"So tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999..."

Ah, New Years Eve! One of the biggest party nights of the year, not to mention the first and last! It was my favorite, up there with the Fourth of July for being fun, late-night, and loud!. Except for one unfortunate year (Hello, NYE 1999. It ended with a friends fiance being peed on. Not kidding.) I lived for New Years! It didn't have to be fancy or wild, but I needed to be up at midnight, watching the ball drop, and be someplace I could ring it all in with a "WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" Then we became parents, and I have been in by 8:45pm ever since. We were invited to Pete's brother and sister-in-laws tonight for some festivities, and Pete and I agreed that we'd stay as long as PJ could handle it. Turns out, the magic number was a few minutes to 8. Party. Fail. When PJ is older, I'm sure I'll get some of my New Years Eve groove back, but for now, I'm content to be inside, blogging and trying out coffees in my new Keurig while Pete chats with his best friend, making plans for their usual New Years Day antics.

As with any New Years, I have my usual list of all of the changes I am going to make to help me become a better mother/spouse/housewife/friend/writer/Autism Warrior/daughter/whatever else. A first step my list was joining the local YMCA. That's one stone that will kill a lot of birds, as it will give me a place to work out (Resolution #628, Get in shape), a place to take PJ swimming (Resolution #137, Learn to better meet PJ's sensory needs), and is a place that we can go as a family (Resolution #46, Spend more time as a family). I have a laundry list of things I'd like to do with my blog, such as give it a makeover (#23), submit posts to other sites for syndication (#144), and make more time for writing (#12). I'd like to resolve to set aside time for dates with my husband, to try and keep my emotions in check when PJ is having a bad day, and to be a more patient wife. I don't think that the new year will magically help me erase nearly 36 years of bad habits, but there's always the feeling- that mystical, December 31st feeling- that with the New Year will come a new tide in life.

With 2013 a mere hour and fifteen minutes away, with my husband playing some zombie-killing game on the xbox and PJ finally sleeping soundly, I can sit back for a second and think about this past year. It's been one of the most challenging years of my life. I wish I could say it's made me stronger, but I really think it's starting to make me unhinged. And thus:

Resolution #336, Work on that shit.

Wishing you all- the people I know and love with all my heart, my "bloggy" friends who I also love with all my heart, and even the folks who read and don't tell me and whom I also love with all my heart- the happiest and healthiest of New Years! Here's to an amazing 2013!!!

"On and on, the story of our lives goes on and on..."

After yesterday's post,
Voicing all of that frustration,
I did the only thing a girl can do-
Indulge in retail therapy.
I loaded my best Boy and my best Sister
Into the car and drove to Delaware
(What? Tax-free shopping???).
Our first stop?
We purchased the iPad that was so amazingly, generously
Funded for PJ's birthday by so many of his loved ones!
I have already loaded on some of his favorite apps from therapy
And can't wait to give it to him tomorrow!
I also got bras
Because I needed them.
My last bra was laid to rest on Christmas day,
The right underwire being entombed in my in-laws trash can
Because it very nearly gave me an impromptu heart surgery.
And Marla exchanged a bag.
It was a successful shopping trip
Punctuated by a delicious lunch
And it was good for my soul.
Thankfully, there's just New Year's and after that
Life will begin anew and hopefully return to normal.
Or whatever passes as "normal" around here.
The frustration still is in my heart
And I am praying for the strength, patience and insight to know
The best direction to take for all of us,
PJ especially.
In little more then 24 hours
2012 will be nothing but a memory.
In my case, the memory of the most life-changing year of my life.
We have so much to face, but I can only hope that
What we have already been through
Has molded me into someone who is ready to face
All of what 2013 has to offer me.
And I know,
I know,
That it will be amazing.

"Well I try, and I try, and I try, and I try..."

*yawn* I am so, so tired.

Not to sound like a Grinch, but I am so ready for the holiday season to be over and for things to get back to normal. It can be a lot of chaos that leaves me so, so tired. I know. I sound like a cranky old bee-otch.

Not that the season has been bad. On the contrary, it's been an amazing holiday for us! Tonight, we were hosted by the sister and husband of our sister-in-law (it sounds more confusing than it is!). For the past few years they have hosted a "Night Between Christmas and New Years" fete. Christine and Rich are amazing hosts, and the food is always delicious and plentiful. They were especially patient with PJ, who insisted on derailing one of Rich's beloved Lionel trains so he could play with it, and somehow convinced them to unlock the lid on a very large organ so PJ could gleefully press buttons and flip switches. It was a great night filled with family, fun, and those Christmas cracker things that pop open and have toys inside! Crankiness aside, I always feel very blessed to be enveloped in that kind of togetherness.

I am cranky, though. I mentioned on Facebook the other day that being cranky, when I know damn well how truly blessed I am, just makes me feel like a shit head on top of being cranky. We have seen so many horrible things unfold in our world lately. Amazing, terrifying, earth-shattering things that I can't even imagine. It makes it hard to indulge in the age-old luxury of being in a bitchy mood because, really, what do I have to be bitchy about?

Still, I can't lie. It's been kind of a rough month. The transition to school hasn't been as smooth as I had hoped. I expected it to be a big change and for PJ to react to those changes, but I had no idea how flat out crazy he would be when he gets home from school. I see him almost manic in his need to expel his energy and meet his sensory needs. One day, PJ dumped out all of his wooden train tracks and trains and was rolling around in the pieces, almost swimming in them. He looked like he had no control over his body and I didn't have any idea of how to help him. We are supposed to be doing 2-3 hours of ABA-like drills with PJ daily, as prescribed by his behavioral therapist, but I have difficulty just getting him to sit at his little chair for more then three seconds. He's unfocused and disorganized and the drills end up being little more then matches of wills as I try to keep him on task and he loses his marbles. Then his therapist lets me know that the longer we go without getting the drills in, the more time is going to waste, and I just feel lost. I know that some of his actions are behavioral, but there's some other need that I am just not meeting, and I'm not sure where to start to fix it. Right now, my next step is to call his CHOP occupational therapist and create a sensory diet for PJ in the hope that I can help him calm his little body so he can reach the potential I know he has. When I think of it in terms of therapy, I can be rational in understanding what is happening. But sometimes, I just become a mama who wants so badly to help her autistic son and just sucks shit at it. I get impatient with myself, impatient with PJ, impatient with the flash cards and lists and drills. I spend time with others and I'm sure they see me as a complete parental failure. I'm not a therapist, no matter how much I teach myself about autism. I'm just a mama who feels like she has no idea what she's doing.

We have had tough patches before, though, and we have made it out better then I thought possible, so I am trying to hang on and get through this one. I know enough to ask for help when I need it, and now that the holidays are almost done, PJ will be able to focus on school and acclimatize without any disruption. I try to take deep breaths, drink my coffee, stay above water and remember that I am a fucking warrior.

Clearly, I am going to need a special bra for this kind of action. Battle, ho.

"Simply having a wonderful Christmas time..."

Things on Thursday

I am hoping that everyone that I know and love (and those that stop by in secret!) had a wonderful holiday! It all went by in a blur for me, which is part of the reason I haven't sat down to write in a week! Pete and I were very last-minute this year {shame}, so there was a frenzy of gift getting, present wrapping, and decision making for us in the two or three days coming up to Christmas! I made my usual grumbles about how I am totally marrying a Jew the next time I get married, but to be honest, I lovelovelove giving presents! It's the chaos that drives me insane! Chaos aside, we got it done, and even though we scaled back a bit, it made us feel so good to give to the people we love and who love us back!

PJ, of course, was spoiled rotten! He is still awash in the afterglow of his birthday gifts when Christmas rolls around (winter baby!) and envelops him in a new wave of generosity and love! His father and I
Santa gifted him with a train table that has been the center of his universe since Christmas morning, along with trains, books, games and puzzles (actually, he surprised me with his love of the puzzles! When he's not at his train table, he's sorting and piecing together his new puzzles, a step up in difficulty from the wooden Melissa and Doug type). Bubbie and Zaydie, Nan and Pop, and a host of Aunt and Uncles spoiled him in a similar fashion! It's the first year that PJ has truly understood the deal about opening presents, so it was a lot of fun to see him so excited!

The day was full- we slept in and after opening presents here, we headed to Pete's brother and sister-in-law's for breakfast. We have been doing that for as long as I can remember and it's a tradition that I look forward to. My nieces and nephews are the best type of kids to give gifts to- sweetly grateful and always so excited to receive! They give the type of reaction you dream about when you're choosing a gift. So it's always a pleasure to see them basking in the glory of the morning and having a blast with their spoils! PJ got into one of my nephew Carl's gifts, and instead of being annoyed at his little cousin, he was genuinely concerned that PJ might have swallowed a piece! Thankfully, he didn't need to worry, as there was no damage done to his gift or to PJ's intestines!

We headed home with full bellies to relax for a bit before we headed down to Marla and Steve's for a visit. They host Christmas for Steve's family and this was the first year that we were able to make it down and spend some time with everyone, including my own mom and dad. Another round of present-opening ensued and snacks were consumed before we headed off to Pete's parents for our last stop of the day! It was the usual cyclone of kids and food and family and presents, highlighted by the Cousin Pollyanna, a tradition started a few years ago. The kids all really love choosing gifts and enjoy the "ooooo" -ing and " "ahhhhhh" -ing in unison as each cousin opens a present!

It was a beautiful day, a family filled day, a holiday, and, if I admit it, and exhausting day! We are all still coming down from the high of the day. But, it reminded me, as it always does, of just how much we have and how lucky we are!

"I'd be merry but I'm Hebrew..."

(Just kidding, y'all! I'm merry and Hebrew! Anyway...)

Things (that were supposed to be read) On Thursday (but I went to bed instead, so I am finishing this blog post tonight, Saturday. Eh. It happens.)

...It's true. I am a Jew who married a Catholic and for the past 10+ years, I have been part of the madness known as Christmas! My years of being able to relax once Hanukkah is over are long gone. As our family continues to expand, the crazier it gets! This year, the tasks have been pared back a bit. The cousins are doing a group outing instead of exchanging gifts, so that's a large number of present-picking off of our plates! But this year, we're adding in classroom parties and teachers/aides/bus driver gifts, and as a first-time school mama, it's a little overwhelming! I want to give thoughtful gifts that everyone will enjoy but won't break the bank! I am trying something on the creative side this year (and by creative, I mean I stole it off of Pinterest!) and if it works, I'll post some pictures!!

...We are still contending with PJ's post-school craziness! Finding the balance between how long he should nap, what time he should go to bed, and how much nap will be too much nap has been a challenge. There are days that he comes home from school, clearly exhausted. When he takes a nap, he has trouble falling asleep at night, and if he doesn't nap, he's certifiable from 5:00pm on, but falls right to sleep at bedtime. Yesterday, he seemed to tired at naptime that I let him sleep, so of course, he was up until 10! Today, I woke him after an hour, so hopefully it was enough to refresh him but not so much it will keep him up. (Note: That was wishful thinking. He's still awake and he was tucked into bed 40 minutes ago. Epic. Fail.) Either way, fatigue just seems like one factor in his after-school nonsense. After that, I have no. earthly. idea.

...I mentioned before that PJ is into Monster's Inc.! He loves the scene at the beginning when Sully is being guided through a "workout" by Mike! (this is where I jumped back in to finish, y'all) There is a part where Sully drops to the ground, pretending to hide from a kid who has woken up. PJ loves to imitate this part! It's really, really cute, but he looks like someone Nancy Kerrigan-ed his little knees! They are all bruised up! I shudder to think of what his teachers are thinking when they help him use the potty and pull his pants down! I had a kiddo who was already as boy as you can get, and now he's trying to be part monster. Oy. Vey.

...Pete's sister Shelly hosted her yearly "Cousins Cookie Party" last night! She foolishly  bravely hosted 15 out of 18 of the cousins (holy crap, y'all.) for an annual gathering to decorate cookies and enjoy the start of the winter break. It was a cyclone of cupcakes, M&M's, laughter and sugar rushes! It was the first time that PJ was old enough to sit at the table with the big kids and decorate his cupcake (with a liberal dose of help from his adored cousin Riley!). He was basking in the love from all of his cousins and, as always, my heart was so full of how lucky my sweet boy is. He was also basking in the large train that Shelly has around her tree! In fact, he was under her tree, derailing her train, when I snagged this shot:

Love it.

...There are so many things that I have been wanting to write about and get off of my heart, but I want to make sure that I can do justice to the subject matter. It's not that anyone really reads this or that what I have to say it so important- it's actually because of that I want to get it right. I don't want to be another insignificant voice babbling in a way that can cause damage, so I will carefully gather my thoughts before I spill them out, in sharp contrast to the way I usually do things on this blog.

...Christmas is almost here! Time to get back to my To-Do list! :-)

"Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down..."

I think that, for people who write, there will be so many attempts to sit down at computers, put pens to journals, and try to make some sense of what has happened. People will try, but I expect that there will be many unconnected thoughts, many words with jagged edges that don't fit together.

The horrible happenings of the past few days are much like that. Even in a world that can be filled with danger and temptation and terror and fear, what happened in Connecticut doesn't fit into the puzzle that makes up what most of us know. Something that huge is a piece that we can't even fathom.

Today is Monday, and like so many millions of mamas, for the first time since Friday, I kissed PJ goodbye and watched as he hopped on his little bus. PJ, of course, has absolutely no clue of the madness that has gripped our nation the past few days. He greeted his bus driver and scooted into his little seat. The world can be full of madness, but I want PJ to...not even be brave, but to simply be able to enjoy the daily, moment-to-moment joy and fun that I hope that getting his education will provide, as it did for me.

I don't know what to say about what we all do next. I want our schools to be safe. I want there to be a balance between our rights as Americans and our right to be safe and not threatened. I don't want people with Autism - or any other mental difference- to be feared, misunderstood, or persecuted. I want God to hold those families in Connecticut and their babies and loved ones in Heaven, to hold them close, and I want everyone else to "hold space" on our hearts here on Earth. There's just so many things to be fixed and pondered and prayed for that it seems hard to know from what direction to come from to even begin to tackle it all.

I'm a mother. PJ is a son and a student. Pete is a father and first-responder. This didn't happen here, but it could have. And I don't know, in the context of any of those positions we hold, that there's anything more we can do to keep something like this from happening here. We can make stricter rules in our schools concerning who and what comes in and out, perhaps make sure that our teachers are trained to discern and reach out to children who might need some help. We can face the fact that, perhaps, law written hundreds of years ago might be incongruous with the world we live in today. We can do all of those things and yet very rarely, it's all out of our hands.

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.”
–Ernest Hemingway

I saw this quote on the Momastery blog and felt like it spoke to what has happened. Something like this...I think it leaves something broken inside of all of us. I don't think that as an individual, there's anything I can do to keep something like that from happening to PJ or to any of my nieces and nephews. I can help PJ prevent cavities and feed him healthy foods and make sure he gets therapy to give him the tools to cope with Autism. I can give him more clothes then Oprah and take him to his beloved playground and sit on the floor with him, pushing Thomas the Train over endless miles of wooden tracks. I can love him, love my nieces, love my nephews, love the children of my friends. I'm good at loving. And I'll fill the broken parts with more love because...well, it's better then the alternative.

Love your babies. Love your family. Love, love, love times 26 and you'll do justice to the lives of those we lost in Connecticut in the most important way.

"My body's at home, but my heart's in the wind..."

It Happened Here, Too

I am ashamed to admit it,
That my view has come to this.
I saw a blurb on the news about a shooting
But moved on with my morning.
Shootings have become so common place that
They leave a quick ding on my heart
But we go on.
I kiss my baby
And put him on the bus and
Wait patiently for him to come home.
I miss him.
I know he will come home.
My mind reaches worst-case scenarios so often
But in my heart, I tell myself
"That won't happen here".
Millions of parents do the same thing.
Later on, a text from my mom told me;
It happened to someone today.
To so many someones that there's not an official "count" yet.
And yes, today, the count is of young children
Who went into their classrooms full of life
And promise
And future
And that's where their promise and future has been left.
It's unthinkable
And it happened.
My first reaction is to hold my baby
To make half-joking, half-achingly serious remarks
About how he's never going to school again.
"We'll homeschool."
But, life will go on as will the small relief that
It didn't happen here.
But here's the thing.
We live in an age that allows us to connect
With a few pushes of buttons on our phone.
Our daily tasks documented on Instagram
And updated on Facebook.
Our world is so huge, yet so small.
And if you are a Mommy
If you are a Daddy.
If you are a teacher, an officer, a custodian,
If you are a person
Those are your babies and
It happened here, too.
These are our neighbors.
This is our country,
This is our world and
This happened here, too.

"...and dream how wonderful your life may be."

I was folding laundry today,
Separating all of our clothes into little piles.
A pile for Pete that's a mix of scrubs, jeans, and tee shirts.
A pile for me of mostly boring clothes-
Old Navy tee shirts, jeans, and a pair of maternity yoga pants that are
Just. So. Damn. Comfortable
That I can't give them up.
Don't judge.
Some of us aren't as skinny as we were in high school.
Anyway, I was folding PJ's clothes and,
as usual,
Dying over the cuteness of it all.
I may dress like a very neat, orderly bag lady
But PJ has more clothes then Oprah.
I found a random white tee that is much too tiny for PJ.
I folded it and set it aside.
Then I returned to the business at hand,
Sorting, folding, and stacking school clothes
And it hit me.
Among the long-sleeve monster tees, Union Jack sweaters,
Quicksilver jeans (thanks, Jen!), skull hoodies and
Most notably
The pile of underpants expressly made for very tiny butts,
There was not a shred of baby clothing left.
The laundry I was up to my neck in was not
Sweet-smelling, Dreft-y baby laundry but
Little boy laundry, laundered with detergent that,
Well, it doesn't smell like Dreft.
(Of course, what does? Dreft smells like Heaven.)
Babies are so fleeting, and I held on for so long
But now I realize that babyhood has been left in the dust
And the real work begins.
I got up and started putting clothes in his drawers and
They take up so much more room.
Although to be fair, PJ has a lot of clothes.
It's a whole new journey for us, and we're up for the challenge
And the wardrobe that comes along with it.

"Welcome to the new wild west..."

Things on Thursday....

...Our second week of school is almost over, and except for a pee-pee accident, it's been uneventful. It's still hard for me to put him on this bus and say goodbye, but he hops on with a cheerful "Bye bye, Mommy!" and, thus far, has moved into this new phase with relative seamless-ness (Is that a word?). My big dude! His mama, on the other hand, is still having trouble adjusting to this new phase of our lives- I miss PJ so much when he's gone. But I have amazing friends to take me to coffee or breakfast (thanks, Michelle, Marla, Carmen and Ann!), and help hold my hand- or at least fill it with coffee and pancakes- when I am weepy.

...The week started off with amazing, nearly spring-like weather, and we soaked up every possible second! We enjoyed a jacket-free, sun-shiny, beautiful afternoon picnic with some dear friends. The kids munched french fries in the sun and played on the playground with the carefree abandon that only a warm day can bring. The slides feel a little faster when the body is unencumbered with things like jackets and gloves and hats. They must cause drag or something.

The sun sets so early now, but another night, it was warm enough for PJ to take a "drive" in his brand-new pickup truck, a gift from Nan and Pop! My sweet little dude and his developmentally delayed legs don't quite have the hang of the Flintstone-style driving method just yet, but he is quickly getting the hang of it. And even if he's not moving, dude loves his truck. I can just picture him someday with a girlfriend, watching the sun set from the cab of a truck!

...Our December calendar is rapidly filling up, and I love it! There's something about December that just says hustle-bustle to me, and I relish the busy-ness of the holiday season. There's something about being busy when you can wear a sweater and scarf, clutching a peppermint mocha coffee, as opposed to being all hot and sweaty in the summer. We have birthday parties to attend, three-year-old doctors checkups to get, holiday soirees to join and shopping to get done!   

A man, his truck, and a sunset.

...I went to a PTA meeting tonight. I know, right? I seem about as well-suited to a PTA meeting as...well, there's no real analogy. If you know me, you get it. I'm not very mom-y. I can't relate to other mom's who know everyone and gossip about the other kids and moms. I'm not really a "people" person and I especially, sometimes, have trouble relating with other women. With my love of hockey, potty mouth, poor clothing choices and distaste for wine, I'm not really a girls girl. But, my son is in school and I want to be involved, so off I went, despite being ridiculously nervous. But it was a small, welcoming group and I was nicely welcomed. PJ's principal was in attendance and made sure to introduce me to other moms. Most importantly, I met the mother of a student in PJ's class. Her son is almost exactly a year older then PJ, and is very happy with the program. Being able to speak with someone in that position is a huge asset for me, so I ended up being very happy that I went. I am actually looking forward to taking part in the school programs and, in general, having a hand in the educational environment surrounding my son.

..Y'all, a huge, scary, crawly bug just walked across my living room, and Pete's not here to kill it. I went to get the vacuum to suck it up, but I lost it. So it's crawling around somewhere. I am not happy about this development.

..If you've dropped by from the Bloggy Moms December Blog Hop, hello! I have had the chance to checkout so many awesome blogs (there's a lot of great writing out there!) and have had such nice visits here. It's good stuff, so if you're new, welcome! :-)

...It's time to go pack Pete's lunch for work tomorrow, and go hide in my bedroom so the bug can't get me go to bed. Goodnight, friends! :-)

"Five hundred, twenty-five thousand six-hundred minutes, how do you measure a year?"

It's December.
I don't know how that happened.
It seems like it was a month ago
that we gathered at my sister's house for
PJ's second birthday.
But, it must have been a year ago because
we gathered in that same spot to celebrate his
3rd birthday!
How. Did. That. Happen?

The party had a Thomas the Train theme.
Of course.
My sweet Boy loves his Thomas!
My sister, her husband and I
decked out the house in all things train
and when we walked in with PJ
he smiled his sweet smile and said
"Ohhhh...it's Thomas!"
It sure is, baby Boy!
We laid out all the food and soon,
the house was full of family and friends and
So. Many. Children.

It was awesome!

I felt myself getting so emotional at times.
Watching the kids have so much fun,
the adults noshing and chatting,
all there to fete my Best Dude.
(In fact, I spent so much time watching
I forgot to take any pictures.
Fail. Fail. Fail.)
Eventually, it was time,
and I brought out the very large
Thomas the Train birthday cake,
complete with a working Thomas sitting atop an icing track.
Everyone sang while PJ cheered and clapped his hands,
and his Mommy and Daddy could not stop smiling!
Later, PJ opened a very large, Thomas-y pile of gifts
bestowed upon with with such generosity and love
that his very thankful Mama teared up again!

My Boy is so lucky.
He is just starting to understand
all that he has and how much love
is around him.
And oh, my heart.
My Mama heart swelled knowing that
my Best Dude has so many people
holding him up with love.
I'll have pictures just as soon
as I can get a sec to bug Aunt Marla
for the shots she got!
In the meantime,
my heart is full of all of the
pictures of the day!
Happy 3rd Birthday to you, Peter Joseph!
We celebrated with style!