Catching up on autism

I just found a reason to live in Las Vegas.

Here’s the thing about having a kid with a late diagnosis of autism, I feel like I’m super behind on the parental education. Pair that with the fact that I’m seriously shallow when it comes to reading material and usually prefer mystery, vampires and anything dystopian over biography, self-help, or uplifting religious material (minus scriptures), and you get a highly uneducated parent.

(Btw, thank you to the person who sent me the anonymous book in the mail, and thank you to my friend Shirlene for her book recommendation, The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism, which I am reading right now and really trying to get excited about even though there are no vampires and it’s not set 300 years in the future.)

But, to prove to myself that I’m not going to be a lame-o parent who ignores all the amazing material and programs out there for Rex because it means dealing with his diagnosis, I decided to hit up Google and Las Vegas and see what they have for kids on the spectrum.

And that’s how I found Sport-Social. The most amazing, coolest, funner-than-all-the-other-things-we’ve-tried-for-Rex, designed specifically for kids with autism, rec center. They coach kids like Rex on appropriate social behavior in one-on-one and group settings, using a step-by-step approach that gives them the opportunity to practice those skills with other kids, using games and sports. He goes for an hour and a half each week, they have bikes, ramps, scooters and skate boards, a small basketball court, an art room, a class room and all sorts of table games.

I’ve seen behavioral therapy for autistic kids and it is definitely helpful, but this takes it to a whole new level. Kids work in 1:1, 2:1, 4:1 and 6:1 groups depending on where they’re at socially and what they’re working on.

It’s crazy how much they breakdown the basic structure of socialization for these kids, but it makes a huge difference. For instance, when you or I shake someone’s hand, we only shake it for about three seconds before letting go. When Rex shakes hands with other kids like him, they just keep shaking until someone tells them to stop. You and I don’t need a three second rule, he does.

We took a tour of the center last night and I learned a few things.

First, I realized once again that my son really really has autism. When you live with it and there’s no diagnosis you don’t see your child’s little idiosyncrasies as anything but unique and quirky. “That’s just Rex,” is a common phrase in our family. And it is just Rex, it’s all the adorable things that make him so delightful to be around.

But it’s also autism.

“Hi,” the counselor said when he met us for our tour. He looked right at Rex, “I’m Andrew, what’s your name?”

“Oh, uh, hello, uh, my name is Rex…” They shook hands, Rex looked down at the floor the entire time in his usual shy manner.

“Rex, you have to look at my eyes when you talk to me, see? Try it again…” then he repeated the introduction and I watched Rex struggle to make and keep eye contact with Andrew. By the third try they were high-fiveing. “Awesome!” Andrew said, “Here’s a Cool Friend’s ticket, thanks for being a cool friend!”

And that’s how the entire tour went. Rex would interact with Andrew during the tour and I watched this guy work his magic, making Rex look at him, practice asking appropriate questions, and even introducing himself to another kid at the center. When Rex self-corrected or was willing to replay a scenario with proper social skills, he got a Cool Friend’s ticket. It’s like Chuck-E-Cheese, the kids earn tickets for good social skills then they can turn them in for prizes ranging from 5 to 600 tickets in value. Huge incentive.

I am telling you, this place is going to change his life.

This morning Jason and Rex were at the table eating breakfast together and Jason asked Rex about last night’s tour. Immediately I watched as Rex’s entire communication mode changed, he looked Jason right in the eye and told him about it, adopting all the things the counselor had worked on with him.

It. Was. Amazing. Even Jason (who is super skeptical of the unconventional and not sure about this place) was surprised at the immediate change he saw in Rex.

I don’t know how long we will be here, but this opportunity makes it so worth it.

(PS–This post is NOT a paid endorsement, just a mother’s notation. They have no idea I’m writing about them…)

 

 

 

Blog crazy

I think my blog is losing its mind, if you just got that old post about zombies I am super sorry, I have no idea where it came from.

Also, I know at least one person missed the joke on my last blog post and I hate to think that anyone else did so I’m going to take all the funny out of it and I’ve pulled it down.

All joking aside, I have the best job on the planet working with amazing people. I clean office buildings three nights a week and listen to conference talks and books on tape while I empty trashes and wipe down bathrooms, and I’m actually getting paid for it. Very proud of myself, I look forward to going to work.

The reason I’m working? I’m saving money so I can have my Mommy Makeover. Go ahead, think all the terrible things you need to think. This is something I keep wanting to write about but I’m secretly terrified to tell everyone that yes, I’m as vain as you thought I was and yes, I’m having plastic surgery.

There, I said it.

It makes me really sad to think anyone who knows me would ever think I was anything but kidding about the cleaning job, I’ve never been someone who would look down my nose at a job or a person for doing it, I hope that alone is clear.

I’m sure I’ll write more about my plastic surgery–the terror, the pain, the drain tubes–as it approaches. For now, I’m having it, the end.

Embracing the Diagnosis

So Rex is Autistic.

Wow. I totally just said it out loud, on my blog, for the first time. You have no idea how many times I’ve sat down in the last two months and tried to formulate something that boils down to these three little words: Rex has Autism.

“Hi Ms. Tintle,” the school psychologist said one obnoxiously sunny day in October, “Do you think you could come in this week so we can go over Rex’s IEP results?”

Rex has had an IEP since he first started public school, but the move Nevada required a full accounting and some of their own tests.

No problem, great, I’d love to come in and talk about Rex. He is doing amazingly well, he loves 3rd grade and his reading and writing have progressed in leaps and bounds. Of all my kids, he has probably made the smoothest transition from Germany.

I sat across from the school psychologist and happily leaned in to visit, thinking this was an easy review and I’d be out in a flash.

“So, isn’t Rex doing great?” I said.

“Well, he is doing great. He’s an amazing kid, I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing his IEP this past month and talking to his teachers…”

“Yeah, they send great notes home and he’s just flying along,” I said. CLUELESS.

“Yes…um…his testing was very extensive in Germany and they really did a thorough job,” she said.

“I know, we had an awesome group working with us there.” Still not picking up on her body language, tone of voice, hesitancy. She continued.

“Well, I really think…I mean, after talking to his teachers and his speech therapist…well, we really think Rex is Autistic.”

Silence.

What?  “What?” I kid you not, my tongue went numb and my throat started to close. I felt like I’d been popped in the nose.

“We’ve been observing him and I feel like we need to run a few more tests, with your permission of course.”

“Wait, I don’t understand,” I said, trying not to throw my shoe at her head, “We have had him tested–repeatedly–since he was five-years-old. Specialists, amazing developmental psychologists…you are telling me that every single one of them missed this? That you’re seeing something different?”

She then went on to explain that while they had tested him more than once for Autism, many of the symptoms don’t really test out until after the age of eight or nine. For example, you can tell a six-year-old, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” and they’ll look confused because they don’t get it. But a nine-year-old isn’t that literal. They pick up on social cues and know instinctively when a person is joking.

Rex misses those things. Completely. Tingling sensations started in my legs and my head felt abnormally heavy on my shoulders. She continued to talk.

For a moment all I could hear was one thing: your boy is broken. He’s not progressing, he’s not catching up, he’s not like the other kids. It’s not just quirkiness and anxiety, he doesn’t work right and he’ll never work right and you can’t fix this and and and and…

It is a very humbling moment for a parent, the moment when you choose to step out of the protective emotional bubble you have so carefully created and really listen to what someone is trying to tell you. Something that had worried me and bothered me even though so many great doctors had ruled it out. Were they all wrong? Was I fooling myself?

I was alone, Jason was on the East Coast, no family and no friends to lean on, I felt like the weight of Rex’s diagnosis was resting on my shoulders. For ten seconds I considered leaving. Just walking out, refusing to speak to this woman who had the nerve to suggest that my child–

“Okay. What do I need to do? If you think it’s possible then let’s run the tests. Can we start now?”

It was the hardest thing I have ever said in my entire life.

Suffice it to say, by the time we were done with the first test (it was given verbally and demanded that I really consider some of the tiny clues I had so conveniently glossed over in my mind) I knew. I knew it, I knew what the other tests would say, I knew that even though he was the exact same boy he’d been when I walked into the meeting, I was changed.

I sat in my car and couldn’t even leave the parking lot. I called a girlfriend and she let me cry really ugly for a long time. Gah, I can hardly write this because it makes my throat tight. I can just see that beautiful blond boy of mine who loves to, “spend alone time,” with his Terrarium. He’s so charming and so delighted by the simplest things. He’s bright and kind and thoughtful, he worries about me and his stuffed animals alike and loves alliterations…

And he’s Autistic.

It didn’t take long for our reaction to his diagnosis (Jason’s was very positive and amounted to total relief) to click into place with a sense of rightness. You don’t know how liberating a diagnosis can be until you finally have one and decide to embrace it. No more worries about his animal obsession, his food anxieties, his social oddities or his complete inability to tell when his dad is teasing him. It explains so many things.

My boy is autistic and that knowledge has changed our life.

 

The Sunshine Blues

Let’s talk for a moment about seasonal depression.

I am mostly convinced that the Great Northwest gets a seriously unfair rap in the big bad world of depression. I have friends–and yes, even family members–who find the constant drizzle to downpour absolutely debilitating. They talk about the rain and the cloud cover like it’s some oppressive evil force that keeps them from feeling happy.

You want to talk about oppressive weather? Try sunshine. Every. Single. Day.

It’s January and do you know where all my cute scarves are? Carpeting the floor of my car. Every day that I try to venture out into the glaring winterless sun I don a cute, stylish scarf and think, it can’t be that warm outside, it’s January.

Then I get in my car to drive away, and before I reach the end of the block, I tear said scarf from my neck, toss it to the floor and blast the air conditioning.

I have sun induced panic attacks at least three times a week. There, I said it. My soul has had about as much sunshine as it can take, I think I have sunny depression.

Wait a second, I have to google this and see if it’s a real thing.

Aha! It’s real. Check this quote from some internet site.

“Doctors say summer depression only affects about one percent of the population, who tend to sleep and eat less, lose weight and generally experience a heightened state of agitation, NBC News reports.”

With the exception of the whole “lose weight” and “eat less” part, that is me in a nut shell. I have summer depression. In January.

So wrong.

I am home this weekend visiting my family and shopping with my mom and a few of my sisters (wish it were all of my sisters, I love them to death) and here Western Washington the rain is pouring in refreshing sheets and my hair is frizzy and damp. My arthritis is already acting up, my boots are mud splattered, and I couldn’t be happier.

I actually wanted to get up and wear makeup today. Do you know how often I have the energy to fix my face in Las Vegas? Never. I frequently go face naked until 4:00 when I know Jason is getting ready to come home and doesn’t deserve a side of Ugly Wife for dinner.

I’m afraid we missed the only cold week Las Vegas had to offer and as the calendar inches its way toward summer heat my soul shrivels and I don’t know how I’m going to survive the oppressive sunshine.

I need to spend more time under a sprinkler. Or move. Moving would be good.

Canning my iPhone

With the new year I’m painfully aware of all the things I haven’t done since last January. Lose 80 pounds (gain ten, lose ten, gain ten, lose ten about eight times), keep my toilets clean for an entire week, stop screaming at people, teach my kids the words to Love At Home. All big fat fails.

I did manage to…um…I mean we have been better at…yeah. Wow. I can’t think of one thing we’ve improved on since last year.

So this year I’m keeping it super simple and I think I will only set one goal. Put down my phone. If I can put my phone away while I’m in the house and the car I will be a better person.

When was the last time you were punching out a text and realized that your kid was trying desperately to tell you something, but all you really wanted to do was flick them in the forehead so they’d let you finish your thought? That happens to me at least once a day.

When was the last time you stood next to a sink full of dirty dishes and read Facebook updates until you ran out of time to do chores and had to drive car pool?

When was the last time you laid in bed next to your lover, back to back, and wasted precious time surfing Pinterest or Amazon or playing Scrabble? I can’t help thinking that the day might come when I won’t have that man in bed with me, will I regret those hours I could have spent making out?

So this year I’m going to can my iPhone. Literally, I have a can in the kitchen and I’m going to leave it there between the hours of seven and noon (unless I have to leave the house), then between two and eight when I work Mommy Swing Shift.

We will practice the piano and the trumpet together.

We will have evening Let’s Get to Heaven lessons on a more regular basis (we read scriptures in the morning but you know how much of that sinks in).

I will finish at least one manuscript by June.

I will teach Georgia to read (gulp) before kindergarten since she asks me everyday. Okay, I MIGHT teach Georgia to read. Maybe I’ll just make sure she knows her letters…we’ll do something.

I will not be on the phone when my kids get home from school, nor will I answer phone calls unless its an emergency (aka my mother calls) or Jason, or a number I don’t know because it might be the Publisher’s Clearing House and I don’t want to miss that call.

We will get our crap together and set a better technological example for our kids. I don’t want them to grow up picturing their mother and father on their phones all the time, I just can’t stand that thought.

I feel desperate this year to be a better parent. There are so many ways we can improve in this area of our life it makes my head spin. I want to make sure I spend one on one every day with each kid teaching them something they want to learn…or should I say, forcing them to learn something so they can spend time with me.

It’s going too fast, I don’t want to miss out or waste my time yelling at them to leave me alone. This year I’m going to fix one thing: I will be more present for my family.

Post Christmas pain

It went so fast and it’s so totally, completely over. Hallelujah. For the sake of my failing brain I must document this year’s magic before it gets crowded out with a year’s worth of grocery lists and to do’s.

Once again we did our 12 Days of Christmas Nativity give away. We have a very sweet neighbor lady who just can’t seem to catch a break. She’s lonely, all her grandkids live on the other side of the country and I don’t think she hears much from anybody. Life is hard for her, you can tell she works herself to death and shoulders all the anxiety and worry that comes with no retirement.

Man, we are lucky. If you have a job and a loving family and a house that is securely in your possession, you are a blessed individual. Make no mistake.

Last year we did sock/rice figurines but due to the large collection of rocks in my backyard I decided to take a note from Pinterest and we did a hand painted rock nativity. Here’s just a few of them, forgot to take a photo of the rest before they got dropped off.

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It was really cheap and really fun.

My kids probably got caught at least three times trying to deliver rocks to the neighbors (delivered, not thrown).

The Sunday before Christmas we took her to church with us and during a quiet moment she confessed that she has felt so alone and so forgotten, getting her little people each night made her feel like someone had remembered her.

Jesus remembered. Honestly, I was too busy to do it this year with such a late Christmas start, but thanks to some Heavenly soul poking we got it together in time and I’ll never put it off again. There are so many lonely people at Christmas time.

We did our homemade Christmas gifts again this year and I absolutely loved watching our kids slave away for their siblings. Jason made Harry two secret hiding place dictionaries (the man probably spent a good 8 hours on his gift this year), I made Rex a terrarium, June made me a ton of awesome rings with turquoise stones, Georgia painted Daddy a BYU pillow case, Harry made Georgia the coolest felt play set with an old suitcase and some foam core board, and Rex made June a doll house.

Let’s talk about Rex for a moment. He was the first person done with his gift and I was extremely worried. You can’t tell Rex what to do and he threw together a doll house with an old box, tape and some ear of corn yellow pokers (dead serious) and had it wrapped and under the tree before I even had a chance to intervene.

Now June takes gift giving very seriously and I was really worried that she was going to be disappointed with his…okay I’ll just say it, it was a dollhouse for the homeless.

But when June opened up Rex’s totally beat up repurposed USPS priority mail box she acted like he’d given her the Taj Mahal, and then proceeded to spend two hours making things to go into it.

Never underestimate the value of a homemade gift when it’s given with love.

Was it a perfectly magical Christmas with no yelling or fighting? No. We got the flu right before Christmas and I was so sick on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that we had to cancel our Mexican Caroling this year. It seriously broke my heart, Harry had been practicing his trumpet and we had awesome families planning to come with us. Next year.

All told, however, it was a beautiful Christmas. We left a few days after and spent the New Year in Alpine with Jason’s family and it was such a fun reunion. Jason hasn’t seen his brother in almost four years and we enjoyed every second of it. They live up in Washington and we really hope they stay in that area in case magic ever happens and we can move home.

It was hard to come back to this cement desert on Sunday, I’m not going to lie. For those of you who move on a semi-regular basis you’ll understand what I mean when I say that some places instantly feel like home and some just never do. It’s okay, it’s part of the process. But we all felt pretty deflated coming back here. I could now count my blessings and tell you why I shouldn’t feel that way but I’m not in the mood. Just know that I know what they are and I’m cool with it here. Doesn’t mean it’s ever going to be my favorite place.

And so that’s it, Christmas in a blog post. Posterity should be satisfied.

Dinner at the Inn

This year I have one goal: make Christmas happen. Not the decorating or the Santa part, but the Christmas part.

I was walking through Hobby Lobby with my sister Kerry earlier this season and was astonished at the aisles and aisles of Christmas themed decor. Floor to ceiling, it was stocked with every whimsical, elvical, Santa happy button and bow imaginable.

By aisle five it was clear that while Santa and winter were both well represented, any religious themed artifacts of any kind were obviously out of style. We finally found one end cap with a sparse collection of nativity decorations.

One end cap.

Here they are monopolizing on a holiday that is built around the birth of Jesus Christ (or for some Hanukkah), an event where we actually give gifts traditionally in His memory, and they have no problem cutting Him out of the equation?

This makes me miss Germany, those Germans total get it. Santa’s gone by December 6th and after that it’s all wise men and camels and sheep with Baby Jesus at the end.

On Sunday night we had our Bedouin dinner which we have renamed A Night at the Inn. We did this last year with some dear friends and it was amazing.

This year we decided to do it a little differently. Jason and I spent a fair amount of time building the world’s largest pillow fort, tenting the ceiling with about 70 yards of fabric. We brought down the old Turkish rug from the play room, removed the furniture and replaced it with well-loved throw pillows.

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Our meal was strictly middle-eastern, we had chicken tagine (killer) with a Basmati curry rice and my friend made delicious homemade felafels. Fruit, cheese, flat bread–good food.

But the real motivation for this meal isn’t the menu, it’s about helping the kids understand just how crowded the Inn was that night in Bethlehem, how stressed the innkeeper was with so many families piling into town for the census.

When our friends arrived they were asked by the innkeeper’s son (who insisted on answering the door), “Do you have a reservation?” We’d given them a scroll (which I burned twice in the oven trying to make it look 2000 years old) and they proved their place and were invited in.

The room was small and there were plenty of people fighting over pillows when I started the story of the shepherds. It’s the one time I don’t mind Vegas; the weather is similar to a winter in Israel and they can really understand the dry, rocky climate.

Then we talked about the innkeeper. Imagine how stressed he was, maybe some of the families staying with him had ten kids, imagine ten kids having to sleep in one room with their parents. They listened and chewed on their grapes and naan, thinking about that night and that inn.

What if you were the innkeeper? What would you have done? Would we have told Mary and Joseph sorry, we’re too full? Not enough food left? Too many people already? Would we have turned them away?

And that’s when there was a knock at the door.

The innkeeper himself opened it this time and there on step stood two weary travelers, one of them very pregnant and both looking hungry and tired.

“Do you have a reservation?” he asked.

“No, but we have been traveling for days and we’re so tired, is there any room?” the man replied. The room was silent behind him, everyone holding their breath.

Jason looked back at the gawking crowd. “I’m so sorry, we’re very full tonight and there’s hardly any place to sit–”

And then the innocent chorus erupted, “Let them in! There’s room! Is that Mary? Is she gonna have a baby tonight?? She can sit by me!”

It was amazing. They came in and sat on the floor with the children and the little kids asked them questions about their journey and their donkey and the angel (which they answered on the fly and totally rocked). Georgia was literally shaking with excitement she was so thrilled and so amazed.

I loved this night. Our years of pulling off this kind of wonderment are numbered, my kids are growing up so fast and like believing in Santa, passing off Mary and Joseph won’t always have that effect.

But unlike Santa Clause this story is real.

Neal A. Maxwell said, “Each of us is an Innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus.” Will you be tracking Santa tonight or the wise men? Will you make room in your holiday tradition for the Christ child? Do your kids put more stock in the elf than shepherds? This is the night to celebrate the baby. He came, He lives, He loves us.

Santa, move over. Jesus is back in town.

Because Diet Coke really does make people happier

Christmas is just around the corner and instead of looking like Santa’s workshop, my house looks like a drunk elf threw a New Year’s craft keger.

Walking through our home on Monday after a weekend of homemade DIY projects with the kids was beyond disappointing. Not only do we have 142 unfinished gifts/ornaments/sewing activities on our list but no one had touched the laundry or the floor or the bathrooms in days.

In other words, Christmas stinks.

On my way home from carpool I stopped at the local Circle K for a 79 cent 44 oz Diet Coke and stood glumly in line. I’d been fighting over the ice machine with the lady behind me and we were both fidgety and anxious to get on the road.

I stood there thinking, does it really have to be like this? Isn’t there a way to feel the Christmas spirit that doesn’t involve acrylic paint and hours of baking?

As I stepped to the counter it hit me. Yes. I can do something nice that doesn’t take any time or much money and won’t necessarily make a difference in the universe.

I can buy that lady’s drink.

And so I did. For a mere 85 cents (with tax) I bought both of us a moment of really fabulous Christmas cheer. I practically floated out to the car as I heard her surprised, “What?!” and hurried to escape before she had the chance to catch up.

So, for all those hot glue gun burns out there, take heart. Here is a list of 10 stupid easy ways to feel the Christmas spirit, in 60 seconds or less.

  1. Buy something for the person in line behind you.
  2. Take your neighbor’s trash can in for them.
  3. Wear a Christmas hat to the store.
  4. Put money in the Salvation Army can.
  5. Take an ornament OFF your tree and have your kids leave it on a lonely neighbor’s door step (you won’t miss it, trust me).
  6. Turn off the news and turn on Christmas music.
  7. Smile and wave (with your whole hand) the next time someone in traffic cuts you off.
  8. Text an old friend and thank them for being part of your life.
  9. Stop someone under the mistletoe (anyone).
  10. Make a bed and leave a Hershey’s Kiss on a kid’s pillow.

The most important moments of the season aren’t made or crafted or chiseled from dried out play dough, they come in short bursts of love when we take a second or two to think of others first. Real needs aren’t met with a printable, they’re met with a hug or a kind word or simply forgiving someone for being less than perfect. That includes you.

It’s too warm for Christmas in Las Vegas

We are back from what feels like weeks and weeks on the road…probably because we’ve been on the road for weeks and weeks.

I left nearly three weeks ago to get Jason and our car and drive from South Carolina to Nevada. It was long and mostly fun except for the part where we ran out of gas in the New Mexico wilderness and didn’t speak to each other for an hour while we waited for the tow truck to hike out and put us back on the road. In hindsight we missed a really good opportunity to make out, stupid stubborn pride. Luckily we made up for it in Arizona.

Halfway through the trip we spent a few days in Texas with Jason’s sisters and their families and I discovered that I am not, in fact, on a diet. Big shocker. That was an extremely fun little stop over, seeing his family after over three years away was amazing. We must return with the children.

We finally blew into our Nevada cement suburb after five days on the road, packed up the kids and some fresh clothes, and headed to San Francisco for Thanksgiving with our dear friends from Germany, the Prices.

Coast to coast in seven days. I’m so done with cars right now.

After Thanksgiving we took the kids down to the Welk Resort in Escondido for a week of beaches and Disney fun and rained out birthdays. June turned seven while we were there.

We made three and a half trips to Disneyland. The half was another unfortunate (and unsurprising) encounter with an empty gas tank because someone in the family has an obsession with finding the cheapest diesel prices in America and not filling up until we can hunt them down. That was a very long two and a half hours with no Splash Mountain at the end of the line. We turned around and had to spend the rest of the day swimming and going to the beach. Lame.

And finally, FINALLY, we are back home in our little house. I have liked this house here in Vegas, it’s not big by any means, it’s not particularly nice and the kitchen is commonly described as “terrible.” It’s half the size of our last place (our garage is packed floor to ceiling with storage) but the kids and I have done just fine here.

So why is it that Jason and his very presence makes it feel like we’re living in a sardine can? I swear four people just moved in. And I’m not talking about stuff, he doesn’t make messes and most of his things were already here, I’m talking about people space. This is not a six person house. Five smallish people maybe. Six? Standing room only.

Frankly, we’re just not comfortable in Las Vegas.

Part of this is due to the fact that I need a constant attitude adjustment. I want to be home in Washington like yesterday, my dad’s health hasn’t been so great and I’m convinced that his life would significantly improve with a regular dose of Us. Also I really want to live by him. And my mother. She’s kind of wonderful. Plus I hate all this blasted sunshine every single day of the year. Have they not heard of overcast? My favorite cloud formation.

For crying out loud, I just wanna go home.

And so our goal right now is to pray really hard that Heavenly Father will please help us do and learn whatever it is we’ve come to this barren place to do and learn so we can move on. Please.

End of rant.

And hey, Merry Christmas! I’m up to my earlobes in holiday tricks and treats, more to come on that later this week…serious mileage on my sewing machine this year.

24 hours…

…and I leave this desert behind and go get my man.

I haven’t written much lately because most of my thoughts have been things like I love Jason, I miss Jason, I can’t wait to see Jason, nine days until I leave to get Jason, Jason Jason Jason Jason Jason.

This last month has taken forever to draw itself out. I can’t complain about my life here, my kids are as good as a group of under 12 children can be–translation: they fight and fit and cry and kick, but it’s interspersed with bursts of affection and refreshingly responsible behavior.

Like last night. It was Family Home Evening so I asked Harrison to put together a little lesson on gratitude. Harry is great at this kind of thing, he usually pulls out something fabulous and the younger kids eat it up. Not last night. Last night I was introduced to a full blown pre-teen tantrum.

After FHE I took him to his room and sat him down. There are things little kids don’t understand and can’t understand but once a child hits that 11, 12 age we have an opportunity to pony up and talk straight with them.

So I did.

I came clean and told Harrison straight out that I don’t enjoy Family Home Evening. It’s not fun and it’s not easy to wrangle the kids together and get them to sit still for a quick lesson, then try to organize something fun where someone always ends up crying. It isn’t enjoyable, it’s never easy and I’d much rather turn on Sponge Bob and go read a book.

I’m not trying to torture them.

We have Family Home Evening because the prophet has commanded it, and if my kids learn anything from us we want them to know that we are obedient, like Rebekah obedient. Remember how Abraham’s servant found her at the well and she watered all his animals? Then when he said she needed to come immediately and marry Isaac, she didn’t wait around for a farewell party or an extra week to say goodbye to the mother she’d never see again, that girl packed her case and took off without looking back. (We just read this story a few weeks ago in Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible, my kids keep talking about it.)

We need to be that kind of obedient.

After that Harrison had to come out and sing The Happy Family Song to his brother and sisters before I’d let him have ice cream. Very inspiring stuff.

Tomorrow morning I leave to get Jason. We are taking five days to drive home together. We need that much time so we can stop and make-out on a regular basis. We’re also visiting family in Texas between make-out sessions.

It’s finally over. This big hard year of single-parenting is over. We made it to America without Jason, we traveled to Las Vegas without Jason, I enrolled the kids in school, dance, football, karate, gymnastics, boxing, etc. without Jason. I managed our entire shipment of household goods and did all the unpacking without Jason.

 

And now I get to move my husband into this house he’s never lived in and try to make some room for him in the closet. I. Am. So. Excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!