Portrait of a Boy

How I love this child. How I treasure his unrestrained spirit, and the joy he brings. As he gains the ability and skills to express himself and find his own happiness, his world opens up and he shares himself- with unfettered joy.

This is also one of the countless faces of Autism. This is what a happy healthy boy looks like, and it’s exactly how invisible Autism can be. So when you inevitably see and come to know (1 in 110) a person who acts and perhaps processes things in a way you find different- be kind. Cease judgement. Pause and think before you speak. Smile at the child, but don’t take it personally if he doesn’t look at you, or smile back. He might. He might not. But I promise he hears your comments- so make them good ones.

In the Last 24 Hours

  • I had a melt-down about  kids not listening, and then sat on the floor crying with all three of them in my lap. That’s 200 pounds of kid. In my lap. On the floor in the dining room.
  • The kids bathroom toilet upstairs overflowed, but Beanie forgot to tell me. I found it when I went to run the nighttime baths and stepped in it. In sock feet.
  • I threw the towels away that I used to clean up. I did. I couldn’t bear to deal with more poop.
  • Someone who used to live here threw away all- yes, ALL- of our toilet plungers, and I had to borrow one from my 90 year-old neighbor.
  • When I went to hang the towels up post-bath, the towel rack fell out of the wall. It wasn’t even lose. So of course it fell.
  • My computer crapped out again- I have internet, but I have nothing else. I can’t do AR, AP or Invoice. I don’t have Word, and I don’t have any office aps.
  • Jeffrey crashed on Abby playing Shove the Mattress in the playroom, and now she is telling everyone her arms are broken. As hard as I look, I really don’t think they are.
  • Shove the Mattress is now banned. Forever.
  • Beanie had bad dreams and decided the way to relieve them was to glue himself to my side all night long. Imagine sleeping with a 50 pound  abalone sucked to your side.
  • I decided to ignore my life for the rest of the day and paint Christmas ornaments. It didn’t solve anything, but I sure felt more relaxed. Which does matter.
  • I didn’t manage to get out of my jammies until noon today. I was working, getting kids off to school, filling orders and had a conference call with my web-designers, who are in DC. (new website coming soon!) But I couldn’t manage to get out of my pink thermal moose jammies. They’re my favorite.
  • I cannot even think about Christmas yet, and yet it’s all my kids are already thinking about.
  • I wonder what the next 24 holds? One day at a time, indeed.

Guess What?



HAhahahahaha… ha ha he he he… whew… ha… I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist. I had to do something to relieve all the freaking tension and unhappiness around here. OK, in all fairness, it’s just me that tense and stressed, the kids seem fine. I mean, with all the chasing of poultry and holding of hens, they are super happy. It’s me that’s in a funk.

My super awesome techie guy brought back old Bessie and took the super computer (the one he built in 30 minutes? yeah, that one) Old Bessie had been to visit the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and her little chippy brain had been wiped. Only not- seems, much like Kate, there were bits and pieces of tiny little memories, and they would pop up at inopportune times- like, say, when I was trying to print an invoice, or some other unimportant thing.

In tears on the phone with Wonder Techie, he walks me through dowloading a patch and voila, Bessie can think in a straight line again. Which is good, because I sure can’t.  Also, with Bessie’s new lack of memory, all my programs are gone. No Word. No Quickbooks. I have my old files on a drive the size of my little finger, but no programs to run them on. Why? Oh well, you’re going to see what a genius I am- because I didn’t know those little disks were important, and I think I threw them away. Oh yes, you read that right.  I’m not a keeper, and I tossed them. Oh yeah. You packrats can lord it over me now.

Bessie can hobble along for a little while, but the truth is, I have to buy a new computer.

And that makes my stomach turn a flop and I feel like I’m going to barf. Because honesty, a newly single parent, getting no child-support, no alimony, barely scraping by (not even that yet, to be perfectly honest) and I have to find the cash for a computer? Oh hell.

Otherwise everything is great! Awesome! Fantastic. Couldn’t be better. Really. No, seriously. It’s super.  I’m fine…


From Where I Stand

2005-07-15-two-treesSaturday. Fall is coming, and it’s more than a hint on the edge of the wind. Wisps of gold curl around the lacy edges of the topmost leaves on our swinging tree out front. The breeze never really quiets completely, slowing to a gentle tickle but never still. Rain has soaked our valley, only to create a sauna when the sun later peeked out and dried the puddles into the heavy air. Woodsmoke floated over the cooling breeze last night, and that was the humdinger- that’s when I knew Fall had moved from sensory peripheral glimpses, forward to dancing a jig right beside the thorny, daring, late summer roses.

Next comes the harvest. Apples and pears and pumpkins, heavy and solid in their bushel baskets as we pull our wagons through the orchards. Combines will be threshing the golden rolling prairies of wheat as we wind our way home from the u-pick farms on the bluff north of town. I will have to shield my eyes from the low, lazy topaz sun as I once again explain the process of wheat becoming bread. When we get home, Bean will be bursting with excitement to get out the grinder and make some of his own flour, to stir into bread- nothing short of the master alchemist, to a five-year old. He will chew on the raw, yeasty dough with delight, while Jeffrey and Abby wash the tools for making applesauce.

School will start, and I will have begged my mother to help with buying the kids some shoes and things for their classrooms. Beanie will begin his days at the AIM Kindergarten School, joyfully riding the short bus as part of his therapy. Jeffrey will have a new teacher and all the adventure awaiting the perfection of boyhood that is the age of third-grade. Abby will be at home with me every day, probably feeling a little lost at first without her brothers to constantly lead her astray and into mischief.  Perhaps we’ll work on knitting, or simple sewing skills. I know she’s only three, but her curiosity is insatiable. Then again, maybe she’ll finally have the courage to become master of her own bladder. The girl does things on her own timetable.

David will be at home, too. Twenty months. How much longer? Can I survive? Can I hold myself together more unknown months ahead? Am I ready for a second set of holidays with no job, no income, no prospects and very little hope left? Today? I cannot answer. I don’t know. I’m tired. My shoulders are weary and ache, and I want to set the whole load down and walk away. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be- husband and wife. Man and woman. We’re not meant to be together all day, every day, forever and forever. There must be space in our togetherness, lest our roots tangle, our shade harm the other.

What of me? I don’t know. I want to run. I don’t know. I stand still, and I don’t know.

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Pulling in the Plackard

576586267_46bbe7f700The sun is turning the horizon bluish gold, like tepid pondwater. It won’t be all the way up for another hour, at least- but the heat from yesterday still lingers, night having done little to cool the parched house.

It’s 4:53 a.m. I’m not up because I’m doing something cool, like making buttermilk syrup and monkey bread for my kids. I’m not up to watch the sprinklers drench the yard, in a valiant attempt at keeping our grass on the greenish side of the summer color wheel. Nope. I’m up, and have been all night, because I don’t how to say “I can’t, I’m overloaded.”.

All night long, I’ve been wrestling with some lovely dupioni navy fabric, and an absolutely beautiful silver that really should be looking more like a bride’s maid dress and less like a pile of frustration. It’s my fault, and I don’t want the person I’m making it for to feel bad- I thought about not writing anything, but I need to, I need to vent, so that I can pick the pile of tulle and silkiness back up and whip it into something pretty. Hopefully.

See, the problem is, the pattern is about three sizes too small. Strike one. Patterns run that way, for anyone curious. They just do. It’s dumb, but true. So for starters, I have to alter the pattern to measurements I only have jotted down on a piece of paper. I also have to fit it to a body that is not at my house, and hasn’t been since buying the fabric. (Again, not her fault- life is like that.)  Strike two. The wedding is in Utah. On Monday. Strike three, at least for me.

I ran to the store to buy more fabric, making it just before they closed. Last night? Yeah, it was, I’m sure, but since I haven’t been to sleep yet, it’s hard to remember. Anyway. I’ve spent the whole night making a dress that isn’t going together right, that I cannot try on to see if it fits, and has to be done ASAP.

I’m up here writing because my frustration levels were getting to the point where the seam ripper was looking like a mighty fun problem-solving tool. So I’m taking a little break. Hopefully it will go better after I have a little snack and clear my head.

None of this is my friend’s fault. I could have said no. I could have returned the pattern when I realized how small it was. I could have done a lot of things. At this point, if I could just buy her a dress, I would. I would I would I would. It would be easier on my tear ducts.

Runaway Bunny Bean Style

runaway-bunnyReading “The Runaway Bunny” to Bean is an exercise in, uh… well, I don’t know. It has to do with the Aspergers- while in some ways he’s like every other kid (OK, not really) How bout this: In some ways, sometimes, he’s like other kids his age. Other times, the Asperger’s comes blasting through. As I learn more about the way his mind works, and put more tools in my parenting toolbox, it gets easier to anticipate and occasionally (glory be!) knock out problems at the pass. Sometimes, even, they become kind of amusing. Like tonight.

Tonight, Bean snuggled into bed, his mini-fan adjusted just right, his pillow right, his entourage of animals all accounted for, I began to read his story:

Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.
So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”

Bean: Mama, bunnies can’t talk.

Mama: I know, but it’s a story, just listen.

“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you.
For you are my little bunny.”

Bean: Mama, bunnies can’t talk.

Mama: I know Bean. It’s OK.

“If you run after me,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a fish in a trout stream

and I will swim away from you.”

Bean: MOM! He can’t become a fish. He is a bunny. And bunnies can’t talk!

Mama: Yes, Bean, bunnies are bunnies, but he’s using his imagination. It’s OK.

“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother,
“I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”

Bean: MOM! Bunnies can’t FISH!

Mama: Yes, Bean, I know. It’s a story. It’s OK.

Bean: If she is pretending to fish, is she going to pretend to eat him, too? Because when you fish, you have to eat what you catch.

Mama: No, Bean. She is just using her imagination to tell him how much she loves him.

Bean: That’s weird.

“If you become a fisherman,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a rock on the mountain, high above you.”

Bean: Mom!! Bunnies cannot BE ROCKS. They ARE bunnies.

Mama: Yes Bean. Do you want me to stop reading to book?

Bean: No! I LOVE this book!

“If you become a rock on the mountain high above me,”
said his mother, “I will become a mountain climber,
and I will climb to where you are.”

And on it went. Every. Single. Verse.  He takes things very, very literally. It’s easy to forget that sometimes. Other times, it’s painfully clear. I read him the rest of the book, and he snuggled down happy as could be, and he’s already asleep.

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Design Envy

I like the design blogs. I occasionally read Oh Joy, Frolic, Bloesom, Decor8, DesignSponge, Black*Eiffel, and some others- They have fantastic ideas, creative uses of vintage finds, and even though I don’t generally subscribe to the mid-century design thing, I love their aesthetic. But I have a problem…

With a few notable exceptions, I think so many of the photos and vingnettes featured on these design sites come from homes that just don’t have children. Of course that doesn’t apply to Gabrielle Blair at DesignMom, or Jordan at Oh Happy Day, but by and large, you can’t have a house full of kids, and keep a menage of styled glassware on your end-table, no matter how pretty it looks.

Tablecloths are not kid-friendly. Anyone ever put a pretty tablecloth, set the table with vintage dishes, depression glasses and hand lettered place-cards, only to have a toddler come along and grab the corner of the cloth as he makes his way to the kitchen? I have. It’s ugly. And sad. And causes lots of tears.

Ever put a glass bowl on a windowsill? Or a bowl of pinecones on a coffee table? Or put up really expensive wallpaper, only to have your potty-training kid pick it off the bathroom wall while waiting for the pee pee to come? I have. It’s ugly. And sad. And causes lots of tears. *sigh*

Now, to be fair, some of these women do have children. In photos you often see a delightful little nursery, with cutely stacked shelves and toys places just-so, or a tower of modern wooden blocks on the floor in the kitchen as set-dressing to show a child lives there. But I’ve never seen this at my house- at least not since my oldest became mobile seven years ago.

I’m just jealous. Because either they have a secret I don’t, or they lock their kids in the closet. At my house, the creativity and mess take over the house. There are no neatly stacked shelves, because I would kill myself trying to keep them that way. There are projects spread all over the house. Right now, Jeffrey is putting together a wooden model, and the table is covered in tiny pieces, paint and glue. Beanie is painting a sculpture of a triceratopss-  is now in his room for hitting his sister, and Abby is on the naughty-step for scratching Beanie.

Maybe someday I will have a nice, pretty, decorated house. For now, though, do enjoy the eye-candy of others. If someone has their secret for orderly shelves, pretty tables, and unchipped glassware, could they let me in?

Oh, and p.s.- I’m a big fan of FreshVintage. She’s a thrifter and garage-sale junkie like me, and she shows her finds.

Miss Chatty Bang Bang

Abby never stops talking. My boys? They’ll converse about Bionicles or Lego or worms or the merits of spray soap over tub-dye tablets- but other than that, they just go about their days busy being boys. They talk to mama when somethings up, but otherwise, they just keep busy.

Not Abby. 

Abby. Oh Abby. Abby narrates everything in her life. She sings song about whatever she’s doing, how she’s doing it, and how it makes her feel. It’s like living in Enchanted. If she’s on the potty, the whole house is treated to a song about about going potty, and what is dropping from her bottom. She wants to talk about everything. Some people learn by doing, some by pondering, some are visual learners- Abby learns by talking out her thought process. Every. Single. Thought.

Oh, I know someday, when she’s thirteen (the most horrid bane of all hell-ages on the earth) I will plead with her to talk to me, and she will throw sassy and selfish words at me like scalding pots of mascara, but for now, I could use a little peace and quiet.

Today, she went potty, washed up and followed me to the kitchen, chatting the whole time about the color of her skirt and how her nail polish needed to be repainted and how dad was mowing  the lawn but brother’s truck was in the way and she needed to save it OH NO and her shirt is pretty blue but this skirt doesn’t twirl mama and I need a bagel but not with peanut butter mama because I don’t like peanut butter mama why did you drop that mama Bean likes peanut butter and I want my bagel toasted mama can I have a sink bath mama why are you filling up the sink OH LOOK BUBBLES! can I blow them mama I like bubbles I want to help wash mama I will put the spoons away this is the dishwasher mama this thingy spins mama it makes me laugh what is this mama can I put it away I’m hungry mama when is Bean going to be home Jeffrey is downstairs and here is a pretty new pink skirt mama that I got from the dryer and I can twirl mama. MAMA! LOOK!…

(don’t you want to just gasp for breath?)

Her dress is changed. Wiping my hands from the sudsy sink I ask “Abby, where is your other dress?”

“It’s wet.” She is playing with the measuring spoons now, waxing on about stacking the cups and how clean the grater is.

“Why is it wet?

“I spilled in the bathroom. I washed my hands mama…” she keeps chatting as I head to the bathroom.

There is a flood- there are puddles of water on the floor and the counter is soaked, the toilet paper is a drenched mass hanging from it’s sopping little cardboard heart, and there is soap everywhere.

“Abby! You are a dastardly, child!” I say in exasperation.

She comes up behind me as I survey the damage. “No, mama. I’m not. I’m Abby.” and on it goes…

Slacker Blogger

Don’t know if it’s the time of the year, or all the irons I’ve got in the fire, but I just can’t get it together to say anything interesting lately. I’ve three little kids, a husband still out of work, Houston to prepare for, two paying writing-gigs, my visiting teachers are coming to see me, then I’m going to see my ladies right afterwards. I’ve got carpool and therapy for Beanie and I belong to two quilt guilds. The end of school is fast approaching, and all the business that entails. There are people waiting for paintings and a waiting-list of people I haven’t even gotten too yet. I have more ideas and things to make than I have time or energy. I’m immersed in a book or three, which always takes more time than I mean to give it- I just have no self-discipline, and seek every chance to pick the books back up until they are devoured. I still need to write, too.

Writing calms my soul. It quiets my mind, empties it of the buzzing business that otherwise drives me mad. I need it- and yet my output has been abysmal of late.