Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

Cheese moments

Im checking out the new blogger App on my phone and hoping it handles pictures better then it used to. I used to update a lot more frequently when I could type on the fly as I sat in lines, waited for appointments and all those other boring mommy things. ;) when the old App
randomly started deleting my posts halfway through typing them I gave up hope of using it. You don't want to see me angry after my post gets deleted. I tend to have a temper about those sorts of things.

Odin's latest Spongebob drawing

He drew this all from memory. I'm impressed but I know I'm biased. ;)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anxiety and Autism

My children and I both have anxiety along with autism. It certainly makes things harder at times, especially as a parent.

Today for instance, I've been waiting approximately 8 hours for a parent teacher conference this afternoon. Likely it will be an in and out meeting and I don't expect any negative news. I've even met the teacher already at an IEP meeting so she is familiar. It doesn't stop the anxiety however. I've been antagonizing over what to wear all day, when realistically I know it doesn't really matter what I wear. I'm not trying to impress anyone, rather I'm trying to fit in. It seems I'll be chasing that for the rest of my life. Fitting in isn't something that comes naturally to me.

Standing among all those other parents in the hallways amplifies how different I am from them. They look bored or irritated, but never anxious. Then I wonder how I look to them. Do I look angry too? I adjust my facial expressions to try to find a middle ground. Not too excited and happy (after all its a parent teacher conference not an Oscar) but not too grumpy that I seem hostile. I realize I've been staring at someone for far too long and quickly look away as they try to meet my gaze. Now I'm extremely uncomfortable and wondering if I really have to stay in this hallway. Surely one of my kids has to use the bathroom? Any excuse to escape the anxiety I'm feeling. For at least the next 5 minutes I'm in the bathroom helping my kiddos with autism work through their anxiety about the toilets flushing. I help my 4 year old cover his ears while pulling up his pants at the same time. He starts to freak out anyway and he doesn't calm down until we are safely away from the bathroom. My 9 year old dd with autism doesn't scream anymore, but she avoids flushing at all costs. She has yet to face her fear of an overflowing toilet. (which nearly happened once years ago and she never got over it.)

Finally my turn comes when they call my name. It always feels awkward when they say my  name. I wonder if I moved forward fast enough or if I should have taken longer. Did I jump forward? That would be embarrassing. I piggyback on my childrens excitment and fake a smile as the teacher says hello to me. She introduces herself and I smile and forget to introduce myself. (I mentally kick myself when I realize my mistake) I wonder why her hand is extended to me and then I remember that people like to shake hands when they meet. I put mine forward but I can already tell that the window has passed and now its just really weird.  She's staring at me while she's talking and I wonder if she blinks. I remember to blink but then wonder if I'm blinking too much, staring too much, or looking away at the right moments. The pause in the conversation indicates that I've missed something and its now my turn to speak up and say... what?? I have no idea what this moment calls for. I panic inside. I say, "What was that again?" and hope its not a really stupid question. No I don't have any questions. Except maybe if she could give me everything she just said on paper so that I can read it myself. I was concentrating so hard on making sure I was blinking and responding appropriately that I couldn't comprehend or remember anything that was said. I immediately feel like an idiot, but I manage to smile again and I gathered my things to get ready to leave. I feel so proud with myself that I remembered to say, "Thank you for your time, I appreciate it." before I left the room.

I rely on my children to know how to enter and exit the school. I probably will never be able to walk to their classroom on my own, or know how to leave the building quickly. I'm lost as soon as I start down the hallway. Luckily my children are far better at remembering directions then I am and I'm thankful I have them with me today. In fact, not bringing them was never an option. If it wasn't for that 5 minute break or their distractions I might never be able to get through the conference. Without distractions that I'm used to, the anxiety soars. Its one of the reasons why I usually take my son with me when I run errands. It gives me someone to focus on instead of my own social awkwardness. As my children grow up, I'm wondering how I will take this transition to being without them by my side. Will I adjust, or will I be left totally isolated?

Most likely no one even notices the anxiety that I feel inside. I try very hard to mask my uncomfortableness and only those close to me truly understand how hard I push myself. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday PJ

Persephone had a birthday party yesterday, she celebrated turning three years old. Gramma and Grampa came, and Auntie and uncle Matt, and cousins Sarah and Katrina, and some friends. She loved all her presents, her favorites being the stroller and dolls that we bought her, and the playdough from auntie. Gramma made her a castle cake that was yummy and pretty, and everyone had fun hanging out together and talking. It was a good birthday party.

The only one who was a little off was Odin. He's been a handful lately. I'm not sure if its just the age and transitioning or if it was the excitement of having auntie stay with us a few days and then a party. He has turned from a little boy into a BOY. The kind that likes to wrestle and fight. We have dubbed him the Parkview Strangler because his signature move he likes to do is to reach out and grab the offending person by the neck and toss them. We have started doing time outs a lot more. I feel like he's regressed some in his behavior and it makes me sad, but hopefully its just another phase that he'll grow out of as he matures. We're also going to be putting him into headstart so that he isn't as bored. I'm hoping he enjoys it and doesn't get himself into too much trouble there. He will be going with a few friends he knows from the neighborhood.

In her bathing suit as usual. She doesn't wear anything except that and her sandals AKA "Pretty shoes."  Auntie tried to get her to wear dress up shoes but she refused. I should sneak the bathing suit away to wash it soon come to think of it... 

At three years old she requests "a sandwich" and water all the time. She doesn't really have a favorite food, she's pretty picky just like the other kids. She does refer to herself in the third person, but so far I don't see any traits of autism. Nothing that stands out anyway. I do wish she'd stop screaming and yelling to get my attention. She can be brutal on the ears!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Homeschool no more

I've started to write a blog post for several months but I just couldn't articulate what I wanted to say. Its hard to admit that something you've tried isn't working as well as you hoped it would. It feels like failure. I know in my heart I made the right choices at the right time, things just change.

Ivy has matured so much in the time we spent at home. I pulled her from school last February and Piper stayed home from May onward. We had 8 months of together time. 8 months of bonding. 8 months of growing to do. In that time, Ivy has overcome a lot of her insecurities. She's growing up before my eyes. I used to have to intervene whenever there was a social issue but now she's solving many of the problems on her own. She's finally getting there!

Piper never really wanted to leave school but agreed to try it out at home. And for her it was difficult not being around her friends as much. She'll have the distinction of being the only child that doesn't have a Kindergarten diploma in the family. Thats right. I pulled her before the year was out so she never officially graduated. I do feel bad that she missed that experience but she doesn't seem to mind.

I don't remember exactly how the conversation came up, but I asked them how they felt about homeschooling and Ivy told me that she loved being home with me but that she also felt maybe she was ready to "try school again."

Piper of course was on board with that idea, and within days I was filling out paperwork for them to start back at our local public school district. I now have a child in 9th grade, 4th grade and 1st grade. And Odin isn't far behind, I'm waiting for paperwork from Headstart to come in the mail so that he can have something just for him. Now that its colder outside the kids don't want to be outside playing as much. I knew that would happen.

Being a parent is harder than I ever thought it would be. Its a lot like being a tree I think. Knowing how to bend and sway with the wind. Not falling down but being strong and able to change directions if need be.

At first I felt like a homeschool drop out. I still really feel 100% that kids don't need school especially when they're young. What I've learned is that doesn't necessarily mean some kids don't *want* it.  The biggest thing with Ivy that I've had to learn over this past summer, is to calm my OWN reactions down. When she comes flying in the house crying her eyes out and sobbing with some story of injustice done to her.. my first instinct is to freak out, be angry and protective. I've done this on a number of occasions and it did nothing to help the problem. Instead it caused fights in the neighborhood, other parents and I arguing back and forth. I learned that for Ivy, she escalates and it tailspins out of control. Its my responsibility to remain calm and help her process what happened and help her see other perspectives in the situation. Things aren't always as they seem for her. Its taken a lot for me to calm my own self down and not be so reactive, but so far its working a lot better than anything else I've done. She's learning to solve her own social issues and there been far less tears and crying fits.

We have an IEP in a few weeks, we'll see what they say at that. I'm not looking forward to the rat race again. I'm really not, but I'll do what I have to do to keep my kids healthy and happy.

On another note, Persephone turned three years old the other day. I can't believe my "baby" isn't a baby anymore. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Its Fall and update time

It seems odd that its aumtum already. Time has been flying by me lately. No doubt its because of all the changes that we've been through as a family the past year. De-schooling is a process that can surprisingly take awhile. Just sitting down and relaxing, not worrying about being somewhere or doing something according to someone elses schedule. Its liberating. Really!

Odin has been growing and changing so much over the past summer. I have a hard time remembering all the cute things he says because he says so much these days. Even though he was late talking, he sure caught up and surpassed his peers. His articulation is still poor, but he's improving I think. (I was told he wouldn't improve at all without some serious speech therapy, but the waiting lists are so long it'll be years before he gets in anywhere.)

After a few short months of peddling his tricycle, he spent a few weeks with training wheels and only two sessions of trying to ride without them.. and he got it. The rest is history. (or so they tell me.) Its amazing the emotions you can feel as you stand there watching your baby ride away from you that first time.. knowing that you can't possibly keep up to save them if they should happen to fall... because they've got it.. they're riding. A piece of my heart rode away that day, and I feel such pride when I watch him. So meticulous and careful. He looks both ways, he stops on the side of the road when a car happens to drive down the circle. He even falls with grace, rarely crying.. but just getting up and brushing himself off and hopping on to try again. I am so proud of all his accomplishments.

Air-writing stuck around for over a year. He wrote all the time. Spelling in the air near constant. He seems to have found some freedom from that now. The spelling has all but stopped, and his interest has been on his new skill of bike riding. Its hard to see his obsessions change because I get comfortable with his rituals and routines probably almost as much as he does. Its unsettling when suddenly he doesn't pick up a pen and paper for weeks at a time. Yet I know its a good thing for him. It means he is learning and exploring at his own pace and that makes me happy. To solidify our goals as a family.. I officially gave up his spot in the preschool program. He has no idea he was signed up to go so he wasn't upset at this decision at all. I know school isn't the place for him, and I'm not sad that he isn't experiencing it. He has all the time in the world to attend a school if and when he chooses, but only one childhood to learn at his own pace.

Ivy is de-schooling well. She is finding her own rhythm to things and it makes me happy to see her coming out of her shell more and more every day. I have to remember that 9 was a hard age for me.. it helps me have patience with her on those days that get to be just a little bit too long.

Piper mastered learning to ride a big girl bike the same summer as her brother. As you can imagine this means they are both further away from me  much of the time. Its hard parenting kids that are on the other side of the park. I've done a lot of walking around this summer, and a lot of calling for kids.

Persephone just started wanting to play with all the other kids outside, and its been hard giving her that freedom. She's still only 2, for another few weeks anyway....

Now that we've moved things are starting to feel a little bit more like home. I don't do change well at all. I think this past month 1/2 have been the hardest on me and the kiddos because of this. I don't go with the flow without a big fight about why the flow changed in the first place. I'm working on that. :)

Oh! Bedtimes in our house have finally moved to nighttime. The younger kids are in bed around 8 or so, and Ivy goes to bed between 9 and 10. She's allowed to stay up in her room after that time as long as she's quiet. Mornings consequently have been starting around 9 and 10 for Chris, and me? I've been sleeping in! I don't know why but most days I'm not up before 11am. And I'm going to bed at a decent hour too. SOMETHING is up with my body. I'm not sure if its from stopping the meds or what but things are out of whack in pretty much every area. If the hpt hadn't come back negative all 7 times I took it I would swear I was pregnant. Thats how messed up things are. And by messed up I also mean absent. For the past 3 months. ...  more on that later I guess.

Ivy wants some mama time so I'm gonna go snuggle with her for a bit.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


After nearly 4 years waiting, I received my sons neuropsych report last month and he has officially been diagnosed with Autistic Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD.

We've been doing some intellectual testing, and speech and language testing. His numbers are so high that I was told he is in the genius range. At 4 years old he is spelling and writing at a 4th grade level. Of course his skills are high in some areas, but lower in others. His "splinter skills" are something we celebrate with excitement. Instead of focusing on what he can't do, we choose to focus on what he can do.

In the past week I found out he was approved for SSI and also that we finally are able to move into a 4 bedroom unit only three doors down from here. Its what we've been waiting for the past four years, so we're very excited! Finally there will be a bigger kitchen, our own porch (without neighbors on it) and a bedroom for Ivy. (Odin when he's bigger and needs it)

Right now I feel like I'm in the middle of chaos. There have been so many changes lately that my head is spinning. Even the good news like moving into a 4 bedroom is hard to deal with without a time frame.

My inlaws finally moved back home and now live in the same town we do. Once they're settled in, they should hopefully be a great resource for us.

 Meet our new puppy, Sage. With some training we're hoping that he will make a good service dog. However we're admittedly very tired and burning out with puppy training. It doesn't help that Odin is scared of the dog, so instead of bringing happiness and helping to calm him down, the dog causes him to get upset instead. We still aren't sure what to do, but we're plodding along day by day.

Sierra graduated from 8th grade in June. Seems like just yesterday she was in 3rd grade and now here she is.. a freshman in high school. Time really does go by quickly thats for sure.

Alright, I'm off to clean the house before we head to Rotary park for the day. Its finally summer and I plan to enjoy it. :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Starting Over Again..

(This blog post was written in the middle of February, but I'm only now getting a chance to post it. Make sure you read the edit at the end! :)) 

It was bound to happen eventually. A square peg just doesn't fit into a round hole. I've been trying for the past 4 years to make it fit and it's been an uphill battle. Who is the peg? Myself, my husband, my daughters, my son.
A group shot facing the sun. The first real spring day

If you look back through the archives of this blog you'll see that back when Ivy was a baby my intention was 100% unschooling. I bought books. I researched. I planned (to not plan) and I had so many hopes and dreams as a family.

What happened to those? I've been lying to myself, holding onto hope that the peg will fit. I'm not sure why, but I do know that I was afraid to rock the boat too much.We're already Eclectic Pagans, I had natural childbirths, I co-slept, I practiced child led weaning and extended breast feeding. I wore my babies in a sling and held them until they were asleep. I didn't do formula or jarred baby food. I don't go to church. I didn't have an epidural.

What do we do? We sing. We do arts and crafts. We cook and garden. We read books and go to the library. We go swimming at the YMCA and go to Spiralscouts. We go on nature walks and explore. We write poetry and make up stories. We make clay and sculptures. We grow herbs and dry them. We watch the science channel and the discovery channel, and even the history channel. We watch Spongebob too. Lots of Spongebob lately. We play computer games and research on Google. We blog.

Except those things all went to the back burner when school started. Now we try to squeeze in activities but there isn't much time. And im always anxious about making sure they have clean clothes and perfect hair before they leave. When they come home they are a mess of emotions. They're tired and don't want to do anything with me. Vacations are the only times that i can see them learning at home and loving it. They relax enough and that desire and passion returns.
We went puddle jumping and jelly fishing ;)

The turning point for me, was finding out that the school has been forcing Ivy to wear a pressure vest against her will at school for the entire day. This has been going on for months and I had no idea. I was appalled and shocked. They took something that was a positive tool that she loved and even asked for, and they forced her to wear it. They took her power away and created a battleground instead. No wonder why she didn't want to wear the vest at home! No wonder she was always jumpy and agitated. The slightest mention that she was a bit energetic and she would get so angry and defensive. And now, I know why.

I'm heartbroken that the school allowed their teachers and aides to do that to a child. Appalled that even after I told them, you may NEVER force my child to wear it if she doesn't want to, they called her to the OT and they tried to coerce her to wear it and promise them she would. She was told, "you have the choice, but you HAVE to make the RIGHT choice to wear the vest. There is only ONE choice that is

I made the decision to pull her out of school and we are now legally homeschoolers. Though whole life learner, delight driven learning or unschooling is where we fit into the best. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to write about our learning on this blog or a new one or even if we can separate it because it's just how we are. Learning happens all the time, it's almost impossible to make it fit into a neat box and call it learning time. What I suspect is, my life will be more full and happy as we have more time to spend with each other. I can't count the number of times I've said,"maybe this weekend we'll have time" and I hear all the kids start to cry. And personally there are so many bonus's I can't even list them all. I have autism. I don't fit in with other parents and I've felt guilty and sad because Piper expects me to do what the other moms do. I'm filled with so much shame because I haven't yet volunteered in her classroom. I'm stopped with fear when I think about doing it. So much sadness and shame, guilt and tears. I don't want to force myself to do what I've been doing. I'm burning out from the social connections I've been forced to keep. Less energy I've had for the kids, lost because of another IEP or another email from the teacher. The daily notebook filled with negativity.

Ivy is so much happier at home
I will probably always regret not following my passion and keeping my kids close to me. They grow up so fast, hold on. Love them, learn with them, explore with them, grow with them, and trust that they will learn what they want to learn when they need to learn it. Trust.. So much is about trust..
*Edit: Its now the middle of March 2012 (St. Patrick's Day to be exact) and things are going very well for us. Ivy's mood is so much happier and I'm more relaxed. We are officially homeschoolers, and I plan to keep the rest of our clan out of school as well. This, is truly a new beginning for us all. We are finally pursuing our real dream. Our original goals. Our life. Hopefully I'll still find time to blog about it because I really want to share this journey with everyone. I am still a disabled mom (though I hate the term) and I struggle with my autism and anxiety daily. Our children all have unique special needs, and my husband still has his own adhd and bipolar issues. We are a family that is robust, loud, and chaotic.. but we're finding a happier rhythm since we've taken back part of our lives that school took away. The calm is visible even to outsiders. This change has been so positive for us and I'm looking forward to blogging more about it!