And In Other News….

Isn’t it funny when you think you have nothing to say but you sit down to write anyway because you MUST and because if you don’t, you won’t know what you think, and then it turns out you have plenty to say, maybe some of it sweet or perceptive or inspiring or real, but most of it ridiculous, and that’s completely ok because it helps you feel connected to yourself and maybe it even makes you laugh, which is awesome? Yeah, I think so too.

I cut my own hair again this week, meaning its now been over 4 months since I’ve been to my hair place. Its kind of weird, I know. And if you have OCDish tendencies, I don’t really recommend it because it’ll be a long and torturous 2 or 3 days. Or maybe I mean if you have OCDish tendencies, I do recommend it because you know it’ll be done right after a long and torturous 2 or 3 days. I don’t know. You pick. Oh, and let me tell you about a funny little thing that happened on the 1st or 2nd day of my haircut. I have this hair stuff that I put on my hair while it’s still very slightly damp because my hair is very DRY. I also have this very expensive anti-aging cream that I put on my face every single day because my face is AGING. Both happen to be in jars with black lids. You see where I’m going with this, right? Chalk it up to the fact that I wasn’t wearing my glasses or that I’m extremely menopausal or that possibly I’m displaying signs of early onset Alzheimers, I don’t know, but I grabbed the anti-aging cream jar, opened it, scooped up a little dab with my finger, rubbed it between my hands and applied it to my hair. And it looked good. Moisturized. Shiny. Then I realized what I’d done and thought about rinsing it out, but no, why would I? It looked GOOD. Which got me thinking that maybe I should try my hair stuff on my face sometime, because its a lot cheaper than the anti-aging stuff and apparently, they are very similar products.  

I spent many hours over the last few days carefully drafting a letter (no F bombs) to the president of my daughter’s college – a small liberal arts college in the Boston area, progressive in some ways, highly regarded for its rigorous academic and intellectual pursuits in a non-denominational Christian setting, a wonderful place on many levels, and a perfect fit for her – but I’m not doing anything with it until she hears back from a big honors thing for which she made the first cut and is having her final interview today. Because I’m not stupid. I’m just thoroughly disgusted. And disappointed. Again. The guy has completely lost my trust at this point because he repeatedly talks out of both sides of his mouth, which last time I checked was a biblically ethical issue. And oh sweet Jesus! Please help! This white, straight, male, American, Christian, Princeton educated, college president feels SO oppressed. And also dogmatism before God’s people and don’t you forget it. Amen. Sorry to be so cryptic for now, and obviously, because I’m sad and angry and worried and human, I have a lot of breathing and praying and editing to do. And I WILL. And then I will share.

Things continue to look up for Boy, especially at school. I think the kid is finally settling in after 6 months of WHOAwhosawthiscomingNOTME. We’ve been a great team, the GT/LD people, his teacher, our Educational Consultant and me, and I’m really grateful for that. I’m not saying we’re out of the woods, I’m just saying things are a lot better and all of the tools we’ve put into place are making a difference. I’m relieved. Cautiously optimistic. And I’m really proud of him because he didn’t give up. Mostly, though, I’m happy for him. For the past 2 weeks, Boy hasn’t objected to going to school at all and he’s made some huge strides, finishing more work and doing it cooperatively and really well too. His teacher is increasingly aware that he’s capable of even more, but she’s letting him continue to settle in, and I support that 100%. He’s really enjoying his friends and he might even say he likes being there, not sure.

Speaking of school, I posted awhile back about Boy’s Media teacher and how awesome she is and how much they dig each other. For months, his time with her was the only thing he looked forward to at school. Well, she invited him to march with her in a parade scheduled for last weekend to kickoff the Gaithersburg Book Festival, which isn’t until May 16. There are a series of events between now and then building up to the big day, this being the first, hence the word kickoff. Anyway, you guys KNOW he was all over that. Unfortunately, the parade was rained out and Boy was super bummed. That’s putting it mildly.

But then something really cool happened. Apparently there were only a couple of kids expected to march in the parade with their respective Media teachers, each dressed as a character from a book written by various authors who will be at the Festival. The Festival committee decided that in lieu of the parade, they wanted each kid interviewed for the GBF website about their love of reading in general, as well as about the book and character they each chose. You guys KNOW Boy was all over that too. Ha. So one of the committee members, a lovely woman who has worked for 20 years as a local reporter, came to our home on Thursday after school to interview Boy. I wish I’d had a video camera going. I bet she wishes the same. He waited at our front window for her to arrive and when she pulled up in the driveway, he propped open the storm door to greet and welcome her enthusiastically. Great start but she had no idea what she was in for.

I had cleaned up the house before her arrival, as most civilized people try to do, but turns out I shouldn’t have bothered because as she asked questions and Boy answered them, he trashed the joint, pulling out every single one of his favorite books to illustrate his responses. He pulled out all of his sketch books which contain his volumes of comics and graphic novellas. He opened Google Docs to show her his stories. He told her about the stories my Dad tells him, especially the one about the time machine, and the way they collaborated to keep it going. He showed her the time machine he made and demonstrated how it works. And then he took her to his room. He pulled his favorite books out there too. He showed her his CD player and his stack of audio books. He showed her his favorite plush characters and demonstrated how he creates epic stories with them. He opened his closet and a pile of cardboard boxes tumbled out, his ongoing work to create an arcade inspired by a YouTube video. He told her about the various businesses he operates out of his classroom and this house, showing her his big red bag full of crap he drags around for his “fair trade store”. And then, I heard them go into his bathroom. And, horrified, I screamed from the family room, “OMG Boy, you didn’t take her into YOUR bathroom did you?!” OMG, the pee stains people. Just NO. And then he goes, “Yes! This interview would not be complete without her seeing my theater because my plays are stories!” He explained to her that he recently began to put on one man shows staged in his bathroom because the tub is a perfect stage and has A CURTAIN. So in addition to the pee, which I swear I try to keep up with, she saw his tub full of props and his counter covered with dollar bills, the price for admission to his original masterpiece theater. No doubt she was given the best seat in the house, also known as the commode.

She was so patient and engaged, she clearly enjoyed all of this while I waited in our big, green, overstuffed chair and giggled to myself like a crazy person. When they came downstairs, she very kindly looked at me and said, “You really keep busy, don’t you? And your home is lovely, its like a workshop.” Yes, yes it is like a workshop.

They settled in to talk a little longer and as he stood on his head on the sofa, Boy let his vocabulary freak flag fly and he showered her with his beautifully articulate language and observations about stories and the way they transport him to another place and time. I’m realizing more and more that he pulls it out when he needs it and stuffs it back in when he simply wants to be a “normal kid”. I’m reading a fascinating book right now, a memoir about verbal giftedness, called Weisenheimer: A Childhood Subject to Debate. Anyway, he went on to tell her that one of his many dreams is to publish his own work one day and that he wants to be famous, not for money, but to make people happy, just as the authors he loves have made him happy. But he did admit that he likes money too. Don’t we all. He told her more about his passion for graphic novels, about his teacher who includes comics in his classroom, and about meeting several of his favorite authors, including one of the authors who will be at the GBF, Dave Roman. He told her that his mother understands his need to meet people who inspire him because BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. He talked about Roman’s Astronaut Academy series and one of his favorite characters, the one he was going to dress up as for the parade, Senor Panda. She asked him to put on his get-up so she could grab a photo or two and then they wrapped things up. She was here for over an hour and it was pretty excellent, I have to say. No idea when or exactly where her little blurb will get published beyond the website, but I’ll share it when it goes live.

After dinner that same night, I subbed for Husband at Cub Scouts, which technically is his gig with Boy, not mine, because I did Girl Scouts with Girl for many years and we made an agreement, but when work gets in the way, I’m it. And somehow, it turns out that I’m the one taking him on his 4 day/3 NIGHT camping trip in June too – the kind of camping where you sleep outside in a two person tent – but whatever.

Anyway, the theme Thursday night was developing awareness of and compassion for people with various disabilities. The boys sat together for a little presentation about common physical disabilities, how we can show sensitivity, care and respect for people who have them, and then they were asked to share their own observations or experiences. At one point, Boy raised his hand and from across the room, I inhaled deeply as another boy’s Mom, a friend, looked over at me with love. Thats what it felt like anyway. We both knew what he was going to do. I admit I had mixed feelings about it because, well, you know. Bullying. Teasing. Indifference. And then Boy did it, he shared with all of those other scouts and scout leaders and parents that he has a disability that can’t be seen, a learning disability called dysgraphia which makes writing and school really hard for him. He shared that he has other associated challenges too. Boy is so freaking brave sometimes, it nearly makes me weep. The leader who was facilitating the discussion then shared that he also struggled with a learning disability as a kid, dyslexia. They went on to talk about hidden disabilities a little bit, which was great. I might have added some intentional discussion about modifications/accommodations and that disabilities do not define a person or limit quality of life or accomplishments. In fact, many people with disabilities excel at many things. But it was a great introduction, a really fine session.

The kids then rotated through a series of experiential activities designed to help them better understand what living with a physical disability might be like. That Mom friend and I were facilitating one of the activities and once we were finished and the boys gathered again as a group with the scout leaders, she and I sat down and buried our noses in our iPhones, of course, at one point giggling about a photo of a giraffe or something. A few minutes later we were called out because everyone else had stood up to do the closing for the meeting and we were still sitting, obliviously scrolling away. And apparently it took the whole platoon or den or pack or whatever to get our attention because we were shocked to realize that every single one of those kids and leaders was yelling at us to stand up. Boy was shaking his head, face in hand. As we stood up, laughing, red-faced, I whispered to her, “that’s some great blog material, right there.” You’re welcome.

In weather related news, it snowed in our neck of the woods yesterday. Nothing major, but snow nonetheless. On March 20. The first day of “Spring” in case you didn’t know. But hey, at least school wasn’t cancelled. And today it’s sunny and near 60. Crazy.

Coincidentally, Boy went to a comic book store with Husband this afternoon to see Dave Roman of all people, the Astronaut Academy dude. It was actually Boy’s second time meeting this particular author. The first time was last fall when Boy’s Media teacher snagged some money to bring Dave to the school to talk to the 3-5th graders, the event that really skyrocketed Boy’s love of graphic novels, specifically. And he’s been chasing the dream ever since. Its been a big week in the author meeting department, Lincoln Pierce of Big Nate fame on Tuesday night at Barnes and Noble and then Dave Roman today. Husband said that Dave couldn’t be a nicer guy, and Boy is psyched that they’ll meet again at the GBF in May.

Finally, while Husband and Boy were gone, I worked on cleaning the joint up AGAIN as I enjoyed the musical stylings of the one and only Mr Springsteen. Well, actually, I sat here for quite awhile in my little writing corner, thinking, laughing, typing, because I didn’t know where to start with my train wreck of a house, it was that bad. But it had to be done and I finally did it because poker is happening here tonight. Husband’s monthly guy gathering. And hey, isn’t so great that all of his poker crap was exactly where he left it last month? One less thing for him to do when he got home. 

  
 Just so you know, I think that the steady self-control and maturity I exercised in keeping my mouth shut about that poker crap staying on my dining room table for a month and/or in not putting it away myself as I released a few expletives under my breath deserves some sort of medal, don’t you?

I think that about covers it. 

Ok. So, signing off for now and please forgive me, but I don’t have time to edit this, which could be a good thing. Another really, REALLY good exercise in one thing or another. Surrender. Or something. 

 Have a good weekend, people.

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The MOTHER Of All Shares

See what I did there? Ha. Some of you have asked me about the Listen To Your Mother show, and more specifically, how I got involved with it. I guess because it’s so NOT something I’d typically do. I’m trying to write a more complete blog post about it because I’ve learned that it’s more than a show, it’s more than a national series of live readings by local writers on the theme of motherhood; it’s an amazing, empowering and unifying storytelling movement. But who knows if I’ll actually produce a publishable (is that a word?) blog post because I’ve been rendered a little bit speechless, even though I really am very grateful to have this opportunity to be part of something so special. ESPECIALLY after meeting my fellow cast members at our first rehearsal with the producers last night. For some reason, I’m having trouble talking with my people – or even writing – about my participation in the show. I don’t know why, exactly. I’m sure I’ll figure it out and when I do, I’ll talk. Until then, this is how it went down, since you asked…

A couple of months ago, Carla du Pree, a writer friend who was in last year’s Baltimore show, started nudging me to audition for the 2015 season. I wasn’t familiar with the show at all and after I did a very little bit of reading about it, I said something like, “WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER” because while I’m thoroughly enjoying my little blog here, I’m a total amateur, and I’m definitely not the kind of person who enjoys the spotlight. In fact, I’d say I’m the opposite. And then, apparently, days or weeks later, after another nudge or two, I changed my mind and said ok. Even though I was scared. Because my friend believed in me and in the importance and power of motherhood and storytelling, and because of a promise I made to my daughter. AND THEN I DID IT. I scheduled an audition and I kept it to myself which really helped me stay in denial about it and then I showed up and I read something I’d written in front of a panel of 5 very encouraging women I did not know while I stood at a podium on a small stage, and they looked straight into my soul and listened to my story and when I was done, they thanked me and I got in my car, took a deep breath and thought booyah…awesome…I was brave…I tried something new…I didn’t kill it…but I didn’t suck either…even though I had no idea the audition was, you know, a FOR REAL audition, or that it would be so formal, so professional…even though I was having hot flashes and I was rocking back and forth on my Dansko clogs…and dang, I’m pretty sure I picked the wrong piece to read…I should have gone with Cheese In A Can…but whatever…yay me for putting myself out there…I’ll definitely plan to go see the show in May. And then I did what any rational woman in my situation would have done. I drove straight to the mall and wandered through Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel for hours. I picked up and looked at every damn thing in both stores. And I didn’t buy anything either. A short time later, I finally told Husband because I’d kind of kept it a secret from him. He was supportive, mostly shocked, he congratulated me, and then looked at me as if he was thinking WHO ARE YOU? And then I said, “let us not speak of this again” and I went to my little writing corner and cried, but I wasn’t sad. The end.

Then I got an email and it wasn’t the end. It was the beginning. And then I found out that this is A THING, y’all. As in LEGIT. And then I started freaking out even though I’m thrilled at the same time. And then I started telling people. Or trying to. I think that about covers it. Ok? I promise I’ll talk more about it soon because it’s going to be an amazing show and I hope you’ll plan to join us in Baltimore on Saturday, May 9 at 4pm. You’ll be glad you did. And I will too. Even if you have to watch me clutch a spittoon into which I will spit my nausea-induced excess saliva the whole time.

WhatTheMTHFR?

Hi there!

Oh hey, what’s happening?

Not much, MTHFR, how about you?

What did you call me?

Huh?

MTHFR?

Wait! What?! You know about MTHFR?

I think we all know what a MTHFR is, you MTHFR.

Wow, what a relief! I’m slightly weary from navigating the world of assorted special needs and trying to explain it to well-meaning folks who still don’t really get it and who probably think I’m just a neurotic, crazy, high maintenance mother, which isn’t altogether untrue, but whatever. So, after getting Boy’s lab work back this week and learning he has a defective MTHFR gene, among some other stuff I don’t feel like talking about right now, simply knowing there’s someone out there who is familiar with it is SUCH A RELIEF.

Someone who knows that MTHFR is an acronym for methyltetrahydrofolate reductase and that it’s a gene which produces and instructs an enzyme to convert (or methylate) the folate in our diets to the active form called 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate and like all genes, it acts as a light switch – turning on or turning off various body processes.

So what’s the big deal? Well, first, the methylation process is responsible for cellular repair, detoxification and neurotransmitter production, and also healthy immune system function. Methylation is a core process that occurs in all cells to help your body make biochemical conversions. People with a defective MTHFR gene cannot metabolize or convert folate into the active type that is needed to cross the blood-brain barrier and do its work. When they are exposed to toxins, they have a harder time getting rid of them which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Second, if you belong to a Special Needs, ADHD, PANDAS/PANS, or Autism group, you’ve probably noticed a lot of discussion about MTHFR and this conversion or methylation process. MTHFR has been widely studied in the past decade in terms of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and it now appears to be a pretty big deal for those who are raising kids with developmental or neurological differences and for those fighting chronic infections, depression, and anxiety.

WhotheMTHFRknew?  Its kind of UnMTHFRbelievable, isn’t it? This one gene impacting so many systems, so many people?

 

A defective MTHFR gene (or in Boy’s case, a double whammy or TWO MTHFR mutations given to him by both me and his father) increases risk for:

o   ADHD/ADD

o   Addictions/Alcoholism

o   Allergies

o   Anxiety

o   Autism

o   Chronic Viral Infection

o   Depression

o   Diabetes

o   Epilepsy

o   Migraine

o  AND MORE

Obviously, it’s nothing to ignore.

While it’s true that a defective gene can’t be altered, it’s possible to minimize its impact and to help this particular gene do its job by supplementing with the active form of folate – methylfolate, or specifically, L-5-MTHF. There are many different terms used for methylfolate and so, again, its important to be under a doctor’s care so that you choose the right one and the correct dose.

Dietary changes like consuming more greens and less bread can make a difference, as well.

There are additional recommendations, but lets not get crazy because you know this biomedical stuff can go there. And I’m not going there. I can’t. At least not yet.

Anyway, one step at a time, and so yeah, SO GLAD I didn’t have to tell you all of THAT, MTHFR.

Postscript: I wrote this last night in my midnight delirium, after obsessively researching and thinking about all of the pieces of Boy’s puzzle, and how the pieces fit together. This new information brings another piece of his puzzle to the table, it helps us to begin to make more sense out of his earlier developmental/neurological differences and the emergence and/or identification of current ones. Oh, and remind me to have Girl tested for obvious reasons, ok? What the hell, ALL of us should probably be tested, including everyone on my side of the family. And while I’m relieved to have this information and to know there are things we can do to help this gene do its job, which hopefully will provide a bit of relief from some of the challenges Boy faces and will help prevent the risk of future health issues, I’m overwhelmed by it at the same time. I’ve worried for quite a long time that there’s more going on with Boy medically than we’ve ever been able to determine. While I’m glad to be further along the path of figuring that out, I’m also a little conflicted, rattled, because I’m worried this is only the beginning of untangling a big tangled mess. There’s been some discussion recently about the possibility of an autoimmune disorder and/or immune deficiency – tied to the last couple of years of frequent illness and infection – and I feel like we’re opening up a whole new bag of issues. And I don’t want anymore issues, for him especially, or for me. The anxiety will pass as soon as I feel like I’ve become a sufficient enough expert on whatever IT is, I guess. Ha. I just want to be equipped to give him whatever it is he needs to be his best, whatever that is. And this joking around I do? I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotta laugh because if I don’t, I’ll cry, and I might never stop. Which I’m slightly ashamed to admit because I know things could be so much worse and we are lucky because we can DO SOMETHING about this MTHFR thing and overall, Boy is finally moving back into a decent space. I just thought he was out of the woods, you know? And then BOOM! GT/LD, DYSGRAPHIA, ADHD, anxiety, IEP, new school, new everything, total freaking meltdown, and having to put the pieces back together again, in a whole new way. WhattheMTHFR?

And the dietary changes? For my boy who eats 5 foods, none of which are green and many of which are bread? Again I say unto you, WhattheMTHFR?

Oh, and just FYI, I pulled the scientific research portion of this post from the Internets in an attempt to make some kind of very beginner sense out of it for me and my pea-sized brain. If it doesn’t make sense to you because MIDNIGHT DELERIUM and/or if you’re interested in learning more, there is actually a ton of information about MTHFR out there, presented in all sorts of formats that are certainly less scattered than mine in this case. I’ll also try to go back and specifically list the sources I used – primarily NIMH, the websites of several physicians who specialize in this mutation and its treatment, and handouts Boy’s doctor gave us – but don’t hold your breath because I’m not a professional anything and I’m not trying to be either.

And yes, as a matter of fact, I most certainly DO appreciate that the MTHFR acronym can be manipulated by my sick sense of humor and my LOVE of bad words, ESPECIALLY THE F WORD.

And maybe the very, VERY best part of this whole thing? Wow, I can’t believe I almost forgot to tell you guys this. Boy was there when we met with his doctor to review the test results because that’s just how this particular doctor operates. Boy was reassured that this finding is a good thing and that the supplement he’ll take is another tool in his toolkit that will help him feel better and then he goes, “Yes! Finally! I’m A Mutant!”

The end.

What Day Is It? Part Two

Picture this…I was startled awake this morning at 7:30am and realized Boy was still asleep which is UNHEARD OF. I bolted out of bed and ran downstairs where I did NOT smell the coffee and I found Husband working in his office and I ran in there and said, “What is going on? What are you still doing here? Why is Boy still asleep? Why didn’t you wake me up? Please tell me there’s not another school delay or closing!” Classy, I know. Turns out, 7:30 is the new 6:30 so our internal clocks were messed up and Husband had an early conference call so he decided to take it from home. Not the perfect Monday morning I was envisioning.

Despite my panic and agitation, Husband was kind enough to make me some fresh coffee while I went to wake up Boy. Waking the kid up doesn’t usually result in anything good at all, but to my delight, he was ok, cheerful even. We only had an hour to get ready for school which typically is not anywhere near enough time for obvious reasons, but we did it and for the most part, it was seamless.

I dropped Boy off and by the time I got home, Girl was on her way out to Philly until tomorrow and Husband was gone too. Phew. Alone at last. I settled in to drink my coffee, breathe, and collect my marbles so I could get on with my day.

I cleaned the joint up, tackled the neverending pile of laundry, planned dinner, did some reading, and I took my first outdoor walk of the season which was absolutely heavenly. Brilliant warm sunshine, light wind, melting snow, singing birds, geese swimming in the water retention ponds, and even evidence of new life in the flower buds trying to sprout here and there. Oh, and lots of mud. I passed an older couple taking a leisurely walk with their little grandson, he looked to be about 3 years old, and they were chatting together about the wide world around them. It made me feel really happy, reminded me of my Dad with my kids. I felt almost normal when I got back from that walk. Almost. And also? I’m going to tell Husband again that we are out of here as soon as Boy finishes high school. As in we are heading South, at least for part of the year. I can’t take it up here anymore. The winters are too hard on me.

I went to my computer to check my email and found a note from Boy’s classroom teacher. Early afternoon. Couldn’t be good. She told me she needed me to talk with Boy after school because although he’d been in a great, cooperative, relatively hard-working place all morning, he lost it during reading, right before lunch/recess. He kept getting up during work time to distribute erasers to classmates for a game they had planned for recess. She told him repeatedly to knock it off and he didn’t. So she tried to confiscate the erasers. He clenched them tightly in his fist. She insisted. And then he looked straight at her and shoved them into his mouth and chewed them. I guess he thought she wouldn’t take them away if they’d been in his mouth. But he underestimated her. She stood her ground, held out her hand and he finally spit them out. He might have growled afterwards. I’m not sure. The kid is lucky he didn’t end up in the Principal’s office. And he’s lucky to have the teacher he has. I died laughing.

And then I got it together and wrote back to her, apologizing and telling her that of course I’d talk with him after school. I hit send and laughed some more. And then I wrote to our educational consultant/advocate to make sure I planned to handle it appropriately when I saw the kid later. I love our educational dude because the first thing he said in response to my email was that he wished there’d been a video of the whole thing, but he also advised me, which is what we pay him for.

Then, moments later, I got another email, this one from Boy’s media teacher. She informed me that when she went to pick him up for PARCC testing after lunch/recess, he was in the midst of staging a protest. He had made a NO PARCC sign, you know the ones with a circle around the word and a diagonal line drawn through it? Yeah, and he’d taped it to his shirt. He insisted on wearing it as he was marched down the hall to the testing room. And she let him. No wonder he loves her. I was laughing hysterically by then and was SO relieved to know that she thought it was hilarious too.

I love his spirit.

I tied up a few loose ends here at home and then I went to pick up Boy. I ALWAYS know when there have been little “bumps” during the school day, the kid can’t hide a thing from me. Plus, you know, his teachers emailed me. Ha. Anyway, he spilled the eraser incident as soon as we met at the bottom of the steps and we talked it through, why he did it – “Mom, you have no idea what it’s like, all the work, and we haven’t been outside in years, and I just couldn’t take it anymore, and my head felt like it was going to explode if I had to answer one more stupid reading question, and I just couldn’t wait for recess because they told us we were going outside today, and I was so excited!” – why it wasn’t ok, brainstorming about what he could do differently next time he was having a hard time staying on task. But mainly we talked about respect and the apology he owes his classroom teacher.

Then he told me about his PARCC protest, and I’m sorry, but by then I just couldn’t keep it together anymore. He asked what was so funny and I said, “I LOVE IT, THATS WHAT!” He looked a little confused and so I settled down to discuss that episode with him too. Basically I told him I totally dig that he’s exercising his right to “peacefully” protest, especially about those stupid tests, and I love that his media teacher “gets him”, but if he’s told to stop because he’s disrupting instruction or anything, I want him to listen and together we will find another way for him to express his opinions. He agreed – after making sure I knew the difference between voicing his opinion about the test and refusing to take the test – and then he told me he suspected that his media teacher isn’t the only one who thinks the tests are dumb because when he was busy making the signs (yes, multiple signs, which he distributed to friends), his classroom teacher didn’t stop him, she merely said that he couldn’t use school materials to make them. Which was no trouble, obviously, because the kid travels with his own supply of paper and pens/pencils at all times. We high-fived and drove home.

Our entire neighborhood of kids was outside after school playing in the melting snow mounds, the puddles, the mud. It was pretty great and none of the Moms gave a damn about how wet and filthy our kids were getting. We were collectively calling for Spring to COME. AND STAY.

After dinner tonight, Husband told Boy to look at my face as he asked me what I thought about him and Boy running up to Niagara Falls at the end of this month when I’m scheduled to visit a friend. I made sure my face lived up to Husband’s expectations and I reminded him that we agreed that Boy will NEVER go to Niagara Falls – especially without me – for the same reason I wouldn’t give my consent for a cruise until last April, and Boy goes, “Why? Because you’re scared I’ll jump in?”, and I said, “Yes, exactly”, and then I asked Husband why he couldn’t come up with safer, closer, cheaper places to take the kid, like…I don’t know, but NOT NIAGARA FALLS, Jesus. These people need to stop giving me material to blog about, seriously, because I can’t keep up.

What Day Is It? 

Its midnight and I can’t sleep. Shocker. And what day is it anyway? And whose brilliant idea was it to Spring Forward during a 4 day snow storm weekend? AS IF I wasn’t disoriented enough already. Idiotic. I stayed in my pajamas all day todayyesterdaywhenever because…I don’t know why, but I did.

Everyone goes back to school and work tomorrowtodaywhenever, finally, after what I hope to God was the last snow storm of the season. Let’s see if we can go for 5 days in a row, shall we? When was the last time that happened? NO IDEA. I feel like I may owe my family a blanket apology for the stuff I’ve said and the faces I’ve made and all of the sighing I’ve done this winter, especially on the snow days. It’s just been SO long, you know?

But anyway, moving on.

Don’t you just love smelling the coffee as you stumble down the stairs in the morning? Grabbing your favorite mug from the cabinet, reaching for the coffee pot, a wave of relief washing over you as you feel it’s weight while lifting it to pour? Me too.

Isn’t Monday morning coffee your very favorite and your best? Especially MONDAYS UNINTERRUPTED BY SNOW AND PEOPLE STAYING HOME WHEN THEY SHOULD BE AT WORK AND SCHOOL? Me too.

I can’t wait for tomorrowtodaywhenever.

I do admit that even though it messed with my psychology, I was happy for Boy who got his wish for MORE snow and MORE home late last week. Again. And again. Until I was staring down a 4 day weekend AGAIN. While I tried to keep my shit together, Boy did his thing from dawn til night. Things like this…

Notice the customized symbol on the flag? Isn’t that adorable? What does it mean, exactly? I was afraid to ask.

For future reference, if you want to try to maintain your sanity on the bazillionth snow day of the season, invite not 1, but 4 boys over to play with your son, once the roads are plowed, of course. The kid was begging for the company of some of his buddies so I put out invitations hoping at least 1 could come, figuring most folks wouldn’t want to venture out, and then they ALL came. To say Boy was in heaven would be an understatement. And yeah, they were LOUD but not maniacs, not at all. In fact, I enjoyed them immensely and I wish they could have stayed longer. I’m a puzzle, I know. They got lots of much needed physical play in the basement with pit stops for snacks and to watch videos about hippos farting, stuff like that. About a week ago, Boy and one of his friends came up with an idea for a money hunt, they wanted it be a thing, for which they’d advertise and they’d invite ALL THE PEOPLE. I didn’t really get it and we couldn’t quite pull off what they had in mind because a money hunt for the masses at my house? I may be nuts, but NO. I did hide a dollar bill for them to find in the basement a few times, though. If you wanna see a bunch of 8-10 yr old boys go ape shit, hide a dollar and tell them whoever finds it, keeps it. Best $5 I’ve spent in awhile. My surprise at how relatively tame the boys were, even with the dollar bill frenzy, led me to think about the crew Girl had here this past New Years Eve, friends I expected to be tame but weren’t. That pipe dream fell completely apart when a couple of the boys decided that having a fight with raw eggs in my guest bathroom would be a good idea. An idea I didn’t find out about in its entirety until three days later when the stench in the basement was so bad Boy came up gagging. And no, the crew was not drinking that night, or any night that I know of and I do make it my business to KNOW. And I was told they’d cleaned it up. And I blame myself for believing them. I won’t bore you with the details of the hours I spent cleaning that shit up, but just so you know, it involved massive amounts of profanity because dried raw eggs are like concrete and if you scrub too hard, they’ll take the paint right off your walls. And Girl was lucky enough to be far from home when this fumigationmitigationremediationoperation went down. But you better believe I exercised my MomTEXTING.

Speaking of Girl. Thankfully, we got her home ahead of the storm, very late Wednesday night, and y’all know she’s been sick at school because I’ve been talking about it a lot, because I’ve been worrying about her a lot, which is one of my specialities, but please indulge me as I attempt to make myself EVEN CLEARER…as soon as I share a selfie she took upon her arrival, right before she fell apart…

Ok. Here’s the clarity. The kid was SICK. I’m not sure if she was in the same pathetic condition all week or if the combination of the travel, which was pretty rough on her, and arriving home where she can let it all hang out with her Mommy completely unglued her. She was miserably sick, fainted that first night actually, and I don’t think there were enough Lysol wipes in the whole wide world to protect the rest of us from the shit she brought home with her. So, I’m thinking we’re pretty much screwed over here. And yes, I disclosed to the Moms of Boy’s friends that we had a sickie at home, that I was constantly wiping down and spraying the joint with Lysol and keeping Girl quarantined, but in the end they’re all very smart, savvy women, capable of making their own informed decisions, so of course they dropped their boys off and drove away as quickly as possible, which is exactly what I would have done. I’m happy to report that no one else is sick (yet) and Girl is finally feeling better which means she’s itching to get back out in the street, which means she’s going to Philly tomorrowtodaywhenever to see Maroon 5 with her cousin, of course.

We had my folks over on Saturday because they were going stir crazy too and we fired up our panini maker. Turkey, bacon, provolone, and tomato on country white bread with barbecue kettle chips. Yum. And Husband and I had the exact same thing again tonightlastnightwhenever for dinner because it’s THAT good.

As Boy and I worked on some of his homework tonightlastnightwhenever – which we nearly forgot about because SNOW DAYS – Husband reported, for the second time this week, that he dreamed he got his ear pierced. I told him he’s not allowed to have a midlife crisis because he already played that card in his 30’s, so just stop it. And Boy goes, “what’s a midlife crisis?” And I said its forgetting how old you are and pretending you’re a teenager when you’re not. Then Husband said maybe it was a tattoo and I told him to hold on a minute because – wow, we’re so psychically connected – he must have been actually dreaming MY dream, which obviously means that he has changed his position on MY getting the Springsteen tattoo I’ve wanted since I turned 40. Remember that time I tricked him by drawing a Born to Run tattoo on my ankle with a sharpee? You can think what you want about us, but we DO know how to have fun around here.

The Wednesday Evening Ramblings Of A Moderately Sane Woman

As I begin to write this post, I’m sitting here giggling to myself like a fool because the title sent me on an unexpected detour down memory lane. Remember Steve Martin’s Ramblin’ Man routine on SNL? Oh God, that was some quality TV. And what about the Two Wild and Crazy Guys routine he did with Dan Ackroyd? The latter of which is woven into the fabric of some of my best memories from high school and I didn’t even like high school, or any school. Anyway, check it all out on YouTube if you’re too young to know what I’m talking about. And thank me later.

In other news, I talked to my sick college kid this morning and she’s still sick. Poor Girl. She’s had to rearrange all sorts of deadlines with her profs, do whatever work she could manage and take care of herself all while feeling like crap. It’s been pretty stressful for her. But thankfully, she’s had lots of support there and it sounds like she might be turning a teeny tiny corner today in that her head isn’t pounding quite as badly, so fingers crossed. I gave her lots of love and sympathy and encouragement and then of course I had to add a crucial piece of motherly instruction as she prepares to fly here for Spring Break:

PLEASE DO NOT BRING THAT SHIT HOME WITH YOU.

On the way to school this morning Boy goes, “Mom, mark my words, MDK is gonna be a household name someday, not only because I like the idea of fame, but mostly because I love making my ideas real and one of them is gonna make me a star! My ideas are that good.”  Gotta love his passion. Knock yourself out, kid.

On that same drive, we hit horrible traffic, not sure what was going on because we don’t usually have traffic problems, and it became clear we were going to be late. So I called the school from the road and the secretary already knew about the traffic issue because buses were late too. Before we hung up, I asked her if it would be possible, in the event we didn’t make the bell, for me to send Boy into the office on his own to be signed in because I was still in my pajamas because…I don’t know, I forgot to get dressed. She sounded a little taken aback, AS IF she’d never heard that before. So I said I’d come in if I had to, I just really, REALLY didn’t want to and I really, REALLY didn’t think anyone else would appreciate it either. And then she laughed, said no problem. Phew.

I earned some extra spending money doing laundry earlier. I’m used to finding coinage and an occasional dollar bill, but I hit the jackpot today. $9. Not bad.

I won’t be speaking about the winter weather warning that goes into effect at midnight tonight or the projected snow accumulation, I will only remind whoever is in charge of the weather that ITS MARCH. And if any of you are  thinking you’d like to make a quick stop at Trader Joe’s, DON’T. I’ll spare you the details about the assholes in the parking lot, but I’ll give you a hint: Montgomery County Moms driving SUVs. Truly uncivilized.

Nothing will make you feel like you suck as a blogger or “writer” than digging deeper into the study of language, or linguistics. I’m no slouch but Jesus, the commas alone are enough to make me want to jump off a bridge. I’m reading editor Bill Walsh right now, and yes, he’s a snob. He’s also funny, persuasive, and a little nuts. What would he say about my use, or MISUSE, of commas? Frankly, I couldn’t care less, or maybe I COULD, but not much.

If You Heard Screaming In Brookeville This Morning…

…it was me.

Because MCPS closed AGAIN for the bazillionth time this winter. On yet another Monday too, which is completely messing with my psychology. I’m the kind of person who likes to know what to expect, you know what I mean? Simple little things like will my kid be in school tomorrow? Is that really asking so much? I don’t think it is. And yes, as a matter of fact,  I have always been interested in the Unschooling movement, but this is getting beyond ridiculous. So just c’mon now. And also, in case you haven’t realized, IT’S MARCH.

Boy was thrilled, of course. You probably know by now that he is not the kind of kid who sleeps in and lounges for hours on a snow day, or any day. He’s typically up at 6:30, his creative juices flowing, his mouth running, and he’s ready to GO. He also routinely reminds me that he strongly objects to the fact that he doesn’t have a sibling closer in age and that he wouldn’t be so high maintenance if he did. If you’re friends with me on FB, you know that I’m no slacker in the providing my kid with opportunities for fun and enrichment department. Not that I’m trying to be some sort of super mom because let’s face it, I’m more super freaky mom material. And its not that he can’t entertain himself. HE CAN. His ideas never, ever stop. Its just that he’s really, REALLY social, he has trouble breaking down the big picture into smaller parts, and also I need to be very present on days like this to make sure that all of that creative energy is channeled productively and appropriately. In other words, its a freaking zoo around here and the main living spaces in our house often resemble a trash can. And I wouldn’t have it any other way for this kid, truly. It’s his childhood. But this morning, I felt like I had to set guidelines that were more structured than usual, mainly for his protection, because my coping skills are slightly compromised at this point and I’m prone to yelling sometimes which is not ok with me.

After Husband left for work at about 7am, Boy and I had a little pre-game family meeting, just the two of us. This is how it went down:

Congratulations on your umpteenth bonus day off, kid. Who cares if your mother is losing her mind. Embrace it as the gift it is and use it well.

Here is a list of fun possibilities for today. I’ll be happy to do some of this stuff with you or to keep you company while you do it:

Work on your cardboard arcade.

Work on your time machine.

Work on your stories – I’ll scribe.

Work on your comics.

You can take a swimming bath – or 2 or 3 or 5 I don’t care – in my big tub.

Play outside.

Have a play date, either here or there.

Pretend play with your action figures or plush thingies.

Have a sword fight or Nerf battle.

Build with Legos.

Read.

Make and run an obstacle course.

Jump on your trampoline.

Play with your thinking putty.

Work on your fair trade store for school.

Work on your YouTube videos.

Maybe make a potion.

Have some screen time – TV, DS, iPad, whatever.

Really, the possibilities are endless (sort of) aren’t they?

My rules for the day are few. Keep them in mind and we’ll get along fine:

Do not bug the crap out of me about who can come over here until I’ve had 2 cups of coffee or after 9am, whichever is later.

Realize that I do not have control over the weather, the roads, other people, or their schedules (even though I sort of understand why you think I do).

Do not growl at me or repeatedly yell my name when I’m stealing a few minutes on the internets or in the bathroom.

Do not whine about being bored or about the food choices.

And it would be helpful if you’d pick up your pants and socks, but whatever.

  See what I mean?

Got it? Got it. Good? Good. High five. Let us carry on then.

We sat together as he ate breakfast and worked on his comics and then he sighed. Not a good sign, it was only 8am. I can’t remember if I’ve told you guys about the sighing problem I inherited from my mother who inherited it from her mother, but apparently my son has inherited it from me. He uses it very appropriately too, like a true fatalistic Greek. If it wasn’t so freaking annoying, it would be hilarious.

Anyway, he sighed. But to his credit, the stuff obviously bubbling over in his head that I know he was dying to say didn’t actually come out of his mouth. I helped him out by interrupting his thoughts and suggested we go downstairs to work on another obstacle course that he could use throughout the day to have some fun and get some exercise.

He had to be coaxed a little but we went on down and then I tricked him into helping me clean that hell hole up. Ha.

It was horrible down there, probably as bad as I’ve ever seen it, the scene of big fun over the last week or two for sure. To be honest, I don’t go down there everyday. In fact, I often open the door, start down the steps to check it out, and when I catch a glimpse, I turn right back around and close the door behind me. I just can’t. But the time had come and I wanted it done right. Boy growled a little but I gave him a pass because, after all, I did pull one over on him. However, I did turn our clean up operation into a pseudo-obstacle course with racing and throwing and sorting games and broke down all of the stuff we were gathering into categories…weapons, darts, plush, action figures, balls, vehicles, legos, and SOCKS, etc because he wouldn’t even know where to begin if someone simply said clean this hell hole up. He’d just stand there, overwhelmed, immobilized. After dealing with his sister, his executive function challenges are glaring. So we adjust, accommodate, guide, train, model. And BTW, if your kid is missing any socks, I’m pretty sure they’re in my basement. I’ll line them up on the driveway once the weather clears. Maybe I’ll have a come pick up your kids’ socks party. You can go through the socks and I’ll serve wine to-go in our stock of Disney World lidded cups.

We had just finished getting the basement into pretty good shape when Boy goes, “I forgot what we came down here for and I’m too tired to do it anyway.” And I said, “THANK YOU. WELCOME TO MY WORLD, SON.” *Drops mic, walks away*, eh, not really but you know what I mean. And then we went upstairs to cuddle up with a show for awhile.

We got a call shortly thereafter, a friend inviting Boy to go play for a couple of hours. The roads in our neighborhood were fine by then and it was close by, so Boy got the play date he hoped for and I did some writing. I tried to tie up a few essays because I’m juggling more of them than I usually do and I’m having an even harder time finishing them for some reason. Well, I know why, at least partly. I won’t stop editing. I can’t stop. I have a serious editing problem. Hi, I’m Kristi and I’m an editaholic.

I also talked to Girl for a little bit. It’s the first time she’s been sick since leaving for college, and the kid is SICK. A nasty upper respiratory virus, fever, headache, congestion, sore throat. And she has a metric shit ton of work to do before she comes home for Spring Break at the end of this week. She went to the clinic today and she doesn’t have strep or anything so she just has to ride it out. Remember the first time you were sick while you were far from home? Me neither. We probably blocked it out because it was really hard and we wanted our Moms and to sleep in our own beds. I long-distance-mothered her over the phone and I’m so incredibly proud of the way she’s taking care of herself, communicating with her professors and juggling everything. She’s surrounded by her friends and RA who are checking on her, bringing her tea and food, etc. Hopefully she’ll feel a little better tomorrow.

I picked Boy up and brought him home where he was uncharacteristically chill for the rest of the afternoon, not sure why. We chatted, read together, he had a little screen time, it was nice. Oh God, I hope he’s not getting sick again.

And then my cell phone chimed and I made the mistake of opening this message:

This has to be some kind of sick, cruel joke. Right?

And then a little while ago, an old friend from high school tagged me in this post on FB:

Is this real? If so, if school is closed again this week, you guys can come visit me in the NUTHOUSE and bring me Snickers Bars and People Magazine because Husband will be checking me in, I’m not even kidding.

Detox

Craving a SLURPEE first thing in the morning cannot be a good thing, right? But it’s pretty indicative of the filthy, depressive eating I’ve been doing this winter. Basically, I feel like crap. After receiving a badass but loving text from my best friend out in WI, I started back with the dreadmill/elliptical routine this week, gently, at least until the weather breaks and allows me to hit the road again. I don’t do outside in temps of less than 50 degrees, 55 if there’s wind.

Even though I am very critical of quick fixes, and I renounce diets, and I am more and more suspicious of programs and groups that reek of the CULT OF PERSONALITY, I embarked on an obsessively researched 3 day detox, which was routinely practiced by a very dear health nut friend of mine – who died a couple of years ago, but NOT from the detox, don’t worry – which adds to its credibility in my mind. I’ve done this detox a few times before and I’ve found myself, once again, in pretty desperate need of a reset.

I’m slightly resentful that I felt like I had to do it again because its not my favorite way to spend 3 days. In other words, its unpleasant. Why do I have to learn the hard way over and over AGAIN? I don’t know. And why can’t I EVER stay in a balanced place through the winter? No idea. Why does crappy eating inevitably lead to dropping my exercise routine? And a significant decrease in water consumption? And my mental health? If I knew the answers to these questions, and what to DO to prevent them from happening repeatedly, I’m pretty sure I’d be rich. I’ve come to accept that I’ll probably never be the poster child for emotionally healthy eating on an ongoing basis, or even mental health in general (ha!), but I’m glad I’m derailing the crazy food train again and I know from experience that the benefits will be worth the temporary discomfort.

Oh, and I dragged my husband along on the detox so I didn’t suffer alone. Here are some notes from our three days in hell, I mean on our journey back to cleaner eating.

The Night Before

We got our protein shake crap in the mail today. Its just sitting there on the counter, mocking us. I hate the stuff, but the detox is only really awful for the first day. I also went to the grocery store and got all of the raw fruits and vegetables we’ll need. One of the good things about this detox is that its so easy to prepare for. Order the protein online and shop from a grocery list like this one:

Now that we’re prepared, I’m just in denial. We splurged on Chipotle for dinner, and also I drank more diet soda than I will ever admit to any of you guys. I guess I want to see just how bad I can feel tomorrow morning. I’m not touching the psychology of that with a ten foot pole.

Day 1

I feel bad. LOL. Actually, not as bad as I thought I would, but still.

Disclaimers: I’m not gonna promote the specific detox and protein shake here, but if you want details about it you can message me. Also, I’m not giving up coffee this time. I’ve done that before and it was…well, nevermind…but NO.

The plan today calls for loading up on protein. We’re supposed to have a protein shake every 2 hours starting at 8am, finishing up at 4pm, so 5 shakes with lots of water-sipping in between. Then for dinner, a gigantic mountainous salad of lettuces and raw veggies with a small amount of protein on top, like chicken breast, and a dressing of lemon juice and avocado. I know thats not really salad dressing, but too bad. And thats it. Nothing after that 6pm salad. Except water. Thats the time that will be really really rough for me because I’ve basically been hanging out in the pantry after Boy goes to bed since like, I don’t know, Thanksgiving.

The protein shake bag claims that its the best-tasting protein on the planet. It might be, I don’t know because I’ve never had any other kind, but in my opinion the stuff does not taste good. Of course it could still be the best, the best of the not good or something, but if thats true, I don’t ever want to try the others. To be clear, I’ve never used this one outside of this detox, so I’ve never mixed it with milk or yogurt or juice or fruit or nuts or anything like that. Maybe if you do that, it IS the best. But for the purposes of this detox, its a scoop of the mix in 12 oz of water stirred up extremely vigorously to prevent clumps. Period. Oh, ok, here, have some ice. And I’ll tell you what, it tastes like soap.

I guzzled – which I’ve learned is necessary if you want to prevent clumps from forming – the first shake this morning at 8am during our getting ready for school frenzy and quickly moved on. The good thing is that it has so much protein, I won’t be hungry for awhile. But I’ve done this before and I know that won’t last.

The 10am shake went down fine, I was busy in the house and wasn’t at all hungry. But now, its lunch time, time for the 12 noon shake and I AM hungry and I don’t want the shake, I’d prefer chips and queso actually. I feel so bloated. I probably have protein shake clumps forming in my stomach as I write. Or it could be the aftermath of all of that diet soda last night. But whatever, I know it will pass once I start peeing, etc in a few hours.

It’s 2:30pm and I swear I’m burping up soap bubbles. I admit I’m hungry and grumpy. One more shake at 4pm.

Ok, its a little after 4pm and I DID NOT WANT THAT LAST SHAKE, even though I’m hungry. Getting it down actually made me feel a little nauseous. I think the same thing happened the last time I did this, but the worst part is over now. Drinking tons of water so the non-stop peeing has begun. Roughage Mountain at 6pm.

As we practically knocked each other over racing for the bathroom to pee, Husband and I counted down the minutes until we could have to our salads. You never know how much you will miss chewing until you can’t chew. Profound, I know. And so at 6pm ON THE DOT we chewed until our jaws were sore because I’m not kidding when I call these salads Roughage Mountain. I was so weary from all of the chewing that I couldn’t quite finish mine, for which I’ll probably be sorry later.

It’s 8pm and I’m sorry.

Day 2

The unthinkable happened. ANOTHER FREAKING SNOW DAY. Which means I’ll be serving goldfish crackers and other assorted crapola to my kid while I gulp water and eat fruit every two hours starting at 8am, finishing at 4pm. But hey, at least there will be no soapy protein shakes. Until dinner.

I just had my second fruit serving at 10am, a big crispy, juicy apple, and I’m fine. Not hungry. Peeing mainly, and also doing laundry and hanging out with Boy.

Ok. Well. This is why I ALWAYS do this detox during the week: no kids at home which means NO KID FOOD UP IN MY FACE. At noon I had my cantaloupe perfectly sliced and arranged on my plate when I was serving Boy and his neighborhood buddy corn dogs and tater tots. Suddenly, this overwhelming wave of something inexplicable came over me and I was worried I might actually take a bite out of my granite countertop and so to interrupt that disturbing thought, I popped a few tater tots in my mouth.

Dammitittohell.

I would like to tell you that I kicked the shame of those damn tater tots off my heels and resolutely marched onward in balanced maturity and moderation. Sounds good, but nope, that’s not what happened. I was totally fucked over by my submission to those damn tater tots and even now as I write this, after having struggled with what to do with this awesome blog post that I’d already half-written, I’m still taunted by the lingering taste of their salty goodness in my mouth.

Cheers to my dear old friend, Mike.

The end.

Looking Up

Earlier today, Boy returned from the most “epic sleepover ever” at the home of one of his friends from his former school. The two of them have known each other since preK and they were actually born at the same hospital, same year, same day, 6 hours apart. Pretty cool. From the details he shared, it really does sound like their time together was pretty epic, except for the part when he woke up his friend’s Mom at 4am to tell her how happy he was that he was able to fall asleep there at 9:30pm and make it through the night?! OY. He’s been pretty needy at bedtime the last couple of months and so it was a BIG DEAL. In his defense, he didn’t know it was 4am and he did go back to sleep, but yeah, I owe her. Anyway, we talked about how great last week was too when that same friend got snowed in here and the fun times he had with his neighborhood buddies and even how his school days are feeling not quite so big and bad lately. And then he said, “Mom, I feel like things might be starting to come back together, maybe even a little better than before I fell apart.”