life on the "j" train

Taking a "busy working mom with 2 special needs kids" life one moment at a time

When The Kids Are Away April 25, 2017

Miss me?  I’d love to say I’ve been quiet because the kids were away and when the kids are away we party.  Hard!  I want to say there was no time to blog because we were having too much fun.  The truth is that, things are kinda regular and quiet when they are away.  Nobody wants to hear about (and I don’t want to write about) us going to work, coming home and eating dinner and going to bed.

 

We tried to live it up a little bit.

On Monday, we went for donuts after dinner.  Yup.  We did.  We even took pictures to mark the grand event.  Donuts on a weekday – Even though it would be dark soon.  Boom!

On Tuesday we went to a local brewery and tasted several beers.  We are not beer drinkers.  And we learned we are definitely not stout drinkers.  We did learn about hoppiness and roastiness and that beer can smell like chocolate; so there’s that.

On Wednesday we really went all out.  We … wait for it … Went to work, came home, had dinner and went to bed.

On Thursday we planned to go to a movie but didn’t make it.  Instead we had Chick Fil A and walked around in Sears.  I got a winter jacket for only $5 and we bought 2 pairs of kids pants for $0.86.

 

We made and followed through with the biggest plan on Friday.  We met up with a couple of friends and did a sip and paint.  I always love an opportunity to spend time with friends and to laugh.  And if alcohol is involved that’s ok too 🙂

 

Our boys are back now and note-worthy things are already happening.

Jay ate lasagna – and liked it.

Ace had chicken soup – and liked it.

Both those things are major.

 

We made a vacation plan which I am really looking forward to.  Ace is busy readying his mind for middle school.  He’s concerned about being the “3rd smallest 6th grader” and is wondering when he’ll have a growth spurt.  He’s also thinking about which clubs he is interested in.  So far, the track team is still on the table but the step team is a heck no.  The Lego club is an oh heck yes!  Jay is lobbying for a pair of prescription sunglasses and learning how to confront social challenges head on.

Here’s a little more info on that … Apparently he thought he was unfairly treated by a staff member at his school so he was mad and decided he was not going to speak to that person ever again.  We had a conversation about that not being the best way to handle the situation.  I told him that maybe there was mis-communication and that if he spoke to the staff member and explained how he felt, the 2 of them would be able to talk it out and come to an understanding.  That was hard for him to accept.  With some prodding though, he (VERY reluctantly) told her how he felt and they were able to fix their issues.  So big!!!

 

So there you have it.  We’re doing alright.  It’s been raining for several days which is yuck and this will be a busy week with work stuff and school meetings and such.  I squeezed in a knitting class which meant I didn’t get home until 8:30 but it’s all good.  I feel pretty confident in my abilities to make a blanket now.

 

I’m keeping up with current events and a lot of it makes me mad and/or sad and/or angry.  I’m anticipating the release of Hulu’s The Handmaids Tale since I need a new series to watch.  We’re putting summer camp things in place which includes a 3 night sleep away camp which will be a first for both boys.  Don’t ask me how I feel about it.  *Hint* – I’m nervous.  I’m plotting on the dinner that’s currently cooking in our crock pot all while dreaming of a day when just thinking about eating right and exercising will produce the results I want.

 

 

Telling Our Stories April 18, 2017

 

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ― Anne Lamott

 

 

I remember the very first time I ever read the above quote.  Even though the book was written in 1994, I hadn’t heard of it till 2012.  I had just written a blog post in which I said some things that I wondered if I should have.  I had hit “publish” and then spent the next few days thinking about various people who may see it and wondering if it was my place to say some of the things I had said.  I deleted one line of that post.  Then I came across Anne Lamotts quote and I thought, “damn right” so I went back and re-wrote the line.  It was the truth.  The person had done what I said they had done and it had affected me.  Why should I protect them?

 

I recently had a conversation with someone, I’ll call him Keith, who was struggling to understand why he was receiving the treatment he was receiving from someone else.  I knew why – and I share that persons views.  Not the views towards Keith directly but, I share the views.  I’ll leave it at that.

If I were to enlighten Keith, as he wanted me to, it would mean shedding light on some unsavory things about someone he loves very much.

It is a tough position to be in.

 

I have said some unflattering things but I don’t think I have ever said anything defamatory about anyone on my blog.  I have been honest about the relationships in my life.  With my father there is none at all.  Has been none for 10 years.  Before there was none, it was strained.  With my mother, at this moment, it is luke warm. With my grandfather it was awesome except for the times it most definitely was not.  With one sister it is good, with another it has soured to the point of being non-existent and with yet 2 more sisters, we were doomed to be strangers from pretty early on.

In a lot of ways, my family life as you can see, is not the best.

 

I love to write about our lives.  It’s medicinal almost (to me) and I think it will be a gift to my boys when they are older.  I put a lot out onto the internet.  Even so, there is so much that I keep close to my chest.  Sometimes it hurts and I feel like if I were able to just say it, I’d feel better.  But would I really?  The only thing that would heal much of what hurts me is a change in the other persons behavior and one thing I have learned is that you cannot make people be who you want them to be.

Also, are any of us completely innocent of causing pain to someone else?  Have we always done what we were supposed to do for the people we say we love?  Would we want all the people whose hearts we have broken or who we’ve gossiped about or who we ignored in a time of need to come out of the woodworks and share with the world all the ways in which we could have been better?  I don’t.

 

On one hand I whole heartedly agree with Anne.  (And if someone else wants to write their story and include all the ways in which I failed them then I would deserve it.)  On the other hand, I don’t want to be a jerk.  I try really hard to balance telling my stories – because I do think I am entitled to them – with being as respectful as I can with other peoples stories – because those are not mine to tell.

 

Also, as I have come to realize, on more than one front, keeping some truths hidden isn’t about protecting the “wrongdoer”, it’s about protecting the innocent who love them – even if it is a difficult pill to swallow or the hidden facts make other people get credit they do not deserve.

 

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry April 17, 2017

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Family,Life on the Jay train,Marriage,Special Needs Kids — the jay train @ 9:33 am
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We had such a great day on Saturday.  Ace and I went for a beautiful bike ride on a path that runs along our local river while Jay continued to practice his 2 wheel bicycle riding skills.  The four of us hung out at the rivers edge and watched as people fished.  The fish were biting that day.  We sat outside and had lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant.  The weather was simply perfect.  Back at home, the kids hung out and played with electronics while the adults took a nap.  As I told a lady I met on the bike path, it’s a lot easier to ride uphill when you are 10 years old.  Following naps we got some dinner and then went for ice-cream and Italian ices.  It was just a very nice, well-rounded, happy day.

Piggy backing on Saturdays good vibes we were so full of optimism that we decided that on the following day, after Easter service at Church and egg hunt, we would take some family pictures before going home to open Easter baskets.  We made sure to let the kids in on the plan. They were both down for the cause.

 

On Sunday we all got dressed up nice and fancy.  Church was great!  The kids did an amazing job.  Immediately after the service there was an egg hunt and literally ONE minute into the hunt, Jay bumped his head on a sign and it was all downhill from there.

 

 

He was in a sour mood and nothing we said could fix it.  There would be no family pictures.

Ace, bless his heart, really tried to salvage the day and said “I’ll still take pictures with you guys if you want.”  We did.  We got really cute pictures of Ace by himself, in all his bow tie glory.  We got pictures of him and I as well as him and Shaunie.  Then a stranger got one of the 3 of us.

All this while Jay sat in the car sulking.

 

Once we were done taking pictures we went home where Ace opened his Easter basket and was thrilled with his goodies.  Mini transformer toys, a couple of comic books and of course candy.

Jay went to his bed and his basket is still sitting on our living room floor.

 

As was planned, CC and Emma came to pick the kids up in the afternoon since they are on spring break this week.  They will spend the entire week in New Jersey.  This is a good thing because it’s important that they spend time with their dad and his family.  They will get to see Nanas.  It’s also important that Shaunie and I get a little break.

I was really disappointed with the direction the day took – But these things happen.

The good news is that when I checked in with CC, he confirmed that Jays mood had improved and Ace was his typical happy self.

Shaunie and I watched a comedy and then went out to dinner at a place that doesn’t serve chicken nuggets and waffle fries.

Waitress:  Would you like a 5 oz or an 8 oz glass of sangria?

Me:  The big one.  Give me the big one.  Thanks!

 

Jays Easter basket will be here when he gets back, still stocked with all his favourite things and we can always try again for the pictures on another day.  Our little town has lots of picturesque places and now that the leaves are back on the trees, it’s even more beautiful.

 

At the end of the day I am glad we had Saturday and I am glad that everyone has cheered up and I did love all the greetings shared among family and friends from all over the world.  I got new pictures of my niece who is the cutest niece that there ever was.

I hope everyone had a happy Easter and that all your plans played out just the way you hoped.

 

Team Growth February 27, 2017

On Saturday evening we were trying to decide whether to go to the 9 am Church service the next day or the 11 am one.  We’re not really the best at being morning people so 11am would suit us better in terms of waking up and getting ready but if we go at 9 am then the kids can go to Sunday school whereas if we go to 11am they have to sit with us in the sanctuary.

Decisions Decisions.

For me it’s a no-brainer and the extra sleep wins.  I voted for 11am because as I put it “The kids will be fine.  They did a good job last time.”

Shaunie had a different take.  According to her I frame everything around how much better they are now than they used to be.  So basically, even though we sit in the back just in case we need to leave during the service and we bring snacks and we threaten to take away electronics if they don’t behave and we spend about half of the time shhh’ing them, I count it as a win because we make it through without any yelling or crying – which was not always the case.

She feels like they still have a little way to go and are better off hanging out with the  other kids in a different room.

 

We ended up going to the 11am service.  We made sure the boys were well fed before we left home.  We gave the behavior speech.  We let them bring toys.  I packed snacks in my bag.  We sat in the back.

 

For a long time I avoided going to Church altogether with the kids because it was just too much to handle.  Due to their disorders, (ADHD and Autism if you are new here), I could NOT leave them in Sunday School while I sat quietly in a different room.  I also could NOT bring them to the main service with me because they could NOT sit still or be quiet.

Making it through a Church service has not been an easy road for us.  We’ve had to leave after only being there for 10 minutes.  I have been known to leave Church services in tears.  We’ve been given plenty of mean looks.  I’ve had my kids crawl under pews and between peoples legs.  They’ve dipped their hands into the wine cup during communion.  They’ve gotten into arguments with other kids in the Sunday school room.

Yesterday, Ace only dropped one Lego piece which had to be retrieved from the floor two pews in front of us.  Jay excitedly waved his $1 in the air that he puts in the offering plate but so what?  Only one time did Ace ask, “How much longer?”  Jay ate Oreos.  They both shook hands during the greeting of the peace and before you know it, we were on our way home.

 

I think everyone would agree that it was a successful outing.

These things don’t happen by accident.  They happen because you keep pushing yourself.  You keep trying.  You keep growing and getting better – Sometimes very slowly.  You fail a few times (or most of the time) but you go back anyway.

 

There’s debate in school administration over whether to rate students based on their growth in an area or their proficiency on the topics.  I suppose it’s safe to say I am #TeamGrowth.

Proficiency, of course, is the goal, but we’ve got to recognize and celebrate every little bit of growth and use that growth as motivation to keep pushing us forward.

 

The 40 Blues February 24, 2017

What is it about turning 40 that makes people crazy?  Last year, a close friend hit that milestone and mingled in with all the celebrating and the outpouring of love he got, he was having a hard time.  He took stock of his life and zoomed in on all the areas that were short of what he wanted/expected them to be.

His marriage was not going through its happiest period.  He wasn’t making as much money as he wanted to or even as much as he had in previous years.  He could stand to lose a few pounds.

I was there saying all the things I needed to.  I meant every word.  I told him about his children and what a joy they are.  I told him what a fantastic friend he had been to me throughout the years and how I couldn’t imagine going through much of what I had without him.  I told him that in many ways, he was better off than many other people and he had a lot to grateful for.  He comes from a very supportive and tight-knit family.  He has great hair.  His bills are paid.  He enjoys his workplace.  It was all true.

None of that mattered … I knew … I know … Cause here I am.

Up until last month I would have said my upcoming 40th birthday wasn’t affecting me in a bad way at all.  I would have been telling the truth.  Then.  Not so much now.

 

I’m trying really hard to follow my own advice.  To focus on the good.  My boys are amazing.  Shaunie is amazing.  I have a job that I don’t hate.  I am healthy.  In fact, everyone who lives under my roof is healthy.  I have heat in the winter and AC in the summer and food in my fridge and gas in my car.  I have a couple of friends who I know I can count on, no questions asked.  I laugh every single day.

But there’s that nagging voice in the background.

You are not able to financially handle any “extras” or emergencies.  You are not comfortable with your body.  You don’t have the extended family that you wish you had.  You still feel pangs of jealousy towards other people.  You long for a life that never was and never will be.

 

I know no-one has it all.  If you have the big house and the doting spouse then you long for a baby.  If you have the house and the spouse and the baby then you long for a fulfilling career.  If you have the house and the doting spouse and the baby and the career then you long to be thin and you miss your Mom who died when you were a teenager and never got to see you walk down the aisle or to hold your precious daughter in her arms.  Even if you have all that, the mansion and the spouse and the 2.5 kids and the dog and both parents alive and active in your life and a job you love, you spend your days just wishing you didn’t have to take so many damn pills everyday to fight off this damn life-long disease that you acquired and oh my God, you are tired of doctors appointments and blood tests.

 

Everybody has something that someone else wants.  None of this is news.  Everyone knows this.  Everyone understands this.  But knowing and understanding it on an intellectual level doesn’t translate to our hearts.

And when you turn 40, the emotions around it all seems worse somehow.

 

Not Special. Not Strange. February 9, 2017

 

In my marriage we support each other.  We cheer each other on.  We offer a shoulder.  We both have 9 to 5’s and we share the household chores.  We drop kids off at school and we check homework and we figure out what’s for dinner each night.  We have disagreements and we can never decide what to watch on TV.  One loves coffee and cake and that same one hates yogurt.  One has food allergies and that same one carries an asthma inhaler.  We have inside jokes and  random things that bring back warm fuzzy memories to us would mean nothing to anyone else.  We talk about bills and taxes and we share a bank account.  The kids know who they should ask depending on what it is they want.  We each have our own sensitivities and our own strengths and our own interests.  We have some of the same sensitivities and strengths and interests.  We get on each others nerves at times but mostly we like each other and like spending time together.  We wonder if we should have one more kid.  We wonder when we will go on our next vacation.  We enjoy a glass of wine here and there.

We are neither special nor strange.

We are like all married couples.  We are like you.  And you.  And you.  We’re just trying to get the kids to bed on time and clean up the mess in the kitchen and remember to water the plants.  We are trying to find a babysitter so we can have a rare night out and we are searching the basement closet for some wrapping paper.  We have no idea where the other foot to all the socks are.  We share stories about our co-workers and we complain about our families.  We step on Legos and we curse the fools who invented toy megaphones because inevitably that is the toy the kids choose to play with at 6am on a Saturday morning.  We are nice to each other.  We care about each others feelings.  We are not disrespectful even in anger.  One irons the others work clothes the evening before and one puts gas in the others car.  We gripe about our weight (well, I do) and we’re still trying to figure out which one of us should really be in charge of plunging the toilet when the boys clog it up.  (Neither wants the job).  We gladly offer up the last (and always most delicious) bite of the thing we were just eating but complain when someone takes the first sip of our drink without asking.

Like I said:  Neither special nor strange.

We are multi-dimensional beings in a multi-dimensional marriage.  Going through all the same things as everyone else.  Struggling with all the same things as everyone else.  Finding joy in the same things as everyone else.

We have to work at keeping our love strong and our lives happy and healthy.  We have to make effort everyday to not take each other for granted.  We make fun of each other and are affectionate to each other.

Above all, we are a team.  We truly are best friends.  We appreciate each other and what each adds to this equation.

 

I know in my marriage we are both women and in most others there is one woman and one man but I don’t know why people like to reduce us to what happens in our bedroom.  I don’t know why people care so much or are so angry about what they assume happens there.  Like all married couples, we spend less time there than we do out in the world.  What happens there is private – Just as what happens in yours is private.

Can I make certain assumptions about what I think is happening in my bosses bedroom?  In my friends own?  My sisters?  How about in my pastors?  Of course I can.  Might I get some of it right and some of it way wrong?  Probably.  Is it my business?  Does it help me to know if any of them are decent people?  Does what you do in your bedroom, or who you do it with, make you a better friend to me or daughter to your mom or employee?  

NOT ONE BIT! 

 

She Led By Example January 23, 2017

 

I don’t know what my grandmother would have thought about my current relationship.  I don’t know her feelings around pro-choice vs pro-life.  We never had those conversations.  She was a very religious woman who was fiercely committed to her family.  Her marriage was one of traditional gender roles.  He worked and made the money.  She put her dream of becoming a nurse aside and became a wife and a mother.  She helped him in his business.  She raised children.  She kept house.  All while looking cute and behaving like a lady.

What I do know though, is that while hers was not a loud or attention seeking strength, she was strong.  She had convictions.  She believed in human decency.

Her tombstone reads “She led by example” which was my idea although I got it from something her friend said during her eulogy.  You see, my grandmother didn’t just ask people to be nice.  SHE was nice to people.  She didn’t just ask people to donate their time or money.  SHE volunteered at a clinic for disabled people and spear-headed fund-raisers and donated her money.  She didn’t just ask people to show compassion.  SHE chauffeured people from what other people would consider unsavory communities to and from church and was always willing to visit someone in the hospital.  Her and I sat side by side with a bed-ridden friend and just hung out.   She was never too proud to step up and do what was right.  She led by example – So even though it’s possible that some of our beliefs may be vastly different, that is one thing we share.  We are not the ones to stay home waiting for someone else to get their hands dirty.  We get out there and do.  She raised me to believe in my own inherent strength and power and brains and beauty – without needing validation from a man.

 

I was among the hundreds of thousands who travelled to Washington DC this past Saturday.  My driving force for going was to show solidarity.  I wanted to be counted in the numbers so it could send a strong message.  I wanted to send a message to the world that women are strong and capable and worthy of equal rights.  I wanted to show my sons that women should be respected; not groped or grabbed by their privates.  I wanted to add my voice to the chorus of those saying that LGBT+ people deserve equal rights and that the disabled deserve a free and appropriate education and to be free from discrimination.  I wanted to make it known that I believe that Roe v Wade should be upheld.  It is my opinion that being pro-choice in and of itself also gives you the right to be pro-life.  Pro-choice is not pro-abortion, nor does it force anyone into a clinic.  It simply means, that you are free to choose to act on what you believe in and I am free to act on what I believe in.  I wanted to make it clear to anyone watching or listening that we, women, should not be ignored or underestimated.

 

I don’t even know where to start regarding how it went.  I have so many favourite parts of the day.  My brain is swirling with how to put it together.  I have notes jotted down so I know all the facts; but it’s the feeling I want to convey here.  The heartwarming togetherness of it all.  People were just so nice to each other.  They dished out compliments on each others signs or outfits.  They waited patiently for their turn if there was tight space to move through.  They helped each other up and down high ledges.  They made room for wheelchairs and went out of their way to be gracious to older people and make them as comfortable as possible.

 

I definitely want to talk about the respect I had for some of the people I met after I heard their stories.  These people who were of every racial make up, every religion, every age group, every sexuality, every profession, every part of the country.  I spoke with a white woman from Connecticut who now lives in the Florida Keys and who had at one time been a teacher in Saudi Arabia.  I spoke with a self-proclaimed “old white guy” from southern Virginia.  I spoke with someone from Pennsylvania who has been protesting since the 60’s.  She’s seen a lot in her life.  I spoke with people from Tennessee and Atlanta.  One lady who now lives in the Bahamas came just to take her nieces to the march because she wants them to feel empowered.

 

I want to share how surprised I was at my own emotions.  I didn’t expect to feel so good seeing the number of men who came out in support of the women in their lives.  Oh the men.  They sported pink hats and carried signs.  Local residents (mostly men with their children – perhaps because the women were marching) stood outside their homes to wave and to thank us for coming and to help with directions.

Oh my gosh our hats.  I HAVE to talk about how while we were online at the train station someone came by handing out hats that had been knitted by women all over the country who couldn’t make it to any marches but wanted to do something.  Each hat came with a note pinned to it telling us who had made it and where they were from.  My hat came from Columbus OH.  Shaunie’s came from California and included an email address.  Shaunie immediately emailed the lady to thank her and to let her know that her hat had in fact made it to the march.  It was such a beautiful gift.

 

There were other memorable moments … The lady who interviewed me for an audio documentary she was making.  The 2 boys around the same age as my 2 who found a spot under a bridge and just stood there holding signs they had made which read “WE RESPECT GIRLS.”  The cute little baby girl who was wearing her very own pu$$y hat that we asked to take a picture of and her Moms obliged.  The lady who asked to take Shaunie and I’s picture because she liked our bow ties.  Our train conductor who had to announce that the train would be skipping 3 consecutive stops due to overcrowding at the stations and who instead of dealing with angry riders got understanding riders; Nonetheless she apologized and wished us well and told us to be safe.  Yes, it’s true that most of the people who attended the march were of a similar mind.  But it is also 100% true that there were people there who were pro-life and there were people there who were Donald Trump supporters and no-one gave them a hard time or made them feel unwelcome.  They were treated with the same respect and granted the same politeness as everyone else.

 

Sure we saw and heard some celebrities but they were not the stars of the show.  The stars were the women and men and children who spent their day letting other women and men know that they care about them and their rights.

 

It was a long, tiring day.  Unlike some people, we hadn’t brought any snacks so we were starving by the time we left.  We took the wrong train which delayed us getting home by over an hour.  We had to pay for a babysitter.  But it was all worth it.  I am so proud of us that we pulled it off without a single incidence of violence.  Go women!

 

In closing, I’ll just share here, what I posted on my Facebook page following the march.  On a personal level, it was hands down the best thing to come out of my participation.  My boys will grow up knowing that women are equal to them and that we can do anything we set our minds to and that it is not to be feared or obstructed.

 

At the march yesterday someone was giving out kids t shirts for free. I brought 2 home. At first *Ace didn’t want anything to do with it because he’s 10 yrs old and eww, girls.

But it lead to a conversation. One of how important it is for men to respect women. One of how there are so many women amd girls all over the world who are mistreated or denied basic human rights such as an education or to drive or to vote. One in which we talked about how it’s not ok to body shame girls or stand by and watch other ppl demean women. One in which we talked about how women are often seen as less valuable or smart or capable than men. One where women often don’t get to make decisions around their own health care.

He thought these issues were a thing of the past. The things of history books.

We talked about how great America is and how important freedom, democracy and equal rights are.

This conversation may have been the best thing to come out of my marching yesterday.

We need boys on our side if change is going to happen. Mine will be.