Everyone Hates Me Today

Everyone hates me today, and that’s cool…because if I am going to be honest, I am not too fond of their behavior either. I get it. I do. It is summer. The sun is shining. The birds are bathing in stagnate water. It is pure magic. So when I ask my children to do work, I expect a little bit of push back, but today is like a full on revolt. And now, because the gauntlet has been thrown, we have waged war. I do not back down from terrorists, no matter how much I love them or how cute they are.

I promise that I am not asking for much. I’m asking for one math lesson and one phonics lesson. The actual equivalent of 30 whole minutes of actual work.

At the moment we are on hour 4 of the hostage situation. There’s been no screaming or fighting, just a whole lot of whining, fake ailments, and massive excuses.

You want to torture me with your non-stop whining? I’m going to have to retaliate.

How might a mother retaliate against her children for their educational revolt?

I added peas INTO their  mac and cheese at lunch (gasp)! I wish you all could have heard my maniacal laugh as they came to the table and saw the round green balls of doom.




When it all falls apart

In the past week it seems like our house has literally been falling apart one piece at a time. It started with the plumbing. Escalated to the air conditioning. And then smaller things, like my vacuum, decided to join the club of broken valuables.

So our basement is flooding every time we do a load of laundry. Our house is hot, with one small exception. And now I can’t vacuum up messes. Overall, I am one spilled bowl of cereal away from a stiff drink and dozen donuts.

I’m overwhelmed, hot, and irritable, and then there are my children…who have been arguing constantly.

So here is how life goes: They snap at one another. I snap at them for snapping. Then they argue with me about who is actually at fault for the original grievance, and then full blown arguing begins. I try to calmly diffuse the situation, but nine times out of ten, Jonah’s voice goes high, Luke goes on the defensive, and Jude takes his stance as the boss until the moment ends with me yelling for everyone to stop.

It isn’t even 5:00 yet, and I am already exhausted and dreading this upcoming week.

This arguing isn’t normal for us, and when they act like this, I seriously doubt my effectiveness as a mother. I know that children argue and fight. It is completely normal, but I also know that when my children act like this, they deep down know better. A part of me feels like I am failing them. And because I am the way I am, I beat myself up about it.

And then I walk upstairs to their room and see a note pinned to the board above Jonah’s bed. And all of a sudden, I can breathe again.

I am not failing. Obviously I am doing something right. IMG_20170723_163956

Starting Over…Again

When this blog started it was about my son’s autism and how I attempted to deal with it all. We searched and searched for a diagnosis, then therapies, then breakthroughs. Years later, here we are. We have a six year old child who is amazingly bright, hilariously funny, and above all, happy. We have sacrificed a lot. We have given everything we could. Every single member of this family has given a lot to get to this point, and I think we can all agree that it was well worth it. Our life looks so different now, and maybe that is why I decided to start blogging again. I never imagined my life would look the way it does, and at the same time there is so much that I still need to change.

Who are we now?

We are a small town family who digs holes, hunt frogs, and seek out dirt like it’s air. We’ve added two dogs, two cats, 7 chickens, and 2 ducks to our family. My three boys all have their own unique gifts, which they use to support one another in whatever mischief they can find. We are also now homeschoolers! That’s right. We walked away from public school and started our homeschooling journey in October of last year.

And while this has been an awesome ride, I have learned a lot about my children and myself. The first thing I learned?

1. My weight is not my friend, and as I watch my boys grow, I am starting to worry about their health as well. I have struggled with my weight my entire life, and I want to empower my children to make healthy choices.

2.School is hard, but public school is nearly impossible. My children (8,6, and 4) had to deal with issues and struggles that I never would have expected them to be faced with at such a young age. Their self confidence, self worth, and creativity after just a few short years was gone. In light of those issues (and many others) we decided to homeschool. But you know what? Homeschooling is hard! Homeschooling is so hard that some days I cry in the shower because I feel like I am failing my children. But the truth of the matter is that they are happier, thriving, and growing in so many ways it is hard to track.

3. Autism is a struggle, but the payoff is amazing. We still have daily battles, but they don’t consume us like they used to. And while certain things may be harder than others, I thank God every day for this child and his gift. He sees the world in a way that no one else does, and I am lucky enough that he shares his insight with me.

4. My two other children need way more than love and attention that I thought. I’ve spent so much time over the past couple of years with therapies and drills to get Jo to progress that I sometimes forgot that I have two other children who need me just as much as he does. That’s hard. It is hard to admit that I gave one child more, but it is even harder to watch the other who fight for attention. We have come a long way with splitting up attention, but we still have so much further to go.

5. I am, and will always be, a work in progress. I am a hot mess. I’m the mom in gym shorts, a t-shirt, no make-up, and frizzy hair who spouts off dirty jokes in hushed whispers to other moms while the kids play at the playground. I read trashy romance novels just as much as I read Margaret Atwood. I will never have all my eggs in basket or row, and if I am going to be completely honest, most of my eggs are broken because my children drop them in the lawn after collecting them from the chicken coop. I’m awkward, overweight, and full of sarcasm. I am also so completely awesome. I know this to be true because my kids tell me every single day.

So, this is where we begin. This is my gift to you: our crazy homeschooling, autism, sensory seeking, weight loss, healthier lifestyle, boys will be crazy-mischief-maker journey! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

One Step at a Time

It’s been a little over a year since I updated this blog, mostly because I have been afraid to put into words what has been happening in our lives. This year has met us with great advancements, many failures, and even more tears, but we made it. Our house now looks like some kind of therapy room. We have a swing in the front room, a trampoline in the corner, sensory boxes on bookshelves, and more Legos than I can count.

But I miss our old house, our old neighborhood, and old friends. I miss our old church and Pastor. I miss being away from family and being someone who can get lost in the crowd. But this move has been good for our family, especially Jo, so I press on.

We have made new friends, have a new (really really old) house, and a massive backyard (just shy of an acre) to play. Jo’s school year was amazing. His teacher is the most kind, gentle, patient woman I think I have ever met. Even on the crazy days she met me with a smile. Jo’s team was built of the Special Education Director, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, and his teacher. His initial IEP meeting was overwhelming and confusing, but I heard everything I needed to, so I walked away praying that these people knew what they were doing.

They did.

Jo is talking fluidly now. We can understand 98% of everything he says. He still has some pronunciation issues and uses the incorrect words at times, but I can live with that. OT worked with him on sensory activities, handwriting, and basic self care. He learned how to zip a coat! Speech worked with his teacher to help him socially, and we have seen great improvements.

Jo did so wonderfully during the school year that his team wanted to try him out in the Pre-K class, pulling him completely out of Special Education. I jumped at the opportunity. I felt like it would help him so much if he could just see what the other kids were doing during the school day. The idea was great. The reality was shattering.

Jo went from happy and adjusted to frantic and fearful. The kids were too noisy and too chaotic for him. His teacher even reported that the happy child who used to play on the playground was now squatting in the corner of the playground as far away from everyone as possible.

After a few more tries and some really awesome sensory inputs, he started to do better. So much better that at his final IEP meeting for the year his team recommended that he be placed full time in the Pre-K class instead of Special Ed next year.

And then summer break happened…and our world fell apart once again.

More meltdowns. More screaming. Loss of vocal regulation. More rigid. Refuses to leave the house. Not wanting to eat. Refusing to change clothes.High anxiety all the time. Isn’t summer over yet?

So here we are, July 9th, six days before he turns 4, slightly better…but mostly just different.

Taking It Back

Today, while driving home from working out, it all became clear to me. I’m not quite sure how it happened or why it happened now, but it did, and it feels so good. Jonah has been having some amazingly wonderful days. Even his bad days haven’t been too horrible.
Thinking back to when this journey of our began, I used to cry every night. Jonah was so violent. He would punch me in the face and had almost no words. He would scream and grunt, and I saw no future for him. I couldn’t even imagine what tomorrow would hold for us, let alone ten years from now.
Now, Jonah loves. He smiles. He talks to us and tries to communicate. He imagines and dreams. He is a kid. And while he has his moments, they are manageable. We have completely rearranged our lives. We have bent over backwards. Our daily routine now centers on sensory activities, talking, and social integration, but it brought me my son back.
But all that has been clouded lately by one simple word: autism. My husband noticed that since the day of the diagnosis I have been itching. I now have rashes and feverishly scratch at my skin. It got so bad that I started screaming. And then my husband brought the timeline to my attention. I guess I didn’t realize how much Jonah’s diagnosis had affected me. I’m subconsciously ripping my skin off, and for what?
I’ve been so tired and scared that I’ve crawled into a little, snug autism hiding hole, but now I’m done.
As I drove home alone, radio blaring, wind blowing seamlessly through the fields, through my car, and then into another field, I started to breathe. I started to feel my heart beat again. I started to notice the growing corn and sprouting soy beans. And it felt so peaceful. Many call moments like these “clarity.” But I see more than just that. I felt the hand on my shoulder. I felt the voice of someone saying, “it will be okay.” God was with me in that car, just as he has been with me through this whole thing. And I used to know that. I used to believe that things could be “given” to God, but then real life happened, and somewhere in all the chaos, God was silenced.
I feel stronger today. I feel happier. I feel like the world is not going to crush me.
I ran in the house and took my family to the park, for an hour, just to play. We don’t play enough. We do therapy, drive to therapy, clean for therapy, do paperwork for therapy…say it clearly, hold this, rock in this, repeat this, play with this…
And we got lost.
Jonah turns three in 6 weeks. Early Intervention therapy ends the day before his birthday. In two weeks we will be having a meeting to discuss programs Jonah can be in and therapies we can start once Early Intervention ends.
We will be declining those services and therapies.
There is a month and a half between Jonah turning three and school starting. That month and a half is ours. We know how to work on his speech, OT, and social skills. We have been there through every therapy. We are professionals, but more than that, we are parents, and he is a child. And it is time to let him be just that. It’s time to enjoy my children, because I will never get these moments back.

We’ve got to make some changes

I’ve been so preoccupied with my children that I’ve completely neglected myself and my marriage. I stepped on the scale a few days ago and was shocked by the number that flashed before my eyes.
320 lbs
How did I let it get this bad? Why did I let it get this bad? I miss my husband. I miss cooking real food. I miss working out at the YMCA. But now, I’m just embarrassed. How do I join a gym now? How do I sweat and swear at myself in my head while in the back of my mind knowing I’m needed at home? I was already so self conscious about people judging me before, now…I’m feeling like I can’t even bring myself to walk into a gym and sign up.
I’m so tired, and I’m tired if being tired. I’m tired of fast food, and take out, and junk. I’m tired of autism. I’m tired of therapy. I’m tired of being so tired I can’t even enjoy quiet, alone time with my husband.
I never thought I would say this, but I’m tired of being a mom. I just want to crawl in bed, hide under the covers, and be left alone. And at the same time, I want to scream at everyone.
My oldest son had his first baseball game yesterday. Jonah and Luke were horrible. So there we were, trying to watch the first baseball game while Jonah and Luke cried, wriggled, screamed, and threw fits. And then it happened. My son was up to bat. Jonah and Luke settled, and we all watched. It was wonderful…until two kids in he he field started laughing at him for missing the pitches. My son is five. This is a league for five and six year olds. So you can imagine my fury while my son is being made fun of and laughed at. And that’s when I realized that I’m fucked.
If I can’t even protect Jude, who is the most social, happy, peaceful child in the world, how the hell am I going to protect Jonah? I am so sick of everyone. I’m sick of other kids who are mean, of parents who do nothing, and of being overweight.
Jonah’s IEP meeting was this morning and I guess I am happy with the results. He will be in the afternoon preschool for special education children. He will also get speech and OT. And his teacher took two pages worth of notes about him. It sounds good. They are even going to incorporate a hiding spot in the room for Jonah to go to in the event he becomes overwhelmed. I was a little surprised by the fact that the team had already written goals without me, explained what their goals were, and then asked me to sign…without reading any of the information in the packets, evaluations, or goals for myself.
I signed it. Mainly because they said I could change anything at any time. But also because I just want to be done with all this. I’m putting my faith in the school district, and I hope I’m not making a mistake in doing that. I just want him to go to school, be with other kids, and have fun. I’m so tired of everyone correcting his words, trying different sensory inputs, and pushing him. I just want to let him be a kid. Let him line up his cars. Let him watch movies. Let him run around in nothing but a diaper, doing whatever he wants because he is a kid. Not everything has to have a purpose. Some things should just be fun.

The Zoo and All Things Red

I can’t even thoroughly explain in words how good Jonah’s behavior was at the zoo yesterday. He walked holding hands. He listened. He was calm when walking, and excited when seeing the animals. He seemed very in control of his own movements and actions. The only mishap we had was when he was done seeing the giraffes and started to walk to the next exhibit. My husband went chasing after him, and brought him back with no tantrums. We explained that he couldn’t walk away like that, and Jonah said, “all done giraffe.” And we continued on. It was amazing.
Well, I should clarify, it was amazing until we stopped to get a snack. For the past week I’ve been slowly tweaking Jonah’s already dwindling food choices. I took out all the junk, all the processed food, all the sugar. Which left us with: fruit! Jonah absolutely loves fruit, so this was not an issue.
Since starting this, he has tried two new foods. Which is MASSIVE for Jonah.
So yesterday, my husband went into the zoo food area, and ordered the kids slushies, by the time I got up to the counter, my only reaction was “What the…” But it was too late. He had forgotten. The kids had already seen them. And the guy was asking for his money. I figured this couldn’t do too much damage.
Oh Lordy, I was wrong. Within fifteen minutes of drinking the red slushy, Jonah was more fidgety. Almost immediately after leaving the food place, Jonah took off running. The rest of the time at the zoo, he argued about holding hands, his speech wasn’t as intelligible, and he seemed to be all over the place.
Was it the red dye? The sugar? Both?
Whatever it was, it took Jonah 4.5 hours to go to sleep.
I think it is safe to say we will be sticking with our new diet.