musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “transitions”

1st day of school

Yesterday was the first day of Mr. Cynic’s Junior year and Captain Comic in seventh grade.

Mr. Cynic has been riding the bus to high school for the past couple of years, though we live .4 mile from the school. That’s closer than I lived to my high school, to which I walked – up hill both ways in the snow. Seriously, I did. It was hilly where I lived growing up in Connecticut. Not here though, and only the occasional appearance of snow.

But back to yesterday, Mr. Cynic and the first day of school. He had the same bus driver for his first two years of high school. She could probably drive her route with her eyes closed. She retired and there was a new bus driver, who drove rather like a lab mouse introduced to a new maze. She had no idea where she was going in the morning. And again in the afternoon. At every intersection she turned the wrong way, according to Mr. Cynic. When his bus was significantly late on the way home, I received a text message: going to be late. bus driver doesn’t know what she’s doing.


When he finally arrived home, he declared he was never taking the bus again. I smiled. The boy who eschews exercise will be getting some. Every day.

Captain Comic’s bus involved less drama but more nerves on my part. He has been riding the SPED bus since we moved here five years ago. He stands at the end of the driveway in full sight of his peers at the corner bus stop to get on a different bus. Last Halloween, I found out that they all knew him, but he didn’t really know them. As we walked around the neighborhood, the common cry was “I see him at the bus stop.” Last spring, his IEP team and I decided it was time he ride with his neurotypical peers. And when I had an IEP team meeting last week, they all told me, “Mom, you cannot walk him to the bus stop. You cannot ask his friends if it’s okay for him to sit with them. He needs to do this himself. He’s thirteen.”

And while my instincts know this is true for any other kid, I still want to protect him, manage his interactions. So I stood at the window with the camera and watched him. He did alright.

Which one is Captain Comic? Look at the socks.


I checked in via email with his case manager and he had a great first day, even with a homeroom teacher change. 
Mr. Cynic is excited to have friends in most of his classes, and is excited to be taking Music Theory with most of his band mates. Keep in mind, they have not rehearsed all together once as of yet, so band mates is still a relatively loose term.
In the meantime, Grandma took Toots with her to her morning pool exercises, and after three weeks without even cracking the manuscript with all the mayhem here, I had an excellent edit session at the local library. I dove into the creative river, doused myself and completely rewrote two chapters really well! The session exceeded my expectations, especially since I felt so lost as I opened the document.
Honey, post-surgery, went back to work yesterday, even though I felt it was too early, but I can’t keep him from work. It’s his thing. It’s hard to see that he loves it sometimes, but deep down, I think this is his creative drive, even when used for others’ purposes and under crushing deadlines. 
So we have returned to the usual mayhem, and having a routine for it that’s a little stiffer than summertime benefits us all, especially after this area has been hit by Mother Nature with smoke from the great Dismal Swamp fires for weeks now, and an earthquake and hurricane last week. The ten to fifteen inches of rain that came with Irene did not douse the swamp fires. Yesterday afternoon, we had a good bit of buckets full rain while Captain Comic was walking Lucy, and with them came Tornado Warnings. And still there is smoke in the air. But we go on, relatively unscathed, unlike many of my friends and family all over the East Coast and inland. Some are still waiting for power after the Hurricane while others in Texas droughts and fire fields, are now without well water. 
I feel very blessed that we are back to our normal. Almost – Toots starts preschool next week.

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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…..

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.  


sixteen

My first born turns sixteen today.

Fall 1996, Gaga & Papa’s house in Ct.

Tears start now.

Not because I’m sad, not because so much of my life has passed in that time, not because I mourn the passing of his childhood.

But because I am very proud of the child becoming a man before my eyes, as only a mother can know. Love keeps cracking me open to my own vulnerabilities and strengths that I discovered through growing him inside sixteen years ago and watching him grow, as best as I can without interfering with his fully realizing himself.

16 on 16:

1. He’s a very old soul, and a very old soul is he.
2. He sneezes a lot.
3. He plays a mean electric bass.
4. He’s teaching himself guitar.
5. He smirks, always.
6. He sings, really really well, competitively well.
7. He writes songs.
8. He writes books, has since he was in kindergarten.
9. He’s fragile, in good ways.
10. He’s strong, of spirit, not so much in body.
11. He is very very protective of those he loves.
12. He oozes into furniture, merges, becomes one.
13. He’s kind of a space cadet.
14. He has a very dry wit. (Hence calling him Mr. Cynic here)
15. He has good hair.
16. The girls think he’s cute, kind of like a pocket rock star.

I love him very much, and I like him, too. He’s pretty darn cool. And speaking as his mother, I’m kind of glad he’s still a pipsqueak.

Valentine’s Day 2011, He let me do this.

I love you, K-Bear, Happy Birthday. 

ages & stages

The kids
Mr. Cynic is currently approaching his 16th birthday and is away on a trip with his high school competitive choir. I let him pack himself, and only asked a few did you remember type questions. There was a slight problem with a cufflink and studs order not arriving in time and Honey and I scrambling to get a second set the night before the bus pulled out of the parking lot at 6:30am yesterday. Of course a few hours after he was on the road, the online ordered set arrived, so now we own two. Men’s formal wear is now covered well in our house, who would ever have imagined that?

Captain Comic is approximately twelve and a half (August he’ll be thirteen, lord help me).  He takes a SPED bus to his middle school, and the policy in place until yesterday was that he got off the bus before the rest of the students disembarked from their busses because of his sensory integration issues with crowds. I received an email yesterday that he has been wandering the halls in the mornings and scaring teachers by jumping out from behind corners and doors. In effect, revisiting the topic of either keeping him on the bus until he is released with the rest of the students, or assigning a paraprofessional aide to him during that time period of the morning. I have been talking about his need for a para because of his wandering since Day One at this school last September. I have to say my first reaction was to giggle when I got the email, because I can just picture him and his delighted shifty grin as he jumps out and exclaims, “Waa!” at a select teacher.  He does it often at home.

Toots turned three two weeks ago today, had a princess party and promptly became a rather bratty one after that, with potty training regression included.  This morning’s tantrum was of great magnitude. She observes Captain Comic’s less desirable behaviors and parrots them. I told her and Honey that we will be having consistent use of time outs to rectify this, and we all need to be on board with it. Her behavior lately has really been unacceptable.

However, she does still have ample cute moments such as when we sat down to dinner last night:

Toots: Where’s my bruver [Mr. Cynic]?
Mom: He’s in South Carolina for his Choral Competition.
Toots: Well, go pick him up!

Writing
After writing off writing last week during the kids’ spring break, I decided it’s now or never, and conferred with Grandma to take Toots off my hands so I can get out of the house to write everyday this week for a few hours, while Captain Comic is in school, and Grandma is on board. Monday, I futz around the house while telling myself I would write all morning. I had it all laid out, and couldn’t get a grip at all from where I had left off when I last visited my manuscript. I am in the middle of the manuscript in a complete overhaul and found it very hard to work on a chapter that still felt like the prior drafts, when I needed to clearly move forward. I think most of my problem on Monday was that I just had not looked at it in well over a week.

Tuesday, I was excited, having looked at it the day before, to take the manuscript with me out of the house and to my writing group. I wrestled with the chapter, doubted every edit I’d done in this draft and questioned all the work I’ve done on the book in the past six months, which has been a lot of changes. I kvetched after a couple of hours, and sat back down in front of it and finally saw a way out of the problem I was wrestling with. Then the other writers in my group all started having similar issues with focus and what to do next and decided to break for lunch, right when I found the groove I needed.  It’s okay, it happens. I knew I would work on it again the next day at the library.

Yesterday, at the library, I attempted to continue where I left off the day before. It was like typing through drying concrete. The further I went, the slower it got. It was painful to watch myself go through that, because I know what I need to do. I’m just stuck in this middle of the book chapter and know what comes after is pretty well put together; I just need to get through this for the rest to make sense and flow well again.

So here I sit, writing this instead, so that I can process my way out of the concrete, while eating a late breakfast, because Toots was such a pill this morning before preschool, I couldn’t get my own stuff together for after her preschool drop off.  But as soon as I finish, I am packing this dang laptop up and heading to my windowed corner of the library to sit with my muse, if she will visit today. I think she will.

slices

Still working on upstairs, mostly my room. I swear I am not a hoarder.  Where did all this effluvia come from?

Boys’ room is now disaster of their making. They are forces of chaos each that when combined, react much like a baking soda and vinegar volcano – instant production of mess exponentially increasing by the second. But less wet and frothy. I knew there was a good reason why I separated them five years ago. Besides the fighting.

Toots is loving her new room. It is now the least crammed with furniture room in the house. She can wunawound and wunwound and wunawound! She has also discovered the long hidden Marble Run Game. We must build interesting towers of Rube Goldberg proportions. She must drop a gazillion marbles through them. It’s fun. But there is more to life, like my room reconfiguration being completed, making dinner, making Irish soda bread for St. Pat’s and how about some pesto pizza to go with that? Of course, and laundry – my name is Sissyphus.

Mr. Cynic has a bit part in his high school’s musical, Urinetown. Opening night was last night. He is in the back and cursed with two sets of short genes. He is invisible on stage. But I can hear his singing.  He’s good.  Mom is proud of her invisible son.

Give me a minute.  Captain Comic said something yesterday that fell into the interesting things Captain Comic says realm.  I’m exhausted. I have been moving furniture, cleaning out furniture and closets for over a week.  I’m not cut out for this. Okay, I’ve got it now:

Captain Comic looked at me in an examining fashion yesterday.  I waited for what he was obviously considering may be an inappropriate thing to say, which is a step up from his prior lack of awareness regarding blurting out a perfectly innocent and factual observation that may hurt someone else’s feelings.

Mom: What’s on your mind?
Capt. Comic: Mom…..I think you should dye your hair again.  You wouldn’t look so old.
Mom: Well, how about I stay true to myself and how I was made, instead of changing myself to please others in a societal expectation of women not aging gracefully? Besides, it gets expensive to keep up the pretense.
Captain Comic: Uh-huh.
Mom: [Capt. Comic] honey, would you want to make yourself different from how you really are, just to please someone else?
Capt. Comic: Oh. No. I see. Okay, you don’t have to dye your hair.

None of us is adjusting well to Daylight Savings.

I did manage to squeeze in some good and effective writing time on Wednesday amid this week’s extraordinary mayhem. 

Go out and get a good look at this extraordinary Super Moon this weekend. It’s closer to the Earth than it has been in about twenty years.  Last night, she was gorgeous.

Also, everywhere around me, the trees are blooming: pear blossoms, cherry blossoms, forsythia, you name it.  I must say, though I miss New England burst of spring awakening a lot, these long extended and rolling blooming springs of southern Virginia are truly stupendous. When I can leave my house for more than quick errands and kid shuttling, I will get some photos, especially of the cherry trees along Canon Blvd.

ugh

1.  I want to edit the manuscript.

2. I am still working on the upstairs room switch. My room is the worst mess right now, especially my little worship space which needs to move out of a dusty cramped corner and to where Toots’s crib was.

3. I am so exhausted I can cry at the drop of thought.

4. I have the second of many dental appointments to come today, because I did not go for years.

5. It is a sunny beautiful day and I need to do something about this:

I have an issue in my lavender. I have bulbs that would like to bloom there. I have wild flowers taking over the driveway edge.

I think I will opt for garden gloves, spade and vitamin D absorption right after I finish this egg.

It is the Ides of March and the forboding I feel is not exactly on par with Ceasar’s, but close. I feel like there is not enough time or energy for all that I want to accomplish.  But I’ll be fine, eventually.

And when Toots comes home from preschool, she wants another game of marble run in her new room that is “mine so stay out, [Captain Comic]!”

To be fair, the three of us really enjoyed a marble game yesterday. But boy, am I going to be in trouble when she’s a teen, right?

spring is trying

Lately we’ve had warm days, we’ve had cold days, we’ve had wet days, and the yard is a mess. The leaves clung to the local trees for most of winter, brown, and have slowly been releasing themselves as the buds appear. Especially the great oak on the corner. Oak leaves are strewn everywhere and the daffodils are struggling through.

I’ve been pricing rakes online because I want to get out there and rake.

Apparently our rake was a giant monster and has been subdued to pieces by Captain Comic.

future photographer

Sorry, I don’t mean to rub it in for you storm weary folks, but yesterday, it was 70F here.

(Duck)  Please don’t shoot.

Don’t worry, it was a one day only tease thanks to Punxutawny Phil. We’re back in the 30s now. 

Toots and I took a walk with Lucy around the neighborhood and lake. I took pictures, she took pictures.

Here’s one of her pictures. They were all a variation on theme. lots of chopped faces and up our noses shots.
Then I took this one of Lucy.
Love that dog.  But I think Captain Comic will be walking her today. Burr.

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