Prom 2017

Prom is upon us and once again the quest for a dress raises the stress levels of every girl around. Honestly I find the whole affair somewhat ridiculous. You have to find a dress, you can’t wear the one from last year, they are stupidly expensive and WTF guys get to rent theirs!

So we go shopping. My daughter is modest. She doesn’t like lots of skin showing so she wanted a long sleeved dress. HAHA! Everything we found was strapless or spaghetti strap. She tried some on then complained that she was naked! Then we found a two piece dress that had a long sleeved top but the skirt? It was poofy and barely came to mid-thigh! Who thought of that?

I told my daughter that if she loved the top then we could work around the skirt.

We went to JoAnn Fabrics and found a beautiful material that would match her top. We found a pattern and all the bits and bobs we needed to make it with.

Once home I sewed her the skirt that she wanted.

Long straight and with a split on the side.

She was very happy.

Not a traditional prom dress but she felt like a princess anyway.

Then came the hair problem. She went to the stylist to get it done up all pretty with a loose braid and all, but it didn’t last once she got home. It had to be redone. She she did it up the best she could and I fixed the rest. I’m no hairdresser but I think it turned out alright between the two of us.

Then the real fun began. She was going with group of friends and they all came to our house to take pictures together.

They have something here that is called the Grand March. I had never seen this until we moved here, but it’s kinda cool.  All the kids who are attending prom and their families, or really anyone who wants to, come to the high school auditorium. They announce each couple or group of friends and they parade across the stage showing off their dresses and tuxes. They often do some pretty goofy poses, like my daughter did. Then they crown the King and Queen and they have the royals’ dance. Then the kids go to prom and the parents go home. It’s kinda cool because everyone gets to see all the kids in their finery. 

So we got past another year. We spent less and laughed more. Prom was a success.

Good Deeds

I’m not writing this to get praise but rather to remind people that the world does contain good people. Last week, the morning after Halloween I was walking my son to school and on the way back I found  this…

img_8625

It was lying folded up on the sidewalk about a block from the school. Whoever Naomi was she was going to be upset later when she found her money missing.

I could have ripped off the note and kept the $5, but I’m not that kind of person. I walked to the High School and headed for the office. As I started to tell my story, the secretary looked confused at first then when I produced the money she looked surprised and then concerned.  I told her that I had no idea who Naomi was but I was confidant someone did and I would like to leave the money with her to return. She was more that happy to help. She was sure that Naomi would indeed be upset that she had lost it and she would restore it to the poor girl.

I thanked her and headed home feeling like I’d done a good deed.  I hope that Naomi got her money and I hope this will help others know that honesty is still alive and well. Doing a good thing when there is nothing to gain is a character trait we should all cultivate.

Now go out and do good!

Halloween done quietly

This year seemed to be a quiet one for Halloween. Probably because it was on a Monday. Normally we get a lot of trick-or-treaters on our street. We usually go through at least three big bowls of treats and got out trick-or-treating ourselves, but this year we barely got through a single bowl. img_8622

I bought a lot of little goofy toys to give out because not everyone is great with candy and kids love it when there is something left after they’ve eaten their sugary haul. img_8624

It worked out well because I let them choose what they want and there was mostly candy left. The kids loved the toys!

We didn’t do much for costumes either.

img_8542Autism makes costuming hard sometimes.img_8610

You can never go really scary, and he gets scared of other kids too.

Originally my son wanted to be a super hero, so he got a Batman costume but then became scared of it. (I don’t know why, it’s just how he is.)

 

 

 

img_8541My daughter did the img_8606same thing, she wanted to dress up like a nun, but changed her mind and ended up a cat. She also didn’t want to deal with her costume at school so she dressed as a Nudist on Strike.

img_8615

Eventually we ended up a kitty, puppy and a veterinarian, haha.
img_8620


img_8618 img_8619

We also made some blood splatter Halloween cupcakes.  My daughter took great pains in decorating just the perfect way.

All in all it was a good Halloween. Quiet, but good. 

Writing Prompt: What’s up with your dad?

“What’s up with your dad?”

“Oh he’s just sick of people trying to kill him, mainly you.”

“I didn’t try to kill him!” Jonas practically screeched.

“Yeah, he said you’d say that.” I said without looking up from my game. I was nearing the end of the mission and I didn’t feel like starting over.

Jonas collapsed like the trade center onto the couch beside me smashing the remainder of chips in the Doritos bag and scattering  gummie worms onto the floor.Frowning I glanced down at my fallen snack then shrugged.

“I didn’t try to kill him,” Jonas repeated sullenly, “it just kinda happened. Hey! Get that guy!” he pointed to the screen excitedly.

I hate back seat gamers but Jonas was my best friend so I killed the enemy soldier anyway. “You always say things just kinda happened when usually its you being a dumb ass that causes it.”

“I wasn’t really being a dumbass,” Jonas picked up a gummie worm and inspected it for fuzz. “I didin’t mean to pull out in front that semi.”

I slid him a disbelieving look but he went on.

“It’s not like we were really in danger. Your dad has one of those teacher brake thingies on his side. He coulda used it.”

“Dude!” I dropped the controller into my lap and stared at Jonas. “Seriously, this is the third time you’ve taken drivers’ ed and you’ve nearly killed my dad every time!”

“Not every time!” Jonas whined. “That first time it was Julie’s fault!”

Best Big Sister Ever

Life with Autism isn’t easy and sometimes I think it is harder on the siblings than on the parents. Because the child with autism needs a lot more attention, siblings often feel like they are ignored or neglected.It’s never what we as parents intend, but it happens none the less.

As parents we love our children unconditionally, equally, and without bias. But enough time is always an issue when one child has to be watched more than the other. I am often put into a position where I have to choose. For example, volunteering at school during games and things to help raise funds for her Close-up trip. I want to be there and help out but I can’t be there for my daughter because I have no one to watch my son and it breaks my heart. Although she doesn’t resent the extra time her brother needs (well maybe a little) and she is fiercely protective of him, I know it still hurts her and she doesn’t deserve that.

That’s why I want to acknowledge her love and sacrifices.

img_8356

So let me say a little something about my daughter. She just turned 17 and is a junior in high school. Somehow even though I feel like I’ve failed her, I ended up with the best daughter in the world.  She’s intelligent and hard working, almost to a fault. She is driven and conscientious. She’s at the top of her class, straight A student, involved in more extra curricular activities than anyone should be, has a full time job as a barista, and still has time to be the best big sister ever.

She loves to take selfies with her brother.

img_7947

And even when she is pressed for time to get her homework done she takes the time to play with him and help him learn. This day was volleyball in the front yard.
img_8358

She makes it so easy for everyone to relate to her brother.  The other night at the volleyball game she took him down into the student section with her to help cheer our girls. At first a lot of her friends weren’t sure how to deal with him being there. She leads by example including him in everything just like any normal kid would be. Pretty soon the others were helping him cheer and doing high fives with him.

img_8420

 She is all that a sibling should be. Don’t get me wrong they still squabble like any normal siblings but she’s always there as an example, guardian, and guide to her little brother. I couldn’t ask for a better daughter or sister for my son. I am so proud of her.

A Mother’s Letter to the Teachers in Crisis

“What are they gonna do, fire me?” This statement has been said thousands of times by countless people who are leaving their jobs, whether by their choice or because they were asked to go.

I know the sentiment. I understand the motivation behind saying it. When you are parting ways from a job that you hate or that hates you, you want some kind of control or outlet for your frustration and anger. I’ve said it myself a couple of times but that’s not important. What is the important thing is where and when you say it.

And that place is NOT in a school and NOT in front of students.

Our schools here in Conrad, MT are in a budget crisis. Money that should have been there in a flex fund is not available anymore and so the school district is trying to find ways to cut costs. This includes closing one of the buildings and combining the middle and high school, unfortunately it also includes staff cuts.

No one wants to lose their job and I believe that a teacher losing their job due to money is a crime against our civilization as a whole. For what will become of our society if our children get bargain basement educations. But it is not up to me and it is not up to our teachers. Budgets must be made and cuts will happen. What is important is how these cuts are handled. Unfortunately they are not being handled with dignity in many cases.

Some of the teachers whose contracts have not been renewed have stopped teaching. They come to class and tell the kids to do whatever they want. Projects go unfinished and grades no longer matter. Others are becoming irreverent and going off topic in class to the confusion and astonishment of the students. When they are called out on it by a student the response has become, “What are they gonna do, fire me?”

I understand their feelings. I have been in jobs where downsizing laid of many of the workers or the regime change in management made me lose my job. However, I still worked. I still did the best I could to accomplish my tasks until the very end. It has been all for the good. Yes it stressed me out but I maintained my work ethic and my reputation as a good and reliable worker allowing me to get other jobs in the future.

Their future employment possibilities aside, what about the example they are showing to the students? Instead of continuing to teach with dignity and grace and being the living breathing example of how to handle a bad situation, these teachers are showing the students that an F-U attitude is the way to go. Like little parrots the kids are going home and repeating, “What are they gonna do, fire me?”  Pretty soon they will be at work and when they have a rough time of it they will start doing a half-assed job and their response will be, “What are they gonna do, fire me?” And they will lose their jobs.

Most of the younger generation already doesn’t know how to handle adversity, now they are getting an up-close and personal view of how not to handle job loss with dignity. This could be a great teaching moment when the teacher says, “Yes, I’m losing my job and it sucks! But this happens sometimes in the real world and this is how you should handle it.” We could be really teaching our children one of life’s most important lessons right now, HOW TO PICK YOURSELF UP, DUST YOURSELF OFF AND KEEP GOING WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN.

Kids look up to teachers. They are some of the most influential people in their lives. We live the rest of our lives by what our teachers showed us when we were children. How many times have you looked back and thought about a teacher from your past and how that person changed your life. This is the moment that will change these students’ lives forever.

Please, I beg you, think of the lives you are influencing with your behavior right now.

First Car Accident

It’s a terrifying moment in every parents life. You answer the phone and it’s the shaking voice of your child saying, “Mom, I just hit a car.”

Immediately your imagination runs to the worst possible thoughts of crushed metal and broken, bleeding bodies. You mind jumps to planning how to get to the hospital or the jail.

From the moment that we let them sit behind the wheel of the car for the first time,  we know that one day it will happen. I know that I went through it, my husband went through it, my brother went through it. It is as inevitable as the sunset. It’s one of those life experiences that you can only learn from the hard way.

A few days ago, it was our turn.

It was icy and snowy. I had just said to my daughter as she left for work, “Be careful, it’s really slick out.”

Not more that five minutes later the phone was ringing. “Mom, I hit a car.”

She had turned into the parking lot near her work. She was only driving about two mph. A second car was coming in through the alley perpendicular to her. My daughter hit her brakes but she was on ice and she didn’t stop. The other car didn’t slow down either. They bumped.

Admittedly it was a very minor accident.

This is my daughter’s car.IMG_7354

This is the other person’s car.

IMG_7355

Really can’t see any damage.

The driver of the car got out and was screaming at her through the window threatening to call the police on her. My poor daughter was completely terrified. You have to understand my daughter is a very sensitive girl. She can’t stand it when people yell at her. She began to cry and called me.

I walked her through finding her registration and insurance paper work and told her to take pictures. Especially since the other people were being so frantic about what appeared to be nothing. The police showed up and calmed the other driver down then reassured my daughter that it wasn’t as bad a they were making it out to be.

There were no tickets and despite the ranting of the other driver, we have not as yet heard anything from our insurance. But the lesson that my daughter learned that day will stay with her forever. Even though she was scared to call me because she thought I was going to hate her for getting into a wreck and take away her driving privileges, she acted very responsibly. She handled the whole thing by herself only asking for advice on what to do because as she said, “They never told us in driver’s ed what to do if you’re in an accident.” I am very proud of her for handling the situation as well as she did even under threats from the other driver.

I’m just glad that she’s okay and safe. We’ve both had our firsts. Her first car accident and my first terrifying phone call. God willing this will be the only ones we ever have to have.

Don’t get it in your eyes!

My daughter. She is always they healthy one in the family. She works out and is very health conscious. She tries to use mostly all organic products for her face and soaps but…

Poor girl came to me one night with what she said felt like an eyelash in her eye.  I looked and looked but found nothing. We rinsed out her eye with water and still it bothered her. Tried tears but still nothing.  She finally went to bed still hurting but too tired to care.

IMG_7270She woke the next morning with her eye still bothering her and she wisely left the make-up off of that eye and went to school. Part way through the day she asked to come home. Her eye lid was swollen halfway shut and it was red from her eyebrow down to her cheekbone and the white of her eye was completely bloodshot.

We headed over to the doctor.

He thought maybe it was an infection but she had just come off of antibiotics from having Bronchitis. This puzzled the doctor. So we got do something gross.

He numbed her eyeball and dyed it yellow then shone a black-light on it. IMG_7271Truly a freakish thing to see your daughter with yellow eye and purple skin. Turns out she had a corrosive burn on her cornea.

Scary huh? You’ll never believe what it was from. A little granual from the exfoliating face scrub she used to wash her face had gotten into her eye the night before and sat in there burning her eye.

They treated it with steroid drops and she was better in about a day but it was still a scary wake up call.

SO when it say don’t get it in your eyes, DON’T GET IT IN YOUR EYES!

Conrad High School Ghost Out 2015

This is what it could look like if you were in a drunk driving accident.

*****WARNING****GRAPHIC PICTURES*****

Our Conrad High School Literary Arts class along with the Pondera Medical Center in cooperation with the Conrad Police, Fire and Rescue services put the fear of death into the kids in our town.

The Literary Arts class filmed a short video of a “typical drunken party” Sunday night. On Thursday the school held IMG_6370an assembly to discuss the dangers of drinking and driving. During this video they heard screams and a crash. The entire high school filed out to the old tennis court that sits behind the school to find this wreck.  They stared in silence at the scene where their bloodied friends lay in a crumple of metal. I have never seen a group so large be so quiet.

IMG_6386The scene continued as the driver awakened to find that he had crashed. He tired to wake up his friends some were unconscious some were shaken and injured but alright enough to walk. Two were dead.IMG_6384

One girl had been thrown from the back of the pick-up and was laying about
30 ft away from the wreck. Of the three girls left in the back of the pick-up two had minor wounds and the third was hurt pretty bad and nearly unconscious. The passenger of the pick-up was suffering from internal injuries that led to his death. The driver of the car was killed onimpact. His passenger was badly injured.

IMG_6387“What did you do! Were you drunk?”  The brother of the pick-up passenger raced out of the crowd and started yelling at the driver. He began to fight with the driver only to be stopped by the panicked shrieks from one of the girls that had been in the back of the pick-up.

Another vehicle came racing up. It was the other kids from the party. One called 911. They put it on speaker so that everyone could hear the conversation between the dispatcher and the girl who was nearly in hysterics. (It had been arranged with the 911 dispatch that this training call would take place. They treated it as if it were real.)

The sirens went off across town. Soon two ambulances, a fire truck and three police car came screeching up to the crash. They were quick to manage the scene. The IMG_6393witnesses and the other kids involved were separated out and the injured were lifted out and strapped to gurneys then wheeled away to be taken to the hospital. The Jaws of Life were used to pry the door off the car so they could reach the body of the boy in the car. The dead kids were covered with sheets. The police interviewed the witnesses and put the driver through a road side sobriety test. He was then handcuffed and led away.

The audience of high school students were still dead silent. There was no elbowing each other and joking. There was no whispering or looking at their phones. They just stared. I didn’t blame them. It was intense. I had helped set it up and when I saw them loading my  daughter (she’s the one on the tailgate) onto that gurney-my stomach clenched and tears burned behind my eyes. All I could see from where I was standing was her Converse tennis shoes hanging off the side of the tailgate surrounded by firemen and medics. That image out of everything we did that day was burned into my mind. It was so real. All I wanted to do was to run to the ambulance and be with her. It was not something that will be easily forgotten for any of the school.

IMG_6396The students were then ushered back into the school where they had set up a trial. Complete with Judge and Attorney. The driver of the pick-up escorted in by the police in full prison garb and was charged then sentenced. They followed the sentencing with a discussion about the laws and the repercussions of the choice to drink and drive.

IMG_6400

Then there was a funeral service for the three students that had died in the wreck. They read obituaries that has been written by their classmates.  The student then filed by a coffin containing a mirror so they could see themselves in the coffin and know that it could have been them. After that there was workshop about grief and regrets.

IMG_6402

They ended the day with an assembly with speakers telling about their experiences with drinking and driving. The Literary Arts class sat up on the stage and answered questions from the student body about their experiences during the project and what they learned. It was unanimous -the kids who had staged the accident for the school all agreed that they would never drink and drive. They were truly disturbed by what they had gone through even though it had all been fake.

My daughter said that she started to have a panic attack when they were strapping her to the gurney as she heard all the screaming and crying around her. Another student who had been filming the project said  that she had a moment where she realized that these were her friends and they were dead. She said she never ever ever wanted to see that in real life or feel that way again.

The next day the kids were talking about the Ghost Out on Yik Yak (a social media app where posts are anonymous). There were a lot of posts about kids wanting to make some changes. So I think that the project has had the desired reaction amongst the students.

All in all the day was horrifying and intense but it was an awesome day.

IMG_6409

The morning started out with two dozen donuts brought by yours truly.

They didn’t last long. Nothing combats nerves like food. Later two gigantic boxes of pizza turned up and a couple of trays of sub-sandwiches joined the group.

It was funny to watch them try and eat around the fake blood dripping from their faces. They were all good sports about it. Although one poor girl couldn’t stand the smell for the fake blood so we had to put some strong smelling chap stick under her nose.

IMG_6408

I had been asked to help out along with some of the other parents and teachers. I was one of the make-up artists who had bruised and bloodied all these kids up. I have a Theatre degree and have done a bit of make-up before but nothing on this scale. I watched a lot of YouTube videos to get some ideas. It was a learning experience for me as well as the kids.

IMG_6381

Fake scars and bruise make up were followed by red food dyed chocolate syrup blood making for some really gruesome wounds.IMG_6366

Some kids had issues with their glass shards falling out of their wounds and we had to reapply their wounds over and over again.

The death scenes were staged to be particularly shocking but were a little difficult because some local wasps decided they liked the smell of the fake blood.

By the end of the day, the kids had consumed a ton of pizza, sub-sandwiches and a lot of soda. They had been grossed out and shocked by their own reflections and they leaned a lot about making the right choices. I couldn’t be prouder of these kids.

IMG_6375

Autism, Shopping and the GIANT SPIDER

Oh what fun…..not!

I hate shopping. Not because of Autism but because I hate shopping. I have a hard time finding what I want, I never have money, and I don’t deal with people well (I’m an introvert). Add my teenage daughter who loves to shop and wants to look at everything causing many squirrel moments (You know the ones I mean-we’re looking for socks and she sees a fluffy pillow and off she goes.) Now add my Autistic son into the mix.

In Autistic kids over stimulation is always a problem: too many people, too many lights, too many colors, too many things moving by at the speed of commerce and suddenly his ears are turning red and the whites of his eyes are turning pink. Those are a sure sign of an over-stimulated, agitation migraine headed our way. First thing to do is to find a quiet place with little or no decoration and let him get calmed down for a little bit.

Unfortunately the materialistic world we live in is driven by constant stimulation and not even the bathrooms are quiet anymore. There are often times when we will find a quiet corner of the store, like the garden center, and just hang out for a while to try and keep him from boiling over.

Now add in that ultimate fun…Holidays!

That’s right folk, holidays, when all the special crazy stuff comes out, for example, Halloween. Don’t get me wrong. I love Halloween. It was always one of my favorite holidays. I love dressing up and even my son loves to play dress up. But Halloween is about scary things and that isn’t always a good thing for us now.

Let’s take the other day as an example. We went to Party America to get some supplies for my daughter’s class for their Homecoming float. Found some great stuff, but my son didn’t enjoy that store very much. To start with right inside the front door was a GIANT INFLATABLE SPIDER! It was goofy looking and stood almost 6 feet tall. It was black and white and had LED lights inside. For a normal person that wouldn’t be a big problem even if you didn’t like spiders. You know that it isn’t real.

My son, however, views the world in more of a literal sense. He was very sure that it was a real spider and that it was not safe to walk past. We almost didn’t get him in the store. Once inside, he was totally freaked by all the scary stuff right inside the door and then as we walked around he kept a sharp eye on the door just to make sure that the spider hadn’t moved or tried anything funny. Poor kid jumped at every sound and kept up a solid narrative that was mostly just the words “Spider, web, climb, giant spider” over and over again.

Some of you are thinking, “Why didn’t you just leave?” Well, life doesn’t work that way. I can’t choose one kid over the other. My daughter and her classmates needed to get the bits for their float and sometimes there isn’t another choice of store. Besides it wouldn’t matter because around the  holidays  everyone has the same type of decorations in their stores.

So once the girls had what they needed for their float it was time to leave. Unfortunately the GIANT SPIDER stood between us and freedom. William didn’t want to go anywhere near the door because the spider was waiting. He was shaking from head to toe, his ears were red and his eyes where pink.  It took a couple of tries, three teenage girls surrounding him while I held his hand in one of mine and wrapped my arm around is shoulders and then finally we got past the spider. As soon as we passed it, William burst away from me and ran out the door- straight into the street. Luckily there was no one coming at that moment, two seconds later would have had him run over but we lucked out.

All day after that he talked about the GIANT SPIDER. The spider was still dominating the conversation all through dinner and the bath. He refused to be alone in the bathroom during his bath because-GIANT SPIDER. Then it was off to bed and a running dialogue of GIANT SPIDER all through story time until he finally fell asleep. However, that wasn’t the end of it. He was up several times overnight asking about the GIANT SPIDER. Finally he got up at 5 AM and I gave up.

I don’t know how long the GIANT SPIDER will keep on keeping on for poor William but I imagine it will be closer to Christmas and then we can go back and start a whole new obsession about GIANT REINDEER!

Needless to say, I hate shopping.