I do not like snow. Choosing to live up high in the Pocono Mountains probably wasn't my smartest decision, but I don't really think about the downsides in May, June, July, August or September. The rest of the year, I tend to be a miserable fool.
My due date with C was April 17th of last year. That weekend, we had a big snow storm.
Last week, we had flurries. Today, we have a couple inches of white crap, and no clue as to when it will stop.
When J was still in "regular school", I was actually able to take some pleasure in snow days. They meant not having to bundle everyone up by 8am to drive to, then sit around waiting in, the bus stop parking lot. And we could do nothing but sit around, watching cartoons, drinking hot chocolate.
Our exact location earned us even more snow days than the general student body. Our district is extremely large, square mile wise, and we live at the highest elevation for the area. Two miles down the mountain, it can be raining while we are snowed in. In fact, the husband just headed out to work and reported back that the main roads are fine, while the road ours branches off from is littered with 7 stuck vehicles. We have had lots of hot chocolate since moving here!
Now I don't have a single child in "regular school." Our morning is just like every other morning. There's no real reason to avoid math, and no lack of reading material. We have no scheduled activities on Tuesdays. No legitimate reason to change our routine.
Technically, I have the power to declare school canceled today, but that seems like such a silly thing to do. Instead, I think we'll have a "delayed opening" and a few mugs of hot chocolate before getting down to business.
If the wind manages to calm down, the kids are going to LOVE recess.
And since I'm annoyed about not being able to get really good pictures while it's still snowing, I'm going to post this one to make myself smile.
Our development doesn't allow Trick or Treating on Halloween. Well, unless Halloween falls on a Sunday. Or maybe even a Saturday. I guess I'll find out about the Saturday thing next year.
We don't have any sidewalks or street lights, and most of our roads are lined with drainage swales, AKA giant ditches. Since most of the kids around here don't get home from school until 4:30-ish, weekday ToTing would involve darkness.
The whole thing really annoyed me when we first moved here. Then I actually took 3 young children ToTing during on our first Fake Halloween and saw what a madhouse it is, even during the day.
Since most of the houses around here are spread far apart, the kids really only ToT along the main road. 2,000 or so families worth of children along a 2 mile stretch for 3 hours. It's CRAZY. I have come to appreciate the seemingly ridiculous policy.
For the past few years, we've also had a Trick or Trunk at the lake parking lot. As a person who grew up having hundreds of children coming to the door for candy, I like having this chance to be a part of the fun. Back at the house, I think we've had about 6 Trick or Treaters in 4 Halloweens.
Sadly, not many people are into the giving aspect of Halloween. Despite this being the best weather we've ever had for the event, we were one of about 10 cars providing candy for 300 kids in less than two hours. We all had a great time but, yeah, I am bitter. I've always seen Halloween as a "take a penny, leave a penny" kind of thing, ya know?
So, we did our thing. Nobody froze for a change. The kids went off and made sand castles once their stashes were confiscated. And then we went to the Halloween party.
Our social committee does such a great job with this party. I could have done with one or two fewer plays of The Cha Cha Slide, but I guess every DJ has his favorites. The kids noshed on "brains and eyeballs", "witches fingers", "pig snouts and whiskers" and the like, and managed to get to "dirt in a cup" and plenty of other creepy, sugary garbage before withdrawl kicked in.
By the time we were getting ready to leave, C was very unsteady on his feet. A few times, he simply rolled around on the floor, babbling incoherently, with a giant smile on his face. It was a Good Day.
But why in the world did I agree to take the kids to Grandma's for real Halloween?!
We live in what most people (including me) would consider the boonies and, I've got to tell you, Mayberry just doesn't exist. Despite living in the woods where there are more deer than people and every family could adopt their own bear if they like, we have our fair share of drunks, drug addicts, police chases, rapes, murders, crappy parents and jackass kids. Somehow, no matter how long the weekly police blotter, this environment has a way of lulling people into a false sense of security.
I'm somewhat active in my development. Most of my involvement revolves around rule-breakers, including punk-asses. I KNOW that people suck.
So why can't I ever bother to lock my car?
Last night, I couldn't sleep. Just after midnight, I headed downstairs to heat me up some leftover mac and cheese for a Colbert marathon. Standing in front of my kitchen window, I saw that the interior light was on in the husband's car. He and J had come home from their music lessons, juggling guitars and music books after 8, so it was pretty easy to assume that one of them (probably J) had left a door ajar.
Being after midnight, the husband didn't quite grasp what I was saying when I told him his light was on, so he walked over to the front door, checked the locks, and turned the porch light out. He wasn't exactly fully-functioning. When he realized what I had actually said, he went out and turned the car's light off, came in, and went to bed.
This morning, he went to get his laptop out of the car to do "paper"work. Isn't it funny how it's still called paperwork? It's too bad these things aren't done on paper anymore, b/c the laptop is gone. So is the backpack full of clothes the girls had taken to Grandma's this weekend.
Yup, we are idiots who almost never lock our cars. And it finally bit us in the ass.
So, we've been doing the report filing thing today. That's been fun. The company is trying to remember whether or not they kept the computer lojack service. I'm trying to get past the oogy feeling that comes with finding your little girls' underwear scattered in trees (along with the rest of their clothes).
But these punks are morons. Sure, they got a laptop. But they chose to grab a bright pink, giant backpack, rather than a computer bag that had an external hard drive in it, a digital camera, or CDs. Even stranger, they dumped the clothes and took the giant pink backpack with them. Because what punk-ass is complete without one of those?
Sadly, I feel a bit better knowing that several of my neighbors were also hit last night. At least I'm not the only idiot.
So, punk-asses, when I see you walking around with a giant pink backpack, be prepared for an ass kicking. I'm not afraid of anyone who would put a higher value on that than on a heavy computer bag. And I'm pissed about my kids' underwear. Do you have any idea how much Tinkerbell panties cost, you stupid freaks?
I'm also not afraid of jail. I've been craving a vacation. And I'm training my dogs to think all strangers are the UPS man. I used to watch wrestling. Bring it.
To the husband: Your gray hair is sexy. To J: I wish I knew even half of the things you'll know before you're 20. To H: I love how nothing stands in your way, even when it's me. To M: I want to be as adventurous as you are. To C: Don't ever stop growing up, no matter how many times I try to stop you. To my mom: I'm sorry. Thank you. Please lift the curse.
I finally figured out how to work Picasa (sort of)! I'm so excited to have some editing capabilities back. Eventually, I will have to suck it up and buy a program, but Picasa is worth its price tag. I guess that doesn't mean much, considering it's free.
So, I will try to show you. Which is a bit difficult to do when you're the kind of person who never remembers to make a copy before editing.
Since I have the originals uploaded here, you can scroll down to my Garbage Day post and compare these images. Pretty impressive, in my opinion, for a camera phone and a free editing program!
I really enjoy my internet friends. Blogs, message boards, whatever, I truly value my relationships formed online. Some people might think that's weird, but I think it's fabulous.
8 years and 8 months ago, my sister convinced me to meet an online friend in person. Yesterday, my online friend and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary.
Crazy? Maybe. I like crazy. It seems to work for me.
Online is where I find people who can relate to my internet addiction. It is where I can discuss controversial topics without alienating (many) people, rave about my favorite shows with people who actually watch the same thing, get advice from people who don't worry about offending me (much), and babble without feeling like I'm monopolizing the conversation.
It is also the place where I managed to find someone who will listen to my 15 minute explanation of how my mind could wander from the latest episode of 17 Kids And Counting to wondering whether his boss's wife got our mailing address through company information or through her sister-in-law, AKA my mom. I'll just ignore the fact that he was trapped in the car at the time.
It's been a good 8 years. I'm sure someone, somewhere, owes me money. We've totally kicked the odds' asses.
This afternoon was our park clean up day. I am so glad we had such beautiful weather. It really was a gift, considering where we live. I have been known to call my mother in tears over pre-Halloween snow.
Unfortunately, I was an idiot and forgot to bring my real camera. Not that I think pictures of unopened beer cans found in the woods would have been very interesting (though they would have come in handy for my last post), but because the autumn view was incredible today.
Not only did I forget to bring my real camera, but all of the free-trial software my laptop came with has expired, and I haven't been able to bring myself to go software shopping. Therefore, I am sharing a few completely unedited camera phone shots. It's almost painful for me to do, but the day was so damn gorgeous I just have to spread it around. Use your imagination to see through the graininess.
I've been lacking inspiration, so I'm going to pretend that Kristin meme-tagged me.
Unfortunately, I don't imagine there are 6 things about me that I've never shared with *anyone*. I mean, I have a big mouth, and I like to hear myself speak. Of course, this means most people have learned to tune me out, so there's a good chance nobody remembers any of these things.
1. I am amazed by the invention of good, microwavable bacon. I remember those bacon-nuker plastic trays of yesteryear, and how it still came out gross. I am afraid of frying bacon. On a Girl Scout camping trip, I was given the job of frying bacon, and I was so terrified that my leader got mad at me and kicked me out of the kitchen. It's loud, it's smelly, and it hurts when it spits. Plus, fried bacon always winds up with a few gobs of rubbery fat that make me gag. The new microwaveable bacon is heaven for my mouth, even if it's hell for my digestive system.
2. The shower in my master bathroom needs to be cleaned, and I just don't want to do it. I have actually been using the shower in the main bathroom, because it's less effort. The husband, however, continues to use the master bath shower. He should clean it while he's in there.
3. My first beer was a can from a 6-pack found in the middle of the woods. (Hey- now I know where my kids got their scavenger traits!) Oh, and it was the middle of summer. Warm beer that was sitting around for who knows how long. My friends and I practically owned those woods, and we had never seen anyone else in that area, let alone someone who might appear to be the kind of person who would take a 6-pack out into the woods. So, we went back that night with a boom box, built a campfire near the hidden little pond of some poor old lady's multi-acre property, and split the 6-pack between about a dozen of us 13-19 year-olds. This is probably why I was able to avoid falling into the "party" crowd until the last few weeks before high school graduation. That, or the fact that the party crowd probably didn't want to be seen with a girl who wore denim shorts with pantyhose to school in December. I don't know.
4. I am addicted to Diet Mt. Dew. Most people know that, but they don't understand the extent of my addiction. I chug cans of Mt. Dew from 10am until I go to bed. We are allowed 1 can of recyclables every other week, and it can't keep up with the combination of my Dt. Dew and the husband's regular-Dew habit. Granted, we go through quite a few gallons of milk that take up a lot of room in the trash can, but I still don't think they'd all fit. Yes, it is a problem. At least it's not cocaine. Or booze. Though I imagine replacing my Dew with rum would be really interesting for a few days.
5. My switch from regular Dew to diet was hell. However, the powers that be deem me a "healthy weight" for the first time in as long as I can remember. Prescription drugs have played a part in that but, seriously, my Dew switch has cut at least 600 calories a day from my liquid diet.
6. The weight loss side effects of Adderall are a blessing and a curse. I am thrilled to be smaller, and I even enjoy the new distorted sizing of clothes that has put an itty bitty number in my pants, despite my ancient jeans with bigger numbers fitting just the same. Still, trying to remember to force myself to eat really isn't any easier or more fun than trying to keep extra food out of my mouth.
I know everyone trying to lose a few pounds will resent my saying that, but it really is true. And I say that as a person who has battled her weight since the 8th grade. Health is more important than weight. Unfortunately, keeping my life in some version of order is sometimes more important than health. So I go back and forth. If you find me eating a grilled chicken salad, expect to find my house a wreck and my children running wild. If you find me arriving somewhere on time, prepared and alert, feel free to force feed me a few cheese sticks or microwaveable bacon.
*Bonus tidbit Right now, I am wearing a concert t-shirt from 2001, and I'm not ashamed of it. It's a Matchbox Twenty shirt. When M was a baby, she used to point to all of the dark-haired men on this shirt and say "Dada!" Now C does the same. I think it's cute that they see their daddy as a rock star. And I like my old shirt.
I'm not very techno-savvy. I can manage single-purpose things like surfing the internet, playing a video game, listening to my iPod, and baking anything at 350*. Transferring files, switching the t.v. to a different input slot, downloading music, and broiling are all pretty much beyond me. Because of this, I basically live as though there are no CD players in my home, despite CD drives in the computers, DVD players, and XBoxes. My CD usage has been limited to the dozen or so in my car.
Yesterday, I remembered we have a collection of about a trillion CDs, and decided to rotate my car stash.
Anyone who enjoys moody, I'm-a-messed-up-chick lyrics should really own Fiona Apple's When the Pawn... Listening to it for the first time in a long time on my way to and from the grocery store made me smile. Especially with my anniversary approaching.
There's "Fast As You Can", which reminds me of the warnings I gave the husband before becoming the husband.
I let the beast in too soon, I don't know how to live Without my hand on his throat; I fight him always and still Oh darling, it's so sweet, You think you know how crazy How crazy I am You say you don't spook easy, you won't go, but I know And I pray that you will Fast as you can, baby run, free yourself of me Fast as you can...
I may be soft in your palm but I'll soon grow Hungry for a fight, and I will not let you win My pretty mouth will frame the phrases that will Disprove your faith in man So if you catch me trying to find my way into your Heart from under your skin Fast as you can, baby scratch me out, free yourself Fast as you can
And then there's my real favorite, "Mistake"
And when the day is done and I look back And the fact is I had fun, fumbling around All the advice I shunned and I ran Where they told me not to run, but I sure had fun So I'm gonna fuck it up again I'm gonna do another detour Unpave my path
And if you wanna make sense Whatcha looking at me for I'm no good at math
And when I find my way back The fact is I may stay, or I may not
I've acquired quite a taste for a well made mistake I wanna make a mistake why can't I make a mistake I'm always doing what I think I should Almost always doing everybody good why Do I wana do right, of course but Do I really wanna feel I'm forced to answer you HELL NO I've acquired quite a taste for a wellmade mistake, I wanna make a mistake Why can't I make a mistake
There's just something about listening to I'm-a-messed-up-chick lyrics that makes me feel very young again. Today, I'm going to pretend I still have the cajones to dye my hair purple. As long as I can manage to stay away from the drug store, I'm sure I'm safe.
Now I have to go ask someone to transfer some CDs to my iPod.
1. You've ever ended a sentence with the word "PSYCHE".
2. You watched the Pound Puppies.
3. You can sing the rap to the "Fresh Prince of Belair " ...and can do the "Carlton".
4. Girls wore biker shorts under their skirts and felt stylishly sexy.
5. You yearned to be a member of the Baby-sitters club and tried to start a club of your own.
6. You owned those lil' Strawberry Shortcake pals scented dolls.
7. "WOAH " comes from Joey on Blossom.
8. Two words: Hammer Pants.
9. If you ever watched "Fraggle Rock ".
10. You had plastic streamers on your handle bars... and "spokey-dokes" or playing cards on your spokes for that incredible sound effect.
11. You can sing the entire theme song to "Duck Tales ". (Woo ooh!)
12. You wore a ponytail on the side of your head.
13. When it was actually worth getting up early on a Saturday to watch cartoons.
14. You saw the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles " on the big screen... and still know the turtles names.
15. You got super-excited when it was Oregon Trail day in computer class at school.
16. You made your mom buy one of those clips that would hold your shirt in a knot on the side.
17. You played the game "MASH ". (Mansion, Apartment, Shelter, House)
18. You wore stonewashed Jordache jean jackets and were proud of it.
19. L.A. Gear... need I say more.
20. You wanted to change your name to "JEM " in Kindergarten. (She's truly outrageous)
21. You remember reading "Tales of a fourth grade nothing " and all the Ramona books.
22. You know the profound meaning of "WAX ON, WAX OFF".
23. You wanted to be a Goonie.
24. You ever wore fluorescent clothing. (some of us... head-to-toe)
25. You can remember what Michael Jackson looked like before his nose fell off and his cheeks shifted.
26. You have ever pondered why Smurfette was the only female smurf.
27. You took lunch boxes to school... and traded Garbage Pail Kids in the schoolyard.
28. You remember the CRAZE, then the BANNING of slap bracelets.
29. You still get the urge to say "NOT " after every sentence.
30. You remember Hypercolor t-shirts.
31. Barbie and the Rockers was your favorite band.
32. You thought She-ra (Princess of Power!) and He-Man should hookup.
33. You thought your childhood friends would never leave because you exchanged handmade friendship bracelets.
34. You ever owned a pair of Jelly-Shoes. (and like #24, probably in neon colors, too)
35. After you saw Pee-Wee's Big Adventure you kept saying "I know you are, but what am I?"
36. You remember "I've fallen and I can't get up"
37. You remember going to the skating rink before there were inline skates.
38. You ever got seriously injured on a Slip and Slide.
39. You have ever played with a Skip-It.
40. You had or attended a birthday party at McDonalds.
41. You've gone through this nodding your head in agreement.
42. You remember Popples.
43. "Don't worry, be happy"
44. You wore like, EIGHT pairs of socks over tights with high top Reeboks.
45. You wore socks scrunched down (and sometimes still do...getting yelled at by "younger hip" members of the family)
46. "Miss MARY MACK MACK MACK, all dressed in BLACK BLACK BLACK "
47. You remember boom boxes. and walking around with one on your shoulder like you were all that.
48. You remember watching both "Gremlins" movies.
49. You know what it meant to say "Care Bear Stare!"
50. You remember watching "Rainbow Bright" and "My Little Pony Tales "
51. You thought Doogie Howser/Samantha Micelli was hot.
52. You remember Alf, the lil furry brown alien from Melmac.
53. You remember New Kids on the Block when they were cool... and don't even flinch when people refer to them as "NKOTB".
54. You knew all the characters names and their life stories on "Saved By the Bell ", the ORIGINAL class.
55. You know all the words to Bon Jovi - SHOT THROUGH THE HEART.
56. You just sang those words to yourself.
57.You remember watching Magic vs. Bird.
58. Homemade Levi shorts. (the shorter the better)
59. You remember when mullets were cool!
60. You had a mullet!
61. You still sing "We are the World"
62. You tight rolled your jeans.
63. You owned a bannana clip.
64. You remember "Where's the Beef?"
65. You used to (and probably still do) say "What you talkin' about Willis?"
66. You had big hair and you knew how to use it.
67. You're still singing shot through the heart in your head,aren't you!
I have to say, I just can't understand why some of these things make perfect sense to my children while others leave them staring at me like I'm some sort of freak. I mean, how in the world can they think My Little Ponies are the greatest thing, but Gizmo is stupid?
I miss big hair. And I'm extremely annoyed to have been told that the new phase of stretch pants is supposed to be limited to those who didn't live through the first cycle. I could be very happy in a giant sweatshirt, stretch pants, 4 pairs of socks, and banana clipped hair with big bangs. Really, who is going to stop me?
That's pretty much a rhetorical question. A trick rhetorical question.
I've never really had a desire to be normal, and I think that's been key to my survival. There's probably very little in my life that would qualify as normal, so abnormal is my normal. However, it does make it easy to forget that other people aren't likely to relate to stories about fuzzy kielbasa, disappearing small appliances, or owning a bust that says "I heart nurses" when there are no nurses in the family, but all things found in the woods are valued by children. Even the woods are strange here.
My sense of normalcy being completely skewed, I didn't realize how strange I must have looked this morning, cheering and doing the happy dance. Come on, my kid said "Momo!" How can anyone resist running to the top of the mountain, chanting "Momo! Momo!" at a time like that?
I guess normal people don't find parroting the name of The Avatar's pet lemur a big deal. When you're worried about your 17 month old hovering over the line between "It's probably normal" and "You might wanna look into that," Momo becomes your new god. Even when you're not quite sure what you would even do with a normal kid.
This milestone celebration had me trying to find the simplest way to explain myself to M's gymnastics classmate's mother, who suddenly realized I was a bigger freak than I had let on over the past few weeks. I told her that C doesn't really talk, and that it's had me a bit concerned for the last few days. I've been especially frustrated b/c I feel that, of all people, I should have been able to immediately recognize any hints of developmental delays.
J was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when he was about 5. All of the honorary degrees colleges hand out to celebrities, and nobody has mentioned granting me one for spending over 5 years researching autism spectrum disorders. The world is a messed up place.
Anyway, despite the inability to pinpoint a direct cause, ASDs are considered, at least in part, to be genetic. And it's 4 times more likely in boys than it is girls. The math comes out to about 1:97 boys before factoring in diagnosed family members. I don't remember exactly what that number becomes, and I failed calculus, but I know it's a relatively creepy one. I never really worried about H and M, and they've turned out to be freaks of a different kind. Having another boy has really pushed me into walking the line between making too many comparisons and being blase about the whole thing.
For 17+ months, I've stuck to simply checking off my mental list of milestones as C reached them. Eye contact, check. Babbles, check. Knows how to piss off his sisters, check. Walking seemed to take forever but, before I could get worried, check.
It isn't like I haven't *noticed that C doesn't really talk. I've just been taking more notice to things like his ability to hear (perfect, and as selective as his siblings') and understand. He can even follow directions when told to throw something away or find a particular book. In my mind, all was fine. Well, other than the horrible whining that comes from the frustration of his not being able to speak. ASD-wise, I haven't found reason to be concerned. Somehow, it never occurred to me to wonder about *non*-ASD delays.
So, I told this woman at gymnastics that I am a little concerned, since J (who was right there and has been for weeks) is on the autism spectrum and I wouldn't want to miss any possible delays, knowing how important (and having missed the boat once) early intervention is. That explanation seemed to make sense to me. I figured it would make sense to most people. And then she said this:
"Oh, but autism means kids can't interact with other people, and he (the baby) is so friendly!"
Now, I don't expect random people to be well-versed on ASDs. I've slowly come to terms with the fact that there actually *are* people out there who have no idea what autism is. But here's this woman, who has spent 4 hours with J. She's seen him in action. She's watched him play with his siblings. She's chuckled while I've given him signals to quit chewing her ear off before finally resorting to just telling him to shut up before somebody jumped out the window.
I'm not sure how that kind of comment should be taken. Am I supposed to consider it an attempt to educate me on what autism really means? Is it a round about way of telling me I'm lying about my child being on the spectrum?
I don't have to be normal to be able to chalk up the comment to a foot-in-mouth deal, similar the the trillions I've made myself. This just happens to be the strangest one I've been on the receiving end of. Sure, I've been asked stupid questions. I've just never run into anyone who has tried to tell me what's what. At least, not in the past 4.5 years.
C has a new word, and that's what is important today. Maybe he is perfectly normal. Maybe I'm going to have to start studying for and designing my own diploma in speech therapy. With Momo being said so spontaneously, I think I should start watching my mouth while driving. If I do wind up filling out evaluation forms, I'd hate to have to write "Ho bag" in his word bank. But you might hear me screaming it from the mountain top!