10.28.2010

of a broken car


Several weeks ago I was driving home after dropping my son off for school. The sun was beaming down sharply onto the asphalt and my air conditioning system in the car was on full blast. As I turned onto a long stretch of road I saw a broken-down car being pushed by 3 teenage boys, a 4th in the driver's seat steering the car. My heart sank at the bad luck of the situation, but I immediately wondered how much time would lapse before they would look back at the memory and laugh about that time they had to push their friend's junky car down the road on that hot, sunny day.

As I continued driving down that stretch of road, I became concerned for them at the incredible distance they would be pushing this car (in the heat) before they would finally arrive at a place where they could safely turn off the busy road. I then began to wonder how the driver was chosen. I am guessing it was the car's owner.

****

When I was pregnant with Evan I remember approaching my due date with a lot of anxiety. We were living in California at the time and no family lived near us. My closest friends just had their newborns, so I did not feel like I had anyone to call should I go into labor in the middle of the night. Mike was working over an hour away, so I worried he would not get home in time to help us get situated if the baby came fast during the day. We were still super confused about Zane's unique behaviors and impulses, so I worried about who would be available to care for him (safely! and patiently) while I delivered Evan. At that time in his life he always tried escaping anywhere we went and knew how to unlatch a deadbolt well.

I remember my doctor asking me what my plan was and telling me that the second baby usually comes fast because my body already knows what to do this time around. She did not think my plan of driving Zane (while in labor) to a friend's home and then driving myself (while in labor) to the hospital was a good idea. It never occured to me until then that I needed to ask for some help. That afternoon I sat at my kitchen table with my ward phone book and cried. I cried for at least 30 minutes because I didn't want to ask for help. I didn't want to need it. I didn't want to burden anyone. Or be told no and be hurt. But I knew for the sake of my baby and toddler, my plan needed some people in place to help me.

I dried my tears, prayed for courage, and then made some calls to friends and grandmas of the ward. I knew they would be home during the day to drive Zane and I where we needed to go. Within 10 minutes I had a list of 8 people I could call if I went into labor during the day. I also had a list of 4 people to call if it was the middle of the night. I knew their schedules and had a pecking order of who to call in which order when it was go time. Some people I called were not able to help me, and it was hard to not feel hurt or insulted. But I got over it and appreciated their honesty and ability to know what they could or could not offer at that time in their lives. I now see the importance of that skill while I juggle the needs of my own family today.
****
Last year I got super sick and needed help. No one wants to need help! No one wants to be in the driver's seat in the shade while other people are pushing the car, dripping with sweat and getting tired. I think we all want to be the one helping. But the reality is that sometimes we all have a 'broken car' so to speak and need some support. Because there was no way that guy was going to be able to steer and push his car alone. We aren't expected to do that in our lives when things are hard, we get sick, or things get overwhelming. And while I hated needing to ask for specific help when I was expecting Evan and last year when I was sick, I have heard of the blessings people felt giving my family service and it made me feel very loved and supported in the process. What a great gift to allow others to experience!

And how good it feels to finally be getting back to a place in my life where I feel like I have my car running again, so now I get to look around to see who needs a push.

10.24.2010

my rip cord, his cramps

Thanks to my friend Alicia, The Tampon (and The Period) became an awesome reality for an amazing adult Halloween party! Feast your eyes.....



I loved making people laugh so hard. It was a blast. I will totally grocery shop in this costume- who wants to be the period and come with me?

10.21.2010

....

I have one goal for Friday. My Halloween costume.


Somehow I am going to make this:


Out of this:


THIS IS THE YEAR, baby. I won't even need to cut out nursing flaps!


I can't wait! It better turn out awesome. I don't want to look like a walking cigarette.

The only thing in question is whether or not I wear it to the ward trunk or treat. I plan to tell my kids it's a ghost costume. Are we all on board with that story?

ps. Mike's going to be the period.

music


I like the sound of the band Middle Class Rut.

Here is the video for the song New Low. I think I probably could have put together a better video for them. Actually, Zane could have made something more interesting. They sound good, though, and I guess it's just two guys in the band?



10.19.2010

The Tok

[our way to rock out. a lot too old. and a little bit too american.]

Sick of hearing about my trip? Too bad. I plan to draaaaaaaag this on as long as I possibly can. Because it's a bit more fun to write about instead of Sylvia pooping brown (instead of yellow!) for the first time in 2 weeks.

I knew I wanted to see a concert while we were there. So once we knew which nights were available I made a list of venues. I compiled them from our lonely planet book and online research. And Miles Hunt, of course. We are best friends forever on facebook now. Well, mostly. He just sort of doesn't know this yet.

Next I made a list of bands playing at each of these venues the nights we could go. And listened to them on Japan You Tube in the lobby where I ate a lot of brie for breakfast. I landed on Saboten. Japanese Punk Rock.

It was an excellent experience to say the least.

***

We venture into Love Hotel Hill in Tokyo. Directions are vague, so we have a slightly hard time finding the street. This is the only time during the whole trip Mike is not a homing pigeon guiding us directly to our destination. We stand in the rain eager to get to the box office early to get our tickets, uncertain where to turn. It is then a little orange and green light flicker; catching my eye. 7-11! In Tokyo! How fitting- convenient stores were such a life saver for me whenever I went to shows as a teenager (my middle name is 'I Get Lost Often'), surely they will help us! Sure enough, the cashier knows exactly where we need to go. We are half a block away.

There is some confusion as to which part of the building we should get our tickets. We stand in a line with an odd assortment of people. I think the cute girl with the leather jacket in front of me is a dead give-a-way we are in the right place. But the dull-dressed parents with the 10 year old seem a little out of place (more so than I!) for a punk show. Mike insists we need to find the correct line. I insist we are in the right place- look at her jacket! He follows some stairs that lead to a door: only for friends of the band. He returns to the line with me.

{Yes, he speak Japanese. No, he does not like confronting strangers. Me, I live for that sort of thing, but lack the ability to communicate.}

After a long time waiting for the world's slowest elevator, we finally get to the floor we think we need to be on. Stand in a short line while a lady calls out something. She is checking a list, giving the people something, and then the people leave with a paper in their hand. Tickets? I hear live piano music floating out of the door to our left. Flyers are stapled to the narrow hallway walls where we stand. This has to be right. Right? Mike whispers 'the lady is calling out phone numbers' and again insists we are in the wrong line. Finally I step forward and ask about the band and tickets. She thumbs through her list, pretending to have a conversation with me, and speaks back to me in Japanese. Mike leans forward and they converse. Turns out it was a line to use an internet cafe.

We find the right line around the corner in a connecting building and are among the first in the door after we purchase our tickets. We sit in the back waiting, eager to see what happens. The people that enter either have the band's shirt on or they promptly purchase one and put it on. Every single person went up some old stairs to put their things into coin operated lockers. Mike participates in this ritual and puts away the camera. My only regret of the trip. Along with T-shirts pinned to the wall, the bands are also selling long, skinny towels with the band name on them. Odd, I wonder who would ever buy that.

As more and more people arrive I notice they all have these thin towels around their neck (males and females alike). Many of them were a different band name and did not match the shirt they wore. It was like the size of a gym towel, but longer and thinner. A towel shape I have never seen before. What is it's purpose? Who thought of this first? And what is everyone going to do with their towels? Is it like the towels they use to clean their hands in Japan before eating at good restaurants and on the plane- will they clean their hands before the show begins? Will they spin them above their heads like helicopters? I am most curious.

We begin to see young men taking out their piercings and putting them in the lockers. Mike and I exchange looks. Oh? Could this get violent? One could not know. Like a cock fight, but with lean Japanese fans of punk rock music?

***

During much of my people watching while in Japan, I rarely saw a Japanese woman to be any larger than my six year old son. At this punk rock concert- 99% of the girls are super thick and heavy. I find this interesting. I love them immediately. Could they be at the public bath when I go one day? Then I would not feel the need to wear a headband above my naked body that would read 'I love to eat cheeseburgers' to explain my larger, more shapely stature.

***

The bands are full of energy- great performers! I even get a ska song out of Saboten! This is a treat. There is a bit of a mild mosh pit going on, but not a very violent one. More running and shoving in a circle, but no one comes out bloody. A few people crowd surf. They seem pretty happy to be in the air briefly; it isn't a big enough crowd for a true surf. The lighting is amazing for such a small venue and the sound is impeccable. The towels appear to be an accessory, I do not see a single person use one.

***

I loved seeing the energy of live music in another country. I enjoyed seeing a culture of people react to the music, pumping their little fists into the air and clapping to the beat of the base drum. I wish it could be my 'other' job to travel the world observing live music in various counties while photographing the people and writing about the experience. Jenks need to take that on and make a show of it.

Mike posted a little bit he recorded on his phone here of the opening band Four Get Me Not. I liked them better than Saboten. I wonder if the translation is 'Four' on purpose or if it's an error. They sang in Japanese, but their band names on the shirts were written in English.

This concert was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

10.15.2010

I finally know what R&R means!



(Wanted to die because he felt lame I was making him take a picture in front of all those people, but I didn't care because I was so excited we were going to that word above his head!)


The week before we left the country I was frantic getting the house organized/ clean and all tasks checked off ahead of time so I could be ready to pack all of us up by the end of the week. Getting laundry done/ folded/ put away and staying on top of it for a solid week was exhausting alone. I skipped the gym to run errands. I smooshed To Do items into every crack and crevice of time that whole week. I got done nearly all I wanted and went to bed satisfied and tired by the end of the week.
The baby would stay at the house with Aunt Rachael (plus the boys) for a night and then my mom had the baby at home the rest of the time. Everything they would both eat/ drink or need stocked and put away. Check.
The boys would be going to their Aunt's house for the rest of the week. All their needed clothing and as many desired food items as I could think of sending with them packed. Check.

Lists of routines/ meal ideas/ emergency contact information were all distributed and we were off. I hoped I had prepared enough despite our lack of an official (or even fake) will.

The night before our car battery died. Who cares! Stick it in the garage we are still going. We will take the other car to the airport.

(Look! I can wear my hair down because I am not cleaning anything or picking up toys or changing diapers!)


Once we were finally on our connecting flight in LA rolling down the runway a little bit late, we sat for 2 hours with the plane in line for take-off. I slept that entire time completely happy. Something was wrong with the plane. The flight was cancelled right as it was about to take off. No other flights to Japan that day. Who cares! Let's go to Hong Kong!

That night the airline paid for us to stay in LA until our new flight left the next day. We would lose an entire 24 hour period of time in Tokyo. We discussed this as we ate some disgusting food in the hotel's restaurant. Who cares! I didn't have to cook this meal, I am not feeding anyone but myself, I don't have to clean it up, and I am ALONE with my husband! We pulled Mt. Fuji (and Fiji Water) off the itinerary and call it good.

My arms felt so free, empty, rested, and foreign to me as I leisurely watched television and drifted off to sleep whenever I wanted. Which was probably before 8pm with a big fat Cheshire grin on my face. I knew my kids were cared for by people that loved them and I was so grateful for a break. No matter where the week would take us. Truly, I think I could have done nothing but sat on the plane for 8 days straight and I still would have felt relief enough from my duties.

I had spent the day in airports, sitting on planes, and in a crappy hotel room and it was already an awesome vacation!


***

(Flying over Japan!!!)

We finally did make it to Tokyo the following day. I was able to to read two books just with flights and random hotel resting time. I watched the news in the morning (rare). I ate a delicious variety of breakfast food at the hotel that included marinated chicken (food can be served for breakfast in Japan), roll with corn and potato in it, eggs, the softest Brie, and orange juice each morning. I got to look at my husband and actually be with him nonstop from the time we woke up to the time we took naps to the time we went to bed at night. I got to try new food each day at lunch and dinner time- things I would hardly be able to find anywhere else. So many little things were refreshing about our trip. Our marriage really enjoyed that time to s l o w down and breathe. We need it more often: more than once in 11 years.


We took all these pictures of us with our heads together like dorky newliweds. It cracked me up because in our real life we are only in the same state 2 days a week. But in our vacation life we were together nonstop and any time I wanted proof I could smash our heads together and take a picture!

My arms missed the daily snuggles I love giving my kids, I missed them and thought of them often. But I did not wish I was home, nor did I shed a single tear. Thank you Carrie for your advice- it allowed me to be guilt free!

****

Adjusting to the time there (16 hours ahead) didn't seem to affect us, but that is because we took naps whenever we wanted. The return to my reality hit hard. This week I realized how much work I actually do all day and night. It's a lot. It's tiring. All week I have been using toothpicks to keep my eyes open by 2pm each day. Diet Coke also keeps me going. And I don't even like Diet Coke.

(This is what a well rested mama looks like with a break from her job at the Westin in Tokyo. Ignore the accidental hair noose.)

I daydream of an imaginary life where I am 19 again, traveling the world with my camera. I am taking pictures, exploring, tasting new food, talking to locals and writing about it for a small paycheck. I take a big drink of my diet coke and remember the real life I am in: mopping pee off the bathroom floor, breaking up sibling rivalry, and cleaning up a sloppy diaper while slathering rash cream on her sore bottom. She screams in pain, someone else throws a toy at my head, and another one is crying because the computer isn't playing the RIGHT kind of train movie. 7 loads of clean laundry wait to be folded in a giant pile and there isn't a clean fork in the whole house.

The constant thought running through my mind this week: Why did I go to college, anyway, when this is what I do?

I think I have Awesome Vacation Hangover. I just submitted that to Urban Dictionary btw.

10.13.2010


One summer when I was in High School I babysat my little cousin each day. She LOVED Barney and had a crush on the little boy name Michael. He was the cutest one on the show, actually. Not knowing much about kids, I thought it was cute at such a young age she would already have a strong interest in a specific show among the dozens available to select from.

This morning I was flipping the channels to find something for the kids to watch while I lay on the floor wishing I was still sleeping. It was then that we bumped into Barney. Evan was immediately interested and the smile on his face made my itchy trigger thumb freeze over the remote buttons. He told me he likes it when they sing loud and when they sing soft. It made him so happy. So we watched it. Sylvia was also mesmerized.

Zane, however, grumbled about how dumb the show was. Often. I had to be an advocate for the little ones and let them have their Barney. The best was at the end when the show was closing. That soft lullaby tune began and Zane stood up in a fit of rage and said between gritted teeth with his voice getting louder and more angry with each word:

"Oh this PAAAAAART IS THE WOOOOOOOORST!"

He quickly ran out of the room just as they began singing I love you, you love me.....

I have never seen him react this way to any show. Ever. It was so funny I laughed for 5 minutes.

I can't decide which voice makes me want to rip off my knee caps more: Barney or Elmo.
Lastly, I wonder who would win at Celebrity Death Match? Should we vote on it?






10.12.2010

yes, she writes of the potty


Tokyo. Volume II.

So that whole bidet experience? Where water can squirt up to further 'clean' you? Not a big fan. Nope. I am just fine with the little paper and air.
It actually felt like someone was peeing up my bum with cold urine.
See that little picture below of the person sitting on the toilet chillin while water shoots up? That was not me. I was like hells no get me away from this cold pee on me feeling! I did, however, LOVE the heated seat. That was awesome. Mike did a good job manning the controls of that funtion. I can't for the life of me figure out how he turned that on with this control panel.


Ready for more potty talk? We were visiting a shrine and I got in line to use the public restroom. It was a long line, but finally began moving. It was then I noticed the four elderly Japanese women in front of me tucking the bottom of their pants into their stocking hose. I leaned over and watched each of them and wondered why, but realized they were older, wiser, and well....Japanese. So they knew something I did not know. As did my friend Laurel, who happened to write about potties this week, too.

I bent over and cuffed up my jeans drastically like I was going to enter a flood zone. The Japanese woman behind me roared this amazingly loud and heartfelt laugh (odd for such a peaceful, quiet kind of people) . She looked around to see if anyone else observed me, but no one else got to enjoy the white girl yanking up her pants. I shrugged my shoulders and smiled at her, eager to see what was behind these restroom doors.

Well, it was a toilet without a base! How does a toilet without a base even exist? Somehow I needed to squat in this tiny box and aim into this porcelein hole in the ground. It was so odd to me. I had no idea which way to face and bashed my head into the toilet paper dispenser with my pants at my ankles as I tried to perfect my squat while leaning forward to watch my target. Wait, I was facing the wrong way! Then I bashed my head into the wall because I turned around without standing up for some brilliant reason. I was beating myself up, literally, trying to figure out how to pee. It should not have been this challenging. But I can always find a way to complicate things. It still cracks me up to think of how funny it would have been to see the whole ordeal from the outside.

swigs

Tokyo. Volume 1.

Their ice cubes are thick, solid, giant squares (true cubes, if you will). So massive that you would really hurt someone if you threw a single ice cube at them. Break a window if you wanted to, even tossing it with minimal force. Each time I drank water from my glass of neatly stacked ice blocks, which btw rapidly dispursed chilling refreshment to my mouth, all I could do was wallow in envy. Freaking wussy United States ice cubes.

Mike loves Diet Coke. I love Sprite. Tokyo does not have these drinks. Not even in restaurants!
They do, however, have beverage vending machines packed with a gazillion varieties of other drinks on every single street. Usually 3-4 machines lined up side by side.
He ended up drinking Coke Zero every day and I chose orange juice. We put a lot of money into many-a vending machines.
I figured I would start off by telling you about the least interesting things first.

10.10.2010

of book reports

When Zane was born I had been in labor with him after my water broke for roughly 31 hours. I had developed a fever, however, they were pretty sure he was fine. Due to my fever they warned me that as soon as he came they would immediately take him to the NICU to observe him and make sure he was doing well.

I remember going to the NICU partly sad I didn't get the typical experience with him snuggling with us immediately, but I also understood the importance of the precaution. As we scrubbed up and went into this intense and sterile area I passed by the smallest of babies. My heart broke a little with each little baby I passed realizing some were barely holding on to life. All the while my heart still ached for concern of each baby in there (and the their famlies). By the time I got to Zane I was overcome with gratitude (selfishly?) that our situation was not critical. It was not ideal for what you imagine your entry into parenthood to be, but I had been given the gift of perspective and compassion each and every time I went to see my healthy baby in the NICU.
***

In the final weeks of Kindergarten last year Zane had been mainstreamed into a typical class. I still kept in close contact with the special autism teacher and will forever have a special place in my heart for her. She invited the parents and mainstreamed kids to attend a class party at the end of the year in her room. As I sat there watching the differences in each child I immediately loved them. And their parents. I felt like we were all part of an unspoken club of understanding. Like our hearts were already friends and none of us needed to shake hands or make introductions.

It was also like the NICU experience, many of the children I observed on my way to Zane were not like him and appeared to have greater challenges. Their autism was highly visible in many ways, while Zane's is not. I left the party the same way I left the NICU 5 years before: grateful for the perspective offered to me while I pieced together and swallowed this new-to-me-world.

***

I will write about Toyko this week and share photos, but first I have to write about this amazing book I read: The Year My Son and I Were Born by Kathryn Soper. It's about a mother discovering the different-than-expected life her family will have with her Down Syndrome baby. I think anyone with a special needs child (be it slight or severe) would LOVE and relate to this book. She is a gifted writer, honest in her feelings, and raw with change of heart. I could not put it down. And I hate reading.

The book had me thinking deeply about my journey with my own son and what autism means to our family, to me as a mother, and to Zane. It made me feel normal and comforted by the various feelings, thoughts, and worries I had as Zane was diagnosed this time last year. Looking back, I can see it was a way heavier experience than I realized at the time and I kept a lot of those feelings and that heaviness inside. Blocked everyone else out. It was more than I could bear alone. And it crushed me. I wish I had this book then.
Today I hardly think about autism spectrum disorder, he is just Zane. Unless it's a therapist or new person in charge of his care, it's not something I think about nonstop like I did last year. How wonderful time, knowledge, and help has been to me.
****
As I attended and observed in his autism class last year I got to meet other kids like Zane. It was another opportunity (like in the NICU) to be given the gift of compassion and perspective. Some children were a lot more visibly autistic while some were higher functioning than him. While I wished that no one in that room had to know and experience the world of autism, I felt like those early days in the NICU when I was uncertain of what would come next and how to mother this special person, but also so grateful he was and is truly fine. And just like my feelings of fear and uncertainty when I would approach my tiny little baby in that sterile little room, I approached autism (when it was new) with the same kind of feelings at first. A lot uncertain and fearful. But in both instances, I knew and know we are blessed and guided in this life as we lead each of our little souls back to our Heavenly Father.

* If you have a friend with a special needs child send them this book. Especially if a diagnosis is very new.
** You can also borrow my copy to read!
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