Laura's books-i-have-read-in-2017 book montage

The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall

Laura's favorite books »

Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Birthday Party, Another Fight

For weeks now I have been dreading my son's birthday party. For years now before every birthday party for the kids my worse half has complained about how much I spend on the parties and has picked fights with me before the party so he can storm off and leave me to set up the party by myself. This time I have tried to alter my party preparations hoping that maybe this party could be different.

I have been spending my own personal money on party decorations and prizes for games. My birthday just passed and I used money I was given for my birthday to get ready for his party. Money that he gave me I used for what I needed but any extra I used to get items for his party. Little by little I got what I needed and he either didn't notice or he didn't care. My son wanted a Halloween themed party and I was going to make it a good one.

I have been cleaning the house all last week. Getting furniture rearranged to accommodate 12 -16 guests. He was actually helping and I thought that maybe this party would be different. I told him all I needed was the cake, pizza fixings, snacks and drinks.

Then P and I went to the store so he could pick out a cake. Usually the cake cost almost $30.00, this is a usual cost and not a surprise. We went to the bakery and he picked out a made cake from their display that was only $10.00. I picked up a few other things I needed candles, drinks, some chips and went home. I was thrilled that he picked out a cake that saved us $20.00. When I got home and told him how much I spent he screamed at me. Once again he accused me of being reckless and I was over spending on the party. In his eyes I had spent $40.00 on the party so far and he thought that once again I was over spending.

I cringed knowing I still needed the pizza makings and toilet paper for a game. I made a list of what I needed and asked if he would go get them. I thought if he went to the store and saw how much things cost and could make the rest of the shopping decisions then he would go easier on me. He came home and still continued to yell at me. Still we managed to set up for the party and the party was underway.

Waiting for the guests

The Mummy Wrap Game

Bobbing for Doughnuts

The Cake

Making a Wish

Opening his Gifts

Finally most of the guest had left and Grandma (my Mom)finally arrived. She wanted to miss most of the chaos, very smart, It turns out 12 children ages 6 - 14 can get pretty loud. P could finally open her gift. This was a special gift that I had arranged. I wanted to give it to him myself but with my husband so tight with money I couldn't chance it. I asked my mom to give it to him and she agreed.

P for years has been asking for a Mexican Red Knee Tarantula and I finally found him one at a price that wasn't too expensive. He opened the gift bag and screamed with delight. He finally has the tarantula that he has wanted for so long and the party was over. His friends went home and Grandma left too. Now I can breath and hope that the next birthday party I throw for the kids will be in a new home with one parent hosting and the other parent as a guest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Practice Run Flops

He was just offered a better job. This has him starting later at night and means he will be here for the kids bedtime which thrills the kids. They miss their Daddy, and love when he is around for bedtime. This is going to be a huge adjustment for me. I have been doing this on my own for over a year now. He also will be here for homework, another adjustment. I turn the tv off so they can focus on homework better. The tv stays off until they are in bed and falling asleep. This is how it has been for over a year now.

He is a tv junkie, more than me. If we are home for just a minute or two he has to turn the tv on. Yes it frustrates me. Tonight he called into his current job because he has personal days to use up before he leaves. I tried not to focus on him throwing off the routine. Instead I thought of it as a practice run for when he is home for prime time in just a few weeks.

He went on an errand for me so he wasn't here when homework started. My son did his homework no problem, but couldn't find his book for the rest of it. I am trying to get him to learn how to look for things better so I am having him look for him things for a while before I start (and usually find it). I don't know if Daddy being home was the issue or if he just was out of sorts but he refused to look. He cried and complained when I tried to get him to do it.

When Daddy came home it was like a circus. The kids want the bean bag toss game daddy brought home, it needs to be assembled. My son still hasn't found his book and when I walk by a table I saw it clearly on top, nothing covering it. Everything was getting louder, each child talks over the other one. Daddy wants to watch the hockey game and I want the tv off. He finally decides to go out to buy pop.

I was overwhelmed. My routine was off and my son was crying because now that I found his book I wanted him to finish his homework. He thought he would have the night off of reading because he couldn't find it. But my daughter had gone to bed. I promised her I would have Daddy go upstairs to wish her a good night when he came home.

Daddy came home and went upstairs. The upstairs tv is in the same room that B sleeps in. He didn't come back down and then I hear him cheering on something the hockey team is doing. So he is watching hockey in the same room as our daughter is supposed to be going to sleep in. P is finally reading but constantly asking me how much longer he needs to read.

Finally P finishes his reading for the night, he goes to bed and daddy comes downstairs. I tried to talk to him to explain why it wasn't a good idea to watch tv in the same room that our children are sleeping in. He just watched the hockey game and said nothing. Nothing infuriates me more than when I am trying to calmly talk to him about something and to have him blatantly ignore me. He stared at the tv, and said nothing. He gave no indication that he even was aware that I was speaking.

I got his attention, he told me he ignored me because he was going to get yelled at either way it was easier for him to just watch the game. His hockey his the focus of his life, he will find a way to watch the game if he isn't working. Tonight he kept our daughter awake so he could watch his precious game. When we were dating I didn't mind the hockey, now 16 years later I HATE the game. Not because it is a sport, but because it is a higher priority to him than his family.

We started to yell, I let him get to me and I was upset. Then he stormed out calling me a bitch. When he comes home he will tell me how horrible I was and take no responsibility for the argument. In his eyes he did nothing wrong tonight. No one thing he did was wrong. It was little things added to little things and it was how I dealt with it too. But we can't work on fixing it if he just keeps running away.

What is it going to be like when he is home every night of the week again? How am I going to handle it? I'm sure we will establish another routine, but the adjustment period is going to be rough if tonight is any indication. It also doesn't help that this is occurring during hockey season. He will see that as as a priority over bedtime and homework.

I did remind him that I have been asking him to move in our extra tv from the garage since we moved here. That just made him swear at me because I guess I shouldn't nag him about it even if he hasn't done it in 18 months. Oh and he still hasn't taken out the last two air conditioners after I dropped the one out of the upstairs window. I thought a tv in the basement would be a good solution. He could be down there and watch his hockey and I could attempt to keep the routine with the kids.

So the surprise dry run of his new hours was a huge FAIL tonight. I hope we can get it together and get through this shift in his schedule. Where is calgon when I need it?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Flowers, Friends , Cookies and an Exploding Egg

The day started off unusual. I was enjoying sleeping in when I heard my daughter's gleeful voice, "Mommy, Mommy, open your eyes Mommy!!!!" So I did. She runs into my room bubbling with excitement. She is almost bouncing and then in walks my husband carrying a bouquet of flowers. Honestly my first thought was what did he do? In our 14 year marriage he has only bought me flowers maybe three or four times. I'm honestly not a lover of cut flowers, but I have to admit that they are pretty. This bouquet was all pink so I suspect that my daughter had something to do with it. Still for him to buy me a gift for no reason is almost unheard of. Why now? I don't know, but I'll take it. Anytime he does something nice for me is a welcome surprise.

My mom took me out shopping for my birthday. I had a choice to be responsible and let her get me clothes for subbing or going shopping and spend the money on things I normally wouldn't have the opportunity to buy. I did think about it for a couple days and I chose to have fun and shop. I still have the clothes I student taught in and I am sure they will be just as good for subbing.

We spent the early afternoon shopping and talking and it was really nice. I really enjoy shopping without my family sometimes. Okay most of the time with my husband. He is not fun to shop with. His goal is to spend no money and get out of the store as fast as possible. This is usually opposite of my goal. Not that I go out of my way to spend money, but I accept that money is designed to be spent. While I do try to keep cost down, I accept that in order to function money will have to spent and things will have to bought.

I even left the stores with money left over, that's right! I bought some decorations for Thanksgiving. I hosted Thanksgiving Dinner last year and did such a wonderful job that I get to host it again this year. I told my mom, with a smile on my face, if I had know that last year I wouldn't have tried so hard.

Then I came home and checked Facebook. I thought I might have found a friend from long ago and I did. He had messaged me back and we started catching up on Facebook. That lasted for a few minutes then I gave him my phone number and he called. When I heard his voice it brought back so many memories from when I lived in Kentucky. We were neighbors and became fast friends. So many nights we stayed up late and talked and dreamed. It is funny how some memories can be so clear after almost twenty years that it almost seems like they happened just last week.

Talking with him was just as easy as it was. Ever since I moved away I had wondered about him. We met before internet was an everyday tool. I am not a good letter writer, actually I have no trouble writing the letters, it is getting them to the post office and mailing them that I have trouble with. I don't remember if we tried to stay in touch with phone calls or not. We lost track of each other but we never forgot each other. Over the years we both thought of each other often.

When we finally said goodbye to each other my children had discovered the cookie mix that I had bought earlier in the day. We decided to make the cookies before bed and got out the ingredients. B set everything up on the counter top and P got the butter and eggs out of the refrigerator. I put the butter in the bowl and P handed me the egg. It felt oddly cold and a bit off. I pondered out loud that it would be funny if the egg was frozen. Surprise!

I demonstrated how I could hit the egg hard on the countertop and the shell cracked but no liquid came out. (Can you see where this is going? I couldn't.) I turned around and walked to the garbage to toss out the offending egg. My son said he wanted to try and before I could say "NO!" he smashed the egg on the countertop. The egg he used was not frozen. The egg was crushed and shell mixed with egg white and yolk went all over the kitchen. Of course P and B thought it was hysterical.

Clean up was another ordeal. We haven't even started making the cookies yet. I thought using a box mix would be less work, oh well. Of course the phone range, it was Daddy. At least I could have him bring home more eggs. While cleaning up the children discovered another egg that wasn't frozen. Silly me I thought that there would be less mess as they cleaned not more. Somehow cleaning up two eggs used up most of a roll of paper towels. I would have preferred them to use less paper towels, but I have to admit that together they did clean up all evidence of the great egg explosion and we waited patiently for Daddy to bring us more eggs.

Daddy brought us more eggs and we had no more explosions. We all took turns mixing the dough. P and B didn't think adding just butter and 1 egg to the mix would make a batter, they kept trying to add water. After a few turns they noticed that it was more dough like and then finally I mushed it all together with my hands and my daughter was sure it was magic. Of course it was after all her Mommy is a Kitchen Witch.

The mix came with pumpkin shaped cookie cutters, luckily two, and they took turns with each of them. Together they made 16 cookies, okay 17 I had to eat the odd one. We put them in the oven and they waited somewhat patiently for them to be done. It took some convincing to get them to let the cookies cool down when I took them out of the oven.

Once they were cool I put some orange icing (it also came with the mix, all for $1.99) in the center of each cookie and gave each one a knife. They frosted eight cookies each and decorated them with some green and black icing. They were all ready to eat them when I managed to get a few quick photos. I think they are finally ready to help Mommy with Christmas cookies this year.

The day ended with no arguments between my soon to be ex and myself. He was surprisingly happy all day. I'm not used to a day with so much good happening, but I will take it. My friend and I are back in touch, the kids ate cookies and I got flowers. Happiness is a day full of fun and friends even if some egg explodes all over the place.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another Year Older

Nothing makes you more happy on your birthday than over 100 birthday wishes on facebook. It might seem impersonal but all of these people took the time to wish me a happy birthday. It really can help make a birthday brighter. I had people from elementary school and high school reach out to me and schedule lunch with me later in the week.

To be honest meeting with them gives me a little anxiety. I have been hiding from life for so long that I'm worried about interacting with a real person. I am really looking forward to the lunches. It will be time away from my soon to be ex and some adult conversation. Talking with another adult is something that I have been looking forward to for so long.

B showered me with "Brfday" gifts. They were wrapped in scrap computer paper and were mostly my things. But she was so excited to surprise me with them. It was so much fun watching her go to her hiding spots and bring out all the gifts for me. Then when I was opening them she was almost bursting at the seams. She is a wonderful daughter.

My worse half took the kids to help them pick out a gift for me from a local supermarket. It may sound odd, but I strongly hinted to P and B that Mommy would like potted herb plants from that store. I suspected he would have trouble finding them, even though they were in plain sight in the center of produce. I was right. He had to call me from the store to have me direct him to them. So yet another gift for me that is not a surprise. I miss opening up gifts and having no idea what is in the paper, heck sometimes I don''t even get the wrapping paper.

They came home and he immediately complained about the $7.00 he spent on the gifts. I went upstairs, I am so done with all his bitterness and complaints. It is easier to walk away and ignore him. Unfortunately sometimes he follows me and keeps at it. Maybe him staying downstairs was his birthday gift to me?

His mother called, I guess to wish me a happy birthday. I can't help but think that somehow that conversation would steer towards me not having a job yet or my failure in her eyes of me being a housewife. I don't need her passive aggression. No one else on his side of the family wished me a happy birthday. Not that I was surprised to get no phone calls from them, but not even a Facebook mention was a bit hurtful.

My brother and mom called and I had some nice birthday conversations with them. She wants me to pick out a gift. I have no idea. It is so easy to think of thinks I want for the kids but I can't think of anything I want just for me. Why is it so difficult to think of myself. I'm another year older, but I don't feel any different than yesterday. This will be my year to get me back. Here's to me finding me this year!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Galaxy Inspirations

He relented and I got my painting. Even better B got to meet the artist, Lady Galaxy. Lady Galaxy is a fantastic painter and her medium of choice is spray paint. We saw her at a local fair and my daughter instantly felt a connection with her. Maybe it was because she watcher her from beginning to end start and complete a fantastic pice of art? Maybe it was the fact that Lady Galaxy was female like her? Maybe it was that Mommy and Daddy both liked her artwork?

Whatever the reason B since that day at the fair has pretended to be Lady Galaxy on many occasions. One of our computer programs is an art program. One of the items you can paint with is a can of spray paint, just like Lady Galaxy uses. She loves to use that program and makes space themed paintings like Lady Galaxy.

I wish I had a way to capture the look of her face when I told her I was picking up my painting from Lady Galaxy herself. It was a combination of joy, excitement and happiness. When I thought I wasn't going to be able to get the painting, I was upset because I did really want the painting, but I also wanted B to meet Lady Galaxy. I wanted it to happen for her.

I had a backup plan to get my painting, but my worse half relented. He "allowed" me to get my painting. Truth be told even with out his "permission" I would have gotten it. I didn't need his permission or it turns out his money. I drove out to where she lived and brought my children with me. B was so excited and she had made a special picture to give to Lady Galaxy.

When we got there B was all-a-flutter. She was almost bursting at the seems. I can only compare it to when I meet Clyde Tombaugh. I know most are asking who? He discovered Pluto and was someone I idolized from grade school. I meet him in college and that meeting is still one of the high points of my life. I met my idol and my daughter was meeting hers.

I took her picture with Lady Galaxy but I didn't have a memory card in the camera and there was no image to download. That in itself is heartbreaking. But B remembers her advice and has repeated it many times before she finally went to sleep. She told B to create a picture everyday and everyday she would be one picture better. I think B created many pictures tonight. She just loves creating art and I love watching her do it.

On the way there B Asked me if I was an artist. I thought about it and I am, not an artist with images, paint, ink or crayon. I am an artist with words. I love to write and I often have trouble sleeping because words fill my head and force themselves onto paper or onto the computer.

My painting is home in my living room. It is a beautiful birthday gift to myself, but the gift that I will treasure always is allowing my daughter to meet an idol. B is only 6 but she loves art with a passion I can only compare to my love of astronomy. How would my life have been different if I had met Clyde Tombaugh when I was so young? What will her meeting with Lady Galaxy inspire?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Son is Heart Broken

Yesterday when we were about to go out I told my son to put his bike in our backyard to keep it safe. I told him if he left it in the front yard someone might take it. He without complaint (which was shocking in itself) moved his bike into the backyard near our garage. Off we went and didn't think of that bike again. It was still there when we got back home, but again we didn't really think about it.

I was watching tv late at night, actually it was morning, 1:14 am to be specific when my phone rang. Anytime the phone rings that late at night two thoughts go through your hear, something bad happened and Maybe it's a wrong number. It wasn't a wrong number. My neighbor was calling. She just saw someone walk into my yard and leave with a bicycle. She tried to stop him but he ignored her and took off towards a close main road.

I admit that my first instinct was to try to find him. I woke my husband up and told him that P's bike was just stolen and I was going to see if I could find the person, what was I thinking? I hope I just would have followed him to find out where he went to tell the police. But honestly I was mad, and I was in Mama Bear Mode. How dare someone steal from my son! I drove in all three main directions and even though I was only minutes behind him there were so many options of where he could go that I knew it was very unlikely that I would find him or my son's bike.

I did wake up my husband before I left and told him that P's bike was stolen. I assumed he would call the police so when I got home we wouldn't have too long of a wait for the officer to come to us. At 1:15 am or really anytime a stolen bicycle is not high on the priority list. They would come but not right away.

I pulled in the driveway and saw my husband in his coat standing in our doorway. I thought he was waiting for the police, he wasn't. It didn't occur to him to call them. He couldn't even really describe the bike. He was with me when P picked out the bike. He helped me sneak it home and get it ready for Easter morning. He helped P learn to ride a 2 wheeler on that bike. How does he not know what it looks like? He did know that one peddle was broken in half so I guess that is something.

The police finally came close to 2:30. They had other thefts to deal with and shots fired that early morning. The officer took our statement, my husband tried to hand him the broken peddle, I don't know what he thought they were going to do with it? We gave him the description...

A skinny white make in his 20's appx 5'8" tall, wearing a brown jacket, kaki pants, and a light colored baseball cap.

He called it in and left to talk to our neighbor who had spotted the thief. We don't expect the bike to be found, but still I have posted this information on Facebook and my mommy groups. Possibly someone might know someone who mysteriously has a new bike in the yard. People have been reposting it and that in itself makes me feel better.

Stil I had to tell my son this morning that his much loved bike is gone. I knew he would be upset and I knew there would be tears. I didn't know who badly he would be effected by this. He cried and clung to me. He stayed with me for close to 2 hours. I was his rock and I was his stability today.

A friend of his has stepped up and offered him the use of an extra bicycle that he has. That way we can wait until spring to buy him a new one. Possibly he would have needed a new one then any way. He is a growing boy and his peddle was broken. Still he has been violated and he will not look at the world the same anymore. This was not a child who stole the bicycle, it was an adult. I won't look at the world the same way again either and my view was already jaded. He learned to ride a two wheeler with that bicycle, he loved it and it is gone.

I will press charges if the thief is found. He stole more than a bicycle last night he stole my son's freedom and independence. He broke my son's heart and Mama Bear does not like that at all!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

I'm turning 44 next week. When I turned 40 I faced my fears now I am turning 44 and am facing a life altering change. I know within this next year I will be moving, I will be single again after many years and I will be starting a new job. It is enough to make anyone an emotional wreck. Add to that the uncertainty that I face every day. What will my husband be like today? Will he be the fun man I married or will he be the Ogre that he has become? Today he was the Ogre.

He earned giftcards from his work, they were to be used for Christmas and I strongly suggested that since the money existed and my birthday was coming that he finally after years get me an actual gift. It may sound petty, but after 14 years of marriage I want a present! I had to buy my own anniversary gift, I got a stupid coffee mug and a sloppy handwritten note for Christmas promising me a dinner that I had to wait months for and had to actually ask for.

We got the giftcards in the mail, I say we like a wife but it wasn't we it was he. He hid them from me and changed his mind on what they were to be used for, less on Christmas and more on bills. He decided without me, and I was upset because the decision was his and not to be discussed with me. But he still said one of the cards was for my birthday. He was allowing me a gift after all these years. That gesture meant a lot to me and I went with it.

I found a painting that I loved, I had met the artist and she is a person that I think is amazing. She inspires me and her work is beautiful. Sadly she is retiring again, and is purging her unsold artwork before she moves.
It was a price within the range of the giftcard and enough money was left that I could take my daughter to a musical that I know she would love. I discussed it with him and as of yesterday I was under the impression that it was okay with him. Ugg I hate asking for permission for a birthday gift or anything from him. I am an adult and a capable one at that. I committed to buying the painting. Then I wanted to grocery shop.

Grocery shopping is and has been an issue for us. Most of our fights in our early marriage, before it became the disaster that it is now, were either while grocery shopping or because of it. We shop differently and we made the mistake of shopping together. I say we again, I didn't drive back then and if I wanted to grocery shop he came with me. I look back at it now and see it at control, he didn't encourage me to drive. He preferred to be the one that drove everywhere. He was the one who had the power of transportation.

I grocery shopped with coupons, I compared prices, I would put items in the cart and keep an approximate running total in my head. I also prioritized items. If I ran over my budget some items simple didn't come home with me. I took my time and wandered and looked for new things to try. Grocery shopping for me was a fun event and I enjoyed it.

He grocery shops for just what he needs. He liked Manwich, chicken, beef, pizza, and tuna casserole. He wants to know exactly how much an item was before it went in the cart. If I didn't know the price, or if he felt we didn't need it he would get upset. Once while shopping the store actually called the police on him. They offered to arrest him if I wanted to press charges. Yes he is that mean when we are in public. I should have pressed charges but I didn't.

I wanted ingredients to make a special meal, Pumpkin Mac & Cheese. I needed Hard Cider, cheese and pumpkin. I made the mistake of asking him for the money. He decided he was coming too. I suspected that it wouldn't end well. I was right. Every item I put in the cart he grumbled about and by the time I was one item from being done he again was declaring me irresponsible because we didn't have the money to eat gourmet.

Now I don't think using hard apple cider and pumpkin to Mac and Cheese is gourmet. I saw Racheal Ray make it and it looked and sounded delicious. The kids were looking forward to it too. I asked him to get in line while I got the last item. As the kids and I walked to get the item they wanted to know why Daddy was so mean about money and they said that they were afraid of him. That broke my heart. I need to get them away from him.

When I got back and was looking for him in line he was wandering around doing math out loud. He was grumbling about money so I offered him some of mine. Yes I had money that he had graciously given me earlier in the week. Yes that is how irresponsible I am with money, I didn't use it. Finally we got in line. He then divided my ingredients into three sections on the belt. In the order of priority that he thought they were in. Again he refused my money. Finally the final item I went to get was left on the belt and he declared there was no more money and we were done. So I pulled it toward me and told the cashier that it would be a separate order. Then I added a magazine I wanted and chocolate. I was mad and I took control back from him.

Today I had an appointment with my psychologist. He hates that I go see him, he doesn't believe in them and was fired by my psychologist when I tried to get him to go. He was that much of a jerk in session that my psychologist saw no good from him coming to session. The I asked him for the birthday gift card so I could get the tickets. He flipped out and refused, then he told me I was not going to get anything for my birthday. I just got my certification for teaching and that cost $100.00 so that was my gift. He didn't want me to spend the money, I need a job so I did. Again I took control away from him.

Then he tried to tell me that the large grocery shopping i did was my birthday gift. Seriously, I don't think groceries or shopping for them are gifts. We need food to survive, I just bought food that the kids and I enjoy. Again I took back some control.

By the time we were full out fighting and he looked at me with big bug eyes and made sure that I knew he controlled the money and I had no way to get anything without him. I have no job and I have no money of my own unless he gives me some. He took back all the control. I lashed out and then realizing that I wa about to snap went upstairs. I crumpled to the floor and just cried.

Now I went in the basement to confront him because the kids were not there. I do all I can to keep them out of our problems. When I came upstairs I couldn't hide my tears from them. My daughter gave me hugs and told me she didn't know what to do. She wanted to make me feel better. My child was comforting me. My husband was doing all he could to hurt me, to the point of basically taking my birthday away from me and it is my six year old who is trying to make it all better. I hated that moment, I can never take it back. My baby should not be worried about me.

Oh and to top it off his mother, our landlord wants to do a house inspection this weekend. She knows when my birthday is, why pick this weekend after months of not coming by? All she does is point out all the things she doesn't like in the house. She tells me how I am a horrible housewife and usually mentions at least one or two ways that I am a horrible mother. She doesn't use those words but she sure does a good job of implying it, just like her son does a good job of implying that he is always right and I am always wrong.

So Happy Birthday to me, and I am getting that painting one way or another. How many pop bottles do I need to return I wonder?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guess What?

I don't know when it began or why I started saying it. I know I never planned on using it as a code. Sometimes things just happen and I'm glad it did. It is such a simple phrase, one that people use all the time. But over time two simple words have grown to become so much more. "Guess what?"

Those words are what I say to my children almost every day. They know the answer as soon as the words leave my mouth. When I say "Guess what?" I want them to know that I love them. It has become a playful game we play. I will ask the question and they act like they know the answer and that they don't want to hear it. But they smile and giggle. They sometimes say "I know, you love me." with a giggle. Sometimes they hug and kiss me. Then sometimes they get tickled.

It is the tickling that becomes the game. They giggle and laugh and pretend to get away. Then if I stop they beg me to tickle them more. Sometimes they will look at me with a glint in their eye and say "Guess what?" That is my favorite, that is when those words become so much more. They become ours in a world filled with chaos. For just that moment all that matters is our bond and the fun that we are having.

Now my children are getting older. I know it isn't like they are ready to move out quite yet but those days do draw closer. Already my son has asked me to not refer to myself as Mommy when he is around his friends. I have been Mommy for so long it is hard to become Mom. I know it is just a word, but it just isn't the same as Mommy. Do I dare say "I love you" when he is around his friends?

This year at his open house we as parents were invited to write a message of encouragement to our children on a leaf. My first impulse was to write "I love you" but I paused and thought better of it. Maybe it would be okay, they still are young. But then again they are growing up 9 and 10 year olds can think love is icky. Heck some grownups still do.

Then I thought of those two magic words, guess what. If I wrote them down he would know what I was saying and no one else would. It turns those words from a game to a code. I wrote them on the stem of the leaf along with a message reminding him that he was awesome. I went home that night knowing that he would know what I meant and it would make him happy.

He came home from school the next day and I asked him if he saw his leaf. He said that his teacher read all the leaves out loud to the class. As soon as I heard that I knew I made the right choice. Imagine if his teacher read "I love you" out loud to the whole class. Instead he heard "Guess what?" and knew right away that I was saying "I love you". He told me that it made him smile. That made me smile.

That leaf still hangs on the wall in the hallway at his school and I sometimes ask if he still remembers what I wrote. Let's face it he is in fourth grade and when they are in the hallways he isn't reading the walls. He still remember's even if he doesn't always read his leaf as he walks by it. It has become our code word so I can always tell him I that I love him without him getting embarrassed. So if you hear me say "Guess What?" to my children you know exactly what I mean.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Back to the Grocery Store

What does it say about your life when the fact that you went grocery shopping is the highlight of your day or even your week? That is how I feel today. We got some found money and after a short spat decided that after saving some for Christmas some would be used to replenish our pantry. It was getting very sparse because I wasn't buying the things we needed to have a variety of food. Things like sugar, flour and other items you would use in a recipe to make a meal. He would buy meat, noodles, cream of mushroom soup, tuna and spaghetti sauce.

Variety to him was, after the three of us repeatedly reminded him that we liked dark meat, finally switching from chicken breast to chicken thighs. I want to make pumpkin mac and cheese this week. Variety to me is trying new flavors and combinations of food that I never thought of before. I love to fool around with ingredients and discovering new flavors.

Not being able to grocery shop has been a thorn in my side. I love having the time to myself. I really like being in a store and not having to tell anyone to "Stop touching that!" or "Come back here!". Add that to my love of cooking and well let's be honest, eating, and not being able to grocery shop has been killing me.

Walking through produce and finding new fruits and vegetables to try is like hunting. I have to try to find things that not only my children will eat, but the Ogre too. If you think children are picky eaters, they have nothing on him. He will make the yuck face and often say exactly how he thinks the offending food tastes. Usually it is negative.

There are so many foods I want to try and that I want to expose my children too. They have edible flowers and I keep trying to think of a way to justify their purchase and use in a meal. I used them once before in a salad many years ago. My sister in law still teases me about me using them. That salad was also my first experience with scotch bonnet peppers. I love spicy food but popping a whole scotch bonnet in your mouth expecting green pepper flavor and instead finding your mouth on fire is something you don't forget.

I had to put items back on this trip because I would put things in my cart and find something else that we needed or that would make a great meal. Then because it had been so long since I had done a full grocery run I forgot some items that we did need. I bought Italian Sausage links and forgot the buns. Add to that items I couldn't find like smokey paprika and I really want to go back tomorrow to finish the job.

When I got home the children were overjoyed by my purchases. That is not an exaggeration. They were jumping up and down and as they helped me unpack the groceries would squeal with delight when they pulled them out of the bags. When B saw the purple cauliflower she was thrilled. I have to say that I love the fact that my daughter, like me, loves to try new food.

Now the groceries are purchased and I wonder when I will be able to go back to shop again. He has all the control of the money now. I squirrel away as much as I can, but know it will be a while before I can get enough for a full grocery shop. Already I have a list of items I need or want so I can cook tasty meals. When will I be able to go back to the grocery store?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

School Picture Day

It was school picture day today for my daughter. I admit that it kind of caught me by surprise. I remember getting the order form last week and once again wondering why they can't have a package of just what I want. But I put it down and forgot about it. I don't remember getting the reminder. I can only assume that my worse half emptied her folder and didn't show it to me. So I was blissfully unaware of the status of today when daddy woke up B this morning.

Daddy thought that he was being helpful, he had picked out a perfectly respectable outfit and presented it to her. You would have thought that he had done something unthinkable from her response. She declared loudly that it was school picture day and she had to dress up for it. Those of you who know me even a little bit know that I am not a morning person. But now I have to deal with the morning. I am up and finding out if it really was school picture day. Yikes it is!

She is in her room picking out a beautiful spring dress with no sleeves. Luckily she also picks out a lovely pink jacket like top to go with it. She finishes the outfit with pink pants and white socks. This is the fall picture day and they only take head shots as opposed to the spring full body shots. Okay if she wants to wear pants under her dress I'll let her. At least they match color wise.

I think we got this. She has a nice outfit, I find the order sheet and fill it out. Yikes! $44.00 for the package that has the print sizes I want as well as the DVD. I pick up the brush to brush her hair and she turns around.
There screaming at me is a huge missing chunk of her hair! Deep breath mommy, it isn't going to help if you scream I think to myself. Okay so I calmly ask, "B, did you cut your hair?" She realizes that she has been busted and comes up with a reply way to quickly. "My imaginary friend did it!"

We have had to deal with her imaginary friend before and we have told her that she will be the one punished for what her imaginary friend does. Right now the only thing I can think of is that she is not allowed to play with her "friend" anymore. Of course B knows we are not pleased and starts to cry. I assess the hair and think I can hide it if I give her a ponytail. Victory! It works.

Before she let for school I hugged my sobbing little girl for a long time. I can't get to mad, I know I did this when I was a child. I think it is safe to say that I did it more than once. Though I almost always went for the bangs not the back of my hair. She finally calmed down and finished getting ready for school. This is one school picture day that I won't soon forget.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Book Fair Embarrassment

I love school book fairs! There is something about books that makes my heart go pitter patter. The thought of all those books to pick from excites me and I look forward to them all year long. The fall one is perfectly timed, the kids need books to read 20 minutes a day and this gives them a chance to pick out their very own books. Their choice doesn't always happen. I like to make sure they have a variety of reading material so sometimes I buy books that I "encourage" them to read.

My husband is not a book fair fan. Part of it is that he just doesn't understand how a book can be exciting. He is not a fan of reading and grudgingly reads only when he has to. When I say that he avoids reading I mean if you ask him to pass him a specific kind of salad dressing, lie ranch, he asks you what color the dressing is so he doesn't have to read the bottle. It is like he can make a conscious choice to read or not to read. To be fair I don't understand how he does that. Reading is so much a part of me that I don't think I could turn it off.

There are other reasons why he is not a book fair person. A big one is that books usually cost money. He does not like to spend money. Again to be fare we don't make a lot of money and there is always something we have to do without, a bill that we can't pay or a place we can't go to. Still I try to make sure we have plenty of books in the house. If I can get them at a discount even better.

He thinks we have too many books and doesn't understand why we need more. My philosophy is if they keep writing them I will keep reading them. I know I could go to the library but there is something I like about full book shelves at home. I love being surrounded by books.

Last night was the book fair at my daughter's school. She came home from school bouncing with anticipation for the event that evening. When I told her that we had to wait until 6 pm for it to open she cried because she didn't want to wait. Daddy and I both reassured her that we would take P and her to the fair when it opened. I think she spent most of the time watching the clock. When it was time to go both children were so excited.

We got to the school in just a few moments and pulled into the parking lot. Both B and P had their seat belts off and doors open before we could blink. They were off at top speed excitedly discussing what kind of books they wanted. This thrilled me because my son is not a lover of reading. I think if we didn't encourage him to read or if he didn't have to read 2o minutes a day for school that he would never open a book for enjoyment. To see him excited about reading brings joy to my heart.

Finally we got to the door and found the book fair. It was set up on the stage in the auditorium. With in moments both had books picked out. Of course the books they picked out were $12.00 books. Sadly we couldn't afford books that cost that much so I had to redirect them to books in our price range. I found one I liked for only $3.00. It was a non-fiction book filled with facts about the states. Yup, I'm a nerd and proud of it.

If you have been to a book fair then you know they don't only sell books. There are posters, pens, pencils, erasers, pointers, and all sorts of other fun non book items. These are things that we don't buy at book fairs. However the children always try to convince us that they just have to have a slime kit or a pair of mini drum sticks. Bonus, some of these items are the most expensive things at the book fair, double trouble for us.

After the kids picked out two books each they zero in on the contraband items that they know I'll say no to. I don't want to be the bad guy all the time, so I did what any sensible mommy would do, I sent them to daddy. After all he has all the money now. My son comes running up to me telling me that daddy said he could get the slime kit. Oh goodie I think! He is bouncing up and down and he is so excited. B has also convinced him to let her get a pencil with four erasers. We get in line, I have two books, each child has two books and one contraband item. So far no crying, so far no arguments. That was about to change.

Usually when I go to a book fair I buy bags of books, the spring sale is better because it is the buy one get one free sale. Still I have been known to buy a lot of books at both the fall and spring sales. This time I knew we were low on money and I only picked out two, only $8.00 worth of books. Many books I wanted stayed on the shelves. This was a sacrifice I was not used to making.

Daddy now notices Ps contraband item and asks him how much it is. Seriously, I would have asked the price before I agreed to buy it. Yikes it was $10.00 and there was no way we could afford it. Now tell any child that they can't have a promised item is difficult, but telling an child with asperger's after they are told they can get it is horrible. When daddy told him no the world ended. He was upset and frustrated, tears were streaming down his face. I tried to comfort him. Daddy unfortunately got mad. He called P a crybaby (I hate it when he calls the kids cry babies and I do tell him so).

Remember we are at my daughter's school with teachers, the new principal, parents and other students all around us. Daddy now is swearing and upset, then he notices that I have two books too and he goes ballistic. He now has dagger eyes focused on me and he is telling me how I am spending too much money, now the kids want these stupid extras and it never ends. He tells me how I have no sense of responsibility and we never should have come. Somehow I kept a calm voice and asked him to calm down. He was embarrassing me and people were starting to look.

The line slowly moved, he would storm out of the auditorium and then come back and yell at me in a hushed tone. I had no idea if he was going to pay so I pulled out a check. Big mistake! He was furious now, how dare I use that account, it was stealing (my name is on the account) and I had no right to it. He would pay he finally decided. As he paid he turned to me and announced loudly that we only had $3.00 left for the rest of the week and we didn't have any food.

Okay, I had $20.00 back home so I wasn't worried, we also have a freezer full of food as well as boxed and canned food in our cupboards. We were not going to starve. I think he is finally done and again I am wrong. He whisper yells at me as we walked out of the auditorium. No one can hear him but his body language spoke loudly. He wouldn't stop until we got home and then he only did because he had to go to work.

Today I looked through my books happy with my purchase. I thought to myself that the next book fair would be in the spring and hopefully I will have a steady job by then so I could avoid the argument that always had accompanied book fairs. Then my son came home from school and gives me his back pack. I take his folder out and open it. There glaring at me is an announcement - Book Fair and Ice Cream Social next week. This year the kids are in separate school and it never occurred to me that there would be separate book fairs. Oh oh, I'm in trouble!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

When a Hurt is Overwhelming - An Aspie Tale

For years I have noticed that often there is no small ouch for my son. That is the one aspect of Asperger's that really gets to me. As his mommy I hate to see him in pain. Even if I know the pain in reality should be on the low end of the spectrum his reaction to it is on the hight end of the spectrum and above. Unfortunately I am so used to his over reaction (or a reaction that is not what is socially expected) that it is possible to trivialize it and miss a real major injury. There have been a couple occasions where he really was hurt and I didn't react to it because I assumed it was an over reaction.

In the last two or three months it has escalated. His reactions have been getting worse. He is sure that he has broken a bone and screams. He runs back and forth screaming "HELP ME, HELP ME, HELP ME!!!!" Any parent would panic when they heard this reaction from their child. Watching and listening to this reaction is heartbreaking. A mommy's instinct would be to grab the child get in the car and go to the Emergency Room. I have almost done just that. The decision to go or not to go is a difficult one.

First I have to get him to stop running. This in itself is difficult. Have you ever seen a trapped insect trying to get out of it's enclosure? It is a similar scene. He can not stop running back and forth. Combine that with the crying and screaming and it is a scary scene. The screaming is a combination of pain, fear and confusion. How I don't panic when I hear is beyond me? The only way to get him to stop running is to be calm, speak softly and actually catch him. Yes, I actually have to get in his path and grab a hold of him.

At this time there is no way to hug him, which is what my instincts are screaming at me to do. I have to, almost at the same instant I catch him, access the injury. The first step is find out where the injury is. Sometimes he can't tell me and sometimes you can't tell what hurts by looking at him. Again the key is a soft calm voice and often physical contact. I will stoke his back and get down to his level. I listen to him and do a quick visual assessment. Then the hard part, I have to get him to show me the injured body part.

I have fallen down the stairs and broken my ankle. My foot was turned 180 degrees. Visually when I saw my foot my heel was in the front and my toes were facing behind me. It was such a foreign sight that my First thought was that I had lost my toes. When I lived out of state I crashed my bicycle and put a spoke through my knee. I picked up my bike and walked him. The amount of blood was staggering. The reaction I am hearing and seeing from my son is a reaction a one would expect from a child if they had injuries similar to these. I look and brace myself expecting such an injury. Will a bone be broken? How much blood is there? Will I have time to get him to the hospital?

Now I know the odds are that the injury is nothing compared to the reaction. But once I thought he was over reacting and got mad at him, he really did get hurt pretty badly and I felt like the most horrible mommy ever. I look and there is no blood, no broken bones and no life threatening injuries. Maybe 30 seconds have gone by and now I have to also deal with the reactions of other people in the vicinity.

My daughter is scared, she now is also crying because like me she is neuro-typical and her impulse reaction is something horrible happened to her big brother and he is in trouble. My husband is freaking out, he may not be neuro-typical, his brain I think works more similarly to P's brain than mine. His first reaction is also that something bad has happened but instead of a quick assessment he often will react like my son is. His voice gets louder and it sounds like he is yelling. In other words chaos is all around me and it is overwhelming.

Today P fell off his bike. We could hear the scream from inside the house and it was LOUD! In runs my son screaming "HELP ME, HELP ME, HELP ME, HELP ME!" He announces to us that he broke his bone. This has been his assessment of the last three or four similar incidences. I start my assessment and my husband starts to yell. In case you are ever in a situation like this there is one thing an adult should not do, that is to panic and yell. It often makes the child more upset. It is like throwing gasoline on a fire. Not a good idea.

Chaos is erupting my husband is yelling, my daughter is crying and my son is running back and forth in the living room screaming "HELP ME, HELP ME, HELP ME, HELP ME!" I catch him and force him to show me his thumb. No blood, no swelling, no dislocation, okay nothing too bad. At the same time I tell him that he is okay and announce to my crying daughter that P is okay. This also allows him to hear that it really is okay.

Now daddy is yelling "How can I help you? What do you need?" Seriously, P has no idea, he is in pain and it is overwhelming. He hears that he is okay, but his nervous system is telling him that he isn't. He reacts because that is how he is hardwired. Daddy hears that he is okay but sees that he is reacting like it is a sever injury. Instead of listening to my calmness and reassurance that his son is okay he tries to assess the situation independently. He does this by yelling asking P over and over again if he is okay. Unfortunately P believes that it is worse than it is and this combination is making the situation worse. I am hugging my son, often a bear hug can help calm the over-stimulation. It makes him feel safe and my reassuring voice also starts to calm him down.

He breaks lose and starts running now and daddy keeps asking him what does he need. Maybe a minute has passed and it feels like eternity. He starts to understand that he is okay and pauses occasionally to catch his breath. Now my husband is yelling at me because he doesn't understand what I am doing. He reacts like P does to pain, a little pain causes a major reaction. They are two peas in a pod this way. Just breathe! That instant where I had assessed the situation now comes back to me, did I get it wrong? Should I really take him to the hospital or immediate care? So many things are happening all around me that will start to doubt myself. I have taken first aid courses as well as classes for CPR certification. I am not a first responder, but have gone through the training for first responders in another state. I examine his thumb again and it really does seem to be okay.

Not even two minutes have passed. My son is starting to calm down, he is asking me to hold him and announcing that he needs help in rotation. B has stopped crying but now my husband is upset that I am trivializing his pain, especially since I hurt myself last night trying to catch the air conditioned as it fell out of my second story bedroom window. Gravity won and I learned to never do that again.

Finally P allows me to help him calm down. I rub his back and stroke his arms and hair. I speak softly and slowly and reassure him that he is alright and that his thumb is fine, no bones are broken and it will be okay. He can now look at his thumb and accepts the liquid pain reliever. The chaos is ending and our lives start to return to normal.

I want to be able to teach him to self sooth, I want to teach him that the pain he feels is not on the same scale as his injury. I just don't know if I can. His reactions are getting worse and I don't know if I can always stay calm and help him. What happens when I am not there? What do you do when the hurt is overwhelming?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Story Time Tears

I read to my children every night. The TV is turned off and story time begins. Each child picks out a book and a doorway to another world opens up. I love to read to them, voices are made up for characters, sound effects are used and sometimes tickles are used too. It is an event and has been since they before they were born. It's true I was one of those wacky mommies that read to their babies while still pregnant. Reading is such a part of my life that I can't imagine what it would be like not to have books being part of my life.

My soon to be ex-husband however abhors reading. He has been forced to read all his life and he resents it. He knows how to read, or he is an excellent faker. When the kids were younger this wasn't really an issue. Listening to him read in a flat monotone voice wasn't pleasant but he would read to the kids. Then they started being interested in longer books with more than one or two lines of words on a page and he would find excuses to not read to them.

He would look for an excuse every night to "punish" the kids by taking away story time. There were stupid infractions that were harmless. Things that needed no or little discipline. It would make me so mad. Reading is so important that I don't think it should ever be taken away from a child. We never saw eye to eye about it.

We used to each read a story to the kids every night, not anymore. Now I read exclusively to the kids every night. This isn't an issue because I love to read. But still there are times when he needs to step up and read to the children. Sometimes they want daddy to read. Sometimes I am tired or I don't feel good. Last night was one of those nights. I was tired and didn't feel well. My daughter came to me to read to her and I just couldn't do it. If I can't read you know I am not feeling well. I asked her to ask daddy to read to her. One night of reading in six months, I thought that he could handle it. I was wrong.

I closed my eyes and went to sleep only to be woken up by my daughter. She was crying and tears were streaming down her face. She was so upset, Daddy only read half of the book to her. The book was Fancy Nancy, Poet Extraordinaire! by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser. It is only 30 pages long, on almost every page is a huge drawing that takes up almost the whole page. It is written for children so the words are large print and easy to read. Of course some of the words are fancy, it is Fancy Nancy of course. He wouldn't finish and has upset with me when I asked him about it. He said that he did read to her, what did t matter if he didn't finish the book?

Reading with our children is so important, it develops literacy skills and helps them succeed in school. Even when they are school age they still should be read to because often their listening skills are at a level above their reading skills. If you read to them at their listening skills this help them develop and improve their reading skills. It should never be taken away from a child.

Tonight I read an extra book to them, hopefully that makes up for last night. Now I am waiting to make my dinner, it is 11:27 at night. He insists on eating his dinner before he goes to the store to buy the green peppers for my italian sausage. See, I still am not allowed to have any money so I am unable to buy groceries. I have to wait for him to buy the food. He tries to control me by making me rely on him for everything. The closer I get to walking out that door the more control he takes away from me. He tells me that I will never succeed on my own. He wants me fail and fall apart completely.

It has the opposite effect on me. The more he takes away from me, the harder I work to build scaffolding to help me succeed away from him. I have a substitute teaching job, and I will get more jobs I am sure. Any extra money I can hoard away I do. I am making connections and pushing myself to not fall back into a ball of nothing. I have lost so much of myself in this marriage, but I am getting it all back.

I will keep reading to my children as long as I can. My son has problems reading, maybe it is the Asperger's but I suspect it might be his father's attitude about reading that has contributed to some of his reading problems. So many of the tears at story time have had something to do with daddy that I have to be concerned about it. Soon I hope we will have no more story time tears.