Dec 13, 2015: The Battle Rages On

Well, I wish I could say the Battle of the Ants is over, but it is not. Despite using ant traps and having an exterminator come out and ensuring that there isn’t so much as an exposed crumb anywhere in the house, we still have ants. They seem to be coming in from behind the dishwasher, so every time we open the dishwasher, there a couple hundred more wandering around. It’s delightful, let me tell you. However, it has forced us to keep an absolutely immaculate kitchen, so I guess there’s that. I’m hoping we don’t have to actually pull out the whole dishwasher and treat behind it, because that sounds like a complete pain!

But at least the ants were the low part of the week—everything else has been pretty good, except me having a cold. But so far no one else has gotten the cold, so that’s a plus!

We’re actually getting a relatively wet fall/winter (yay!!), so when the weather is good on weekends, we’ve been trying to get outside a lot. And so, since Saturday was the only guaranteed sunny weekend day between now and Christmas, we took advantage of it and went to one of our favorite places: Del’Osso Farms. It’s about an hour away from us, and every Christmas season they do snow tubing (on a giant manmade “mountain”), ice skating, and all sorts of other winter fun. Sam is still physically too small for the tubing (the kids have to weigh a certain amount to go on it), but Theo is big enough and loves it! So we bought passes for me, Chris, and Theo, and Chris and I switched off with Sam so that one of us could go down with Theo each time. At first, Theo wanted to just do the double-person innertubes, but I convinced him to try a single after a few trips down the hill, and he was hooked! So from then on, he had his own tube every time, and I had mine (or Chris had his). Meanwhile, Sam explored the area and watched the tubing—he loves to stand and yell, “Whoa…fast!!” as the innertubers (I think I just made up a word!) come flying down the hill. I actually had him up on my shoulders to watch part of it, and I could feel his entire body tense up in excitement every time the tubers would come whizzing down the hill, and then he would laugh and yell like crazy!

I had thought Theo might want to try the ice skating this year—he enjoys ice skating, but usually we’re too tired to do it after tubing. This year, though, I still had plenty of energy and was willing to try, but Theo decided he’d rather just play in the manmade snow, throwing snowballs. Sam was game for that, too (and it’s free, unlike the skating!), so we just stuck to that. They also have a petting zoo, pony rides, a few small carnival rides, visits with Santa, etc., but the boys were pooped after just a couple of hours, so we left after they finished playing in the snow.

On the way home, Chris made the grave mistake of stopping at a Ghirardelli chocolate outlet that was having a clearance sale and handing me some cash—when I hadn’t eaten lunch and had had a very small breakfast. Um…yeah. We have a lot of chocolate now! Silly man never should’ve done that….

We ended the day with a family pizza date. We rarely go out to dinner, but it so happens that we won a raffle, and we needed to pick up our prize at a little family-owned pizza chain that has a location in our little downtown. Chris, never one to turn down pizza, suggested that we make a dinner of it, and I readily agreed, having recently been told that this pizza place has SANGRIA!!! It’s just a five-minute walk from our house, so we bundled up the boys and walked over, and we had a lovely evening with pizza and sangria. This particular pizza place has a bit outdoor eating area with a play area, a fireplace, and a game room, so Theo quickly found a friend and spent the evening playing with him, and Sam wandered around checking everything out, too. The pizza is very good, though not my favorite—but the addition of the play area and game room make it an awesome spot for those rare occasions when we decide to try dinner out with the boys. (In case you’re wondering what we won, it was a gift basket of Italian food and wine, plus a $25 gift card to another local pizza restaurant! Some cheerleaders from the high school were going door to door raising money by selling raffle tickets, and they did such a heartfelt cheer for me that I couldn’t resist buying a couple of raffle tickets. And what do you know? We actually won something!)

Today was a stormy day, so we just went to Target to pick up a few odds and ends. That sounds horrendous during the Christmas season, right? But, you see, Target has an underground parking garage, so you can go there without dragging the boys in the rain! It’s brilliant. Though I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the trip—shopping for things like toilet paper isn’t exactly fun, and Sam was quite crabby about the whole thing. (He doesn’t want to sit in the cart, but he refuses to hold someone’s hand to walk. So, he gets put in the back carrier, which he normally enjoys…but he wasn’t in the mood for it today, I guess.)

Speaking of wet weather, Chris and Theo got to venture out in it for a Cub Scout pack meeting on Thursday. This is noteworthy only because Chris had to lead the meeting! He is now the assistant Cubmaster, and the Cubmaster was unable to make the meeting, so Chris had to lead a multipurpose room full of antsy Cub Scouts and their parents. I would’ve loved to see this because one of the activities was Mad Libs, which I can imagine could get quite funny among young Cub Scouts who find potty humor the height of amusement! But alas, I stayed home with Sam. I was sick, it was cold and wet, and Sam is a bit of a handful at these things, so I figured it best to stay home. I will say, though, that Chris looked very snazzy in his uniform, which I had hemmed and sewn the patches on. Just don’t look too closely at the stitching. 😉

The boys also had another Cub Scout event this week: caroling at the retirement community that’s right by our house. The Scouts went and sang carols and handed out cookies and brownies. I’m told a fun time was had by all—but again, I stayed home with Sam because taking him to these sorts of events is…well, challenging. I don’t like to have him distract from Theo’s events because Theo spends his life being distracted by Sam—and vice versa—so I think it’s important for each boy to have a space where the other one isn’t involved, you know? So Sam and I make periodic appearances at Scout things, and I always enjoy it when we go—but I have to hear about many of them secondhand.

But what I got to hear firsthand was the skinny at Theo’s parent-teacher conference. It went great! I figured it would go well, because his teacher has never had anything but good things to say about him (and I assumed if there were problems, she would certainly have told me by now), but it was still nice to hear that all is well. It was definitely the most entertaining parent-teacher conference I’ve had, as she started it out by telling us a story from her rather wild past! I can see why Theo likes her so much—she’s very down-to-earth and quite funny.

Anyway, it seems all is going well. Theo daydreams a lot in class and so needs frequent reminders to stay on task, but that is no surprise. He’s not distracting the other kids, so his teacher isn’t bothered by it…nor am I. I was a total daydreamer as a kid, so this doesn’t surprise me at all. Amusingly enough, his teacher used the exact same term I have used to describe it: “You know, he’s just off in Theo Land somewhere…” Exactly…

Academics-wise, he’s about average—which is what I would’ve guessed—but his teacher said she’s certain he’s capable of more than that—which is also what I would’ve guessed. At his age she administers some of the tests, and she said she was certain that he had lost interest during the test and just wasn’t really trying. Not a surprise to me in the least. I did the same thing as a kid on a couple of occasions, and I know Theo very well—if something doesn’t hold his interest, he just gives it a halfhearted attempt. He’s actually a bit ahead on reading and right about average on math. Socially, he’s doing terrific—in his teacher’s words, “Oh, he has a lot of friends. Everybody loves Theo!” That made my heart happy! Thought I can’t say I’m surprised—he’s very charming!

The most amusing thing about it was that his teacher said she was unable to give him a score in the category of “Construct Viable Arguments and Critique the Reasoning of Others” because he “hasn’t done anything in class that would allow [her] to observe that.” Um…what? At that point, I became convinced we must be talking about two different children!!

Amusingly enough, his teacher also had no idea he has autism. She was really quite surprised. I thought she knew already because I assumed she was probably given that type of information before the year started. But no—she had no idea. She knew he was receiving OT for his handwriting (and definitely agrees it is still needed), but she didn’t realize he had a formal autism diagnosis. Which I thought was kind of cool, because if she didn’t know about it, then clearly she wasn’t treating him any differently because of it! When she found out, she looked surprised for a moment and said, “Oh wow. I’m surprised. He has a lot of friends and is very well liked, so I wouldn’t have thought…we usually see more social issues when kids are on the spectrum. Oh well, anyway, it doesn’t matter….” Which is exactly how I feel—it doesn’t matter. It is what it is—I don’t deny that he has it, but it also doesn’t matter. He’s just Theo.

So anyway, the conference was good, the week was decent, the ants suck…and now we have one more week of school before Theo is off for winter break! Sam goes to school up until the 23rd, but Theo is off as of the 18th. I’m hoping to finish my latest book (on pop culture icons) by the time Theo is off so I can take the full two weeks around Christmas off. And Chris will probably take the better part of two weeks off, too—his company is closed for the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and he will likely take off several days the preceding week because he has 28 days of vacation saved up and no other plans to use it in the near future! Now if I can just keep the three of them from catching my cold…

Before I say farewell for the week, here are three short videos for your viewing pleasure, plus this week’s gallery.

Here, Sam has learned the fine art of procrastinating on bedtime. Also, he uses lots of words!

Here, Sam helps me sing his current favorite song, “Jingle Bells”:

And here, you see Zoe and Izzy at play. Pug and kitty get along very well!

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