Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ch-ch-ch-changes

This is going to come as a shock to you, but I recently made a big switch-up in my life: I learned that eMeals now has a Paula Deen menu and switched from 30-Minute meals to that for a while. I know, I know: How are we going to make that work with James's gout? I'm not sure we can! So maybe I'll just save a few weeks' worth of menus while using these vegetarian meal plans I found and that we are using this week. Note that if you choose to do it, you can start at the bottom, like I did, so it will be seasonally appropriate. Also that there is a shopping list at the end of the menu; I realized that after I'd hand-written my shopping list like a Neanderthal.

Okay, so that's not the only thing. Though I'm a little offended by your lack of enthusiasm.

Also, the Lakeline Disney Store closed Monday, so I'm not sure what we're going to do when Mal wants to spend hours browsing toys now (and, yes, I realize that's probably why they closed). I wish this area had a cool local toy store, but I haven't found any closer than a 30-minute drive.

Waiting for the store to open the last day; watching the animated window for the last time.
A serendipitous thing happened this weekend, too: a woman in a local homeschool group posted that their church needed childcare help for MOPS. They're too far away, but I thought that'd be perfect for Mal and me: a place to go with new toys, friends to play with, and I would actually pull in a couple of bucks in the meantime. I found the closest church with a MOPS program and it turns out that they actually have something at the same time every week (instead of every other week) and they were pretty desperate for people, so we started this week!

Where James used to work, the employees could purchase company stock at a slightly-discounted price. They'd withhold from each check, saving it up for 6 months, then buy the stock. Even if we sold it immediately (we didn't), we'd have been ahead because of the discount. Two things: That has saved our family butt, as it were, during this season of unemployment. But also... James didn't receive the money that had been collected from the couple of months before he stopped working for this company, so we were waiting for the stocks to show up at the end of the year. They didn't. James ended up having to contact them, and they're cutting him a check. This seems shady to me. They're legally obligated to return all monies owed to employees in 48 hours, and no one should have to follow up to make sure they got ALL of it. Oh well. It'll be nice to have a little cash infusion in a couple of weeks.

James has received a job offer, and should start work toward the end of the month. So yay! Mal will be terribly disappointed that his dad isn't here during the day, though. Maybe the weather will warm up so they can have a special day together. I say this because I think it'd be cool for them to spend a lot of time bonding, not because I want a day to myself. No. That's not it at all.

Speaking of that, though... The night before last, I'm pretty sure Mal slept through until 6 AM before asking for "deedees." And last night, he sat straight up in bed, crying and whining, and let me lie him back down and cover him up without nursing. Baby steps, I guess.

Mal has been watching portions of Star Wars for months now. He usually only watches certain parts of certain movies, so I have those parts memorized, then really don't remember much about the rest. For instance, his favorite scene in "A New Hope" is where the Sand Person (Tusken Raider) attacks Luke. He'll literally back that up and watch it 15 times in a row. But he'll watch that movie until just after the scene at the Cantina, then he's about done. I think he's only seen the Death Star blow up once, because we made it a point to fast forward it to that little chunk for him to watch.

With "Empire Strikes Back," he'll watch more of it, but his favorite is Hoth. He's watched the Hoth segments of the movie repeatedly, mostly when Luke escapes the Wampa and when they take down the AT-ATs. When we play these scenes out, he gets frustrated that we don't know the exact words. He also thinks "Seagulls" is canon, because, you know, he's 3.

For "Return of the Jedi," he watches until the gang escapes Jabba the Hutt, then he's sort of done. He likes where Wicket meets Leia, and because he has an Endor Micro Machines set, really wants to see the logs take down the AT-STs. That's about it.

And he's watched the opening scene of "Phantom Menace" several times, losing interest after the arrival at Thede. Then he has kind of played around with the other two prequels, but he doesn't know anyone but Amadala and Jar Jar, so he doesn't really care.

Actually, Mal wants to play AT-AT take-down right now, so I must go rope him until he falls. Isn't being a mother fun?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Sleep Records

Hey! It's our first blog of the new year. Happy 2018, internets!

Today, we're going to take a brief look at Mal's sleeping habits, which I chronicled this week just for (morbid) curiosity's sake.

Carol, spending a rare moment with Mal, whom she typically avoids with a passion.
TUESDAY, 1/2/18: Sleep time 9:30 PM. 11 wakings; 2 he fell back to sleep on his own and 9 required my intervention.
WEDNESDAY, 1/3/18: 10:00 PM. 9 wakings, all of which required my input. 4 and 6 took a LONG time, both sides, etc.
THURSDAY, 1/4/18: 8:30 PM. 6ish; 3 and 6 involved mid-nursing dozing and were pretty drawn out.
FRIDAY, 1/5/18: 7:15 PM, in the car. 10 wake-ups, plus one as we were coming in from the car. 1st wake-up of the night in bed, he fell back to sleep on his own.
SATURDAY, 1/6/18: 9:45 PM. 6 wakings; 1 he fell asleep on his own.
SUNDAY, 1/7/18: 9:00 PM. 6ish times.
MONDAY, 1/8/18: 8:40 PM. 7ish times.

The reason I say "ish" is because of two things: 1) Sometimes he'll wake up, nurse, doze off, and within a few moments awake again asking for more "deedees" before I've fallen back to sleep. I don't know whether to count that as 2 wake-ups or 1. 2) If it's starting to get light out, and it's late enough that if he didn't go back to sleep, we could get up, anyway, I usually just stop counting. I consider it more of his "wake-up" routine than his over night routine.

So, basically, I was awakened about 55 times during the past week. Make you feel better about your life?

On the up side, Mal is sometimes extremely funny when he wakes up (or sleep talks, or whatever he's doing). Here are some things he's said in the middle of the night:

"Mommy, oh good. We're safe now."
"Mommy, where are you?" "Right here." "No, Daddy, I want Mommy."
"I saw Chewbacca, but he said, 'I am Mal,' not 'I am Chewbacca.'"
"Were you swimming at Walmart just now?"
"Mommy, deedees." "No, we are going to wait a while." "Mommmy, deedees!" "Mal, we're going to wait just a few minutes." "Mommy! Soda! NOW!" (We had some and I let him have it! He drank like he was hiking in the desert, too.)

Also, he's started basically yelling when he wakes up and needs my attention. I have to remind him that I'm right there and there's no need to speak as though we're across a busy basketball arena from one another.

James asked if I felt better worse now that I've done this, because if I hadn't, I would have said he averages 4-6 wake-ups a night, and it's obviously higher than that. I told him neither, but I'm glad to have a baseline and will journal it again in six months to see if there's any improvement.

The other day, I was on the phone with my friend, Adrienne, and trying to say the word "reciprocity." I could not land on it, but she knew what I meant and pronounced it for me... and it still took me three tries to say it correctly! It is times like these when I feel like I'm having a mini-stroke and just have to remind myself of the reality of this sleep chronicle. I'm sure I'll regain my vocabulary and sense at some point in the future. Right?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Why You Crying? (Apologies to George Lopez)

Ever since the day he was born, Mal has just cried a lot. It was particularly disconcerting when he was an infant, and I couldn't tell whether he was hungry or uncomfortable or sick or who knows what.

Now that he's verbal (hyper verbal?) it's easier to navigate, but he still cries an awful lot. I remember D  being a phlegmatic (if opinionated) little one; Mal is not. He has to feel everything deeply, especially sadness. When he's crying, if I attempt to wipe a runny nose, he'll yell at me, "Don't wipe it! I want to cry!" In the past, he thought that *was* his crying, and when I wiped it, it meant I'd wiped his cry away.

I try to help him navigate these things, alternately sympathizing and asking him if he can cry in a less house-shaking wail-y manner, but it's something we encounter multiple times daily.

Here is a random example of some things that have brought Mal to extraordinarily loud tears recently:

1) That he ate his entire quarter of our Christmas cheesecake and had to save the rest for the rest of the family. He literally sobbed, "I don't want to save any for D and Daddy! I want to eat theirs and they'll be sad!"

2) In the middle of the night, when he awoke asking if we had a Maz Kanata doll and I reminded him that we don't.

3) That I wouldn't take him to Toys R Us the day after Christmas.

4) When we told him that the "stabilizers" (training wheels) on his bike won't lie flat on the ground, he countered with "Ryder's do!" and we bandied back the fact that Ryder is a cartoon and we're not and you can do a lot in a cartoon. "I want to be a cartoon, too!"

5) Because "Empire Strikes Back" isn't playing in a theater.

6) We're out of Lucky Charms. (But any time we're out of anything, really. He'll ask if we have it, I'll say we don't, he'll insist, "But we DO!" then the rending of clothes and the pulling of hair when he finds that I am correct.)

7) I'm not pulling a play set with tiny parts out at 10:45 PM.

8) The knowledge that I intend to take the exterior lights down from the house, even though I have made no move to do it yet.

9) After he calms down about any of the above items, or anything else, and then remembers it again 15 minutes later. He might have episodes about the same issues half a dozen times in one or two days.

Mal is such a sweetie, but as in so many other aspects of his life, he really only has two speeds: Bouncy happy or overwhelming grief. I guess it's good for all of us that I discovered and bought into gentle parenting before I had him. I've certainly lost my temper and yelled at him (for instance, when he needed help getting to the toilet because he was about to pee himself and wouldn't let James, who was right there, help, but kept hollering for me) to stop throwing a fit a few times. But for the most part, James and I try our best and generally do what I feel is an admirable job keeping a level head and trying to empathize with his big feelings, even when we can't make heads or tails of them.

But Mal makes us laugh literally every day, and is such a blessing to have around. An exhausting blessing. On a related note, we found this picture from two years ago yesterday when we were looking at Google Photos last night:


Parenting this kid is treating James like the Presidency treats others: He has greyed SO MUCH since then! As for me, I think my gift is the dark circles under my eyes. But I can't imagine what we'd be doing if we didn't have Mal. He's teaching us so much about ourselves, plus any time you get to see the world "newly" through a maturing kid's eyes, it's complete magic and wonder. Parenting is quite the paradox, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Decoding and Interstellar Visitors

When we were sitting in the car waiting for D to emerge from Dr. Who: Twice Upon a Time, Mal seemed to be zoning out, talking to himself. Then I realized what he was doing: "C... I... N... E... M... A... R... K."

He has been obsessed lately with "starts with." He'll get it wrong as often as he gets it right, but this morning when he was talking to James, he did something he's never done before: He spelled his name. They were talking about words that start with "m" and James said, "Your name starts with 'm.'" "M-A-L."

Along with this interest in spelling, he's just recognizing tons of corporate logos. Gosh, we're so... proud? Anyway, we can't sneak anywhere because he knows more than "French fry," which is how he used to refer to McDonald's AND Sonic. Also, we might eat fast food too much.

Guess what else? Mal has a new friend, and that guy is a bad influence.

It started the other day, when Mal wanted more Oreos but had eaten a whole row of them already. I told him that we needed to save some for the rest of the family. Mal went into our bedroom, came back, and said, "He told me I could have more Oreos." I asked, "Who? Your dad?" James had been with me in the kitchen the whole time. Mal said, "No. Him. Audie-ah-Poddy." "Well, tell him he's wrong. You cannot have any more."

Then yesterday, after I explained for the bazillionth time that he can't have more than two vitamins, Mal said, "He said yes." "I said no. Sorry. It can be dangerous to take too many vitamins." "Audie-ah-Poddy said yes. He's an alien." Oookay.

Finally, tonight the alien told him he could take his new Tonka micro fire station into Chick-fil-A after I'd said it was a bad idea because there were so many small parts. What a jerk that guy is.

Last night, in the bathtub, Mal was asking about aliens. He asked whether they were human, and I told him it depended. We talked about extraterrestrials and about anyone in a foreign place. He mused over it for a moment and said thoughtfully, "I love human aliens. They're so interesting to me." But I think he meant ETs, because then he said he wanted to go to Roswell (which he only knows from a 30-second video my parents took of some space creatures getting ready to beam off the planet). I had to promise him we'd go some time, but it probably won't be until he's 10 or so. Fortunately, he's still a bit gun-shy, so he's fine with waiting.

At the end of his bath, which is turning into a semi-eternal affair every dang day, Mal let the water out while he was still in the tub. He wanted to see the "tornado," then still just sat there after the water was gone. I asked him if he wanted to get out, because it was pretty chilly, but he said no. A couple of minutes later, he hollered out, "Oh no! I don't have balls anymore!" James assured him they'd reappear when he warmed up.

I think of a million things I want to write down during the day, but it's 12:20 AM and I think I'm done for now. I need to start jotting stuff down so I can remember it once I finally get to sit down for a hot minute, which feels less and less likely lately. Good night, friends!


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

General Weirdness and Vice Admiral Serendipity

Today, Mal asked to go to Little Land, and I love it when we're in a position to be able to drop everything (in this case mostly because we weren't doing anything) and I can just say, "Yes! Let's go now!"

James had taken Mal last time, so I had to make sure we had Mal's socks and the 5-visit play ticket. Found the latter easily, but had to dump the contents of my massive purse out before I could locate the former. I handed Mal his socks, I did a quick sweep for my phone, realized I had no idea where it was and didn't feel like spending more time looking for it, and we braved the drizzle out to the car... only for me to realize that I hadn't grabbed my keys. A dart back in, and we were off.

Once we got to the gym, it was properly pouring. Cars in the far lanes were shooting up huge walls of water as it accumulated in deep puddles along the side of the street, and I was concerned that if it kept raining, we'd have to stay in that shopping center all day because the water was about as high as I'm comfortable driving over at the entrance.

When we got out at the building, there was water standing in the "greenbelt" between the parking lot and the building. It's a weird set-up because they have maybe 2 stone blocks you can walk across, so our choice was to find where those were or to try to slip quickly in near where we'd parked. I realized Mal wouldn't be able to make it across so picked him up... then stepped right into about ankle-deep water. Fortunately, I was wearing Crocs. Also fortunately, I had a back-up pair of socks (no, I wasn't wearing clogs; they're dressier shoes).

We stepped in out of the rain and got checked in. I looked all around and couldn't find Mal's socks. Then I remembered that I'd handed them to him in the house, so they were probably somewhere he'd set them. So we paid $2 for a pair of socks there, and they're just plain socks, as opposed to the ones we usually use from Altitude Jump Park, which have the grabby little nubs on the bottom. I turned our shoes over to dry and picked up everything to step into the play area. As I did so, my can of Diet Coke fell, hitting the ground and rolling about 10 feet. Memo not to open that for a while.

Mal played for about an hour, and I wasn't feeling 100%, so when he wanted to swing, a move which I know includes his kicking me for amusement, I was less than enthusiastic. At about the same time, the lady who teaches the sensory art class came over and said, "We're about to shoot a video for my art class; would your little boy want to do it?"

We've never gone to the class because it costs extra, beyond the free play (which is significantly more expensive than My Gym was), and Mal just isn't in a place to get the full benefit of anything that structured. But for free? We're in!

Oh, also... Mal was wearing pajamas. He was actually giddy about doing that, because they were the red and white striped Hanna Andersson PJs, and he knew the white would pop in the black-light room. Also, I felt like death warmed over, but had managed to put on lipstick and eye liner on the way over, so in case I ended up in the video, at least there was that.

I was happily surprised that Mal sat on the colored circle as Ms. Chelsea asked. She explained what they were going to do, then set them loose after they'd put on smocks. Everything was winter-themed, so there was a paper mitten where the kids could glue on tissue paper squares. Mal wasn't interested in that at all.


There was one station where she had wreaths cut out of paper plates, and the kids could glue on green bow-tie pasta pieces and red popcorn kernels. Mal completed two of those holly leaf and berry combos before he decided he'd had enough of it.

He is with crafts as I am with home improvement stuff. I start enthusiastic, then say, "Mehh. Boring. Good enough." when I'm about half way through.

This next one surprised me, though.


It was a set up to paint a picture of an igloo with ice cube paints. Mal was freaked out. He didn't like that it was so cold (per his usual desire to have everything exactly room temperature), but also was horrified by the fact that the paint was getting on his fingers. In the picture above, I'd tried to get him to use a strip of paper towel as a wrapper, but he still wasn't ever on board for this one. He wanted to be, but couldn't get past the cold and messiness.


Mal did enjoy drawing on the chalkboard with Ms. Chelsea. 

Her: What are you drawing?
Mal: Lightning.
Her: Oh, good! It was raining pretty hard out there, wasn't it? I'll draw some clouds. Can you draw a cloud? Here's my rain.
Mal: No. Lightning McQueen.
Her: Oh! The race car! Okay. Can you draw a road for him? Where is his road? I see. Is that the road?
Mal: No. That's a lightsaber.
Her: From Star Wars?
Mal: Yeah!

This went on for a few minutes, then Mal announced proudly, "Now I drew Finn."

Her: From Star Wars?
Mal: No. From Cars 2!
Her: I'm just getting my movies messed up today.
Me: In your defense, there are Finns in both movies.
Mal: There are 2 Finns!


By far, though, Mal's favorite thing was the "cloud dough." He kept going back to that after he'd try each new, different thing.


She had made it with some red glitter and peppermint oil, so it was super sparkly and smelled good. In the end, the filming had clearly wrapped up and I had to move Mal on or he would have stayed in there all afternoon.

We left soon after that, and not only had it stopped raining, but the water had gone elsewhere from the streets and mostly from the grass area. When we got into the car, I realized that Mal had actually brought his socks. They were just up under the dash board in the very front, so I hadn't seen them. Oh well.

As we waited in the drive-through at P. Terry's, I realized that I had several remnants from my lemon poppy seed protein cookie breakfast in my teeth, and hoped I didn't actually end up in any of the promotional video, after all.

Then when we got home, I found my phone in the closet in my skivvies cubby, naturally. 

Mal had a bit of a rough afternoon. I don't know how many times I mentally said "Jesus, take the wheel." But as I was preparing dinner, James went outside with him for almost an hour, and while they did that, I decided to make Mal some cloud dough for use at home.

We were almost out of flour, so I used half whole wheat, and we didn't have any peppermint but I used some lemon extract and some almond extract (Interestingly, the final result smelled like my Aunts Polly and Clyda's house). Oh, and of course glitter.

Mal loved it! And James and I got to eat dinner while he sat at the table, happily playing, for quite some time. It's a lot easier to clean up than the Hawaii sand I've been letting him mess with.


Glitter goes with construction vehicles, right? Also, can you tell from this picture that his cuff is practically brown? I stripped him fairly soon after I took this picture.

Now, wish us luck. I've tried to prepare Mal for the fact that tomorrow is his dad's birthday, and there will be presents to open. But he cried about it today and will likely do so tomorrow, as well, so... Jesus, take the wheel. :)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Mal's Destiny?

On Thursday, Mal said something for the first time that he's never addressed before. We don't ask the kids "What do you want to be when you grow up?" (or "Do you have a girl/boyfriend?" or "What's your favorite subject in school?" or a number of "grown-up" questions, just because) so I don't know that it's on Mal's radar at all that when he's an adult, he'll likely work at something.

However, we'd gone to the library and were looking at a book entitled "What Happens When Fire Burns?" The book actually doesn't answer that question on any level, but it is about fire, and that fires don't start spontaneously, and fire safety, and different ways fire teams tackle different fires differently.

Mal was looking at a picture of one guy with his mouth gaped open as he struggled to control a full-blast fire hose. Mal opened his mouth like the picture. Then on the next page, there was a crew dealing with a fuel fire, and they had on the metal-looking fireproof clothes and were shooting foam.

That's when Mal said, "When I'm big, I'm going to do that." I asked, "You are?" He said, "Yeah. I'm going to have to put on those clothes, and then *ppwpcccssshhhh* and after the fire's out, I'll take them back off."

That's the first time he's projected out to when he's bigger. He wants to drive construction vehicles NOW. But what a cliche thing for a three-year-old boy to want to be when he grows up.


This is a cool thing to want to be, but as we watched videos of fires yesterday (and fire training), I realized that, as a mom, I wouldn't want to know too much about what was going on with him at work! Yikes! I'm sure there will be plenty of iterations of vocations before Mal lands on one (heck, I never did), but it's neat to see him trying ideas out.

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Guaranteed Spoiler-Free Review of My "The Last Jedi" Experience

The day that tickets went on sale for The Last Jedi, we bought them. We chose today instead of yesterday (opening day) because they were less than half the price. I chose 5 PM instead of noon in case James was working by now. We had a discussion beforehand about whether the widespread availability of pre-sale tickets in theaters with reserved seats will eliminate the cultural phenomenon of camping out to get good seats for the midnight premiers of big films (although now I think they start them at like 7 instead of midnight, but still say today is the opening day?). Anyhoo...

This was our second whole-family movie outing in under a month. It would be our third, but Mal bowed out of the last one, and actually said about an hour before time to leave today that he wanted to stay home. Normally, I'd let him (as I did last time) but 1) he cried TO go once the time actually came.. and I'd already refunded the tickets and 2) I really wanted to see The Last Jedi!

Fortunately, he was calmed down and ready to go when we went. Actually, he was bummed that his dad had a Stormtrooper shirt and he didn't, so I pulled out a shirt I bought him for next summer, and it was gigantic, but it has 4 Stormtroopers on it, so he was pretty happy.

Since we knew the movie was going to be 2.5 hours, we got there right as the previews started, and James and D went on in to bookend our seats while Mal and I stocked up on snacks. We missed about 10 minutes of previews, but still saw a lot.

Then it started. When the iconic Star Wars music started, Mal began humming along. Cue D's hand covering the facing ear and an overt squirming in the comfortable theater lounger. I reminded Mal that we have to be quiet at the theater, though he's welcome to sing along with the theme at home.



The movie hits the ground running, and so did the kid who was sitting on the opposite side of D. Restless and a few seats away from her parents, she would pull the foot rest up, put it down, climb over it to play in the floor, etc. Because I don't have sensory processing disorder, I didn't really notice it at first, even though the ground was vibrating a bit independently of the movie.

Mal seemed to be enjoying the rollicking action sequences, but was less enthusiastic about visiting Snoke's throne room. I'd offered to let him sit in my lap, and when Snoke showed up was when Mal took me up on it. After a few minutes, he began to squirm. "Do you need to go to the restroom?" Yep.

I carried Mal out (thank goodness for the new spacious recliner rows!) and he did, indeed use the restroom. After we washed our hands, I told him, "On the walk back to the theater, I want you to get all of your wiggles out!" So he went down the hall flapping his arms and kicking his feet out and making more noise than he could do in the theater without being disturbingly loud.

When we went back in, he sat in his own seat for a bit until something else intense happened, when he wanted back in my lap.

About this time, the little girl on the other side of D got the hiccups. Hiccups are very close to the top of the list in terms of aggravating D's misophonia. "I'm going to go sit over there." Thus D spent the rest of the movie in a cubby in the aisle, just beside the fire exit.

Actually, with D gone, I could let Mal move around a little more without worrying he'd accidentally make contact. It was then that I really realized how much the girl on our row was climbing around. I was surprised D hadn't said something to her, because a full empty seat away, it was starting to get on my nerves. Eventually, her dad took her to get some popcorn.

"I need to go potty again." This time, I picked Mal up and carried him like a ventriloquist's dummy up (waving at D on the way past) and out of the theater. We sprinted to a different bathroom, wanting to hurry back because exciting things were afoot, movie-wise.

Mal giddily did his crazy walk back to the theater, clearly tiring out for the day, as he kept falling down. We again passed the people on our row and sat down. The girl in the row came back with the pricey Execution Trooper collectible popcorn head thing and was babbling to herself. I tried to make my "shh" sound sweet and maternal. Lord knows I had to keep reminding Mal. What got me about her was that it was clear her parents put her at the end of their line of people and just forgot about her. Actually, her dad DID ask her to stop putting the chair up and down about the time Mal said, "I have to go to the bathroom."

Fewer than 10 minutes had elapsed since we'd left the previous time, so I told James we were not going to come back to the seats. We went to the bathroom, Mal complaining that I wasn't carrying him. I suspected that he'd said he wanted to go so I'd do the carry/running thing, and he did not, in fact, need to go. But he was eager to run in the hallway. I told him we weren't going to do that and could either go stand in the back of the theater so I could see the movie, or just stand outside and wait for our family. He said, "Daddy came to the movies without me!" Um, no. You left him, silly.

Oh, he also said, "But I *am* going to run up and down the hall!" Wrong-o.

We went back in and sat on an out-of-the-way stair, but Mal started coughing. From then on, every time we stepped out into the hall, he was fine. But then we'd go inside and he'd start coughing so hard, I knew we were being distracting. I was able to see pieces of the movie in fits and starts, but for the last 45 minutes really had no idea what was going on.

At one point, Mal was content to walk up and down the ramp (don't worry; it's set up so that no one in the theater could see him) while I stood at the end and watched a bit. But eventually, I could hear him passing gas and whisked him back out.

"Did you poop your pants?" "Yes." He didn't. He's had a bit of an upset stomach due, I believe, to the drainage and coughing and not eating much over the past few days. Nevertheless, we went into the restroom and he said, "This place smells funny" before gagging. I thought that was it and he was going to be sick. I asked, "Do you need to throw up?" He said, "No! I don't want to barf!!"

I waited with him a LONG time, and he didn't go, so I begged him to slip back in so I could catch the end, and we did. Like literally. I stepped inside, and the screen went black then "Music by John Williams."

Mal started bawling, "I want to see it again!"

I was able to stop his yelling by the promise of ice cream on the way out, and then sent him and James on while I got refills of popcorn and soda and D watched the closing credits. While D and I waited for James and Mal, I asked about something in the movie, but D refused to discuss it with me in public lest anyone overhear any spoilers.

We all got to the car, and I was trying to get Mal's sleep diaper on in case he fell asleep in the car on the way home. He did not. But he did cough pretty much nonstop in the 3 freezing minutes it took me to get the pants/shoes off, diaper on, shoes back on. D was sitting in the front seat, hunched over, breathe holes covered with a t-shirt. And this was the entire ride home.

So my review of "The Last Jedi" is, as I told James: I cannot see another movie with our entire family again. It's too stressful. I can probably handle D's stuff. And I can mostly handle Mal's stuff. But both of their stuff together is too much.

Also, I'd really like to see "The Last Jedi" in its entirety very soon. The parts I saw were impressive.

Finally, sometimes it's difficult not to be a little jealous that some families can "just" go and do stuff and be pretty confident that it will work out. We try and plan and attempt to accommodate everyone, but, gosh, it's hard.

We have a vacation planned for late next year. The reason we're planning it so early is to fit these differences in. But we've given D the choice of whether to go or not, because traveling is particularly anxiety-provoking (noises, lots of potentially sick people, uncertainty, etc.). So if you hear later that our family vacations don't always include the *whole* family, just remember this three-hour outing and know that it's better for us to do what works for EVERYONE, even if it's not what I'd consider ideal, which is that we'd all do it together.

And may the Force be with us all.