Category Archives: Parenting

Just a smattering of days

That’s all I have left of quiet until August. I become accustomed to being by myself for the majority of days during the school year. I come to enjoy it – the freedom to get stuff done without the constant Mama Mama Mama. I adore my kids and, even better, I do actually like them. I’m just never really ready for the end of school. Tuesday shall be watch all the scary movies day because one child is too young and the other is too squicked out by scary.

We’ll have fun this summer. We’ll play in the pool, hatch and catch a ton of Pokemon, hopefully, try new foods, and (for me) lose some more weight. We’ll make things and build things and learn things. We’ll have a grand old time together – we very nearly always do. They already know I’ll be working – both with the freelance and with my books – so I’m not so worried about that. I’ll get stuff done but I am going to miss the quiet and the freedom I have during the school year.

I say quiet but I don’t actually mean quiet as there is always noise in my house as I cannot abide silence. But it’s noise that doesn’t require any action on my part – no responses required at all in fact – so it feels like quiet anyway.

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Filed under kids, Life, Parenting

Sometimes People Suck

I wish I had not gone on Facebook instead of adding a few more words to Crow Queen. I wish I hadn’t been struck by my own stupid curiosity to see what made one of the writers I admire and respect so totally pissed off. Alas, I did. Now I’m going to share my pissed off, Jim Hines‘s pissed off, and some outside observer’s absolute idiocy. Because this woman who wrote this thing has NO CLUE about what she writes.

Actually, Hines sums it up better than I can. Read his response to a terrible woman who has no clue here. (and this way, I don’t have to link to the actual article! Bonus for me!)

I just want to add that I have children, one of whom is officially autistic and currently struggling to define what that is for himself. He comes home from school and tells me that autism isn’t an illness which tells me that someone at school is telling him that it is. He is working on finding stims that don’t scare the new puppy or make other kids stare. He is learning to speak and act neurotypical because he wants to. I’m of two minds on that – on one hand, he is awesome but on the other, like speaking French in Paris, speaking NT certainly will help him in life.

My situation is not terrible, in fact, my life is pretty freaking awesome. My kids are a large part of why that is. We learn to work around things, find different ways to get to the same place, and help my son navigate a world with people like this horrible woman in it. Maybe sometimes we have to take the longer or rockier path but who doesn’t sometimes?

I have been told, more than once, that my kid isn’t autistic enough for me to understand what other people go through. They’re sort of right, I guess. His autism presents in a manner that I can understand and even translate. I know how lucky we are for that. I also know that Carly Fleischmann found her own way. Naoki Higashida found his own way. Others find their own ways of communicating all the time. Different is not less. I think some people need to fall down off their very high rocking horse (because it isn’t a real horse when you aren’t actually personally involved in the situation).

Now I’m going to get back to the words I need to write today.

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Filed under Autism, Life, Parenting

Aging

I have no problem at all with my aging – in fact, I look forward to most of it – but I struggle a great deal with my kids getting older. In a few short hours, my baby will hit the double digits. I no longer have an elementary school aged child! My older child is learning to drive and my baby is headed for middle school. So why on earth do I not have gray hair yet?!? I have a few, yes, but not enough to do anything fun with!

Time is weird and I don’t like it. Time needs to slow down before I get whiplash! It doesn’t feel like that long ago that my baby came into this world, all 10 pounds 6 of him and now he’s about to be 10. If you listened to him though, you’d think he was about to be 30. He has his whole life plotted out – I really hope he meets a girl who agrees to go along with it – two kids, a farm (in the middle of a city), and a pretty wife. Apparently, they’re all going to stay with my husband and I while he builds their house. He never fails to amuse me.

I love my kids but I am increasingly ready for school to be back in session. I know my teacher friends aren’t quite there yet but my boys do so much better with each other when they aren’t together all the time. That is the one downside of having such a big age gap.

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Mother’s Day

my mom and me

My mom and me

Happy Mothers Day to all the mamas out there!

For me, today is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, motherhood is pretty much my favorite thing ever. Even at the worst of it, I wouldn’t trade it for all the coffee, all the money, and all the Doctors in a row. My boys aren’t my whole world but they make my whole world better. On the other hand, thinking of moms makes me miss my mom. A lot. She never got to meet my boys or impart her motherly wisdom or even just commiserate with me over teething, tantrums, or angsty teenagers. She never got to see me succeed at pretty much anything. She never got to know how awesome these two boys of mine are.

I do have older women in my life who I should probably consider to be maternal influences but I don’t. I can’t. It’s not the same. I haven’t called anyone mom since she died – not even a slip with a favorite teacher as happened in my very young years. My mom and I didn’t have a conventional mother/daughter relationship which was probably to our benefit as we got to be bffs too for a few years before she died. Most daughters don’t get to do that until they’re mothers themselves so, I should count myself lucky to have had that experience at all. I’m honestly glad we didn’t have the stress-filled, argumentative relationship so many teenage girls have with their mothers. We parted on good terms, even if it broke my heart. I was sixteen so, for me, there was no chance at all that someone could step in and try to fill that particular hole in my life. I don’t want it filled. It isn’t empty.

Me and my boys

Me and my boys (several years ago)

As far as my own kids go – they’re a lot of fun. Both of them are bright, funny, and talented. They’re even really well behaved (if occasionally full of teenagery attitude). I really lucked out in that department – I love my kids but even better, I really like them too. I know someday they’ll grow up, find spouses to settle down with, and discover the joy of parenting. I hope I can be around to see it. I always knew I was supposed to be a mom and I think it suits me pretty well.

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Filed under Life, Memories, Parenting

IEP Season

Every year about this time, parents of special ed or gifted kids start re-reading old IEPs, Googling measurable goals, and making lists of questions for the annual meeting about the modifications to their child’s education plan. I’ve been doing this for a very long time but I always get nervous anyway. So far, knock on wood, I’ve been very lucky and only had one cantankerous meeting that, because I was prepared wasn’t actually an issue at all in the end.

I’m at the advantage because there aren’t many services my son needs – some flexibility in the classroom when he needs to stand up or wiggle a bit, a safe place to decompress if he is having a really bad day, and a teacher who isn’t a “quiet hands” sort of teacher who redirects an obnoxious stim rather than scolding him for it. A lot of families I know need a whole lot more than that and it’s a fight for them in ways I’ve never had to deal with.

I’ve been dealing with IEPs for a long time, I even did a weekend seminar/class to be better able to deal with them not just for my own kids but for the families I’ve come across with my support group. I think when you know what you’re dealing with – the language, the pretty standard format, and very few deviations from the standard protocol, you’re able to go into that meeting with confidence. During the Wrightslaw seminar (if they are in your area and you deal with IEPs or 504s it’s worth the time and money to go – you will never regret it) they talk a lot about separating your emotions to be a better advocate for your child and I’ve never gotten better advice. If you leave your emotions at the door, it’s a lot easier to work with the give and take there has to be in a situation like this.

For me, this year was a bit more fraught than usual as we’re transitioning toward middle school and that’s an enormous change. There are so many new things to worry about and so many changes and I’ve heard so many horror stories that all begin in middle school. Fortunately, I have a great team and very little was changed from last year so we’ll just have to see how it goes. The best part of an IEP is that we can always change it if we need to. If what we have put together doesn’t work in practice, we can reconvene and try again. Hopefully we won’t have to but it’s nice to know we can. Now I can get back to my normal work writing stories and such now. Relief is the word of the day.

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Filed under Autism, education, Parenting

All the Acronyms

My life is full of acronyms: ASD, IEP, IDEA, SPD, and they’re all quite useful, if you know how to work within the system. Unfortunately not everyone does and the system makes it as difficult as possible to get anything done. I am constantly surprised by how easy I’ve had it. I’ve never had a contentious IEP meeting. We’ve had some teachers who weren’t suited to dealing with my kids but honestly, super easy go of things and I am so very grateful for that.

But apparently my situation is more unusual than it should be. I’ve heard horror stories at my support groups (online and real life) about schools that refuse to do what they’re supposed to do. My kids have it easy because I know the vernacular, the law, and how to talk to people and because I don’t work a standard job, I have the availability to be at meetings, to pester with phone calls, and touch base with email. It makes me wonder how many kids slip through the cracks because their parents do have jobs and can’t be on top of the school all the time or fight tooth and nail to get the evaluations and services their kids need.

The system should not be so difficult to navigate and the plan should not be so difficult to enforce as it can be. Yes, budgets must be taken into account and parents need to be reasonable too but not at the cost of the child’s education. We are losing some bright minds along the way by treating them like problem children or behavior issues rather than people and that’s got to stop. I don’t have any answers or solutions but it all makes me so sad to see.

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Filed under Autism, kids, Life, Parenting

Decorating Day!

I haven’t done a black Friday shopping run since my mom died – she made even the hectic shopping fun (granted 20 years ago it was no where near what it is now!). In my house, we have Decorating Day instead. It is one of my favorite holiday traditions. We stay home, watch Christmas movies, and decorate the house. It actually will take us all weekend to get it finished and it won’t actually be finished until Monday when we do the big tree.

The next few days will be crazy busy but, when it’s all done, my house will look a little like Christmas exploded in it and I will settle in with my hot cider and watch the trees twinkle and all the candles flicker and hope for snow (the only time of year where this is the case! And not enough snow to cancel snow – I have too much to do and not enough time).

Christmas is my favorite time of year and I love the traditions we’ve made and have been passed down. My favorite is Decorating Day but I love the baking days, making days, that every year I make something at least for my two boys but I try and make things for everyone, I love the silly Christmas movies, silly Christmas songs, and I love that one of my favorite writers is about to do her Advent story.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

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I’m not ready

I got my oldest son’s schedule in the mail today. For his freshman year of high school. Because he’s a freshman now. In high school. Except for the fact that I’m not that old yet! It’s impossible! I’m not adult enough for this.

I don’t know if he’s going to like his schedule as one of the classes he really wanted isn’t there but it’s really becoming apparent that this is going to happen now whether I’m ready for it or not. I thought the transition to middle school was bad. He hasn’t even started yet and I’m wanting to find a way to be in denial. I can’t find one that works though and that sucks.

He hasn’t seen his schedule so maybe it’s not so real yet for him because he’s off backpacking but it too real for me. On the upside to this week, I’ve actually gotten some writing done this week. My youngest kid is very supportive of me writing, in short increments and as long as he gets to swim. Now, I’m just feeling very old and I imagine that feeling is only going to get worse in a few weeks when school actually starts.

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The sound of words

I have two wonderful children. I really do. Even when they go out of their way to irritate me. This week, it’s the words… We were talking about words – specifically the fact that my youngest likes to repeat specific words ostensibly because he likes the way they feel to say. Honestly, I imagine it’s a part of his autism that me and my older son also share. We discussed words we enjoy saying – we all agree on discombobulated. I love Irksome. Youngest loves words with more than five syllables. Oldest loves ten dollar words, regardless of their syllabic count (he’s old enough to enjoy showing off his vocabulary and young enough to still think it doesn’t make him look arrogant and obnoxious – I can’t say much, I was of that type myself once upon a time).

Of course, that conversation ends up on the other side, with all the words we don’t like to hear. I made the mistake of weighing in on this and now, my youngest child is singing the Bill Nye the Science Guy theme song saying my most squicky word where the word Bill should be. If I hear the word Moist one more time this summer, I might cry.

What are your favorite words to say and most squicky words to hear? For the record, I imagine squicky words to be the verbal equivalent to a nail on a chalkboard, shivers down the spine, hackles raised, and a slick heat in the brain that just says ewwww.

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Filed under Autism, Interesting, kids, Parenting, Weird

Summer

Summer is always a mixed bag for me. I’m not big on the weather but it’s also growing season and swimming season and kids are home to play with season. (when they aren’t bickering at each other, my kids are so much fun). It never feels like there are enough hours in the day and too many of them are hot and bright.

This school year is not quite over yet thanks to all the snow days this past winter but tomorrow afternoon begins summer vacation officially. This may be the shortest summer ever. Before we know it, school will be back in session and I’ll be the mother of a high school student. How on earth that is possible, I haven’t figured out. In the mean time, we’re going to enjoy the summer we’ve got.

I never seem to get as much writing done in the summer as I’d like. I’m determined to do better this year though. My youngest kid is an early riser – we had to institute a rule where he is not allowed out of bed before 6 AM. I’m generally up with him. I can’t sleep past 7 any more, no matter how late I’m up. That means that, if I work at it, I should have at least two hours every day to get words in. All it takes is some dedication and determination. I’m going to get the draft of Hunter’s Hell (the working title of Hunter’s Crossing’s sequel) done this summer. Hopefully anyway. With everything going on right now, I’m hopeful but not promising.

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Filed under Life, Parenting, Writing