A Wonderful Visit

This post was drafted in August and I realized I hadn’t posted it yet.  :)

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Our one and only Fantastic Babysitter (and her mom and baby) came to visit this past week.  She sacrificed a lot to come, and The Boy was so pleased to have her here, as was I.  We spent a long day at the beach, and worked around the baby’s schedule with relatively little problem, able to eat out a few times, and experience the area, thanks to some wonderful weather.

We walked out on the long fishing pier that extends out to the ocean, and Fantastic Babysitter, being afraid of heights, began to get a little nervous, expressing a wish for a hand to hold as she progressed over the beach and then over the waves.  The Boy slipped up behind her and picked up her hand, impressing everyone with his empathy and sensitivity.

Later, he sat on the couch next to me, and we held the baby.  He began to play with her feet, saying softly, “I’ve got your tootsies,” and then “Am I doing it right?” to me.

I watched him as he took every opportunity to sit next to Fantastic Babysitter, sometimes putting his head on her shoulder, recognizing the beautiful relationship they continue to have, even across the miles.

I was so happy to see them together, and was truly sad to see them go.  On their first night here, he began begging to go “back home,” and I realized that we may have to make that a reality before too long.  A visit next summer may be in order, because there are lots of people there he misses, and some I miss, as well.  We have been so happy here, but this visit brought some strong feelings to the surface, especially on his part.  And I don’t want to ignore those.

A Year Has Passed

The Boy and I have now lived in our new home for a year.  All in all, our transition down here was a lot smoother than I anticipated.  The beginning of the school year had its fair share of stressors, but over the course of the year, we have been very lucky with the opportunities that have come our way (including those that I helped force our way), and we have settled into a very happy existence.

Don’t get me wrong.  We were happy before, and I miss that just a little, the single mom household thing, the metropolitan suburbia thing, the way-more-time-for-hobbies thing.  I miss that a bit.  I miss our friends (although we are looking forward to some visits this summer!), some of our favorite restaurants, having a Target around the corner as opposed to 45 minutes away…

But they have been replaced with The Man around full-time thing, the warmer climate thing, and that little thing called “family” – there is nothing that beats that.  The ocean, new friends that crack me up Every Single Day, our new-to-us home, having The Man around Every Single Day, lunching with my mom, having dinner with my parents, getting off of work at 3pm and not having to do anything else with my job until the next morning (usually), sweet tea in abundance, and date night Every Single Weekend…

So as I sit and reflect about all that has changed in our lives since a year ago, I am very pleased that we jumped at this chance, very thankful for how it has turned out, and very, very happy.

The end of our rainbow

Last Day: Looking Back

I think it’s only normal for people to look back before starting something new, and New Year’s Eve is a logical opportunity to do so.  It’s also important.  One of the things teachers benefit most from but rarely have time to do is reflect on their daily teaching to analyze what worked and what needs to be tweaked.  True in non-teacher lives, as well, I know.  At the end of the day, thinking back on what was positive, and what we could have handled better helps us learn from our mistakes, and decreases the likelihood that we will repeat them.

This year, I moved house in a major way, got married, left my career, battled for better schooling for my son, wrote a novel, and got a new job which I love.  I’ve left old friends behind (but never forgotten), and made new friends.  My life has improved, sometimes by sheer will.  I compromise more (a new husband and a blended family make this absolutely necessary), I don’t get nearly as many headaches, I relax (fully) more.

At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t see past June.  It was a complete unknown – What would I be doing?  What would my son be doing?  How would our lives change?  Now that I am six months past that point of all that was unknown, I am proud of us for taking this leap, trusting ourselves to get re-married, trusting that we could find a good school situation for The Boy, and trusting that I would land on my feet with a job I didn’t hate, making enough to pay the bills.  I am very proud of us.  It was a big leap of faith, and it has turned out beautifully.

2013 has been a year of great change, of great opportunity, of great hope, and of great reward for me (and us).  I hope it treated you just as well.  I look forward to 2014 with great anticipation for continued growth for all of us.

Happy Old Year, Friends.  And Happy New Year.

English: This came from New Years Eve 2004 int...

Feeling the Love

That's my boy!Last night, The Boy had his first band concert of the year, and played music he has had for about two weeks on his new instrument, the tuba.  There was standing-room-only in the auditorium, and The Man and I watched from the back with The Boy’s grandparents.  We heard him play, as he is the only tubist in the 6th grade band, and we heard him play well.  And I was proud, listening to my boy do his best, and do it well.

It was a great concert, and after it was over, he was geeked, excited.  Once in the car, he went right for his DS (a re-discovered love, as it has been in the bottom of some drawer for a couple of years), but was giggly and goofy.  We had to pick up The Man’s truck, and he loves to ride in it with him, so I drove on alone for the few short miles to our house.

As the car started to climb the rise of the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, I began to tear up with emotion as I realized how thankful I am for all that has happened in the past year.  Maybe it’s a little early for the annual retrospective, but it really has been a great couple of weeks.  Things were getting a little dark there for awhile, but now The Boy is in a much better place, school-wise (and a GREAT band program, to boot!), I have a new job that I love, and the very best husband ever.  And we’ve moved to a place where it reaches 70 degrees on the 5th of December, which also happens to be around the corner from the very best parents in the world.

Can you feel the love?  I sure can. <3

Is it Real Yet?

People have been asking if it has hit me yet, all this permanent change (there’s an oxymoron for ya!), and I have to say yes and no.  This house is definitely “home” to us, and I don’t have the feeling that we are returning to our old house or state that you sometimes get after moving.  It will help to get out of limbo, and have my new license, new license plate, new name on all of my forms of ID, and the like.  But that will take a few more weeks to be sure (*sigh*).

Not having a job, and not having a routine is a little unsettling, still.  When The Boy starts school in a little over a month, it will feel much more “real”, I predict.  But I’m not usually working in the summer anyway, at least not in the wake-up-report-to-a-building-and-stay-for-a-long-time-doing-stuff kind of way.  So this doesn’t feel all that unnatural, either.

I can say that I’m not used to being referred to as “Mrs.” or “wife”, yet, but I love being married to The Man.  It’s a little surreal, because the terminology is the same, but the experience is so much better.

The Boy is adjusting well.  He has been perusing his old yearbooks a bit, keeping them close, so I know he’s missing what’s familiar.  But I also know he’s enjoying having some new neighborhood friends, some freedom to ramble a bit, and is very much looking forward to school starting.

So, it’s real, if a bit limbo-y, but enjoyable all the same. ;)

How Our Lives Have Changed: 3 Weeks

We’ve been in our new state, our new town, our new home for a little over three weeks.  In that time, we have moved in, started summer camp, and gotten married.  And we have settled in for the most part.  The Boy rebelled a bit for awhile when his camp turned out not to be exactly like his usual ESY experience, but he found some activities to love, and now looks forward to it each day.  I am desperately trying to find some form of employment, and unpacking and getting the house in order in the meantime, checking things off of my to-do list which has grown to several legal pad pages.  I have also been battling government offices to get my name changed, and to just get a driver’s license.  These things really shouldn’t be so hard when you are clearly a law-abiding citizen, but I digress…

The Ocean is Just Down the RoadOne of the most pleasant changes in our lives has been the proximity to Grammy and Poppy.  Besides being fabulous grandparents, they are also awesome parents, and great friends.  It has been exceptionally nice to have a girl’s afternoon with my mom here and there, and The Boy has enjoyed hanging out at their place in the afternoons, after camp.  As a former single mom who was never able to leave the house alone without the aid of a babysitter (and the requisite money involved), The Boy’s regular Saturday Night Sleepover at Grammy’s still brings tears to my eyes because I am just so grateful.  Every couple needs time alone, and this weekly respite is already oh-so-special.

The flip-side of this is that there are a lot more people in our lives on a daily basis, and this has taken a bit of getting used to.  We have to check with people now before we make decisions, and more compromise and flexibility are necessary every day.  This isn’t a bad thing, and it isn’t unexpected, but it is an adjustment.

We miss our friends, and I miss having adults to talk to, but this is no different from any other summer, for me.  I’m starting to have a hard time with not having something to do each day — I’m one of those people that needs to feel like I’m accomplishing something, and organizing my desk and hanging a few pictures just don’t qualify as “accomplishments”.  I’m trying to practice patience and perseverance in the job search.  Trying.

All in all, we are very happy.  The Boy is counting down the days until school starts, and is very excited.  I’m loving the summer sun and heat, reveling in the proximity of my loved ones, and enjoying being a newlywed.

Cheers! :D

Lost in the Shuffle

A lineup The Boy had me capture at camp

A lineup The Boy had me capture at camp

The Man and I are both feeling like The Boy is suffering from a lack of attention, lately.  We’re trying to compensate, but if you think about it, we needed him rather out-of-the-way for the move and the unpacking, and now the wedding is upon us.  The Boy has rolled with everything relatively well, although his summer day camp turned out to be more different than his previous ESY program than he thought was manageable — we’re still working on it.  Upset by the startling lack of computers at the camp, he was mollified a bit by the introduction of his own netbook at home on which he can make PowerPoints.

And of course, Grammy and Poppy have been amazingly accommodating, letting The Boy hang out at their place, and keeping an eye on him while I run errands as we get the house unpacked and ready for guests this weekend.

But both The Man and I feel as if we’ve made some promises on which we haven’t yet followed through, and we’re feeling a little guilty.  We talked about a new bike when we donated his old one (which was way too small), as well as a new boogie board, and a new “wrestling” mat.  He’s even supposed to get a new Captain-style bed, which The Man will make for him (The Boy likes to call it a “Hidey-hole” bed, because it will have a hiding space underneath), but it hasn’t happened yet.

We try to put it in perspective, and he hasn’t been complaining, but…  Those nagging feelings of guilt.  The Man and I are both people to whom a promise is no small thing, and we will follow through.  In the meantime, we have to make sure to spend time with him (even when he just wants to hole up in room with an electronic device).  Luckily, he’s been a great sport, and luckily spending time with him is something we can definitely do right now.

Moving Tips from the Flip Side

I swear I won’t post too much more about the move, but it is a big event in our lives, obviously.  And since I blog about our lives, it may have a few more appearances.  In case anyone is gearing up for a move, I thought I would post some things that we did, or really wish we had done for the move.

Some things we did:

I did a moving log.  Turns out, I didn’t really need this.  To be fair, it got to be about a week before, and my parents were after the movedoing some of the packing, and at the very end, we resorted to putting things in the nearest box, so it didn’t turn out to be very useful at all.  If you’re going to do something like this, you should start earlier than I did, and be committed to it for it to work, because truthfully, you’re not going to be looking for “books” after the move.  You’re going to be looking for hardware for the bookshelf and your son’s birth certificate.  Ahem.

We went cheap on the truck.  And I’m not sure if I would do it again.  We compared truck prices, and Budget was by far the cheapest and included unlimited miles, which is rather important when you’re moving 14 hours away.  But there are definitely some trade-offs for the price.  Truthfully, I could never have afforded the other companies, but using Budget was kind of a trying experience.  Not terrible, but anxiety-worthy.

You are probably going to end up purchasing at least some boxes and some packing material.  I found Home Depot to have the cheapest bubble wrap and paper, and Walmart to have the cheapest boxes.  If you live close to the store, you can do what I did: buy what you think you need, and then go back again (and again) to replenish.  If not, buy double what you think you need.

Schedule a donation pickup with Vietnam Veterans of America.  They will often come with only 24 hours notice, and are very reliable about coming when they say they will.  Be warned that if you have more than 25 items, you will need to schedule two different pick-up appointments.

For the final clean-out, purchase construction-grade trash bags of at least 3 mil thickness.  These are great for those last minute things that you decide will not be going on the truck, and they are sturdy enough to withstand weather and animals in the days on the curb after you move.

Use Facebook and Craigslist to get a few bucks out of your bigger items that aren’t making the trip.  We did a garage sale and it was rather a waste of time.  I sold most of our bigger items to friends via Facebook and people on Craigslist.  Be smart about it, and you can make some decent cash.  We earned enough for our gas and hotel on the way down!

Some things I wish we had done:

Try to do as much paperwork as you can in advance.  Just about everything is online now, and you can look up what you will need to do to register your kids for school, get a new driver’s license, etc. in advance.  Do this and locate all of the necessary stuff while you know where it is.  Put it in a brightly colored folder that you take with you in your vehicle, and don’t let it out of your sight.  I didn’t do this, and I am stuck until I can find all the documents I need (if I had a nickel for every time I say to myself, “but I saw it just the other day!!”…).

Be ruthless about purging before you pack.  I actually did quite well with this, but there always seems to be more stuff, doesn’t there?  You will most likely have donations and trash before and after you move, but it’s a lot easier if you can get rid of most of it before you have to find new places for all your stuff in your new home.  This is especially important if you are having anyone come to help you pack your stuff.  You may know that the bin of old clothes isn’t intended for the move, but your helpers certainly won’t, and may end up packing it up for you.

Be realistic about space planning in your new home.  Empty rooms seem so much larger than they really are.  Make sure you are being realistic about how much stuff can actually go into a 12×10 room…

Don’t kick yourself if it doesn’t go perfectly.  It won’t.  And you will be just fine.  Be prepared for things to go wrong, and then when they do, you can handle it with aplomb.  Think of it as an adventure rather than a task on your to to-do list, and try to have fun!

I hope these tips help.  Feel free to add more from your own moving experiences in the comments below!

Moving House: The Boy

You are probably wondering how The Boy has done, seeing as autism and any kind of change don’t generally mix well, and moving house is a change in a league all of its own.  The short answer is that he has done amazingly well!

Here’s what I think helped:

Grammy and Poppy were there to help ease the transition.  The Boy loves his grandparents, and they are a constant in his life.  Having them come up to help with the move helped remind him of what he had to look forward to — more time with his grandparents!  They are also a little less threatening than Mom, so Grammy helped him pack up his room, which calmed his fears that we were getting rid of all of his stuff!

Preparation.  We’ve been prepping the Boy for almost a year, first introducing it as an idea, and then gradually replacing the “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” with “Won’t it be fun when we…?”  We addressed each of his fears as they came up, and made sure not to make light of them.  We also spent a lot of time focusing on the positives.

The Moving Book.  Anytime I heard him start to fret about the move, I made sure to pull out the moving book (or at least made a point to remember to do that at a quiet part of the day).  It really did seem to calm his fears, I think because it worked as a visual cue to address his fears and remind him of the positives, and visual cues really work.

Addressing his biggest fear ASAP.  One of The Boy’s biggest concerns was missing his ESY program.  As quickly as I could, I found a similar program in our new state.  Because of the timing of our move, I didn’t think I’d be able to get him into one provided by his school district, and truth be told, finding one that was going to be the right fit was a bit of a challenge.  But in a totally coincidental way, we (I say we because Grammy helped a bunch on this front) found a summer day camp for kids with autism and their siblings in our new area that was relatively affordable and got him enrolled ASAP so that he would have a replacement for the program he cared so much about.  He went from whimpering about missing ESY to being excited about Camp SMILE.  And because he attends daily, it is a new and immediate routine, and provides him with an opportunity to make new friends (one of his other biggest concerns).

His room is still full of boxes, as most of them are, and he’s been wearing his new Spongebob hoodie just about everyday (he tends toward clothing exclusivity when stressed), but he really has made an excellent transition, and I am so proud and happy for him.

moving!

We’re Back…

Hello, Everyone!

I am so excited to be back!  The Boy starts his summer camp today and is so excited — it is absolutely adorable (if pre-teens can be adorable).  He picked out what he was going to wear a couple of days ago, even in the midst of the chaos of unpacked boxes here at the new house.  I told him this morning that he needed to have his backpack today and he would need to clean it out, so he was on it within seconds!

The moving process itself was not nearly as stressful as it could have been — it really helps to have a fiance who used to have a moving business.  Dealing with the landlord is still giving me a headache, but the end is in sight.  I’m sure I’ll post more on that whole topic later.

Modern Social Security card.

Right now, I am in the midst of a brand new headache — trying to get setup with my new address.  I’m stuck in a never-ending cycle between needing a driver’s license, and needing a social security card, and another form of ID…  Except that I just moved here — AND I’m getting married!  Of course they couldn’t make it too easy, or everyone would move here – right? ;)

Finally, we’re getting details nailed down for the wedding which is NEXT FRIDAY – Can you believe it?  I certainly can’t.  The Man is getting himself used to calling me his wife (introducing me to neighbors and such), and it’s still such a foreign word.  But I like it.  We ordered our rings, changed our venue last minute (from one free city park gazebo to another free city park gazebo), and even checked out a few restaurants downtown, looking at menus and deciding on one which would work best.  All that’s left is to get the license and decide on what we’re going to say…

There are so, so many things on my list of things to do (like get a job!), but I am so glad to be back up and running here.  I hope you’ve all hung in there, because this transition is going to be a bit of a wild ride.  But I am so excited!