Too Much

As I’ve said, Little Man has been struggling as of late. We have one more day of school. One. More. Day. He’s battling, but we’re seeing behaviors we haven’t seen in months. His toolbox is completely out the window. It sucks.

Yesterday, for Father’s Day, we went indoor cart racing. I was a little nervous about it, but didn’t really think it would be a big deal. It wasn’t ridiculously loud, and he would have a helmet on anyways. We watched four or five races. He seemed okay for the most part, although he was lashing out and had a bit of temper tantrum – more from being hungry and having to wait than anything else. We fed him, and waited for our turn.

When our race started, I hung back, not going too fast. I’m not much of a speed queen anyways – afraid of crashing or spinning out. I did pass him, and he seemed okay. But then people were passing  and bumping him, and he got stuck in a corner. He worked to get out, but couldn’t manage it. They had to stop the race and help him. He decided he was done, so they guided him off the course. Yes, we are that family that has to shut the place down. I was reminded of our ski trip last year when they had to stop the lift twice for us. He and I decided to ditch our second race.

We should have known. We should have seen it coming. We should have realized it would be too much for him – the speed of the people around him while trying to drive his own cart, his inexperience driving a cart, the noise, the anxiety of racing itself….too much sensory input, too much performance anxiety, too much stress. We should have seen it would happen. But he’s been doing so well, has come so very far.

I have to give him credit – he tried something new, something he wasn’t sure of. He did it, even if for just a brief period of time (I think he made it through three laps). We told him we were very proud of him for trying, because we are so proud of him.   While I felt defeated in a way, it also felt like a win, because he did try. Autism won for a moment, but it didn’t win the day. He may never drive a race cart again, but he did it.

The Movies

Both my parents worked when I was growing up. I was six weeks old when I started at my godmother’s daycare. For ten years, she played a near-daily role in my life. That amount of time gave her great influence in my life – food, music, faith, reading, and movies.

I loved her room – it seemed one whole wall had bookshelves full of books. I do believe I gained my love of reading through the hours she spent reading to us, all our walking trips to the library, and the immense amount of time she let me lay on her bed reading any of the books from her shelves.

We always took field trips – to the Zoo, to Frontier Village (now gone), to San Francisco on the train, to the pool at the nearby high school where my brother and I joined the competitive swim team, to the convenience store for candy and slurpees, and to Thrifty for ice cream.  She also took all of us in the daycare to Vacation Bible School each summer. Pretty sure my mom still has some of the crafts we made there.

One of the things I remember most is going to the movies with her. She took us to the drive-in, as well as the theater. We watched movies at her house too, on tv. She made each trip an event, piling a bunch of kids in the car, settling us with popcorn and drinks in the back seat of the car or in the row in the darkened theater.

I can’t tell you all the movies we saw with her, but every time I walk into a theater and settle into my seat, I think of her. I think of those trips with her. It makes my heart smile. While I do love watching movies at home, there’s just something about going to the theater – seeing it on the big screen, in a reclining seat,  surrounded by other people. It is a process getting tickets, standing in the concessions line, paying entirely too much for a bag of popcorn, hoping you’re there in time to get a seat in  your prime, preferred location (I like to be midway up, or slightly higher, but on an aisle in case I have to take a bathroom break. My eyes don’t adjust to lighting changes very well, and I get paranoid about re-finding my seat in a dark theater!), but it just isn’t the same to wait for the movie to come out on DVD or On Demand.

I’ve taken the kids to the movies a lot recently.  We’ll probably go to the theater at least a few times this summer. And I’ll think of my godmother each and every time – of all the experiences she gave us, all the memories she helped create, and the role she played in shaping the person I am today.

 

Guest Blogging

When I started blogging 12 (yikes!) years ago, it was mostly for me – to tell my story, to process life, to get support. My writing has evolved over the years, and enabled me to connect, as well as reconnect. What a privilege! To have someone I respect deeply, and appreciate even more, ask me (a second time!) to write a guest post is an honor, as scary as it is. It took me a few months to work out how the prompt/topic for this year with Miracles in the Mundane, but I think it worked out. Check it out here, and while you’re over on my dear friend’s page, give her some love. She’s an amazing writer, momma, friend.

Recreate, Re-Create, and Create at Miracles in the Mundane

Happy Wednesday

 

Last Days

Oh lordy, but we are struggling through these last days. It seems an insult to have to carry on with regular school activities for one kid when two have been on their summer break for eleven days. My brain is totally not on reports, Open House, report cards, morning routines, nor on signing field trip/dance permission slips. This momma has checked out, and I do apologize to Little Man’s teachers and team.

He is having a rough go. They had a field trip yesterday. He wouldn’t say what happened, just that it was “horrible.” That may mean one small thing went awry, or it may mean he had a full-blown meltdown. Who knows, and I’m afraid to ask. There’s a dance at school Friday  night for the 5th-7th graders. We haven’t even discussed it. I have to keep reminding myself his Open House is Thursday night (can I send a surrogate, or would that be frowned upon?). I got an email from his SAI earlier today he has completely pushed back on being in the classroom for the 7th grade health class. While I feel the curriculum is important, appropriate, and not beyond his abilities/understanding, I don’t have it in me to fight him right now, nor deal with the fallout of pushing his boundaries. We’re both toast. My response to her was I was fine with him sitting this one out.

His anxiety is elevated. He’s done. He wants nothing to do with getting out the door in the morning. He has asked daily to take his plushy  to school (I’m still saying no to that one). He’s forgetting necessary items. He’s basically pushing back on almost everything. While I know he will have another adjustment period once summer does start for him, we are both so ready to be through this process of the end of the school year.

I looked back through my end-of-year posts through Timehop on my phone. So many of them reiterate this feeling – he’s over it, he’s stressed, he’s anxious, he’s ready to be done but he’s also afraid of the change of routine/lack of routine that comes with summer. No matter how much he matures and grows, change in routine and structure is an achilles heel for him, and it likely always will be. His tool box is forgotten by this point, and we all just hang on for the ride. It’s a bit brutal, and these are the days I would do anything to make this all right and better for him. This is when I raise a certain finger to autism, because it makes days that should be full of fun and excitement stressful and anxiety-ridden. Add to that fact his siblings are swimming, hanging out with friends, sleeping in and enjoying summer while he sits in a classroom, and you have a boy (and a momma) who is just over it. #bringonsummer

He’s Back

I”ve mentioned an uptick in Little Man’s anxiety as the end of the school year approaches. Much as we know it’s coming, the expected change in routine, the difference between scheduled and unscheduled, and even the differences at school as all the end-of-year activities come up throw him off. His anxiety shows in different ways – he’s harder on himself, he cries more easily, his outbursts are more frequent. He’s much better than he used to be, but the anxiety is part of him, part of who he is, and all his triggers are in play this time of year.

It’s been months since he’s come into our room during the night and snuck into our bed. He’s been sleeping better for a long time, and I contribute that to a growth spurt and hormone change. He’s also been in a much better, more relaxed and confident place this year. Whatever the causes, better sleep for him is better sleep for everyone.

He’s been in our bed, or tried to get in our bed, four nights in the last week. I woke at 3:30 this morning to a clicking sound. I initially thought it was Spouse getting a drink of water. Then I realized it was the familiar sound of teeth grinding and jaw-clicking. Spouse does not grind his teeth, and in my middle-of-the-night stupor, it took me a minute to figure out it was Little Man in our bed, grinding his teeth away. Sigh…in my bed, and grinding his teeth – a sure sign his anxiety is at a high level.

He has 10 more school days. We will have the inevitable fallout of him adjusting to the summer routine/non-routine, so I figure I have about a month of him crawling into my bed most nights. I’d just gotten used to him staying in his own room and sleeping soundly all night. That anxiety-fueled, teeth-grinding, flop-around-on-the-bed insomniac is back. Dang it all anyways.

Finished

Finished – that word applies to so many things today. It’s been the word on my mind most the last few days. Finished. We are finished, we have finished, we will finish, we have yet to finish. Sigh….I’m in a funky place.

Big Man and P finished their school year Friday. P said she actually didn’t want the year to end. Wait, what? From my point of view, it’s been an exhausting, mentally and emotionally draining, dragged out, up-and-down/high-and-low year. I was not sad to see the door close on this one for them.

I am proud of Big Man – he pulled it together enough to have an almost-respectable GPA for the semester. It was a near-miracle, considering how deep a hole he’d dug himself. But he did it. We did have to push, and check in almost hourly to make sure he was doing what needed to be done, but he did it. Oh trust me, his final report card for the year wasn’t amazing, but it was nearly as ugly as it had been. For that, we say “Thank you Jesus!”, and heave a sigh of relief. Pray God he’s figured it out and we won’t have to face these same issues next  year.

After a long season of training (for me anyways  – Big Man didn’t really train at all), we ran the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon yesterday morning. I was really worried about this one, as my training was cut short due to various injuries. My last 11-mile run was five weeks ago. My last run of any significant distance was three weeks ago. My last run was a week and a half before race day, and that just 4 miles. I spent 10 days gently stretching, icing, heating, and praying it would come together and I’d be able to push through. I had a 2-hour massage. I went to the chiropractor. I faithfully used my foam roller.

Race morning arrived. There was a LOT of frustration early – parking was an unmitigated disaster. It took us nearly an hour to get into the lot from the time we arrived downtown, then we had a mile walk to the shuttle busses. We got on our bus at the time we should have been arriving at our corral. We were in the bathroom line when our corral started, and ended up crossing the start with a corral 9 behind our assigned corral. I’d decided with my training partner to just push for the goal we’d trained for – a 2-hour finish. I knew 2 miles in I wasn’t going to be able to maintain that pace – the three weeks without any significant running had killed me. I slowed to my old half marathon pace and regrouped. Three miles later, my IT bands started tightening and my knees started to hurt. I pushed on, with short stretches of walking, until I hit mile 7 when I knew I’d have to just let go of this race. It became a matter of finishing, and nothing else. I walked when I needed to – which was quite a bit – and ran when I could. There was a downhill at 9.7 that almost did me in. But I pressed on. My training partner finished (I was getting texts for her and for Big Man) – I was at mile 10 I think. Then  Big Man finished. I was closing in on mile 11. I was frustrated, in pain, tired, and so disappointed. At mile 12, I started running again, determined to finish the race running. I knew there was nothing structurally wrong with my body – just IT bands that like to knot up and make it feel like there are knives going into the side of each knee – and so I pushed, and crossed the finish at 2:41 – my worst half marathon time ever, by 16 minutes. I headed to the medical tent and had my knees wrapped in ice.

My training partner had a PR, under 2 hours. Big Man didn’t meet his time from last year of 1:58, but he really didn’t train at all (oh to be 16!). He finished at 2:09. But we finished. The race is more about the culmination of training – a cap to a season. I’m trying to let it go, the disappointment of a bad race. Training had been going so well. I’m trying hard to focus on the fact I ran my 8th half marathon and not everyone gets to say that. I am so proud of Big Man – there were 114 boys on the course in his division. He finished 51st of those 114. That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? Out of 30,000+ people running (between the full, half, and half-relay), only 114 15-17 year old boys were running, and one of them was my son. I love that I got to share yesterday with him. What’s really fun  is being able to talk about it with him, remembering miles and sections like a football player will remember a play, a golfer will remember each hole on a course, a pitcher what pitch got launched out of the ballpark by which hitter. I love that shared experience. I’m proud of the fact he fought when things started to hurt; he didn’t give in when the course got rough, when he knew he wasn’t going to match his time from last year, when he got tired and wanted to quit. He finished. We finished.

Eleven more school days for Little Man. Then we will be finished completely with this school year. He’s hanging in there. He has had some increased anxiety – it’s so typical of this time of year for him. We will fight through, and then breathe another sigh of relief. It is so weird to manage two out of school and one still in, especially for the significant amount of time 2.5 weeks is. We’re almost finished.

The animal half of our Herd

Re-Posting this today seems appropriate. Our neighbors, and very good friends,  had to put one of their fur herd to sleep this morning. Buzz was loved by our family, and was the first of the Disney-theme-named animals on the street. Buzz, as you cross the rainbow bridge, know you were loved well. You gave great joy, and lots of laughter and love to your family and the B’side hood.

The number of animals in our household equals the number of humans, if you don’t count the fish. If you do count the fish, then the animals have us 2-to-1. But I digress (already?).  All our animals – again, excluding the fish – were rescued in one way or another. Names  have not been changed to protect the innocent, as they deserve what they get. I love them each to pieces.

First, and oldest, is Bruce the Cocker Spaniel. We got Bruce when he was maybe 7 months old. Adorable, right? The friend of Spouse’s employee was moving and couldn’t have a dog at the new place. Bruce was going to be taken to the pound if a new home wasn’t found, so he ended up here. His name when we got him was Happy. There was no way I could call a dog “Happy” and not nearly lose it, so we decided a new name was in order. Little Man was in his Nemo-obsessed phase, and Bruce the shark was one of his favorite characters. Thus, Bruce ended up with his new name. Bruce is now 8 1/2 years old. He’s a typical cocker, aka pain in the tush. He’s an alert barker, and since the windows in our front room don’t have blinds or curtains, and owing to the fact there are window seats in each of those windows, he sits there all day and barks his fool head off at everything and everyone who comes into view. I know he thinks he’s protecting us. But seriously, it’s enough to push a person over the edge, particularly when you’re on a conference call you can’t mute, and you have to explain the very loud round of barking in the background. Bruce can be a wee bit temperamental, and he is definitely the alpha male. He can also be needy in that typical small-dog way. He wants in our laps, even though he is a large cocker and doesn’t really fit. Oh, and he just LOVES to pull tissue out of the trash cans and shred it, leaving paper trails all over the house. He also snoodles all over any blanket, towel, or shirt left on the floor. He had lately taken up a habit of pooping in Spouse’s favorite work shoes (those are in the trash now), apparently mad we took the carpeting out of our room and replaced it with wood flooring. I have to clean my front windows every other day for the marks he leaves with his nose while staring out said windows. He hates my vacuum cleaner. If it’s left out where he can get to it, he pees on it. Every. Single. Time. He frequently meanders through the fountain in our courtyard, then bolts into the house, leaving a trail of wet, often also muddy, paw prints. He particularly loves doing this right after I’ve cleaned the wood floors. Bruce is a bolter. Seriously. If he gets out, he takes off like a shot down the street, and it’s game on. I usually have to get in the car to chase him down. He thinks it’s a big game.

Next up is Livvy the Labrodoodle. She’s actually 75% lab, and just 25% standard poodle, so guess what? She sheds like a fiend. I’m fairly sure she can walk into a room, and intentionally shoot loose fur all over the place. I sweep our downstairs every day, and vacuum the family room every other day for this reason. I often believe I could cover create a new, large dog out of all the fur she sheds within a week. Being a lab, Livvy is an opportunist. She also has separation anxiety, even though she has two dogs and two cats to entertain her when we’re gone. If I’m not careful about closing the pantry door, completely cleaning off any dishes left in the sink, pushing any edible items to the very center of the kitchen island, and making sure there isn’t a pan of oil left on the stove, she will have it within minutes of us walking out the door. She once even pulled a crockpot (think the heaviest ceramic you can) full of water and a little bit of chicken off the kitchen counter while I took the kids to school. You guessed it – shattered the pot, and left water all over the kitchen floor. If some snack box is missing, she’s typically hauled it to the back yard and gone to town. And that thing about dogs dying from eating chocolate? Yeah, that doesn’t hold water for Livvy. She’s eaten full containers of Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and fudge, and never blinked an eye. She has an iron stomach. Oh yeah, she’s pretty easy to train to do anything else, except stop counter surfing and nosing her way into the pantry. We bought her a feeder bowl to slow down her intake at meal times. She learned to lay down and hook her dew claw over the edge of the bowl to hold it still so she can inhale as quickly as she ever did. She is very submissive, the sweetest dog I’ve ever had in my life, but OY! she takes a lot of mental energy to stay ahead. If Livvy gets out by herself, she will usually just go say hello to the three dogs across the street, see if the kids next door are outside, and then meander back home. If she gets out with Bruce, forget it. They’re having a party running all around – and I do mean all around – the neighborhood. When we finally get them home, she lays down in the fountain mentioned above. She loves to lay on clean clothes. If she finds even one sock on the floor, she will lay on it. Every stuffed animal becomes her “baby” (at least until she rips all the stuffing out). She carries socks around the house. I’m forever finding lonely socks in the pantry, the kitchen, the stairs, hallway, and backyard.

only on the left side

Maizy will only sleep on the left side of the recliner

livvy found a pillow on the floor

Livvy found a pillow on the floor, which is entirely better than just one sock

sisters

Sisters

the blankie is over here momma maizy

i know you’re sitting over there, Momma, but the blankie is over here

Why I sleep on the edge of the bed

This is why I sleep on the edge of the bed.

Willie neighborhood watch

Willie’s favorite spot to watch what’s going on in the ‘hood

Willies lizard catch

Willie’s gift for me today

Our youngest canine is Maizy the Yorkie. I found her on the walking/running trail that goes around our neighborhood. She was following another runner. I stopped and said, “That’s really cool your dog follows you without a leash while you run!” The runner responded it wasn’t her dog, it had been following her the last quarter mile. I couldn’t leave this little girl out there. We have lots of open space around us. Coyotes, hawks, raccoon, possum, and skunks roam at will. She would have been a midnight snack. She came home with me, and we made every effort to find her humans. Five days later, she became a permanent part of our household. I never, ever wanted a little tiny dog. They’re usually yippy, ankle biters. Maizy is too cute for words, and very attached to me. She follows me everywhere. She sleeps by my side or at my feet. She will only sit on my left side when I sit in my green recliner. She loves to lay in blankets. She does NOT like to have the hood put up on her sweater. She will bark when the other dogs bark, even though there’s no way she can see what they’re barking at out the front window. If Spouse sleeps in on the weekends, she will stand on his chest and bark until he wakes up. He gives them their treats when he goes downstairs in the morning, and she that’s how she lets him know he’s behind schedule.

We have two cats, Willie and Keela. Keela is your typical cat-cat. We got her from the Humane Society for free. Her eyelashes were growing into her eyes, so they’d had to remove part of her eyelids and they couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t have to be done again, thus no fee for adopting her. She’s black, fluffy, independent, and does not like the dogs. She terrorizes Maizy, often trapping her upstairs or down just by blocking Maizy’s path. She will avoid Little Man all day, but when it’s time to go to bed, she’s in his room, on his bed. Her eyes do look a little weird. Her eyeteeth often hang over her upper lip (I call her Dracula when she does that). She has allergies for which she gets shots. She only likes to drink fresh water, preferably with the tap running. She turns her nose up at the community water bowls.

Last is Willie. We’ve had him almost three years. His mom was a feral cat. The kittens were rescued and hand-fed. They spent their early weeks with a litter of puppies. He’s not quite sure what he is. He talks, a lot. He won’t eat unless we walk him to his food and purr at him. He often sleeps sprawled on his back. He wrestles with Maizy. In typical cat fashion, he tries to get in every box he can find.  He will paw your face while you’re sleeping so you will wake up and pet him. He is a hunter though. I can, in the nice weather, almost daily count on an offering of some sort…..birds, lizards, mice, grasshoppers, large butterflies. At least five times a year, I’ll come home to a room full of feathers. Another bird bites the dust. I try to stop him before he finishes them off. I’ve become rather adept at catching lizards and relocating them outside, where they’re sure to be caught again. Willie is the weirdest cat I’ve ever had. He’s pretty big too at nearly 13 pounds. He’s made many friends in the neighborhood. Pretty sure he has a few feeding spots.

There ya go. The animal side of our Herd in all its glory. This is a big part of why I say I’m allowed to live here and be the Herd caretaker. If I’m not hauling kids around, I’m dealing with these animals and all their quirks. Lucky me.