Steffan had to work through much of this Father’s Day, so by the time he got home, it was high time for a LOT of time to be spent on pounces, hugs, tickles and squishes…
Happy Father’s Day to ALL the true Daddies I know, including surrogate daddies, foster daddies, adoptive daddies, step-daddies, would’ve-been-daddies, trying-to-be-daddies, daddies-in-the-making (pregnancy totally counts, if you’re both taking the right care), daddies who lost their children, daddies lost *by* their children, critter-daddies, in-loco-parentis daddies, fathering spirits, single moms and gay moms who act as daddy too, and whichever other varieties I inevitably forgot while writing this. HUGE bonus points go special needs daddies. Bonus points also go to daddies who are true, rockin’ daddies, despite having had only varying degrees of negative example, from their own fathers.
Most of all, happy Father’s Day to Steffan, that wonderful brand of Daddy who earns the title and still always strives to do more and better with it!
Every year, I try to make Steffan a collage for Father’s Day, of photos of him and Ash that have been taken since the LAST Father’s Day. (You can see a few previous ones — the first three, actually — HERE. Unfortunately, there are some years for which the creation or retrieval of said collages was/is made more difficult by computer issues.) I consider it a very good thing that it’s always hard to choose only as many as will fit. I also try to include a quote at the bottom which reflects something he’s heard a lot of, that year.
Ash and I are so blessed to have Steffan as his Daddy! I can’t imagine doing this without him, or with anyone else.
There’s a tradition within the delightful (especially for anyone who grew up on Calvin & Hobbes and/or was a sometimes “challengingly” bright child and/or has ever worked in a school) comic strip Frazz, by Jeff Mallett. The tradition of which I speak is that one of the main and recurring characters of the strip — a young boy named Caulfield (yes, CAULFIELD) — plans his Halloween costume each year around a literary figure, which the staff of his school are challenged to be literate enough, themselves, to guess.
Well, Ash isn’t quite there yet, but he is planning on ending his two-year Halloween run as a dragon — it’s shocking, I know! — and dressing up next Halloween as The Scarecrow, from The Wizard of Oz….which was a book we got him last Christmas and which he read shortly thereafter. (We got the classic version of the movie from the library for him, on the heels of that.) Perhaps I should provide a little more context for this phenomenon-of-sorts that leads to the bit with the hilarity. See, we got the book because a like-new copy found at a thrift store for the price of spare change, was too good to pass up, and we thought, well, if Ash wasn’t ready for it then, he would be soon. Not only was he ready, but he ate it up. I got to prove to his teachers that he had reading comprehension skills they never would otherwise have had reason to believe he had, by having him do his reading log on the book, and having him answer questions like what The Cowardly Lion did that was brave. He loved the story, he loved the characters, and he was engaged by their personalities and their plight….we had to “pretend” our way through him interacting with all of them, multiple times, after he was done with the book. The Scarecrow, in particular, attracted his interest. In fact, that character completely changed Ash’s perspective on face paint, which previously distressed him to even look at, let alone consider having ON any part of him. I’m not sure what it was about the way that character’s makeup was done, but after seeing the movie (after seeing the illustration on the cover of his copy of the book), he was very enthusiastic about wanting to try having face-paint on him. He even followed through with the professed intention, when Easter came, as a way of starting to get used to the sensation.
Scarecrow, Scarecrow, Scarecrow. He insisted (and has yet to change his mind, despite things like a more recent love affair with the How To Train Your Dragon series of books) that he wanted to be Scarecrow for next Halloween. I, “Need to make sure that he has the floppy hat with the point,” and that I, “Paint [his] face yellow-that-turns-into-[his]-neck with the brown mouth and brown triangle nose and black eyebrows” — (actually, he wants to try putting on some of this face paint himself) — and, “Make him the blue shirt with the rope belt, and the brown pants, and [he] needs boots for all that walking on the road,” and oh yes, “A crow so that [he] can pretend to try to scare it, and be silly.” I must also be sure to not forget to make him some fake straw out of yarn, so that it can, “Stick out of [his] feet and hands and shirt and brains.” Just in case he wasn’t clear enough, he drew me a costume design sketch on his Magnadoodle. Early on when he was first going on with me about this idea, I asked him why Scarecrow was his favorite character. He told me, “Scarecrow is my favorite because he keeps wanting more brains so he can get smarter and help his friends.” Allrighty then. I’ll take this as another one of those times when he shows remarkable empathy for a character, shows self-awareness through what he casually relates to and admires.
It doesn’t end there, though. Oh no, he’s got it allllllll worked out. Although I keep trying to damage-control the fact that it’s hard enough for his Daddy to get off work on Halloween, and the chances are next-to-nill-would-be-generous that the entire, semi-extended family will not only go trick-or-treating with us, but also dress in costumes of his choosing….that’s just what he thinks should and hopes will happen.
Already once before, Ash told me about what character from the story, he has assigned to what family member. Today, he brought it all up again, and I got him to provide explanations for why he chose each match.
- He should be The Scarecrow, “Because he likes him best because he wants brains to be smarter.” (Yes, of course we talked again about how Scarecrow, just like him, was very smart….he just had to find the right ways to show people that.)
- I should be the Wicked Witch of the West, “Because then [I] could pretend [I was] riding on a broom, which would be fun and wouldn’t hurt [my] leg so much.” Also, he thinks, “It would be funny for [me] to pretend to be evil and chase [him].”
- Daddy should be the Tin Woodman, “Because he is kind.” (That should get extra, delighted attention from those readers of mine who know the long- and much-used nickname I gave Steffan 15 years ago, and the derivative linguistic meaning thereof. But if you do….shush, it doesn’t belong here, as it has been used in too many other places.)
- Uncle S- should be the Cowardly Lion, “Because of the mane.” It would seem — no surprise here — that Ash does not agree with his uncle about the notion that all men should have hair as short as possible. For reasons I won’t get into here, I went from finding it very amusing that Ash picked that character for this uncle (who is probably the most concerned with issues tinging on machismo, of anyone in the family), to finding it rather satisfying that Ash would just love to see him with a big ol’ mane of hair.
- Auntie L- should be Glinda, “Because then she can have kids being her Munchkins.” Oooh, that’s another loaded one, even if he’s just vying for a cousin again.
- Uncle A- should be The Great And Terrible Oz, “Because he would dress us as a giant, green head on a throne.” Well….yup. If anyone in the family was going to think it sounded like a perfectly enjoyable idea to dress up as a giant green head on a throne, it would be A-. Ash nailed that one.
- Last but not least, “Grandma should be Dorothy and Grandpa should be Toto because they live together and are companions just like Dorothy and Toto are.”
Oh boy. When I’m not fretting over how to even get all three of us dressed to Ash’s satisfaction, I’m still cracking up over all that. To be honest, this was also one of the only things I had to post that didn’t involve editing and uploading a ton of photos. ;-P
About a week before Easter, we had a couple of “narrow escapes” on behalf of the fact that Ash felt the need to “check” the eggs in the fridge, “To see if they were ready to be dyed for Easter yet.” Obviously, he was going to have his first experience dying Easter Eggs this year, and that was that. Naturally, this became a complicated thing for me, as much because I’m me, as because he’s him. I didn’t have time to seek out a non-perishable alternative that could be decorated in the same way (yes, I know there are many ways to decorate eggs, but he wanted to try DYING them), the smell of hard-boiled eggs has always been an immediate and severe gag trigger for me, and I also really, really, reaaaaalllllllllly was hoping to be able to keep Ash’s first-ever Easter Eggs, too. So, I taught myself how to blow-out eggs, and practiced until I was confident that I could do it without breaking them. (In the end, with the help of a thumbtack to make the holes and a nasal bulb for the blowing, I could have an egg sitting on our drying rack in about 2 minutes.) Since Ash would want to share the activity with us, Steffan and I could dye the eggs that had already been blown out — since we are more capable of handling them without breaking them — and Ash would dye the at-least-significantly-less-fragile raw eggs, and I’d blow them out afterwards. It’s not as if we wouldn’t be right there on hand to help anyway, so that would be good enough when it came to any potential mishaps with the raw eggs.
The evening before Easter, Ash got his chance…
The following are the eggs that Ash made this year — with a little motor help, but no artistic guidance — his first-ever dyed Easter Eggs. Are they not GORGEOUS?! I am so glad I planned things so that they could become keepsakes. At this point I just have to find my spray-shellac, give them a few coats, and then use bead caps over the ends to protect the holes from being snagged and chipping further. They did lose some of their vibrancy because of having to be blown-out AFTER being dyed, unfortunately. It wasn’t being cleaned/rinsed that did it, it was stray egg that got on the shell while being blown. You know how being “egged” is horrible for cars, houses, etc? Well, that’s because egg is pretty darn good at stripping surface coloring. I’d forgotten about that. Next year, perhaps I’ll experiment with shellacking the dried, dyed eggs BEFORE blowing them out.
The morning after Easter, Ash told me that he’d dreamed about dying eggs. I guess this tradition is a keeper.
Last year Easter was ON Ash’s birthday, and Steffan still wasn’t allowed to take the day off. I had staged an egg hunt in the living room (see photo HERE), and that was about that, for what we could do for the holiday. This year, Steffan has a boss that tries harder to remember — and accommodate — the fact that my husband is a person with a life and a family, and not just a hard worker in a cruddy job. (♪♫ And the choirs of angels sing! ♫♪) Despite the fact that April currently has more events, occasions, appointments and meetings than days, Steffan has had his work schedule arranged in a dysfunctional way that actually allows him to have the time off he needs for them, instead of a dysfunctional way that doesn’t. This is a considerable relief, as well as cause for celebration!! (I mean, Steffan even manages to have a day off for the family birthday party, for Ash’s actual birthday, AND for Ash’s birthday party!) And after a day when Ash had a show to do, followed by an Endocrinologist appointment for me, followed by a doctor’s appointment for him….following a day when a doctor’s appointment for him was followed by a Rheumatologist appointment for me and then his show….a day off together that was only being spent on Easter, was going to come as a celebratory relief anyway!
Steffan is Cathoic, so Easter Sunday started with church. Now, normally if Ash and I accompany Steffan to church, it’s to a special GLBT & Friends mass held in the evening. That mass has the benefit of being smaller, being quieter, being more personal and informal, and being entirely comprised of people that are so happy we’re willing to let them get to know our son, and let him get to know them, that they are more than happy to be extra understanding of his special needs. (It’s quite sad that that’s the way it is….but that’s the way it has been.) This, though….this was a standing-room-only, 9am Easter Morning, gospel-style mass. Honestly, Ash held up pretty well. It might actually have helped that, with nowhere else to fit, we ended up being herded into the front pew, where few people automatically go no matter how friendly the church. Being in the front put us closer to the loud music, but it did allow him to watch the amusing antics of the man at the piano, as well as randomly get smiled, winked and waved at by the Pastor, as well as a member of the choir that knew us.
I have to say, too, that I am ever impressed by this church. I mean, it’s not every Roman Catholic church that a spiritually eclectic woman can show up at on a High Holy Day, and not feel offended by or at least uncomfortable with a regrettable chunk of the proceedings. I mean, the Pastor is such an avid and outspoken supporter of….well, the same kinds of things we are….that we sometimes find ourselves wondering how he has managed to not get stomped on by Vatican hierarchy, yet. Eniways, there were only two bits that made me twitch a little, instead of cheer. One was a direct bit of required liturgy straight from Paul, in which the Jewish tradition of Passover was used as a metaphor for purging yourself of the sinfulness of Judaism. Paul’s so good at that kind of thing. The other was a line from the homily in which it was noted that eggs have been a symbol of Easter for hundreds of years, and went on from there….but the part of me that knows about things like “pagan” traditions older than Christianity, and Eostre, and eggs coming into things as a fertility springtime symbol….well, it got a bit fidgety, and wished that among the many religions the Pastor made a point of including in his goodwill, he’d thought to include those “New Age” ones that are actually really, really Old Age. Ahh well. It’s a learning process, at at least his mind is far more open to lessons, than most.
Overall, since Ash handled things well, it turned out to be an enjoyable Mass. One cute moment thrown in was when the Pastor surprised a child congregant with a 4th birthday cake, and having everyone sing the birthday song to him. (He also snuck over to Ash afterwards, and whispered to him about how he knew HIS birthday was coming up soon, too, and he hoped to be able to do something to celebrate it. As it happens, our annual mass family birthday party thing is this coming Sunday, which is also the GLBT & Friends Anniversary Mass, so the Pastor, as well as some of our friends from that, are probably going to stop by the party on the way there.) Another highlight was watching the baby who got Baptized — a baby who looooooooved bathtime, and considered water dribbled on his head to be close enough to provoke a lot of giddy arm-waving, drooling grins, and hiccupy giggles….also a baby who apparently passes out cold, mid-giggle, several seconds after bathtime is over. It was pretty adorable. And of course, Ash loved getting to wear his own special outfit that let him be dressed-up like the grown-ups. Steffan and I both wore burgundy-and-black-based dressy stuff, so that we’d match Ash, and we drew a lot of attention that Ash quite enjoyed.
There was an egg hunt for the kids after the Mass, but it just involved some eggs scattered loosely over a small patch of lawn, and by the time we’d spent a few minutes taking the pictures Ash wanted, all the eggs had been collected. Excess candy was offered to us for Ash, but it’s not really a candy thing for him, it’s an issue of the fun of the hunt, so we thanked them and told both them and him that I’d just give him an Easter Egg hunt in our yard. He wanted to change into a bunny for the egg hunt anyway.
Doing the egg hunt in the front yard worked out rather well. We got through one round of him finding the eggs after I hid them, and then N- the neighbor’s boy, and a young cousin of his, noticed us and came over. Ash showed them the basket of eggs he had found, and they decided to get involved. We spent the next hour or go getting into switched-up teams, and taking turns hiding the eggs and finding them, in different combinations. Ash was re-introduced to the game of “Hot / Cold” during this activity. Now, our front yard does not make for a very challenging egg hunt despite the need for mowing (and our back yard still has piles of deer droppings all over it), but everyone had a good time anyway. In fact, N- later whispered to me, “You know, I did not think it would be so much fun to play the Easter Egg Hunt game. I was just doing to to be nice to Ash. But actually, it was a lot of fun! I had a really good time doing that.” Of course, as the mommy of a sensory kid, I also have to note with pride that Ash kept those ears-on-a-headband and that almost-face-paint on, the whole time.
After we’d used up our steam for finding eggs, N- and his cousin wanted to know if Ash would like to come to the park with them and play “soccer” — which really meant taking turns trying to show off how far they could kick or throw a soccer ball. That itself was amusing because N- in particular wanted to show off for Ash, but N- has only a smidge more athletic prowess than Ash does….and Ash doesn’t really have any. Still, it all worked out well enough for them. N- and his cousin were eventually ready to move on from there to the playground, still with Ash, but Ash was wearing out between his continued recovery and the excitement of the day, so I thanked them and excused us, so I could take him home to rest for a bit.
After a bit of a breather, it was finally time to discover what the Easter Bunny had left him. I’d covered the area with a blanket, earlier, because I knew if he got distracted by it before church, things would not go smoothly. When the great unveiling occurred, Ash found that under the card that he’d made for the Easter Bunny (and mind you, I had just suggested making an Easter picture….it was Ash’s idea that it was meant to be a card to be left for the Easter Bunny — we’d never put much fuel into the EB myth, but he’d picked it up at school), was left a bunch of goodies for him. The EB had filled his old froggy Easter basket that we’d left out. There were Easter/Spring-y pencils, since he enjoys choosing between thematic pencils whenever he does his homework. There were two brother-bunnies, both small and soft and otherwise identical, but one with blue fur, one with purple fur. The EB must’ve heard about his interest in matching up his stuffed animals into likely genetic as well as emotional families. There were a few shiny plastic eggs, one filled with a few sour-sugar-covered jellybeans to try (in a tiny ziplock bag, so they wouldn’t spill all over the floor when he opened the egg), one filled with a new red wiggle worm to replace the one that broke, and the rest filled with animal stickers of that variety where if you tilt them, the picture changes. Ash can’t get enough of looking at animals, after all. There were 3 small chocolate bunnies (he gets to eat half of one of them, if he first eats a significant quantity of something healthy he doesn’t normally consume a significant quantity of). There was also one of those gel-and-air-filled sensory fidget squishies, shaped like a yellow chick, that had an LED ball inside it that flashes colors for 15 seconds or so, after you whack it.
There was also a DVD of “Pete’s Dragon” from our friend Jessica. On top of that sat this year’s traditional bunny, which actually looks a bit like it might be the baby of the bunny featured in that linked post. There was also a fabric flower with a bendy-stem, from us. I’d thought of getting him a blue flower mylar balloon for Easter, since he enjoys them so much. I’d also thought of getting him some manner of blue flower, for his school performance. Since I didn’t have the opportunity to get that far, I reconsidered the balloon plan, and decided to get this sort of blue flower, for Easter, instead. Now it can be a (somewhat) permanent prop for his imagination play — whether he’s acting out a more elaborate story in which a flower is featured somewhere, reflecting on the number of times he’s come across a reference that people often give flowers as a token of affection, or merely pretending that he can smell flowers.
After a while of playing with his new things — by the way, the chick is no longer capable of going BLORP, although it does still light up — Ash settled down to watch Pete’s Dragon, while Steffan made ham for dinner. Specifically, pieces of ham were grilled up in a base of orange juice and cinnamon. Ash likes ham, but has never had it coated with anything before. He ate it anyway!
And that, my friends, was Easter. Well, aside from the bit where the evening before, Ash dyed eggs for the first time…!
Last Thursday, Steffan put out this little, “stone-cast” style statue of St.Patrick that he’d found at a thrift shop a while back. He asked Ash if he knew who it was. Nope. He asked Ash if he could recognize what the man was holding. Nope. He told him to think about how it would be green, if it wasn’t a statue. (It is a shamrock.) Nope. It relates to the holiday that’s coming up on Saturday….
“Ohhhhh!” said Ash, “It’s a statue of a LEPRECHAUN!”
Steffan then went on to try some clarification. He told Ash that it was Saint Patrick, the man that the holiday was named after. They looked up “saint” in Ash’s dictionary, but he was still a bit confused, so Steffan paraphrased things into a Saint being someone who loves other people, and God, above and beyond the level most people do. Of course, the history lesson gets a bit more complicated, care of the fact that what St.Patrick is most famous for, directly relates to how he most certainly didn’t love ALL people. Y’know, like the “snakes”….aka those pesky, Nature-worshiping Druids. *ahem* Eniways, as he was unsure how to go about the next chapter in that lesson-book, as it were, Steffan left things there for the time being.
Naturally, that backfired in an amusing way.
Just so you know, “Saint Francis was a saint because he loved all the animals and was really nice to them.” (We have a small, St.Francis birdbath in the yard.) Also….“Saint Patrick was a saint because he loved all the leprechauns.”
Can you tell that Ash is a bit leprechaun-obsessed, this year?
Last night he told me that today we’d need to look for rainbows, because he had to catch a leprechaun so that it could tell him where to find the pot of gold. What did he plan to do with the gold? Was he going to use it to buy something? No, he thought maybe he was going to keep all of it, because it was shiny. (What? MY little dragon?!) I told him that in most of the Lore, leprechauns don’t exactly appreciate being trapped by people who want to take their gold, and tend to use magic tricks to get away and teach the humans a lesson. Did he think it was a good idea to get in trouble the day before his friend’s birthday party, because he wanted to take something from someone else and keep it all for himself? “Welllll you’re right,” he conceded, “I guess I’ll give one of the gold to A- for her birthday then, and the leprechaun will see that I am nice.”
Mmmmyeah, we’ll work on it.
Today’s non-stop adventures — which began a bit before 7am and after I’d had only two hours of sleep (possibly because those were the first two hours in which Ash actually slept quietly, himself, or possibly because at that point my body simply didn’t care what I thought my Mommy duties were) — have had several holiday-themed things scattered through them. A bath in green water….care of one yellow and then one blue color fizz tab (a Christmas present previously featured here)….was the extra incentive for staying still through a hair trim. Ash got to wear a new shirt I made him last night. (He asked me to surprise him with a special shirt, the way I had for Valentine’s Day. Thank goodness for DollarTree t-shirt selections, and iron-on printer paper!) A couple of hours later, the shirt needed to go into the laundry as the result of Ash’s sudden and overwhelming urge to do a bouncy dance while in the middle of drinking (occasionally, I miss the days when he hadn’t yet graduated from AutoSeal cups, to standard ones)….but he accepted the temporary substitution of a far more boring, green t-shirt, given the fact that the stripy green shirt he’d picked out himself recently was in the laundry since he wore it to school yesterday, and his green sweater (which was another thrift store find and originally grey, but mommy sees 100% cotton and thinks, “Dye!”) was being saved for later. I also had to promise to wash today’s special t-shirt, tonight, so he could go back to wearing it tomorrow, when he went to his friend’s party.
Let’s see….oh, there was also listening to some Celtic music of a few styles, dancing along with (our old VHS of this performance of) Riverdance, innumerable rainbow-checks, multiple confirmations that, yes, he was doing a VERY GOOD JOB today, and was definitely earning his Leprechaun Fizz treat tonight, so far…
There was a holiday-prompted inchstone, too! For the very first time ever….and not for lack of opportunities….Ash pushed through his sensory issues on behalf of his interest, and had his face painted! (Really, it was the first time he had his SKIN painted. He’s had the option of having something done on his hand before, if he didn’t want it on his face.) He wanted a shamrock on his cheek, and he wanted it to be a four-leaf lucky one, and he wanted it to be green, and he wanted it to sparkle, and he didn’t just want it to be a sticker, either. Alllllllllrightythen.
I didn’t have any face paints anyway because he’s only recently changed his outlook on them, so I took a toothpick (he warned me to be careful and gentle, because it looked sharp, and then accepted that, since he’d called my attention to the issue, there’d be no problem) and used it to draw the shape on him with green glitter nail-polish. Then I colored it in with DollarTree green eyeshadow, put a little clear nail-polish topcoat over it, used the hair dryer on low to dry things, and….there you had it. An improvised job, but it made him happy. He did an excellent job standing still and not touching it. Actually, it stayed on his cheek until he asked me to remove it, at bedtime!
Of course, once the special shirt I’d made him had to be swapped for a plain green shirt, he had the extra face-painting-incentive of needing to replace the lucky shamrock….after all, he was aiming to catch a leprechaun! I mean, he’d been talking for a while about how I was going to paint a shamrock on his cheek, but now he really had to go through with it. Blessedly, he also kept up his enthusiasm for this latest bit of magic, all day, without ending up upset that it came to naught.
I guess next year I need to be one of those parents that rig something for this holiday, too. Maybe I’ll find a pretty, prismatic suncatcher, and have him help me hang it so that the little rainbows it makes on the wall, will lure a leprechaun over. Then, when Ash isn’t looking, I can leave little glittery green footprints and an “accidentally dropped” gold coin. Hmmm….yes, that could work.
Any way, that’s the sort of way that the day went. There were some things we didn’t end up doing, but what we did do, worked out well. We managed to do all of the things (excepting ACTUALLY catching a real leprechaun) that Ash really, really wanted to do, so that’s the big thing. This was the first year that he was involved in celebrating St.Paddy’s at all, beyond some school crafts, and holidays are always….a process.
The climax of the planned day was to, after Steffan got home from work, all change into our green sweaters, and take a family photo for the holiday. Ash apparently agrees that only one decent photo of all three of us together, a year, isn’t really enough. Plus, he’s been really into the idea of matching, lately. Well, we got the photo, though unfortunately it kind of sucks. I mean, it WOULD be a really cute photo of us, I think, except for the fact that, even after using my Photoshop-fu, it’s still a crappy photo. The lighting just wasn’t good enough by the time Steffan got home….apparently it was just bright enough that the flash didn’t feel a need to go off, but too dim to get anything but a super grainy shot in which you can’t even TELL we’re all wearing green. Boo. (So yes, if you’re one of my many friends getting brand new DSLRs and even pocket-variety digital cameras, lately, I am happy and excited for you, but also jealous.)
Ash was going to be disappointed that you can’t clearly see us all matching in our green sweaters, but there was nothing for it. Even if I fiddled with the color awkwardly, the fact that all three are SWEATERS would not be clear. (Note: Yup…. “Mommy, I think the photo was a little messed up or something. Can you fix it?”) At least his mug of “Leprechaun Fizz” distracted him, at the time. Oohhhhhh that Leprechaun Fizz!! He might not have been talking about it for as long as he talked about wanting the photo, or with as much drama as he talked about catching leprechauns, but he might actually have brought it up the most often of all. Leprechaun Fizz was made during Speech Therapy, on Thursday. The kids had to talk about what they did to make it, what happened, what they thought of it, etc., of course. Ash never STOPPED talking about it. Ever since coming home from school on Thursday, all of his actions and choices revolved around — or tried to revolve around — earning some Leprechaun Fizz at home, on Saturday. (Thankfully, I got a reply from his ST on Friday, after asking what flavor of green ice cream was used, and if Ash actually did drink his all up as he claimed….because if all he did was take one sip, it wasn’t really worth us buying the stuff to make it.) We cracked up when we read the sheet that came home, on which Ash wrote answers to questions related to the activity, and his response to the question of whether or not he liked the drink, was, “O yes!” Heheh…well, thankfully, Ash did earn his Leprechaun Fizz — which, by the way, is made with lime sherbert and Sprite-type soda.
Ash definitely loves the stuff. He could only handle just so much at once because he has a tiny tummy, but he couldn’t resist continually running back into the kitchen for another slurp. Oh, and I do mean running….for certain understandings of running which include running, jumping, climbing, flipping, spinning, rolling, somersaulting, ricocheting, twirling, bouncing, randomly breaking out into dance moves, and even stopping to catch his breath in a fashion that suggests you might get a huge static shock if you get within a yard of him.
Granted, that’s not unusual for him, let alone already-excited him, but this was his usual with….added flare. He doesn’t usually have that much sugar in a go. I’m just glad the recipe didn’t call for something caffeinated. Dear lord, if there is something this child doesn’t need, it’s caffeine.
Eniways….that, with the addition of our traditional corned beef and seasoned fries, was pretty much how St.Paddy’s went down. Steffan and I had Strangely Sobers (using the rare splurge of the happily-discounted-for-the-holiday “Dublin Mudslide” ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s, along with some vanilla cream soda) because we’d rather have that than Leprechaun Fizz — although we did drink ours from green glasses, too. And, in the end, it was finally time to take off all the green, say an extra prayer for and because of those who think that drunk driving on March 17th is the celebration of a holiday, and not the same dangerous, selfish, arrogant stupidity that it would be on any other day of the year, and get some sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
Of course, that wasn’t that simple, either.
“Mommy, when Saint Patrick’s Day is over, will it be my friend A-’s birthday party?”
“Yes, sweetie….this year, A-’s birthday party is going to be on March 18th, which is the day after Saint Patrick’s Day….and also tomorrow. That’s why we need to let our exciting holiday end, now, and why we need to calm down, so we can get enough rest to make good choices and have a wonderfully exciting day tomorrow with your friends, too.”
“And then after A-’s birthday, it is going to be Daddy’s birthday! And after Daddy’s birthday, it will be YOUR AND MINE BIRTHDAYS!!!!”
“Well, not after only one sleep, but yes, those are the birthdays that come next on our calender. Let’s wait and think about those on another day, though, ok? It’s going to be hard to calm down and sleep if we have too many exciting thoughts at once.”
“But I think maybe I can DREAM about our birthdays!”
Ahhh well. Tomorrow is indeed another day. We’ll see how it goes…!
I hope that on the 14th, whether or not you celebrated Valentine’s Day, whoever you did or didn’t celebrate with, you knew, and truly felt, that you are loved.
Ash had school on Tuesday, and while he was there, Steffan had work. The few hours of family togetherness that remained between homework and bedtime were to be dedicated to celebrating the holiday with Ash. After all that, Steffan and I were — fairly predictably — too zonked to celebrate more privately….but that’s ok. Steffan and I are a little more able to take it in stride when things aren’t best-manifested on their pre-designated dates, than Ash is! Steffan had presented me with a chocolate rose (in, “Festive red foil,” Ash would like to be sure you know) at 4am when he woke up and realized that putting the finishing touches on the shirt I was making for Ash had not yet released me to bed with him. We’d get to our own more extended celebration on Thursday night, after he’d had the day off and before he’d have another day off. At random times during the week, I’d find myself surprised by some little token — such as when Steffan sidled up to me with adorable dramatized meekness, then with a huge, proud grin, whipped something from behind his back and said, “Happy whatever we feel like celebrating about us today, day!” Yeah, Ash gets a whole lotta CUTE from his Daddy. Hee! Eniways, it was all good.
On Tuesday it-was-morning-for-all-of-us-at-that-point, I went to wake Ash up, and was greeted by, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mommy!” as soon as his eyes focused. After some extra hugs and kisses, we set about the morning routine — a routine which was made considerably more exciting by the fact that I had set out a special outfit for Valentine’s Day, including the shirt I’d made for him as a gift. Oh yes, my little froggy prince charming quite loved it!
Supposedly the shirt was a hit at school, too. I don’t really know how the other kids reacted, beyond not-badly (or I would’ve heard about it), but I had notes from the staff about how adorable it was, and about how everyone was surprised when Ash told them I had made it for him. Ash told me that one of his teachers told him that it was going to be hard not to kiss him, but that that was ok, because he was already a prince charming to them — to which he claims the reply, “Why yes, I AM, I know!”
The holiday-based changes in the school day made for a fun — and exhausting — time, for Ash. He came home with a sack of valentines from his classmates, the half-Halloween‘s-haul equivalent of another sack of candy taped to those valentines (apparently the agreement to prepare goody bags of sweets to go along with the typical array of sticker-folded cards, did not reach my planet), a few warm-n-fuzzy stories about thank-you’s and hugs from kids after getting valentines from him, some holiday projects for us (which decreased in number relative to last year, predictably), and a tightrope-routine along the fine line between holding it together, and mark-your-calenders-for-meltdown.
Thankfully, both Ash and I managed to hold it together, and worth through his “3 Steps” after getting home from school. After eating his snack, Ash asked me if I would share my chocolate rose with him. I told him that I’d be happy to, but that I wasn’t ready to open it yet. He accepted this without struggle, and decided that, instead, he’d share one of the miniature chocolate bars he’d ended up with, with me! A miniature Hershey bar — something I am normally loathe to refer to as chocolate — has never before tasted so sweet. We finished off the whole thing, taking turns bite-by-bite. I’d say we did so at his direction, but that doesn’t even cover it, since he fed me my bites of chocolate. Once we were done, he asked for my help cleaning off his fingers and his mouth, “So [he] could hug and kiss [me] without making [me] dirty.” Then, after another love-you, he went off to the bathroom with, “Ok, ok, I’ll catch ya when I’m done with step two.”
Daddy got home from work around the time homework was being finished up, so then he went out to get the pizza we’d promised Ash for dinner. (And so, the last of the Christmas gift cards went *poof*, into a big, tomato-sauce-covered grin.) While he was out, Ash kind of randomly turned to me and asked, “Mommy, am I a man yet?” After I replied that he had more growing-up to do first, he told me, “Well, I will be a man when I get married.” I asked him who he thought he was going to marry, some-day. “I think I will marry Daddy,” he said, “Or maybe, no, I was wrong. I will marry you.” Yep, we’re pretty equal-opportunity, around here. I guess it shows.
After enjoying dinner, we gave Ash his valentines from us and from his great-grandma, and his other gifts. He had asked for a shiny frog balloon like the one we’d gotten him two years before. (A mylar balloon filled with helium is only $1 at DollarTree, you know, instead of $2-6 elsewhere.) Thankfully, he didn’t get upset that they’ve changed the model slightly since then.
We could easily have left things at balloon-play, but there was one more present for Ash. A friend had sent him this adorable Valentine Dragon, that she found at Target:
Actually, she claimed that the toy thought it was a dinosaur….that happened to have wings. Yeah, whatever — it’s totally a dragon. Once he had checked to confirm that it was not going to surprise him with any noises, Ash was all over it.
Apparently, if this dragon kisses you, your hair is set on fire. The photo above is of Ash watching me react to the information. It’s all right for him to be amused, because in this game of pretend, when a love-dragon sets your hair on fire, it doesn’t hurt, it just turns red…..until Ash blows it out, at which point, “Whew! It’s black again. Ok, Mommy, it’s your turn to set my hair on fire.” Hmm….perhaps not the version of being set on fire with kisses that one would expect from a happily-married couple, on Valentine’s Day, but I didn’t mind the additional version.
After a little more family play-time and some shared cocoa, it was time for bed. Ash didn’t want to take off his special shirt, and when he finally did, said, “But Mommy….I can wear it again even if it isn’t Valentine’s Day, right?!” As if he needed to prove that he wasn’t done being my little prince charming yet, he decided to break his own routine — YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT — and switch up the order that we took our turns wishing on his star-lamp during the bedtime routing, telling me that I could go first, and his Daddy could go second. (Normally, he goes first, I go second, and if Daddy is home for that bedtime, he goes third.) Naturally, extra wishes included variations on the theme of always being each others’ valentines, having had a happy Valentine’s Day, etc. Also naturally, the traditional last wish of each of us, remained the same. To help avoid wish-interrupting, the cue is always saying, “And also…” or, “And for my last wish…” — if Steffan or I is wishing, Ash completes the sentence for us with a triumphant, “….for lots of hugs and kisses!!!” If he is making his wish, we say it all together.
It was a good day, filled with lots of love. The best part is that it didn’t end there.
Ok, THIS really aught to be the last part. Part 4 brought us to the edge of Christmas Eve, so there’s only so much left to cover, relative to the month of lead-in we had. This was IT….the big days….
The funny thing is, it feels like there’s less to say about Christmas Eve, than the preceding days. I mean, a lot went on, but more of it was all the same kind of thing, if that makes any sense. That, and it went pretty much as Ash had anticipated the night before — and the things done in the morning and afternoon when it was just us, were mostly done together (and fairly lazily, because the day before had left him majorly depleted spoon-wise, and he’d need all the recuperation he could get before the next day), with no one to point a camera at us, and some of the things done later involved family that I only get into just so much, and don’t show photos of, on the blog. There was one period, though, which I was distanced enough from to capture…
Yep, Ash has his own little wooden nativity set. Some women volunteering at a charity Christmas-craft sale set up in the foyer of Steffan’s church had noticed Ash’s desire to play with it as we headed in past the table, last year, and surprised us by having chipped in together to gift it to him when we headed back out. It was one of the little blessings last year, when, by the by, he pretty much just knew that the figures in the set included three wise men, three animals, an angel, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. This year he knows a little bit more of the context, in a vague kind of way. This lead to the following amusing quotes:
“Baby Jesus was born in a barn instead of a hospital….which is more fun.*”
“And then he lay down in the hay and the animals looked at him and two white men and one brown man** who were very wise came to give him birthday presents, and then someone pushed a button to make the sky light up around him and sing “Silent Night”***….I think maybe it was his Mommy Mary or his Daddy who was named Joseph except or sometimes God.”
* Ash went into a barn during the Pumpkin Farm field trip his class took in October. He got to pet a calf, twin goats, a lamb, and a bunny. This was quite distinctly more fun than his times spent in a hospital. He assumes that baby Jesus and the others share his preference for furry animals over needles and such.
** He is basing this on the paint-job of the figures in his set.
*** He is basing this on a book his Grandma gave him a year or two ago.
I also snagged a few shots while Ash helped with Santa’s cookies. This year his help was a bit more effective than last, after having had the practice with the gingerbread men, along with just more developmental time, in-between.
I think my favorite part of the period when my in-laws were over, was that Ash, fueled by his pride and excitement over having helped make Santa’s cookies, because vaguely obsessed with the idea of being helpful in general. This wasn’t just the usual interest in being helpful via wanting to break in and “help” someone do whatever he realized they were about to do for themselves (often in a counter-productive way, of course), or the also-usual leaping at the chance to do what someone has asked him if he could do for them. This was stuff like him distributing cookies to everyone in the room, along with cups of things to drink, in case the cookies made them thirsty. Granted, the cups he distributed were not always the cups left around by the family members he was handing them to, but hey, he was trying, and it was all his idea.
Christmas morning. Ahhhhhh, Christmas morning. For once, Ash waking up at 7am when he didn’t especially have to, was him waking up LATER than other children. In any event, with a whole two hours or so of sleep painting festive circles under the eyes of us parents, and perhaps the world’s best fuel source twinkling in the eyes of our child, we began our day. The plan was to, like last year, begin with some us-time under our own tree….then get dressed and go over to Uncle S- and Auntie L-’s place — where we’d also do the family gift exchange — for brunch with them, Uncle A-, and Grandma and Grandpa….then come back to our place to let Ash unwind (and possibly open something else)….then go over to Uncle A-’s for dinner with just him and Grandma and Grandpa, since Uncle S- and Auntie L- would be having dinner with her family….and then finish the day with some more us-time at our place. It was a rather full day, but at least it involved a number of flexible escapes, and we’d have the next day to share a more relaxed, just-us-three, Christmas-Day-2. Typically, Steffan works a late night on Christmas Eve, and a very early morning the day after Christmas. For once, he was opening on Christmas Eve, and off the day after Christmas as well. HALLELUYAH! Yeah, we were grateful.
Someone asked, for Ask Ash!, what his favorite thing about Christmas was. I kind of lost track of who, so I hope whoever it was, is looking. In any event, he answered that, “My favorite thing about Christmas is that family is there to have time smiling together….and also, things are sparkly and Santa comes if you’re nice.”
“Santa gave me the bell I asked for when I wroted him my note! And it was like the HeroBoy, because I believe! And it rings for me, and it sounds beautiful, do you hear, Mommy?! And you know, I think I won’t put it in a hole in my bathrobe.”
So….the scratches. See, Uncle S- and Auntie L-’s house has a very, very enticing feature…
Really, it wasn’t so bad. If the scratches hadn’t been bleeding at first, we wouldn’t have bothered torturing Ash with a band-aid on his face. He didn’t care in the slightest that Cole had scratched him. To Ash, no matter what he’s been told, the inevitable occasional scratches from one cat or another, guard as we do, are a sign that the offending kitty was being silly, not a sign that he should probably feel less of a desire to try to pet it….or the next cat that doesn’t seem as interested in him as he is in it. Perhaps if his nociception wasn’t often off-kilter, his eiditic memory would counter-balance his complete lack of danger sense, in these matters. Whoops?
Another thing of note from that part of the day was that Ash ate about half of a Belgian waffle (¼ from Daddy’s plate that Mommy didn’t know about, and then later, ¼ from Mommy’s plate that Mommy was, therefore, extra impressed by)….which was something new for him. He ate plain parts, but still.
An interesting thing about Jingle is that he was first set off by Ash’s uncle, while at their house, before Ash knew what to expect….and Ash was barely startled, and only for a moment, and was not scared. Apparently, Jingle was exempt from the stuffed-toys-or-otherwise-made-decoratives-that-look-like-creatures-and-make-noise-and/or-move-especially-if-it-was-unexpected-the-first-time-are-going-to-terrify-me rule. Possibly this is because the first sound that Jingle makes is a bell-jingling sound, which rather blends into the overall audio backdrop of Christmas anyway. I was intrigued, but mostly glad. I had, after all, told my SIL that yes, I thought he’d enjoy that gift, and I had a feeling they’d pay attention to the abnormality of his reaction, and not any overlooked disclaimers about the manner and timing of introduction, if he reacted horribly a few seconds after they gave it to him.
One highlight of the part of the evening spent at Uncle A-’s for Christmas dinner, was Ash’s continued desire to be helpful, being taken advantage of by me to get him to practice utensil use. Ash is not so good with eating utensils. He has only recently improved when it comes to spooning anything that doesn’t stick to the spoon (like pudding), thanks to cocoa. You’d think that spearing things with a fork would be easier than balancing things on a spoon, but he’s never gotten the hang of forks at all, with anything. Don’t even ask about knives, ok? Some day, we might just see how he takes to the old chopsticks-rubber-banded-around-their-rolled-up-wrapper thing, for the heck of it (I never needed that, but I know a lot of kids….and some adults….that required that trick for early chopstick learning stages, and Ash has far from the average kid’s motor coordination)….but in the meantime, he sticks largely to finger food when he’s feeding himself, whether or not anyone else thinks it is finger food. Well anyway, Ash really wanted to “help” me eat the Christmas ham, so I told him I’d love it if he helped me, but I wanted to eat it with a fork, so he would only be helping if he tried to feed it to me with the fork. Gee, did he think he could try to do that for me? Pretty please with dragons on top? It would be sooooooo nice and helpful for my tired hands… I think everyone else in the room popped their jaws grimacing and wincing, waiting for me to be speared in the throat or stabbed through the cheek. With cues to move the fork very slowly and gently towards my mouth and wait for my teeth to close on the ham before he moved the fork away, though, Ash did a fine job of feeding me without injuring me, and was so pleased with himself that he decided I was hungry for seconds, and would I please cut them up so he could stick them with the fork again? Heheh. Mommy wins.
By the time Ash went to bed that night, the living room looked like this…
The impressive part is that the room looked like that, but not all that much was opened. It’s rather nice to have a child that gets so much out of each gift, and takes such time with each gift, that even without GETTING that many gifts, he still takes an average of one to two weeks to open everything and go through his stocking.
Speaking of which, here are a few post-Christmas highlights, mostly for friends that I know look here…
By the way, he says that lions are his favorite big cat, because the boys have manes which look so soft and fluffy, like his Daddy’s hair used to be. Is anyone surprised?
These ladybug slippers come from Grandma. They match his PillowPet. Ash faces two challenges when it comes to making good use of them. First, he must reconcile himself with the concept of “inside shoes”….secondly, he must master actually walking in them.
Aurora, a velvety-soft, blue and purple dragon with shiny parts, was one of Ash’s belated birthday presents from his “Auntie A-” that I set aside and saved for Christmas so she would lose one excuse to send him MORE for Christmas. Aurora is Ash’s most playful stuffed dragon thus far, a character trait determined when she was so impatient to get unwrapped and pounce Ash that she somehow….magically, I suppose….managed to roar while still in her box, despite it normally taking precision effort to squeeze her neck in just the right way, to produce that effect. As you might have guessed based on Abominable Snowmen, et al, this unlikely feat of impatient enthusiasm on the dragon’s part, was rather counterproductive. Aurora’s box took another day after being unwrapped, to be opened, and it took the rest of that day to get Ash comfortable with playing with her, first indirectly, and then, handling her himself. Had she not been such an endearing dragon, I suspect it would’ve taken much longer.
“This is a mushroom gnome home, do you see, Mommy? It looks like a mushroom, you know, and gnomes are kind of like faeries I think. And do you know, Mommy….Mommy….when you say gnome, the ‘g’ is silent.”
With it already being mid-January, I don’t know if I’m going to get as far as writing a separate holiday-gratitudes post, like I did last year. So here, before I go, I want to add a few thank-you’s:
- Thank you to E, my Fairy Blogmother, and Ash’s “Big sister”….all these years after you needed me to be a Mommy to you, you still always think about how to help take care of us, in turn.
- Thank you to Mo, who sees no reason why saving our asses….sorry, arses….should be enough if she hasn’t filled Ash’s tummy with his favorite pizza yet.
- Thank you to “Santa” for being sneaky again this year, so I have to let you get away with it. You got our medication.
- Thank you to Wolf, for giving us the ability to give Ash the animals that inspire him to aspire.
- Thank you to Mike, for choosing us to be the adoptive geeks for your books.
- Thank you to Moobs, for the sassy fashion show I just put on for my husband, and the chocolate we’re pretending isn’t bulging out from under it
- Thank you to C-, for honoring Ash as one of the only little people you care for at all, let alone adore.
- Thank you to E-, otherwise known as “Emily Elf”, for being insufferable.
- Thank you to Kat for the….uh….reminder to snag a photo of Santa in the act.
- Thank you to the friends and family — some who know about this blog, and some who don’t — who sent cards, sent gifts, have been thinking of us enough to be planning to send things, came to visit, are hoping to visit, etc. etc. etc. Thank you to all who cry with us, scream with us, sigh with us, cheer with us. Thank you for the wishes, hopes, and prayers. Thank you for being you.