Sunday, 30 May 2010

And then there were two ...

... teenagers in the house!

Happy Birthday Drew!! (or do I have to start calling you Andy like everyone else does now that you're a teenager?)

It's another case of 'where has the time gone?' It seems like only yesterday .. OK maybe last week .. that he looked like this:

and now he looks like this: (protecting his birthday cake from everyone!)

At least he still wants to receive hugs from his dear old mum!

When he was asked what he would like for his birthday dinner, he very seriously replied that he would like to continue the 'tradition' of going to Sizzler with the extended family ... a 'tradition' that was started with Alex but I suppose they all have to start somewhere! Then he asked Peter "seeing as it's my birthday, can we take the (motor)bike to dinner?" After establishing that he didn't actually want to take it inside the restaurant for a meal "duh Mum!", we agreed that he could ride there with Peter but had to come home in the car with me. I also had to continue the tradition by making a cake and decorating it with a number 13 done in rainbow style with mini M&M's. Ta-dah ... the finished product:

We managed to get just about all the extended family together for dinner and all had a great time especially when it came to singing happy birthday... it's been a while since I saw him that embarrassed! After eating some cake and dessert .. hey it was a birthday party! .. we headed outside for a photo and then I made the executive decision that he could ride home on the bike too.

We're going to let him stay home from school tomorrow for a day out with Mum and Dad (another part of the tradition) and hopefully get him a decent watch that he can keep.

All in all, I'm very proud of the young man he's becoming (even with the occasional bit of attitude!) and hope that he continues to be true to himself. Love you Drew!!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Computers suck!

More precisely .. computer problems suck!

My desktop had been running more and more slowly over the past couple of weeks but I had put it down to the fact that the boys had always been on the 'net at the same time I was. Last Monday it decided to turn itself off in the middle of my morning blog reading session and hasn't been playing at all since then.

I tried using Alex's laptop but it didn't want to let me have access to my posting page, Andrew's laptop has the ominous blue screen of death appearing at random times and Bradley's laptop didn't have internet access so I have been unable to post for a while.

I have finally managed to get Bradley's laptop to talk to the internet and the printer so I am back .. when I can wrest it away from his vice-like grip. Apparently, playing games is ever so much more important than allowing your mother her internet fix.

After a little 'chat' (give Mummy the laptop or she will go even more crazy than usual!), he agreed to let me use it on the proviso that I "don't break it as well." According to him, I have the computer death touch .. I touch it too much and it dies. We have yet to negotiate exactly what constitutes too much but hopefully I will be able to get mine fixed before his dies. Then we can share again ... oh what joy!!

Thank you Brad for being nice to your internet-deprived mother and allowing me to hog your laptop while you are in bed! I promise I'll try not to kill it ....

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

And this is why my blog is called 'life, one day at a time'...

If you met Alex this afternoon, you would never guess he was the same changeling child teen that was causing me to want to tear my hair out just the other day. I realise this is the nature of a teenager, never knowing what you will get from one day to the next but it was nice to have my happy obedient child back, if only for an afternoon.

Alex doesn't have an aide officially assigned to him at school, as the structured environment does more to help than having someone constantly looking over his shoulder ever could. However, one of the special needs aides does check in with him and his teachers on a regular basis to ensure he is coping and fulfilling his homework obligations. She, angel that she is, also volunteers her own time one afternoon a week to help guide him in the right direction with any longer-than-overnight homework assignments. Betty drops him home after these 'study sessions' as she lives just around the corner and today stayed for a chat.

She started by praising Alex for the amount of work he had managed to achieve this afternoon and went on to give more praise for the vast improvement in quality. Without any prompting from either of us, he thanked her for her help then voluntarily went and finished the project he had been working on. I was flabbergasted and jokingly asked her what she had been feeding him during the afternoon to make him listen to her.

Her reply was "I didn't feed him anything and the only reason he listens to me is that I'm not you. Haven't you figured out that teenagers never listen to their own mothers?" We both laughed before she added "Anyway, he's a really good kid and has beautiful manners. You're definitely doing something right."

And that is what I mean about taking life one day at a time. Each day is a new opportunity start over and to remind yourself to rejoice in the good things.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

A recipe ...

... for a lovely picnic for Mother's Day a very stressful day.


Absent husband (due to being away for work)
11 year old boy
almost 13 year old boy
14.5 year old boy ('Slightly' autistic is best. Even better if you can find one with ADD as well!)
My Mother
Sister and Brother-in-law


Mix Me, Mother and Sister together to make arrangements for a lovely day out at Araluen Botanic Park for a BBQ and picnic to celebrate Mother's Day. Bask in glow of expectation of nice day out, in good company, with good food.

For the week before, prepare 14.5 year old repeatedly for the prospect of going out in public with no electronic device to entertain him or bed to throw himself onto when he doesn't get his own way. Repeat process (and expectations of behaviour) numerous times in days leading up to minor 'obviously huge' event.

The night before, ensure that 'Me' gets little sleep, due to a bed-hogging 11 year old and a slightly totally psychopathic dog, who barks like the four horsemen of the apocalypse are trying to break in at 2:30AM, when it was just a pot plant waving in the breeze outside the window. Allow 'Me' to feel small amount of resentment towards peacefully slumbering children, especially the 11 year old who is hogging all the blankets and most of the space in a queen size bed.

Have 'Me' return to bed, only to toss and turn for at least an hour before finally falling asleep. Allow 11 year old and 12.5 year old to energetically wake 'Me' up at 7am with many hugs, kisses and several gratefully received and appreciated presents, followed by 14.5 year old making his way into the room resembling a drugged sloth soon after. Enjoy some family bonding time before going to have breakfast at McDonald's.

Have 'Me' fight through the crowds at the bakery to get the boys the treat food they have requested for the picnic then have a mild panic attack at the prospect of not being able to purchase the main item 'Me' was asked to bring: hot dog buns. Relax slightly when hot dog buns are found, then make trip to pick up 'Mother.'

Enjoy short visit with 'Mother' before 'Mother' being interrupted by a somewhat upsetting phone call. Console 'Mother' then corral boys and 'Mother' into car and drive to picnic destination. Endure constant repetition of "He's in my space", "He's touching me", "Now he's leaning on me", "Mum, make him stop touching me!", "I didn't touch you! I invaded your space but I didn't touch you!" from the boys and "how much longer?" from the voices in Me's head.

Park car and let out the passengers. Find nice picnic spot and settle in for quiet, enjoyable time. Upon review, realise that the 14.5 year old has managed to combine teenage attitude, over-stimulation by somewhat busy surroundings, a sense of deprivation at being removed from the usual mind-numbing electronic entertainment and mild hunger, with his autism and ADD.

Prepare 'Me' for 'not-quite-so-relaxing picnic' and then rapidly downgrade to 'Lord-grant-me-patience-because-if-you-give-Me-strength-he-will-die!' Make allowances, within reason, for 14.5 year old's repeated button pushing as well as physical pushing of 11 year old and almost 13 year old. Allow 14.5 year old to play in creek until large rocks start rising from water and landing too close to picnic table. Distract 14.5 year old and endeavour to keep entire party on even keel.

Soon after, adjust 'Me's mental state to one of 'ignore-ignore-ignore' then pray for people hogging BBQs to hurry up so 14.5 year old can be fed something other then simple sugars. Praise 'Mother' for pushing her way onto corner of BBQ plate, then curse laws preventing BBQ from being hot enough to cook sausages in less than 30 minutes. Finally mix 14.5 year old with food then pack up so 'Me' can retreat to sanctuary of friend's house.

Place boys and 'Mother' in car for return trip. Endure another round of "He's in my space", "He's touching me", "Now he's leaning on me", "Mum, make him stop touching me!", "I didn't touch you! I invaded your space but I didn't touch you!" from the boys before depositing 'Mother' at home.

Reluctantly decide that 'Me' would not be very good company right now, due to lack of sleep and homicidal tendencies and retreat to study to write long, whiny blog post. Insert occasional verbal outbursts about extreme level of noise and lack of chores being done, then stew for an hour or two. Cook dinner (or not!) then send boys to bed before their normal bed time. Sit back and try to enjoy 'Bones' on TV without falling asleep.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Sometimes I ...

  • ... don't answer the phone at home because I just want to be left alone.
  • ... wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn't been able to have the kids (as the doctors predicted!)
  • ... let people take advantage of my generous nature and I always end up angry at myself for letting them.
  • ... wish I had travelled more on my own before settling down.
  • ... hide special treat food from the kids just so I can have it to myself.
  • ... wonder 'what if this is all there really is?'
  • ... just have to laugh at the stupidity and ignorance of the people I seem to encounter on a regular basis, but only because homicide is still illegal.
  • ... just don't want to and you can't make me!
  • ... wonder when I got so cranky.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Let the bridge crossing commence.

Remember how I told all and sundry about my new job in this post? And how I was so happy to finally stop contributing to our financial decline be helping with the boys' school fees? Just in case you missed it (tsk, tsk!), here is part of the aforementioned post:

I will be working Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays for the rest of this term, unless the other part-timer wants the hours back, in which case I'm back on the scrap heap. Let's cross that bridge, climb that mountain, whatever else you can think of to symbolise 'getting over it', if and when we get there. Almost all the money I will now be getting paid will be going straight back to the school to pay the fees, but it's better than having to find it myself!

I would like to draw your attention the section I have oh-so-conveniently made bold for you. Apparently, she does and I will be at the end of the week.

I'm off to climb the mountain, cross the bridge and find some chocolate.

Oh Lindt, Lindt, wherefore art thou dearest Lindt?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

I need to share some good news and vent as well!

Good news first:

I have been volunteering in the canteen at the boys' school for most of first term and was hoping to get a job there (oh so convenient!) when one of the other girls left at the end of the term. Unfortunately (for me) it was offered to another part-timer who already works in a different part of the school who, much to everyone's surprise, agreed to do it.

She had some health issues but thought that she would be able to cope with working the extra hours but, as she confided to me later, she hadn't realised how much standing up for 6 hours straight would affect her. She decided two weeks ago that she wasn't coping as well as she would like so told the bosses that she was just going to do her original job at which point we all thought that I would be offered the position. The bosses decided to wait it out as there are plans afoot to outsource the whole canteen, but soon realised that they needed the extra person as they couldn't rely on the volunteer (yes singular volunteer! I am the only one!!) to fill the gap.

So, to lengthen an already lengthy story, I received a phone call last Thursday as I was on my way to pick up the boys from school. I won't tell you how I broke the law by answering the phone while in charge of a motor vehicle (it was stopped at the time, just not turned off) but I will say that I very eagerly grasped the opportunity to be paid for something I had already been doing for 3 months!

I will be working Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays for the rest of this term, unless the other part-timer wants the hours back, in which case I'm back on the scrap heap. Let's cross that bridge, climb that mountain, whatever else you can think of to symbolise 'getting over it', if and when we get there. Almost all the money I will now be getting paid will be going straight back to the school to pay the fees, but it's better than having to find it myself!

And now for the vent/whinge/pity party for one ...

I am sleep deprived. So, what's new you ask? I mean I'm really sleep deprived as in I only got 3 hours sleep last night in half hour lots. I'm the kind of person who needs at least 8 hours, preferably 9 or 10 hours, to make any sort of sense and be nice civil non-homicidal to those around me. I haven't been this bad since the days of babies and snoring!

Background to the current episode of sleep deprivation: I offered to have two of the boys' friends over to spend the night on Friday. These are the same two boys who have stayed with me in the past, while their parents were interstate or overseas, or just so the boys could have their friends over for a sleepover. Both of the boys fall on the autism spectrum (admittedly at the high functioning end) but they know the rules of my house and follow them, especially the one about 'when I say lights out, that means lights out or I'll put your lights out permanently' (j/k!).

Friday night was relatively late for the boys (10:30pm) but when I said bed, all five of them quietened down and went to sleep (or at least faked it well and, more importantly, quietly!) They slept all night and when I awoke, by myself not by them, at 7am, they were all playing as nicely together as five boys of different ages are able to.

Last night was a wholly different scenario. I had lost one boy to a friend's house for a sleepover and gained one extra, not related to me and who is also apparently not familiar with the concept of 'go to sleep and stay that way for at least 8 consecutive hours'.

Now this child of 11 years is a good kid. He generally follows the rules, has manners, and plays well with my youngest. His mother is a friend from my working days and we have similar attitudes to parenting, which generally makes having someone else's child in your home a much easier proposition.

However, for some reason last night, neither of the boys could get to sleep, let alone stay that way for 8 hours. Once again, I had let them stay up later than normal (to maximise their playing time), and fully expected them to go to sleep soon after lights out at 10:15pm. I crawled into my own bed and, after fighting the dog for more of the doona, was asleep in nanoseconds.

I was awoken by Brad at 12:27am complaining that he couldn't sleep. I dragged my sorry self out of bed, went and checked on the conditions in the room and, upon finding that someone ('not me' or 'Mr Nobody') had left the climate control set at 26 degrees, fixed that, threatened dire consequences if they didn't go to sleep and crawled back into bed at 1:02am.

The threat of dire consequences obviously had no effect as after that I was awoken approximately every 40 minutes with some complaint or another, with the best one being at 3:52am when I was informed that guest child had waited too long to go to the bathroom and peed all over my carpeted games room floor. Bradley had already done a pretty good job of cleaning up what he could so there wasn't much left for me to do, apart from the few little bits he missed, do my best to reiterate the importance of sleep and head back to bed.

There were two more wake-ups after that one which I did my best to ignore, then it was time to get up and wait for Drew to be dropped off at 8am. I'm sure I look like death warmed up, with steamer trunks instead of just bags under my eyes, but I have so far managed to function due to the help of my wonderful eldest child, who has been making me yummy cups of tea without being asked.

The real injustice of the whole situation is that guest child is now fast asleep on the lounge in the games room and, despite the amount of noise we've all been making, is sleeping the sleep of the almost dead. I think nothing sort of an earthquake combined with a nuclear bomb would wake him now!

Hmmm ... I wonder if his mother knows he's turned nocturnal?