Wednesday, March 27, 2019

birthday boys

 herschel turned 4 on february 4th and reagan turned 14 on march 16th! 

just a quick recap, i made an ugly cake for herschel. he was quick to let me know it was a thumbs down. i have to agree. thumbs down for effort but thumbs up for effort. the bottom was a brownie layer and the top was cake with a buttercream frosting all over. the next day when it was all falling apart and had sat in the fridge all night, it tasted perfect. secrets revealed, everything tastes better the next day. except spaghetti noodles. just toss the old ones and make a fresh batch.

 i told hersch that we would plan an actual friends party, but time got away from me so we had one little friend over for dinner on sunday and he was appeased with that friend party.

 customary breakfast present opening.

herschel is really into transformers right now so he got a bunch of those. it only took me a solid weekend to master changing them back and forth from trucks and cars into "wobots". the best day came a few weeks later when herschel himself learned how to transform those tricky little rascals. 4th child learns his fine motor skills through daily survival of older siblings and despite old, tired, borderline educationally neglectful parents. hersch also received a tyrannosaurus rex backpack. since a t-rex's arms are pretty much useless, it's apropos that this little bag is pretty useless too as it will only accommodate three or four hot wheels cars.  

loving a 4 year old is like running in the wind. happy 4 year old and the wind is at your back and you're loving life. grumpy 4 year old is like running into the wind and that's the only way home. you can do it, but pretty soon everyone is crying. those are my deep thoughts of the day.

 on hersch's actual day of birth, i took all the kids to the park after school and we ate chik-fil-a. the wind was at my back. 

for reagan's birthday more than a month later, we had a "sunday dinner party" at reagan's request. he was very specific about menu and guests and the date. not on the actual day or even the same week. he made sure to invite families that had kids that athena blythe and hersch and scarlett could hang out with too. thoughtfulness is not something i expected from this teenager.

he wanted a chocolate mickey mouse cake. i made the vanilla for funsies and then a bunch of blondies. the blondies were the big hit. next time i'll just make tray and trays of those. i spent all day saturday getting ready which included making 5 pans of baked ziti and all the meatballs that costco had in stock. i must love reagan because i am still tired just thinking about it. 

i'm always humbled by all the people who show up to support reagan. final count was 35 people. most were wearing green.

and then a lone clemson fan came just to taunt me. but you can't affect me like that. i am titanium. alabama is down but not out. 

still not able to grow grass this year either thanks for the copious amounts of rain washing our backyard away.

 costco had alllllll sizes of adidas three stripe pants in stock this week so everyone now has a pair. we wore them in honor of reagan. he's right. let's just wear comfortable things! reagan's tie and sweats combo just proclaims, "it's a party but i also plan on eating cake".
just in case this is as good as it gets, expect this same picture in december with the caption:
 merry christmas from the simpsons!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

tuesdays with reagan

 i had a dental hygienist ask me once what "reagan's special autism trick is". it was a rude and stereotyping question and yet she wasn't trying to be insensitive. she was working with what she knew from pop culture. there's no such thing as people with autism all possessing impressive parlor trick. some people blessed with autism have incredible and unusual capabilities, but like the rest of us, most special people are rather ordinary. reagan does have an affinity for routines and schedules. i've almost become immune to a lot of his idiosyncrasies that keep him feeling regulated and balanced. i feel that his autism allows him to tap into something that a lot of us dismiss because of busy schedules or our innate flexibility. being a creature of habit can be very comforting when we are overwhelmed with our lives. i have to say to myself often when i'm angry or feel overly emotional, "what has changed in my life or what did i miss doing today that helps me feel regulated?" oftentimes it's as simple making my bed and checking that box. my brain can continue in a productive path once a few self soothing habits have been completed. taking and nap, eating something when i'm hungry are high on my list. reading scriptures not only has spiritual benefits but taking time to sit quietly and read removes me from too much chaos from a very loud world. i am able to reset and better self-regulate. reagan's rigidity can often be frustrating to deal with but it's also amazing to watch a body take care of itself in the best way it knows how. 

one reaganism that happens every day of the week is when he opens shop each morning. reagan gets up without fail at 6am(or before and we both pretend he's not) and turns on his signage and turns around the three framed photos on his shelving unit. then, right at bedtime, reagan closes up shop and turns off his sign and turns his frames around to face the wall again. closed for the night. the pictures in the frames look a bit random but he scoured the blog a few years ago and decided that these were his favorite family photos. 1. when reagan "sold" ants and acorn pancakes by the side of the road. 2. a very non-posed journalistic style photo of the whole family getting ready to go into target for back to school shopping. 3. dad holding herschel on his blessing day. the fourth photo he loves is on top of his dresser. it's terribly blurry and it's of our whole family when herschel had just come home from the hospital. we are at pinewood derby and it might be the worst picture of us ever. 

reagan also religiously checks the weather report each morning(or more often if there's rain in the forecast to check for lightning bolts or signs of improvement). this ensures for him that he will be able to go outside to the backyard the minute he gets home from school so that he can stim and hop around and sing songs and decompress to his heart's delight. 

reagan also announces every day at 3:56 that it is 3:56 by shouting, "my old number!" 356 was his car ride pass number for 2 years in elementary school. 

if you ever got a bad not in school or a speeding ticket, he wants to talk about it often and with details so he can understand how these clearly preventable things happen.

all of the remote controls in the house are checked throughout the day to ensure battery viability and to make sure they have been placed in the very precise proper position so that they never get lost. reagan likes to have at least one full jumbo box of AA batteries on hand at all times so that nothing interrupts his television routine. otherwise, i hear numerous times throughout the day, "are you going to the store to get more batteries!?"

reagan is just recently warming to the concept of staying up past bedtime as a fun tradition on weekends. otherwise it is 8pm sharp and he will put himself to bed. he still requires me to sing to him every night and it is a delight. i hope i get to sing to my 40 year old son each night someday.

reagan is known for wearing his three stripe adidas pants nearly every day of the week. he even has a certain color pair that needs to be worn on certain days. he plans all week to make sure that on thursday he is wearing an electric blue with green stripe pair and on friday he is wearing a black pair. and not just any black pair. he prefers a ratty, old heavyweight pair. he's moved up to men's sizes and he does not like the weight of the men's size pant. it has taken a bit of coaxing to convince him to add them to the rotation. the new navy blue pair has required even more coaxing and i still can only get him to wear them on saturdays, despite the fact they are his nicest pair. 

this brings us to jeans tuesdays.

inexplicably, reagan has deemed jeans appropriate wear for tuesdays. i'm not sure the origination of jeans tuesdays, but somewhere along the way, jeans must have been required for a school event on a tuesday or this is simply his way of silently protesting  wearing jeans casual fridays. nothing disrupts wearing black pants on fridays. 

jeans tuesday has become a special day for reagan. he has an extra particular plan about how he spends his tuesdays. this is a picture of him in his only pair of jeans, blocking access to the chocolate milk:

access to chocolate milk on tuesdays is a big deal because if you check reagan's planner, 

(that's how reagan writes on the fly. clearly, all that extra practice is paying off. sarcasm we're so proud.)

tuesdays he has specifically scheduled his quiet time. quiet time is when i take the three other kids to scarlett's drama class in the next town over and we are gone for a considerable amount of time because of distance and rush hour traffic. reagan stays home and he drinks copious amounts of chocolate milk and watches a disney pixar movie that he has seen 546380942520T5482 times. he's always very concerned about the chocolate milk levels because he knows i only buy chocolate milk once a week and it has to be properly rationed to ensure supreme quiet time enjoyment.

we also have hamburgers and hot dogs and french fries at 430pm on tuesdays so that we can get to scarlett's class on time. that's more due to my schedule requests but reagan has no complaints. he loves hot dogs and i love easy meals on busy days. 

every day i wonder how i can take this love for scheduling and help reagan apply it in a real world job. i just don't know. but if you want to know the exact day of the week your birthday is on or what day christmas was on in 2012 and what presents reagan got that no one else could possibly recall or conversations we had over dinner that night, he's your guy. there has to be a profession that requires that skill. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

sometimes, i'm fun!

to sum up the 3 and 1/2 days i was in salt lake city for my grandmother's funeral, i'll quote my dear mother. "heidi, you are so much fun when you are not around your kids!"

and that is a 1000% correct statement. when i can shed the mom stress and constant autism awareness sound/room/activity/dog not on a leash scan, i can be fun. 

too bad it took my dearly departed grandma bonnie's funeral to allow me to enjoy myself. i often enjoy myself in my full-time motherhood, but it can be fleeting, because even during fun things, i'm on duty. i'm listening, i'm planning, i'm diffusing, i'm anticipating. 

i flew into salt lake city from atlanta, which also should have been a terribly stressful experience, but traffic was heavy but i didn't have to sit at a stand still for too terribly long. i was concentrating so hard not not getting lost that i took an unnecessary tour of the international terminal. once i finally parked and made it to the correct terminal, i went through security in RECORD TIME. less than 15 minutes. i got several compliments on my red fur coat(which became the unofficial theme of my trip). i was at my gate in 30 minutes. traveling without children is a treat in itself! 

i ate chips. i ate watermelon sour patch kids. i read a book. i looked out the window. i was having the time of my life and i was still in atlanta! 

the flight was uneventful. i went out of my way to go to the other salt lake terminal to find the cafe rio. it was fantastic. i snarfled it down while my mom drove me around salt lake city!

she showed me the house where my grandfather grew up and we saw elder holland's house. there was snow everywhere and it was quite the culture shock for me. i was still eating my cafe rio and enjoying the ambience of lovely salt lake city.

my mom has the BEST VIEW from her condo and i only took video of it. but we were able to walk from her condo with views of the mountains and capital building and enjoy temple square and the shops at city creek. i did not buy anything. at. all. 

it was cold, but just cold. not "murder your bones with a humid cold breeze" like the winters of my youth in kansas city. i do not miss that. occasionally we will have days like that in atlanta and i rock myself back and forth saying, "you don't have to go back. you don't have to go back". then the next day will be 55 again and my mantra has staved off winter for a few more weeks. 

this is president nelson's apartment building. you can tell which one is his because of all the bullet proof glass.

friday morning, my mom and my little brother mark and i went to the bountiful temple to do a session. i had not been back in 16 1/2 years since my one and only visit to the bountiful temple on my wedding day.

afterward, my mom treated me to breakfast at the swig cookie shop because i had never been there before and i wanted to weigh in with my own well formulated opinions. 

1. the brownie with chocolate frosting was my favorite. it was a very dense, moist cookie with just enough frosting. not too overpowering for so much chocolate.

2. i also liked the peanut butter with chocolate frosting cookie. same positives. no real negatives. also a dense, moist chewy cookie. i just preferred the brownie over the peanut butter cookies. it was much better than the usual dried out sorry tasting sad peanut butter cookies.

3. the most famous of the cookies, the sugar cookie, was alright. not terrible. not a spiritual experience either. just a good cookie. way better than grocery store bakery cookies, which are horrific. the carnations of cookies. no one wants to eat those so stop bringing them to parties! they are chalky hockey pucks with crusty dried toothpaste consistency frosting. honor your mouth by thinking about what you are putting in it. other sugar cookies, nay but i would eat the swig sugar cookie again. 

best stretchy but non jersey structured pencil skirt! i know!

later that day i rode the train down to see my dear, dear friend, emily, who just built a beautiful new house in saratoga springs. once again i struggled with the automated ticket computer. add it to the list of automated things that hate me, inluding and not limited to: self check out registers, garage door openers, and computer printers.

the crimson tide woolly mammoth enters the train:

my mom took this picture of me smiling and waving while inside the train:

after an utterly delightful train ride where i looked out the window, read a book and eavesdropped on other conversations, i arrived at the station and my dear emily was there! it was a joyous reunion full of shouting and cheering and embarrassingly wonderful honking. i've never felt more alive in years! emily immediately treated me to a bunch of cookies at swig's newest competition, crumbl. i would have advised them to not spell crumbl like that but utah does have a weird spelling reputation. you know what i'm talking about, questin, corahleigh, and avenue(all real utah names). 

emily is good for what ails you. we laughed and laughed and ate so many cookies and determined that crumbl is a better overall cookie, with a bit more crispy outside and cakier center. the crumbl sugar cookie base was superior because i could taste the real butter but the frosting had almond flavoring so it was DOA for me. it certainly wasn't a landslide and either cookie company would be welcome at our parties. i'm just thrilled that lame old cupcakes are not so trendy anymore. eating more than one cupcake is looked upon by naysayers as being impolite at parties but you can cut a hunk of cake to any size you like and it's still only one slice of cake.

after i rode the train back to salt lake, we picked my sister up from the airport and my brother steve had also arrived and we all went to temple square to enjoy the church family history museum. i discovered this new to me artist that i LOVED, named jorge cocco. i need a print in my house asap. 

president henry b. eyring's watercolors were on display and i decided that if president eyring, in all his busy schedule can find time to watercolor, then i can carve out more time and prioritize my own art projects and hobbies.

a giant minerva teichert was on display. i have several small minerva prints on display at my house but i would love a huge wall mural. her style speaks to me. organized mess. close up it's scribbly, back up and it's precision. a bigger work is being done with that imprecise technique. that's how i feel i accomplish things in my own flawed approach to living. God takes my offering and makes it work.

we had a small family dinner at a place called archibald's near gardner village. this is the only picture we took but i promise the whole fam damily was there. 

saturday was my grandma bonnie's funeral. i have so many thoughts about how she touched my life. i'll have to save it for another post. i think the best thing about funerals is that while we know someone wasn't perfect, we tend to share the really wonderful things they did. we don't canonize them, but we allow the frailties to fall to the wayside and concentrate on the good. and there was so much good in grandma bonnie's life. her funeral was balm to my motherhood weary soul. 
i saw many wonderful family members and reconnected with so many of them and took exactly zero pictures. we took a family group shot and my eyes are completely shut. 

after the funeral, my mom, my sister, my brother steve and i went down to BYU.

a 360 of the wilkinson student parking lot

we visited the cougareat, or cou gare eee ut, which i believe to be the most correct pronunciation. we were all sad the L&T was closed.

a blurry shot with cosmo:
by this point, i was receiving so many compliments on my crimson tide woolly mammoth coat that my mom was keeping track. which is good that my coat was such a hit because i only had four articles of clothing with me for the entire trip. things getting smelly and rumpled is the risk you take when you don't want to check a suitcase on a flight. i also did not wash my hair for the entire duration of the trip which i highly unusual for a sweaty daily hair washer like me, but utah is so dry that i didn't break a sweat once. i needed to reapply lotion every 5 minutes though and i felt like my face aged 10 years overnight from dryness. 

i couldn't decide what to buy so in my wisdom i bought nothing. i've discovered that as i've gotten older, NOT buying something is rather satisfying too. 

a coca-cola machine at the creamery!
heather and my mom were not discussing the caffeinated coke machine but i think this is the most perfect picture i could take of two non-soda pop drinkers next to the caffeinated coke machine.

mom with all the out of state children in their natural ice cream eating habitat. no lactose intolerance for me that night!  

sunday morning was music and the spoken word at the tabernacle. it was amazing. live music that i can remain sitting down the whole time and enjoy is great. this is 38.
i'm also about halfway through the book, Saints: the standard of truth and simply looking at this building that was built so long ago by my pioneer brothers and sisters in the gospel is overwhelming and testimony sustaining at the same time. 

after we attended to music and the spoken word, we rushed back to attend church at my mom's ward at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. as we were sitting down on a pew, we looked up and realized that President Dallin H. Oaks was sitting on the stand next to the bishop and that his wife was sitting right in front of us. it was surreal. the first talk was kind of boring and i kid you not, President Oaks and his wife were sending veiled messages to each other through subtle hand gestures and prolonged meaningful eye contact and winks. they must have been talking about my fabulous coat! 

i thought all the excitement would be over after my mom dropped me off at the airport, but it was JUST BEGINNING. as i was sitting and reading a book at my gate and listening to the girl next to me discuss with her friend about her floundering MLM career, her overwhelming desire to get married soon but her hot tub-centric dates in park city were getting her nowhere and the struggles she was having with her female friend, MCKEEVER(the most utah sentence ever i've written), i happened to notice this gentleman just across the way. the fact that he was impeccably groomed and his clothes were obviously expensive is what first caught my attention. his hair was almost too good to be true. 

he was pretty slouched down the entire time which actually made me take notice of him more. it was like he was trying to hide. then i realized who i was looking at. JON HAMM! no one else seemed to notice him, but i propped my book up just so and took a few pictures so i'm completely positive i remained incognito.

as i continued to stalk jon hamm's every move, he went from trying to hide to becoming progressively less and less slumped over and making fewer and fewer attempts to block his face and conceal his identity. it was almost as if his plan to not be noticed was working so well that his celebrity ego couldn't handle it any longer. 

jon hamm's preferred airport snack is a granny smith apple. stars! there just like us! eating! 
note the bag in the seat next to jon hamm. there was nowhere else to sit at our very crowded gate so a man and his son approached jon hamm about moving his bag so one of them could sit down. as the father and son were talking to jon hamm, i could see that jon hamm's countenance dramatically transformed when he was approached. i think he thought he was going to be greeting some adoring fans and when the dad asked if he could move his bag, jon hamm's face visibly fell and he looked disappointed that the dad didn't think he was jon hamm, international celebrity, but merely jon hamm, only available airport seat hog. jon hamm later got up and walked over to another gate as his departure was announced. but i knew he was there!

as i boarded the flight, even more drama ensued! about halfway through the flight, as i was munching on even more delicious cookies made for my trip home by my ever so thoughtful sister in law, shayla, a flight attendant got on the PA system and asked for any medical personnel to come to the center of the plane. from where i was, i could see that about 4 rows up, a man was having a pretty violent looking seizure. 2 women ran to the center of the plane and started doing all this doctory looking stuff to help stabilize the poor guy. it was really impressive to see all their training be utilized in such an unorthodox situation. the lady next to me jumped into action too. but not quite medical action. in small world fashion, i was seated on the plane next to someone that i kinda knew but didn't really know from church in atlanta. she has a reputation for being an earnest practitioner of essential oils. i have no issue with people using essential oils, but lets not bring a knife to a gunfight. this dear sister had a fanny pack around her waist that when she unzipped it, it expanded to three times its size, complete with transformers cartoon sound effects. the pack had multiple levels of dozens of bottles of essential oils and she went through and selected several. she then proceeded to try and get the doctor's attention but i think she finally grasped the severity of the situation and just held all the bottles in the air. i just kept eating my cookies and prayed that this guy would be okay. neither crumbl nor swig can touch a fresh homemade cookie. eventually, the dear sister rubbed various oils all over herself and her husband while i breathed through my mouth. the seizing man stabilized around that time, so maybe the oils really did the trick on him, too. we were able to finish the flight without an emergency landing at another airport and actually arrived a bit early to atlanta and the paramedics met our plane and helped the man off for further evaluation. later, i saw the man walking around the airport, right as rain, looking to catch his connection. what a wild flight. i arrived home from the airport and happened upon thomas finishing up folding the last basket of laundry. i love him. he is a great husband and his folding technique is pretty good for someone who has never worked retail.

these are a series of pictures that reagan wanted me to take of the plane during various stages of travel. 

salt lake city, utah

canon city, colorado

garden city, kansas

caney, kansas

atlanta, georgia

finally, the next morning when i was figuring out my post-vacation funeral life, i discovered these leftover clues from a very interesting treasure hunt orchestrated by reagan:

"where we go pee or poop"

"where wet stuff comes out"

after clues like that, i cannot imagine what the prize was!