Monday, September 15, 2014

Ten Months Later

Ten months ago I wrote my first and last post on here regarding my Lily being diagnosed as being on the spectrum.  I was confident that I was going to kick some autism ass.  We were going to find amazing therapists, have an outstanding IEP, and a year later we would have this shit locked down.

Are you done laughing at me yet?  Probably not, right?  It's ok... I'll wait.  Take your time.

It's been 10 months and we've certainly had plenty of changes.  Here's the short list:
  • Lily has changed doctors twice and medicine more times than I can count
  • My poor sweet daughter spent four days in a psychiatric facility because her behavior was so erratic that I was afraid she would end up hurting herself or someone else.
  • My 3 year old, Micah, has also been tested and is nicely on the autism spectrum as well.
  • I sat through an excruciatingly long IEP meeting where I had to fight tooth and nail for ANY services for my kid.
  • I've scrubbed shit off the walls, carpet, furniture, and kid more times than I can count because of Micah's fascination with fecal smearing.
  • I've been repeatedly bitten, hit, kicked, pinched, scratched, and even given a black eye from having a book thrown at me by each of them melting down at different points.
  • Copious amounts of "autism cures" have been given to me and yet somehow gluten free just didn't knock the autism out of the kids.  Whoda thunk it?
  • I've run through the grocery store at breakneck speeds with Micah screaming because it's too much sensory stimulation there but we desperately need milk and toilet paper sometimes.
  • I've cried my way through countless doctors appointments for each of my kids.
  • I've watched my daughter cry all evening because no one wants to play with her at school.
  • I've never doubted myself more or felt so completely alone in my entire life.  
Needless to say, this has officially been the hardest year of my family's lives.  Not the year my mom passed away, or the year I got divorced.  No.... nothing can top the year that I've realized that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing and spend almost every day making giant mistakes.  Should Micah be in a class for autistic kids or should he be mainstreamed into regular ed so he's challenged?  Was sending Lily to the hospital a horrible mistake because we were both left a little traumatized, or was it a turning point for her?  Do we finally have a good doctor, or are am I just kidding myself?  And seriously, WHY are there no drive through liquor stores around here!  This is nuts, I can't take my kids into a store with glass bottles everywhere! 

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Saturday, January 18, 2014


    My life isn't full of great memories with my dad.  In fact, he's the center of some of my worst memories.  A childhood full of alcoholism, abuse, and so much anger clouds all of my early memories.  With that in mind, it's almost confusing as to why I'm so sad that my father is being buried today.

     I made peace with my childhood a long time ago.  No, my father never apologized for the emotional scars that he left on my siblings and me, but he didn't need to.  I forgave him for me, not for him.  I needed to accept that our experiences made us stronger and more compassionate people.  I needed to accept that I'd never have a relationship with my father like you see on tv, where he's this sweet man who gives great hugs, even better advice, and is over protective.  No... I never had that dad.  But as I became an adult I got a different one.  I had a dad who tried, in his own way, to make amends.  When my marriage fell apart my dad helped me get back on my feet, paying for movers and even my security deposit for my house.  After a lifetime as a police officer (and twice divorced) he gave me good legal advice to take to my divorce lawyer.

      He was never an emotional parent, he was a practical one.  Don't complain about problems, just fix them.  Occasionally that was infuriating, (I'm an avid complainer), but it didn't come from a bad place, and once I became an adult I saw that.  I saw that he would bend over backwards to try help me,  even helping me take my dog (that hated him) to the vets.... the dog was growling at him from the backseat while my dad sat in the front jokingly telling me that if the dog bit him he was booting him out on the side of the road.  (P.S. The dog didn't bite him.)
     My dad grew up, quite frankly, a complete and total racist.  He was a police officer in Baltimore City during the race riots in 1968 and any chance of him not being a total bigot was squashed during that time simply due to the nature of his job.  It was the thing that he and I butted heads over the most, especially since my mom raised us to believe in equality and love for everyone.  So when he met my (then) husband, a black man, and then we had my son it was difficult for my dad to make peace with at first.  But shockingly, he really and truly tried and once my son was born he absolutely fell in love with him.  It's something that I'm the most proud of my dad for.  The fact that he got past his own prejudices and started to see people of other races simply as people.  I'm never one to give a person credit for simply not being an asshole, but after 83 years of racism, moving past it truly is an admirable accomplishment.

  My dad wasn't always a good person and while it seems awful to say that after a person has passed away, it's simply the truth.  However he was a person who evolved into someone completely different as he aged.  I don't know if it was becoming elderly and facing his own mortality, the fact that the world around him changed and he had to evolve with it, or maybe he simply realized that he wanted to become a better person.  Whatever it was, he accomplished it.  Due to being so far from home, I'm not able to attend his funeral today and while I'm so so sad about that, I have no doubt that the church is absolutely filled with people who are truly mourning the loss of their friend.  They're missing my dad, right along with us.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fashionably Late To The Autism Party

Autistic kids are supposed to either be Dustin Hoffman in Rainman or children who don't speak, won't make eye contact, and flap their hands.  This is what my wildly uneducated self thought.  There was no in between.  CERTAINLY not my incredibly verbal and overly social 7 year old!  Lily just has ADHD.  ADHD and some....quirks.

Quirks like when she panics if the seam on her sock is "wrong".
Quirks like how she doesn't sleep more than a few hours a night.
Quirks like cutting the tags out of all of her clothing and hating certain outfits because "they feel wrong".
Quirks like the weird noises that she makes with her mouth.  All.  The.  Time.
Quirks like the constant temper tantrums that are worse than her toddler brother and can be brought on by things like having to brush her hair or sit down for dinner.
Quirks like dinner...oh god, the dinner time battles...

Yeah, if you're familiar at all with ASD symptoms than you're seeing a pattern here.  I didn't.  Her doctors didn't.  Her teachers didn't.  She's bright, but she's no Rainman, and she speaks, is very social, and the only time she flaps her hands is when she's pretending to be a bird to make her little brother laugh.  Nobody told me that there's an in between!  "They're" suppose to tell me these things!  I haven't figured out who "they" are yet, but I'm totally holding them at fault.

Except "they're" not.  And I don't.  I keep blaming myself for not figuring this out sooner.  I read that most kids are diagnosed between 18 months and 3 years old.  We lost 4 years of therapy.  We lost 4 years where she felt understood and like there was a REASON for her having the challenges that she has.  We lost 4 years of her having an IEP that would help her be more successful in school.  We lost 4 years where I didn't feel like a terrible mother.

I hit a low point where I sat on the phone one night crying hysterically to my sister.   I felt like I was such a horrible mother that perhaps I should send my children away from me because I'm such a failure.  My daughter hates me and doesn't follow directions and I don't want to take a chance on doing the same thing to my son since the only logical answer to this is that my parenting is to blame.  They deserve a better mother.   Ok, I admit, it was part pity-party and part exhaustion playing into that as well... but I just wish I'd known that there was more going on.  I wish I hadn't wasted 4 years trying to fight a battle that I wasn't equipped to take part in and didn't have the right weapons for.

It was that week that I started doing research on some of Lily's "quirks" and realized that they're all indicators of an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and in the last few weeks we've found good doctors and are going to be starting our journey of navigating the ASD waters.  I know how lucky we are, Lily is high functioning and social (to a fault, at times), I just didn't ever expect this.  I didn't expect to leave a doctors office tonight with 13 letters defining my daughter.  ADHD, ASD, ODD, OCD...  I've always defined her as being smart, funny, beautiful, energetic, creative, independent, brave....  But now there's a doctor in Atlanta who has my kid summed up in 13 letters.  That's weird and something that I'm still processing.  (Processing that could have been done 4 years ago, not to beat a dead horse or anything... )

So as always, Lily and I are late to something.  Damnit, we can't get ANYWHERE on time!  Late to school, late to the dentists, and now late to the autism party.  I've decided, though, that we were late because we were busy learning lessons.  Lily has learned the lesson that I will keep fighting for her no matter what.  And I've learned the lesson that wine in big boxes is just as good and you get to drink more of it.  Ok, just kidding... I've learned that my kid is perfect exactly as she is and I've had 4 extra years to learn just how smart, funny, beautiful, energetic, creative, independent, and brave she really is... the 13 extra letters are just part of her.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Confessional 10/27/13

This week on a very special Sunday Confessional, I'm going to do things a little differently.  Yes yes, I had my normal bevy of humiliating shit happen to me, but one really stood out and I feel the need to share it in detail.  Take it all in....

So my daughter, Lily, is in the second grade.  When we moved from Baltimore to Atlanta one of the many things that changed was the quality of school that Lily now goes to.  She went to  perfectly find school in Baltimore, but the one here is far superior.  Yay!  Except she's having a really hard time with spelling tests.  I mean a REALLY hard time.  So we've discovered that one of the few things that really help her are mnemonics.  The particular mnemonic device that works best is to make up a sentence using the letters of her spelling word.  For example:

The word is "hurt".  So now she spells hurt perfectly because she knows that Hurt Uncles Rarely Talk and then she pictures her poor Uncle Brian sitting silently with a broken leg.

AWESOME!!!   Last weeks spelling test was perfect, she got a 105% on it due to even getting the bonus word correct.  YAY!!

So this week we sat down and started working on her words.  It was going great... we do a few each night.  The final night was going to be easy, only ONE word left and it wasn't a hard one.... it was "turn".

Now I should probably mention here that I've been working constantly.... tons of graphic design jobs, working non stop on the new website...  living on about 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night, so I was pretty exhausted while helping her.  But she's my Lily... I'd do anything for her, so we pushed on and I ignored how tired I was.

That was my big mistake.

We came up with her sentence, and sat there writing it, saying it, singing it, drawing pictures of it...   She  was golden... totally memorized what I taught her and went to school confident.

That was her big mistake.

The following day I was tidying up and looked at the papers from our previous nights study session where we had repeatedly written and illustrated our setence for the word "turn".

Turn Under Rocky Driveways.

I sent my daughter to school knowing how to spell turd.  

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Confessional 10/20

Yup, once again it's time for me to share my weeks horror stories so that you can feel better about your life.  You're welcome.  This one even has photographic evidence.

  • I open the sliding doors to my van a bevy of shit usually falls out into whatever parking lot we happen to be in.  It contains any of the following:  Cheerios, sippie cups, stuffed animals, homework papers, books, and occasionally tampons that inexplicably unwrap in my purse and fall out only to go tumbling out of the car so that I have to go chasing them down.
  • My sister came for a visit this week and saw my DVR list.  Normally anything humiliating could be explained away by the fact that I have kids, but I couldn't shove this off onto them.  No 7 year old has recorded Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl.  No... that was me trying to live vicariously through fictional teenagers.
  • I downloaded the app, ModiFace, on my iPad.  It lets you try out the hair and makeup of celebrities.  I find this hilarious and have spent wasted several hours doing this.  Below is me looking JUST like Julianne Hough... can't you tell?  Twinsies!  

  • My daughter fancies herself quite the iphone photographer.  I frequently wake up to a camera roll full of pictures that she's taken at 5am, however I opened my iPad the other day to about 85 pictures of me loading the dishwasher.  Which wouldn't be so horrible if they weren't ALL from behind.  Nothing makes you want to walk into traffic more than seeing page after page of pictures of your flat, and yet ever so wide, ass.  It's just horrifying. 

Feel better about yourself yet?  Yeah, I thought so.
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Just a little test post.... no need to read!

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Mom & Pop Culture!

So I decided that I'm not nearly busy enough, I've got those hours between 2am and 5am that I just waste sleeping every day and I clearly needed to put an end to that ASAP.  So I partnered with my awesome friend over at Effortless Mom to start a website where we're basically the parenting community's guinea pigs.

All the recipes and crafts that you see on Pinterest but aren't sure how they'll work out?  We're doing 'em.
All the products that you'd like to try but it might be a waste of time or money?  We're trying 'em.
All the wine that you think you should drink?  We're drinking it.   But that's just for our benefit... not really yours.

So pop over and give us a look!  We're super excited about this new adventure, but don't worry... my own personal brand of awesome will still be here on Hyphenation Diaries!

Mom & Pop Culture

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