Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day: A Chronological View

Pack it up.

Get some sunscreen....
...and get a ride.
Pick a beach....
Dig a hole.

Wait for a wave.

Jump in the water.

Play with a fish head!
Head home happy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

He's Way Ahead of Me

At my mother's the other evening, Ethan informed me that he needed to go home for a while, but not to worry he would walk there. He started readying himself and heading out the door. It's a mile home, through winding side streets, no one to walk with, and he's not going to be talked out of this. For all teenagers, I suppose strikes for independance can be trying for parents - certainly no different when your teenager has Down syndrome.

"Ok", I said casually, "Please cross carefully and go right home." My mother shot me a look that asked, 'are you nuts' and Gavin said, "Don't do it, mom, it's a bad idea." I watched him walk out the door with such determination, it would have been hard to deny him this opportunity.

I watched his back until he was out of view. I thought about holding my 4 lb. baby Ethan wondering what in the world he would be capable of. When would he walk? Would he ever talk? Yeah - walk right down the street, telling me he's headed home!

Then I grabbed my camera and jumped in the car. I never let him see me.

He looked both ways at each intersection I witnessed (I did not see them all). He had to wait through 3 green light cycles at the busiest interesection in town for a "walk" sign. I watched as he pushed the button repeatedly and threw his hands up in frustration. I saw him wave to a police officer. At one point, I watched him stop, look around and just taken in his surroundings before continuing on. I could not have been happier for him, to be 'out there', on his own, on this brief journey.

Coming on the heels of spending his first night away from home, a request for a cell phone, school dances, and Teen Night Drop-Off, I would say we are entering dead smack into the middle of Ethan's version of Teenagerhood. Go, E, go - literally.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Show me your clean.

I have issues - I like to clean when I am nervous. But there is not much I can clean around my place, since everything is out of order, paint is wet, tools are everywhere, and boxes are stacked in front or most things I'd like to scrub, dust or organize. I was able to get into the closet where all our homeschool/activity fun is kept, so I used that to quell my panic.

I am not an innate organizer, so I follow directions that I learn from magazine articles and organizationally gifted pals - 'put like with like' and 'make it easier to put away than to take out'. I put things we use more frequently in the most accessible places and the others in the harder to reach spots.

Every unused thing I tossed into the 'donate' pile and each broken or ripped item that made it's way to the trash chipped away at the anxious feelings and all the neatly stacked shelves brought a new sense of calm. Although I couldn't fix any of the construction-related mayhem, I could fix a closet full of chaos.

I told you I have issues.

What have you cleaned or organized lately? Tell me about it or post a link.

Friday, May 20, 2011

What a difference a week makes!

No sooner did we get back from our hotel-home, when I realized that we still could not function in the house. Dennis and I slept here...

which was just a carved out nook in the new kitchen amongst the boxes and furniture from the entire house. There was no where for the kids to sit, eat, play, or walk for that matter (on the newly refinished wood floors).

So, Just Jewelry Girl came to our rescue again. She invited us to spend some time at her vacation rental that she *happened* to have for the week - yeah! We did things like this...

This is an example of how homeschooling, in terms of a lifestyle, is a great advantage. We were able to just pick up and leave without the constraints of schedules and timeframes.

We did come home to a bevy of cabinets and appliances everywhere, which means an end *really* is in site. Painters and new windows come next week.

In the midst of all this, Ethan hit a major milestone - he left for school today with plans for a 'boys only' sleepover at school! 5 friends, a baseball game, a movie, rockwall climbing and no mom & dad. Boy, that boy is growing up!

See what a difference a week makes!?!

Friday, May 13, 2011

No Pain, No Gain

Right? I guess that's what "they" say.

Saying that we are displaced is an understatement. We spent the night at the Embassy Suites hotel. I say 'spent the night' to paint the most accurate picture - I did not want imply that anyone slept. Nope. The Costello's don't 'sleep' in hotels. They wander around, cry, toss, turn and carry on in all kinds of ways. And then there's the kids....

There was a dely in receiving our cabinets for our new kitchen, which meant there was a totally empty room. The idea of refinishing the hardwood floors was tossed into the mix, because we were able to move the entire first floor furnishings into that space. It requires two days of sanding and sealing, and then drying time. We can walk on it - in our socks - by Monday. Yippee! That still doesn't mean we will have any furniture and are still sans kitchen.

Sorry to complain so much, I don't mean to be ungrateful. I don't have the capacity to picture the finished product and how it will change how we live in our space. People that have been through a kitchen remodel and other forms of household chaos are able to encourage me that this will all be worth it - and then some - and I do believe them. I can't wait until I can encourage someone else with the same counsel.

Until then, I will be entertainging 4 boys at the Embassy Suites Hotel. Does that sound indecent?!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Not a fan. Really, I would trade one contrived, Hallmark-fueled, pseudo-holiday for about 364 days of just a little more gratitude and cooperation. I admit, it might have something to do with my first Mother's Day, as an actual mother, stinking to high heaven, but we'll leave that story for another day. Maybe it's sour grapes, maybe it's a genuine aversion - I don't know.

It's just all too much pressure. The 'perfect' gift and the elusive 'perfect' restaurant all annoy me. When given a choice, like I was because it was, after all, Mother's Day, I prefer to spend the day in a place that looks like this.

I want to see my kids doing things like this...
and this...
and this....
and this...

The boys teamed up with another bunch of kids who turned out to be from another biological/foster/adoption-formed family of six. This was a mom who reminded me that kid-growing business is spiritual work and is best done with an open heart and an open home.

After a great day in the sun, we had an impromptu dinner out (less about Mother's Day and more about the Kitchen Remodel). That is not always a pleasant experience with the crew we travel with, but this dinner was. It is often that I notice people glancing around the table assessing the kids we have in tow. We don't fit the 2.1, similar looking children who have hair and the same skin color. (As an aside, many people also assume Ethan is undergoing cancer treatment).
As the table next to us was leaving and making small talk, I wished the very elderly, italian grandma a "Happy Mother's Day". She weaved her way through a couple of chairs and leaned toward me and hugged me around the neck. She spoke mostly italian and all I could understand was "beautiful", "God Bless You" and "Novena". She gave me a big 'italian-grandma' kiss on the cheek and kept smiling and patting my face. I am not a very touchy-feely person, and this could have been a more strange situation if sincerity and genuine blessing for my family did not ooze from her every pour. Besides, some other public reactions to my family have been far less pleasant.
This woman also reminded me that raising these boys is spiritual work. Seems like there was a message in my Mother's Day - and it didn't come from Hallmark.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Apologies

Recently, my kids have made several apologies to me. "Sorry I was so snotty before, mom" and "I am sorry that lied to you, mom". They were genuine, unsolicited apologies. I think it's a really important skill and I am proud. I also know exactly where they got their example. Me.

I have some flaws that make parenting particularly hard. Patience is not my strong suit, and I have a quick temper. I have a bad habit of saying things in anger and have been known to yell. As I work on finding better ways to handle situations that cause me the most problems, I have decided that one of the things I can do when I respond to my kids in a way that I wish I hadn't is to apologize. When I realize what I've done, I take a minute to make a true apology. "I am sorry I lost my temper and yelled at you" or "It's not true that you never pick up your clothes, I exagerrated" and "I am sorry I said &*$%". I make a point of making eye contact, even asking for it, if necessary. I tell them I am sorry, and ask them to forgive me. They always say that I am forgiven. Sometimes it is a segway into deeper discussion about something more that is going on in our family and sometimes, it's just over. There are always hugs.

Funny as it sounds, I hope to make heart-felt apologies a Costello Family tradition.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly - Kitchen Remodel #4

The good news is, we have walls, recessed lighting, and even a slider!

The bad news is, all the things that were piled into the dining room, are now piled in the living room, and we are living like this....(just to be honest here, this is when it is clean and tidy - it can be worse!)

That's really it. There is nowhere else to go. Except outside, the park, Dunkin Donuts, the library, anywhere with WiFi, visiting friends and neighbors, my mother's, the arcade, the zoo, Home Depot, Target, the skatepark, and the state parks. Here's how it goes - I start yelling at kids to pack up what they want and get in the car, Dennis asks, "Where are you going?" and I say, "anywhere but here!"

Even more good news, is that Dennis surprised me with the ability to get both our hardwood floors redone, and new windows for the whole house!

The bad news is that the whole first floor is hardwoods and there are windows in every room. You do know what that means right?!?