Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

The Knowing Continues September 18, 2019

THAT <– was then – Over a year ago.  Please read it before continuing here.

 

Jay’s been a middle schooler for about a month now.  He was both nervous and excited to begin the new chapter.  He was looking forward to taking the bus to and from school with his brother.  He was looking forward to having a locker.  Thanks to the good job that Ace did of “selling it”, he was also looking forward to meeting his teachers and taking some new types of classes; wood shop and cooking for example.

 

I was also both nervous and excited.  I worked from home on their first day so that in case I received a phone call saying things were going horribly wrong, I could be at the school in 10 minutes.

The phone call never came.  The boys came home and both had had a good day.

By the end of the first week, Jay was echoing many of the same things Ace had said after his first week of middle school (2 years earlier).  “Middle school is great. I love moving from classroom to classroom for each subject. Middle school is so much better than elementary school.”

 

I was overjoyed and relieved.  At the time, I considered posting on this blog about it because it made me so happy and I wanted to store that feeling somewhere other than in my heart.

 

I’m glad I waited though because what I write next is what really made me post.

 

 

Last week, the boys brought home their interim report cards.  Ace, who’s been doing really well over the last couple of years is holding on to his straight A status.  Jay, who has been steadily improving, but who doesn’t see himself as academically gifted, had mostly A’s but then also a C and a D.

According to his report, he had missed turning in some assignments and that was the cause of the lower grades.  Jay swore to me that he had handed everything in.  So, I emailed the 2 teachers in question to ask for more information.

Here are the responses:

 

(1)

“Good Morning!

I am missing a bell ringer from him. I have looked through all of my graded things and I do not see it. I will talk to him about it today. He mentioned it to me at the beginning of class yesterday, but we ended up running out of time.

Jay* has been very good about talking to me when he needs something so I will talk to him again today! I hope you have a great day! Let me know if you have any other questions.”

 

And then later in the day …

 

“We found his old missing assignment and he turned it in. I will try to get it in the computer soon!”

 

(2)

“Hi, thanks so much for sending this.  I figured out what it is. He did not do the states crossword puzzle.  Missing one assignment makes a big difference.  I have five crossword puzzles on my board marked with “no-name”, so if Jay* knows he did it, it’s probably there.  If he didn’t do it, he can still hand it in for credit.  Once that is taken care of, his interim will reflect the change and be an A.”

 

Now, the improved grades are amazing and I do think it would do a lot to boost his own confidence if he were to bring home a final report with all A’s, but I was brought to literal tears from the line:

“He mentioned it to me at the beginning of class yesterday, but we ended up running out of time.

Jay* has been very good about talking to me when he needs something …”

 

THAT is NOT the child who:

I was told by a “licensed doctor”, when he was 2 years, would need to be heavily medicated and possibly institutionalized by the time he became a teenager.

I wondered if he would ever speak, when he was still non-verbal at 5 yrs old.

Began kindergarten as a 6 yr old, in a self-contained “autism class” with 6 students and 3 teachers.

Would SCREAM and meltdown on a DAILY basis.

Got kicked out of speech therapy and summer camp due to his uncontrollable behavior.

Because he wasn’t able to handle it; Got moved around from a large group to a small group to just 2 kids in a social skills group at a therapy center dedicated to helping children on the spectrum.

 

As recently as April of last year, this is what was said during one of his IEP* meetings:

“He hasn’t cried all year.  He whines quite a bit but that’s better than crying.”

 

This does not mean that all things every day are now perfect.  He still has some things to work on – As do we all.  But I am just overwhelmed (Is there a stronger word than overwhelmed?) by how far he’s come – And I KNOW I’ve said that before at different stages of his development.  But it’s worth repeating.  This kid is just amazing and despite his “pop-up” anxieties and his bad attitudes at times and his ability to test ALL our patience, I am blown away by him in positive ways every single day.  Ways that he cannot even comprehend.  And ways that his current teachers would never be able to appreciate.

 

I don’t know what made Jay develop and grow the way he has.  I get asked that question quite often.  There is no 1 magic trick.  I do believe in our case, it was a combination of:

His parents realizing early on that he needed help and being willing to seek out that help.

His parents not accepting the dire predictions that we were given and constantly looking for the “right” people to be on his team.

The fact that his teachers have been incredibly supportive, creative, understanding, nurturing and positive from the beginning.

Genetics.

Consistency and love and encouragement from family/friends.

His own determination and drive.

 

And here is where I tie back to the last post again.  We still have challenges.  There are still tricky things to navigate.  I still get stressed and worried – but things are ok.  Good even.

My friendships are strong – and for that I am beyond grateful.

My credit score is the best it’s ever been.

Ace having his own cell phone hasn’t caused any real problems.

I do still need to make myself a dentist appointment.  *shrug*

We’ve done quite a lot of good travel.  Some as a family (yes, I finally got the kids passports renewed) and some just Shaunie and I as a couple (that’s important too).

The knowing continues.

There will be moments of darkness, but there will also be light.  It’s not easy, but this is life.  One thing at a time.  Do what you need to do to maintain your own mental health.  Just hang on through the rough patches and make sure to recognize and enjoy the beautiful moments when they come.

 

 

 

*Jay is the name we use on the blog. His teachers had used his real name.

*An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan which allows students to receive special education services.  For more info, please let me know.

 

The Knowing September 13, 2019

I recently came across something I had written (but never posted) on August 7, 2018.

 

 

Therapist:  So, what brings you here today?

Me:  I don’t know.  I just feel overwhelmed.  With my life.

 

That was how my very first therapy session started.  It was the spring of 2013.

At the time, I had a job that I wasn’t happy at.  Pretty much no money.  A 7 year old with not-yet-diagnosed ADHD, who was struggling in school.  A 6 year old, whose autism had a chokehold on the entire house.  The relationships with my husband, father, mother and grandfather varied from shitty to non-existent.  I had curled inward; away from my friends.

I felt very alone.  I was a mess.  Drowning.  And I saw no way out.  I didn’t go to therapy thinking there was anything they could do or say to “fix” my life.  I mean really.  What could they do about any of the things I was anxious about or overwhelmed by?  But what other choice did I have?  I had to try something.

 

I ended up going to 5 sessions.   It helped, but not in the way I think most people go to therapy expecting it to.  My therapist helped me to simplify and organize my thoughts.  It was a relief to say some things out loud that I’d been guarding tightly.  Ultimately, we decided that my life boiled down to 2 things.

  1. Sometimes things suck and you just have to get to a place where you accept that they suck and you have to stop looking for/hoping for/expecting different. Just accept.
  2. Some things – like your job and your marriage – can change, but they won’t change (for good or bad) on their own. You play an active role in what you allow. How much are you willing to tolerate before you make steps towards making that change?

 

 

August 2018.

Shaunie (my wife):  What’s wrong?  You got quiet.

Me:  I’m just in a funk.

 

How do I explain it to her?  She’s a “fixer”.  But there’s no easy fix when depression creeps in.  You know all the things.

You know it could be worse; there are people who love you; you have lots of reasons to be happy and grateful.

You know that if you ask her to do something specific she will make it happen.  It’s who she is.

You also know that she’s dealing with her own schtuff and the last thing she needs is you adding to her plate a bunch of “to-do’s” that will ease you to some extent but won’t magically “un-funk” you so there’s no point in putting her through that.

Everything feels like a huge problem and like it will take energy I don’t have.  The house needs tidying up.  I feel fat.  I look old.  I have to renew my license.  The kids need new passports.  I need to catch up on over 200 work emails.  I have a phone call to a sick friend I’m supposed to make.  I need to make arrangements with the kids dad for him to see them again before the summer is out.  I got an email saying my credit score had dropped.  I always have another dentist appointment I need to schedule.   And I always know that the next one won’t be the last one.  I am SO OVER THE DENTIST.

No, I don’t want tea or to laugh or sex.  I just want to curl up in bed.  It’s all I can manage.  That’s what feels easy.  Doable.

We cuddle and I fall asleep.

It’s a sweet relief.  From life.

But now it’s the next day and I can’t stay in bed.  I have to shower and go to work and make phone calls and wash dishes and hang back up the picture that fell off the wall.

 

I think back to my therapy sessions.

What can I control?  What do I have to let go of?  What feeling is weighing me down that I need to just accept/let go off, instead of trying to make it be different?  One thing at a time – The tension in my brain starts to unwind.

 

Ace starts 7th grade soon.  It comes with certain stresses, but, in quiet honest moments, I am not too worried about that.  It’s his second year of middle school and last year went pretty well.  He has a cell phone now, thanks to his Grandma, so I’ll have to figure out some rules around his use of it as well as install some parental controls; but that’s stuff we can manage.

Jay.

This one is a little harder.

My heart constricted a little when I typed his name.  For the last couple of years, I had not fretted about the start of the new school year.  But he’s going into 5th grade which will be his last year of elementary school.  I cannot handle the thought of him leaving that environment.  Elementary school had begun to feel safe for him.  Comfortable.  Predictable in its own way; even as we moved up the grades.  His teachers, the mostly innocent and friendly and understanding kids, the routine.  The special education team was always the same at IEP meetings etc.  Middle school will be different.  There will be a totally different set of students as none of his current friends will attend the same middle school as him.  A different school staff who don’t know and love him – yet.  A vastly different daily routine.  Different expectations.

“Different” with Jay is scary.

 

BUT, I can’t control these things – And certainly not now.  Why am I already stressing about next year?  I don’t know.  Ask my old friend anxiety.

 

Things will settle down soon enough I reassure myself.  I will get over these feelings eventually OR we will address the things that need addressing – Which will serve to calm me down.  I KNOW this.  I know this because I’ve been down this road before.  More than once.

And in this case, today, the knowing is the force holding me together.  It is my life jacket.

 

 

To Be Continued ………….

 

My Wish April 2, 2019

One of the things that I often tell my children is how important it is to choose good friends and to be a good friend.

I know for now they don’t “get it”; but I hope that my repeated focus on it, seeps into their DNA and sticks.  My friendships are and have been a critical factor in my ability to get through life in any sort of graceful or healthy way.

 

A couple of weeks ago, we had one of our first really nice weather days since the start of Spring.  Ace, Jay and another friend were outside playing.  The boys wanted to bring their Nerf guns outside to have “an epic war”.  Ace asked because we’ve had “the talk” with him.  That one that the parents of white children don’t have to have.  The one where the rest of us have to tell our black sons about racial bias and perceptions.  The one where we have to warn them to be careful because they may not be assumed to be innocent children playing games.  If any of you doubt the truth of that statement please let me know.  I’ll point you towards some stories.  They are plentiful.

 

Below is a conversation I had with someone who has been a very dear friend to me for 25 years.  We mostly joke around, tease each other and share funny meme’s back and forth, but I knew that if I shared something that was in my heart, he’d step up – and boy did he deliver.

(Me: Right aligned ; Him: Left aligned)

 

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I hadn’t mentioned it in my texts, but in addition to Tamir, I was also thinking about the shooting of Charles Kinsey.  Kinsey was taking care of an autistic man when he was shot by police, while lying on the ground with his arms in the air; his disabled client was sitting next to him.

 

Any time my boys step out into the world they each face dangers beyond what many other boys face.  Watching them grow up and become more and more independent is too wonderful to explain.  I marvel at them.  But, I worry about them.

Their blackness isn’t ever going away.

Ace’s ADHD and associated poor impulse control or social awkwardness isn’t going away.

Jays autism isn’t ever going away. 

Those things unfairly put them at risk – YET – there are times when I must let them face the fire.  I can’t let them see all MY fear.  I do want them to be careful.  I do NOT want them to live fearfully.

 

My friend wished for his loved ones “Time, health and courage.”  Those are great, but I think my main wish for my boys and all my loved ones: To have people in your life with whom you can be real and honest and true and loved anyway.

We can make all the money, or plans, or take all the precautions in the world, but in the end the only thing we can be sure of – when the chips fall – is our own truths and the honesty with which we lived our own lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting Their Dreams and Date Night February 25, 2019

I love “the arts” but I am no good at doing most arts and am only passably creative. I also am not good at technology. I can hardly ever even get our TV to turn on. So of course, I was blessed with kids who are into both those things. Jay is my creative and my artist … and Ace is my STEM kid. (Meaning he’s into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.)

 

I know a lot of parents who try to make their children into something they are not. Often, parents try to live out their own dreams through their children. I try really hard not to be that way. I mean, I’d love it if my kids were naturally really good at sports or were super talented musically – because that’s what I always wished for myself – but those are just not their gifts. As parents, Shaunie and I are constantly looking for ways to support each boys specific interests.

 

A couple weeks ago we tried a thing for Ace. It seemed like he and that group would be a good fit considering the kinds of activities they do but it was a giant fail and pretty much a waste of a Saturday. It happens. At least we had gotten a free day trial so no money went down the drain.

 

Last week, I took him to another thing. This time around there was no free trial. If you wanted to do it, you had to sign up for a 6 week program and pay up front. Once he found out about it, though, he REALLY wanted to go and so we took the plunge.

It was a HIT and he can’t wait to go back.  And so I won’t mind at all driving him there every Friday and busying myself for an hour and a half while he lives his best life with other like-minded kids and adults who know their way around a computers 0’s and 1’s.

 

Following his class, we got fast food and went home to sit on the floor and watch a TV show that only the 2 of us (in our house) are interested in. While Ace and I were at home having our fast food and TV date, Shaunie and Jay had gone out to dinner and to see a movie.

 

I want both boys to know that we will always do whatever we can to nurture their dreams but it’s a little harder to find artsy things for Jay. Ongoing, art classes for example, are not really a thing – at least not any that we’ve found in our area. Shaunie has found something though and we’ve signed him up; so in a couple of weeks he’ll get a chance to spend a couple of hours with HIS kinda people. The kind who can draw and paint and who want to learn about brush strokes and shadowing. I truly hope he loves it.

In the mean time, we’ll keep our eyes open for more art/comic book writing programs he can be a part of and we’ll keep having Mom and Son date nights whenever we can cause those are pretty sweet.

 

Unscheduled Fun February 15, 2019

We have a lot of fun together as a family. We go to trampoline parks and to shows and museums. We plan beach vacations and camping trips and in the next couple of weeks we’ll be going to the circus. It seems though, that having unscheduled fun with the kids is getting rarer and rarer. You know what I mean by unscheduled? The times when you don’t have a plan but you end up building a fort out of sheets and pillows or making funny hats for stuffed animal toys. The regular – free – EVERY DAY fun.

Now that the boys are 11 and 12 (gasp!), our “at home” time often revolves around making sure that all the things that NEED to be done, get done. The dinner and the homework and the chores. Whatever extra time there is, gets used up with me binging Netflix and them playing video games.

I know that one reason for this is that building forts and making play-doh pies just doesn’t cut it for pre-teens. But I also think lazy parenting is another reason. I’ve been at this parenting thing for 12 years and I’m tired. Tired physically yes, but also tired of putting legos together and pushing trains on tracks.  You parents of older kids remember all the “floor time” you used to spend.

When you have a new baby, everything is so exciting. You want to spend every minute with them. Teaching them and watching them and exploring with them. You love going to the park and pushing them on swings and you love hearing them giggle when you play peek-a-boo. You’d do anything for that giggle. You absolutely love feeding them pureed green peas and seeing the mess they make and you marvel at the green poop that follows. After a while though, you begin to love getting back to yourself. You don’t love your children any less. Not one iota. But you love that your children can now entertain themselves and make themselves sandwiches. You love that you can roam the Target aisles in peace and don’t have to spend any time looking at stupid transformers that cost too much for the 10 minutes that your child will actually play with it even though they are telling you that they NEED it and will for sure this time play with it for eternity.

 

How much together time is the right amount? I want us to be close. I want our bond to be strong. I want the boys to have a joyful life full of sibling and parent interaction. I want ME time.

 

I don’t have the answers. I am playing this all by air. I will say though that last week, Shaunie and Jay baked some cinnamon rolls together. It was nice. Also one day last week, I put my phone down, my feet up and Ace read me a story. It too was nice.

 

Then this week, Shaunie had to go to New Jersey on some family business. On Wednesday evening, Jay and I sat together and assembled candy grams for his class for Valentines Day. While we were assembling, we talked. Just he and I. We don’t get that a lot. With one Mom gone, the remaining 3 of us ended up having a slumber party in my room. We are not a co-sleeping family so this was a real departure from the norm. Plus, it was a school night. (What?!?!) It was such a hit that we did it again last night.

 

I really hope that we’re getting it (mostly) right. I hope we’re not being too hard on them; but pushing them enough. I hope we give them enough of their own space; while not making them feel alienated. I hope we force them out of their comfort zones often enough to spark an adventurous spirit; while honouring their own, specific, interests. I hope we enforce necessary routines; while allowing for (and even encouraging) flexibility and spontaneity.

 

Do all parents feel this way? How do you guys manage it?

 

When the alarm went off this morning and Jay rolled over to me and snuggled for a couple of minutes, I knew I had made the right call in agreeing to the “sleepover”. It was just so delicious. But sometimes the answers are harder to decipher; especially when they tell you that all they want to do is have electronics time.

 

On Sharing Stories January 22, 2019

On some random evening for some random reason I found myself telling Ace and Jay stories about themselves as babies and toddlers. These are times that the boys don’t remember or don’t remember much so it was fun clueing them in on their own lives.

 

The boys were enthralled.

 

They laughed heartily when I told them about the time Jay threw up on Ace while they were on a kiddie rollercoaster. Jay threatened to use that tactic again as a weapon against Ace should he need it. Ace was rolling on the floor laughing and pretending to gag.

 

They sat raptured as I told them about funny (or gross) things that happened back when I bathed them together in a tub and about interesting sleeping arrangements we had while on vacation. I told them scary stories about Jay getting lost at the park and Ace getting lost at Disney World. Some of the more embarrassing ones (for them) I will keep off the internet but they know now and find them funny.

 

A few nights later, inspired by the recent trend of posting 10 yr old pictures side by side with a current picture, Shaunie and I were laughing at each others old Facebook pictures. We weren’t planning to post them but we still had a good time making fun of ourselves and the outfits and hair do’s we had back in 2008. Jay came in and immediately joined in on the fun. He wasn’t interested in our pictures though – He wanted old pictures of himself.

I handed my phone over to him and watched as he delighted in his 1 and 2 and 4 year old self. One by one he clicked on and then perused the photos in albums titled, Summer 2008 and Jays 1st Birthday and Trinidad ‘09 and Fall Fun 2011 & Bronx Zoo 2012.

He was happy when he stumbled upon pictures of himself at the Thomas & Friends Live Show.  “Oooh, now that I see the picture, I remember that” he said.

As he clicked on photo after photo I gave him quick tid bits of information that the picture triggered in my memory.

 

Thinking about that trip we took to the Bronx Zoo brought back a lot of happy memories for me. I told Jay what a good day we had had. I told him that it was on that trip that he had first pointed to something wanting me to see it too. I doubt if most parents can remember the first time their child pointed or requested their attention but I do. I remember. He came across a picture of himself laying down in some bushes/leaves (off the track and away from everyone) and asked what he was doing there. I told him that there had come a point in the day where he needed a break so he took one. Back then things like that worried me a lot. It seemed so strange. Now when I think about it, I think it’s amazing. Those days were the building blocks to what we have now. Jay knew what he needed and snuck off the crowded path to have a quiet moment in the bushes. I knew, even then, that I needed to give him that.

That one memory domino’d into another. It was also a trip to the Bronx Zoo that produced another of Jays good firsts. He had gone there on a school field trip. When he came home I did what I always did. I asked him how his day had been and what he had done. I didn’t expect an answer. Even though he was 5 years old at that time, he was just beginning to talk and had never answered a question such as that. That day though, after being at the zoo, he told me that he had seen animals. It was an amazing moment. Yeah, I have a soft spot for the Bronx Zoo and I do appreciate any chance to think fondly about it.

 

~*~

 

When I initially began blogging, it was for purely selfish reasons. I needed it. I was stressed out and tired and worried and lonely. I needed a place where I could let out my frustrations and fears and to commiserate with other people who were also frustrated and fearful.

 

Now, I see it as a love letter and a gift to my children. I do hope they read it one day and that they indulge my parenting errors. I hope they don’t judge my flaws too harshly, knowing that I only ever had good intentions. I look forward to hearing their comments on some of the stories I’ve shared here. I have no doubt that for a great many of them, the take-away was different from their point of view.

For now though, I will tell them about the time Max the dog jumped into the pool to save what he thought was a drowning Ace and about how Ace attended my cousins wedding in Jamaica when he was 2 years old. I was a bridesmaid in it and Ace yelled out in the middle of the ceremony “Mom, what are you doing up there?”

I will tell them about the time their fathers picture was on the front page of the Newspaper below the heading “Parents and students show up for the first day of school” … but the child he was carrying was neither Jay nor Ace. Jay was actually in the front of the line happily holding his kindergarten teachers hand and CC was carrying a child who came on the bus but didn’t want to get off it.

 

Later, they can read the things I’ve posted here; much of which they would have been old enough to remember. It’ll make for interesting conversations I think.

 

Perfectly Imperfect Holidays January 2, 2019

So how was everyone’s Christmas?

I know it’s January now and people are talking about New Year resolutions and the like, but I have some catching up to do.

 

Our Christmas did not go the way we had planned. Does that mean it was good or bad? Continue reading to see.

 

On Saturday, December 22nd, we had tickets to see a play. It was to be a cute show; geared towards kids; about Santa and his elves. Everyone was up, fed, dressed and in the car on time. Then we hit traffic on I-95. Not just any old traffic. Major, not-moving, all the roads including side roads were jam packed traffic. The GPS initially said we’d be 10 mins late to the show. “OK”, we thought, “that’s not so bad”. Fifteen minutes later, it climbed to us being 20 minutes late and forty minutes later when we were not even half way there yet, the GPS said we would be 35 minutes late.

The show was not going to happen. Ugh!

We were disappointed about the wasted money but more so about missing out on the event that we thought would kick-start our feel good family Christmas weekend. The kids took it in stride. They said it was fine and that we shouldn’t worry about it and suggested we go to the movies. So we did. We even splurged on movie theatre snacks which you know is a treat because they are not cheap. We watched Bumblebee and everyone thought it was good. (The kids mostly). Yay!

Following the movie we made a stop at the cell phone store to see what options he had because the day before Ace had dropped his in the toilet. Ugh! FYI – It turns out that putting your phone in rice for a couple of days really does work!!! Yay!

The next stop was a Jamaican restaurant that we patronize when we’re in the area. I made a comment that was just meant to be funny but it led to us being gifted a bottle of sorrel – which really was very good. Yay!

All in all, even though it wasn’t the day we planned, it turned out pretty good.

 

On Sunday, we had plans to go horse-back riding. Once again, everyone was up, fed, dressed and in the car on time. As soon as we pulled out of the drive way, we got a call saying we needed to reschedule because the area was too wet/muddy due to all the recent rain. Ugh!

We spent the entire day being lazy. I mean, there was some light tidying up, but besides that we watched lots of TV, including a Christmas movie. We watched A Christmas Story – the one with the “leg lamp”.  I had never seen it before which apparently is blasphemous.  The kids were excited because it was Christmas Eve Eve which was cute. It’s such a great feeling seeing them be happy. The day may have been totally different than planned but it turned out pretty good.

 

 

To be honest, that’s kind of how the entire holiday week went. Things not going according to plan, but then being imperfectly perfect just the same.

Even our New Years Eve plan didn’t work out.  I had bought us tickets to an event which ended up being cancelled on Dec 28th.  My money was refunded and Shaunie and I spent the day/night reading and eating left overs and generally having the best time at home just relaxing.  At 10 pm on New Years Eve we both said how glad we were that our event had been cancelled.  I made it to 12:05 or something like that.

 

Ultimately, over the past week or so, we went to Church and spent time with many loved ones and yes, Santa was good to us.  We did make it to 2 shows.  The Harlem Globetrotters on Dec 26th and on Dec 30th we saw Hip Hop Nutcracker.  It was a really lovely way to end 2018.

All that’s left is to send everyone lots of well wishes for a happy and healthy 2019.

xoxo Deens.

 

No Holiday Stress Over Here December 20, 2018

A couple of school concerts

FINALLY getting the kids passport applications done and mailed

Mailing off the only Christmas gift I had that needed mailing

Receiving our annual Christmas cake from my Aunt in Jamaica

Already eating ALL of the annual Christmas cake we got in the mail from my Aunt in Jamaica

Making an ugly Christmas sweater

Indulging in Spirit Week at each kids school – (Every day there’s a theme they have to dress like)

Finding (too large to match the rest of the display) plastic toy animals mixed in with my African wicker nativity scene

Watching a 1970’s Christmas movie

Getting to the end of a really good book – And then starting another

Sleeping in

Deciding to stay home and be lazy all weekend

But then …

Going to Church and really appreciating the spirit/vibe/nature of the Church we attend

Eating out (aka not cooking) both on Saturday and Sunday

Finishing a knitting project that’s been languishing

Getting new (bigger for a bigger project) knitting needles and new yarn

Going to the mall to do some shopping for an older family friend

Falling in love with a new Bath and Body Works scent

Getting a quick 20 minute massage

Wondering if I should go back and get more of that same scent so I have extra in case they discontinue it

Getting roped into a work holiday pot luck lunch; complete with ugly Christmas sweater and gift exchange

Finalizing some plans for trips we’re taking early next year

RELAXING

 

 

Just some of the things that’s been happening since my last post on Dec 11th.

This was a no frills post because I’m in a take it easy mood at this point.

Really hope you guys are not all stressed out.

 

Breathe In. Breathe Out. Close Your Eyes. Listen To Music. Read A Book. Take A Walk. Do The Thing That Relaxes You.

 

A Life Appreciation Post December 11, 2018

We are not big on the kids sleeping over at friends houses – if we don’t know the family well. That said … Jay got invited to a sleepover to celebrate one of his school friends birthday. My initial thought was no. But my mind kept drifting back to … well, maybe.

Having good friends is huge. For many autistic people, having any friends is huge. I mean, just yesterday the mom of a popular facebook page posted the foll:

 

Screenshot_20181211-102225_Facebook

(As you can probably assume, her son Greyson is non-verbal and uses a device to communicate.)

 

I had met the mom issuing the sleepover invite before. She seemed very nice each time. As Jamaican people would say “mi spirit did tek to her”. Jay had been invited to and had attended that same kids birthday party last year so this is not a brand new friendship.

After talking to the mom 1 more time and asking questions like “which other kids that we know will be there and *do you have a gun in your house?”, we agreed to let him go. He was so excited about it and the other kids were excited to see him when we showed up – that made it easier for me to walk away after the drop off. I want this for my son. I want him to have friends and to be included.

 

*~*

 

For the first time – I think ever – Ace had Shaunie and I to himself for an entire evening and night. He’d been asking to go to a Hibachi restaurant but since we knew Jay wouldn’t eat any of the food there it hadn’t happened. This was our chance. We didn’t tell him where we were going and to see his face light up once the realization hit was awesome. The evening did not disappoint. From the initial giant flame to clean the stove area, to the flaming onion volcano to the catching of the food in your mouth to the fake egg being thrown at him. He loved it all. And I loved watching him love it all. He tried the miso soup and said it was good. He did not eat any of the salad but … are you ready?… he ate a piece of zucchini AND a mushroom. Of both he said “It was ok but I don’t want anymore.” He did like the rice and although he had chosen to order steak, he said the best part was the complimentary 3 pieces of shrimp he got. Neither of those meats are things he typically eats.

I was just so proud of him. I want this for my son. I want him to have a wide variety of experiences and to know that even though sometimes his wants are not immediately do-able, when we can, we will do, just for him.

Following the hibachi dinner, at Ace’s request, we browsed Barnes and Noble where we each got a new book.

 

*~*

 

The next day we picked Jay up and heard rave reviews from him about how much fun he and the other boys had. He didn’t even want to come home. [Well, hurt my feelings won’t ya 🙂 ] The mom told us how pleasant of a kid Jay is and how polite and how much of a gentleman. It made me feel so good. I know I say this all the time, but truly – I NEVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED THIS WHEN HE WAS YOUNGER. It’s the most wonderful thing to witness.

 

After we got home it began snowing so we spent the day reading books and baking and playing in snow and finally settled down in front of the TV to watch Christmas Chronicles (a new holiday movie on Netflix). As I sat there, cuddled with my 2 boys under a blanket, listening to them laugh and seeing Shaunie in her spot on the other side of the couch, also under a blanket, the fireplace lit, the Christmas tree lit and already overflowing with presents, the snow falling outside, I had a moment of total and complete contentment. Despite a whole lot of crazy and hectic and worry, we have such a good life and I am so blessed.  I don’t take any of it for granted.

 

 

 

 

*If she did own a gun, I’d’ve had follow up questions about the storage of said gun.  I mean, you can’t be too careful with 7 boys ages 10 and 11 running around.

 

Thankful for … November 26, 2018

Last Friday, we went out – to a wonderful dinner and then to a nightclub (where a good friend of mine works) – to celebrate my sister in laws birthday. I am thankful for family who live within driving distance and friends who give you the VIP treatment at their place of employment.

 

On Saturday, we picked up a cousin from the airport. She was visiting from England. We dropped her bags off and headed out to a Drag Queen Christmas show. Risqué – Yes.  Irreverent – Yes.  So fun – Yes!!! I am thankful for relationships that stand the test of time and distance. It had been 12 years to be exact since she was here last and not a single beat was missed.

 

On Wednesday, my boss came by at noon and sent everyone home so we could get an early start on the holiday weekend. Yeah, you can bet I was thankful for that. I made a couple of stops, picked up a few things, and when I got home at 2, the house was empty – and stayed that way until about 5. I love my people but YAYYYYY for time alone!!!!!

 

Thursday was a delight. I don’t even know where to start. We all shared the work so it didn’t feel like work at all. Everyone over the age of 11 contributed to the holiday feast. Meaning that Ace (with a little help from England Cousin) made apple turnovers for dessert. The youngest (5 yrs old) led us in prayer before we ate. The middle child (Jay Boogie) helped to clear dirty dinner plates and serve cake. The adults who hadn’t cooked, – ok ok ME – did most of the cleaning up.  I think.  There was Christmas music and card games and tons of laughing and even jello shots. So much to be thankful for.

 

The gluttons for punishment in the family (aka, everyone but me) ventured out for Black Friday shopping on Thursday night after dinner. The kids were super excited to go – as kids tend to be about doing something new and “grown up” that you’ve heard a lot about and seen on TV. England Cousin was excited to go because as a Brit, she’d never been. Shaunie and Cousin Andrea were excited to go because they love to shop but more than that they love to get good deals.

***ahm – Did I tell you yet that Cousin Andrea came down from New Jersey? Well, she did.  And we love having her.

After they left, I was thankful for the couch and a blanket and Netflix and tea and 5 uninterrupted hours of a documentary on the Rajneeshi cult.

 

Friday was all about Washington DC. We ate and took pictures at famous sights and toured a museum and went ice-skating in the park. I was thankful for warm coats and family who are easy going and traffic free highways.

The rest of the weekend was pretty chill. We just hung out and chit chatted and had leftovers. Last night, when asked what their favourite parts of the weekend was, Ace said it was Black Friday shopping, helping to prepare Thanksgiving food and 1 other thing that I can’t remember right now. Jay said it was getting to play video games, eating cake and one other thing that I can’t remember right now.

For me, I was just so happy to have several days full of nothing but love and family and contentment.

 

I hope all of you who celebrate it, had a wonderful weekend in whatever way meant the most to you.