Tuesday March 5, 2013

Today, WordPress informed me that it was the anniversary of when I blogged my first post.

If only they knew how emotionally loaded that notification would be.

I was a little weary of going back and reading the post. I knew it would remind me of how very homesick I was and how much my heart ached after moving here away from my family.

But, alas, I did.

It was a very bitter sweet feeling. It did remind of how homesick I was and how my heart hurt, and still does. I don’t know if I will ever truly feel like this is where home lies, because there is such wisdom in the saying, “Home is where the heart is”.

My heart is still on the other side of the state with the rest of my family. It doesn’t mean I don’t like here, even though I’m aware I complain constantly. I do like it here. I like it for my husband, who started the career he has always wanted. I like it for my boys, and the experience they get by living in a small town. I love the education they receive. I love all the little quirks of small town living that you would probably never even hear of in a bigger city. (When exactly is, “Bring Your Tractor to School Day”, again?) And of course, I love all the new friends I have made, because without you guys I think I would be down right miserable.

I love feeding the ducks.

I love walking three blocks to “downtown” to watch the latest parade.

I love how people feel like you are family after mentioning who your parents and grandparents are, simply because of having roots in the town.

I love, love, love, the special education team that works with Richie.They have affected the core of my family in the best way possible. Without them, I’m pretty sure we would be lost as to what was going on in our little guy’s head, but they gave us the window to see in.

I love that it only takes 2 minutes to drive across town.

I love the police department, because it was many of those people and their families that have introduced us to the small things about McCook that I may have never known. They helped us move in, hauled the furniture up and down flights of stairs. Their kids have babysat our kids, they have driven by my house at night when my husband was away at the academy to make sure all was well, they have listened when I have been homesick, they have helped me come up with cool gifts for Austin, and they have always been able to point me in the right direction whenever I’ve had a question.

So, am I still homesick? Yeah.

Does my heart still hurt? Absolutely.

Did this notification make me go back and realize how much life has changed this last year and how although I carry around this homesickness in my heart, how we’ve come a pretty long ways? Yep.

The boys are doing so well.

I am so proud of Austin becoming a police officer, and volunteer firefighter that I think my heart may burst.

And me? Well, I am THIS much closer to my degree.

One year ago today, I sat down with a heavy heart and started writing about our journey to McCook, scared, sad, and unsure on what the future held.

Today, I write with more assurance on what life has in store for us, for me, and if I want to be incredibly honest with myself, it’s not that bad looking.

Love Amid the Great Plains

Official McCookies.

Today the boys are going on a field trip with me to the new police station and fire house. They are having an open house for the town and I guess half the town will be there. After that its off to see grandma.

I’m finding it hard to develop motivation for unpacking today. The kitchen is done in thanks to my sister, the boy’s room, and living room. Currently that is sufficient. The kids have fun hiding behind all the boxes and making little hiding places with them so I figure I am doing them a service by leaving the boxes untouched. The homesick part of me wants to keep the curtains drawn and not leave the house in hopes to pretend I am not so far away from home, but my mind doesn’t seem to be believing it. It isn’t home yet here, just “the house”.

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Untitled: At A Loss For Words.

It’s been a long week.

Truthfully, it’s been a long few weeks.

After my getting Influenza A/h1n1, I thought I started to feel better after a few days. I’m still sleepy, and sore, but definitely no 104 degree temperature.

Then there was Danny. He got a fever Wednesday night, and woke up Thursday morning with a 103.5 degree temperature. We took him to the doctor immediately who of course, assumed it was Influenza, (it was), and gave him some tamiflu, as well as for Richie so he didn’t get it. Later that day got worse though, and Danny could hardly wake up, his fever wouldn’t break, and then he says: “Mama, my neck hurts. Mama, I can’t move it.”

I had been texting my friend, (thanks Kelli!!), at the same time about the fever, and she was texting me back. Then I texted her the info on the neck part of it, and I don’t think I had any sooner pressed “send” on my phone, that she was calling me saying, “ER, NOW!”

So, off to the ER with a quick text to both sides of grandparents, and my sister. Danny was hardly responding, and his fever was still going strong despite any meds. The nurses were great and moved fast. Poor kid had to have his nose swabbed (freaking ouch!), and get blood drawn. It came back that he did NOT have meningitis, just h1n1, and with no relief from his fever his whole body was stiff and he was just having trouble moving.

We hung out there for a while, and they sent us home later that evening, telling me that a couple of more doses of tamiflu would have him back to his normal self. As you can see,  Danny on Thursday:

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Boy, they were not kidding. Danny was more than back to normal the next day, no fever, no nothing. I couldn’t get the kid to sit still because I still wanted him to rest. One can only do so much though. So Danny set out to clean the couches (he wanted them shiny):

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I’m telling ya, tamiflu in worth it’s weight in gold, literally. He is definitely better, and ready for school tomorrow, no doubt about it.

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After these couple of goods days, I manage to get myself strep throat and double ear infections. I definitely feel like my body is mad at me right now, although why, is unbeknownst to me.

So there is the sick part of it all.

Onto the Autism.

My little Richie… Oooooh, my little Richie.

I may have been deathly sick this week with h1n1 and Danny too, but I wouldn’t question for a moment that Richie has had it harder. Two nights ago, my Facebook status read:

“Some days are good, other days are bad. Then there are days where I want to shake my fists at God and scream at the top of my lungs how much I hate Autism. Today is that day.”

Then, while trolling things related to autism, trying to find something motivational, inspiring, or just another parent who get its, I found this:

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So, okay, I definitely have other parents out there who clearly get it.

This whole week has been leading to Richie’s downfall. My being sick and not present, Austin not working and throwing off that schedule, Danny getting sick and being home, while Richie goes to school. It may sound like small things, but schedule and normalcy is vital to his day going smoothly. One wrong person out-of-place, one thing timed incorrectly, even a SMELL, can throw his day for a loop.

Richie hasn’t been eating much so Austin and I decided to make pasta. It’s his FAVORITE meal, hands down. However, we always have too much sauce to pasta and never enough for leftovers so we threw in two boxes of pasta… two different kinds of pasta. First mistake. Second mistake, not telling Richie that’s what dinner was going to look like, because had he been ready for a “surprise”, he may not have lost it to the extent he did.

I put the plate in front of him, he was jumping up and down, he couldn’t wait to eat, and then he looks at it, runs away, starts crying, and says how he can’t eat it, he can’t eat, he can’t eat it. I realize what is happening right away and try to get him to tell me which part of it he doesn’t like. I already knew it was the colored rotini, because penne pasta is the only kind he will eat. It was too late though, he was gone.

I hadn’t seen him get that way in a long time. He wouldn’t let me touch him. He wouldn’t let me get close to him. He held his hands out, at arm’s length, as if to stay “stop”. When I would try to walk to him he would cry, “don’t touch me, don’t touch me, don’t touch me”.

As a parent… it literally takes the breath out of you. You have this amazing, wonderful little boy, who has lost complete control over his body and senses, and you can’t even hug him and tell him it’s okay. He’s hurting, literally, it can be physically painful for someone with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder to feel that way. It’s just an overload.

Every time Danny or I even look at him, he gets worse, and he started to flap and bounce back from one foot to the other, and you could just see all the ASD and SPD come out of him in the worst way.

I sat in the rocking chair, completely slumped over; defeated. I didn’t know what to do. Austin had to leave for work at the same time all of this started happening which only compounded it all, because Austin had been home for a week, and was now gone, and I’m sure Richie didn’t get that routine change either.

So there we have it. Richie is inconsolable over a minor change, and I’m defeated, lost, and trying to stop the tears from overflowing my eye lids.

I have people ask me, “isn’t it hard raising someone autistic?”, or “how do you do it”?

The thing is, I just do. Austin just does. It’s not hard on us, it’s hard on him. I would sit here a thousand times over feeling the burden and pain weighing on my heart of watching Richie not be able to process things the right way, if that meant Richie wouldn’t have to feel this way anymore. The only thing “hard” about autism is having to watch your child go through it, and knowing it’s hard for them. Otherwise? I’m just a parent. I’m just doing what’s best for my child. Isn’t that what anyone else would do for their’s? I’m not the one affected; Richie is.

Maybe some of you are out there thinking, “This? Over pasta?”

Bite me. It’s not about an uncontrollable child. It’s not about disciplining more, or punishment. Trust me, it wouldn’t do anything. Richie is not acting up, he is acting out for help because his body literally can’t process all the changes. Richie is a very well-behaved child, and anyone who knows him will say that too.

Back to the Pasta Saga. After 15 minutes or so, with all his odd little behaviors starting to come out, I sit there and yell at myself in my head, “I don’t know what to do!” It is so painful not being able to help your kid. Here is Richie, standing there, having this freak out, and he’s looking at me, and although unable to talk now, if he could have, I swear to you he would have said, “help me, squeeze me, make me feel better, do something” because that’s what his eyes were telling me, even though his body was telling him something completely different.

I said screw it. I told Danny to go upstairs and get Richie’s weighted blanket. I ran over to Richie, who tried to run from me, and he screamed, and kicked at me, and said no. I shushed him and said things would be okay, to just let me try.

You have to let me try.

I laid him on the couch, grabbed the weighted blanket from Danny, and threw it over Richie, while tucking in the sides. Then Danny and I walked away. We didn’t look at him, we didn’t talk to him, we didn’t try to sit by him. He cried for a few more minutes, but he didn’t try to move. After 3 minutes he let out a deep breath and wiggled down into his blanket more.

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I looked at Danny, and raised my eyebrows as he smiled back at me. He came over and gave me a tight hug, and climbed in my lap. Sometimes I forget how much of this Danny feels too. He loves his brother dearly, and there are many times that Danny alone can calm down Richie by getting him involved in play. This time, though, we were all helpless, and I could tell by the worrisome look on Danny’s face that he was just as relieved as me that his brother was starting to find his center.

Ten or so minutes later, Danny got up so I could go sit on the couch by Richie. Richie looked at me, and although I studied his face, he wasn’t letting anything on. I waited. Every few minutes I would move closer to him. I would keep studying his face, and he would give me nothing.

Then. Then, I finally got right next to him, reached out slowly to put my arm around him, while watching his face, and he didn’t protest. So I pulled him toward me, wrapped my arms around him, kissed his head, and let out the breath that I realized I had been holding this whole time. He nuzzled into me, and grazed his head on my mouth which is his way of asking for kisses.

Did I learn something? I’m not sure. Next time will probably be different. Did I learn that although I love everything about my little guy, and every quirk, that sometimes as bad as it might sound, I hate autism? Yep.

I learned that it’s unfair. My child shouldn’t have to go through this.

Am I resolved to soak in as much research, guides, and help from other Autism Parents as much as possible? Damn right. However, that is the unfair part. The puzzle of it all. I can read till my eyes glaze over, but that doesn’t mean anything I find will be of any use to Richie.

I suppose, if I had to say one thing I learned for certain, is that there are going to be definite times where there is nothing I can do, and I am left helpless. This is a hard thing to swallow. My motherly instinct can’t even carry me on all of this, and I depend on that constantly. There are just going to be times that are out of control, for no reason, or even a big one.

The rest of the week with Richie was hard at school. He wasn’t as happy. Home was hard. He was lining up cars constantly.

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Sometimes it’s the only thing that calms him down. He also didn’t even want pictures taken of him this week…

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He kept pushing it away. It’s all “normal” for autism, I understand that. Sure as hell doesn’t make it easy.

The night of the Pasta Saga I went to my room, and cried for a bit. Talked to my sister. Stared at the ceiling. Then decided I just needed to keep busy, so I made these:

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It’s a pretty calming project. Pulling the Paracord knots super tight can be tiresome after a while, so it gets out the excess frustration.

Even going back and reading this, I have no idea what to title this post. It makes me feel so angry, and so sad at the same time. Life can just be day-to-day life with Danny and I being sick, and then, pain, sadness, and chaos at a breath of Richie’s Autism.

There’s just no words.

 

The family that gets sick together, stays together.

Well, these last few months of random bouts of colds, snot, throw up, and other horrid bodily functions have left little to be desired. But I have been repeating the mantra: “I will not get sick, I will not get sick, I WILL NOT GET SICK” (or at least deathly sick)…

Finally got sick.

And sick with a freaking vengeance, people. I went to the ER (thanks to an amazing friend who lets me wake her up at 5am whining about how horrid I feel) and have some Influenza A/H1N1 crap, I’m not too sure, other than I feel like death and I have slept for 48 hours straight, than another 16. It wasn’t exactly the kid free vacation I was looking for.

However, my family, who are all fighting their own little colds, ear infections, sinus infections, and what have you, are handling my disappearance like champs. Even my little Autistic Richie has made me swell with pride at his flexibility in this.  Danny has been keeping busy, keeping his brother busy, and trying fruitlessly to keep the living room clean. Austin has been my rock, and sneaks into my room all ninja like to check how fast my pulse is (it was at a resting 190 beats when I went to the ER), load me up with fever reducing medicine, and to throw out a occasional (and absent, I might add,  just to play it safe) threat of having one of his buddies come over and stick me with an IV since I wasn’t drinking water.

I have resigned myself to bed, to sleep, and alas, to pinterest. It’s got some cool stuff though, I learned how to stick a super hard scrubby brush on the end of a power drill to REALLY get that bath tub clean, how to organize Richie’s thousands of MatchBox cars with magnetic knife strips stuck to the wall, and even how to make glow in the dark bowling pins for when we (or they) go camping this summer.  Really, it’s pretty cool, you should look at my site over there too! 😉 😉     http://www.pinterest.com/Always4simple/  (No seriously, I wasn’t kidding)

Anyway, today was the first day downstairs, just for a quick peek. Any parent would chuckle to themselves right about now. Clothes, shoes, blankets, pillows, crafts, Legos, cars, dishes, wrappers, movies, kleenex… it’s everywhere. Dad is passed out on the couch with his hand lapsed over the top of his head, in obvious exhaustion, but hey, the kids are fed, happy, and EVEN CLEAN! Not only did super dad manage to keep them busy and QUIET but he even gave them hair cuts, which is no easy feat with Richie and his sensory processing disorder mixed into the Autism.

All in all, I call it a win.

I even came downstairs to find this waiting for me:

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Gosh, I love that man.

Lastly, before I retreat back off to bed for another 12 hours of sleep and probably a few pins on pinterest (and certainly before my husband catches me out of bed), because just this post has made me a little dizzy already,  if anyone has any old wives tales, or tips and tricks, on how to beat the exhaustion, the cough, the snot, the everything, I would REALLY love to hear it. Never hurts to try!

 

Who said life wasn’t easy- TAKE TWO!

I’m a music person. Just am. This is what I listened to as I wrote this. It’s Glee, but it’s good!

Take Two is better anyway, so scroll all the way down, there’s been changes!

I have disappeared from this world. Meh. What can you do? With some nudging from she-who-will-not-be-named I am back here writing again. Frankly, if I stop, y’all just go out and start spamming the heck out of my inbox, k?

As far as the last few months… I could spend pages and pages and pages catching you up, but I won’t. We’re alive. We are healthy. We are here. Capiche?
(Total side note, what is your preferred way of spelling capiche? There seems to be dozens of ways to do so, correct or not).

I’ll start with the basics as of this week, if that works for everyone.

Danny has had quite a few fabulous weeks at school with no run ins with his teachers and he is listening well, so yay Mr. Dan. I think he’s being challenged quite a bit now, too. For Valentine’s Day, he made Austin and I these:

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Couldn’t ask for a better kiddo. He is doing well with all of this Richie business. He handles Richie so well, and is so patient. Austin and I certainly are not the only ones learning which idiosyncrasy will get Richie up off the floor and stopping crying.

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Richie…well Richie has been the tough one these last few weeks–and well, months. He has received an Education Verification of Autism through the school, that was administered by two autism experts from Kearney, the speech pathologist, occupation therapist, head of the SPED-Special Educational Department, the school principal, school psychologist, Richie’s preschool teacher, and finally, Austin and I. It was determined that he is High Functioning, which is good. High Functioning is sort of the new term for Asperger’s, which is no longer used in the medical community.

They administrated a type of test for Richie called ADOS – The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. That “test” is what was used to say Richie fell on the Autism Spectrum, because don’t forget kids that may make certain amounts of eye contact, and even like to cuddle, like my little Richie does, doesn’t mean he isn’t on the spectrum. Like ‘they’ say, “When you’ve met one child with Autism, you’ve met one child with Autism.” Get it? 😉

So Educational Verification, MDT report (Multidisciplinary report), IEP (individualized education program) all in hand, and as Richie like’s to say about EVERYTHING, CHECK!, we then take his paperwork to a doctor in North Platte who observes Richie, very thoroughly reads the ADOS and everything else, says it was done impeccably, and one of the most thorough ones he has looked over. Go McCook Public Schools!! Richie is now Education Verified (EV) and Medically diagnosed as Autistic. High Functioning. (Good.)

Let me clear a few things up before I move onto the services that he will receive through this.

Richie has Autism. Autism does not have him. Since I guess there are many people out there, including my own friends and family trying to find the most politically correct way to talk about this, I’ll just tell you! 🙂

Richie is not an “Aussie” I hate that, it makes him sound like he’s from Australia.

Richie is not AN autistic Richie IS autistic.

Many parents don’t like many things but I am fairly flexible as this goes, as long as you don’t go “The Autistic Boy.”

Richie has autism, Richie is autistic, etc, etc, is fine. And never be afraid to ask! Believe it or not, we don’t really get tired of the questions, because we see it as you trying to understand our child better! 🙂

Be forewarned though, many parents aren’t as flexible.

On another note…

Richie is a boy, that is NOT a requirement for Autism.

Richie does talk as best he can: talking doesn’t mean he is not Autistic.

Richie will make eye contact, goof-ball or no, but YES, still is autistic. (He was being a scalawag here!)

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Richie is even pretty tender-hearted with his family, and I call him my second skin children with autism (the proper way to say versus autistic child, by the way), don’t have to be withdrawn and act as if they don’t like their parents or can’t show affection.

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It’s a spectrum people!

Austin and I were even at an urgent care a few weeks ago for an ear infection Richie had but he wasn’t cooperating. Austin apologized and explained Richie was autistic (I’m flexible). The doctor then looked at us, no joke, an MD people! And said,

“He doesn’t look autistic, who told you that”?

I lowered my eyebrows, and threw out the laundry list of people who have told us he is autistic and if it wasn’t for the realization that I would have to hear this stereotype over and over, why would I waste, “What are your credentials again, and oh, remind me what autism looks like, I seem to have missed that fact” on the guy I needed to treat my kids nasty ear infection? So I just left it at that, and he didn’t say anything else.

On the other hand, some awful women in Wal-Mart was shooting me the dirtiest looks ever when Richie was having a sensory overload and throwing a fit. I mentioned in passing that he was autistic, sorry for the noise. She stopped walking and looked at me, looked at Richie, then looked at me. She then said, “He doesn’t look autistic.”

I paused and stared back. Blinked a few.

Then asked her, “What does ignorance look like?”

Gave her the sweetest smile I could muster and walked away.

Bygones.

Sorry, folks, some of you might think it was uncalled for but this is my baby we are talking about and I am just SICK of the comments and dirty looks, and pure and simple, sometimes I just can’t help myself! So I walked out, with a smile on my face in tow.

Anyway, back to the services thing. Richie will be receiving speech and occupational therapies through his preschool at the McCook Public School. We will also be receiving help for more home-based issues that come up through the doctor in North Platte. I really feel like we are making progress. Richie still has days like this, quite frequently and I imagine he will always be the boy off to the side, because socializing is just too painful for him:

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But he is starting to come a long way at school. He can put his own coat on now, minus the zipping. He is finally able to cut things with scissors with the teacher’s help, and he wouldn’t do any kind of coloring craft before.

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The white hand in the middle of the heart is actually Richie’s hand, but it’s in the sign for “I love you” in American Sign Language. They teach all the kids at preschool.

Danny, the little champ, is amazing. He handles this perfectly, and realistically, is probably more grown up then he should be. He receives perfect grades at school and is involved in the accelerated reading program. He loves his class. He did start wrestling this quarter, and will be starting soccer in a few weeks. CCD is also our every Wednesday thing now.

First report card:

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A few other projects he has brought home:

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Austin, as I expected is loving small town living, and small town policing. The man was made for it. He simply loves it here. He likes all the guys and gals he works with, as I do, and on that front, we really couldn’t have asked to walk into a better situation.   He’s proud of himself, and of course, as well are the boys and me of course!

Danny wanted to bring Police Officer Daddy for show and tell, for those of you who didn’t know.

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As for me…well, I’m not a country girl at heart. I’m just not. Tried to embrace it, get the hang of it. My heart just belongs in a city. I’ll stay here, and be happy here, because I have my boys and husband, but make no mistake, I miss all you guys on the East, and it makes my heart ache still more than words can express.

The words, home is where is the heart is, have never been so true, as they are now.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

OK, so it has seriously been so long since I last posted that I actually had to check my last post to make sure I didn’t go over the same thing.

Life since I last posted is going well.

Busy.

Hard.

Boring.

Sad.

Fun.

It’s been an entire spectrum.

I did manage to finish my first year of college a few weeks ago, with a 4.0 GPA. I am darn proud of it, especially since my last quarter began smack dab in the middle of us moving from Omaha to McCook and finals took place the week after Austin left. I already have registered for classes in the fall, and it will probably be my last quarter at Metro Community College before I transfer over to Peru State College to go straight for my bachelor’s degree in Accounting. From there I will be able to also get set up to get my CPA, and they can even lead me down the path to get my MBA so I’m  excited about it. I am happy I decided to go straight for my bachelor’s instead of associates, too.

Next in line of topics, as many of you know, is Austin has left for the Police Academy. He does get to go home on weekends, but no matter what anyone else says, its just not the same. Having your significant other only come home for about 18 hours every weekend leaves many in betweens, and many things missed. Like him. I miss him.

The kids miss him too. The night before he left the boys were clinging to him.

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The day Austin left, Richie really wasn’t understanding what was going on. I think he may have thought we were going to Omaha to visit Ooma and Papa since Austin had a suitcase with him. Either way, it was hard convincing Richie that he wasn’t going with Daddy.

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It was hard for Daddy too…

The first week that he was gone caused a few problems. The boys had a hard time adjusting. Danny complained of headaches, while Richie would wake up sometimes at night and ask about Austin and then would sleep during the day.

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The first weekend Austin was back was a three-day weekend, so we were able to pick him up at Grand Island on the way to Omaha to see my family and were able to stay till Monday afternoon. It was such a great time. The boys just fall into being with Ooma and Papa, and get right into the routine of it all. We did lots of fun things. The boys gardened outside with Ooma and Danny helped Papa mow the lawn. Mariah came up, with Chunky Monkey Ayden, who is doing great, and Jess was able to sneak away and come see us with Della!

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Danny even learned how to cook a little.

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We even had some family over and Danny was very proud to do his Spiderman Puzzle that Aunt Jess got him, with Aunt Kate and Aunt Jean.

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No matter how fun the weekends are there, leaving Omaha is hard every time. This time, though, this time it was really hard. I don’t know why. I don’t always understand it. When my mom gives me my last hug, I feel her arms close in tight around me, and it’s like this trigger just goes off. If anyone knows my mom, they will know that she isn’t a huge crier, but something about that last embrace brings us both to the edge of tears that no amount of deep breaths can stop.

For the first hour on the road, after we leave, I’m usually having a pity party. This time, the Glee version of “Smile” by Charlie Chaplin was playing. If you know the lyrics, you know it’s pretty dead on with the mixed feelings I have every time when I leave my family to go home. The first verse of the song goes,

“Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it’s breaking.

When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by.”

Austin was driving that day, and I was listening to the song with sunglasses, hiding the tears in my eyes, and started to look up at the clouds, because of the song. We had just passed the Platte River so we were in between my family’s childhood cabin and Lincoln, and as I was looking at the clouds I absent-mindedly started finding shapes and different things in the clouds- something we would do on the way home from the cabin when it was my parents, brother, and myself on a Sunday evening.

Couldn’t help but smile at myself when I realized what I was doing.

Next, I had to drop Austin off the academy in Grand Island, before going back to McCook. More tears.  After I dropped him off, I was doing my best to not start getting teary eyed all over again, because I didn’t want the kids to get sad, but even if I had wanted to cry, I sure didn’t get the chance. I had gotten to the end of the road and my phone started dinging that McCook was under a Tornado Watch.

Great.

I hate bad weather more than anything in this world. And now I’m going to drive through it.

I honestly had never been so scared. This huge storm hits I-80 and my phone is hardly working. For over a mile, every car, van, truck, even most of the semi-trucks were pulled over to the side of the road, and sorry, but plain and simple, if you see semi-trucks start to pull over on the side of the interstate because of bad weather you better pull your rear to the side of the road too, because those guys don’t pull over for anything. At one point it was so bad I couldn’t even see the car that was parked in front of me on the shoulder of the road. We sat there for a good thirty minutes, wondering if a tornado was going to just pop out of the sky. The wind was practically blowing us over and you could see the semi’s constantly shake in the wind.

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This picture was only at the beginning of it, the line of sight got much, much worse.

The boys did great though. They had on their headphones and were watching the Rugrats on the DVD monitor, and were perfectly content. Clueless children can be good sometimes.

I did finally make it back on the road, and a string of cars, including myself, were very obviously following the semi trucks because it made it easier to drive.

Once we got home it started another week of just the boys and I. That can get tough sometimes, and I have to stay really diligent about staying involved in kids activities, and knowing what’s going on around town so I can get the boys and myself out to talk with other people; mainly I just need other interaction with adults.

We waited all week for Papa to get here on Thursday of last week, and Daddy on Friday. This last week has been a blast having Papa here, and I miss him already. But the crazy times of having Papa over, you are going to have to wait and read tomorrow, because frankly it deserves it’s on entire post!

T-Ball

Well, we have started on the new journey of organized sports, beginning with t-ball for Danny. It’s been an entertaining experience, to say the least. The first day of practice, Danny, Dawson, and a few boys clung together. Danny is first in the line of four boys, Dawson, the best friend, is next in line.

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Quite honestly, I think the boys were a little intimidated by the coach!  He’s the guy in the yellow. Some of the other moms and I were unsure what to think of this guy. A few times we heard him tell the five-year olds to take off their little girl skirts, and put on their big boy pants. That pissed me off, but what can you do? He’s the coach. Even Austin said, that although that sort of tactic is used in organized sports, you usually see it in high school sports, not 5 year olds playing t-ball for the first time! Not to mention, their practice lasts from 5:30pm – 6:30pm which isn’t the greatest time for tired, hungry, boys. But oh well. Later on, this guy did absolutely redeem himself and is now showing much compassion towards the boys and is teaching them well. Who knows? Maybe his grown up tummy was hungry and tired just like the rest of the kids!

The rest of the practice was fun. Danny came up to me after 20 minutes and announced he was done playing and wanted to sit down. In his defense, we drove back from Omaha that day, and he also wasn’t the only boy who wanted to be done. They didn’t really do much except play catch that day, and of course Danny and Dawson paired up.

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Danny got whacked pretty well in the head by a ball Dawson threw, but Danny is learning how to “suck it up,” and he was Mr. Tough Guy. He had a great time and made new friends.

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After a few hectic practices came the opening ceremonies. The entire Midget League comes out, which includes all the t-ball, Cubs, Sluggers, and Softball teams. It was a couple hundred kids, easily, it seemed like. All the parents came out. Family comes out. It last for over an hour where every team is announced, and who is sponsoring them, then a little about the sponsor as well. They also get into some of the information on the older boys. Most of the parent’s were ready to go by the end, but the kids had a great time from the moment they lined up:

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To when they were brought out onto the field.

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It’s sort of hard to see Danny. He is the third kid from the back, in grey gym shorts. He’s number 6, playing for Doak Construction Team. Dawson’s mom and I were told the white pants were optional, but clearly… they weren’t. Point taken!

Afterwards they provide a big cookout for all the kids and family, with things like hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans, and chips. They even provided a gigantic tin tub full of ice-cold pop, water, and tea. Danny and Dawson had a great time eating outside.

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One funny thing about being outside with all of these people when we are at t-ball functions is the airplanes. There are apparently no airplanes that ever fly over McCook, even though they have their own mini airport that runs to places like Denver. The one time I have seen an airplane go by over head, half the team, and the people around stopped what they were doing, dead in their tracks, and looked up at the sky to watch the plane. What can I say, it’s McCook Living.

Then, the first t-ball game was last night. Their team won. Then again, the other team won too. In this league, when the boys are this small, everyone wins, nobody loses, and a score isn’t kept. Instead, they focus on making sure that each kid gets a chance to bat and to try to run the bases each of the three innings. They want to really teach the boys the basics the first time around. I kind of like that. Forget the fact that five-year olds can be the worst losers!

Danny was a stud during his game.

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Yes, ladies and gents, that’s my little man! He did really well batting too! Instead of hitting the ball down at a slant, he is getting really good at hitting the ball straight out.

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And again, because I love it so much!

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That last hit, where he lost his form some, he actually got out when he made it to first base. I felt so bad for him, because, come on, running the bases is the best part! But he walked back to his team, and didn’t even stomp a foot. I went over later and checked on him, and he said he had a great time, and that it was ok that he was out because he knew he could try again.

Watching these boys play is pretty hilarious. Most of them have no clue what they are doing, but then you have a few older ones where you just wanna go, “hey now!” because there is just no possible way they are five years old AND that good! More than half of them get home runs because the kids in the outfield aren’t quite sure yet on catching the ball and throwing it to the right baseman so quickly. There is an adult posted at each base, plus the coaches, so it can get sort of confusing to them on which screaming adult they are supposed to listen to. I find most kids listen for their mom shouting to them by name, for what to do next. I can’t say it’s much of a game, but all the boys have a great time, and most parents cheer for kids on both sides anyways.

Me? Well, I am trying not to be that mom that yells too hard from the stands and embarrasses him, but come on, he’s so good! And he’s five, and I see that sly little smile every time he hears me. ❤

Alright, so it’s been a while…

… But life has been busy!

School, work, kids, lots of driving to and from Omaha, Grandma’s, and I could keep going, but I’m sure you get it.

On a good note, I only have about three weeks left of school, and despite a very frustrating Criminal Justice teacher, I will manage to squeeze out more A’s to continue my 4.0 GPA. I’m pretty proud of it. I am going to do as many classes as I can through MCC and then I will transfer over to Peru State College to get my Bachelor’s in Accounting and I can get my CPA there as well.

So, let’s see, some of the big things that have happened is Richie turned three! On his actual birthday we pretty much hung out and did simple things. Took a walk to the local bakery, Sehnert’s, for the first time and got him some M&M cookies.

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I swear, that place hasn’t changed a bit. The same bubble gum machines are still there. The ones where, way back when, you could put a penny in and about 10 little squares of different colored bubble gum would come out. Now, of course it went up to a dime, but still, it’s pretty cool.

After the bakery we asked Richie what he wanted to do, and with no surprise he says, “ducks!”.  Off to the duck park we went.

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The boys had a blast. Next, we went to Wal-Mart where Richie was able to pick out his own toy from some money his great-great uncle had sent him. He picked out a bunch of toy trucks, surprise, surprise! We ended the day with Mac’s and cheeseburgers and french fries. I did discover that Richie loves onion rings, the little thief!

Over the week we went to see Grandma, who is surprisingly doing better. She isn’t even using her wheelchair anymore, only a walker, and she remembers things I told her last week. I have no idea what happened, but it’s much better than the place she was in.

Richie had speech therapy, and it’s going great. We are really working on that articulation. Right now, it’s the “M” sound. Ya know, the one that took him till he was two years old to say? So every time he says “mama” he curls his bottom lip over his teeth instead of pursing his lips together. (Go ahead, I know you’re trying it with your mouth right now.) Otherwise, we played outside, went to the park some more, did story time, and had Danny’s friend Dawson over. The picture is sort of hard to see, but they were playing dress up, and having so much fun together!

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That weekend we went back to Omaha, with Austin in tow for the first time since we moved, and boy, was it a jammed packed weekend! On Friday we went to Council Bluffs and the boys were able to see their Grandma Jacque and other family. They had a great time, unfortunately Austin and I had to go off and get some business taken care of.

We are selling our 2009 Hyundai to my parents who needed to replace their Honda, and we really only need to be a one car family in this town. Well, after an absolutely rotten drive back to Omaha with two kids in car seats, no room to put any of our stuff, and Duke sitting in the two by two space at Danny’s feet, Austin and I get fed up. We took the car in and get pretty much the most amazing deal on this gorgeous van.

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We love it. The boys love it. Duke loves it. It even gave us the room to take home baby Ayden with us for the week to hang out!

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That’s Ayden on the right side in his infant seat, and the boys with their head phones on watching Curious George on the DVD player! Let me tell you something. Those DVD players make the 5 hour drive to Omaha a piece of cake. Whew!

Alright, so back to the weekend at Ooma and Papa’s. Ayden was able to come stay the weekend, and he is just the best little baby ever.

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Not to mention, that husband of mine, seriously fell in love with Ayden and had some baby fever going on!

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So on top of buying the car and all the business that goes with that, and taking Ayden, we also celebrated Richie’s birthday (again)! But this time with Ooma and Papa, and Aunt Jess.

Total side note, I did just notice that Ooma and Papa are like one name as opposed to Ooma, Papa, and Aunt Jess. Hmm.

The birthday celebration was a lot of fun, although poor Richie was extremely tired. At first he wouldn’t even let us sing happy birthday to him and cried the whole way through for the third year in a row, but as soon as he saw his brother blow out the candles for him he turned into Mr. Defensive, and finally let us sing to him and had us relight the candles so he could blow them out.

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The rest of the dinner/dessert was great, and it always ceases to amaze me how homey it feels when we are all sitting around the table together. It makes me miss home, but I also think I appreciate these moments more, and I know my kids do too.

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None of us could stop holding Ayden the whole time he was with us. Danny was particularly fascinated with him.

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And it’s never a Birthday Party without Papa’s Crazy Faces!

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And, of course, Ayden joined in the festivities as well. He loved sitting in the high chair at the same level as everyone else and watching everything that happened.

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After this Richie got to open his presents. We made the mistake of letting him open Ooma and Papa’s gift first, which was a tire that unzipped into a race track with a couple of race cars. I’ll give them credit, they sure do know their boy, but it made it impossible to get him to open any other gifts!

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The next gift he opened wasn’t that much more successful in getting him to open more either: he got a batman mask.

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In fact, when we asked him if he wanted to open up more birthday gifts, he replied, “No!”. When we asked him why he said, “Because I Batman!”. Cutest thing ever. Eventually he did open everything else, with every two or three minutes going back to check on his race track.

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The rest of the weekend was filled with normal Ooma and Papa House things. Books. Cuddling. Tacos and smashing beans. Wheel of fortune. Stealing Papa’s seat. It’s always good to be home.

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Leaving is always bitter-sweet but it’s getting easier. We are developing our routine for when we are there, and although our Friday Night’s are still fresh in my brain, our Family Weekends are becoming more prominent.

As for the rest of the week, I took Ayden home with me for a few days of quality bonding time. It did remind me what it’s like to have a newborn in the house, but despite a very loud three and five-year old, I still managed to get him on a routine and he was sleeping great by the end of the week. I really loved having him here, and miss him terribly now that he’s back in Lincoln.

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Ayden was also able to meet his Great-Grandma who was just tickled pink to meet him. He did great with her both times that we brought him and even gave her a few smiles.

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Best of all, the boys even introduced Ayden to the Rugrats!

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At the end of the week, I drove back to Omaha to bring Ayden back to his mama, but first to take my boys in for their well checks, and to get Ayden checked out because he had some weird chest thing going on. My boys are doing great, and didn’t even have to get shots, thank heavens, because I was dreading it! Ayden, on the other hand, has been doing this bizarre breathing thing where instead of breathing with his stomach going out when he takes a breath, his chest goes in, every single time. (Go ahead, try this too). It’s looks much harder, and much more labored. His mom, Mariah, had already once brought him in for it, and the doctors told her he was fine. My doctor, had a different opinion, and we all are tending to think he’s right. He said Ayden had Pectus Carinatum or pigeon chest. It’s a congenital abnormality which he was most likely born with. It’s not a great deal of concern as of now. The main thing is that when he sick, if any of you have raised children with breathing issues (which I know, a lot of you have), it can make it really hard to tell if he is breathing ok because one of the first things the doctors tell us is, when you see the chest go in instead of out, call the doctor ASAP, if not go ahead and leave for the emergency room. So that sucks. Otherwise we have to watch for him getting exhausted during or after drinking a bottle, he compared it to Ayden reacting like he just ran a marathon. It does need to be watched over the years, but most likely it is just something he will grow up with and it hopefully will never affect him.

Dropping Ayden off with Mariah was a bummer, we had so much fun with him, but hopefully he will be able to come back to visit soon. Then we turned around the next day for McCook to get back to good ole’ McCook living where we open our windows to enjoy the good weather and instead get cow poop!

Oh, the smell of spring.