I put the “I” in Impulse

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Being a parent puts you in a club so-to-speak with other parents.  For some it was a dream come true, for others a “gift” and depending on one’s circumstances it could be quite scary heading into the unknown waters of parenthood.  When you’ve found out you’re the parent of a special needs child you’re then put into a sub-group of parents that you never asked to join!  For some, after getting over the shock, it can be a relief to find other kindred families who may be going through similar growing pains.  To others it can be saddening or shocking.  As for me, I tend to bounce back and forth between relief of knowing why certain behaviors are happening with my child, and frustration at not being able to handle everything better.  Nevertheless, here we all are in this club.  Now, when you find yourself here, its really a sink or swim situation.  Most people become reluctant experts on their child’s particular type of disorder if they want to function.  Its almost impossible not to be.  A few years ago I just knew that something was wrong with my son.  I knew it.  I would ask family, friends, doctors and everyone said, “he’s fine, really, all kids do that”.  Yeah… I was still skeptical.  I didn’t believe it.  You know how it all those parenting books for new babies where they tell you to trust your parental instincts, well, I could just see the alarm bells going off in my mind.  There was something wrong, I didn’t care what anyone said.  I was determined to figure out what it was.  I scoured the internet for similar behaviors and asked all children’s experts that I came in contact with.  I finally got someone to take me seriously.  It was M’s first preschool teacher.  I asked her if he was doing ok in school one day before picking him up and she said “yes, he’s doing fine”.  I then saw M (through a glass window) begin squealing and running around as the children changed stations in the classroom.  (Transitions.  M still has trouble with transitions to this day.)  I pointed out that I didn’t think that behavior was normal and  without missing a beat, she offered to have him evaluated.  DH and I thought this would take a couple of days, or maybe it would happen the next week.  The very next day he was evaluated and we had a conference with the on-site social worker.  She shared her thoughts about his behavioral issues and gave us pamphlets on various occupational therapies and social therapies in our area.  Hooray!  We had a piece of information!  It wasn’t a diagnosis, but it was a place to start.  We received information about a special needs pre-kindergarten and M tested into the program.  Finally, we were going to get some help!  The program was amazing.  M was doing things that I didn’t think we were ever going to get him to do.  (Like sitting in a chair for circle time in class and learning to hold a pencil correctly.)  Towards the end of the year I asked the social worker there if she thought maybe he had ADHD or something similar.  That afternoon M came home with a stack of papers on Aspberger’s Syndrome.  (The school is not allowed to give a diagnosis of course, but this was her way of pointing us in the right direction.)  M had everything on the list.  Every single symptom.  Things began moving more rapidly after this and I found a great autism support group for parents and play group for children.  I found a behavioral pediatrician to receive a medical diagnosis.  We began private therapies and M received an IEP for kindergarten the next year.  Whew.  It was a lot – a long road and it had just begun.  I mention all this because even though I “know” so much about what is going on with him, it doesn’t always click with me right away.  For instance…. impulse control.

M has always had difficulty with self-restraint if its something he really wants.  When he was 3 it was strawberry syrup so we had to stop buying it because he would sneak into the fridge to get it.  When he was 4 it was wandering off – extremely dangerous, so we installed an alarm system and put locked gates around our house.  Now, its video games and granola bars.  While not as dangerous, its still frustrating.  The games I am working on – we have our schedule sheets that the children follow and it helps.  The granola bars…I dunno.  I may have to lock them up.  I’m not sure.  I just find it fascinating that often I can’t spot an impulse problem with M.  How can I not see it??  Is it because he is older and its just not the first thing I expect him to do?  So, my first impulse is to yell.  Its as effective as talking to brick.  I don’t recommend it.  My next step is going to be putting a meal plan on the fridge so that M knows when meals/snacks are going to happen.  I hate to feel like I’m structuring all the children’s lives around M’s issues, but it helps him, which keeps things calmer for everyone else and maybe it will help them as well.  Schedules, lists and calendars have always helped M to feel more grounded.  He can see what is coming next and its not a surprise.  This may work or it may not.  My particular brand of parenting seems to be a lot like running with your shoelaces untied.  I get a few good running strides in until I  trip and fall on my face and and then I get up and do it all over again.  Its a good thing I’m naturally tenacious.  Its a good thing M is so naturally forgiving.  Its worth repeating…impulse control is hard.   Transitions are hard.  Both may always be a problem.  Hang in there folks.

Be Fierce.  #MakeASchedule

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…

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Its dim, but its there.  The end of the school year is upon us.  The end of soccer season is nigh.  The end of (seemingly endless) swimming lessons is imminent!!  *pant*pant*  I’m going to finish this marathon of a school year.  I’m not going to let it beat me!  *shakes my fist*  “Get offa my lawn you school year!!!”  I am d-o-n-e, can you tell?  And I have a lot of soapboxes right now and I’ve been trying to organize them in chronological order, but you know, the one I’m fighting with right now is this, “Why is it that we have Teacher Appreciation Week during the last month of the school year?”  We are all exhausted.  Our children are exhausted.  The teachers and staff are exhausted.  I mean, we as a community, are just pooped.  I really think maybe just a few weeks earlier would be helpful, however no one has asked my opinion about this.  I’ve been doing my morning drop-offs every day and then running to and fro to pick up gifts for the resource teachers and firstly, I am happy to do it.  I volunteer to take on an extra resource teacher every year who otherwise wouldn’t get “little gifts” every day because they don’t have a classroom.  This year I adopted 2 teachers.  The amount of work they do is tremendous and I am acutely aware of how much time and effort they put in since M uses them. Its also somewhat selfish, I like to be able to be the one to give them the gifts because I feel like part of the community, part of a group.  That’s my “damage”.  I’m just terrified of feeling left out.  I actually enjoy popping into the school for little things often (bonkers, I know).  And, I am coming to realize in my “old age”, I think I enjoy complaining about it in a warm-hearted manner.  I really do enjoy it, otherwise I wouldn’t do it, but I also seem to have a need to nervously cover up what I enjoy for some reason.  Lack of confidence I suppose.  So frustrating.  Here is a perfect example:  I wore a Muppet shirt today with Miss. Piggy and Kermit on it and made no fewer than 3 excuses to friends as to why I was wearing a Muppet shirt.  So ridiculous.  No need for that.  In any case, Friday is the last day of this week’s marathon!  We can do it!!  And don’t go around making excuses for your awesome t-shirt like me.  You just wear that shirt and smile big!

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

That really rare, really little, mom-fashion post

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I’ll admit it.  I have almost no fashion sense.  I have pretty much dressed the same since I was in high school.  Recently I sat staring with wonder when I heard a friend declare that she’s so upset that she missed the shoe sale because now she’s going to have to pay full price for her winter season boots and she feels so stupid.  :::Enter doe in headlights look here::::

I just have no response to that.  Oh.  Ok, sorry.  *shrugs*  Anyway.  Since I have been a SAHM, I have noticed there are varying types of fashion on the school grounds…..  there is the “work out mom” who is either on her way to or from a workout and so therefore in workout clothes, the “granola mom” with crunchy-nature-esque printed clothes often flowing and possibly made with 100 percent plant dye, the “all in black” mom who literally wears almost all black every day with hair sleeked back in a ponytail, “fashionista mom” dressed up in full makeup maybe for work, but maybe not, “office mom” obviously going to a corporate workplace and then a handful of us “jeans moms” who are sort of sweater and jeans types pretty much all the time.    I feel like I need one of those shows where they force you to throw out all of your clothes and make you go shopping.  Every now and then I have a cute picture of me in something, but most of the time, I see myself in pictures and think, ugh!  I have got to get rid of that piece of clothing!”.  I’m just not sure where I fall as far as fashion goes.  Occasionally when I get on a really big workout kick I fall into the “work out mom” slot……  otherwise I don’t really have a fashion type other than the sweater-jeans combo.  While I do wear make-up, I really have to be reminded to get my hair cut.  Plus, I have hair-cut phobia.  Is that a thing?  I think it might be.

I don’t fall into the “just had a baby” group anymore, but I do fall into the “omg, I’m so tired and/or busy I can’t get dressed” group.  Recently I’ve discovered getting through goals in 15-minute increments from the Fly Lady (online home care guru).  She claims that you can do almost anything in 15-minute increments and she’s kind of right.  So, after doing a little research here is what I have come up with for the spring.  If I can pull together a couple of outfits once a week – for 15 minutes, and mark it off my to-do list, hopefully this will help me feel like I’m more put together.  I’m not sure what I will look like, but if I feel better about myself I think that is the most important thing.  Sort of like little fashion goals. (oh no!  I need Fashion For Dummies!!  Do they have that??)

1) pull-on dresses – 1 piece and go!  I should be able to do this.

2) flat-front, higher-waisted, fitted jeans *no showing cracks or undies when bending over, *no “mom-jean”, pouffy fit + v-neck shirt.

3)  swapping out my sweatshirt/hoodie for a more structured light   jacket.  Maybe black, maybe navy.

And accessorize!  Honestly my sunglasses and winter coat can do a lot all by themselves.  Anyway, those are my fashion goals for the foreseeable future.  Not lofty, right?  Maybe I can keep from looking too tired and thrown together?  Do you have solutions for me??  Let me know!

 

#BeFierce  #MakeaFashionChange

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly