August 10, 2012

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know. I disappeared, made promises I didn't keep. How will we ever trust each other again?

So, I've been a bad's okay, we can get past this.

The cold hard truth of the matter is that we discovered something VERY VERY VERY important at Ghost Ranch, and implementing the insights from that discovery have been excruciating for everyone but da Sister.  She had already gotten used to this new and strange life while she was at college.

No TV, except old movies.

No screens, except 30 minutes of computer time some days (not all).

Ugh.  I had really grown to like the plenitude of media in my life.  Lazy parenting seemed a perfectly acceptable way of life.  Everybody else was doing it, after all...

But, at Ghost Ranch, he turned into a person.  There was no air conditioner, no cell phone service, no tv's, and nothing to do.  Playing cards and reading books suddenly were not anathema activities.  After the first four nights of wailing and gnashing of teeth, he turned into a person.  Not the demanding whining overloaded sensory monster he gets in difficult to manage environments.  This was an environment even I was having a lot of difficulty adjusting to, because it was 100+ degrees in a tiny little casita with no cross draft to mention and nothing but a tiny useless fan that moved air for about three feet beyond it.  Yet, there it was....personness.

Then, we went to Las Vegas, NM, and were delighted to be "back to civilization."  Air conditioner, a tv, wifi (of sorts) and cell phone service (of sorts).  It was half way through his first episode of a show on one of the two anti-parent stations (Nickelodeon and Disney) that it all went to hell in a handbasket.  The contrast was so immediate, so clear, so in our faces that even my dullard lazy parent spidey-sense tingled ominously.  He was a monster again.  Just like that.

And it was over.

This meant that I could not slink off to my media, could not update the blog, could not talk to my friends on plurk, could not break the silence, or I'd be a fraud.  Children can sense adult hypocrisy from a mile away and I know better.  If I require something of a child, I require it of myself.  Ask me about life without dairy products for 13 years as my daughter's immune system worked through her dairy allergy.  No milk, no pizza, no ice cream, no cheese for 13 years, and I didn't even HAVE a dairy, no electronics is my challenge too.

I have purchased a whole FedEx truck's worth of gifted classroom toys, games, and activities.  We have started drinking tea and playing games when we are bored.  The silence is deafening at first, but it gets better. 

So, here we are...I can't blog about it often, but I strongly felt it was important to share the insight.  He is calmer, makes better eye contact, handles boredom a bit better, and is much much better at waiting.  Is he still a monster under stress?  Yes, but not nearly like before.  The smart mouthed attitude driven vengeance seeking he was learning from the anti-parent TV have faded and are being replaced with more empathy, more consideration, more compassion for others.

It has been enough improvement that I felt okay about getting him a guinea pig.  My dream of having a dog is still too far off.  I do not have the energy to raise a dog AND provide da Creature with all this interaction AND work on the side at my beloved hobby job.  So I had to settle for the less interactive house-pet.  Bear in mind I hate cats.  With a passion.  But I LOVE da Creature, and he needs this right now, in this barren wasteland we are re-learning as home, and I am content that I have made the right decision...

So, in honor of the 60 or so hours of Star Trek: The Next Generation that we have been watching this summer, da Creature has a new friend.  He has named him Spot.

July 12, 2012


Starting Friday, I will fill in the blanks where the wifi was spotty and unusable.  Though I really like Holiday Inn Express & Suites as a franchise for its homogeneity and consistency, their wifi is without a doubt the WORST of any hotel chain I've stayed at in recent years (though the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake is a close second).  So, now that I have FUNCTIONAL wifi again, I'll start filling in the blanks.  He had SUCH a special time on his adventure and Carlsbad was the best one yet because he hiked for THREE MILES and endured a ranger-guided tour that had six ten minute talking stops (oh, the things da Creature will say... insert da Mama's horrified face here)

See y'all on Friday!

July 7, 2012

Quick Post from the Plaza Hotel

Hello all!!! We're back in civilization and I will start getting all these pictures and posts together.  We really had fun in Ghost Ranch learning to gather different muds and dirts and make paint from them.  Our teacher was Juanito Jimenez from Santa Fe and the paintings we made are all safely tucked away in the trunk of the car.  I will take photos of them at our next stop.  Our car is quite a bit farther away than normal as we managed to come to the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas NEW MEXICO (not that other place) during FIESTA!!!

So, we've eaten a lot of funnel cake today and something called "ribbon fries" which are made by this guy with a drill that spins a serious-looking little blade that spiral cuts potatoes into potato-chip thin long slices that are deep-fat fried.  Yum!!

So, here are the high points (real posts will follow as I get fully recovered from being in 100 degree heat and camping for the past week in our casita at the Ranch):

In Salt Lake, before we left, we visited the Aquarium, and saw many interesting things... da Creature's favorite by far was the fish you couldn't see at first:

Then, we drove to Moab.  As we sit here right this very minute watching Raiders of the Lost Ark The Last Crusade which filmed the opening shots in Arches, da Creature is shouting out the names of the arches as they showed them on our TV and I am smiling like crazy right now at all the coincidences.

He made Jr. Ranger of course, and of course that's in the car, too.  But more importantly, he managed to hike the trail to Landscape Arch and made it the WHOLE way (this is a big deal for da Creature, because it was a mile and a half round trip).  Here is his shot with da Sister in front of Landscape Arch:

Our first painting lesson at Ghost Ranch was really cool because the teacher made da Creature this picture for him to take home and it was a BISON!

 da Sister painted so many pretty things over the week, including a minor detour which involved painting da Creature with luscious sensory silky mud:

There was da Creature's first horseback ride:

And lastly, he got to do dinosaur castings with a REAL paleontologist and made a T-rex TOOTH (which is also in the car):

While the castings were drying, the paleontologist took us into his lab to see the big block he was working on.  Here is da Creature looking through a microscope at tiny baby dinosaur teeth:

I will make posts for all of these highlights when I am better rested.  In the meantime, we are resting in Las Vegas NM and will head to Roswell tomorrow.  It seems like a lifetime since we left home, and yet it seems like the end of our adventure is so close.  Bittersweet and wonderful, we head to Carlsbad tomorrow!  Later all!

July 3, 2012

Good Morning from Ghost Ranch

Where there is no cell phone service or reliable internet.   See you guys again on Sunday!!!!

June 30, 2012

Catholicism at its very best, and da Creature

We have been quite busy here in Salt Lake City at the CMAA's Sacred Music Colloquium, and da Creature has been HARD at work managing his sensory systems and trying to function during these amazing and beautiful Masses, though they are quite high-sensory overload.
  • there is sound:  and in the case of yesterday's Mass, there is also Organ (very very very loud and boisterous Organ, I might add) and chant (all chanted Masses, some Extraordinary Form, which means everything is sung, which I love), and choral polyphony (four-part a capella motets and even choral ordinary).  
  • there is smell:  the thurifer(s) knew what they were doing at these Masses and the perfume of the incense rising to heaven was thick and magnificent, and da Creature has adjusted very well to the profound and pervasive smoke throughout these often nearly two-hour Masses
  • there is visual stimuli everywhere:  the Cathedral of the Madeleine is incredibly beautiful, rich with paintings and carvings and enormous stained-glass windows
  • there is even gustatory input:  and da Creature never fails to comment on the crispness/staleness of his experience of Jesus at the altar rail
  • the tactile sensations are generally created by da Creature as he rocks and slams his body into whoever is standing near him, bangs his hand on pew rails when it's overwhelming and leans on you like a kind and familiar large dog when he is calm

If you look closely at the photo above (from ) at the altar rail there is a little guy in a pale blue shirt next to a lovely young woman (da Sister) in a peach shawl and white veil....that little guy is our Creature about to receive Communion.

Normal vacationish blogging will resume when we get to Moab tomorrow night and tool through Arches National Park.  This has been one of my favorite weeks, though, learning more about Gregorian Chant and teaching da Creature about how beautiful our faith really can be when we SING THE MASS rather than sing at Mass.

June 27, 2012

Hogle Zoo with Interview and POLAR BEAR SWIMMING

So, today, while da Mama worked very very very hard at Gregorian Chant and Conducting with Charles Cole, da Sister and da Creature were out galavanting around Salt Lake.  Today's adventure took them to the zoo.  It was a great zoo apparently, and he managed an interview:

These are the highlights of today's FUN: