RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: August 2012

Heat stroke

I have approximately 20 minutes to write this post and get it out.  Let’s do this!

I need a break.  Actually I need a long swim in a cold pool, a bottle of champagne, and a sci-fi romance novel with time to read it.  But I’d settle for being allowed to go to the bathroom by myself.

Why am I going so crazy?  Well there are several reasons.

1. Connor is extremely active, extremely intense and autistic.  Which means, as a parent to an ASD child, my stress levels mirror those in combat situations.

2. Connor was sick last week.  Out of the gosh darn blue Connor woke up last Sunday with a fever.  Over the course of the week he maintained a fever of about 100, with vomiting and other disgusting issues.  Sickness= clinginess, crankiness, frustration, making for one strung out mommy.

3. Its freaking hot!

4. Our trip to Big Bear was not the lovely, fun-filled family vacation I had imagined.  Instead we got trouble.  And that starts with T and that rhymes with C and that stands for Connor.

It started with a cabin that was filthy, so we moved to a new cabin that reminded me of girl scout camp but at least it was clean.  Staying in a cabin he didn’t know was way out of Connor’s comfort zone so we had a few tantrums…and some screaming…and hitting…Being the good parents we are, we bribed him with candy and ice cream to just be quiet.  The joke was on us though as he ended up getting overloaded from the sugar, combining with the remnants of his illness, and we made him sick.  Everything you could possibly imagine that is disgusting and related to children happened.  It was gross.  We came home as soon as humanly possible on Sunday.

There were good parts throughout this, of course.  Connor met a little boy at the lake who sweetly asked Connor to be his friend.  I felt my heart growing a size as I watched Connor traipse after the boy through the lake grass, splashing and smiling.

And later that night, when the fiance handed Connor a bowl and asked if Connor  needed to throw up again, Connor cocked his head and said “throw up bowl?”, to which we said yep, if you need to throw up again throw up in the bowl.  So Connor looks at us and says again “throw up bowl”, exhaustion gripping me I just said “yes, throw up bowl.”  Connor, of course, then threw the bowl up into the air!

I completely lost my composure and broke down into peals of laughter.  I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks and I had trouble breathing.  I laughed until both the fiance and Connor joined me.  I laughed, and giggled, and smiled until I looked absolutely nuts. Sigh…Connor did exactly what he told him, since he doesn’t understand the idiom of “throwing up”, he literally interpreted what we said the threw the bowl up into the air.  Classic.

I am sitting here shaking my head as I remember.  Believe me, those moments of hilarity and sweetness stay with me.  They keep me going when I have to restrain myself from choking the life out of my child on any number of occasions throughout the day.  I remind myself of the good times we had when he wasn’t sick or hot or 3 and a half….

I need a vacation.

Bouncing Madness

It’s been about a week since I last wrote.  There is one reason for my absence: Connor.  He is on a short summer vacation.  The special education summer school program ended the last day of July, giving Connor about two weeks of vacation before the August program starts up on the 14th.  What I should write is that it’s giving me two weeks for building an aneurism that will surely blow once Connor is back in class.

In an attempt to keep Connor both away from the iPad and having fun we have spent the majority of the two weeks trying different fun activities in between swimming, gymnastics, and various therapies.  We’ve been to the beach, to the aquarium, to the fair, to several different parks, etc.  Yesterday I wanted to take him to a splash pad just down in the street in Westminster.  Connor however wanted gymnastics.  Well, I can’t just take him to the gymnastics studio and let him loose.  I figured the next best thing would be an indoor bounce house called Frogg’s Bounce House.

There have been few times in my life that I felt such self-loathing as I did the moment after we crossed the threshold.  If only I could be a lazier parent and not take Connor to do fun stuff.  If only I had never heard of indoor bounce houses.  If only every kid in a five-mile radius wasn’t inside of this building.

It took all of my willpower not to turn on my heel and walk right back out the door.

There were literally screaming children running everywhere.

If you had seen me at that moment I am sure that I looked deathly ill.  While other parents there saw an hour of free time as their child played in a safe, exciting environment, I saw only over-stimulated children running rampant, like a pint-sized melee.  It was as if I was Alice at the tea party and everyone was having a good time, and I was the only one screaming that this wasn’t a tea party, this was actually madness.

Let me give you some background on the children’s asylum…I mean on Frogg’s Bounce House.  It is located in a strip mall near several budget stores and fast food restaurants.  It is warehouse sized, allowing for several inflatable bounce houses to be erected inside.  Only two of these bounce houses are typical to what you might find at a birthday party or church picnic, meaning they are just a large trampoline like area surrounded by netted walls.  The others bounce “castles” involve inflatable obstacles, slides, race courses, etc.  In addition to the bouncing there are several air hockey tables, video games, ride-in cars, toy trains, a play house, and countless other toys.

Children ran from bouncing to games to toys with no apparent plan or thought.  They streaked past other kids in their euphoric haze to try the next great thing!

There are no attendants inside the gates of the Bounce House, which left me feeling eerily trapped inside the mayhem.  All adults are responsible for their own children…which roughly 1 in 10 was actually doing.  The majority of parents were reclining in the overstuffed couches strewn about the room, playing with their phones or iPads, looking very much like the older reflection of their children.  Had this been a play center restricted on one age group or another, I would not have wondered at these parents’ lack of parenting.  But the range of preschoolers to pre-teens had me wondering why no one was actually watching their child!

The unfettered freedom theses children had, along with the endless delights had me feeling like I was trapped on Pinocchio’s Island of Pleasure.  I kept waiting for donkey ears to sprout from someone’s head or to be whipped by an ass’s tail as a child ran by!

Not wanting my own child to turn into a jackass, I kept a close eye on him.  I tried to trust him.  I know his behavior has been improving and he can interact appropriately with children his own age.  I know this and still I knew.  I knew that it was coming.  If tantrums had footsteps, they would sound like the inside of the Bounce House.

So I watched and waited.

This picture was taken in the first 10 minutes of our visit.  Connor is calm but having fun.  Yay!

This was the last time I could get him to stay still.

As he bounced around the various houses and castles, as he chased after children, after he abandoned toy for toy, I could see sanity slipping away from him.  It was like watching his nervous system overload before my own eyes!

His movements became jerky, his running faster, his voice became louder and higher pitched.  He started screaming for joy.  He ran into other kids on purpose.  His laugh transformed from giggles to something truly maniacal.

I knew the time was near.  Tantrum’s hand was on my shoulder, watching with me, waiting to pounce.

I tried to calm him.  Every time I neared him, I held his hand and pulled him near me telling him softly to calm down.  All I got in return was a look that said he wasn’t entirely sure who I was and what the words I was speaking meant.  He squirmed from my grasp and ran off.

I stalked him to the play house near the back of the building.  Two ruthless blond girls had denied him entrance earlier, which Connor had accepted gracefully.  He was apparently back for revenge.  The girls were nowhere to be seen.  An adorable young Asian boy about Connor’s age had taken their place.  He didn’t know he was already standing on the landmine.  The boy let Connor into the house and they started to play together.  It was going well, but alone now, I knew that the Tantrum had possessed my child and was just lurking under the surface waiting to strike.  The other boy tried to leave the house, but Connor closed the door and pushed him back into the house, effectively keeping him holding him prisoner in a plastic faux-log cabin.

Before more violence could erupt, I rushed the house, pulling Connor out and placing him in a nearby bean bag for a quick time out.  Violence is met with zero-tolerance.  The eyes that looked at me from the bean bag were full of defiance and hatred.  I wanted to search his hair for the beginnings of donkey ears.  I never got that chance.  Connor’s tightly strung, relatively calm demeanor shattered into a thousand pieces as Tantrum truly took over.

Fighting off kicks to the shins, I picked Connor up and threw him over my shoulder.  I felt something not unlike rescuing a brain-washed hostage from an enemy camp.  Though he cried and beat at my back, the tears stopped as soon as we left the building.  He whined and cried the entire ride home, but never once about the bounce house.

I think Connor recognized that he was out of control.  He could feel the mania and do nothing to stop it.  Once at home he went to his room and calmed down on his own accord.

And though he never said this out loud, I think he was grateful when I removed us from the bouncing madness and vowed never to return.  If he wasn’t, then he’ll forget it in time and I will not be the one to remind him.

Slow Cooker Lasagna

This is one of my all time favorite slow cooker recipes. I remember when I first saw the words “slow cooker lasagna”, I thought that I must be in some kind of dream.  There was just no way a terribly troublesome dish like lasagna could be made in a slow cooker!  Life would simply be too good to be true.

BUT IT WAS TRUE!

The original recipe is from Williams Sonoma, which has a great online collection of recipes (the majority of which do not require you to actually have something from Williams Sonoma).  As usual, I’ve adapted this recipe to both my patience and my budget.

The very best thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to cook the noodles!  You heard me right!  No sticky, ripping noodles, that have to be laid out just so!  It’s a miracle of culinary genius!

Disclaimer: So I made this dish on Sunday and thought, you know, I should really put this on my blog.  Which meant I should take pictures.  I took exactly two pictures because I got too wrapped up in my own excitement of the dish that I forgot to take any more.  So I decided not to post the recipe, but then a couple of people asked me about it…and now I’m posting the recipe.  I’m truly a modern wonder in the blog writing world.

Here goes:

Ingredients:

This is a horrible picture for a couple reasons: 1) half the ingredients are missing and 2) you can’t identify the ingredients behind the cheese.  Awful.

Here’s the list because I am a terrible photographer:

1 lb ground beef

1 jar of tomato sauce (I like Trader Joe’s Three Cheese sauce)

12 oz of ricotta cheese

2-4 cups of shredded mozzarella (it really depends on your preference.  I put the whole bag on.)

12 dry lasagna noodles (any brand is fine)

1 tbsp dry parsley

1/2 onion chopped

1/2 cup of mushrooms chopped

1 tsp garlic salt

 

Begin by making a bolognese sauce.  In a large pan, start with the ground beef.  As it cooks and its juices are revealed, add the onions and mushrooms until soft.  Sprinkle with garlic salt.

(Here’s 2 of 2 pictures.  Fabulous)

Add the jar of sauce to the meat mixture and let simmer.

In another bowl, mix ricotta with parsley and a pinch of salt.

Once the sauce had reached a nice heat level and everything is well mixed, layer a small amount on the bottom of the slow cooker insert.

On top of this, layer the uncooked lasagna noodles so that the meat is covered.  Do not be afraid to break and fit pieces like a noddle jigsaw.  It’s going to be just fine.  Trust me.

Once the noodles are in place, spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the top of the noodles.

Now repeat: top ricotta with meat sauce then noodles then ricotta.  Do this until you run out of sauce and ricotta.  You should have about three layers, ending with noodles on the top.  Top the last layer of noodles with sauce and spread out the shredded mozzarella until all of the sauce is covered.

Fix the top of the slow cooker on tightly and cook on low for four hours.

Once it’s done it will be extremely hot so I like to let it sit with the top off for about 20 min before serving.

Eat and enjoy!

You may never want to go back to make lasagna the old fashioned way ever again!