Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Frolic

 We've been blessed with warm temperatures the past few days, but fall is here.  Because it is apple picking time!
 Finding the perfect apple requires an eye to detail.
 And careful bagging to avoid bruising.  (look at the drops, the deer must love this orchard!)
Our garden plot is up at the orchard. You get a feel for my Rob's young man height with him standing next to our corn!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tidings of Joy

I found a minute today to call Jane's work phone and left a message saying how concerned I was that I had not heard from her and Fiona.  She left me a voice mail during the event I was working at tonight.  Jane is vacationing in Oregon.  Fiona is fine; she has had one more hospitalization but very short term and we will hopefully hear from them both on next Tuesday evening.  I am so relieved.

The work event went really well.  I was excited to see the residents where I work participate so fully and joyfully.  It was very magical to me. People whose life is marked with trauma, addictions, lack of education and more often feel they can't do things.  Today, for this moment, they not only saw that they could, they positively rocked it out!  The bigwigs were all suitably impressed.  I tried to visit each table people and chat a couple of minutes.  I don't want residents to think that all the management people sit at one table and look down on them or judge them.  And I don't want one set of residents saying that I like another resident more than someone else. So that is why I kept circulating.  A bunch of residents wanted their pictures taken with me which totally cracked me up.  I mean, I am the person who writes the letters when people are not towing the line. I am the same person who had to lecture two of the residents this morning before the event on how they would behave at this and how we would not have drama. At all.    But I also am the person they have known for 30 years.  There was a cool spanish band playing music and we all sang La Bamba, and De Colores and a few other songs that even though I am a gringa, I know all the spanish words to. 

My wife and kids came to pick me up at the end of the day (or maybe I should say end of the night as it was after 7).  My car had a flat when I had gone out to go to work this a.m. and thus K had to drive me in today.  Looking over at their faces smiling at me and having Lissa jump into my arms was the perfect end to  the day.

Circus Juggling

Being a parent and having a bunch of kids makes me a juggler. But my abilities to juggle are being tested this week as I have some extra work responsibilities that require I leave home earlier, return later etc.  My kids are not loving this. I am not loving it either but it is short term and I also hope that showing I am committed to bringing my best efforts to my job will result in the promotion I hope for.  Oh and at home we have 70 boxes of product to turn out for our home based biz.  Stress? What pray tell is stress? I haven't time to look it up.

I am worried about Fiona though.  I have emailed Jane twice and not heard anything which is extremely weird. There have been 2 missed calls. Again extremely weird. I have emailed Jane from both my work computer and myhome one in case my work server was not sending the email to an outside source. I can't call the school today due to how crazy things are at work right now, but I do plan on calling tomorrow.

On the plus side, I had a first yesterday.  I was at an industry event for my job and one of the vendors was offering free manicures to women and free shoe shining to the men.  I had a manicure.  It only took 10 minutes (which is about as long as I can sit still) but my nails look so pretty. I have never had a manicure before.  (since I am over 50 that is probably kinda weird!!) The manicurist said I had beautiful nails to work on.  I told her that they get no attention so it is just luck. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Of Television and Autism

Much of the time I don't really notice the differences between how Chet and I interact, or even how Chet views the world.  This has been the reality of our life for so long it is our definition of normal.  I noticed something this week though--sort of silly, but it was there.

Fall is the time when new television shows are promoted.  I am not a big TV watcher except for the fact that I watch TV while I do piece work at night.  No work= no TV watching for me. But luckily right now we have a lot of piece work to do. 

Rob has had a couple of shows that he has wanted to try out and we have watched them together in the evenings.  It is companionable, and it also allows me to make sure that I am comfortable with what he is watching.

Chet on the other hand, HATES new shows.  They disrupt the routine of the familiar. He would rather watch a repeat of an old show than see a new show.  An old show replacing a star with a new actor destroys his viewing experience. He can not even bring himself to try the new show.

It is all about the order that he tries to impose in his world and I understand that.  But I guess sometimes I forget how terribly important that is to him.  I'm glad for the reminder.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

First Fall Saturday

Fall is here and so is our more busy schedule.  Dance classes started today and that makes our Saturdays busier. Especially since Lissa is now taking a dance class which is after KC's class.  We arrive at the school at 9:30 and leave at 11:30.  Before that we shop, bank and go to the post office.  My lovely wife has taken on the library run as we really need to get home for lunch after the second dancer is finished with class.

So today we began our new schedule and all things considered our "shake down run" went well. KC was really happy to be back at dance.  A lot of his friends came back. He is the only boy in the class still but this does not seem to bother him or any of the girls in the slightest.  After his class and while Lissa was in for her class, he hung out with someone's brother in the waiting room so he can and does play well with both genders.  (believe it or not I get asked that!!)

We came home for a quick lunch and then walked down town to our community's harvest festival.  It is noisy and over stimulating to Chet so we never stay more than an hour or two max.  I usually spend about $6.00 and the kids manage to have a lot of fun for that. Walked home and i was glad that I had all ready put dessert together this morning after breakfast as one of my friends and her daughter came over  to play with the kids and the kittens.

Somewhere in there I cleaned the bathroom and kitchen, prepped for my church school class tomorrow and made a fall wreath with the kids.  The season's changed for sure!  LOL

Friday, September 23, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Summer

Today is the first day of fall.  The changing of the seasons is a big deal in our house.  The pulse of the earth is something we try to stay tuned to.  KC and Lissa have planned all week that they were going to have their last long bike ride on the last day of summer. They understand that now it is getting darker and that after supper play is shorter and confined more to our immediate environs due to the diminished light.

Except it rained.  Like crazy.  So I had to get creative and tell them that the earth was washing up for the new season.  They looked at me dubiously holding their bike helmets.  I said we would go on a rain walk as it was also very likely the last warm rain we would get in a long time. Fall rains are cold raw and icky. Summer rains are fun. So they grabbed boots and rain gear and we took a long puddle jumping walk and came home soaked.  Welcome fall and farewell to summer, my most favorite time of the year!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

In which I submit my resume. . .

My boss is no longer my boss.  Things have ended with a spectacular bang and more hubbub and high drama than one could believe.  Just trust me, cause I can't talk about it in any detail. It.was.not.pretty.  I am the assistant property manager.  More than likely with my old company my track record would lead them to offer me the managership.  In my new company, they post the position company wide and one is welcome to apply.  Course they also post it 50 million other places outside the company too. So my guess is many many people will apply.

I wrote my letter of interest and sent it with my resume.  I would really really like to have this job.  I truthfully always stayed where I was thinking that my boss would someday retire and I would be the next manager.  My previous employer knew that I did most of his work.  My new employers know that too.  But they have also invested in training me for another aspect of our work and the managership has less of that role in it.  So I can see them feeling that the better bang for their buck is to leave me here.  Here is hoping that they see beyond that and to what I can do in another capacity.  Fingers crossed . . .

So How did I do on the challenge?

I accepted the "Made with Love" challenge to not order out for 30 days and to budget for food more carefully.  We were not perfect (and our 30 days is not quite over but drawing close) but we did better than I expected.

We have eaten out once.  An order of take out pizza was a necessity one night.  I suppose I could have served cold cereal but I can not bring myself to do that and that was all there was time and energy for.  My wife had been canning tomatos all day and I have had big changes at work that have caused me to be later coming home sometimes. That was one of those days.

I used gift cards for Dunkin Donuts and my senior boss bought me lunch one day.  I have not bought lunch at work on my own since I accepted the challenge.

We have made a lot more muffins and quick breads for breakfast or snacking and that is a good thing.  We do cook a lot and never use mixes but this falls off a bit in the summer with the heat and humidity. It becomes easier to p ick up a "ready made" when it is hazy hot and humid.

My wife and I have begun planning a menu every Friday and using our freezer and pantry first.  I shop on Saturdays and that way we can buy what we specifically need not what grabs our eye because of personal likes or an attractive display.

I am so glad I took this challenge as it really helped to make me work at looking more thoughtfully at this facet of our budget. In general, because we do not consume meat, my budget for a family of 6 and pets is far less than most of my friends with smaller families.  But putting a big old magnifying glass on this showed that there are ways to pinch some pennies and perhaps even live more healthfully!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The circus came to town!

. . . or at least to our back yard!  Yesterday KC and Lissa informed me that tonight after supper I was invited to the back yard for a circus.  KC spent last evening making posters for the grand event.  Today I went to the circus.
There was a ringmaster, welcoming me to the show!
There were daring trapeze acts!

Talented acts like this--hula hooping on one foot on a skateboard!

Skateboard style moves down a death defying ramp!

And a spotted dog who jumped through hoops!

I love creative play!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chet's weekend

This was a great weekend for Chet.  Not only has he been to this campout for many years, he isn't even the only person with autism present. There are a number of other youth and young adults on the spectrum and his differences somehow seem a bit less startling on this weekend.

Chet does helpful things that people have grown to look for.  He has made himself sort of the "bell hop"  of the weekend and helps everyone unload their gear and helpfully carries it to their quarters. He finds people who like to play a card game called "Magic" and spends hours doing that.  He helped clean the kitchen after breakfast.  He just shines.

Weekends like this make it easier to deal with the fact that I spend hours explaining why we don't just parrot phrases we hear on sit-coms.  Or the fact that it takes 20 minutes to explain that the original itunes account on my computer was corrupted by a virus and all the data lost.  Kirsty has a new itunes account on her computer but this meant that Chet lost $2.10 on a card that was registered on my account.  Trust me, this was BIG people!  LOL

I am so grateful that there are places and people who let him shine and who see beyond the differences to the really genuinely good kid that he is.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Beach Camping Blessings

I hope I don't forget to come up with a title for this post.  I need something clever and brief. . . I am back from camping with friends from church. Well, from our church, and two other churches on the beautiful coast of Maine. The kids and i go every year.  It is sooooo much fun.  People can't believe that I find it relaxing, because I am alone, keeping tabs on 4 kids.  They keep checking in. Do I need a break?  Um. no.  I am sitting in the sun sipping coffee and watching the ocean while my kids and 6 others make sandcastle. This is so not hard, guys! LOL  Don't get me wrong, the offer was sweet, just I was so mellow and laid back.  In other  years, you also had to be part of a cooking team for one meal during this weekend. That invoked more stress as figuring out how to do my kitchen chores and keep an eye on all the kids was logistically interesting.  But it always got done and now, the conference center hires out the cooking, so I just sit and veg. 

Actually I probably walk 5 or6 miles each day, along the beach, between the buildings and the campground which is located some distance away, between the playground and the bathrooms, but it is still a different tempo from the hectic multi-tasking of my usual life. 

And people had such nice things to say about my kids.  Chet loves to help people unload their cars and bring their belongings to the dorm rooms. (dorms are available but it is much  more expensive and would not work for Chet who is stimulated by the noise of anyone going down the hall) He has done the unloading gig for so many years now that people actually look for him and are happy he is there to be of assistance.  He feels very important and I had several people mention to me how much they appreciated this. 

The lovely couple who did the teen choir last year also had great things to say about my Rob.  They spoke to how hard they felt Rob worked learning to sing out and that he had such a seriousness and intensity about his music. Since I know the original cachet of choir was strictly a young teen girl, I am pleased that it was also a place where quite literally, my quiet son may have found his voice.

My two littles played well with so many kids. I know the re-adjustment tomorrow of not having so many playmates will be a bit of a let down. Hopefully the routine of homeschool and me leaving for work will center them. They are exhausted, put to bed early tonight after late nights of bonfires and flashlight games on the playground.

My wife enjoyed the quiet of our home while we were gone.  She probably realized just how much she enjoyed it when we came back, cause it sure wasn't quiet anymore!  I love quiet moments, like when we stopped on the playground and looked at the moon last night.  Or when we were cuddling in our very chilly tent (thankfully we were all warm enough!) But mostly, I love the chatter and clatter of a larger sized family with busy lives. I'd go bonkers here at home alone for a whole weekend!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fiona Update

Fiona called us last week as usual but ended the call abruptly.  She started the call wanting to talk about the pictures of Krystal but quickly became angry in her demeanor and began to do unsafe things in the room where she was making the call to us. 

I tend to follow the lead that she and Jane set for the calls as there is a phone plan that they create weekly which has really helped my daughter to be able to stay a bit more  focussed, to be more appropriate and by and large to need fewer redirections.  It didn't work last week though!  I suggested that maybe we should talk about the pictures and her sister later and would she want to talk to one of hte kids.  She did and I put KC on. They had a happy, though brief conversation.  KC can pretty much get Fiona laughing almost anytime.  Then he passed the phone to Rob.

I don't know whether it was the fact that Rob is her bio-sibling or not but then the anger and cauldron of emotions came back. However I was impressed because instead of freaking out on her brother, Fiona asked him to give the phone back to me. She told me that she didn't want to talk to anyone else at all that night and would be ending the call. 

I said that was fine and would it be okay if we all hollered Goodbye and we love you into the phone.  She agreed that would be okay and we did that.  She giggled listening to the cacophony and hung up. 

Later I got an email from Jane apologizing. She had thought that Fiona wanted to talk about Krystal and felt responsibility for things going south.  I said that she probably had wanted to talk about her sister and just keeps getting overwhelmed.  I said that I was actually so proud of Fi because she really handled it all so much better than she has at any other point in her life. She didn't hurt anyone. She didn't even leave the room. She was able to articulate that this was not something she wanted to do and we showed that those wishes could be and would be respected. To me, it was great!

This week Fiona called as usual and was her usual, cheerful upbeat self. Topics were light and nothing intense was mentioned or discussed.  I know there will be more issues to handle down the road, and I know that her relationship with Krystal will be one of the harder ones for her to come to a place of healing with.  Hopefully we can all support her in ways that will make that happen.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm baaaaack!

My computer is finally back and repaired--can we all say Hallelujah?  LOL  I have no idea what happened but have come to realize what an intregal part of my life computer time is now.  I had to borrow my wife's notebook for more than a week. This worked but not well as I tend to blog early in the mornings when she is not up or late at night when she is not up.  If she was not up, I had no access to said notebook.

So much has happened in the past couple of weeks.  We camped over Labor Day weekend in our favorite campground in Maine.   I left work mid day on Thursday and didn't have to go back to work till Tuesday.  It was a great break and a huge de-stressor for me.  I absolutely adore uninterupted family time; it honestly is the most restorative thing I can think of.  We went to the ocean, we went to our favorite candy shop, we hiked, we celebrated my eldest's birthday, we played at the playground.  We met my mom and her boyfriend for a picnic at a lighthouse. We flew KC's kite.  We also, forgot our camera! We did come home on Sunday instead of Monday as there was rain coming in and it was hard to leave.  Harder still to pack up if all our stuff is wet though, so my wife made the wise call and made us leave while things were dry.

Then, last Friday was my birthday.  It was a horrible horrible day at work but a great party when I got home.  The theme was "fall" and the kids did an amazing job decorating and choosing presents.  My wife survived and perhaps even enjoyed the prep experience.  She is not the family party animal--I am the one that is all about celebrating and decorating and such. She is much more inclined to low key so sometimes this is all overwhelming to her.

And so, now I am back.  I have zillions of blogs that I will perhaps not get to read all of. Sigh.  I love my blog friends and have missed having tea at 5:30 a.m. and reading them!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grandparents Day!

Yesterday was not just September 11th.  It was also Grandparents Day.  Rather pathetically, the Queen of Celebration totally missed this one.  However in a very cool turn of events, I have apparently been successful in imparting the joy of celebrating and sharing love to my kids.  KC came to me mid day and said that it was Grandparents Day and he had to call his Nana and his Pop Pop and wish them Happy Grandparents Day.  We had to wait till later in the day to do it as neither were home at that time, but before the evening was over, we had connected with both of them.

It was cool to see how excited they were that the kids called (KC spoke to them first but then each of the kids had a turn) Perhaps on a day like September 11th it was even more important to reach out with love.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th

I have been computerless for more than a week now which is why I am conspicuously absent from blog land lately.  I do miss it but it is hard for me to use my wife's notebook--the time that she typically gets up in the a.m. I have moved on to feeding the troops and thus the moment for blogging is gone. At night she goes up to bed early, taking her notebook with her as she plays music on the computer while going to sleep.

But today we are not yet out the door for church so I can write.  And because it is September 11th, I don't feel like I can write about camping--or my birthday--or starting another year of homeschooling.  I can't write about work angst.  Because it all seems trivial on this particular day.

September 11th is forever in the psyche of America.  We were invincible and inviolate on our home soil till then.  But after that day, we were as vulnerable as many of our global neighbors.  And for the first time, we felt a level of fear and vulnerability.

So much so that as a country we were sadly eager to give up some rights that I hold above safety--but I feel like today is not the right day for that post either.  It is a day of remembrance.  Of those who gave all,  Of remembrance for families torn apart who have spent ten years knitting themselves new lives.Yet the weaving will always have a hole from the loss of that day.

And on this day of profound loss, there were also new beginnings.  Babies were born on this day.  Babies were created on this day.  Our homestudy for Robbie Fiona and Krystal began 10 years ago this day.  Our home inspection was abbrevieated because our social worker had a brother in NY and when the news came out, he wanted to find out if he was OK. (thankfully he was)

I will meditate today, and I will mourn and honor those lives cut short, but I also celebrate the lives of the children who came home to us and who are so deeply in my heart and soul that I can not imagine life without them.