Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 40 Playlist

I got out by myself today to run some errands so you know what that means? That’s right baby, loud music and singing along without inhibition! So what if people see me as they drive by! As long as they can’t hear me, I’m fine with that. I was having a good time so I thought I would make up a list of songs that provide the soundtrack to my own private karaoke. 
Hold On, I’m Comin’--  Sam & Dave  -- One of my favorite R&B hits from the late 60’s! Just give it all you’ve got while you’re singing along. Believe me, it’ll feel good!
I’ve Just Seen A Face -- Performed by Jim Sturgess, original by The Beatles -- I prefer the version from the movie Across the Universe. I just do... 
Hotel Yorba -- The White Stripes -- “Well it’s 1, 2, 3, 4 “ times the fun to sing it! 
To the Dogs or Whoever -- Josh Ritter -- It’s a fun song with fast interesting lyrics, a great drum beat, and then the chorus opens up and it sounds like everyone is singing along with you. (By the way, Josh Ritter does a cover of "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads.

Once in a Lifetime -- Talking Heads -- "Because you might find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile..." I often do.
Portland Oregon -- Loretta Lynn & Jack White -- Great guitar and I happen to love slow gin! Then the lyrics beg to be sung... uh huh! 
I’ll Fly Away -- Performed by Alison Kraus & Gillian Welch -- Okay, it’s a hymnal and all, but it just makes me happy!! What a great melody to sing any time of day, even “in the morning”!
Goodbye Earl -- Dixie Chicks -- Funny.
Plowed -- Sponge -- High school nostalgia and instant reminder of the teen movie of the mid 90’s, Empire Records. 
Wake Up -- Arcade Fire --There’s something inspiring about this song with it’s powerful opening and the lyrics with it’s “hold your mistakes up” and all. 

From Out of Nowhere -- Faith No More -- This song makes me bob my head. That sounds ridiculous, I know, but I guess I don’t head bang... I head bob. 

I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked -- Ida Maria -- I think this was a freebie song, but it’s awesome to let loose to!
Who Let You Go -- The Killers -- This band has a diverse song list, but I love to hear him so “Ohhh” in this song.
Under Pressure -- Queen and David Bowie -- I love love love it. I also think of John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank., one of my favorite movies! 
Song 2 -- Blur -- Makes you want to sing with a british accent.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered -- Stevie Wonder --A classic Wonder!

It’s Friday, I’m in Love -- Performed by Dryden Mitchell, original by The Cure -- It’s a great song, no matter who sings it, but this version makes think of my go-to feel good movie, 50 First Dates. 
Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf -- The Killers -- Yep, I do like The Killers. Turn this one up! His lone voice at the end sounds even more amazing when it's cranked up... it’s almost a shame to sing over it... almost.
Gunpowder and Lead -- Miranda Lambert -- Just makes me want to put on my big boots and start kickin’ ass and takin’ names.
Hit the Road Jack -- Ray Charles --  First of all, it’s Ray Charles... enough said! But I also love that way female vocalist says “I don’t care if you do...” 
Walking on Sunshine -- Katrina and the Waves -- Well, my list wouldn’t be complete without it. See A Song That Makes Me Smile.
This is just a partial list... I could go on for days! But this is what makes me smile when I riding all by lonesome. It isn’t that I don’t sing in the car when I have company (much to the occupants’ dismay), but I really go for it when I’m off on my own. I highly recommend it!

You know, it's always me me me... How about you now? What songs would you put on your list?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 39 Her Frown Turned Upside Down

We had a good ol’ family day out today! I’m a bit ashamed to say that I have lived within an hour’s drive to the Bronx Zoo for over five years and yet today was my first visit there. A travesty I say! As we neared Exit 6 on the Bronx River Parkway, I could see the zoo through the trees and I was actually giddy with excitement! As the day went on, I wasn't disappointed! I had a blast and walked my legs off! The kids seemed to enjoy themselves as well... at least my daughter eventually enjoyed herself. 

My daughter, for all of her six years, has never enjoyed walking around. She has no patience for it and really becomes miserable any time she can't get out of doing it by conning someone to carry her on their shoulders (Yep, she managed to con my husband into doing it today as well). I had my camera with me today, as usual, and wanted to take photos of basically everything, which included my children. She wanted no part of that for some reason. I usually have no trouble getting her to play up to the camera, but lately she's shown me clearly that she wants nothing to do with my camera about as much as she wants nothing to do with long walks. I had yet to get a decent photo of her and after about the upteenth time of asking her to please let me get a nice photo of her, she declined again. I finally, just said "I really just don't even want to take your photo now. Just never mind!""Oh, fine!" she says to me to which I replied "Nope, I don't want a picture of my daughter behaving like a brat anyway." I know, not the most mature thing to say, but I'm not perfect. Her father told her that it's a lot easier to smile for the camera than to be difficult about it and if she couldn't be bothered to simply smile for the camera, then maybe we can't be bothered to wait in line for the carousel. Well, that seemed to do the trick! She not only smiled, she stood behind one of those ridiculous stand-ups with the faces cut out! I was thrilled to get a picture of her not looking away, but I knew it was going to be short lived. As soon as we get her on that carousel, she'll go back to being a sour puss. 

But she didn't! She kept on smiling, even after the carousel! She smiled while putting together her lego tile for a mural, while going through the congo exhibit, while checking out the zebras. She smiled the most while searching for animals during the monorail ride... actually, that makes sense! She didn't have to walk! 

Well, I was proud of her for turning around her attitude and as much as I enjoyed the zoo (and I certainly did), we were all able to love it all the more because of the light that glows from that girl when she smiles. I love that twinkle in her eye! Even when I said that there was a Children's Zoo and I wonder how many children they have in the exhibit, she grinned! When her father wondered if they take donations, she twisted up that twinkly smile into an intensely thoughtful face. When I replied "Ooh, maybe we can donate you! Wouldn't it be cool to live in a zoo?!" Her mouth upturned slightly on one side, the twinkly charm came on strong and she says "noooo." Well, she got the joke at least. We all left the zoo smiling today, whether there was a camera or not!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 38 Roller Coaster Ride

Oh, I’m so incredibly thankful that my husband had the day off today! I needed a partner today. Well, wanted a partner is more like it and it was great having him around. 

We didn’t have any plans really, but I was able to steal an hour or so to have lunch with a friend that left me with a full, happy belly and a more pleasant mind frame, therefore a happy mama. If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. I'm not sure where that quote originated, but it sure rings true around here! 

Afterwards, the family decided to head out for the day and see what we could find at the store. That short trip led us to another longer trip to a mall we’ve never visited in a town we’d never been through. The little backseat hooligans were at it again. Bicker, taunt, get along briefly, bicker, taunt, get along briefly, and so on for the couple of hours of driving around. And to be honest with you, I’m not sure what was more annoying... constantly dealing with the bickering or me repeating the same things over and over. Talk nicely please. Be patient please. Talk nicely! Be patient! Talk NICELY! Be PATIENT! TALK NICELY!! BE PATIENT!! Seriously, I’ve had ENOUGH! Just stop talking to each other! It was a quieter ride home at least. Even with the car ride having its ups and downs, we had a great time. It was fun checking out a new place and seeing cute little villages we’d never explored before. But speaking of ups and downs, my big smile came later...

My son received a Kynex roller coaster kit for his birthday back in January. He started putting it together around February, but didn’t get far. Hey, he’s a LEGO kid usually, and this is a huge kit with some tough pieces to put together. Wednesday, he had it out again, spread out over my living room floor. He decided to start over and worked on it for about four hours straight. He continued to work on it Thursday during a little spare time here and there and then spent a couple of hours finishing it up tonight. Whenever he encountered a dilemma, he figured it out. When pieces weren’t quite laying right, he did some tweaking. He was so proud of himself and I was thrilled to see him accomplish a task that I think intimidated him. I was also surprised that he kept with the design given to him. He has no problem following the instructions to put projects together, but he just prefers coming up with his own inventions. I was happy to see him stick to the directions (ah, a male that reads directions... makes you wonder at what age do that grow of that?). I have a feeling he’ll be creating something else with these parts before you know it, so of course I took pictures before coaster was dismantled into some sort of battery powered robo vehicle.
For now, I’ll enjoy all my little roller coasters. Whether they’re trips filled with highs and lows or smaller scaled mechanicals taking over my living quarters, I’m appreciative of them all. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 37 On Track

My kids had their track meet to end the summer session tonight and this day has become a big deal at my house. They worked hard to get to this point, meeting twice a week through the month of July totaling about 12 hours of running around the track and playing games. The astounding part to me was how much they smiled through it all. I would expect to see the kids smiling through the games. They’re fun. And I guess that I really shouldn’t have been amazed by the smiles during the laps, not with the coaches and group of young assistants that guided them along. As kids padded by on the track, you would hear the staff running right there with them, encouraging them every step of the way, asking if they could join the kids, telling them how amazing they are doing and never a negative comment was spoken.  
When you’re the mom of a child that struggles with his self-esteem, you try with all your heart to just not cry when see someone go above and beyond to make him feel good about himself. Honestly, I was usually successful, but there were times when I was thankful to have my sunshades to hide behind. I really was taken aback by the sincerity of every single individual that gave their time to be at the track for these kids. I watched as a young lady ran with my son and talked with him for six straight laps. I saw my son light up when he was included as a helper. Too often I have seen him walk away from situations because he felt as though he didn’t fit in, but he always walked away from the track feeling like he belonged. To hear multiple staffers say “Way to go, Alex!” when he received his medal brought a smile to his face and filled me up with pure happiness. He felt successful. What more could a mom want out of life?

Now, speaking of astounding, I have to give my daughter a big you go girl for not only running, but for getting past a fall as well. This little girl, who’s been having anxiety over blood and freaking out every time she got the slightest scrape or paper cut, fell on the track, landing on her knee and scraping her elbow. She didn’t get off the track! She didn’t come crying for a band-aid and better than that, she didn’t come close to passing out! This is the girl that had to be taken off the school bus early once because she thought she was going to throw up when a classmate picked a scab. I honestly thought she was going to faint! When she finished her laps, she calmly showed me her scrape and stated that it hurt. Whoa! She not once complained to me while she was running. I had no idea that she had even fallen until the meet was over. I was proud of her already when she crossed the finish line after running over two miles, but when I saw that she did it without letting a scrape knock her out of the run, I was thrilled! How could this be the same girl that screamed bloody murder over a tiny paper cut?! I asked her about the fall and she said she just got up and kept on going. She said a few people asked if she was ok and if she needed help, but she told them she was ok. Oh, I was so proud of her!
You know, we go round and round this life, and hit many hurtles. If we had more people encouraging us like the coaches and assistants at the track, we would succeed far more than we could ever imagine. So often, on past track days, I ran with my kids. This year, I watched from the side lines to let them do this for themselves because I knew what good hands they were in. I am thankful for all that my children accomplished this month, for all the encouragement they received throughout it all, and simply for being their mom. After an event like today’s, I can’t help but feel that not only were my kids on the right track, but so was I... and so was my conquest. The smiles were endless... for all of us!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 36 A Friendly Smile

I had quite a few smiles today. Spending time with my daughter shopping was actually a treat today (she didn’t complain or beg to go home). She honestly said that she wanted to spend to time with me all the time and in my eyes, that’s enough of a smile to last for days! Then, my son made way for a new smile. He redecorated under his loft to make room for the old school house desk we had and then assisted with the assembly of their new computer desk. I can’t help but smile when that boy starts wielding a screwdriver. But what I loved more was him saying thank you to me for the desk. Seeing my husband walking to the track to relieve me of my parental duties in order for me to get to my first night of Reiki Master class was a definite boost to the morale as well. Reiki class, with its meditation and reflection, certainly left me feeling ready to enjoy my evening. But what I needed was simple...
A friend and a conversation... and maybe a glass of wine. The comfortably cool evening, the sound of the lake lapping against the dock, and laughing with a friend while sipping on a glass of wine make for a great big happy smile. It was a beautiful scene. Then, a weird all white skunk walked by and straight up the walk way which just so happened to be the way I had to walk to my car. I was in even less of hurry to rush home after that... And did you notice that I said it was all white. That left me with more time to enjoy some smiles before I cautiously made my way back to the car to return home. No need to follow that critter too closely. Oh, and you better believe that I jiggled the keys and vocally forewarned any smelly stripe-less skunks of my presence when I did head on home. I’m pretty sure sneaking up on an unsuspecting skunk is a pretty fast way to demolish a smile and I want to hold on to mine for as along as possible.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 35 Food Fight

Before you get excited, no, we didn’t have an all out food is flying type of food fight. My son and my husband just didn’t seem to agree on dinner and on how much of it should be eaten. 
Preface-- My son has a horrible diet. It takes everything in our power to get him to eat anything that didn’t cluck prior to being turned into nutrition. As for fruit, he sometimes likes bananas, pears and apples. Veggies, hmmm... corn on the cob is about the only thing he’ll eat. Great nutrition, right? We try everything. Veggie pasta with extra veggie sauce, I’ve added vegetable baby food into sauces for pasta and pizza. I’ve switched from fries to sweet potato fries (baked) and all he wants is chicken slathered in ranch. When we eat spinach salads, he can’t swallow the greens. When I serve beef stew, he gags on it. Now, he’ll eat a few things like sandwiches, but he doesn’t run to them. So, now to the story...
Maybe it was our schedule or unexpected cancellation of track that did it. Maybe it was the rain or just maybe it was because he fixated on modeling clay and then I didn’t buy it. Maybe it was that he found out our modeling clay dried up after not being able to buy more. Maybe it really was that he didn’t like what was on his plate. Whatever it was, he was not happy about dinner. He took a look at his plate and declared that he didn’t like peas. My husband explained that he could eat around the peas, but he would need to eat the other vegetables, pasta and chicken. Well, he didn’t like the pasta either. He began to raise his voice to a yell and storm off to put his head into the couch cushions. I was on the phone in another room and I could hear the escalation of frustration. I was not going to get off the phone. My husband could handle this time, he would just have to. With one ear listening to my phone conversation, and my other trying to keep tabs on the battle beginning outside my door, I could make out enough of the issues to know it wasn’t going well. 
By the time I got off the phone, my son was on his bed behind closed doors and his plate was still full on the kitchen table. Apparently, he was told that he would not get any treats after dinner if he didn’t eat what he was asked. Then, he put his clean fork back in the silverware drawer. My husband told him that he wasn’t going to eat, then he might as well go to bed. Now, that was a short description of what actually happened, but what’s important to understand is that my husband stood his ground, and didn’t yell. My son just wasn’t in the right frame of mind tonight. He was so disgruntled and clearly overwhelmed. It took me quite a few tries to get him out of his room and settled down. After my calm suggestions didn’t work, I pulled out the whole there are others less fortunate than you that would love to have this dinner routine (ugh, did I really say that? Of course I did). But after all of that, I was so glad to see him emerge from his blankets and sit at the table. He ate the chicken and while I’m not thrilled that he didn’t eat his pasta or vegetables, I was glad that he pulled himself together. I was happy to see him get past the issue even though it wasn’t the perfect outcome for us. He ended up smiling and trying to perform tricks for his sister. I don’t know... maybe I should’ve put my foot down and had him eat more, but I just didn’t want him going to bed more upset. Instead, he went to bed reading a book to his sister. That’s enough for me, more than enough to smile about...
Side note-- I realize that I will have to retire the phrase “Put my foot down” from my repertoire of articulation. Tonight, while playing UNO with the kids, my daughter was showing her sore loser side and refusing to take on more cards. I expressed that if she didn’t want to play by the rules, she could leave the game. She declared “NO! I’m not going!” to which I replied that “This would be your last warning. I mean it, I’m putting my foot down. I will not allow you play if you’re going to complain the whole time.” As I spoke those words, I could see her expression go from scowl to sly grin to giggle. She mocked me! “I’m putting my foot down!” She says and goes on to tell me how that the turtle in the movie “Over the Hedge” said he was “putting his foot down and he stepped on a squeaky toy and the dog heard it and they were chasing each other and he lost all their food! It was soooo funny!” Guess I’m not putting my foot down anymore.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 34 Adding a Little Color

I awoke to the thought of taking the kids to the lake today. Checked the weather and found that all day rain was going to knock out that possibility. Well, now what? No camp, no tutoring and no play date was on the calendar.  Hmmm.... What we needed was a project! Something inexpensive, easy for all ages and appealing to my eye. I love those macaroni crafts and cereal necklaces as much as the next person, but I wanted something I could hang on the wall for years to come, not something I would fear the dogs would eat. I also have an understanding that I don’t find the same crafts appealing that my children do. I like crochet, puzzles (I sound really old) and photography. They like LEGO’s, coloring books, stickers, photography and anything requiring lots of glue and glitter everywhere. Aha, photography is our common ground. Normally, I would give them a camera and tell them to take pictures, but they couldn’t go outside. I decided to find a craft using our photographs.
What we used:

Artist chalk 
Color pencils
Cotton swabs or Cotton Balls 
Black & White photograph printed on cardstock
A few damp paper towels to clean hands
Krylon Matte Finish Spray (to seal the artwork when finished)
The kids went through iPhoto and picked out the pictures they wanted to color in. I converted them to B&W and printed them out. 

I explained to them that they needed to work from the top of the image down to the bottom to keep from smearing the images. I showed them to color lightly and blend with the cotton swab for the chalk. I also showed them where the interesting colors were in the original image and guided them to make the colors pop out against the darker areas. After that, it was all up to them. 

They loved it and kept saying how much fun it was. My son said he couldn’t wait to tell his art teacher about it. The artwork looks great, and they got to try something new (smile). And it wasn’t too messy (big BONUS smile). I like to think I won mom bonus points for once (smile of relief)! Oh, also, there was absolutely NO bickering between them the entire time they were crafting (smile for sanity)! 

Now, all I have to do is hang them up in the house! The photos are more vibrant than the scans and I couldn't be happier with them. I think they’ll go nicely on my wall.

Classified: Mom

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 33 A Focused View

One of the amazing traits of my son that can be both a blessing or a real pain in the derriere is his ability to hyper focus on something. Having ADHD makes it difficult for him to focus on one thing at a time. Many people get confused about this and it can be even more confusing with my son. It often appears that he isn’t paying any attention to you, that he can’t focus, but in reality, he’s actually taking in everything around him which makes it hard for him to retain what one of those things is saying to him. For instance, while he’s in class and the teacher gives a direction, most kids can turn their attention to the teacher and concentrate on what he/she is saying. My son will notice the teacher asking for attention and begin to focus on him/her, but then he’ll hear the boy next to him tapping his foot, notice a bird fly by the window, those kids over there are talking and shouldn’t be, “wish that he’d would stop tapping his foot”, “there’s Adam... wonder if he has his legos today, I want to show him how to build a submarine”, “Did she cut her hair?”, “Does he really have to keep tapping his foot?”,  “Great... now I missed what the directions were! I couldn’t concentrate because he kept tapping his foot!” 

You can see how this can be difficult to live with. 
On the other hand, his medicine for the ADHD helps him control his body and mind better. Without medicine, he can’t sit still for very long, fidgets, and rocks which gives him trouble when working on projects. When he takes his daily medication, he can accomplish more. His focusing becomes Hyper Focus! Seriously, someone should turn that into a super hero trait! The medicine seems to allow his aspergian traits to kick in. Actually, they were always there, just hidden by his impulsivity. He can sit down for hours and hours with his legos, for example, or go on and on and on about cars or weapons. He just goes into his world and would be thrilled to stay there for a long while. Unfortunately, his family breaks in from time to time. If we have to ask him a question or let him know that we’ll be going somewhere soon, it usually takes many reminders. He’ll hear the requests, but they don’t sink in or he can’t tear himself away. If he isn't ready to pull himself away, he can become frustrated and weepy.

It may not always be easy to drag him away from his targeted items and it can cause great frustration for him and us, but his Hyper Focus super power isn’t all bad. First of all, he creates wonderful inventions with his LEGO’s. He’s using his mind to engineer something new every single time. While he’s doing that, he’ll put his favorite television show on and watch that at the same time. He’s focusing on two things at once and absorbing every bit of it with success. I wish I could harness that ability for myself. Do you know how much I could get done?! It would be amazing. 

Well, I decided to do a little hyper focusing myself, just on a shorter time frame. I enjoy photography, but I just rarely take the time to actually enjoy it anymore. I decided to grab the camera and step out to my garden. I focused on my favorite flowers, hydrangeas. I just wanted to get lost in a project of my own for a few minutes. Forget about all the other things on my mind and just take pictures. I don’t usually care to photograph flowers or work with macro photography, but I wanted to capture the color of my hydrangeas before they were gone for the season. I dove into f-stops and shutter speeds, white balance and ISO. I am not a real photographer and I would barely even consider myself an amateur, but I enjoy it. I loved immersing myself into that world, even it was just for about 15 minutes. It felt good to shut every thing out. It doesn’t surprise me that my son wants to go into his world. He has a lot stress and frustrations and his world gives him an outlet. So while I was out there, camera in hand, focusing on petals in the view finder, I not only captured the picture of that pretty flower, I saw how much my son needs his escapes. Through the viewfinder, I had a small glimpse of his world for a moment and that realization was like a flash going off. I got it! I finally understand! Who would want to leave that world that is so easy and stress free. No social cues to figure out, no misunderstandings, just you and your hobby. Understanding is half the battle and getting to that point is worthy of celebration. I'll work on the other half of that puzzle, but for now I'll celebrate by smiling. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 32 Today, I Smiled Because Of...

A text saying my parents are on their way to my house.
My husband awoke, saw me and smiled. 
My son saying “Oh, good morning, Mom!” 
My daughter hugging me and saying “Goooood mooorrrrniinnngg, Mom!” in a low goofy voice.
My hair looked descent right after getting out of bed.
Wearing a new dress.
Lucky earrings.
Helping my daughter get over the fear of her bicycle.
My son getting excited when he learns that his grandparents have just pulled into the driveway.
Seeing my parents.
Having ice cream with my family.
Searching for property.
Getting a hug and kiss from my husband.
Playing a game with the family.
Mel Brooks.
My daughter guessing the right answer on her own for the first time in Pictionary.
My son trying new techniques to help him fall asleep easier.
My pajamas.
This blog.
The idea of going to bed really soon....  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 31 Happy Camper

I treated my daughter to the new Winnie the Pooh movie by Disney today. We had 3 hours to spend while my son was off to LEGO camp and we were able to fit it in easily. The movie is only an hour and nine minutes long! I felt like I paid full price but only got half of the goods. Regardless of how little there was of the film, it did entertain us in classic Pooh style. But what I enjoyed most wasn’t on screen.

With the heat index in the blazing zone, camps around here have been seeking cool ways to keep their little happy campers from collapsing from the steamy conditions. I wasn’t surprised to see a large group of youngster at the showing with a handful of counselors. They were clearly excited and full of energy, so I wasn’t sure how much of the movie we would actually be able to hear over the raucous, but instead, I was thrilled to listened to their display of joy and innocence. 
 The movie started with a Disney short film, “The Ballad of Nessie” and the kids began to settle in. I even started hearing awww’s from the kids as the story turned a bit sad and one kid even called out “That’s so sad!” Doesn’t that just tug at your heart?! Once Winnie-the-Pooh got into the swing of it, the kids began to laugh it up. And that’s what made me smile! I love to hear a room full of young children laughing! It’s such a sweet and endearing sound. There really isn’t anything else like it. I can’t imagine what life would be like without that sound... just think how depressing that world would be! Of all the kids laughing, my favorite was the little girl next to me. My daughter giggled over every playful moment on screen and gleefully whispered to me about what she thought was so funny. Of course she was getting cold as well, so she ended up in my lap and throughout the movie, she would share her popcorn, tilt her head back in laughter, and rest on my shoulder.  A child’s laughter is truly amazing!
And that’s what made me a happy camper just like the majority of the audience...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 30 Human Lawn Ornament

We have four sprinklers that my husband can rig up at whim. I could figure it out, but he needs something to do, right? Yet, I was out there, hose in hand, spraying the green grass (brown spots too thanks to the dry weather), flowers, trees... basically, anything I could I reach with the sprayer. I spent over an hour out there, the most therapeutic hour of my day! Why was standing around in the freshly cut grass, getting clippings all over my feet and cute little jelly shoes? I was doing everything in my power to keep from blowing up at everyone in the house, that’s what I was doing!
It was a hot, hazy, and humid day with a heat index of 105 degrees with a humidity level of 61%! It felt steamy! Now, I’m fine with this weather. I love it, in fact! I’m just as happy as I can be sitting outside with a frosty cold fruity beverage. However, my daughter isn’t.

The second she gets out of the car it’s:
 “Mom, it’s too hot.. When are we going home?” 
Then when we’re inside:
 “Mom, it’s too cold in here. I don’t like the air renditioner... When are we going home?” 
I reply:
 “conditioner... air conditioner. We aren’t going home for a while. Here, snuggle up beside me.” 
Walking out to the car, she says:
 “ Whoa, it’s hot!” “Yes, I know.” 
Getting in the car, for the fiftieth time this summer, I hear:
 “Oh my! It’s too hot in here!! Can you put on the air tonditioner? Let in the cold air!” 
“Sure thing... we’ll roll down the windows for a minute too.” 
Needless to say, she was briefly cranky with every weather report. I was determined to get a little shopping in for myself today since I was awaiting my son’s tutoring and camp to finish up, and she would just have to put up with the temperature fluctuations for the time being. I was successful, at least at first!
Now my son doesn’t seem to notice the heat as much. At least he’s not a reporter like his sister. No, his job is to block out much of what I say while he notices everything else around him or filters through a menagerie of his own thoughts. I know, he can’t help it thanks to his ADHD, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. I begin a sentence and he talks over it. I give advice, he disregards it. I give explicit directions, they get lost in the shuffle. And that's what happened today...
We arrive home and I hand over the house keys to my son with this information -- “I have to carry some bags in and check the mail. Go ahead and let yourselves in. Just don’t let the dogs out yet. I’ll do that.”
The kids start getting out of the car, I grab my purchases and my handbag out of the car and set them down next to the car, then I collect the mail. Walking back towards the car, I lift my eyes from the mail to see one of my dogs dart away from my car. “What?! Oh NO! YOU LEG LIFTER!!” Yep, my suspicions were confirmed. He had peed directly on my bags and accurately aimed for my pricey (to me at least) handbag and a couple of my new purchases. That’s when I made a grunting sound aimed toward my dog ( I learned that noise from my daughter), carefully picked up my packages to be placed aside for cleaning, then I had a one sided discussion with the culprits. The dog, who knew he was in trouble, slipped off to his crate while I carried on about my packages... It went something like this: 
“I finally take the time to actually buy myself a few things and no sooner do I get them home, you go and pee on it! Seriously?! I don’t pee on your stuff!! Grrr, just go to bed!”
Then the children got to hear:
“I mean come on guys! I specifically asked you not to let the dogs out yet! I said I would do it and yet there they went and now I’ve got pee on my bags! MY BAGS HAVE PEE ON THEM! Look, you guys have to got to listen to what I’m saying! I said not to let them out, you guys let them out. I ask you to put away your clothes and yet there’s underwear in my living room. I ask you to put away your dishes and low and behold, there’s a plate with dried up banana on it! And I don’t even want to see your room right now because I’ve asked you guys to clean that up too. Seriously, I’m so tired of you guys not listening to me and now my pocketbook has pee on it! Great!”  And off I go to clean the goods, mumbling to myself about how I’ve been running these kids around back and forth to various places, buying them all sorts of things, listening to them complain and bicker all the time and this is how they repay me? Mumbling to oneself during anger leads to saying things you’d never say otherwise.
Then my husband called to tell me he was going by the grocery store to pick up batter for some fish he was grilling up tonight, so he’ll be late getting home. I was irritated already, wanted a break and he was going to be late so he could grill up fish that I wouldn't be eating! I was ready to blow up from my anger, and yes it was irrational, but I was angry all the same. I told him about Leg Lifter’s offense, how the kids were unwitting accomplices and I was ready to be done, a break was needed promptly and I wasn’t thrilled that he was going to be late. *Click. I just hung up. Next thing I knew, I was outside watering the landscape. 
I don’t think I spoke a word for about an hour. No one disturbed me and I was calm. I just made myself a mobile lawn ornament with a job. I was able to regain my composure, settle down and not take out my frustrations on any one while I settled down. My son saw that I was on the edge, but saw that I stepped away without going overboard, and returned in control of my emotions. I needed a break, I took it and we were all happier for it.
So when did I have my smile moment? When I was hosing down the yard, I took a second to stand still, smile and try to look like a garden gnome... picture it... you’ll smile too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 29 Slipped Up

Good news... I didn’t cry over any pop songs today! 
I did try very hard to keep my cool today, both literally and figuratively. I feel like I was successful for the most part, but there were a few moments where I wanted to send everyone to separate corners of the world. Oh but there was one particular moment that tested my ability to keep a straight face. 
My little diva was finding it difficult to step aside and let her brother pass by her. Bickering ensued and they lost a treat. Shockingly, she decided to deny any and all wrong doing. She just couldn’t move at that particular time apparently and he would just have to wait! Afterwards, she wanted to sit with me on the couch and I said that if she wanted to join me, she would need to admit what she did that was wrong and apologize to her brother. Say what?! She was NOT happy about that! In true diva spirit, she pulls at her favorite nightgown, Rapunzel’s dress, clenches her jaw and stomps her feet, declaring that she doesn’t want to and it’s unfair. The clenching and pulling drives me crazy!! I repeat what I said previously and added sternly that if she yanked on her gown again, it would end up in the garbage. Well, her gown is safe from being ripped, but how is she to show her frustration now? She begins clenching her fists and leaning against the couch, and without even realizing it, her fist begins to clutch at her gown. Just as I’m reminding her of the garbage warning, she slips! Just a little slide really. The dress was slippery against the couch and her exaggerated angry expression slipped right along with it. As for me, I absolutely had to turn my head and laugh it out! I couldn’t help it! There was nothing I could do about it! My husband sitting next to me was covering his smile with his hand, but the smile shown through his eyes regardless. My daughter began to smile and chuckle as well, but I quickly regained my composure and explained what we expected of her. She apologized and finally stated what she did wrong. 
I wasn’t looking for a smile at the moment and was too tired to attempt creating one. I was focused on keeping calm more than anything else, but some how the smile still found me... and my husband, and my daughter. Just when the battle of wills was firmly taking hold, a smile slipped up on us all! That, or the nightgown was protesting against it’s possible new home...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 28 Laughter Through Tears

You know that movie Steel Magnolias... My favorite scene is right after the funeral and M’Lynn has a fit of hysterics. All the ladies on screen (and at home watching) are crying right along with M’Lynn until Clairee spontaneously causes a distraction that leads to everyone laughing, well everyone but Ouiser, the butt of the joke. Anyway, I love it when Dolly Parton’s character, Truvy, with all the southern charm one person can muster declares that “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” I thought about that quote today. No, there weren’t any fits of hysterics or anything, but I had my own little laughter through tears moment. It was pretty silly actually...
Twice this week, a song has come on the radio and brought me to tears. Which songs? ‘Born This Way’ by Lady Gaga and ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry. Hey, no laughing... alright, go ahead. I know they aren’t songs that typical provoke streams of tears, but for me, they are. They both make me think about my son.
Ever since my son was about 3 or 4, he’s had difficulty controlling himself and behaving the way that other’s (myself included) felt that he needed to behave - Normal for the lack of a better word ( I can’t stand that word, but it can’t stand nuerotypical either... cold and sterile sounding). At home, most of the time, everything was fine. Outside of home, things were stressful. He was unable to walk in a store without swinging his arms and rolling his head. He would bounce in restaurants and at preschool, he couldn’t sit through story time. He struggled to connect with most children and seemed to frustrate easily. Over the years, we were told he had Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. Watching my son struggle every year in school was excruciating. Hearing him blame himself for a kid not liking him or seeing him fall apart when something doesn’t go the way he expected has always been heartbreaking. For every one of his struggles, he excels in something else. He may not always sound the nicest because he’s always so stressed out, but he can tell you about car after car. He may not be able to handle larger groups because of the overstimulation, but he can engineer unique and amazing LEGO creations without batting an eye. He may not understand phrases like ‘batting an eye’ because he’s extremely literal, but his brain is always thinking of new solutions. He’s amazing! If only he knew how amazing he is...
The lyrics of ‘Born This Way’ echoes being happy with how you were created. You were created perfectly! I desperately want my son to believe this about himself, but how can he do that when we’re constantly having to remind him to focus, to speak nicely. How is he supposed to feel perfect when, at school, he is shifted out of class for Occupational Therapy and Social Group to practice being the way that is deemed ‘normal’? How is he supposed to be okay with his mistakes when he is constantly being reminded to do better? He has horrible handwriting and he’s constantly erasing and rewriting his letters despite me telling him that the letter was fine, and to not worry about it. How is he supposed to relax about it when he’s being made to practice his handwriting separately from his classroom? I know that he needs a lot of the therapies that he receives, but I want him to be happy with himself despite it all. So, when I hear ‘Born This Way’, I do cry. He was born this way and I love him for it. Can’t we help him without making him feel like the problem?
‘Firework’ created the waterworks today. I know that one day, my son will be able to excel in his life and his chosen field. I have a feeling that field will involve cars and engineering of some sort, but how many people know their niche at this age? I know that things might change, but I hope he’s able to work with what he loves and right now, that’s cars. But for now, I can often tell that he “feels so paper-thin, like a house of cards, one blow from caving in” and he often tries to show how he feels before he falls apart, but many people don’t seem to hear him asking for help. They miss his behavior cues just like he misses the facial cues or nuances of speech which lead him to misinterpret a conversation. The misunderstanding makes him feel bad about himself again. But I see how he’s “original, cannot be replaced”. He already lights up my life and I hope that one day he’ll see how much value he has and that it’s always been there. He’s right up there with the moon and stars in my eyes. 
So yes, I cried a bit while driving down the road, listening to these songs. Both times, I wiped away the tears and laughed at myself. Laughter through tears really is my favorite emotion.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 27 Smile-less disappointment? Maybe not...

What does an uneventful day mean? Sure, there were little smiles from time to time and plenty of those little moments that keep the day from being downtrodden, but there weren’t any those big feel-good smile moments. So what does it mean to me that I did not conquer my smile today? I think I have a few ways I could look at this...
First of all, I could choose to think that I didn’t try hard enough. That I let the day’s opportunity go by without grasping the chance create my own smile or sharing smiles with my children. What might I have done differently today to make that happen? Perhaps I could have played with my daughter at the playground more vigorously rather than just help her across the monkey bars. Instead of rushing to get dinner on the stove, I could have taken a moment to play video game with my son. Regardless, the opportunities were there and I didn’t take hold of them. Well, isn’t that depressing...
Maybe I just didn’t notice the great moments of the day. If I really tried to picture every minute of my day, could I really still sit here and think that it wasn’t a successful smile day? That would mean that I’m missing it all. I would feel terrible if I had smile moments go by that I enjoyed at the time, but didn’t remember. If I can’t remember it, I can’t relish in the delight of it. That’s deeply saddening...
I could just say to myself that everyday isn’t going to be great. Everyday doesn’t have to me be riddled with smiles and joys. Shouldn’t I be able to go about my day without looking for daily smiles? Shouldn’t I be allowed to just get through day sometimes without fretting about smiling? My, that’s a bleak way of looking at things...
I will defend myself somewhat by saying that today was one of those days that the kids bickered and argued all the time they were together. I certainly felt like I was stepping in regularly and reminding them each how to speak nicely to each other, that it is okay for your brother to help you so don’t scream at him, and you cannot keep telling your sister to be quiet all the time. So maybe instead of beating myself up for not having huge smiles or for not beaming from within, I should be thinking about this day a little differently...
I did not raise my voice at anyone today! Despite the incessant at-each-other’s-throat behavior of my kids, I was able to quietly and calmly remind my spawn loves to talk respectfully and be patient with one another. I took the time to show them how to communicate their thoughts without so much frustration and with more clarity. Oh, there were plenty of times I felt like threatening them with pulling the car over and a red-headed step child phrase kept popping up in my mind for some reason, but I kept it together! Calm, cool and collected. I had errands and projects going on today as well, and I kept my cool no matter what was sent my way. Even the frigid grocery store didn’t get me off track. 
So I didn’t conquer my smile today, but I can’t ignore the progress that I was able to get through a potentially stressful day without losing my cool or taking my frustration out on anyone else. Not all days are stressful and not all stressful days need to feel stressful. That’s something that I would like to practice recognizing just as much as I recognize my smile moments. I can get over not conquering my smile today now that I realize that I conquered my stress! Now, isn’t that something to smile about...