20 September, 2010

I Feel Hopeful

When I was younger, it never occurred to me that my life would be anything but better the next day. As much as I was a pragmatic young adult, choosing to work instead of take that Europe trip, taking the solid job in front of me rather than risk for anything else, somehow I was still the optimist. I always thought that if a bad thing happened, I was supposed to learn from it and move on, and never experience that kind of pain or disappointment again, because I had already learned that lesson. I didn't think you had to live through bad things more than once.

I did not fully prepare for things like financial stress, career disappointment (mine or my spouse's), or losing best friends. My heart could not fathom the disability, or dead babies we have met along the way, which perhaps is better because I think some things are just too big and too sad to prepare for. It's better to be hopeful, and encounter pain, than to wait and anticipate hurt. My heart is a little bit achy today, and not because of any particular tragedy in my own life, but in the lives around me. So instead of mourning their losses, or taking on their worries, I was thinking this morning about smells, and sights and sounds that make me feel hopeful, like the world is still filled with promise and good fortune and possibility. 
  • stacks of lumber
  • cooking stores with rows of pots and pans and little tiny dishes for specific things
  • ribbon
  • dawn
  • finishing a book
  • new lipstick
  • the first rain on oil soaked streets, and the bright green of leaves that have just been washed for the first time all summer
  • getting off a plane and having the weather be completely different from the weather I left.
  • pens that work without shaking them or holding them at the correct angle
  • when my husband sends me a recipe he thinks we should try
  • IEPs that go well
  • singing in the shower
  • realizing that I am singing in the shower
  • watching my daughter sing, and make up her own songs
  • the smell of onions cooking on the stove in olive oil
  • shoe polish
  • painters tape
I need to take Lucy to school, but I think I may add to this list later

18 September, 2010

A Metaphor I'd Rather Live Without

*written Thursday night*

There is a mouse in my house.

a mouse.

in my house.

and you know what? I am SO GLAD THERE'S a MOUSE IN MY HOUSE,

because at least it's not a rat.

okay first of all, before you think I am a loon, there's really only one little mouse and it is very tiny of the field variety.

Here's the thing. I've heard that bugger trying to get into my kitchen for the last week.  We have an older house and an empty field, and apparently when they built this house they didn't really make it mouse-proof on the east side. Actually, we had a problem once before several years ago, and I sealed up all the holes, took fine mesh and stapled it across all mousie highways, but this one skinny little thing managed to get into the space under the kitchen cabinets and could not find its way out.

So I knew that that sound, whatever was behind that little wall, that creature couldn't get in to my house because it is sealed to make it into the kitchen. Over the course of the last week, each night, that sound got louder, and in my mind, the mouse grew bigger. It grew to be rat sized, it became a giant rat, then a terrifying oversized rat, and finally tonight, I was quite certain some miniature chupacabra was behind the cupboard, stalking my family, walking on the edge of the foundation, scratching the wall. The sound has haunted my sleep, made it hard to work, and occupied my mind nearly all day with me trying to figure out just what to do next to get rid of the giant beast behind the cupboard.

Well, that giant beast eeked its way somehow through the tiniest of openings, and just made a run for it down our hall and into the closet. There's a mouse in my house. a tiny little mouse.

Ha HA! It's just a little tiny mouse! Nothing to fear at all. Manageable! Quickly taken care of!
I set out two glue traps (go ahead, call PETA), and I have a broom next to me as I work, and tomorrow the mouse will be gone, and I will patch up any little holes in our defense system, and it will be taken care of.

and so.

and so that's it. There's no rat in the cupboards. There's no infestation or disaster, and it wasn't chupacabra, or a giant rat, it's a field mouse.

That's what I do to myself all the time...about everything. I build up a small, easily accomplished task, until it becomes so big that it occupies most of my active brain power, and I become immobilized  by the weight of what I need to do.

Then things pile up, physically, emotionally. The stack of mail, the unfinished writing, the clothes that the kids have outgrown, looming. And of course, there are all those things "on my list" I should do for my children, and for my husband, and maybe even for myself. They are little things mostly, which are reasonable, feasible, and within my range of abilities, like paying the car registration, and emptying Lucy's suitcase from her last little overnight, and taking the pile of shirts in my trunk to the dry cleaner.

If I could just tackle one, or three, things at a time I can take care of all those mice. And if there are too many, I should be able to ask for someone to help me without feeling like a complete loser. More importantly, I need to remember that a mouse can never turn into a rat (though there may indeed be a few rats that just start out that way.) I can manage nearly everything I encounter in our little life here, if I just address the situation, right when I should, in the moment.

answer that email | return the call | write the check | rsvp | clean it up | throw it out | donate it | repair it | tie it off | paint it| return it | bag it up | wipe it down | write it down | look it up | compare it | be grateful | reach out | stand up | lead | nail it to the wall | follow graciously | speak up | wrap it up | listen | put it away | ask | plan it | mend it | try it | polish it | fold it | put it away | make room for it | research it | read it | scrub it | make it fit | give it up | fluff it up | keep it up |

then rest

14 September, 2010


the kids four years ago August 2006
The Goodnight show is teaching the word "sibling" this evening.

myGirl: Oh! I can call my brother my sibling!

Daddy: Yep. You're very smart sweetheart.

'Nina' on television: Do you go to school with one of your siblings? That can be fun!

myGirl (to the television people): Nope. I do not go to the same school as my sibling.

myGirl (excitedly, to her dad): Hey, when I grow up and I have autism like Jake, we can go to the SAME SCHOOL!"

Daddy: Oh sweetheart, you aren't going to have autism when you're older.

myGirl (slightly deflated, then with building enthusiasm): Oh...well, that's okay. When I grow up, my girl will have autism, and SHE can go to the same school as Jake!"

Daddy: You mean your daughter?

myGirl: Yes, my daughter will have autism, and SHE can go to that school!

03 September, 2010


  • In 'n Out Burger opened up in our town (mixed blessing!)
  • I was able to change out the DVR with no problems... a tele that cannot be paused is just not a part of my daughter's understanding of the world.
  • my children are so happy at school.
  • every phone call I've had in the last 24 hours has been from someone I am happy to hear from.
  • we are going camping this weekend.
  • the plane that crashed 300 yards from my husband in the lagoon near his office, crashed 300 yards away from him, not any closer.
  • my son really wants to play on the iPod touch. I think we may have a winner here.
  • both of my children are asleep, and so is my husband.. I've checked on each of them.
  • the campground my hubbins chose for this weekend is a 10/10 in the California camping book.
  • I have really interesting, smart friends. I can spend hours at a time talking with most any one of them, and still want more time sharing stories. 
  • After 4000 miles on the road, my husband and I can't wait to get in the car again with our kids and drive across the state for some quality outdoor time.
I have a great life, really I do. And, as I sit here with Mama Mia in the background.. I am also very grateful that my precious husband can sing so much better than Pierce Brosnan.  In fact, whenever Cris Daughtry comes on the radio, Lucy asks me to turn it up so she can hear "daddy."

02 September, 2010

It will be fall.. NOW

Jake is downstairs whooping and hollering, happily. Lucy is asleep in the guest room, having convinced herself that she sleeps better there. Descartes and I have taken up our places on our respective couches, laptops in laps, remote controls within reach. The beer is cold, the night is warm and we are safely snuggled back into our fall routines.

Even though the temperature hit nearly 100F in my backyard this afternoon it could not dissuade me from making home made sugar cookies and some royal icing so Lucy and her girlfriends could cut out shapes and decorate them as part of their afternoon play date. I put a ham in the oven. I contemplated the split pea soup I would make.

Jake's birthday is a month away, which means his IEP is in a couple of weeks. Which means sign ups for the amazing respite weekend camp he goes to must be soon. Then there will be Oktoberfest and Halloween, and Thanksgiving and Christmas, and while I will miss the music in the parks, a summer staple in our town, I am looking forward to back-to-school nights, and a new year of the Special Ed PTA, and the calm that will come after the weather cools and the rain comes.

I think I like fall the best. Perhaps it's because I still anticipate a new school year as if it were my own accomplishments that will transpire, and I have always been great at starting school years. It's a sort of rebirth, tabula rasa, the blank notebooks, the sharp pencils, and all those new school clothes. [here's where I would insert a picture of me wearing an Esprit color-block sweater made of scratchy wool with green corduroy pants...a photo from 7th grade when I used nearly all of my back-to-school clothing budget on one outfit because I loved it so very much. My father, a psychologist, let me experience this fully...coming home with only one beautiful esprit bag and a few basics, like socks, underwear and white tennis shoes. Later he felt badly for me and bought me a 3/4 length butter-yellow down coat to add to my wardrobe. It should be noted here that I grew up in Orange County, where the average temperature in the winter months is never lower than about 65. I was able to wear the sweater/cords outfit one time in sunny Orange County, but did wear the set in Germany in October. It never stopped itching me.]

The kids are happy in their classes. Jake's class is mostly the same, with a few minor staff changes. He fell in love with a new aide to the class, and when I met her the other day I could guess why, with her pleasant demeanor and beautiful smile. Every time I step on the campus at WunderSkool I get a little teary-eyed. The people there are so friendly and they genuinely seem to like their jobs, and their jobs are our kids. Every day I feel like Jake is cared for and learning.We are doing some new things with "talkers", and we tried out an iPad last week. He was very interested. Tonight he broke into his sister's room to sneak the iPod Touch from her, or at least see what she was playing. He seems to be more interactive in so many ways lately. He is less frustrated, maybe because he knows we're listening and we believe in him.

Lucy was so excited about going in to Room Two that she could barely contain herself on Monday. They call it pre-k, and while there's no algebra yet she does have homework sheets. We're learning together how and when we sit down for school work. When I started to get frustrated with her "I know Mom. I KNOW." attitude I took a deep breath, and remembered to be grateful for all of her words even if she was sassy. We'll get there, but she is hard on herself, and I had to talk to her about the difference between finishing first and being (or doing)  the best. First is always better in her book, and I can tell she rushes through everything. In the three days she's been there, she has already stopped scribbling everything in, and is paying attention to whether she's supposed to write a lower-case or an upper-case letter.

I am getting back into my groove too. I walked the Stanfurd dish walk the other day, which is probably no big whoop for most of y'all, but spending 1:50 minutes in a row without my children, focused on me and my health? That hasn't happened in a very long time. We also had a very productive meeting for The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. I'm so excited that this project is going so well. We have really collected a great bunch of information from parents and professionals and adults with autism.

post script: it is now 1:18 am. Lucy is next to me on the couch, unable to sleep. We are watching "Gulah Gullah Island". Not my favorite, but I figured she shouldn't be watching "Blindness."
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