Friday, August 31, 2007

I dreamed of the south . . .

I bought a coloring book that had stickers for "collecting" license plates on a trip. I've always enjoyed this game and I thought maybe the stickers would inspire C to participate. As we were leaving the driveway, I dug the sticker book out and was going to pass it in the back seat when it occurred to me that C wasn't going to care and I was going to be disappointed if I did not put the stickers in the book. (Even though I have a list in my Palm Pilot of the license plates. It's not the same.)

So Brent and I have been happily collecting plates and our sticker book is nearly full except for several of those little northeast states and a few southern states. Last night I dreamed we were at a monument of some kind and I began a conversation with a woman who said that she and her husband had met someone from each of the 50 states.

"That's neat!" I said "We're collecting license plates. You're not from South Carolina, are you?"

Well, she was, and in my dream I collected South Carolina. Why it wasn't Hawaii, Rhode Island or the elusive Washington DC, "Taxation without Representation," I'll never know.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It swallows them whole

Before I had children I thought I was the mother of girls. We'd play dress up and have tea parties. I was confused when C was a boy. I remember a moment of panic when Roberta came to the hospital. We had big plans for what we were going to do with the new little girl. As I recall pantaloons were going to play a big role.

"What am I going to do when he has to learn to use the bathroom?!" I cried.

"Well, there's Brent," she said. "He probably knows what to do."

And so began my journey as the mother of boys.

Yesterday we enjoyed a trip to Reptile Gardens. I don't mean anything sexist by this, I really don't, but you need only look around to notice the little (and big) boys are getting way more enjoyment out of identifying the objects in the snake bellies than the girls are.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The first 8 hours are the hardest

The beautiful thing about Autism Spectrum Disorder -- and I'm being serious and mean no disrespect to anyone (I just like to find the positive) -- is that older son C has from birth been very self entertaining. This means, among other things, that he can travel in the car forever. While other girlfriends were buying DVD players and hoping for an uneventful 2-3 hour drive to Duluth, we strapped C in his car seat and drove to Wyoming, Florida, Washington DC. He was perfectly content to stare out the window and count telephone poles, look at a book, listen to music.

I'm not convinced Baby D is going to be as cooperative. Granted he is only 8 months old and is in the rear facing car seat, but C set the bar pretty high for easy car travel. The journey across South Dakota took two hours longer than I thought it would. We had many stretching stops.

In desperation in the middle of the state, I grabbed the DVD player (a Christmas gift for C last year that has barely been used) and crammed it between the headrests.

"Did you bring any Blue's Clues?" I asked hopefully of C, knowing Blue is a little young for him these days.

"Yeah," he said handing me a movie clearly belonging to Cousin E.

"This is E's," I said. "How long have you had this?"

"It's okay," he said. "She can watch something else."

True enough but not really the point.

We are here at the very end of tourist season in Black Hills country. We stopped at Wall when it became clear we were going to need another break before the last 30 minutes of our journey. In my experience Wall Drug has been packed with tourists. We parked next to the front door, went inside and ate immediately -- something I have rarely done at Wall Drug because it takes so long. We had a terrific time sitting in the dining room alone, eating tasty fries and psyching ourselves up for the end of the trip. We are looking forward to a unprecedented quiet trip to Reptile Gardens today. We'll say hello to the snakes for you.

Monday, August 27, 2007

He's my handy man

Repair Guy was here this morning. I didn't even see him. He was in, got something from his truck and was done. "Yeah, sounds like a burnt out overload switch," he told Brent. My husband, who I know in his heart of hearts is truly home repair inclined, replied that if he'd only known he would have gotten the one off his work bench.

We are getting ready to pack up for the big cross state trip. What is it about getting ready to go on vacation? The work very nearly cancels out any fun that might be had. There's all that laundry and deciding what the weather will be like, making sure you have enough reading material, baby stuff, baby stuff, baby stuff.

Ah, but for me, it's all forgotten the moment the car starts -- the moment I turn onto the freeway and gaze at the Great Plain before me. All that open road. All those places to go. All those car snacks to eat and magazines to be read.

So little time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Eat the ice cream first

The refrigerator/freezer in on the fritz which is not helpful while trying to pack up the gang for a quick trip across two states before school starts. I'm trying to look at it this way:

1. There wasn't much in there because we are going on vacation.

2. It needed cleaning . . . badly.

3. It didn't happen while we were on vacation so that we came home to a sticky, gooey, rotten mess. Hooray!!

It's still sort of a drag to juggle the milk in and out of three different coolers.

The repair man comes tomorrow. Bless their hearts our major appliance retailer only has one service man and he couldn't come until tomorrow. Last year, my fancy schmancy front loading washing machine had an identity crisis with its mother board and I got to know the repair guy pretty well. Believe me when the large pregnant woman starts to cry in the basement next to her appliance (like I did) things get done fast. So it will be a nice reunion for me and Repair Guy, I guess. Unfortunately, I am no longer pregnant and a non-pregnant woman bursting into tears next to her appliance is just sad in a pathetic way. I'll probably have to wait it out like everyone else.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fine lines

Baby D was standing just now in the crib looking at me full of pride because standing is a relatively new thing. It's supposed to be nap time though and I found myself torn between unabashed praise, "Hey, look at you!!" and a plead for mercy, "D, it's nap time now."

I find myself at this line quite a bit with older son C who has autism spectrum disorder. Last spring his paraprofessional assistant and I stood dumbfounded at the school park not knowing what to say as we watched him stand in the center of the seesaw. It's a feat which requires balance, coordination, fearlessness and an abandoning of "the way things should be done" which plagues him every day.

It's that conundrum of parenthood that if we do things correctly, we will work ourselves out of a job by creating independent adults. It's a process of letting go which begins at childbirth. Who knew parenting would be so full of emotional negotiation?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

. . . we're crazy

My sweet friend Roberta said to me one time, "At least we know we're crazy." I think this pretty much sums up my view of life right now -- at least I know.

I am starting month 9 of life at home with the new baby. I also have a 9-year-old and two stepkids ages 18 and 21. At least I know I am crazy.

It took me a long time to see staying at home full-time as a legitimate occupation. My mother and both my grandmothers worked. What does a stay at home mom do all day? Besides clean up spit up? I'm still not sure, but I'll tell you this . . . I sure am glad to be here.