On-Again, Off-Again Dad

The ex has called a couple of times over the past month or so, after a couple of months of not calling. He said, “I get him for Christmas this year, right?” Ummm, ok. So after making use of your liberal visitation schedule for two weeks out of the last 104, you want to stake your claim? Sure. Yes, you actually are supposed to have him starting on Christmas Eve, as it is an odd year. “I’ll try to get some time off, then,” he said. Sure, I thought.  Like last Christmas.

He called once more, spoke to The Boy only for a little while, and that was the last we heard anything about Christmas.  The Boy’s birthday was Wednesday, and his mom had sent gifts, one from her, and one from his dad. Her card said they were looking forward to seeing him at Christmas.  But the ex didn’t even call his son on his birthday.

What?

My mom told me that recently, she and The Boy were at Walmart and he said he really hoped he’d get to see his dad at Christmas, because he hadn’t seen him since April.  Yes, it hurts him more than he’ll admit to me, and yes, he does keep track.

As The Man says, kids are only young once. He’s going to miss it completely.

Angry for The Boy and pity for the ex. And partly angry for me too, really, because I have my own life and family that will be affected by his inadequacy. But mostly angry for The Boy.

Get Used to Disappointment

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies (the Princess Bride, which I have seen probably a kajillion times).  Not one of my favorite things my son has to go through.

Broken Reflection

Broken Reflection, Valerie Reneé

Because the ex couldn’t manage to see his son for Thanksgiving, I offered (at Grammy’s urging) to give him the week between Christmas and New Years for visitation.  I suggested he or they come down to the beach for a few days, even rent a house real cheap to see The Boy.

I hadn’t heard anything more about it (although Grammy had overheard the phrase “meet you somewhere” in a phone call between The Boy and the ex), so I texted him last night to see what was up.

I expected him to hem and haw a bit more, but he said straight out he couldn’t get any time off, and couldn’t do it.  Sorry.

I expect this every time, and yet every time I cannot fathom why.  I don’t know anyone (besides the ex) who is or would be completely comfortable not seeing his or her own child for eight months or longer, nor speak to him for a month or more at a time.  I cannot understand his excuses, knowing how much I would do to ensure I would see my child.

But he is not me.

The Boy seemed a bit upset and irritated when I broke the news this evening.  “Why?” he asked.

“Because he can’t get time off from work,” I said.

Why can’t he get time off from work?”

I paused.  Good question, kiddo.  “You can ask him,” I suggested.  “Want me to text him and have him call you?”

“I’ll think about it,” he said.

He’s getting as tired of this game as I am.

Being Auntie

Fabulous PITA is one of my best friends on the planet, and I get to work with her everyday.  Needless to say she is pissed I am moving.  Really pissed.  She and I are as close to sisters as we will ever get – we are both only children, and even though she is married, she plays a single mom most days because her hubby is a chef and works nights and weekends.  Her two little ones, Princess, age 6, and Sunshine, age 3 (almost 4), call me “Auntie”, and I love it.

Every kid needs a dollhouseToday, The Boy and I are headed to IKEA with Fabulous PITA, Princess, and Sunshine, but I have something else planned, too.  I have yet to give the little ones their Christmas presents, and I missed Princess’s birthday in January, too (I know, March is almost over, but Fabulous PITA and I are busy people!), so today I will come bearing gifts.

They both get a Calico Critters Townhouse that I bought for The Boy ages ago, because he wanted it, and I didn’t care that it was intended for girls.  He played with it for awhile, but never hard enough to damage it, and it has been in storage, waiting for the girls to be old enough.  I bought Princess a family of squirrels to go with the house for her birthday gift .  I also have a couple of other things to give them…

Baby AnnaPrincess is getting my porcelain tea set that I played with when I was her age (one of them – I collected them!).  And Sunshine will be getting my baby Anna that I adored when I was her age.  See, I still have this stuff, these cherished and beloved treasures from my childhood, and it’s time to let them go, I guess.  Amazingly enough, the ex didn’t throw them out (like he did a $600 money order, my entire work wardrobe, and my button collection from elementary school [including my Michael Jackson button!]), so I think they were meant to find a new loving home.

The Boy also gave up some of his stuffed animals to the cause, which went surprisingly well.

The little ones don’t know yet that we’re moving, and I’m hoping that these little tokens will remind them of us when we’re 900 miles away.  Even though I was an aunt for awhile, there will be nothing that replaces being “Auntie” to these two cuties.  I know I’ll miss all three of them a immensely.

Crafty Gift Review

I know I shared some of the crafty gifts I was giving for Christmas this past year, but I couldn’t share them all because some of my loved ones actually read my blog!  And I realized today that I can share them now (now, that it’s February…)

This is a tote bag I picked up from Hobby Lobby for $3.  I also used sprayable fabric paint, and contact paper for the stencil (which I downloaded from Martha Stewart).  I traced the stencil onto clear contact paper with a sharpie, and then cut it out, and applied it to the front of the bag. I was able to use the stencil twice (I made two bags), although I did have a few small tears that I had to pay special attention to with the second bag.  Once the stencil was applied, I used the spray-paint, also found at Hobby Lobby, and let it sit.  When dry, I peeled back the stencil, leaving this:

cherry branch tote bag

I also made some large prints like these, but made it much easier on myself by using large poster frames (which were 70% off at Michael’s) rather than trying to use spray adhesive or mod podge to attach them to MDF or foam core board.  Then when they inevitably fade, I can replace them with new ones.  The three prints altogether cost me about $3 at Staples.  I think the three frames together came to about $20 at Michael’s:

large engineering prints

Finally, in the picture above, you can also see my little silhouette project, which was way easier than it looked and brought tears to my mom’s eyes.  I used this tutorial (although getting The Boy to be still enough to get a sideways shot of his head was easier said than done – I managed to get one while he was asleep), and here is a larger shot of the outcome:

silhouette

We had a fine, crafty Christmas, and my pocketbook is thanking me for it!

Snow Day – The Boy = Toy Purge!

Today was a snow day for me, and not for The Boy. (Picture me grinning and laughing maniacally, and rubbing my hands together with glee.)  Time to tackle The Boy’s room.

The Boy is a collector, and as I’ve said before, like lots of kids with autism, just won’t give anything up.  Not for the poor kids with no toys, not for money, not for anything!  “Mine, mine, all mine!” he must be chanting in his brain.  But like the old lesson with the petri dish from school, if everything continues to grow, you run out of space.

Enter Christmas and a December birthday.  And two sets of parents (and grandparents).  Toy explosion.  And then he dumped those damned fusion beads everywhere.. TWICE!!  I was ready to tear my hair out, and his worst fear (and my biggest fantasy) was that I would come in and vacuum them all up.  (Do not, whatever you do, allow those beastly little things in your house.  They will find their way to every nook and cranny and will defy you when you attempt to pick them up.  They also hurt when you step on them in bare feet.  They are the bane of my existence.)

I got the call this morning, and The Boy did not, so I packed him off to school, and came back to hop into bed and dream about tackling his room.  That lasted less than an hour – I was so excited to get crackin’!

My strategy is to hide out-of-favor toys for a period in the basement.  This ensures that the one thing I think he will never ever remember that has now gone underground can be found again when he says, “Hey!  Where did that green squishy worm thing go?”  If nothing gets asked for after a certain period, it all gets donated or freecycled.  There is a closet-full now.  Some are destined for the center program for severe special needs in our district.  Others will be put in a box randomly for “porch pick-up” by families who are willing to take a “grab bag”.  Some of these things are brand new, still in the wrappers, too, but I don’t care.

Finally, the boy is getting old enough where he likes videos and clothes and money as gifts, and not the toys.  It’s just the will to hang on that prevents us from getting to where we need to be.  Most of the time, I am honest and upfront with The Boy because I want to model behavior I’d like to see in him.  But when you are dealing with a hoarder/toy addict, sometimes you have to take drastic measures.

I left some for him to sort through and put away later tonight.

But you better believe I hoisted that vacuum in there with a certain amount of satisfaction, and sucked a bunch of those babies up – looked like the old fisher price corn popper.  It’s almost as fun as putting piles of paper through a shredder.

fp corn popper

Missing

The Boy is at his dad’s and has been for about a week.  He sounds happy and relatively tired when I talk to him on the phone each night.  While I miss him a bit, I am still savoring the respite: besides a few days this summer (Thank you, Fantastic Babysitter!) and a few days in June (Thank you, Grammy & Poppy!), this is the first extended break I’ve had since February.  In fact, by the end of this next week, it will be the longest time I can remember being separated from The Boy, ever.  For the same reason that I don’t feel guilty for being a working mom, and for the same reason I don’t feel guilty when I have the rare opportunity to go out with friends or The Man, I don’t feel guilty about enjoying this time right now.

This makes me a better mom.

respite

Without this time away, the threshhold for frustration gets dangerously low, and a whole range of negative emotions starts brewing.

The Man and I do feel like something (someone, more like) is missing at times, and we get bored a little more easily.  Ask me in three days, and I will definitely be missing The Boy fiercely.  But for right now, it feels good to not really have to worry about meds, schedules, and sharp crayons.  And The Boy is actually spending time with his dad.  It’s a win-win.

The Previously Preempted Christmas Post

The Man’s proposal certainly surprised me, and preempted my Christmas post.  Not that I mind…  So here’s the post that was originally supposed to air.

The Man isn’t big on Christmas, which has caused some friction in the almost-three years we’ve been dating.  I love Christmas!  Not in a must-decorate-the-house-witihin-an-inch-of-its-life kind of way, but an I-really-dig-finding-just-the-right-thing-for-everyone-on-my-list kind of way.  You probably already know this about me, but I digress.

The Man, however, has a lot of anxiety about gift-giving, as well as other issues with Christmas in general, and can sometimes get downright depressed about it.  I have treated him gently, been very cognizant about his needs, and I’m pretty sure I have rubbed off on him a bit, meaning he’s not as big of a Scrooge as he used to be.

Last year, it came up in conversation that his beloved grandmother, who helped raise him, had one of those all-silver trees that she would decorate with either red or blue bulbs, depending on the year, complete with the rotating light shining on it.  He expressed fond memories of this tree.  “Wait, fond memories of something having to do with Christmas?” I thought to myself, “We gotta get on that!”

A few months later, we were in Marietta, Ohio for Thanksgiving, and walked into a chocolate shop where a silver tree just like his grandmother’s was in the window.  He started a lengthy conversation with the shop owner, fondly reminiscing about his grandmother’s tree, yet again.

After that, I looked them up online to see how much they were, but unfortunately found them to be rather expensive, being truly antiques and all.

And then

And then, I posted about it on facebook, and a few hours later, Fantastic Babysitter responded to my post that her parents were interested in getting rid of just such a tree that they had in their attic!  Not wanting to get my hopes up too high, I asked her about it, and asked how much they wanted for it.  She said they wouldn’t want any money for it.

Ask and ye shall receive!

She brought the tree over, and I got out some rags and brasso, and spent an afternoon in my living room, listening to the Peanuts and Muppets Christmas albums, and shining up every single branch on that tree.

Shining up the tree!

When I gave it to the Man last Christmas, he was speechless, almost moved to tears, and said it was quite possibly the best Christmas gift he had ever gotten.

And this year, it is up in our new house, bulbs, light and all.  He is very proud of it, and you know what?  No Scrooge to be found this year!

tree

Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season!  Sending much love and good will to all of you!

Happy Day

Christmas morning, The Man and I got up leisurely and decided to open our presents to each other before my parents came over for the meal, stockings, and all of the other gifts.

I gave him his gift, cleverly disguised (he told me later he thought I had bought him a large tool set, but they were actually three framed engineering prints in poster frames, which were also a great cover for the real gift — a gift card to the tool store).

Then it was my turn.  I had told The Man that I would like a watch for Christmas, and lo and behold, there was a watch-shaped box under the tree with my name on it. I unwrapped it to find “Parker” on the top of the box.  “Parker pens?” I asked, not expecting a response.  Sure enough, I opened the box and found a nice pen and pencil set, not what I expected but nice enough.  I pulled out the mechanical pencil to see how to activate the mechanism, which The Man promptly grabbed from me, leaving me to examine the pen.  I turned it over and noticed his name engraved on it… What the —??

I had not noticed The Man getting off the couch and doing some other stuff in my peripheral vision.  At the very moment I was thinking this could quite possibly be a very rough day, he suggested I look again under the tree, because he thought he saw another gift for me under there…

And there was a ring box.

After uttering his name, and looking at him to see if he was for real, I reached down, grabbed the box, opened it, and realized what he was giving me.  He asked me if I would marry him, and I said, “You know I will!”

my RING!

Sneaky, sneaky man.  He did an amazing job remembering exactly what I liked.  And now we are engaged!  He says he had no idea those pens had his name engraved on them, but wrapped them knowing I would think it was a watch.  He knows me so well.

I am a lucky, lucky (and happy!) woman.

 

Stressed, But in a Good Way

There has been a whirlwind of activity over the past couple of weeks, with school concerts and holiday preparations. The day before yesterday, I worked on about six craft projects in one evening, not including the nightly box for the advent calendar.

ac1Yesterday, it was a cleaning frenzy, not to say that there was a lot to do, but The Man was flying in last night. Not only do I work harder for those I love, I wanted to make sure we had a clean house to come home to after our various holiday travels.

box1
The Man remarked about how much stress surrounds the holidays, but this is self-induced and I enjoy it.  I enjoy being busy if it has to do with Christmas and preparing food, gifts, or my house for loved ones.  How about you?

amaretto fixin's

amaretto