Monday, December 29, 2008

Big Wheel Superstar!!

Yesterday, we had a high temperature somewhere in the 50's. I was in heaven, because it meant I could go outside without repeating "When can we go inside?" every two minutes until we actually go inside. Jupiter kept mentioning how all the snow was melting. I told her not to worry, it will snow again in a couple of days. Wednesday, the last time I checked. But since there was no snow on the road, we took out the Big Wheel.

We live near the end of our dead end street, just past the bottom of the hill. Not a huge hill, but a noticable one. At the top of the hill, my sensory seeking five year old pointed her Big Wheel downhill, started pedaling furiously, and then took her feet off the pedals and coasted to the bottom of the hill. Then she pedaled furiously back to the house and went BUMP into the front of the garage door. Then she did it again. And again. And again. The second graders up the street were impressed with her fearlessness. Jupiter was excited that she impressed kids bigger than she was.

I watched a Made episode on MTV this afternoon while I was running (HA HA HA. The other people in the gym run gracefully and smoothly on their treadmills. I sound like a herd of elephants galloping on the treadmill. I don't know why I think that this whole goal of starting a jogging regimen is going to work. For more than three days. I've never been an enthusiastic athelete. But what the's a new year.) at the gym. The girl in the show decided that she wanted to be a BMX racer. That is seriously something I can see Jupiter doing. She's starting off now with Big Wheel tricks (yesterday she also drove repeatedly into her scooter with the Big Wheel. It reminded me of Happy Days when they used to have Demolition Derbys.) and she's going to be a BMX racer with a tatoo. She drew a tatoo on her arm yesterday with Crayola marker, in fact, but it came off in the bath. Or, she says, when she grows up she is going to take care of horses. One of my goals is to get Jupiter into horseback riding, which I think will help both her sensory issues and her emotional ones. I think working with horses would be a great thing for her, and have promised that if she still wants to work with horses when she is old enough to work for real, I will help her find a way to do that.

Santa brought new snowshoes for Jupiter, which we haven't used yet because it's either been raining or too warm, but hopefully we'll get out there this weekend. Santa displayed a lack of forethought in only bringing snowshoes for Jupiter, so I may have a hard time chasing her. And she's really been eyeing the snow tube with longing. For her sake, I hope we get some good snow on Wednesday so she can go to the big sledding hill with her friend G this weekend.

Before we played Big Wheel tricks yesterday, we hung out the new bird feeder. The bird feeder is a combination gift for Jupiter and Autumn Leaf (whose new full name is Autumn Leaf Sunshine Marzipan). I haven't seen any birds yet, though Autumn was up scratching at the window earlier, so I think there may have been some there when we were not home. Jupiter can't wait to see some birds.

Jupiter has done some seriously awesome art since Christmas. She's planning on giving it all away, so I have to take digital camera photos of the art so I can have at least a virtual copy of it. Santa was quite happy to provide art supplies to the budding artist. When I get some pictures taken I will post some on the blog...they must be shared! Proud Mom talking here!

Monday, December 22, 2008


I am at home this morning because it snowed about a foot and a half yesterday afternoon and overnight. (I mean, I am at home today because Jupiter is not feeling well. If you are my boss, the entire first sentence is a typo.)
This picture is actually from the first snowflakes that fell a few weeks ago, when we had to put our coats and hats and mittens on at bedtime and go out to play in the snow.
Jupiter LOVES LOVES LOVES snow. The other day when we had a snowstorm, I picked her up and she said "MOM. I NEED TO GO PLAY IN THE SNOW!!" And she was entirely accurate, I think, in using the word need in that context. She truthfully needed to go play in the snow at that moment.
When we woke up Saturday morning, we had about six inches of new snow on the ground. At 8:30, we were out in our pajamas and snowpants. Jupiter was hurrying to do all her favorite snow things because she worried if she waited ten minutes, all the snow would melt and be gone. (I can only hope!!) At 11:15, I had to drag her back inside by force to warm up.
Today is Monday and we have 18 or 20 more inches of the white stuff. I have to admit, seeing Jupiter love the snow so much makes me dislike the snow less. It's still quite windy, so we will have to wait awhile before going out. Although the possibility remains that I will have to run down the unplowed driveway with the garbage bag for the truck if it should arrive before my infinitely kind snowblower owning neighbor.
I had Friday as a scheduled day off, so Jupiter and I have been home for four days. The first two days, I think, she struggled with the change of routine. Yesterday and today (so far) have gone much better. A lot less defiance. She has requested a new bedtime routine of me massaging her back. The first time she asked, and I massaged her back (do it harder, Mom!) she actually fell asleep during the massage. No rocking and loud music!! Yipee!!!!!!! She also came into my bed Friday night and Saturday night, and Sunday she slept until 8am!! So hopefully we've managed to soothe her internal motorcycle to some extent. That's what she calls it now when here energy bubble gets to the point she can't control it. Her motorcycle is running. The motorcycle has been getting quite a workout the last few weeks with approaching Christmas. All the excitement, lack of routine, and sugar have been making it tough.
This morning, when I was trying to keep Jupiter from getting up at 5am, she asked me to lay down in her bed so I did. She told me that Christmas is in three days, and she's going to get presents, and when Santa comes she's going to sing a special song she made for him. And Santa will teach all the elves to sing it and we can put it on a CD so Santa can listen to it when he's not working. She asked me scratch the itches on her back. She used very good words to give my hands directions. She said she really wants a baby sister, that she would play gently with a baby sister, and if the baby sister woke up at night and was scared, she would rock the baby sister. We can do that after Christmas, she says. I think she means by the end of December. I suggested it might take a little bit longer than that. We read 2 and a half chapters of The Mouse and the Motorcycle. Then, an hour later, we got up and had breakfast. Oatmeal, of course. I can't change flavors of oatmeal or even brands of oatmeal. It has to be Hannaford organic Maple and Brown Sugar. When I tried to go with Quaker because it was on sale, it tasted different and she refused to eat it.
Jupiter has needed a lot of meals routine lately. She's ALWAYS had oatmeal for breakfast, since she was a baby. Since fall, she wants chicken noodle soup for lunch. Every day. (It used to be chef boy ardee raviolis or spaghettios.) And for supper, she is willing to choose between fried rice, fish sticks, or a hamburger. Ketchup and pickles only on the hamburger, please. So I went to the meat market and bought a pack of premade hamburger patties so I could freeze them individually and take them out one at a time. She also needs lots of protein. When she doesn't have enough protein, she gets cranky a lot faster. I try to sneak it in, but she's not always cooperative.
I just looked out the window (the sun is coming out!) and saw all the snow on my roof I need to go rake off. But Jupiter will love it. And I will love that she loves it, even while I shiver and my fingers shrink inside their gloves. She can't wait to go sledding at the big hill. In my town, we go sledding at the big hill accross from the correctional center. It sounds odd if you invite out of town friends to go sledding at the prison. It's too windy today, but maybe this weekend we'll make it there.
If I don't get to post again before Christmas, Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Tree Wrestling, episode 2

I had a little internal debate going about decorating the tree. But it was already the second week of December. If I waited til the next weekend, it didn't seem like the ornaments would be on the tree long enough to make it worth the decorating. So I haul out the lights, untangle the lights, test all the lights, and put the lights on the tree.

Every year, I put the lights on wrong and have to do it over. This year, amazingly enough, I did it right the first time. Go me!! While the pizza was cooking, we put on ornaments. Jupiter stole some to put on Foursie. After we ate, I went out the the kitchen with plates. While I'm rinsing them off, I hear CRASH. Tinkle Tinkle Creak.


I know it wasn't her, actually. I actually thought I saw the tree wobbling a little bit while I was putting some of the ornaments. But it was such a little wobble I thought I was imagining it. Not so much, apparently. In the living room the tree is laying on its side. A gallon of water from the tree stand I had just filled is pouring on my carpet. I go to survey the damage. Yup. It fell over, alright.

Swell. I try to pick it back up. It stands up as long as it's totally leaning in the corner. Otherwise, it falls over. I stick it in the corner until Jupiter goes to bed. Then, since it has become apparent that I would need to undecorate the tree, I take off all the ornaments and stick them in a box. I leave the lights on the tree, but not plugged in. I lay the tree back down and take it out of the stand.

The tree doesn't go all the way into the stand. No wonder it fell over. There are a bunch of bottom branches keeping the tree from fitting in the stand. I ponder the whereabouts of my clippers. I remember that I brought them to my mother's house when we were doing her tree. They're still there. I go out to the garage and retrieve my mini hacksaw. I start to saw a branch. The hacksaw blade comes out of the hacksaw.

I hold an end of the hacksaw blade in each hand and saw that way. Branches start to come off the tree. I saw off a lot of branches. I try to shove the stand back on. I saw off more branches. Now I have water, tree needles, branches, and sawdust on the carpet. The cat peeks around the corner and runs away. Finally, finally, I get it all the way in the stand. I try to stand the tree up. It falls over. I take a stress break and watch John Glenn orbit the earth in The Right Stuff. I wonder how so many of the actors in The Right Stuff were also in Apollo 13. I reposition the tree in its stand and tighten the screws again. This time, it seems straight. And solid.

I plug in the lights. Some light up. Some turn on and off in a wavy kind of dance. I inspect the lights and find some that either broke when the tree fell on them or when I may have stepped on them trying to fix the tree. Since the broken lightbulbs in the flammable tree don't excite me, I decide it would be prudent to buy all new lights. So I have to take the lights off the tree. But at least I'm pretty sure the tree is solidly in its stand now. I am positively yanking those lights off the tree, and the tree doesn't budge.

We put on new lights Monday afternoon. Thursday evening we put on the ornaments again. It's been three days, and the tree has not yet fallen over. Knock on wood.

And every year, I insist on a real tree. I like the smell. They smell nice. And the cats like having a real tree in the house. Any cat I've ever had is convinced the tree is for them. They lay under the tree and stare up into the branches. So far, none of my cats have ever climbed my trees. Autumn is new...I hope she doesn't try it.

Sensory Performing Arts

After the big Christmas Tree afternoon at Mimi's house, Jupiter and I went to the Nutcracker on Saturday afternoon. I had originally thought that going to Boston to the big Nutcracker day at the Children's museum would be our Nutcracker for the year. But Jupiter saw the ad in the paper and begged me for days to take her to the whole entire performance. So the Thursday before I called up Porttix and ordered two tickets for the Nutcracker.

I got the cheap seats. I had to get the cheap seats..especially since they charged me an extra $10 to order the tickets on the phone. I wonder if the phone rep really makes $600 an hour to take the calls and print out the tickets? But anyway, the cheap seats were right up front. They were actually in the first row of tickets that were actually being sold. They were also very close to the orchestra.

We were not close to the side of the orchestra with violins and the harp. We, of course, were on the side with the brass instruments, the tympani, and the cymbals. Jupiter does not like sudden loud noises. She loves loud noises when she's causing the loud noises. In fact, she would like a drum set for Christmas. But when they happen unexpectedly, not so much. She sat on my lap the entire performance. Which was nice, actually. She made me hold my hands over her ears the entire performance. She tried to go without my hands once. The cymbals crashed, and that was it for the hands free ballet watching. I missed a lot of the dancing as I was trying to keep an eye on the conductor and the cymbals person. But despite the loud noises, Jupiter loved the ballet. It was entirely worth the ticket price and the surcharge to see her enthralled with the Nutcracker. And during intermission, we wandered to the other side of the auditorium to see the harp up close (have to remember for next year, we need to be in the house RIGHT section. I think.) and the harp lady even let us come up and touch the harp strings. That was SO COOL! ( I always wanted to touch the harp myself, actually.) So the Nutcracker was great. Totally recommend it. There are a few pictures of the show at

Jupiter, by the way, does not want to take dance class, as much as she loves dance. She did take class for a half a year when she was three and a half. But now she's too worried she will make a mistake to enjoy it. I'm hoping she may have a change of heart. I took dance class myself (very ineptly) when Maine State Ballet was a dance school in the instructor's basement. But Jupiter is already asking if we can go to the spring performance of Cinderella. I think we will.

Sunday afternoon, we went to see MimiX in her school performance of The Time Machine. Jupiter did not get bored. But as you might suspect, the Time Machine itself occasionally does things like explode noisily. So while she liked the play itself, she didn't like the loud noises so much. I watched that play with my hands over her ears too. MimiX was the Queen Morlock. (We must now bow down to her.) Jupiter is not fond of Morelocks. She thought there were scary Morlocks hiding in the shadows for three days afterwards. She felt a little better after we got home from the play and I decided we should decorate our Christmas Tree, which has been sitting undecorated for two days.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Tree new reality show

Last Friday, I had the day off from work. And it turned out to be Christmas tree day.

My mother's house has a cathedral ceiling. Every year, it is my sister's quest to find a tall, full tree for the living room with the cathedral ceiling. Every year, this also requires finding somebody with a truck who is willing to haul the giant tree from wherever it happens to be to their house. This year, that person (my parents' neighbor) happened to be available on Friday afternoon at 3pm. So on Friday afternoon at 1pm, we get in the car to find a Christmas tree at the local tree farm. Actually we are searching for three trees. A large and smaller one for my parents house, and a middle size one for my house. I have a Chevy Prizm and therefore can not haul on my own any tree larger than a Charlie Brown tree.

So we get to the Christmas tree farm. The owner offers us a hacksaw. I get to carry the hacksaw. Jupiter amuses herself by tramping through all the mud she can find. Mud, Mud, she loves Mud. She's absolutely positively wild about Mud. (Hello, Rick Charrette.) My sister finds a tree for my house first. My mother and I crawl next to the tree, lay down flat on the ground next to the tree, and start trying to saw the tree down. Wonder of wonders, the tree falls down. I haul it out of the row to the road where the owner said he will drive down and pick up the tree. We leave the tree and go in search of the really big tree. All the trees are the same price, by the way. Which is a great deal if you're in the market for a really big tree.

Finally my sister finds two or three trees she's interested in. She spends a lot of time trying to determine which one will look the best. She points to one, and we climb down in the mud and grass again to saw some more. This tree is a lot bigger. It takes longer. We have to stop to rest a few times. Jupiter finds some more mud and puddles to climb through. Finally it falls down. We rest some more. Then we haul it out just as the tree man comes along with his gator looking for us. He throws the giant tree into the gator trailor and asks us where the other tree is.

Good question. We start looking for the other tree. My sister takes Jupiter and the hacksaw and starts looking for the third tiny tree. My mother and I search through the fields for the tree we already cut down. We wonder if some other people happened by the tree and said "Wow. What a nice tree already cut down. We'll take it.". But eventually we do find the tree. The tree man loads it into his gator trailor and hauls it back up to the front of the field. Then we search for my sister and Jupiter.

We find them, but my sister has lost the hacksaw. So we look for that. When we find that, we look for the tiny tree. She finds one, and I have to try two or three angles to cut it, as it is growing very close to some other trees.

We load the tiny tree into the trunk of the car and the middle size tree on top of my mother's Impala. ( I feel like I'm doing a rewrite of Goldilocks and the three bears.) and advise the tree man that we will be back with the truck for the big tree. We bring the middle size tree to my house. We try to cut off the end again so it will be nice and fresh, but I only have a minature hacksaw which is not effective, so we borrow a handsaw from the neighbors. Then we bring the tree inside. I have underestimated how much room I will need to bring in the tree, and we knock over a mirror, a stack of photo albums, a side table, and a lamp. We jam the tree in the stand and pour in some water. Then my mom and my sister (my father has the good sense to be in California during this project) go with the truck neighbor to get the big tree.

They get back late. The truck neighbor decided to cut a tree for himself while they were at the tree farm. He offers to help bring the tree in but being Independent Maine Women, we decline. Then we start hacksawing at the end of the tree. By now I am very tired of hacksawing. My arms, actually are very tired of hacksawing. I'm getting tired of trees, period. After much sawing and swearing we get the tree flat in the stand and drag it in the house. We push the tree up. It's not straight. It requires a lot of adjusting and turning. It is very heavy. I start to glare whenever turning or adjusting is suggested. But eventually, everyone is satisfied. We break to drink five gallons of water apiece and have something to eat.

Note: if you go to a farm to cut down the Christmas tree, the tree will look bigger in your living room than it looks in the actual field. Pick something that seems a little bit small.

The tree is so big we have to bring the extension ladder in the house so I can climb up and stick the angel on the top of the tree. Then we do the lights. By now it's after 7pm. After they're plugged in, some of the lights don't light up. A big invisible thought bubble of bad words rises above my head, but fortunately with some jiggling, the lights think better of being difficult and light up all on their own.

Jupiter and I go home and collapse into bed. We have a busy schedule of performing arts to attend over the weekend, and we need our sleep.

Ice Storm 2008

We have survived Ice Storm 2008. Actually, our power only blinked off once or twice. I think this is entirely due to the fact that there is a mini substation or something at the end of my street. And one of the electric company dams is on the river behind my house. So we get lucky a lot. And we do have a woodstove. So in the event of a prolonged power outage, I fire up the woodstove (ooh, that's kind of a funny...I didn't plan it that way though) and as a result my house is actually a good bit warmer than it is normally. If it didn't require me to go downstairs and feed it every 45 minutes, I would use the woodstove a lot more than I do. But back to the ice storm.

Jupiter got to spend most of her day without power. Mimi's house lost power twice, the second time for most of the day. She did a lot of writing and illustrating her books. So when I got home, I brought them some fireplace wood and a coffee from Dunkin Donuts and some marshmallows for Jupiter to toast in the fireplace. Don't worry, Mimi did the actual toasting. A half of a mile from my mother's house, everything had power. So I brought my mother out to buy batteries and get hot food for supper. We started eating the hot food in front of the fire and then the power came back on. They're very happy.

Part of me likes ice storms. When the sun comes out and makes everything sparkle there are few things more beautiful to see. This does not extend to driving in ice storms. The good thing about going to work so early is there are few other cars on the road. Especially if all the schools are closed. The bad thing is a special weather related email that suggests that if it's not safe for you to come to work you can stay home doesn't do you a lot a good when they send out the email at 10am and your start time is 6am. But it wasn't so bad. There was that one tree blocking my street, but I just followed the tracks of the newspaper delivery truck and drove around the neighbors mailbox, as well as the tree. Another good thing about going to work so early.

But the storm is over, and we are warm and have power. Hopefully soon power will be mostly restored and everyone will be warm and safe.

Explaining the last post

I haven't been able to publish to my blog for about ten days. I kept trying, but I kept getting very non specific error messages. I thought it was the blog people, so I was just waiting for the blog people to fix it. Turns out, it was my computer. I needed to clear the cache and cookies. That took a long time. Apparently since I got real internet I've been to a lot of internet places and filled up all my temporary memory, and thus could not post.

I got a little tired of typing out the whole entire post, then finding out I could not post anything. So I finally just started typing out some gibberish letters to test it.

It works now. Hilarious December posts to follow.

Monday, December 1, 2008



Blog Support

Tonight, after Jupiter went to bed, I checked out some of the other blogs. Blogs from parents with kids who struggle to accept being loved. Jupiter has made progress from where we were a year ago, in a big way, and I'm proud of her for that. But can I do better? Oh yeah. There's a lot of room for growth. So tonight I was browsing the blogs looking to see what the other Moms do. I got to the second blog, and was just reading an entry about reacting when your child says "I hate you!!" Then I hear a panicky "MOM!!!"

Jupiter is not in her room. Since she's been (supposedly) going to sleep, her music is turned up to about 90 decibels, and it takes a minute or so before I find her in the bathroom, frustrated with trying to wipe herself and furious with me for not knowing she needed help before she even called me. So it takes a few minutes to settle her down. While I'm hugging her and telling her she's ok, she says she hates me. She hates me all the time. She doesn't like me. So I let her say it. I put on my anti-mean armor and just let her get her mad feelings out. I tell her it's okay to use her words to get the mads out. Eventually she gets satisfactorily wiped, washed, and dressed again. And I take her to the rocking chair. She says we only do the bad chair when she's been bad. I tell her that we don't rock in the chair because she's bad. We rock in the chair because I think she needs a little extra love.

Jupiter does NOT want a little extra love. She wants to be alone and listen to her music. But I hold her in the chair anyway, so she hates me some more. She wants a younger Mom, a cooler Mom, a stylish Mom, not an old weirdo Mom. I let her say it and just hold her some more. I feel a little better when she tells me that she hates Big Dog (her really big golden retreiver stuffed animal) too. Then she starts to talk to me about school. That Mary and J are always mean to her and she doesn't like to play with them. That Mary messed up her hair one day (she puts her hands in my hair and messes it all up to demonstrate.) and how she didn't like that.

When she seems done with the mads, I talk about last night. Remember last night, when the first snowfall started and even though it was dark outside and time for bed, we put on our coats and boots and hats and mittens and went outside and ran around the driveway and threw snowballs at each other. And then we made snow angels right next to each other in the driveway. And I tell her that I will always remember that night with her, because it was so much fun doing that together. Well, I won't remember it, she responds. Belligerently. I tell her that then I would remind her.

She asks for a drink of water, so we get one. I turn the hall light off, but she wants it on. She doesn't want to go to sleep in my arms, so I offer the compromise of laying in her bed with her. She accepts this. After she's under the blankets, she removes her blanket sleeper and sleeps in her "nighttime underwear." (she's too big for pull ups). The blanket sleeper makes me too hot with the blanket. And it's too tight. I start to rub her back and she asks me to scratch the itchy spots. She gives me directions and I follow them until she is satisfied. Finally she says "Good night, Mom." Good night, I answer. Have good dreams, I say. Have good dreams, she answers. I love you, I say. I love you, she answers.

My favorite BCLC advice was this "What can I do, at this moment, to strengthen my relationship with my child?" Sometimes the answer is more obvious than at other times. Oftentimes, it means parenting in a way that seems strange to those who don't live with kids like Jupiter. Do the parents at church understand why I don't pry Jupiter's hands off mine in the Sunday School room and disappear out the door? Nope. Sometimes the Mom she needs me to be looks strange to others. And sometimes, I don't do it right, and in retrospect a better way will seem more than obvious. And the next day, we do our bonding dance some more.