lets be fair, in some cases celebrated?  How do I teach them to respect the office, even when you don’t agree with, nor voted for the inhabitant, when he doesn’t seemingly have respect for a large segment of the population?  How do I teach my son to respect woman, and not to speak of their privates as something he is entitled to grab, when it is laughed off by so many as “locker room” talk.  In a world where my son struggles under the best of circumstances to understand that No means No and respect for other peoples’ bodies and space, that these statements hurt our progress.  Mickey thinks in black and white, when you introduce shades of gray, you complicate his thought process.

I tried to write this post in as non-partisan a way as possible, but that last paragraph makes it hard to get around how the ugly side of this campaign has hit our house. Clinton brought up different concerns, but it generally wasn’t the things she said, so much as the things she did.  Politically I had huge concerns over both candidates.  I am only speaking of how words hurt and they don’t go away.  How we explain these things to children, who don’t have the ability to see the bigger picture or context.

Our next president is no fool, he is not stupid, in fact, he is likely brilliant.  That doesn’t necessarily make him a good person, nor does it mean he will be a good president, but only time will tell on that one. I respect that he had the ability to get the nomination and win the election. I respect the fact that he has run his own campaign his way.  But, how do I comfort my son who is genuinely afraid that the flippant remarks made months ago aren’t really going to happen.  How do I tell my daughter, who is the defender of the underdog and devastated when somebody gets their feelings hurt, that the next President doesn’t have the ability to filter hurtful comments the way we teach a kindergartner to do?

These are not political questions, these are questions about how to explain to children, who through maturity, ability to understand and compassion are scared for what our newly elected President represents – not politically, but as a man.  The man elected to represent all of us.

I promise this will be my only political post – at least for 4 more years.  Both children cried this morning.    The next four years will be interesting, to say the least, but we will make it through.  I am not sure I would have been any happier had the results have gone the other way, I just wouldn’t have had two crying kids – and remember they didn’t “vote” for her either.  This wasn’t about winning or losing. In the last five presidential elections I have voted for 2 Republicans, 2 Libertarians and 1 Democrat.  I cross party lines at the local level too, and yes, I vote in EVERY single election, not just the presidential ones. I vote my conscience every single time and I am trying to teach my children to do the same.  It isn’t about a party, it is about a candidate and what is important to you.

Socializing

Today my heart is happy. Mickey had a bit of a rough Nutcracker rehearsal – he said he was stressed – but he kept it under control and finished anyway. We had a nice lunch while Minnie was with a friend and then we got to enjoy this beuatiful fall day. Mickey is playing basketball with an actual peer. He generally plays with the neighborhood kids that are much older or younger. But, for the last hour he and the 11 year old NT kid next door have been shooting hoops in the driveway. After the rough week he has had at school with nobody to talk to, this warms my heart and gives me hope that maybe, just maybe he can find friends in a world where he isn’t always understood. Where his immaturity doesn’t cause his peers to laugh at him. Now, the boys next door are pretty awesome and have always been kind, but generally he has Minnie to buffer and Mickey plays for a few minutes and then moves on to something that appeals to him more. They just decided to take a bike ride together and it is nice to see him included and excited about playing with friends. Today I choose to be grateful. 

The girlfriend


Mickey’s longtime “girlfriend” is apparently angry with him. She hasn’t spoken to him since last week. He doesn’t seem to know why and he doesn’t understand. He and “D” agreed that they loved each other way back in 3rd grade and they were going to be boyfriend and girlfriend. That was nearly two years ago.
I suspect this is contributing to the increased behaviors at school (nothing significant, just his teacher reporting crankiness and increased frustration).
How do I explain this to an 11 year old, who has the maturity of your average 6 year old? He thinks she is smart, beautiful and elegant. He is utterly crazy about her and the sudden cold shoulder has him beside himself. Their relationship has always been quirky and a little odd, when compared to nuerotypical kids, but it has worked well for them. Obviously this was not going to be a lifelong relationship – they are 11 after all – but, she is literally the only person in his class that speaks to him. The other kids don’t talk to or play with other kids. Period. She is the closest to the same level of functioning his class offers and since second grade they have been thick as thieves.
In a way this is a blessing because both Mickey and “D” are leaving their school. She has already started and he is scheduled to after Christmas break. But, his little heart is shattered and I can’t fix it. How do I explain this to him when nobody including his teacher has any idea why she suddenly is shutting him out? He keeps trying to find out why and then he gets angry, but he can’t just let it go. It is all he has talked about this week. Lots of tears and “but why doesn’t she love me?”. I had hoped this would just fizzle when they both moved on and we wouldn’t have this happen, but this is yet another bump in the road for Mickey. It won’t be his last heartbreak, but I wasn’t prepared for how tough it would be for him.

He came home from school and threw himself down on the porch in tears 😦

Cubs Win!!!!!

Being a lifelong Cubs fan comes with massive quantities of hope and disappointment. Hope begins every spring and is often dashed before the All-star break. But not this year. This year the hope stayed alive – not just through July, but August, September and even October. Even down 3 games to 1 in the world series barely dampened that hope. Games 5 and 6 sent us over he edge. Could this actually happen?  And last night, fans that have waited far longer than my 40 years, collectively held our breath as a lifelong dream came true. The Chicago Cubs are the 2016 World Series Champions! 108 years of being loveable losers is over. As a southern transplant, I wish nothing more than I could be in Chicago right now, but instead, my two little Cubs fans and I are just on cloud 9 and we’re screaming loud from Georgia last night. Thank you Cubs for an amazing season. As a fan, I couldn’t ask for more.