sanity


I’ve been in training for a half-marathon. Here’s the post I shared on my running blog…

Challenge.

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Like the title of this post, “Fried” pretty much sums things up lately…

Our laptop fried itself a couple of weeks ago. I was thankful to be able to utilize Christian’s iPad in the evenings to check email/Facebook, but it wouldn’t let me post here so I have all of these “semi-posts” floating around in my head! I’m glad to report that Brian found us an old-school refurbished laptop. It’s a bit slower than our old model. I’m sure the kids won’t appreciate that, but Brian and I will be able to get done what we need to get done. 🙂

Up until this week, I was feeling “fried” on a daily basis. By 3:30 in the afternoon, I was feeling emotionally, physically, mentally shot. Completely overwhelmed. Home, school, work, etc. was all just feeling like too much. I was frustrated with myself on so many levels — for not finding time during the week to run, because I really wanted to lace up my shoes and go, but it just wasn’t happening; for eating really poorly for the last month; for being SO tired ALL of the time; for not being on top of everyone’s schedules consistently; for hating my commute even though I love to drive; for having to figure out a new med schedule for Christian so that afternoons at school weren’t too much for him; for the bus scheduler for changing the routes/drivers/times and failing to give us notice about any of that; for feeling so down; for getting so sick; for forgetting things that I used to just be able to remember; for so many more things that I can’t explain and/or remember. All of these things just ate at me and left me with nothing. I felt “fried”. Essentially burnt to a crisp and worth nothing…

…but for whatever reason, it seemed as I turned the calendar to October on Monday I started not feeling quite so “fried.” I found time to run on the weekends and while I wish it was more I’ll be happy that I have THAT time to better my body and mind… My food choices are something that I have control over. I can’t go back and “uneat” food, but I can make better choices in the days to come. I will focus on that… As for being tired, I find it hard to combat that feeling, but I can choose to go to bed earlier. But no matter how much (or how little) sleep I get, I am sleeping much more soundly than I have in the last 8-1/2 years. That is amazing!… Everyone’s schedules are difficult to be on top of, but I’m trying – utilizing multiple calendars – depending on Brian to take care of more things – writing myself more daily lists of things to do and post-it notes. It will come as things become more routine and we’re starting to get there… While I still wish that my commute wasn’t quite so long (especially considering the amount of $$ that we have to spend on gas), I am starting to remember to enjoy the quiet, the “me” time, the beauty of the creation along the route, my music, my thoughts, my coffee. I am also trying to focus less on the stress I feel from getting from point A to point B to point C in X amount of time and just realize that I will get there as soon as I can. Focusing more on what I can control over things that I can’t… I was bummed that we had to make the decision to add an afternoon med to Christian’s. We prefer to use as little medication as possible, but it was SO necessary. After the first week of school, Christian’s afternoon started to go downhill quickly, by the end of the day his teachers were struggling to get him to do anything other than stim, script, and pace. There was immediate proof that this was the right decision, though, when on the very first afternoon on the meds he was able to participate with his class for the ENTIRE day. My heart smiled as that note came home. We want the best for Christian and right now, at THIS time, this IS the best for him… I was pretty miffed and disappointed with the whole bus chaos, especially with what happened last January and the promise that would never happen again. So I donned my Mama Bear growl and called the bus scheduler directly to complain. He lied to me (knowingly or not, I’m not really sure), but at least he’s aware of the situation now and hopefully will know not to let that happen again (or this Mama will have no qualms about picking up the phone to call and complain again) and take it to another level if necessary…

So, anyway, what I’m saying in a very round-about way is that I’m starting to find the peace in the daily things that I used to “fry” me. Understanding that God has put me where I am, at this moment, for (a) purpose(s), even if they are not (all) evident to me right now. When I trust that God will get me through these struggles/moments, when I remember that HE is my strength and in control of ALL things, then I find the peace that I need/crave.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through CHRIST who strengths me. {scripture verse that I wear as a reminder on a daily basis}

We survived our first week with our new crazy schedule.

I am enjoying working with my students at school. The classroom routine really just started to get established on Friday, so I’m eager to see how things go once we’re into a regular schedule there. I feel a bit rushed in the morning (and after school) to get everyone to where they need to be at the right time, but hopefully that will get easier with time, too.

Christian finally decided that school will be a good thing again. (Whew!) We were all happy that Miss R is his bus driver for both before AND after school. She and Christian just have an amazing understanding and trust with each other. I feel 100% safe having her transport Christian. (I’d love to keep her as his bus driver as long as he’s in school!) School seems to be going well for Christian. He is greeting people and using their names. He is taking charge of his routine in the lunchroom and no longer needs to have an adult sitting immediately next to him. (HUGE!) He is having some issues with tearing up paper (i.e. worksheets) and we have seen this behavior at home over the summer. I’m hoping we can figure out how to solve this, but I’m excited that things have been going as well as they have so far.

Olivia has been loving school. (She’s 2-1/2 weeks in already.) I’m not sure that she enjoys going to both before and after school care this year, she’s surviving. 😉 (Last year she constantly asked to stay. You’d think she’d be happier that she has to now!) She and I are still figuring out how to efficiently get out of the house in the morning, but I’m sure we’ll have it figured out by Christmas. 😉

Brian has been coming home to get Christian on and off the bus. It sounds like that is going well and that Christian is enjoying some “guy time” with Daddy. 🙂 (I don’t think Brian minds either.)

I hoping that next week goes as well as this week has…

While I am super excited and thankful for my new job, I feel a bit like I’m in mourning for parts of my “old” routine. The things that I will no longer be able to be a part. Things that I will miss deeply. Things that I took for granted before.

To be able to pass through this transitional stage of my life, I thought that I’d compile a list of things that are changing — not for the good, nor the bad, but just the things that are…

  • I will no longer be able to put Christian on the bus in the morning. It is hard for me to hand off this responsibility, even if it is to Brian. I remember going through some great joys and fears and tears and laughs throughout this process over the years. I will miss it.
  • I cannot volunteer at Olivia’s school this year. I loved every minute of being there last year – the staff and students are wonderful. The fun of being the volunteer – “Mrs. [Mama] is here!” and the smiles and the hugs and the sighs and … the everything. I will miss it.
  • I can no longer “sleep in.” I will miss this, even if it was an unpredictable perk.
  • I cannot just stop by Christian’s school to drop off this or that, to drive him in on a hard day, to pick him up if necessary… I will miss that.
  • I won’t be home in the middle of the day to get the mail. I’ll miss that, too.
  • My Tuesday morning BodyPump class definitely won’t be happening. I knew a former therapist and family friends in that class. It is such an awesome and amazing workout. I always left class feeling empowered. I will miss that Tuesday morning workout.
  • I will not be able to just chill in the office at Liv’s school waiting for my “entrance” time. I will miss that down time and the weekly coffee chats with a fav principal.
  • I will not be able to do all doctors appointments with the kids anymore. That has been very hard for me. (The first one that I missed was yesterday.) While I know that Brian is perfectly able to take care of these things, this has been my responsibility the last 8 years. The well-checks, the specialists, the therapists, the sick visits, the dentist, the evaluations, the diagnoses, the everything … I know this stuff backward, forward, in my sleep and it feels so strange to hand this off. I will miss this tremendously.
  • I still miss not being able to help coach sports, especially soccer. It’s been over ten years since I’ve assisted in this area, but I still miss it. Perhaps it was the excellent head coach that I worked with. The one who started every practice/game, whatever the weather/mood/time of day, with – “It’s a beautiful day for soccer!” And it always was. I find myself watching teams practicing and wishing that there was a way to be involved. Someday, I hope that there will be. Until then, I will miss it.

I’m sure there are many more things that I will be missing this year with this transition in my life, but I feel blessed by the opportunity to start this new adventure. I am looking forward to seeing where it leads me.

Everything changes on Monday. OK, well, maybe not everything, but it will definitely be a sweeping change to our family and schedule.

I am going back to work.

I am mostly excited with a little bit of nervousness thrown in (for good measure).

I will be starting as a 2nd grade special education instructional assistant at Jacob Shapiro Brain-based Instruction Laboratory Charter School. Sounds like an impressive school, doesn’t it?!? I was impressed during the interview and happy that they wanted me as a part of their team.

Brian and I are working hard with schedules — trying to figure everything out, yet waiting on Christian’s bus schedule for the year. We’ll get it all worked out, I’m sure, but I’m eager to get things finalized. But the awesome thing about being able to get into a school as an assistant is that the kids’ major holiday breaks/vacations will line up with mine and I can stay home with them. What a blessing!

What a change!

I’m excited. 🙂

Sigh. I’ve waited to post this (and actually wondered if I ever would) because it gets my emotions so raw. Let me start at the beginning…
Brian and I decided that it would be a good idea to put both kids in swimming lessons this spring. Liv has never taken “formal” lessons. Christian took “special needs” lessons last winter. Christian enjoyed the water, however, Brian and I were concerned that they didn’t focus enough on swimming skills vs. the-love-of-water. Christian has never had a problem with the latter. We really wanted him to learn some basic water survival skills.
About a month before the classes were set to start (and we were ready to register), I tried emailing the aquatics director to see if it was feasible for Christian to partake in “regular” lessons. I waited and waited. A week passed and I hadn’t heard from her, so I stopped into her office to talk with her directly.
She didn’t seem too concerned about anything that I wanted to tell her about Christian. She just asked (more than once) if Christian was OK without me in the water with him.
Well, yes, he is OK without me.
Her answer to me then was to enroll him in whatever class I wanted to. She didn’t seem to have time or attention to listen to any of my other concerns, so I left her office and signed him up for “regular” class at the same time as Olivia. Easier for me. Awesome.
…or so I thought…
I arrived with the kids on the first night of class. Both were excited and couldn’t wait to get into the water. When all of the children were divided into smaller groups, I could sense a rumble of concern about Christian from the instructors. They were nervous about him. One of them went and asked the aquatics director if she was “OK with him being here.” Her reply was, “If he’s OK without Mom in the pool, then I’m fine with him being here.”
I started to get nervous and anxious about my son being referred to as him. I was starting to get irked, but tried to stay calm and positive for Christian.
I backed out through the door and watched carefully. As I stood there I was horrified, crushed, and angry as one of the instructors (right in front of Christian), started tearing up and shaking. As I tried to read her lips, I could see that she was saying, “I can’t handle this! I don’t know how to teach him! I can’t do this!” She was panicking, shaking her hands, and looking at him like he was the plague! I wanted to run out there, grab Christian out of the water, and shield him from her reaction.
Eventually, the aquatic director came out and talked to the teary-eyed instructor, went and talked to one of the other lifeguards, and then headed my direction. Sigh.
Aquatic director walked right over to me, and in front of all of the other parents, started telling me that Christian could not be in these classes. She told me that he is not capable and that thankfully they were overstaffed on lifeguards that night so one of them could spend time with Christian for the rest of the allotted class time. She told me that I would have to enroll him in the “special needs” classes if I wanted him to continue lessons and that she supposed that she could “roll him over” into the special class that started in two days. She made this sound like she was doing me this huge favor. Sigh.
Had it not been such a long day by that point, I might have been more vocal with the aquatic director. However, as I watched my beautiful boy now happily splashing around with extra lifeguard, I just nodded and told her that I would like to continue the lessons and to go ahead and put my baby in the other class.
I’m sure that aquatic director said some more things to me, but I was done listening. I was too busy watching Christian and fighting back my own tears. I was lost in thought wondering whether Christian had heard and how much he understood about what the swim instructor had said about him at the beginning of the class.
As soon as aquatic director walked away, I could no longer hold myself together. I started bawling, uncontrollably, by that window, in front of the other parents. I tried to stop. I really did. But I just couldn’t. There were too many emotions washing over me all at once.  I donned as brave face as best as I could and attempted to pull myself back together by the end of the class.
Two days later, Christian started lessons in the special needs swim class again.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Three weeks passed and my emotions were not as raw as they had been. The kids are thriving in their swim classes. I made an appointment to talk to the CEO of the place where the kids were taking their classes. He agreed to meet with me the next day.
I recounted our story. He listened to my every word. He asked questioned and repeated me, just to make sure that he fully understood what I had said. He promised to use it as a “teaching moment” and asked that I let him know how the swimming class turned out in the end.
I was satisfied.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Swimming lessons have now come to a close.
Olivia did fantastically well and loved every minute of her class.
And Christian … well, Christian did great. He also had the most excellent of teachers, Mr. Tim. Mr. Tim was genuinely happy to see Christian every week. Mr. Tim was energetic, caring, and resourceful. He got Christian to try things that I wasn’t sure I would ever see him do – like putting his head underwater to grab a ring off of the bottom of the pool! I know! Awesome, right?!? Mr. Tim had him working on paddling with his arms. Once Christian could do that pretty well, Mr. Tim had Christian start working on his kick. Christian still may be a long way from swimming on his own, but he is now on his way thanks to the patience and understanding of Mr. Tim.
I wish that there were more Mr. Tim s in this world…

Christian had Spring Break this week. Being out of routine is not necessarily easy for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for those on the autism spectrum. We have had our share of difficult “vacations” in the past. Many have consisted of screaming, endless crying, and major “tantrums” about not being able to be at school. It becomes an extraordinarily hard time for EVERYONE in the house. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t concerned how we would handle this long week that laid bare in front of us.

But this week, this week of Spring Break, an entire week with NO school, turned out so different from all of our breaks in the past. I think that it is safe to say that this has been the best break from school that Christian has ever had! No joke!

Here are some things that I have learned during this week…

  • We can survive and thrive during a break. Whew! This makes the thought of summer vacation not quite so scary a thought anymore.
  • There is a Catch-22 to Christian sleeping later into the morning. I have learned this week that if he sleeps past 6am, I will probably end up washing any and everything that was on his bed. As much as I like being able to “sleep-in”, I would prefer to see my boy by 5am.
  • With the help of two of his therapists, Christian learned that being at the Children’s Museum in town with me and Liv is OK. We can have fun together as a family while there. My heart smiles.
  • Christian can walk his service dog, Pixar, really excellently by himself (if he has her on a hands-free leash), as long as I’m not around. Pixar has become too reliant on me. I have to distance myself from her so that she can lean on Christian more.
  • An obsession focus on WordWorld combining with Legos makes for some interesting days. I think I need a Lego intern to move in with us for awhile. (See pictures of our creations at the bottom of this post.)
  • Christian knows his bedtime prayer. He wandered into Olivia’s room when I was putting her to bed last night and started praying along. I was near tears of joy. 🙂
  • Christian spontaneously told Brian that he loves him a few days ago. I melted. Such fantastic words to hear, especially when offered so freely.
  • Christian and I can do a HUGE grocery shopping trip by ourselves with the help of a cart called the “Shop Along.” These carts have a bench seat behind the actual cart. Christian sat awesomely on the bench while I overfilled our cart. 🙂 (I have also learned that pushing an 80+ lb. child in a Shop Along with it overflowing should be considered an Olympic sport. I’m only half kidding. 😉 )
  • Christian is a technology master. One example of that this week — he found a word processing program on Grandma’s computer that she didn’t even know that she had. (He found it so that he could type credits at her house, of course.) He has also been using our “Movie Maker” program to create his own scrolling credits and inserting pictures that are saved on the computer. He can just about type as fast as I can. Incredible! 😀

Our favorite -- "DOG"

Our Cast of WordWorld friends -- "DOG", "FROG", "PIG", and "SHEEP" (We added "DUCK" a little bit later. He hasn't made the leap from the camera to the computer yet. 😉 )

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