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

Are YOU on the spectrum??

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If you’re a teen, young adult or parent of a child on the spectrum and you’re reading this, could you give me some advice?  M is in 3rd grade and so far… we’ve pushed.  We’ve pushed through projects and homework and presentations and school events (as he was able).  Now we’re really really having to push.  Homework is much harder, therapy takes more work, everything is so much more effort.  I don’t mind it, it seems to (slowly) be taking hold and he is indeed getting the work done, but it is truly a monumental effort on his part.  So my question is this.  Did your parents/caregivers push you “through” your school work and through your therapies?  Did it work?  Was it worth it?  Are you thankful or did you notice?

We recently had his homework load reduced to an “as he is able” basis.  Sometimes he can do more, sometimes he can’t.  It was like walking through molasses.  We received permission to use dictation software to help him with tests where writing was involved so that he could meet time requirements without worrying about his motor skill abilities.  He uses headphones to handle noise when he needs to.  He uses lists in his folders to remember what he is supposed to be doing without having to ask repeatedly.  The supports are helping.  I just want him to do the very best he can, but I don’t want to push him beyond his capabilities if that makes sense.  Any thoughts anyone?

I haven’t posted lately because ever since M had that verbal assault on the playground from a parent, mentioned in my last post, I have been rather shook up.  I am trying to come out of it.  There are other things to do – too many balls in the air to fixate on just one.  In any case, I may be a bit all over the place here.  Just hang on.  That’s what I do!

I would like Miss S to join Daisy Scouts next year, but there isn’t a younger scout troop at the school, so I am volunteering to be a Daisy Scout leader since I will no longer have any littles with me during the day.  I’m actually really looking forward to it!  I loved scouting when I was a little girl.

#BeFierce  #HangOn

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

Playground Antics

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I have got to grow thicker skin.  Or home school.  One of the two.

My boy M.  He gets the short end of the stick on the playground so often.  When he was younger, maybe 5 or 6, he would get pushed around at the park sometimes because he didn’t understand how to interact with children as well as others and sometimes they made fun of him.  He didn’t realize they were making fun of him and that made them mad!  So eventually they would resort to physical pushes and punches which he understood hurt, but not why he was being hurt.  Eventually he learned to push back and punch back.  It was a big milestone for him!  And also, the beginning of hard knocks on the playground.  He’s a kid, it’ll happen.  Well, in our “everyone’s a bully society”, the parents jump first and ask questions later.  I admit, I’ve done the same thing – we’re all worried about our own children.  Its a safety issue.  The problem is that many children never learn to fix their own problems.

I am so angry.  A dad on the playground today verbally assaulted M like he was an adult.  He was raving at him and M didn’t know how to respond.  He just started screaming.  He’s 8.  I RAN over to where this was happening and tried to redirect the man’s anger towards me.  The dad kept repeating himself over and over and eventually I said that we needed to either call the paramedics, an attorney or let it go.  After everyone calmed down we eventually had the children talk about how hitting was not appropriate behavior for the playground.  M apologized 3 times, tried to fist-bump and shake hands with the boy and the boy refused to participate.  Those are huge social milestones for M.  He even called the boy a “little dude”.  SO much progress.  In the end, it wasn’t the dad that went to the school to make a report.  It was me.  M is currently so afraid of the dad, he doesn’t want to go to the playground.  I am sure we don’t have all the information.  Still, stress.  Over a playground.  ::headdesk::

Ugh.  Its stuff like this that makes me want to home school.  Stupid politics.

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

I tried skipping my coffee… it did not go well.

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I am a tired person.  I am making soup and its cloudy and rainy outside and its just making me so drowsy! Whew.  Today is going to be a coffee in the afternoon kind of day.  I try not to caffeinate after noon, but honestly its that or sleepwalk through the rest of my day.  Miss S has been fascinated with plants lately.  It is wonderful and adorable and I love it… but its beginning to seep into my day.  For example, I sleepily got everyone into the car to go to school the other day and I’m walking out the door with my giant coffee mug and after taking a sip I find there is something papery in my mouth!  I have papers in my cup!  How did this happen?!  Oh.  Oh wait, its a leaf.  Its leaves actually.  In my cup.  Miss S says she added them for extra flavor.  Yum.  Later in the afternoon I am doing dishes when I look at my (formerly) empty flower pot on the sink and find it filled with green leaves and water.  She wanted to make sure they could still grow.

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I’m not a green thumb by any means, but we’re going to go over gardening 101 this weekend.  In the meantime, its cute.  Well, except for the leaves in my coffee.  That kind of freaked me out to be honest.

The third week of school is upon us and the kiddos have collectively turned in 2 projects.  Swimming lessons, youth group and Sunday school classes have started – we’re in full swing.  I tell you, I was on the phone the other day when I was asked what activities the children were doing this fall and I rattled off a few and then… I dunno, it felt like that wasn’t enough and the person I was talking to also seemed to feel like I was “missing” something and so began to mention how I would be saving money by not having the children in so many activities at once.  While that is true (hey, swimming lessons x 3 is not cheap) they are also doing youth group and private therapy and to be honest, I just can’t run around more right now.  We really went all out last spring and when it came time to sign up for fall activities I just couldn’t over extend myself again.  Maybe we’ll ramp up this winter with a 3rd activity.  Maybe not.  How many things do children do at a time these days?  It seems like they’re over scheduled or under scheduled.  Its difficult to strike a balance.

Be Fierce.  #AimforBalance

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

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