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

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And check out this nifty press release!