Holiday week is a floating week- we're neither here nor there, just doing stuff & waiting for normal life to resume. This is not an easy time for any of us, although Charlie has had the "advantage" of having returned to work yesterday to normalise things for him. I am noticing how much Brendan's Adventure Quest game has been an anchor for him, a large spot of predictability that helps him feel secure. It feels almost like an additional medication, since he rarely tics or has troublesome OCD thoughts when distracted by the game. Unlike the summer time, when I arrange my life so that Brendan & I are continually involved in various projects, I have been too tired to do much other than the necessary things that moms do to keep the house & family together. All of the month's activities for church have really taken their toll on me, as have the resonances of this particular season, which can sneak up & hand me unwanted memories of unhappy Christmases past... So, in short, it's been an up & down sort of week.
Christmas Day was somewhat bumpy, starting out with the fun of opening stockings & eating our yearly grapefruit (that Santa leaves in the toes of our stockings) together. There was a too-quiet patch when Brendan disappeared to begin putting together his biggest lego set ever, desperately waited-for & gratefully received. We knew that he would spend the whole rest of the day putting it together (over 1000 pieces, for goodness sake!) & we decided ahead of time that we would let nature take it's course & not try to interrupt him in his joy. Then, after lunch, my mom arrived (& Brendan graciously interrupted himself to do the prezzie thing with Grammie, having had lunch up in his room) & I moved into full gear getting ready for our yearly Christmas tea. I made cinnamon buns (in a tree-shaped paper pan from King Arthur baking company) & scones, & we had cookie trays, & Charlie made little cream-cheese & cucumber sandwiches, & we had his favourites, petit fours, as well. We were expecting to have 10 for tea, family & friends, & we did eventually have 10- although one of our number never came to the table (guess who :) & I don't think there were more than 7 sitting at one time. It was a lot of fun to eat & chat with friends, & share the jokes & toys (& wear the paper crowns) from the crackers. Everyone made their pilgrimages up to see the lego in progress, too, so Brendan was part of the fun. By 6:30 everyone had gone & we began to wind-down. With the lego finished, Brendan found himself at lose ends & had some rough bits transitioning back into normal life (without the excitement of a big, new lego to build), but we were able to get him calmed by watching some Addams Family shows & doing our usual reading before bed.
On Tuesday Brendan alternated between playing AQ (after commenting that he hadn't played at all the day before), playing with his new lego set with dad, & watching the Addams Family. He continued to have a lot of trouble with the OCD & couldn't bear to hear certain words said all day (like the word "show", which was rather disconcerting), & when they were accidentally said he would go into head-banging, full-scream mode. Sigh. Between us & the above-mentioned activities we helped Brendan keep it together. It was definitely a day when regular, normal school days look like paradise.
Wednesday began with a trip to see Brendan's psychiatrist. He & Charlie went, since I needed to run some errands so I could get started on our holiday cards. Brendan's visit went pretty well, the first since we'd tried to switch him to Luvox & the disaster that ensued... everyone decided that we'd keep him just where he's at with the zoloft & seroquel (according to the psychiatrist, Brendan is on a "weenie" dose of seroquel- whatever that means...), & he wrote a new prescription for the klonapin so that we could try an extra dose during the day if Brendan's OCD continues to make him miserable. Holiday-cards-wise, I've been making photo-pamphlet cards to send for the past couple of years, which is labour-intensive, but fun. I evolved this type of card as an answer/antidote to the newsletters that we get from so many people. As much as I want to let the people we exchange cards with know how our year has gone, most of them are not close enough to really understand or share our journey with Brendan, & in the past I've found it very difficult to express in words what life is like for us (this blog has changed this considerably, though :). So after wrestling for years with how to give folks a sense what's going on with us, I was inspired by an origami-style pamphlet that I saw in ReadyMade magazine (& have seen in origami & bookbinding books over the years) & decided to put together booklets of pictures embellished with stickers & captions to send out. There's room for 7 pictures in each book &, after messing around with the design, I figured out how to get it to print out consistently, so that it can be mass-produced, cut, & folded accurately. This year's card had to be postponed until after the holidays because of all the work on the mummers play & the Christmas Eve service, so I was really keen to get it going. By the end of the day I had it pretty much put-together & ready to be copied. In the afternoon I took a break to go shopping with Tomoko for food for our Japanese-style New Year's celebration. It was quite an adventure :) We hit 3 asian food stores & saw everything from fireworks to live frogs being sold... (Tomoko assured me that live frogs do not figure into the celebration of Japanese New Year). In the evening we went to our friend Paula's house for their annual holiday party. It was fun, & so exciting that the fire department showed-up (nothing bad happened, really!!! :).
Yesterday Charlie went back to work & Brendan & I went grocery shopping. All went pretty well until we hit the milk/dairy section,where Brendan had an OCD thing pop up that had him head-banging the glass doors, & in my haste to get him out of there I forgot to pick up Charlie's "regular" milk (Brendan & I drink lactaid)... so he's drinking lactaid with us for the week, very good-naturedly. Luckily it was a short shopping list & we were both relieved to be out of the store & back out into the fresh air. Brendan played AQ & I worked on the cards for the rest of the day, taking breaks to watch InuYasha & work on Brendan memorising his part in the class play. The day was notable for Brendan having a lot less OCD stress (other than at the store)- hooray! After he was in bed Charlie & I sat down to print out the mailing labels for the cards & it only took 2 tries- another hooray!
Today Brendan & I took Tomoko to lunch at our favourite Japanese restaurant. It was chilly, but beautifully sunny, so we walked there & back. We chatted a lot about our favourite episodes of InuYasha & Brendan treated us to a game of "guess the InuYasha sound" where he made sounds from the show & we had to guess what made them. He's an amazing mimic & we had a lot of fun guessing :) I ran words by Tomoko that I'd heard on InuYasha & had guessed their meanings to, see if I was right. We talked a bit more about cooking on Sunday & I mentioned a few more things I'd picked up at the grocery store, in anticipation of our cooking day. Brendan & I had a mellow afternoon, with AQ & then watching some new Pokemon episodes from a dvd he'd gotten for Hannukah. Grammie had a busy day so she called to say she wasn't coming over for dinner as she usually does on Friday, so we had a quiet dinner, quiet evening, & 2 more chapters of Eragon before Brendan fell asleep.
Charlie's on call tomorrow, & in the office in the morning. I told Brendan that we would start the day by making his wizard robe, since my energy seems to be coming back & he's been waiting so patiently. Some lessons I hope I've learned from this particular holiday season: all that activity at church (pretty much non-stop for a month) really exhausted me, as worthwhile & even fun as it some of it was. Being exhausted is not fair to my family, took some of the fun out of the holidays, & made me more susceptible to depression. Next year I need to say "no" more. I suspect that I won't have trouble remembering this lesson- Charlie has been gently bringing it up for the past few days, couched in terms of finding people to help out rather that doing so much myself. He's got a good memory, too :) The best parts of this holiday were the ones spent with friends & family, & when I found quiet time to be with Charlie & Brendan. My best gift was an original story written by Brendan, & scribed (typed) by dad, which was full of Brendan's characteristic humour & imagination. It's a "to be continued..." story & I can't wait for the sequel :)