Friday, May 31, 2013

I'll be honest....

I find myself saying that more and more. Not that I am not an honest person but sometimes I think I like to not always admit things that I know I want or that are bothering me until it is to late or no longer matters.

I'll be honest.... When I see all my friends getting  pregnant or who just had babies,  even my two sisters, a pang of sadness hits me. I wish I could be pregnant again. However due to the nature of my past pregnancies this is just not an options, that along with H requires a lot of time and attention and we are just in a place to have anymore children in our family.

I'll be honest... When I became a mom for the first time almost 13 years ago I was unsure I was going to even be able to make as a mom. I was very young and honestly had no clue. I never dreamed I would be sitting here talking about how he is about to start his final year of Jr High and become a teenager. This all baffles me and then to have added three more kids to that mix. I must have thought I was onto something because so far they are all alive and well and thats all that matters to me!

I'll be honest....I get jealous of my friends and family when I see that they are taking family trips, weekend getaways. I know we have our fair share of trips but I guess I don't see going back home three hours away to Dallas as a family vacation. I long for a real family vacation. However lots of factors would go into this such as the perfect local for a child like H and of course having the money to do this.

I'll be honest.... I wished and wished that once Chris got back from Korea that someway, somehow, he would be getting out of the military we could have our life in Dallas and that I wouldn't have to give up anything that I had. This is one that I am not proud of but at the time I was scared and unsure of things and knew that my best bet was staying close to home. Careful what I wish for.

I'll be honest.... There have been days I wish I could say forget my job and responsibilities I want to be staying at home doing what I want to do. I feel lately like I miss out on so much and don't get included into things because I work and have my family. This however doesn't in anyway mean I wish I didn't have this life I have because that is not true. I love my family I love what I do but there are just some days I wish it could be different.

I'll be honest.... While most think I have it all together I am the biggest procrastinator EVER!!!!! I do my best work under the gun, pressure, pressure, pressure!! I am by no means organized though I wish I was. I try really hard to be but I am to ADHD to follow through..... SQUIRREL!

I'll be honest... I wish I was tougher, I wish some days I was able to stand up for myself better than I do. I wish I was better about saying no and letting people know they can't talk to me the way they do, treat me how they do and that I deserve as much respect as the next person. Alas I am a people pleaser, I want to make everyone happy and put my needs last. If they are happy, they get what they want and how they want it then I can be happy with that also. Sometimes I need to make a change and not always let that be the case.

I'll be honest... I have always wanted a big blog following. I love writing and think I am pretty good at it. I am not by any means a professional but this is my outlet on my life and feelings. I am a horrible speller but thanks to modern technology I have come a long ways! I see all these blogs with huge followings that everyone shares and talks about and I think "Man I want to be popular like that!" I think part of this stems from I have never been popular. I was probably the least noticed all through school and still to this day. I don't crave attention I guess I just want to be part of the group. I want to be noticed and thought of as a great person to be around that is fun and and well like. I guess that is just my personality ha ha.

I'll be honest.... I have rambled enough. I am hearing my child climb the kitchen counters seeking out food and other items so that is my cue to get to it and get him ready for school.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Reliving the past

Sean is my soon to be teenage son. He loves to hear about stories from my childhood. He wants to hear funny stories of his late Uncle Alex, whom he loved dearly. He also likes to hear about what my childhood and my life was like. We sort of got on this topic today while the two of us constructed his little brother's trampoline. Really it was so strange we were talking about how the instructions sucked and how we were more than likely doing this wrong and then suddenly he had me reminiscing of what my childhood was like. He is sneaky like that. I generally one to avoid most of my childhood because while it wasn't horrible it still had a lot of sadness that went with it and I generally don't want Sean to know about that or any of my kids for that matter. 

So suddenly we go from griping on how much putting that trampoline together sucks to what I had growing up, to what my life was like and what my parents did and how well off we were. See I told you he is a pretty sneaky fella. He caught me when my guard was down and it was just the two of us. Maybe because it was just the two of us is why I opened up to him. Chris was off doing homework, H was off playing and we had locked ourselves in the room to accomplish this huge task. He asked a simple question if I had a trampoline as a kid and the conversation suddenly went from there.

It sort of went like this... Sean " so mom did you have a trampoline as a kid?" Me "yes I did we had a big rectangle one in our backyard along with lots of other stuff." Sean "So you had a pool too I bet? What else did you have back there?" Me " Yes we had a pool and a swing set and at one point a giant play house. Sean we had it nice when I was a child nothing like what you have experienced and I hate that." No mind you my child is not deprived but growing up we had a great house always had a nice pool and all sorts of great things for us. We were spoiled I won't lie. I wish for nothing more to have a nice house with a big yard so my kids could experience what it was like to have what I had growing up. 

Of course this now lead to what my parents did. I mean why wouldn't it? He wants to understand why I had all that money growing up and how I didn't have an inheritance. Trust me there are days I wish more than anything there was one. Sean " So what did your parents do?" Me " My dad was the breadwinner, he was an entrepreneur he loved to start up big businesses make good money, sell them and move on to something else." Sean " Wow really! What did he do?" Me " Well back in the day there was a soccer apparel company and his partner both owned it was called Lotto. When his partner had a heart attack they decided it would be best to sell the company. It wasn't doing well and my dad wanted to just break even and not lose any money on this. I am sure he is still kicking his butt in his grave when a few years later the company took off and became a multimillion dollar company." Sean "Wow really! So you would have had a big inheritance from that right? So what else did he do?" Me" after that he decided to open a shoe company called it Gold Shoes. It was a spin off of another shoe company Kappa I want to say that had interchangeable logos on the side that you could put different colors etc. This was similar in concept and on the back was a small gold g ( The g actually looked like this one.) 

At this point I was growing a bit irritated, not because of his questions more so over how my childhood went to topnotch to just figuring out how to get by day to day and get through school and having our roof over our heads. My mom never worked once she married my dad. She never worked until they got divorced and she was essentially forced to do so. I stopped before it got too deep because he really didn't need to know all the details. I basically went on to tell him that my dad worked for my uncle and his furniture company that is still very successful to my knowledge, he worked for another uncle setting up bingo halls and that is still going strong for my uncle and he does well with it. His last job was his own tobacco store called tobacco row. There might still be one or two in Dallas as he sold them as he got to ill and moved away. 

Sean looked at me and finally asked me where all the money went. I told him that my parents got divorced my father got sick, my mom struggled to find a job that would cover all the stuff we were used to and all the money that we were suppose to have went to make sure we had our essentials each month. He put two and two together and said so basically if things didn't go that way we wouldn't be here? 

I was about to answer and then I realized just how much this question caught me off guard. I said "yes, no, well I am not sure." I think we would still be here in Abilene but maybe in a house or we might be in Dallas and have a house. Heck I have no idea. I told him there is so many what ifs to put into play. 

Sean brought up how much he loved spending the night with my mom and how she used to be a doctor. I corrected him and said a phlebotomist. He asked what she did now and I explained no one wants a shaky handed person drawing their blood and that she no longer works because now she is ill and its hard for her to leave the house. Mom just had surgery actually and I need to make it a point to see her the next time I am in town. We have had our fair share of problems but she is doing her best now and now more than ever I should try and work things out because who knows how much longer she will be around.

When Sean left the room I really thought about how much different my life would be if my parents had stayed together. I just have no idea where I would be. I know I might not be here, I might not have these wonderful children or these life experiences that have made me the woman I am. I miss my father greatly, my children are missing out on a wonderful grandfather. I was irritated at first that Sean made me relive that past but at the same time I really did get to relive some great memories that I had forgotten about. Man I love that kid!

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Who we are and where we come from

Two years ago after moving 3 hours from home. Giving up the job I loved and had been at since '07. Having a baby and leaving three of my babies behind I started over just to start over. Chris had been promoted a year before and all seemed right with our world. However we just let ourselves believe all was right with our world. We knew between having two homes, two lives and a career that was hanging in the balance we were just thankful to have what we had. Chris had just recovered from major knee surgery but in actually he never was able to fully recover. The surgeon took my already falling apart husband and essentially finished him off. He seemed down but not out. 

Chris had tried very hard to make a comeback from that knee surgery but it wasn't in the cards. I won't lie I was more angry than anything. I wasn't angry at the surgeon, well ok I was because he did this to him. I was mad at Chris though. I know how horrible is that?! I just moved 3 hours away left my family and my job only to find out I was no longer a military wife I was just back to being who I was before but I was now in the middle of nowhere and had not a friend or family near me. Again none of this was his fault it was a fluke, an unlucky draw.

Now to be fair I did get established out here rather quick. I moved the very first of Feb and by mid March landed a preschool job. It was a culture shock to what I was accustomed to but I was well received by the higher ups and did my best to do what I was good at. However I was quick to put in my notice about this time two years ago stating that mid June would be my last day and I was going to be moving back to Dallas. I was thrilled. I had contacted our old property manager to have him look for properties for us, I was searching for a job, Chris was ready to get set up at a college so he could utilize his GI bill and follow his plan of becoming a respiratory therapist. I was thrilled. I even told Jason that I would just keep the girls here a few weeks so that we could start packing and be back in Dallas by the time the school year started. Ohh the plans I had made. 

We didn't move as you can see. I can't honestly say what it was that made us change our minds. I think part of it was Chris had found a job here I was already working and we didn't want to mess with a good thing. We decided to use that money we had and buy a new truck. Now we would have two vehicles and life would get even easier. I think in hindsight it was needed but we just didn't go about things in the most responsible manner. I mean when you have a bank account that is up in the 5 digits and when I saw 5 digits I mean upper 5 digits, you suddenly start thinking differently. I wish we would have planned better. I wish we would have had more of a plan going into this. I really think it would made a huge difference. We got irresponsible plain and simple. Of course this is before we knew H was having all the problems he was having. He was about to hit his 1st birthday and Chris would be military free a few weeks later. 

A year later we really had nothing to show for what we had. The money was gone, and our taxes were also. The military overpaid and so they decided to take our tax return. Peachy. I had just started a good job on base working with children so I figured things might be ok. Chris was getting money for his GI bill, plus his paycheck so really we had no excuse. However paying for insurance now and all those expenses out of pocket really begins to take its toll. And this was just the beginning. We still were careless. By July we were down to 1 car again. Things truly started to just spiral down. We really were not prepared for life outside the military and how much we really counted on them to help us sustain our life. Things we didn't have to think twice about now had to be at the forefront of our minds. Its a scary reality. 

This past year we overcome a lot. Only those closest to us knew how bad it was and still is. H has required a lot on the medical front. Not to mention an unexpected event happened and Chris' pay took a huge hit. We basically have lived off my meager pay and Chris is forced to be in school so we can at least get some sort of guaranteed income so we can get by. There have been have been times we have sat with nothing in our bank account praying for paydate and knowing what we have is enough to just barely get by and nothing more. We have struck deals with our utility companies just so we can keep our essentials till we get paid. I have hated it, ever last second of it has been moments I really don't want to have to relive. However it has made us who we are. I might have gone without, Chris also but the kids have never. They get their three meals a day unless they have opted out on their own free will, they have had clothes on their back and a place to live. 

I was eating dinner tonight and I was so excited to have made a wonderful home cooked meal. Sean was even so excited. Last night was sandwiches and the night before that was pizza. When you get in a tight spot you learn how to make do and do so efficiently. In a few weeks the dynamics of this household will change for a few months. We trade in one preteen bottomless pit, to two girls one of which could live off nuggets and corn for the rest of her life and the other who is good with what she has. My kids love it when I do my good ole home cooked meals. That makes me feel better and knowing at the end of the day their bellies are full with the good stuff I made makes me even happier. 

So in August it will be two years. We will turn in our ID cards and have even less affiliation with the military. That sometimes stings a little when I think about it. I am in a military town, 99.9% of my friends are military. I begin to feel like this outsider when they talk about the military related events they will attend and the things they get to be apart of. It only stings because not long ago that was us. Life goes on though. 

It has taken almost two years to figure out the direction we are taking. I can safely say we still don't have much of a direction. I should be graduating this spring. I have said that once I graduate I want to go back home. However that may not happen. Chris has found options he wants to take so that will largely influence the route we end up taking of course. We just have to know where we are coming from, where we have been and where we need to go. Transitions like this take time. They don't come overnight. They take weeks, months even years to figure out. The only thing I can say is be patient, be supportive, be understanding. It's not always as easy as it seems. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

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Married single parent

Sounds like an oxymoron right? I am sure it is but at the same time most people I know understand what I am talking about. You are married, you have a spouse that you share a life with, and you have a family. However there comes a time you feel like when it comes to the kids you are doing t all on your own. This is not to take a dig at the true single parents or make it seem like they don't have it worse than us but that level of frustration has got to be a big higher because we have these expectations in our mind that we are a team we work together and we do it as one. 
I often think those who raise children who have special needs already sort of have a nail in the coffin so to speak when it comes to that whole working as a team, making it work moto. In the majority of the families I know of it is the mother that does the majority of the work when it comes to the raising and well being of the children. When I say that I mean they take them to their doctor apts, dentist, school functions, extracurriculars, and set up the play dates. Now this is not to discount the father's who do this but there is just generally one parent who is in charge, so to speak, when it comes to these sort of things. For the most part we embrace these responsibilities. We were given this responsibility because we were right for the job. We know the needs that need to be met, the things that need to be taken care of so therefor they become ours to handle. Again sometimes this isn't always the case but I am just going off what is typical in a normal typical home. 
So back to where I feel special needs families are at a sort of disadvantage so to speak. We as the primary caretaker of the kids do all that we do that is required of having a typical child but then you add whatever that special need is to the mix . It might be extra appointments, therapy, traveling to specialists, home healthcare you name it. Suddenly there are days you feel like you don't have a partner that its you and only you taking on the tasks of that child and there is no wingman, go to person, partner, teammate to bail you out. Sometimes this happens just because the other parent feels inferior and has no idea what it is they really need to do and feel helpless. It generally isn't that they don't want to help or they don't feel like being involved they just have no clue where to jump in and what to do.
While that parent who feels like they are doing it all wants to scream and shake their partner into submission, they avoid doing so for many reasons. I don't think I need to elaborate but we come to our sense and realize that we should take that energy and direct it to a more useful purpose which would be helping that spouse help us more. Sometimes this works, however I won't lie sometimes this results in even bigger problems. The key is in how you address it and how you go about solving this problem. Delivery is key!
I encourage families who have special needs children to invest in that sitter so that you can attend workshops, trainings, symposiums, and of course date night. That trustworthy sitter you have for your child will be worth their weight in gold if that means you two can get away and realize what it is that you need to work on. It is hard to be that "single" parent to your child and its hard on that parent to feel like they have to carry that entire load when they don't need to. Life is hard enough no need to make it even harder. 
I did the single parent thing. It wasn't fun by any means but at the same time I knew that I had to handle it all. I couldn't turn around to my partner and "I need back up, please take over, help me out!" I accepted this as part of my choice to be a single parent and did it with ease I believe. Not that I would want to do it again but I know if God forbid I ended up in that situation again I would be ok. However I am married, I have my go to person, my wingman so I plan on utilizing him the best I can when I can. This is a learning experience for the both of us. However with the right tactics we will be better than the "married single parent" status. 

Well meaning antagonist

1. One who opposes and contends against another; an adversary.

Last night our family decided to throw caution to the wind and go to a different place for dinner. H had never been here so my fears were the normal ones of how he would react to such a location. I love any opportunity to find new ways to work with H. I guess I was slightly off my game tonight and I let my guard down, that or I was just not in the state of mind that I am typically in when we travel anywhere with H that could entail any sort of trouble. By the way that is just about any location. I blame the holiday weekend in my lapse of judgement on this outing!
Since I had a day off from work yesterday I had sort of just let myself relax a bit too much. I did take him to Chick Fil A for lunch where he behaved himself really well and even when I said it was time to go did so without even a fuss! We came home fought a bit on the nap but we both ended up with a good nap. I was shocked I even fell asleep.  After picking up Chris and relaxing a bit I decided to venture out for dinner. We had some free coupons to a local pizza place so I figured tonight would be a good time to utilize them. 
A good idea in theory but what I wasn't thinking about what H's reaction to the game room. Sean had been given the run down that tonight we would only be eating and not going in the game room after our meal to play. I mean after all that would be a giant overstimulating mess and who wants to end a good day on a meltdown note! So I prepared a nice place of mac and cheese, cheese bread and fruit for H to enjoy since he can't have pizza. The rest of us prepared our plates and sat down to eat. H shoveled and I do mean SHOVELED his food in his mouth! 
Within a few minutes the demands began to go to the game room. I did my best diversion tactics and I thought we had made progress. I brought him with me to get more pizza and refill my drink. Of course when my hands become full and I thought I had him cornered between the drink machine and myself is when he looked at me and looked at the small opening and made a break for it. I left my stuff and grabbed him before he could even cross the threshold of the room. That was it we had officially lost him. Chris and I shoveled our meal at this point and did what we could to try and keep him calm. However shoes were tossed, screams were heard, toys became projectiles. We had finally decided that our bellies being full was not an option at this point and we needed to gather our stuff and go. 
However this well planned idea is suddenly what caused this whole evening to take a bigger turn for the worst. The lady cleaning tables came up to the booth behind ours and proceeded to clean. No big deal she did her job and even handed us some items of H's that managed to land behind us. He screamed and she started doing that shushing voice. I turned my head to become annoyed but realized she thought she was helping. I could see in her face she really thought she was helping our situation. Maybe my face didn't register with her that we appreciated her efforts but she didn't need to engage with our son. 
She picked up his shoe that was tossed and proceeded to speak to him. Anyone who has a child on the spectrum in the midst of a meltdown knows talking to them is futile and can make it even worse. And that is when it happened. I am just glad our hands were loaded up with our goods so we could make a clean break before every eye in the building was on us. She picked up his train said it was hers with a big ole smile on her face. We cringed, we put our heads down and just grabbed him and bolted. He was screaming full on, thought he was being beaten scream! Of course leaving the building only exacerbated this response. 
A few minutes of wrangling him in the parking lot and we proceeded to make the 10 minute drive back to our house at this point the screaming had gone on for about 30 minutes so by the time we got home it was about 40 minutes. Throw in another 10 minutes of him screaming in the front yard and our walk to the park and we had an almost 60 minute meltdown. It was horrible and I felt bad for him. I know that lady meant well but she just ended up antagonizing the tar out of poor H. 
The mood slightly improved at the park but once we were back home he struggled to relax the rest of the evening and felt so anxious. he was up till about midnight and finally had to sleep in our bed while I moved to the other bed. Part of me wanted to call up and yell at that lady for ruining my night but then that sane part of me reminded crazy lady was not going to get anywhere with that type of phone call and it truly wasn't her fault. She meant well she just probably hasn't dealt with a child on the spectrum.  Live and learn folks live and learn!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lit it up Blue!

April was Autism Awareness month, however for our family every day, every month, every week, every year is Autism Awareness. Each day we learn something new and as crazy as it might seem I enjoy having this learning experience. This month has been a whirlwind of events and honestly I haven't felt this much emotion towards anything like this in a long time. 

April brought so many different things most of them on the highlight list of most amazing. So many things fell into place and came to fruition it was almost like it was a dream.  Our month started off with making sure our outside had plenty of blue light for the month. I think it looked great. We had lots of people at first drive slower down our cul de sac to see our blue light. I am hoping that by the end of the day they realized what that blue light outside our house meant. We made our own shirts that were tie dyed blue with puzzle pieces and Light it up Blue 2013 on them. I think they came out pretty awesome. 

This month we also applied for a grant through the Joseph Thomas Foundation. This grant would help us get supplied and items that we otherwise would not be able to afford for H. We received enough money to get him 3 different vests, one was a neoprene pressure vest ( this one will be worn more in the cooler months, a weighted neoprene vest and a mesh compression vest. 6 chew tubes, a z vibe oral stimulation kit, and a trampoline. Along with that we also get 6 months of his therapeutic  riding covered through The Legacy Complex and a generous friend of a friend donated a month of therapeutic riding along with a helmet for him to wear. It was like Christmas in this house!

Since the walk was this month we of course wanted to have some great shirts to wear as a team. I decided that for every shirt sold a portion of it would go towards our team goal of 1,000.00. I know we ended up selling 53 shirts and raised around 200.00 towards our team goal. Even with the small hiccups with the shirts they all looked amazing and everyone seemed pleased with them. I also had us do another fundraiser which I was nervous about because I really had never done them before. Black Box Pizza on base donated a dollar from each pizza sold on the 15th of April towards our team. We raised 100.00 that day! 

April 5th I was told I was Category IV Civilian of the Quarter for the Force Support Squadron. I also took the Mission Support Group award and would go on at the end of the month for the Bomb Wing Award. I was blown away. I was told it was because of my outstanding commitment to my community, being a full time student on the Dean's List, and my hard work at the CDC. I told them I do all this because it is my passion not to be recognized for an award. On April 22nd I was given a MSG coin and was thanked again for all my hard work and on the 25th I went on to receive the Bomb Wing award for Civilian of the Quarter. I will now be in the running for Civilian of the Year. Pretty exciting stuff. 

As the day of the walk fast approached I really did become a ball of emotions. I was about to be apart of something big and powerful. We were a team of 50 walkers. Only a few ended up not being able to join us and a few supported us from out of state. I had no idea just how big we would become but to see so many rally around us and support H was just breath taking. Three of my college professors saw just how many stood there to walk with us and they were in awe. People from around the community whom I am friends with stopped to tell me what a great team I had and how impressed they were with exceeding our goal. For our first year this is really a big deal to me. Not that this was a contest by any means but validation that I am doing my part to make a difference in the families and children effect each day by ASD. 

So now here we sit as we wrap up a month of April and Autism Awareness. While I don't expect my friends and family to feel that Autism Awareness is a 24/7 365 event I do know they know my passion and my drive for it now. I really don't want to take our blue lights down or stop wearing our Light it up Blue shirts. I wear them and feel that maybe some way some how it is making a small difference. I will change my profile picture back to a wonderful photo of my children but know that this time next year I will replace it with my awareness photo for the month of April. It is tradition now. 

So now we have until October to do just as well as I did here in April for our walk. We have chosen to walk at Texas Motor Speedway at the DFW Walk now for Autism Speaks event. Even if it is just me and my family I will know that it is still good enough and still making an impact. However I am a bit of a competitor and know I will want to some how beat my goal that I had here in Abilene. I am not sure that I will be I won't ever know if I don't try. 

So now we kick off the end of the school year and prepare for the things to come in for H in the fall for school. Sean will continue with MiM's or Meet in the Middle, a program for NT children to help their peers who have developmental delays and participate in events such as Special Olympics. I am so proud of him for being a part of something like this. I realize now he knows what a passion I have for this and he wants to do his part. What a way to make his family proud. 

Sorry for a long winded blog. It's been a while and I felt the need to sum up our month of events. It was really a month I will truly miss and look forward to encountering again next year.