Wednesday, July 31, 2013


One of our many challenges  has been to find Hunter's niche. It is important to us to find something that is interesting and important to him that can one day serve him well. Hopefully, he will be fortunate enough to find that ONE thing that he can turn into a career. That one thing he can use to support himself and maybe a family someday.

For Hunter, normal school is like a thorn in his side. He hates it! He hides school work, lies to me and his teachers, and does just about everything he can to avoid doing work in his classes. The classes he doesn't like are a real challenge. Therefore, I wonder what his future will hold. Will he go to college? Will he be able to keep a job? These are the worries (among others) that keep me up at night.

One of Hunter's obsessions (like many other boys with Aspergers) is electronics. Everything from computer games, IPods, gaming systems, cell phones....you name it, he loves it! He loves it so much that it is hard to regulatethem . It has been a constant struggle with him since he was old enough to talk.

We have tried to put him on sports teams. He has played baseball, football, soccer, basketball. You name it, he has played it. My husband loves sports, so team sports were introduced to Hunter by the age of 3. The poor boy just doesn't have the coordination. He also doesn't really have the interest. He loves to watch sports. He loves to collect baseball cards and football cards. He watches every ESPN special on sports history. He can tell you sports statistics about players from well before most of us were born. His knowledge is actually quite miraculous. What he doesn't have is much of a desire to play sports.

This summer, I struggled with what activities would be good for him. I looked around quite a bit because this is our first full summer in our new town. Finally, I found it! It was like striking gold! I found a "make your own computer game" camp!  It is only three hours for four days, so he doesn't have to be gone from the house long (time is always an issue for him). He gets to sit at a laptop (which is like heaven to him). Most importantly, he gets to learn. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he is learning and doesn't even realize it!! My boy loves computers. He loves video games. He gets uncomfortable engaging with people, so it is perfect!!

I was so nervous when I picked him up on Monday. I'm not really sure why. I think I was just hoping that this would make him really happy. Maybe this would be his "niche". I walked into the building and to his classroom. The moment he saw me, he said, "Mom, come here! I want to show you what I made!" My heart sang!! My pre-teen boy not only wanted me next to him (shocker), but he had made something and he was proud! By the way, it was also impressive!!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Come on Aspergers...bring it!

Raising a child with special needs has many challenges. There are day to day situations and long-term worries that keep many of us up at night. We moved over a year ago, and I have struggled to find my way. I have been blessed with many loving and sweet people since our move. Friends have opened their hearts to me. The problem is that no matter what, being a stay-at-home mom of an Aspergers child is a lonely place.

I have not written for a while because I needed to regroup. Two weeks ago, during our psychologist visit, I received some pretty tough news. It wasn't devastating, but it was one more challenge our family will have to face. I wanted to cry all the way home, but I didn't. I wanted to pick up the phone and call a friend, but I didn't because this was news you just can't share. Instead, I filled my day with useless TV chatter and listened to the kids play until my husband got home, and I could finally unload! While my friends are talking about wonderful things happening in their lives like new cars, new dogs, new houses, their kids scholarships and crowning achievements, I sit in loneliness and worry. "This too shall pass." I know this to be true and believe it. We have hit roadblocks before and we have knocked them down. I know that I have been truly blessed with an amazing family and I am so fortunate in so many ways! Sometimes dealing with this Aspergers thing is just too big of a pill to swallow.

Now for some good news!! I have now put on my big girl panties once again, and I'm ready to do this thing!! Come on Aspergers...bring it!!!!

Square Peg

Special Needs Parents

You can never underestimate the importance of showing kindness and compassion to the parents of a special needs child. If you truly look into the eyes of any one of us, you will see a pain that is unmatched. You will see a determination that is unmatched. You will see a worry that is unmatched. While we go on with our daily lives going to work, paying bills, grocery shopping, going to school functions and spending time with family and friends, in the back of our minds, our thoughts are always focused on that child. The "what ifs" and "what next" statements are always there. "Can I do more?" is always in our heads. We are no different than any other parents in the fact that we want the best for our children. We want to do all we can for them. The difference is that our children's differences not only make them special, but they make it harder to give them the very best. Society doesn't handle the square peg through the round hole concept very well, so we have to fight to be heard and fight to give these kids a chance at the best life they can live.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 3: a score for Team Hunter

The truth is that on Day 3, I hit the snooze bar twice this morning. I'm exhausted! Why, I'm not sure. It could have been my late night of catching up on Fashion Police, but Grant got into bed with me this morning to let me know he was ready to go. By the time I got downstairs, even Hunter was dressed. A quick change and a cup of coffee later, we were only a few minutes late

No Frapp at Starbucks for me this morning. Instead, I did a relaxing stroll through Target. I also made a trip to AT&T to fix my cell phone that would not text or dial (major emergency)! The time flew by quickly! I was ready to get the kiddos and head home.

I picked Grant up a little later than normal, and by late,  I mean 2 or 3 minutes. His first words to me were, "You were a minute late today, why?" He didn't say it in a demanding way, just inquisitively. Next, we walked over to pick Hunter up. The first words out of his mouth were, "You were late today." Bible School had just ended, the parking lot was full of cars, but you would have thought that I was an hour late to pick them up. Is it a good or bad thing that they rely on me that much?

Grant had a great day! He has really enjoyed the entire week. He really enjoys the social interactions and the theme is all about Medieval Knights, so he thinks it is really fun!

Hunter's middle school group was doing what he called "manual labor" today. They were helping some elderly people around town, planting flowers, and helping out at daycares. I thought it was a great idea, but was a little nervous as to how Hunter would react to the activities! He isn't much for work of any kind, so I thought this could go dreadfully wrong. He loved it!! He got to go to a daycare and work with kids several years younger than him. He talked about it the entire way home!

While telling me about his day, he mentioned a little boy with special needs that he worked with today. He was a third grader, and had problems putting a book on the bookshelf in the library. Hunter was telling me how he helped the little boy. He said he wanted to laugh, because the little boy should have been able to do it, but he didn't even smile because he didn't want to hurt the little boy's feelings.  He also told me how he,  and the other middle schoolers in his group, had played during recess with some of the daycare kids and let them win so they wouldn't feel bad.

As parents, it is always nice to know that your child made good choices when you weren't around. For parents of many Aspergers children, half the battle is just getting these kiddos to think about others before themselves. Teaching empathy is a huge part of our struggle. It's those little daily victories that let you know that you have done something right. Today, team Hunter had a little win. Empathy 1, Selfishness 0

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 2 of Bible School

The kiddos were a little nervous for their first day of Bible School. It was a new church and new kids, so they were really anxious. Interestingly enough, my 7 year-old, non-aspie was the most nervous. Hunter, my 12 year-old aspie seemed pretty calm. I was really nervous that they were not going to like it. I have really been looking forward to this time to myself and hoping this would be a great time for them to make new friends. They had a blast...(I'm doing a happy mom dance)!

Day 2 of Bible School began with one extremely cranky 7 year-old. (I guess bed time will be a little earlier tonight). I figured out a quicker way to get there this morning, so I cut my time until "Mommy Freedom" in half. I actually had the Garth Brook's song, "We Shall Be Free" playing in my head.

When I dropped them off, I gave the youngest knuckles, because he is way too cool for public affection. I gave the oldest a slight wave because he doesn't want people to even know I exist, and I was "outta there".

I headed to the nearest Starbucks once again and drank my second Frappuccino of the week and did some more blogging. Then, I went to the mall to literally "buy mama a new pair of shoes". It was wonderful!


(written on Monday)

Hallelujah! I have dropped the kids off at their first day of Bible School. The long holiday weekend has come to an end and for the first time in what seems like ages, I have some "me time". The hubby is at work, the kids are occupied, and I am sitting at Starbucks sipping a Frappuccino.

I have a couple of hours to sit and think and write. It has taken years for me to figure out that this is exactly where I am the most happy. In this space of writing and sipping any assortment of coffee (or wine), I am myself.

Maybe it is the utter chaos of two kids, 2 dogs, and my hubby that joyously invades my brain space most days, but sitting by myself in my thoughts, seems to center me and bring me peace. It is just what I need to take on the rest of the day!

Fourth of July Weekend

Last Thursday was obviously a foreshadowing of things to come for the long holiday weekend. It started by Grant saying, "Hey Mom, I want to show you something." He said it calmly, as if it was a cool bug or flower or weed. Instead, he pointed towards the second level of the house to reveal a very broken window. He swore up and down that he and Hunter just noticed it (the day before) and that neither one of them knew anything about it. I have to say that neither one of them looked too guilty or had those peculiar (yes, I am telling a lie) looks on their faces, so maybe they were telling the truth...maybe!

Apparently, broken windows are the same as broken mirrors for the whole bad luck thing because there was lots of bad luck to follow. I started with a swollen bloodshot eye that was itching like crazy. And here we go...

On the afternoon of the Fourth of July, we went to see "Despicable Me". It was a great movie! We all really enjoyed it. We decided to go straight from the movie to dinner and then fireworks. Well, we didn't quite make it to dinner because we took a wrong turn and suddenly found a police vehicle, with flashing lights, in our rear view mirror. Oh yes, nothing like flashing lights and a speeding ticket for going 44 in a 30 to get my hubby in the holiday spirit. Thirty minutes later (and one really rude police officer later) we decided we were going to have to skip dinner if we were going to make it to the fireworks show.

We made it to the show. The fireworks were great! By the time they were over, we were all starving. The movie popcorn had worn off. We were all ready for a nice dinner (at 10:30 p.m.). Well, make that 11:00 because the traffic wasn't moving. Oh no, make that 11:30 because the traffic which was all going out the one (and only) exit to the park was finally starting to trickle out. Then, Hunter had to go to the bathroom. So began the constant explanation of how badly he needed to go. There were no bathrooms nearby, so he just had to hold it, but that did not stop the constant, "I have to go. I really have to go!" Both boys were in the backseat of the car, and they were bored, so the bickering began combined with the bathroom remarks. Just about the time I thought my head was going to explode right off my shoulders, we were out of the parking lot and heading to the nearest Applebees. We finally got home after midnight.

After our exciting Fourth of July, I was ready for a relaxing weekend. Haha, fast forward to Saturday evening when I had an even more fun allergic reaction to something I was eating for dinner. No kidding, I looked like Will Smith in the movie "Hitch". After a couple of Benadryl, mixed with a beer (don't try this at home kids), I found myself playing Apples to Apples with my husband and kiddos. All of the words on the cards were suddenly double and my hubby had a sort of halo over the top of his head (he's no angel), so I decided to call it a day.

Thankfully, Sunday was much more uneventful. We hung out, Barbeq
ued ribs and corn, played games in the backyard, danced to music, and had a nice family day. Well, it was also mixed with the arguing of children, a splinter, and a few scratches and bug bites, but overall, a great ending to a not-so-great holiday weekend

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

4 ways to a more tranquil summer...maybe

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am not a fan of my kids being home in the summer. I love them dearly, but I become seriously stressed out. Some days become more than I can handle. Others go pretty well. I don't know what makes the difference between the two. Truthfully, some of it could be my attitude when I roll myself out of bed. I try to keep myself positive and wake up every day with hope for a peaceful and productive day. How do I do this? Well I fail many days, but the following are some things I am doing this summer to keep myself positive, peaceful, and productive:

1. I found a babysitter who will do some basic cleaning of my house really cheaply!!! I have her come once a month. She does some cleaning, and I go out for lunch with a friend, or grocery shop, or get a pedicure, or sit in my car somewhere until it is time to go back home. No matter what I do, I come home to a cleaner house which makes my attitude immediately better. Plus, I get a break.

2. We have a small patio outside. Every year, my hubby and I have added things to make our backyard a little bit of a retreat. One year, we added nice comfy furniture. One year we added a fire pit and a fountain. This year, we added a rug, lanterns and lights, and a cheap outdoor speaker . Keep in mind that all of these have been inexpensive items from home improvement stores and home stores and we have done it a little at a time. Last night, we grabbed a beer and sat outside with the candles from our lanterns going; the lights on; the fountain peacefully flowing, and the music playing. We talked about our days for 5 minutes. Then, the boys came out and started playing tackle football and yelling at each other and a ball whizzed by my head. However, for a moment, I felt the tranquility.

3. Because of #2, my hubby and I have been trying desperately to fit in a nightly walk around the neighborhood. We can actually talk and exercise all at the same time. He works crazy hours and I have no adult conversation during the day. Neither of us have time to exercise, so it is a match made in heaven. It also allows us to connect for a few minutes.

4. I write... I sit at the computer and listen to the keys tap away as I pour out my heart to all who will read my craziness. The amazing part about it is that so many of you truly understand this crazy life I am living. Some of you have kiddos on the spectrum. Some of you are stay at home moms who feel unfulfilled at times or maybe just exhausted. Some of you are working moms who spend every day worrying about your kids and trying desperately make it all work. Many of you are my friends and family who I am so blessed to have in my life. Thank you for the "shares" and "likes" and words of encouragement!!

It's Five O'clock Somewhere

Okay, I'm going to come right out and say it..."I'm not a fan of these damn tween years." Wow, that feels better. I love my son. He is twelve, and I know that this will pass, but I was not ready for this quite yet! He has the braces, and the acne and he is long and awkward. We all go through this, but I wasn't quite ready for it. I especially wasn't ready for the attitude.

I wasn't ready for him to point out to me on a daily basis how stupid, old, ugly, fat, and unequipped I am at everything! It took thirty-seven years for someone to so eloquently tell me...not.  I guess it is a cocktail of his lack of a filter and being a pre-teen, but yikes do I need a drink just thinking about how many years of this I have to go. Somehow, he thinks his dad is the end all, be all of smart, cool, and awesome at everything! I agree, his dad is smart, cool, awesome (and for the record, handsome) but apparently, non of it has rubbed off on me in the last 15 years.

 I figure in about eight years, my son will need me for something again and think I am worthy, but for now, "It's five o'clock somewhere."

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer Routine

My mood makes a drastic change the minute school lets out every single year. I become very sad and overwhelmed. While many parents look forward to fun times spent with their children and making memories, I dread the day to day mood swings and lack of routine for Hunter.

 Every summer I make a deal with myself that I am going to do crafts with the kids and have them do homework activities to keep their brains working. I make it my goal to keep them away from electronics as much as possible. I tell them an hour of video games a day, and I mean it (at the time)! However, by the end of the first week, I am usually exhausted beyond words. I need a break.  I need a drink! I need a closet to lock myself into for the rest of the summer!

We are now entering our third week of the summer and I am happy to announce that I have not locked myself in a closet quite yet. We did take a quick trip home which was a nice break and a bit of a vacation. The minute we returned, my challenge began.

I sat up a chores chart for both boys and for each day they complete their chores well and in a timely manor, I told them I will pay them a dollar.  They have to complete their chores and some sort of homework type activity (reading, math problems, word search, etc) before they can do any video games.

We have only tried it for a little over a week, but it seems to be working. They are all for getting paid and I am all for some help around the house. I have to stay on them and show them what to do, so some of it becomes more work for me, but it is better than nothing. They also know what has to be done in order to get to their ultimate goals (money and video games).  They each earned a few dollars last week (I'm not easy). They are still getting more video game time than I like, but it is still less time than they normally do and it is well earned!

I have signed them up for a week of bible school. Hunter will be doing a computer camp for a week and Grant will be doing a church day camp and a tennis camp. Those little reprieves will be nice. 

I will keep trying my best. I can't say it won't be without some glasses of wine or that every day will be great, but so far so good.

How do you keep your kids on track over the summer?