I’m Back

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It’s been a long time since I updated, thanks mostly to my chromebook keyboard suddenly ceasing to work properly. I don’t know what happened, it just stopped working one day. Then a few weeks later, half the keys worked but there was no real pattern to it. So I finally got a wireless USB keyboard and mouse from my dad, and now I can use my chromebook again! YAY!

ji2So anyway, kindergarten started off great. The first day was, in JI’s words, “Absolutely perfect”. I cried for about twenty minutes when he got home. Day two… shit hit the fan. My son JI was sent to the peak aka behaviour room. Day three, okay. Day four, his behaviour was so bad that I had to pick him up early and he was asked to not return. They wrote on the report that he assaulted a teacher. He’s five. He kicked her because she got too close. JI was off for the next week as we tried to find a spot in an ED classroom rather than the general SpEd/Autism room he was in the first week. We got a spot at a different school, and he attended half days at the original school for a week until the transportation was figured out.

He’s been at the new school for a full week, three days, plus Monday and Tuesday. Monday was his first rough day, but he got himself under control. Yesterday after lunch/recess, I guess he started melting down and couldn’t stop. The teacher called me at 2:45pm, and I could hear JI screaming. He said JI was throwing chairs, trying to bite/hit/kick, took off his socks and shoes and threw them, etc. He wouldn’t or couldn’t calm down. It wasn’t until they told him I wouldn’t be coming that he calmed down to get on line for the bus.

jiThe problem is that he doesn’t act like this at home. He doesn’t get violent or aggressive towards me or any other people – and to be clear, he wasn’t at school either, not towards any kids or adults until the adults attempted to get close to him. If he and I have a disagreement, I either remind him of his choices or I tell him the consequences of not doing what he’s told. I’m frustrated because I’m not the special education teacher, I’m not the expert, but they expect me to tell them what to do. I don’t know what to do because he does not do this around me! There was a short period of time when he did, but we suffered through it and moved on. I merely held my ground.

Is JI trying to feel them out? Is there something about school that changes a kid’s personality? Will this eventually pass, or is my high functioning, highly intelligent, super cute, loving autistic child doomed to end up in juvenile detention or some kind of home?! I know it’s the first incident but the way things went at the last school, I’m really nervous. We had a conversation last night and this morning about how he should act when he’s upset or angry, and I hope it sticks.

Parenting my Autistic Child

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I had planned to post a few times a week now that summer vacation has started, but then, as always, time got away from me. It’s good though, being busy. I lost three of my clients and gained two, but I only had a week off in between, so everything I planned to do with only three kids had to be altered to involve five kids – two of whom are autistic. I’ll manage though, because I have no other choice. I just keep working and saving my money for the inevitable day when the house gets taken away.

Today I want to talk about parenting an autistic child. As I mentioned in my last post, itwp-1465917157645.jpg amazes me how many levels/severities/etc of autism I’ve encountered. My friend has two autistic kids and they’re different from each other, JI is different from them, and kids I’ve met in therapy/meetings/classes are different from them and each other. For me, that is the most frustrating part of being an autism parent. Yes, our kids all share certain traits, but even those traits aren’t necessarily addressed in the same way from child to child. I think that is one of the reasons why this past school year was so difficult.

I know exactly how to parent JI. We went through our rough patches, horrific patches, sad and frustrating patches. Now I know what I’m doing, how to handle his meltdowns, tantrums, fears, etc. Obviously I can’t predict everything or solve every problem, but I am really REALLY wp-1465917063884.jpgfucking amazing when it comes to parenting my child. It is so upsetting and frustrating when teachers or family members want to do things that I know will cause problems. It is absolutely infuriating when they refuse to follow my suggestions or directions. I understand that the educators’ job is to push JI, to teach him how to behave in certain situations, and that they are the experts at their job. It hurts me when he gets in trouble at school just for being himself, for doing things he can’t yet control, like lashing out physically. They say it’s not true, but I know he was labelled “The Bad Kid” in his class last year. I could tell by the way they talked about him, the way they dealt with him, the punishments and discipline he received.

If JI doesn’t want to do something, there are consequences. I utilize the amazing and wonderful 1-2-3 Magic system, and it works if you are committed to it – not gonna lie, it fails if you fail at keeping strong! You must use the system the right way, every time. With JI, there is no negotiating, there are no “threats”, just warning and then consequence. If he does something absolutely deplorable, such as intentionally injure someone, then he does get a more severe consequence. Unlike school, however, he does have the option to earn his things back. I make sure to recognize when he’s done something great, so that he doesn’t feel like he’s being “bad” all the time. I have to admit though, I have lost my shit on him more than once, because I’m a human being. It gets to be a lot, caring for five or six kids for 10 hours a day, and rarely having a moment alone from children. JI and I had a blow up the other day where I just lost it and yelled “Why does everything have to be a fight with you?!” and proceeded to list all the things he fought with me about that day. Not my best parenting moment by far, but I think it actually made him realize that sometimes it is easier to just go with the flow rather than resist so much. A huge part of his diagnosis was the rigidity, and it is by far our biggest obstacle to typical childhood.

I am hoping that kindergarten will be a new fresh start. JI says he hates school because hewp-1465916954013.jpg hates friends and hates to learn. I reminded him that he is learning every day, by asking questions, watching videos, helping me do things around the house, etc. He said that I
should just teach him at home! Well, homeschooling would be amazing if I didn’t have four or five other kids here to deal with, and if I could actually find a way to get JI to socialize in groups of peers. I guess we’ll just keep praying that the kindergarten plan works out.

In the Thick of It

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It’s been a long time since I posted, and I don’t even know exactly where to begin. The last I left you, I was concentrating on the Year of Me. Well, that has been nearly impossible to accomplish. Poke finally got a job, and now he refuses to take the boys on a regular basis. I have to haggle and negotiate with him every week. So yeah, he is giving me a little bit of child support, but he’s not seeing the kids. This continues to be a no-win situation for everyone except Poke. Typical.

I wish we could move forward with the divorce; unfortunately that is impossible right now thanks to the house having gone into foreclosure. Obviously my Go-Fund me didn’t work, Poke blew his 401k, and I don’t have $8k just lying around. For now we will just live for free until they force us out, but in the meantime we are going to try and file for bankruptcy to see if there is a way we can somehow save the house so that the boys and I don’t have to move and so I can keep my business. That means no divorce until after the bankruptcy is done.

As for the “doing things for myself”, I have been …meh… with that. I slacked off on my diet really badly, but I am trying to adhere via a different route. Instead of completely cutting out all meats, I am cutting out red meat and pork, and sticking to chicken and seafood. A low-purine diet allows for some chicken/seafood, so it’s not even really “breaking the rules”. It’s kind of weird actually, I used to never crave chicken or seafood, and now I do! I have completely lost my taste for beef and pork, except Phillys… I love Phillys… But I digress. Because I’ve been trying to stick to a mostly vegetarian diet, I have gotten back to more creative cooking. I juiced once. It was gross. I’m going to try again now that the weather is warmer and there is more fresh quality produce available. I have done some spiralizing, and actually got rid of 90% of my pasta. I want to do a low-carb thing, just because eating a lot of carbs makes me feel gross, but it’s hard to do on a low-purine diet because I’m supposed to eat 6-11 servings per day. Apparently carbs absorb uric acid, which is one of the goals of this diet. Ugh.

I tried getting into dating, and I still really want to date… Unfortunately it seems that the quality of man just isn’t there anymore. I’ve talked to probably a hundred guys, and I’ve had ONE date. They want sex only. They’re not interested in a girl with kids. They send unwanted dick pics. If I refuse to meet them RIGHT NOW for “a date” (aka sex), they call me names. They plan a date with me, and then never show or I never hear from them after we make a plan. I was talking to a guy for a couple months and I thought it was going somewhere, then he stopped talking to me and I found out he chose someone else over me. I was talking to another guy, he came over and hung out one night, then ghosted. A few weeks later he got ahold of me, apologized, and came over again. When he was leaving, he said “I’ll see you later tonight” and I’ve never heard from him again. The only guy who is consistent is that Marine I told you guys about, JK. At least I know what to expect (or not) from him. Friends have told me to try Match, because I was meeting all the winners on Plenty of Fish, but I don’t know. I feel like paying to meet someone online is the lowest of the low, and I just don’t think I’ve reached that level of pathetic yet.

When I was thinking I might be dating more often, I went ahead and updated my wardrobe a bit. I haven’t lost any weight, but I’m not trying, so that’s fine. I am comfortable with my body for the first time in a long time, and I think it’s because I joined a BBW group on Facebook. There are dudes in there who are legitimately attracted to chicks like me, and that’s amazing. All my life I’ve been taught that no man will be into a fat girl, but I guess it’s not actually true.

So, like the title says, I feel like I am really in the thick of it right now. Some horrible shit is behind me, and there is more horrible shit to come. I cry nearly every day. I had actually gotten back to drinking nearly every night, at least 3-4 nights a week, but as of this Sunday I am stopping that and going back to only drinking on the weekend. As great as the sleep was after a bottle of wine, the sleeping pills accomplish almost the same greatness with zero calories or health risks. I have tried so hard to remove all the negative from my life, including a current sabbatical from Facebook. I had to take a break from all the bullshit. I’ll go back on in a week or so, check things out, and if I’m feeling any toxicity radiating from there, I’m going to be out again. It’s just not worth it.

Life Changes… Again…

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Things have been going very smoothly the past few weeks. We put JI on Clonidine, a blood pressure reducer, and it has GREATLY improved his disposition. He no longer functions at 11, has had all green days at school wpid-20151119_170344.jpg(well, a couple yellow days, but no reds!), and is generally a happy kid. JI used to be so intense, so full of angry energy, so constantly irritated that he was almost impossible to control. It got to the point where I didn’t know if I would have to take him to the ER one day, because I could not get
him to calm down. He was physically and emotionally out of control. Luckily, an exam by his pediatrician combined with my oral reports and the reports from the autism center warranted the doctor to give us the medication for a trial basis. I cannot believe what a difference it made, and how quickly. For the first time in years, JI is truly himself again. It makes me happy.

On the Squeaks front, he’s growing like a weed, per usual. He’s already got six teeth, and two more are about to pop out in the next week. The last two came in between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning! He got an wpid-20151119_090745.jpgexcellent review at his 9 month check up: 21#, 12 oz, 34″ long. He’s in the 90th percentile, much like JI always was. I think Squeaks is going to be a football player (JI wants to play the tuba LOL). He crawls around like a crazy man, super fast, and is standing and cruising along the furniture. JI walked at 11 months, and I’m sure Squeaks will meet or exceed that timeline. If he didn’t have such a big head, he could probably balance better right now! He’s eating real food, doesn’t care for baby food much anymore, and his favorite foods are jalapenos, multi-grain cheerios, and MEAT. ALL THE MEAT.

Poke has seen the boys a few times since his mother pulled her witchy bullshit back in September. He has an actual job now, so he’s back to paying child support (per our agreement, not “legally”), but I wish he would see the kids more often. He says his only day off is Sunday… I don’t know whether to believe him or not. I’m glad that his mom isn’t getting to spend time with them, but I want the boys to know their father, even if he is an asshole to me. Just because he couldn’t handle marriage and family life doesn’t mean he was or is a terrible father. He was always a good dad until his mental health and substance abuse issues got in the way. It’s sad. What’s even more sad is that JI still asks about Seanatello, but rarely asks about his dad or his grandmother. Of course Honey & Poppy, my parents, are always #1 in JI’s mind! My bio mom and the rest of my bio family have been getting more involved in our lives as well, which will be wonderful for the boys as they get older

I was trying to get into the dating scene, as it is quite lonely and barren out here for a single mother. I am surrounded by at least two children 24/7. My only real life adult contact is when the parents drop off their kids in the morning and pick them up at night, when I see adults at the preschool, and when I go to the grocery store. I am desperate for adult human contact. The problem is, either the market is tapped out or my standards have gotten WAY more stringent than they were in the past. There’s nothing here for me, there’s nobody here that I’m remotely interested in, and actually, that’s fine. I’ve been talking with good friend of mine who lives out east, we’ll call him Doc, and things are going in a pleasing direction. We’re not going to commit, or rush, or whatever. Just take it nice and slow, and I like that. We’ve been friends for about 10 years, withwpid-received_10153767078034801.jpg some rough spots in between thanks to my relationship with Poke, but I’ve always had feelings for him in my heart. I always thought about him, but pushed it aside because I was married and that was supposed to be forever. Well, we all see how that worked out! So now I’m free to pursue what could be, and I’m excited. He seems to be genuinely interested in the boys, and JI talks about him at least a few times a day, even though they’ve never met. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Summertime Rules

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There are quite a few articles going around right now about how parents need to let their kid have the “1970s Summer”, and I could not agree more! I remember summer being an amazing time of playing outside with my friends, riding my bike all over the neighborhood, creating adventures and fantastical stories, putting on plays and using my imagination in the most amazing ways. I had a computer, and I would use it on rainy days, and we had a TV, and sometimes I just wanted to stay inside and watch TV all day or play with my Barbies for hours. Regardless, my mom and dad basically did little to entertain me. My dad would take me to the park after he got home from work or on weekends, but otherwise I was left to my own devices. When my brother Scrod was old enough to play, they had a harder time with him because he wanted to do EVERY SINGLE SPORT in the world (except soccer), so they had to run him all over the place and go to practices and games and all that crap. Not me!

But I digress.

Having a four year old is a little different from having a five year old, and having a kid period is very different from it was in the 70s, 80s, and even 90s. These days everyone is in everyone’s business, and not in the good way like it was back then. Now, instead of the village helping raise the children and looking out for each other’s families, the village is poised ready to attack when they see another parent doing something they disagree with. You have probably heard recently about somwpid-20150530_121405_20150602000413349.jpge parents who ran into trouble with the law – twice! – because they let their kids walk home from school and go to the park alone. The kids were ten and almost seven years old! If I thought he’d come back at a reasonable time and could pay attention to traffic, I’d have no problem sending JI to the park by himself. He’s just a bit too young and irresponsible this summer – maybe next summer.

My point is, though, and I think the point of the other parents writing these articles, is that we really need to disengage from the idea that children run our world or our lives. I have a few more posts coming up that will be discussing this subject, and I look forward to discussing with my readers about the subject. Back in my childhood, my parents were #1 – not me. Yes, I got everything I needed and practically everything I wanted. I was not neglected in any way. But my parents didn’t bow to me, they didn’t hover over me to ensure success, they didn’t pave the way with pillows so that I’d never get hurt. I had to take my lumps and learn my lessons just like they did. I don’t know when the shift occurred from family centric (ie, do what is good for all involved) to child centric (ie, make sure each child gets exactly what they want/need at all costs).

This brings me back to the idea of an 80s summer (I wasn’t alive in the 70s hehe), which is what I want for JI, and what I will be doing my best to accomplish for him. Yes, that statement sounds like I’m being child centric, but let me lay it out for you. I wpid-20150530_092849.jpgwill not be planning many activities. I will not be driving him to COSI, the Zoo, a hundred play-dates, museums, classes, etc. etc. etc. Yeah, we will probably go to the Zoo once or twice a week – because I LOVE the zoo and we have a membership and it is free. Sure, we will hit up COSI a couple of times every month, because we have a membership and it is free. I’m not going to go broke trying to entertain my child. I want him to get dirty. I’m going to let him eat lots of popsicles. I want him to get scraped knees and bruises because he is playing so hard. (Disclaimer: I don’t actually want my kid to get hurt! But if he does, it won’t be the end of the world.) The way he climbs without fear makes me worried that this might be the summer of a broken limb. I’m going to utilize The Bored Jar. I’m going to send him out in the morning after breakfast, let him in for lunch, send him back out until snack time, and then maybe I’ll sit him down for an activity. If I feel like it. I’m going to let him get sticky and filthy and have black bare feet. I want him to remember this summer as an amazing, awesome, wonderful time when he got to grow up and be a real boy instead of mommy’s baby.

But he’ll always be my baby, we all know that.

So the rules of this summer are as follows:

  1. No whining.
  2. No begging.
  3. If it looks fun, do it.
  4. If you get hurt, tell me.
  5. Be brave.
  6. Be strong.
  7. Use your brain.
  8. Use your muscles.
  9. Drink from the hose.
  10. Have fun!
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This is what adults do for fun in the summertime…

Mom… I’m Bored!

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Kids are always looking for things to do, and we do not always have the desire, time, or patience to entertain them. This summer, I will be utilizing a popular trend, The Bored Jar. I am going to fill our Bored Jar with the following 50 activities that JI can complete with little to no assistance from Poke or me. As I stated in a previous post, this summer is going to be the summer of growing, and I plan on helping JI mature by giving him more responsibility and more trust. I want him to learn to be his own “man”, so to speak! Also, when it gets hot, I get suuuuuuuuuuper lazy. Not gonna lie.

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  1. Clean the bathroom floor
  2. Pull weeds
  3. Work in workbook (or other skills activity, such as tracing letters)
  4. Play on slip’n’slide
  5. Wipe down all inside doors with magic eraser
  6. Play in the sprinkler
  7. Draw with chalk outside
  8. Draw with chalk inside (if you have a chalkboard!)
  9. Do 20 jumping jacks
  10. Draw a picture for a friend
  11. Put away laundry
  12. Clean the toilet
  13. Wipe down counters/tables
  14. Read for at least 10 minutes
  15. Go on a treasure hunt (make up lists in advance!)
  16. Tell me a story
  17. Play with bubbles
  18. Go swimming
  19. Run from A to B 10 times (ours would be deck to fence)
  20. Build a fort
  21. Make an alphabet list (candies A-Z, characters, boys/girls names, etc.)
  22. Vacuum living room
  23. Vacuum bedrooms
  24. Play with sibling(s)
  25. Ride your bike
  26. Swiffer the kitchen
  27. Jump on the trampoline for 10 minutes
  28. 10 minute dance party
  29. Do a puzzle
  30. Play a board game
  31. Paint
  32. Play in the basement (or another room they rarely utilize)
  33. Clean all the mirrors in the house
  34. Dust house
  35. Have a picnic
  36. Wash dishes
  37. Pick up all the trash/toys/miscellaneous stuff around the house
  38. Wash the car
  39. Feed the pets
  40. Clean the bathtub
  41. Draw a picture of your family
  42. Watch a movie
  43. Pick a new recipe for dinner from a kids’ cookbook
  44. Play hide and seek
  45. Learn a new kid-friendly recipe (no bake pie, PBJ, etc.)
  46. Play dress up
  47. Do a “photoshoot” – give your kid a disposable camera or clear out your digital cam and let them go crazy!
  48. Spin in a circle until you fall over
  49. Play basketball/soccer/baseball
  50. Set up croquet or mini golf (or badminton or volleyball – use what you have!)

School’s Out for Summer!

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JI had his last day of school on Thursday, finishing up a great last week of school. This school year has been very difficult for us, from starting out at another school as an NT peer to being recast as disabled by the school system, then switching schools at the same time that Squeaks was being born and record amounts of snow were falling on central Ohio causing several weeks of snow days.

wpid-20150523_182057.jpgLearning how to behave in a different classroom setting was a challenge as well. At the public schools here, a red-yellow-green system is used, and in the beginning JI was constantly on red (all kids start on green and get moved to yellow and then red depending on their behaviour). I was feeling really poorly as a parent, but over time I realized that he just had to work it out and learn how to do it their way. This was tough because I always want my baby to be his best! I looked at his sticker chart for the month of May, and he only had four redwpid-20150526_164525.jpg days! Spectacular! JI has ended this school year on such a positive note, and I could not be more proud of him for all the growing and changing he has done.

Also today I received the paperwork that JI’s teacher filled out in regards to his social behaviour and such in the classroom. There were three questionnaires to be completed, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the answers. There were a lot of things that he does that I thought he didn’t do, such as play with other kids and act wpid-20150519_111334.jpgappropriately in group settings. He wasn’t doing that at the beginning of the year. Now I’m wondering, and hoping almost, that he behaviour problems were just temporary and that he doesn’t have ASD or ODD or related disorders. Of course I’m still going to keep going with the evaluations, because I’d rather test for everything and get a ton of negatives than stop testing and have him fall behind again. He definitely still has sensory issues, so behaviour therapy will definitely help with that.

wpid-20150527_134717.jpgI’m very excited for this summer. I think JI is going to mature a great deal between now and August, and hopefully next school year won’t be as emotionally demanding as this past school year. I have heaps of ideas in my brain about what to do to help JI in that maturing process, and I cannot wait to share them with you all. The next three months are going to be unique in that JI is becoming an actual boy, not just a toddler or preschooler, and Squeaks is going to be doing a whole lot of growing, and might be sitting up and maybe even crawling by the end of the summer. I am just so eager to see it all happen!