Wednesday, September 12, 2018

back to school back to cool back to the gruel

i feel there should be a law of nature that if your kids are in school it should automatically drop to only 70 degrees. we started school this year on august 6th, which is still the middle of summer, and it was hotter than a squirrel taking a nap in a wool sock behind a heater in hell. 

athena blythe is my only elementary school student this year. 1st grade in a mainstream classroom with plenty of autism supports in place. our school district is great about special ed support. she goes to school the earliest at 715am. she has informed me and i'm sure everyone else within earshot that she does not like school as much this year, "because you have to finish your worksheets." also, i've received a phone call from her autism teacher that she needs to work on not giving a play by play color commentary on her tests and announcing all the answers as she goes along. how do you get mad at that? you can't! that's funny stuff!

do you see the smile on her bus driver's face? everyone loves athena blythe!

super adorable 2nd day of school outfit, for posterity.

the big kids are in 7th and 6th grade in middle school. i was the most nervous but they've both transitioned well. reagan spent the first month with a long term substitute teacher for his class but last week his full time teacher was hired and he probably has a small crush on her. see those pants he has on? he was insistent on picking those out for the first day of school from the men's section at gap. he has not worn them since. 

scarlett likes her chorus class and doesn't mind changing clothes for PE. i was prepping a, "this is how you discreetly change in the locker room pep talk" but she was like, "whatever, i just change my clothes. nobody cares." do you hear that julie clark at georgeff baker junior high in 1992??? "nobody cares." having a locker next to julie clark in 1992 scarred me because she made a BIG DEAL about everyone NOT LOOKING AT HER BUM in the junior high locker room. 

special permission to use the front door and not the car line door with everyone else. autism perks are finally paying off!

meanwhile back at the ranch, herschel and i hit potty training pretty hard. 

"if peeing your pants is cool, then consider me miles davis"
name the movie and i'll eat a cookie in your honor.

as we've been practicing potty training, we've been hitting the park pretty hard, because at the park you're already dripping with sweat, wet from a damp slide or blending in with all the other pants peeing kids.

we've caught a tiny fwog:

and got so close to catching this "papillon" or butterfly, for the fancy nancy uninitiated.

athena blythe has also already had her first sick day from school, right around the time she realized that she had to stop trying to organizing her class's test taking revolution(probably needed to print more pamplets! another cookie for me if you know that movie, too) athena blythe, ever the organizer, made sure we did all the proper sick day activities that she learned from her copious viewing of tv shows and reading of books on the topic. i guess, fancy nancy or the berestain bears must have covered that in a episode or chapter along the way. i don't know. i can't keep up. athena blythe's self-propelled activities and art projects needs to be it's own post. it would be a long post. 

finally, after a LONG MONTH, herschel was finally able to go to his first day of pre-k. he was supposed to started the day after Labor Day but i was informed that the AC was out at his school and would not be repaired for a week, so everything was postponed. i do not blame them. can you imagine? 4325 wild and potentially smelly pre-k kids in an un-air conditioned facility in september, in georgia? no windows in most of the classrooms either? it would be like the Lord of the Flies by the end of day 1, i'm sure.  

he was excited about school until the day off and then i cold tell he was nervous:

nervous smile:

warming up smile:

and then bloody murder screaming because i wouldn't let him run down a 2 story handicap ramp at the school in the wrong direction when we were already the last arrivals.
i handed him off to his teacher and ran the opposite direction. then i cried in my car for about 10 minutes. as i pulled myself together, i got a text from his teacher that he had recovered and was, "having a blast". i recovered too and i had a blast running errands and doing chores and not having it take 10x longer than toddler necessary. i comparison shopped, i went to the bathroom when i felt like it, i got my brows done and stopped at several non-herschel approved stores at the mall. sweet is the peace the gospel brings, but savory is the peace of being child free for a couple of hours for the first time in 13 1/2 years. 

 he talked my ear off about mr. potatohead and the sacrament??? then fell asleep within 5 minutes on the way home that day. 

he talked going to school again the next day all afternoon and jumped out of the car during car line today, no problem. so, school is in session and i have new schedule with some time to blog. hold me to it. 

my new schedule:

wake up at 430, stretch and pray then get out of bed at 440
gym at 515

get home at 645 and wake up blythe
force dress and force feed that poor child, knowing that she's going to eat breakfast at school too because that's just what she does.
put her on the bus at 715

720-eat and rouse the other troops. not reagan though, he's still up at 6am like clockwork. 

740-shower, make up, maybe do hair, listen to conference talks, encourage, love and inspire the children to complete their morning tasks in a fastidious manner.

840-load up for pre-k drop off at 9 and middle school drop of at 920. it's tight. it's going to be a stressful 40 minutes. 

925-all the errands and housework, maybe even volunteer at the school(nah) and i can finally go to doctor's appointments without toddler stress, die from exhaustion

1-revive myself and pick up hersch

314- meet athena blythe's bus

4- pick up the big kids

5-8 dream about my college days of fun and freedom when i thought stress was tests and deadlines and no sleep. reality, stress is actually no sleep with the added burden of grooming the next generation into successful, compassionate, spiritually minded people as i drive them around to various activities, "study" with them, prod them into using manners and practicing personal awareness, while trying to maintain some semblance of a budget while clothing and feeding these unquenchable, and rapidly expanding beasts.  

8- enter that zombie like state of planning and preparing for the next day and enjoying my "free time" as i fall asleep while folding laundry or "reading"(laughable!) or watching 30 minute increments of movies and TV shows that everyone else on earth saw and discussed months ago.

lather, rinse, repeat

Sunday, September 02, 2018

aloha means hello and goodbye

a vacation with kids is never a vacation, it's a trip. we went to hawaii in july. it was an incredible experience, but also it was no walk in the park. traveling with kids will try all your faculties and patience. 

the first flight went great, the second flight was the opposite of great. the airline rebooked us on a different flight than we had planned on taking so instead of breaking it up into more shorter flights and we were (barely allowed) to board a non-stop 7 1/2 hour flight at the last minute.  i had 20 minutes to get all the food we could get at the airport mcdonalds while thomas tried to convince the airline to rearrange some seats so that we could at least have a couple of family members together on the flight. the gate agent finally relented when two of the 6 of us started to have an emotional breakdown. i was one of the the emotional breakdowners. a boy whose name rhymes with breagan was the other. autism anxiety is real. parental autism anxiety also deserves it's own classification.

happy, pleasant flight from atlanta to denver! functioning WIFI, snacks aplenty! bags full of activities still deemed fun:

me after the flight from denver to honolulu:
Image result for orcs lord of the rings

airsickness(me), terrible ear pressure pain(also me), spotty at best WIFI, multiple bags of $3.50 m&ms(goodbye savings), thomas(trying to get extra work done on his laptop) and reagan at the very front of the plane, herschel
(pooping his pants multiple times) and i in the middle of the plane and athena blythe and scarlett in the very back of the plane. sounds like smooth sailing. i prayed a lot. there were no pioneer children singing on this flight.

but we made it and for that i am grateful.

first glimpse of beautiful, incredible hawaii:

we met up with family at a lovely house my mom found for all 26 of us. it was perfect. lots of space. close to so many things on the north shore.

we had family pictures at the lai'e temple. 

the best picture we could get of my darling sister and i:

giant athena blythe and her two tiny cousins june and gwen

scarlett has decided that she's going to BYU-hawaii. she has my blessing. by that point she will want to be as far as possible from the rest of us.

we missed the last tour of pearl harbor but we were able to tour all of the sights and read every single informational placard, just like the offspring of doug beck should. it's always humbling to hear about the feats of courage and bravery and selflessness. 

we went to a really great beach called waimea beach park. the water was beautiful, the sand soft but absolutely hotter than hell burning your toes off sizzling. i had to make an emergency bathroom RUN and all i seriously thought my most embarrassing moment was going to happen on the most beautiful beach in hawaii. i made it. but barely. thanks to my extended family for watching my kids during that ordeal. there's your TMI story of the day. 

i was able to go snorkeling and it was one of my top 10 favorite things i've ever done. 

athena blythe got lost on the beach again. it was frightening again. she made it almost to the other side of the beach and found two nice ladies who helped her find me. i wanted to throttle and hug her at the same time. 

possibly my favorite meal of hawaii:
nutella covered deep fried banana

not pictured was my other favorite meal, garlic butter shrimp as big as the hawaiian zit on my forehead. 

reagan did his best puppet show to date. 

scarlett also sang and she has the voice of an angel.

one morning a bunch of fun people did a hike. my hiking partner wasn't into it. 

we happened upon a dog NOT on a leash and that was the final straw for reagan and me. someday i'll go back to hawaii and hike all alone and i'll love it. 

mark's family was probably embarrassed to be seen with my crew. i was less than thrilled about the situation.

polynesian cultural center was great. except for the fact that thomas had a work emergency that he has to stay back for an take care of and i had to take the crew on my own. the extended family was there supporting but it was still kind of terrible on my own. hersch was being awful and i had to spend a lot of one on one time with him. thankfully, lot of extended family took in my others while i talked hersch down from a cliff.

herschel really loves volcanoes and the only thing that calmed him down was this ceiling in one of the gift shops. 

oh, there i am! calm, cool, collected!

our dinner luau tickets got messed up so we weren't able to eat with the rest of the family. i cried. reagan cried. miraculously, that was the moment when thomas was able to come and we ate all together in the PCC restaurant. just keeping it real, fam. not all trips are smooth sailing.

my favorite part of the PCC was the big show in the evening. herschel fell asleep on my lap and i was able to watch the whole thing in peace. thomas took athena blythe on her multiple bathroom breaks.

scarlett found this weird thing and cracked it open. it was rather unpleasant. 

we had another beach day but it was more rainy and oddly cold. it is never cold in the South in summer so the cool air at the beach during the storm was surprising.

the kids were unfazed by weather.

paddle boarding was super fun but also mega hard. 

my personal highlight of the trip was playing, "keep it going!" in the backyard pool. our record was hitting the ball in the air 77 times without missing.

the night we had to say goodbye to june. autism group hug.

we went to dinner again at the PCC. georgia man made an appearance.

cousins making pizzas.

finally, it was time to go. thanks to grandma sandy for making this happen. it was great to see the cousins build relationships. herschel loved the boy cousins so much that i signed him up for soccer because liked playing with them so much.

uncle dave's family. clearly my picture taking was subpar if i was taking pictures as everyone drove away.

san francisco airport at midnight

sums up the red eye airbus flight from san francisco to atlanta. herschel annoyed thomas the whole time. 

17 hours of travel and we were back in atlanta just in time to drive home during rush hour.