Birthday Blues, a Little

So, I started an online grad school program. And I work. In case you wondered what's been keeping me busy.

Sometimes I still can't believe there are two of them.
Tomorrow, the boys turn 10 years old though, and I feel the need to say something. I'm torn, because I want to be honest and pour my heart out, but I also want to be positive and uplifting, because being down doesn't help anyone. I hate it when I have to choose between truth and positivity.

Also there's the fact that my daughter is 12 now, and has access to the internet, and I know she looks at this blog (hi, sweetheart!). I want her to feel happy and positive about her brothers, and not feel the sadness I sometimes do. (It's really only sometimes. 99 days out of 100 I don't even think about it.)

Tomorrow the boys turn 10, and I spend part of the afternoon hunting for presents for them. I got them both body pillows. That's something I know they'd like and get some use out of.  They also like nightlights and flashlights, and some books, and DVDs, as long as they are DVDs of some Nick Jr. show, or the Wiggles. AJ loves Yo Gabba Gabba but Zack almost never lets him watch it. Zack knows how to run the remote now, so he usually decides what we are all going to watch.

AJ likes chocolate chip cookies, so I got a giant cookie for them.  Zack won't eat it, but Zack doesn't eat any sweets except Honeycomb and other cereals.  Once he ate Oreos, but now when I get them for him, he is uninterested. He likes Puff Corn. Can't really make a birthday cake out of that. So Zack is going to share AJ's big cookie.

For a couple of weeks now Zack has been asking for "Pa Wiggles." I don't know what that is. I have shown him a bunch of Wiggles videos we could order on iTunes, to see if one of them is Pa Wiggles, but he didn't point anything out specifically. He keeps looking up where the take-out menus are in the kitchen, because he knows we used to hide movies there, but there's none there now. No Pa Wiggles. I found some old Wiggles videos on Ebay and ordered them. Hopefully one of them is Pa Wiggles. (That's not Pa, as in, Ma and Pa, that's Puh. PuhWiggles.)

Everything Zack says is an abbreviation or an approximation of what he really wants to say, and some of the things he says are just indecipherable.

Zack still likes pink things. His most recent fixation was a pair of American Girl pants that he would try and shove over his arm. So for Christmas we got him a couple of pink shirts. He doesn't care about either one of them. He played with those pink American Girl pants until they were ripped.

AJ is very outgoing and has quite a few interests. He's easier to shop for. His very favorite thing is his red shirt that says "Radical," He wears it every day. I mean, every day after school he comes home and puts it on, and wears it every weekend. Luckily because I have twins, I have two of the "Radical" shirts, so we can alternate a little.

I saw on Facebook that someone got their son with Fragile X a stamp of their name - because they have such a hard time writing their names, it's fun to have that stamp and put their names on things. I don't know if the boys will care about that or not.  AJ might. It was worth a try, though, so I ordered them personalized name stamps.

Everybody has been asking me what to get them for their birthday. It's because they are impossible to shop for. They aren't like other 10-year-olds, they are more like three-year-olds with OCD. It's hard to come up with things, because Zack really isn't interested in anything that isn't on his iPad. Literally, everything he does, he does just to get his iPad back.

Birthdays are always hard. Ordinary days are great. They are sweet, funny little guys.  Every year on their birthday, though, the wide gap between them and other little boys their age gets more and more obvious. As 10-year-olds, they should be playing basketball like their sister, maybe on a traveling team that their dad coaches. They ought to be terrorizing the neighborhood on their bikes. They should be trying to convince me how much they both need a cell phone. It's no use ignoring this and not thinking about it. It's totally in-my-face, every birthday.

I want to be positive and say it gets easier, but some things never do. They've only been invited to one friend-birthday party, and it's another set of twins who are in their class, who are a little over a year younger than they are, and much higher functioning. AJ likes the birthday parties, Zack is totally overwhelmed.

I feel bad for feeling bad. Why can't I just accept them as they are? Why do I have to think about what they are not?

From last summer.

Their usual spot, and usual activity.

6 Tips for Online Dating

Yes, I know, this isn't a dating blog.  But it's mine and I can write what I want, and I'm going through a bit of a transition where I'm planning to streamline The Fragile X Files so it's quicker and easier for me to do updates, because I don't have the time to sit at the computer that I used to, but I still want to write.

A friend recently wrote a blog post about her personal experiences with divorce, being a single mom to kids with special needs, and her hesitations at jumping back into the dating pool.  Like so many others these days, she's considering trying out online matchmaking, and finding the prospects there somewhat... lacking.  To be kind.

Back when Mark and I met, the online dating scene was still fairly immature.  I don't think Match.com was even around yet.  Yahoo and AOL and some news sites had matchmaking sections, I think Yahoo's was the most prominent at the time.  I don't know exactly what online dates are looking like these days, but I can imagine that it's the same as 15 years ago - only with about a million more people to sort through.  I can imagine that it's daunting, to think about getting in there!

Here's some things I learned and would suggest for anyone considering dipping their toes into the online dating pool:

1. Lower your expectations, but not your standards. There are going to be many, many fish you throw back before you find a keeper.  Know that before you even throw your line in the pond.

2. Don't be scared.  There actually are people out there just like you - freaked out at the prospect of meeting strangers, yet carrying a glimmer of hope that somewhere, someone decent is out there.

3. That said, you will have to sort through quite a pile of crap to find a jewel (boy, could I tell you some stories.... maybe in another post).  So my suggestion is, have first dates only on weekday evenings if possible, and make sure you have later-in-the-evening plans so you can't get trapped into a long, boring date.  It's not a good idea to meet someone for the first time on, say, a Saturday for lunch, with no firm plans for the afternoon, and then get sucked into spending the whole day with someone whom you could tell from the first 17 seconds was absolutely not going to be "the one."  Consider those first in-person dates to be interviews, and short ones.  Meet for coffee.

4. Don't get all attached to someone through email and phone conversations only to find out when you meet in person, there's nothing there.  I learned this the hard way.  I had hours-long, great talks with a guy I met online, and the first time we met in person I saw him coming through the door and immediately thought, "please don't let that be him.  Oh, no, that's him...."

5. Now that you think I'm shallow and lower than dirt for judging someone on appearance, come on - admit it - there's either something of a spark, a possible attraction there, or there's not.  I know I'm no supermodel, and I didn't expect to meet one.  but I did feel there needed to be at least a hint of a physical connection there, or we were both wasting our time.  (By the way, we went out quite a few times - I didn't immediately dismiss him because I wasn't attracted to him.  I spent time with him, trying to make that connection we had on the phone translate to an in-person relationship.  It didn't happen.)

6. Get on with your life.  Don't build your days around dates/interviews.  Do what you do - work, play, read, dance, whatever - and fit in meeting people on the side.  Be open to the possibility of meeting someone, but don't make it the ultimate definition of a successful life.  I know, that's what everyone says, and it's easy to say that when you are comfortably in a relationship.  But it's true.  Desperation is not attractive and you aren't good at hiding it.  No, you aren't.  So stop it.
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