Showing posts from 2016

Surviving in darkness, reaching for light: The toll of depression.

I would have never even given a second thought that I'd still be battling depression 5 years after originally being diagnosed.
I started treatment and felt great for a couple of years.
Now, I *thought* I was doing well the 3 years after that.  I didn't recognize the slip again.  The slip into depression's waves and tides, the grasp it takes and slowly pulls you down, is often subtle and unnoticed until someone or something makes you take notice.

This has got to be one of the hardest posts I have ever done, one of the most heartbreaking for me.

There was no one moment, one day, one week where suddenly I was swimming in the depths trying to reach the top.  It was a slow dissent.  A thought here, a misread conversation there, an over analyzed look from someone, small situations, all that began eating away at simple sanity again.
I wanted to believe that the first time around, the medication treatment, and the attention to it that my mind was brought to, would 'cure' it an…

Marbles as friends.

I stood at the sink absent-mindedly doing dishes.   A million thoughts running through my head of upcoming doctor visits, blood draws, back to school shopping, grocery lists. 
I'm on auto-pilot as David comes into the kitchen.
DAVID: "Mom, have you seen my marble that was on the breakfast bar?"
ME: "Yes I put it in the basket when I was cleaning."
DAVID: "There it is.  I painted a face on it mom."
ME: "Yeah I saw that!  It was cute."
DAVID: "I did it because I don't have any friends, so I made one."

Then he hurried off back to his room and I began hearing the clank of marbles.
I stopped doing dishes and absorbed what he just head.  My heart broke again for him, my eyes filled with tears and all the issues associated with Autism came flooding back, as it does almost daily.
A feeling of loneliness and friendlessness is common among ASD children.  David is no different.  His social awkwardness drives many away.  He doesn't mean too.  …

In tragedy love and acceptance can be born. Lesson learned.

I don't think there is anyone in the USA that has not heard about the terrible tragedy that occurred in Orlando this past week.  No doubt everyone's heart was touched and saddened.  The tragedy transcends beyond politics, beyond religions, beyond differences that divide us [or at least it should and did often!]
I was touched and am touched by the outpouring of love and service to the families and loved ones left behind from those who have similarities, from those that have differences, from the most unlikely places.  I have LOVED reading those stories. 

We've tried to instill in our sons that we love all, we accept all, we do not judge.  This tragedy has been a door to educate and show them even further, how we are called and meant to love.  As human beings, all connected, it is important, MANDATORY that we love.  We should love!
Children have real feelings, they have questions, they want to know why.  I don't hid much from my sons.  When they ask, I try to be as honest …

Terrariums, Nature, clay, & Chemo. Oh my!

June has arrived with a hot roar.  Florida temperatures are soaring into the 90s and the end of the school year is here!
It has been quite the journey this school year and the adventure continues.

Aaron is doing fabulous at Babson Park Elementary.  This coming week is their final 3.5 days and it's packed with fun for the students, from a School Fair to a Fairy Tale Bowl.  He's also scheduled to attend 4 weeks [4 days a week], a 3rd grade enrichment program at the school.  It's a half day program and will begin introducing him to the third grade. 

David has pretty much wrapped up his first official homeschool term.  He began at the end of April.  The 2016-17 academic year will be his first full year homeschool.
He's excited about the coming year as his textbooks have begun arriving.  He was especially excited when his National Geographic Earth Science book arrived! 

The biggest reason, as you all know, to homeschool is due to his health.  His ITP has been relentless and t…

My other son: Have I told you how wonderful he is?

I'm talking about my youngest, Aaron Preston.  He'll be 8 in a little over a month and he is so excited.

He talks everyday about his birthday, about how he wants a Lorax theme, about the legos he wants, the friends he wants to invite.
He's my happy go lucky kid.  My boy with a sense of humor.  He's the one that will go outside early in the morning and come dragging in at dusk, covered with dirt, telling about his fun day out playing.
He's my sensitive soul, my very giving child, perceptive, loving, feisty, spirited, and full of hugs.

He's always slipping me cards and notes, little gifts he makes out of random beads he finds.  He's almost always so understanding of David and my often preoccupation with him and all the issues.

With that, I confess that I'm pretty sure I've failed him as a parent. 
I feel like I don't spend as much time with him as I should.  I feel like at times I'm harder on him.  I tend to not realize what he may be feeling or go…

I am sorry for not being what you wanted.

Yes, you've read that right. 
I'm sorry.  I am giving you my apologies.  Even though it troubles me and leaves an impression on my heart, I still give them to you.
Who?  Who is 'you'? 
'You' are those people who, over the months and years have decided to distance themselves from me.  To no longer talk with me.  To be content to just hear or read [you have to love the age of social media], what's going on in my life, yet stay at arms length.
Yes, I've noticed.  I've noticed it as I've grown in my own life, in my own views, in my faith in the Christ I follow. 
Though there is a spiritual aspect to this, at the same time it is so much more.  It is the conflict of being who I am, even if it means losing friendships over it.

I used to be someone else.  Someone who thought differently, who perhaps acted different.  Who was certain the world was black and white and everything had an answer. 
There are times I wish I could go back to that, only because of …

Mozart, Still Life, & the three Rs of schooling!

A week has come and gone for David in his new adventure.   It has been interesting testing the waters and finding the groove that works for him. 
One of the aspects often of Autism is the need for routine.  Without it, David seems to have more meltdowns, he becomes anxious.

So I decided to have a routine from the time he got up until we were finished with the focused learning for the day.
Our schooling day looks something like this:

*Wake-up & breakfast
*Dressed & teeth brushed [I find it works best if he "officially" still gets dressed to "go"]
*Free time until 7:30am, then school is in session!
*Daily free reading time [from a variety of science, social studies, or history books.]
*Math time [which includes 2 lessons from a workbook and chalkboard work.
*Science which is a mix of reading lessons, written work, and lab.
*Social Studies
*Language Arts [which includes writing & spelling.  Often this crosses over with science & social studies depending on stor…

A dream realized! Finally our one room school house!

These last couple of months have been one of reflection, evaluation, research, and most of all a heart for my children.  I would have never dreamed how very precious, unique, and different 2 children could be.  How what works for one does not for the other.  One child will remain in public school, while the other child will be homeschooled!  Years ago I blogged about our one room schoolhouse.  Mainly it was done during the summer time time when regular school was out.  I was working then so that's the only time I had plus it kept the boys busy.  Now I am so thrilled that I'll be able to actually homeschool in "real school time".

So on the subject of two siblings being so different:  I have my feisty, fierce, stubborn, sensitive, loving, and extroverted 7 year old, Aaron.   He does not like being alone!  From birth, he knew, I mean he KNEW when I stepped out of the room.  Instant screaming.  The child had GREAT lungs!  I remember at just a few months old when they sti…

Aaron's Earth Day gift to his classmates! Let the wildflowers bloom!

I know I've shared before how my children love Earth Day, and they love crafts!
 Especially my youngest son Aaron.  He's the resident artist.  You could buy him crayons, tablets, paints, anything artsy, during every shopping trip and he'd be perfectly happy.

Well for Earth Day, after having made recycled paper with their Bill Nye kit, he decided he wanted to make it for his class.  Then we read you could add flower seeds into it!
So that's what we did.  They simply have to plant the biodegradable paper, keep it moist, and watch it grow! 
We printed out a cute quote from "The Lorax" with planting instructions and put it all in a ziplock bag.  He will hand it out on Earth Day!
You can easily make recycled paper.  Just Google "easy paper making" or something similar.  You really don't need much.

And it's a cheap craft!  

Essentially you need:
Paper [newspaper, tissue paper, construction paper, copy paper]
Big bowl
food coloring [optional]

Lessons from Bill Nye for my own science guys!

We love Earth Day in our home!  Especially when the boys can get messy. learn something new, and help save the trees!

All week Aaron has been reading me his library book The Lorax.  And we've been watching the old school 1972 cartoon of the book.
They both really get the idea of speaking for nature because "trees have no tongues". 

Our good friends Brooke and Mitch gave the boys a Bill Nye Paper Recycling Factory.  So this past week, we worked on recyling old paper into new!  

The process is easy, but time consuming.  And you can do so much with it.
During this first run we recycled  a lot of our old tissue paper we've had put up from past gifts.  They were perfect colors, green and white!

From making the pulp, to grinding, to using deckles, to drying, the boys LOVED it!
And we talked about what else we can do next time we make a batch. 
We're going to make biodegradable wildflower paper!
Making up the pulp and adding in a wildflower seed mix during the deckling pro…

Celebrating Earth Day "Month"! Nightlights, robots, & recycled paper.

I love Earth Day!  I've loved every since I heard about it and stumbled upon an Earth Day Birthday celebration Almost 25 years ago!

At the time I was living in Dayton, Ohio and often went Downtown to shop at the now defunct department stores.  [Aww memories, but that is another post.]
One April day, as I headed to Elder Beerman, going through the Court Yard, I noticed this festival.  Unsure of what it was I stopped at the various booths to check out what was going on.
To be honest, this was the first time I ever even realized that we needed to care for the earth.  Sad but true.  The movement was gaining big momentum back then [It started in 1970], and I credit that festival for helping to open my eyes. 
I have to admit I'm not doing as much as I could, or as much as I have in the past. 
But maybe it's time to revisit some of the things I used to do. 
I know as I've grown older, learned more about my own ancestral roots, and had children, I've realized that truly it is…

Did I ever tell you the story....

I remember so vividly the moment I met my oldest son’s soul in a dream.  The dream began in a foggy darkness with my best friend and I walking along a lone sidewalk.   Ahead of us I began to see a bit of light, not sunlight but some kind of pale light.  As we drew closer I saw a tall streetlamp, with its artificial light casting a triangle type beam of light down through the fog onto the sidewalk.  There beneath the streetlight a child stood with his back to us and hands in pocket.  Walking past the child I looked at him.  He had an adorable face, with glasses and this kind of bowl shaped haircut.   I turned to my friend and said, “When I have son, he will look like that little boy.”  At that moment the little boy turned towards me, looked up, and said “Hi mom!”  Something deep in my being knew instantly that I had met my future son.
I woke up filled with a sense of peace and wonder.  My husband and I were not trying to conceive at that point, rather we were about a month and half from…

When no one knocks on the door.

The knocks come on the door.
"Can Aaron come out and play?"
Often, and with joy!

But the knocks rarely come for David.  I take that back, occasionally they do come.  Usually preceded first by seeing if Aaron can play.  If he can't, or he's busy, they sometimes ask for David.  Sometimes.  But he's rarely a first thought.
And this shatters my heart in a million pieces.

I want to say I get it.  I want to say I somewhat understand.  But another part of me wants to say it shouldn't be that way.  He's just a child, and he wants to play and be included as well.

That can be the heartbreaking part of children with special needs. 
David is quarky, he's loud, he doesn't understand personal space, he has a hearty laugh, he may laugh at inappropriate times, he may add to the conversation, but not in the way one would expect. 
He'll believe you if you joke with him and say you're taking over the world.  He's deathly afraid of bugs so he'll get scared …

How do you pick a leader?

This morning at Palm Sunday Service, I learned something old, that was like learning something new! Yes that can happen. You can hear something a thousand times, yet it may not "click" until one day when...
I will say in today's societal climate, this can true whether we share the same faith or not. At one point in the reading from the Christian Holy Scriptures, a few that were followers of Jesus wanted to resort to violence to silence His [Jesus] protesters. In the blink of an eye, one cut off the ear of a protester. Jesus told them that it would stop RIGHT NOW! Basically that he'd have none of that, that it wasn't the way to spread his His message essentially. And then Jesus did something even more amazing. He HEALED this protester. An ear restored. It would be interesting to know more on the story of the protestor, what became of him. But we don't know. What we do know and what we learned in that instant is that the mark of GREAT and CARING leade…

The Sound of Music!

[ David, Dec. 2009, 3 years old ]
Lately [and by lately I mean months, and months, and months, and...well you get the picture], David has been singing Opera.  His whole life is in Opera style right now. 
If he needs to brush his teeth.
It's act one of the morning Opera!
Take a bath?
Closing act..."BAAATTHH TIMMMEEE!!!!" 
Do homework? 
Okay maybe he doesn't sing then, he just grumbles like an old man.

And as much as it can get on my ever loving nerves, a part of me is so thankful that he does it!  Even at 6am!

Christmas Season 2009. 
This year will forever stand out to me.  Now I adore Christmas.  It's my favorite holiday, so every year is stands out.  However this one?  This one is when everything changed. 
David sang for the first time! 

Now I know what you are thinking.  Okay, kids sing, so what made this one special? 
It was special because honestly, I never thought he'd sing.  I never even thought he's really talk, let alone make music!]
On the language fro…

Autism, food battles, & fish sticks!

It is no secret that children with autism quite often struggle with food.  Look, smells, texture, taste, all play a part.  Their scope of what they will eat can be small and concentrated in one group.  Pastas, sweets, salty, etc. Food is an area where I started noticing that David had struggles from an early age.  With purees, I offered a wide variety of foods and often, since it takes an average of 15 times for an infant to acquire a taste of something.
No matter how many times over the course of about 10 months in the puree stage, he never would get used to vegetables most fruits, and meats.
Mainly he loved oatmeal, applesauce, peaches, and macaroni and cheese purees. 
It was incredibly frustrating.  When I tried introducing more textured food as he matured, he HATED them.  He gagged on most things that infants and toddlers love.  Those puffs?  Not so much!  Little crackers.  No way!  He did love the cheese puff like Gerber Graduates.  He would eat those.  And Cheerios.  He finally got…