Monday, January 08, 2007

Back to School, Big Block of Wood Day Arrives, and SO Much More

Everyone goes back to school today! WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! I'm having very mixed emotions about it - ecstatic because life now returns to some sense of our chaotic normalcy, making things more structured for our SmallBoy, yet distressed, saddened, disappointed because now things get crazy, SmallBoy might begin stressing again, more demands on our time (like there aren't too many already), but you is the first day of back to school, yes, but it's one day closer to summer vacation!

SmallBoy's Party
Break went out with a bang, and a with feeling of perpetual motion. I don't recall sleeping very much this weekend either, and not for many really good reasons. Friday night, SmallBoy had his end of break sleepover with his friends. It went very well. SmallBoy was just happy that they had "ulimited" video game time. What they didn't realize was that we would periodically interrupt video time to do something else. Not too many meltdowns, not too much of "SmallBoy's rules only," and NO couch jumping! I think there was actually a time when they were all quiet. Sleep did not come easy Friday not, but, surprisingly, the four 9 & 10 yr old boys were not the reason, granted they were awake. The young college sophomore who lives next door to us was also having an end of break party. Loud, yet courteous, TONS of people, yet very polite, but loud - more the music and the talking outside. Our houses are so close that I could look out my window and feel like I'm in the room with them. The boys didn't sleep much either, but I think that was more due to the fact that I had forgotten to send the video game systems with LargeBoy when he went to bed.

For Christmas, we had given SmallBoy two games which he became familiar with while at OT, Tricky Fingers and Rush Hour Deluxe. Both games use problem solving and small motor skills (Tricky Fingers takes Small motor down to fine motor, though). Tricky Fingers consists of two square (ish) boxes filled with colored marbles. The bottom of each box has holes the size of the marbles. The object of the game is to manipulate the marbles with your fingers to create the pattern shown on a game card. What's spectacular about this game is that it can be played alone, or, in two different ways as a challenge - both players using the same card or each with his own. We pulled this game out as the kids were gathering their belongings and waiting to be picked up. It took a while, but once I got them interested in how "cool" this was, they were happy to turn off the video games to come and check it out.

The other game, Rush Hour (we have the Deluxe version), takes "puzzle" to a new level. The game is a grid of squares, "gridlock" cards at varying levels of skill, and plastic vehicles. The vehicles are placed on the grid according to the pattern on the card. The object is to clear a path so that the main car (in the regular version it's an ice cream truck, in ours it is a shiny red car) can make its way off of the gameboard. This game makes you think - the cars cannot be picked up and moved, nor can they turn - they can only move along the line of the grid upon which they rest. I have managed to get through the beginner stage with relative ease, and moved on somewhat successfully to the intermediate stage, while LargeBoy sat down and completed all 15 of the Grand Master skill level cards. SmallBoy LOVES this game, and loves to come and help me out of my "jams" too. It takes the whole Temple Grandin theory of thinking in pictures to a new level. I sort of saw that this game would definitely be one that would involve the visual-ness that our ASD'ers so often use, but it wasn't until I was stuck on a puzzle last night and LargeBoy enlightened me with "Well, Mom, you sort of have to think of it as a picture and work backwards from there," that it clicked and the lightbulb switched on. I HIGHLY recommend these games! They'll be good for the kids, but trust me, you'll find yourself drawn to them.

New Band
Saturday afternoon we finally had the opportunity to rehearse as a full band: PC, ET, Joey Pinks, Dreverb, and me. We had done a couple of mini-rehearsals with Joey Pinks so that the guitars would be on the same track before we went into a full rehearsal, so it wasn't a totally foreign thing, and for one, we had ET there banging on some congas (in lieu of a full drum kit). Saturday afternoon though, we gathered in the basement with all of us, all of our equipment, and amps, and we sounded, not like a band playing together for the very first time, but like a band that was ready to roll. We just gelled and it all came together: the personalities, the talent, the outlook on what we each wanted to do and where we wanted to go with the music. It was fantastic. We topped the night off by going to hear Joey Pinks play in one of his other bands (he's very, well, busy). Phenomenal!

We were all completely wiped out by late Saturday afternoon, between SmallBoy's lack-of-sleep over party, the party next door, and rehearsal, that when we returned home from rehearsal, all of us just needed to crash. PC went to take ET back home and SmallBoy was craving some snuggle/squeeze time, not to mention that he was dead tired, too. LargeBoy was on the couch playing video games so SmallBoy and I snuggled up, also on the sofa, smushing Largeboy into a corner. We snuggled and relaxed. Before I knew it, my sweet angel was asleep. My arm was dead asleep underneath him and my neck was kinked badly from the awkward way that I was laying, but I was so content. The combination of SmallBoy's "sleep breathing" and his little heart just beating away made it feel like he was purring. It's been a long time since he's fallen asleep on me like that - without being sick and suffering through an asthma attack. This was pure bliss. I was so content, and having such the "happy mommy" moment, that I forgot all about the dead limb and the krick in the neck, and dozed off right along side him. Peaceful.

Big Block of Wood Day
Sunday, the day designated as the day of rest, the final day of winter break for the kids, the day that's meant to be the one on which you either sit around and do nothing, or you cram in everything that you didn't get done during the rest of the week. We spent Sunday running non-stop. Girl had softball practice, now mandatory, from 11:30 - 12:45 at one of the local private high schools' gyms, SmallBoy had to be at school by 12:30 for the official weigh-in for the Pinewood Derby, and then Girl had to be back at our gym by 12:45 for a basketball game against the rivals from the rich suburb to our immediate west. It was sheer insanity, but we made it work. The only other thing we had to juggle was how to be at SmallBoy's derby and and Girl's game at the same time.

The Pinewood Derby runs by Den, starting with the youngest, the Tiger Scouts. SmallBoy's den, Weebelos I, is the second oldest, so they run second to last. The race, that was supposed to begin at 1:00, finally got underway at 1:45 after all of the rules and all of the admonishments for "stepping across, or crossing the plane of, THE LINE with any body part were laid out, and where the scouts were allowed to sit and where they were not allowed to even breathe near (given of course by Mr. Former Cub Master - you know, the one who said and did those mean things to SmallBoy at camp). Girl's game started at 1:30. While the race got underway, I bolted down to the gym to watch the 2nd quarter of her game, as it was clear that SmallBoy's den would not be running for a while. The girls were playing the team that everyone wants to beat. They played them and lost over break, once before break, and will play them again for the final home game of the regular season - which is our big spirit night. When I arrived, we were down by 9 with 3minutes left in the half. All of a sudden, one of our girls hits 2 three pointers and then hits a jumper with a foul. She missed her free throws, but suddenly, at the half, we were only down by one point, there was hope. I bolted back down to the derby, filled in the other parents who were also trying to do double duty (there are a lot of them at our school), and sent PC back to the gym. At 2:15, SmallBoy's den still wasn't close to running, so I talked to him and to a couple of the dads and went back down to the gym. Sadly, the girls ended up losing, but they played their butts off.

FINALLY it was time for our den. PC and SmallBoy had this nervous energy just exuding from them while I tried desperately to conceal - and manage - my anxiety pangs as I strategized in my head, and with PC about how we were going to handle the meltdown if he lost, crashed, or didn't make it to the finish line. First three boys raced. There was a wreck, it was beautiful, every one laughed and the race was re-run. Then it was SmallBoy's heet. We inhaled, 3 - 2 - one pulls away, car two comes up from behind, car three rolls to a stop on the straightaway, that was ours. We watched as SmallBoy's frustration level went up and he put on his mad face (and it's a doozy). I said to him, "SmallBoy, BREATHE! BREATHE!" And he did. He was pissed off, but he was ok.

Phew, round one done. Two more heets and it was our turn again. I prayed, promised God I would sing 7:30am mass for the rest of my life, inhaled and watched the whole scenario play out again, only this time, our car was in a different lane. Still stopped on the straightaway. I guess God knew that I had no intention of doing a year 7:30 masses. Again, "SmallBoy, BREATHE! The frustration rose even higher, and it was MUCH more difficult for him to manage his impending meltdown, but he did it. The leaders told us that we could make repairs to our car if needed. In our case, it was the tire. It hadn't cracked, it hadn't fallen off, it wasn't wobbly; no, it was something about the physical tire itself. It needed to be changed, but there was not enough time. PC and SmallBoy worked together to see if they could do ANYTHING AT ALL to make the car at least cross the finish line in the final run. If you look closely at the pic, you can even see SmallBoy is smiling.

Third run, different lane, same result. "WHAT?! I DON'T GET IT!" Oh, he was SO NOT a happy camper. I followed up with more directions to breathe, which he did. We was SO mad, but he did it, he pulled himself out of it and went on to cheer on his friends, including Dreverb's son, who was also racing that day, and, whom he had met for the first "official" time yesterday. As stressful as the race was for all of us, I was incredibly pleased to see that all of the prep work that we had done with SmallBoy and, invariably, with ourselves, paid off. I would definitely call it a success.

MaizeyCat Sunflower
Those of you who are at least my age might have some kind of a flashback to the words, "Klondike Cat Alwaaaays gets his mouse!" Anyone? Anyone? Klondike Cat, as I remember, was one of the cartoons on The Underdog Show. He was tormented by the mouse, Savoir Faire and his classic howl of escape, "Savoir Faire eees everywhere!" This phrase has been running through my head since yesterday when my lovely OCF FINALLY caught and killed the mouse. We had to take it away from her because she was planning on having it for a snack. Now, I know that cats eat mice all the time, but this was just to gross for words, so we decided to nip it in the bud. Once we had all settled from our mouse-capades, Maizey appears with ANOTHER mouse in her clutches. This one was just a little baby and I was having some serious mommy issues, but I quickly got past them. Sadly, we were a tad too late in taking it from her, and she'd already begun to partake of the mouse. We were only able to throw out half of it, the other somewhere in cat-land. I think, I hope, that the other mice have learned from this, but I am so glad to know that IF they get in, I've got a damn good mouser. See how happy and contended she is in this pic. All curled up like a little fluffball. Good Girl Maizecat.

And before I leave you, after this LONG post, I wanted to introduce you to the newest daily post, at least for the next two weeks or so. SmallBoy received a Chia Pet - Garfield - for Christmas. We started his seeds on New Years Day and applied them on 1/2. The other day, we decided that we would start tracking its growth on a daily basis - it really IS amazing how this works and how quickly it grows. I leave you with yesterday's pic and the one from the day before. Tomorrow, I'll post today's picture. If nothing else, it's something fun to start the new year!
Saturday's Chia - 1/6/07. Girl is fascinated with the Chia and is obsessed with touching it - think it's a sensory issue? Nah, just Girl, she's silly that way!
Sunday's Chia - 1/7/07 - See! Look at this progress, it's amazing. Hours, maybe 4, later, it had already gotten a bit fuller. I've always joked about Chia's, but it's really kind of fascinating, and SmallBoy's totally getting into it, too, which is truly the best part!

Update: Girl stayed home with the flu today. I was going to send her to school - she's been headache-y for about 24hrs, couldn't sleep last night, but she's tough. I knew she'd be able to hang in. Then she hurled. Needless to say, she's home, on the couch today, watching movie after movie after movie, extending her break by a day (but what a crappy way to get an extra day - YUCK!)


kristina said...

Haven't had one of those boy falls asleep at my side pinning me to the couch moments---sweet beyond sweet. I think he handled those impending meltdowns really well; talk about pressure to perform. Happy new year!

Angella said...

I went on a random blog sight and after a hundred over the past month...I really like yours. I could not fine a website. If you get this...I would love to read more. (Bookmark you.) I am a working mom too and want to read more, while at work, of time now..but love the Chiapet.

Louisville KY

Laura said...

You make me very tired just reading about your day. Also, if you too want a $10 Vera Wang, they come in pink and navy blue. I believe the 6 is actually more like a 4. And you would need it hemmed because you are wee.