Holy wow – After that ridiculously long countdown to real summer, we have just two weeks before the Herd heads back to school. (insert bad words here) Where in the ever lovin where did summer go?

We’ve had an incredibly busy, super fun summer, but it has flown by. We’ve rolled from one thing right into the next, or at least I have. School finally ended for Little Man. The following Monday, he started tech camp. Big Man and the Princess were never really “off” as – I may have mentioned this before – high school sports continue to practice through summer. The last day of tech camp, we went to the showcase presentation, and then hit the road for Palm Springs. We spent four glorious days poolside, hanging out with our friends and neighbors who joined us, eating, drinking, sunbathing, reading, playing games, and golfing.  It was HOT, but we don’t care when we’re there. We’re in or right next to the pool all day long.

I was home for 1.5 days, then left for my summer scrapbooking retreat in  Big Bear. In four days there, I managed to finish my 2015 book, as well as our Spring Break Utah trip book. (pats self on back) It was much-needed momma time with friends. We walked by the lake each morning, talked, ate, laughed, and scrapbooked. The only bummer was our usual massage therapist wasn’t able to be there due to injury. I’d so been looking forward to that 90-minute massage. Sigh….other than that, it was a beautiful weekend.

After Big Bear, I spent three days running around like a crazed person, getting the house ready for a cousin invasion. Nine of them began arriving on Wednesday. They trickled in until Saturday, when we had everyone here. Did I mention that was also recital weekend? Yeah, that. We had five fun-filled, busy days. Oh, I won’t lie – we did take plenty of time to sit in or next to our pool, but we were definitely on the go for much of the time.

The day after cousins left, my bestie and her four teens arrived for a week-long visit. We didn’t really stop from the minute they arrived, but oh my… much fun! We forget how awesome our city is until people are here and we’re taking them all over. We hit Mission Beach, they kayaked La Jolla Cove, we went to the movies, spent a day in Coronado (on the beach and at the beach bar at the Hotel Del where there was a Norman Reedus (aka Daryl from Walking Dead) sighting (it was ComiCon weekend in San Diego and a bunch of stars were staying at the Hotel), watched the ponies race in Del Mar, golfed our club (K and I rode along while our spouses golfed), went wine tasting in Ramona (you get premium service when your FIL is the President of the Ramona Valley Vintner Association), and took in a Padres game. Yes, all of that. The day they left, I had a work event. I got home that evening and absolutely crashed.

This is the longest break we’ve had all summer……and I leave tomorrow for five days in Chicago. More fun…..a day a Lollapalooza, some beach time if the weather permits, and a Cubs game, not to mention more time (sans children this visit) with the bestie! Then I’ll be home for two days before we leave for a long weekend at my parents’ in Phoenix. We’re home from that trip for two days and the kids go back to school.

Are you tired? Cuz I’m tired. We’ve blasted through this summer, rollin from one fun thing to the next. I think I need a summer to recover from this summer. We’ve had pool time, bbq’s, baseball games, beach days, and movies. We’ve spent time with family and friends. We’ve soaked it all in, taking full advantage of every minute. I can’t believe it’s ending in two weeks, and we’ll be in for another long haul of a school year. I’ll put the pool towels and basket of sunscreen away, tuck the beach chairs onto their hooks in the garage, stow the cornhole game in its case, and say goodbye to summer 2017.

In a heap on the side of a mountain

Oh lordy, but you knew this was coming, right? The Herd couldn’t go on a ski trip, even for one day, without having something to report, right? Sigh….heavy sigh….

We all woke up well before we needed. I’m pretty sure Spouse rolled out of bed about 3:30am, which means I was awake not long afterwards what with all the lights going on and off in the hallway, the bathroom, and his closet. Lord be. In defiance, I lay there another hour. As departure time was getting closer, I finally hauled my carcass out of bed to the shower. We hit the road a mere 15 minutes behind schedule, which is saying a lot for having to get five people out the door an hour before the sun even thinks about coming up. We made it to the resort, parked, and were second in line to pick up our lift tickets within two hours. We were on the hill 15 minutes after the lifts started. But let me rewind a little bit….

Little Man HATES lines. He detests them. Most of his freak outs happen when he has to stand in line for more than 30 seconds. We had prepped him that lines would be involved. But I was mentally pulling up the boot straps as we walked into the equipment rental building. Last time we did this, it took nearly an hour to get the waiver signed, and pick up boots, skis, and poles, and get a locker. We whizzed through in 15 minutes. Can I get an Amen???!!! We met back up with Big Man and the Princess (they’re snow boarders and their equipment was downstairs from the ski equipment), traded shoes for boots, shoved all the excess into our locker, and headed towards the bunny hill lift.

At the bottom of the bunny hill, we stopped to strap on equipment. That is such a process! Little Man started to get frustrated. He could get one ski on, but then struggled with the other. I could hear him start to growl. Spouse came over to help. Then we wisely decided to get closer to the end of the line – which was about 20 yards away – before actually putting both skis on. Up we go, towards the end of the lift line. And then it really began….Ten minutes of struggling, Little Man dropping to the ground a few times, some yelling, much gritting of teeth, him facing backwards, sideways, and nearly upside-down…..We finally got him on the skis, and in line. Whew, right? Yeah, not so much.

It was our turn to slide down the small ramp to get onto the chair lift. Halfway down, I don’t even know what happened, but his skis crossed, one ski came off, one leg went sideways, and he dropped to the ground, tears flowing. And yes, they had to stop the lift. Spouse was trying to pull him up. There wasn’t really anything I could do but grab his poles. The attendant came over to help. Skis back on, poles in hand, all three of us standing, the chair came behind us, and we sat down for the ride up the mountain. We all breathed…..until we got to the top, and the entire episode repeated. I kid  you not. His skis crossed, one popped off, one leg went wonky sideways, poles shot out, and he hit the ground, crying. They had to stop the ski lift again.

We somehow got him over to the benches the boarders use to hook in. He was crying, and he was yelling. I was trying to calm him. Spouse was trying to help him and stay patient at the same time. We started down the hill, and the same damn thing happened all over again. Skis went sideways, one fell off,  his other leg went out, poles flew, and he was in a heap, on the side of the mountain, tears flowing, angry words flying. He was completely frustrated, sad, angry, upset. Full meltdown mode.

Spouse sent me on ahead. I’ve mentioned skiing isn’t really my gig, right? It took me fifteen minutes to get down the bunny slope. I looked back up from the bottom, but Spouse and Little Man were nowhere in sight. I waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing. I finally found Big Man and Princess. They said Spouse and Little Man were still up there, with Little Man losing it completely. After about an hour, I finally went back up, and found them when I was almost back to the bottom. It had taken Spouse 90 minutes to get Little Man down that hill 1 1/2 times. It. Was. Brutal. I was saying all the bad words to autism right then and there. There were all those looks from people around us. I’m sure they were wondering why we would bring our kid skiing if this were going to happen.  Trust me, I was pretty much wondering the same thing.

At the bottom of the hill, he was  exhausted and hungry. We decided to eat, and then re-evaluate. Food usually helps, but even after inhaling a big hamburger and chips, he said he was done. He’d made it as long as I’d kind of expected, although I’d also expected a half day would involve more than 1.5 runs down the bunny hill.

Spouse took Big Man and the Princess back out for some runs down the Intermediate slopes.  Little Man and I changed back to our regular shoes, turned in our equipment, stopped by the car to grab some technology, and hit the lodge. He had a soda. I had a beer.

Some might think the day was  a total fail. It was miserable at points, embarrassing at others, beyond frustrating much of time, particularly for Spouse. But you know what, he did it. It didn’t look like other eleven-year-olds would skiing, but he did it. It was hard. But he did it. I posted on my personal FB to a friend this: “The good news is, he did it. Twice. It was ugly. There were a few bad words said, and LOTS of those looks. But he did it, and it pushes his window a bit wider, even if he never does it again.” And ain’t that the truth? Every time he does something that’s hard and uncomfortable and challenging, we may end up with tears and lots of yelling, but it pushes him outside of his comfortable box. He learns. It builds his confidence in his own ability to do things he’s not sure he’s capable of.

We did decide the next time we go, he will take a lesson. He’s had lessons twice before, but we just feel it will start things off better if he goes at it slowly rather than, “Here’s your skis, here are your poles, slap them on, and let’s go” the way we did it Saturday. I’m sure they have instructors up there who know how to deal with autistic kids. It’s too prevalent anymore to not have an experienced instructor.

He did it. We all survived. We survived Herd-style, but we survived. the Herd ready to hit the slopes