Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 101 Line Drive to Smiles

Yay!! I got to see my friends! That makes me a happy a girl! It was awesome! My best friends since high school, five children from just a few tiny months old to my nine year old boy of awesomeness, food, and tee ball line drives straight to the back of unsuspecting children.

Soo... aside from my son deciding to play one man tee ball without noticing who was in the direct line of the hit which subsequently led to my daughter balling her eyes out (by the way, it was a whipple ball... how bad could it hurt?), it was a great night. Tee ball tear clean up wasn't nearly as annoying as I would've thought. I did have a jolly one year old on my hip while I corrected the nine year old and soothed the six year old while the almost three year old (with the most adorable bob) continued on without hesitation! I was in heaven! I was also on the look out for retaliation from my daughter who seems to want to adopt an eye for an eye attitude lately. She settle for an over exaggerated cry instead. Thank goodness!

No, I wasn't taking care of these four kids alone. There were four adults there, but it was really awesome having so many little ones around. And to top off the evening, my friends babysat their niece who is so new to this world that you just want to hold her all day long and make stupid silly faces while cooing at her. So I did hold her (and make funny faces and noises) for as long as I possibly could before I had to head home. That sweet little bundle was just adorable! A perfect little baby! Oh and she even had that wonderful little baby smell! So darn cute!

There couldn't possibly be any doubt out there about the number of smiles I had tonight! The smiles on the faces of my friends, on the children, and on me who enjoyed every flippin' minute of it!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 100 Charlie and Judy

For my 100th post, I would like to share a song that think is appropriate. Unlike the songs Fireworks and Born this Way, I will not cry when I hear this little diddy. I do think of Charlie Chaplin though, and the chin up, move on and smile on the way final image of the movie Modern Times.

My favorite rendition of the song is Judy Garland's. When I hear it, I hear the voice of a mother letting her little darling know that they'll get by, if they just smile. I felt a little guilty about declaring that I preferred Ray Charles' version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow recently on my facebook page, so now I feel a bit redeemed. 

I admit, at times the song can seem a little somber, but the heartfelt voice of Judy strings the lyrics along and you get the feeling that she is taking on her child's heartbreak, that she would take all the heartbreak away if she could. While she is bearing the pain, she begins to uplift the spirit and empower the child. The song is a ballad of beauty with Judy's grace, elegance and meaningfulness. It's a song you don't want to have to sing to your kids, but would if it made everything better. 

And for another smile.... Me, as Charlie Chaplin almost nine years ago at our Halloween party.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 99 Sibling Respect, Huh?

Siblings.... Sigh... There are days when I feel like my kids are always going to be bickering with each other and will forever be at each other's throat. There are times that it just drives me CRAZY!  They just don't seem to have respect for one other. I didn't grow up fighting with a sibling as there is a nine year difference between my sister and I so maybe I'm being delusional about expecting them to get along, but I want them to really try and be nice to each other. Is that crazy? They're supposed to love each other!

Well, after spending all day defending my son with the school, all I could think of is "Am I being irrational here?" From what I understood from hearing different point of views, was that my son became upset over a situation that was instigated by another child. My son was portrayed as a bully when he was actually reacting to another child's behavior. I wanted the school to be clear that he did not instigate this, he was reacting, he did not threaten or touch this other child, and that he just became upset. A very normal occurrence for him and something that we are all trying to help him with. My son is the apple cart that many kids on the bus seem to want to upset. This has been corroborated by the bus driver and other students as well. It really stinks for my son that he gets targeted, and then he gets in trouble for becoming upset. 

Some days, it feels like I am the only one going to bat for my son. I know deep down that that isn't really the case. My husband is right there with me and my son does have a pretty good support system in school. But there are still days I feel the burden. However, I must say that I was a bit surprised when I learned of a new defender. 

After picking up the kids from school, and heading out on a long car ride for a long weekend, my kids began telling me about their day. I heard a particularly interesting account of this morning's bus ride from my daughter. 

My daughter explained how one of her friends (to be perfectly honest, I don't particularly care for this "friend" as I don't think she shows qualities of a friend) said to her "Your brother is mean. My brother says he is mean." Now, when I hear this, I think to myself Oh, this is coming from the sister of the boy who has caused bruises on my son, rushed at him with his fist ready, and taunts him with two other boys on the bus... sure, that makes sense. 

My daughter's reply was "No, he's not." The girl repeated her previous comment and stated that she didn't think she wanted to be friends anymore. My daughter said "Well, I don't think I want to be your friend anymore." And then she preceded to sing about it. Not sure what that's all about, but she's an interesting girl.

I expressed my appreciation for her standing up for her brother. Honestly, I was ecstatic! She loves him!! Yay!! I knew it was in there somewhere! My son let his sister know that he gets picked on by the other girl's brother. I loved her response: "WHAT?! She lied to me! They lied. Well, I told my teacher she was hurting my feelings and that's against the classroom rules!" Hah!! 

Trying to be a good mom, I expressed again that I was so glad that she stuck up for her brother, but to not make a big deal about it any further. No need to continue on with the argument and cause more problems. Internally, I was doing a jig! I'm sorry, but I loved that she was standing up for her brother and she was willing to stake a friendship on it. And here I thought I they didn't respect each other. Well, maybe they don't, but at least she won't let someone else disrepect him!

When my son spends a good portion of his day dealing with social issues and getting taunted on the bus, I am so happy to know that he has at least one person there with him that he can count on to support him. It feels good to know that he was being defended by not only me, but his sister too. What a great thing to learn and a great smile to wear! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 98 Skate Away

My son has had a rough afternoon. There's been some tricky business on the bus again and he's not completely innocent, of course, but he's being accused of some things that sound a bit exaggerated. I called around to some moms and had their kids tell us what happened and I've gotten a different account from what the school seems to believe. I'll be addressing that with them tomorrow.

But after being interrogated by a teacher he didn't know and the school psychologist only to be made out to be a liar (despite the fact that I've NEVER known him to lie) and then having a doctor's appointment which was followed up with homework, he needed some time to himself. So what does he do?...

He grabbed a skateboard. A board that he begged us to get him for Christmas a few years ago, but he's maybe ridden once. He donned a helmet. He headed for the driveway. I prepared to be heading to the hospital shortly. He's not the most coordinated kid you know.

I had nothing to worry about though. He peddled along. Wait, that can't be the right term. What do you call that when they kick off with their feet? Anyway, he pushed off with his feet right down the driveway and cruised (I know, that doesn't sound right either) up and down the blacktop. He was actually balancing himself. Who knew?!

Then he began attempting tricks. Say what?! Where are the car keys?! Is my phone on me so I can call 911?! But there he was, hopping with his skateboard (nope, not a technical term, I'm pretty sure about that) and trying something he called a Front Ollie (he said it, not me). He looked focus, and content.

I knew he was in trouble for what happened at school, despite it not being as big of a deal as it was being made out to be. But I couldn't take that skateboarding time from him. Well, I wouldn't have thought to ground him from ahead of time since he's never shown any real interest in it before. That might have been him being clever, but I'll give him that win. He needs it sometimes.

Watching him skate away his problems made me happy for him and it put a bit of me at peace as well. I was really concerned over the events that I was being told about and awaiting to hear from other moms for more details.

While he was skating away, part of me wanted to skate my worries away too. Instead, I gave him a thumbs up when he was successful, an "Oh well" shrug when he almost fell, and both of those were accompanied by a smile. I've found that a smile can be just as helpful as skating away, but without a helmet! Helmets are not good for my hair...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 97 Lunch Social Issues

I got the call today. The one I've known I would get eventually, thrilled that I hadn't gotten already, yet just as nervous about receiving.

My son's school psychologist called to let me know that, while my son is having a great year, he is struggling during lunch. I've only been saying that for three years! 

Lunch combines into recess and is pretty unstructured. Imagine about 100 kids all trying to talk louder than the next, rushing to meet their friends at the games and toys. Just try to hear the noise that reverberates off the linoleum and concrete. Picture the cliques of kids huddled around different games, some games you may not know how to play. Now, what many of these kids ignore you sometimes? What if some of these kids have called you names before? Maybe some of them are your friends, but you remember that you just snapped at them in class for being too noisy. What would you do with all of that? I would probably just find a quiet place to be by myself. Not my son though. He's still trying to join the groups and some days he's successful, and yet many days he's not. Today was a "not" day and unfortunately, filled with some tears.

As I talked with the psychologist, she made it clear that she believes that it's too noisy and she wanted to brain storm with me to find the best resolution for my son that didn't require isolating him. A quiet room to eat with a few invited guests would probably be great for some kids, but for my son, he would feel too cut off.

She told me about a book that she had entitled "Can I tell you about Asperger Syndrome? A guide for friends and family" by Jude Welton and offered to allow me to borrow it. The book is from the point of view of boy named Adam who explains Asperger's Syndrome (AS) from his point of view. As we read it all together tonight as a family, I was happy to see both my kids identifying with the boy in the book. No need for my son to feel alone in this after all.

I believe the psychologist would like us to begin carefully sharing his diagnosis with his friends. This book would be a great way to show AS to other classmates. I didn't commit to allowing that disclosure. I'm not sure if we're ready to share that information with other kids. I admit, it could lead to support, but let's face it, kids can be cruel too. I couldn't possibly make that decision for my son. We would all have to talk about that together and consider my son's input overall.

I believe he connected to aspects of the book and as he went to be with the book on his mind, he wore a smile. Many nights he has a hard time turning off his mind and feeling settled. Tonight, he went right to bed, was upbeat and loving, and he really smiled the whole time he was getting in bed and covering up. Seeing him consider himself as not alone in this and as the AS expert in our home (being an expert must feel pretty good... I'm no expert on anything really), is inspiring and certainly smile worthy. Anytime he smiles, I want to smile back ten fold! He'll be okay.... this team will get him there and lunch will be smooth sailing with smiles galore!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 96 Girls' Day

Hubby surprised my son with tickets to the Mets game today which means...


There have been many times that my son has been out for cub scout camping, fishing and what not, which leaves my daughter and I at home. In order to keep her from feeling left out, we began Girls' Day. 

While the boys were preparing for their day, my daughter caught on that we weren't going with them. She asked where they were going and I explained that they would be out all day. "So you know what that means, right?! Girls' Day!" I said. "YEEESS!!" was her ecstatic reply.

In the past, we've gone to the movie theater, had manicures, played games, or watched movies at home. Today was my favorite of all the Girls' Days!

We went to the library for a Girl Scouts event that was going on, but my daughter would barely say a word to any of the young scouts. She's so darn shy, but she did warm up a bit. For a dollar, she decorated a tile, planted basil and grass to take home and made a garden sign for the basil. 

And of course, we had to look for a book while we were there. She's into the Junie B. Jones books right now and after picking out a mushy gushy one, we headed to the checkout counter. The librarian saw everything she was carrying and asked her what she had planted. I was expecting to have to speak up for her, but she quietly answered! "This is basil and this is grass. I made a tile and a sign, too!" Ahh, smile!

Next on the list was manicures! Now, the shyness was put to a test here. She couldn't understand anything the women were saying with their heavy accents. At one point, a manicurist asked me "You're having two, right?" Unfortunately, she said it extremely fast and it came out more like "Youhavintwori?" My daughter looked up at me with her face scrunched up and said "What did she say?" 

We picked out some interesting shades and had a seat. They treated my daughter to nail art as well and she loved that they used sparkly colors to decorate. It was funny to watch her watch the manicurist. I read all over her face that she was scared to death that the manicurist would ask her a question! She seemed to get more spirit in her when she saw her pretty nails!

"So, what's next?" I asked. "Food, I'm so hungry! Cheesecake Factory!" While we were there waiting for a table and then waiting for our dinner, we read almost all of her Junie B. Jones book. She got her cheesecake topped with strawberries, her favorite. It was a good meal.

After picking out a Scooby Doo movie from the Blockbusters, we headed home, got in our pajamas, made some popcorn, got out a game and watched the movie together. It was a great ending to the day. A day filled with lots of smiles from the both of us. I'm so glad we had this day!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 95 Wear a Smile with that Hat

Tonight, I went to a Hat Party. Ever heard of one of those? I hadn't. 

This party was for a friend of mine going through chemotherapy for breast cancer. The idea is to wear a hat to the party and bring a hat or scarf gift for the friend to wear during the time that they've lost their hair. These hats can be practical or humorous. I noted that humor goes a very long way. Below is clip explaining it a bit with footage from a party.

While this seemed like a very sweet and endearing thing to do for a friend, I was a bit nervous about attending. First of all, while I know this woman, I don't know her as closely as the others there. It certainly doesn't mean that I care less, far from it! This just seems like such an intimate occasion, I wasn't sure if I belonged there. I care about her and her family, I would be more than happy to help out in any way, but above all, I don't want to make her uncomfortable. She deserves all the comfort possible. 

The other thing is, I'm not sure how I would have felt about this party if I had been in my friend's shoes. I would have loved having my family and friends there to support me and certainly would have appreciated all the effort, but would I want all eyes on me during a time when I don't look or feel like myself? I hope that I would be thrilled about it, but I also hope I never have to find out.

The party was a beautiful idea though. There was so much support, love, laughter and, for me, realization. I posted yesterday about a mall kiosk salesman degrading my hair with his condescension. I simply glared at him and went on, but now part of me would like to say "You know what, it's just hair! Get over it!" But, the other part of me thinks I would've been better off just ignoring him completely. After all, you learn what's important in life and that type of stuff shouldn't be high on my list. 

Now, I can't speak for our friend in regards to all that she's been going through, and to be honest, I wouldn't even have a clue about an ounce of her struggles, but I will attest to her grace under pressure, to her humor, and to how her bright eyes and smile light up the place. I've noticed that she's always smiling when I see her. Even in general conversation, she naturally carries a smile. That was her way before the cancer and it's still her way while beating cancer. I wonder if she realizes how much she smiles. What a wonderful habit, smiling... 

I thank the ladies who put together this event and I send much love and many well wishes to my friend who looked fan-freakin-tastic in all the varied hats. And to her I say "Smile girl, you're kicking cancer's ass!"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 94 A Little Frizzy

I had to go shopping today. Normally, I don't mind shopping, but today, I had an unpleasant experience. First, a small amount of back story.

I did some cleaning today and pet care which requires that I shower afterwards. I knew I was going out to the mall and since I don't get out as much lately, I decided to put on the pretty face and try to do something with this mane of mine. I have long, wavy, textured hair. Some days it's pretty and defined, some days, not so much. Today was a decent hair day, somewhere in between the pretty/defined and the not so much days. I thought it was alright though.

Until I was walking through the mall. I grabbed a cup of coffee to appease me while I meandered through stores and I even bought a small vanilla scone to enjoy as well. As I made my way past the wood furniture store on my way to JCrew, I had to walk past one of those kiosks. This particular one sold hair flat iron straighteners.

The guy made eye contact with me as I nibbled on my scone. Then, he began shaking his head at me in a disapproving your hair is an atrocity sort of way. I was a little surprised by this and didn't completely comprehend the situation. I smiled graciously, but continued on with my coffee and scone.

"You should have a seat here."

Oh, no he didn't! He did not just disapprove of my hair and then tell me that I should let him fix it! First off, he didn't even have any hair of his own. That may not matter, but it bugged me regardless. Secondly, who, in their right mind, would sit down to let someone do their hair that just blatantly insulted them?! Thirdly, ah hell, who needs a third point with those first two? He was rude and that's that.

I gave him the look of death and moved on. Needless to say, I didn't go by there again that day and when I did make it home, I put my hair in pigtails before going on to the cub scout meeting tonight. I understand that it was raining all day and that humidity wreaks havoc on my locks, but to be dissed like that in public was a bit offsides. Jerk!

Braided pigtails do make me smile though and remind me of the part of our honeymoon when we visited  Joshua Tree National Park. I recall wearing pigtails that day and having wonderful time.  I guess the rude, hairless, flat iron pusher was just doing his job and I wouldn't have been thinking of such a wonderful time if it hadn't been for him.... but I can still give him the death stare whenever I feel like it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 93 A Kiss and a Smile

It was a pretty dull day. Part of me is thrilled to have a quiet day, and yet the other part of me would have preferred not staying home to clean and watch day stealing television. As I picked up the laptop tonight, I began to wonder what in the world would I write about? I can't just talk about my nonchalant day. I'm supposed to be sharing how I sought after, created and realized my Never Neverland smile on a daily basis, in hopes, that one day, I am able to do all that without trying so hard. But days like today, make that seem like a difficult task.

That was until I shared with my husband that I really had no idea what I was share. And here's where it gets totally mushy, I mean sweet. He comes over, kneels down beside me and gives me a kiss. Yep, that got a smile.

It also got me thinking about the other kisses I received today. His good morning kiss, his kiss before leaving, my daughter's after school greeting kiss, the kids' goodnight kisses. And there was also the one from my son. I kept kissing him on the cheek, being obnoxious, while he was watching television. I knew he would eventually tell me to stop with a sly little grin, but I wasn't expecting him to then laugh and give me a kiss on the cheek.

Kisses make smiles and I wouldn't have given them much thought if it weren't for the one given to me at a time when I felt like I had lost them for the day. I may not have grabbed my smiles by the laugh lines today, but I'm alright with that. I'm grateful to have been given a kiss and a smile when I needed it without asking for it. Even that alone is something about which to smile.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 92 His View

I've been encouraging my son to pick up our camera and start taking photos. Well, he's been taking photos for a while now, but I wanted him to start thinking about the hobby differently.

Ever since he was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome earlier this year, I've been looking up every video, story and first hand accounts I could find. When I found one that I thought my son could relate to, I would share it with him. He would give me his opinion. "Yea, that's like me!" "I do that too!"

I've expressed to him that I was thankful that these people recorded their thoughts in their own way so I along with others could have a better understanding of what their lives are like. This led to discussions on using the camera to express what's on his mind. Hey, it's easier than writing which he struggles with greatly.

When I asked him today what he would take a picture of to show how he feels about himself and about Aspergers and ADHD, to be honest, I wasn't exactly expecting any deep thoughts (I was just trying to help him feel important and confident about who he is... his thoughts matter).  I was surprised and somewhat wrenched by his reply, though. He said he would take a picture of a forest, which I asked him to explain. He said that forests seem lonely. That sometimes he feels alone and sometimes wants to be alone. He didn't seem bothered by this and so I didn't express concern. I suggested he go in the backyard and photograph that.

I helped him get set up and let him do the rest. I was intrigued by what he captured and how he played with monotone and color photos. I hope to be able to share his photographs with you, but at this time I'm choosing to wait until he's ready to share them himself.

When he was done, we loaded the pictures up and he was proud of his work. He explained his opinions about them as well and I was happy to show him how proud I was of him. He did a great job and hopefully, he's gained a new way to step away from stimulating environments (a little less tv time doesn't hurt either), a new form of expression, and another sense of completion and success.

What I gained was more insight into his world. And as I watched him standing on the edge the woods, I couldn't help but view his peering into the dark overgrowth in front of him similarly to how I look into his world. There's a lot going on in there and I'm just touching the surface. It's beautiful and inspiring.

As I photographed him, photographing what he wanted, he began photographing me. We have pictures of each other taking pictures of each other. It was good fun and he certainly made me smile.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 91 Lighter Time

9:26 My son calls my cell from school.

10:22 Ding! Voicemail (no missed call, just a voicemail). "Mom, could you bring me my card?" Crap, what card is he talking about?! Was he upset or is that his cold? Oh no, did he have a meltdown? I'm so going to hear about this, I just know it...

10:23 School secretary answers my call and reminds me that today was the library field trip and that they have already left.

10:25 I'm in the car.

10:35 I'm in line at the library to make sure there's no late fee (which there was). I have to pay that so they don't deny him the book.

10:36 My son comes walking down the stairs and stands right behind me without realizing it. He catches my eye. Oh boy... here it comes. I prepared myself for "Mom! You forgot to give me my card!" with tears in tow. I smiled hoping to diffuse any possible inflammatory remark, but it was a leery smile, one prepared to divert attention, but soothe the volcano. I hear "Oh hi Mom. Can I have my library card please?"

10:37 "Yes." Yes to a few things. Yes to his question. "YES, no berating!" I escaped unscathed. It is amazing. Yes, he handled an unexpected situation without blaming me for it. Yes, he handled the situation without losing it. He kept himself together. He moved on with his tour, I handed the card to his teacher and slipped out without notice.

From 10:22 through 10:36, I was mentally freaking out. I looked calm and cool, but internally, I was awaiting what history has taught me. That's a lot of stress in a short amount of time. When you carry a weight on your shoulders, a weight made of stress, fatigue, apprehension, and questions, a sudden clearing of that weight makes you feel as though you could float away. It is a freeing sensation, but one I considered purely mental.

But I couldn't help but smile when my husband came home, gave me one of hugs where he lifts me off the ground and says to me "You feel lighter." Smile...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 90 Schweddy Smiles

Ice cream makes me smile. Malt balls make me smile. Rum makes me smile. Saturday Night Live makes me smile, especially when Alec Baldwin hosts. Put all that together and you get Ben & Jerry's Schweddy Balls, an ice cream that tastes great and makes you chortle. But first... have you seen the SNL skit? If not, do it now! If you have seen it, go ahead and watch it again. You know you want to.

Ok, so I just watched it again too. Hilarity!

I've been checking the stores for this ice cream since I hear about it's limited time release last week. I couldn't wait to taste those Schweddy Balls mixed in with rum flavored ice cream. I finally found it this afternoon. I was surprised that there were two different flavored balls in the ice cream. One malt ball variety and one chocolate rum flavored ball variety. I think one ball is slightly bigger than the other and a little misshapen. From what I can taste, those are the rum balls. I enjoyed my little dessert... it was good times!

Well, I've had good fun with that and I hope you can try some yourself. It's guaranteed to make you smile. By the way, I'm not being paid to endorse this good humored goodness, I just wanted to have a good laugh while I was journaling! Next time I'm at the store, I might have to try their Clusterfluff ice cream. Peanut butter and marshmallow... yummm.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 89 My Little Smiles

Despite leaving my parents' house to drive over four hours to mine, I've had a lot of little reasons to smile today. Little things that added up over the day...

My father didn't work all weekend. This man works every day and has even gone in on holidays. He spent all weekend with us.

My mother cooked us breakfast and even made root beer flavored pancakes because her grandson loves the beverage so much (he did proclaim that his nickname would be Root beer a couple of years ago). How sweet is that?

Music. Music played while I'm getting ready in the morning some how sets the tone for the rest of my day. Music helps me stay awake while driving home during long car rides.

My husband holding my hand while I drive.

Watching the Buffalo Bills football team win their game. My husband's a life long fan and I actually enjoyed watching the end of the game with him today.

Chocolate milkshake. Oh, and Mango Strawberry Fruitista. It was a higher calorie day, but I don't care people.

Meeting up with my sister and her fiance at the mall unexpectedly.

Laughing over spider stories.

My son solving a problem with his toy. You can see the gears turning in that brain of his.

My daughter's thoughts on the prices of her favorite toys. "The prices on Littlest Pet Shop have gotten so low! They're going down in price. I can buy two!"

Later, my daughter says "I miss my teacher because it's been so long since I've seen her. I can't wait to tell her about my new toy!"

My daughter won a prize from a benefit we went to this weekend. She was hoping it was the iPad2 basket, but was happy about the toy basket she received instead and gave all the tool toys her brother.

Looking in the rear view mirror and seeing my son wearing a yellow toy hard hat in the back seat as if that is totally normal.

Getting ready to watch a John Cusack movie in bed.

There were more things, but I've got a movie and a husband waiting on me. Good night y'all!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day 88 Footed Pajama Smiles

It's my dad's birthday today and we were all able to spend it together today! All day! To celebrate, my daughter devised a plan. She wanted to have a special movie night and dictated the necessary items to her grandfather before shopping for the "necessary" provisions.

The list:

Ice Cream

So, after a dinner out, we headed out to the store. They picked out a movie, Hoodwinked Too Hood vs. Evil. That actually took a while. The perk of my children having a father who makes animated movies for a living is that they have seen or own just about all of them out there. Next, we were off to get new pj's. Apparently, she felt that we all needed new pj's, but I got her to be okay with just the kids. Until...

There they were... Hanging in the boys' section. Footed fleece pajamas. And they looked big! Perhaps it was being around my parents today that brought out the kid in me, but I found myself eyeing those cozy cuddling pj's with a huge grin on my face. While my son tried on skull and cross bones robes, I was finding the largest size available in those footies. I held them up against me to see if there was the slightest chance that they might be big enough. My husband seemed to think they would fit and that was all the encouragement I needed!

I was trying those babies on! I just slipped 'em right on over my clothes, right then and there! Yep, I had to have them. And let me tell you, they're sooo cooozzzyyy! I'll be warm all winter in this thing! Who needs a snuggie when you wear footed pajamas?! Loving them!

Well, after the all the list fulfilling and extraneous pajama purchasing, we headed home for some of my sister's delicious home made (dye free) cupcakes, my daddio enjoyed his flag mosaic we made for him and we had our movie night. My daughter had a great plan and we enjoyed it thoroughly. 

I've smiled a lot today and I'll continue to smile while I consider purchasing more of those pajamas in the other motifs. Gee, should I go with rocket ships or guitars? My son thought camo suited me. Oh, there were some in the girls' section too! I could get the lavender ones with poodles, pink with pandas, or light blue with skulls... Ahhh, warm and fuzzy decisions...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 87 Teaming Up

Over the last few years, I've grown accustomed to receiving calls or emails from my son's teachers. Little notes used to explain how he became frustrated over too much noise when he's trying to concentrate, he became upset over changes he wasn't expecting, or he had a hard time socially. These issues come with both ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome.

Normally, my son would be given a break and I would hear about the incident at the end of the day.

Last year, I got my first call from the teacher on the second day of school. He wouldn't hand in his practice test incomplete despite being told he wouldn't have time to finish. His thoughts were that assignments must be completed. They always were expected to be done before handing them in. He became quite upset and teary eyed. This year has been different, though! We've made it through a week and a half without "There's a Problem" warnings! Progress people! That's progress!

However, Thursday, my son told me about not being able to focus on his assignment because of noises in the background from classmates. He said his teachers tried giving him headphones, but they didn't work because they weren't plugged in to anything. He said that they even let him sit by himself but it wasn't quiet enough. Did I get a call or email? Nope.

This sounded, to me, as though the teacher and assistant were still working on a solution. Normally, I'm told about the problem so I can be the problem solver, as if I'm the expert here.

That night, was the back to school night at his school and I met up with the special education teacher who helps out with my son. I mentioned my son's noise issue from the day. She said she had heard about it that they were continuing to find ways to help him.

I explained to her that my son uses headphones to listen to music at home in order to drown out my daughter's incessant singing, mumbling, or high pitched pretend voice whole he's doing homework. I offered to allow Hinton bring an iPod in if they were on board with it. She seemed open to it, but of course, wanted to speak with the teacher first.

Today, I received emails from each of them telling me to send in headphones and iPod if I were still okay with that. They would be more than happy to give it a try.

Personally, that felt awesome! I didn't receive the "There's a Problem" correspondence, his support group tried supporting him instead of making him fit to their needs, and they listened to my a suggestion and actually are giving it a try! I could do cartwheels I'm so happy! That's the way a team should work!

Loving my son's new class this year!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 86 Friends Between Classes

It was off to the school again tonight for me, day two in a row. This time, it was the meet and greet for my son's grade and I was happy to go to it.  Not because I was going to be meeting his teacher (I've already done that) and not because I get to see all the plans for their future as fourth graders (I've got a pretty good idea what that entails). I was looking forward to seeing moms.

Yep, that sounds funny alright, but that's what made me happy tonight. I knew my mom friends from dance class, cub scouts, and the like would be there and I hadn't seen them since the beginning of summer. I enjoyed the catch up chat.

I sure needed to see the ladies again. Now, I just have to actually keep in touch with them (dance is off all of our schedules this year). The cub scouts group, I'll see at a few times a month so I that won't be so hard to keep up, but I really must put forth effort to invite the other moms out for lunch or something. This sounds so easy, but it doesn't come naturally to me.

I don't have any problem striking up a conversation with people, even complete strangers. For instance, last night, I started speaking with a parent I've never seen before. We just got chatting and I found out that her son had many of the same issues that my son had. She had real concerns about her son and he wasn't getting any help. I passed on all sorts of information to her and I had never even met her before. But boy oh boy, don't ask me to call someone or email them to see if they want to have a cup of coffee. I'm going to have to change that!!

Well, I had a fun time tonight chit chatting with friends between classrooms. The lively banter sure made listening to ongoing PTO speeches worth enduring for the second night in a row, and fleeing those with your sanity still intact can be a difficult task. Friends keep you sane and they keep you smiling.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 85 Don't Judge...

Lest ye be judged. I haven't read much of the Bible, but I'm pretty sure that quote's in there somewhere. I'm feeling like I did the judging recently and now, I'm feeling a bit like a hypocrite.

In past posts, I have touched on how my son has been bullied in the past by a small group of kids a year older than him. Nothing physical, but the public ridicule took its toll on him. I knew that some of my son's atypical behaviors fueled the verbal confrontations. He can be an easy target for those that are less sensitive. Despite working with the school and setting up accommodations to diminish the target on his back, I still felt and continued to feel that those bullies were just awful. Especially, the one boy, the biggest of the three little villains. I knew that he was the one that taunted my son. I could hear and see him yelling from the bus at times.

Now, I was also frustrated with the parents. I kept seeing them at scout meetings and wanted to approach them about the issues, but as the bullying was dying down and there hadn't been any more problemst. I knew that his parents probably thought of my son as the problem, and that their son was the innocent victim, but as everything seemed to be going fine on the bus, I decided not to stir the pot.

Until tonight. 

My daughter just so happens to be in the same class as Bully #1's sister. Tonight was the teacher meet and greet at the school and their mom was right behind me. Our daughters get along pretty well, though I have felt that her daughter can be a bit bossy (surprised?). 

As we waited to talk to the teacher, I casually made my way to their mom and stroke up a conversation. I gently dropped into the conversation about how happy I was with my son's class this year and with his IEP plan. That provided me with an opportunity to explain that my son has Asperger's and ADHD (HELLO! YOUR KID WAS BULLYING MINE!!). 

She clearly had no idea and went on to explain how her son has a seizure disorder that can make it hard for him to control his emotions. On top of that, he has to take medication to prevent the seizures, but it makes him incredibly irritable. She expressed how she felt bad about the situation on the bus and was glad that every thing had been going well lately. 

Importantly, though, I had no idea about this boy's situation. I judged him just like so many others have judged my son. And just like those "others", I was wrong. Lesson learned!

Oddly enough, I was talking to my son about bullying today. He seems to be getting along well with his classmates lately, which I partly contribute to his dye free diet (See Day 59 Riding Dye Free). He brought up a situation where another boy who has special needs came over to him and his friends. My son explained that he likes this kid because the boy is always wondering how things work, "just like me" he says! He said that the boy asked his group what they were doing and one of the boys told him nothing. I could tell something bothered him. 

I felt like maybe my son didn't agree with the "nothing" answer. He knew that they were obviously playing, but the other boy had been left out. I took this opportunity to tell him that we should always be kind to others. We definitely don't pick on others or make them feel bad. His response "I would never do that!" (Proud). Then, I went on to say that we can't allow others to be bullies either. If he were to witness bullying, say something to a teacher. If you see a child that's not being allowed to join in, then try to include them. He seemed to really think about this. I hope he's able to connect with that other boy that thinks like him too. I hope he's able to accept having new friends, but also be that friend to someone who may be feeling left out as well. 

Hopefully, my son and I both have learned from today. I will say that I felt incredibly grateful that my son considered the situation with the other boy today. His conscience knew that something wasn't right. I'm glad he discussed it with me. I have never doubted what a wonderful heart he has, though others have probably judged differently because of his low frustration tolerance, but that heart of his sure made me smile today. Love that boy.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 84 My Parents Made Me Smile

My parents are my reason for smiling today.

Almost six years ago, my husband was offered a job at an animation studio. He worked tirelessly to teach himself the skills needed to land the position and I was thrilled for him to get his dream job. Problem with this awesome job, the kind where they supply their artistic employees with video games and pool tables to keep them creative, is that it is over four hours away from my family and friends.

Don't get me wrong, I love what my husband does for a living, I'm grateful that his job is on the east coast instead of making me head to across the country from my family, and I love that my kids have been able to be involved with some of the movie magic as well. But...

I am one of those people that loves being around my family. I need it, in fact. I can't help, but miss them all. To compound the feeling of missing out on so much of my loved one's lives, is the fact that I haven't made a lot of close connections here since we moved. I feel like I truly only have one friend here. I'm tearing up now as that sinks in. I guess I wouldn't be so bothered about all this except now, I'm here at this house every day by myself now. Kids are gone to school, and I've got a daily date with television, chores, and endless internet surfing.

Today, I had reprieve. My parents came in town for a quick visit, too quick really. We had breakfast together, just the three of us. I don't remember the last time I had a meal with both my parents without anyone else there! Then, it was on to the mall with my mom (she's constantly trying to buy me something). I felt so good to with them today. I really really needed it.

So today, I smiled as my parents watched my kids get ready for school and laugh with each other despite me saying it was time for the kids to brush their teeth. I smiled when they all went outside together to wait for the bus to come. I smiled as my parents smiled watching my kids board the bus. I smiled during breakfast and shopping. I couldn't help but smile when my parents waited outside for the bus to bring the kids back home and at how my kids lit up getting off that bus when they saw us (especially, when my daughter runs up to me, beaming from ear to ear and hugs me ecstatically). The simple event of watching my kids get on and off the bus, is an event my parents don't see often and some years, haven't seen at all.

I'll have to be happy with the smiles I had today and cherish them for all their worth. They'll get me through until I see my family again... which will probably be this weekend. I'll need family refueling by then and more smiles as well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 83 Dogs' House

I've got my feet propped up with my computer on my lap on a pretty large sofa, and yet I barely have room to move my arms. My elbows are squeezed against my sides. And that's a good thing! My dogs are home! After nearly three weeks apart, they are back and positioned on each side of me! Right where they belong. Stanley on my left, Sparky on my right. It's nice to have them home!

Stanley & Sparky
wearing winter jackets after a their haircut (despite Stan's protest).
Spark quite likes it all.
They were staying at my parents' house for our vacation, but their trip was extended due to the dates of our trip and the start of school immediately following. It just hasn't been home without them. I'm so happy they're here and from their reaction when they arrived, I'd say they were pretty darn happy about it too. I swear they smiling! It's just so nice to have them home!!

I've missed having them under my feet when I'm sitting, following my feet when I walk, and laying on my feet as I sleep. I've learned that typing with Stanley's head on my laptop wasn't as annoying as I once thought and in fact, I think he made me write to a higher quality (just let me think it I have higher quality writing somewhere) with his little muzzle nestled near my wrist. Gosh, it really is so nice to have them home!!!

Sparky, my neurotic fur ball, with his fear of random floors and rooms, has been missing his rug covered floors just as much as I have missed having him find a corner for comfort. And yes, not only do my kids have anxiety, but my dog does too. Before you can say "Gee, I see a pattern here", he was like that before I got him. He has gotten better though. He used to be afraid of EVERY THING. Now, it's pretty much just certain floors and strong cleaners. He likes me to use green cleaning products. Smart dog. Seriously, it' s just so ridiculously nice to have them home!!!!

I just feel so much better now that they're here. I'm sure that me being home all day by myself these days has intensified my missing them, but at least I can talk to them instead of me irrationally responding to the characters of All My Children on television (hey, it gets lonely). Now, I can just tell Stan & Spark how silly that show is. It's nice to have them home and just have to smile about it!!!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 82 My Fear 10 Years Ago

Ten years ago, I was working at a doctor's office. I was about five months pregnant with my first child. When I learned about the first plane hitting a tower, I felt shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of life that I knew would exist. I sent thoughts and prayers to those on that first plane and to those in the building. I had no idea just how many would lose their life that day. 

Then, I learned that we were attacked. That second plane hit and my thoughts turned to myself, to my unborn child. All I could think about was my child's future. This would lead to war, a war that could rage for decades. A deep fear set within me. I could be bringing into this troubled world, a child that would live with the repercussions of this event. My child could end up fighting in a war, forced into a life of survival. Dear God...

I remember walking away from everyone for a moment to just let the tears flow. I prayed that my child would not suffer from actions that I could not change. Already, I was unable to protect my child and he wasn't even born yet. What would happen next? 

It was time to think of others though. The future was uncertain, but it was time to think of those suffering at the the present time. I pulled myself to together and carried on with my day, trying to learn as much as possible about what was going on outside my little office. 

Though it was hard to find much to smile about in those following weeks, I can now look back at that time and be thankful for what I have. My son, now 9 years old, is learning about 9/11 in school. He asks questions about what happened then, but I'll never tell him the fear that struck through me that day about what his life could've been like. When he wears his scouts uniform, I smile at how handsome he looks and proud he feels, but I am still struck with the thought "Please, let this be the last uniform he wears." More than ever, today I am grateful that he and his sister carry a smile on their faces and have a life that I feared may not have existed. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 81 Mom & Son Day

Hands down, my favorite part of the day, the part that gave me much to smile and be happy about, has left with sore and blistered toes. And it was well worth it!

I had to do some run some errands today while my husband and our friend accomplished some home repairs. My son was eager to join me on my outing since it entailed a home repair store and I was happy to have the company, especially his.

On the ride to the store, I noticed some antique tractors and equipment lined up at a farm and immediately pointed them out to my son. He, of course, thought they were awesome! While at the store, I used my phone to look up the events calendar for the farm (don't you just love technology these days?!), and was able to see that there was an antique tractor show going on there today. We would just have to stop by there on the way home! The fellas at home would just have to wait an extra half hour for their goods...

We got there and made our rounds. You have to understand something about my son to fully appreciate this feeling we both had. He loves anything with wheels, he loves anything wheels that is antique even more, and he loves machinery. Now imagine all of that wrapped up into one place.

I love photography. I would love to be better at it, but more than that, I would love for my son to take it up as well and he has shown a lot of interest in the art. I gave him my phone, since I didn't think to bring my camera along to the store, and let him take pictures of all the things he loved with it today (there's that wonderful technology again). These photos posted are all his images.

We had such a good time looking at everything and talking about how the machines worked and what they were used for. He took pictures, and I gave him some tips as well. We had a great time. I have to say, that this farm field was a bit unwieldy for me. I just so happened to wear cute little Ralph Lauren plaid peep toe wedges today. Not exactly pasture wear. But I dealt with it just fine.

One of the machines, was a saw that cut large tree trunks. The guy running it had a bunch of the round slabs of trunks splayed out onto the grass with a sign reading "Garden Steps Free". My son thought we needed about seven, I talked him down to four. We carried the steps up to the fence by our car and dropped the over the side so we wouldn't have to carry the up the hill, around the gate and then back down. As I did this, I hear my son yell out "Last one there is a rotten egg! Hahah!"

He was already half way up the hill!

Head start or no, and more notably, wedges or no, I was going for it! I ran up that hill after him, toes squeezing through those torturous peep toe holes every step of the way along the squishy ground. Back at my car, I was quickly realizing how much my poor toes suffered, but I didn't care. I just had to make to the grocery store and back to the house.

He still won, but we laughed heartily! Then, we checked our shoes for not so pleasant cow patty remnants. Phew! We were extremely lucky there! It was bad enough my son was a little stinker with his head start, but I certainly didn't want any thing else stinking us up!

When I pulled in the driveway and stepped out the car, the first thing I did was kick off those shoes! Right by the car! Ahhh, that felt much better. What a great day!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 80 Catalogued Smiles

Most of today was pretty uneventful. Being home for over seven hours all by my lonesome tends to allow for a lot of television and cleaning. Once the kids got home, the went right into the snacks with barely a hello. Well, that's not completely true... my daughter still runs up to me and hugs me when she arrives. My son ritualistically steps off the bus and says "Oh hey Mom." and follows that up with some information about a kid named Adam who is apparently just awesome. Regardless, I do love my greetings.

What I enjoyed the most tonight, was a catalogue skimming session with the kids. See, most of the afternoon was them playing with their toys and taking over the television to watch mind numbing cartoons. I took that time to read a book instead of diving into a catatonic state induced by the Backyardigans. Because of all that, looking through a Halloween costume catalogue ranked top of the list of enjoyable moments.

We laughed at the Lil' Man Eating Shark costume with the feet hanging out of it's mouth, and The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and Ghostbuster! I would have loved for them both to do that set, but neither of them were having it.

Being sick of all of the ultra girly princess and fairy costumes, I showed my daughter the goth-ier style costumes. She made a reply along the lines of "Eww, I'm not really into that kind of fashion. You know, those of kinds of costumes." Oh, please! My son was really into the idea of dressing up as Darth Vader, Jango or Boba Fett and then his sister could be Princess Leia. She wasn't feeling the force with that idea either.

She did narrow it down to Velma from Scooby Doo, Little Red Riding Hood, and Dorothy. I'm kind of hoping for Dorothy as I have an affinity for The Wizard of Oz as you can tell from yesterday's post, Wizard or Witch, Oh My. My son is considering a Special Forces Officer which I guess is a step up from his Delta Force Soldier costume he's worn for the past two years.

After joking around about us all wearing Oz costumes, me being the Wicked Witch, my husband being the Lion and if only my son would be a winged monkey... I bet if I told him I'd get him a toy axe, he'd dress up as the Tin Man! Hmmm...

Well, the discussion was all good fun and we had a lot of laughs. The search led to another search... a hunt for The Wizard of Oz DVD. The kids are watching it now as I type this up. They think they're getting a treat by staying up late, but I know why I really put it on... to try to convince them to dress up as one of those characters! I really want to be wicked for Halloween this year!! Shh, don't tell them my secret!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 79 Wizard or Witch, Oh My!

For the last few days, I had been anticipating this morning, the morning I meet my son's teacher. Will she have the personality of Glinda the Good Witch or will I need a bucket of water by the end of the year?
Weeks ago, I emailed my son's teacher to arrange a call to simply give her a little information about my son, sort of a little heads up. Not that I consider my son to be anywhere near as warning worthy as a house falling from the sky, but a little "hey, look out for..." is not a bad idea. But, between her vacation, my vacation, and that Tornado Hurricane Irene wiping out the power and internet in my area, we kept missing each other. Finally, I got an email offering for me to come in and meet her personally before school (oh, I like that!).

As I walked into the school, I stopped into the office to let them know I was there. Let me be clear about this. I don't care for the office. For three years I've always been nice, and I always got the cold shoulder. I don't think it's personal, but the head office honcho doesn't try very hard to make you feel welcomed. You know that scene where Dorothy and crew are trying to get in to see the Wizard, and the guard slams the door window on them?

Yep, I feel like that's going to happen to me every time I go into that room. Well, I did, until one day last year, I marched into that office after my son left his class crying yet again, and requested sternly but politely that I would see the principal now. Since then, they seem to pay attention to me. I guess somewhere along the way, I picked up that Badge of Courage and used it.

Once I got past the office gates, so to speak, I found my way to the teacher's room. As I walked in, I felt like asking "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" Gratefully, I left with the sincere feeling that she could be our Wizard instead. She could be the one that gives him the Badge of Self-Esteem, and give him the power to "click his sneakers" to be stress free.

The big difference between the Wizard and my new team mate, is that she was not hiding behind some curtain or afraid to do what was needed. She was upfront about how we could work together, about what she expected, how she would handle situations, but above all she listened to me! I discussed modifying homework so it wouldn't take over two hours like it did last night, and she had no problem with that. Well, I've heard that before, only find out that my son was still being told to complete the work the next day. But this was different. I smiled from ear to ear when I saw that not only was she okay with the adjustments, she made the adjustment for me today.


We might have someone who will really help out this year. Someone who won't push my thoughts aside.   This teacher's got brains, heart, courage and my early approval! There's a long road ahead of us, but with the right support, we will all be smiling!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 78 Engaged in Wedding Thoughts

So a few days back (Day 71 Zen Thoughts on Mermaids), I shared that I had good news that I would share at a later date. I can now share.

My sister is getting married! 

My kids will have their first official uncle! 

I'm absolutely ecstatic for her! I can't wait to see what she picks out for her wedding style, to help her pick out a dress, and be a part of all that wedding hoopla. Will it be an outdoor wedding? She looks so happy already, I can only imagine how happy she'll be on her wedding day. Will her dress be white, ivory, champagne? The tricky part for me is to not be the pushy sister who bombards her with wedding dresses, decor, favors, etc. I wonder what colors she'll pick for the decor? I tend to be opinionated, but hopefully, I'll be just opinionated enough to assist her instead of drive her crazy. Bridesmaids' dresses... she wouldn't put us in peach? Nah... Once I get something in my head, I tend to slightly obsess about it. My thoughts just run wild with the idea. Ooooh, cake! How many tiers? I am so happy for her and as you can see, I have a lot to think about! But it all brings a smile to my face!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 77 First Day of My Part Time Job

Today was bittersweet. I'm one of those moms that finds it hard to let my kids go. The first day of school is always rough for me, not for my kids, just me. This is a day about which they are both excited! Particularly, my daughter. My son is excited to see his friends, but the last few years have made his love for school wane a bit. But in general, they look forward to who's in their class, who will sit next to them, and all that jazz. As happy as that first day makes us, I'm sent into a flurry of emotions.

I knew when that first buzz from the alarm sounded, the next 10 months would become a stretched out question mark. How will each day be? Will my son be able to get out the door without the house becoming chaotic? Especially now that his sibling is getting ready for that same bus as well. Will my son get through his day without meltdowns and frustrations? Will I get calls from the teacher? How will his bus ride be? How much homework will he have and will I be able to get both kids to get their work done? Will it take hours and hours every day again? And that's just for my son! While my daughter has an easier time at school, I worry about her anxiety. Who knows when someone might get a boo boo and she begins to freak out?! Or what if a gnat flies by her desk? How will the teacher handle a child who won't allow herself to be near unexpected insects? I feel like I should've stuffed a fly swatter in her backpack with the Band-aids I put in there in case she or someone else begins to bleed.

Plus, I'm home alone now! What am I to do with myself now? I already do some work from home and I'll be trying to start a Reiki practice as well, but my life is being a mom. For 7 hours, 5 days a week, I'm a mom without kids. That's 35 hours a week! My full time mom career has become part time!

And why does it get cold here immediately when school starts? It was 80 degrees yesterday and now it's suddenly 61? I can't stand being cold and worse, it's raining! Wet, cold, childless! Oh the horror!

But like the thoughtful man that he is, my husband had planned to take the day off for the first day back to school, not just go in late. He also got me to the IMAX theater to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. I had resigned to the idea of eventually renting it and hanging my head in shame as being the only Potter fan that didn't see the finale in the theater! But now, I just get to own up to being the last Potter fan to see it in the theater instead... and I'm perfectly fine with that. It's as if he knew that I would need something to preoccupy my time today, to take the edge off. I may have been crying in the movie, but I was smiling internally knowing that I have a considerate husband.

I awaited outside (cold and raining, that's how much I couldn't wait for them) for them to get home a full 20 minutes earlier than they were expected. Would they get off the bus smiling? Yes, they did!! I asked how their day was and I heard a resounding "good" from them both. Then, my son went into a lengthy dissertation on Beyblades and how he needed more to join in with his friends... and I mean lengthy. Their happy little faces washed away all the worries of the day.

At least until that alarm tomorrow morning.