Saturday, June 22, 2013

New blog

I'm just not overly happy here on blogger.... so I'm moving. Care to follow?

If you don't follow, I will miss you very much!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Where do we go from here?

This is a question I run into frequently... either I'm asking it, or someone is asking it of me.

When Beth (and later on, Peter) was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder there were plenty of places to go. There's the Autism Resource Center, there are social groups, there are activities, and the online communities for parents of autistic (or children with autism*) children are loud, active, and engaging. They are warm and inviting as long as you manage to stay away from the drama about semantics (autistic vs. with autism).

Truthfully we never really fit there though. I never went to visit the Autism Resource Center (no, really.) I didn't see the point since a lot of Beth's behaviors have never actually fit autism. I didn't want to go somewhere else where we were outcasts. If I felt like being an outcast I could just take her to the grocery store or to a family function. I didn't need to go all the way to the ARC for that.  Years down the road when Peter was diagnosed I figured I had survived this long without it why bother now. You know, my attitude kinda sucked.

When Beth was diagnosed with child onset schizophrenia last year I started seeking out resources for parents of children with childhood mental illness (or parents of mentally ill children*) and discovered that the area I live in has nothing. It straight out doesn't exist for us here. That was a painful realization. There was no one to reach out to on a personal level. Sure, we have our therapists and services but that is almost never the same as coming across another parent who can tell you they've been there and have survived it. I managed to find a few online resources mainly geared toward medication and was ostracized and bashed for refusing to medicate my girl. I did finally find a support group online that is very warm and accepting and parents come from all walks of life and all sides of the great medication debate, but there's still nothing I can find locally.

Earlier this year I took a Human Services class and one of our projects was to come up with a community resource guide. My group handled resources for children. I had a few saved and the others in my group struggled to come up with anything different. Out of curiosity I started looking in other parts of the state  and discovered that we are flanked on both sides by fairly decent services. The problem is that travel time makes those services, support groups, classes, training, and events inconvenient for our families here.

I was chatting with a friend last week who lives closer to Boston and she was discussing services in her area. We were talking about the gross lack of parental support in this area and she was genuinely confused and concerned about the parents here who are left with no support. She had mentioned taking a class called NAMI Basics. I browsed NAMI's website and discovered that I can take this class in the next town over! I'm so excited about this! I've already emailed the instructor who said she was going to forward me the application next week. Its so exciting to see NAMI active in this area!

I also have contacted Family Ties to see about volunteering with their Parent Partner Program. I am waiting on a training to become available with them. They have one tomorrow but it runs at the same time as Beth's concert and I absolutely won't miss that concert so I have to wait for the next one. Hopefully I can start finding ways to bring more services to this area!

Saturday, June 15, 2013


I like simple. Everyone likes things to be simple, right? So last year when B said "you need to make your own laundry soap" I laughed at her. That's not simple.... simple is going to the store and buying it already made! Simple is not thinking about how much it costs per load, the ingredients, and things like that. Right?

Today, I made my own laundry soap. And it was NOT simple. It wasn't really complicated though either. Truthfully I made it far more complicated than it needed to be. 

So I started with this :

Not all that turned into laundry soap, but you get the idea.

And I ended with this :

I do NOT want to hear one word about the size of my Fels Naptha, H

Between B and H I was told 2 cups of washing soda, 2 cups of Borax, 2 bars of Fels Naptha, and 1/2 cup of Oxi-Clean. Simple enough, right? Somehow I destroyed the Fels Naptha..... hopefully the next batch is MUCH easier.

That being said, it smells AWESOME! 

I was so impressed that I decided to make my own Febreeze. It called for 2 tbsp of baking soda and 1/8 cup of fabric softener and then fill the spray bottle up with water. Simple, right?

I guess so, if your spray bottle works. Mine doesn't seem to want to. But, it smells great! 

So folks, thats been my day so far. 

I was just about to hit post when I realized that the washer had stopped. So I went to check and my laundry smells clean and very fresh! Yay! The soap didn't seem to dissolve all of the way so I have it rinsing and spinning again... there are also two blankets in that load. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Smile time!

Pink is seriously not my color.

But every time I change something I end up further from where I want to be. I just spent hours googling and reading about blogs, templates, RSS feeds, and a bunch of other things... and I don't know that I retained any of it!

In the end I suppose it doesn't matter. I'm not really writing this blog because its going to attract attention, although truthfully a little attention never hurt anyone's feelings   :-)

Right now I want to show you something awesome!

                                               See my boys? Together, smiling, and happy!

(Behind Peter, on the left side of the picture is my yarn stash... its seriously getting out of control!)

That's all for tonight... just wanted you to smile!

Thursday, June 13, 2013


This hurts and makes me angry. A young man's life was taken away, violently, by his mother and his caregiver. There's nothing that can make the shock any less, or the heartbreak any easier. Nothing can take the horror from the words and mental images. I will never say I agree with what she did.

That being said there are a few things in this article that have to be looked at seriously.

"Spourdalakis had been featured in several Internet videos earlier this year decrying the quality of medical care her son received and the length of time he had been placed in restraints while hospitalized. Alex also was seen in another video as an autism activist asked for help in finding a setting where the teen could be treated without being restrained."

"The teen’s murder followed a string of recent medical problems that saw him repeatedly hospitalized — a situation his 50-year-old mother believed had worsened the autism that already had left him unable to speak and sometimes required him to be physically restrained."

' “So they planned to kill the victim in order to end his perceived suffering,” Assistant State’s Attorney Maureen O’Brien said in court.'

"Their suicide pact never succeeded: Both women took drug overdoses, then locked themselves in the bedroom with the slain teenager. They were found semi-conscious inside the second-floor apartment on Sunday afternoon when Alex’s father and uncle came to check on the teen, prosecutors said as the women appeared in court to face first-degree murder charges".
'A local autism activist who had discussed the teen’s condition earlier this year with Dorothy Spourdalakis said she was stunned by the murder charges.“She seemed to me a caring, loving mother who only wanted what was appropriate for her son. I’m still in shock,” said Mary Kay Betz, executive director of the Autism Society of Illinois.'

These are not necessarily in order. Trust me, I can almost see you wondering what my point is. My point is that she SOUGHT HELP. Before it ever hit this point, she sought help. She didn't suddenly out of the blue grab a knife and butcher her child. She, in her own mind, believed she was saving him because nothing else helped. 

She talked to the executive director of the Autism Society of Illinois. She had him hospitalized. She was featured in videos taking about how bad the care was, how he had been placed in restraints, and was seen asking for more help. 

I've seen posts for the last two days now talking about how she should have asked for help. Directing people to seek help if they feel they have come to that point and I keep getting stuck on the fact that she ASKED for help. Hell, I asked for help all those years ago. You can't get help where there is none.

Does this excuse her? Absolutely not. It doesn't excuse us either. If we want this to stop, we need to provide the services and support families need. 

My brain and my heart are both broken right now. Rest in peace Alex Spourdalakis. I'm so sorry we failed your family.

The quotes above came from this article:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


So now we all know the backstory.. the history. What exactly was the point of dragging all of that out in the open? The point was so that I could get from there to here....


Reactive Attachment Disorder. It still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. RAD ( frequently affects children who were adopted or in foster care. Nope, I don't have any of those, but I do have a child diagnosed with RAD.

  • Speech: Constant chatter; nonsense questions, abnormal speech patterns
  • Eating: hordes, gorges, refuses to eat, eats strange things, hides food
  • Lying: Lying for no apparent reason; Lying when the truth is obvious; false allegations of abuse
  • Stealing: Sneaks things w/o permission that could have been obtained by asking; stealing from family, school, others; theft of items with no apparent value or use
  • Affection: Indiscriminate affection, often to strangers; demanding or clingy, often at inappropriate times; not affectionate on parent’s terms
  • Regulation: Tantrums and rages may go on for hours; something apparently minor may provoke World War III; difficulties tend to escalate into major events; cannot self-regulate
  • Control, Triangulation, and Manipulation: Ultimate need for control; manipulative; need for structure and schedules; often trinagulates adults; Superficially charming and engaging, especially with outsiders
  • Friends: Poor peer relationships; shallow relationships; relationships don’t last; friends frequently don’t meet parents’ approval or are a bad influence
  • Problems making eye contact (but may make eye contact when angry or lying)
  • Oppositional: Argumentative, often over apparently insignificant things; differences escalate; non-compliant with family rules
  • Destructive to property of others, especially those most closely related; may be aggressive or violent, especially during rages
  • Self-destructive: Behaviors may be risky or directly self-harming
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive, does not appear able to learn from consequences or mistakes; does not appear to understand cause and effect
  • Hygiene: May refuse to wash, shower, groom hair, use deodorant
  • Attitude of entitlement and self-importance
  • Developmental / Learning delays
  • Pain Tolerance: May have a high threshold for big hurts, but pitch a fit over minor ones
  • Nit-picky over details, but ignores the main point
  • May appear to lack empathy and a conscience
  • Hyper vigilant
  • Fascination with fire and blood and gore
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Parents appear hostile and angry
  • I know, its a lot to read. But if you read the last post and then come here you're going to see that a LOT describe Jolie. If you had the pleasure of knowing her a few years ago you will be literally stunned by how many describe Jolie. Even today, quite a few still affect her.

    But how? I never left her alone. Aside from the relatives in the house I never used a babysitter. I was with her every single night unless I was in the hospital. I was devoted to my children. 

    But I wasn't there emotionally. If you remember I told you that I checked out when she was barely a year old. I reached the threshold of what I could handle and I emotionally checked out. 

    Really, I don't think anything hurts as bad as knowing that I caused this. 

    I didn't know anything about RAD until about 3 months ago. We tried every form of therapy and parenting we could find with Jolie. She didn't care at all about punishments, sticker charts, marble jars, rules, or other people's emotions. Hell, this child put my kitten in the dryer and turned it on at the age of 3.5. (Kitty lived... barely). It wasn't until I switched to Collaborative Problem Solving that we started making any headway. The meltdowns decreased and she started engaging. Her teacher was reporting problems in school with emotional regulation and she worked of not engaging in manipulation attempts (yes, a child CAN be manipulative) but she had no idea what we were facing either. We slowly started to rule things out but our focus was still Beth. Beth required a HUGE amount of focus and attention. Jolie could not get along with any of her peers. It was baffling. I had Jolie evaluated by the same psychologist who ultimately decided on schizophrenia for Beth and she said Jolie is incredibly intelligent and is unfortunately suffering from having a significantly mentally ill sister and a moderately severe autistic brother. I didn't buy into that at all but was able to see that Jolie had pulled the wool over this doctor's eyes.

    (I apologize now if I'm out of order or scattered. This is much harder to write than I anticipated it would be... still, it needs to be done.)

    About 3 months ago her therapist told me she believes Jolie has RAD. I googled it.. and immediately texted her with my intense protestations. This can't be possible, can it? I didn't abuse her... no one ever abused her. She wasn't adopted or in foster care. I would never hurt her... how??

    At the time our therapist let me run through every reason why this couldn't be possible. She assured me that she didn't believe for a second that I had abused any of my children. She knew they had never been abused, that I had protected them as fiercely as I knew how from any danger (too fiercely, in fact). She knew they had never gone with aunts or uncles, knew no cousins, had never been exposed to anything I didn't know about. And then she stopped talking about it. She would answer questions when I asked but she didn't engage in conversation. This woman, as irritating as it is, understands how to let me get to where I need to be. 

    I continued with my psychology classes for my Human Services degree. I read about RAD, I knew that was the most accurate description of Jolie's behavior I had ever seen but I was still very stuck about the "caused by abuse/neglect" part.

    I talked, a LOT, with besties B and H. They understand RAD (or are learning with me). I bounced ideas off of other therapists and licensed counselors. 

    And here comes my realization.

    I caused her RAD by being emotionally unavailable. My focus was on Beth because that's where it needed to be. If I had it to do over, I could do it differently because I know better now. I'm educated and experienced now. I understand how to provide for one while still tending to the urgent needs of the others. I was not emotionally unavailable enough for DCF to decide I was a danger (remember, they knew me well  by that point) but I wasn't prepared and my cries for help went unanswered.  In all fairness I don't think the help was there. 

    And here's my point. There are a ton of us. Mothers and fathers raising multiple children with mental/physical/psychological challenges. When one of our children gets diagnosed RAD we end up being labeled bad parents. The RAD support groups insist that our children are misdiagnosed because they are our biological children. The other support groups don't want us because they don't know anything about RAD and those children are "bad". Plus, RAD is caused by neglect, remember? If you're the biological parent then you're the "abuser", remember? 

    Little secret for you... those of us who have children with multiple diagnoses or complicated ones... we still need our kids to belong. We need to belong. We need to, especially when we don't think so. We need to especially when we're most afraid to. We need family, friends, peers, even just a smile. And if you think I should speak for myself, then you need to belong too. 

    Jolie is doing significantly better. There are environments she doesn't do well in (karate, very large groups, etc). She doesn't get personal space or personal boundaries and if she's allowed to she will be highly inappropriate. Since we moved to the Collaborative Problem Solving and natural consequences instead of the traditional time outs and punishments she's finally making progress. With natural consequences she can't find a way to blame it on anything but her own actions. I am working on personal responsibility and accountability with her. It doesn't always work out very well, but we will keep trying. She still has classic sociopathic behaviors, chronic lying, and blatant manipulation techniques but they are less frequent right now. While we're in this down time cycle I'm studying RAD, following a phenomenal YouTube blogger who deals with this in her own children and has wonderful parenting techniques, and picking the brains of a few professionals. The changes I made in parenting have helped move Xander from an obviously developing RAD case to a more typical 3 year old with a few sensory issues. 


    Yes, my daughter has RAD. Yes, I'm her biological parent and she has never been to foster care. There are more like me. Imagine what we could accomplish if we banded together and helped each other through this. This is why I'm writing (I know I'm not very good at it lol) and this is what I will do with my life.

    If you need help, if you need me, if you need anything.... I will help you or find you help. Try me.

    Full disclosure...

    Alright, time to get deep and painful.... and come out somewhat coherent. I am blessed to know most of my readers and that's kind of comforting as this post demands to be written, needs to be written, and must now finally be written.

    So in the last post I rambled. Continuing on.....

    When Beth was approximately 6 months old I discovered I was pregnant with Jolie. Literally days after we moved back here from Texas. The timing could not have possibly been worse. To say I was horrified was a serious understatement. We had just moved almost 3,000 miles with Beth who was still an infant. We had a little money saved but no job yet. I cried every single day... until I hit about 29 weeks and landed in the hospital for pre-term labor. And then I begged and pleaded with whatever universal power would listen to save my baby. True hypocrisy, I know. Labor did stop and Jolie hung on for 10 more weeks... life was good.

    Only something was wrong. As I suffered through bedrest and 3 OB appointments a week Beth started regressing. She lost all her words, she refused to play with me, and holding her was likely to get a person hit, bit, and kicked. Initially I believed the regression was coming from my pregnancy. After spending the day with extended family, I learned that my aunt, who is a teacher, believed something was very wrong.

    Fast forwarding again.... Jolie was born and not long after Beth gets diagnosed autistic. Early Intervention came in and prescribed 25 hours a week of one on one therapy. Two sessions a day. I was working 50+ hours a week, husband was there but exhausted, Jolie was confined to a playpen during the therapy because they asked that she not be a distraction. Jolie had a MASSIVE problem with... well.... anyone who wasn't me. She tolerated her daddy because she had to when I was working. Aside from that she screamed non-stop unless she was right up on top of me. I couldn't leave her sight. Beth developed a nasty habit of fecal smearing. Yes, its not pretty but there's a very real reason I'm including this. Early Intervention told me they had NO idea how to make this stop, no clue why she would be doing it, but I had better figure it out. Jolie's social anxiety went from bad to worse as all of my attention was on Beth and her behaviors.

    Early Intervention decided that what I needed was DCF and we were reported for neglecting Jolie's development around Jolie's first birthday. That day I truly wanted to give up. I told no one... I was horribly embarrassed. DCF came in and referred Jolie to Early Intervention for developmental testing. Imagine my surprise when Jolie scored ahead of her age group. Did you read that? She scored ahead of her age group. But it was EI that said I was neglecting her development. DCF decided we could benefit from free daycare. They had nothing else. They did, however, remind me on a regular basis that they could take my children if I didn't fix the fecal smearing, the behaviors, and Jolie's anxiety. They asked me to get my own counselor and I did but she was so stunned by my situation that she admitted she couldn't help.

    That, folks, was the help offered to me. Around the age of 3, as Beth was aging out of EI, hallucinations started to appear. EI and the pediatrician assured me it was pretend play. Only EI's evals kept coming back saying she lacked pretend play skills. The one psychiatric facility that would see a child that young (pedi's referral) wanted to start Beth on psych meds. I knew nothing of the great med debate but I knew that it was going to be over my cold dead body that someone gave my 3 year old psych meds without a diagnosis.

    Can you guess where I was emotionally by this point? My 3-4 year old had no concept of reality, had hours long meltdowns screaming about voices trying to kill her, self injured like nothing I had ever seen in a toddler,  wandered off any chance she got and at one point jumped off my dryer with the cord from the window blinds wrapped around her neck. My 2-3 year old was violent, aggressive, destructive, mean, hateful and could only stand me for the most part. I was working full time overnights... and I had a newborn. I wasn't there emotionally. I checked out emotionally back when EI called DCF and reported me for neglect. I was emotionally stunted and felt numb and dead inside.

    The years didn't get any kinder. No mental health provider would see Beth, my insurance didn't cover autism treatments, and Jolie threw fits that last 3-4 hours on a regular basis. UMass couldn't decide if Jolie was a 4 year old bipolar or ADHD but they said something was terribly wrong and they would help us find ongoing help... only the ongoing help never came. She grew to be violent, she destroyed everything she touched whether it was hers or not, she lied, she cheated, she stole, and she obeyed nothing. There was no amount of consistency or consequences that changed anything. And I got pregnant again. This time Mama was as gone as any one person could be possibly be. I was addicted to Xanax, losing my job, and Peter was starting to show signs of autism. Then my gall bladder went, the baby I was carrying was in danger, working wasn't possible, and I couldn't correctly parent my children. I wasn't able to emotionally or physically.The pediatrician kept telling me Peter couldn't be autistic... I was clearly seeing things because I had a child on the spectrum already. The pediatrician told me they were sure Beth was schizophrenic but none of the specialists would see her.

    I changed pediatricians. (Oh, I quit the Xanax too... that wasn't easy and wouldn't have been possible without two people who refused to give up on me and to this day still haven't given up. I love you!) Changing pediatricians was the first step to real change (I didn't recognize it then, I see it now). The new pedi wasn't at all impressed with how much had been overlooked and started the eval process for Peter, the UMass mental health eval for Jolie, and real and true support for Beth.

    Then I lost my job. I was given the option to resign instead of being fired but it was made clear I couldn't stay there. The cable company wasn't prepared to deal with my health issues and the time off I needed for the kids. This was step number two to a real change (Nope, still didn't recognize it). I had a TON of time now to dedicate to finding help, only there was none out there. I was finally starting to warm up to being a real parent (not a shell of a parent) but I wasn't all the way there yet.

    We stumbled upon (with the help of the insurance agency who actually worked HARD at finding me help) a therapist who wasn't intimidated. She also wasn't fooled by feeble attempts to be an adult. She saw me for what I was.... a girl who got stuck developmentally during the teen years. I wasn't very cooperative for quite a while. I really didn't expect her to stick around. She earned my trust slowly and without judgement. She encouraged parental growth in small ways (mostly by making me think it was my

    Monday, June 3, 2013


    I've been waiting to post. I have a big huge idea for a post that I need to do, more for me than anything else. Really I write for me. When I do write.

    This last week or two has been kinda rough for me. I'm 7 days away from a full month of not smoking and I ditched the horrible Chantix. I hit a point with the Chantix where dying was starting to sound like a beautiful and wonderful idea. That day I knew I had to stop. My girls are incredibly proud of me for not smoking anymore. I didn't realize how much THEY wanted me to quit. Their excitement over me putting down the cigarettes is reason enough to stick with it. I don't want to disappoint my kids if I can at all avoid it.

    See, I haven't always been a great parent. I don't even know that I'm a great parent now. What I do know is that I have improved exponentially since the early years. In the early years I was overworked, overtired, and overwhelmed. My girls had their needs met. I worked long and hard hours, but emotionally I just wasn't invested or present. I couldn't be, I couldn't find time to be. I worked 45-60 hours a week and was lucky to get 4 hours of sleep a night. I wasn't taking care of myself physically, mentally, or even emotionally. I merely existed. I followed every step given to me by every therapist and doctor, faithfully, no questions asked. I truly believed I was being a great parent.

    Fast forward a few years... it really wasn't until 2010 that I started to realize that I was doing things all wrong. That I really liked the Xanax prescription my doctor gave me a little too much (okay a LOT too much but that was a secret). I truly believe in many ways that Xander saved me. Saved all of us. I loved Xanax, but I loved Xander more. The night pregnancy test came back positive I stopped. I couldn't have done it without the support I was blessed with (and hours long phone calls) by two people who have never ever given up on me even in my worst moments. A lot more happened... we're just going to fast forward again.

    So now we have this baby and we're desperately fighting to get services. Beth is over 3 so EI is out of the picture and there's NO ONE willing to help. She's too young for everywhere we try and the few people that will see her tell me they are pretty sure she's schizophrenic and they can't handle that in a 4 year old. Joelene is busy destroying everything she can get her hands on, Peter won't talk. Hell, he'll only scream. For hours. Every day. We start evals for Peter and my job says "Sorry, this isn't working out."

    THAT is where I started to realize that I wasn't a good mother.

    And this is a good place to stop because this is going to lead into where I'm headed next.

    Sunday, May 26, 2013

    A Good Kind of Tired...

    I wasn't going to write this tonight... I really wasn't going to to do anything tonight, but it sort of ended up being one of those nights where I couldn't shut my thoughts off.

    The children... they shut down hard right about 8 pm. Which is a true testament to their awesome day since we got home around 7:15 pm roughly. The entire afternoon went off without one meltdown. No signs of obvious anxiety, depression, or drastic over-stimulation. It was as close to a perfect afternoon as I think I've ever seen. I really didn't want it to end. It was just so perfect.

    All good things have to end though, and nothing good ever comes without a price, right?

    Typically even the best days end with at least one massive meltdown. Tonight Beth cried a little as she expressed feeling uncomfortable* with Joelene branching out socially and when another child wouldn't let her kick a ball. And then she went to sleep. The epic meltdown never happened. And the things she expressed feeling uncomfortable* with are the very same things that were just written into her IEP on Friday as new goals (branching out socially and handling peer conflict) so there's no surprise that she found those two things a struggle.

    Yeah, I think I can handle this.

    Friday, May 24, 2013


    Today was Beth's annual IEP meeting... and for the first time in 3 years not only was there obvious progress, but there was data (actual written data) to back it up!

    It was an almost surreal meeting. This happened to be her 3 year re-eval to make sure she still qualified for services. That always makes me nervous but there really was little doubt that she still qualified. I honestly expected to have to fight for that. I was shocked when it was very aptly handled. We breezed through her evals which were pretty much exactly what was expected and then spent the following hour (yes, HOUR) going over the IEP line by line. Line by line. Literally. All of the junk I've been begging to have removed for years is gone (amid mumbles of "why was that even in there??"), things were moved and put into proper places, the team agreed that she absolutely can't be without a paraprofessional in the classroom all day so that stays. All of the accommodations currently in place were moved into the IEP and a behavior plan is going into place to handle "escape behaviors" and "neat and legible work" since the OT evals keep insisting its not an OT problem.

    And the big piece...

    She met the goals on her current IEP. Met them. You know, the goals she hasn't been able to meet in 3 years? She met them. I have data, accurate, honest, written data. I've seen with my own eyes outside of school that she now has those skills. So, we created some new goals.

    I'm so. freaking. excited!

    And if it all falls when school starts back up in the fall, then we meet again and fix it. The IEP actually looks like a real, honest, IEP.

    This team really does seem dedicated to her success. Sometimes its merely a matter of getting the right people in a room together. Other times its letting a little girl work her way into people's hearts!

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    Coming up....

    Maybe, in the near future, I'll get better at titles. Probably not, but maybe....

    There's a massive amount of things running through my brain that I really want to make sense of so this space is going to be for that. Those of you that I know personally who read this will absolutely find it interesting. If you don't... well, you can't say my blog was every really that interesting to start with then, can you.

    Its going to get raw, at times uncomfortable, and sometimes it won't make sense right away. But its going to  be one hell of a ride!

    Tomorrow night Beth has her all city choral night. She's so nervous but so very excited to share what she's worked so hard on all year. I intend to video it so she can watch it later and so not-so-local family and friends can see it. I think I've decided to leave my boys at home. They really don't do well in large groups of people and its going to be late evening so there's really no reason to push them. Joelene can't wait to see her sister perform though!  I'm not sure who's more excited!

    And I have it on good authority that some of the grandparents will be in attendance. B will be SO excited when she realizes that. Good things for my good girl! <3 data-blogger-escaped-p="">

    Tuesday, May 21, 2013


    Change is hard. Growing is harder. Growing and changing at the same time... well that's just painful.

    Yet that's exactly what I'm doing.

    It wasn't really my intention. Anyone who's every truly known me knows I traditionally resist change. I don't like my routine altered, even a little. I have never seen the point in growing because, well, that's a change. Change alters routines. I don't like my routines altered. See where this is headed? Rinse, lather, repeat....

    When I was younger I made it work with my ninja like cunning manipulation skills that I didn't even realize I had. I found (and married) a man who didn't require me to change or grow at all. I lived in childish ignorance and was quite happy there.

    But, see... life doesn't really work like that.

    Each baby changed me just a little bit. Maybe it wasn't really noticeable at first, but it was happening. Had I noticed it was happening I probably would have fought it. I didn't do change.

    Regardless, it was happening. And the behaviors started. Followed by the diagnoses. One child after another, like a row of dominoes being knocked down. The more dominoes fell the more I insisted that I could do this alone and that I still wasn't going to grow. I wasn't going to change.

    Did I mention I've been accused of being stubborn?

    Where am I going with this? Hell if I know... I'm rambling again.

    Around March I woke up one day (almost literally) and realized how incredibly lonely it was not to have a solid extended family. My children were missing out on so much. You know why? Because that's exactly how I designed it. Not really consciously, but I did. I wrapped us in a cocoon and kept us safe from the possibility of rejection. Its one of the same reasons I make sure to minimize my interactions with the general public. I take online classes at the local community college. Why? Because social interaction is seriously exhausting. Really, this post is becoming exhausting.

    Then I ended up forced into taking a class in person. Trust me, this was NOT my idea and I was not okay with it, but I really had no choice. Low and behold, I did just fine. It was uncomfortable and it was exhausting. It was beyond challenging and I missed a few days, but I made it through and got an A.

    During the weeks that class was in session I got a phone call inviting my husband, children, and myself to a social event. The call was completely unexpected, just a few days notice. The polite decline was on the tip of my tongue when I suddenly decided that we could, and should, try. More than that, that I WANTED to try. That I wanted to try for ME. Not just for my beloveds, but for me too.

    We went, we did well, and we were invited to visit again. And we have received another invitation. I'll admit this one seems a bit bigger and has me a little more nervous, but we were invited again. The rejected I feared hasn't come yet. Know why? Probably because the rejection was only in my head to start with.

    Step by step, day by day, sometimes simply hour by hour.... that's how we're making it through. Today marks 12 days smoke free for me. I have two semesters left of my Associates degree and then its on to my Bachelors degree and I think I decided today that there is a Master's degree in my future. I spent a few hours today locked in fascinating research on Reactive Attachment Disorder and that is an area that needs FAR more attention.

    Life is good, friends.

    How are you making it through?

    Monday, April 8, 2013

    To my girlie

    It's after 10:30pm. The rest of the house is asleep. I was going to try and sleep but then I heard something. I heard you, my child, talking and laughing away. I went to check on you and we had a quiet talk about how we have to be quiet this late at night. You mentioned your friends and the noise in your head.

    I know that sometimes it seems like Mama isn't paying attention. What you don't realize, my love, is that I rarely miss a step. Everything about you and your siblings fascinates me. Every challenge leaves me exhausted but proud. Why proud? Proud because we haven't hit one yet that we couldn't overcome together.

    When people talk about you to me one of the things they mentioned us how quick you are to share your feelings. I'm very proud of you for that. Mama struggles there in that way but somehow I managed, with the help of therapists, to teach you that amazing skill. Oh how I envy that skill.

    One day you will more than likely read this. You are very aware of all I do and you have a huge desire to learn more and discover all you can. I hope when you look back you aren't upset by what I shared with the world. Your story is my story too, love. If you are upset, I know we will talk it over and adjust as necessary because we can communicate so well.

    You are quiet now. I'm hoping you are finding peace and the sweetest of dreams. Goodnight my pooh bear. Tomorrow we hit the ground running again.

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Things that make you go hmmmm....

    These last couple weeks have been one hell of a ride. I'm drowning in school work, dealing with a massively crazy car situation, and of course working with the kids. The kids are doing very well and for that I'm truly thankful.

    Xander is exploding with new skills, better vocabulary, and better people skills. His sensory issues are still fairly serious but for the most part he's happy and that's really what I've been working towards with him. He's turning 3 next month and although he's still delayed in his skillset I'm really encouraged by what I've been seeing in him.

    Peter is going through some angry days at school still and really doesn't like going to school anymore. Luckily he has an awesome teacher who is just as determined as we are to find out why. I have a sneaking suspicion that its the rigidity in thinking that we are seeing at play here.

    Joelene has blossomed so much in the last couple of weeks and I really hope we continue with this upward trend. She's been so helpful around the house and the constant stealing and lying has definitely decreased. I think the collaborative problem solving technique is working with her.

    Beth is doing okay. We are still in a holding pattern with her but she's really demonstrating amazing self control. We are still working on effective communication and this summer I plan to introduce gardening to her and see if getting her out in nature doing something she's shown interest in will help her center herself. I'm glad I didn't panic and medicate her a few months ago when it got really bad.

    All in all I'm incredibly excited to see how much progress we've made with the kids without medication. I'm definitely not knocking medication. I know in some cases its very necessary but in our life so far we have made drastic parenting changes and have used therapy, social stories, patience, and lifestyle changes and so far this seems to be working. It may not always work, but I'll take the positives when I can get

    Sunday, February 17, 2013


    ... needs to go away.

    Seriously. The blizzard was cool, its been awhile since we've had that much snow at once and the kids thought it was amazing! Aside from that, winter has been cold and uncaring this year.

    Joelene's been sick on and off for what seems like weeks now. Nothing major, just annoying. The boys and I now have a massive cold. I'm drowning in school work for 5 classes and 2 of those are accelerated 7 week classes so I've literally barely had time to breathe. Add to that Peter's "angry" meltdowns and Beth's spikes in anxiety over yet another project at school (this would be project number 3... the anxiety is getting worse with each project) and the boys' sudden and unexplained fear of dogs we've owned for a year or more... yeah its been crazy.

    I've only made it out of the house for quick store runs, my husband's weekly appointment, or the inevitable runs I have to make to the school every couple of weeks for Beth since November. My own health is iffy mostly because of stress coming at me from all directions.

    So I started simplifying. I am making an active effort to stretch every hour. I've damn near tripled my water intake. I've simplified my nightly prayers/blessings because it was taking over 40 minutes a night to get through what I wanted to and I don't sleep all that much as it is so I needed a new game plan there. I like the simplified format better and nothing really had to be cut down.

    I've been spending some time inbetween school work researching ways to cut expenses. I'm going to grow our vegetables this summer, we're going to eat very light this summer and focus on hitting sales to stock our freezers for the winter, and we're going to slim down birthdays and Christmas to fun but financially responsible.

    I really need the spring to come back so I can get outside. I really feel better overall, and so do the kids, when we're outside. The girls are much more stable in mood, temperament  and mental health when they can spend most of the day riding bikes and playing in the yard. We all benefit hugely from being out in the sun!

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    The sounds of silence...

    I haven't had much to say... for awhile there wasn't much going on.

    To be honest, that was awesome. The kids were holding pretty steady. I, however, wasn't. I was very lost in a quiet depression I wasn't sure how to get out of. I watched as some relationships started drifting away because I wasn't able to put in the effort to hold them close. And then there were the couple of relationships that didn't drift anywhere because those people weren't about to let me drift away, whether they realized it or not. It was a pretty eye opening month in that respect.

    My classes started back up and I read something in my Human Growth and Development class that shook me a little bit. It was a study about how a mother's mood affects small children. It scared me a little actually. The kids were doing so well and I was worried that if I stayed in my quiet and depressed mood I would inadvertently launch them into a depression and lets be honest, Beth doesn't need any help in that area. I started making small changes. More time on the floor playing with cars, more time playing video games with the kids (instead of watching them play), I've been teaching Joelene to crochet (Beth has no interest), and a renewed effort at guiding play between the boys. What I discovered is that we all were happier. There was more laughter, more fun, and less arguments. The kids were cooperating more. I was starting to enjoy life again.

    We've had some major gains this month, aside from that. Xander is articulating so much better. He's questioning everything and showing a huge desire to learn. He's affectionate and silly. Instead of hurting our small animals he's loving on them. His sensory issues and temper issues are still significant and he is still not gaining in academic skills but verbally he making huge gains. He's also eating better foods with no fight. And he's growing like a weed. I can't believe my littlest one is going to be 3 soon!

    Joelene is being not quite so devious. Since she's started crocheting she's redirected her focus into her craft. She's trying harder to be patient and working harder at her social skills. She's blossoming under the collaborative problem solving we are using, and she's made huge strides socially in school. She's turning into a little lady... almost like she's 7 going on 17. We still have a good amount of work to do on appropriate relationships, boundaries and attachments but I really have hope lately that she's going to have a great future. She's already thinking about college and a career.

    Peter has had a few setbacks. He's having "angry days" at school. We aren't at all sure where the anger is coming from or why and his teacher is pretty concerned too. Right now we are all working as a team (home, school and therapist) to help him work through this. Anger isn't something Peter has had an issue with in over a year so its very worrisome that something is bothering him so badly. When he isn't angry, however, he's the sweetest little boy.

    And Beth... my sweet Beth. She's made many gains at home when it comes to telling us how she feels. She's able to give herself a break when she needs one and the psychotic episodes have settled down quite a bit. The meltdowns and manic episodes have become far less and much more manageable and I am able to prompt her into breathing exercises. This is huge for her. During the school week, though, she's having extreme headaches (possible migraines), reflux, occasional vomiting, and serious sensory issues. We have pretty much pinned those down to stress reactions. We are still working with the school to come up with a way to make school a bearable place for her. One of the challenges there is that she holds it all inside and waits until she gets home to fall apart. Today was report card day. This child had a damn near perfect report card and literally melted down and decided she couldn't eat pizza at school for 1 week because she didn't get all A+'s. A's weren't good enough. They had to be A+'s.

    And that's our update. Its mostly sunshine... and that makes me truly happy. Yes, at least two of them have severe mental illnesses. Life isn't miserable. We are constantly growing, learning, and expanding ourselves. We have our setbacks and our down times. We have our nights full of nightmares, our psychotic episodes, our violence, aggression, suicidal ideations, migraines, and refusal to eat. But we get through those times one breath at a time and those times make these quiet (mostly) pleasant times so much sweeter.

    Sunday, January 6, 2013


    Its been longer than I would have liked since my last post. I've had a ton of ideas but forgot them by the time I made it back here. Then I'd sit here and draw a blank about what I wanted to write. A little bit like I'm doing now. I had great ideas as I was falling asleep last night and now I just don't have much of anything, but I promised myself I'd write today.

    With me, that means I'm going to ramble. When I ramble the posts go all over the place but truthfully those are the ones I find most helpful and insightful to myself later on and as much as I love the people who read what I write in the end I actually do it for myself mostly. 

    What's on my mind right now? I'm seriously considering the Galaxy III over the iPhone 5. I know, sounds expensive but with my upgrade plus the trade in value of my current phone either way it won't be expensive at all. And I can't upgrade until July, but I like to have a well thought out plan before the actual event takes place. The problem is this plan is giving me a headache because I can't decide. Which is exactly why I start now and don't wait until July. 

    Oddly enough, its behaviors like that one that have caught my attention lately. I need 6 months to choose how to use my cell phone upgrade. I need a month's notice before school meetings. I need two semesters of my classes planned out at a time. This isn't for scheduling reasons, this is merely for emotional preparedness. I want to be social and be involved in social situations but social situations exhaust and frustrate me. I don't even try family functions anymore. One of the best things that has happened to me is "S" because she doesn't really give me an option about when I'm attending birthday parties. 

    Why bother mentioning this? Because three of my children are the exact same way and two of them have some type of ASD. Now I'm not trying to say I have an ASD. At this point in my life it wouldn't matter if I did or didn't, but what I'm trying to say is, I understand better than I ever realized I did how these situations feel for them. Its been pretty enlightening.

    Ummm what else?

    Oh! I solved the baffling pasta issue with Peter. Peter would eat some kinds of pasta but not others even when prepared exactly the same, or some types he'd eat prepared one way he wouldn't touch prepared another. It turns out that it has to be totally smooth elbow pasta. If there are ridges or it is otherwise shaped he can't stand the feel of it on his tongue. I have no idea why but I find this fascinating. Home made macaroni and cheese simply isn't a tolerable option. It has to be boxed macaroni and cheese but the texture is so different that I don't know why I didn't see this earlier.

    Lucretia McEvil thinks she has an evil soul. Or she did yesterday. Yesterday she was pretty much a jerk. To everyone who didn't give her exactly what she wanted when she wanted it. Then ALL the sudden.... she wasn't a jerk anymore. She has this awesome "flip of a switch" thing going on. So far today she's been great, though so I will definitely give her that!

    Pooh Bear came home from school deathly ill on Friday. You know, I may be prone to some exaggeration.  Anyways, she was sick at school and I had to go get her. She complained a lot about her head hurting and there's been a massive stomach bug going around so I figured she had the bug. What we ended up dealing with seemed more like a migraine than a bug but we actually saw some real catatonic episodes and absolute disorganized thinking which was a bit scary, I won't lie. There has been no more catatonic episodes since Friday night so I believe the catatonia was brought on by the vomiting but its something we are absolutely keeping an eye on.

    And that covers everyone for now! 

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