Starting about last October I began reading the Harry Potter series to Lydia. We’ve read them, a chapter a night, all through the holidays, all through the winter, and into this spring. The other day we finished the sixth book — I can’t believe I read through it without crying — and we’re about to move on to the seventh and final book.
Even though he is not listening to the books, Sam has absorbed much of the Harry Potter lore, and will sometimes watch the movies with us. In fact, Harry Potter is beginning to rival Godzilla in Sam’s obsessions. He has asked SO. MANY. questions about the world of Harry.
Earlier today we marked the occasion of finishing the sixth book by watching the sixth movie together. Now they are in Lydia’s room playing wizards while they wait for lunch.
“Avada Kedavra!!!” I hear Sam shout.
Lydia immediately fights back with, “Expelliarmus!”
Sweet summer children. Little do they know they just acted out Voldemort and Harry’s final battle.
March 9, 2016
by Carrie Comments Off on the devil’s spawn
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I was driving down the interstate with the kids in tow. Tuesday is Errand Day, and this Tuesday had extra errands in preparation for Thanksgiving. We had already gone to Sam’s play appointment and through Costco, which was a madhouse. I was a little keyed up and was ready to be done.
We were almost to Pelham, gearing up to hit the grocery store, when the giggling laughter from the backseat changed to a slow wail, then quickly grew to a blood curdling scream.
That is never a sound you want to hear when you’re flying 70 miles an hour through nutty traffic.
“What?! What happened?” I asked, looking through the rear view mirror at Lydia.
Lydia stared back at me, eyes wide as saucers, and said, “Sam just pulled out a tooth! There’s blood!”
What?? I just checked that tooth last night and it wasn’t loose at all!
I glance briefly at Sam through the mirror and holy crap look at all the blood!
We were blessedly near our exit, so I told Sam over and over it was going to be fine while I navigated us off the exit ramp and over to a gas station. I was ever so glad to see they were well-stocked in those little paper towels next to the windshield washing paraphernalia.
It took a few minutes to calm Sam down and get him cleaned up a bit. Once he was settled, Lydia managed to find the tooth sitting between him and his seat belt.
And what a tooth it was! He had pulled out his tooth, root and all! No wonder he was screaming.
You know, Sam, people usually get numbed up for something like that.
December 29, 2015
by Carrie Comments Off on end of year notes
And suddenly it’s the end of 2015. This year went by so quickly there were some things I never got around to writing about, so I figured I’d fill in the gaps. Not sure if we did way too much this year or if I’m just getting old. Maybe a bit of both.
In October we completed our family Disneyworld trip extraordinaire — and survived! I’d never been to Disneyworld outside of school trips before, so I feel pretty good with how everything worked out with all the planning I had to do. Man, that was the key right there. Planning. Disneyworld favors the planners. Dinner reservations were made, fast passes were acquired, and itineraries were printed.
Since we had a lot of time to prepare for the trip, there were only a few surprises. We discovered the first one on our first night at the resort, where we had a character dinner. The moment we walked into the restaurant and Sam saw the six foot tall Pluto walking around, he nope’d right back out into the lobby. We ended up playing a game of round robin during dinner, with one person hanging out in the lobby with Sam. In hindsight, I should’ve just ordered a pizza up in the room with him.
Our second surprise was how quickly we warmed up to the idea of a rental stroller for Sam. The moment we passed the ticket gates and saw the sea of people, we knew that was the way to go. With Sam happily secured in his own personal stroller bubble, we were better able to navigate the masses. Well worth the 60 or so bucks it cost to have a stroller for the entire trip.
The third surprise was a tragic one. During our first full day at the park, the room-cleaning staff, surely accidentally, scooped up Lydia’s treasured white blanket along with the rest of the laundry and my personal microfiber hair towel. I shed no tears over the hair towel, but Lydia’s blanket is irreplaceable. The blanket was HER THING, that one thing that a young child attaches to and never gives it up. Though the staff assured me they have protocols and safety nets in place for this sort of thing, the blanket never turned up. How in the hell their “protocols” couldn’t catch a well-worn blanket WITH HER NAME STITCHED ON IT is beyond me. I plan on writing a letter, but three months on, I’m still too mad to concentrate on it. This is the first time I’ve actually typed the story out, and now I’m all pissed off again.
So. Back to more jolly things.
Happy happy happy.
Here we go.
Not so surprisingly, Lydia loved all the character meet and greets. Her first meet-up ended up with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and after that she was hooked. She met with most of the characters we saw, including her favorite, Princess Aurora, and Anna and Elsa from Frozen, which we thankfully had fast passes for.
Sam enjoyed quite a few rides. At Magic Kingdom we rode It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, and the Peoplemover many many many times over. Peter Pan’s Flight was a new one for me, and it was neat, but I don’t see how the incredibly long line was justified. The wait was usually 90 minutes! Thankfully, Sam’s DAS pass kept him from waiting in that line too long.
Both kids enjoyed the food. They tried all the ice cream sandwiches and frozen Mickey-shaped Popsicles they could talk us into buying for them. Sam particularly enjoyed some sort of cherry slush I got in the Japan Pavillion at Epcot.
Oh yes, the food. Epcot was having their Food and Wine Festival while we were there, and the place smelled absolutely divine. I had some spectacular escargot and a vodka-based push pop in France.
The last few days were rainy but it didn’t slow the kids down. In fact, Sam was very pleased with the rain. Despite the wet weather we were able to enjoy the fireworks at Magic Kingdom on the last day.
Though I’ve been to Disneyworld many times previously, this was the first time as a parent, and in a way it was like experiencing it for the first time. Seeing the park and all its magic through their eyes was an amazing experience, and I’m so very glad we were all able to go.
Other things have been going on as well. On November 21st, my father wedded a lovely woman by the name of Margaret. They’ve been dating for about two years, but they knew each other back in the ’70s. Cathy and I are thrilled for Dad and we’re glad to count Margaret and her family as part of our own.
The wedding itself was an intimate affair, held in the chapel of St. Paul’s Church in Athens, Alabama, where Margaret is from and to where Dad has now moved. It was at the wedding that Cathy and I first met Margaret’s family, including her mother, her two children, and her grandson, who is a year or two older than Lydia and Elizabeth.
During the reception Lydia and Elizabeth entertained the crowd with some extemporaneous dancing on a low stage while Cathy and I visited with friends and family, both old and new. While speaking with Dad’s best man, a long-time friend of both our parents, he gestured at the crowd and mused, “You know, all of this, in a way, is a testament to your mother.”
“How is that?” I asked.
“Well, the fact that your dad wanted to get married again just shows how wonderful she was and how great of a marriage they had.”
Let’s see, and now we’re just finishing up the holidays. The Christmas decorations are still up but we’ll be putting them away in the next few days. I’m ready to move on into 2016 and surely at some point this winter it will actually FEEL like it. The last two weeks have been in the 70s and we’ve had a few tornado outbreaks. Never fun.
Halloween was right after we got back from Disneyworld. Ever since summer, Sam has been looking forward to Halloween — he wanted to be Godzilla. His costume, purchased from Amazon, was a huge success. I’m glad I bought it early so Sam could practice being in it. The costume was very claustrophobic and it was a long time before he was willing to suit up all the way.
Lydia wanted to be the scariest thing she could think of, but she couldn’t decide between a skeleton and a zombie. Amazon once again was a winner when we found a skeleton zombie costume — the best of both worlds!
Halloween night ended up very rainy, but it didn’t stop Godzilla and Ms. Skeleton Zombie. Sam’s costume brought a lot of attention. People stopped him on the street so they could get a picture with him. Ms. Skeleton Zombie was not amused by her brother getting all the attention, and she was much happier when she went off with her cousin and some other neighborhood friends to trick-or-treat with the bigger kids. Godzilla Sam stomped around in the puddles for an hour and growled at everybody answering the door.
Christmas was just as crazy as last year, but I think we handled it better, stress-wise. Christmas can be very overwhelming for Sam, but this year one of his presents proved most helpful — we turned his closet into a ball pool! Just like Chuck E. Cheese, but without the plethora of germs and kid pee. Whenever Sam needed to get away from all the crazy, he’d go in his closet, shut the door, and roll in the balls over and over. From the living room, it sounds like distant thunder. Steven and I are trying hard not to make ball jokes, like “Sam plays with his balls a lot,” or “Sam likes to be balls deep.” We’re horrible. Horrible!
Sam also added to his Godzilla collection. Not only did he get a “Godzilla with a button that makes it roar” that he asked for from Santa, he got 11 other Godzillas (11!), a Godzilla pen that projects Godzilla onto the wall, a Godzilla shirt, a Godzilla book, and a Godzilla fuzzy blanket.
Now he’s asking for Mothra.
Lydia, completely unlike her mother, asked for clothes, and boy did she get them! She’s got about five or six new dresses to model, along with some sweaters, boots, and fashion accessories. Santa brought her a soccer net, but it’s been so rainy we haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Her present from us is a telescope, but that one’s on the back burner as well. It arrived broken and I’m still in conversation with the company to get it fixed. It’s been too rainy and cloudy to use it this week anyway.
Someday, we shall see sunlight again.
So now we’re enjoying our last week of holidays before the new year arrives and we’re back on our schedule with school, gymnastics, and drum lessons.
And life goes on.
December 24, 2015
by Carrie Comments Off on christmas eve update
Sam had Santa cracking up with his endless talk of Godzilla. Lydia, however, had heard it all before.
Times the cat has eaten the tree and barfed: 0!
Times the cat has climbed inside the tree and set Mommy’s blood pressure boiling: 7
How many times the kids have noticed the huge presents with THEIR NAME ON THEM behind the chair: 0!
How many cookies Mommy has made: ~70
How many times we’ve watched The Christmas Story today: 4
November 30, 2015
by Carrie Comments Off on the tree + one, 2015
Once again, the smaller tree is Lydia’s responsibility.
Total lights on the tree: 2,930; a new record!
Times the cat has eaten the tree and barfed: 0!
Times I’ve yelled at the cat when he launched off the tree skirt: 50
Ornaments children have broken: 0
Ornaments Mommy has broken: 0!
Man-hours it took to hang up the outside lights: 27
Bonus pic of outside lights:
October 22, 2015
by Carrie Comments Off on in memory of Harrison
Last week I was getting some laundry started when Lydia came up to me and announced, “You know Sam lost a tooth this morning, right?”
I turned around to look at Lydia, who was grinning like a Cheshire cat. “Don’t lie to me, girl. You’re telling such a fib.” She continued grinning wildly and insisted, “But he did, Mama!”
Still not believing her, yet knowing Lydia rarely lies about things, I told her to have Sam come show me.
Sam shortly bounced up to me. “Did you lose a tooth?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied. “When is lunch?”
“Show me, baby.”
He opened up his mouth and sure enough, a lower front tooth was gone!
Well, I just bursted out laughing! “Good grief, Sam, where did you lose your tooth?!”
“Right here,” he said, pointing to his mouth.
“No baby, I mean where were you? Where’s the tooth?”
He just shrugged and asked again if it was time for lunch. He really didn’t care about the tooth.
After a while, Lydia and I finally pieced together what happened. At breakfast that morning the tooth was bothering him, so he reached in and plucked it out. After deciding that it was not breakfast, he dropped it onto the floor and continued eating!
Soon after breakfast the floors were swept, vacuumed, and mopped, so the tooth was long gone by lunch.
With Lydia’s help, we worked up a little letter to the Tooth Fairy. That night, we left it outside Sam’s door because he did not like the idea of a strange little person with wings sneaking into his room at night while he was asleep.
Looking back over the last few weeks, we think Sam’s tooth has been loose for quite a while. It had to have been very loose, because if Sam’s little tooth extraction had involved blood, I would have surely heard about it at breakfast. Things involving blood are always VERY IMPORTANT.
It never occurred to Sam to mention this loose tooth thing to us. Instead, he had questions about loosing teeth in general:
“I don’t want my teeth to fall out!”
“Does it hurt when teeth come out?”
“Why does the teeth come out?”
“Why did Lydia loose her teeth?”
And after each question I would reassure him and say, “Don’t worry about it, baby. You’ve got a while before you loose any teeth.” In fact, that morning before the breakfast tooth incident I had reassured him again with those very same words. After all, Lydia didn’t (officially) lose her first tooth until she was six and a half, just last Christmas.
Just goes to show, you can’t predict one kid based on the other.
Once again this blog has suffered due to the summer doldrums. I am not a fan of summer, and it seems to sap all that is creative out of me. Thankfully, October begins tomorrow, and this Saturday we’ll have a high of only 68! Super excited!
Summer has been busy, and we will continue to be busy as fall approaches. Lydia has joined up with fall soccer, which keeps us hopping on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Sam has begun drum lessons, and he’s taken to those like a duck to water. I should’ve known I would end up with a drummer. Gymnastics continues, though Sam has stopped for a while. Lydia has also been doing a little homeschool theatre.
In between all that we somehow have to fit in time for school and my part-time teaching gig. Wheeeeeee!
Way back last February, we made plans for a trip in October. A special trip. A kid’s-greatest-dream trip. A trip to the fabled Disneyworld! Back in February it seemed like a long way off, but suddenly we’re looking at mere weeks before we leave! The kids are stoked (I did not do that surprise-them-at-the-last-minute deal that some parents are so fond of — Sam would not have taken that well).
I feel like I’ve been planning at a level usually reserved for wartime generals. Disneyworld is no longer the simple place we visited for marching band trips. Now you have to make 180-days-in-advance restaurant reservations and FastPass plans 60 days out. Anna and Elsa from Frozen are tough reservations to get. It’s nuts. Nuts, I tell you!
Hopefully, we all will survive.
During all of this planning and drumming, acting and learning, Sam was formally diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in August. To tell you the truth, I am relieved. After years of worrying, struggling, and second-guessing, it turns out that first psychologist we saw back in 2012 was on the right track. We have an answer. We have a path.
The occupational therapy that Sam started last October has helped him immensely. He still goes to therapy once a week, so between that and a lot of ways and means we’ve established at the house have served him well. Though Sam will never be ‘cured’ per se, he will be fine, both now and when he’s an adult. He will have to work harder on some things (handwriting, modulation of his movements, social situations) but will have an easier time with many other activities (music, spelling, memorization, physical strength).
So who is Sam?
Sam is a musician.
Sam is a lover of all things orange and Godzilla.
Sam is a comedian.
Sam is an autist.
Sam is my son.
So. That’s what we’ve been doing this summer. And now, Disneyworld awaits!