Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer 2014 - The Lofty Goals (ish)

It's the last day of school!!!!! As always, I have mixed emotions about that. For any of you out there raising kids on the autism spectrum you know that even though the slower pace of summer and lack of homework is something we all love, the lack of routine that comes with it can be hard on our kids.  Because of that I have always felt a need to plan, be organized and generally put our entire summer on a schedule.  Not so much this year.  The kids are getting older.  They are fun to hang out with and have conversations with.  They can learn new skills and participate in things that benefit our entire household (yes, I'm really talking about chores).  I suppose the biggest difference is that I realize my time with them is short.  They are growing up so fast and I don't want ot schedule away our time together.  I want to make memories and have them grow up and say summers were a time they had fun with Mom. (Not summers were a time when Mom went crazy trying to keep us on a schedule that we had no say in and didn't really enjoy.) So, below is the general plan for the summer.  Some of you may laugh, but I do ensure you that this plan is definitely less structured and rigid than it usually is.  I'm not even making my schedule spreadsheet in excel this year.  I think we call that progress.

Mom: Goals/plan for myself include things that will improve both my health and the general functioning of the household. 
  • I may work some (I should know more about that by this afternoon), but it will not be the 8:30-2:00 twice a week deal I have done the last couple of years.  Instead I may work a handful of hours once or twice a week as needed for special projects.
  • I will be spending a significant amount of time at the gym.  I should be there right now, but this was my last chance to come back home to a quiet house so I'm enjoying the solitude and silence before I go in to work for a bit late this morning.  For me the school year = mostly maintain and summer = pushing forward. I wan tot be stronger and leaner by the end of the summer.  Same goal I had last summer and I'm really ok with that.  For a new challenge I am adding cycling to the mix in my workout routine so we will see how that goes.
  • Recreate the habit of meal planning.  I used to plan meals a month at a time.  When Easy took the job he has now it shifted our pay schedule, which shifted my grocery shopping routine, and meal planning got lost in the shuffle.  Knowing that I will likely be working one more day a week than I did this school year come fall, I really need to get back into this habit.  When I don't plan we eat too much pizza.
  • Teach the kids......more on that in the kids sections.
  • Spend time playing with my children.  They aren't little anymore, but I realize now that we can still play.  I can watch Doctor Who with Paris, I can play catch with Vivi and play board games with Tripp.  We can swim and watch movies and do the giant jigsaw puzzle I bought for us to work on all summer.  I'm not so great with Tripp's video games, or with Vivi's Zoobles, and I really don't have a clue about Paris' Minecraft, but I can find a way to spend time and bond with each kiddo and that is my #1 goal for the summer.
Dad:  Seriously, I'm not stupid.  I don't make goals for my husband during the summer.  He still works.  Instead we will as a family enjoy having him off on Fridays and endeavor to engage him in whatever activities we can over the summer.  It won't be hard.  He's a pretty awesome daddy and husband.

Kids: While my #1 goal is bonding in fun ways with the kids, they may not actually see that as my priority.  These munchkins seem to be having a hard time with the concept of growing up = more responsibility.  So, yes, we will have fun, but there is work to do as well.  Much to their chagrin, the general rule around here is work first then play.
  • June will be busy in the mornings.  Tripp & Vivi are taking some enrichment classes from 8-11 everyday, and Paris has Keyboarding from 7:45-11:15.  This helps to extend a little bit of that routine that my aspies need to keep their world sane, and it helps prevent hitting the "I'm bored" wall before the end of June.  June also holds a return to the ticket system for screen time.  It is effective and gives everyone a fair chance to play their games without going overboard and fighting over who gets what.  They will hate it, I will love it.
  • Tripper will be taking some swim lessons if I can get the schedule to work out.  My goals for him are to help him understand that he needs to fold all of the towels, not just 10 at a time, increase his efficiency in cleaning his room, and teach him to change the sheets on his bed by himself.  I have a little tiny bit of academic work for him to do in July and August so he doesn't forget what schoolwork is.  He is truly the lowest maintenance kid I have.  (And yes, I realize that on paper he should be the most challenging - but he's not.) Oh, and he is gong to Mega Days (church camp) for the first time!
  • Vivi has a number of things to work on this summer.  Her tournament softball team will of course keep practicing and attend some tournaments. (Go Blaze!) In addition to her enrichment classes she will be doing some academic practice at home and likely working with a tutor on some math skills.  She will also be doing some swim lessons if the schedule works out, and I think she will be going to Little Belle Camp.  As far as household involvement, Vivi will be working on putting away her laundry and cleaning her room without help from Mom.  I would love to add some new things to her list, but the truth is if we can master what is already on her list and eliminate the fits and grumpys she tends to throw during the process then I'm going to call it a HUGE success!
  • Paris will be going to Mega Days, have AMCMS dance team dance camp, attend Little Belle Camp, and take some private flute lessons.  Her main household goal for the summer is to actually submit to the system that is in place and be held accountable for it.  It is more about attitude and distraction than anything, so we will be working hard on how to get the work done in the most efficient manner so that she can relax and have the optimal amount of fun.  So simply in theory....
So there you go, that's the plan-ish. We are taking a family vacation to Galveston at the end of June. We plan to finish the upstairs game room.  We are going to have weekly science fun days with my best friend and her kids. We are going to swim as much as we can. We are turning off the electronic games at 7pm so we can do stuff together as a family.  We will have family movie night every week. And let's not forget that we will be raising a new little puppy in the midst of it all!  I think it's going to be a great summer, and for the first time in a really long time, I am absolutely looking forward to it!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Year Later

A year ago, on the last week at school, I sat at a table at Cracker Barrel with my best friend and cried like a crazy person.  That's not true.  Crazy people yell and scream and wail. I didn't do that, but I cried.  Maybe I even ugly cried.  I was making one of the most difficult decisions of my adult life.  I was deciding that it was time to let go of Cowboy. 

For those of you who are new to me and my family I guess I should explain.  Cowboy was our rat terrier.  Best. Dog. Ever.  Easy and I got Cowboy within the first month of our marriage.  Easy's dad bred rat terriers so we knew Cowboy's parents (Buddy & Corky) well.  He was the epitome of a pet that is really a family member.  He was almost 15 when we let him go.  He had congestive heart failure and arthritis.  We had him on meds for about two years there at the end, but we had reached the point that even on the meds he clearly didn't feel well.  He wasn't going to get better.  So I made the decision.

Don't get me wrong, Easy was in agreement.  I'm pretty sure he even called and talked to vet before actually making the appointment to make sure we were making a good choice.  But it felt like my decision.  Easy would NEVER have pushed me to let him go if I wasn't ready.  He never even mentioned it.  I came to the decision in my own time (with some verbal processing assistance from my mom, my best friend, and Easy) and he simply held me, cried with me, and handled the details. I sure love that man.

So, why am I writing about this a year later?  Well, first it's because I wasn't blogging a year ago. Second, it's because I need a break from cleaning my room. I hate cleaning my room.  Always have.  I'm pretty sure I genetically passed that trait on to both of my girls.  But the reason I'm cleaning my room is actually the third reason I'm writing about this now....

We are getting a new puppy next weekend!  Did that sound excited?  I was going for excited.  Truth is I'm pretty mixed on this one.  Am I ready for a new puppy with all it's cuteness and puppy breath and snuggles?  Absolutely.  Am I ready to watch my kids bond with a pet that they can all know and love from it's infancy to adulthood?  Yep.  Am I ready for Briley (our 6 year old Vizsla) to have a buddy dog again because she has gotten increasingly neurotic over the last year?  You better believe it.  Am I ready to give my heart to a precious little critter knowing full well the heartache I will endure when it's time to say goodbye.  Meh.

Is that terrible? I didn't even realize I was feeling that way until I started cleaning my room today.  We were supposed to puppy sit a friend's new weiner dog this weekend.  She changed her mind at the last minute (didn't want to be away from her baby) and I realized that was actually good because our house is nowhere near puppy-proof at the moment.  So I'm working hard to get it de-cluttered and ready for a little chewing, peeing, ball of cuteness.  I think seeing how totally in love with her puppy she is made me realize that I'm about to do that again.  I'm about to adopt another member into our family.  One that I know will ultimately break my heart, and the heart of my kids.  That's just how it works.

Is it worth it?  I think so.  There is so much joy and laughter that will happen along the way.  It will be especially awesome to watch Tripp with this particular pet.  He just in the last year start to have any interest in our pets and he showed it most with two kittens.  (Please don't ask what happened to the kittens.  That would be a whole separate blog post.) It seems he likes baby animals.  My hope is that getting to help raise a puppy will help him in his ability to emotional bond with others.  I've read lots of things that describe how beneficial raising a pet is for a child with autism.  The girls are ecstatic about a new puppy and the hardest part I see there is keeping them from fighting over it.  That, and keeping Vivi from injuring it with her overzealous love.  It's going to be worth it.  It's going to be great.  It's going to be work.  It will provide new parenting opportunities.  It will help increase the nurturing skills of all three kids.  It will try my patience.  It will add a HUGE dose of love to our house.  Yeah, it will ultimately ads some heartache too, but that's ok.  Loss is part of life on this fallen planet.

Being a person that does not grieve well, I realize that teaching my kids how to deal with loss is an important part of raising them.  I've had more opportunities than I would prefer to work on that with them. Most recently we worked on that lesson when the precious man that led our children's church each Sunday was killed in a work related accident.  As I'm sitting there typing I realize that Earle would get a new puppy. He would embrace all the love and joy that God gives us in this life.  He would use it to teach the kids that God gives and God takes away and that it all works for good.  Everything good comes from the Lord.  Puppy breath included.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hello? Anyone Reading?

It's been almost two years since I typed a blog post.  Life has been busy.  Towards the end of last summer I felt strongly compelled to start blogging again.  I didn't actually do it, but I felt the need to start writing again.  I kept making excuses about not having time and blamed the kids for dominating every electronic device in my house.  Maybe my phone was free, but really, who wants to blog from their phone? I asked for a laptop for Christmas.  That wasn't exactly in the budget.  No blogging for me I thought.  Easy excuse.

Yesterday was Mother's Day.  My husband gave me a Surface Pro2.  Well, it's a combo gift for Mother's Day and birthday.  It's mine.  I don't have to share.  The kids will never touch it.  I can start a blog post any stinking time I want.  Maybe not at work, that might get me fired.  Excuses gone.  Time to write.  Expect some obligatory catch up posts, then we will see where this takes us.... I'm out of practice so be patient.