Monday, December 31, 2012

"Fun Size" post....

 ~"New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."~
–Mark Twain

 Oscar asked me this morning if there was going to be a revolution tonight. It took me a minute to figure out what he meant.."Revolution?".." there going to be the Revolutionary War?" ..."I think you mean "Resolution" in "New Years Resolution.".." it isn't like when we fought the British?".."No...a resolution means that you are making a decision to do something in the coming lose weight, or read more....something like that.".."Oh."..."So, do you think you would like to make a New Years Resolution this year?"  "No."...

  Can't say that I blame him.  I am not one for making resolutions either. It is just setting myself up to fall.  It really never fails..the day I resolve to do something-like eat healthier, there will be a giant candy sale..and I will find myself (hiding from the kids) while I stuff myself with delightful bits of "Dove" chocolate. Why is there never a blow-out sale on carrots or broccoli?  No, instead there are HUGE displays of chocolate as far as the eye can see. Milky Way bars...and Snickers..all in little "fun size" packages. As if calling them "fun" alleviates the guilt you feel for sneaking handfuls of little bite sized pieces-all while cooking broccoli and carrots for your children..Honestly-I would do so much better if they made a "hilarious" size. It would be harder to sneak-and I would probably wind up eating healthier...So you can understand why I don't make any resolutions. It just isn't worth the stress for not keeping them.

  This past year has been filled with so many twists and turns.  There were some hard times, and mostly good times...and even some surprises.  I am looking forward to what this new year will bring. So, I am not going to resolve to do anything-except to enjoy the ride.

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that you all have a wonderful, joyful, hilarious (anything but fun sized) peaceful year...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Joyful E

~"The world is extremely interesting to a joyful soul"~Alexandra Stoddard 

Twas the night before Christmas and somewhere in the house...this mother was hiding with a very large egg nog and rum because her children were out of their minds with excitement. They were so very very loud and shrill that she just had to go and hide with a very large..beverage. 

Some presents were set round the tree with great flair...and shaken and prodded by children screaming "whats in there?!!"...Really-they are screaming it...have been for the past three days...each day getting a little bit louder

I don't really mind.  Christmas at our house is great fun. It's just the last few hours of Christmas eve that can be tiring ...wearing even..make me greet my egg nog like a long lost friend...

Ever since school let out on Friday..their excitement has been slowly building..the girls have been either the best of friends or the worst of enemies. So much so- that in these past few days  I don't think that even they know what they are to each other anymore. Sam, ever the fourteen year old has separated from the herd.  He's off listening to music, watching movies or drawing.  I believe he thinks himself too mature to get involved in the excitement. *sigh* I am looking forward to his twenties-when he is done being grown up.  Oscar has been eeeeeing. In the morning, in the evening, in the shower, in his bed...Non stop eeeeing.  He stims-that's who he is. It isn't like he he sits down and thinks "gosh I'm stressed out-I think I'll stim." It is his way of getting the anxiety out. We don't really even notice is just part of the background noise that is our home.. all kind of got to me the other day...after listening to the girls argue for the fifty millionth time...and the phone ringing non stop...and finding out Omar's gift would not be delivered on time for Christmas...and Omar's car not starting..and Oscars non stop eeeeing-I was a bit out of my mind stressed. I kind of lost it...over reacted if you will(Think George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life"-when the bank examiner is after him)."Could you all please Be QUIET!!! I am tired of this non stop fighting from you you want me to call Santa?  Really-I don't have a problem doing that!  And Oscar!!  Could you please say something other than "E?" about "A?" or "O?"...or maybe say a whole word like "eeeeeeeelectrician" or "eeeeeeventual"???"On and on I went...while my kids just looked at me like I was the one who was I had lost my mind!  Me!  *sigh*  Thankfully-having the kids that I do...they shrugged it off .They are pretty good at dealing with my sometimes silly moods-figuring out when I am being ridiculous.  Still, I felt bad.  No one needs a shrew for Christmas-especially their mother.

  So this morning, I made sure to get up a little earlier than the kids. I wanted a little time to myself..a few minutes of peace and quiet..  I still had a few million last minute things to do and  I wanted to get them out of the way so that we could just enjoy the day together.  I was sitting drinking coffee and just staring when Oscar came down stairs.  I said-"Hey buddy-Merry Christmas eve!"...He looked at me smiling and said.."Don't you mean..Merry Christmas eeeeeeve?"  "Ha!-I guess I do!".You know? I really am one lucky mother.

So, It is just a few hours till bed time.  The kids are upstairs making lots of noise and chatter..I am sending Omar up there to see what is the matter.(because I'm smart) He came down and told me it wasn't a fight.  They were just so excited-Santa was coming tonight. So I'll end this here..I'm keeping this light..Merry Christmas to all and to all (especially Sam, Oscar, Lily and Zoe) a Good Night! 

Merry Christmas-Happy New Year-or Happy whatever it is that you celebrate.  I wish you all a year full of peace and love. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I am my childrens mother...

~"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our mind.."~
Bob Marley

Mothers are interesting creatures.  I say that from experience.  Both as an observer and as an active participant. From the first time that you venture out in the world with your (very first) new baby-you are subjected to the watchful eyes of mothers everywhere..Sometimes, I imagine them like a pack of animals..being filmed for a documentary on the Discovery channel (in my head I can hear a narrator(of course he has a British accent)) speaking in a hushed and reverent tone "The experienced mothers, not wanting to give up their place in the pack are posturing in front of the mother who has just given birth..look! The mother of the three month old is proclaiming her child's brilliance..oh comes another mother..she's carrying "Baby Einstein" DVD's!..look at the way she holds her head up!  How stunning!  Look at how the new mum, feeling inadequate...grazes from a distance.. head down low..never getting to close..We are watching nature in its rawest moments.."

  Oh, I remember those days-when it was just me and Sam. Although,  I caught on pretty early to this superior mother thing.  I found my own special way to deal with it.  I simply made things up-the more ridiculous the better. "Oh! he spoke his first word at only three months?!  Sam did that in utero...By the way, he's teaching a course in the humanities at our local community college now...I know,,,community college..but, we can't expect a Harvard tenure at only six months of age now could we?!" I have to say that it worked pretty well for a time...that is until GASP! *whispers* autism..

  Yes, having kids diagnosed with a developmental disability puts you in a whole other place in the pack. A place where some parents either pity or martyr you.   And you know?  It might not be as awful as it sounds if it came with...I don't know..candy or coffee or something. But it doesn't.  Instead it mostly comes with this thing that I like to call "The Look"..I think that any parent of any child who struggles with anything knows what I'm talking about. You might be sitting with a group of parents..just talking about kid anything..and you proudly say something like "My boy wants to be a teacher when he grows up." First-there is an uncomfortable silence..they've met your child...could have seen them stimming...maybe even tried to chat with them. You ignore it...choosing instead to go into detail about why your son would be a great teacher. While the listener gets this look ...head slightly tilted ...eyes that say "poor delusional you" and a sad half smile on their face. Firstly, ick..just ick. I really have come to LOATHE "The Look" But-as I can't do anything to get rid of it(legally)-I've learned to ignore it.  Sadly, some people can only see differences.  I choose to spend my time with people who see possibilities.

   The thing of it is-I see myself as a regular parent. I am not raising disabilities.  I am raising children who have them. I will never say that it has always been easy.  There have been rough times...there have been scary times. But, there have also been times full of joy and love.  We muddle through..we get by.  And, like any other parent-I raise my children to be the best possible people that they can be.  Like any other parent I have dreams and I have fears. Like any other parent I want my kids to have a safe and secure place in this world.  I want them to be accepted and loved-and at the same time, I want my kids to accept and to love themselves.  I had thought it was as simple as that.  Until recently. 

  I was not going to write about the recent horror in Connecticut.  But, something happened that set me on edge. I, like so many other people in the autism community was  devastated by the speculation (made by many news reporters)  that somehow this persons possible diagnosis of autism was the cause of his horrendous crime. Of course this has been refuted by bloggers, organizations...even "The New York Times" had something to say about it. Unfortunately, the seed had already been planted. Many were convinced.  So much so that I even found a hate group on Facebook-calling for the execution of anyone on the spectrum. Pretty chilling. ( Of course I reported it-and I believe that it was taken down.) But the thing that personally floored me was the reaction that I received from some of the people I know. People that know my children.   People that I have trusted AND  who have had the privilege of  spending time with my kids. When I discussed this with them, when I adamantly declared that there is absolutely no correlation between autism and violent crime...some of them gave me...*sigh* "The Look." As if they knew better-as if I were deluding myself.  That somehow it was o.k. to condemn an entire group of people-my kids included. Simply because it gave them an explanation. Makes them feel safe.  Case closed,

  I get that when something so horrific such as this crime takes place-it is human nature to try and figure out the cause, to find something to blame..To try and make sense out of the senseless.  The speculation has run rampant.  Maybe he was autistic? Maybe he was mentally ill? Maybe he played to many video games? Maybe he was on the wrong meds? Maybe it is meds in general? Maybe his mother wanted to have him committed and he was angry?  Maybe it is our mental health system?..I have heard just about everything being blamed with maybe the exception of his hair color. The truth of it is-we will probably never know.  But more importantly, I do know this- you can not blame whole groups of people based on speculation and maybes. You can not nor should not call for more death and destruction.  Twenty six people were murdered. That is already too much.

My heart goes out to the all of the families. May they one day find peace.

"The deep pain that is felt 
at the death of every friendly soul 
arises from the feeling that there is 
in every individual something 
which is inexpressible, 
peculiar to him alone, 
and is, therefore, 
absolutely and irretrievably lost." 
- Arthur Schopenhauer

Monday, December 10, 2012

Catching up with thankful..

~“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”~ Woody Allen

  Wow-I seem to have misplaced the month of November. One minute it is Halloween and now all of a sudden we are preparing for Christmas. I guess that I have some catching up to do..

Halloween went really well this year-costumes were easy-the kids had a great time...the boys gave me all their candy.  that works well for me.

Oscar as the Red Angry Bird
 My boys are more interested in dressing up than in actual trick or treating. To them-the costume is everything.   My girls are more like me-driven.They do like dressing up-but they also like getting as much candy as they can fit in their bags..I am probably one of the only adults who spurs her kids on to get to the "good" houses before they ran out of candy.  You know, the ones that give out real chocolate-or giant candy bars..After seven years of living here-I know the hot spots.  For instance,we always run on over to the local  funeral home-because, they give out big candy bars.(.they also have a "parking at your own risk" sign.. which kind of makes me wonder.)  As a kid-Halloween was one of my most favorite holidays. It wasn't so much the dressing up as it was the free candy.  You have to understand.  I grew up in a home where an apple was considered a snack, a treat...sometimes even...gasp!  a dessert!  So any day that consisted of filling a bag up of free candy-was a good day indeed.  I have wonderful memories of trick or treating for hours, going home and counting candy bars with my brother and sister(all of us still in costume) each other for favorites...finding the perfect hiding spot so that my brother wouldn't steal some. Although he always managed to find it....*sigh*  Always.  I did eventually get him back though (as only a younger sibling can). I won't go into details...lets just say it involved a strategically(and very publicly) placed "Playboy" magazine...and my mother.   I may have been younger-but I was oh so much smarter.  Maybe it's me..but my kids seem to get along better with each other than I did with my siblings.  Sure, the argue and fight...but somehow it just doesn't seem the same. I do know that if I ever found a strategically placed "Playboy" magazine-I would just laugh.. I wouldn't however, stand for candy thievery of any sort! Especially if it were mine That sort of behavior is just not tolerated in this house.  .


Thanksgiving rolled around like it always does-right when the kids have finally adjusted to the routine of school. *sigh*  Although each year gets a little bit better for us.  There was a time when sitting at the table and eating was just not an option..for any of us. Way back then..we were in a different place.  We didn't know what was going on with the boys..words like "sensory overload" or "stimming" had no meaning for us. But even in those dark times, I still found myself thankful. We had each other-all of us.  We were a family,we held tight to each other and we would and could get through anything. Sleep deprivation..endless screaming and frustration..things that at times pushed me to my limits and beyond..through all of that.. our boys never gave up on us..loved us unconditionally-no matter how many times I may have let them down( through my ignorance of the situation-and my impatience)..they were (and still are)two of  the most beautiful beings I could ever have the privilege to parent.So,  Thanksgiving has a lot of meaning to me.  This year as Omar set out the traditional turkey dinner, and I set out the traditional pizza, I once again thought about how thankful that I was. There I was, surrounded by most of those nearest and dearest to my heart....and we were ALL sitting at the table. 


December is a busy busy time for me.  I love Christmas. I love getting the kids presents..I ADORE using the threat of calling Santa(for those that still believe) to get good behavior...actually, I start bringing that up in September.It is one of my favorite times of year. Gift giving, cookie baking...all of it-well, except for maybe the annual Christmas concert..(Am I the only parent that loathes these things?  Or am I the only one that just openly admits it?) It's a wonderful time (except for the two hours at the concert...AND how could I forget- the two hours spent with the Girl Scouts singing to victims senior citizens)  I am looking forward to the holiday. To some down time spent with the people I love most..It should be wonderful.  If by chance it becomes to much-Or I find myself overwhelmed by what needs to be done (think concerts) I still have plenty of Halloween candy left to help carry me through.I keep it hidden in the garage...along with a copy of "Playboy" should my brother decide to come visit...


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Delightfully damned..OR Everyone Loves an advocate (NOT)

~"Oh I am on a lonely road and I am traveling traveling..."~ Joni Mitchell

           The results of Oscars evaluation came in the mail today. A thick packet of type written pages chock full of information I don't really want to know.  Well, I do...sort of. Any parent of any kid who has had any type of evaluation more than likely knows this feeling. The dread of opening that envelope..of pulling out page after page..of what feels like an endless list of shortcomings.  Oh, it will start out nice enough...there will be the usual "Oscar is a delightful eleven year old boy..or energetic, happy or  insert any other positive sounding adjective.  I've been doing this for over a decade now-I know the routine! Almost too well... And I'm kind of over it at the moment.. So for now, I'm just going to use it as a place for my coffee's a "delightful" place...I will even go as far as calling it "enchanting"...

  The start of school can be tough for a few of my kids. Even though they have been doing this for years now..the transition from lazy summer days to ones of structure still comes as a bit of a shock. The same goes for me. My casual Summer mornings of indulging in a cup of coffee for ten minutes..BY MYSELF are over. It's push time. I become reunited with my alarm clock (and it doesn't feel so good) which when it rings makes me feel like a horse at the starting gate.AND she's off!   I have to make sure that all four are dressed(appropriately-it is in the 30's and my girls are still trying to wear tank tops and flip flops), fed, packed up (YES-we do pack our back packs the night before-but mysteriously...they seem to explode their entire contents all over the house with vital things getting lost in hard to reach places get unpacked) and ready for the bus. Which, by the time they do get on it-I should be dancing a jig..only I'm too worn out from trying to pack their back packs..and bruised from throwing myself on the floor to reach under the couch to find the essential "thing" that ("I don't know how it fell out of my back pack but I NEED it") rolled under it..all the way in the the wall...where all the dust clumps gather (and I SWEAR mock me.) Sometimes I worry that our bus driver thinks I'm I wave gleefully in my baggy coffee stained pajama's, mug in hand and tendrils of dust gently framing my sweaty face. The things is-come hell or high water-or even couch fuzz-My kids make it on the bus. Because that is my job. I do it well. I only wish that for a few hours it ended there...but it doesn't.

  The first week or so of school seem to go always seems first. But then the little things start to happen..tiny incidents trickling dust under a couch. (yeah I'm a little dust obsessed at the moment-we all need a hobby) These little things start to pile into bigger things..and you realize "Wait a minute!  This isn't supposed to happen!  This ISN'T part of the IEP.  Whats going on?" make some calls, maybe even send an email...all which invariably will be misunderstood, or worse-taken personally.  Which is so not your intent.So there are meetings and more phone calls..and a few emails...and everyone feels better(sort of) because they realize that you were just being an "advocate"...somehow that makes it o.k.  WRONG!

  Getting your child the services that they need. (sometimes via IEP meetings),  letting someone know what is going on with your child when there is a problem that needs to be addressed..that is advocating. Having to make phone calls when the IEP isn't being followed..or call the board of ed. or "discuss" things with someone who just doesn't "see" your child's issues (believe me-I don't WANT them to have issues!)..THAT is fighting-and I am tired of it. It is unnecessary and only causes bad feelings between both parties. That doesn't mean that I will stop.  Lets just call it what it really is.

  So, as you can probably tell-it has been a really rocky two months here at Chez Herd. There have been many phone calls and emails-meetings even! I've been told what a great "advocate" I am. *sigh*  if only it were just "advocacy"....

  I'm sure it will all be sorted out..eventually... probably just time for Christmas break....which is like Summer, only shorter...but with the same difficulties when it's over.  Now you know why I prefer having a place to put my coffee-over actually opening up Oscars evaluation..  Sometimes you just need to step away from the fighting "advocacy". No, today I'll just sit here with my coffee (and delightful holder) and pretend it's Summer...maybe just maybe..I'll get ten whole minutes alone....   

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bathroom confidential...

~“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.”~ Phyllis Diller


  "I am sure that you are all wondering why I have gathered you all here today." I said to the four pairs of eyes that were looking warily at me.  Well-make that two sets of eyes...the other two were looking out the window and in the mirror.  We were all tightly squeezed into our upstairs bathroom-because, I had led them all up there with the promise of a fun family activity.."Come on guys! I have something cool to show you!".."What is it Mama?!!".."Wait and see!  Come on everyone!"  Needless to say...they were a tad bit disappointed when we reached our destination. I suppose I can understand that..I had made it sound very exciting..lured them with hints of adventure..I was like the pied piper..but instead of a flute, I had a toilet brush. My kids,having never seen one-much less use one-innocently followed me...willingly-eager even!

"Today, we are all going to learn how to clean the bathroom!" I said to my slightly disappointed children.."Today we are going to learn how to clean a toilet! ..Lily stop rolling your eyes...Wipe a sink! Mop a floor and scrub a tub!..Oscar are you paying attention? Well then stop making faces in the mirror..Today..I am going to teach you one of the most important tasks of .. Zoe-the action is in here-not out the window...Hey! guys this is important! You are going to live on your own one day.."  "But said we could always live with you."  "And you CAN Lil...but you may want to have your own place.." "No..I'm going to live with you.".."Me too.".."FINE-you can all live with me forever if you want are still going to learn how to clean the bathroom!" .."I am going to be a millionaire so I don't need to learn."  "Sam-what does being a millionaire have to do with cleaning the bathroom?" "I'll have a mansion with lots of bathrooms."  "'ll just use a new bathroom instead of cleaning your dirty one?"  "Yes." .."Well..that's just..well..o.k.'s going to take you a bit before you earn your first will probably start out with an apartment..right?" "maybe." " you think you might want to have friends over? Maybe a date?" "Yes."  "Well..then you want to have a clean bathroom if you do..o.k.??"  *sigh* We were now twenty minutes into this "adventure"..I was losing my audience...if I was ever going to teach them this-I needed to act fast...So, with the all vigor of Julia Child stuffing a goose..I proceeded to clean the toilet..

 "First" I said in a nasal and high pitched British accent.." you take the toilet brush and Swish it around the rim! Then we POP the brush into the bowl! Scrub scrub scrub! Oh we love a good scrub! Then we flush twice for good measure...taking care NOT to let go of the brush!" ...Then we take the disinfectant wipe and sweep it around the seat! Swish!..."  "Mama?  Why are you talking that way?" "Because it's fun...aren't you having fun?" She just rolled her eyes...(What is it with the eye rolling anyway?  I swear that girls between the ages of seven and nine over-develop a muscle in the eye area...which results in massive eye rolling-mostly towards their mothers.I know that I am not the only one who has noticed this phenomenon!) "You guys aren't having fun?"..they were all just looking at me...(if I were the paranoid sort-I would think that it was with pity) "You guys aren't having a good time?"..."Uhh..Mama?  could we just finish this up..I kind of want a snack." "Yeah...I'm hungry."  "Well...alright" I said mournfully...I had been having such a good time.."I just hope that you guys were paying attention....because you will be doing this on your own next week."   "Why??"...*sigh* "Because one day you will be living on your own and.."  "But we want to live with you forever.." Just before I could reiterate the importance of a clean bathroom, Sam jumped in and said.."Come on guys! We are learning this so we can help Mama out!"..I was so proud of him until he said...."She's old..and could use our help."

  Oh my Sam.  This week, he turns fourteen. He is at that age where he thinks he knows it all..believes he is older than he is. It is an age of possibility..where he sees his future spread out before him..and he is chomping at the bit to get to it.  He is such a good kid-his heart is in the right place...although subtlety is so not his forte. He really does care about helping me out-although the logic behind it may be a bit skewed.( To him, twenty is old and thirty-ancient...) I look forward to seeing him as an adult...whether or not he makes those millions. I hope that his journey is smooth and that all his dreams are possible.  Happy birthday my wonderful son. May your life be joyful and your bathroom always clean.  This week also marks mine and Omar's nineteenth wedding anniversary.  (Sam was born on our fifth.)   There aren't adequate words to describe what Omar is to, I went all mushy romantic and picked a song that says it best.(at way bottom of post) I hope you give it a listen..

  So, it is a week of celebrations for us.  I'm hoping that a clean bathroom is part of it.  I know that they are cleaning it today-on their own.  I'm not sure what to expect when they are done...But I swear, I faintly heard one of them say (with a distinctly British accent.) Swish !


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Maybe it takes a small town....

~"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."~

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I live in a very small town(Population in 2010: 1,760) Very small-considering that I grew up near and later lived in N.Y.C.  Funny thing is-I didn't really notice how small it was until long after we had lived here. When we moved here seven years ago, we had just started figuring out what Sam needed (services wise) Oscar(who had barely just started sleeping-for the first time in 4 years) had just been formally diagnosed, Lily was two (need I say more) and I was pregnant with Zoe.  I guess I could say that our plate was overflowing. So, we did what any other family would do...we got two more dogs...and a cat.

  Our lives were pretty full..There we were trying to catch up from years of sleep deprivation...renovating our crumbly home..we had doctors birth!..and a lot many dogs.....The life in front of me...surrounding me..sometimes overwhelming me...was so tremendously tremendous  that I didn't have time to look past the walls of my house. Forget about  the internet..I might check my email every few days..but I had no idea what Facebook was..I even had to look up the definition of "blog" when I first heard it .I admit it.  I was naive-an internet virgin..

  Little did I know how one innocent foray..a tiny peek if you will, into the world of advertising would sink it's talons so deeply into my innocent internet free brain..Oh it started innocently enough...I'd check my email...and my eye would happen to glance over to the side bar where "See how this mom lost thirty pounds of belly fat using one simple trick!" ..would be prominently displayed. I admit it...I had to know!  HAD TOO. From that one click..that one innocent instance of curiosity...I was sucked into the vortex of online social networking.  There were comments which led to blogs  which led to forums  and groups and tweets! I was enthralled! I made friends in the autism community...My small insulated view of four walls had exploded into a world of advocacy and awareness. I met so many different people-a few of them were autistic adults..something I had never thought about because I was mired in the world of raising my kids.( They actually do grow up-a thought that I must admit  has kept me going on more than one occasion. More than two even..).

  For the first time in a long time-I felt a part of something-and it was lovely. I had people to talk to..discuss or even argue things with-it didn't was a lifeline for me.  For that I am thankful.  It was because of these discussions and arguments (and a little bit of Oprah) that I started blogging. I wanted a place to tell our story-a place that any parent regardless of whether or not their child was on the spectrum could come and maybe see that we really aren't all that different.  A parent is a parent..right? I mean, the words Mother and Father and Parent don't need any embellishments.  They are powerful enough-strong enough-honorable enough to stand on their own.  Aren't they?  At least I have always (and still do) thought so.The same goes for the word "family"...and "child"... 

  A little over a year ago-I decided to step away from regularly blogging. I went from posting once a week to about once a month.  One of my reasons was that my kids are indeed growing up.  They are doing more..venturing.. separating from me and each other. I know-it is what they are supposed to do...doesn't mean it's easy to watch. It's actually more bittersweet than anything else. But-I wanted to savor this time with them while I can.  They really do grow up too fast. (most days) 

  This past year we got involved outside of our house.  We had basketball and girl dates..and field trips. If I want my kids to be part of the world-I have to put them in it. Regardless of whether or not I feel like getting dressed and driving. I realized that I had to stop doing everything for it was time to start prodding them to do more things for themselves. It hasn't all been easy.  In some ways they thrive on having the extra responsibility...but in others? 
Just the other day as I was insisting...demanding...putting my foot down...suggesting they all pitch in to clean up the house I was met with the usual.."But I'm watching a show...I'm on the is boring!" Oscar, said nothing...he just quietly went upstairs-I figured it was to clean his room..Oh-I was so proud of him!...To go without complaining!!...I thought "Wow-he's really growing up-taking responsibility..seeing that getting the job done straight away is easier than complaining.." I got the other kids moving and went upstairs to compliment him on his wonderful work ethic...only.....he wasn't in his room..he wasn't in my room or his sisters room...Oscar, it seems-had disappeared!!  Where was he?  Where was my hard working industrious boy?!  And then... I heard a noise..faintly at first (the vacuum was on)..but steadily growing in volume as I approached the bathroom....  Coming loud and clear from the other side of the  door came a plaintive..and heartfelt..So thoroughly mournful..I thought..the angels must be weeping... But was Oscar..lamenting on the horrific burden and subsequent pain that any eleven year old feels when asked to clean their room..
 "Woooork sucks...woooork sucks
    I hate is lame
   I only like work when other people do it
   because then I don't have tooooo
   because wooooork sucks.." 

Oh the humanity!  The only things missing were a harmonica and guitar.. and he'd have  had a Blues rendition worthy of Muddy Waters  ...

"Oscar!  WHAT are you doing?!"
"Hiding is not cleaning."
"I don't want to clean"
"Well-neither do I...but it needs to be done-and if it doesn't get done, NO ONE will watch t.v. or play on the computer..and I won't let anyone else do your work for you."

So-you can see that I didn't have much time for writing..the kids are growing, they are doing more things-taking more responsibility..Add the fact that I may have a burgeoning blues career to manage..and you can see that the internet isn't one of my top places to be.. I also stepped away because I didn't like what I was seeing on the internet. There was way too much vitriol..and anger- one upmanship and top dogging. It stopped being about autism per say...and more about who was the expert, who was right-who was really raising awareness...and sadly-who suffered more. I came to realize that this wasn't the autism my kids experienced-that our family experienced.. nor was it how I experienced parenting.  I am not an "autism parent" or an "autism mom"..I don't raise autism-I raise kids..some of whom are on the spectrum.   Add the suggestions for joining "Senior People Meet" and friending Regis Philbin on Facebook, and I had had enough.  More than enough..I needed to find my community. 

(Please note-that there are still many wonderful blogs and websites online-I was just getting mired in the not so nice ones)

  So, I stepped out of the online world...out from behind the walls of my house..and started becoming more involved in the real world around me. What I found was really kind of nice.  It  seems that while I was busily typing away on the internet talking about awareness-my kids, just by being the wonderful people that they are-were busy raising it. Autism-to them, is an explanation.. Other than that-it really doesn't matter-it isn't something they talk much about.  In other words-they could care less. Because they are just too busy living their lives-being kids. Now, I am not in any way trying to say that it doesn't affect them..It most certainly does. Some of my kids more than others. interaction...these hurdles can be really challenging at times..But the thing of it matter what their difficulty...the majority of people in this small town of ours..have learned to understand it...accept it...and following my kids lead-take it in stride. My kids have been welcomed just about everywhere-because they are good people...and they are fun to be around.  

  We have traveled very far in the seven years that we have lived here. Our house is still a bit crumbly..there are still too many dogs...add the three cats and two chickens (sadly one was lost  to my least favorite dog) and you can see that our lives have remained pretty full to overwhelming...but, seven years later-(and not to late) I also realize( all credit to my kids) that we are surrounded by roughly 1,760  aware, accepting and inclusive neighbors.  If four kids can can raise awareness in a small town-imagine what they and a small town can do in the world.

  So, it has been almost four years since I started blogging. I still have not learned the trick to losing thirty pounds of belly fat- nor the secret to erasing wrinkles that has dermatologists everywhere angry..I have not friended Regis Philbin..and I am definitely not joining "Senior People meet".  I figure though that I'll keep on blogging at least sporadically until I run out of things to say.  We are also thinking about getting a goat. I'll let you know how that turns out.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I will NOT go gently into that dark unfinished bathroom...

~"Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about."~ Oscar Wilde

 As I was raking out the chicken coop this morning, I thought about about how having pets teaches kids responsibility..Then, I went into the house, cleaned out the litter box, fed the kittens, gave them water, walked the dogs...fed them...and then went back outside to feed the stray cat..who has taken up residence behind the chicken coop. The chickens don't I don't either..Then I went back into the house to start the days round of laundry..I looked at the area where my laundry room is SUPPOSED to be and..Well, did you ever have one of those moments-when your brain just screams "ENOUGH!"..I usually have a couple of them a day..I tend to ignore them-mostly because I am highly distractable...but this time? This time was different.  Sure, my kids failed that day in the pet care dept. Most of the time they are wonderful...sometimes they too just get distracted...and sometimes I get tired of reminding them..sometimes it is easier to just do it myself. They are kids, I am a mom-it is the dance that we do. As long as I lead..things will be fine.

  A few months ago, I longed for a space of my own.  I just wanted to be able to take a few minutes out of my day where I could just sit and..stare..drink coffee...collect myself. Soooo....with a couple of very handy friends(That we were paying!)-we started work on a downstairs bathroom(with a deep soaking tub) slash laundry room. I know-it doesn't sound glamorous...but it was going to be MINE. My domain..a place for me. Oh how I imagined slipping into a deep tub of fragrant bubbles while the spin cycle gently spins it's soothing siren song almost as if it is saying "Relax Kathleen...reeeeeellllaaaaxxx...let go...breathe...I will clean all your clothes for you..." O.K., maybe I'm getting a little carried away here. I doubt that I would have ever done that..I'm just not a "soaking in the tub" kind of girl. No, what usually happens is that I "plan" to take a nice long soak. I fill the tub..grab a book and some coffee..get in...and then promptly think "What now?" As I get out of the tub.   I am just no good at relaxing. But..BUT-the thought of being able to do so made me heady with anticipation! The thought alone counts for something-doesn't it?.

This is what the construction
looked like in May.
This is what it looks like
in August

As you can see here, construction has come to a halt. Not only has it come to a "Friends"-you know the guys that I was paying to help us?  They have disappeared off the face of the earth. isn't quite true..Here, I'll share a text message I sent one of them...maybe it will help you to understand...

"Dear ****, Both Omar and myself know you are going through an awful time of it.  For that we are really so very sorry.  Wish there was something we could do to help. That being said, you guys do amazing work.  Really it is so beautiful and well designed-we couldn't be happier with what you all have done.  The problem is..well since May, it seems that the both of you have been under a black cloud.  Your truck has broken down, your work had more demands **** had a relationship end, you pulled your back out, you have your own relationship problems..Oh the list goes on..I have nothing but empathy for you guys.  The thing of it is..I can't live with my house this way anymore. I can't live with thinking maybe you will be here maybe you won't.  We started this project in March-August makes six months.  So what are we gonna do?  Should we just pay you for what you have done and get someone else in to finish? I know your life is crazy right now.  But you need to understand our position too," 

I didn't write every reason that they gave since May for not showing up...But lets just say if they had mentioned locusts and plagues, I would not have been surprised. Sadly, I did not receive a response to this text..nothing. Nada. So, me being me...wrote another one

.  "****, just wondering if you could take two seconds to respond to my last text? If you are done here, please do me the courtesy of being direct and honest and telling me.  I have treated both you and **** with nothing but respect.  I don't think that it is too much to ask that you treat me in the same way." 

  I did not get a response to that one either. Again, being who I am..I decided to see what I could find out. Was he sick, in the hospital? Did he lose his phone? I mean, these guys were part of our lives for a very long time.  I baked for them!  They got my kids off the bus on the day of my surgery!  I just didn't think that a friend COULD treat me this way. To not respond?  To not even say "Hey my life is crap right now-please understand?" Something HAD to be wrong. It didn't make sense. And then I saw...He's just been too busy! I mean, it takes time to post that you listened to 120 songs( all about heartbreak) via spotify on Facebook! Oh and the post about how a" hangover is gods worst invention"!  I think of the hours to come up with such a pithy comment! Far be it from me to mess with someones creativity. Especially by asking them to give me a simple response. How dare I?  

  So here we are about to start a new school year..and the bathroom isn't yet done.  I could live with that...if it weren't for all the other things going on.  Oscar is going to transition over to the middle school this year-a change that has him very anxious and worried.  We found out this week, that the head of special Ed. at his school has left for another position. Understand, I in no way blame her for leaving...just as I wouldn't be surprised if other spec. ed. teachers left. Kind of like rats off of a sinking ship..only they aren't rats...they are wonderful dedicated people.  But, the way that our district views disability (unrealistically) and the changes (budget cuts) that they have makes it impossible to do their jobs the way that they want to. It makes it impossible for our kids to excel in the ways that they can. Then when the test scores come in..and they find the spec. ed. kids lacking..they will blame the spec. ed. teachers whose budgets they have cut to nothing.  It is a viscous circle-and the children will bear the brunt of it.

  It makes me wonder sometimes...I am teaching my kids to be responsible, well mannered, critical thinking people. Sometimes, especially for my kids on the spectrum-it is hard. Yet they persevere..they go out every day and face each challenge with dignity, grace..and a positive outlook. They are not quitters. Then I look at some of the "adults" around them. I wonder why my kids have to work so hard at these skills..and why we live in a world that is so insistent that they have them..when so many people-who don't have even a quarter of the challenges my kids face daily...get away with being irresponsible. It makes no sense.

   I guess that we will just get through this year the best that we can.... That we find someone to help finish up my unfinished bathroom...that we can sell our house..and maybe find a school district that values my kids as much or as close to how much that I do. Until then I will tend my chickens..and kittens..and dogs..and kids...and laundry...and dream about calgon one day taking me away..

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stepping off into give them the world..

~ Children are a great comfort in your old age, and they help you reach it faster, too. ~ Lionel Kauffman 

 I ask my kids to do a lot of things. Some of them easy-(bring laundry upstairs, put plates in the dishwasher etc.) Some not so easy-(go to school, deal with all the noise, communicate)  They all try very hard to do these things...well...maybe not so much with the laundry..or the dishes..but the other stuff? They really work at them-not because they particularly want to-or even see the necessity of doing them. They do them because I ask them too. From the time that they were born-I have been pushing them forward...I am a parent-that's my job.  Autism really doesn't have anything to do with it.  Sure, it changes how we do things-makes certain things a priority. But-it doesn't make my job that much harder-it just makes it different.As I have said before-my kids(three of them) have always been autistic-I don't know how to parent any other way. All four of them are happy and healthy. So, I must be doing something right.   The thing of it is-I don't ask my kids to do anything that I myself wouldn't do. Although, I can't really say the same about them. Which is why I found myself clinging desperately to a large pole forty feet from the ground.


"What's up Oscar?"

"Look at the bungee jumper" (he was watching something on Youtube..

"That looks scary."

"I want to bungee jump"


"Why not?"

"What if the cord broke?..What if you slipped out of the loop on your leg? You would fall...really far!"

"I want to bungee jump!"

"O.K.  You can bungee jump when you are eighteen..just promise me that you won't tell me about it until after you do it..O.K???"

"O.K....bungee...I want to bungee jump.."

  A few weeks later, Zoe asked....

"I want to fly."

" day we can all take a trip on an airplane.."

"No! I want to really fly!"

"I can't really help you don't have wings."( This by the way has NOT stopped her from trying. I have caught her jumping off the top of the couch, various chairs and tables..and once, grabbed her from jumping off the railing of the deck...all causing me to age quite rapidly)

"I could jump out of a plane!"

"Not while I'm alive."

"But I want to!"

"O.K...when you are eighteen you can sky dive-only promise me that you won't tell me until after you do it O.K."

  I thought that I was safe. That I had a few years to not think about it...that maybe, with maturity, they would  SEE that doing those particular things could be hazardous to their life. *sigh* I know..I know..I shouldn't discourage them from trying new things...especially by listing all the ways that those "things" could kill them.  I guess something just happens to you when you become a parent. Your kids mortality..mortality in general!  It becomes of the utmost importance.  I know that I didn't think that way before kids. Some of the things that I did (and survived) as a teenager-*shiver* the memories alone can sometimes keep me from a restful sleep. But that is a post that is NEVER going to be written!  So, there I was..thinking all was right in our world, when Oscar said...

"Hey Mama!"

"What's up Oscar?"

"I want to zip line!"

"You do?"


  Now the problem here was that Omar had gone zip lining as part of a corporate event....AND he told us all about it. So, I really had no way to..well...say "No."  Besides, when Omar did it-it was between two mountains and over a forest.  There is nothing like that here. What we do have is a rope climbing/platform zip lining place. That didn't sound too bad. So, I figured that if Oscar wanted to do this-we would all just go for it. (I am a huge believer in family adventures/trips)  One thing that you need to understand about us is that with the exception of Zoe (who will jump off of anything) we are all terribly afraid of heights. But, as Omar did this (over a much higher course) and lived to talk about it..I thought "Piece of cake! What could go wrong?" Remember that large pole that I mentioned in the first paragraph? We became quite intimate.

There I was standing forty feet up(clinging to the pole-really, if I could have melted into it I would have)..trying to look anywhere but down.  The only thing holding me was a rope attached to the zip line. The attendant looked at me and said "Just step off of the platform." My brain was saying "are you out of your freaking mind?"  Omar was yelling words of encouragement..or at least I think he was..I was in panic mode. At the same time, I didn't want my kids to know that I was freaking out(especially Sam who was going on the zip line next to I was answering Omar in a really loud and extra jovial voice.."SURE! O.K.! YUP!!...honestly, he could have been saying "The car is on fire!" or "Your pants have fallen down!" wouldn't have made a difference. My ears just heard "blah blah blah-because the pounding of my heart was so loud.   I knew that I HAD to do this. I had to show my lead the be fearless. So..I did what my brain pleaded with me not to do. I let go of the pole and stepped off the platform into....nothing....and it was AMAZING! Liberating! Joyful! I loved it. I couldn't wait to do it again... couldn't wait for the others to go. That is when we ran into problems.

  As a parent, there are those special times when we are powerless to help our kids..I don't have them often, but when I do...Well,I refer to them as "Oh S**t" moments.That day, I had one of "those" moments-as I was standing on the ground forty feet below, Oscar and Lily were having simultaneous panic attacks forty feet above.

  Thankfully-the staff there are very well trained..and they were able to get them off of the platform to the relative safety of the waiting area. In fact-they did this many times that afternoon as both Lily and Oscar kept trying to overcome their fear...they never did.  Zoe in the meantime ran the course about twenty times while all this was going on. I'm hoping that this will keep her off of the furniture from now on...or at least discourage her from thinking about sky diving (while I am still alive) .

The pole to the far left became my very good friend

On the way home, I told all of my kids how very proud I was of them. Lily said "But I didn't do anything!!" Oscar said "It was too high!" (I didn't mention bungee jumping)  I told them that I was proud of them for trying. That I could never ask them for more than that. (with the exception of laundry and cleaning up after themselves-"trying" doesn't work there)  I also told them that not going on the zip line was no big deal...that their lives weren't any better or worse for not doing it. That the important thing was the "trying" of it. "How can you know whether or not you like something if you don't at least try?"( That last part was aimed at getting them to taste new foods-again, a post for another day)

  Since then, there haven't been any more requests to do anything life threatening. Although Sam HAS mentioned getting his license in three years. (EEK!) Both Lily and Oscar have asked to try zip lining again. I have no problem with that.  Whether they wind up staying in the holding area-or actually do the course. They are setting a goal and it is my job to help them achieve it...just as it is my job to help them if they don't. Besides, I wouldn't mind having a go at it again...there is a pole there that I have gotten to know quite well...

Friday, August 3, 2012

From blogging to television...

There will be a new post up in the next few days...But-until then, I wanted to let everyone know what I have been up to. This is cross posted from my(and Kim Wombles) other blog.

Kim and I wanted to share some very exciting news with you all.  There is a new television network coming to town! "The Autism channel"...a network devoted to all things autism will be making its debut in late August.  The channel will offer a wide variety of shows dealing with things like early diagnosis, different therapies, legal rights, and research just to name a few. Of course a show very near and dear to my heart (as well as Kim's) will be "The Blogger Ladies" featuring none other than myself and Kim!  On it we will be discussing various topics and some of the blogs (from the directory- naturally) that discuss them. We are very excited to be a part of this wonderful project-and look forward to discussing your blogs.  Stay tuned for more information-as we will post it as it comes in.  To all of you who answered my post "Calling all bloggers!" you know the project we were working on! Thanks so much for sending your links..please keep them coming!--Kathleen

Make sure to check out the demo video and finally see Kathleen revealed! :) We're so excited by this project and the chance to share with a wider audience all you wonderful bloggers and the insights and wisdom autistic bloggers, professionals, and parents have to offer to those in similar situations. --Kim

please go like this page on Facebook

And check out this nifty press release!

Friday, July 13, 2012

This mutter abhors a vacuum...OR..These hips don't die..

~"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time"~
Stephen Wright

 It was at least 93 degrees in my hair was plastered to my head from the sweat that was pouring down (and slowly pooling to the bottom of the very cumbersome air cast I was imprisoned wearing) my body. I was in a mood...a tizzy if you will.  Why?..Well, it would seem that during my forced non weight bearing rest convalescence children, lovely beings that they are..kind of ran amokdestroyed got a little out of control with their toys, games, books,little pieces of paper, clothes, and sharp pointy objects in our house.  They were everywhere.. although mostly on the floor where my poor recovering foot was bound to step on them. (especially the sharp pointy objects)  I was hot, I was tired..I may even have been a little bit cranky.

"WHAT HAPPENED DOWN HERE??!! IT LOOKS LIKE A BOMB EXPLODED! YOU ALL NEED TO STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND CLEAN UP!! I AM NOT Going to clean this up!! I want everything picked up off of the floor..and either put away where it belongs or I am going to THROW IT OUT!!  Yes-I used the old "going to throw it out "strategy.  I don't use it often-but when I do, they know that I mean business...and generally hop to it...And hop to it they did....all of them...with the exception of Oscar. He remained sitting in front of the computer.  "OSCAR!!...why aren't you helping?"  "I'm lazy."..."LAZY??!!" .."Yeah.."  "OH..I think NOT!! You will get your butt off of that chair and help your brothers and sisters NOW!!!" (imagine that said in the voice of Satan...or James Earl Jones)  I think that my eyes had turned red...and I had sprouted fangs..because, with a look of terror, he shot up out of that chair and into action.

  My house became a hive of activity..a frenzy of frightened children industriously working to save their beloved toys..tiny bits of paper and sharp pointy things..It was beautiful for the three minutes that it lasted.
"Mama..can I vacuum?" "No! I want to!" "You got to last time!" "It's my turn!"  *growl* "You can ALL take a turn." "I want to go first!" "NO ME!" .."I don't care who goes first! You figure it out! Just DO IT!!"(I believe that at this point, flames were shooting out of my nostrils -again, imagine the voice of Satan or James)  I had to walk away before I said something I would later regret-something I would not be able to take back..So,I hobbled away muttering about vacuums and irony..Not too long ago,  I could not vacuum when some of the kids were home. Noise is a sensory issue-and they did not like it.Not one bit. They would scream, cover their ears...hide.  They just could not handle the sound. I did a lot of stealth vacuuming back then. Now, for whatever reason(I don't know) they all ADORE the vacuum. They fight over it, stand on it..drag it around...lose all the attachments. Vacuuming to them-is a real treat.  The problem is-they suck more than the vacuum does. No, really...the way that they vacuum could be studied by scientists...researched in laboratories. If you were to give any of my children a vacuum and a hair and paper covered rug..they would all proceed to vacuum only a two foot strip of carpet.  No more no less..AND if they are taking turns with vacuum duty-they will each only vacuum the same exact two foot section. Not only that! Afterwards..*sigh* afterwards,they will all stand around and congratulate themselves on a job well done.

  Now on this particular day, as I was chipping jelly off of the bathroom sink (don't ask) hopping around in a sweat soaked cast- muttering to myself(all sorts of things-but mostly "stupid *&%* cast") I happened to hear them  They had just completed vacuuming and were in the "pat themselves on the back for a job well done" stage.
  "Boy that was hard work" (hard work?! are you freaking kidding me-I muttered)
 "Phew, I'm really tired out."
 "I'm pooped!"
 "I'm really thirsty after all that." (ALL WHAT? I muttered...)
 "Yeah, I could use a drink."
 "Lets all get something to drink and sit down."
 So-as they served themselves nice cold drinks...I continued to mutter..and grumble..and sweat...,",stupid &*#@$# cast"..".two feet of carpet"..."get off of my lawn! " Well...maybe not the lawn thing..But, I was so hot and tired-I might as well have been that old lady yelling at the kids in her neighborhood. There I was, working myself up into a terrific frenzy of sweat and muttering,,,when they came into the bathroom.
."Here Mama, we thought you could use this."   (They had brought me a cup of warm tap water.)
 "Why don't you sit down, you have been working too hard."
Now I suppose this is the part where I am supposed to say that it was the best drink I ever had. That we all hugged and realized the importance of family..Not so much..C'mon! It was warm tap water!!..But it did make me stop for a minute...cease my muttering...calm myself down. I did appreciate it!  Which I suppose was the point of their offering.  The house got cleaned(and has mostly stayed that way-although my feet still find pointy objects here and there)..the cast came off..things are alright. Sometimes I forget how things like me wearing a cast affect them. I'm the mom-to them I am infallible(at least till the girls are teenagers)..if I am sick or off of my feet-it rocks their world.  It's something I need to work on...But in the mean time..

I posted this picture on Facebook. It was my way of saying "Look-I'm doing great! The cast is off! YAY!"
We had a great time.  I had always wanted a slip and slide as a kid-so I got one as an adult..and it was as fun as I had imagined. Great right?  Well-I certainly did NOT expect the public scolding I received!  So many people saying "You don't want to wind up in a cast again!" or "Should you be doing that?" The worst was..."At your age(I'm 48), it's easy to break a have to watch out for arms, ankles and hips."  HIPS?????  Holy crap!  

You know, I spent from my mid thirties to my mid forties either having children-or potty training them...and all the necessary things in between. I absolutely refuse to go from fertile to decrepit in 13 years! REFUSE.  Funny-no one seems to be concerned that I might "break a hip" cleaning the house!  Good lord!  Besides, if I start worrying about my hips...then they will worry about my hips...and then they will worry about their own hips..and before you know it we will sound like a support group for the 80+ set...

  My kids are finally at an age where they can ALL participate...whether it be vacuuming or playing on a slip and slide.  It's my job to push them into the world.. Some of my kids have a hard time with that. They are afraid to try new step out of where they are comfortable. How can I ask them to do something-if I don't set an example? I am trying to teach them to navigate a very confusing world...from how to handle money-to doing there own laundry. So, if I should happen to throw in some fun things-that is just icing on the cake.

  On Monday, we are going zip lining. If I should (heavens forbid!) happen to break a be it.  At least I am assured that there will be two feet of carpet I can rest pointy things be damned!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Full circle-steam ahead...

~"Deep in my heart
Save from the guards
Of intellect and reason
Leaving me at a loss
For words to express my feelings"~ Tracy Chapman

It started with a potato chip..Well, actually it started a little before that..Almost a year ago, I decided to take a semi break from blogging.  Some of the herd are getting older..they are starting to find their individual feet...go their own way. Although these are all really good things..wonderful things even....there was a part of me that was mourning...and conflicted.   With one hand I am pushing them the same time..I was clinging desperately hanging on with the other. I needed to take some time...figure things out.*sigh*.learn to let go.

 And then this happened. A silly accident that caused me to be on crutches for much of the summer....leaving me at the mercy in the care of four children. Without any way of escaping!! There I was stuck on the couch-there was no place to run (if I could)...nowhere to hide..unable to even get myself a cup of coffee. Subjected to seemingly endless hours of strange television..and YouTube videos...and children..four wonderfully "helpful" children who made me their purpose in life....when it was convenient..and it didn't interrupt with their television and computer time. They did however learn valuable life skills such as..doing laundry and the reason we fold it straight from the dryer(because we don't like being told that we need to go ALL THE WAY upstairs to put something unwrinkled on), that it was a good idea to clean up smeared peanut butter  immediately-because it took lots of work to clean it up after it hardened-not to mention the hours spent looking for a chisel to do so...and that leaving the front door open invited very large bugs into the house...bugs that their incapacitated mother could not kill entice to leave. As for me?  I learned that these kids of mine were much more capable than I had let them be.More willing and certainly more able. Letting go is so hard!  Still, I was ecstatic out of my mind with joy very happy when the school bus pulled up to our front door late in August.

  I was really apprehensive about this school year-especially for my Oscar.(photo of Oscar at about 18 months)  Much (not all) of fourth grade had been a wash...Oscar wasn't really pushed all that hard..(for the most part) I think that it gave him the message that his participation was not really necessary..So-my boy-being who he is-ran with it. He was sort of content to block out the live in his computer worlds of Mario, Skippy Jon Jones and all things sponge-bob.  But at the same, time more and more-the world off  screen calls to him. He just hasn't been too sure of exactly how to answer it-or , if he even really wants to. Oscar has had some pretty amazing people in his school life.  People who have worked very hard to help him. In some cases going above and beyond what was dictated by his IEP.   But..this year..this year he needed more.  This was a transition year-his last year of elementary school. It meant that Oscar-my boy who hates change..was going to have to get ready to leave the only place he has known for seven years. All of us a chez herd were feeling the strain long before he got on the school bus last August.

  Seven years ago, Oscar started school kicking and screaming.  Well, actually more screaming than anything. I don't think that there was a week where I wasn't called in to help calm him down.  Or at least it felt that way. From the time school started each day-till the time he got off the was anyone's guess as to what would happen. Would he be happy? Stressed? Overwhelmed?  There really were no indicators as to how it was going to go. I lived my life in a state of constant alert.  I was so afraid..afraid that he would hurt himself..or someone else.  Afraid that he might be asked to leave school..afraid that he couldn't do it.  That my belief that he COULD participate-was based solely on my own need for him to do so. It was a terribly scary and lonely time for me.  I could not think of anything other than putting one foot in front of the other-of getting Oscar through one day, one moment at a time...and slowly (sometimes VERY slowly) things got better..What a difference seven years makes.

  As I said before, He has had some pretty wonderful people around him.  From his speech therapist(who is amazing) and his case his different aids. Everyone has played a part.  It hasn't been an easy ride-there have certainly been glitches..but we have all muddled through... learned as we went.  This past year though..has been different. This was a transition year.  Oscar needed more-and even though I didn't realize it...I needed more.  Oh how I worried-*sigh*.

  What a waste of time that was. (hey, hind site is 20/20!) The people around him..well, I could not have asked for more-they gave everything and then some...From Ms. H who not only insisted he be a vital participant in her class-and especially for giving him moments where he could shine(having him teach the class about sound waves comes to mind!)...and Mrs. H..who refused to let him quit(and I know he tried...and tried)-who woke up his love for science..who allowed him to be himself and loved him for it. Through you-he learned that his words had substance and meaning...that even though they might be different- they counted..more importantly-that HE counted. And I can't forget to mention Mr. G. who oversaw it all...He may have (from time to time) used "sensitive guy" words like "explore" and "feelings"..but he ALWAYS made sure that I was kept informed and ALWAYS supplied me with chocolate at our monthly meetings-not only was he Oscar's support system-but he was mine as well.. ..All of them will be horribly missed next year.  Although I am not quite sure who will miss them more.  Oscar

  So, last Tuesday, in a small ceremony, the boy who entered the school kicking and screaming, quietly walked out with his fifth grade certificate. I don't know what the next year holds for him. At the moment,  Oscar.. well...he doesn't seem all too concerned.  I on the other hand will Probably spend most of the summer worrying..

Oscar lounging after  his ceremony. 

     Hey! I'm a mother-it is my job to worry...and sometimes it seems to be what I do best.  Besides, it isn't as if I have anything better to do..well, besides try to hide from my overly "helpful" children. Yup-just like last summer..I am once again stuck in a cast.  This time recovering from the surgery to fix the foot that didn't heal last summer. *SIGH*
History sometimes has a strange way of repeating itself.  I just hope that this year it doesn't include peanut butter, chisels or giant bugs....

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A padded room of ones own..

~"If you do not tell the truth about yourself you can not tell it about other people"~ Virginia Woolf

  I was talking to my brother on the phone the other night...when he suggested that I was having a "sort of mid-life crisis". A mid life crisis. Me. Now, I have been accused of many things-called many names.  Most of them good...some of them...well, as this is a family blog-I won't print them here. But a mid life crisis?! Firstly, I am a little bit passed the mid life cutting off point.(48th birthday last week)  Even the spam in my mailbox agrees!- From invites to join AARP to free issues of "As We Change"  they mark me as nearer to my expiration date than somewhere closer I gleefully pointed this out to my he is 14 years my SENIOR.  This did  not make him happy (although it gave me much joy) nor did it change his opinion of me. Which is solely based on one recent acquisition.  Chickens. Yes, I am now the proud owner of three chickens.

 Since we moved into this area almost 7 years ago-it has been one of my husbands strongest desires to have chickens.  If we passed any house that had them-and there are many- he would sigh and say "They're allowed to have chickens...everyone is allowed to have chickens but me..."  I could have conceded. Much like I did with our THREE dogs, our big screen t.v. and various other things I have become primary caretaker of. But not this time...You see, Omar didn't want them as pets...he wanted them to eat! "We are not going to eat our pets!" I would exclaim. "Then don't name them." he'd reply. "I can't have chickens living in my yard and not name them!"..."Well, name one of them...we won't eat that one." On and on it went...for years...until finally-I came up with a plan. Quite a good plan if I say so myself. 

  His birthday was two weeks ago-He has had a few rough patches this, I wanted to do something extra special for him. I decided that I would get him his longed for chickens...only, on my terms. I bought a coop and set up a penned in area in our yard. Then, I brought home the three ADORABLE baby chicks...and showed them to the kids. Now, my kids very excited! "Oh Mama! they are so sweet!" "Look at how cute they are!"..."What are you going to name them?".."Well.." I said, "I promised Papa that if we ever got chickens- I would only name one of them." "That means we get to name the other two!!!"..."Well...if you insist."

  The kids met Omar at the door that evening..."Happy birthday Papa! come see your surprise!" As he looked upon the chicks with joy and (sadly) a little bit of....hunger..he said "Hmmm..I think I'll call them "K,F and C."  The kids-not knowing what he meant yelled"But we already named them Papa!" I said "Don't look at me-I only named one." and then I added..."How do you like your new PETS?"  He just laughed and said "I guess we'll be eating a lot of omelets." I guess so too.

  So, I don't see how or even why my brother would call this a  mid-life crisis. In just a few short weeks, our chicks have added so much to our household. (besides poop) They are very social-and that can be calming. If any of us has had a rough day...we just go sit with our fuzzy girls...they just make us feel good..  After this past month, I need all the "good" I can get.

  We just went through "re-evaluation" for Oscar..On the day before my birthday, we went in to hear the results of his testing. Is it just me-or does hearing results like this feel like a part of "Festivus" you know-the "airing of the grievances"? Understand, I in no way look at my son as less because of what he can not do..but in situations like feels as though that is ALL the focus is on. It is hard...and a little bit sad. Not because of what he can't do-but because there is no emphasis on what he CAN do. I feel like he isn't being seen as the whole person that he is. I know that they(evals.) serve a purpose-doesn't mean I have to like how they are done.  My day only went downhill from there.  Tht afternoon, there was a meeting at our school for parents of spec. ed. kids.  Sadly, not enough of us showed up...even sadder? Some of the things that were said. For instance-one person asked why their child did not get homework.  They felt that their child needed to learn that sometimes we all had to do things that we didn't like-because that is how it is in the real world. (meaning when they were employed) The answer she received...well...did you ever have one of those moments where you are just holding yourself together-because you know if you open your mouth...not nice things are going to come out? That was me when I heard "Our kids only do/get jobs that they like. We don't have to worry that they won't want to do the work." WHAT?????  And when I queried as to why we could not discuss autism..i.e. Oscar being the elephant in the room etc. That if a child came in wearing a cast, no one would hesitate to ask them what happened..I was told something along the lines of "Not everyone is as open and accepting about their kids as you are." As if this were a fault. Again, I held myself together...when I wanted to SCREAM "Then why don't we HELP them!! It would make their kids lives a hell of a lot easier..and theirs too!!!" I guess we'll just have to wait till our kids get those really great jobs to change things. Right....and disability isn't a four letter word.

  Thankfully, things have settled down a bit since then.  Oscar's IEP meeting SEEMS to have gone o.k.  Omar and I still have our worries...only time will tell. The kids are all healthy and happy...the chicks are thriving...and Mothers day is on Sunday.  This year I am going to ask for a little time by myself.  I gave up on asking for my own (bath)room years ago.  Although...a padded one might feel nice right about now. All soft and cozy...just me a cup of coffee and a really good book.  Perhaps even a chicken or three..Midlife crisis my backside!  More like old age wisdom..if you ask me...