Halloween Funnies

I have grown to love Halloween over the years. When I was a child, we lived in Colorado, and it was usually really cold or snowing at Halloween. We would have to wear our big coats over our costumes when we went trick-or-treating.

As a young adult, I went the “Fall Festival” route, and attended fall parties at church.

These days, I do a combination of things. I enjoy the “Not-So-Scary” trunk or treating and party at my church. Little AoA enjoys decorating the trunk with me, and we have fun with coordinating costumes. We pass out candy and visit with friends. There is also a “Haunting in the District” on Halloween night, when local businesses set up tables in our town square for trick-or-treating. We haven’t ever gotten into scary events, but if we did, there is a haunted woods, cemetery scavenger hunts, and haunted tours of our town square.

I enjoy costumes, looking at them and dressing up. Here are a few that made me laugh…Some are very “punny”!

This one is my favorite! SEAL OF APPROVAL

This one cracked me up! I finished binge watching Stranger Things this summer, and was oddly satisfied.

I don’t have any pumpkins yet for my front porch. I really need to get some soon, so I won’t have to use a basketball!

~AoA

Sad and Disturbing Reminders

This appeared on my Facebook page this morning. It is usually fun to see my Facebook memories, as they are usually pictures of the kids when they were younger, or shared events. This memory hit me in the gut! Why did I write this? What was the explanation behind it? I dug into my memory to unveil the reasons for this.

In September of 2009, Little AoA was born. I had been married to my abuser 4 1/2 years at this point. Both of my older kids had moved out by this time, so it was just the four of us. The ex had been becoming increasingly more controlling as the years went by. By this time, I had cut all fun activities from my life…no more community band, traveling to visit family and friends, or going out to eat or movies…Life was going to work and coming home to serve my husband and care for the children. I had to come straight home after work, or there would be hell to pay. I was “allowed” to do the grocery shopping on Saturday, but I had to be home within 3 hours. I remember trying to fit as much life as I could into those 3 hours. I would call and talk to family members (I wasn’t allowed to do this at home). I would sometimes go to a store other than the grocery store, like a clothing store or home store. I remember feeling guilty about all of that. What would the ex do if he knew I was disobeying him?

When Little AoA was born, life began to change. My parents had moved into a house down the road from us so that they could help out. We needed the ex to go to work now that we had two kids. My parents were willing to keep the kids during the day. Well that changed quickly. When faced with the prospect of working, the ex snuck behind my back, and managed to meet with many doctors and a lawyer in order to be able to get on disability from the government! He never even told me he was doing it! I found out when he was at the final step of going before a judge- and only because I needed his help with something that day and he had to tell me he couldn’t help! I wonder if he ever would have told me!

When Little AoA was born, she was premature by a month. She was very small, and had trouble breathing at birth, so she spent some time in the neonatal intensive care unit. Her dad left the hospital shortly after she was born, leaving me alone to worry about our new baby. Thankfully, my adult daughter came and sat with me all night at the hospital. The ex refused to hold Little AoA until she had grown a bit. When we brought her home, I needed to keep an extra eye on her. She was up frequently during the night. The ex became increasingly more angry at being woken in the night. He threatened to be angry with me until he could sleep at night without being woken by a crying baby. I “solved” the problem by moving to a back bedroom of the house with the kids. I knew I would be up during the nights. In hindsight, I think the ex meant for me to leave the kids in the back bedrooms, and give him all of my attention. It couldn’t work that way though, for a number of reasons. I was 42 when I had Little AoA, and working full time. I would fall asleep nursing Little AoA in the night, and just didn’t have the energy to parent a newborn like I did in my 20’s, and work everyday! The ex could not understand my physical limitations. He became very jealous, and started making statements about how I must not love him because I stayed with the babies at night. I couldn’t fix this. I tried…

This is when I wrote the statement on Facebook. My new home in the back bedroom with the kids became my freedom. I had stopped using Facebook when the ex demanded it, claiming I was “cheating” on him! I did it to “prove” my love for him. In the back bedroom, I reconnected with the few friends I had. They were all either family or friends from work. I loved sharing in their lives a bit, seeing what they were doing and thinking about.

It would be three more years before I left the abusive home. There would be more attempts to completely control my life, and death threats against people I loved. I feared for my life and the lives of my loved ones. I had become a shell of a person…empty inside.

~AoA

Look For the Laugh

Counseling has been part of my healing journey for a very long time. My most recent counselor had a baby this year, and within a short time, decided to leave her practice in order to stay home with her kids. I suspected this might happen. It is hard to go to work when there are little ones at home to care for, and a way to logistically make ends meet.

I met with a new counselor today for the first time. It is an interesting challenge to condense life into one session, but I have gotten pretty good at it. It seems like this chapter of my life started with the divorce in 2012/13. I feel like I have finally gotten to a place in life, where my childhood issues are from another lifetime. I really think the EMDR therapy I did, played a big part in that.

After my one session condensed version of the current life chapter, I received my assignment….a very familiar assignment….TAKE CARE OF MYSELF. I am happy to say that I am doing a fair job of this. I find joy in many daily activities that I do. Not cooking though…not really cooking.

Yesterday, I saw Little AoA enjoy the moment while we were at the grocery store. She saw something that made her laugh, and took a picture.

She is terrified of “Elf on the Shelf”, but loves the movie,”Elf”. Here are the “Elf” cookies!

I cracked up when I saw this:

This sweet dog reminded me of one of my favorite things to watch, a dog herding sheep! This pup needed to feel needed!

To top it off, today, my 13 year old shared a story with me. He plays a lot of games online with others. Apparently, the mother of one of the people he plays online with, actually texted the personal phone of one of the gamers in their group. She called him a “shitface friend”, and threatened to press charges. My son, who has developed the reasoning of an attorney, questioned this. Needless to say, the kid and his mom were blocked from the group at this point. I am glad that my son stood with his boundaries about being threatened. I am glad that we have a relationship in which we are safe to admit when we have messed up. I had him reflect on his actions, and whether he had done anything that would be characterized as a “shitface friend”. I know his online people really don’t know him. They don’t see the anxiety that he experiences at the slightest real life interaction with another human outside his family.

I try to stay current in my understanding of the “connected generation”. I admit there is a generation gap. I can only imagine how I would have been if we had today’s technology when I was growing up!

~AoA

Moving Home

It’s official….my 30 year old son is moving back home! He has been living in Michigan for a few years. His best friend was there with him, but then took a job in California! My son stayed in Michigan with his job, but no other support. I am so glad he will be near the family once again.

He will stay in our tiny house in the back lot, until he gets a new job. His field is computer programming, and he has a master’s degree. It seems like it shouldn’t be that hard to find a company in need of his particular skill set. I could be wrong. I haven’t been in the job market for over 20 years- I’m sure it has changed.

I am happy for him to be able to participate with the family. I think his big sister might be a little jealous. I have been so happy about him moving home, when my daughter has been here the whole time. It is like the prodigal son. His little brother (my 13 year old), is at a place in life where he can appreciate having a buddy around who is interested in the same things he is. They have been so much alike.

Our moving date is in two weeks. I am praying for a smooth transition for him, and ease in finding valuable employment.

~AoA

The Needed Ouch

For the last three weeks, my left knee had been becoming increasingly more painful. I was almost in tears several times a day, with radiating pain above and below my knee.

I have already had a knee replacement on my right leg, and I dreaded the thought of having surgery on my left leg. The recovery was very painful and difficult. I kept putting off going to the doctor. I took anti-inflammatories multiple times a day, iced, and used several creams on my knee. None of it helped. It was just getting worse.

I went to the doctor Friday, and expected the worse. To my surprise, the doctor wants to start with steroid injections every three months, until they stop being effective. My knee is at the point of being bone on bone. A life of pushing my limits has caught up with me.

One of the things I miss, is bike riding. With the knee replacement, it just feels like too much to do more than a stationary bike at the gym. When I think back, some of my fondest memories involved a bicycle.

The shot appears to be working so far. I am hoping to put off surgery for as long as possible!

~AoA

The Lawnmower Man

I saw this on Facebook this week, and it just made me chuckle. To think that 176 people commented about the lawnmower man is impressive. I have asked the question myself, just not on social media. So who is this lawnmower man?

He is a bald man around 45 years old or so, who panhandles at busy shopping area roads. He is usually standing with a push lawnmower, as if he is looking for work. It seems that the truth is, he is not looking for work…just money. He does not want food…just money. Several people have noted that he can become threatening or aggressive at times.

When I see the lawnmower man, I just keep going. He has been around in our small town as long as I can remember. Out of the 176 people who responded on Facebook, many knew his situation. He is well taken care of, and just walks the streets panhandling, for something to do. He is not really looking to mow yards.

From volunteering at various places in our town, I know there are places that help provide for those in need. They keep a database to assist people by guiding them to all needed agencies, and to minimize fraudulent use by some.

But that lawnmower man….

Everyone knows who he is.

Is there anyone in your town who is well known like the lawnmower man?

~AoA

Movie Night!

Little AoA and I are big fans of Maleficent, and have been looking forward to the release of the second movie, “Maleficent Mistress of Evil”. We were able to see it tonight, and it did not disappoint! We will probably go see it again, only next time in 3D, as there were many scenes that look like they would be fantastic in 3D.

Little AoA wore her Maleficent hat to the movie, which was really cute.

I will say, it wasn’t really a movie suited for young viewers, as it did have quite a bit of violence and dark themes. There were three little kids sitting directly behind us, and it was clear that they were not enjoying the movie! So leave the little ones with a sitter, and enjoy!

The thing I love about the Maleficent movies, is that the villains aren’t always who you think, and love wins!

The closing song is just beautiful, and compliments the movie.

So put on your horns, and head to the movies! (3D if you can)!

~AoA

Seeing

We just enjoyed a wonderful trip to Disney World and Universal Studios! When we first arrived in the Magic Kingdom, Little AoA said, “This is the first time I am REALLY seeing it!”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “We have been here a few times now.”

“This is the first time since I’ve had my glasses!” Little AoA exclaimed.

I hadn’t really thought of it until then. Little AoA just got her glasses this year, and has a prescription that is pretty strong (much stronger than mine!). There is no telling how long she has had vision difficulties. We suspected that there were problems when she couldn’t navigate things that required depth perception. At that time, she couldn’t really participate fully in vision screenings due to her language difficulties.

She loves her glasses! I never have to remind her to wear them, which I wondered about when she first got them.

We just never know!

I found this news clip about young children and glasses. I wish I had known about this sooner!

~AoAn

Vacation Opportunities to Learn

We arrived at our vacation destination this afternoon! It always makes me think, when I see other families vacationing. There are so many ages and parenting styles represented here, and all of them just want to have fun.

As we were walking across the resort, I heard a mom threaten you “ground” her small children if they didn’t stop running. I had to chuckle, as I thought of my own kids…it would be opposite. They move like turtles most of the time, and we thought it would be more likely that they would be nagged for moving too slowly!

My 13 year old can be very much “the absent-minded professor”. It has become clear that he has difficulty with executive functioning. This little diagram shows what that might look like at school. Today I saw it show up in other ways. When it was time to eat in the resort dining area, he was lost. I was taking care of Little AoA, and he was with the rest of the family. He couldn’t decide what to eat. I ended up choosing for him, and helping him get through a line and ask for pizza. We have been working on executive functioning skills for quite a long time, and it is a slow process. I have found that he needs support in many basic life skills, which typical 13 year olds would have. Even though there is a need for support in this area, he can reason and solve problems much quicker than I can, in his areas of strength.

Another thing the kids get to practice, is navigation. Within a day, they will pick up on how to navigate the resort, and use the transportation systems. This transfers as such a valuable thing to learn in many different settings.

I love the opportunity that our Disney vacations gives the kids to practice some self-advocacy and life skills. They can be pretty independent here during the tween and early teen years.

We are off to the first park in the morning! I am hoping that the Florida rain holds off, and that we have a fairly dry day of fun!

~AoA

Odd Year Road Trip

Every odd year since divorcing in 2013, the AoA kids and I travel from Tennessee, to Disney World in Florida. It is the longest road trip we have taken, and we cover the 12 hour drive in two days (I’m not as energetic a driver as I use to be). It amazes me to see all of the work being done to our interstate highways, and it seems like the traffic delays get longer and longer!

This is known as “Spaghetti Junction” in Atlanta. Driving it and trying to stay on the right road while everyone is driving closely together is like a nightmare. Today, to add to it, one of the kids needed a bathroom as soon as we started through the maze! I hated to make her wait, but there was no way it was going to happen! Luckily, we hit clear roads very soon after navigating Atlanta, and everyone was relieved.

After 7 hours in the car, we stopped for the night at a comfortable hotel.

Everyone was glad to get some space and nice beds. Tomorrow, we get up and go again.

~AoA