Saturday, June 30, 2012

TGIF Blog Hop! (I'm a day late - sorry!)

Welcome back to the TGIF Blog Hop, hosted by Funny Postpartum Lady, Overworked Supermom, and You Know It Happens At Your House Too!

TGIF Blog Hop is a great way to gain new followers and bring more traffic to your blog.
It's also a great way to meet other bloggers and get great tips, ideas, and read cool blog posts.


Easy....Just follow a few simple rules:

- Add your blog link to the linky

-  Follow the 3 Hosts (Funny Postpartum LadyOverworked Supermomand You Know It Happens At Your House Too) and our Featured

Blog of the Week-Pink Owl Momma. If you leave us a comment we will know to follow you back.

- Visit as many blogs on the list as
you can and leave a comment. Let them know if you've followed them so they can return the favor. Also, if someone from the blog hop follows you, you should return the favor!

- Post our button on your blog....remember, the more people that find our hop, the more followers you can gain!

Featured Blog of the Week

Every Friday we will put up a new linky, so be sure to stop by and add your blog. Each week we will randomly choose one participant from the previous week’s blog hop to be the Featured Blog of the week.
Grab Our Button!
<center><a href=""><img border="0" src=" "/></a></center>

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The art of shoe tying AKA Mom's own private Hell

Love the  concentration

The Boy will be 10 in a few weeks. And he STILL can't tie his shoes. I feel a shame akin to the sippy cup nonsense about this.  I have been working with him on this particular skill  off and on for the last 4 years.  When other more important things arose- shoe tying plummeted to the bottom of the list. I mean, in comparison to learning how to make eye contact, write (which is an ongoing battle) learning social skills, potty training (another drawn out nightmare), and then learning to ALWAYS use the bathroom, learning to dress himself, learning to feed himself, and basic educational things- shoe tying really wasn't that big of a priority. 

When he still wasn't tying his shoes by first grade, I got frustrated. I knew it was a life skill, I knew it was important, and I set my stubborn mind to it- I would MAKE him learn to do this. So I went out and bought the book the OT suggested when I brought it up to her- Red Lace Yellow Lace  and it is really neat. I would read it to him in a sing song voice until he memorized the rhymes- but refused to actually attempt to tie. I sang other fun songs when trying to teach him. I tried "bunny ears' and loop-de-loop and pull (thank you Spongebob!) but he would make halfhearted  attempts, or fixate on the rhyme or song, and then cry and run away.  I tried bribery, begging, threatening- taking a very neurotypical approach to a child who was not neurotypical. I got even more frustrated with myself, because all of the things I want OTHER people to understand about The Boy and his autism, I was losing sight of myself.  I am painfully aware of his lack of attention, his inability to focus for long periods of time, look at ME when I ask, watch what I am doing and then try to copy it. I was EXPECTING a typical kid response (having already been through this with 2 other typical kids) so it really came as no surprise when it finally dawned on me that these tactics WERE NOT GOING TO WORK WITH MY AUTISTIC KID! Duh mom....    

While it may seem like a simple task, tying your shoes is made up of lots of smaller tasks.And when teaching a child on the spectrum just about anything, you need to break it down into smaller chunks and perfect each stage before moving on to the next. Sounds daunting doesn't it? It is. This is how I taught him to talk, feed himself, dress himself (he still refuses to button pants- he puts them on buttoned) and everything else. So take the act of tying shoes, already a series of smaller tasks, and then have to break it down even further. It is seriously reinventing the wheel.  Did I mention that I am an impatient person?  And, well, Velcro is faster, period.  But the time is rapidly approaching where we won't be able to find Velcro shoes, and then he stands the chance of teasing because of it as well.  

This summer I promised MYSELF that I would teach him how to tie his shoes. This has gone on long enough, and he wants to play football again, and I don't want any issues with other kids when they see he can't tie his own shoes. He can't be out on the field and run to a coach or to his dad or I to help him. This is truly a life skill that he MUST learn- come hell or high water.  I know more, I have YouTube videos to watch, I have studied forward and backward chaining, I have a system that allows him to earn "screen time" when he practices tying his shoes and I have my determination. 

Today we had out first success- after 3 days of him fighting me and willing to not get that extra 20 minutes of screen time, I set an alarm and told him that as soon as it went off he was going to practice shoe tying with me for 10 minutes. He whined a little, but as soon as that alarm went off- he came and got me and said "Alright, let's work on this shoe tying thing"  I think all my harping finally got to him, he sounded resigned, but I was THRILLED! In 10 minutes he managed to get the first step down- using forward chaining*. Now come the loops, and pushing it through- *sigh* This is where the lack of fine motor skills really slowed him down. His hands were all over the place, and he tied his thumb and finger into the lace.  I could feel he was about to chuck the shoe and throw a fit- when he DID IT. It was sloppy and loose...but he tied his own shoe!   A giant bear hug and big kiss had him giggling and running away, and then of course asking if he got his extra screen time- but he did it!!

I made it through what felt like an hour long 10 minutes without raising my voice, getting mad or anything! I am going to go and treat myself to a congratulatory glass of wine!

*I have not used ABA very often with The Boy-I really feel like "shaping" is like dog training and my kid isn't a dog-  but these particular steps not only helped him, but helped me to teach him. Today was our first success in 4 years- and we will take it! 

1. Forward Chaining – begin with the first step of the task. Then teach sequential steps until they can perform all steps. This is a good method for children who have difficulty with sequencing and
generalizing skills.

2. Backward Chaining – demonstrate the entire task first. Repeat it, leaving out the last step for the child to complete. This method works well for children with low frustration tolerance or poor self esteem. It also gives the child early success.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sorry you got all butt-hurt over that pic I posted on Facebook. Not really.

You would think it said something about kicking kittens
Today I came across what I thought was a funny and (in my opinion) truthful Internet meme, and reposted it on Facebook
 That's it over there ----------->

I won't apologize to anyone who wants to get all butt hurt over it here- anymore than I did on Facebook. I found it to be funny, relevant and an accurate reflection of the state of the Welfare System. I wasn't targeting any particular individual or group. It made me giggle, therefore I reposted.

Well, did I open up a floodgate for someone on my friends list!  A list of rants a mile long about how people can't even get food stamps anymore, and that the system is scamming us- not the other way around. Well- I got sucked in, and just had to say "You can't seriously believe that NOBODY scams welfare anymore- that is just  naive! Don't be fooled- the few that DO need the help and aren't getting it are the minority. Too many sit around and collect their government issued ATM cards and food stamps."  I then proceeded to site one particular case recently in the news here- which was more a case of fraud than misuse- but even still. You can read the article here about the lottery winner who was STILL collecting welfare: Michigan lotto winner charged with welfare fraud.

And here is another: California welfare recipients withdrew $1.8 million at casino ATMs over eight months

And another: Daniel Silverstein, Lyudmila Shimonova Lived In Mansion While On Welfare, Investigators Say

So, tell me now, how the system is scamming US? Like I said- there are many people and families that truly do need the help- and I do not begrudge ANYONE the right to assistance. And I do not hate on people who receive welfare either- I WAS one years ago. But what I do despise, are perfectly healthy, functioning adults who refuse to get a job because it's not at the top of the food chain. So the answer is to sit on your ass and let my taxes help you? When you don't even TRY to help yourself? That is a load of bullshit.

I generally stay out of politics- I am not well versed enough to really have a "debate", and it just generally turns into a name calling, hair pulling brawl- and I am just not willing to put myself in that situation.  But for fuck's sake! This was AN INTERNET MEME!!! It was supposed to be amusing, and if you don't find it amusing PLEASE do not proceed to spew your left wing, conspiracy theorist bullshit all over my Facebook page!! Ignore it and move on, or, if you really feel you have to say something, send it in a private message.   In an attempt to make me look ignorant, you only succeed in making yourself look like a whiny 20 something who feels that they are entitled to hand outs.And I used to know you to be  intelligent, funny, witty and passionate. But the comments only served to make you look like an anti-government nut job. I take into account your age, and remember what it was like to be a self righteous 24 year old. If I would have had a social networking platform back then...damn!

The PSA here is: Be passionate, want to change the world- PLEASE! Just don't do it in a comment on my personal FB status... 

Photo Credit:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Not Mother's...I mean Father's Day!

This weekend is Father's Day- and like many dutiful wives- I plan on letting my husband sleep in, will cook his favorite dinner and keep the kiddos as quiet as possible (I'm thinking movie day for us). What I will not do? Mow the lawn for him- since the ONE time I did he complained I did it "wrong" so he gets that honor all to himself.

 I NEVER know what to get him- usually his wishes are beyond our financial capabilities. I ALWAYS ask for peace and quiet, to be taken out to breakfast and to not have to cook or clean. If I get some actual gifts- well that is a bonus!

He doesn't do the "traditional" dad things- golfing, fishing, etc. so there goes my idea for cheap greens fees or an all inclusive fishing expedition from Groupon. I REALLY want to get him a new grill- even though he protests and says he doesn't need one (I beg to differ).  He has said something about a tow package for his Jeep- but I am severely impaired when it comes to his Jeep- and after looking online I have NO CLUE as to which one he would need...
I wish

Cool, huh?

What he did ask for was a bonfire on Saturday night with "The Boys"- complete with too much booze, long involved conversations about The Avengers, Star Wars and when he is going to make another movie. I am all for it- but don't necessarily look forward to nursing his hangover on Father's Day- but if that is what he wants, well, who am I to protest?

He was very good to me on Mother's Day- I got several things I had asked for but didn't expect to get. Now granted- we had tax return money then, and now we are really tightening the budget with me not working this summer- but I really want to get him something. I LOVE to give presents (he will say I love to spend money which isn't true...anymore!) and I love to see the look on my sweeties face when I get him something totally awesome and not expected.

Always a winner
So what's it gonna be? Crazy sex? Favorite dessert? (can be combined with crazy sex- so it's a two-fer!)  A pony? Beer of the month subscription?  A Stormtrooper helmet with voice changer?      I'm stumped. Pretty shameful after 15 years of marriage. *Le Sigh*

If I want to be TOTALLY unexpected

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You say Bitch like it's a bad thing

We have all been there. Parents, feeling like our child has been slighted in some way by a teacher, family member, another child, another parent, come to their defense in the blink of an eye, ready to fight the world in defense of our progeny. It's natural, like breathing. Now- take the mom of a special needs child- spin the wheel and pick any special need you want- I will be focusing on Autism, but it is the same for all. Multiply that hair trigger defense mechanism by...oh let's be conservative and say A MILLION.

Autism mom's are heavyweight champions when it comes to fighting for our kids. We have had to fight with  school psychologists who think they know more about your kid than you do, or disagree with TWO different neurologists diagnoses. We have had to fight with insurance companies to help pay the astronomical medical bills brought on by Autism. We have had to fight for therapies. We have had to fight with poorly trained (at times) school staff who insist on treating our kids as if they are ONLY one big behavioral problem and refuse to be flexible at all. We have had to fight with our MET (Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team) about IEP goals, supports in the classroom and making sure our kids are getting a good education in a safe environment. We have had to fight with ignorant assholes who say stupid things around and or about our kids- and not in an innocent 'I just didn't know" way. Serious jerks who feel it is their  place to tell you that you are not disciplining enough, you should just spank them, could you please keep them quiet, what is wrong with your child?
Then there is the fighting WITH our kids. Fighting to get them to eat ANYTHING beyond the 4 foods they only let cross their lips. Fighting with them to sleep, get dressed, take a bath/shower, do homework, get away from the TV, not run into traffic. It goes on and on and on.

People that know me are always praising me as a parent, they admire my determination, my drive, my constant and loud advocating for my son, my great attitude and how I am so happy in the face of everything that sucks. "Courage under fire" was something someone said to me once- and I almost burst out laughing, not because of the compliment (which it definitely was) but for the fact that I can put on an amazing front, and pull off an Academy Award winning performance on pretty much a daily basis!

It's true- you wouldn't like me very much at all
I carry around A LOT of suppressed anger. Anger at fate for dealing me this hand. Anger that my kid at 9 almost 10 cannot do the things other kids his age are doing. Simple things, like run around at the local carnival with his friends, checking in for cash once in awhile with me.  Anger at myself for wishing he could be "normal" sometimes. Anger at other kids when I see them looking at him and snickering while he expounds about dinosaurs or Star Wars. Anger at other parents who have no idea how lucky they are they don't have to deal with some of the shit I have to- and RAGE at looks of pity.  (I have 2 other neurotypical kids- so I know EXACTLY what is different in raising The Boy) And anger at teachers who can't be bothered- who only include him in general education special projects because they HAVE to, and for not teaching compassion, acceptance and tolerance as every day core values across the curriculum.

To make a long story somewhat shorter- when The Boy moved back to school where we live after 3.5 years at an amazing school, with amazing teachers we had an idea of what to expect. But it has been so much worse than what we even tried to prepare ourselves for. The lack of communication, the refusal to even TRY to keep him mainstreamed, his misery, the lack of expectations FOR him, the ostracizing of him as well as a class of special needs students- who only participate in "specials" and science and social studies- well- let's just say that my Bitch Meter has been in the red most of this school year. And believe me, I am POSITIVE that I am discussed and referred to as "a bitch" and you know what? GOOD!! When you have had to fight as much as I have just to get your kid the acceptance and education he is entitled to over the last almost 10 years,(the last nine months being the worst since kindergarten) then you might be a bitch too! And the sad thing is- fighting for your kid- no matter how calm, educated and respectful you are brands you as A Bitch.  They haven't even come close to seeing just how much of a bitch I can be. I have ranted and raved and cried at home, calling the MET every dirty name in the book, but at the meetings have been in control, and presenting my side in an articulate and educated way, all the while wanting to stand up and yell and tell them what stupid assholes they are. But I don't- it would be counterproductive.
It is fucking HARD to hold it all in there. With all the resentment and anger just below my cool smile- you would think that having to deal with bullshit would be the straw that  breaks the camel's back.  But- the storm always comes later- and unfortunately it is my wonderful husband who has to bear the worst of it.

So is it really any wonder that what seems like something so small can get my hackles up in such a big way? Something like....getting an email from the Special ed. teacher saying the the general ed. teacher wants me to bring in...oh, let's say crackers for a grade wide presentation at school.  And when asked why the gen ed teacher didn't just ask me herself either by phone or email, or BY SEEING ME AT THE SCHOOL EVERY DAMN DAY, she doesn't have an answer. Well of course she doesn't! She is being used as a middle man, plain and simple. Once again, the glaring fact that The Boy is not considered part if the school community slaps me in the face. How else would I see it?  He is being "allowed" to participate in this presentation, and oh, let's throw mom a bone and maybe she can bring something so she feels that her kid is truly included.  Over crackers and a simple email, yes I have lost my tenuous grip on my anger. Petty, stupid, immature- call it what you will. But when I see how the other teachers, students and parents look at my son, the way they ignore me when it comes to class projects, or worse, treat me (and him) as an afterthought, using stupid excuses like "I had the wrong email address" - well, this is THE.LAST.STRAW. 

If you want me to provide something for class, a presentation, whatever, ASK ME YOUR DAMN SELF. The Boy is a part of YOUR class too- he is not just a "special ed student". I NEVER once had this problem in the other school, the gen ed 3rd grade teacher ALWAYS emailed, called or sent a note home if she needed me to do anything. I am at the school every freakin day...I am not hard to get in touch with.

If  fighting for your kids, doing what you have to do to ensure they are healthy, getting a decent education, and happy makes one a bitch- then give me my Bitch Badge and I will wear it proudly.  But if/when the day comes that I really unleash my inner bitch on you- don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bring on summer vacation!

There are 8 days left until my kiddos are done with another school year.  8 days of wound up, distracted bundles of nervous energy to coax out of bed and get to school with minimal fuss.  8 days of lunches, finding backpacks, cramming for finals and end of the year parties. 8 days until I get my kiddos to myself for 10 wonderful weeks!

Yes- you heard me right! I am just as wound up and distracted as they are. I am NOT working this summer so I intend to make the absolute most of my time with my spawn.  Now- if you follow my blog at all, you might be saying- Hey! Wait just a minute! You wrote School is almost over. Please pass me my wine. and to an extent that still holds true. There will be the inevitable "I'm BORED's" and bickering that comes along with the kids being home, but I am ok with it this year. Stop laughing! I worked full time for the last 2 summers- and since I have been teaching for the last 12 years, that was a HUGE let down for me. Not being able to hang with the kids really bothered me.

As I blog hop, and hang out on Facebook, I see so many parents that really are dreading summer vacation. Finding stuff to keep them busy, keeping them from rotting in front of a television or computer screen, and, if you are monetarily challenged like we are, thinking up fun "Stay-cations" and cheap entertainment (now that's an oxymoron!) is a pain in the ass. Throw in Autism and now the challenges REALLY begin. I try to keep The Boy's schedule as "same" as possible. Later bedtimes happen, but I try to keep to the same time on them as well.. Anything major we might plan is discussed thoroughly and with plenty of time for him to prepare.   He has  no ESY (extended school year) so that frees up some time. There are 2 football camps he will be attending and  and one 8 week long camp that is 2 nights a week, so that will keep us busy for sure. Swimming at the local pool is also on the agenda, and, if I can get him interested enough- the summer reading program at the library. Add trips to the park and bike rides- and I have a nice chunk covered.

My tricky kid is going to be Teenzilla. She will be a big lazy blob if I let her. And she will be my biggest complainer too. Trying to find stuff to do that works for a 14 year old girl, and a 9 year old boy is interesting to say the least. Most of her friends travel in the summer (must be nice) so she is on her own a lot. She loves hanging out with me- when we can go to the mall, to a movie she likes, etc.etc. But again- that age difference is a killer at times.  She loves the library, so I foresee a lot of time spent there. She and her dad have mentioned something about building a hovercraft (no, I am not joking) this summer. I am sure there will be a couple of trips Up North, lazy days on the pontoon boat, swimming, fireworks and ice cream for breakfast.  We will have a Girls Day Out for her 14th birthday, and I am sure to feel a little bit teary when she leaves for her first day of high school this Fall.

None of this really matters to me though. I get to spend the summer with my kids. I love being a mom, and there will come a day when they will all be out living their own lives-(one of them already is!) and that is  just what I am raising them to do. For now, they are still  my babies. And the excitement of longer days, no homework, staying up later and making s'mores around the backyard bonfire will diminish. There is no way I want to look back and say- Damn, I wish I would have spent more time with my kids.

So bring on summer vacation! Yes, we will be broker than usual. Yes I will most likely bitch about it at some point. Yes they will drive me bonkers on some days. Yes, I will probably have a wine opener in my back pocket at all times.  I.Can't.Wait!

Up North ROCKS!