Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writing This Instead of Doing Homework!

I really should be writing two discussion posts right now – but I can’t. I really think that I needed to get this out “there.”

Isaac is high functioning Autistic. I have known that there was something “off” about Isaac ever since he was about 6 months old but did not get the official diagnosis until he was 3. We really won’t know for a few more years if he can be considered Asperger’s or not. There is almost a grieving process that every parent with a child who is Autistic goes through. Just the understanding that your child will never have the same life as a “normal” child. It is rough. Then it comes down to pulling up your boot straps and just dealing it. The diagnosis. The therapies. The meltdowns. The school system. Dealing with Autism. I really do believe that mothers (and fathers) with children who are autistic are some of the strongest, faithful, full of life, individuals that there are. They have to be. Those parents become the best advocators for their child. We advocate for everything, their healthcare, their education, their activities. We also become educators. At times we educate family and friends about autism. We educate their teachers on the best way reach our specific child, because Autism looks different for every child. We even educate their doctors, because we know our children best.

Now Isaac is considered high functioning Autistic. That means that his symptoms are pretty mild and with the right therapy chances are very good that he will lead a “normal” life. There are some things that he will always struggle with but at this point we really don’t know what those even are. We were told by the child psychologist that diagnosed him, that there is even the chance that with the right therapy Isaac could develop enough coping skills to deal with his symptoms. With his last educational screening, he actually tested well enough to not require services within the Utah school district. (Now this is another story in itself because they only spend 2 hours a day, 2 days a week with him for 6 week!) On one hand, I am thrilled because that means that the therapy is working and he does have certain coping skills. On the other hand, well, let’s just see how he does when enters Kindergarten and is in school 5 days a week, 6 hours a day!

This is where I struggle. He is high functioning. According to Utah state educational standards, he does not need services. This means that he will go a whole year without speech therapy, helping with the socially acceptable back and forth of communication. He will go a whole year without occupational therapy, helping him with things like making friends (currently he does really good at parallel play, but does not make friends well) or sharing, or turn taking, or even how to deal with emotions.

There are times that he does things that I feel I need to explain the fact that he is Autistic. For example, we were at VBS last night (at a church that we had been to exactly one time) and I was standing at the back with him. It was towards the end, and there just happened to be a lull in the activity. That was when Isaac informed me (and the rest of the auditorium as well) “Um, I gotta poop!” Well I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go! Other times when he is at the park and sees something different, he just asks. This is fine most of the time, I mean he is only 4, but there are times when it can get pretty embarrassing. Basically, we think it – Isaac just says is. There is no filter. He does not understand most “social rules.” This might be an area that he will always deal with no matter the coping skills that he develops.

I guess it’s the fact that I see the need to explain his “social awkwardness.” I’m not always going to be there to “smooth” things over if need be. I might not always be there to “save” the lizard because he doesn’t understand the need to be gentle, before he literally squeezes the life out of it (totally devastating the little kid that took all afternoon to catch said lizard).

I think all of the time about his life as a high school student. Will he be able to be the football linebacker that I think he so perfectly could be? I mean he has this totally cool scar on his upper lip that portrays a much tougher exterior than he really is. Perfect for a linebacker! Will he be able to wear a school uniform, if necessary, (especially one with buttons?) He will approach a total stranger at the grocery store to get them to change their shirt – just because it has buttons on it.

Now as hard as this can be, a much as I want to pull my hair out at times, I would not trade it for anything! I cannot even picture what Isaac would look like without this diagnosis. I love my son and would walk to the ends of the earth for him. I want to always be there for him. I want to shield him all the looks, comments, pain, and whatever else negative that he might have to deal with. Not just for him, but for all my kids. I don’t want them to have to experience the negative that this world just is. I want them to be happy and joyful and positive. I guess that starts with my attitude and the way they see me deal with and interact with the world.

Guess I have my work cut out for me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This just might be more info than you ever wanted about my life!

I am from a broken family. Take that as you will, but in today’s society it seem that you would find more from a broken family than not. But what exactly does that mean? In my case, my parents divorced when I was little, maybe 2? Right after that both of my parents remarried to people that they are still currently married to. After a chain of events that I don’t think I will ever truly understand, I ended up in the permanent guardianship of my mother and her husband. Even though I was never formally adopted, I accepted my mother’s new husband as my father, better yet, he even accepted me as his daughter. He is and has been, my Daddy. Somewhere in there, my birth father felt that it would be best for me, if there was no contact between us. As harsh as all this sounds, I can accept that decision now. I know the circumstances in which that decision was made and I probably would have made the same one.

I grew up always questioning just who my father was. I would wonder if he thought about me, if my sisters thought about me. With the invention of the internet, I found myself, every few months, doing a web search about him. I would find different information here and there, so I had pieced together a little snippet of his life, but I never knew anything concrete. A few years ago, we moved to the Midwest. It was at that point that I realized that my father and his family lived pretty close (only 4 hours away to be exact). For 3 years I struggled with the decision to reach out to my father through Facebook of all things!

Let’s backtrack a bit here. I have no doubt that my family loves me. I truly love them all too. If I can be honest, and this is where it gets hard for me, I had a rough upbringing. It was not always roses and puppy dogs. There was a lot of screaming, slamming, slapping, tears, harsh words, frustrations, and walking on egg shells. Now, as a 33 year old adult, I struggle with my past. I struggle with the relationship between me and my parents.

If I can get down to the meat of it, it seems as if I have never lived up to what my mother saw for me or expected of me. What that is – I don’t know. I just know that I am a disappointment to her. My actions are a disappointment. This is a hard pill for me to swallow because I happen to think that I have done pretty good for myself. I could go and list all of the reasons why I think that I am not a disappointment, but then that would bring me right back to the purpose of this right now.

I have always thought that I have to prove something – that I needed to prove myself. Short of wearing a sign around my neck that says “Please love me now, this is why I deserve it: _______” and then listing all of my accomplishments, all of the reasons that I felt I was worthy of love or acceptance.

Being a mother yourself teaches you a lot. Unconditional love is something that parents just have for their children. No matter what my kids do, they will never, ever, in a million years, do something that will make me not love them, or not accept them. Now none of my 4 are teenagers yet... J I guess that I have just heard “I only say this” or “I only do this” “Because I Love You”, followed by a list of things that I have done wrong, or decisions that I have made that my mother feels are wrong. Long ago I have learned to just leave certain things out in conversations or not even bring things up or even, unfortunately, twist things so that I’m not “in the wrong”. Well then when the “truth” came out – things would just blow up even bigger.

So where does that leave me now? It has been a long hard road, but I am not going to apologize for who I am, what I do, decisions that I make that I feel are best for me and my family. I am who I am. You can either take me or leave me, but I will not compromise who I am for anyone. Even family. Now I do need to say that this is all subject to God and how he would like to change me. That I am open too.

Back to the point of this. About 10 months ago I made the decision to send a letter, via Facebook, to my birth father and my two half-sisters. At that the time I was in the hospital for an extended period (8 days) for some testing related to my seizures. The reason that I sent the letters was because I needed closure. I had a picture in my head of my birth father telling me that he had his own family now – and I didn’t fit into that. I wanted to just know that for sure. To my absolute delight things have turned out so much better. 30 years ago, things were what they were, we cannot go back and change the past. We can move forward from here. Questions have been asked and answered and we are learning what it is to be a family now. It is good. In spite of all.

Now those that are close to me and know a little about my situation with my “other” family. Things are not good. Things have not been good for a while. I can look back and think that I am pretty lucky because instead of not having any family support, now that I am back in contact with my dad and that side of my family, I do have the family support that I have always wanted. If I can be honest, I probably have more support NOW than I ever did. Whether or not that is true doesn’t matter but it is my perception of reality.

What is this whole point? I really don’t know. I guess I again felt the need to explain myself, justify my actions. But more than that, I think that it is important to understand your roots. In my field, I see history repeating itself all the time. I do not want history to repeat itself in my family. I am going to fight tooth and nail for a successful family. I want my kids to know that no matter what decisions they make, I will always love them and support them. Now I also hope that I am raising them in a way that spurs them one to make successful decisions for their life. I also hope that I am showing them that they can come to us with anything. Even things that we don’t necessary “like”. I want them to know that we are here to talk to them about anything. Even the uncomfortable things. All things that I don’t feel like I had. I don’t want my kids to have this picture of me in their head that makes them want to avoid me. I want to be better. Is that wrong? I sure hope not.

Bottom line. Life is good right now. I am happy. My kids are happy. We are happy. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I HATE drama!

I am in the middle of writing a paper right now, but just got an email that kinda ticked me off. Since I can't vent on Facebook (cause I'm not really like that) - I guess I'll vent here. 

All I have to say is it is because of people/attitudes/feelings like what I just read, that we left the church we were going to and then eventually Illinois. 

Don't be surprised if my Facebook friends list is decreased by A LOT over the next few days! 

GEEEERRRRR. There goes my good night! Well other than Mayah puking everywhere!  

Thursday, March 3, 2011

So much has happened since my last post! We are now residence of Utah! It was a long time coming. We officially made the decision to move back West back in June of 2010. In July I was reunited with my birth father and that side of the family – it was very hard for me to then accept moving away since they lived so close and things are really great with them. We have both made decision to see each other AND we have a Video camera so that we can keep them updated on the kids.

The Kids – Well E started his first day at his new school today. He now attends Dixie Sun Elementary. The different thing about this school is that it is a dual immersion school. Meaning that he will be learning in both English and Spanish! This school also has a strong music program. I had read a few years ago about a college in Southern California that was facing being closed because it had an 85% dropout rate. They did some research and changed only one thing on their admissions requirements and that was to require that every student plays a musical instrument. They then also added a ton of practice rooms and poured a great deal of money into their Music program. Within 3 years – the dropout rate then moved to 2%! Studies show that students that play a musical instrument have more discipline, better study skills, and are just overall more well-rounded students. I am excited about the opportunities that E will have here at this new school and our other 3 as well!

We have not started I at his school yet. I still need to find his IEP and then get him registered at his school. Right now he is enjoying playing with his brothers and sister. A is a bit bummed because he is not eligible for the preschool program at this time. His teacher sent him to Utah with a school bag. He has enough stuff in there to last for a long time! I just need to find the time to sit down and do it with him.

M is such a little girl! I love her so much! She loves dresses and everything pink! If it is not pink or purple she probably won’t pick it up J She loves her new room. It is all pink and purple and Tinker Bell. She knows most of her colors – well only if they are shades of Pink and Purple. No really she is doing really good counting and with her alphabet, her older brothers are teaching her good!

Our new house is really great. David likes it so much better than our house in Il. I like it too – although I do think that I will like it much better when we are all moved in. I am still in the middle of my school quarter so I can’t help as much as I would really like to. I only have 2 ½ weeks left and then I have a 3 week vacation! The kids have already met new friends here in the complex where we live. It helps that we are right next to the play area! We were asked by one of our neighbors if we were LDS – when we replied “No” her response was “Well that’s okay”. Really didn’t know how to take that!

We are excited to look for a new church here in this area. It has been a long time since we have had a church home and it is about time! I think that we have a few that we are going to check out within the next few weeks. 

I - right after his nap
Think he is still tired?
David starts his job at the Walmart distribution center on the 15th of this month. That means 4 nights a week I will be sleeping alone. Not looking forward to that much at all. I am just happy that he does have weekends off! We also need to decide if I am going to get a job or if David will get a second job. I am just not sure how easily I will be able to get my internship hours, work, and do School work. It will all work out in the end- this I am sure of!

Well I think that is about all right now. I just woke up from his nap and is now falling asleep on the couch. Too cute! I will update more (with pictures of our house) later.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

T minus 57 hours!

Well just about 57 hours from now we will be loading the kids up in the van with their backpacks full of toys, securing the lock on the back of the 26 foot rental truck, and handing our keys over to the new owners of our house. If you could only see my house right now! It really does not look like we are anywhere near ready to move. Well that is until you open up the drawers in the bathroom or the cupboards in the kitchen. They would be empty. Their contents packed in one of several dozen boxes stacked around the house. Regardless of what we already have packed - we still have much MUCH more to go.

We had grand plans for this past weekend and the beginning of this week. Plans that slowly began to spiral out of control as soon as Aidan began throwing up at about 9pm Saturday night. If that wasn't enough - Isaac began no less than 3 hours later. For the rest of Sunday and most of Monday the brothers hardly moved from the couch. It was around 6pm Monday night that we started to breath a bit easier - thinking that just the brothers were to suffer with the icky stomach bug. We were wrong. Shortly after 6pm Ethan began - then by Midnight - David and Mayah joined the ranks of the sick ones. The last place that I wanted to be was at home taking care of the sick ones. So around 5am (after cleaning Mayah up for the 3rd time or so) I got ready to work. Hoping to escape most of the yuckies. As much as David wanted me to stay home and help him - I wanted to be anywhere but in the same house of blah! (In the back of my mind I also thought of the many times that David has gone to work leaving me to tend after myself and a houseful of sicko's!) I went to work and was there most of the day - So far I have seem to escape this - Quick knock on a piece of wood for me!

I am now spending my evening doing laundry - We certainly piled it up the past 4 days! I am also supposed to be finishing up my homework for this week - I have already written a 4 page paper - now I just need to write a discussion post (well 4 of them) and do some responses. What I did do though - was take all the pictures and stuff off of the walls. At least it is "sorta" making the house look a bit like we are moving! 

I am so hoping that everyone is on the mends and by tomorrow everyone will be healthy again and able bodied to grab a box, fill it, and repeat! 

And heres hoping that I am not getting what everyone else had! 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So much to do - So little time

We are now in the "countdown" mode. The kids keep asking if today will be their last day of school. They are going to miss their friends and I keep telling them that they will make new ones. I wish I knew what was going on in their heads enough to really understand how this move is effecting them - if at all. Mayah keeps talking about moving to UTAH and her pink house - at least she will have a Pink bedroom with Hot Pink sheets and Tinker-bell window coverings. She is such a girl! 

We are still in discussions with the brother in regards to them sharing a room or not. I am not sure how they would do separated. I think that they would sleep better - they wouldn't wake each other up - or would they? They could still go into the others room.... We will cross that bridge when we get there I guess. I mean we will finally have the room for them each to have their own room AND a play room! So excited! We will see how it goes. 

After this move I will be happy if I never see a box again! I was hoping that the move cross country here would be the last - but it looks like the Man upstairs has other plans for us. Things were so much different at that time. The twins were 1 year old exactly the day we pulled out of Vegas, and I was pregnant with another set of twins. This time - I am not pregnant! But I am knee deep  neck deep in my Masters Program. We will see if this move can sustain my 4.0. I'm not holding my breath - but anything is possible!

It is amazing how much stuff we have to move with the kids. We have so much "stuff". We have weeded a bunch out in the past few months and will continue up until the day we move I do believe! There are times that I wish we didn't have all this "stuff" - how easy would it be to just give it all away and live with just what we "need". Not  - gee this makes life easier - but really need, to actually sustain ourselves. I want to teach my kids that life is not about STUFF but the quality of relationships that we surround ourselves with. Its a hard concept to deliver unless you are actually living it. I think that Utah will be a big turning point in our lives. 

Well now that I have procrastinated long enough - time to get back to my homework. On tonights agenda - Can you really assess Intelligence? 

Monday, February 14, 2011

And Here We Go

Well - in 11 days we are supposed to be packing up our life here in St. Louis and moving West - to St. George, Utah. We will be going from the 1st most dangerous place to live in the US to the number 18 safest place to live. St. George is also noted to be a faster growing area than Vegas. What does that matter to us? Well - it means that there should be good job opportunities for both David and I. We are also moving closer to David's family. This will be a good thing. We have been here for 3 (almost 4) years and it has been hard on us. We have found some amazing babysitters along the way - but they do cost money. With the amount of kids that we have - the babysitter ends up being more expensive than the actual night out. It will be nice to have family to watch the kiddos every once in a while so that we can go out.

This move is also bitter sweet. In August I reached out to my Birth Father who I hadn't seen in some 25+ years. I also have two half-sisters and a step mother, all of whom I have met before - it just has been a lot of years. Things have turned out so much better than I have even wanted. It is hard for me to really explain how much this means to me. There has been so much going on with my own family (when isn't there) that this has been so awesome and a welcome relief.

We are excited about what the future has to hold for us. We are looking forward to a sense of "starting over". I am looking forward to beginning my career in the Counseling world. I am looking forward to taking up hiking and camping and all the outdoors stuff that we will be able to now.