Category Archives: Love

Back To (Home) School – for Special Needs

It’s back to school time!  For many, this means the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and the unmistakable scent of Crayola crayons.  I can almost hear the binding crackling on a new composition book being opened for the first time.  The feel of new clothes, new haircuts, new shoes.  Moms and dads jumping for joy, while it being bittersweet that the kids are another year older.  I’m getting ready to send Bubba to third grade – state testing year!  I am in awe of the young man he is becoming, but I’m also ready for Fight Club to adjourn to weekends only.  Littles will be in school for his first time!  Away from mom and growing his independence!  Back to school is full of happy emotions of growth and maturity.

Unless of Course You Must Home School

There is a select group of moms where Back to School isn’t the happy time it is for others.  These moms homeschool, not by choice, but because the school districts fail their special needs children.  These moms send their special needs children to schools where the child has the same teacher in the same classroom, even though they are another year older.  These moms use therapists for education, instead of a teacher.  These moms have lost their children to traumatic and tragic accidents, even if the child is still physically here.  Those types of accidents where it isn’t the same child, you know?  Where life changed in an instant.

I’m one of these moms.  Smash-N-Break should be in kindergarten.  Those words – should be – biting me to my core.  Smash-N-Break will go to ABA therapy three days a week.  He would miss so much school, and our district won’t work with us because he isn’t “autistic enough”*.  We’ve been told he would be a “truancy issue”**.  So, when faced with the decision of getting him therapy or sending him to kindergarten, we chose therapy.  I’ll homeschool the days he is home.  This may be a failure, we will see.  We hope to transition to public school, but will have to wait and see.  I may end up homeschooling if the regular classroom is too much for him at first.  I don’t exactly want to, as I feel school has many benefits.  I may end up with him in a private school.  That makes me worry, too, as all 3 kids in private would be way too much of a financial strain.  And I have it easy!  We have every reason to believe Smash-N-Break will be in public school come first grade.  Many others are faced with this every year.

Smash-N-Break is jealous, so jealous, of Bubba and Littles.  He was supposed to go to school with Bubba.  He finished preschool, which Littles is starting.  He’s in this strange in-between.  And for a kid with ASD, who knows he is different, he just wants to fit.  I’ll hopefully help teach him to embrace the uniqueness.  We’ve had many conversations about it, but that hasn’t curbed his questions.  He wants to do kindergarten like normal.  I

 

know it would be a failure.  But I can’t explain that to him in a way he will understand or not blame himself.  It isn’t his fault he’s different, any more than it’s mine that he has autism.  (If I tell myself it’s not my fault, maybe one of these days I’ll actually believe it…)

What Will I (& You) Do?

Do I take a “first day of kindergarten” picture?  Is it really kindergarten?  Is this really the right decision?  I’m struggling with all those questions right now.  And there is no right answer.  When the day comes that we do our first homeschooling session, I’ll decide then.  I’ll wipe tears away for different reasons than the cute poems kindergarten teachers hand out.  When faced head-on with the differences our children face to the typical kids, pain comes up.  Grace and forgiveness haven’t happened for myself yet.

So, as you take your pictures of your kids smiling faces as they grow, say a little prayer (if it’s your thing) for those mamas who hold back tears for different reasons.  If you know one of these moms, give her a hug or a text to say hey.  Invite her for coffee, or whatever.  She may say no, but she will know she isn’t forgotten.

 

*Direct quote from the school district special needs coordinator. Still not sure what this means.  Seems like someone who doesn’t understand special needs though.

**Unless he was to attend school and then do 24 hours of ABA after. I mean who of us doesn’t like to work 65 hours a week every week for months? He doesn’t need time to, oh I don’t know, be a kid. Of course no ABA therapist is even open after 5 so…

Sharknado Party Ideas & Recipes

HAPPY SHARKNADO DAY!

I love campy SyFy channel movies.  The shark ones are the best.  Well, Lavalantula is a close second.  But Sharknado?  Oh. My.  God.  Seriously.  I look forward to Shark Week, because it’s awesome and fun, but it also means SHARKNADO DAY IS COMING!  And SyFy now does it for a whole WEEK!  Squee!  Trailer Park Shark, Toxic Shark, Sharktopus – all awesome.  I’ve recorded so many of them.

I’ve passed my love of all things Sharknado onto Smash-N-Break.  He is obsessed with sharks and sharknados right now.  Obsessed.  He asks Alexa, my Echo Dot, a bunch of questions about sharks.  Where do they live?  What’s the biggest one?  How do you spell Sharknado?  Can I keep one as a pet?  Where can I see a shark?  So, naturally, he wanted to celebrate Sharknado Day.  Bubba, Smash-N-Break, and Littles pretend to fight Sharknados.  Bubba is Fin, naturally.  They know the song.  They sing the song.  Alexa knows which song it is, too.

How do you celebrate Sharknado Day, you ask?  Well, you watch all FIVE (five – pinch me, I’m dreaming! FIVE movies now!) movies in one day.  You plan a menu around sharks, sharknados, and a weapon of shark destruction.  We will also try to build a shark puzzle.

First, we have Shark Attack punch.  It’s pretty easy to make.  Blue Hawaiian Punch, Sprite, with drops of Grenadine.

Snack wise, we have Sharknado Chips.  Other people call them Bugles.  Boring.  Sharknado Chips is better.

We also made Shark Bait.  Popcorn, Reese’s Pieces, and Vanilla chips.

Chainsaws.  What would a Sharknado party be without a nod to Tara Reid’s chainsaw hand!?  Red, white, and blue Twinkies (blood spatter) with a pretzel rod.

Shark Tooth Pizza.  You cut pepperoni into triangles and make a pizza.  I may also make this into nachos.  That’s a flour tortilla cut into a triangle, baked in the oven to make it crispy.  Then, top it off with sauce, cheese, and triangle pepperonis.  I haven’t decided yet.

The piece-de-resistance is Blood in the Water Sharknado cupcakes.  You have to find blue velvet cake mix, or make your own cake and dye it blue.  Then, squirt something red into the cupcake after it’s baked.  I just used frosting.  Frost it like normal.  Take a sugar cone, cover it in royal icing.  Squish it into the cupcake.  Fill the cone with frosting, and add gummy sharks.  Sharknado cupcakes!

So, now, go out and enjoy the awesomeness that is Sharknado.  And eat junk food, too!

Happy Sharknado Day!!!!

I Don’t Fit

No, this isn’t about fitness or how I fit my (large) butt in an amusement park ride.  That would be a short post.  I’m fat.  I like food.  I still fit.  The kids didn’t fly out of any ride at Six Flags over Texas.  The end.  This is about how I fit in to the mom groups.  The bottom line is, I don’t.  Do any of us?

So, you would think I fit in.  Hey, you’re a stay-at-home mom!  Oh, but I do taxes on the side.  And I just got a new part-time job.  So, no, the “real” stay-at-home moms don’t want me.  The work outside the house moms don’t want me because it’s part time.  The part-time moms don’t want me because it’s working at home.  The working at home moms don’t want me because it isn’t data entry, selling things to my friends, not full time, whatever.  Plus, pierced and tattooed in a small, southern town.  I’m strangely okay with that.  If all you see is holes and ink, and think less of me/more of yourself, go away.  Over there is the direction in which I wish for you to go.  So, I don’t fit.

 

But, you have special needs kids!  Those groups are very welcoming!  Well, yes, if you’re autistic “enough” in my area.  (Seriously, Snobby Lake Town – I’m looking at you, you judgmental snobs.  Not all of them, obviously.  Just the ones I’ve seemed to run into.)  The welcoming ones?  Yeah, an hour away.  I do fit in with those, but between special needs and an hour drive, I can’t get to many things.  I fit in well with the ADHD groups, as long as I only discuss Bubba.  If I move to Smash-N-Break, he’s “ too complex”.  So, I don’t fit.

 

Well, preschool and school.  Nope.  We live too far.  I need preschool, but don’t need it like a “real” working mom.  We don’t live IN Snobby Lake Town.  We don’t go to church.  Well, yeah.  When your ASD kid thrives on stability and regularity, and the nursery school workers ask you to be there in class with him to help with just him, it becomes another chore.  My faith shouldn’t be a chore.  I get it, I do.  But, it isn’t filling my spirit.  My spirit is being ignored.  I can read sermons at home and discuss it with the family comfortably, without worrying if Smash-N-Break is going to use the “f word”, bite or hit someone, have a meltdown, or anything else that can and does occur.  He uses the f-word appropriately.  I’m strangely okay with that, given his speech delays.  Shut up.  I’m not a good mom.  I’m an okay mom.  I’d get a participation award.  My kids are happy, so shut your pie-hole.

Add to it the amount of negative things I’ve had hurled my way about my kids while out in public.  No, they aren’t perfect little angels.  They are 110% BOY.  One has ADHD.  One has ASD and ADHD.  One’s 3.  (That age should come with a wine-of-the-day club.  It can be a small bottle.  Just sign parents up in the hospital.  Maybe I should start a company.)  I’m trying my best.  I have days I fail, but guess what?  I get back up and try again the next day.  I’m human!  I seriously dread going out in public.  Especially on the days that are Smash-N-Break’s “bad days”.  Going to a birthday party of an ASD little girl was a breath of fresh air.  I knew all the parents would get it, no judgment and no comments.  He could be himself, and if that was ignoring everyone around him, so be it.

But, Bubba is in Scouts!  Yes and no.  He is, but we still don’t fit.  Football.  We live far again.  Cliques are a real thing.  We’re new, and everyone else started as Tigers.  They’re now Bears.

Football!  Football is like religion in Texas.  Surely you fit there!  Not yet.  Not a coach.  Not from the area.  We stick out.

Couples/families.  You can meet couples and families.  Yes, we can.  Yes, we have.  We even have a roughly once-a-month group where we get our geek on and play Tiny Dungeon (think DnD for beginners) or Magic the Gathering.  And those people are awesome!  I love that group.  But, past that, it’s been hard.  Plus One’s ASD is real, and it’s very people-y out there.  I’m okay with that.  He’s comfortable and happy, I’m happy.

Don’t get me wrong.  We’ve made friends and met lovely people.  It’s just….not the same as feeling like we belong, you know?  This isn’t just a Texas thing, either.  We had it in Colorado, too.  We were too conservative there.  I’m a tad too liberal with my looks here.  Oh well.  I think I’m cute.

When did we stop giving grace and replace it with judgment?  When did we stop offering a smile, a hug, a helping hand?  When did “what does your husband do for a living?” replace “tell me about yourself?”  And WHY did we embrace this change!?  Is ANYONE happier this way?  Other than therapists.  I mean, I think we are buying our psychologist a new car with how often she sees all of us.  Therapists are making bank in this area of life.  Maybe I should consider a career change….

So, today, I’ve decided not fitting in is a good thing.  I don’t belong to just one group.  I’m too colorful for that.  I’m just going to do what I do best – be me.  I’m going to get up everyday, be human, love my God,  love my kids, love my husband, love my job, and be caffeinated.  I’ll extend grace instead of judgment, kindness instead of rudeness.  I’ll still be snarky and sarcastic, but that’s me being me.  I fit in the one place I’m meant to – The Adventures Family.  I created the damn clique, I best fit in with it.  Everything else is superfluous.

Two Steps Forward…

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA lately.  It’s been hard here at the Adventures household.  With Smash-N-Break’s ASD diagnosis, things went a little lopsided for a while.  To be honest, they still are, but we’ve accepted our new normal for now, at least.  We’ve gotten him into ABA therapy.  He’s prescribed 24 hours a week for now.  It may increase to 40 hours a week.  We’ll see.  We’re having a “difference of opinion” with our local school district.  What can I say, there is an unqualified hag of an LSSP (licensed specialist in school psychology) who struggles with admitting when she’s wrong.    I don’t want to talk about that yet.

One thing I’ve learned with the special needs road is that there are so many bumps, twists, turns, and potholes along the way.  We got the diagnosis, we go forward.  We try to get an IEP for him, we get a detour sign.  We will see how that detour ends.  We get with his pediatrician to see what therapies we should be looking at.  The detour turns right to get us back on track.  We get him evaluated for ABA, and he gets accepted and prescribed therapy.  This sends us forward at the speed limit.  We work on changing his speech therapists so that his speech occurs at his ABA clinic, so that there is less transition for him.  Further progress on the freeway of life at the speed limit.  What’s around the next turn?  No idea, but I’m hopefully ready for it.

The other thing I’ve learned is that you should celebrate everything, no matter how small it seems.  This is because for every step forward, you need to be prepared to have a step backward at the same time.  It’s like learning to drive a stick.  You kind of jerk around at first before going smoothly until the next stop.

So far, ABA is helping Smash-N-Break SO MUCH.  He feels safe there.  He can talk to the kids.  He can approach them and know they won’t make fun of him.  Plus, he has a dedicated therapist there to intervene if needed.  So, he’s trying the social skills he has lacking in a safe environment.  It’s helping his behavior, too.  He’s also learning.  He wrote the entire alphabet today!  This is HUGE for him.  It’s so minor for some neurotypical five-year-olds.  But not mine.  Mine – this deserves celebration.  He usually refuses to write.  One, his fine motor skills are lacking in areas.  Two, he just doesn’t hear it with his teachers.  He loves his preschool teachers, but it’s different with them.  They can’t get him to open up and advance like the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) therapists can.  But, where he’s succeeding in ABA has other issues popping up.  He left his preschool.  He wasn’t gone more than 4 minutes, but it’s why we have AngelSense.    He knows not to wander, but he did it anyway.  The AngelSense gives us peace of mind.  I could see where he was going and hear his teachers while it was happening.  Step forward (alphabet) with a step back (wandering from school).

Now, we have his new speech therapy ready to start.  Like I said, it’s at his ABA clinic.  He doesn’t transition well, so this will maximize the benefit.  Plus, since his new Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) is at the clinic, it lets her work with his BCBA therapists.  So, even when he’s not in speech, they can work towards his goals.  We met with the SLP today to get the goals from her.  We had another step forward in that his expressive/receptive language has improved to low-average range!  Woohoo!!!! Then, we had a step back.  His fluency disorder (he stutters) has gone from mild to severe.  I believe that it’s because we have his expressive/receptive language better.  It makes it so that he can communicate what he wants to communicate.  But, with that, the stutter opens more.

So, today, I shall celebrate that Smash-N-Break wrote the whole alphabet.  I’ll celebrate that his whole team is in communication and sharing goals.  I’ll high-five him and give him the alone time he wants.  And, tonight, alone in the shower, I’ll grieve the fact that his fluency disorder has gotten worse.  Tomorrow? Well, let’s see where that road takes us.  Maybe the stick shift will be driven smoothly.  Maybe we’ll burn the clutch out.  Maybe the freeway will open and we just drive.  Maybe we hit a new pothole.  But today, today he wrote the entire alphabet.

Ass Strep

School started for everyone recently!  This means new germs in the house!  Yay!  I love getting sick!

Warning:  I don’t pull punches or censor myself.  Read at your own risk.

A Rash Harkens Doom!

About two weeks ago, Littles had a diaper rash.  He’s my third, so I figured I could get rid of it on my own.  It hurt him, and he would beSick Littles in tears as soon as his diaper was wet, convinced he had pooped.  If he pooped, the tears were bigger.  I fought this bad boy as much as I could, but it would not go away.  Baking soda baths, air time, changing him constantly, was using water instead of wipes, bag balm, Neosporin, you name it.  It would not go away.  And it looked funny.  It was just around his little butthole.  It looked like a combination of someone bleaching their butthole and doing a chemical peel on it at the same time (I warned you).  Some mornings it looked like chorizo was spread over his butthole.  While I am battling this, I get diagnosed with strep.  I didn’t think anything of it.  I keep the fight going.  Plus One gets diagnosed with strep.  Okay, well, we sleep together and I snore a lot.  I probably breathed it on him all night.  No big deal.

Then, Bubba tells me his throat kinda hurts.  I am giving up on the diaper rash from hell, and figure if I have to take one to the doctor, let’s get that looked at so I know what to use on it next.  Bubba has strep now, too.  Okay, he’s a carrier, so he usually tests positive anyway.  Plus One calls because Smash-N-Break’s throat now hurts, too.  Great.  My pediatrician is like Oprah.  You get a strep, you get a strep, you get a strep.  I’d rather have a car, lady.  But, wait!  There’s more!

Its Really Just The End Of Your Throat (Think About it)

madsicklittlesThe diaper rash wasn’t a diaper rash.  It was Ass Strep.  Okay, the doctor just called it strep.  I’m calling it Ass Strep.  And we all got infected with the Ass Strep.  When Littles started this rash two weeks ago, I got strep bad enough there was a pus pocket in my throat that popped when they did the culture.  Littles loves me.  He loves drinking my water, and poking my face, and shoving his fingers in my mouth when I’m talking.  I didn’t think anything of me having strep with what I thought was a diaper rash.  I wash my hands after every diaper change, every bathroom trip, etc.  I wash them constantly!  My hygiene is pretty good, I think.  But, this rash was Ass Strep.

While I’m sick with strep, I let the kids play like kids.  They got dirty.  Bubba takes showers most of the time, because he’s older and is responsible.  Plus 3 kids in a tub is a tight squeeze.  But, Smash-N-Break and Littles share a tub.  But there was one night that Bubba wanted a bath.  See where I’m going?  I put the Ass Strep in the tub, and then washed Smash-N-Break and Littles (and Bubba one night) with the Ass Strep Water.  I never used the same washcloth on Littles butt and any other body part, but it’s in the water.  Smash-N-Break is a picker, too.  So, all his bug bites he picked open to bloody scabs, and they were in the Ass Strep Water.  You can imagine how they look right now.  Plus, Littles and Smash-N-Break are young – hygiene isn’t always high on their list.  They’re also boys, so their hands are always in their pants.  Ass Strep was easily spread.  So, we all have Ass Strep.

Alls Well That Ass Well

We are all now on antibiotics.  Well, I’m not as I have already finished my 10 day course.  I hope I don’t get re-contaminated with Ass Strep.    I also have two tubes of antibiotic ointment for the Ass Strep.  One is labeled for butt, one for body.  I have to put that one Littles and Smash-N-Break three times a day.  Smash-N-Break has a smashandbreaksicklot of scabbed over bug bites.  I hope one tube will do it.  Tomorrow will mark everyone else being on antibiotics for 24 hours.  The decontamination of our Ass Strep bathroom will commence, complete with fresh new toothbrushes for all 5 members of the Adventures Family!  Bleach water solution for everything that isn’t machine washable or dishwasher safe!  I can’t wait.  (That was sarcasm – I can think of a million other things to do than deep clean a bathroom on a Saturday morning.  All of which start with coffee.  One even involves running and Legos.)

Plus One asked me where Littles could have picked up Ass Strep.  Duh.  He licks public.  No, that’s not a typo.  He licks public.  Give the kid anything and he will lick it or put it in his mouth in some fashion (SPD).  If the object doesn’t go in his mouth, his thumb does.  He sleeps with one hand down his pants on his butt (outside the diaper) and a thumb in his mouth.  How an Ass Strep pandemic hasn’t happened at our house before is the miracle!

Isn’t parenting glamorous!?  Admit it – y’all are jealous.  Damn Ass Strep.

The Evaluation, Is It Autism Or … What

All of my reading and research on ADHD and anxiety has helped in other ways than blaming myself for everything.  It got me to find Bubba and Smash-N-Break a behavioral therapist.  Bubba to learn some coping skills for his anxiety, and Smash-N-Break to (hopefully, God, please) learn an impulse control.

Bubba

Bubba is like me – he’s a stuffer.  I know, I know – it’s kind of shockingmarshmellows that I would say I stuff my feelings but also write about feelings and things publicly on a blog on the webernet.  It’s the internet – it’s out there forever.  I’m crazy, duh.  We’ve been over this.  But, Bubba is like me.  He stuffs his feelings and you have to pull them out of him.  His therapist sees it.  She knows she will have to build the trust.  Bubba shuts down when I yell (or when Plus One yells).

So, we need to change it and NOT yell.  When you have Smash-N-Break who doesn’t listen, respond, or stop, we yell more than we should.  So, we’re changing our parenting.  It’s a good thing.  The kids deserve it.  But it isn’t easy.  We also have to explain it to other people, like football coaches and teachers.  They’ve been great.  I tell them not to feel like they have to walk on eggshells, just how he may react to yelling, and how to get him to calm down and come back to the present in those cases.

Smash-N-Break

Smash-N-Break – even his therapist has admitted she has her work cut out with him.  She also warned me she sees some red flags.  He has trouble making friends with kids his own age.  He is repetitive.  He likes to sort things in ways that make no sense to me.  He has ADHD.  He has SPD.  He walks on his toes (curled).  He has language issues and pronoun confusion.  He has a stutter when he starts a junglesmashsentence and he is overwhelmed/excited/anxious/etc.  He takes things literally.

His therapist explained expected and unexpected and how unexpected can twist your heart.  (I’m really paraphrasing here.)  Smash-N-Break honestly thinks his heart is twisted in his chest now.  He has a loud voice and a quiet voice, but not really much of one in between.

He doesn’t really do the give and take of a conversation.  It’s pretty one sided, usually.  If he wants to talk, you can’t get a word in edgewise.  If he doesn’t want to talk, you will have a monologue of questions.  Noise hurts him and has caused him to act out.  He doesn’t play pretend as much as his brothers do, and it’s usually their idea.

He doesn’t listen – I’ve often wondered if he has a hearing problem.  He has so many questions.  Compared to Bubba, he asks about 10 times as many questions.  He has no patience.  He wants it NOW.  He is the definition of hyperactive.

So, she’s asked us to have a speech evaluation done for the stutter.  Okay, can do.  It’s scheduled.  She is also concerned about autism.  Aspergers specifically.

*Screech sound effect*

What?  Smash-N-Break?  He makes eye contact!  He’s outgoing!  I workingmanknow autism is more than that, but it’s been drilled into my head that this is the BIG SIGN.  Yeah, he doesn’t talk to kids his own age, but he’s just shy.  Right?  It’s the ADHD, isn’t it?

Doctors have warned me about autism signs in Littles, and he’s outgrowing those as he gets older and gets more occupational therapy.   She’s going to keep a watchful eye on him, but since we’re already having a speech evaluation done, why not have an informal* autism evaluation done, too?  If the evaluation comes back “negative”, but she still has concerns in 6 months or so, a neurophysiologic exam is the next step.  If the evaluation comes back “positive”, well, I guess we have an answer.  I took the CAST test, too.  He got a 22.  Above a 15 is indicative of more testing necessary.  Okay.

Guess We Need To Do That Evaluation

The evaluation is coming up.  I’m scared.  I don’t know why.  Well, I know why.  I’m good at blaming myself and feel like I’ve wasted years that could have been helping him.  The stutter – I always assumed he was just excited to get his words out.

smashfishingI had him evaluated for speech in Colorado.  They said he had a “slight speech delay”, but that it wasn’t enough to warrant therapy.  I should have pushed more.  I’ve tried correcting him on pronouns for almost 3 years now, and it hasn’t helped.  He still uses the wrong ones.  He can’t say certain words.  I know that, no matter what, the Smash-N-Break before the evaluation is the same Smash-N-Break that will be there after the evaluation.  I will love him just the same.   I know all of this logically.  It doesn’t help.

What do you pray for when you see the warning signs, too?  Do I just see them now because someone mentioned them?  Is this another “Overactive Oversensitive Q”?  Do you pray for a diagnosis that would be lifelong, because then you at least have answers?  Do you pray for someone to say “Nah, he’s good”, but then you still have the red flags waving?  If he gets a diagnosis, or needs services, do I pull him out of his new preschool?  Or do we go the private insurance route?

If he has to go to a new preschool, the one he will go to requires a uniform.  That will go over like a lead-balloon filled with a fart in church.  How do I do that?  He will feel like there are ants all over him teetersmashwith the clothes they require from his SPD.  How am I going to fit all of the appointments into our days, and still get done what needs to be done?

Am I borrowing trouble right now?  Probably.  I’m good at that when I don’t have a plan and can’t have a plan without others input.  Should I put down the coffee cup today, since I’m working myself up into spaztastic levels?  Yes, yes I should.

I’ve known Smash-N-Break was different, just like I knew Littles was different, than other kids.  I could see the differences between them and their older brother.  Bubba is more mainstream, more expected.  So far, I’ve just been praying for strength to be the advocate he needs, and to not sound like a bumbling idiot or forget anything when I talk to the people who will do the evaluation.

Wish me luck.

 

 

*Informal isn’t the right term, but I’m going with it.

Are You Ready For Some Football!

It’s almost the end of August.  I’ve got more reminders and appointments in my phone than I care to admit.  I’m sure I’ll forget some of them.  It’s time for back to school.  Pumpkins and costumes are starting to make their appearances, as well as other fall decorations.  Hobby Lobby has Christmas puked all over the place.

That Can Only Mean One Thing

No, not pumpkin spice lattes.  That’s good, too, but not what excites me the most.  FOOTBALL!!!!

Bubba Running For His First Touchdown
Bubba Running For His First Touchdown

Bubba is playing his first time in Texas, his second season.  It looks like he will be a running back and quarterback both.  It’s midget football – they kind of play everyone.  We’ve at least graduated from “everyone is a winner” liberal Colorado to a team where they will keep score.  They have “developmental quarters” where the score doesn’t count, but the kids can learn the game.

I’m okay with that.  It guarantees that second and third string can play and learn, with a chance to improve.  Out of five quarters, two don’t count.  They will also play the whole field (Pop Warner only played 80 yards at this age), and have kick offs and extra points.  Real football.

HOW COULD YOU DO THAT!?

It also leads to a few issues.  First, you get comments from people about letting him play.  Don’t I know about concussion issues?  Yes, but the younger they learn the fundamentals, the safer they will be.  Plus, have you watched midget football?  It’s not the bone-crushing tackles of division 1 college or pro.

The likelihood of my kid being a pro football player isn’t high.  I’m not knocking Bubba’s athletic ability.  I do wonder where he got it from, because I fall out of bed trying to stand up, but he’s a decent player.  He’s fast, too, which I still haven’t figured out where he got that from.  It’s just a mathematic and statistic thing.  There are 1,696 maximum professional football players at any given time.

I’m willing to let him play a sport he enjoys as safely as possible.  There are so many good things kids can learn from football.  How to read plays, camaraderie, team work, needing to put school first, balancing school, social, and sports, etc.  All the kids will be from the same school district, but not necessarily at the same school.  So, they will need to learn how to communicate as a team when they don’t know each other well yet.

Self Esteem Is Nothing To Laugh At

Bubba Running For TD #2
Bubba Running For TD #2

Plus, it does help him with his anxiety.  He’s so worried before practices and games.  He’s afraid he’s going to screw up.  But, it helps him go out and prove to himself that he can do it.  It helps him learn that he has to practice and work at things to be the best he can be.  With a kid who gets anxious even asking a question in class, this is a good thing.

I still got comments, though.  At least, I did in Colorado.  Texas seems to be a whole lot more accepting.  (Have you seen the size of the Homecoming Mums!?)  There seem to be fewer and fewer younger kids playing football.  It doesn’t seem to have slowed down in high school, though.  At least my kid will be safer if he’s still playing high school.  He’ll have the fundamentals down.

Four Actual Problems With Texas Football

First – Smash-N-Break Is Big

Coaches don’t believe me that Smash-N-Break is too young to play.  He’s big for his age.  He’s almost as tall as Bubba, and weighs more.  He’s not fat – he does have some chubby kid pudge on him, but he’s not fat.  He’s just BIG.  He’s strong, too.  With his energy level, football will be good for him.  He’s already told me he wants to play.  So, I’ve had coaches asking me if he can play.  Not yet – next year, he will be old enough.

Second, Practice All The Things!

Practice is 3 nights a week for an hour and a half to two hours, plus a game.  Plus One and I trade off who stays at practice, and who takes the kids home.  It still sucks for them, though. Now that school is back in session, it’s pick up Smash-N-Break, drive a half hour to pick up Bubba, drive a half hour home.  Quickly do homework, get them a snack, and drive back for practice.

They come home from practice before Bubba, and then I have to cook dinner quickly.  If I’m intelligent (so, not often), there will be a crockpot dinner so it’s faster.  Then bath time sometimes and bed.  If it hasn’t been too long of a day (meaning, did they nap or rest), I’ll read them a story.  They don’t get a lot of quality time with either one of us on football nights.  It sucks.

Games – I lose them.  They wander off, I admit it.  I’m watching the game.  I keep enough of an eye on them that I know their general area at least.  They get bored.  I spend a lot of money at the concession stand because they like treats, and I have money, so they come back to me.  I’ll take that as winning, though.

Third, You Want A Schedule? HAH!

Smash-N-Break wants to play a sport.  I want him to play a sport.  But there’s one of me.  I cannot figure out how to get Bubba to practice, turn around get Smash-N-Break to practice for a half hour, turn around and pick up Bubba without upsetting the apple cart of Littles being stuck in his car seat for 2 hours or more, right at the end of the day.

Plus, Plus One and I would have to miss some of one of their games.  Since Plus One will be helping on the sidelines, that means I have to miss Bubba’s games.  Hence why Smash-N-Break can play next year.  He’s not even 5 yet – missing one season of soccer won’t hurt him.  Is it wrong of me to be like “No, you will both play the same sport”?

Fourth, First-World Problems

It’s better now that we live in Texas.  But, I loathe John Elway.  He’s just, ugh.  He’s taken a team that was reputable and decent and turned them into fouling asshats with criminal issues, all to win a game.  Dude, one of the players  (Talib)  was involved in a shooting at a strip club with marijuana found here in Dallas.

I don’t know if the police found the marijuana on him or not, but it’s obvious he has issues making good choices, to say the least.  Did his mom not shout that at him every day after dropping him off at school?  “I love you, Aqib!  Make good choices!”  Is that just me?

With Elway at the helm, I cannot cheer for the Broncos.  I don’t want my kids to cheer for them.  He’s just not a good or decent person.  When we lived in Colorado, it was orange and blue everything, Broncos are great, yay Broncos.  When you can’t stand the team, it makes Sundays suck because you always have to see the Bronco game.

Now, it’s Cowboys.  I don’t like Jerry Jones.  (Shhhh.  I’m hiding it because I’m still new to Texas.  I did wear a Cowboys jersey into Tom Thumb, though.  You got a discount on your groceries on game day.  I’m cheap.  I’m also hard to please, evidently, based on this paragraph.)

I don’t have a favorite pro team, but I’ll still watch the games.  The kids get it – Thursdays through Monday night, football is on TV.  Go to the playroom if you don’t want to watch it.  Laugh at Mommy and Daddy while they yell at people on the TV doing things they physically could not do when they were that age.  Learn new and creative swear words to get Mommy called into the principal’s office for repeating.  Oh, wait, that’s bad, isn’t it?

Now Shhh

I’m just glad that Bubba’s game times are consistent.  I can still park my butt on the couch and watch at least one NCAA game before he has his games.  Add in that it’s Texas – I won’t be freezing my keester off on the bleachers praying it won’t snow before playoffs can end.

Don’t bother me, it’s football season.

Enough! or Is It Ever?

I sent Bubba back to school this week.  He started second grade. Bubba 2nd Grade

One, how did a teeny tiny little baby start second grade?!  I mean, I KNOW he still sleeps in a crib and eats every two hours.  He’s still a baby, right?  I just had him?  Brought him home just the other day, yes?  Okay, really, the only true thing is he eats every two hours.  Lucky child inherited his father’s metabolism and can eat anything he wants.  Smash-N-Break is three years younger and weighs more than Bubba by one pound.

Two, who else has that mom voice of “enough”?  No, not your Batman voice of “ENOUGH” when your kids are, well, acting feral.  I’m talking about the internal mom voice of measurement.  Did we do enough fun things this summer?  Did I balance his brothers’ therapy appointments with fun time for him enough?  Did he get enough fun time?  Did he get enough one-on-one time?  Did I speak enough of his love language while he was out of school?

Nope, Its Never Enough!

Me, being the ever pessimist with a side of anxiety and depression, says NO.  We only went swimming in a real pool a couple of times.  We got together with friends a couple of times.  We did the library a few times.  We did the zoo, splash pads, and museums a few times.  They saw a couple of movies.  We mixed in doctor appointments, dentist appointments, and football practice to all of that, too.  Plus, we unpacked more of the shop and swam/splashed in our little backyard pool a lot.  We swung on the swing set and went to a couple of parks.

We went on splash walks, and went blueberry picking.  We attempted to do things in the heat, and ended up falling down in front of the fan trying not to die.  We made a few forts.  We did some water balloon fights.  Those always seem to end with me or Plus One using a hose to try to soak the other one.  We went to Six Flags and Gas Monkey Garage.  Yeah, great list, but was it enough?

Well, to me, I should have done more.  I’ve blinked and he’s in second grade.  Cliché?  Absolutely.  Also, absolutely true!  This time is so fleeting, and I want to build that relationship so he knows I’m there, so he knows how much I love him.

Love, Angst, & Therapy

I don’t want him to ever question if I love him, if he matters to me, how awesome he is as a person.  I don’t want him to ever question if there is a ranking to my love (side note:  there’s not – I love them all equally).  I don’t want him to ever think he’s not the (imaginary) favorite, or that anyone IS a favorite.

I know that come the teenage angst-y years, he will probably think that, which is why I want this foundation there.  But, I don’t want to push it, either.  He’s not responsible for my feelings, for my happiness.  He’s responsible for himself.  I don’t want to suffocate him.  (Seeing the fucked-up family dynamics yet?  I’m pretty sure we’re going to be buying our therapists a new car.  I hope it’s shiny.  Maybe it will drive itself, and she can conduct therapy sessions down the highway.)

Bubba Loved It Though

boysTo Bubba, it was a great summer.  If you ask him, he says “YEAH!” We spent more time outside this summer than we did back in Colorado, and it was way hotter down here.

One, we have neighbors but we don’t see into each other’s homes.  There is a sense of privacy.  I’ve noticed that my kids want to go out and play now because they don’t feel like they’re on display or being watched.

Two, we have more than a postage stamp of a yard.  Yes, it’s all dirt and weeds with some leaf cover, but that’s a little boy’s dream!  It’s my nightmare with laundry, but that’s at least a chore that can never truly be done, unless we’re all walking around naked.  I am seriously considering making a sign that says “Welcome!  Be prepared to see a wiener! If that bothers you, don’t knock.”  Think I can make the sign into a wreath? That would be a great Drunk Pinterest video!

How Do You Know Your “Enough”?

So how do I quiet that voice of “enough”?  I don’t think I can.  I haven’t come far enough in my personal growth to even know how to quiet it yet.  Even when I get there, can you quiet it?  Can you know you are enough?  How do you quiet that voice of “enough”?

Are My Kids Really “Special Needs”?

School starts for my kiddos in a week for Bubba, two weeks for Smash-N-Break.  (Insert confetti flying, champagne sipping Q – I love them, but I’m so ready for school to be back in session.)champagne pop Since the “meet the teacher” times are a free-for-all and not scheduled individually, I’m writing letters to the teachers to introduce my kids.  It may come off as “that mom”, but honestly – you’re meeting 20+ kids in 2 hours.  I’m just trying to help let you know about my kid.  I’ve kind of been around them awhile.  I may know what makes them tick.

It also made me pause and think.  Bubba has generalized anxiety disorder, and probable ADD/ADHD.  Smash-N-Break has ADHD and SPD, and “warning signs” of dyslexia.  He’s just too young to test.  Littles has SPD.  His pediatrician and occupational therapist agree he has some moderate risk towards autistic traits (that’s the wrong word, but I’m only one cup of coffee into my day, so sue me), but it could just be the SPD.  He’s too young to test for more than that, yet.  Plus, he is functioning pretty well in everyday situations, so it isn’t warranted yet.  Given his genetic history, he is predisposed to ADHD, so we will see later if the traits I’m seeing of that continue.  But, all of that to say, I’m technically a mom of children with special needs.

Technically Yes, But Really?

This made me pause.  When I think special needs, I didn’t picture my kids.  I picture those moms who are so inspiring to me, and those moms who fight so hard for their kids.  I picture kids with cancer or other illnesses, Trisomy disorders, deaf, blind, seizures, autism (anywhere on the spectrum), kids who can’t walk or talk, etc.  My kids?  They aren’t that severe.  The disorders they have aren’t affecting their daily life.  Or is it, and we’ve just grown accustomed to rolling with the punches?  I feel like I’m insulting true special needs moms by saying my kids have special needs.   They’re fight is so much bigger than mine.  They’re daily life is so much different.  Things I take for granted, they celebrate as major accomplishments.  And they are major accomplishments.  I don’t want to take away from that.

Yes, Really Special Needs

But then I thought a little more.  A special need means just that – there is something that the child has that has a special way to handle it.  My kids have things going on inside of them that need a little bit of extra help.  It’s why going out in public is like preparing for war for me.  I never know how good or bad it’s going to be.  I never know how many times I’m going to be looked at as “that mom” who “can’t control her kids” or “is giving into a tantrum” that is really a sensory meltdown.  Hell, I never know if I’m going to have to abandon the grocery cart before buying everything because of the issues the kids have.

Even something as simple as taking the boys to get their haircut exhausted me.  Littles just hated it.  If he would sit in the chair, he would cry the entire time.  MavHaircutHe sat by himself once.  Generally, he would need me to hold him, and then he would be pinching and clawing me like mad until it was over.  The sound and feel of the clippers, plus being in public and around strangers, overwhelmed him.  The last time I took him to an actual place to get his haircut, he tried to bite the stylist.  That was it for me.  It wasn’t worth doing this to him every other month.**  The boys get buzz cuts.  I’ve learned to do it at home.  He’s better for me at home.  As he gets older and better with his SPD, and if he decides he wants something other than a buzz cut, we can try a barber again.  Until then, I’ll do it on our front step.

Bubba has anxiety.  He knows the difference between a watch and a warning in regards to weather.  Thunderstorms scare the ever-loving daylights out of him, to the point he hides.  So, my telling his teacher that he has this issue is telling her that he may need a little bit of extra help to calm down if a thunderstorm or tornado happens while he is at school, and how he calms down best.  It’s letting Smash-N-Break’s teacher know he has these medical diagnoses, and he will be more challenging as a result.  It’s also letting her know that *I* know it, and won’t be upset if she comes to me with other issues, tips, tricks, what-have-you.

The “T” Word

Yes, my children’s special needs are so very easy to overcome compared to others.  But, to those with “typical” (I’ve learned to hate that word) children, a day in my shoes would be overwhelming to them.

A Mom Of A “Typical Child:

  • who listens well and has a normal amount of energy cannot understand the lack of impulse control hyperactivity tornado that is Smash-N-Break.
  • doesn’t have their child fall to the ground, unable to move, because a wasp is outside.
  • doesn’t sit on the floor of Walmart trying different shoes on the wrong feet of a 2 year old because you need to find a pair he will wear, and he won’t wear them on the correct feet.  He likes the pressure of the shoes when they are on the wrong feet.

So, while my battle everyday is so much smaller than so many special needs moms, I do have special needs kids.  And that’s okay.  My saying my kids have special needs doesn’t make them less than, or take away from their special needs.  It doesn’t make me less than.  There is a person behind every diagnosis.  That’s what matters – the person, not the label.

 

**Don’t worry – I didn’t subject him to years of haircut torture and abuse.  Maybe 6 total before I started doing it.  I don’t have a lot of faith in myself and figured they’d look more like Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber. 

Peeing On A Stick – Part Two

Didn’t see part one? Here is Peeing On A Stick Part One.


Blueberries Picking

I knew that I’d be unhappy no matter the result. I wanted four kids. I can only physically have three. Adoption is an option years down the road. Yes, I’m so incredibly blessed to have the three we have. Yes, women go through so much more to have one baby, or even none. Yes, we did suffer from infertility and secondary infertility. No, I don’t just want to try for a girl. Give me another boy. I’m good with them. I’d panic with a girl. Also, all my kids were born around the same time. I think I’m only fertile January through March. Kidding, kind of…

But, it wasn’t my choice to stop. I’m stubborn. Tell me I can’t do something and I want to. I’m not that selfish though. I won’t risk leaving my three boys without a mom, or make Plus One a widower. If God goes against all odds (remember, Plus One had the V), and I get pregnant, it’s obviously meant to be, right?  But if that happens, my OB might tell me I have to terminate. I can’t do that. You do whatever floats your boat, but to me that’s murder. If my OB told me that my chances of survival depended on a termination, I’d have a difficult and ugly decision to make. I honestly don’t know what I would do. Plus One would have a say, and his would be to terminate unless someone could 100% guarantee my life. (Yes, I think that the person who contributes half of the genetic material to the baby should have a say in what happens to the baby even when the baby is in the mother’s body.) I logically understand this. I’m still over here like “but baby! And they smell good!” No, I’m not intelligent.

Blueberries1So, one line makes me mourn what I envisioned. Two lines would have made me mourn what might not be (my life) and difficult choices. So, while those 10 minutes passed and I relived all the good and the bad from their births, I realized that I didn’t know what I wanted. I want another child because that’s what I planned and I’m anal about plans. Really, though, I would love another child. I don’t want another baby because the decisions would be so difficult. But our family feels mostly whole at the same time. (Mostly because we had to put one of our dogs down recently, so there is a hole.) Maybe we look into adoption or fostering later on down the road. Maybe not. For now, I’ll count my blessings and call them Plus One, Bubba, Smash’n’Break, and Littles.