So, I’m talking to my cat…

 

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I worry.

A lot.  I worry about everything.  My kids.  My family.  The new condo building going up down the street from the elementary school.  Politics.  Whether or not my children actually remember their manners when they are away from me.  (!!!)  Bless their hearts we try hard.  And sometimes I worry about myself.

I asked my cat to brush his teeth the other morning and I swear, I thought that was the end.  I was sure my mind was going.  You see, I am always trying new organizational techniques to try to find something that will help us get out the door, teach good habits and keep the children up with their chores, activities and homework.  Plus – we have 1 ASD child and one 5-year-old, just to mix it up good.  We’ve tried charts with stars, time outs (Who does this work for??  My children think its fun!), checklists and good ol’fashioned hollering.  I think I have found something that seems to work for me though (for now)…. I made the children little schedule sheets for morning, afternoon and bedtime.  They are all different according to responsibilities and age.  They change every week, so that the chores change and on days where the children have activities after school the times are more like “guidelines”.

Example:  

A’s Afternoon Schedule

4:00 PM Snack, Homework, Put away laundry,
Shower

6:00 PM Dinner

6:30 PM chore: Take Recycling Out

7:00 PM Freetime

They have to follow each sheet before any free time of any kind and I only give 1 reminder with a 10-minute time allowance to fix their chore, homework, etc.  If the timer goes off, they then choose one of two possible consequences for their infraction.  Now that I’m writing it out it sounds a  little complicated, but really its very simple and it has cut down on my shouting at the children to do every little thing.  The timer does most of the work.  It either goes off and the work is done.  Or it goes off and the child chooses their consequence.  (I don’t give a consequence if they’re working on it when the timer goes off.)  Anyway.  It was day 2 of our new chore/work system and was going pretty well and I was giving Mr. M a first reminder about brushing his teeth and I just couldn’t find him.  The children run all over the house in the morning like little chickens and I dunno, I looked and the first face that I saw at about the height where Mr. M would be was George, our cat, so I said, “Go brush your teeth!”.  George glared at me in disgust and curled up again on his chair in the kitchen.

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G was there!  It was odd.  He said, “I don’t think that’s something cats do honey”.  I thought well, that was it.  It was a nice run, but the marbles are ready to roll.  I’m a few colors short of a crayon box.  Since then, I’ve made up with George and we’ve discussed how I shouldn’t expect him to brush his teeth and he wanted to know if he could have more canned food.  I said no.  (Ok, maybe he didn’t say that – but he was thinking it.  I could tell.)  I’ve chalked my missing marbles up to a lack of coffee and not getting out of bed earlier.  A constant problem for me.  Oy vey.  I’ve even had my doctor tell me that my “disorganized brain” is due to being with several young children all day, every day and that over time, as they get older, my brain processes should return (hopefully) to normal.  There is actually a medical term for it, I can’t remember it at the moment.  (Ha!)  There really is though.  Its an inability to go completely from one thought to the next because of constant  and repetitive interruption.  I have actually gotten better, but obviously, re: my conversations with George the cat, not back to normal.  In the meantime, it helps to have an understanding pet.

Be Fierce.  Organize those children!  Holler at the babies less!  Talk to your pets!

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

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Grocery Ghosts

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Just when I think I get this anxiety thing all wrapped up neat with a bow it seems to come unraveled.  We’ve had a lot happen lately, both good and bad stressors and the effect that has had on my anxiety has just been monstrous.  I take my meds and then I feel …. hmmm… disconnected.  It’s as though I’m trying to have a panic attack, but its not working out well, but I wouldn’t call it being relaxed at all.  Its funny about anxiety… I was at my mom’s group this morning and I mentioned I was having trouble with shopping at large stores right now.  They are so overwhelming even when I’m alone.  The lights, the advertising, the noises!  I felt like I have been taking on my child’s over-stimulation issues.  Could it be catching?  Just kidding.  My quarry of moms, after chatting for a moment, suggested that its remembered stress.  Kind of like PTSD.  I have felt so very overwhelmed and stressed and emotionally unhinged in atmospheres like that for such an extended period of time that now when I go into similar settings my mind enters fight or flight mode!  I can’t remember what I need, if I have a list, I can’t seem to work out how to get to the items I need.  I always have to go to the restroom.  Its a bit ridiculous.  I can usually manage smaller grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, but not always.  Example:  The other day in Trader Joe’s I got to the cash register and then remembered about 5 things that I needed and I asked if I should come back and the cashier was super-nice and took pity on my obvious rush to exit the store as soon as possible and asked someone to finish my shopping for me.  I even got a lollipop.  :::headdesk::::  The whole experience is completely stressful.  Much of it is imagined.  Occasionally I even forget that I have this problem and I venture out into a random general grocery store like “whatever” because I’m a grown-a** woman, right?  I can shop!  Well…. sort of.  Then I get in the store and I begin to hyper-ventilate and I get “fogged in” where I can’t really hear conversations around me and I can’t focus and suddenly I am looking for an exit.  This is why I have been so excited about online shopping because I can avoid all of those stressors.  My friend mentioned today that I really should maybe work on that.  Shopping in stores I mean.  The way she so kindly put it was, “You’ve got a long way to go ahead of you, you’re going to have to be able to go into stores!”.  LOL!  My moms group is going to plan a shopping-therapy outing to our newest local grocery store, Mariano’s.  I’ll keep you posted.  Apparently I am not the only one overwhelmed by grocery stores.

#BeFierce  #getyergroceries  #AxeMyAnxiety

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

If you’re not mad as hell, you’re just not paying attention.

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This week has been very busy and rather anxiety ridden for me.  You see the thing about having a special needs child is that you really need an amazing support system.  The other thing about having a special needs child is that you don’t always have the time to engage that support system.  So, I am the special needs co-chair on the elementary school’s PTA.  There were only 2 other special needs parents who attended the first PTA meeting of the year, and one of those was the other special needs co-chair!  The thing is that its often much, much more difficult to leave a SN child with a sitter if they have to be somewhat trained, experienced, etc.  Even if you have a sitter that can handle them, it can often be a challenge to leave for a variety of other obstacles.  For example, M wanted the sitter to help him with his homework, not me.  My answer, “No”.  M, “But whyyyyy?”.  “Because she won’t know which parts of your homework to push you to do and which parts you need some guidance with.”  It can be so challenging to figure out when they are being stubborn with a self-care (hair washing) or homework job (reading directions) and  when they simply can’t do it, re:  tying shoes, drawing detailed pictures for math).  I digress.  So, at the first meeting of the week I spoke up to get other SN parents involved in our newly formed parent support group for the school.  The second meeting, regarding the curriculum for the year, was done by grade level and because M has an IEP (individualized education plan), some parts of the curriculum are a little different for him, but still.  I was the only parent who spoke up concerned about the math portion.  There are entire Facebook groups dedicated to how awful our math curriculum is here.  Its time consuming, strays off topic and is harshly skewed toward children with certain motor skill and reading abilities.  In addition to the old school word problems, which while not my forte’ are certainly relevant for applying what you know, the children are expected to write descriptions related to most math problems and draw what I consider to be large, detailed pictures to go along with it.  M is really good at math and up until this point he has done amazingly well with his “drill” sheets of addition, subtraction and multiplication.  His teachers even started using it as a confidence builder for his reading, which due to his ASD is not at grade level.  He does math first, to build his confidence, works on his reading, and as a reward, gets to to some more math.  Now it seems they are taking that away?  I am SO angry.  Spitting fire angry.  I feel like the curriculum is taking away the one subject that M can relax with and enjoy and stretch his mind instead of struggle, and they’re making it another obstacle for him to tackle.  Because he doesn’t have enough of those with pretty much the rest of his life.  /sarcasm.  So I brought this up at the school meeting and the other parents looked at me like I had grown a second head.  Really??  You’re ok with this??  Have you seen the homework they’re sending home??  Its ridiculous.  G says that most likely those parents had no idea what I was talking about because…. they just weren’t paying attention.  They may not have needed to.  If you have a neurotypical child who can handle multiple skills at once and integrated learning in that manner then it may have just been one of those moments where you thought, “Oh, wow, they sure taught that differently in MY day”.  When you have a ASD child who has difficulty accessing the education due to a skill imbalance, its a whole new ballgame.  I understand the school only has 1 curriculum, but how is M  supposed to learn like that.  If he is unable to use his math skills because the math is being  integrated with reading comprehension and oddly, fine motor skills with the drawing, and it is combined with a subject where he is performing at a grade level or two below the math, what comes out in the mix?  Has he then lost all quantifiable skill?  How is it possible to accurately assess that?  So I’m mad.  And I’m not sure what to do.  I did have some good conversations with the SpEd teachers (2 of them anyway) about why this is happening, but its not making me feel any better about it.  I’m looking at alternatives.  I’m not just letting this go.

Be Fierce.  #GetMad

Kelly

#IamAFierceMom

Hair Raising Issues

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If you don’t have enough to be anxious about, come see me!  I have anxiety to spare.  You know how relaxing it is to go to the hair salon?  Yeah, me neither.  I know many people enjoy indulgent salons and it makes them feel special and pampered.  I think I used to enjoy them too.  I’m not sure what happened but somewhere along the way salons lost their magic for me.  I sort of equate it to going to the dentist.  Recently I paid a visit to (believe it or not) my favorite salon.  Its a mod and trendy boutique downtown.  The walls are all glossy white and decorated with pristine white sculptures and paintings.  The floor and vaulted ceilings are a dark black-clay color.  There are white fluffy faux animal skins strewn about the sitting area and I’m (still) not sure whether I am supposed to walk on them or not.  Its a tough call.  When I arrived the salon was fairly empty so I scooted past the rugs to a clearly (literally) modern rounded chair and wondered how I was supposed to let anyone know I was there.  After flipping through one of the carefully placed magazines on the (clear) glass table, a fashionable young woman slowly made her way teetering in 5 inch heels from the “back room” to the sitting area to offer me a drink.  She looked like she was floating at first glance because 1) she was wearing a white flowy top and black skinny jeans, so she matched the walls and floor and 2) I didn’t have my glasses on.  I wonder if her outfit was intentional.  Maybe she is supposed to match the decor?  Afraid of putting anyone out further, and also because I was fairly certain she wouldn’t want to walk any more than necessary I just said, “water would be great”, and of course I proceeded to head towards the wrong stylist’s chair.  After some directional advice and placement of my purse on the wall purse hanger (Is it for purses?  What is it for?  I feel like my purse is for sale on that thing).  Next up I had 2 quick “hair reviews” to see what treatments I needed to have.  I’m biting my nails just reliving my experience from that day… and this was one of the more positive ones!  Do I have haircut phobia?  Or something similar?  Is that a thing?  In any case to make it worse, I have at this point discovered that I have arrived an hour and 45 minutes late for my appointment.  (At least I showed up this time, I had already canceled once.)  I was mortified and apologized profusely.  I did not go into detail with the teetering stylists that I have a phobia of haircuts and so was doing well to be there at all.  I did however spill my water and trip on the chair mat.  They were very kind and accommodating and said they would fit in what they could.  (At least to my face, who knows behind that “back room” door.  :::stress:::) Actually my tardiness had some rewards!  Due to time constraints, I would not be able to get my full double-process coloring + cut that I usually get, but only a single process + cut.  This was excellent news because it meant I would get to leave sooner.  Yippee!  I did manage to chatter about children and weather for the better part of an hour until thankfully it was time for me to leave.  That always causes me stress too – the chatter.  Some women I know are chatter experts.  I’m just not.  I do just fine with people that I am familiar with, but I have to feel comfortable.  I was not feeling comfortable.  When I went to the restroom the faucet was internally lit with a bright blue light and I could not figure out which designer towels I should use.   In any case, it was done.  I was done for how ever many weeks I could stand it until I would have to come in to get my grays covered again.  :::deep breath:::  I’m not saying this is in any way the salon’s fault – I can own my own ‘crazy’.  I got it.  I know it.  Maybe I should figure out how to use color in a box.  Have you done that?  Good/bad results?

Be Fierce.  #OwnYourCrazy

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

Shopping Shenanigans

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Oh groceries.  How I love thee!  So much excitement over a newly opened canister of coffee!  New yogurt flavors, new applesauce containers.  Yum!!  So much fluster over those flipping plastic bags that seem to procreate on their own…  O.o  “They have babies!”, my stepsister-in-law says.  They do accumulate.  I’ve tried several “styles” of shopping lately trying to solve various obstacles I’ve found myself up against.

For a while money was my biggest obstacle with groceries.  For a couple of years we were on such a slim budget that I created an excel sheet pricing grid and kept up with sales and pricing to the penny.  It was tedious!  Also weirdly fun in a way?  As a result, I still am able to tell you where the best prices on various items are within a few miles of my home.  It helped and amazingly, we got by.  ( I never did figure out how to do some of the awesome couponing I’ve heard about.  What’s it called?  Super-couponing?  Supreme couponing?  Something like that.)

Over time, our budget somewhat smoothed out and just in time, I hit a new obstacle, my anxiety disorder.  As mentioned in previous posts, due to “life” I was off of my anxiety medication for a period of time and eventually decided I didn’t need it anymore.  (I was mistaken.)  Very very gradually, my anxiety increased to the point where I would have occasional panic attacks while out shopping with my children in tow.  It was not fun.  I one time had to leave a shopping cart full at Target and dash out of the store (once the dizziness had passed and I was able to safely leave).  Thinking back, it probably wasn’t the best time for me to be driving home, but well, there I was.  So – for this issue it was medication that solved most of my problems and I began to find stores that for whatever reason, I felt more “comfortable” in.  I began to steer clear of traditional grocery stores, but instead would hit big box stores and bulk stores.

As my children got older, it became a little harder for me to put them ALL in the cart when I was shopping and around this same time we got a diagnosis for M and we began to learn what some of his triggers were for his difficult behavior.  Some of them are: buzzing and yellow overhead lights, echoing sounds from a  warehouse-type of building and the motion and low rumble of many conversations at one time.  I learned where I could and could not shop very easily.  There are probably 2 brands of grocery stores that I simply do not take M inside of because I think it is actually rather hurtful for him.  We just don’t go there.  There are also probably 2 stores that he can handle for a short few minutes that I can bring him, and my other two children of course, in and grab a few necessities when I need to.  Honestly, this wasn’t that big of a deal for me.  Some people like red apples, some like green – whatever floats your boat.  I feel lucky that I live in an area with a variety of groceries stores to choose from.  Truly, its helpful.  But then the growing started.

Oh the growth spurts.  My stars but my children can eat.  As many of you probably know of children they will eat you out of house and home while growing and then seemingly be not so peckish for a few days off and on until they start those mad growth spurts again.  My mother-in-law had been measuring the children for clothes that she makes them and while we were visiting over the summer, we compared some of the charts.  The boys had grown almost 3 inches taller in the span of 6 months and Miss S was not far behind.  Their arms were much longer (no wonder that new shirt I got Mr A lasted only a couple of weeks).  Their feet were bigger.  They were bigger!  I digress.  So, we were flying through our groceries and I was constantly trying to figure out how to fill the pantry while managing our schedule and over-stimulated and wiggly children in the store.  And then I re-discovered Peapod.

I used Peapod briefly a very long time ago when it first was offered in our area, but now, now I felt like I really needed the assistance with getting the food into the house.  As I mentioned, I previously was shopping at some bulk grocery stores and big box stores.  (Target is a favorite.) This was lovely, but then often, I wouldn’t actually be able to get the groceries out of the truck and into the house with any timely manner and sometimes because I just couldn’t lift it.  I began to bring in the perishables and then leave the rest for when I could manage it.  It was frustrating.  It was inconvenient.  I needed to fix this weirdness.  I began ordering Peapod again and oh the happiness of being able to just open the door and have my groceries come all the way into my kitchen was amazing.  I heart grocery delivery so much I got the “pod pass”.  Did you ever hear of such a thing?  You basically pay for all of your shipping for 6 months so then you have free (or discounted shipping) for your orders.  Amaze!!  (I know, I know, I’ve been watching too many Barbie cartoons with Miss S.)  Still.  There were a few things I could not get from Peapod.  Hmmm…. Amazon?  We’ve been Amazon prime members for a while now and I highly recommend it.  Especially for the holidays.  Ok, this sort of filled that gap, but there were still a few things missing…. And then…..Amazon Prime Now.

Crazy bananas.  You just download this little app on your phone and you can order a gillion (ok, not a gillion, but a lot) items to arrive to your house in 2 hours for FREE, if you’re an Amazon Prime member.  Yeah.  I’m going to let that sink in for a minute.  ::::::::::::::::

This will change my life.  Oh!  Oh!  And…. they will take away the silly plastic bags to have them recycled!  Woot!  Save the planet – check!

:::doing the happy dance::::  Silly shopping shenanigans….I got it down.

Be Fierce.  #saneshopper

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

Please Cancel My Subscription, I don’t Need Your Issues

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Hello all.

Oh the playground drama.  ::::deep breath:::: Heavens.  Just gives new meaning to the phrase “Bless Your Heart”. I have this fear that someone else’s playground drama is going to leech out and attach itself to me or my children and then I will be involved in the drama and it will follow me around and cause me nervousness and make me an anxiety-ridden deer-in-headlights.  Did I start in the middle again?  Do you know what “playground drama”is?  Playground drama:  When the values of 100+ families who pick their children up from school (on the playground) clash, causing adults to argue with other adults or children alike, eventually resulting in angry Facebook posts, calls to the school and telephone-like rumors involving wildly outrageous tales and fire-breathing dragons.  I avoid it when at all possible.

I am overly sensitive about getting into rows with other parents because of my special needs child.  Its so difficult to find out anything that actually happened when an incident occurs.  In my experience, most parents of typically developed children begin on the defensive unless they know me personally, instead of relaying facts.  This makes it incredibly difficult when you have a child who can’t actually tell you what happened to them from their point of view.   You can see why I would be a bit jumpy around the drama.

I recently saw someone else having drama which was in our friend-group and I have since started taking my children to the other playground just to avoid the possibility of drama-contagion.  It wasn’t even happening to me, but it was close by.  Too close!  Also, it must be said, I believe that some of this may have to do with stress levels being unusually high with the end of the school-year approaching.  I seem to remember this happening the last couple of years as the end of school year got closer.  You’d think everyone would be too tired to argue, wouldn’t you?  I know I certainly am.  Soccer games, birthday parties, travel plans, extra-curricular classes, school projects and clubs.  I’m DONE.  Bring on the beach!!  Maybe my approach is too extreme.  I dunno, I generally do what I have to do to get through my day with the least amount of stress possible. If that involves switching playground sides, so be it.

*Oh no!  Is this in contrast to being fierce??  Oh, I dunno.  This marathon I run, its really about stamina.  That’s pretty fierce.

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

Personal Madness

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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Image from Sir John Tenniel.

Good heavens.  And then the crazies came.  I noticed something hmmm….. maybe a year ago.  I would go through periods of time where I swear I just felt out of control.  Like I was losing my mind.  I had no patience for my children, or anyone else for that matter.  I once just lost it at one of M’s teachers at the school (sorry about that!), and I even put a policeman in his place (on two separate occasions!) while running errands, but poor G probably bears the brunt of this seemingly random madness.  Eventually over time I noticed other things too.  Sometimes I would get very very cold.  For days I would be just so very cold.  Often I felt like I had the flu, yet I was just starving.  I got headaches.  I was actually so concerned at one point I went to the doctor!  Yeah, I had PMS.  The thing is, I just had never had ANY of these kinds of symptoms before, especially all at once and certainly not this severe, ever.  Whatever hormonal changes I went through after having my third child, it was certainly a doozie.   So, now, I have my “normal” madness riddled with anxiety and whatever else and then my “extra-madness” that I’ve had to literally put on a calendar so I don’t think I’m losing my mind every 4 weeks.  Somehow I sort of forget about this madness, until I remember, if that makes sense.  I am *fantastic* at forgetting unpleasant events, people, places, etc.  I just literally somehow wipe it from my mind and will literally be unable to recall certain people or events.  Now from what I understand from my therapist, the memories of the unpleasant things are not actually gone, just buried.  Which is where my anxiety stems from.  More than anything, this is all just a nuisance.  I’ll be going along trying to deal with all of my regular stresses such as getting the children through their school projects, to and from play dates and dinner and chores done again and again, only being extremely grumpy and chilly and achey.  Yay!  O.O  I will say that the calendar thing has helped.  Drinking water helps.  Having blankets close by helps.  Exercise helps.  Sending G out for chocolate with no questions asked helps.  He has sworn not to ask for fear of losing an eyeball.  Not two eyeballs though, because then he could not help with the mons-ners.  (Entirely his fear, not my threat, pinky swear!)  Oh, where was I?  Yes, the doctor.  So I did go to the doctor and he actually gave me a medication to take when I felt like I was… um, off center?  I actually laughed in the office, but he assured me that it was better to take something for it than to go around feeling all out of control, especially when I have a lot on my plate.  Its just not safe.  I know there are so many people out there who are anti-medication and aside from vaccinations (my word, the insanity – different post), I respect that.  Maybe its not for everyone, but certainly, if there is something that is going to make *me* feel better, I want it!  One of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Melton, who I refer to often, has this to say about taking your doctor-prescribed meds, “Jesus loves me this I know, for He gave me Lexapro”.  She is a wonderful faith-loving, people-positive writer and is such an inspiration to me.  Her blog and her charity are all about spreading the love around our communities and that is what I try to focus on too.  “Do your circle”.  Remember that post?  Love your community!  Love your family!  I digress….  So, yes, my meds do help me to feel more sane when I am off-center and then even when I am more (heaven help me) off-center.  I figure this.  Everyone probably has some madness in their lives, they just don’t go around showing it all off all the time.  Now sometimes, sometimes you can’t help it when your madness is showing and you just have to shrug and say, “hey, its just me”.  I’m not saying we all have to go out and be all buddies with the mad mad people of the world, I’m just voting for understanding and forgiveness.  Maybe their madness is showing a little?

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly