Monday, December 30, 2013

Cuss Word

Have you ever seen the movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox?  If not I highly recommend that you do so.  Its really good.  This is one of my favorite scenes: .  Of course my kids have no idea what cuss means ... and I wonder how did that happen?  A cuss word was like the epic of dirty mouth talk when I was growing up.

But I digress.  My point is that I want to say a cuss word right now.  My marathon training for Boston kicked off a couple weeks ago.  With the holidays it was a slow start but my starting mileage was about right and I nailed a 13 miler with 6 at race pace (on the cussin' treadmill no less) last week so I was pleased.  On Christmas day I went out for a medium paced 9 miler.  My knees were sore but have been quite a bit lately so this wasn't new.  I ran a few hills for the first time since Thanksgiving (when my left  knee started acting up and my doctor recommended I try to stay on flat courses for a while) and as the run progressed my right knee felt increasingly tight.  So I decided to cut off the last half mile and head for home.   I turned around and started running down the sidewalk and all of the sudden my right knee kind of popped.  Out of nowhere.  I stopped dead in my tracks trying to figure out what the cuss had just happened.  I walked for a bit and then kind of limp/ jogged it in the rest of the way.  Once I got home my knee started to throb.  I iced it, elevated it, took some naproxen and kept my fingers crossed.  But as the night went on it got tighter to the point I couldn't fully straighten it without pain.  The next day I was in a lot of discomfort and hobbled around most of the morning.  Thankfully I already had an appointment scheduled with my orthopaedic surgeon for an injection on my left knee so I hoped he could do something to help.  The good news is that he wasn't overly concerned that I did anything horrible to my knee just running.  The bad news is that the cortisone shot he gave me provided very short lived relief and my knee is no better 5 days later.

I'm trying not to lose my mind.  It was at about this same point in training last year that I rolled my ankle and had to take a few days off and I thought my chances at a PR in Boston were shot.  But 5 days out of that I was jogging again.  Now, not so much.

I'm frustrated.  So cussin' frustrated.  Its the time of the year when everyone gets focused on making healthy life choices and I'm sitting on my butt on the couch watching it all pass me by.  I'm sure this too shall pass and more than likely I'll be able to run Boston even if its not as fast as last year.  Running is a gift and a blessing and right now, more than ever, I'm aware of just how blessed I've been.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Dark Side

Hello, my name is Lacey and its been 30 days since I crossed over to the dark side.

That's right, I joined a CrossFit gym (ahem, box, excuse me).

Why, you may ask, would this self-described running addict give into the pressure and join the cult of crossfitters?  I am going to blame my foot.  A couple months ago I decided to try running in Newtons.   I loved them.  My knee pain was gone, I felt faster and lighter, I was converted.  As usual, I was also an idiot.  You see changing over to a totally forefoot strike should be done gradually.  I thought I did do it gradually.  As it turns out not nearly gradually enough.

After a couple of months I began to have pain across the front of my right foot every time I landed.  Because I'm a genius I decided to push through it.  Ya know, because the best thing to do when something hurts is to keep landing on it over and over and over again.  Not surprisingly it wasn't long before I couldn't run at all.  I was pretty sure I had a stress fracture and I was pretty sure I just totally screwed myself over.  I needed to find something besides running to keep in shape while I healed up.  And that is how this happened.

I walked myself into the Bubble (that is what the Crossfit gym here at Ft Leavenworth is called).  Everyone was so nice and so welcoming.  A coach walked me through the workout showing me how to scale it for my abilities and injury.  I really appreciated that.  I worked out and I was smoked.  I really liked that.

So I went again.  And I liked it again.  And my body was sore in places I didn't know it could be sore.  Sweet.

That first day I couldn't do one pull-up without a band to help me up.  Now just a month later I can do two pull-ups with no bands.  And a ton more with.  The other day our workout was something called Death by Burpees.  Its a ladder workout where you do a burpee which ends by jumping onto a 20 inch box.  I did 66.  That is 66 pushups followed immediately by 66 box jumps.  It was awesome.

Of course, I'm still a runner.  I only CF two days a week.  To fit it all in I'm having to do a couple miles before and after CF  (on the day's JD is at school) but its ok.  I'm running one day less a week and that's ok too.  I feel really strong and really healthy.

In closing I'd like to make this pledge. I will never wear knee socks and shorts.  And if I start to look like muscled fem-bot I will quit.  And if I don't see it for myself I give you permission to tell me.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Surely she can't be talking about Boston again already. I am. And don't call me Shirley.

I can't stop thinking about Boston.

Should I run it? Should I skip it?

What will I do with the kids?  Do I really want to spend all of that money to go and run it again?

Will I be miserable if I don't run it?  Will I be lost to go through another training season without a goal?

On one hand I know that I will probably never be in a better position, as far as my qualifying time, to run it.  Even with the projected record number of people who will try to register my time from last year allows me to register first.  Its unlikely I will be in that position again.

Sure, I could be if I wanted to.  But while I love running it isn't my life.  I'm not willing to sacrifice every free minute of my life to eek out a slightly lower marathon PR.  If 3.19 is as fast as I ever get I have decided that will be good enough.

But is one Boston marathon good enough?  I don't know.

When I ran it last year it was ah-maze-ing.  Flippin' amazing.  Best race ever.  Its unlikely that 2014 will be as good.  Nothing ever is the 2nd time around.  But this time it could be an entirely different experience.  Running it without all of the first timers jitters.  Running it to appreciate the course and all of the history that happens each year on Patriot's Day.

Plus my dear running buddies have been lighting up my inbox this week with Boston chatter.   There are 6 of us who have qualified to run it.  It would be so, so, SO much fun to be there with them again.

But on the other hand it is doubtful that Ryan could go with me this time.  It would feel kind of weird without him.  And I've yet to experience a Kansas winter but the rumors do have me a little nervous about the kind of cold weather I would have to train through.

So that is where I am.  Undecided.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Essential oils in everyday life: an explanation

I am often asked to explain just what are Young Living essential oils and how do I use them.  I always feel like a deer stuck in the headlights because there are so many ways that I use them and for so many different purposes that I have trouble focusing my mind and giving a clear explanation.  Instead I get all excited and just start blabbering until I'm pretty sure the inquirer is sorry that they ever asked.   So it struck me that maybe I could write a post detailing the ways I use oils throughout the day - so that after I've thoroughly confused someone with my poor verbal explanation I can at least refer them to a post that will do a better job of explaining.

So, buckle up.

This morning I woke up and went for a run.  After my run I was pretty stinky but didn't have time to shower.  So I splashed some sage oil on in certain, ahem, areas to help me get by until later.  Sage does an amazing job of covering up and even removing odors.

Then it was time to get the kiddos going.  Jake was up and needed to start on his morning routine so I put some Clarity oil on his neck to help him focus.  Clarity is a blend of 12 different essential oils specifically created to help with memory retention and mental alertness.  I also put a dab on my neck and breathed in deeply to help my scatter-brained craziness when I'm trying to get 3 kids out the door.  Jake was ready to go with plenty of time to spare.

Next up was rousing Ainsley from bed.  That girl loves her sleep.  So I took my peppermint oil in and had her smell it and then put a small dab on her wrist.  That is enough to help her get up and going without my having to drag her kicking and screaming out of bed.

I turned around and Jane Dare was behind me complaining that her tummy hurt.  Luckily I had my go-to upset tummy remedy already in my hand and so I dabbed a couple drops on her tummy and rubbed in around counter-clockwise.  As always it worked like a charm.

In the next few days I'll be adding another step back into my morning routine - a drop of Thieves oil rubbed into the feet before shoes and socks go on.  Thieves is an amazing anti-viral and I use it like crazy during cold and flu season.  The kids had an occasional quick bout with a bug last year but thanks to Thieves it never spread through the house, it was short lived and I was healthy the entire season.

During the day I will pull out my homemade cleaner made from lemon oil and water for light cleaning around the house.  I'll run a load of laundry using lavender oil & vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener.  Next up if its time for some more heavy duty cleaning or spot cleaning the carpets I grab my Thieves cleaner - mixed up from the Thieves concentrated household cleaner - and tackle any tough jobs.  If a scrape or bug bite happens I have Purification on hand to cleanse the wounds, ease the pain and/or control itching.

At nap time I love my Peace and Calming blend to help my little ones get a little rest.  In fact, when Jake is having trouble sleeping at night he comes and asks me to rub it on his feet*.  Nine times out of ten he is asleep in minutes.

Before the kids come home from school, or before any stressful time, I love to pull out my Valor because I struggle some with anxiety and its bend of spruce, rosewood, blue tansy and frankincense helps me to remain calm.  Valor is also a favorite oil that I use on my mom - its absolutely amazing on back pain.

This evening, after her bath, Ainsley had yucky residue all over her knee from a band-aid.  Instead of rubbing it raw to get it off I just put a couple of drops of Citrus Fresh (lemon also works) and it and gently massaged it in and then wiped away the gunk.

And finally, tonight before I hit the hay I will be using some Aroma Siez and Pan Away on a few sore muscles (still trying to get used to this whole running on my forefoot thing) and then drift off to dream land.

All of these products I can use with full confidence knowing that I'm using the best oils available from a  company that is committed to sustainable practices that ensure the purity of the oil and protection of the environment  (for more on that you can click here).

*Why the feet?  The feet have the 2nd largest pores of any place on your body which allows the oil to be quickly absorbed and reach your blood stream faster.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

We're not in NC anymore Toto

I've mentally written this blog post so many times since we have moved.  But whenever I tried to sit down and put thoughts on the page something would come up.  Its been like that ever since we set out on this journey on June 10th when the packers showed up at our house.  Crazy, nuts, overwhelmingly busy.  I had in my mind that moving wasn't really a big deal.  Get the house rented out, let the movers transport our worldly good, pack the kids in the car and drive.
I'm an idiot.
Moving is a whole freakin' lot of work.  There's the planning.  And the cleaning.  And the sorting.  And the repairing.  And the trips to Goodwill.  And the ingenuity of doing without 95% of your worldly possessions.  And the insurance (can I insert a curse word here).  And therapy changes.  And outfitting of a new house.  New schools. New doctors.  New emergency contacts.  5 million forms.  Add a kid with an IEP to all that and you have a process that never seems to end.
But we are getting there in spite of it all.  This week I even undertook a couple of house projects - a sure sign that we are digging our way out and there is a light at the end of this tunnel (and if you even think about reminding me that we will do this all again in 10 months I might have to hurt you).
So, was it worth it?
ABSOLUTELY.  We are having a great time.
We are beyond blessed with the neighbors and friends that we have already made.  And the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends.
Living on post is a totally new experience and its been awesome.  Y'all - my kids ride their bikes to school!!!  How cool is that?
Right now outside my very window three dudes just cut, edged and blew away my grass.  Hello?  Nice!
At any given moment there is a gaggle of girls at any number of houses playing and laughing.  And a group of boys playing video games or jumping on the trampoline.
And if we are friends on facebook you already know that practically every night there is a block party here on Hollowell Drive (or as we have nicknamed our end of the street "Pikachu Village").
Sure we miss our friends in NC, the opportunity to see our families on a regular basis and the community we had at church and school.  But we know that we will be back there and our friends there are the kind who aren't going anywhere.  They will be ready to pick up our relationships where things left off.  And in the meantime we can stay connected through facebook, phone calls and text messages.
This time in Kansas will be short.  Many have said that being at CGSC is supposed to be the "best year of your life".  Is that true?  Who knows.  Personally I would be depressed to think that any given period of time would be as good as it is ever going to get.  But I do know that for us it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Never again will we live on post in this part of the country with so many friends in neighbors in such close proximity.
And so we are determined to make the most we can out of this year.  And so far we are doing a pretty great job.
PS - please remind me of this when we are under 2 feet of snow in winter ;)

Photos of the kids feeding baby pygmy goats at the Deanna Rose Farmstead.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Never say never

*disclaimer before you start reading and get all riled up at me.  I have NO problem with people who choose to homeschool. Some of my dearest friends homeschool.  Some of those friends now have college age kids and if my children end up anything like their grown children I will be one happy mom.

I’ve never wanted to homeschool.  I don’t look good in denim skirts and, frankly, white Keds just get dirty too quickly.

There was a time that I was adamant that I would NEVER homeschool.  While other little girls played imaginary games where their stuffed animals were pupils and they were teachers I was never that girl.   I preferred to spend hours in Barbie land.  Teaching just wasn’t in me.

After I had kids I had a little change of heart where I told the Lord that if it was NECESSARY, life and death, and he laid it on my heart I would consider homeschooling.  I warned Him that there would probably be some Gideon-like antics on my part to be sure that I was hearing correctly.  I even got a fleece ready.

Its not just that I don’t feel called to be a teacher, its also that I feel school and being in the world and being salt and light is important.  Every family has to make the decisions that they feel are best for themselves and for us we felt like school was it.  And every time I saw an article posted to Facebook about how much smarter homeschooled kids are, or comments from the moms who just loooovvvveee all that togetherness & pj time and they have with their kids and all the “amazing” projects they do, or a clip on Pinterest about how schooling at home is the way that it SHOULD be done (i.e. we are doing it right and the rest of you are doing it wrong) my resolve to NOT homeschool got stronger.

Then along came Jake.  I felt strongly that with his social issues he needed to be in the classroom with other kids.  There are a myriad of social interactions every day at school and all of them are important for him to learn to navigate the circus of life.  Deep sigh of relief.

Jake and Mrs. Edens - 1st grade teacher extraordinaire
Then came Ainsley, our social butterfly.  On Jake’s first day of kindergarten I had to drag her out of the room.  By the time I got her brother settled she had already made herself familiar with the costume center and was dressed in fairy wings.  At the end of each day when we talk about our favorite part of the day 99% of the time Ainsley’s answer is “the whole part where I was at school”, or some variation of that.  When she got the stomach bug back in January the first thing she said after she threw up was “oh no, what if I can’t go to school on Monday.”  This girl seriously loves school.  And school seriously loves her back.  Again, whew!  Dodged the homeschool bullet for another kid.

Ainsley with Mrs. Zwart and Mrs. Williams - I love these two ladies!

Then came Reid.  Darn that kid.  He has screwed everything up.  He still naps 2 hours a day and sleeps 11 hours a night.  He plays hard and sleeps harder.  I’ve waited all year for him to grow out of his need for naps but it hasn’t happened.  That combined with his delay in developing some of his emotional maturity had made me a nervous wreck about kindergarten.  I didn’t want to hold him back if it wasn’t necessary but I just wasn’t sure!  And he was so excited about starting real school like Jake and Ains.  And one day it hit me – we have this next year in Kansas to be more flexible then we have ever been before.  Plus, Ryan will be around more than he has ever been before.  Reid & Ryan are my two peas in a pod. I hated the idea of having Reid in school all day while Ryan was home.   So everything has changed – but in a way I am super excited about.  I am going to keep Reid and Jane Dare home next year and do preschool & kindergarten at home.  Obviously I have no idea what I am doing however, I don’t feel a lot of pressure.  My reasoning is that if it goes great and Reid matures and learns a lot he can start 1st grade when we get back to Pinehurst Elementary.  If it doesn’t go so well and he doesn’t reach the standards I will set then when we get back he will start Kindergarten.  Either way it’s a win.  If we succeed I will have a fun year at home with him and send him to school confident that he is ready.  If I don’t succeed I still will have a fun year with him and get to send him to Kindergarten with the same teachers that Jake and Ainsley had – two of my favorite teachers on this planet.  Win-win.

So, the next step is planning mode. I need suggestions to help us have a successful year of kindergarten at home.  Ready? Go!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Running is my time to think.  To process life, come up with plans, to dream up schemes and ideas.  It truly is time to give me some sanity.  Never has that been more clear to me than in the past few days when I haven't been able to run due to a sore knee.  I was pretty dern cranky I will tell you.  I cried a lot, at the drop of a hat, for no apparent reason.  If I thought trying to keep a marathon training scheduling going while also single parenting was tough I had obviously forgotten what its like to do the total opposite.  Pretty much just as tough.
So after some rest, lots of ice and a few sessions with a foam roller I set out on an easy run this morning.  It was so nice to let my brain go and work through all that is going on in our life right now.  At the top of my mental "need to process list" was Jake's terrible, no good, very bad day that he had yesterday.  There are so many things going on in his little life that I can't control and after I'm done being strong and sure for him I need some time to have a little break down session of my own.  Or, more than one.  I realized today that I have my own stages of grief, so to speak, that I work through when something happens to my kids.
The first is tears.  I cry for them and with them.  Nothing hurts this mama's heart worse than seeing the pain of rejection on my kiddos' face.
The second stage is talking.  I feel the need to tell anyone who will listen to me about what happened. I need to feel their support and, to be honest, shared horror at the trial that has beset my sweet baby.  If I can't find someone to talk to then I will usually post it as a status update on facebook.  Nothing makes me feel better than 39 comments all decrying the grievous act(s) against my child.
The third stage is the one that I worked through this morning on my run.  It involves daydreaming about how to maturely handle the situation as a wise and calm parent.  For example, today I imagined running into a certain child in the hall, gently taking him aside to talk to him and patiently explaining to him how disappointed I am by his actions.  It goes something like this:
 "Listen you little
if you ever tell my kid that he isplease don't tell my kid that he is weird
again I will break youit hurts his feelings and makes him very sad
I will hunt you down when you least expect it and ...
You see, calm, mature, wise and I'm sure it would really get through to that child that he shouldn't say unkind words to my son.  In reality though I do nothing of the sort.  I really thought about and decided that even saying something to the kid's mom wasn't right at this time.  Jake does do some things that are weird and as much as I want to put a protective bubble around him I know that I can't.  And as he gets older the other kids are going to notice some of his quirks more and more.  I need to pick my battles.  And Jake is going to have to learn that certain things, like carrying a pink, stuffed guinea pig to school every day, are going to cause him to get some unwanted attention.  Its a social norm thing that most kids learn at an early age, and it comes naturally, I think. But for Jake those norms aren't as obvious. And I fear that he is going to have to go through a lot worse than just someone calling him weird to get him to change some of his behaviors.
For me that means a future with lots of tears, lots of ranting facebook status updates, and plenty of miles.        

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

still here

I always assumed that the Boston Marathon would be a "one and done" type situation for me.  Its not cheap to fly to Boston.  Its definitely not cheap to stay in Boston.  And I feel guilty and selfish basing our getaway weekends around going for a very long run.

So I was determined to soak up absolutely everything about the marathon.  And I did.  We had a blast eating at a fabulous restaurant in the North End.  We sang "Sweet Caroline" as we cheered on the Red Sox (and my new favorite AL player - Dustin Pedroia).  We saw Desiree Davila and Josh Cox at the amazing expo.  We mastered (ok, floundered along but figured out) the T.  We saw the performers at Faneuil Hall.  I ran my best race ever.  In the most amazing place ever. With the most awesome spectators ever.  I felt satisfied.

And now I don't.  It wasn't finished like I wanted.  I would go back to Boston tomorrow and just sit and remember and heal a little bit if I could.  But life doesn't go like that and I'm chin deep in moving plans and end of the year festivities.

But I still want to go back.  I want to run that marathon again and make it the experience that I wanted - but make it in full.  I don't even care if I PR again next time.  I just want to be there.  To have that bond together with so many others who were touched so deeply by this tragedy.

I don't know if it will happen. I haven't even broached the subject here at casa T knowing that as my husband is still reeling the cost of the last trip might not be the best time to tell him I'm ready to book the next trip.  I almost booked a Boston hotel for next year today - was one click away but stopped when I realized that although the reservation has a no cancellation penalty until 36 hours before check in, I would still be charged the full amount today.  I decided not to see what something like that showing up on the credit card would do to my sweet love (even if the savings are over 50% what they are around marathon booking time).

I'm feeling more like myself every day.  Less sleepy.  I didn't even take a nap two days in a row now.  That must be progress.  Thanks for all the love, care and prayers.  I can feel them.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The days after

How am I doing?

Its a question I'm getting asked a lot lately.  And for some reason the usual response of "Great, and you?" isn't cutting it.

I haven't tried out my actual desired response yet which is "I'm crappy.  Looking for a hole to hide in. Please pretend like you don't see me".  I fear it would not be well received and possibly viewed as bitchy. Who, me?

I really am so very grateful for everyone's concern.  But the combination of a blog post that had about 20x's more viewership than a usual post, a front page newspaper quote and the general care and concern of so many sweet acquaintances has me wanting to run for cover.

I'm weird.  That is how I am.  I don't know how I am supposed to be feeling.  I cry.  I get sad.  I get mad.  I snap at my kids and wonder how someone who just had the experience I did could possibly be snapping at her kids.  I want to sleep.  Like, a lot.

Today I went for a run.  I didn't care what training books or post-marathon recovery articles recommend I needed today's run like I need oxygen.  I felt the tears starting before I even locked up my car and hit the road.  I ran with a tissue.  I turned up my music.  Loud.  I ran faster than I should have.  I ran longer than I should have.  When I was done I started to feel a little like me again for the first time in days.

I feel silly.  I feel like I should not feel so different.  So raw.  I didn't see the carnage.  I wasn't on the scene.  What is wrong with me?

My brother, the wise judge, and my husband, the wise psychologian (long time joke, no time to explain) assure me nothing is wrong with me.  That this is normal.  But I feel broken.  I feel like my heart, my natural optimism, my desire to believe and hope for the best might not be the same ever again.

For now I'm going to keep taking naps.  Keep running.  Keep apologizing to my kids.  Keep forcing myself out of my shell -my brother made me promise I would keep a date with some girlfriends tomorrow for our monthly accountability and sharing time.  Keep praying for the people of Boston.  Keep praying for the wounded.  Keep praying for Christ to come quickly.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Boston Marathon

It's 5:56 a.m.

I can't sleep.

Yesterday morning at this time I was nervously gulping down some oatmeal & double checking my official B.A.A. drop bag to make sure I had all my gear.  I was anxious to get on the road for the short trip to the bus boarding spot to Hopkinton.

Yesterday was a day that I had dreamed about for a long time.

And it was amazing.  It went perfectly.  The experience was every single thing I had hoped for and more.  Even down to a race run exactly as planned.

And then some bastard(s) took that away.  They took it away from me.  From every other runner who has worked so hard to get to this place.  From the amazing people of Boston.  From every spectator, fan, loved one, friend whose excitement tracking their runner's progress turned to horror and worry yesterday as the events unfolded.

My heart feels a little bit broken today.

I accomplished a huge goal yesterday but how can I rejoice in that when people are dead.  How can I possibly thrill in the mental replay of it all when people lay in the hospital fighting for their lives.  When people, too many to count at this point, have lost limbs.

Its hard to reconcile the ultimate highs that I felt yesterday with the fear and devastation that followed.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.  I knew that after the marathon there would be a let down factor after so many months of training and planning. I just never figured that it would play out like this.

Yesterday I was standing in the family meet-up spot designated for racers with the last name X.  Our group of 8 had no single letter in common in all of our last names so we decided for race day we would be the Xanakes family.  This spot is a little over a block from the finish.   The group had just reunited.  Together.  All of us.  We were preparing to head for the T station when a blast rocked us.  Silence fell.  Then another blast.  And more silence.  Slowly people began to shake their heads in confusion and fall back into conversation.  It was, after all, Patriot's Day and we figured maybe there was a cannon blast at Fenway Park, or something similar, to commemorate the day.  I told my friend that surely if it was something bad we would hear sirens.  And then the first ambulance came blazing down the crowded street with emergency responders yelling at us to get out of the way.  And then another ambulance.  Still we stood, confused, frozen.  And then the police began running down the street yelling for us to get out.  To run.

Run?  We had nothing left.  We were physically, mentally and emotionally depleted.  We didn't even know which direction we were supposed to run in.  The sirens and emergency responders were coming non-stop.  All telling us to go.  To go fast.  Our husbands guided us as best they could.  My one friend, barely able to walk, because she had injured her Achilles so much during her marathon.  We had no idea what had happened.  As we walked we saw a crowd spilling onto the sidewalk at a crowded cafe.  Everyone inside glued to the news on the television.  We peered in the windows and saw the first footage of the complete horror that had taken place just around a corner from where we had been.  A spot that less than an hour before had been a place of triumphant, mind-blowing joy.

Rumors were rampant that there were more bombs.  The buses were no where to be found.  The T stations had closed down.  Taxis were crammed full of people.  We ended up walking about 4 miles until finally we found a T stop that had reopened.  Should we get on it?  We knew that during a terror attack getting onto public transportation might not be the best option but what else were our choices.  We knew we could possibly walk the rest of the way back to Cambridge if we had to but we. were. so. tired.  We decided to chance it.  I had an overwhelming peace knowing that the Lord knew my days before I ever drew my first breathe.  Those days on this earth would be no more, or less, than what He had set out for me.

It was an uneventful, if quiet, ride back to Cambridge.  We got back to our house and sat numbly trying to process.  We almost cancelled our dinner reservations but decided that we really needed to go.  Staying home would do nothing but give the bad guys win again - to let them steal another piece of our joy.  We went.  We ate and we drank.  We laughed.  We also remembered.  How blessed we were to be safe.  To be enjoying one another's company.

I laid in bed last night and felt so deeply the disappointment and grief that so very many of my brother and sister runners and race fans were left with after yesterday.  And I woke up with it heavy on me today.  And I knew that I will NOT let them beat me.  We will rise above.  Next year the 118th Boston Marathon will be run.  And I guarantee it will be even more meaningful then any year previous.  Because the people of Boston are some amazing people.  And I know that they will not let the bad guys win either.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Some days.

Sometimes it just sucks.

There are those days when all the progress you felt like you'd made just seems to slip away.  The day when you see kids at school pairing off with friends to have fun play dates ... something that is probably so easy and effortless for them ... and you hurt for your son who has none.

Instead you take your son to the doctor to have a rash checked out.  The rash, along with a long string of little things, bring up the possibility of mono.  So you agree that to be safe rather than sorry you should do the mono test.  It requires a finger prick.  You know it won't be good, but you aren't prepared for just how not good it can be.  As your 8 year old sons screams, cries, wails, begs and pleads with you not to prick his finger you feel your calm slipping away.   His hysteria makes his sisters start crying and instead of feeling reassuring, soothing and loving you start to feel anger.  Anger that he can't just calm the flip down.  Anger that you can't reason with him when it comes to medical issues that require sharp implements of any kind.  Anger that the new P.A. you are seeing doesn't understand what is happening and his questions and surprise are only making things worse.

And then you just feel tired.  Why couldn't my son be the one skipping merrily off to a playdate after school.  Why can't it just be easier.  Why can't he just like doing the things the other boys in his class like doing so that they will want to play with him.

And right now I am overwhelmed and it has been a long day and I know it the light of morning things will seem better.  That I will remember that last month he had a great playdate with a friend from school (one of only a handful, ever).  That he is happy and thriving with his new ABA tutor.  That things have come so far from the little boy who used to eat his meals all by himself.

It will feel better. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, April 5, 2013

It's Over

So, um, yeah, its been like 3 weeks since I blogged.  So I'll just let that speak for itself that I probably have not gotten this whole ADHD thing figured out.  However I do have an amazing, incredible, fantastic idea for an invention that would help me blog more regularly.  Are you ready?  Someone needs to get on this:
So when I'm running I have all of these amazing ideas for blogs come into my head.  Since you don't know what they are I can say they are amazing.  Like - life changing thoughts people.  You would be forever affected by these revelations that come into my head.  Problem is the minute I hit the stop button on my GPS all such thoughts disappear from my head.  I go from brilliant to boring in a millisecond.  ok, so that is the problem.  Are you ready for the solution?  I need a device that I can wire to my brain that will transcribe the million thought bites pinging around at the speed of light - and have them on a neat little word document for me when I sit down to my computer.  C'mon, I know some smart people.  Can someone get on that for me?  Thanks.

So you might know from my facebook page that Ryan's deployment has come to an end.  Praise God he is home safe and sound and we are so grateful.  That jittery feeling standing at the end of the airport walkway waiting for him to come around the bend never gets old.  Its an amazing experience and I can honestly say that I feel sorry for anyone who will never have that experience.  To welcome your hero home from war is a top life moment. So many of my military wive sisters know exactly what I am talking about that I forget sometimes that we are in the vast minority.  Anyway, its just incredible.

Having daddy home to tickle fight and jump on the trampoline and fire up the grill .... those are the things that I ache for in the long weeks and months when he is gone.  To have someone there to come up behind me and squeeze me while I am washing dishes.  To have him there when its time for prayers and kisses at bedtime (a time that I'm run down and rushing through when he is gone but can slow down and enjoy when he is here).  Having someone to share smiles and laughs with over our kids antics and cutenesses and stories.  All of those things just make my heart well up and the tears spill over with gratitude when we get him back.

But what I think some of us military wives don't share with the general public is that homecoming isn't all roses and champagne.  I think we are slow to share this because people will look at us like ungrateful jerks.    Or on the other side if we share that it is challenging they will assume our soldier is having PTSD and sitting around drinking whiskey out of the bottle and cleaning his guns.  And really its somewhere in the middle.  There is a bit of a letdown I think.  We focus so much on that date circled in red on the calendar that says "Daddy's Home" that we think "now what" when that date has come and gone.  Let's be honest people, there are some small benefits to having the hubby deployed.
1 - less laundry.  less man sized laundry.  less man sized stinky laundry containing workout clothes that have been ripening in the trunk of his car for a few days.
2 - less meal planning.  I mean I whine and complain about cooking when Ryan is gone but let's be honest that if I don't feel like making food I can throw some grilled cheese on the table and call it a night.  There is certainly no judgement from my little people.  They are thrilled to have a dinner that doesn't revolve around the question "how many bites of this do I have to eat".  So is there mom.
3 - less sports and Fox news.  Maybe this is just at my house.  But that 2nd night my hubs was home and I heard Bill O'Reilly's voice coming from my living room I realized I hadn't missed it even a little bit in the months he was gone.
4 - less compromise.  Not sure how much I need to explain this one.  When its just me I do what I want.
5 - less money spent on beer.  Which means more money spent on me.

I don't mean for this to come off as a big pity party.  I truly hope that list is funny or makes you smile because it is definitely a laughing matter around this house.  As we get back into our rythmn as a family and try to remember how to put the other first there will be bumps in the road.  Every time its a process to readjust.  But if anything military families are good at its finding the new normal.  And I have no doubt we will find it sooner rather than later.

In the meantime just so we don't get too used to each other my soldier is heading out again for a few days next week.  I joked to his boss it was probably good to give us a little bit of a breather from each other.  Like ha, ha  - its so funny I could cry.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Adult ADHD OR Why I am a Failure As A Mother

Pick a title any title.  This post is going to hopefully be about the fact that I actually think I have adult onset ADHD (is there such a thing? If not I'm makin' it up dangit!!).  But it also will trend largely towards covering all the reasons why I am a crappy mom.

Let me be VERY clear up front.  This post is not a plaintive cry for assurance.  I do not need a good Stuart Smalley intervention (confused?  think "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone-it people like me).  No need to send a helicopter team of mental health professionals rapelling onto the roof of my house to slap me around and make me feel better about myself - is that even possible?  Not the helicopter team, the slapping around and feeling better.  I need to believe its possible for a Chinook to appear in the sky and silently drop professional help onto my doorstep.  Its kind of a long running fantasy of mine.  I think it started in Clarksville where many nights the fly overs were so close and loud I was sure the soldiers were checking out our new gas grill or making sure my lawn was trimmed to the proper height.

Do you see the direction of this post?  No?  That is because I have ADHD!

Last month I had a meeting with Jake's developmental pediatrician up at UNC.  That woman is amazing and a genius. If I ever win the lottery I'm going to hire her as my personal on call expert for all things Jake.  Seriously even if I won the lottery I probably couldn't pay her what she is worth.  She was on the board for the DSM V if that gives you any idea.  And if you don't know what the DSM V is don't worry, we can't all be married to psychologists.  Just trust me - its a big deal.

Soooooo, as we are sitting there talking she asks me where I think Jake got the ADHD from because, as she is sure I know, its usually an inherited thing.  Well of course I acted like I knew that (just like I acted like my kids never jump more than one at a time on the trampoline or jump without my direct supervision ... as they are doing at this very moment... when she was concerned about our trampolining habits).  And I thought for a split second and considered blaming it on Ryan, but honestly, if you've spent 5 minutes around him that is a tough sell.  And she has.  So I think she was just being nice when she asked me that.  

So I have thought about that comment a lot since my time with her. And honestly it totally makes so many things fall into place.  Like the constant state of near hysteria I live in when I have more than a few things on my to-do list because I am incapable of juggling many balls at once without dropping one.  Or the fact that some very important paperwork that will make sure we have somewhere to LIVE in Kansas is sitting on top of my scanner ready to go, yet unsent.  Or the fact that I started the year gung-ho to help get Reid ready for kindergarten with great plans that I even went so far as to develop and carry out for 5 days before I promptly forgot all about it (until today when his sweet teacher asked if she could meet with me next week to discuss, uh, I forget.  But I bet it had to do with kindergarten readiness).  Or the suggestions Dr. Awesome gave me for helping Jake that looked pretty much exactly like the list of ideas that she gave me last time that I had 100% forgot about until I referred back to my notes from that session (1.5 years ago!).  Or that no matter how many books I buy for family devotions or alarms I set on my phone to remind me to do them I cannot for the life of me actually remember to do them. I could, seriously, go on and on.

And you are probably thinking "I do stuff like that all the time".  And I'm sure we all do but I honestly think there is maybe a bit more to it for me.  Or you are thinking "you have 4 kids" or "your husband is deployed" or "look at that another person that wants to have ADHD".  Still I know lots of people who have 4 or more kids, who are often single parents and who are capable of carrying on a conversation and making dinner at the same time.  Or remembering from point A to point B what the purpose of that 30 second walk across the house was.  And its not like I'm NOT a total mess-o-rama when Ryan is home.  In fact a couple weeks ago Jake's cub scout leader needed marbles for a den meeting.  She was texting all the parents to see who had marbles.  The fact that I was the only person who had some - and who had not in fact lost her marbles - was a major source of amusement for all of us.  Talk about the least likely to succeed in keeping her marbles!

At this point my only plan when it comes to how to deal with my total scatter-brainedness is that I'm going to look seriously into some essential oils that will help with focus.  I am 100% sold on the effectiveness of oils for treating a myriad of issues and I know there is something that can help me.  I'll be sure to keep you posted.  Well, if it works I will. If it doesn't I won't remember that I ever even wrote this post or that I had planned to do something about it.  Until I sit down to write a very similar post 6 months from now and it all sounds eerily familiar.

But before I go let me tell you what I really want to

Monday, March 4, 2013

Not Forgotten

Do you remember how I was saying (whining) back at the beginning of this deployment that its tempting to withdraw, to pull into my shell.  And then when I pull into my shell I feel forgotten.  And when I feel forgotten then I pull even tighter into the shell.  Its a cycle.  A cycle of my own making and one that can make deployment really hard.

I've been there before.  Many times.  But not today.  Not this cycle.  Not yet.

I'm overwhelmed with the love and generosity and kindness I have been shown.  Its the big things and the small things and all the things in between that have left my heart full and my mind reeling at His goodness to me.

Its a text from a friend that there is a credit in your name at Swank.  So go and enjoy a scone and a coffee and take a moment to breathe.

Its a card in the mail that reminds you that you are being praying for and loved on.  One that even goes so far as to write out the prayer so you can feel yourself being lifted up and lifted closer to Him.

Its the call from the highly recommended therapy center that had told you last week that there was going to be quite a wait list - to tell you that the wait list has opened up and therapy for your son can begin as early as next week.  To remind me I'm certainly not forgotten by the Father.

Its the message from a friend to celebrate one month down and to remind you that you are in their prayers constantly.  Followed by the message from the other half of that marriage to tell you to say the word and he will be here to help.

Its the friend willing to drive your cub scout to the den meeting so you don't have to drag your sick little one out of bed.

Its the other friend willing to shuttle your kids to and from school when you need a hand.

Its the brother-in-law who helps your vomit covered little girl into the bath with as much care and love as her daddy would.

Its the fellow Army spouse who texts to ask if she can share the soup she has just made - and then brings over not just soup but delicious bread and cookies too.

Its the friend who knocks on your car window on Valentine's Day and hands you a bag of goodies to make sure you feel loved and special.

Its the brother & sister-in-law who drive 4 hours for a 3 hour visit to make sure your little man's birthday is special.

Its the parents who drive 4 hours to pit crew for the Pinewood Derby.

Its the friend who will drive to her house to get steri-strips to help piece your son's face back together so you don't have to make an ER trip at 10 pm on a Tuesday night.

Its the running buddy who takes your crazy 5 year old off your hands after you both finish a grueling 20 miler so you can get some rest.

Its the mother-in-law who drops everything so that you don't have to drop anything.

Its the friend who you can text on a Saturday night when your house suddenly explodes in sickness and know she will be there in minutes with gatorade, popsicles and ginger ale.

And the many other friends who have insisted I note their numbers in my phone.  Who tell me to call anytime.  To ask for whatever I need. Because I know they mean it and I know I will do it if I need to.  Its the fact that I'm afraid to hit the Publish button because as many things as I've just listed I'm sure there is more that I've forgotten.

Once again I'm humbled. And I'm grateful. And I'm so incredibly blessed.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Full Circle

Its funny how God works.  And by funny I mean amazing.  So much so that I find it hard to believe that anyone could deny His existence.  I’m sure many people read my words and think I’m crazy for believing in a Deity that I can’t see, touch, feel, hear …. only I do see, feel, touch and hear Him.  Just not in the way we look for in today’s society of instant, immediate, concrete gratification. 

I felt and saw Him just the other day.  It was Reid’s birthday party and I was gathered in my backyard with his buddies from school and their moms.  We all sat around chatting and enjoying one another’s company.  One of the moms I hadn’t really gotten to know yet, other than a smile and “hello” at preschool dropoff and pickup.  She casually mentioned since they were new to the area she wasn’t sure what she would do for school next year.  They are zoned for our same school district but she didn’t know a lot about PES.  I started to tell her how much we LOVED our school (with my mom and dad nodding along in total agreement).  She added that there were some complicating factors as her son receives speech and occupational therapy.  My antenna went up and I zoned in on a mom who I could relate to all too well.  I felt like I was circling back to three years ago only instead I was the mom on the other side of the table.  The mom three years later who had survived those scary early years of frustration, confusion and doubt.  I was the mom who could point to my 8 year old and say “its not easy but he IS doing ok!”  Yes he is in a “normal” classroom.  Yes he has had a wonderful experience at school.  Yes his school is just the right place for him.   Yes you will survive all of this and YES somehow your heart will not shatter into a million pieces despite feeling sure it will.

In the busyness of the day I might have missed just how profound that meeting and following conversation was if not from this text later in the day from my friend Ally.  “I had tears in my eyes listening to you and A talk about your kids … God is AWESOME!!”  You see, Ally was around 3 years ago when our friend Lisa shared with her that she had met a mom whose son might be on the spectrum.  She listened as Lisa was encouraged that her own journey might help another mom (me) facing the same challenges.  And she was there years later to watch as that formerly unknown mom could put her arm around another mom and say “its ok, its going to be ok, and I would love to help you in any way I can”.  The way God uses our stories to strengthen and encourage one another never ceases to amaze me.  When we first began this journey so many years ago sweet friends would occasionally comment that they couldn’t wait to see how God was going to use this struggle for good.  I was encouraged and pissed at the same time by those words.  Like I want to hug you and punch you in the face all in the same motion.  Because I know in my head that God works all things together for good.   But at that time I wasn’t willing to offer up my son and his future prospects on that altar.  I am not Abraham and Jake is not Issac I wanted to scream. 

But I’ve learned it doesn’t always matter if you are willing or not.  I’m sure Abraham wasn’t running down that road in anticipation of tying his son down and giving him over to God.   I’m sure he wouldn’t have picked that road to travel.  But the good news is that God doesn’t leave it up to me. And the good news is that with years and time and prayer my perspective has changed.  Its not that God has given Jake autism so that I can be an encouragement to other moms.  Its that in spite of the autism God is able to bring redemption.  A light.  A good to come from a world of hurt.  And for that I am so blessed and humbled. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Take A Deep Breathe ... and JUMP!

I’m starting a new venture. I’m nervous, excited, hopeful, scared and motivated … all at the same time.  A few years ago I first I came into contact with Young Living essential oils through a friend who was using them to transform the way her household functioned.  She had a son experiencing some problems and in her quest to help him she decided to rid her home of as many chemicals and unnatural products as possible.  In her effort to replace those products she came across Young Living.  She quickly became a devotee and her excitement over the results they were seeing in their own home intrigued me.  I also wanted to help my own son and try to have as “green” a home as possible.  I have no idea what is going on in our world today that is being ravaged by cancer & other scary diseases but I CAN see that for too long I’ve trusted blindly the companies that make the products that I spray in my house, wipe on my furniture, slather on my children and swirl with our clothing.  I’m not a scientist – I don’t know what is causing all this cancer but I’m also not an idiot and I know that all these products we are using can’t be good for us.  In some way they have to be contributing to the problem!
So I started slow with my first essential oil purchase.  I got some lemon oil, lavender oil and a blend called Purification.  The more I used them the more intrigued I became.  I sprinkled a few drops of lemon in my grimy tub with a spritz of vinegar and a sprinkle of baking soda and presto-chango my tub was gleaming!  I rubbed purification on my babies’ bodies before we headed outside and the mosquitoes that ate us alive previously were kept at bay.  I used lavender in my wash, on boo boos, to freshen my smelly cars and in my bath to soothe aching muscles. Then I read that Sage oil could be used in place of deodorant and I was totally excited. I mean I totally have to use the clinical strength deodorant to just try to keep my sweaty pits at bay.   And you know what?  It worked!!! And so then I got some more.  And some more. And then about a year ago I realized I should go ahead and sign up as a distributor so I could purchase for myself at wholesale prices.
When my distributor package arrived I thought a bit about making the oils my business and sharing them with others.  But life got in the way and I convinced myself I didn’t have time.  And then people started asking questions as they saw me using them (or smelled me using them!).  I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm as I tried to explain the oils.  Which led to more questions.  And prodding from friends to have a party where I could share what I knew and give them an opportunity to get on my essential oil bandwagon.  Well those first proddings were last May and finally all these months later I am ready to jump in and start sharing my growing passion.
I’m nervous! I hate rejection!  I hate failing.  But you know what made me finally ready to start was getting to the place that I can view this not as a success or failure but as chance to share something that really intrigues and excites me.  Sure there is a business opportunity to it.  And sure, if that turned into something that would be cool.  But even if it doesn’t I’m ok with that.  Because I’m getting to use a product I love, that is doing amazing things in my home and for my family.  And I am doing the best I can to not keep it to myself but to share it with others!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Morning In The Life

What do you do all day?  I’ve been asked that before in a most sincere and polite way. I think people who don’t stay at home (or even those who do but who’s young are in a different life stage) are genuinely curious about my life.   So I thought’s I’d give just a quick preview of 50 minutes in the life of me!

6:30 – wake up.  Quickly peruse email to see if I have one from the husband.  Read it. Check weather app.  Try to brush my teeth and potty before any children become attached to my person
6:35 – make first attempt at waking children up
6:36 – start making lunches and start coffee
6:40 – make second attempt at waking children up
6:41 – pull out breakfast stuff
6:45 – start screaming at children that we WILL be LATE if they don’t get up NOW
6:50 – pull Ainsley’s body out of her bed, set her at table and plead with her to begin eating. 
6:52 – the next 20 minutes look something like this
Jake what else do you want to eat?
Ainsley please eat.
What do you need now Jane Dare?
Ainsley please eat.
Jake go get dressed.
Jake, get dressed
Jake stop doing that and get dressed.
Ainsley please eat.
Jake are you dressed yet?
Ainsley you are going to run out of time to eat and go to school hungry and cry.
Jake take your medicine.
Reid put Jake’s medicine back on the counter.
Jake I know your pills are “yucky” now that Reid touched them, please just take them.
Ainsley, seriously you are going to be late! Go get dressed
Jake go brush your teeth.
(finish making lunches)
AINSLEY OH MY GOSH WE ARE LEAVING IN 2 MINUTES!  What are you doing still not dressed??? What have you been doing in your room?
Jake brush your hair.
Jake get your shoes on.
Jake get your jacket on.
Jake pack your backpack.
What special is today? Do you have your library books? Where are they? I don’t know! Why don’t you know???
Ainsley please tell me you are ready. 
7:10 - Get in the car everyone.
Jane Dare you cannot decide you MUST get dressed now the minute we are walking out the door.
Reid I am not going to make you a paper airplane right now we are late.
7:13 – WE ARE LATE!  Move it, everyone in the car!
No, Yes, STOP THAT! Please buckle up, please don’t touch him, I didn’t say that, no you can’t bring that to school.  Where is your jacket?  Are your shoes in the car? Why don’t you have socks on?  You need money for what??? Why aren’t you buckled yet? No I can’t reach that I’m driving. Yes you do have to take your umbrella. No you may not take 8 stuffed animals. 
Give me a kiss, hurry now, don’t forget your backpack. I love you. Have a good day!!!

And that is only the first 50 minutes of my day.  The rest is quite similar.  I’ll spare you (for now)!

Photo credit to Pamela Wandrey

Thursday, February 14, 2013

You Might Be Training For A Marathon If ...

If your drying rack is always set up and covered in running tights, shirts & sports bras that you don't trust to the dryer.  

If your garage has a space that looks like this:

And your closet has more (your newer pairs)

But wait, there's more!  How on earth could you look down at these puppies and not smile.  They make me happy just to put them on!  They are a 1/2 size too small and I need to exchange them with Road Runner Sports but I don't want to part with them for long enough!

And if this is the contents of your purse.  In case you can't make out what is below I pulled it out for you in the next picture.

My Garmin GPS watch, Clif blocks (black cherry with caffeine - the only way to go), a power bar (I usually have a KIND bar too but I ate it this morning after my 14 miler), a pepper spray (my kids think I attack dogs with it - somehow that explanation went terribly wrong), a Hammer gel (also caffeinated), Oakley sunglasses that I love (found them on the side of a busy road- bet a bike rider lost them.  hmmmm, so sad.) and my Nathan belt that holds my phone, pepper spray and toilet paper when I don't have big enough pockets in my tights or shorts.  Toilet paper?  Oh yes, toilet paper.  When you spend a lot of time pounding the pavement or trail nature is bound to call.  I don't mind nature being  my potty but I do mind nature being my Charmin!

A dedicated spot in my bathroom that holds my ear warmer, body glide, head lamp, reflector light, ipod, waterproof pouch and garmin charger.

And finally, if your hair looks like this the majority of the time.  I can always get a shower after a run but the hair is often out of the question!  See, the dryer is still up.  Same dryer, different day.

And if on the way out of their house they  have one of these babies hanging around.  You know, important to hydrate!  I'm actually thinking of cheating on this one with a pack that has pockets on the front straps. I feel kind of guilty.  I mean, who does that to a faithful camelbak that has seen me through so much.  But I need more.  I just do.  I'm sorry old friend. 
And that, my friends, is a good way to walk through someone's house and know if there is marathon training going on!

Monday, February 11, 2013


It’s a funny feeling after you’ve written a post like this one.  On one hand its exhilarating to have shared so freely and opened my heart up to the world.  Talking about Jake and his developmental struggles is to unleash a torrent of emotions, struggles, fears, hopes and pleadings with God that I have kept closed in for a long time.  I’m so blessed to have so many people who love and care for my children.  And so many of those people didn’t know the whole story because its just exhausting to try and really tell it over and over again.  I’m thrilled that now more can know and pray for him and watch with us as we see the work our Father has in store for him.

On the other hand … I’ve just opened my heart up to the world (yes, those are the exact words I used above) and that can be terrifying.  What if no one had commented?  Or what if it didn’t make any difference? Or if it caused others to treat Jake differently.  To expect less from him.  To patronize him.  To pity me.  What if?

In the hours after I posted that mini-novel I had to fight the urge not to jump in and edit my post.  Not to add to the story in an effort to explain.  I wanted to be sure people knew he was high functioning.  That he is so much like any other little boy.  That he isn’t weird.  But isn’t that just my pride and lack of faith and trust?  Jake speaks for himself.  Anyone he who has ever met my boy can see that.  He has a way of touching people deep in their hearts and connecting with them in a way I never could.  I literally cannot tell you how many people feel a special bond with Jake.  To know him is to love him.

So I’m sure there will be lots of time in the future to explain both what Jake’s ASD IS and what it ISN’T.  After all this blog wouldn’t serve much of a purpose for those special little people among us if I didn’t elaborate.  But for today I’m going to resist the urge to back pedal.  Resist the urge to explain away.  And embrace the truth of what is.  And that is that I am the mother a precious, perfect child of God.
Watch Jake and his newest trampoline hi-jinks!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ho, Ho, Ho and Misteltoe

(Back when Jake was first diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder I needed to write but I wasn't ready to share.  So I wrote a number of blog entries for that day in the future when I would be ready.  I'm going to start with this one.  It was from the first time I had to acknowledge my son's autism).

The title has nothing to do with this actual entry.  Rather that is a line from the Charlie Brown movie that was playing in the back of the car today.  Jake loves Charlie Brown . . . he went through such a Charlie Brown phase that he called everyone “Sir” (a la Marcy) and went around constantly asking people “where’s the pumpkin pie, where’s the mashed potatoes “ . . . caused a lot of confusion to those who weren’t in the know.
Today was Ainsley’s 5th birthday and we celebrated it Pinehurst style with a to-do at the bowling alley.  Ever since I mentioned that this was how we would party on A’s big day Jake has asked me if he would be invited.  He was so excited, so looking forward to it.  And in typical style once the party arrived he was a mess.  Today was the first time I actually used the word autism to describe my son – and it hurt so badly I wanted to curl up in a ball and sob despite the fact that I was putting candles on a cake in preparation to serenade my sweet little girl.  I didn’t use the word flippantly – I used it because Jake was being, well, Jake and I didn’t know what to do with him.  He didn’t want to bowl, he sulked around and hid from the other kids, he started to cry and then to whine that he just wanted to go home – begging me to just let him go home.  My dad tried to pull him aside to talk to him and he ran from my dad.  In short, I didn’t know what to do for or with Jake and I was in the midst of trying to be a hostess to our guests and mom to the guest of honor . . .
I was so grateful my parents were here.  My dad finally was able to get Jake to go to the arcade with him where they played games for a bit.  But as luck would have it  we started Jake back on his Ritalin today (after giving him a break over the Christmas holiday) and so he had no appetite.   The popcorn, soda and cake held no appeal for him.  My mom looked over at me, bewildered as I felt, and asked if this (meaning his behavior, not lack of appetite) was because of the medicine.  I looked back at her and matter-of-factly said “no, this is because of the autism” and then we both began to cry.  I barely pulled it together as the candles were glowing and the wax began to run and pool on the cake’s shining buttercream frosting and sang out as heartily as I could “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Ainsley, happy birthday to you”. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Our Own Worst Enemies

It happened again today.  A friend of mine posted a question on Facebook asking for suggestions on how to treat her toddler’s dry, chapped lips.  Her friends immediately began responding with their favorite remedies and suggestions.  It didn’t take long before “that mom” chimed in. In this instance, that mom responded to the previous suggestions in disgust.   Vaseline/aquaphor is a petroleum left over. Yuck, if I wouldn't put it in my mouth I wouldn't want it on my babies lips!”

I’m sure that mom could easily defend herself.  In her mind she is just trying to help, just sharing her thoughts and knowledge, just trying to help a sister out.  But what she actually did was make every single one of the 11 moms who commented before her (suggesting those very products) feel/seem less than…. less than her with her knowledge of beauty product safety.  Less informed, less discerning, less concerned with her children’s health and safety. 

We can all easily identify that mom.   We’ve been in playgroups with her, she has sat at our MOPS table, we’ve sat at the computer and watch her wield her words on Facebook.  In the blink of an eye that mom can take us from green to yellow (or red!) on the mom scale of performance contentedness (bear with me – I’ve got preschool behavior charts on my brain).   Sometimes it feels like it is impossible to discuss any topic related to our kids without opening ourselves up to the possibility of being wounded.  Whether its how much juice we give our kids, how much tv we let them watch, what kind of produce and dairy products we buy (GASP – you don’t buy organic, free range, grass fed meat that get’s its tushy wiped when it poos and its teeth brushed with fluoride free toothpaste each night?!?!?)  Any of those topics, and many more, open us up to being hit by “friendly fire” from another mom.

Aren’t we supposed to be on the same team here?  We are all in the trenches raising kids in a world that is anything BUT helpful!  Instead we so often turn on one another to make ourselves feel better about our decisions.  Do you notice what I did there?  I took it from a “that mom” scenario to a “we” scenario.  Because, guess what! We have all been guilty of this.  I’m the first one to raise my hand and admit I’ve let a phrase slip out of my mouth that is really a condemnation disguised as an opinion!    So let’s just all take a minute here and agree to really think before we open our mouths (or worse let our fingers fly on the keyboard!).  If there is a good chance that the words you are about to share could take another mom down a peg or two then maybe its NOT actually helpful.  Maybe it’s more harmful… and hurtful!  Maybe think about rephrasing your comment to  remove any hint of “I’m better than you”.  Let that chance to really zing those other moms pass you by.  Be the bigger mom.  Really, truly.  Because I assure you what is gained in those few moments of personal victory is a loss for moms as a whole.  We need one another!  We need to support each other and love each other and be REAL with each other.    And maybe, just maybe, when we stop building ourselves up by knocking our sisters down we will open our hearts to the real growth that is going to make a difference in our lives as moms.  Then we will model for our children the kind of people we want them to be.  We will be living by example and not just word.  And those kids, the one we are trying so hard to raise into decent human beings, will be infinitely better for it.  Better than all the organic, hormone free, vaccine delaying parenting decisions in the whole wide world – combined!  Take that!!

(Stepping down from my soap box.)

Look, I'll go first!  You want real?  Here is a picture of my 5 year old.  Taken last week.  With a pacifier in his mouth.  Somebody call CPS!!