- I am cooking spaghetti squash in my Instant Pot tomorrow. Let’s hope it turns out.
- Henry came home from school and said his classmates watched a video he created. Some people liked it. Some people didn’t. I told him there will always be critics when you create something and put yourself out there. Not everyone will love your video or song or poem or blog or drawing you created. That’s okay. That’s what art is all about. Keep going.
- Beautiful wave petunias grew in our flower box in our front yard last year, and they were absolutely gorgeous. They lasted for months. A few people said I had a green thumb, but the truth is that it rained so much last summer that the flowers grew by themselves. From May to August, I think I watered them twice.
- Isaac is very unhappy when the weather changes and his brothers wear shorts. He wants them to wear jeans because it’s what they have worn all winter and spring.
- I always wait until the last minute to buy end-of-the-year gifts for teachers and bus drivers. I should have done this weeks ago.
- Chris took Noah and Isaac to a graduation party Monday afternoon, but Isaac wouldn’t get out of the van, so they couldn’t stay long.
- Autism can be challenging.
- When I created my blog in February 2013, I promised myself I’d blog every month. This last year I have waited until crunch time most months – the very last day of the month – and then I write and publish something. That’s not how I envisioned it working, but that’s what happens when life gets in the way. I haven’t made it a priority this year with everything else going on.
- I read online that Olivia Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer that has metastasized to her bones. She thought it was back pain. How awful. That’s what happened to my mom after being cancer-free for almost 20 years. Another friend of mine was recently diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer. Noah came home last week and said an adult he knows well at school has stage IV colon cancer. Everyone is shocked. I have four other friends who are fighting breast cancer or colon cancer. And that’s just me and the circle of friends I know and love. We all know someone who is fighting this beast, right? Let’s support them however we can.
- Eating sweet, juicy watermelon makes life beautiful.
- Thank God Hy-Vee was open on Memorial Day.
- More than anything in the world, Isaac wanted to go to school on Memorial Day when there was no school scheduled. He said “Monday bus!” approximately 251 times, I’d guess. He’s old enough to know that the bus wasn’t going to arrive, but Tuesday he asked for the bus to come on Monday. I know he wanted to rewind time and have Monday’s bus show up, even though it was too late.
- Many times I feel like I’m failing my kids. Most of the time I feel like I’m doing a decent job. I don’t like yelling at them to get their attention, but sometimes it’s either that, or I will run away from home. Sometimes they are no fun to be around. I tell myself everyone has these feelings, right?
- I decided to begin a program called Whole30, which is a clean way of eating and avoiding allergens for 30 days – no dairy, no alcohol, no sugar, no legumes, no grains. I’m starting today.
- What in the hell have I gotten myself into?
- Does anyone enjoy scrubbing a kitchen floor? I could go the rest of my life without ever doing that again.
- We went to my mom and dad’s house Monday to clean a few things, but Isaac wouldn’t get out of the van. He stepped out a few times and said, “Let’s go now.” We were there 1.5 hours.
- There’s nothing better than being invited to walk with my 16-year-old son and chatting the whole time.
- Henry loves technology, video games, reading, and tormenting his brothers.
- The public library is one of my favorite places. If that makes me a nerd, that’s okay.
- I have about 8,000 pictures to sort through this summer. That number might be wrong – it might be more like 12,000. I inherited all of my grandma’s pictures, too, when my parents died. What do I do with them? They are taking over our basement. I think they are multiplying.
- Noah never likes school to end, even though he’s ready for a break.
- I’ve never eaten spaghetti squash. I guess there’s a first time for everything.
- Monday night when Isaac was at the junior high indoor pool, he jumped off the diving board, looked at Chris, and yelled “Monday bus!” before he hit the water. This happened several times. This is only hilarious to parents of kids with autism, I think.
- School’s out Friday afternoon. Isaac is requesting to go to a hotel. I’ve already started my deep breathing and positive affirmations.
One day last week Isaac's school bus dropped him off in front of our house, and I opened up the door like I usually do. He stepped inside. When Isaac saw his brother sitting on the green love seat in the living room, he said, "Hi, Noah!" in a friendly, enthusiastic voice. Isaac waved and strutted into the kitchen to investigate what had happened during the day while he had been in school. Had I cooked something? He pored over the daily schedule I had printed in a spiral notebook on the counter.
Isaac's 16 years old, and I've never seen him greet his twin brother with a hello AND a wave. I know he's been working on it at school, but these things don't always transfer to the home environment. If left to his own devices, Isaac wouldn't greet anyone. Because he's been prompted to say hello to people at school, he's greeting and waving a little more regularly these days.
I opened Isaac's backpack, grabbed the communication book, and scribbled a note for Isaac's teacher:
He was very happy when he came home and said "Hi Noah!" and waved.
The next day when Isaac came home from school, his teacher had responded:
Hooray for appropriate social interactions!
Yesterday while Isaac and I were shopping in Hy-Vee I saw one of his preschool teachers who has also worked with him at his current school.
"Isaac, you remember Connie, right?" I asked.
I waited for him to greet her and wave.
He looked in Connie's direction, a concerned look spread across his face, and he took off around the corner to fill the cart with items from aisle two.
"Don't take it personally," I told her. "He does this to everyone he meets here. He acts like he doesn't know people he has known in other settings."
"He probably thinks I should be at school," she said. We visited for a minute, but Isaac remained halfway down aisle two, adding a can of pears to our cart.
This afternoon Isaac stood near the pantry and fumbled with a box of food he had gotten as a birthday gift.
"What are you eating?" I asked.
He didn't respond even though I was certain he had heard me.
"What are you eating?" I asked again, more playfully when I saw he had opened a box of strawberry Pop Tarts.
"Hi!" he said, as he waved, flashed me a smile, and giggled. He must have been waving both goodbye and hello, I guess, because he fled to the basement while carrying his strawberry Pop Tart.
Tonight after dinner I was standing at the kitchen sink scrubbing dishes when Isaac walked up beside me and said, "Cold." He reached for the faucet.
"No, stop messing around with the water. Don't change it to cold, buddy. I need it to be hot." It's a game he wants to play often.
"Warm," he said, laughing. "Cold."
"Hot!" I said.
I turned my head and looked at Isaac. I maneuvered the faucet handle so the hot water began to flow. Bubbles danced around the sink. He grinned from ear to ear and said the word he knew he should say in this situation.
"Hi," he said clearly. He laughed.
Then he was gone.
Received an early morning text from Noah. He was looking for his black socks in a hotel near Boston.
Woke up to 9 inches of fresh snow and a husband who was swearing at the snow blower.
Made chili. Cut open a green pepper that looked like an alien.
Witnessed Isaac spooning leftover tuna noodle casserole onto a blueberry bagel. He ate it for a snack. WTH?
Watched Henry smile when he opened up a letter from author Gordon Korman.
Watched The Bachelor season finale. I won't get that time back. I predict the happy couple, Nick and Vanessa, will never last.
Chris took Isaac to the dentist. Chris texted that Isaac was resisting, but the dentist got the job done. No cavities!
Participated in these conversations:
Me: You’ll always be my baby boy.
Henry: And you’ll always be my OLD mom.
Me: Having only two kids seems to be quite a bit easier.
Henry: Yeah, but it’s not nearly as fun.
Drove to Dubuque where we spent the day at Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark.
While we were out and about, the van's left turn signal began to blink extra fast. I made a mental note to Google it.
Celebrated Pi Day at Happy Joe’s!
Noah’s choir teacher sent me a picture of him on one of the Boston Tea Party Ships.
While fully clothed, Isaac fell into the lazy river at the waterpark. Even his blue Nikes were drenched.
Learned that Noah and his choir were snowed in at Boston due to Stella, the big winter storm of 2017, when the forecast called for 12-18 inches of snow and up to 60 mph wind gusts.
Chris nearly “lost his shit” at the waterpark a few minutes before we left. He was fully clothed when a little boy intentionally sprayed him. Chris was soaked -- sweatshirt, jeans, and all. It was a good thing the kid was up high and couldn’t easily be found!
Googled “fast left blinker Honda Odyssey” and learned a bulb probably needed to be replaced or the van would blow up.
Ate lunch at Chick-fil-A while listening to K98.5 FM streaming on our phone to calm Isaac.
Drove to Midas (turning right the whole way) and prayed they could fix the blinker. They didn’t have the part in stock, but an employee walked over to O'Reilly Auto Parts and bought what was needed. Admired the Midas Touch artwork in the waiting room.
Got home and dried out Isaac’s tennis shoes with newspapers and a fan.
Grilled salmon and burgers.
Noah texted that he was on Broadway in New York City.
Went to the Rec Center. The sauna was full of quiet people, thank goodness.
Woke Henry up at 9:00 a.m.
Went to River Hills School to drop off something.
Went to my mom and dad’s house.
Went to Burger King.
Went to post office.
Went to Goodwill.
Went to recycling center earlier than our regular time of 4:19 p.m.
Went to credit union to open an estate account, which took a million years – not the branch we normally visit because Isaac was upset. Long story. Made for a long afternoon.
Ate chicken, broccoli, and crème de menthe cake. Screw no sugar during Lent. There’s always next year.
Received message from Noah that he was en route to an opera in NYC.
Watched basketball on TV.
Heard Isaac say, “I love Mom!” 238 times.
Heard Isaac say, “Dad. Bagels. Hy-Vee. Friday night!” 401 times.
Heard Isaac say, “Culver’s Saturday Noah dinner!” 326 times.
Threatened Isaac that he needed to take a shower or we weren’t going anywhere.
Did all laundry in the whole house – it’s all clean and put away.
Took Isaac and Henry bowling and met a friend and her son there. Glorious! We chatted while they bowled.
Heard Isaac say, “Culver’s. Mom, Culver’s please. Go out for dinner!” 131 times.
Witnessed Isaac watching local news channel on TV, iPad, and old phone. (All different stories.)
Took electronic privileges away from one son.
Saw Henry dabbing.
Ate pizza, our Friday tradition.
Received a text from Noah saying the 9/11 memorial and the 1WTC were cool and that buses just departed for Iowa. I promised I’d make some real food for him because he was tired of fast food the last week.
Heard Isaac using the nose hair clippers to trim his body hair. God help us all.
Watched Chris and Henry laugh hysterically at a commercial about dogs and shredded cheese.
Questioned my sanity and mental stability. Checked to see if any winter storm could possibly cancel school on Monday.
Asked Chris to make me a margarita.
A Facebook memory popped up this morning of Noah, my 14-year-old son, singing "Try to Remember" in a variety show last year.
One year ago.
I sat in the audience that evening with my parents in red folding chairs in the junior high gymnasium. My friends, Lori and Jo, were there, too. Lori said "Try to Remember" was one of her dad's favorite songs. I believe she said it was sung at his funeral.
It's a special song, she said.
It's a song about realizing life was easier back then . . .
Try to remember when life was so tender
That no one wept except the willow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
That dreams were kept beside your pillow.
After Noah finished singing, my mom leaned over and said, "His voice is so beautiful. It brought a tear to my eye."
It brought a tear to my eye, too.
That evening I felt so happy for Noah. I was proud of him. Many people talked to him afterwards and told him how much they had enjoyed his performance. I wondered where his voice would take him.
I didn't know it at the time, but my dad had been diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer a few days earlier. He called me the day after Noah's solo to tell me.
He was gone two months later.
Five months after my dad died, my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
She was gone four months later.
A lot can happen in a year.
This song has a special meaning for our family now, too.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain so yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a young and callow fellow,
Try to remember and if you remember then follow.
I'm Tyann Sheldon Rouw, mother of three sons, wife to one husband, and lover of all chocolates. My 15-year-old twins have autism. I like the color green, advocating for autism, and trying to find the silver lining. Sometimes it's not easy. Usually it's funny.