Monthly Archives: October 2011

Monday Musings

1.  The boys kicked off their weekend by attending their first school dance on Friday afternoon.  They’d been talking about it off and on for several weeks and expressing bewilderment that some boys were actually ASKING girls to go to the dance with them and I’d said nothing and left it up to them if they wanted to go or not. By Thursday night we had a definite “yes” and Friday morning they showed up at the breakfast table in their dark jeans and collared shirts.

And un-brushed hair.

But in their defense the guidance counselor told them to come dressed as they would for church and so they did.

“Boys, have you thought about and/or rehearsed how you will ask a girl to dance with you?” I asked (as we are not cotillion folk).

They looked at me as though I had three heads.

“Why would we ask girls to dance?  This isn’t prom.”

And so I merrily sent them on their way, knowing I had nothing to worry about.

2.  My husband returned home from his business trip.  In Bermuda.

Yeah, not too much to say about that would be construed as lovingly supportive.

Sigh.

3.  To console myself for NOT having spent the week on an island, I did a little bit of cooking Sunday afternoon.

Actually, it was more of an attempt to heat the house up because baby, it’s cold outside. 

I tried three new recipes that all turned out delicious: 1) a potato leek soup that was tasty but that I didn’t take a picture that looked halfway decent, 2) some Israeli couscous with apricots, cranberries, and almonds,

and 3) a ridiculously easy, beautiful, and decadently delicious apple brown butter tart.

And I broke my no-sugar fast for only the third time in ten weeks to have a piece (the second time was on Friday when I had cookies with Coffeegal).

And both times were totally worth it.

Have a nice day.

 

Five on Friday: The Mall Edition

1.  Sometimes I have to eat the stewed okra at the Lebanese place in the food court.

2.  Sometimes you just have to say no to foot massages in public.

Though I was tempted.

Sorely, sorely tempted.

3. Sometimes I pretend to be on my cell phone when I walk by the kiosk ladies hawking hand cream because I have a hard time saying “no” and hurting their feelings.

4.  Sometimes when I’m in the department store dressing room, I’ll try on the clothes that others have left behind, if for no other reason than to break out of my own clothing rut.

 

Uh, that would be a “no”.

5.  Sometimes it would behoove me to read the fine print.

I saw this sweater hanging in the corner so I slipped it on and I thought it looked sorta’ cute except for the flare thingy at the bottom and when I took it off? And happened to see the tag?

Turns out it was PETITE.

And a DRESS.

Have a nice day.

 

 

 

Thankful Thursday

When I woke him up yesterday morning, the first words out of his mouth were “Today I get to ride the bus.”

The last words he spoke when I dropped him off at school were “I’m going home on the bus today.”

His teacher said that it was all he could talk about all.day.long and that he clapped and waved at everyone as he was hoisted in.

And when I walked outside to greet him at 3:00, he kept giving me the cheesy grin that says “You better take my picture, Mom.”

So to Ms. H, Ms. E, Mr. B, Ms. M, Ms. S, and the two Mr. S’s, the people who spent hours on Tuesday making sure that this happened – This one’s for you.

Have a nice day.

Light and Fluffy

Now that our bus problems are resolved we can resume our regularly scheduled diet of nothingness here in this little corner of the Interwebs.

_________________________

With the temperatures steadily going down, the fall spirit has infused the house and I have done a bit of craftiness.

I pulled down the box of fall decorations from the attic to give the house a little pick-me-up but the box was pretty bare and that’s when I remembered throwing away boatloads of bedraggled ornamentation when we moved this summer.  At my disposal were 1) a cornucopia 2) a handful of faux flowers, and 3) clearance pumpkins from three seasons ago.

Voila.

Let’s all admire the table runner.  When I came downstairs to put the cornucopia on the table, I realized it was going to scratch if there wasn’t something underneath but I didn’t have a table runner.  BUT THEN I REMEMBERED THAT I’M A SEAMSTRESS AND NOT WITHOUT SKILLS.

Please keep the snickering to a minimum.

My mother-in-law gave me some leftover upholstery material from a recent living room redo so I cut the needed length and sewed a semi-straight line and wouldn’t you know, it sorta’ came out okay and I’m feeling all sorts of happy about my reuse, reduce and recycle project.

In other news, I haven’t just been crafty about reusing decorations around the house.  I bought some repurposed cow hide the other day in the form of new leather boots.

I have to buy ankle boots what with my Russian weightlifter calves athletic build but they were cute and the “SALE” sign spoke my love language so I got a pair in brown and black and I almost bought a pair of shooties/booties/weird wedgy things with fur around the top but then I remembered the Russian (and the fact that I’m not twenty) and realized they might not be my best look.

So I bought a vest.

 

And then scheduled a shopping intervention.

Have a nice day.

 

The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round

UPDATE – 2:00 p.m.

To my beloved blog readers who loved on me this morning by sharing my story –

I was contacted this morning by two different school officials and they are making sure that Travis gets his ride home.  They say they’ve scheduled a loud, white, good-and-bumpy bus with a fancy lift platform that creaks and squeaks and goes up and down.  It will, hopefully, be dropping him off at his front door tomorrow afternoon.

I don’t quite know how to say “thank you” but the grateful tears streaming down my face right now say it all.

Much love – Susan

___________________________________________________________

I’ve hesitated to write the following (and on-going) saga with the local school system over getting a simple bus ride home in the afternoon for Travis.   My fear is that once I got started typing about it, I’d end up with The Longest Blog Post in History and readers would see the not so pretty side of Sus and end up ditching the post halfway through in favor of light and fluffy or  War and Peace.  But I’m typing it today because I feel the need to share the story if for no other reason other than to a) show the death of common sense in America or b) vent.

Take your pick.

Sit back, dear ones, and in the words of Inigo Montoya, “Let me ‘splain.  No, too long.  Let me sum up.”

Travis loves the bus.  He loves the color, the size, the shape, the sound, the fun blinking lights that flash and the swing-arm stop sign that halts everything for a minute while kids happily pile off at the end of the day.  He has looked forward to every field trip day just so that he could have a chance to ride in that big rambling loud box on wheels and I have shed more than one happy tear watching him squeal and clap while getting hoisted up on the lift to head for adventures unknown.  He (and all the boys) have been asking me to ride the bus home from school for years but I AM the Carpool Queen and have enjoyed taking and picking them up and so I’ve resisted up to this year.

Travis is getting heavier and lifting him and his wheelchair in and out of the car can be hard on my back and shoulders (and especially for my aging parents and in-laws who care for him when Craig and I have to travel) and so earlier this year I decided to cut down on the amount of lifting I have to do by letting the bus bring him home in the afternoon (believe it or not, one trip home in the afternoon saves my back from six lifts a day).  And the added joy to his life of getting to spend fifteen minutes rambling home in the afternoon?  Gravy on top.

I began in June trying to get the bus to bring him home.  I went to the website and found out that based on our location, I was required to deal with a specific district office.  So I called that office and quickly discovered that they didn’t/don’t seem to have anyone who answers the phone and so I had to leave a message.

Which I did.

Repeatedly.

For two weeks.

(In the five months that I have been calling them, I’ve never once had a live person answer.  Except for once. And more on that later.)

After two weeks of message-leaving in June (and sometimes not being able to leave a message because the voicemail box was full), I phoned the main Transportation number at the central office, explained that I hadn’t been successful getting anyone in weeks of trying and the person at the central office apologized and gave me the direct line for the district supervisor.

And when I called that number and she said, “Hello?” and I very politely told her the reason for my call?  Instead of saying, “I’m so sorry that you haven’t received a call back from my staff, ma’am”, do you know what she said? Angrily?

“How did you get my private number?”

Wow.

Anyway, after telling me that she was not the person that could help me (um, isn’t she the supervisor?) she said she’d have someone call me back and to their credit, two days later, they did. And informed me that apparently you can’t just ask for a lift bus to pick up your child who is wheelchair bound because it has to be written in the child’s education plan that they require it.

Alrighty then.

So I called the school and the teacher told me that they wouldn’t have time to schedule a meeting for several weeks (because “we’re too busy working on all the kids that are supposed to be getting transportation and they’re not”)  but they’d do their best to get that on the calendar as quickly as possible (“after I get back from vacation”).  This conversation took place the second week of July.

In AUGUST I was told that Travis would have to have a complete re-evaluation of all his strengths, weaknesses, IQ, physical, emotional and mental capacities in order to include transportation services in his education plan (IEP).  To which I said, “You mean we’re going to have to do all this testing just to say at the end of the day that, yes, he’s still in a wheelchair so he needs a lift bus?”  And she said, “Basically.  That’s what the law requires and our hands are tied.”

So the meeting to add all of this new information that wasn’t going to change was scheduled for September, which was the earliest date they could get everybody together including the representative from Transportation who was required to be there.  Two days before the meeting, Transportation called saying they couldn’t attend and so we had to reschedule.

And in OCTOBER when we held the rescheduled meeting, guess who wasn’t there when our session convened?

You guessed it, a representative from Transportation.

And so when we all sat in the room and the principal asked where and why they weren’t there and he heard my chronology of events and saw the look on my face, he stood up and left the room and twenty minutes later a very unhappy Transportation supervisor walked in the door.

And I forever fell in love with our principal.

So we had the meeting, talked about what he needed, she wrote down all of his details and everyone left with promises of scheduling and a bus for T when school started back in three weeks and yet yesterday? When it came time for him to come home?

No bus.

Not only was there no bus, but suddenly every one of those fifteen people who had sat in the room in early October had no idea where to even start looking for it.

And so I picked him up (the other two caught their regular bus and please tell me why we can’t have them all together) and came home and called the answering machine at the district transportation office again and left a polite message and got a call back at 6:00 last night from someone who promised to look into it but I said that I’d prefer to wait on the phone so that she could discuss it with her supervisor WHO WAS AT THE MEETING and finally the supervisor came on the line and said, “He’s not in the system and I can’t do anything about it until someone at his school codes him in as needing special transportation.”

And I silently screamed.

And I said, “You mean it’s not enough that you were at the meeting with fifteen representatives from that school that all signed a piece of paper saying that he needed it?”

“Well, no, I need the system to tell me he needs it so I can schedule it.”

And before I get wrapped around the axle twice in less than twenty-four hours, I’m going to wrap up this post and practice some deep breathing and then go hit the phones to make sure that someone types “Yes” into one , tiny, blinking field on the school’s mainframe so that my kid can ride the bus home and I can be done with this chapter in my life.

Hopefully before November.

Have a nice day.

Monday Musings

I’m sure that many wonderful, exciting things happened over the weekend but somewhere between the time I went to bed last night and the time that I sat down in front of the computer this morning, everything was erased from my memory and I have not too much to say other than “We shopped for new jeans and went to church.”

I’m sure everyone at church knows this because as the boys were piling into the car after church let out Sunday morning, I realized that the stickers, cardboard labels, and price tags were still affixed to the aforementioned pants and JJ had proudly announced to God and the entire congregation all morning that he’s an 18 Slim and shops at Sears.

And also announced that his mother could stand to pay closer attention to what her children are wearing when they head out the door. 

In my defense, I knew he was dressed and dressed is good. 

Dressed and hair brushed?  Even better.

Add socks, even if they’re mismatched, and we are GOLDEN.

We spent Sunday afternoon getting squared away for school starting this morning – doing laundry, scrounging around for pencils and paper, stopping every few minutes to moan and collapse in a heap on the couch and wail about unfairness and injustice in life, and cleaning out backpacks from three weeks ago and let me tell you that finding the soured lunchbox from September was a delightful treat.

I put them to bed an hour early and still had to wake everyone up twice this morning before they got moving but we made it to school on time and in a generally cheerful spirit and I will  now spend the rest of the day wondering if the boys will remember that they are supposed to catch the bus home this afternoon because they finally wore me down about riding the bus home and I arranged for a stop added to the route so they could do that.

And I’m hoping the bus driver remembers that he’s supposed to stop here because HEAVEN HELP HIM if he drives past the house and the kids panic.

Screaming banshees won’t have anything on the terror that ensues.

Have a nice day.

 

It’s Friday, but there’s no Five. Just One. Adjust.

Craig has been in Charlotte for work which means a) I haven’t done much cooking and b) the kids have run through my remaining supplies of Ramen noodles, Frosted Flakes, and frozen pizza so last night we decided we’d eat a real meal and so we walked down the street to eat at That Mexican Restaurant That Keeps Changing Its Name But Not Its Menu.

Honestly, they’ve changed the name so many times that we don’t know what it’s called.  It’s always The Three something or other…blind mice, cowboys, cacti, amigos…. I wish they’d just stick with something.  It’s very disconcerting to those of us who don’t like change.

Travis had the chicken enchiladas (and I about fell flat out of my chair because he’s usually the only person in an ethnic restaurant eating a cheeseburger and fries), Tommy ordered the carnitas burrito, and JJ ordered his tacos a la When Harry Met Sally with no lettuce, just a little bit of cheese, crunchy shells instead of flour tortillas, with the salsa on the side.

I had the carne asada with a side of Xanax.

We don’t usually get dessert when we eat out and especially  now that the boys are off the kid’s menu (ACK! SEND MONEY!) but since school starts back next week and I needed to assuage the guilt of minimally feeding them for the last three days, we ordered a dessert sampler of fried ice cream and chocolate tres leches cake and three spoons.

And there was much rejoicing.

Except for me because I’m still not eating sugar.

But I drank my ice water and bravely smiled all the while wondering if sprinkling a packet of Splenda on a napkin and stuffing it in my mouth would in any way approximate the pile of whipped cream I had before me.

Alas, it did not.

After dinner we walked to the grocery store to buy some food for the weekend since I’m sure my husband would appreciate something other than a half-dead head of romaine and two brown bananas and while we were in the produce aisle picking up more fruit destined to die in the bowl on the counter, JJ asked if we could buy fresh spinach.

And I asked him if he was adopted obliged.

So now I have to figure out what to do with a pound of spinach leaves and do not say “salad” because I can’t eat fresh spinach without getting that fingernails-on-a chalkboard sensation because there’s something about it in its raw state that sets my teeth on edge. (In fact, just typing “raw spinach” makes me grimace.)

But I might have a day or two to figure out how to prepare it because in addition to the green stuff, we also bought Cocoa Krispies and Frosted Flakes so we’re nutritionally set for a while.

Yin, meet Yang.

And then we came home in a chatty, relaxed, carb-induced  haze of happiness and I felt lucky to have such sweet, wonderful, fun, funny boys with whom to pass an evening.

Life is good.

Have a nice day.

Here we sit like birds in the wilderness

In the time that it has taken to update to the latest version of iTunes and iOS 5, I have…

Washed a load of laundry

Taken a shower

Dried my hair

Put a pizza in the oven for lunch

Taken a pizza out of the oven for lunch

Read about Basque separatists laying down their weapons and Gaddafi taking a fatal hit from one

Plucked my eyebrows

Cleaned the kitchen

Ate soup

Railed against the Apple gods on Twitter

Wandered

Practiced deep breathing

Considered this was a first world problem

Considered it a problem, nonetheless.

Checked my email six times.

Wandered some more.

Learned Mandarin.

Okay, maybe not, just had a Mandarin orange.

Oh, and wrote my blog post.

Have a nice day.

While I wait.

And wait.

And wait…..

 

There’s a new girl in town

One of the benefits of switching school tracks this year is that the boys are out the month of the North Carolina State Fair and they don’t have to fake being sick so they can go eat funnel cake in the middle of the day.   Craig was in California all of last week and partially through the weekend, so he took off Monday morning and we loaded up and headed to the fairgrounds at the crack o’ dawn to get a good parking spot and hopefully hit all the rides and games before things started getting crowded.

A lot of the rides were still closed when we got there so I dragged everyone to the exhibit halls because I am obsessed with seeing the prize cows, goats, pies, and produce and you can imagine how thrilled the kids are to walk up and down aisles oohing and aahing over the size of blue ribbon sweet potatoes .  But they humored me and I returned the favor by walking the midway which is my least favorite part of the fair because the fair is not about rides and games, people, it’s about roasted corn, polish sausage, caramel apples and cotton candy.

And maybe fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Can I get an “amen”?

We spent several hours losing playing games and I made the annual $5 contribution to the carnie college fund by losing at Ring Toss (it’s the only game I play and, no, I’ve never landed the ring on the top of the bottle in my many years of fair-going but HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL) and as we were leaving we told the boys they could pick a treat from the toy kiosk and Tommy and JJ chose inflatable swords and Travis chose….

A Hello Kitty doll.

Thank you, autism, for always keeping our lives amusing.

And you should have seen the other boys’ looks of HORROR that their brother selected a GIRL TOY and they walked eighteen feet behind us all the way to the car and made me swear that I wouldn’t post a picture of it on Facebook.

And that night as I tucked T and Hello Kitty into bed and asked him why he had selected her, he looked at me sweetly and said, “BECAUSE SHE’S CUTE.”

And I took that little hussy and put her outside because I’m not yet emotionally prepared to be replaced.

Seriously, no fair.

Have a nice day.

This is long and may not make sense but it’s more for me than you, so that’s okay.

So, I came back home late Monday night of last week and fell into a big ol’ heap.

People, talk about EXHAUSTED. 

By nature I am somewhat introverted. I love and enjoy my friends and being with family and having things to do and people to see and places to go but after a lot of going, seeing, and doing, I have to find a quiet place and restore some energy before I can regroup and head on out again.

And regroup I did this last week.

To the tune of two or three naps a day.

And my children, you ask?

Taking full advantage of their sleeping mother to raid the pantry and clean me out of Oreos.

I had so many feelings and thoughts and memories swirling in my brain from a most blissfully happy five days that I just didn’t feel like I could do them justice by blogging.  I sat down at the computer no less than three times to talk about it and it was as though I’d left my muse in Little Rock.

I just didn’t have the words.

I did had some words last Sunday morning.  In an unexpected turn of events, Amy had to leave a little earlier than planned so I had a very free morning to do what I wanted and so I grabbed my laptop and went to the lake and sat among the trees with nothing but the silence and a giant cup of coffee for company and I started writing the random thoughts that came to mind about the weekend and two hours and multiple single-spaced pages later, I finally stopped pouring out my heart to my computer.

Going back to a place that was such a critical component of making me who I am today was incredibly and beautifully cathartic.  College was a great time in my life and for those precious four years I lived in that small Arkansas town, good things happened to influence the woman I am today.  With the exception of two not-so-fabulous moments (more on those later), my time there was marked by laughter, love, and dear ones with whom I’ve had the privilege to do Life for some twenty years now.

(Yes, Amy’s in all these pictures – we were joined at the hip in college – it wouldn’t seem right that my pictures from this weekend didn’t include her in all of them.  It pretty much sums up our entire college experience.  And if you’re new to the blog, I’m the Ms. Clairol #9 brunette. Today, anyway.)

It was good to go home.

It was good remembering that not only was I well-loved but I learned to love well.

It was good remembering that the strengths I once had are still with me.

It was good remembering that the weaknesses I once had don’t have such a stronghold in my life any more.

So long, insecurity. And thank you, Beth Moore.

It was good remembering that some things I just needed to let go.

So that’s what I did that peaceful Sunday morning.

I remembered.

I remembered the happy times of  late night dates and chocolate chip cookie runs.  I remembered the wonder of the promise of tomorrow.  I remembered the strength that comes from knowing and being known.  I remembered the laughter of shared stories and the tears of shared pain.

But I didn’t want my time by the lake to be just about nostalgia and beautiful feelings and yesteryear because while it would be nice to live in the past, my life simply isn’t there anymore.  I have three beautiful, funny boys that love me and a wonderful husband whom I adore and my life is here, today.  And while my here and today is a product of my yesterdays, it’s counterproductive to live in the seemingly happy days of yore that are often viewed through rose-tinted shades and tainted by 40-something year old brains that have conveniently forgotten the rotten parts.  But I hadn’t forgotten all the rotten parts.  I brought forward with me a couple of scarred wounds from my time there that I kept picking at from time to time just to see if they’d still bleed.

And guess what?

They bled.

But I have wanted and needed to move past those dark places in my life because I know in my heart of hearts that I serve a God who offers new mercies every morning but not only had I had not claimed that sweet gift from Him in those areas but I had also not even offered it to myself.

And so I thought and analyzed and wrote and wrote and thought some more and wrote some more and prayed and took deep breaths and, finally, released those feelings of bitterness and anger  that have dogged me for way too long.  I had to forgive some 20-year-old kids for acting like 20-year-old kids and I had to extend grace to some folks that I didn’t think really deserved it and I had to extend it most of all to myself.

But isn’t that what grace is all about?  Mercy freely given to the one who doesn’t deserve it?

And with that act of letting go and getting rid of things I never needed to keep in the first place, I smiled, closed the laptop, got in the car, and left that place a lighter, happier, more peaceful person than I’ve been in a long time.

And I’ve come home to this place a lighter, happier, more peaceful person than the one that left.

A woman who knows who she is.

To Whom she belongs.

From where she came.

And with a few thoughts about where she’s going.

It’s good to be home.

Have a nice day.