Tres Leches and the broken heart

One of the downsides (upsides?) of my surgical recovery is the massive amount of time I spend on Pinterest. I feel sorry for everyone who follows me because I’ve turned into an erratic researcher who flits between my Zombie Takeover Prep board and my Preschool Ideas like a mosquito.

The board that has probably seen the most attention is my food board. I’m not a dessert maker but I can’t seem to get away from anything and everything sweet.

My father-in-law retired on Friday after 40 or so years in the health care industry, finishing his last decade+ at Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Utah County as the hospital administrator. This is a major achievement and we’re all incredibly proud of him (but really just excited to have him around whenever we want).

They are coming this weekend to help out as Jason goes back to work tomorrow full time. I’m up way more and feeling good but oh, the swelling. The more I do the more I swell and it’s a painful irritant. I’d like to think I can do laundry and vacuum and reach way up high into the cupboard but that’s just stupid.

And so, what do you get when you combine mass Pinteresting + A Family Celebration + A Recovering Surgical Patient Who is Bored Out of Her Skull and Wants Something to do?

tres leches photoTres Leches.

I decided last night that I was going to get off the couch and make Tres Leches. It’s one of my current Pinterest obsessions and a dessert my girls and Jason love (and I’m pretty sure my FIL does as well). My girl Shannon came over to assist (make sure I didn’t kill myself) and the process began.

Holy Tres Leches, this is not a simple cake.

We spent over half an hour MIXING the darn thing. We’re talking a four or five bowl process with lots of separated eggs and whippings and foldings and siftings and cursings. I never could have done it without someone there reading off instructions and fetching hard to reach bowls. Half way through the process my entire incision began to throb and I knew I was in it, but what do you do? You commit.

Finally the beautifully folded batter went into the buttered baking pan and I lovingly slid it through the oven door, starting the timer on the stove for 40 minutes.

And that was just round one. I still had to put together the milk mixture. Gah.

I finally bid my dear Shannon goodbye and went to FaceTime Geneva, my long lost friend from Germany.

You know when you haven’t talked to your old friend in like, forever, and you have so much to say and kids to want to look at the screen…

Long story short, the timer when off. I didn’t hear it because it only beeped once. While I was busily gabbing away Rex, my darling 9-year-old, obediently turned off the timer and went back to watching his movie.

And the cake baked.

And baked.

And I smelled it baking.

And I wondered how long it had been in that oven but didn’t worry because I HAD SET THE TIMER.

Finally I said goodbye and followed my nose into the kitchen, glancing at the clock and realizing it had been way more than 40 minutes…like nearly an hour.

Oh the cake. It was so burned it had literally pulled away more than half an inch from the edges all around and was sitting in the pan like a hardened lump of stale bread.

So I yelled (which hurt my stomach). I yelled at my boy Rex who had no idea what the timer was for and had only turned it off because it seemed like the right thing to do. I yelled at him for ruining my cake and ruining Grandpa’s retirement dinner and ruining all my hard work and you just get yourself right to bed, young man!

Rex (my lightly Autistic sweetheart), burst into tears and apologized then raced to his room to hide under his blankets.

In less than five minutes I knew I had just burned way more than the cake. My Rex is tender-hearted to the extreme, when his sister Georgia kicks and hits him and I tell her she’s going to go to jail for assault and battery, he’s the one who cries and tells me it’s okay, she’s just little, can’t I please forgive her?

I trudged up the stairs to Rex’s room and there he was, cocooned beneath all his blankets. I peeled the layers back and told him how sorry I was and how it wasn’t his fault, what a good kind boy he is, how I knew he was just trying to do the right thing.

“Well-well-well, Mom,” he sobbed trying to cover his sweet face, “Ya just-just-just…ya broke my heart! That’s all, my heart is broke!”

Worst thing a mother can hear. I hate it when I break his heart (it’s happened once or twice before) but I kissed him and gave him space to mend. Bad Mother of the Week right here, people.

A good night’s rest works wonders and apparently so does Tres Leches because today when Rex woke up, he forgave me and asked if we could make a new cake together, a vanilla one. And when I checked the burned out husk of my Tres Leches (which Jason insisted I finish just in case the milk was magical) what do you think I found? A deliciously soppy Mexican dessert fit for a king…a retired king at least.



In case you ever wondered if God was okay with plastic surgery…

The answer is yes. Why? Because  when a person approaches Heavenly Father and says, “Hey, I’d really like to undergo major surgery that will require weeks and weeks of healing and serious pain and discomfort to my person–drain tubes, pain medication, the inability to laugh without crying for who knows how long–just the usual surgery stuff. Is that okay with You?”

The answer is most likely always going to be yes. Sign yourself up for a major learning experience? Put yourself through level ten pain? Knock yourself out kid. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Heavenly Father preferred it this way. Makes His job easier.

I’m a week and a half out of surgery and still living in my granny nightgowns that zip up the front. I knew this was going to be painful, I planned so carefully to make sure I had all the right help and the right support system and the right undergarments and the right dry shampoo and the right list of things to watch on Netflix.

But the fact is no amount of preparation can make major surgery less painful. I have the feeling that a year from now–heck, maybe only six months–I’m going to be so very, very glad I did this. But the last 12 days have been so exhausting and so pain riddled that this is the first time I could actually muster the stamina to type.

I made the mistake of overdoing it earlier this week (too many trips to the latrine plus folding a load of laundry) and today I paid for it dearly. I don’t know when I’ve ever felt so alone, ill and in desperate need of my mother. Jason only had to work until noon and I had places for Georgia to go, but just laying on the couch trying not to die seemed more than I could bear. Then I found out my friend couldn’t take Georgia and Jason wouldn’t be home until 2 and it looked so bleak…

*And then my front door opened. It was my girlfriend Shannon, there to take Georgia before preschool to make sure she got fed and ready on time. This friend has been in and out of my house all week, putting food in the crock pot and taking my kids when I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow, a never ending stream of love and service. Incredible.

After she left I was grateful but oh, still so very sick. I fell into one of those coma sleeps where you aren’t resting just incoherent. Didn’t even have the energy to let the TV run. And then my front door opened again and there was Haley, my dear dear friend who had no idea I was suffering today but because she listens to the Spirit, showed up with an ice cold Diet Coke and the exact groceries I needed to get my kids through the rest of the day. She swooped in, unloaded things, made sure I had what I needed and put me back to sleep.

But in the back of my mind I knew Georgia was coming home any minute and that she’d be hungry and had no afternoon place to go. Then my phone beeped, and there was my friend Katie who was dropping her off, offering to keep Georgia for a few extra hours and take her to lunch. Blessed relief, I laid back and slept.

Again and again it happened. When Georgia got home, Shannon snatched her for me and dropped her off at my wonderful friend Angie’s house for the afternoon–Angie who is also taking her tomorrow but opened her doors today as well just to make sure I could rest.

And the icing on the cake? My doorbell rang tonight at 5:30 and there stood a perfect stranger with the most wonderful dinner we’ve had in forever. My new friend Rachel, who only knows me through this old blog, brought us a five star homemade dinner that shut my squalling brood right up. Who does that? Somebody wonderful, that’s who.

My sister Kerry called to check on me tonight and was so worried about me, but when I told her about all the amazing love and charity and support I’ve received today we both cried a little.

People are really wonderful. I signed up for a learning experience and today I learned that even in my hardest moments I am never, ever alone. It’s been a blessed day, worth every ounce of pain because the love was ten fold.

*I highly recommend leaving your front door unlocked when you’re not feeling well. Makes it so much easier for the angels to get in.

Under the knife + a little story

I’m proud of myself. Somehow I managed to get four hours sleep last night which is really saying something.

So this is it. Today is the day I go under the knife and come out with a lot less skin and a little more silicone. I’m terrified. I’m anxious. I’m excited. I’m crazy.

This is going to be so painful.

This is going to be so awesome.

I haven’t been able to write lately. I’ve been so darn busy working with InsideHenderson, a local mag here in the area, and trying to get my life together before this surgery that everything I think of in regards to writing seems shallow and pointless.

Although last week I did have something wonderful happen.

My kids have been insanely sick, shuffling through a six day flu of high fevers and miserable coughing. I have had someone home from school every day for almost three weeks now.

Two weeks ago I taught a lesson in Young Womens on forgiving others. The thing that really stuck out was the importance of remembering that we never know the whole story. Sometimes backstory, or at least being aware of what’s happening in the other person’s life, makes all the difference when it comes to our ability to forgive and understand. Good lesson to teach, great little reminder, nice message.

That night I was downstairs around 11 pm, the last one up and busy writing when I heard noises from upstairs. By the time I got up there June was sobbing and Jason was back in bed and I found that my little girl, who had been seriously sick for two days, had been ill-treated by her sleeping father. She needed water for her sore throat and he’d told her to go down and get it herself before heading back to bed. I checked her temperature and her fever was over 101…shall I introduce you to Mother Bear?

I stomped into our bedroom, flipped on all the lights, yanked the covers off my husband and let him have it. I shook my finger, I threw pillows at his head, I growled and barked and finally left the mostly unresponsive sleeping lump to his bad dreams.

I was furious. Seriously, they’re babies and they’re sick and honestly, is it really that hard to get a sick little girl a drink of water and some Motrin??

Somehow I made myself crawl into the far side of the bed (I might have worked a few shin kicks in while I was getting comfortable). I was fuming. All I could think of was how furious he’d made me, how I was going to let him have it tomorrow, how he’d have to do some serious work to make up for making my poor, sweet sick little baby cry for a drink of water. That thought alone made me want to kick him all night long.

I woke at 2:00 in a fog, needing to use the loo. As I stumbled to the bathroom I could hear one thing and one thing only: You must forgive him. You must forgive him for this. You must forgive him and move past this, forgive him.

Doing my best to ignore the voice, I made it back to bed and instantly slept.

I woke at 5 am and had to go again (I’ve had four children, don’t judge). Once more, the moment I hit my feet the pounding words hit my brain. Forgive him, do not judge him, be kind to him and forgive him. You have to forgive him. Just love him.

It was strong enough that I finally rolled my eyes and mumbled a grudging “OK!” before falling into bed for the last hour of blessed sleep (wish I could have done that last night, I was up by 4:30 and there’s no hope for me now).

The next morning I woke up refreshed and…nice. Seriously nice. Like, oh-look-there’s-my-sweet-wonderful-husband-who-I-love-and-adore-even-though-he-mistreated-my-baby. It was legit, I wasn’t angry in the slightest.

Jason? Totally sick. He was running a fever, his sinuses had started to clog in the night and by the time he left for work he’d started in on the hacking. I realized part of the problem, he was sick last night and I, in my anger, had missed it. Being a man he didn’t self-medicate and instead tossed and turned in misery of his own all nightlong. The whole thing made sense and I was glad I hadn’t held on to my anger.

That afternoon I was snuggling with June and suddenly, I turned and looked at her. “June,” I asked, “Did Daddy say anything to you this morning? About you crying last night?”

“Oh yeah,” she said with her big toothy smile, “He came in really really early and told me he was sorry for yelling at me and not getting me water, you know, just that he loves me and stuff.”

I am so glad the Holy Ghost instructed me before I really stuck my foot in it and made a total donkey out of myself.


Epic mommy fail

Today I completely failed a child.

There is something to be said for moving. I’m not talking about the emotional weight of restarting your life, this is the literal disassembly and subsequent reassembly of your patterns and objects and routines. No two houses are alike and therefore trying to rebuild your life exactly as it was before is like trying to make chicken soup with shrimp. Shrimp is good but it doesn’t taste like chicken and no matter how you stir it, the flavor will never be the same.

With that in mind, it should come as no shock that sometimes important things are left unattended. Things like…toothbrushes.

This shouldn’t have happened because from the first week we landed here in Las Vegas Jason has been pestering me to find the kids a dentist. We take six month checkups seriously and haven’t missed one in years, especially where the kids are concerned. August was the six month mark and Jason did his best to shame me into finding a dentist.

Honestly, the first six months of this move was like trying to disassemble then reassemble a cooked casserole, there was always something on my worry list that trumped checkups. In the meantime we were rebuilding the morning and evening routines, shuffling bathrooms and bedrooms, starting school and dance and sports and trying to remember to pray…my kids teeth took a back seat.

In Germany June and Georgia shared my bathroom. This meant I was present and accounted for when it came to all brushing and all forgetting to brush. June’s teeth were part of my personal hygiene routine. With the boys, as long as I frequently threatened them with detailed accounts of needles jamming into their gums and the sound of the power drill, they were pretty good about brushing and flossing their own teeth.

In this house June and Rex share a bathroom. In fact I’ve made it my mission here, thanks to my dear friend Jeanie, to make my kids clean their bathrooms every morning after they brush their teeth. I’ve made such a big deal about this whole “keep your bathroom clean” business that it’s kind of replaced my old “brush till you bleed” mantra. I say, “Go brush your teeth and CLEAN YOUR BATHROOM!”

Assuming that I’ve obviously taught June how to brush and floss I have stupidly been sending my daughter to the bathroom and trusting that her teeth were being properly cared for–the back ones too. Pair this with the fact that we blew through our last six month check-up and it’s suddenly been a year since we’ve been to the dentist…

Epic. Mother. Failure.

My sweet girl has seven cavities and is going to need a crown. She was absolutely mortified yesterday when the dentist was looking at her teeth and showing us the x-rays. She’s naturally a responsible little thing who takes her personal grooming seriously and this, this was a devastating disaster.

For those of you looking at a move this next year or still recovering from a move from last year, a word to the wise. If you haven’t found them yet remember, you can never put your life back together the way it was and if you’re not careful, something will get neglected and you’ll end up finding cavities. Whether it’s your personal health, a kid’s grades, the state of your garage, scripture study, or remembering to brush your third child’s teeth, keep your eyes open.

Stupid sugar bugs.


Saying goodbye to baseball

My husband loves to play baseball. He’s a great player, he’s a good coach, and he loves to come home from work and throw the ball with Harrison.

But we’ve been overseas on a military base for the past three years. The translation? Coaches come and go from one season to the next, there is no established program for the kids to work through, and it’s been three years of going through the motions with very little skill growth. No batting cages, camps, and certainly no off-season playing. Harry was a good player in Germany. But that was Germany.

We move to Vegas and suddenly Harry is surrounded by 11 and 12-year-olds who have been playing club ball and travel ball, many of them do it nine or ten months out of the year. These kids are good, they’re competitive, and they’re part of very established programs. Nine and ten-year-olds who can pitch over 55 mph? It’s like watching a mini-spring training camp.

My kid still thinks baseball is a fun after school team activity where you get a treat after the games.

Last weekend we had tryouts for the local teams. Every kid gets placed but they have to go through a series of drills in order to see where they’re playing skills fall.

Jason worked with Harrison so much the weeks before, nights at the batting cages and afternoons at the park doing grounders and fly balls, Harrison does pretty well when it’s him and his dad.

But you put him on a field with kids his age and you’d think the boy had never worn a batting glove. Everything flies out the window. I asked him after tryouts, “So what goes through your mind when you step into the batters box?”

“Nothing,” he said.

“Nothing? Like what do you mean?”

“I mean my mind goes completely blank. I just…think nothing.”

And that was exactly how it looked. My poor kid, during the very first drill where they were fielding grounders he hurt his index finger on his right hand. When he tried to show Jason and me we told him to get his butt back out there. Harry is historically a total baby when it comes to sport injuries, at almost 12 he needs to learn to shake it off. (Unfortunately we discovered by the next morning his injury was legit and warranted a trip to quick care and a finger brace.)

The rest of the day was a colossal disaster. I’m serious, he was the only kid who couldn’t hit off the pitcher, even when the guy started lobbing baby pitches at him. He couldn’t field, he couldn’t run…I sat in the bleachers and felt like I might lose my lunch on his behalf. His shoulders continued to droop lower and lower and I could see what little 6th grade self-esteem he has managed to hold onto completely dissipate in the hot Las Vegas sun.

Jason was sick about it. “What happened to him?” he asked me that night in the car during our date. “When I play with him he does alright. He’s not a star athlete but we have fun and he’s can hit the ball and has a great arm. Out there…my son can’t play baseball.”

There is something to be said for the hopes of a father. Whatever they are, academic dreams or athletic hopes or musical genius…when you want to see your child succeed at something and they fail it’s so personal. It’s a natural response to feel like you must have failed them, not given enough or nurtured their ability along. Sure, we shouldn’t feel that way. Sure, we’re not supposed to put pressure on our kids to please us. Sure, kids need to find their own paths and not be parent puppets.

But letting go of that hope is a tangible thing and I feel for every parent out there who has had to make that shift. Bless his heart, my husband did it with love and only an evening’s worth of heartsick regret.

The next day the head of the baseball association called to say that Harry had been placed on a team in the league below him. They were worried about his safety and frankly, so were we. Harrison was willing to play, wanted to go through with it despite his horrific tryout experience.

But sometimes you have to show your kid that a shift is okay with you. It’s a lot of pressure on a child to tell their parent that all the hours and all the money they’ve put into a sport has been wasted because really, they just want to paint.

That afternoon Jason sat Harry down and put his arm around him. “So,” he said. “Mom and I have been talking and since baseball hasn’t started yet, we’re wondering if maybe you’d rather do golf this year? We found a really great program just up the road…” Five minutes is all it took.

Our boy needed to know it was okay, that he wasn’t letting his dad down. I could see it in his eyes, the worry that Jason would be disappointed or feel like he’d wasted his time with Harrison. He tried to say that no, he wanted to play baseball but it was so obvious that he was really just gauging his dad’s reaction, looking to see if that was the answer Jason wanted. What Harrison really needed was confirmation that it was really, honestly okay to let it go.

Jason gave Harry permission to not be a baseball player.

Best dad ever. They can’t wait for him to start golf tonight.

Humperdink…Humperdink Humperdink Humperdink

Allow me to take a moment and go all cliché on you: Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. There’s nothing I love more than Jason and an excuse to make out–Valentine’s Day offers both of those things and so much more.

And Boo to the nay sayers who claim that Valentine’s Day is not a big deal, that they can get flowers any day of the year. I believe in officially celebrating romantic love. I go in for the chocolate and the balloons and the sappy love letters Hallmark puts out and pink and red sprinkles on everything…love is one holiday worth making a big sugary deal over.

I hated being single on Valentine’s Day and I cherish my lover every year because of it.

Jason and I trade off in no particular fashion when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Historically speaking, February 14th always involves a surprise. Sometime’s it’s a mini-vacation, sometime’s it involves wigs and sneaky slutty behavior, and sometimes, when I’m really really lucky, it includes concert tickets.

This was a concert ticket year.

Not just any concert, The Concert. The one at the top of my please-let-me-see-him-live-before-he-dies-like-Michael-Jackson concert. This year for Valentine’s Day Jason took me to see…drum roll…

Engelbert Humperdink. Running nose to nose with Neil Diamond, one of my favorite singers from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, I am a third generation Englebert fan.


engelbert-humperdinck-the-best-ofHe’s almost 80 years old and can you believe he’s still touring? I was a little worried about going, you know how old people sometimes don’t know when to quit (I intend to be a no-quitting old person) and keep on trucking when really they’re more like an aged train wreck?

That is not Englebert.

engelbert 1

Sure, his voice has lost it’s youth and a portion of it’s luster, but the man can still put on a fabulous show. And there’s something impressive about watching an almost 80-year-old cha cha across the stage to Quando Quando Quando.

When you’re as old as Engelbert you rely on the audience to do a lot of the singing for you, taking chorus breaks to catch your breath while the entire hall belts out, “I had the laaast waaaltz with yoooooou…” Jason loves him as much as I do and wasn’t afraid to sing with all the tone-deaf old people around us. You know you’re with an older generation when you can count on one hand how many cell phones you see turned on during the concert (we were up on the third level).

I confess, I might have cried through his entire performance of “After the Lovin’,” then once again when he sang my very favorite, “This Moment in Time.” I could almost feel my Grandma there with me a few times, it was really cool. She would have absolutely loved every second of it.

Jason my love, if you ever read my blog and see this post, thank you. I think you’re a rock star. Every night that I come home from work to find laundry folded and dishes done or the kitchen floor mopped, or homemade cookies cooling on the counter and leftovers waiting for me in the fridge, I have to shake my head in disbelief.  You probably should have been the wife.

Darling, I leave you with these words immortalized by EH.

“This moment in time, this right time of day. Oh, I love being with you and watching my life at play…And no matter what comes, I know the sun is gonna shine…

Because of you, and me, there’ll be this moment in time.”

Our secret water storage system

I’ve been trying to figure out where in the world we’re going to put our plastic water containers. It gets so hot here in the summertime that they can’t stay in the garage or back yard, but my house has almost no available interior storage space so they can’t come inside. This is causing me a serious brain cramp, mental dehydration.

I was lamenting to my girlfriend this week about how freaked out I am about the Chinese invasion and its effect on the water situation here in the desert and how we’ll have to fill a few gallons before we hit the road (obviously I don’t have enough to worry about if I have this much time to focus on the maybe-evitable). Seriously though, there’s only like one road in and one road out of Vegas, we’re going to hit so much panic traffic we’ll all die of thirst before we even leave the desert.

“Um,” she said, “Don’t you have a pool in your backyard?”


Maybe we’ll just stay here until the traffic clears out. Set up shop on the corner and sell filtered pool water to passersby. Take a swim, make some pina coladas, panic with style.

I have a pool. I’m such an idiot.


Emergency Drill FHE

I am constantly plagued with a nagging pull to the back of my neck that whispers, “The zombies are coming, are you ready yet?”

Zombies, earthquakes, water shortages, whatever. In the case of an emergency our 72 hour packs would really help us–if we knew where they were. Jason and I both have super duper store bought survival kits we procured about ten years ago; we have yet to locate them with this move.

Every once in a while I think about my children and their need for survival in the event of a real catastrophe. I worry that our little kid 72 hour packs still sit limp and empty in the corner of the garage. This is enough motivation to at least collect inconspicuous handfuls of hard candy from doctor’s offices to drop in the empty front pouches. I guess that makes them five minute packs, only 71+ hours to go.

I planned an Emergency Evacuation drill last night for Family Home Evening. I put together a one page list for the back door with each family member’s name and their tasks in the event that we have to leave our house at a moment’s notice–like if the Chinese decide to invade Las Vegas or in case someone (probably the Chinese) accidentally pulls the plug on Lake Meade and our water stops.

This list is crazy simple. Jason and I each have about seven things to do, starting with “put shoes and coat on” and the kids each have four simple steps. Harrison’s list includes the dog but the little kids have it very cut and dry: 1. Put on shoes and warm coat, 2. Get blankie, 3. Get one stuffed animal or doll, 4. Get in car with seat belt.

Last night we sat around the table after watching the third installment in the family disaster/preparedness videos (my kids love them) and passed the family list. We each read our jobs aloud and Harry set the list down.

“Great,” I said, “Disaster just hit, ready GO!!! Five minutes to the car, move move MOVE!!!”

I might as well have used an electric shocker they flew out of their chairs like popcorn. The instant feeling of panic was surprisingly real and even my own adrenaline surged as I frantically tried to help kids find shoes, gather phones and chargers and passports and prescriptions, then ran to the car. Jason, who had treated the entire meeting like a slightly elevated joke, was suddenly the Drillmaster. He had the dog food in the car and his gun on his hip in like four minutes.

When Jason and I slammed the doors to the Excursion it had taken us just over six minutes. Sound impressive? It’s not.

The girls were sobbing uncontrollably, Rex was asking if we were ever going to come back to our house, no one had brought a blankie or remembered socks, and there were only two decent coats in the group. The two empty red backpacks that represented our sad attempt at 72 hour preparedness sat limply next to a half empty flat of bottled water.

But hey, we did it in six minutes.

We came in and worked on putting together personal hygiene and mini FirstAid kits for the kids’ bags. There is no food or water purification system yet (minus the hard candy), but at least we won’t be getting cavities.

This month’s goal: Find our big 72 hour kits and figure out a water strategy.



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.