musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the month “May, 2011”

blur

Some weekend soon, I need to stop this hustle bustle and just take the kids to the beach, so that we can do nothing but watch them in the water and sit back, somewhat relax. My weekends have gotten out of control – scheduled, but just too much. At least one, and upwards of three events per diem is too much for anyone, let alone bad back and bad ankle me. I need to recognized this better and take care of myself in less of an after the fact manner.

In the meantime, Memorial Day weekend was a blur, and only two events did I have the kids involved. Otherwise, Mr. Cynic pretty much spent the long weekend babysitting. I already mentioned Friday night in the my last post, and Sunday night included two seatings for a Lynda Carter show at the Virginia Arts Festival. She had a great band filled with Hall of Fame musicians, including Blue Lou Marini, the sax player who has played with everyone and who Jim Henson modeled his Muppet sax player after. Wonder Woman can sing, but to be honest, while the show was enjoyable, she took a lot of old favorite songs of a generation or three and turned them all into mid-tempo cabaret numbers. Not quite my cup of tea for an entire show. I need more variance. But, I will say, she is still absofrigginlutely gorgeous. and you can tell she hasn’t had a ton of outside help with it. She was also very down to earth, even while on stage.

Mr. Cynic would have babysat for one more event, but I decided to risk Captain Comic’s ability to cope with a crowd and a live orchestra. It didn’t go particularly well and we skipped the orchestra in the end.

Here is some photographic excerpts from a couple of things this weekend, camera battery died, so it’s all via cell shots:

The neighborhood pool opened for the season! Sorry about my finger. just think Kids in the Hall – “I’m crushing your head!” It also looks like I sunscreened  the lens.

 I only saw Captain Comic at this lifeguard break, for three solid hours of pool time. Mr. Cynic invited his latest girlfriend. He’s turned into a teen serial monogamist, four girlfriends in three years. At least he’s not a playah. To be fair, these past nine months or so of dating his prior gf, it was difficult for them to see each other outside of school.

 When I had a chance to water the gardens and yard at some point, I discovered a few things growing, some intentional, some not, like this birch under the wisteria covered slide platform.

 And this oak sprig under the trampoline.

 I discovered my first snap pea pods, and Toots and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Pea pods barely make it to mouth by way of table. usually, I just eat them straight from the plant.

 Watermelon from seeds I planted earlier this week!

 And squash, too! It must be that good dirt I planted them in.

We made it to the pool again briefly between things on Monday.

 Then we headed to the Arts Festival Picnic for the Volunteers in Norfolk, which was too hot and crowded, and Captain Comic coped by chowing down multiple hot dogs and sodas and bags of chips. I couldn’t stop him for anything. There’s a little issue with impulse control with our aspergian brethren. Captain Comic has particular difficulty in this aspect of Asperger’s Syndrome.

The great thing about the event is that the local PBS station’s tent was next to ours, so Toots got to meet Buddy from Dinosaur Train! And I rode home with a pocketful of excavated little dinosaurs. This was the better picture until the invasion of the elbow.

 This one was very off-kilter because the glare off the water behind them made it impossible to see where they were in the frame of the shot.

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra played, but not until after we left. We were so overheated, the crowd was unbearable for Captain Comic and me, some people have no concept of personal space or basic common courtesy aand I was hurting, and tired of trying to keep tabs on two of my kids running in opposite directions while the eldest kept whining about when we would leave.

As much as he can be extremely trying at times ( a large portion of this weekend he was non-stop and confrontational noise), how can anyone, let alone me, not love this boy? Here he is watching the Youtube video Kitten vs Scary Thing for the about the 412th time in  about 2 days. I caught him giggling away during a little downtime on Monday morning.

I wish I could tap into joy so easily, so unreservedly, so utterly and so often. With Captain Comic’s help, I will learn one day to just completely let go in laughter over something as simple as a kitten encountering a tennis ball. (Yes that is my messy desk and crammed bookshelves.)

So my weekend was crammed with mayhem, once again, and with an extra day of it added. How was yours?

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saturday morning convo

Grandma, Honey and I volunteer for the Virginia Arts Festival. Last night in Williamsburg, we ushered for a concert of Chick Corea and Gary Burton. Absolutely outstanding show, I was mesmerized. So was Honey. These are giants of jazz, for those who don’t know. Honey and I had to educate a few of the other volunteers a little bit about who these musicians were. I forget sometimes that while there are some people who are absolutely fanatical about jazz – like one guy I saw keeping set lists, there are many more who have never dipped their toes in that syncopated water. Honey and I fall somewhere between those extremes, a little closer to the fanatics.

So while all three adults of the house were in Williamsburg, Mr. Cynic babysat. Babysitting largely comprised of viewings of Kung Fu Panda, expected, and apparently Captain Comic added Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius.  


This morning, after our late night arrival home, Toots wanted to wake us – twice. The second time, she climbed into our bed with the Jimmy Neutron DVD case in hand.

Toots (points to the picture on the cover): Das Jimmy Neutron.
Mom: M-hm.
Toots: And das Carl.
Mom: M-hm.
Toots: And das Jimmy Neutron’s dog, Tonnor.
Mom: I don’t think Jimmy Neutron’s dog’s name is Connor. Daddy, isn’t it something like Einstein?
Honey (slowly rouses from sleep): …………………………………………Goddard.
Mom: Oh yea, the dog is named after a famous scientist, Goddard.
Toots: We sing dat in pweschool.
Mom:  What?
Toots: Goddard.
Mom: What?
Toots: We sing Goddard in pweschool, before we eat.
Mom (light slowly dawns): OH!
Toots (sings): Goddard fadder, Goddard fadder, we thank you, we thank you…..
Mom (chuckles): That’s God our Father, not Goddard, silly!
Toots: Oh.

milestones

Preschool is serious business.

Not really, in fact it’s built on play. But they sure take the end of the year to extremes.

It’s the last week of Toots’s preschool. She went two days a week all year. Tuesday was a party in her class. Thursday there was a performance and awards ceremony. Here’s a peek. The whole thing was utterly cute. So cute it could kill an ordinary man.

That’s Toots in purple in the front row, with her class of Busy Bees. Behind them are the Froggies, 2 classes of the next age group up. 

We mother and educator types were slayed, weeped and wailed – not really, but we were a very teary lot. The Director for fourteen years also retired. It was said that her first students were entering college, entering the military and entering the workforce. She was incapable of reading her own speech. Toots’s teacher presented the Director with a bouquet, etc, having worked with her for five years, and had her kids under her care for four years before that. She could barely get through her presentation, utterly weepy.

And then today was the Picnic Festival. Toots started off shyly, which is odd, because shy is the last word to describe her. But once she settled in, she had fun, fished for candy and toys, got tattoos, blew bubbles with her friends. But no matter how many times she built the courage up to go into the blown up caterpillar, she could not do it once the air blasted her in the face from within.

I don’t have the slightest clue what has happened to this school year. A couple of weeks remain to the public school system for Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic. Mr. Cynic has his fourth girlfriend since September and will be a Junior next year. A Junior. I still can’t get him to drive though he has his permit. He doesn’t have a job. He is my baby, but he is taller than me (finally) and his voice is three octaves below mine.

Mr. Cynic smiling after his jazz choir concert. 

Captain Comic struggled his way into sixth grade and middle school, until the new school finally figured out how to comply with his IEP. Now, he is – for an aspergian – a social butterfly, eating lunch in the cafeteria with friends rather than his case manager’s empty classroom. He has joined the homework club, and stays after school to complete his assignments, again with friends, rather than having knock down drag out screaming matches at home with me over them. He finally is getting the hang of riding a bike.

This was taken on the sly of him at the doctor’s office 
when we went in for an acne issue a couple of weeks ago. 
He’s reading a pamphlet on childhood diseases, and thoroughly enjoying it. 


I don’t know about this growing business and how it affects the kids at the moment. But right now, this mother can barely take it any longer. How do I make it stop? 
 Just for a moment, though, because it sure would nice to one day not have quite so much laundry to do.

progress

I made some headway during a writing session at the library this morning. I’m in a section that just needs some tightening, mainly. But mostly, I am happy to be in a part of it that I am really pleased with already. Now if I can just commit to type-type-typing away.

I did a little bit more research on Galileo again, too. Just a refresher that helped a lot, because I had made up a comet that he spotted in 1603. That wouldn’t have happened. The telescope wasn’t invented until 1608, and he made improvements to the first in 1609. So 1603 became 1609 in my manuscript.

I am all about accuracy, even when I am making it up.  It’s the little things that you pay attention to that really make a work of fiction believable.

before & after

It was a process that took days, and woman hours, and a few man and kid hours, too.

I had another over-scheduled weekend to try to squeeze the most important thing to me into – because, really I should have done this about a month ago.

I moved the shadiest garden plot to the sunny side of the yard. a 4×8 plot.

Before:
Here is where it was:

Of course I took the before shot when the plot was in its sunniest hour of the day. Those birch trees, and others absolutely cover this plot in shade for most of the day, especially the back end of it.
Yuck, right? All the grass and crap growing under the plastic is largely because once upon a time, I bought a truck load of dirt from a guy. Turns out it wasn’t good garden dirt. And then I was on bedrest pregnancy, and recovering from it, and had surgery because of it, and so forth and so on, and it sat in my side yard growing things I had no intention of growing in it for a couple of years. Even after I’ve been weeding it mightily and feeding it mightily for few years, it still just likes to grow crap, not so much what I try to plant in it.
Target, sunny side of the yard. That chaise is where you can find me for a little while most sunny days. And Toots likes to picnic there for lunch. The plot is going to move in next to the plot you see to the right. the wisteria is finally filling in, wall like, after the bloom cycle, to the left of the frame.

During:
I tried, but couldn’t loosen the frame. I couldn’t get it to budge at all. Honey did it by himself with a proper lever system he rigged up. Flipped it right over. I love when he gets all manly.

Then he had something going on and I tried to move the frame across the yard with my bad back and ankle and reluctant Mr. Cynic. We couldn’t budge it, except to get it up on its side.

The next day, Honey got back on it and after a failed attempt with positioning on the flat tire wheel barrow, 

we recruited Captain Comic and the three of us worked with cinderblocks and my garden supply Radio Flyer.

It worked! 

And then we maneuvered it into place on the barrier tarp over the grass.

Then we went out to Lowe’s for more good dirt and some garden path stones, and stopped for Hawaiian Ices with Captain Comic and Toots. Mr Cynic was working on a school project at a friend’s house, but I saved him some of my ice and he thanked me.  Toots climbed her first tree while The Rapture did not come except for me, because I was always up a tree as a kid. That’s my girl!
When Mr. Cynic came home shortly after we did, I drafted him to move the dirt and stones from the van to the plot. I told him he could count it as a work out for his independent gym credit. Six bags of dirt and four concrete stones.

Then this morning, I finally got back to work. But my bad back and ankle did not like me before I did, and even more so now. 

That’s some good dirt.
Apologies for the awkward angle.

After:
It’s still a bit shallow. but I planted watermelon seeds toward the back, yellow straight neck squash seeds in the middle, and a tomato and a cucumber seedling in the front. The fat rain drops began to pelt me. But I decided I could plant one more thing and get all the tools, etc back into the shed in time.

And I managed to plant a pepper in the new plot with good earth. And I believe that completes my plantings for the year.

But of course now I am dreaming about bulbs…..

between downpours

The King’s Ransom rose bloomed in my front garden by the driveway.

Even with blight, he’s gorgeous.

And that was the cutest little spider friend he had hanging out with him, looking for a safe haven to not be washed away. (click and zoom!)
And then I dove either back into the house or van with my cellphone captures as the sky poured a bucket down my back.

oh yea, writing

Yesterday, Tuesday, is my usual writing day. Toots goes to preschool, I go to my writing group twice per month or the library on other Tuesdays. Grandma picks Toots up from preschool, so that I can go into the afternoon to have a good run of editing before the boys start coming home from school.  I thought I could edit at home yesterday, between a bunch of phone calls and sundry things. Of course, I couldn’t focus on the manuscript to even take my edit copies out of their bag, let alone open the document. 

I decided earlier in the week that I would write on Wednesday, but yet again, I can’t get out of the house to do so as Toots is home, and Grandma will be in and out because of appointments. Usually I can grab a Wednesday morning of child care from her, because Wednesdays are the day she typically stays home. 
I had a great breakthrough in the edits last week, and writing became fun again. It hasn’t been fun for this whole ‘final draft’ process. I still love my story and characters and everything, but I am very ready to jump back into my imagination and start something new, so I am not very pleased about going over the material I’ve been working on for eons yet again. But last week, my muse blessed me, and I loved it. 
I am hoping I will manage to at least do some more typing into the new document between laundry loads  (I’ve been bad this week re: laundry, and the boys have been begging for socks, underwear and jeans for a few nights now, even though there are three clean, unfolded baskets in my room from the past couple of weeks) while Toots is watching various selections from Netflix streaming. “Mommy, I want Yeyyow Kipper!” “Mommy I want Yeyyow Byues Cues!”
But even as I am typing this somewhat of a get it out of my system post, I have miss squirmy worm wiggling on my lap trying desperately, and cutely, to get my attention, and I am thinking that I need to switch laundry loads, and I still need to fold those three old baskets upstairs, and the rain just stopped and I should go at least start some seedlings in a pot until I can can have Honey’s help to move that raised bed to the sunny side of the yard, and this is why I leave the house to write. 
Ugh. But I am determined to take those critiqued copies out of my bag. After all, I cleaned off my desk yesterday, and now they’ll fit. 🙂

captain comic rides again

Yes he did ride his bike some more, and made progress on his own, for which I’m very proud. 

However:

Last night, I got a call from the the local Sheriff’s Department. Captain Comic did not admit to it at the time, but I got out of him this morning that he did, in fact, call 911, but hung up when he realized that was a bad idea. 

When we received the call to be sure everyone was alright, I was like “Um, Grandma, the three year old and I are watching TV, the teen and Dad are on the computers right here next to us and the twelve year old is in the shower upstairs?” I walked upstairs to check on the greatest likelihood, and Captain Comic peered through a cracked bedroom door to deny making the call. I wasn’t entirely certain he was being honest, but I put the cracked door down to the fact of him being half-dressed after his shower.

Then a deputy came by and he lied again to me and to the deputy who said, “It’s okay, you’re not in trouble, just tell the truth.”

Late last night, I discovered the phone in my room was missing from its phone bed. I was not surprised, regardless of the number of opportunities I gave him over the course of the evening to come clean. This morning I confronted him with the evidence and another threat of no screens, whereupon he was very contrite.


I called the Sheriff’s Dispatch this morning and discussed with them what happened, and apologized about how this is something normally a four to six year old does. So they’re sending another deputy over tonight  to speak with him so that he can understand the importance of what 911 is used for.  The woman who answered chuckled and said, “It’s okay, my son did that, too, when I did not respond quickly enough when he stubbed his toe.”

Here’s the kicker:
He told me this morning that he wanted to ask them a question. 

Mom: What did you want to ask them?
Capt. Comic: If there really are criminals running around the streets.


asperger’s syndrome and bikes

Asperger’s Syndrome presents some unusual challenges as a parent that most parents never have to deal with. Certain things most parents accept as a given can never be assumed to operate in the same seamless and joyful sense.

Bike riding is one of these things. It involves both fine and gross motor skills, quick and accurate reaction time, muscle memory, and a wide variety of other things most people take for granted. Most neurotypical kids learn to ride a bike by the time they are six years old. Usually it involves one parent secretly letting go from behind and tricking the kid into the ride alone.
In my conversations with many parents of Aspies, I have found typically, if ever, they put together the pieces of learning to ride a bike when they are about twelve to thirteen years old. Captain Comic is that now. Some parents have found alternative bikes, like the leaning back three wheeler, a better way to go for their kids. Some never learn to ride, some learn to ride via an attachment to their parents’ bikes, but Captain Comic had gotten too big for that. 
He has recently made friends with a couple of boys in our neighborhood who tool around on their bikes and scooters quite a bit. Yesterday they came knocking, and asked him to join them. 
I was arriving home from the second trip to the dump with loads of branches that I, Mighty She-ra of Yardwork had trimmed from the big weeping birch on our corner. 

This post is not about me, it’s about Captain Comic, but I had to share that I singlehandedly trimmed the entire tree’s bottom rungs of branches that reach to the ground all by myself by hand, old school with clippers and handsaw. My friends on Facebook know this already. I was quite braggadocious about my muscley feat over there. I made Mr. Cynic hang from a particularly large branch over my head that I was sawing, so that he might pull it down quicker – all ninety-five pounds of my sixteen year old son. The pipsqueak, I love him.
But enough about me.

So as Honey and I arrived home from the dump, Captain Comic was bursting through the front door, with a bike more suited to Toots’s size than a kid who is practically my size, with training wheels and flat tires.
Later when I asked him what his friends thought of that first bike, and his riding along with them on the tiny, flat tired, training wheeled thing, he replied, “They were cool with it. They didn’t care.” 
This makes me very happy: as nutty and oddball as he is, there are peers right here in our neighborhood who accept him just the way he is. sniff

But back to the topic. After inflating the tires on another dusty old thing in the garage, I didn’t give up on him, even when he gave up on himself and the process. I threatened and cajoled, as nicely as possible for him to just keep trying. I whipped out Nelson Mandela’s tale when Captain Comic declared he was, “Hopeless, I tell you! HOPE-LESS!” And he fought and yelled and fell and threw the bike and ran away, and I threatened no screens (tv, computer, videogames) unless he tried into a side cul-de-sac and back to the house.  
And then the magic happened. He stopped fighting me. He stopped fighting himself. He stopped fighting the bike. He listen (sort of) when I talked about feeling his core muscles tell him how to correct the balance. He told me to stop talking and he kept trying, past our house, across the busy intersection and into the other cul-de-sac, and then back home again. 
He is this close (fingertips together) to taking off in freedom and speed around the neighborhood.
Witness:
If you turn the volume up you can hear him tell me to stop speaking, and what happens when I say okay, then sorry.  He’s so funny. I love this kid.
Nothing is hopeless. Not even a child with a form of autism learning to ride a bike. All you have to do is keep trying.  


a dog’s life

 Toots loves a picnic. 
Lucy loves to take over the chaise where I sit.

It’s a dog’s life. 
Soak up the sun.

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