Sunday, September 27, 2009

The New Normal

It is inevitable that a group of moms, gathered together in the late hours of an evening, are going to talk about their kids. It is also inevitable that a group of moms who all have kids with Autism are going to talk about their experiences with Autism.

What surprised me this past weekend, as I sat with friends around my wine laden dining room table, was how much we talked about our neuro-typical kids. Not that we don't talk about them in general, but these were conversations about our struggles with our NT kids. We compared melt-downs, discussed sensitivities, commisserated about difficult social situations. Sounds familiar, right? Each of those could be chapter titles in any "living with Autism" book. So why did we spend so much time trying to figure out what to do with our NT children, aren't those supposed to be the easy ones?

The way I figure it, those of us with loved ones on the Autism Spectrum spend so much time learning all there is to know about that world. We research and advocate. We rearrange our lives and our homes to make them inclusive in every sense. We cook for a special (and limited) diet. We surround ourselves with activity schedules, therapists, playgroups, and IEPs. We know how to live with Autism.

Autism has become our normal.

So the new challenge is to learn about dealing with the needs of our other kids. The ones the world says are normal. The ones that can seem, in many ways, so much more difficult to us. Because, though we live with Autism, we live with our NT kids, too. And they deserve just as much effort.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Look! Something Shiny!

Conversation with my sweet little ADD girl:

Me: List of chores that need to be done, with lots of stops to be sure I'm being heard.

Her: Okay.

Me: Do you understand?

Her: Yup.

Me: You need to do them today, okay?

Her: Yes.

Me: Okay, thanks. Start to leave the room.

Her: Wait.... what?


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Is there anything better than making a tent under the dining room table? Oh yeah, there's one thing better, when your tent is made with special army blankets sent by daddy.


(You can't see them, they're camouflaged!)

Getting away from each other for the bulk of the day makes playing together much more fun when they are together. I love seeing them acting out long, involved stories about camping and Batman and school and Scooby Doo and flying and riding horses and trains and, and, and...

The fact that Emma wants to play with George, and George takes an active part in playing with Emma? Does a momma's heart good.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Waking Up


The first couple weeks of the school year have been completely wonderful and slightly insane. Though I claim all of that insanity for myself. The kids are LOVING school. Personally, it took me about a week to figure out how to manage the new schedule. After the last couple of years with George attending two preschools and Emma being in elementary school, I had gotten very used to getting things done in a very short amount of time. I rarely had more than 45 minutes in my day that were truly kid free, and boy did I maximize the heck out of those 45 minutes.

Now I have 6 hours.

As glorious and wonderful as that time is, it took me a while to figure out what that kind of time feels like and how to best use it. The first week of school was spent madly dashing from activity to chore to project. Trying to fit it all in.

But I'm easing up on myself now and realizing that there really is enough time to do everything. I have time to breathe and refresh during the day, which is making the afternoons and evenings with the kids much more pleasant. I'm exercising, spending time with friends, spending time in a quiet house, starting to figure out this next phase.

And did I mention that the kids are LOVING school? There was a lot to worry about, going into this year. Emma certainly didn't love second grade, and I hoped that she would be able to recapture some of the joy in learning that she lost last year. And George's transition to Kindergarten was filled with the unknown. For both of them, these first weeks have been amazing. Or awesome, to quote Emma. I am so grateful.

Friday, September 11, 2009

11 September

boarding the plane

Looking forward to the day this photo shows faces instead of backs.

The kids and I handled the summer pretty well, I think. We kept really busy and the time went by quickly. Not to say we weren't missing Jason, but as we have nearly daily contact with him via email, it was managable. He's even able to call home from time to time, so the kids can hear his voice.

The beginning of the school year brings with it milestones, traditions, and the looming of the holiday season. I think this deployment is, all of a sudden, feeling more difficult and lonelier. I hear it in the things Jason says about what he's missing, I hear it in Emma's sigh about daddy-daughter traditions that have been modified, I hear it in George's revived request that I "go get Daddy, come back, okay?", and I hear it in the garbage TV I watch every night to fill the silence at the end of the day.

As of today it's been exactly four months since we put him on an airplane. We're ready for him to come home now, thank you. Missing you this week, J.

Aug 26, 2008 058
Jason in his office in the desert

Thursday, September 10, 2009

There goes my baby!

I'm basically a blubbering idiot right now, so I'll show you the morning in pictures:
My Kindergartner:


My ridiculous children:


Walking into school (where he was greeted, by name, by the principal and receptionist - man, I love this school):


Cheesy smile with a friend from preschool:


Going into his classroom without ME, WAHHHHHH!!!


Like Emma yesterday, he was completely calm this morning. Accepted all the new bits of routine without question or fuss. Told daddy on the phone all about his teachers and cubby. When we got to his classroom, we had to wait for several other kids to find their name tag before he could find his and go in. He waited patiently, no complaining, and then stepped up, grabbed his tag, and walked on in. No hug, barely a "bye, Mom", like he'd been going to Kindergarten all his life.

Excuse me, I have to go hold his blankie and cry for a bit....

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Beauty of 3rd Grade


She was remarkably calm all morning. No hint of nerves, just joy in the return to routine.
Walked into class as if only a weekend had passed, not a summer.
Came out five hours later with the same peaceful smile on her face.
She's happy to be back.

She's a beauty this one.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Class Lists


Journaling: I can remember when I was the kid, running to check out the class lists.And now I have not one, but TWO kids racing each other! Wanting to be the first to find their name. Feeling excitement and nervousness as they go down the line, checking for friends and favorite teachers. I still feel those emotions when the lists are posted! Let the school year begin!

Once again, Emma showed off her big sister skills. She ran to the office window, where the lists are posted each year, with George following quickly behind (though not really knowing why). Instead of heading to the lists of 3rd grade classes, she went directly to the Kindergarten lists and helped George find his name. (Okay, first of all, why can't they be this nice to each other all the time? And second, how the heck am I old enough to have a 3rd grader???)

As soon as he was set, Emma moved over to find her name and started jumping up and down with excitement when she found it. She has a great teacher and will be classmates with many of her favorite friends. The nerves are definitely setting in and the countdown gets checked several times a day, but I think excitement is the overriding emotion.

As for George? Well, as I mentioned, he wasn't entirely sure as to why we were going to school unexpectedly. So as we left, he hurridly ran to put the correct magnet on his activity schedule and then grabbed his new backpack from it's hook by the stairs. I think he's ready to go!