Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The one where Teenzilla meets her idol

Let's start with a brief summary of 13 (almost 14!) year old girls:

Complicated, unpredictable, independent, child-like, mature, opinionated, sweet, moody, and, as if that isn’t enough, they are also a raging mass of hormones and emotions and ideas and insecurities and talents and social challenges, sloppily wrapped-up in a body that no longer belongs to a child, but is still not that of a woman. And, oh yeah, they are super PRIVATE.

My Teenzilla is kind-hearted and sensitive. She does not have a mean bone in her body. She supports her family and her friends. She is strong and 100% committed to her values, even when wavering might appear to serve her better. She is honest.  She giggles. She loves Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. She also loves Star Wars and Harry Potter and comic books.  She cannot stand to disappoint, herself or those whom she cares about. She is an old soul. (I know- sounds kind of new agey and all but she really is!)

He is adorable!
My Teenzilla has an idol. And like every teenage girl- her worship is profound. Nobody else has ever had these same feelings, nobody loves her idol the way she does..etc etc.  And of course- Mom just doesn't get it at all.  Which is quite untrue, I can well remember the days of my misspent youth- and the many "crushes" I had on celebrities, and how MY mom didn't get it either.

So when her idol- Chris Colfer- one of the stars of Glee wrote a book-The Land of Stories she was ecstatic. Dad pre-ordered the book for her and she all but camped by the mailbox waiting for it to come. When it arrived she disappeared into her room and stayed up until 2:30 A.M. reading it- and finishing it too!

Then she found out he was going to be a mere 3 hours away from us for a book signing and begged and pleaded and promised it would be all she would ever ask for (in typical teenage girl fashion). I did not look forward to it at all. I hate driving 15 minutes to the movies- much less 3 hours. To a different state. But, of course I said I would do it.

Plans were made- things were in motion- and then I found out we had to buy the book from the actual bookstore he would be at. Seriously? So guess what we did?  Yup- bought a second copy of the book.

The big day arrived and she was vibrating with excitement. We left the house at 9:30 in the morning. Mind you- the book signing wasn't until 7:00 P.M. that night. But according to the bookstore's Facebook page- we needed to get there early to pick up our pre-ordered book. So we sang, laughed, played the alphabet game, quoted movies like Wayne's World and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, talked about "The Colfer" (as I so cleverly dubbed him) and had a really, just awesome time.

Once we arrived- around 1:30 in the afternoon- it was just a matter of what were we going to do until THE BIG MOMENT! (Did I mention our number was 566 out of 600?) So we poked around the bookstore- the 32 ROOM BOOKSTORE!  (Quick shout out to The Bookloft of German Village in Columbus Ohio!), got something to eat, she changed into her costume and we got ready to get into line.

I have never seen her so excited. We were in the longest line EVER and she was chatting people up, talking about the book, and at one point had everyone around us singing Bohemian Rhapsody! (I was pretty damn impressed by that!)

As we got closer she was a bundle of nerves. She had spent 6 hours recreating the map in the book to give to him. She kept going over and over what she would say to him, kept asking me if my camera was ready, and then we were there.

I loved that this wasn't a Barnes and Noble store- where he would have been in a conference room of sorts. He was in a tiny little room- so she got to be pretty close to him. She gave him her map, and told him what it was, and told him he was beautiful and amazing and that she loved him. (Insert AWWW here)  His reaction to the map was great- he said "This map is amazing! Thank you! And thank you for dressing up!" I thought Teenzilla might vomit or pass out. She got her signature and we walked out.

His reaction to her map was priceless!
She lost it at that point. Typical teenage girl style- she started crying and laughing at the same time. I almost started crying just watching her. What an experience to be a part of. I was pretty impressed by Mr. Colfer myself, very personable, adorable, and SKINNY! I just wanted to give him a sandwich!

But the thing that really got me- was Teenzilla saying "No lights, no makeup, he's just a boy mom! He's real and cool and cute, and just a guy! He is so nice and easy to talk to!"  Which is exactly what her dad had said to her that morning.

All in all it was an amazing day. I was the best mom in the world, my daughter was the happiest I had ever seen her, and, don't tell anyone, I got a thrill seeing this adorable celebrity myself.

Thanks Chris Colfer for being such a positive influence in Teenzilla's life.  As idols go- you are a damned good one to have.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The blog where I piss people off

It seems there is an inordinate amount of controversy in the media today. Some old, some new, some obscure, but all potentially incendiary and providing infinite fodder for the social networking grist mill.  So, of course, since I am somewhat bored today and been reading several articles and of course commenting as well, I decided to throw a couple of these topics into one blog, giving my opinion and then sitting back and watch the fallout!

So let's start with the most recent horrific tragedy- the Aurora, CO shooting. What a senseless nightmare this is. On paper- an intelligent young man working toward his PhD in neuroscience. Lurking underneath a-what? Dangerous psychopath? Sociopath? Someone who just "snapped" under the pressure? The theories so far are broad and range from he could have been on the Autism Spectrum (that one pissed me right off) to a deluded yet brilliant mind that concocted this scenario months ago. Because he isn't very forthcoming with any answers to his rampage that killed 12 people- among them a 6 year old girl- there just ARE. NO. ANSWERS. And even if eventually he does speak up- how will that help the families (including  his) cope with the loss of loved ones?

There was a flurry of blogs getting all righteous about the couple who brought their infant and preschooler to a midnight showing of a very violent and dark film.  Do I agree that small children should be at ANY midnight premiere? HELL NO!  Do I believe that any child under the age of 10 should be allowed to see such a violent film? HELL NO!  Do I think that those parents were selfish and only thinking of themselves? HELL YES! Have my husband and I missed a bunch of movies we would have liked to see because we had small kids and no sitter? HELL YES! Is that part of the sacrifice you make when becoming a parent?HELL YES! Do I think that they deserved to be shot at and their lives jeopardized because of said selfishness and questionable parenting? NONONONO!!!  It was NOT the point- but myself, along with a whole hell of a lot of others asked that same question. My rationale for that? Because wrapping your mind around a couple bringing infants and very small children to a midnight showing of a movie- especially one that was touted as being the darkest in the trilogy and IT WAS FREAKING A MIDNIGHT PREMIERE- is so much easier than trying to make sense out of James Holmes insane, bloody attack on these innocent people.

Picture courtesy of  http://www.ifc.com 
Let's move on to my favorite topic of conversation...VACCINES!! YAYYY!!! If you follow my blog you already know my stance on vaccines, autism, and a host of other neurological disorders. You also know that I have never said DO NOT VACCINATE I have always said EDUCATE BEFORE YOU VACCINATE! But I wholeheartedly agree with parents who do the research and choose not to vaccinate, and opt for a more natural parenting style which includes breastfeeding longer (although not past age 2- there is some more fodder for ya!) choosing healthier foods, living active lifestyles and the like- and choose NOT to inject their children with poisons. Because yes people- the very small amount of vaccine that might do good is all mixed up in things like formaldehyde, aborted fetal cells, aluminum... GROSS.

Vaccines have become one of the most profitable cash cows in the pharmaceutical industry, with the added benefit that the manufacturers are shielded from liability for any injury caused by their product. The manufacturers have advance contracts to deliver guaranteed amounts of vaccine in return for guaranteed amounts of money. How many millions of doses of flu vaccine were destroyed last year because they were not wanted? The manufacturers got paid. Governments got suckered (and citizens happen to fund the government’s folly).  It’s time to stop pushing the alarm buttons, using nine dead children in California to push the pertussis vaccine: Whooping Cough Rising at Alarming Rate The pertussis vaccine, in fact, is the vaccine that most often has an adverse side effect of encephalitis. .Are the manufacturers trying to unload it before that information gets out?   Now read this article: Vaccine refusal is not causing pertussis outbreak: Washington State Secretary of Health.  
(P.S. Whooping cough is RARELY  fatal in kids- if the throat swells and breathing becomes an issue- there is where the danger is)

It's time to stop calling people who don't vaccinate "CRAZY" "IMMORAL" "DISEASE CARRIERS". It' not fair and it's not right. Chances are your little Johnny sits next to someone at school that is *GASP* Not vaccinated!!!  It has gone far beyond autism and vaccines (which BTW there is still NO RESEARCH that absolutely refutes or confirms a link) it is now a total health issue. Like I have said a million times before...EDUCATE EDUCATE EDUCATE. Space those shots out!!!

Wow- I guess I had a lot more to say on these two subjects alone than I thought! So- at the risk of boring you oh loyal reader  I will save my views on Veganism vs. Bacon, The Penn State Child Abuse Scandal,  homeschooling, and our 2nd Amendment rights for another day.

Friday, July 20, 2012

15 Wonderful, Crazy Years

Wow- so young, so naive, SO THIN!

Fifteen years of marriage. A drop in the bucket for some. A miracle in these hard times for others. It feels like forever, but it feels like only a minute. 

Somehow, we have made it work, but it has been a hard fought battle to hold it all together. I was convinced that after the first 5 years things would get somewhat easier. And while there have been wonderful, beautiful stars in our eyes times, there are still so many days that it feels like it's all an uphill battle. Days you feel like you have nothing to look forward to, nothing to hope for, and this is all there is. But then the clouds break, the sun shines,  and it is in those small moments that you can really revel in the amazingness that is your marriage and the fact that you have held it together- and BREATHE. Then life crashes down on you again and you hold your breath waiting for the next break in the insanity. 

The Mister and I are so different-I am LOUD where he is quiet.  I am outgoing,and  love to be around people, where he is reticent and content to be at home. I like making new friends, he is content with high school buddies. I smoke, he doesn't.  He loves boats, I don't.  You get the point.  They say opposites attract, but DAMN!

Over  the last 15 years I have gained an appreciation for Star Wars, The Beatles, RPG's, Batman and other assorted comic book characters. He has gained an appreciation for going out and being around lots of people, for some of my music, and my love of kids and being a preschool teacher.  Our marriage has been like an intense learning experience/science project- and we both have learned and adapted.

He says sometimes I make things difficult. Of course I do. But in my head- it's not difficult, I am thinking "outside the box" and he has tunnel vision. So I could also say he makes things difficult. He is a RIGHT NOW kind of guy- as in- deal with things that are in this very moment- I on the other hand look down the road at the implications from whatever is going on in that moment. That is our biggest problem I think. His inability to look into the future, and my inability to not just fix one problem at a time- and not inventing more. We try to make the best of bad situations and enjoy the hell out of the good times. 

Here's to an amazing dad, a fantastic husband and the bestest best friend a girl could ask for.  I love you honey- let's work on the next 15 years ♥

We're not perfect. But we are perfect for each other. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Learning to Fly

It took a lot of time and frustration to teach The Boy how to ride his bike. At an age where most kids have already learned and got the training wheels off- he was still wobbly and on training wheels and having a very hard time coordinating his body to pedal and steer.  Autism is a bitch in so many ways- and body coordination is a big one.  Dad took on the challenge a few times- and frustrated was an understatement. But he finally buckled down and made it happen.

That was 2 years ago. Now he rides like a pro. But- he has only been allowed to ride up and down our street- unless he was with us. He was starting to get bored with that, and I can't blame him- it's not a very long street, and he has this thing where he stops to see neighbors and may just walk into their home.  That has caused a few awkward conversations and social stories explaining personal space and such.

A couple of weeks ago- I decided it was time for the boy to expand his bike riding area. We live down the street from a little park, community center and horse riding facility. We go there as a family all the time. I asked The Boy if he wanted to make his first Solo Trip there, and within 2 minutes he had his helmet on and was ready to go! Now- the first solo bike ride for any kid is nerve-racking for a parent. You give them basic traffic rules, don't talk to strangers, look at your watch, be home on time, etc. etc.  With a kid on the spectrum, you give those same instructions but add things.  Don't go into the dog park (which is also there), don't pet strange dogs, don't follow people around telling them about dinosaurs. Be careful around the horses. Don't go into any horse trailers. A 10 minute tutorial on reading a pocket watch and exactly what time to be home.  And then he was off.

It took about 3 minutes for me to go from worry to panic. What if he swerved in the street in front of a car? What if he wiped out on the bike? What if he got bit by a dog? What if he decided to go to the water? (We live on an island and it isn't far to the water from our house) After about 10 minutes I was ready to go find him.  The Mister indulged me, and said he would come with me. I had initially given him 20 minutes, but then I worried about his ability to read the watch. And I understand a child's propensity for losing track of time.

So off we went on our bikes to go find him. And we did- hanging out by the horse barns, one of his favorite things to do. He was surprised to see us and immediately asked if he was late. I told him no, we just wanted to come see him.

On the way home, dad and he went on a path through the woods behind our house- which of course I had totally forgotten about when sending him out initially- that would have alleviated a lot of my stress right there! And now that has become the routine. He hits the trail several times a week to go on his "Solo" bike ride. I also found an old iPod that has an alarm and a digital clock so he knows when it is time to come home. He hasn't been late yet! Now the whole talking to strangers thing.....

The other day he said he wanted to ride his bike to see the boats, a trip he and his dad usually take. Mind you, the boats are pretty far away, crossing a busy road and of course, on the water which is a constant fear of mine. I told him no, maybe dad would take him over the weekend. He got irritated and said he was bored just riding to Centennial Farm. Crap. It took a year for him to complain about just riding up and down the street, but only a couple of weeks to want to spread his wings even further.

I see kids on bikes his age all over The Island where we live- alone. Riding up to get candy and Slushies at the drug store. Riding to the local pool, just out riding. If only we had more bike paths- then maybe. But we don't and  he's just not ready. Not yet. He is so easily distracted and  has a hard time remembering  bikers rules. It's going to take a lot more family bike rides and teaching to get him ready for that kind of independence.

Some day Little Man....some day soon!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Devolution of Traditional Family Time

I came across this picture today whilst cruising the interwebs....

My first reactions was to laugh- then I thought-"Awwww, how sad" And finally I found that I could COMPLETELY RELATE!   I have had a full text conversation with Teenzilla while she was up in her room and I was in the living room. Watching TV. And don't even get me started on Facebook, email, online games, Ebay...you get the point. 

I guess I should have felt terrible and immediately cancelled my cable, cell phones and internet and sat down to sing Kumbayah with my kids, but obviously that didn't happen. This my friends- really is the evolution or rather DEVOLUTION of "family time", everyone in the same room, but otherwise engaged in some sort of electronic stimulus. Attention fractured, not really able to focus on any one thing, or hyper focused to the exclusion of everything else.  

I have made the rationalizations- we are all TOGETHER more or less, yeah, I am playing on my iPhone, Teenzilla is on her computer, and dad is either so immersed in whatever is on TV or also playing on his phone and The Boy is usually sitting next to one one of us watching what we are doing or also watching TV. But we are still chatting, sharing whatever we might be doing with each other, and for all intents and purposes- spending time as a FAMILY...right?? 

Let me list the ways we DO spend true time as a family together:

  1. Family meal times- 5-6 days of the week- dinner in our house is at the kitchen table- NO ELECTRONICS ALLOWED!
  2. Family Game Night- NOT Wii game night, a real board or card game 
  3. Family Nerf Gun Battles- a favorite for sure
  4. Swimming in the summer, sledding or other snow fun in the winter
  5. Football in the fall
  6. Family trips to the apple orchards and pumpkin picking in the fall
  7. Nature walks
  8. Bike rides
So we DO a lot of things that do not revolve around a screen of some sort. But I guess on an every day basis- the TV, phones, computers and iPad dominate our lives. But isn't that the way with a huge percentage of the populace? I mean- we do live in a digital world. Our whole world can be broken down into zero's and ones, formulated into HTML and fed back to us on a screen of some kind.  Yes- there really is no substitute for outdoor fun, face to face conversations, books made out of paper and held in your hands with PAGES you can turn,but sadly, these things are starting to disappear.

So yeah- it is pretty damn sad when you think about it. But changing it isn't going to happen. I guess we all just need to make sure we are still making time for these "old fashioned" family fun things, and making sure our kids can connect with other LIVE people and not just images on a screen.