Welcome to episode number something something in Julee’s glamorous business travel adventures:

I’m from a small town, so you won’t catch me poo pooing other small towns. Let’s just say I know what it’s like to drive 45 minutes to a movie theater. As for this town in Iowa (does it really matter which one?), I’ll get straight to the point and summarize what I’ve seen so far with this pic below.

Don’t be jealous, I’m only here overnight. But I did want to share my dinner with you. No, I really did want to share my dinner with you. I eat pretty well on my trips, and tonight was no exception. I had the prime rib. It happened to be on a bun. With fries. And ketchup. Prime rib is prime rib I say. Delicioso.

We ate at the best dive, and my dinner was huge and included some sort of shake/cookie/peanut butter dessert. Nummy. Unfortunately for my fries, fry sauce is a Utah thing (so I hear anyway. I mean, has nobody ever mixed ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard together outside the state?).

Yeah, when all is said and done (and eaten) I’ll sum it up this way: Before I got here, I knew very little about Iowa –and I will leave–knowing very little about Iowa. Except that prime rib can be eaten on a bun. And that Iowa is really, really close to Illinois.

Speaking of ketchup, I’m sitting here at my hotel watching An American Warewolf in London. . .in Iowa. At least they’ve bleeped out the swear words in the Syfy. “Beware the moon lads. . .”

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My baby Harrison (who is 5 yo) has been really sick. You know, the kind where you can’t get the fever down to keep the water down to keep the medicine down to bring the fever down? Where you think he might be sick enough to take him to the doctor, but you know they’ll look at him and say, “Yeah, he’s got the flu. Go ahead and take him home.” Where he wants you there to hold his hand, and when he falls asleep you try to pry yourself up to get fresh ice packs to stick under his armpits? Where you put the tiny mattress on your floor for him so he can be close, but he wants you to be next to him on the floor. That kind of sick.

A Slurpee and a barf bucket. Good times.

Well, this morning he’s feeling better–a whole-lot better. Guess how I know. Here’s a sample of the “mini-rave” he had in the car on the way home from dropping the other boys at school (a 25-minute ride, keep in mind). I’ve typed it as one run-on paragraph purposely, mostly because he barely took a breath between sentences:

Harrison:“Mom, I’ve had 12 sips [Slurpee]. Well, maybe 10 sips. There’s a bird. I like birds, but I don’t like pigeons, well I don’t know. The cool thing about pigeons is that they can poop where they want. It’s kind of gross, but it’s kind of cool. If I was a bird I don’t know how I would remember where I lived. I want to sit on one of those wires. . .oh, there’s some more  birds. Now I’ve had 15 sips. Can you call my teacher to tell her I’m sick? But I don’t know who’s there today, she might be still sick too. Someone in my class has a guinea pig, but I can’t remember who.  I think Skylar might have a guinea pig; no, actually I don’t know who has a guinea pig. The sun is bright. It’s brighter when it’s smaller. There are lots of clouds though. That’s just weird. . .

And if you think that’s cute, you should hear his little voice. It’s less than 30 seconds, but I’m hoping you smile as widely as I did–click here: Harrison

And the laughing, the giggling. . .yep. He’s back. Love it.

Getting kids to sleep through the night has never been my best skill. I know it started with Alex who would take an hour to get to sleep and wake up five times during the night. How many parents go through the day “parenting through fatigue,” bleary eyed and wondering what it would be like to have 4 hours in a row? Believe me, I spent many years doing that.

So my littlest is now 5, and I’m hoping we’ve made it to the rare, “Mommy?.  . .Maameee. . Maaaaamee!. .” during the night (and there better be vomit or a nightmare involved). But getting a 5 YO who wants his mommy to help him sleepy is not always easy. So, I give you my dialogue with Harrison from the other night:

Harrison: “Mom, will you stay with me until I’m asleep?”

Me: “Sure.” (Hanging my arm over the top bunk of the bed to grab his hand.)

[3 minutes pass, my arm is now asleep, but the child is still awake.]

Me: “Harrison, I’m going to the bathroom. You pretendyou’re asleep okay? And I will be riiight back.”

Harrison: “Um, okay.”

. . .ZONK. . .And he slept happily ever after.

THE END

I heard this song today and applied it to Alex and autism (I changed the gender in the song to “he”). I couldn’t help but think, “he’ll make his way.”  And it’s up to me to provide the love, patience, and faith. What a wonderful, powerful, and frightening responsibility for a parent.

Click here: Wonder, Natalie Merchant 

What do you think? I love Natalie Merchant, and I’ve always liked this song.

Tonight Alex and Zach had a fight; disagreement; okay a downright skirmish, if you will. I don’t know the exact details, I just know in the end Zach got slapped. Don’t take this out of context. It isn’t about hitting or violence from kids with autism. That part is incidental in this case. After the apologies and the hugs, I got to thinking about being a sibling of a kid with autism. I got to thinking that these sibs put up with a lot of crap, and they should be recognized as the fantastic little people they are. I watch them consistently make hard decisions and change their behavior to help Alex. (Yes, I also see them give up on Alex and run off too. I’m not your Polly Sunshine, let’s be real.) I do know that Alex is so blessed to have four fabulous role models and friends in his life.

Body socks for everyone!

 So I wrote a little somethin’ that could be from Zach’s point of view. Please note–Zach did not write this–I did. 

Dear Alex, 

I noticed mom was extra tired tonight, so I helped Harrison with his pajamas. I have lots of energy, so it’s no big deal. I like to help. I help you a lot too.
I invite you to play my games, and  I try to get you to come away from that computer. Sometimes I think your hands are glued to that thing. 

 I know that having autism means you want to be alone sometimes, and I know you’re different in lots of ways. I’ve spent my whole life figuring out what that really means. Sometimes I figure it out the hard way.

I like to do stuff for you though. Most of the time I do stuff for you without even thinking about it –you’re my big brother; but sometimes I have to be the big brother in our family. I’ll do that for you.
I explain stuff to you. I teach you.
I know that if I show you how to act you can copy me and it makes things easier for you. I learn from you too, because you’re super smart at puzzles and video games.
Sometimes if you have a hard time telling people what you’re thinking, I help tell what you’re trying to say. I know you so well that even when it’s hard for you to talk, I can say it for you.
We get in fights sometimes. All brothers do that. But when you need me I defend you. I have your back.
The thing is–I know I don’t have to do all of this. Nobody makes me.
I want to because you’re my brother.
Because I love you.
I know you’re special. And I’m special too.

Love, Zach

D, Zach, Alex, Harrison, I

Since I’ve had kids, I’ve had to learn to enjoy the holidays all over again. “Learn” is the key word here. It takes practice–and adjusting my expectations.

For instance, in the days nearing Christmas I envision myself relaxing and basking in the holiday glow with happy children scamping around–“Oh kids, Santa is watching. . .” 

The reality is that I run around like a crazy person yelling, “Damnit kids, Santa isn’t even going to come this year! I’m calling him right now.” I think people who don’t admit that they use Santa for manipulation are either sedated, liars, or aren’t getting their money’s worth.

So every year I say I’m going to simplify–because simple is the key to happiness, right? But what do I really mean? Decorate less (check)? Buy fewer gifts (check)? Cook less (check–challenge me)? Schedule fewer activities (check)? With all of this simplification, I still can’t seem to offer my kids a memorable level of celebration without just completely over doing-it.  I looked around on Christmas morning and thought, “What the crap? Literally. . .Holy crap!”

After the usual mass of wrapping paper and chaos, the only thing I have to offer you is my list of the top 5 things I learned over this particular holiday season. I’m sure that by the time these kids grow up and leave home I’ll have zen-mastered the holidays (is that even philosophically possible?).

5. Ugly Christmas sweaters are harder to find than you think.

4. If you wear the same jeans every day of the holiday season, they stretch, thus giving the illusion of weight loss instead of the usual weight gain.

3. No matter what you buy kids they want more stuff.

2. I’m sick of making all the effort and giving all the credit to some random mythical man. I want to shout, “Hey you. . baby boy. . .I LOVE YOU SOO much that I pushed over some elderly people and broke a fingernail for your Dr. Zombie thingie!”

1. Too much of a good thing really is a bad thing.

Happy new year to all!

OMG. I hate YouTube. I think most of the uploads are made by the very devil. The kids watch homemade videos, and I can’t ever know what will happen until a fake Mario blurts out the f-word. “Okay kids. Off the computer.”

But, if you are looking for something clean and freaking funny for you and your kids to watch, you need to see Kid History. I am still peeing my pants laughing at every episode–they have about 6 now.

Autism caution: Alex freaked out because the parents acting out the scenes are voiced-over by the children telling the story. It was a great opportunity to explain slapstick humor and general silliness to him. Give it a shot.

These videos are made in my home state of Utah. . .incidental. . .they’re totally hilarious. Good job guys.

Click here for Bored Shorts TV to view all of the episodes:

Click here for episode 1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80entLldZOg.

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