Dedicated to the Princess

My bigs have access to social media, and thus, get the links to my blog posts. It definitely adds a new element, and I’m always aware there’s a chance they’ll be reading my take on their lives. Now I will say this, my boys definitely provide a lot of fodder for this blog. I mean, seriously….ADHD, Prematurity, Autism, and just plain old being boys. I could write for years on what goes on with them in one month.

And then there’s the Princess. She is our princess, our middle child, our only girl. Outside of some colic when she was a few months old, she’s been our saving grace, our island of calm in a crazy world. She doesn’t get in trouble (much). She’s organized, self-sufficient, focused, self-motivated. She generally helps around the house without being asked. She’s an overachiever. Honestly, outside of the normal teenage-girl drama, she’s not much work. She’s been pretty independent since birth.

I do have stuff to write about her though. She is my mini-me, but she’s ten thousand times the girl I was at her age. And don’t get me started on watching her cheer or dance. Nutcracker weekend is in two weeks. I  know I will be that weepy momma once again, even though she doesn’t have a starring role this year. Watching her do something well when I  know how much work she’s put into it always moves me. Watching her do something she so obviously loves….I can see the joy in her face when she’s onstage. Watching your kid live one of her dreams – well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

I don’t know if she knows how much I appreciate the fact she doesn’t give me much to write about.  I don’t know if she knows how much I appreciate our time together, even if it’s just singing along together to the radio as we drive to and from the studio. Oh, I absolutely adore being mom to boys, but good golly, I am so thankful I have a daughter. I love our shopping trips, cooking together in the kitchen, rolling our eyes simultaneously at the  boys’ antics.

She isn’t perfect, trust me. We’ve had our moments, especially as she begins to spread her wings and begins to become who she’s going to be. I may  not write about  her often, but you can trust that doesn’t mean she’s any less prominent in our home. She’s just the calm in the middle of our crazy.

Her courage

The Princess was writing a story last week. I assumed it was for her language arts or power literacy class. It sort of was, but not for any grade, extra credit, or points. Seems they had been telling stories in class.  Her stories were hugely popular. She was writing to get ready for the Halloween celebration. And dang if it wasn’t good. They’re short stories….probably five to ten pages….but she has about six of them done now. I was reading it, in an editorial role, and I was thinking, “Wow, this is good. She can put these together and submit them somewhere.” Then I thought, “Darn it, I’m jealous.” She has entirely more courage than I. She has stories in her head, and she’s writing them down AND sharing them with her class. How. Awesome. Is. That?!!!!!

I have stories….they’re briefly outlined in a notebook. But I don’t ever write them. And I’ve certainly never shared them. Oh sure, I blog. That’s pretty easy. The Herd gives me lots to write about, and it’s real life. I just happen to blab it on the internet. To have the courage to actually sit down and write those stories? I continually let fear hold me back. You can’t finish what you don’t start, and if you never finish, no one can tell you how much it sucks.

I don’t think the Princess thinks of it as having courage. She has stories in her head. She writes them down. That’s it. Oh to be a kid again, where life is completely in front of you and no one has really told you yet you can’t, you’ll fail, you’ll never be successful.  She doesn’t have fear holding her back.

She may never do anything with these stories. I’m saying very little to her, other than to keep writing them down. It may take her places someday, or not. Maybe someday she will look at them and just giggle. They are good though….without really knowing what she’s doing, she thinks about character development, plot, hooks, suspenseful conclusions, lessons in the story, entertaining people.  I’m so proud of her. I want to be her when I grow up.

Friday Favorites #5

Happy Friday all! I woke up hoping a nap would happen today. How about you? I’d briefly woken up at 3:45am, and was just falling back to sleep – and I mean,  in that feel-your-whole-body-twitch way – when the lovely Yorkie decided she needed a potty break. And then I couldn’t fall back to sleep, for almost an hour. Dang dog. Spouse is as good about getting up with her as he was when the kids were babies. Selective hearing. He has insomnia all the time, except when the dog needs to go out in the middle of the night. Since the kids are out of school in just over an hour, I don’t see a nap happening. I’m not a power napper. It has to be at least an hour, or I end up more cranky and disoriented than when I started.

So, since a nap isn’t on my horizon, and I need to get this post done before my arms totally give out (Pilates FIT class this morning – my arms and legs are still shaking), here are my Friday Favorites for this week……

  • The Worrying Things post Exceptional Twice, Exceptionally Nice made me giggle, mostly because it sounded like most mornings in the Herd household.
  • Warrior Mom 76 wrote a thought-provoking post about a family hike. It’s one of my Friday Favorites because the photos are beautiful, and I love the idea that we’re led to a certain place at a certain time, and brought to certain people for a certain reason. It’s our job to figure what that reason is, and then do something with it.
  • The Of You poem at My Friday Blog took me back to a few post-breakups.
  • Ipockolypse was nominated for The Lovely Blog Award, which is well-deserved. Check it out, and you’ll see why.
  • Joeyfully Stated wrote a hilarious look at her kids learning to ride bikes, and what that showed about each child’s personality. The meme caught my eye first because a) I have three kids, and b) it’s totally true.
  • I’m into quotes right now. You should see the book I’m currently reading – it’s highlighted all over the place. Anyhoo…the Best Quotes Ever post on Adoption = caught my attention. And I love the quotes.
  • Opinionated Man needs a little sympathy today. Go give him some love at A Good Blog is Hard to Find. We’ve all felt that pain, right?
  • Did you know it’s National Cheeseburger Day? Here’s your weekly dose of Cute Overload honoring the cheeseburger. mmmmmmmm….cheeseburgers……

Happy Weekend!!

Must do vs need to do

This week has been a struggle, personally. I’m drained and frustrated, pushing back against every day’s responsibilities. I woke up this morning, a list of things which must be done today looming over my head. I felt the anxiety building before I was even out of bed.

The older two kids are slugging their way through end-of-the-year projects. I see the value in what they’re doing. I do appreciate each piece of each project and what they’re teaching my children. I just wish all these projects wouldn’t get jammed in at the same time, at the end of the school year. We’re all exhausted, drained, counting the days until summer, trying to battle through two or more multiple-media projects per kid. Add to this all the end-of-year activities….two more parents’ days at lunch, three awards ceremonies, one graduation, the 7th grade Renaissance day (for which I’m supposed to volunteer or donate, as well as put together the Princess’ costume), the 8th grade dinner dance (for which I discovered yesterday Big Man will need new dress pants as he’s outgrown the pants we just bought in December)…..this all on top of our usual schedule of golf lessons, dance classes, and football practices.

We also have our annual fundraiser at the end of May. The next four weeks will be insane and stressful. I know the night itself will be amazing and so fun, but getting there involves a crazy amount of work and thought.  We also have a long list of projects around the house to finish before the event. I stare at that list every day, trying to figure out how it’s all going to happen. As this is our tenth annual event, I have such high hopes, and don’t want to be disappointed. I’m trying to just let it be what it will be, but it’s hard. We have a goal in mind for our fundraising efforts, a goal we’ve had for the last five years but have never reached. I try to remind myself to keep it in perspective, that every dime counts, but it’s hard when something means so much to you, is such a huge part of your heart.

Two days before the fundraiser, I’ll run our spring book fair at school. Leading up that are meetings, volunteer coordination, set-up, and promotion. I love book fair. That’s why I volunteered to chair this year. But at the moment, it just feels like a pesky mosquito buzzing around my head.

My to-do list hangs over my head as I sit here. Yes, I’ve been working on it all week, but somehow it keeps growing larger rather than smaller. I’ve had two anxiety attacks in the last 36 hours. As I was herding the herd through the morning routine this morning, I realized I needed to take a moment for me. I needed a breath. I thought about all the things I need to get done today – dishes, laundry, calling this or that person, scheduling a few appointments, filling out dental paperwork for the Princess, dropping off an unexpired inhaler at school for Little Man, buying gift cards for staff appreciation and dropping those at school…I tried to find a way to get that all done and still have a moment to sit here and read a few blogs, write a post, before the Herd gets out of school. It didn’t seem to be possible. As I pulled into the driveway from dropping Little Man at school, I decided not to wait to be done with the must-do’s to do what I need to do. So I walked in the house, re-filled my coffee cup, and sat down here to spend a few moments with my blogging friends. I’m feeling a million times better already. Thanks for listening, friends. You’ve improved my day immeasurably.

Random Friday stuff

We’re getting ready to host a lobster boil at the house tomorrow night. It was Spouse’s idea, his gig, but I still have stuff to get done. Thus I was found at BevMo as soon as they opened, and then I braved Costco on a Friday, all for love of him. Bonus though – our  Costco finally has again my favorite hummus, the jalapeno cilantro flavor. I bought two. I thought about getting three just in case they change their minds again.

I started out on my walk this morning, and decided to try to see if I could run. Two-point-five miles later…..pretty sure I had that huge grin on my face again, the one non-runners totally don’t get. I was sure to stretch really well afterwards, and use the foam roller both before and after. Whatever it takes for me to be able to run again. It just put me in a good mood to run.

Getting back to the lobster boil though. Spouse ordered live Maine lobsters. They arrived this morning, in two big, heavy boxes. I saw them just as I was leaving on my errands. Dang it anyways. Those suckers were heavy, but I managed to get the boxes into the garage, then sent a text to Spouse to let him know they’d arrived. He asked if they were supposed to go in the fridge. Um, isn’t this your gig? Didn’t the website tell you what to do when they got here? When I returned from my BevMo/Costco run, I went to put stuff in the garage freezer, and heard some scratching claws coming from inside the box. Doh!! I couldn’t get the boxes into the fridge. Frantic text to Spouse, who arrived home fifteen minutes later to manage the situation. I’m not going in the garage, much less the garage fridge, until after tomorrow. I like lobster, but I prefer it already cooked. I won’t be part of putting them in the pot tomorrow, at all.

The kids are out on Spring Break, as of this afternoon. They have two weeks off. Yes, that’s TWO WEEKS!!! Little Man is a little bit stressed. He does like his routine. We will be traveling to DC for six days. Last time he flew, we didn’t plan well with food, and there was some pretty intense turbulence. He ended up throwing up on the plane. He was a true pro though, neatly getting it all in the little bag. But he’s worried it will  happen again. We’re getting him some Dramamine. He’s all about that if it will keep him from puking again. Of that, he was not a fan. Add to this stress all the stuff with the co-pilot intentionally crashing the Germanwings plane this week, and he’s a little anxious. We’re not watching the news for the next few days. Hopefully that will help settle his fears some.

When the kids go back to school, they will have nine weeks left until Summer. Big Man will graduate from eighth grade, and Little Man will finish elementary school. I’m stocking up on kleenex already.

I should be cleaning my house right now, but blogs are more fun. l

I’m taking the Princess to see one of her BFFs in Shrek the Musical tonight. This will be fun.

The dang cat has brought eight (EIGHT!!!!!) lizards into the house in the last five days. I have been able to rescue all of them before they suffered the death blow. It was close on a couple of them. We may have some repeat offenders, I’m thinking. Maybe I should let the cat have his way with them. Survival of the fittest. If I’ve rescued you more than once, your time might just be up. No, I don’t touch them. GROSS! The broom and dust pan work perfectly for lizard capture and release, as long as they don’t jump while I’m taking them outside.

I’m currently reading Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford. I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet a few years back and loved it. I’d been looking for another book by Ford. This is definitely following in Hotel’s footsteps. Eye-opening, melancholy, beautiful.  What are you reading? I have five books on my Kindle for the DC trip. Do you think that will be enough? Do you prefer hard books, or e-books? I go back and forth between the two. Sometimes I find myself tapping the page of a hard book in an attempt to turn the page, especially after I’ve been reading on the kindle for awhile.

I have the best friends.

U of A won last night in the Sweet Sixteen, but it was a bit close for comfort. Elite Eight tomorrow against Wisconsin. Please win, Wildcats. My husband’s mood depends upon it, and we have a party to host tomorrow night!

Seriously, I need to clean. Wait, I think I hear lobsters……

Why

When I started blogging nine years ago, most of my posts revolved around Big Man’s journey with prematurity – my fears, my memories, my concerns, his issues. The thought never crossed my mind to sugar-coat anything we’d been through. If I did, that would somehow take away from every milestone he achieved, every bit of normal he earned. There was no need to not be fully honest. The community I blogged on would have called my bluff in a heartbeat, because they had all walked the same path. I needed to be truthful particularly for those parents at the beginning of that journey. It would have been disrespectful to them to be otherwise.

I don’t sugar-coat in my writing now. We have three children – a preemie who is in the early teenage years, a princess who will soon be a teenager herself, and my work-in-progress who is autistic. Our life is often messy, full of chaos and drama. We have so-so days, we have amazing days, we have downright horrid days, and everywhere in between. I have parenting fails more often than not, but I also have some wins in there too. What you read here – well, the words are honest and truthful. To write anything else, to sensationalize or downplay at all would be disrespectful to my children, to our family.

You won’t hear me say I think autism is the best thing that’s ever happened since sliced bread. It’s not. It sucks. It’s brutal and heartbreaking to watch my son try to navigate a world so not suited to the way he thinks, processes, feels. I have learned and grown as a person simply through parenting him, but that’s me finding whatever silver lining I can given the hand we’ve been dealt. Do I appreciate the parts of him that are pretty freaking amazing, which he would not have were he not autistic? Definitely. But as I’ve written before, I would give those up to not have to see him fight daily through his life. Again, me having to see some kind of silver lining.

I have some amazing people in my life I would not know were it not for Big Man’s premature birth. I have been given some amazing opportunities as a result of our volunteer efforts with the March of Dimes. Even so, if I could take it all away, make it not so, I probably would. Those scars are deep. The memories tortuous. Even now, almost fourteen years later, I will wake in a fright in the middle of the night, having dreamt of those NICU days, hearing alarms going off in my head.

I guess what it comes down to is feeling a responsibility to be quite plain and honest in my writing. It has enabled me to connect with other ASD parents. It’s brought understanding to people who don’t know what it means to have an autistic child. I hope in some ways it’s helped other moms out there. To tell our story as less or more than it is just isn’t my style. What you see is what you get….ugly, beautiful, heartbreaking, joyful, messy, or otherwise.