Thursday, December 31, 2015

Gas Attack

It's been about a month since we've moved.  Into a hotel that is.  There's a major gas leak in our neighborhood.  Like major.  It doesn't sound as glamorous as a hurricane or an oil spill.  But it's annoying enough that we had to leave our home and relocate.  Us and about five thousand other families in this city.  We've pretty much infiltrated all the major cities within a 50 mile radius.  And today was moving day.  We moved from one hotel to another.  In 2 weeks, it's back home to the old hotel.  The boys love it.  Why?  I have no idea.  All their toys are home, they get to watch good TV at home.  But no!  They wanna go to the hotel.  It's not so bad, I'll be honest.  We get to come home whenever we need to which is ALL THE TIME!  With the holidays and all the online shopping I did, I literally had at least 2 packages waiting for me each day.  Ridiculous.

At first, I thought people were over reacting.  I didn't even smell anything.  But P and I would get these annoying headaches.  Well, I guess all headaches are annoying.  But yeah, day after day, there it was.  That's when I knew it had to be the gas leak.  Oh and W has had this cough for weeks! First I thought just a cold waiting to mature.  But it never did.   He would cough more and more every day. Two urgent care visits later, it turns out his lungs are completely clear and his throat is just "irritated." And it happened before we relocated so I know it's not from hotel life.  It's almost New Years and he's STILL coughing! In fact, N and I are coughing, too!  What can I say, we do everything as a family.  Even getting sick.

There is an upside to this man-made natural disaster. T he gas company is paying for all the hotel accomodations and giving all the families a daily food stipend.  For us, it totals up to be about $140 a day.  A lot, right?  Some people were complaining it wasn't enough but I've tried to use it up on food, it's not easy.   These folks must be eating from silver plates or something because it's a lot of money. So most days, we eat out and then spend the rest at the grocery store.  I have yet to see a reimbursement check (4 weeks in) but hopefully it'll be in our hands soon.

Home values have dropped a little, but I have confidence they'll bounce back.  I think the worst part is having the spend the holidays in a state of limbo.  We came home for a few days because I refused to spend Christmas in a hotel, but it's still weird.  We set up the tree on Thanksgiving weekend and then left for the hotel the same night. Our gas bill has doubled.  Yup.  Not sure what that's all about.  It sucks more for those who aren't directly affected by the gas leak.  They gotta pay double, too.  I've gained about 10 lbs from eating out so much but look like I've gained 20.  Which in turn, had me signing up for Weight Watchers again.  I'm sure local businesses have suffered and burglaries have increased.  Oh and they closed down 2 of the main schools, including the one W is supposed to go to next year.  It's really just an unfortunate situation all around.

I'm just thankful that it's not a more serious "disaster" and that we are all able to live a predominantly normal life still.  It's not like most families can just check into a hotel, expenses paid whenever there's an earthquake or tornado.  So we are very lucky indeed.  I'll say this much, I don't think I'll be in any rush to go on a vacation any time soon. Maybe we'll even save a little money this year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


It's N's birthday today. He's 3 now.  What is it about turning 3 that makes a parent feel like it's the end of the beginning?  Because I felt this way when W turned 3 as well.  Perhaps because they are preschool age.  Or maybe because diapers will soon be a thing of the past if they aren't already.  I think for me, saying he's 2 wasn't any different than saying he's a baby.  You can't just let go of "baby" on their first birthday.  Way too soon.  So you get this grace period of a second year where you get have an "advanced" baby, shall we call it.  But 3 is....well, 3 is the end.   The end of "baby." It's when you have to start shopping in a whole different size category for clothes. 0-24 months? NOPE.

 At midnight, I snuck into his room and watched his sweet, peaceful face as he slept.  He's sooo pretty when he sleeps.  His lashes do this thing where they curl at the far ends.  Almost like they are curtsying or something.  His teeny tiny lips are smaller than the his nose and make this sideways diamond that I'm just too drawn to.  His hair is doing all sort of craziness and of course he's laying on his back due his low tone.  But I think it's God's way of allowing us to look at this perfect babyface whenever we want.

 We had a party.  A train party.  It's what he wanted afterall.  Of course, he decided to develop this opinion a little over a week before his birthday.  Little guy was walking around telling family during Thanksgiving that he was going to have a train party.   HUH?  I thought you didn't care what kind of party you were having.  I had all these images of different themes on the laptop and asked him to choose.  He would just walk away the way I do when I see someone with a clipboard.  So, I thought...okay, let's do a Tonka party.  He loves dump trucks so it's perfect.  Yes, he loves trains more, but if I could avoid another train oriented activity, then that's what I was gonna do.  I ordered all the decorations and favors from a handful of vendors.  Ordered a custom cake and bought the toppers (which are still sitting in the garage).  It was good to go.  Then BAM!  Just kidding.  I do give a damn afterall.  Trains, please.

 Sigh, so Thanksgiving night, I'm scrambling on the internet to find any and all train related party items.  But here's the kicker.  He's not that into Thomas the Tank Engine anymore.  No where near as obsessed as W was about him.  So, it had to be a generic train party.  Awesome.  Because everything is Thomas.  EVERYTHING!!!  After many headache-inducing attempts to integrate trains into the Tonka party, I decide to just can the  Tonka theme and go all train.  Why is she going on and on about this switcharoo party? Because I can. And because it's funny. That my little nonchalant, too cool for school, leave me alone 2 year old never really voiced an opinion or preference like he did about his train party. So, it was mission impossible but I was gonna die trying.

 Anyhoo, he got his way. What can I say? I'd move mountains for that kid.

Friday, December 11, 2015

I'm Back.

A lot can happen in eight months. Is it me or are my absences getting longer and longer each time? I think was ready to give up on this. Don't get me wrong. Documenting photographically is still very much a priority. That's the easy part. But all the editing and's exhausting. I wish I could just extract thoughts from my brain like they do in Harry Potter and be done with it. Alas, that is not a reality. I've been away long enough. So, here goes.

 I'll start with N. My N is two and half years old now. And he's doing great. Really great. He still gets a lot of therapy, both at home and in office. And he's such a great student so his progress is more than we could've hoped for. Is he in the clear?? That's the real pressing question, right? I'd say no. His doctor thinks that he is definitely on the spectrum. He had a recent doctor's visit and I asked flat out, "Do you think he's autistic?" She said that without a doubt, yes. Bam. I don't know why I was surprised by this when it's still pretty clear to me that yes, he has SOMETHING. But I guess it's still hard to hear. It's not an official diagnosis but she IS an expert and this is pretty much what her work revolves around so, yeah. It's hard to refute. I was a little sad after that visit. I think I'm still sad. We still need to get the official tests done and get it on paper. But I won't be getting my hopes up that it'll say anything different than what she said.

 I will say this much. I'm more determined now than ever to help him in his journey. He's so close. At times, it's hard to believe that it's anything more than motor delay. Either way, I'm so proud of all he's accomplished. You should see him in this toddler class he joined. It's only once a week and I stay with him. N loooooves it! And his teacher Miss Michelle is the most perfect teacher. He loved her instantly. If I just mention that we're going to see her, he drops what he's doing and marches straight to her door. My heart just swells at the sight of him enjoying circle time and singing the songs (which he learned REAL quick). His favorite...

I love you so much
I love you so much
I can't even tell you how much I love you
You're special to me
You're special to me
I'm lucky to have you as part of my life.
I love you I love you I love you
I love you I love you I love you
I love you so much
I love you so much
I can't even tell you how much I love you

 You gotta hear it. It's simple yet so loving. All the kids sit in their mommies' laps and you just kinda hold them as you sing, ending with a big hug. It's my favorite part of the class. In some ways I feel as though this class saved me. For a while there, it was like being stuck on an island while cruise ships filled with people sailed by. I would say prison, sometimes I do. But it's more for emphasis than accuracy. I still get to play with my beautiful son and watch each step of his growth. Sometimes though, you just need to be around other people. Other moms. And this simple 2.5 hour class provided that. In fact, I made a couple of mommy friends. Priceless. We'll be back in class in the fall and I can't wait.

 Let's talk W. W is a man now. No really. He's matured so much in so many ways that I think I need a to write a few entries about just him. Of course, he still has his occasional meltdowns. But if I were to be completely honest, a lot of the times it's my fault. We expect a lot from him because of N. We expect him to be another caregiver when he's only 4!! He's so sweet and loving in nature, we just sort of thought he would be natural at it. And he's a great big brother. N is really lucky. WE are really lucky. Nevertheless, he's only in preschool, for Pete's sake. Gotta remember that.

 The first half the of school, he'd be playing with the girls AND the boys when I picked him up. Most of the time, with the girls. Now, however, he's always running at full speed with the boys, shooting guns and talking spy nonsense. It's great while being totally alarming at the same time. WHEN did this happen?! It's like innocence was lost while I was shopping at Ralphs! He's no longer the shy, gentle little boy we knew. He's all boy now. Rowdy. Hyper. Tough. And a little stinky. A part of me is happy for the change. Makes me feel like I have just a little less to worry about. And he started Hapkido about a month ago. So, I guess we will soon see his aggression grow.

 That's not why we put him in Hapkido. Not trying to raise a bully. He just needed to do something active. Soccer was a complete bust. Remember that? And I really don't want to sit in the sun while watching sports this summer. So, Hapkido it is. P did Hapkido as a child and he said it taught him to meditate and focus. Perfect. Where do I sign?? W totally needs to learn to focus. But more than that, he is absolutely horrible at listening to instructions. I think he gets this from me. I'm kinda bad about listening. I mean, when I'm there, I'm all there. But let's face it, I'm hardly ever really anywhere anymore. W and I have wandering minds. Moving a million miles an hour but in no general direction. Haha! See. I'm self-aware.

 Even W's teachers told us that he really grew up during the year and that he is absolutely wonderful. Can you see me bursting with pride from over there? I'm sure it helps to be in a class with a few absolute terrors to have your child look like an angel. I don't care. They love him. And I love them for loving him.

 N is copying W more than ever now. Sometimes I can see W getting annoyed with this. But not because it's annoying. Mostly because he's selfish. He's four. But he still makes N laugh a lot. More than we ever could. They really do love each other. And I can see their bond growing and an alliance forming against us. Do I sound paranoid enough for you? I think this is natural though. I have no siblings but I can only too easily imagine the trouble we'd stir up against my folks. Strength in numbers, right? Sometimes, when I'm yelling at one of them, the other will come to their defense. It's crazy cute and I only see it as a testament of their bond. Nothing more.

 Before you go thinking things are rainbows and unicorns at our house, just stop. They fight. No fists yet, but some hitting and definitely some pushing. N's a hitter so it only adds to the madness. At first, W was real good about restraining himself from hitting back. But the whole "he's only a baby" thing can only fly for so long. I think he's figured out that N is no longer a baby. They're practically the same size now. Once N is potty-trained, all bet's are off. You wait. UFC here we come.