It’s been over a week since my last post, but I have some great reasons for my absence:
Computer issues (not fun & still not resolved – I see a trip to the not-so-genius bar in my future.)
Friends visiting from out of town (fun!)
Car issues (not fun & very expensive)
Working on a new project (fun, but time consuming, especially when coupled with computer issues)
Washing machine issues (not fun)
Hosting parties: pool & poker (FUN!)
Being a being a fairly good mother & wife (fun & sometimes challenging :))
Reading & researching special education law (eh, i’ll file this one under “not fun,” but necessary.)
So there you have it – those are my reasons for not posting, (without going into detail and boring you to tears.) I’ll be back soon … as a matter of a fact, I got my box yesterday & it was filled with lots of yummy fruits and veggies, so I’m looking forward to doing some cooking (and posting) this weekend.
Yes, I did, I wrote Bake-It List instead of Bucket List. And in posting this, I am hereby committing to doing this! What is a Bake-It List you ask? Very much like a Bucket List, but instead of things like sky-diving or learning French, my Bake-It List will include things I want to bake, but have been too timid (or lazy) to attempt.
I was talking to The Husband the other day, right around New Years, and telling him that I have been wanting to make cinnamon rolls from scratch for a year now, ever since I received my gorgeous standing Kitchen-Aid Mixer from him last Christmas. “Why haven’t you?” He asked me. Well, the truth is, I’m a little intimidated. The recipes that intrigue me are lengthy & look extraordinarily time consuming. I wanted to make them for Christmas this year, and even got up super early to do so, but then chickened out. I will need to have a couple of test runs to perfect the recipe, (just like when I made toffee for the first time this holiday season. No, it didn’t turn out right either time, but most people didn’t seem to notice or care.)
Truth be told, I am an excellent cook, (if I do say so myself,) but baking is sort of my nemesis. It has always been something that I’ve had to really work at. However, the things I do bake every year for the holidays are awesome, but have taken YEARS to perfect & they are now easy staples to me. A while back, I sat and reflected about why I’m a better cook than a baker … Well, here’s the easy answer, I love improvising & I suck at math. When you cook, you can substitute things, add more of something, subtract an ingredient, eyeball a measurement. But when you bake, oh no, you must be PRECISE! Everything needs to be measured out perfectly and timed.
Cooking relaxes me, (which is why I cook every night,) but baking stresses me out, (well, except for the things I have mastered: pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, lemon cake, rum cake, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal walnut cookies, peanut butter balls, fudge, strawberry cake, cheesecake, apple pie …) But I think back to the first time that I made chocolate cake from scratch. I was eleven & it was my mother’s birthday. I threw out the first two attempts & finally settled on the third try simply because I was running out of time. It was terrible, but she would NEVER have told me that. Even to this day, she maintains it was delicious. I knew it was awful. Even my seven year old chocoholic brother was gagging.
It took me 10 years to belly up to the chopping block & give it another whirl. Again, my poor mother was the subject of my culinary affections. Again, two cakes down the drain, third one had to be the “one” because it was 3am & I was exhausted. I don’t know what my obsession with chocolate cake is, that’s not even her favorite kind of cake! I wrote her a poem as a back-up present in case the cake was awful. Good thing, because “awful’ isn’t even the best description of this epic failure. This cake sucked the moisture right out of your mouth! I apparently used way too much cocoa & not the right kind of flour! It easily weighed 5 pounds! My mom (again) praised my efforts, but told me later that I shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble for her, that using a box cake is just as good as homemade and so much easier. That was her polite way of saying, “please, daughter, never do this again.”
My step-dad and my brother will never let me forget that cake. Never. Every time I bring over a homemade baked good, I’m met with, “is there cocoa in here?” I have to laugh. It’s a funny family joke. But guess what? Joke’s on them, her birthday is later this month & I am D E T E R M I N E D to bake her the perfect chocolate cake … from scratch. Ok, maybe not chocolate. I think we have worn out our welcome with the cocoa, but there are other cakes & cupcakes I want to make from scratch.
So here’s my Bake-It List for 2013 (I’ll add to it as I think of more things I want to bake:)
Cupcakes from scratch, like a lot of them (Valentine’s cupcakes to start with, Mint Chocolate Chip cupcakes for St. Patty’s day, Surprise Cupcakes with the cream cheese middle & many more . No link, I have a 360 page book called 500 Cupcakes that should keep me busy.)
Coming to terms with being the mom of an Aspie has been a journey. Of course, I went through the gamut of emotions since we got the diagnosis 8 months ago: denial, anger, sadness, frustration, hope, acceptance. True acceptance was a long time coming. I accepted it earlier on, because I had no choice, but secretly in the back of my mind hoped that they were wrong, that he would outgrow it, (and he still can outgrow some – if not all – of the behaviors.) And because I had hoped he would outgrow it, I haven’t told more than a handful of close friends & family (not even all of our family knows,) about The Boy’s diagnosis. Not because I’m ashamed, but rather because a) I’m not sure that it’s my place to say anything, it’s HIS life, HIS diagnosis – he can tell whomever he wants to when he is old enough; and b) because I’m not sure I want to delve into a lengthy discussion about what Aspergers is, or how they came to that conclusion; and c) I really don’t want to hear more people tell me “no, there’s no way he’s on the spectrum, everything you are telling me sounds like normal 3-year-old behavior. He seems fine & normal to me.” YES! He is FINE & he is “normal.” Whatever normal is … Personally, normal seems pretty boring. And I’m not interested in defending his diagnosis, or explaining to people what it is & why.
But I finally told our regular babysitter, (complete with printouts, lol,) because I thought, as his caregiver, she had a right to know, (even though she only babysits like once a month or once every other month.) And I have been more open with telling strangers when it is in the best interest of The Boy. For example, when we were at the shoe store the other day & there was only one clerk in the store. She was busy helping another family & told us 3 times in 5 minutes that she would “be right with us.” The Boy has trouble with waiting & wasn’t even remotely interested in shoe shopping, (he was yelling “nooooo”) so I had to be swift with my approach. Getting him interested in Spiderman shoes did the trick, now getting him to take off his shoes was another feat, but I did it. Five minutes goes by & she starts in with another “i’ll be right with you.” That’s when I abruptly interrupt her & politely inform both the clerk & the family that The Boy has Aspergers & gets antsy quickly, and if she can just measure his foot so we know what size he is, then she can continue helping the family out while my mom & I try and keep The Boy entertained, (we let him try on cookie monster clogs.) I’m his advocate, I’m his mother, so I know what he needs & I am not afraid to ask for it – nay, demand it – if need be.
When The Boy was a baby, The Husband would sing Billy Joel’s song “Just The Way You Are” when he was changing his diaper – specifically, he would sing, “don’t go changing …” The Husband was being cute, but 3 years later, thinking about those innocent moments & reciting the lyrics brings tears to my eyes. I never want The Boy to change. I don’t hate Aspergers, I don’t hate that he has it … I love him, and I love that he has Aspergers because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be who he is; he wouldn’t be The Boy that I love so much. I love the way his mind works, even though I may not always understand how his mind works, I love the way it works. And I love trying to understand him & figure him out. So please don’t ever think for a minute, dear reader, that I feel sorry for him or sad about his diagnosis. My Boy is going to do great things in this world. Just you watch.
The only thing that makes me a little worried is the way other children regard him. Kids are mean. I’ve already witnessed kids shunning him when he gets too close to their faces and speaks in jibberish or goes off on a non-sequitor. I wish more parents would teach their children about acceptance. I wish more parents would educate their kids about being kind to other people even if they are different, look different, speak different, act different, play different. DIfferent isn’t bad or evil. Different is awesome. Different is what makes our world beautiful. Different is what creates new inventions, amazing books, gorgeous works of art, new trends, new ways of thinking. Different is OK.
And just because I love them, here are the lyrics to “Just The Way You Are” by Billy Joel:
Don’t go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are
Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care
I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are.
I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you.
I said I love you and that’s forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are.
Last night, we said goodbye to 2012 & I made sure we had fun doing so! As you know, our family loves any and all holidays & we also love to party, so last night was no exception. Even though it was just the 3 of us, I made it a little extra special by adding a few touches. A couple of months back had to buy a mini helium tank for The Boy’s birthday, and we had leftover balloons and helium, so balloons: check! Hats: check! Noisemakers & party blowers: check! Glow necklaces: check! A special dinner, (filet au poivre for me & The Husband w/ Pioneer Woman’s Burgundy Mushrooms, and Mac & Cheese for The Boy, followed by Lemon Cake for dessert. Then a little dance party, movie, popcorn & a 9pm toast and countdown – yes, we had to celebrate the East Coast New Year because we’re old … and I didn’t get a good night’s sleep the night prior.)
It was a pretty good year for us: We bought a house, The Husband had a busy & successful work year, The Boy started his new school & is on a path to overcoming some behavioral issues, and I, the Fairly Good Mother, started this blog! Of course, there were challenges as well: being told that The Boy has Aspergers, a minor surgery for me & little let downs that are just part of life.
I am a big believer in letting your imagination soar & take you anywhere you want, so therefore, I have some big plans for 2013. I don’t really believe in “resolutions,” to me it’s just another way to be disappointed in yourself when you ultimately backslide, (because, let’s face it – going from being nestled in a winter cocoon for the past several weeks to becoming a marathon runner in a month is setting yourself up for failure.) I’m not saying not to try & better yourself, or make improvements to your life, but the language of “I resolve not to do x, y & z” is inherently negative. Rather, I think having “goals” and saying something like, “This year, I’d like to try and accomplish x, y & z” has more positive energy.
And I don’t know about you, but I feel like we can all use a LOT more positive energy around here! 2012 seemed so “doom and gloom,” to me, what with the end-of-the-world Mayan calendar predictions, the economy still in a downward spiral, and so many natural,(and manmade) disasters peppering our existence. I’m ready for some good times, some smiles, some laughter, some hope & some more dancing. I feel like 2013 has so much potential & truly, the best is yet to come. So dream big & create your own reality … and always aim for growing into a better, more patient, kinder & accepting person. Because that’s what the world needs. Happy 2013!
I have always loved Christmas. When I was a little girl, it was my most favorite holiday. Rudolph was my favorite Christmas character because he was Santa’s loyal companion & Santa could not have delivered all those presents without Rudolph leading the charge. I loved him so much, that when I was four years old, I insisted that everyone call me “Rudolph,” and wouldn’t acknowledge anyone unless they did so.
I was the child whose eyes lit up at the sound of jingle bells, who never questioned why there was a “Santa” at every mall or parade, the little girl who never thought twice about why Santa’s handwriting looked identical to my mother’s. I wanted to believe in everything & I did. And my parents made Christmas, (and every holiday,) fun and festive. We cut down our own Christmas tree in the mountains of Northern California, my mother and I baked cookies and candies for friends, we left a plate of cookies & some milk for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolph. It was magical.
Around the age of 9 or so, kids started spreading horrible rumors about Santa & how he wasn’t “real.” I got into several verbal altercations with bully-boys about the subject of Santa. Finally, when I was 11, my mother sat me down & told me that the rumors were true, Santa wasn’t real, but the magic of Christmas was real … I cried and cried. I didn’t want to stop believing in Santa. I didn’t want to grow up & become that jaded adult who couldn’t see the magic & beauty in our world. I promised myself that even though Santa may not be ONE man who delivers presents via a reindeer-driven sleigh, Santa was alive in my heart & in the hearts of many, and that I would never stop believing.
When I met my husband, he and I enjoyed celebrating the holidays, (even though he is Jewish, but not religious.) Every year, we’d get a fresh tree, exchanged gifts, (some from us, some from Santa,) and we always got the kitties gifts from Santa, too. We put little treats in each others’ stockings & made a special Christmas Eve meal … the magic of Christmas was still alive.
But the fun really started when we had The Boy. Of course the first year, The Boy was oblivious to the goings on, and the second year pretty much the same, although he knew something was up … then the third year, which was last year, he was a little more than 2 years old & started to really get it. Now, at age 3, he reminds me of myself when I was his age – his bright hazel eyes sparkle with wonderment, just in awe of every little bit of magic that surrounds him. He sings Christmas carols, counts down the days until Santa arrives, bakes cookies with me, and loves all of the classic Christmas programs: “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty The Snowman,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Last year we got the Elf On The Shelf. We had fun with it, The Boy named him “Kermin” (probably because he was very much into Kermit the Frog around the same time the Elf arrived!) While he enjoyed Kermin’s visit with us last year, this year it has been even more fun! Every morning, The Boy wakes up and asks where Kermin is, and then runs around the house to find him.
I am a creative mom, (I learned from the best,) but I’m not one of those, over-achieving, elf-obsessed mothers who has the elf bake cookies in the middle of the night, only to leave a big mess for me the next morning. (Considering that The Husband is the one who gets up with The Boy every morning and makes breakfast, I’m pretty certain he wouldn’t appreciate a huge mess like that.) And it’s supposed to be fun, not a chore. I read a list of elf ideas, and one of them was: “Elf makes a Rudolph nose — Use red lipstick or a red sharpie to color on the kids’ noses & leave a note near their bed that reads: go look in the mirror.” First of all, The Boy would most likely wake up if I were to try and rub his nose with lipstick or marker. Second of all, the lipstick would leave an awful mess on the sheets & if you used a sharpie, hell, you’d never get that off! Has anyone really ever done that?!?
Most of the time, we just move him from place to place … occasionally, he will be involved in some silly elf hijinks like a snowball fight with other stuffed animals or figurines, or writing messages on the bathroom mirror. The Boy particularly enjoyed when Kermin forgot to flush the toilet & he discovered that elves pee green! (*I know in the picture above it looks blue, but it was actually green!)
The magic of Christmas is alive and well in this house & it is absolutely the most wonderful time of the year! Merry Christmas!!
I’m prepping Thanksgiving side dishes & feeling nostalgic, so I’m going to take this opportunity to dump all of this emotion on to the page.
Thanksgiving has meant a lot of things to me over the years … First I loved the holiday. As a child, when we gathered at my aunt & uncle’s house with all of our relatives, Thanksgiving made me feel a part of something bigger; I felt a sense of family, (which was especially important as a child of divorce.) I remember silly things like how my aunt tried to get us to eat sweet potatoes by putting marshmallows on top. (Note: I still loathe sweet potatoes!) I never even actually liked much of the food – I only really loved all the memories we made with our cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Then, people started dying. And Thanksgiving only meant missing those who weren’t there … first my grandfather, then my grandmother, (who was second in line as my best friend, only missing the top spot because my mother held that place.) A great aunt, a second cousin … the herd was thinning out.
And then my father died. He died the Monday before Thanksgiving 16 years ago. There was a time where I couldn’t type that without sobbing. Now I only have little misty tears in my eyes to blur these letters. Time really does heal wounds. Our relationship was … complicated. And that is another post for another day, but as I’ve explained to so many people in my life, it really doesn’t matter what the relationship was – he was my father. At one time, he was my hero. A lot happened between being my hero & being dead. A lot that I never need to tell anyone. And I probably won’t. But for a long time, I dreaded Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving was sad. And I felt alone, even though I was surrounded by other family or very close friends. For a long time Thanksgiving was just a reminder that many of the people that I once loved to share the holiday with were no longer here. So I tried to do things like jet off to Vegas with a boyfriend & forget that it was some meaningful family holiday, or drink myself into oblivion with my best friend. That only made me feel empty inside. It never made the sorrow disappear.
And then I had my own family. What a world of difference that has made for me these past three years. I say three years, even though The Husband & I have been married for longer than that … We had Thanksgivings, but it wasn’t a true “family” Thanksgiving until The Boy arrived. And while the past 2 Thanksgivings have been special, this one is probably my new favorite.
Truth be told, I pretty much forgot that my father died 16 years ago yesterday, simply because my son – the light of my life – didn’t let me for one, single second, forget that I was present and in the moment … in his moment. We didn’t do anything particularly special. We ran errands, we laughed, we played … we lived. We lived our normal, usual lives … full of potty breaks, making sandwiches, putting smiley faces on his new chore chart, and reading the same books we always do.
So now Thanksgiving means something better again. Something happier. My son, The Boy, 3 years and then some, fully understands the meaning of Thanksgiving this year. He has watched The Peanuts “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” 90 times in the past 3 weeks, and knows who Captain Myles Standish is & who Samoset, (the first Native American Indian that the Pilgrims met,) is as well. He tells me “Mommy, Halloween is all over, now it’s Thanksgiving, and then it will be Christmas.”
Making new memories is a lot better than remembering old ones … and, although I won’t ever forget them, I just cannot let them weigh my heart down. The Boy needs me to be present. The Husband needs me to be present. I need me to be present. So, I will raise a glass to honor the dead, to give my thanks for the memories we’ve had … and for the memories we’ve yet to make.