Reflections

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Its not the end of the year, but it is nearly the end of the school season.  Honestly, this is the sort of thing that I generally do in June for some reason.  December has always seemed “mid-year” to me.  In my mind, its like trying to make resolutions and new goals in the midst of swirling chaos.  Spring seems like we’re winding down the school year, but in any case, it is an end of a season.   And we’re on spring break right now, so it seems that a break is a good time of reflection.

We have lost some friends, but gained new ones in their places.  We have lost some dearly loved family members over the past year and it has changed our familyscape dramatically.  Change is growth for everyone isn’t it?

G has a new-ish, scarily amazing job and I have to say, he is continually surprising me by how he refuses to conform to anyone’s idea of what it is like to work in a corporate environment.  As is often the case with our relationship, it sometimes is like watching someone else do this amazing thing creating activities and new experiences and I just sort of  watch from the sidelines.  I’m not disappointed you understand, its just not my time.  I had such a busy and tumultuous childhood that I prefer being home.  I love to travel, but always to come home.  I love my home life and creating things close to home – activities with my children, relationships with neighbors and community involvment.  This is my space – it took me 40 years to find it and I am making it my own.  So it is with interest and a sense of wonder that I well, just watch G as he most often coasts through the house, the airport, the many many hotels and restaurants that come with his career.  I watch as he comes back to our home each time and the children are so excited that he’s home and the dog of course.  And every now and again we come together for periods of time when he’s working from home or between projects and we all readjust to the schedule.

We’re trying out weekend trips right now.  Its not something we’ve really ever done.  We generally go on vacation…. but for a week or more at a time.  This past weekend we went to Springfield, IL (with the kiddos) to see the Lincoln Museum and state capital.  In June we’ll head out to NYC for a long weekend (adults only this time).  Its a different feeling to dash through a city rather than to immerse yourself in it.  Rather like having a taste of a new cuisine, rather than the whole meal.

In any case, we are back to reality now with dance class, soccer practice and scouts.  That means very very busy and so little time for dinner prep!  So – I have been doing batch cooking once or twice a week with pretty good success.  Monday’s freezer meal was Lime Chicken – yum!  Here is the recipe if you’d like to try it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless chicken – cubed (or shredded after cooking)
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped  (can use fresh chopped curly parsley if you prefer)
  • 1 can black beans (14.5 oz.) rinsed and drained.  I used organic.
  • 1 bag frozen corn (can use fresh or canned, drained).  Could also change it up with other veg. mixtures – my next batch has snap peas, corn and carrots.
  • 1 sweet onion chopped.
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • juice of 2 limes.
  • 1/4 c water (optional – depending on how moist you would prefer your mixture.

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients into a freezer bag.
  • Mix to evenly distribute.
  • Flatten and store in freezer
  • When ready to cook, defrost overnight in fridge
  • Place in slow cooker and cook on low for 6/8 hours.
  • Serve in tortillas or over rice.  Can top with sour cream and cheese, yum!
  • notes:  I generally choose all organic veggies when possible including canned or frozen.  I find that sometimes with this recipe I should add approx 1/4 cup of water during the last hour or so.  If cooking directly – just pop everything in the slow cooker immediately.  My kids loved this and even asked if they could take it to school the next day for lunch – win!
  • credit:  This was adapted from livingrichwithcoupons.com

I hope you enjoy!  I doubled this recipe when I was making dinner so that dinner was made for today, but then I’ve made a freezer dinner already for another day as well.

Cheers!  Be fierce!  Make dinners!

Kelly

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Can we talk??

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Is this thing on?  :::tap:::tap:::tap::::

Sometimes being a mom is putting out fires.  I feel like there are often a lot of fires.  Ahem.  Have you ever thought about creating a “Go-Bag”?  Its a term from the survivalist or prepper movement for a bag that you can literally grab and go and have everything you need for approximately 3 days.  Now when you hear that term, “go-bag”…. honestly, what goes through your mind?  Crazy TV shows (I know, I’m guilty of watching too), over-the-top off-the-grid survivalists with their own livestock and infomercials about how to store your eggs for years… in 3 easy steps.  Me too.  Most of the time.  Until yesterday.  You see we had what I would call a “localized” emergency and I suddenly had to drag my 3 children and our cat over to a neighbors’ house in the middle of the night (Of course.  Right?  Because this kind of thing doesn’t happen at 11:00AM when everyone is at school).  By myself.  My husband was out for the evening for some much needed r & r.  Our biggest family/household emergencies seem to happen when there is only 1 parent in the household.  In any case, the gas company needed to come inspect our ventilation.  I am relieved to say that we’re all fine and thankfully other than intense smells, our air is now fine as well.  This got me to thinking though, this could have been worse, a lot worse and we were lucky we had the time to grab all of the things we needed for an impromptu night at the neighbors’ house.  What if we didn’t?  It occurred to G and I that we have approximately 1 localized emergency per 12-18 months.  So, not often, but with minor regularity.  When Mr. A was 18-months old, G had to grab him and a toddler Mr. M and head to the children’s hospital for an overnight stay while I was pregnant and in another city.  When Mr. M was 6 he fell out of a tree and I had to wrap him in a towel, grab the other 2 children and speed to the ER with them all in tow.  Two years ago I needed to go to the ER myself and it took 3 additional adults to hold down the house for the length of time that I would be at the hospital until G could get back home from traveling on business.  Last night it was the ventilation in the house.  Things happen.  Life happens.  I needed to be more prepared.  I began to ask myself a couple of questions:

  1. Could my children safely move themselves to a neighbors’ house or go for help next door without me?
  2. Should I speak to the neighbors beforehand just to make sure its ok that I show up with loads of children and animals?  What is the protocol for that?
  3. Could I be more prepared with making sure we have everything we need for leaving in an emergency?
  4.  What exactly do we need for a “get out of the house” emergency?

There is an author named Lisa Bedford who wrote a book called The Survival Mom.  It is all about preparing for any number of disasters that we just don’t think about from fires and floods to illness, financial downfall, plumbing and power outages.  She calls them “everyday disasters”.  And yes, she is also a prepper and covers food storage and other skills for a more catastrophic event, but firstly, as a suburban mom, she makes it relevant.  In any case, I heard of her and it sort of crossed my mind to have…… oh I don’t know maybe a blanket and some water bottles and wipes in my car for emergencies, but certainly nothing organized and prepared like she was listing in her book.  After yesterday though with the possibility of my children in life threatening danger, my outlook has changed a bit.  Now, I’m not saying I’m going to buy a cow and go off the grid, but we definitely need a plan in place for where to meet in case of emergency, a list of contacts, and yes, I think, a “go-bag” for each family member.

So, as I am just starting on this “preparation” I may be updating on that so you’re welcome to following along as I navigate this new area and certainly if you have any advice on emergencies with children, please share.

Be fierce.  #StarterPrep

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

What kind of mom are you?

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I’m a worrier.  A worrywart my grandmother called it.  I worry about what others think even though I may claim not to.  Goodness knows I try not to worry about who may be judging me, but sometimes it just sneaks up on me.  A friend of mine posted a link to Facebook the other day from a blog post about different stereotypes of moms at schools.  Firstly I was just a little bit horrified because I am sure that I have been several of the moms in the blog post on at least one occasion.  Was it a joke post?  Maybe it was… I hope so!

There was the “hungry mom, pajamas mom, hippie mom, sports mom, PTO mom, perfect mom, and of course, the mom blogger”.  Did this even leave anyone out?  I mean, we can’t all be June Cleaver and if we were… wouldn’t that fall into PTO mom category?  Is that what other parents are thinking on the playground at morning drop off?  (Are you thinking that at drop off?)  I will admit we all have different styles.  There is one mom, that I see nearly every day and I don’t even know her name, but I call her “jogger mom”, because she does her daily run to the elementary school in the afternoons to pick up her child.  There is “svelte black-suit mom” that I’m guessing works in a corporate setting somewhere downtown because she looks very sleek and urban every day.  There are the SAHMs like me, who while having different styles, definitely dress more casually than the workplace moms at the school.  If we’re going to put labels on everyone, good grief, what about the exceptions!  Yes, I have dropped my children off at school still in my pajama pants.  I was also wearing a full-length heavy parka and snow boots at the time.  Its happened maybe twice in 3 years.  Do I get a pass for that one?  With a special needs child as well, some mornings … are just hard.  Most mornings are just fine and really we have a pretty good little routine down and let me tell you a happy ASD child is one with a good routine.  Sometimes though – sometimes are hard!  I think all special needs families and those with multiple children would agree that you can encounter crazy events trying to get out the door on occasion.  We woke one morning to find that my son had spread a very thin, even layer of sunscreen all over our living room rug.  Another morning he was covered in strawberry syrup (and so was the couch).  If you have one very ill child and two very healthy children and you’re trying to get out the door its a whole new host of problems and then what about the “spider”.  I’ve written about this before – when one of the children just.  Won’t.  Go.  They throw their arms and legs out like a spider so that they can’t get on the bus or in the car.  Its stressful.  I’m just saying that if you’re having one of those mornings, maybe fashion and hair styles aren’t super high on your priority list.  Maybe that pajama mom isn’t a “pajama mom” every day.  I think we ought to be a little more accepting of others’ situations before tearing them down.  Goodness knows the world is hard enough as it is.  Let’s not add to it.  Having an ASD child, I’ve been there when my child was having a very public meltdown.  Staring doesn’t help.  Silently judging doesn’t help.  Offering to hold my bag, water bottle, sippy, other child’s hand, etc, would be helpful.

I will admit that I have often wondered at the decisions of other moms that I see in passing because it doesn’t seem to be a decision that I would make, but that is also coming from my background and point of view and not theirs.  I couldn’t possibly know what its like to be in their shoes.  This is an important thing for me to keep at the front of my mind.

I’m just going to keep doing what I do.  Now what I may do, may not be what you do, or they do or he or she does, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t wholly accept the decisions that others make.  This is a really hard issue for me.  Its my “damage” really, so by me writing about it and putting my vulnerabilities out there – I’m really taking a step, but I have definitely done my share of value-searching today and I wanted to write about it.  So, my point, after all that, was if you see in me in my fleecy frog pajama pants and crocs running full-tilt across the playground with two or three children in tow, please, just pretend I was wearing lovely matching outfit in crisp fall colors.  Cross your fingers for me to not trip over a bump in the sidewalk in those crazy shoes because I was probably having one of those days already.

Be Fierce.  #WearFrogsLikeYouMeanIt.

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

That is not my favorite color!

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Did you know that they don’t make (most) boys’ shoes with velcro after size 3?  Nope.  Welcome to shoelace-land.  So with school around the corner, we were out shoe shopping today.  The real kind of shoe shopping – not the kind where you pop into Target for some flip-flops.  The children were measured for their shoes and are on average about a size larger than last year.  It took about half an hour or so for us to get Mr. A and Miss S all settled with their new kicks.  For M, however, the whole process was more difficult.  We learned that because of his new size, there aren’t anymore light-up sneakers.  *sad face*  It also means that there aren’t too many options with velcro.  (Where we were shopping, there was only one pair of velcro shoes and they were gray.  I think possibly he was personally offended by the color.  “That is not my favorite color!”)  Slip on varieties such as Vans were an option, but there were limited styles.  Anyway, we knew it was coming.  We knew that one day soon we would have to sit down and work with those motor skills on shoe tying.  I may order some of those little squiggly things that go in shoes instead of laces just in case, but we’re really going to work on tying shoes this week.

Initially, M wanted some red and blue Geoux sneakers like his brother Mr. A.  After realizing that they didn’t have them in his size, we checked the men’s department out for alternatives.  M was not thrilled. I was not thrilled.  The men’s department??  Really??  He’s 9!!  Still.  He has big feet.  He’s growing.  I can do this.  Ok, the men’s department it is.  They didn’t have anything that really looked like a boy, so we decided to break for lunch and go to another department store.  After a minor meltdown whereupon we nearly put that, “No Shoes, No Service” rule to the test, we had lunch.  At the second department store we  (again) explained to M that he couldn’t have light-up shoes anymore, they just didn’t make them in his size.  He was saddened, but he was coping.  Then we had to break it that there really was no velcro option available to us on that day except for the slip-ons.  He had a hard time with this one.  Mostly I think he felt like he was losing control of his situation.  He could no longer dictate what kind of shoe he wanted in terms that he understood.  We went through rows and rows of shoes.  This took literally all afternoon.  He was to the point of refusing to wear his own shoes that he had worn into the store, until we found new shoes.  We began to focus on colors and he decided that red would be his color choice because it was similar to the first pair he looked at earlier in the day.  We went through all the red shoes and eventually he reluctantly agreed to a pair of very red sneakers.  Fabulous.  The relief!  G and I felt like we had run a marathon.  We quickly changed gears and headed to a playdate at the park with friends.  The trials and tribulations of shoe shopping were quickly forgotten, but I did have to re-tie M’s shoes several times.  Gotta work on those skills.  One problem at a time!  Third grade here we come!

*side note:  Incidentally – Miss. S’s shoes….um, they’re musical.  I’m going to let that sink in.  ::::MUSICAL:::::  When you walk, the toes light up.  When you put the toes of the shoes together, they play music and the toes and heels light up.  Yeah.  We did not realize that until we got home.  I have to say, it was a little weird discovering that we had bought our daughter musical shoes.  I just don’t even know what to think.  I suppose it will add a new dimension to waiting in lines…

pTSA-20396289p275wMiss S’s musical shoes.

Twinkle Wishes by Skechers.  Photo by Sports Authority.

Be Fierce.  #dropthegrayshoes

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

Playground Life Lessons

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Growing up is so hard.

My middle son, my neurotypical child, is a lot like a first-born child to me.  Or rather, we go through many “firsts” that my oldest child has not gone through yet and some, as an ASD child, that he may never go through at all.  Mr. A comes running  up to me on the playground sad and nearly in tears that there was a small group of children “talking” about him and his friends and threatening to put something on FB about them.  You know, he has mentioned this problem and even this particular group of children before and I just didn’t take it seriously because 1) Generally younger children don’t have smart phones with internet access and FB accounts and 2) younger children are prone to more “outlandish” threats and finally 3) I just hadn’t seen it happen.  Well I saw it that day on the playground as I was watching the children play and chatting with a friend of mine.  After Mr. A came to tell me what happened a boy drove his bike over to where we were and again made the threat to my son… in front of me.  How bold is that?  Then he biked over to his small group of friends.  I had so much information hit my brain at once I felt like I was on one of those Bugs Bunny cartoons where I had steam coming out of my ears from an overload.  These children were older.  “Big kids” from the middle school.  They did have smart phones with internet access.  After realizing this I walked over and addressed them, trying to use my best parental voice and sound emotionally-even and mature instead of freaking out that my babies had been threatened.  It was difficult.  Afterwards we left the playground and went to another nearby play area.

Later on I tried to explain to my son that people only talk about you when you’re important.  They talk because you have something they want, or they want to be like you.  Possibly, they may even want to be your friend, but they may not know how to express that.  He was still a little blue, and we’re working on it.  My oldest son, my autistic child, has the gift of irrelevancy.  If something is not immediately important, especially in a social scenario, he is not concerned and may not even remember that it happened.  If he does happen to remember, he is so unconcerned with it, it might as well have happened to someone else.  DH and I are often curious about what it must feel like to be him.  In some ways, it must be pretty awesome to not have to carry all your emotional baggage with you!  Talk about taking a load off!  In other ways, he may be so bogged down with other racing thoughts he just may not have the brain space for all of the social nuances in every day life.  Who knows?  Maybe one day he’ll tell us.

Be Fierce.  #DiscussIdeas

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

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The Witching Hour(s)

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You know that time between 6:00pm and 8:00pm when you’re tired, your children are tired and you’re trying to fit everything else into your day in a 2-hour time slot?  Those are my witching hours.  Traditionally I believe its between 12:00AM and 3:00AM and if you have a newborn, those indeed may be yours, but for me its right around dinner time.  During this time I’ve got to shuttle the children home, get dinner on the table, homework done if school is in session, run 1 bath and 2 showers and that’s not even what I’m talking about with “witching hours”.  That’s just normal running – everyone has something they’re doing whether its work related, personal or whatnot.  I’ve been thinking about this more and more because we’re going to have to rein in bedtime.  I don’t know about you, but we’ve really let it go for the summer with schedules letting the kiddos stay up late and sleep in.  That’s all about to change in about 2 weeks time and I need to get my act together!  The witching hours I am referring to have to do with the children’s personalities during those hours.  I think that is why I started to lovingly(!!) refer to them as mons-ners.  They’re tired, cranky, hungry and cray-cray.  They can be screaming non-sensical rhymes or become stuck in a fire engine sound loop, “weee-oooo, weeee-oooooo, weeee-oooooo”.  Here are some of my favorites:

“I need to put on my sunscreen to sleep”.

“I can’t go to sleep because Mr. Bear does not have his coat on”.

“My notebook is in the car!!”.  O.o  (Your guess is as good as mine with this one.)

Their little bodies are so exhausted they become entangled in their pajamas and end up screeching like a bird caught in a fishing net.

DSCN2730“I’m not tired!”, Miss. S says.

Anyway.  I know a handful of moms who turn to a glass of wine at this time to make it through and calm their nerves.  I won’t lie, I’ve done that too.  I usually indulge in a  handful of M & M’s.  “I deserve it!”, I think to myself.  It helps my patience.  Whatever gets you through your day, right?  I think the worst part for me is the after-mess.  You know, you’ve (finally) gotten to the children to bed and now there’s the house to deal with before bedtime.  Occasionally, I do let it go.  Sometimes I just don’t have that extra “umph” in me.  I find however, that when I do the tidying up before bed, it makes my mornings go smoother and then I can get straight on to the afternoon with a better temperament and positive outlook.  Sort of like a chain reaction.  Sometimes this is enough to make me trudge through the molasses of picking up toys, wiping the table and cleaning the kitchen one more time before bed.  Look for that silver lining!  I find that when I really don’t want to – sometimes I can trick myself into cleaning for 15 minute increments like the Flylady at flylady.net.  That tip really does work.  Wish me luck as we move our schedule around.  Good luck to you out there as well!

Be Fierce.  #WeCanMakeItThroughBedtime

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly