Hello Again

This morning, we sent both boys to camp.  Together.  For the week.  We will pick them up Saturday.

Obviously, the universal question now is, “What are you and Jason going to do all week??”

Fly to Hawaii and bask in the sun, of course I wish.

Jason needs to work, so nope.  Not even the two-day San Juan Islands holiday we’d considered.  It’s a good thing.  My body needs some attention.  (Get your mind out of that gutter – rowing, gym, physical therapy.  It’s important stuff.)

The heat mentioned in my last post let up for a few days, but we were in Canada, so it doesn’t count.  The summer continues to be hot, and we continue not to have air conditioning, so we’re given the choice between enjoying the vista from our living room and closing the blinds and curtains to prevent the late afternoon sun from baking us in our giant oven.  It’s not so bad; it’s certainly cooler than Atlanta.  But air conditioning.

(No, I’m still not going to fork over the dough for even a portable air conditioner.  This is a rare summer.  Also not a humid heat.  The budget rules.)

In May, we adopted a little girl.  She’s two.  She has white hair.  She likes to dig in the dirt, escape under the fence, and explore the neighborhood.  (She also has four legs and has been spayed.  That kind of adoption.)  Mazie is exactly the kind of dog one likes to adopt: house broken, crate trained, does not chew on anything but her own toys, does not bark.  She loves to cuddle.  She loves walks.  She is a lap dog who fits on one’s lap.

Mazie

In conclusion, this essay has been written on the fly, and I have no conclusion.  I miss blogging.  I miss the connections inherent in the blogging world.  I also miss having a clear voice in my head telling me what to type, and I have never, never felt confident in my closing paragraphs, ever.

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A Bright Joy

Summer 2014 would go down in the memories of all involved as a hot one in Western Washington.

Costco sold out of portable air conditioners as quickly as the lucky ones who happened to be there at precisely the right moment could grab them.  A dad going in for another fan returned to his car, triumphant, a Vornado in his arms, and only six remained of that shipment.

Ice cream balls were unwrapped from packaging, filled, and kicked around yards, and children knew the joy of making their own strawberry or chocolate or vanilla dessert.  Half and half was added to the regular grocery lists, to keep the ice cream balls and churns in business.

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At Lake Washington’s beaches, the sun burned hot enough that moms of kids old enough to run, wade, and swim unsupervised deigned not only to step into the greenish water themselves, but to actually dunk under, picking the lake weed out of their hair upon returning to new Tommy Bahama beach chairs (courtesy of Costco), where they sneaked a Capri Sun they’d brought for the kids and remembered how hard it used to be to stick those straws into the slippery foil pouches.

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Rowers dipped their hats and stockinged feet into the lake between sprints.  Dogs jumped into the slough, refusing to return to shore after sinking their teeth into floating tennis balls.  Women browsed the pajama racks at Target for shorter sleepwear.  Families ate deli sandwiches night after night, happy to let stoves and ovens and grills rest.  Outside projects were abandoned in favor of painting walls in the cool of the basement.  The mountains were out every day: Rainier and Baker, Cascades and Olympics.

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Moms and kids dragged chairs and coolers and blankets to Eastside parks, hours before sunset.  They munched on watermelon and Doritos and gummy bears, and parents kept vigil on their spots, chatting and Facebooking and Instagramming, as the kids ran amok, killing time before the movies.  Dark came long past nine o’clock, and films on inflatable screens ended well after eleven.  Hoodies and Snuggies came on after sunset, when the breeze showed up, late, to the gathering.

And the winter rains were worth it.

 

Mama’s Losin’ It

Ten ways to cool off on a hot day.

 

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Right-Click-Paste: Autism Day

Autism is just a label that gets my son what he needs.
Autism is not the most profound part of who he is. – Mariah DiPlacido

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MamaKat Said:

Open a blank blog post and “right click paste” in the body of the post…what was pasted? Explain it.

——————————————————————————————

{When I clicked ‘Paste’, I hadn’t a clue as to what would show up.  When I saw the results, I hesitated…but here goes.}

If you’ve been anywhere near Facebook today (Wednesday), you know it’s World Autism Awareness Day, part of Autism Awareness month.  Wear blue today to show your support!  (Although seeing as I’m typing this as 9:25pm Pacific time, never mind.  Wear blue whenever.  Be supportive in other ways.)

I don’t have much to say on the subject that hasn’t already been said.  The above quote comes from a HuffPost article I shared on Facebook.  It’s a nice jumble of thoughts about autism from those who have it and those parent kids with autism.

I’m feeling kind of odd about the whole thing these days.  We’re in limbo, waiting for one piece of paperwork to be completed, before we receive final results from a woman who will tell us whether or not Nicky can officially be placed on the Spectrum.  It’s been a long process.  I’m not sure I would have balked quite so much at ten-month waiting lists when Nicky was four.  Then again, maybe I would have.  It just feels so much more urgent now, considering his age, and ever since Asperger Syndrome was explained to us in detail, beyond the stereotypes.  It was overwhelming, all that emotion and new knowledge.

Except for Nicky.  For Nicky, it was instant clarity.  He sat at the kitchen table and knew he was hearing his truth.

IMG_5723-copyHe may have grown an inch or two since this was taken. He keeps doing that.

Our young man turned 14 last week.  He is getting ready to enter high school, practicing for state tests, preparing for the End Of Course exam in Algebra, perfecting a brass duet for Solo & Ensemble Day, scootering in the cul-de-sac with his brother and the neighbor kids, playing intramural dodgeball, reading To Kill a Mockingbird (for Language Arts) and Little House on the Prairie (for fun, because his mom convinced him he’d enjoy it), and wondering if the psychologist is going to confirm what he knows without question: that he’s an Asperkid.

(Okay, fine, that he has Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Not supposed to use “Aspergers” in a clinical setting anymore, but we all still know it, right?)

So, although I have dear friends and many acquaintances who have kids on the spectrum, this year, World Autism Awareness Day feels different.  I feel “between” it, although I can’t really explain what it could possibly mean to be between a single day/event/observation.  I’m neither in the thick of it nor outside it.  I am Schrodinger’s Cat.

I’ve never been wary of labels for Nicky.  Labels are words that get him what he needs.  This label simply happens to be one I never considered until fifteen months ago.  It’s right, though.  We can feel it.

Mama’s Losin’ It

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Marching Right Along

When it rains, it pours.

And, in Seattle, there’s a lot of rain in March.  We even had thunder today (a much rarer occurrence!).

Okay, yes, it’s also an appropriate metaphor for life this March.  Coincidence?  Perhaps…

Anyway, March has been overwhelming.  All is very well, but the paperwork alone has been worthy of a blog post, if I thought anyone would find such a topic even half interesting.  Suffice to say: Refinancing the house.  Also, new evaluation for Nicky, so gathering and copying of his entire therapy, evaluation, & IEP history.  Phew!

There were birthdays, and a school auction, and a weekend rowing trip, and a lot of stuff I’m not remembering.  Finally, the toilet in the main bathroom decided it was done.  It gave over thirty years of service, so no surprise…but the timing?  Not cool, toilet.  Not cool.

After such an intense four+ weeks, I looked at today’s schedule and found myself staring in amazement at a blank, empty, absolutely-nothing-filled day.  Jason was doing his own thing, so the boys and I were on our own.  What would we do?  Where would we go?  What would the weather be like?

(Oh. See aforementioned thunder.)

We did nothing.  Practically nothing.  A bit of homework for Nicky, and some piano and drums for Kalen.  Folded some laundry.  We sorted through Kalen’s wardrobe and eliminated this:

 20140329_160613After taking all this out, his drawers are still full.  Where was it all??

Mostly, though?  We binge-watched Once Upon A Time.  We’re caught up for the first time since September.  We’re eagerly awaiting tomorrow night’s episode.

This, my friends, was a decadent day.  I was unstressed-enough to happily fix breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the boys.  I was not even this relaxed during my birthday massage.  Tomorrow, we’ll leave the house a couple of times for church and choir.  Monday, I’ll sign more paperwork for the refinance.  Then, March will go out…like a lamb?  We’ll see.

Bring it on, April.  I’m ready.

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Thoughts On a Winter Break

Happy 2014, everybody!

This is a bit of an experiment – I recently switched from a Windows Phone to an Android, and, as a result, I now have an app for that. (Posting to my blog, that is.) I wanted to give it a go and see how it turns out.

This is that go.

We had a fantastic holiday season, as I hope you did. Once the kids got out of school, and Jason out of work (he took the whole two weeks of their break off!), we did very little. Sure, there was lots of family time, visiting with my parents and sister, and with Jason’s via Skype, but otherwise it was mostly lazy time.

I reread the entire Game of Thrones series, since book 5 is finally out in paperback, and Jason and I watched season one. The boys practiced their music and played their new video game.  Jason played lots of Assassin’s Creed (IV). I did not completely avoid the gym. We all played board games.  Jason and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. For the first time ever, he and I went OUT on New Year’s Eve. We took a family hike.

My favorite of the new board games this season: Lords of Waterdeep. Much fun.

My thoughts on Game of Thrones: so much dying!  At least my favorite character appears to still be alive at the end of Book 5. Intrigued to see where it all ends up someday.

My thoughts on Assassin’s Creed: I like piratey things.

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My thoughts on New Year’s Eve: are dance clubs always that loud and crowded? Ugh. The comedy show was hilarious, though. Also, fondue.

My thoughts on 2014: I hope the banks take the two checks I’ve written with last year’s date on them.

My thoughts on this app: So far so good, but I have no idea how that photo up there is going to come out, size-wise. Fingers crossed.!

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NaBloPo…No Mo?

National Blog Posting Month, I salute you.  Bloggers everywhere are posting daily in November.  I believe I participated once.  Or twice.  This year, as you may have noticed, I did not.

Okay, fair enough: This year, as you may have noticed, I sort of forgot I have a blog.

It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  I braved the grocery store and survived, without a headache, even.  I lifted weights with my teammates and set a new personal planking record.  I read a few chapters of Jack Aubrey.  I planned pies.

{Pumpkin (because my husband loves it) and apple (because my mother doesn’t love pumpkin), in case you wondered.  Me?  It’s pie – leave out the nuts, and I’m all over it, pumpkin, apple, rhubarb…you name it; I’ll eat it.}

Nicky is working on his ever-going project for National History Day.  This, people, is a huge undertaking.  I am serious when I tell you I never had to do a project of this scope in middle school, and I can’t recall having to do one in high school, either.  The colleges, however, they want the kids prepareder now than they did twenty years ago, though, so the thirteen-year-olds get to do three-month-long research projects.  Wow.  On the upside, I am learning an awful lot about Japanese-American Internment during World War II, and oh my.  Why did I not learn about this in school?  Why was I in my 30′s before I even knew our country did this?

Kalen is doing something schoolworky…I think Scholastic News Weekly?  Jason is working from home.  I am typing.  (I don’t like being left off the list.)  Kalen has a piano lesson in a couple of hours, and I coped by adding Stouffer’s frozen enchiladas to my cart during my Turkey Day grocery run earlier.  Healthy, no.  Tasty, yes.  Easy, yes.  Two out of three is a win for a Tuesday night in a place and time where/when it is dark by four-thirty and I feel like dinner time should be bed time.

In other words, Happy Thanksgiving.

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I miss you.  I’ll write again soon, I promise.

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New Ink

Jason and I went under the needle today…

…because we go together like a

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Letting Go

June.  Wow.

In some ways, I can’t believe it’s almost July.  In others…well, it seems like it’s been a year since January.  Same old, same old.  Time is inconsistent.

I received an email from Arnebya this week, one of those simple, “thinking of you” messages that mean so much.  Her thoughts were a beautiful reminder: my blog readership may be small, but it is beloved.

The boys are in the other room, delaying breakfast.  They get up before 7:00, but the TV can be on only from 7-9am.  They still stick by this rule, never thinking I might change it.  Of course, I won’t.  I understand as well as anyone the dangers of being sucked into the boob tube, a whole day gone before you know it.  Now, they must have breakfast, unload the dishwasher.  Perhaps even get dressed before practicing piano and trumpet and drums.  I stepped away just now to yell up the stairs, “Don’t forget to take your vitamins!”  It’s a strange thing, having mostly self-sufficient-aged kids.  They can do these things for themselves, if they remember or care to.

Yesterday, I stepped outside my comfort zone.

That is inaccurate.  Yesterday, I jumped a mile away from my comfort zone.

I had fully planned to give Nicky a little more neighborhood freedom this summer.  He’s made friends (woo hoo!) with a boy who lives close enough for me to be okay with him walking over there.  I’d thought to myself, “This summer, those two can walk to the coffee shop, to the grocery store, etc.  Gain a little freedom and responsibility.”  Said boy?  Moving this weekend.  Sigh.

So, yesterday.  Nicky had gotten new wires in his braces (yes, that has begun – braces off for Kalen, braces on for Nicky), and I, in my infinite wisdom, had forgotten to stock the fridge with soft foods.  Ouch.

So, I gave the boys $20, equipped them with string backpacks, and sent them to the grocery store.  The thirteen-year-old and the ten-year-old-as-of-next-week, alone together.  (Oxymoron alert!)  Against their father’s better judgment, and with my heart in my throat.

I understand, this is not a big deal for many parents.  Depending on the neighborhood and your relative comfort with your child’s sense of self-preservation, she may have walked to the grocery store by herself at age 8.  Or he never will before age 15.  But for me?  Big deal, indeed.  The store is a mile away, and a brief portion of our busy road is sans sidewalk.  And we have an older child “in charge” who is not always fully aware of the world around him.

“Text me when you get there.  Text me when you’re leaving.  Oh, and why don’t you text me a picture of the two of you on the way, so we have record of this momentous occasion?”

Lomogram_2013-06-27_09-21-55-AMStill alive!!

All was well, of course.  They even enlisted the help of a super-nice checkout lady (Thank you, Jo!) to make sure they weren’t over budget before running back for an extra box of mac & cheese.

Nicky just poked his head in, asking if they could have eggs for breakfast.  My response, “If you cook them,” was sort of well-received.  Outside my comfort zone.  Again.  “Don’t forget to spray the pan!”  “I won’t!”

He’s old enough to do these things, and I’m finding he’s ready in most ways.  It’s that “most” that scares me.  That little disconnect; the one forgotten thing can make all the difference.

But he’s only two years away from a learners permit.  Five years away from graduation and adulthood.  It’s time.  For his sake, and ours, and that of every person who will be on the roadways after March, 2015.

Oh dear.  He didn’t spray the pan.  “It’s a learning experience.  Remember your vitamins!”

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Make It So

A couple of weeks ago, I turned 38.

Mary Kay Ash (Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, and yes, I was a Mary Kay lady for a few years after college.  Weird.) apparently used to say, “A woman who will tell you her age will tell you anything.”

Yep, what do you want to know?

Anyway, I turned 38, and Jason surprised me with tickets to Emerald City Comicon for my birthday.  It was fabulous.  Truly, wonderfully geeky.  We saw panels by Chris Sarandon and Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day.  Fascinating.  If you’re not of the geeky variety (I forgive you), but you are a fan of movies or television, I still highly recommend visiting a con just for the panels.  Chris Sarandon’s stories about shooting The Princess Bride, the process by which he’s chosen to work on which films, etc. was enthralling.

Even more interesting was Wil and Felicia’s discussion about the future of video media, and the move away from television networks as the main/only source of well-produced series.  They gave us real food for thought and finally kicked us in the can enough to begin watching Geek & Sundry, Felicia Day’s YouTube channel.  Watching has been an expensive decision, as every other time we watch an episode of TableTop, we want that game and are unwilling to wait more than a day to try it out.  The local game shops are thrilled.

The highlight of our day at Comicon, though?  A mere fifteen seconds.  After two hours or so of standing in line (happily, I brought my knitting), we had fifteen seconds with one of my favorite actors of all time.  The person I would choose, above all others, to meet at one of these events.

Yes, I have a thing for handsome, bald men.

Sir Patrick Stewart, himself.  Somehow, I lost my nerve and did not tell him it was my birthday.  I very much wanted to hear him say, “Happy Birthday” with his lovely voice, but we were ushered in and out so quickly, I got flustered.  I did manage eye contact, and a, “Thank you very much, sir,” to which he politely replied, “Thank you for coming.”  So he has nice manners, which is not really a surprise but still good to know.

There’s a bit of controversy over the whole photo-with-a-celebrity thing.  Yes, we paid money for the experience.  We paid more to get his photo than we would any other person’s at the con.  I balked at first, but it was my birthday, and after seeing just how exhausted he was when we met him (It was the third day of the con, and he did look and sound tired.), I came to the conclusion that his time is worth the money.  He obviously appreciates his fans, too.  I’ve heard he’s quite the fanboy himself when he meets his idols (on an episode of Top Gear?), so it makes sense.

Next con?  I’m taking our photo to get it signed.  Do you think it will decrease in value if Jason and I autograph it, too?

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Hawaii: 50th Into The Union, 1st in Relaxation

Do you think they’ll adopt that as a tourism slogan?  I could go into the slogan business.  Except not really…I think my sense of humor is lost on many people.

My kids get me, though.  Apparently, I’m good for the male 9-13 crowd.  The latest is limericks.  But that’s another post.

Hawaii.  Wow.  The Big Island.  Jason and I were there a month ago, and yes, it was heavenly.  I promised pictures, and I [eventually!] deliver!

I’m going to begin with this one, because I believe it may be one of the Top Three Photos of Me Ever Taken, Ever.  I want to look like this every day, but I figure it has a lot to do with the sunglasses (which are moot this time of year in Seattle), the pose (difficult to maintain on an ongoing basis), and the state of total relaxation.  Yeah.

The beginning and end of my modeling career

The thing about the Big Island is that it’s apparently much, much younger than the other Hawaiian islands.  It’s so young that much of the place is barren lava.  It’s like a black desert.

On the eastern side, however, you have some lushness.

The day we went chasing waterfalls

And when they say lush, they mean lush!  So much green!

Banyan trees – weird.  Cool.  Really, really weird and cool.

Then you drive for twenty minutes and – yep – black desert.

On the Saddle Road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa

Really, the place is a geeky geology lover’s dream come true.  In one day, we saw landscapes that reminded us of the Pacific Northwest, Reno, Florida, and a couple other places I can’t remember, because it was a month ago.  Eerie.

See the little tip of land touching the ocean?  That’s the southern-most point in the U.S.  It is not in Key West, FL.

The nice thing about the black desertiness of it all is that it’s not the Beautiful People’s Island. That isn’t to say there aren’t a lot of nice-looking people.  There are, locals and tourists alike.  They just aren’t all walking around in bikinis and board shorts all the time.  It’s rather nice.

Fair warning: black sand is SHARP.  Our feet did not thank us for this.

We took a day to drive around the southern part of the island to Volcanoes National Park.  What a surprise to arrive and experience Seattle weather (rainy and 40F) while wearing Hawaii vacation clothes.

Photograph taken solely to illustrate the weather

We laughed.  We ran through the cold rain.  What else could we do?  We’d driven three hours to get there.  And it’s Volcanoes National Park.  It’s not like we could just try again next week.

Chain of Craters Road has (wait for it) a bunch of craters along it.  Quelle suprise!

Photographs cannot do the size of this crater justice.  The craters were huge.  Ginormous.  Very, very LARGE.  However big you think that crater behind Jason is, triple it.  At least.

I’m in a lava tube!

I could post a hundred photos, but I’ll spare you.  We golfed (my first time!), we beach-walked, we off-roaded in our rental Jeep.

Not a bad place to have one’s first golfing experience

We took many, many arms-length photographs.

At Honaunau National Historical Park. Look it up.  It’s fascinating!

We even drove up the coast to explore a native village at the state park…

The gate is…closed??

…and if I’d paid attention to the calendar, I would have realized it was Presidents Day.

“Except Holidays”  Oops.

It obviously wasn’t a “lie on the beach in Hawaii” kind of vacation, but I don’t think we would have changed a thing.  Even with the driving and the doing, it was so freaking relaxing.  I’d go back next week if we could afford it, and if we could get the boys out of school without guilt.  They need to see this place.

Until next time, Aloha!

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