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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Juice box mummies and mommy goes crazy

There was a movie made in the 80s called The Gods Must be Crazy.  I didn’t really care for the movie all that much but the title has always stuck with me.  And this week I’ve been applying it to myself.  I think my movie would be called “Mommy Must be Crazy.”

Aside from a definite eccentricity there really isn’t a good explanation for why I’ve acted the way I have on a few things in the last few days.

The first is that we’ve adopted a new dog.  Introducing Maggie May:

Maggie May is a rescue dog from the Mission Viejo Animal Shelter.  She was brought there from the Riverside pound, where she’d been down to her last two days of life.  Mission Viejo fixed her up, gave her a safe place to live and patiently took care of her until some good family could be found for her.  Or should I say until her big sad brown eyes sucked some unwitting visitors into taking her home.

It was probably a mistake to visit the dog pens when we were there visiting Grandma S, who volunteers at the shelter.  I couldn’t help it though.  I love me some puppies.  And for the fiance, it was love at first sight when he saw Maggie May.

Less than 24 hours later she was living with us.

Maggie makes dog number three at my house.  Technically, I should say she makes rescue dog number three, which means she is neurotic dog number three.  She is sweet and affectionate with a strong nervous disposition and serious abandonment issues.  Maggie also has three broken teeth that will be removed next week.  She had puppies in the past few months so her teats are extended and provide a curiosity for my other two dogs, much to Maggie’s dismay.  She’s having a hard time eating with her broken treats.  She’s desperate for affection and desperate to give affection.  She sleeps on couches, eats out of Penny’s bowl, and rests in Dodger’s bed.  All in all, she’s just as crazy as the rest of this house.

She’s fitting in nicely.

Connor loves her and talks to her pretty much non-stop.  For that alone (even if I wasn’t already wrapped around her paw), I’d adopt her all over again.

The second reason I’ve obviously lost my mind is that I decided to do a Halloween craft for Connor’s preschool class.

That fact alone doesn’t necessarily seal my unhinged state.  What does is that I decided to do a craft they will doubtless throw away within minutes of receiving it, a craft that took me an hour to do.

Seriously, there’s something wrong with me.

Here’s what I decided to do: Juice box mummies!

Super cute, right? My love for Halloween knows no bounds!

There are several different ways of doing this craft.  The easiest way involves using cream masking tape (which I didn’t have).  So here’s how I did it:

Using copy paper, googly eyes, hot glue and toilet paper I constructed little mummies for the Halloween buckets Connor’s class will get at school.

First, wrap the juice box in half a sheet of copy paper. (notice my lovely Halloween black nails!)

Fold the paper around the box, so that it’s almost all covered, leaving a space for the straw at the top.  This is supposed to actually be usable.

Next, take a long strip of toilet paper and fold it in half.  If it’s two ply, strip away one layer so you just use one layer per box.

Glue and wrap!

Once you’re done wrapping, simply tuck some googly eyes just into the paper.  You want the impression that they’re peeking out!

Finally, tuck the straws into the back of the paper so the kids can actually drink out of them and you’re done!

These little guys definitely do not have to be perfect.  They’re juice boxes which will be thrown away.  Do not agonize about the details!  Or perhaps don’t make these until the kids are a little older and can actually appreciate them?

Whatever.  I’m obviously crazy.  You probably shouldn’t listen to a crazy woman, so make this craft however you like!
Happy Halloween!!


Conducting the Home Orchestra

On days like today I always feel like being a stay-at-home mom is something like conducting an orchestra.

When I was a full-time working single mom (which according to Romney might drive Connor to engage in gun violence–sorry for the politics, but come on! that’s funny!) at the library and Connor was at day care I didn’t so much conduct as scramble.  Every day was a challenge to get things done.  And many days things just didn’t get finished.  Laundry piled up, dinner was composed of various take out orders, the household disarray grew larger daily, to-do lists grew longer instead of shorter.

Now that I’m stay at home I try to keep on top of everything.  The laundry is done when the bins are full.  The pantry is always well stocked.   Home-made food fills our fridge.  Being at home full-time with Connor in school full-time actually gives me time for projects of my own…sometimes.

After saying all that I want to clarify that things don’t always go so well.  Having an autistic preschooler means that there is a lot (A LOT) of chaos in my life.  Whether it’s getting no sleep from anxiety fueled nightmares or having to constantly rearrange our daily schedule to fit in all of the ABA therapy sessions, speech therapy, mandated parent education, etc.; life is still pretty hectic.  Plus I volunteered to be Connor’s room-mom and I spend way too much time on Pinterest late at night, meaning I think being room-mom=being Martha Stewart (if only!).  That’s all on top of trying to run the house like it’s my job, because well it is my job!

I’m a librarian who is currently a stay-at-home mom.  If I’m not making sure my house is being run darn near perfect, then I feel like I’m failing at my job.  I don’t earn a paycheck so I feel like I have to earn my keep by running this house like it’s going to be in Better Homes and Gardens next month.  Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  Mostly because my house is older than I am and has never been remodeled.  I don’t think Better Homes and Gardens is going to do a piece on my nearly counter-less kitchen and ancient oven!

But I digress….

In order to achieve my goal of having my home run like a well-oiled machine I need to do a lot of work.  Gardeners, housekeepers, handymen, all need to be directed to fix/clean/maintain various aspects of the house.  Errands and chores have to be coordinated to maximize efficiency.  Meals are planned way ahead of time, recipes researched, preschoolers duped into eating healthy things (sometimes).  Dogs are walked, fed, cared for.  Fiances are well fed, well dressed, well-loved.

So sometimes I feel like I’m conducting like this:

Good days

Like today! I coordinated a new housekeeper, discussed winter and spring plans with my gardener, met with a sprinkler inspection, dropped off 12 pumpkins, 12 trick or treat buckets, and 12 glow sticks for a preschool project, and managed to get some shopping done!  Boom baby!

Other days tend to go like this: they start out well but somehow slip out of control and you’re just happy to be at one piece at the end!

Here’s hoping we have more well conducted days than days like Merlin!



Connor’s conception was something of a surprise.  Ok, it was a BIG surprise!  I was on birth control but that didn’t stop an egg from slipping into my uterus.  The antibiotics I took that month definitely interfered with the whole system and Connor was conceived.  Ta da!

At first I didn’t know what the hell was going on.  I was nauseous and tired. I had random pains, mysterious cramping, and some truly startling things happening downstairs.  I didn’t know what was going on!  I assigned my symptoms to a myriad of problems.  Bladder infection? Terrible IBS?  World’s worst yeast infection?  I just didn’t know.  I was grasping at straws.

Finally a month had gone by and it was just a day before my period was supposed to start, I thought I’d take a pregnancy test.  You know, just to rule it out.

Imagine my surprise when it was positive!

I frantically researched false positives….which gave me little encouragement since false positives are extremely rare.

I then ran to the store and bought two different types of pregnancy tests.  One with lines.  One with positive and negative.  When those all came back telling me I was pregnant I decided I need to try the digital kind just to confirm.  Those other ones were sort of faint, and maybe all the lines weren’t totally clear.  But the digital would say once and for all pregnant or not pregnant.

You no doubt have figured out what it said.

Since that surprise I have been extremely paranoid.  Every few months something goes on with my body that makes me worry I might be pregnant.  My breasts are sore.  My period is a day late.  I am extremely tired.  Any of theses symptoms (and many more) are enough to send me into a tailspin of worry.  There are absolutely logical explanations for each symptom, which my illogical paranoid brain frantically ignores as it rushes me to the pharmacy to buy a five-pack of pregnancy tests.  And every single time I take a test it is of course negative.  And my paranoia goes back to sleep for another month or two.

I just don’t want to be caught off guard again.  Next time I get pregnant I would like it to be because I was actually trying to get pregnant.  Although these surprise stories are usually funny, I don’t want to repeat it.

What I really want is an off switch.  I just want to turn my ovaries off until I’m ready to use them.  And I’m not ready yet!

Say Yes to a Dress

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I’m getting married for the second time (huzzah!).  And like this second time around marriage will be very different from the first, this second wedding will be dramatically different from the first.

Though my first marriage didn’t work out, I will always have fond memories of my first wedding.  Like all first time brides, I was swept up in wedding fever.  We went all out!  (And by we I mean me, my mom, sisters, and aunts.)  Every detail was attended to, from the flowers lining the aisle to the thematic escort cards to the pillar decorations.  Nothing was overlooked.  And the day of everything was perfect.  The location was beautiful, the food was amazing, the drinks never stopped flowing, and everyone had a good time!  It was a wonderful wedding!  And it cost an arm and a leg.

This time around our budget is literally 1/6 of my first wedding budget and, unlike last time, the fiance and I are footing the bill.  So things are going to be pared down just a bit.  There will be no fancy location, lavish buffet, or unending alcohol.  This wedding it going to be simple and home-made.

The location: our backyard

The food: food trucks

Alcohol: BevMo’

Flowers, Decorations, Escort cards, Invitations, Photo Booth, Guest Book: DIY!!!

Photography: Stacee Lianna, who has miraculously agreed to work within our tiny budget!  (When she said yes I nearly started crying!)

The dress:???

Unlike the last wedding there will be no giant white dress.  I won’t be trooping my friends and family to endless bridal boutiques.  I won’t even be going to a dress shop myself! The dress will not be poofy and princessy.  It will not be dramatic and oh-so elegant.  It will not be bright white.  Now, I don’t begrudge anyone wearing a white dress to their second wedding, it’s just not for me.  Like this wedding, this dress needs to be simple, inexpensive, and totally me.

The other hitch is that we’ve decided to get married at the courthouse on a friday and then have a reception the next day.  So I need two dresses (and my dress budget didn’t get magically bigger! I have to get two dress for the same amount.  Or I can wear something I already have….yeah right.)

What I really want a dress like this:

However, $700 is a little out of budget.  Ok, it’s a lot out of my budget!  But it is so perfect.  Sigh…On to the real hunt.

To fit in my budget I’ve been shopping my favorite stores, especially the ones where I have credit (so that I can both use rewards and earn them).

First, I ordered this dress from

Rachel Roy Drape Neck Dress

This dress is perfect for an elegant courthouse ceremony!  (I also ordered this dress with a promo code and all of my rewards from the last year, netting me a 50% discount.) I would be very Joan Holloway in this dress!

Joan "Drop Dead Gorgeous" Holloway

Unfortunately, the dress didn’t fit quite right.  The waist hit just below my bust-line, which made the hips hit around my waist.  Being alternately too tight and too loose made me look like I was wearing a dress from junior high after a growth spurt.  Not exactly the look I was going for, and definitely not Joan.

So I ordered two dresses from Nordstrom, figuring one would fit the bill for a courthouse wedding.

Alex Evenings Lace Overlay Sheath Dress

Lovely right?  Well, the pleating just below the waist made my child bearing hips look even wider.  Additionally there are hundreds of shiny sequins that don’t show up in the picture, which made me look something like a Vegas lounge singer.  Not quite right for my wedding.

On the dress number 2:

Tadashi Lace Sheath Dress

Again, this dress is beautiful!  I loved it!  And then I put it on.  I now resembled a sausage being stuffed into its casing.  Maybe the lesson here was to stop ordering sheath dresses?  Despite my apparent mental self-image, I am not a size 6 with slender hips and small bust.  I am a very curvy size 10/12!  There is an 11 inch difference between my hips and waist, and a 10 inch difference between my bust and waist.  Sheath dresses are just not going to do it!

After another futile shopping trip to Macy’s, I began to worry that I would end up wearing a burlap sack!  The fiance kindly told me he’d happily marry me in my pjs, so I needed to stop stressing.

While that is a very sweet thing to say, I’m not sure I completely believe him.  I did, however, lighten up a bit and start looking for something simpler, more fitting to my body, and just more me.  I didn’t need a knockout dress for a wedding ceremony with the man I love and our immediate families.  They’ll be happy no matter what I wear.  To that end, I’ll be happy no matter what I wear.

With that in mind, I think I found a dress.  I tried it on this morning.  It fits perfectly.  It’s simple, it’s appropriate, and it is totally me.  Hopefully the fiance will agree!  If he does, I’ll let you guys in on the dress this weekend.  If not, back to the drawing board.  Finger’s crossed!

Bad Day Made Better

Last night was yet another night of nightmares, anxiety outpourings, and early morning wakeups.  Since returning from vacation Connor has been plagued by bad dreams.  Though he can’t communicate to me what these dreams are about, the fact that he clings to me, crying, whimpering my name clearly communicates that these dreams focus on my leaving him again.  It breaks my heart.

So this morning is not going well.  I’m exhausted.  I have a headache.  I’m downing enough caffeinated beverages to replace my blood stream.

But there is no amount of Tylenol and Diet Coke that can help me be the mommy I need to be.  I just have to muscle through and keep my unraveling patience in check.

To make this bad day better I’m taking a little me time, just a little.  In between doing the dishes, folding laundry, replacing burned out lightbulbs (which is oddly one of my least favorite chores, I don’t know why, but I really hate it), and various other household tasks, I’m taking a few minutes to sort myself out.

Here are my top three treats for today:


I ordered this dress on sale about a week ago and it came today.  Yay!  It’s a little dressy for running errands, picking up Connor from preschool, and sitting through therapy, but it makes me happy.

I bought the new Jason Aldean record.  It literally came out today.  It’s a little predictable, a little run-of the mill, but it’s familiar like slipping on an old sweatshirt.  I’ve been listening to it on repeat.  Country music makes me smile.

I booked a ticket to Chicago to see my little baby nephew, Baby N!  And because I had a voucher from American for screwing up my vacation, I could afford to book my return flight in first class.  FIRST CLASS!!  Oh yeah!

Well, my alone time is almost done now, so I’m off to get my baby boy and enter the whirlwind of preschool emotions.  But I already feel better.  And I know we’ll survive today.

Dramatic Change–Recovering a Bench DIY

To channel some of my nervous energy (a by-product of dealing with Connor’s anxiety) this last week I decided to tackle a project I’d long been ignoring.  It was an easy project, completed start to finish in just one day.  I decided to recover a bench I’d had for years!  It was desperately out of place in my modern eclectic household.

So here’s how I turned this:

Into this:

in just a few easy steps!

First, I detached the cushion from the frame:

Then I used a semi-gloss black spray paint to change the color of the frame.  It required only one coat, though I had to apply it in two sessions so as to get all the nooks and crannies.

While that was drying I attacked the cushion, which (even if the pattern hadn’t been out of date) needed a new cover.  Yikes!

Stripping the fabric from the cushion I discovered this strange anomaly:

My cushion was it two parts!  This made it a bit harder to recover alone, as I had to hold the pieces together while pulling the fabric taut around it.  In the end it worked out ok, it just made me wish for a few more limbs.

To recover the cushion I’d decided to use a paint spattered drop cloth, thinking it would give the bench an eclectic artsy look.  To recover the cushion, you simply pull the fabric as taut as possible and staple!

I didn’t want to spend any time sewing the corners into neat lines, so I decided to fold the fabric ends like it was a giant present! (Please don’t tell Martha!)

After that, I simply screwed the cushion board back on to the frame.  And voila I was done!

I’d added a few more paint splashes across the cushion, thinking it would make it more expressive and dynamic.  To my dismay, it ended up looking like an amateur art school project.  So I taped a chevron pattern on the cushion and painted the lines black.  So voila! Now I’m done.  I think…

The fiance likes the look of the paint spatter peeking through the lines.  I’m undecided.  The good news is that I can leave it as is for now and decide later.  I can easily paint the in-between lines white or some other color to make the whole bench look a little more sophisticated.

What do you think?  Change it or leave it as is?

Anxious, Anxiety, Panic

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the most difficult parts of raising an autistic child is his inability to communicate with me.  What makes this even harder is that I know it is just as frustrating for him as it is for me.  Being unable to communicate how you’re feeling or what you want, must be incredibly difficult and confusing.  One of the main tenets of therapy (and Catholic confession) is that saying something out loud helps you to become unburdened of it.  Giving voice to a problem is often the first step towards rectifying that problem.  Unable communicate (or perhaps even identify) what the problem is can only cause more pain and frustration.

My vacation has caused Connor no end of anxiety, a feeling he is unable to properly identify or explain.  Instead he has shown me through his actions how he feels.

It began with him being a little anxious.

When we returned on Friday night from our brief vacation, Connor was already asleep in his bed.  It was no surprise to me when I woke up Saturday morning to find him snuggled up next to me.  I would have been surprised had he not been there!  In fact, I was prepared for some clinginess, some whining, etc. all that day.  But it never materialized.  Sure, Connor didn’t want the fiance to go to the grocery store without him.  And Connor hugged his legs as he stood in the hallway.  But all I got were some lovely smiles and hugs, and then Connor was on his merry way.

I should have suspected that Connor was not as ok as he seemed given that he was having an overwhelming number of nightmares.  Crying in the night, he’d run into our room yelling out “Mommy, mommy!!” searching for me in the dark.  Then he’d pull my arms around him, tighter and tighter, as if there would never be a point that we could be too close.

Still, everything seemed fine during daylight hours.  And when Monday morning rolled around, Connor was happy, even excited to go to school.  We talked about school all morning and Connor animatedly ticked off which of his friends he was going to see that day.  Hurrah for school!

But by the end of the school day, that anxious feeling that haunted Connor’s dreams had blossomed into full-blown anxiety.  When I picked up him, he was cranky and eager to see me.  At home he stuck pretty close to me for the rest of the day, alternating between happiness to be home and whining that he didn’t have my full attention.

It wasn’t until the next morning that we had our first panic attack.  Sitting at the breakfast table Connor began to sob, hot tears rolling down his little face.  “No school! No school….” he repeated, sounding more and more like a plea than a demand.  His sobbing only increased as I tried to tell him it would be ok and his friends would be there with him.  Connor just worked himself up more and more to the point that he ended up making himself sick.

And while I know that school is important and maintaining a regular schedule is important, I’m not about to send my child to school when he is that upset.  I don’t care how important education is, one day of emotional and mental health is far more important.

As I told him he could stay home, his face relaxed but the tears took quite some time to stop.  Connor then asked to go to bed, to go to sleep, which is so very unlike him that I began to worry that there was something physically wrong with him as well as his overwhelming anxiety.  My own anxious feelings began to rise as I worried over my little child.  His distress was palpable.  And there was nothing I could do to reassure him, other than hold him in my arms as we lay in bed watching Thomas and Friends episodes.

Throughout the day we had periods when Connor seemed absolutely fine and periods when I couldn’t even use the bathroom alone.  Having someone come into our house for his ABA therapy sent him into a tailspin, but going to see his Nana and Grandpa made him happy and giggly.  Playing a game was beyond him, but going for a walk settled him down.

I didn’t know what would comfort him and what would set him off.

So yesterday we consulted a variety of our team members (I call them team members because all of us, parents, teachers, therapists, psychologists, family members, etc. are all in this together.  We’re all on Team Connor.) about what we should do to help his anxiety.  Sadly, the answer is there is no quick fix.  There are a lot of steps we can take to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future, or at least his reaction to my absence isn’t this severe, but there’s no switch we can flip to make it better now.  We just have to live life like normal.

For five days of vacation, we’ll have to spend at least double that amount of time trying to repair the damage our absence did.  And like any good Catholic girl, I feel incredibly guilty over this.  If Connor could yell at me or be angry at me, I would find that easier to bear.  It’s the despair that I left him and the fear that I’ll abandon him again that is killing me.  When he clutches to me, with tears rolling from his big eyes, I want to join in!  I want to promise that I’ll never leave again.  I want to promise that everything will always be ok.

But I can’t do that.  I can’t stop living my life.  That would not be healthy for either of us.  I can’t fix everything for him.  I can’t protect him from everything.  I can only prepare him.  Even if it hurts me to do so.