Its Nice to Make Your Acquaintance

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I’m sure I mention on here a lot that my DH travels for work quite a bit.  Generally, I really don’t mind being in my “bubble” as I fondly call it.  (I generally don’t leave my little 3-mile radius bubble too often.  Especially during the school week.)  However, on occasion it can feel a little isolated or just like I might need a change of scenery.  Over the years I have built in different little fail-safes for when things like this happen.  For example:  If I need some time “away” from the kiddos, I find that PTA meetings or parent groups (with childcare provided) generally provide some socialization and give me something else to focus on outside of the home.  Similarly, going to the gym provides me with 1) a workout 2) socialization if going with a friend and 3) two-hours of free childcare.  I have noticed though, that if anything happens to change our schedule, an illness coupled with icy weather for example, and we’re often hunkered down at home for days with very little outside contact except for hired help.  This one I have had to learn…. that its ok to hire help when you need it!  It really is.  So if no one has every told you that before, I’m telling you now.  When you’re not at your best, its ok to hire someone to help you!

It can feel strange to talk about feeling isolated when you have 3 children, but its really just a lack of adult interaction.  I do not have the time to keep up with many friends.  (sorry friends!!  See you in about 10 years!)  Unless of course the friends have children who are actively involved with my own children.  The result is that I now have quite a few acquaintances.  Remember “acquaintances”?  Like you see in movies or read about in books?  Its like that.  And really, its kind of nice!  I have acquaintances that I see every morning when dropping my children off at school.  (Some neighbors even before that while we’re waiting on my daughter’s bus.)  Some I see at church activities.  Some folks I see literally every afternoon on the playground.  I would not call us friends.  We don’t go out socially.  We only talk about the weather or school events.  It has taken me a while to get used to not having “close” friends any more, but I have come to the conclusion that this is just where we are in our lives right now.  I know that not everyone of my age group is like this.  My cousins for example are constantly running around with their BFFs.  Maybe the BFF crowd just isn’t for all of us.

Be Fierce.  Embrace your acquaintances.

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

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A little spark of goodness

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I’ve had a little spark of goodness shining in the dark.  I have been trying to make myself get back to my gym schedule lately.  When I’m on a schedule, I don’t think much about it and its really just something I check off my to-do list.  Sometimes I just walk the treadmill for 20 minutes and leave, sometimes I do a full kickboxing class, but whichever – at least I did *something*.  Last Tuesday I did a Zumba class which I had nearly forgotten that I love.  It was so fun and really lifted my spirits to go.  Afterwards I went to the gym for about 20 minutes or so to finish my workout and then I gathered my things and went home.  By the end of the night I was very tired.  It was maybe 9:30pm when I got home.  I put my “stuff” away, cleaned up the kitchen, picked up toys etc and hit the hay for the evening.  The next morning I was rushing out the door (of course) to take the boys to school and I couldn’t find my purse!  Oh no!  Argh!!  So frustrating.  Eventually I just took them anyway, no license or anything on me.  Later in the day I combed my house – no sign of my purse.  I went through the car – not there.  I started to call around to everywhere I had been the evening before.  Nope.  I was so frustrated with myself!  Why am I always putting things in random places?  Can I not just put things away when I get home?  I swear I try so very hard to do that.  I was literally kicking myself on the inside.  The next day, I started calling credit card companies and I put a temporary alert on my credit.  I learned that one of my credit cards had been used for a very small amount at a corner store.  *sigh*  Ok.  It was swiped.  Mostly I was bummed about losing my wallet.  I love my purses and wallets and bags.  I collect them really.  I am very attached.  It felt very uncomfortable to think that someone had gone through my purse and used my card and ugh, it just nearly made me queasy.

I worked all afternoon on convincing myself that its just “stuff” and I can replace it and there wasn’t much damage done thankfully and I had taken precautions just in case.  I tried to focus on the healing part of the ordeal.   It had then been 2 days after the loss, I probably wasn’t going to get it back.  That evening I got an e-mail.  My purse had been found!  Oh hallelujah!  It was found at the gym!  I was super super excited!  But then almost immediately so nervous.  Was my wallet in there?  (That particular wallet cost about 3 times what the purse did.  I know, I know, hold the judgements please.  Its my favorite.)  What about my ID?  I was on pins and needles.  G and I rushed out to the gym as soon as a babysitter arrived and it was there.  Purse, wallet, cards, CASH and ID.  Ok, some of the cash was missing… but not all of it!! I could not believe it!  Its a Christmas miracle!  LOL!  There are good people in the world!  Maybe someone was just super hungry or super conflicted or having a really bad day and then they saw the handwritten notes that I keep in my purse from my kids?  Maybe that is too sentimental.  Maybe they just made a bad choice and wanted to make it right.  Whatever happened.  How ever it happened.  I am so very thankful and I have just a bit more faith that most of the time people will do the right thing when then can.
#Itsthelittlethings  #BeFierce
#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

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