Sunday, November 11, 2018

just for the helen of it

fall break was weeks ago, sandwiched between scarlett's bronchitis and reagan's pneumonia! i'm a believer in DOING even if it's exhausting rather than not doing and being bored so we went and did! on the first day of fall break, thursday, we headed up to helen, georgia, also known as alpine helen. 

first i took everyone to aldi and let them pick out their own candy. my kids all saw the loophole in my wording and the fact that aldi normally doesn't sell single serving bags of candy and they each picked a bag of fun size candies, rather than a single bag of candy. so, we were starting out on the right foot for sure. 

it only took us a bit over an hour to get to helen. i wrote down three activities to accomplish while in helen, 

hike anna ruby falls

go to the toy train museum

go to a chocolate factory

once those activities were completed, we could leave. this was to the chagrin of scarlett and hersch and the delight of reagan and athena blythe. scarlett and hersch are always up for more and reagan and athena blythe have a definitive limit after which is met, they are no longer fun or reasonable. like me after 2pm on fast sunday.

activity number 1: anna ruby falls is not a long hike by any stretch(pun!) but it does ascend rather quickly and there is not much of a railing to keep small children from plunging down into the stream flowing below. couple that with dogs all up and down the trail and reagan's incredible fear of dogs, i was laid back and cool the whole time, just like i always am.

our in-house naturalist enjoyed identifying many animal habitats.

before the hike i was giving the kids a pep talk about safety and how important it is to go to the bathroom before we leave otherwise hearing the sound of the rushing water may make us have to go to the bathroom.  reagan, ever thinking literally, asked me, "if the sound of running water will make us have to pee, what sound in nature will make us have to go poop?" 
i don't know reagan, but let me know when you hear something that does. 

rare double waterfalls:

being my own instagram husband:

this was almost as exciting as finally finding a heidi nameplate necklace at a souvenir store. 

activity number 2:
charlemagne's kingdom is an alpine model railroad. i wasn't sure what to expect but it was rather fascinating. they have a scavenger hunt list and we found everything but one item and when i asked about it the lady at the front desk didn't know where it was either so i still think we won. and the prize was feeling superior!

outside of charlemagne's kingdom

3rd activity:
hansel and gretel chocolate factory. athena blythe got it in her head that we needed to find a chocolate factory based some book she recently read. i'm not sure what what she was expecting but i think this place fit the bill. 

like any outing, we like to pick something random and trivial to fight over and that day, the map of the city became the item of the day to fight over. 

our day in helen was lovely. perfect weather, great activities and we are all excited to go again in the summer and partake of the rafting and tubing and zip lining. maybe i'll just go by myself. 

this is my favorite picture from the day, just letting it all hang out. 

on the way home we ate chik fil a and i made everyone listen to talk radio. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

happy glimpses in a sick world

my house is so messy right now because of the last month of illness. hurray. cough cough cough cough cough. 

it started with scarlett getting a cough that wouldn't go away that finally settled into her lungs as bronchitis with a touch of pneumonia in one lung. middle school has been great for her except for the week she couldn't breathe and she missed a bunch of school during some important tests and it was pretty darn stressful. i thought with hersch being in pre-school i would have so much more time and flexibility for more things i want to do but in reality, i've had more time to deal with more problems, sans one 3 and a half year old. i will choose to see the beauty and blessing of attending to everyone else's needs with him in pre-school. silver linings, seeing things on the sunny side, a break in the clouds, or whatever pollyannism suits you. 

she seems to be my child who requires breathing treatments when she's sick so this is old hat for her. she was not thrilled about my picture taking but the real story must be reported. i'm a slave to accuracy. 

we had fall break and general conference weekend, which will receive it's own post but during one super fun fall break activity, i looked over and spied this:

the unhappiest camper at an ice cream social. A: he already doesn't like ice cream. B: he was sick as a dog in an environment with lots of people, loud music and popping balloons. i gave him the brush off for as long as any socializing-starved mother can, then i took him home and he went straight to bed. 

he illness only got worse through general conference weekend and by tuesday when school was to resume, i made an appointment with our pediatrician. 

ways to know if reagan is sick:

1. it's quiet. there is no happy stimming or hopping or running or humming or singing happening. 
2. he's not eating. even taco soup. even enchiladas. ESPECIALLY grapes. 
3. he takes naps.
4. i have to wake him up in the morning. reagan is always up at 6am, rain or shine unless he feels like he's dying or looks like skeletor from lack of oxygen. 

he was 4/4 on all the critical criteria. 

the thing with reagan at the pediatrician is that he has a lot of "things". autism things. no tongues. no metal instruments placed in nasal passages or ear orifices. deep breaths are difficult. opening the mouth wide enough for an exam is seismic level of ornerous. we've worked on these things for years and we've seen VAST improvement, but they are still "things" and they will always be "things". it's the nature of the beast. most medical professionals are really wonderful. yet, in my experience, medical professionals tend to be fallible humans, so we've had a few experiences with people who aren't experienced enough in the art and finagle of autism. that was the case that unpropitious tuesday. we saw a great doctor whom we've had good interaction with in the past. she had a medical student with her observing and i wholeheartedly thought it was a good idea for him to observe an autistic lion with his cage rattled. however, that day, was not the day. reagan struggled with all the steps of the exam. he was scared. he was miserable. it was much harder for him to process because of his weakened faculties. i could tell the doctor was frustrated and i'm sure the observing medical student in the room put additional pressure on us all. no one is at fault in this highly fallible situation but reagan did not get the kind of exam he required and we went home with a diagnosis of a cold and some over the counter remedies. i hoped she was right in her analysis and i went to work to putting reagan at rights. but i knew it wasn't right. i knew it was more than a cold. i knew he needed more time to practice with the examination instruments. i knew that our doctor had plenty of other patients she needed to see that day too. it's terribly frustrating when everyone is clearly doing their level best. exerting your autism parent voice is critical but not always possible. sometimes things simply don't go well and that's how it has to be left. 

two days later on thursday, we were back in the doctor's office. 

reagan was only getting worse. he was barking like a dying seal and had lost even more weight. i knew we needed an actual prescription. we practiced with ears and tongues and noses and breathing and then we PRAYED. we saw a different doctor. we had no observing medical student. reagan looked like a cross between skeletor 
Image result for skeletor

and steve rogers,
Image result for steve rogers skinny
 pre-captain america transition. 

for the record, the nurse did not know who skeletor is. for. shame. 

we had a much less stressful examination. we were able to open just barely wide enough. ears were checked. noses were looked at. he had the clear as day diagnosis of PNEUMONIA. i shouted out loud! i pumped my fist! i knew it! i was VINDICATED! i've never been happier to hear pneumonia. what a relief to know what to do!
i picked up with horse pill sized antibiotic and within 24 hours i could hear happy reagan stimming happening in the house. he was still sluggish for a week but everything is much improved. he's been back to school. he's eating. he's regained a healthy color. he's asking me what our menu schedule is over and over and over. 

today we went back for a recheck and he still has some inflammation in his lungs so he was prescribed something else to help with that but he's doing so much better. after the doctor's appointment i told him we would go look for a halloween costume for him. the boy has some rules for an acceptable costume and most of the selections were falling woefully short. i was really trying to encourage freddie mercury as the perfect choice, but reagan has deemed people who used to be alive disqualified from halloween costume consideration. as we wandered around, i saw him looking at a darth vader costume with a happy little smile and i pounced and bought the costume. he seemed excited but still in typical reagan subdued fashion and i was thrilled because i love darth vader(but not hayden christensen, the apocryphal darth vader selection.) 

also, here's a spiritual moment i need recorded. last night while i was attempting to cook dinner(it's really a wing and a prayer situation every night. i'm the hail mary pass of dinners), reagan came up to me with a big wire hanging out of his mouth. he was alarmed and i was alarmed and upon further investigation, reagan had snapped 3 braces elastic bands and the wire was no longer attached to one side of his mouth. i tried to reattach and think of everything i could do to allay his concern and the pain of a wire poking the side of your face. i searched for our wire cutters, which were naturally nowhere to be found in our hour of need. the wire wouldn't snap off and the kitchen scissors were as useless as a macrame toilet seat cover. i was texting people i thought might have wire cutters handy but reagan was not loving this situation and each passing minute was putting him in a place of duress that i don't like to see him go. so, i suggested we pray. and he rolled his eyes. so i prayed. as i said amen, the thought burned itself into my mind, TOENAIL CLIPPERS. an instantaneous and undeniable answer to prayer. i grabbed the baby pair i carry with me in my purse at all times because i am a mom and i loathe a broken nail, gave them a quick rinse in the sink and snapped with all the strength i possess in my very muscular hands that errant wire right out of his mouth. i am still basking the in the goodness of a Father in Heaven who answers prayers, who loves my boy and me so much that he knew we needed a quick solution, even if by most accounts, this wasn't a regular crisis. He always helps. 

 the. end.

Monday, October 01, 2018

the physics of the perpetual motion of athena blythe

i wanted to document some of the many, many, many projects that athena blythe is perpetually attempting and/or completing at our house. Athena blythe is the best at working on her own projects or getting out of work projects that we assign her. rarely a day goes by that we find ourselves halfway through cleaning up the kitchen or doing chores and we find that athena blythe has secretly and silently made her departure to parts unknown.  we just hope that someday she can use these powers for good.

translation added when necessary

a while ago, i came home from the gym in the early hours to a sign on the front door proclaiming her latest business:


lots of wishful notes:

"deyr mom i want a hamstr i promis i wood take care of it i wood feed it i wood cotul it i wood love it
love blythe"

and a picture of the hamster in the cage at the bottom

one of my personal favorites, a breaking newspaper story:
"a grela hast akscapd frum the zoo.
Be on a lookout
this anmol is a kilr"

a gorilla has escaped from the zoo. be on a lookout. this animal is a kilr.

or the day she started her own chicken farm:
we had to tiptoe around that box for days

the top chicken is what the eggs look like inside the chicken

her detailed instructions on how she suggest that daily travel should go:
"flying go on a plane akros the oshin"

"go on a trane wif your state tgether wif tran tracks"

"go in a car if you are gowing on a vackashin"

too many yard sale notices to keep up with. having a yard sale is a particularly frequent dream complete with the boxing up and labeling of the items she'd like to sell. also, many, many letters to santa, the easter bunny and st. patrick requesting visits.

my personal train schedule:

pretty cut and dry

her cat is lost. we actually don't have a cat.
"hlalp my cat is gone. her name is mitins. i sod her yeshtrday"

she set up a spa for thomas (NOT ME) so that he could be "relaxed"

she helped a ton with halloween decorations. 

she had her own personal spirit day at school. dress like a cat farmer. cats on her shirt. overalls. rain boots. 
"the hardest part is getting all the cats to stay in their cages" -athena blythe, cat farmer

we went to a trampoline gym with a climbing wall. she could not get enough of the climbing wall. she was like a laser to the top each time. frankly, it was exhausting to watch.

the moment she realized that the magic puppet show at the library was not nearly as cool as the poster made it out to be:

too many to count, athena blythe encouraged(read-forced) floor picnic tea parties with all the kids.

the much hyped fancy nancy day at the mall. the sponsors only planned on about 40 kids and there were more like 100 so we had to fight for that crown. i hope i didn't hurt anyone. except for that mom making a crown for herself too. i cry foul. don't take away a chance for a kid to make a crown because you're an oblivous jerkface.

in short, athena blythe is always busy or always busy plotting . the end. 

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