Sunday, February 4, 2018

Oh Yea, Basketball

Four years ago I sat around a table of educators for my first IEP meeting as a parent instead of a teacher myself. The meeting was held in Mr. M's preschool classroom which required all the adults at the table to squeeze their adult-sized bottom into a chair designed for three-year-olds.

There we all sat, and I listened to his educational team. I am a rule follower so I sat in the meeting and followed the agenda until the very last item came up, which was labeled as "other". I waited until it was time on the agenda for the floor to open up to the topic of "other" and I explained my concerns about an assignment that was sent home.

While I was discussing my concerns about the assignment, I said to his team, "I know my child is different, I know that he will never have the opportunity to play an organized sport".

Yesterday, I sat on a hard gym bleacher designed for adult bottoms about 2,000 feet away from where that first IEP meeting took place and cheered on Mr. M as he played in one of his final recreational basketball games.

Funny, how often we think we can predict the future.

Now, I would love to tell you that this is a FU to autism and that not only did Mr. M play but he was one of the top players on his team, but this isn't that story.

The truth is that Mr. M was easily one of the least skilled kids on the court. When practicing bounce passes he would duck from the ball, every shot was an airball and forget to concept of defensive gameplay.

I guess some people would stop there.

I surely would have stopped there before I had a child with special needs.

If he can't pass or score a basket it is easy to say he has no worth to the team.

I can see where a coach or a community would feel this way.

However, I feel very fortunate we live in a community where this opportunity isn't stopping here.

Instead, we found a coach who said, "So what we will work with what we got." A coach who stands next to Mr. M and puts his hand out right before the ball comes to stop the momentum just enough so Mr. M doesn't duck. A coach who when Mr. M is confused by the concept of subbing gently reminds him that it is his turn to play, a coach who pulls aside Mr. M to explain once again that when shooting his hand should go under the basketball.

A coach who meets Mr. M where he is at, but also has a high standard for him.

So with his lack of skill and extra time required what does he add to his team?

It's a fair question.

Well, there isn't a louder or more supportive team member than my little dude.

He cheers for anyone who makes a basket.

He doesn't care about score.

He follows directions.

He waits in line for his turn.

He willingly shares the equipment.

He doesn't stop smiling.

He does care about playing time.

So yes, I would say that he add a lot to his team.

As this basketball season wraps up, all I can say is that I am extremely proud of Mr. M and even more grateful for his coaches.

And maybe, just maybe this it is a little FU to autism after all.

xoxo - the chaos manager 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Self Care

Let's go back to last week's post, shall we? 

I lied to you.

I'm sorry.

I actually didn't mean to lie to you, I more misjudged my opponent.

See, for a while there really our thief hasn't been around much. He's been missing in action for almost all of the fall, and most of the winter until the last two weeks or so.

Now, he's back. Back and bigger than ever, and while it isn't a day to day thing it's more like things are going pretty smooth and than out of nowhere things quickly escalate.

It is confusing and complicated right now. New things that I haven't experienced on this journey and behaviors that I don't have an answer too.

When new behaviors pop up, we always approach them with a wait and see mindset. Well, maybe it is just a seven-year-old thing, maybe it's just a phase, maybe it's just because of cabin fever. Maybe....maybe.....maybe.

Unfortunately, I have been part of this rodeo for far too long to know that it isn't a maybe. I hope that it is a maybe, however the realist in me says that it isn't.

However, either way, what I do know is that I need to move away from the hole that I have dug for myself.

Autism has consumed me.

It has changed my DNA and it is inherent in almost every interaction of my life.

My real life friends - Autism Mom's

My facebook feed - Autism blogs

My to-do list - Reviewing I.E.P.'s, filling out waivers, and making phone calls to insurance companies.

My free time - Blogging about autism

I need to back up a little bit and I need a life outside of this.

So, I am starting to take my self-care a little more serious, and I think that if you are a mom and you feel a little to sucked in right now for whatever reason, I urge you to add a little bit of self-care into your day as well.

Here is the thing with self-care that I find tricky, finding a babysitter. One of the many things that I said before I had kids and was oh so nieve, is that I would always make time for myself by hiring a babysitter.

Here is the things folks, it's a lot harder said than done.

Babysitters are about as easy to find as a unicorn.

I have two babysitters that help out our family, however, both are extremely busy with work, college, family, and other social commitments.

I also live in the middle of nowhere. Meaning it is about thirty minutes to get anywhere from my house. To hire a babysitter, to drive thirty minutes, to take an exercise class for an hour, only to drive back well it just seems foolish.

I don't want to go out and spend money on things that I don't need...or meals that I shouldn't eat.

How I want to recharge is by being in my house alone. I want to binge watch Netflix, take a bubble bath, and sit in silence.

I want to clean my house without it being destroyed a minute later.

Which let's face it isn't gonna happen.

So, instead, I have to work with what I got. Here are my five ways this year I have incorporated self-care into my life.

Number One: Put down the phone. 

Yup, put it down. Stop mindlessly scrolling. I find the more time that I spent on social media the worse that I feel about myself and the more I start to compare.  The less I time I spend on my phone the happier I am.

Number Two: Face masks.

My skin falls apart in the winter time. I recently went to Target and bought all different types of facemasks. Every Sunday night I put a facemask on and curl up in bed for 20 minutes or so. There is something so calming about using a facemask. As an added bonus my skin feels soft and smooth all week long. 

Number Three: Go to bed early.

I have a very bad habit of staying up and watching just one more show on Netflix or just checking my Facebook feed on more time. This year I have been going to bed by 10:00 p.m. and I have felt so much more rested.

Number Four: Exercise. 

Yes, I often fall off the exercise wagon and lately I have had a hard time getting back on. However, I always have better energy, mental focus, and less anxiety after I exercise. My goal for this year is to start with three days a week of an easy exercise on my favorite cardio machine and adding in two days of weights. I am hoping this balance and variety will keep me focused.

Number Five: Read.

I love to read and become consumed by a great story. Currently, I am reading Young, Jane, Young by Gabrielle Zevin. It is about a young girl who has an affair with an older Congress's man, I highly recommend it.

There you go, five simple changes that I have made to the start of 2018 that do not require outside help and I am already starting to see positive results. So, what do you do for self-care when those unicorn babysitters are nowhere to be found?

xoxo - the Chaos Manager 

p.s. be kind to everyone, especially yourself.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Life Update

Happy New Year! It's been a while : )

Ringing in the New Year is always a time of reflection for me. In my reflection, I have been thinking about our thief and how absent he has been from our lives.

I have been thinking what has been so different? Why isn't our thief here? What has made the past six months so calm?

I think for the past six months my thinking has a little misguided.

Our thief is still here, However I think I what has changed is me. Over the past seven years of battling my opponent, I have started to adapt to some of his shifty ways.

 I have learned...

 What is just a poor attitude and what is overwhelming,

The proper balance between too much structure and not enough.

How to be a mom and not a therapist.

What is the perfect amount of Christmas presents.

How to realistically let go, but still hold hope for the future.

That sometimes growth occurs with age.

And most importantly.... how to accept our thief.

Learning our thief, accepting him, and not feeling his pressure has provided an ease to our lives.

It feels good.

Really good.

Really, freaking good.

Friends and family that comment on my blog often say they feel like I am writing for myself.

That this is my therapy.

This is true.

I think I needed to write. I needed to express all the fear, hope, frustration, joy, worry, and all the complex feelings that come with raising a special needs child.

Lately, though, I feel that Autism is here running in the background.

It just is.

Somedays blaring and in my face, but most of the time just hanging out in the background like the forgotten apps running on your iPhone.

For seven years my life has been consumed by autism.

Being in denial

Receiving Mr. M's diagnosis


Pulling out of my grief and using it as a fuel to find the proper therapist, learning about ABA, learning the program and fighting insurance companies.

Learning school systems and what education will look like to Mr. M.

Advocating and securing a rock solid I.E.P.

To currently maintaining it....with a little curve ball thrown in every now and again, because well that's life.

Somewhere in that completely necessary process, I got lost.

Who I am.

My friends.

What makes me happy.

I'm not saying this for pity, I do not regret one single thing that I did for my son. I am his mother, and I will always fight for him. My driving factor has always been, at the end of the day when I lay my head down to rest, I want to know that I did everything possible for him.

I also firmly believe that raising Mr. M has been the greatest gift of my life. Before having children I would have told you that it is your job to teach them about life, however, after having Mr. M he has taught me more about life in the past seven years than I ever thought possible.

I am grateful for that.

I am honored that I get to be his mother.

I am the lucky one.

However, I also miss some of the old me.

The girl was able to laugh easily.

The girl who carelessly soaked the late night summer sun with friends in the vineyard.

My creative however often Pinterest failed spirit.

So with our thief running like an app in the back of my phone, it's time to shift directions. It's time to take a little bit of the old me, a little bit of the new me, and a little bit of the yet to be known me and find out what makes me well me.

This blog, my space on the internet will shift. Sure there will be autism stuff, but mainly it will be about me. Sharing things that bring me joy, things I am trying to get better at, maybe a little tutorial from now and then, mom stuff, recipes and of course all my Pinterest fails.

No, I won't be running to Italy to eat, India to pray , and Bali to love....but if you're ready to for the totally cliche middle age woman trying to figure her self out...well here we go.

On that note here is a recipe for the most delicious butternut squash soup. Because when it is negative one hundred degrees for weeks on end you make soup, lots of soup.

print recipe

Roasted Butter Nut Squash Soup
A rocking butternut squash soup recipe that is chock filled with veggies and will keep you warm on the coldest of winter days.
  • 1 Butternut squash
  • 2 stocks Celery
  • 2 small Potatoes
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Shallot
  • 32 ozs Veggie Stock
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • 2 T Butter
  • To taste Curry Powder
  • To taste Cinnamon
  • To taste Cayenne Pepper
  • To taste Nutmeg
  • To taste Salt
  • To taste Pepper
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut butternut squash in half and remove the seeds. Coat the squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the squash on the baking sheet with the skin side facing up. Roast for 50 minutes. While the butternut squash roasting, dice the potato, carrot, celery, and shallot into small cubes. In a medium-sized pot melt 2T of butter. Once the butter is melted add in the shallot. Cook the shallot until slightly soft. Next add the potatoes, carrot, and celery over the medium-high heat. Add to taste curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Cook the shallot, potatoes, carrot, and celery mix for five minutes. Watch carefully to ensure the butter doesn't burn. Pour the veggie stock into the pot. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes.Pull the butternut squash out of the oven and let cool.Using a slotted spoon scoop out the shallot, potato, celery, and carrot mixture from the pot and place into a food processor, blender, or preferred blending method. Do not discard the veggie stock. Blend the mixture. Add the roasted squash to the food processor. Blend the shallot, potato, celery, carrot mixture into the squash. Slowly add the veggie stock into the food processor. Keep adding in stock until you have reached your desired consistency.Taste, if underseasoned add any additional spices you enjoy
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings