Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Think They Missed Me.

The kids are happy I'm home. Max woke me up by climbing into bed with us this morning, giving me a big hug, pressing his cheek against mine. He sat between us beaming, as if to say "yay, my peeps are all here!". When I got Cam up this morning, she greeted me with a HUGE smile and said "MOMMY!" as she put her hands up in the air (her signal that she would like to be picked up). It's good to know that they were okay without me, because going away was really good for me. But it's nice that they missed me too.

Max and I went to Ikea and West Elm this afternoon. He's a good little shopper:When we got back, Cam showed off her mad swinging skillz - apparently while I was gone she learned how to fly:Scott and I had a nice relaxing dinner after the munchkins went to bed. I feel much more like myself. I think this solo road trip thing is something I should do again some time.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Road Trip: Day Five (Home With My Crew).

All good things must come to and end...that's a saying, right? This little road trip was just what I needed (and as it turns out, just what the doctor ordered). But it was time to come home, my crew missed me and I missed them. We celebrated my return with burgers and corn at Nana & Bumpa's. That's how we do: Cam thought her dad was being a little stingy with the butter: Looks like she approves:We got home and I found out that the A/C is flat busted. Ugh. Of course it is. Max decided that he was going to hang out with me while I watched the basketball game instead of going to bed. I figure that's okay:I opened up the bottle of wine I bought at Target. It was on sale, and it has a creative label. Tastes pretty good too, for a sauvignon blanc. It's good to be home.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Road Trip: Day Three & Four (I'm Thinking of a Person).

I've spent the last 2 days bumming around, driving, thinking,'s been good. Oh yeah, and sleeping. Consistently. It's a wonder what that will do for a person. I swear being horizontal is one of my favourite hobbies. That, and embracing the fact that I have the sense of humour of a 12-year-old boy:Driving right before a holiday weekend is interesting. Folks seem like they have left their brains at home, the police are out in full force, and the roads are flooded with RV' I opted to hug the slow lane and take it all in:The only thing better than this is the pussy wagon: I love how each state announces itself on the interstate. I think we should do the same in Canada. It would be so much more fun than those boring brown and white signs:
The only part about this trip that kind of sucked was that I had nobody to make jokes with while I was driving. I ended up taking pictures and tweeting them to Scott instead. Normally we'd both start yelling out a string of fast food items when we drive under an overpass like this (inside joke), but since it was just me, all I did was smirk and think that if Scott was here, we'd be shouting "big mac! large fries, chocolate shake! cooooooooooooooooooke!!"):
I knew it was officially time to start heading home when I went to Target (for the second time) and I spent all my time looking at stuff for the kids and Scott. I even thought the little kids screaming with boredom while their moms shopped were endearing. Yeah...:
When I hit Kalamazoo, I ordered a pizza from Erbelli's (highly recommended by the guy at the hotel check-in). I also made myself a wine spritzer in my "Keep Calm & Carry On" mug that Jennifer got me for my birthday. Hey, I'm all class:
The perfect end to this day was Orlando losing to Boston in the Eastern conference final. So long Vince Carter! Looks good on ya! I'm looking forward to an NBA final of competitive basketball! Go Boston! Tomorrow - home! I miss my family. That's a good thing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Road Trip: Day Two (Is That You In There?).

I left Chelsea at the crack of 10, and pointed my car towards Chicago. It was a fairly easy drive, except for my full bladder and the unexpected traffic right at the end. Oof! If I was a guy, I would have totally peed in my vitamin water bottle. Thankfully for the folks stalled in traffic next to me, I'm not and I didn't. Once I located my desired target - Quiltology - I suddenly realized that I was really hungry, and still needed to go to the washroom. Lucky for me, Edwardo's Natural Pizza Restaurant was close by, and being in Chicago, there is a certain expectation that one is going to have pizza, right? I asked my friendly waiter Mike what was so famous about their pizza, and he informed me that it was the stuffed crust. Turns out, you can get it stuffed with cheese, spinach or sausage, but Mike's favourite was spinach, topped with sausage and mushroom. Done and done. And a beer please and thank you. Hey, it was hot out and I was thirsty! Mike and I shot the shit about health care, the pros and cons of the Canadian system, and then my pizza came. And it was magnificent. I ate all of it.
Once I was done stuffing my face, I headed down the street to Quiltology, a quilting shop I have been wanting to visit for ages (actually, for about 5 days - that's when I started researching my trip). All I can really say is it is a good thing that I don't live in Chicago, because I would have to harass the owners night and day until they hired me to work there. The fabrics are stunning, prices are great, and the kits...the kits make me want to hole up with my sewing machine and piece until my sewing machine bites the dust. Susan, who works at Quiltology, helped me pick out fabric for the 3 baby boy quilts I have on my roster. She has a great eye for colour and was enthusiastic about my requests for fun and bright fabrics. I don't think she wanted me to take her picture, but she relented (reluctantly).
Look at the front window! Don't you just want to get a cup of tea and a good magazine and sit and people watch all day? Me too...
While Susan cut my fabric for me I wandered around and lusted after all of the patterns, books, kits and quilts on display. I behaved myself though, reminding myself that if I bought too much fabric I wouldn't have an excuse to come back for a long time. That's no good - Jennifer and my mom definitely need me to personally introduce them to this shop!
I didn't get a very clear picture of this pink and red lion they had on display, but it vibrates when you squeeze its paw and it is super soft. Unfortunately it wasn't for sale. Not even when I told her how much Max would like it. Ah well.
Once I was done at Quiltology, I hopped back into my car for what I thought would be an easy drive to the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago. Turns out that all those bridges and tall skyscrapers are not so GPS friendly. As in, my tomtom was telling me to drive the wrong way on one way streets and had me driving in circles. I had to kick it old school and pull over and get directions. Yay communicating with real human beings (#technology #fail)! Thank gawd I didn't have screaming kids in the car! I finally checked in, had a bath, and then headed out to Trader Joe's. Getting my America on full throttle!!
Upon my return to my room, stocked up with my favourite lavendar hand wash, I flipped the tv on and low and behold, the movie Sex In the City was on! Except it's the 4:3 version forced into widescreen mode, so all those skinny bitches look like they have fat arms. Hah! Love it. Time for another bath, and then sleep.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Road Trip: Day One (of Finding My Way Back to Me).

Depending on how often you read my blog, or how well you know me, you may have figured out how down I've been lately. I started to really worry when I came to the realization that overall, things are getting better, but I'm feeling worse. I went to the doctor to see if he could help me out, figuring maybe my vitamin B was low, or he could prescribe something to help me get some sleep. I pulled myself together, did my hair, makeup, made myself look good, or so I thought...he listened to what I had to say, and told me I looked exhausted. That I was suffering from complete burn out. That I was treating Max's Autism like it was a sprint, not a marathon, and that I had been doing that for two years, ever since we suspected something was up with Max. He also said that while I thought I was being selfless by trying to take responsibility for directing all of Max's therapy myself, I was being incredibly selfish and making a tactical error. I hadn't thought of it that way, but he is right. If I crack, and let myself get to the point of a breakdown, that doesn't help anyone, especially not my family.

So, Scott and I had a heart-to-heart, he took a week off work to watch the kids, and I hit the road, hoping to rest and get some time to remember what makes me happy, external to my family. I did some research on quilting stores, loosely mapped out a plan (give or take where the wind blows me) and pointed my car south.

First stop: a small quilting store in Jackson, Michigan named Regalitos Quilting. They are currently getting a new site up. The owner Cindie specializes in long arm quilting and she even demonstrated how it works for me! She is a total sweetheart, and it was nice to talk with an experienced quilter (my people!).
I spotted this beautiful Christmas tree skirt laid out on the table, and commented on how much I liked it. It turns out Cindie had a kit made up, so you guessed it, I couldn't leave it there. And yes, I know that it is May and Christmas is 7 months away. But maybe that's a good sign...I used to love Christmas, and the past few years, I haven't been into it at all.This beautiful quilt on display (which Cindie made) is on sale for $600. Just so you know, that barely covers the cost of the fabric! This is why you quilt for love and not money.After visiting with Cindie, I stumbled upon a Mexican restaurant named Los Tres Amigos (careful - the site has music). The waitress twisted my arm and made me order a margarita. She even ID'd me (bless her heart). I ordered the burrito/enchilada combo, read the latest Vanity Fair magazine, all the while being serenaded by JLo in Spanish. Awesome.I closed the day out by going to Target (they sell wine there!!), then checked into the hotel. When I turned the tv on, an episode of The Gilmore Girls was playing (so perfect). Bath, pjs, 24 finale, quilting, Glee, Parenthood, and of course blogging. Tomorrow? Chicago!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mental Health Monday: For the Things You Can't Fix.

I am a big fan of controlling things. Or, the perception that I can control things. The problem with this, as you probably know, is that you can't really control the most important things in your life. I can't cure Max's Autism. I can't make people do what I want them to do (despite best efforts!). When I'm feeling out of whack, like my world is just a little more off kilter than I can handle, I look for something in my home I can "fix".

There have been Friday nights spent under assorted sinks in my home when I decided "enough is enough! all of these faucets must be replaced NOW!". There have been weekends of installing countless ceiling fans and light fixtures. I have taken vacation days to paint my house. And the modern electrical outlets and timed light switches I put in? You got it - my idea of a good time.

My target this time? The 20 year old toilet in the bathroom off our bedroom and the nasty linoleum:This toilet has been making an ominous leaking sound for months, and the hard water we have in the area has corroded the bowl to the point that there are rust coloured stains on it (very pleasing to the eye and great for guests who just think you are disgusting and never clean your toilet):Cam and I went toilet shopping and picked up some of those linoleum tiles with the sticky backs. I would have loved to do ceramic tile, but I have no idea how and wasn't about to delve into that right now. Out came the toilet and up came the linoleum. Except the linoleum was glued down "very" well, so that took some time to pull up (to quote the great Zaza Pachulia, "Nothing Easy!"):
Once I got the linoleum up, the new floor went down really easily. It looks so much better, and has me thinking I should put in new quarter round on the floor boards and repaint the entire bathroom (a happy colour...yellow maybe?):Now that I've replaced this toilet, all four of the toilets in our house are up-to-date. Funny how the fourth one was super easy to install (took about 15 minutes total). Back in the day, the first one took about 90 minutes! :
I'm heading out on a road trip tomorrow, by myself. I need a few days to rest, clear my head, and wander where the wind blows me. I'll probably blog about it...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Letting Max Grow Up.

Max has always had the spirit of a wandering gypsy. He has always been a bit of a Houdini. Add to that the fearlessness of any young child, and his super human Viking strength (from MY side of the gene swamp, thank you), and you have a kid who wants to go places (preferably on his own).

I let him run ahead as we walk to the park. He likes to look back every once and a while to see if I'll give chase. He is free to roam the backyard by himself (with me observing from the kitchen window). He is even at the point where he can be on a different floor than me for a few minutes at a time and I won't freak out. I guess that's what being 4 years old is all about - a taste of that independence he has been longing for all his life (49 months...I suppose that's a long time if it's all you know).

He has scared the shit out of me at times, making it half way down the street in only a t-shirt and a diaper before we caught up to him. He was thrilled, my heart didn't stop racing for a week. And like any child, with Autism or not, he is too damn smart for his own good. He has mastered how to unlock both the front and back doors of our home. Because of this we have to keep the safety latch on the front door at all times and I have installed an extra lock at the top of the back sliding doors out of reach from his surprisingly nimble fingers.

On Sunday night I awoke to the sound of Max downstairs. It was 2am. Everyone in the house was asleep. I padded down the stairs and looked into the family room to see Max sitting on the couch with a cup of milk. He finished it, extended his arm to hand me his cup and said "more milk". Since he had a cold, being thirsty made sense. I just hadn't realized that he was already at the stage that he could figure out that he could go downstairs all on his own, open the fridge, get his milk and drink it, without my help. Huh.

So what to do with my Max? I haven't slept soundly since this 2am discovery of him partying by his lonesome in the pitch dark. Off to Max and my favourite stomping ground we went today, coming home with a $12 GE motion detector for his bedroom door. It has a chime sound, an alarm sound, or it can be turned off. I also got one for his window (to keep the girls out). Hey, the kid's growing up, you just never can tell what he'll be up to next.

This picture was taken the summer Max was 2, already exploring the world on his own.

Please consider supporting Team Maxwell in the Autism Speaks Toronto Walk For Autism. It would mean the world to us.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunny Smiley Sunday.

Saturday was chilly and overcast, so we stayed inside for the most part. But, I did shoot some video for those of you who are super interested in my 2-year-old, Cameron's, antics...

We're working on the concept of sharing. It's coming along (slowly):

No wonder it takes so long to get out the door with this girl (the drama, the antics, sheesh!):

Today we woke up to the sun shining brightly and clear blue skies. Max was up first (as usual) and the two of us made a triple batch of pancakes. Cam slept in and she had to be satisfied with microwaved pancakes, which she thought was a bit of cop out:Later in the morning, Scott's parents came over to help redo the front garden. And by "help" I mean they did all of it. They pulled out every half-dead, ugly, overgrown plant and weed from the front bed. They put down fresh soil. They planted new plants, arranged the rocks, and put down mulch. I wish I had taken a before picture, because you would NOT believe how bad it was.

Cam cheered Nana and Bumpa on by yelling "HI NANA!! HI BUMPA" out the window repeatedly. Max observed, making sure they got it right: The end result is terrific. I have no clue what any of these plants are, except for the hostas up front. Dave and Lorraine tell me they are going to fill it in a bit more with another hosta and some daisies. Then all I have to do is water it and weed it. They promise me that it won't get all wild and crazy like its predecessor.We've had this little Robbin hanging out in the front yard for the past week. Max and I named him "Juan Carlos" in dedication to the state of Arizona. Juan Carlos approves of the new garden, and appreciated all the tasty worms and grubs that were dug up in the process.Cam dined on her hot dog and apple lunch in the backyard on her new tot sized picnic table (a gift from our neighbour Kelly). Funny story, Kelly looks like Wonder Woman, flowing dark hair and all, so I keep slipping up and calling her Lynda. Very embarrassing, especially when I encourage the kids to greet her with "Max, say hi to Lynda". Dear lord I need more sleep:Max has figured out how to turn this kiddo swing set into his own jungle gym. He can climb all the way around the circumference of the house, and is working on how to get himself across the red bar, which, you know, is fantastic. Ugh.Cam has figured out that not only is the picnic table good to eat on, but it is also a pretty good place to catch some sun. I love how unimpressed she looks in this picture.Nana and Bumpa stayed for a "thank you thank you THANK YOU dinner" and helped put the very tired kids to bed (gotta love the fresh air and sunshine!). Because of this, Cameron got treated to some extra stories tonight as Nana took the first shift and I took the second shift. Not to worry, she still complained bitterly when I told her it was time for sleep: A good day for sure. It's hard to be bummed out when the sun is shining down on you and you are surrounded by people who love you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

10 Reasons Every Woman Should Wear Crotchless Panties.

Somewhere between my first and second dose of cough syrup with codeine this afternoon, it came to me. Every woman should wear crotchless panties. Perhaps not all the time mind you. But for sure there should be at least one pair in every lady's lingerie drawer. It wasn't a fleeting thought either, I'll have you know. Even in my foggy state, I came up with what I consider to be ten solid reasons.

10 Reasons Every Woman Should Wear Crotchless Panties:

1. We're all looking to add a little spice in the boudoir. Trust me, crotchless panties = plenty o' spice.

2. You will never hear "that's nice, take it off" (no need, really...)

3. I dare you to not get turned on while wearing crotchless panties. Seriously.

4. They will absolutely lead to steamy, hot, mind blowing sex. Who doesn't need a little of that?

5. Your lady town will get a lot of fresh air. A good thing, no?

6. From a functionality perspective, this attire offers a lot of options (namely flexibility regarding geographical location of the getting down...Starbucks washroom anyone?).

7. There are crotchless panties for every shape and size (even us curvy ladies).

8. Even spanx come crotchless (though, I personally believe this is meant 100% for going to the washroom as it is really hard to get in and out of this body shaping garment).

9. Men have been rocking easy access openings for years, why shouldn't we?

10. You can order them online and be discrete about your purchase. No need to go into one of those "adult" type shops if you're worried about bumping into someone you know.

Can you think of any other reasons? I'm sure there are tonnes...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Good Fight.

Today will not go down in the history books as one of my best. It was frustrating, brought me to tears, made me feel useless, and knocked me on my ass. I felt like the public system let me down (which shouldn't surprise me at this point), and the private system disappointed me as well. Add to that I found out that Max's longest standing therapist is moving off his team (good for her, but crappy for us), and well, fuck it.

By 2pm I was ready to climb back into bed and call it a day. I called a friend to announce that I had nothing left to give today, and that I didn't think I could muster up the strength to go to the JK Open House tonight at the school Max is supposed to, but as it turns out will probably not go to this Fall. This friend wisely commented that I would "do what's right", whatever I decided that was. So of course I went, because if Max does end up at this school, it's important that I go to these things, even if I'm feeling a bit bruised from today.

I wonder sometimes, how do other moms do this? How do they find the stamina to keep standing up for their children with special needs? How is it that they don't get beat down by the constant stream of people who tell you out one side of their mouth that they care and are here to help while out the other side they inform you that what you are asking has never been done before and they are unable to accommodate your child's needs, and this is somehow out of their hands and no they don't know who could help you change this? I consider myself to be a fairly strong, well-equipped person, and I can honestly say I am struggling to do my job in this fight.

And what is my job? My job, as I see it, is to get everyone who interacts with Max to believe in him as much as I do. To see his incredible potential and inspire them to be a part in helping him fulfill it. He will do great things in his life. He will be the person who figures out how to stop the oil from leaking into the Gulf, the person who designs Opera Houses with acoustics that would make Wagner weep, the person who designs a test to detect Autism in utero. He can be anything, all he needs is for people to get on board instead of standing in his way. For people with power to help find creative solutions instead of throwing up roadblocks. It's exhausting trying to get people to believe, to do "what's right".

Support Max, and support me by sponsoring us for the Walk For Autism on June 20th.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mental Health Monday: Mother's Day Reloaded.

Mother's Day began early for me (5:30am to be exact), with Max climbing on top of me in bed and announcing "all done sleep - pancakes". In 4 short words, he summed up what it is to be a mom. No card could express it better. And so I did what any mom would do, Mother's Day or not, and I got up. We made pancakes. At 5:30am. He was super happy about it (from what I recall in my bleary eyed/pre-coffee state. Honestly, I look forward to the day when someone brings me pancakes in bed, but for now, I'll take hearing Max's first 4 word sentence and be happy with that.

I felt a little blah about the whole day. I wanted something, but couldn't quite put my finger on what it was. Some of my friends got a day off from being a mom for Mother's Day. Some did the family brunch thing. Assorted well-trained husbands bought flowers and coached their kids in picking out a gift for their mom. I opted to go and buy myself bookshelves for my quilting supplies and to take time to install them. I think all I truly wanted was to be told I'm a super awesome mom, the best mom in the whole wide world, and I'm loved more than tall, tall buildings. My kids don't have the vocabulary for that, but I'm pretty sure if they could say that they would have.

Some pics of my best mom moments in no particular order: