Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 71 Zen Thoughts on Mermaids

I awoke to happy news today that I will share at a later date, and that news brought on a huge smile, cheer, and a few tears. I'll go into greater detail in the future.

The next big smile inducers came from the aquarium. My son loves science and my daughter loves mermaids. Thankfully, you can see both at Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach.

I'm always amazed at how my son can become so incredibly observant and focused when we go to places like this. He is in control of himself and just absorbs everything! He would completely wander off if we didn't stay right on top of him. He doesn't complain about walking, he just wants to see it all. I don't fully understand why some situations are harder for him than others. He's completely comfortable walking amongst the noise and chaos of Manhattan, aquariums, zoos, museums, etc., but he can't handle school recess or lunch. I guess it has to do with social cues. Big cities and places like the one we visited today don't require him to process and interpret social cues, unlike the lunchroom and playground, which means he can relax and just observe the exhibits. Mental note: use this theory to our advantage some how!

My daughter, though, is the complainer. She was really only there to see one thing-- the Mermaid show! She wasn't going to be happy until that happened. Once she saw the mermaids, all thoughts revolved upon those befinned ladies of the sea.

"Mom, do you think mermaids are real? Are these real mermaids? Can I become a mermaid? That mermaid had tattoos... Can mermaids really have tattoos? Where do they get tattoos from?"

Then, she met one of the mermaids who, because my lovely girl was too terrified to speak to her, told of how she and Ariel were friends and playmates.

"But Mom, is Ariel real? If she is, isn't she a human now?"

I wouldn't give her a real answer, I just would say that there are stories of real mermaids, but no one knows for sure. If Ariel was real, and a human, she could just walk right into the aquarium and meet her friend here. Basically, my answers were "what do you think?"

My thoughtful daughter declared "Mom, I've decided that when I am born again, I will be born a mermaid." This child, the one who came up with her own method of meditation, has apparently contemplated this thought enough to come up with reincarnation? That girl can be so Zen at times! God love her!

Both my kids were quite in the Zen mode at the aquarium, at least after the mermaid show, and I love seeing them like this! You can see them taking everything in and churning it over in their minds. It's a beautiful thing and always brings a smile to my face!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 70 To Grandmother's We Go

On the road again. I donned my virtual red riding hood and headed out to Grandma’s today. Instead of a picnic basket, I brought my family. The Big Bad Wolf in this scenario is the navigation app that ate up 30 minutes of our time by suggesting that we travel through the tobacco/cotton field lined back roads of South Carolina where you can’t drive over 45 mph, rather than the speedier highways. But unlike like Little Red, I didn’t veer from my path, mainly because there weren’t any other paths to take! Or any people to run into either, also unlike Little Red’s trip to Grandma’s. Eventually, we made it to Grandma’s just fine. 

My Grandma is currently at a nursing home which I find difficult to accept at times. As we walked in, we were greeted by the gracious southern hospitality that I forget exists until I return here. See, I was born in South Carolina and I have always found that South Carolinians are the most cordial people and my Grandma fits right in with that. However, seeing the room of wheelchair bound ladies in the lobby, waiting for something, anything, to happen is a bit disheartening. But when we past the first set of doors, there she was wearing a big smile on her face. By talking to the many staffers and residents, she is the shining star at the home. She wheels herself around that place, visiting with residents and encouraging those who work there. She brings a smile to many faces, not just ours. 

We were able to get her out for lunch and some shopping and return her in time for her dinner social. 

I knew my daughter would be nervous, especially at the nursing home, but my son really shined today. He took up so much time with Grandma, as if he had been with her every day of his 9 years, and in return, she not only listened to his many ideas, but often engaged in thoughtful discussion over them. He even made sure she was given tennis balls to help clean the scuff marks off the floor from her wheelchair. That boy can be so considerate! He really lit up around her and that just brightened my day right up.

After our goodbye’s, we set out on the road again. This time a completely different route. A much more lead foot pleasing route (hey, anything about 55 around here is a lead foot pace!). By the end of my day, my path was straight, Grandma was visited and fed, and I was happy to see her in such surprisingly good spirits. I left fulfilled. So you may put on your red riding hood and say to me “My! What a big mouth you have!” (which, coincidentally I do have a pretty big one) and I’ll say to you, “All the better to smile at you with, my dear!”

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 69 Cleaver-free Monday

It IS possible for Mondays to be good days! Usually, I find them deplorable and a terrible termination to a weekend. This is especially true when the kids are in school, but just as horrible during the too short summers as it means that my husband goes off to work at a pretty cool job where they let you play billiards and video games, and leaves me to handle the housework like June Cleaver. If only I could actually moderate the house in such a TV land way, but I’m definitely a bit amiss when it comes to running the house in an apron, cooking and being neat and tidy (I do like aprons though).

Mondays are the first day of the week where I’m left to summon up my most Cleaver-esque abilities and, much to the rest of the family’s chagrin, I come nowhere close to succeeding. I’m pretty sure I’ve discussed this before... But today, I don’t care if I’m June or not. Because today is another day on vacation. 

My sister and her guy flew in today after being held up by Hurricane Irene. Thrilled to see them... a full house is a happy house!
I swam with my kids and I had a pool triathlon. Triathlon? You run across the shallow end of the pool until you can’t touch the bottom, then you swim across the deep end to the noodles waiting on the side of the pool. Lastly, you “bicycle” paddle on your noodles back to start. It was a riot! 
I went fishing again, and again, no success. I think the fish are just taunting me with their jumping out of the water.
I had dinner at a restaurant on the inlet that had laundry baskets as light fixtures.
I threw in some photography to round the evening out! 
Oh, and not only do I reunite lost children with their parents like I did on Saturday, but I also reunited my mother with her rogue flip flop that was pulled off her foot by a wave tonight, in the dark no less! 

It was a GOOD Monday! I wonder what June did on her vacations... En, who cares, I’ve got a hot tub waiting on me!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 68 Sun, Surf, Food, Flatulence

I’m on vacation and while I intend to fulfill my daily smile journal commitment, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be lengthy! I’m too busy enjoying my smiles to get all wordy about them. I will be adding pictures once I’m back home, but for now, I don’t have internet and I am working with an iPad that doesn’t let me use certain blog features like font size, links, or images very easily. Bear with me...

So from morning to now, here’s how my smiles came today in sunny Murrell’s Inlet, SC.

Pool time with my family!!

A walk to the most awesome part of the beach where starfish (or sea stars) were abundant.

Fishing with my boy... didn’t catch any of those little rascals swimming by, but one on one time with my son was something I can’t catch enough of these days!

The kids playing (not bickering) in the pool again. Woo hoo!

My husband shopped and grilled up dinner tonight. Then we all had a nice dinner by the water.

We took the kids to the arcade and pier. $20 in tokens makes little happy faces for some reason. We all love a quick game that’s over too fast and love getting hundreds of tickets to cash in. Unfortunately, my kids each got over 500 tickets each (padded by the generosity of strangers) and kept asking for items that were 2 and 5 tickets each. But hearing my son say “And last, I’ll take another whoopee cushion and enough tootsie rolls to finish it out!” was well worth it.

While switching laundry, I hear an obnoxious sound of flatulence followed by uproarious laughter! Both kids were hysterical over a that toy that’s been around for ages! The good old whoopee cushion...

Now, I’m off to go fishing again and maybe pop into the hot tub with all it’s multi colored awesomeness!

You can’t peel the smile off my face today!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 67 Interesting Hallway Find

Well, it was an interesting day at times! From finding a small child outside our hotel room this morning, to driving by a hurricane and finally arriving at our destination. 

What’s that? Oh, you’re wondering about the small child outside our hotel room! Of course you are! See, while I finished packing up our things, my husband headed off to the complimentary breakfast area with the kids. A few minutes later, I hear a tapping at my door. No, not the small child, but my son actually, telling me that they “found a little girl in the hallway!” She couldn’t have been but about three years old and nervously standing against fourth floor wall between hotel doors. 

My husband had tried knocking on a few hotel room doors and received either “no, she’s not mine” answers or no answer at all. I tried calling the front desk, but to voicemail I went (perfect timing).  I ended up coaxing the little girl to go with me, my husband and kids to the front desk. My mother stayed behind. 

Now, at the front desk, I interrupted the officious woman behind the desk who was helping another gentleman. I explained our little visitor whom I was carrying at this point, and her response was “Whaaattt?” We apologized to guy she was assisting for the intrusion while the front desk clerk searched through phone numbers, but he didn’t really seem to mind our intrusion when he heard why we were there. In fact, I believe he said “Oh no! Please take care of that.”

While I’m waiting, the little tyke begins to say something about her Daddy. She started saying “Dere’s my daddy!” I followed her tiny pointing hand. I approached the man who was standing outside on the patio and believe me, he had a strange look on his face when he saw me, a complete stranger, holding his daughter. I asked if this was indeed his daughter. I didn’t even really need to double check, she made it clear it was him. I explained how it came to be that I was in possession of his daughter. He was obviously shocked. The little girl’s aunt and cousins were also in the lobby at the same time and I knew she was with the right people. Phew... 

Apparently, the child slipped out of the room, leaving her sleeping mother behind, to go find her daddy. Hotel rooms have the easiest doors to open if you don’t have that little bar across the top. The father slipped out, and that simple bar wasn’t put back across the door so the little girl awoke and went on a search. I’m astounded by how easy it was for her to slip out, amazed at how none of those people that my husband asked behind hotel doors didn’t offer to help find a small child’s parents, and I find it hilarious that my daughter was concerned about the little girl being barefoot more than anything else. 

I’m so glad that it all ended well for that precious little child as things could’ve been much worse! Handing her over to her dad and seeing how happy she was to see him put a smile on my face. I can’t imagine how the parents would’ve felt if either of them had discovered she was missing! I would have been hysterical! I can’t help but think that we were fortunate to find her, to take her downstairs to where her father was waiting, unbeknownst to me and to him for that matter. Maybe one day, hotels will find better locking mechanisms, but for now, I’ll enjoy the smile I had returning the child to where she belonged.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 66 Anniversary Travels Well

It is mine and my husband’s 11th wedding anniversary today! Coincidentally, we also spent 11 hours in our car, traveling  from New York to North Carolina today. Out of that 11 hours, I would say that between 9-10 of those hours were near perfect! Hey, they can’t all be perfect, at least not when a map is involved and a hurricane is dictating your unusual path. So we didn’t always see eye to eye on the route or where we would end up so that we would be out of Irene’s eye, but what matters is that we let it pass. We moved on and got over it. That’s what a 11 years of practice can bring you.

 George Washington Bridge

 Baltimore Harbor Tunnel--Bulb Exposure

Baltimore Harbor Tunnel--Bulb Exposure (again)
As far as our drive, we don’t usually spend our anniversary driving for hours on end. Clearly, mapping isn’t our niche and therefore, isn’t beneficial for our marriage. However, I still enjoyed my day. Smiles were had all day from being the shotgun sightseer to listening to the laughter of my mother playing with my daughter in the backseat... From enjoying my husband’s witty remarks beside me to driving to the beat of my own personal karaoke... From snickering at my son trapping a stink bug that stowed away in his sunroof to sipping on a cosmo after settling in at a hotel...  I loved my day! 
To celebrate my 11 years of wedded bliss, I’m sharing some of my favorite photos from our anniversaries past!

Top of the Rock-NYC (Completely blurry, but love it anyway)

The quiet shore that we walked along on our anniversary last year. Murrell's Inlet area.

A guest we found.

Smiles come easy on a day like this. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 65 Move Over Irene

Well, we’re packing for our vacation and watching the weather all day! We just so happened to plan our beach vacation for the exact time that Hurricane Irene has decided to make a visit to the east coast for a bit of a vacation of her own. Now, I have waited for this vacation for an entire year! This yearly trip is what gets me through the bone-chilling winters up here. So I NEED this vacation! 

So we’ve booked the hotel for tomorrow night, packed the suitcases, gathered the toys, rounded up the fishing gear and squeezed it all in the car. We’ve thrown in a few umbrellas to fare against downpours (thank you IRENE). The kids will be separated, hooked up to iPods and DS’s by way of headphones for the sakes of our sanity. Overnight bags are ready so we don’t have to wrangle massive suitcases through the hotel lobby. We’ve mapped out a route that will keep us the furthest away from good ol’ vacation spoiling Irene. Looks like she’s going to miss the beach house for the most part so we just have to dodge her on the way in. We’re all set... at least the car is. 
Our house may be a different story. This Irene is headed for our home and I’m dearly hoping she’s barely crawling by then. Lord knows, the trees my area do NOT withstand any significant wind. Last winter, I returned home from Christmas vacation to fine three trees down in my front yard. We were fortunate that they didn’t land on the house! So tomorrow morning, I’ll be leaving my house in the hands of Irene. I’ll check in with the neighbors once she passes and hope with all my might everything is fine. I’m sure it will be. 
So, to sum it up, come hell or high water, I’m going on vacation. Though it looks like it will be mostly high water. Regardless, I’m going to bed tonight with a smile, knowing that we are headed to the beach. I won’t get there until Saturday afternoon, just in time for Irene’s sloppy seconds, and I’m going to be living it up when I do! So this weekend, if you’re south of the Mason-Dixon line and traveling on I-95. Keep a look out for me! I’ll be the one under the umbrella with a big smile plastered to my face. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 64 Smiles To and At Home

Ohh, it’s been a long day. Packing, traveling, and leaving my pups behind (won’t be able to see them for two and half weeks) makes me tired! 
Thankfully, I had my mother riding shotgun, keeping me entertained with celebrity gossip and trying to fix my Ford’s CD error issue. We weren’t successful with the CD player that has decided to hold my Talking Heads CD hostage, so we’ll just have to keep trying there. I will say that I”m thankful she doesn’t complain about my singing. My personal concert is what keeps me awake and coherent on long drives and often tunes out the bickering in the back seat. I will say that the bickering wasn’t so bad this afternoon either. After a pretty rambunctious afternoon, I was expecting my kids to be particularly fussy on the ride home, but I was pleasantly surprised by their good humoredness. I can handle a long car ride with my sanity intact when they behave well!
As exhausting as that ride is, it did bring me home and waiting for me, an hour earlier than expected, was my husband. I was happy to see him stepping down off the deck to greet us, hugging us before we barely had a chance to get out of the car (remember, he’s a hugger). This Friday will be our 11th anniversary and I can still say, after all these years, he’s a good man, thoughtful husband, and engaged father. I’m thankful to have him in my life and willing to put up with all his endless basement and shed organization in hopes that one day I’ll be able to redirect that organization towards the pantry and kids’ room. 
Arriving home after a drive that was more pleasant than usual thanks to my company and being greeted eagerly by my husband made for a few gleeful smiles today. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 63 Awareness, Acceptance Featured!

As the day wore on and I was incredibly lazy for the most part of the day, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have anything to write about today! Just as I was stressing about the impending hurricane screwing up my vacation this weekend, and I was making back up plans with distaste, I got an email that brightened my day.
I got an email from Sarah from Accepting and Embracing Autism that I am the feature blog this week on Autism Awareness Wednesday Blog Hop for my Awareness, Acceptance post. I couldn’t be happier about that! But maybe for a different reason than expected. I would normally be thrilled to have more people view my blog and I achieve higher page views. This is a little different. It hits closer to home to me. This feature means more people will read about Asperger’s Syndrome and learn more about this form of autism. The reason I wrote that post to begin with was to spread awareness about the disorder that affects my son’s life every day. With awareness, I can expect understanding to grow. Understanding is what will change the lives of those affected by autism. I love some of the Aspergian traits of my son, but the social difficulties and frustrations he experiences would be much easier on him if he had more compassion and consideration from all of those around him. 
If I could have picked any post from my 62 days of blogging, Awareness, Acceptance is the one I would have chosen over any other one. And it simply because I want my son’s life to be better. Plain and simple. I know that I should be concerned with the bigger autism picture, but the more I put information out there for him, the more other’s may benefit from it as well. I know my blog states that I’m looking for my smile and that’s true. However, I’m hoping that I will find my son’s smile, help another mom who might be feeling the same as me find their smile, and help other families affected by autism find smiles and appreciation! If I can accomplish any of this with blog, it’ll all be worth it by miles and miles. Every time some one reads my Awareness, Acceptance post, I smile. That’s one my person closer to understanding and that’s a good reason to light up inside.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 62 Calm, Cool, Camera

Easy days, boy do I love easy days! Just a bit of shopping, a dinner with family and a cool night with my camera. Personally, I would prefer it not to be quite so cool already, but for some reason, those are the nights that I prefer to grab my camera for long exposures. I really have no idea why that is since I loathe being cold. I find it unbearable when my fingers and toes get cold and I’m one of those people where that happens too easily. It’s amazing how quickly my nose gets cold! My husband always saying “Yep, your nose is cold.” But despite all that, I still get out there with my camera, so that tells you how much I like playing with low light and bulb exposure setting. 
The trick tonight was that I didn’t have a tripod with me or a way to create artificial light where ever I wanted to place it. So I had to play around a bit. 

I had a lot of fun playing with my camera and these were my favorites. I’m such an amateur when it comes to photography, but I learn by doing. Stepping outside for just 30 to 45 minutes is enough alone time to rejuvenate me and when you add the anticipation of what is in the camera, well, that’s when you find me smiling. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 61 Simple Questions

It wasn’t hard to find smiles today. I would have to be evil to not laugh and enjoy a one year old’s first birthday party! I loved being around friends, watching my kids play with others, holding the sweetest and newest members of their family. I’m pretty darn sure the cutest kids around were all at that party today. Adorable! 
Regardless, I do get nervous about parties. Will my son handle the crowds well? Will someone say something that puts his mind into a funk? Will I have the right items in my bag of tricks to bring him back from it? And that’s just about my son. I also know that when it’s time to make our exit, my daughter will pull out all the stops to find a way to stay longer, whether it’s utilizing a tantrum or ultra sweet playfulness. So how did we fair today?
We faired well. My son definitely started out in good spirits, engaging with our friends and enlightening them to ins and outs of a nine year old learning the trade at an auto body shop. But then a question was asked. A simple and innocent question. “Do you like to draw?” Well, that question led to my son remembering his light box that doesn’t worked. He’s tried to use that light box a few times with disappointment, but he has ended up putting his images against a glass door instead. Despite the fact that he solved his problem, the memory of the failing light still bothers him and I could see him beginning to become upset. I reminded him of the solution and gave him time to settle himself without bringing attention to it. I’m sure most people didn’t even notice him getting weepy, but I saw that he  was headed down a slippery slope and I needed to find him some even ground.

However, it wasn’t me that pulled him back up. It was the patient voice and even demeanor of a woman he’s met before, but barely knows. A woman, whom we affectionately call Nana despite not being our own grandmother, took the time to engage with him instead of choosing to sit with the adults. And how did it start? With another simple question. “Would like to play a game of bocce with me?” He instantly replied yes, with a brilliant smile that he shines so well. I watched as my son joined Nana in the barn to get the bocce set. I kept watch to make sure he wouldn’t be too overzealous with a ball. Then it was time for cake. As my son and Nana approached for birthday pleasantries, Nana shared her thoughts on my son. She expressed in a tone that ensured honesty that he had quite the eye for bocce, that he had hit the little ball twice, and had a nice “bowling” swing. At hearing this, my son beamed with pride and happily made his way to the cake. She allowed him to see himself in a uplifted view. Like lifting a kaleidoscope to the light and seeing all the beauty within it after having it originally pointed into a dark crevice. 

Everyone at the party was kind to my son, talked with him, invited into the discussion and yet Nana changed his whole outlook on the day and on himself. You just never know what may trigger an emotional meltdown, even the ever so slight ones. Just when I thought my son would have a tough evening, Nana was able to pick him right up. And just by giving him a way to step aside from the crowd, enjoy a game, talk to him like he was an equal and then allowed him to hear her praise. I thanked her for taking the time to do all that and at that moment, the three of us were all smiles, his smile being brightening my life as though it were my own birthday.  

Day 60 A Hallmark Bar Night

It’s been 60 days! 60! I can’t believe I have stuck to this for 60 days. Believe me, it hasn’t exactly been convenient to do this every night. Especially on a night like this where I’m getting home really really late after meeting friends out for drinks. I smiled a lot tonight. laughed out loud heartily many times. But to be honest with you, what I want to do is sleep now. Instead, I pull out the movie The Princess Bride (actually, I clicked on it in iTunes) and put it on in a small screen on my tiny 13” lap top (it’s mini Princess Bride) and bring up the blog. I think listening to Fezzik (Andre the Giant) rhyming is good writing chi. 
Tonight was a fun and glorious night. Without a problem in sight. 
I met a friend out, then met up with my sister and a group of friends. The only thing missing was my husband, but I laughed anyway, discussing music, movies, and the Hallmark channel. Who would’ve thought that the Hallmark channel would be the station of choice for the ladies room at an irish sports bar?! I must say, there’s nothing like a few beers and small segments of The Golden Girls. 
All that above, a great night did include. But better was the discussions that ensued. 
It was so nice being able to talk to people who aren’t in elementary school or to have conversation that didn’t revolve around those little rugrats. Oh, I certainly talked about my kids... How could I not? They’re my life after all. But is it inconceivable I could have an evening of movie and music talk? That I would declare that I don’t like super hero movies (People in masks can’t be trusted)? And that I’m a fan of Sherlock Holmes books, movies and shows? I am hoping to get some links for Holmes off shoots... 
I had a great time, I mean it. Anybody want a peanut?
But alas, I am tired! I can hear you saying “Get some rest!” And I am smart enough to know that I need it. After all, if you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything, so I say to you, with a smile on my face,“As you wish!” 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 59 Riding Dye Free

We’ve been trying to remove food dyes from our son’s diet. My son has been medicated for his ADHD, but since he’s not in school and hasn’t had appointments, we’ve been skipping the medication. You may remember Day 50 Unmedicated, Unquestionable Smiles where I discussed this in more depth. Since that post, I have been trying to figure out what could be making the sudden positive difference in his behavior while unmedicated. I narrowed it down to being food coloring... possibly. After all, science doesn't exactly back up the theory that food allergies or sensitivities can cause such reactions. I happen to disagree. After doing reading about food dye sensitivities with other families, and how food allergies/sensitivities can cause behavior issues, we began removing the food dyes red, yellow, and blue. When we have slipped up and he ate something with dyes, we’ve noticed his uncontrolled behaviors return. But it isn’t easy...
First of all, he has to look at every ingredient of everything he eats now. Just another stress to throw on that already taxed child’s back. The last thing I want to do is make his life harder, but I know that he will be better off if we find out that he does have a sensitivity dyes. I want him to be a happy, care free kid. Like he was this afternoon, after dinner was over of course!
He pulled on his helmet, hopped onto his kid sized ATV and drove around the house. He looked so happy. He just drives around and around, through the trees and over dips, but the look on his face says it all. He isn’t thinking of anything else like food labels and dyes, just about the ATV and where to go. It’s a look that I love, but don’t see enough. I wish he could ride that thing to school! I wish he could ride that thing in school!! From class to class! I know, that’s ridiculous. Besides,  he would just get frustrated with the the kids that get in the way and honk his little horn at them. At least tonight he had a great time with his vehicle. An amazing look of joy and satisfaction. 

Can you see the "ae" in there?
While he was out enjoying his hobby, I was out enjoying mine with him. I grabbed my camera and decided to play with the low lighting and bulb exposure. I was able to use his ATV headlights to write his initials into the image. It took some practice, but it was fun for both us. Definitely worth the time and worthy of a smile... Maybe one day I'll feel the same way about the food labels!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 58 Bursting Taco & Found Humor

I’m back at my parents’ house for a few days and pretty darn happy about that. The drive back was pretty easy aside from my food choice. I decided to grab a couple of tacos for the road and intended on pulling over to eat them. Unfortunately, the drive thru window exited directly onto the road without any parking spaces. Traffic was a bit crazy, so I didn’t even attempt to cut across to another parking lot.  So as I drove on, I attempted to eat the tacos while driving. Not my most brilliant idea. Somehow, as I brought the soft taco up for a bite, I managed to dump tomato, lettuce and onion all over myself. It literally looked like my taco exploded on me. Seriously, I’ve never had a taco with so much condiment and the one day I try to eat one unconventionally, I get a loaded one and then get to wear it. I was finding tomato on the steering wheel, radio, creases of jeans, you name it! I won’t be trying that again. 

Now, that I’m home, and cleaned up from the veggie detonation, I’ve settled in. We sat around and watched some movies. One of which was a movie about a pregnant woman. At the end, she’s in labor and rattling on to her love interest. My son saw this part of the movie and declared “SHE SHOULD GO TO THE HOSPITAL! Seriously, she should ride in an ambulance to the HOSPITAL! She’s talking too much!!”  Normally, he would be very serious about this and possibly even become upset. Today, he actually smiled at the end of his rant and started to chuckle. He found the humor in it all and didn’t allow himself to fall into his usual trap. I was so proud of him! I think it helped that my mother and I laughed at the first part of his declaration and made him feel as though he made a joke. He lightened up! He often has had statements that started out as emotional they should’ve’s that quickly spiraled into weepy episodes of misunderstandings. Tonight, though, he was able to turn a possible meltdown into a laugh. I thought it was utterly amazing to me and just as astounding, was that I didn’t have to explain much. I just said “I know... she’ll be fine, it’s just  a movie. “ So proud...
To end my night, I put on one of my favorite movies.. my go to smile inducing movie, 50 First Dates. I just makes me so happy and I love the music/songs played throughout. It’s how I plan on getting to sleep tonight. My husband stayed at home this weekend and I never sleep well without him. You’d think I’d be thrilled that I won’t be awakened by an obnoxious sounding, vibrating iPhone alarm. And I am! But I know that I’ll toss and turn all night. Oh well... I’ll do my best. In the mean time, I’ll reflect on Alex’s little emotional control win and enjoy some Forgetful Lucy beating Ula with a bat. It’s just so funny... right up there with bursting tacos. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 57 It's a Zoo Out There!

It’s been a very busy day! And I am going to attempt to get down as much as I can before nodding off while I sit here. I’m truly exhausted!Actually, I’m beyond exhausted... I’m a blogging zombie at this point. 
We did make it to the Bronx Zoo today, but it was so incredibly crowded. I think it must have been Group Day or something, because there were hoards of people wearing matching shirts. It was definitely more crowded than my trip there a few weekends ago and we found it very difficult to get through any of the indoor or outdoor exhibits. I often thought that the animal exhibits looked much more inviting than the current one I was walking in at the time. We missed out on a lot of exhibits today, but we had a good time despite that.

Tonight was also my last Reiki Master class! I am officially a Reiki Master after many years of practicing Reiki and I can’t express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to learn more about this amazing technique. Reiki has astounded me once again with its abilities and I know that I can only grow from it. I love that Reiki has provided me with opportunities to help my children, family, friends, and myself. I absolutely love that my children ask for Reiki when they are hurt or not feeling well, but what I love most of all is the peace that shows on my son’s face during a Reiki treatment, the calm that comes over his restless mind. I intend to provide more treatments for him on a regular basis to help him deal with his frustrations, focussing issues, anxiety, and self-control. If you would like to know more about Reiki, is a great place to read up on what Reiki is and to read articles about how it being used today by pro golfers, NFL athletes, and how Dr. Oz has Reiki practitioners in his operation room during surgery. Reiki is amazing and still astounds me many years after my first experience. And believe me, I was a total skeptic in the beginning and thought my good friend that introduced it to me and eventually taught it to me, was on the looney side. Oh, I thought she was extremely sweet and good hearted, but maybe a little crazy. 
After a day like today, that consisted of endless walking and hectic crowds, I’m completely overstimulated. With a trip planned for tomorrow, I would typically have trouble putting my mind at ease before falling asleep. Tonight, I’ll be treating myself with Reiki and I have a feeling I will drift off rather quickly. I’ll even practice smiling while I treat myself. That sounds like an excellent way to drift off to dream land.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 56 Fall into Place

I awoke to my daughter petting my head this morning, ever so sweetly. Well, actually, I was brutally awakened by an alarm signaling it was time to wake my husband again, (I’ll spare you that synopsis again, but you can read about it here), but I did fall back to sleep. Then, I was awakened by my daughter petting my head. She didn’t ask anything of me, she was just sweetly caressing my hair. We both laid in my bed awhile, she moved on to petting our sleepy dog, who seems to be the only other one in the house that understands sleeping in, and I checked email from my phone before moving on to breakfast. My morning just fell into place easily. The rest of the day went just about as well...

My mom came into town today for a visit and that was enough to make me smile effortlessly, and that lingered on through our shopping. One of the things purchased today, were a pair of red, retro styled headphones for my daughter and we grabbed the last pair stocked in her favorite color. We bought the headphones and eventually made it out to the car to head home. My little girl, who was certainly ready for a peaceful ride home, asked to wear her new cool headphones. Unfortunately, I opened the box to find that one ear pad was missing! *Gasp! I would have to return them, but that meant that she would not be able to have the headphones in her favorite color and would have to settle for pink or even worse, white! What a world! But as I left the crew to settle down in the car with my mom, I popped back in to the store to make the exchange. I went to the table to grab a pink pair, but something else caught my eye... a red ear pad. Yes!! No need to exchange anything. She got the color she wanted after all and was glad she didn’t have to buy the pink pair, or worse, white! Ahh, I love when things fall into place like that! 

I also got a cool little Watchover Voodoo doll keychain today! I got a little guy who is called Gladiator and he is supposed to "To help give you strength to fight for all the things you believe in." I like the sound of that. It was also interesting that I would get this little fellow on the same day as my son’s Individualized Education Plan, IEP, arrived in the mail. While going over everything in the packet of information, I was glad to have that little guy spurring me on. I wasn’t sure about a few things on laid out for us, so I’ll be checking in with the district to discuss it. I’ll be sure to have this cool little figure near by to remind me to stay strong! Funny how that all worked out today...
It was a long day and I’m exhausted... falling asleep as I type actually. But I’m looking forward to a trip to the zoo tomorrow and thrilled that my mom will be joining us this time. Can’t wait.... At least tomorrow, I’ll be waking up to my alarm and not an unwanted one. Hopefully, every thing will fall into place tomorrow as well! That would be extremely smile worthy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 55 A Spider Ate My Grump

I confess and understand that I’m ridiculously irritable today! More so than I have been in quite some time... at least a week! It’s lingered with me all day, through cleaning, shopping, eating, swimming, and even some of Reiki class. It all started this morning... an alarm.
Somewhere around 7:30, my husband’s alarm goes off. Of course, he doesn’t hear it and it’s on his side of the bed, so I have to try to get him to turn it off. See, I don’t do alarms during the summer. From September through June, it is my job to wake everyone up in the house, five days a week. Yes, I know there are parents out there that do it every single day and more power to you. I personally take the summers off. And yet, I have to wake up to the alarm so that I can tell my husband to turn off the alarm that he has set so that he can wake up to it. Then he falls back to sleep, so I have to remind him to get up. Occasionally, I can fall back to sleep, but I’m usually awake after that. So today, I woke up on the wrong side of the obnoxious alarm this morning. I’m pretty sure he has picked the most heinous sound option in order to ensure that he hears it, however it just means that I awake from peaceful slumber by jumping out of my skin. Grating...
I would have loved to have been over the rainbow today... 
(Didn't my mama take a nice picture?!)

It poured today! I mean it didn’t just rain cats and dogs, but lions and tigers and bears (oh my) as well! And it just so happened to be raining it’s hardest when I was due to walk through it, umbrella-less. My husband meets me at the gym to work out, I go to my class and he takes the kids home when he’s done. Clever me knew that he would have to go to my car to get the booster seat, so why not just have him drive the car to me at the entrance. We would both be saved from having to walk in the rain. That only works if he answers the phone, which of course, on the wettest day possible with flooding all around us, he doesn’t. I know, not really his fault. He just didn’t hear it. He was probably preoccupied with relocating the booster in the monsoon. Still, I had to walk, (couldn’t run in my wet flip flop wedges) to the car which wasn’t nearly close enough. I can hear you thinking “You’re not gonna melt!” Did you see Wizard of Oz? That mean green lady went down and I was feeling pretty mean myself at this point. I had preferred not to take any chances. Turns out, I’m not so mean, or green for that matter, as I am here to tell my tale. But alas, in all my soggy glory, I had to go to my class. Wet cotton silk blend shirts stick to you. Ugh. 
After returning home from Reiki class, I found that my little girl had a sore throat and sounded froggy. She was ready for bed and wanted me to read her a story. I didn’t particularly feel like it, but she did take pain medicine like a champ (honestly, she whined and asked for reward points), so we picked out a story. After the story, she walked her fingers on my arm, asking where I was ticklish today. I explained that, today, I didn’t have a tickle spot. I’m grumpy. She then put her fingertips on my head and uttered “Arrrtsch,arrrtsch! There’s a spider on your head and he’s going to eat your grump!” And as the spider crawled on my head, jumped down my arms and tickled my belly, I began to laugh. She had done it. With her little spider, she get rid of my “grump”. She was smiling and laughing, despite her froggy voice and sore throat, and I was smiling now that my “grump” was spider dinner. If she could still be happy despite not feeling well and taking yucky medicine, I should grow up and get over my ornery behavior too. 

Clever idea: Her laughter should be recorded and used as my husband’s alarm! How could I get mad over waking up to that wonderful sound? There’s no way! I would wake up every day with a smile. Sounds like a good way to start the day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 54 Back to School, Ugh

I don’t particularly like school. Oh, I didn’t mind it all that much when I was in school myself, but I’ve grown to loathe it now that my kids are in school. I want summer every day. I want to have an agenda free lifestyle, but I understand that’s just a bit irresponsible. So when I finally got the school supply list yesterday (yes, my school makes us wait until supplies are depleted at the stores before giving us buying power.... they like to make us really work at being parents), I headed out today, with the family in tow, to buy out what was left at the stores.
I’d love to know why some teachers are so brand specific. I’m a Crayola girl and that’s what I like to buy my kids. So when my daughter’s school list specified a 64 box of Crayola crayons was required, I was happy to oblige. However, I don’t understand why it has to be Crayola. Yes, I like the Crayola quality, but what if someone else prefers Rose Art or prefers to buy generic? What if someone has a coupon for a different brand? Do teachers need to actually specify brand for crayons? 
The next one was for markers. The same list specified Mr. Sketch markers. I’ve never even heard of those before and apparently they aren’t sold in many places. Why can’t I just buy my Crayola markers I’ve loved over the years that are stocked readily in the aisle with the 64 box of Crayola crayons? Another trip is needed for that purchase.
On my son’s list, there was the typical irritation. His list specified 3 glue sticks. Have you seen a 3 pack of glue sticks? I’m convinced they don’t exist. So I had to buy 2 packs of 2 glue sticks. Now, you’d think I would be able to use that extra one for my daughter right? She must need glue sticks too, I mean, what elementary student doesn’t?! Well, she needed glue sticks alright, but she required the LARGE glue sticks. Four of them (they’re sold individually)!

Once home, I packed up their backpacks with everything they needed except for the few things I hadn’t been able to find (thank you Mr. Sketch), and hung them up by the door. They don’t start school until September 6th (thank goodness), but it felt good to get that job out of the way, at least most of it. One less thing to worry about.
I do not look forward to sending my kids back to school. We’ve just had such a hard time over the years with my son’s difficulties. I know that once school’s in session again, I’ll be back to three hours of homework, rushing in the morning no matter how early I get up, and daily worry about how my son is handling his day. But for now, the backpacks are ready and that was pretty easy. I’ll take easy as much as I possibly can. I know that I don’t look forward to school, but my kids still do. And that’s amazing to me. After everything my son’s been through, he still gets excited about the beginning of school. That ability to start fresh every year is what I’ll strive for myself. So every time I pass those waiting backpacks, I’ll force a smile until I don’t have actually force it anymore and it comes naturally. Perhaps I’ll meditate thinking of the happy smiles my children will have on their faces that first day of school, wearing those very backpacks, filled to the brim with Crayola, Mr. Sketch and more. I can make myself smile about school... School means smiles, school means smiles, school means smiles.... we’ll see.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 53 Now, We're All Saving...

My kids love to buy stuff. My son asks for things all the time regardless of how many times I tell him we aren’t buying anything. My daughter is more understanding of the proclamation and tends to stick to the “No asking” rule much better. But in the beginning of the summer, the kids were going to spend all of their earned money on more wasteful toys. I told my kids that we needed to save our money for our vacation so we would have more to spend there. My son sort of brushed that aside, but my daughter took it to heart and gave it some thought. “You think we should save our money?” “Yes, I think we should.” “Even you?”  Drats! “Yes, all of us.” I am occasionally reminded of this.
My little diva was invited to a birthday party for today and of course, I waited until the last minute to buy a gift (as in I’m gift shopping 30 minutes before the party begins). As my daughter and I are speedily searching through the toy store, my daughter picks out a butterfly net. She loves her butterfly net, so why wouldn’t her friend?! I was happy to oblige, besides there wasn’t time to argue. Then I noticed the low price tag and then the sale sign. I couldn’t very well give just a $5 present. So I told my little girl to pick out a few more things to go with it. She looked up at me, with butterfly net in hand, and said “Well, okay, but I don’t want you spending too much! We’re saving for our Myrtle Beach vacation, remember?” Yes, I remember... it's my happy place.

After the birthday party, the family went to an outlet mall. I’ve been searching for a pair of summery sandals to go with a few dresses I had bought earlier this year (and yes, my daughter questioned if my purchase was cutting into her vacation money) after my cute JCrew jellies broke mid stride while out and about last week. I found a great deal on a pair of replacement shoes and then we meandered the plaza of deals. We came across the Converse store and I thought that it would be nice for the kids to have new shoes for school. As my daughter tried a pair of Converse that represented a diva in style with it’s cute glittery appearance, she once again reminded me of our beach vacation. I had to explain that “Yes, I know we’re saving for our vacation, but we do need to buy some things and this happens to be a buy-one-get-one-half off deal so we’re saving a little money that way! Now, do they fit or not?” They didn't and I don't think she was too disappointed at all... I think she was thinking of her happy place.

We have two weeks left before our much anticipated vacation and I can’t wait. Not only is Carolina calling me to it’s shores, but I want to open up my wallet without the miniature accountant reminding me of my expenditures. Oh, she’s been good with not buying anything and I love that! I just can’t enjoy a browse through the Kate Spade outlet knowing she’s watching my every move. Ah, well, I’ll enjoy our little holiday that much more when I go shopping at the outlet there! Until then, I’ll just keep picturing that wonderful ocean and serene view! That’ll keep a smile plastered to my face!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 52 Awareness, Acceptance

I came across a video today that I found interesting, tearful, and yet smile-worthy. The video is by Alex Plank, an Aspergian, who runs Wrong Planet, an web community for those with autism or parents of autistic children. I have enjoyed watching their Austism Talk TV for a little while now, and today I saw this video. 

As I watched this, there were times when I completely agreed with those interviewed. Temple Grandin for one, and Alex Plank for that matter. Acceptance and understanding can really make a huge difference in these peoples’ lives. What really needs to be understood is that not all autism symptoms are bad. I happen to love that my son is an engineer. He always has been. He would build pulley systems across his room that would lift his toys and relocate them before he was four. He’s now moved onto unique Lego creations and inventions. 

One of those interviewed made the comment about how a diagnosis can sometimes make things worse or give it a negative connotation. I didn't find this to be true in my opinion. A diagnosis helped my son gain assistance in school. He's allowed to ask for breaks when he's overwhelmed, which he rarely does because he doesn't want to fall behind or miss anything. But he needs those breaks to help him control his frustrations. He gets special paper for writing assistance because that's one of his struggles. Social group, occupational therapy, tools to help him deal with overstimulating environments are all on his list of required assistance that he'll receive. Without a diagnosis, he wouldn't get it. Do I think it's right that he has to have a diagnosis to receive these tools? NO! I don't. Unfortunately, that's where the acceptance should be more widespread. Any child should be allowed to receive the tools they need to succeed without the bureaucracy required today. Not all children fit into a diagnosis and they are forced to fit into a rigid system. But that gets into taxes and such and we just don't have time for that today... besides, it's just depressing and this is supposed to be a smile log.

Now where were we? Oh yea...  If you gave us pill that made his autism go away, I don’t think we would ask him take it. Ultimately, it would come down to his decision, but I would like to see him succeed with his gifts despite his social issues and anxiety. I can’t and wouldn’t speak for others on the spectrum or parenting those on the spectrum, and I would understand how many may disagree with that. After all, there is such a wide range of severity. I’m not sure that I would feel the same way if, for instance, my son was non-verbal, completely overwhelmed by sights/sounds/touch to the point he would lose control of his reactions or even worse. 
I do feel that awareness needs to be widespread. My son has dealt with bullying from other children, a school psychologist who sat him down in front of the class and asked the peers to raise their hand if they liked him (not everyone did and those kids are the ones my son remembers), a teacher who increased his anxiety by being just as rigid as he was and preferred punishment over rewards, miscommunication during sporting events and so much more. Whenever there were issues at school that involved a he said she said scenario, my son told the truth whether it made his life harder or not. Other kids know how to lie and pass blame. It’s difficult to watch your son deal with such misunderstanding, cruelty and hardship. These experiences are why I wonder if my son would choose to rid himself of autism or not. I think he would gladly dismiss ADHD. I don’t think he’s ever felt a positive emotion from that. He has been happy in his Asperger world when he’s able to focus and create something of which he can be proud.
I know this post is a bit different from my usual posts, but I would gladly find happiness and smiles if more awareness made out there. So my smile today comes from just that... knowing that someone else will watch Alex’s video and maybe learn just a little bit more.