February 17, 2010

The Return of Veggie Girl

Last Friday, my youngest sister's boyfriend popped in for a surprise visit.

I was making spaghetti. Usually, I dump a whole mess of meat into the sauce so as to satisfy my protein-starved Aspie. My sister, however, is vegetarian and keeps a vegetarian home. So I asked her boyfriend if he was okay with the meat. (That wasn't just the hospitality talking, either. He was shoveling out the back end of my driveway, so I was super motivated to be nice.)

Now, my diva is my Veggie Girl. She gets googly-eyed over brussels sprouts, does the happy dance when it's cauliflower for dinner, and has begged me to buy spinach. She even likes lima beans. Canned lima beans. Seriously.

She wanted to know why her aunt is a vegetarian.

My family is chock full of vegetarians, and each one of them has his or her own reason for eschewing meat. In my immediate family, they don't believe killing animals is a necessary or desirable thing. They don't wear leather, they use animal-friendly products. They live what they believe.

My daughter doesn't like hurting animals either.

My daughter is now a vegetarian.

I'm incredibly proud of her.  Because she figured out for herself what she believes in. Because she's trying to live it. And because she's 8. This is pretty big for 8.

And she's embraced it. This formerly picky eater has already tried mushroom burgers, raw almonds, soy nuts, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and organic yogurt (after she learned her favorite brand is made with gelatin). She's reached out to family and friends for tips on how to make this work. She's learning about nutrition and diet and why conviction and commitment matter.

She's going veggie until March 8, and then she'll see if she wants to keep it up. I think she will. But either way? My Veggie Girl has more than earned her cape.

February 14, 2010

Happy Heart Day

Here's why I love Valentine's Day.

You wake up in the morning to happy, smiling children bouncing on you because there's (wait for it) ... chocolate downstairs and the big sign you left says "Wait! Don't open me yet! Go get your mom!" So they do.

You shower your kids with little Russell Stover boxes and gifties from their grandparents, and they are so overwhelmed they not only share their (wait for it) ... chocolate ... but they also run off immediately to make you all the Valentines they can think of. This resulted in one poem from the Aspie, a lovely hand-drawn card from the diva, and ... um ... a green scribble from my very proud comedian who announced, "I didn't draw you a Valentine. I scribbled it!" and then broke out into maniacal laughter.

You spend the morning playing board games and getting hugs and (wait for it) ... chocolate covered kisses.

You then get all gussied up and head out on an honest to goodness date that features not only fabulous food and the company of a fella who thinks you're kinda cute despite 40-odd years of living and three journeys through childbirth, but also (wait for it) ... well, okay, not chocolate, but flowers, the stunning kind, and really that's every bit as wonderful. Plus, there was pie.

And then you head home. And you make a family dinner that features (wait for it) ... chocolate chip pancakes and sausage and fruit and Valentine's Day cake. Big hugs on a plate. Your kids are full and happy, and your au pair is full and happy, and you are full and happy, and the world is a happy, wonderful, chocolatey place.


February 10, 2010

Three Hairy Fairies

I remember a time when snow was fun. Sledding. Catching flakes on your tongue. Making snow angels and snow balls and snowmen.

But when you're looking out your window at the second blizzard in a week, the third blizzard of the season ...

... when the snow is taller than your four year old and you haven't left your house in days ...

... when you've dug through nearly 80 inches of the white stuff in the space of about six weeks ...

Soooooo not fun.

It's shoveling and backaches and wet and salty on your hardwood floors. It's ice dams on the roof and water damage in the drywall. It's slogging through hip-deep cold to dig out the heat pump. It's cabin fever and kids gone wild.

But there's a kind of awesomeness to all this snowfall, too. Because it brings out the village. As in the "it takes a village" village. Which is, as I've just learned, about snow as much as it is about kids.

See, I dug out my heat pump because a friend on Facebook thought to post a note about it to save everyone from burning out their motors and dying of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Another friend posted a diagram on ice dams, and a third spent an hour on the phone talking me through my dams and my drywall and my homeowner's insurance. I'd never heard of the dam things (ha ha), and they are killing my little house.

And, in a tremendous act of kindness, three of my neighbors - my three hairy snow fairies - took pity on our vain attempts to shovel through the mad snowfall and dug out my driveway. Not once, not twice, but over and over until the snow finally stopped.

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Still can't find the mailbox. But I can get my sick kid to the doctor. That matters.

One friend in the village had the kids in mind. She passed along a recipe for snow cream. Awesome stuff. Just like ice cream only easier. If you've got this much snow, might as well eat some of it. 'Cause eating snow? That's fun.

Snow Cream

1 big bowl of snow
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup of milk (enough to make it mushy, not runny)

Stir & enjoy! My diva ate two bowls of the stuff, and even my sugar averse Aspie deemed it a hit.

February 3, 2010

Groundhog's Day

It's winter. I know this because today was a snow day. Which meant no school. Again. For the umpteenth time this year. And we're expecting a blizzard on Friday, with more snow the following week. At the rate we're going, my kids will be in school until July.

Do you have any idea what all this winter does to a kid with Asperger's Syndrome?

Winter means snow days and two-hour delays and early dismissals. It means holidays and half days and exams. Every day is different. Every day breaks your routine. And that routine is important. That routine helps you stay calm because you know what's coming next.

That routine is toast.

Winter also means gloves and zippers and making sure your shoes are tied and your feet are not slipping on the ice. Not so easy when fine motor skills and balance are your physical Waterloos.

In our school system, winter also means geometry, which for sixth graders is graphing and plotting and spatial relations.

Now picture yourself as a kid with an inspired math brain. You just get it. You know innately how it all works because numbers make a beautiful, simple, logical sense. And yet, because your brain and your hands aren't in synch, you can't make all that graphing and plotting happen on paper. Picture yourself and your low frustration threshold dealing with that. Then picture the social dynamic of trying to find a partner to work with, and not understanding why he won't, or why everyone's mad at you for the way you tried to change his mind. And  this is after you put on your gloves and zipped up your coat and tied your shoes and balanced on the ice and missed a few snow days and didn't eat your lunch because the lunchroom is noisy and distracting and the kids don't make sense and you haven't seen the sun in days.

I'd have gotten suspended, too.

My Aspie and I, we hate winter.

The groundhog saw his shadow yesterday. Six more weeks of this mayhem and madness are on their way. So, yeah, I pretty much hate the groundhog now, too.