Monday, June 13, 2011

Living with Asperger Syndrome

This is my beautiful daughter, Rachel. She is almost seven years old, will be in the first grade in the fall and loves dinosaurs, Lightening McQueen and anything that's on TV. Rachel has a twin sister, Kailey and a little sister, four year old Riley. She plays t-ball, soccer and gymnastics.

Rachel has Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism. In a nutshell, her brain is wired differently than a neurotypical brain. She likes routine. She gets upset if something is out of balance in her life. Surprises worry her. Noises like the vacuum cleaner and hairdryers make her ears hurt. She has fine motor and gross motor delays, which basically means she has trouble writing and isn't very coordinated. She has many other challenges in life, but none as big as her lack of social skills.

Rachel does not pick up on social cues. She has no idea how to tell if a person is interested in what she is saying. She doesn't know how to go up to someone and ask "Can I play?" and then what to do if they say "yes" or "no." She has to be taught what to do in social situations. We have to teach her and then keep reinforcing what she has been taught. It can be very frustrating; not only for us and her sisters. But especially for her.

I have been seeing her struggle in just the couple weeks that she has been out of school. She's already on edge because her normal routine is *poof* gone. She wants to know everyday where we are going, what we are doing, what are we having for dinner. Then she wants to play with her sisters and they don't always want to play with her. That upsets her. To a child with autism, a friend saying "no" to playing can mean that friend doesn't like him or her anymore. And since she does not have any social capabilities whatsoever, she doesn't know how to react. We have to teach her. And, when you think about it, "teaching" someone how to react to something isn't very easy.

My biggest fear is that she won't fit in. Kids will make fun of her. That she will be lonely. And that would be a shame because I think everyone who comes across Rachel needs to really get to know her. She's a wonderful person!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Embarrassing Moments

With Spring rearing its head every once in a while, my thoughts have turned to Easter. For most, Easter brings up memories of flowers, girls in pretty dresses and hats, colorful eggs and the Easter Bunny filling your basket. Like I said, for MOST. What does this Holiday dredge up for me? Horrible, horrible memories.

Like the story my family loves to tell over and over and over...well, they have their version. Here's mine. It was the year my family (most notably one of my brothers) played a very, very mean trick on me.

I was the first one up on Easter morning. I couldn't be bothered with eating breakfast. I had to find my basket. I mean, come on, Easter Bunny. Did you really think I would eat my breakfast FIRST? Geesh, I was a kid. And, to tell you the truth...I'm not sure I would adhere to that rule even now and I'm much older!

So, I started searching all the usual places. Behind curtains, under tables and chairs, in closets. Nada. I'm pretty sure that I found everyone else's basket at least 3 times. But mine was nowhere to be found. I was growing increasingly frustrated. And I was getting angry. Not a good combination. First, I started stomping. Loudly. I'm sure I was shaking my fists in the air as well. Then I started yelling. Loudly. I was determined this would make my Easter basket just appear out of nowhere! THEN I started cursing! On Easter, of all days! "Where's my G**DA** Easter Basket!" I'm sure I said more than that...but this is what everyone remembers. I pretty much woke up the entire house.

Then my mom came downstairs. She was NOT happy, as you can imagine.

Mom: "Was there a note left for you guys?"

Me: "Yes."

Mom: "What did the note say?"

Me: "To eat breakfast before we looked for our baskets."

Mom: "Did you do that?"

Me: "No."

Mom: "So, why don't you go to the dishwasher and get a bowl and spoon out and have a bowl of cereal?"

I obliged her, even though I was super-pissed. I opened up the dishwasher and viola! the Easter Basket was IN THE DISHWASHER! If I had eaten my breakfast first, I probably would have found it.

This is probably the top most embarrassing moment in my life. I mean, its just a little indiscretion. I didn't follow directions, I woke up my family and I screamed obscenities on one of the most Holy of all Holidays. I really, really, really HATE when my family brings this particular embarrassing moment to light for whatever reason. Maybe by posting it here...I can FINALLY lay it to rest!

OK, so believe it or not, the Easter Basket fiasco was not the only horrible thing to happen to me around Easter. One Easter Saturday afternoon, I was playing tennis against the brick wall. I was trying to serve it the right way. I was having a rough time of it. One of my brothers thought maybe he can help me. He told me to stand back, then proceeded to swing the racket RIGHT AT MY FACE! I remember seeing it get closer and closer before BAM! it whacked me in the nose!

I got to spend the evening in the ER that night. Missed coloring eggs. And then my eye turned the most bright shades of purple, yellow, black and blue. We called it my "Easter Egg Eye."

Ah, memories. Its a wonder I survived childhood!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I never met my dad. My mom had 4 children under the age of 7 and was a month away from giving birth to me when he was killed in a car accident. On Valentine's Day. Six days after his birthday. Now that I have 3 kids of my own, I have absolutely no idea how the woman carried on after such a devastating loss. If you ask her she will say "God doesn't give you anything you can't handle."

I've only seen pictures of him. Once at a family reunion my uncle was showing some old home movies he had recently transferred to VHS tape. So I got to see him alive. He walked across a room. That was it. But wow, did it ever mean a lot to me.

I am so fortunate that my dad's family has long considered my mom their sister and we have remained close. I hear stories from them about my dad. Still, I didn't know him. I see his picture and that's all it is. I really wish I had known him.

Tomorrow is my dad's birthday. Not an easy day for anyone in my family. I was thinking of him today and how I need to remember to call Mom tomorrow. How it might be nice to write about him. How it would be really cool if I could remember all my loved ones who I've lost on their birthdays this year by writing about them here.

Last year on Valentine's Day I wrote a poem. I hardly ever write poetry, so this was very strange. And it just "came" to me. That had never happened before and I've been writing a long time. I wish that I could write memories of my dad here so you all would feel like you knew him, too. But, instead, I will share a funny story.

Last year we were driving to my niece's high school graduation party. The drive is a couple hours, so right outside of their home, we stopped for gas. I don't really remember what started this conversation, but it went something like this:

Kailey: Where is your daddy?

Me: Where is he PHYSICALLY?

Kailey: Yes.

Me: He's buried

Kailey: Buried? Why?

This started a conversation on how its tradition to bury those that die

Rachel: What was your daddy's name?

Me: Larry

Rachel: How did he die? Did he get bit by a dinosaur?

Me: No, he was in an accident.

Rachel: What kind of accident?

Me: A car accident?

Kailey: Did a car run over him?

Me: A car ran into him, yes.

Rachel: What color was the car? Was it red?

Kailey: Maybe it was yellow!

Riley: Maybe it was purple! (Girls are just naming their favorite colors now)

Later, we saw some orange barrels that had been run over. Riley made a comment about them, why where they on the ground? I said looks like someone ran over them. Rachel says "That's what happened to Mommy's Dad."

Kailey says "Who?"

Rachel goes "LARRY!"

I know my dad had a good laugh at that one!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Name Is Mommy

I have had many names
in my life

"Daughter," "Sister," "Cousin," "Friend," "Aunt,"
"Fry pusher," "Assistant," "Analyst," "Manager"
"Girlfriend," "Confidante," "Best Friend," "Fiancée," "Wife"
"Pain in the Ass," "Granddaughter," "Worst Enemy," "Bridesmaid"

But the name I wanted to be called the most

No one anticipates having trouble getting pregnant
When that happens, your life changes
Becoming a mommy became an obsession
Until our dream was fulfilled.

We were having twins!
I couldn't wait for the first time
they called me Mommy

I dreamed of baby snuggles, coos, the first smile
No one told me about the exploding diapers, the baby "happy hour" which is
anything but, sleepless nights, the endless worry that you are doing
everything wrong. I did mention sleepless nights, right?

Man, being a mommy isn't easy.
No idea why I thought it would be

Now almost seven years later I have three wonderful girls
I get the snuggles, the "I love you's," the feeling that I am
everything to them.

I also get the "She hit me!"
"That's MINE! I want it!"
"Mooooooommmmmmyyyyyyy! She called me a name!"
"Mommy! I need help!" "Mommy! Stop everything you are doing to help me with this small, minor thing and if you don't help me RIGHT NOW I will scream for an hour!"

I'm changing my name to Daddy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why being a Mom really IS the best job!

Winter is hard in Athens, OH. We get a dusting of snow and school is cancelled. Two-hour delays are the norm in the months of January and February. I spent a LOT of time at home alone with my kids during these months. We all get a little stir crazy. Then the germs set in and they pass whatever illness is going around between the three of them. The ONE thing I DON'T want them to share!

Such has been my life for the past couple weeks. School has been closed, delayed and at least one kid has been sick for what seems like an eternity. Rachel was first. She was coughing so hard after coming in from the cold I was worried she couldn't breathe. She threw up twice from really bad coughing fits. Then Riley woke up one night with the dreaded barky cough that can only mean croup and a visit to the ER. Her croup developed into an ear infection (the doctor said her ear was "a mess") and, at the same time, Kailey caught Rachel's cough and was sick for a few days.

Oh, yeah, this is a positive entry, isn't it? Almost forgot. So, yeah, in the midst of all this, there have been some bright points. Where the girls are REALLY getting along or even showing me that yes, they DO love one another despite their constant bickering. And fighting. And yelling. And hitting. These are the moments you want to savor and put in a bottle.

The other day, Kailey came running into my room. She was so excited! "Mommy, my toys come to life, my wish came true! When I woke up this morning, my pillow pet was turned around!" She really, truly believed that her toys were alive, just like in Toy Story. She convinced her little sister, Riley, that HER toys were alive as well. It was pure magic and pure joy to witness.

Last night Riley's ear infection was raging. She was screaming in pain. We used an old wives' tale remedy that was calming her down. We put a clove on garlic in her ear. Never underestimate what you will do to make your child feel better. Greg's mom did the same to him when he was little and screaming from pain. It relieved his pain, so we gave it a try. Worked like a charm. Girl stopped screaming almost immediately and within I would say one minute the crying had stopped. She was laying on the couch w/her head in my lap when Rachel said "Now, what can I do to cheer Riley up?" Then she proceeded to stand on a football and fall down. That made Riley laugh. So Kailey had to get in on the action and SHE started doing silly things to cheer up her little sister. I had never been more proud of my girls.

Kailey stayed home from school today. This was her first sick day in all-day kindergarten. She started asking when Rachel would get home about half an hour after Rachel left for school. She's been asking what time it is pretty much all day. (I've got a reprieve right now b/c she is napping. You KNOW a 6 year old is sick if they voluntarily take a nap!) She DOES miss her sister, even though when they are together at home, it is pretty much constant fighting.

Being a mom is AWESOME!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Confessions of a Lazy Housewife

There is one thing about me that I absolutely, positively HATE. Yes, hate. If I could change this about myself, I would. As a matter of fact, I have tried to change this and fail miserably every.single.time. I know it bugs Greg, too. And I see this habit rubbing off on my kids.

This isn't something physical. I mean, no one is 100% satisfied with his or her looks, but there's nothing (much) I would change in regards to my body. Aside from losing that last 10 pounds and getting rid of the belly flab, the huge thighs and the arm flab.

Here it is. I am a slob. I am one of the most unorganized people that I know. I have NO organizational gene at all. I wish I had an iota of Martha Stewart in me. {sigh} The pictures above are what my garage looked like 3 years ago before I cleaned it out. Guess what? It looks pretty much like that again now.

I have several places in my house where I collect clutter. The kitchen counter, the area around my desk, the laundry room, the toy closet in the basement, the garage, our closet. I have cleaned all these areas several times and they end up getting cluttered again in no time. I cleaned off my desk on Monday. Its already starting to collect crap. {sigh} My front hallway closet was so packed full of stuff that even after I cleaned it out, the door still wouldn't close. Like it was just so used to being overfilled it had just given up.

I've tried I borrowed a book from my brother called How Not to Be A Messie, read half of it then put it back on the shelf. I made up a list for the day zero project and then disbanded it. That's not to say I never clean. I do. Every so often, I get a bug up my butt about the condition of the house and I spend the day cleaning. One day last month, I was doing laundry and was just disgusted with the laundry room, so I cleaned it out. It wasn't any worse than it was the week before, but I felt it needed to be done. Having overnight guests also prompts a quick clean up.

I understand that my problem lies in the fact that I am lazy, I like to procrastinate, I am easily overwhelmed and I don't finish what I start. These are all character flaws and I would love to fix them, I just don't know how. If money were not a problem, I would gladly hire a professional organizer to whip me into shape. I have several friends who are extremely organized (which is a polite way to call them OCD) and I have asked them several times to visit my house and help me out, but none has taken me up on that offer as of now.

I really, really hate this about myself. I get so jealous when a FB friend posts that he or she is purging this, organizing that or something of that sort because then I look at my slop of a house and wonder HOW they can do that?

Having kids just made the problem worse. Kids use a lot of crap. And if you don't keep up w/the purging of said crap, you have a disaster on your hands. My kids have so many toys they don't even play with half of them. I would absolutely love to get them involved in the decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of. But, at their ages (6 and 3), they, of course, want to keep EVERYTHING. {sigh} Since I am so easily overwhelmed, I look at this project and wonder HOW I can possibly get it done. I don't even know where to start. The toys is just one of the many, many projects I have in my head to get done.

I feel like I am drowning in stuff. I would love to downsize. I would love to have a house that I am proud of the way it looks. I would love to live by the "A Place for Everything and Everything In its Place" mantra. I just don't know how.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

30 Day Shred/Couch to 5 K

AKA: fud gets back into shape.

I started working out on a regular basis in January. I had already lost about 5 pounds at that point, so getting active and watching what I ate were helping me to lose weight. Now that I am at the 20 pound lost mark...I'm finding myself getting a little lazy and complacent. Not a good thing since I still have 20 pounds to lose before I am no longer "overweight." And exercise does help to keep my depression demon at bay.

Enter Jillian Michels. I just did her 30 Day Shred 20 minute routine. Ouch! Yesterday I restarted my Couch to 5K program, this time putting a 3% incline on the treadmill.

So, hopefully I can keep track of my exercise here.

Day 1: June 7, 2010: Couch to 5K Week 1, Day 1 & Yogalatis (a mix of Yoga and Pilates) class

Day 2: June 8, 2010: Jillian Michels 30 Day Shred & Weigh In Day (160lbs...20lbs lost since Nov'09)

Day 3: June 9, 2010: Couch to 5K Week 1, Day 2 (Feeling a little sore from 30 Day Shred but still able to do 20 minutes of walking/running w/a 3% incline)

Day 4: June 10, 2010 (Incidentally, 16 years ago I graduated college). Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1, Day 2. A little sore, but I made it through.

Day 5: June 11, 2010: Couch 2 5K Week 1, Day 3 & a small bike ride w/the kids. Ready to move onto Week 2 of C25K on Monday. I got the DVD of The Muppet Show season 1 at the library this week and I am watching it while I do my run.

Day 6: June 12, 2010: Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1, Day 3. It was tough! Barely made it and skipped the cool down. DON'T JUDGE ME!

Week 2

Day 7: June 14, 2010: Couch 2 5K Week 2, Day 1. Managed to bring my running speed up to 5mph w/a 3% incline. Not too bad. Considering I did NOT feel like working out at all today. Having a major bummer of a day today. For no other reason than my stupid depression.

Day 8: June 15, 2010: Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1, Day 4. Ug. Weigh in day. 160lbs. Nothing lost, nothing gained. I feel like I've been at this mark forever! When the scale finally does read 159, I will jump up and down for joy!

Day 9: June 16, 2010: Couch 2 5K Week 2, Day 2. 4% incline...walking 4mph, running 5mph. Wow. Great workout. I am sweating a lot of fat off!

Day 10: June 17, 2010: Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1, Day 5. Only made it through 10 minutes. The cardio portion killed me today. Just.couldn'

Day 11: June 18, 2010: Couch 2 5K Week 2, Day 3. Finished week 2. Bring it on!

Day 12: June 20, 2010: No official workout, but I did mow the lawn so Greg wouldn't have to do it on Father's Day. Pushing the mower counts for something!

Week 3:

Day 13: June 21, 2010: Couch 2 5K Week 3, Day 1. 4% incline. Walking speed 4mph, Running speed 5mph. Run for 3 straight minutes!

Day 14: June 22, 2010: Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1, Day 6. Made it through!

Day 15: June 23, 2010: Couch 2 5K Week 3, Day 2. When I started this the first time, I was walking at 3.5 mph and running at 4. Now I'm running at 5mph w/a 4% incline. Go, me!

Day 16: June 25, 2010: Finished Couch 2 5K Week 3. Bring on Week 4 and 5 minutes of running!