Your Guess

It’s been pretty quiet on the autism front in the Herd household this year, thank the good Lord. I said it earlier this year, but it’s worth saying again….we desperately needed a quiet, drama-free year for our Little Man. Last year was dreadful, draining, overwhelming, awful. But you know in the wonderful world of autism, there are lots and lots of roadblocks, speed bumps, dips, turns, and storms. They’re not unexpected, but still disappointing when they happen.

Little Man has almost five weeks left of school. Good golly – that just sucks, especially as the bigs are out in two weeks. He knows the end is near. They’re in the middle of the standardized testing. He wants it over with quickly. Routine has been busted a bit at school because of the testing, but he’s also aware the end of the year is coming,  which means an even bigger routine bust. He does not do well with changes in, nor lack of, routine. I see his anxiety levels rising. I see some old behaviors returning. I see less tolerance and patience from him.

I’ve had a couple emails from his SAI at school letting me know he’s pushing back on work, he’s spending more time out of the classroom again, he’s pacing, his breathing is elevated. She wanted to know if I had any clue why this  might be happening. Uh, nope. Your guess is as good as mine. I could point to any number of things, but there doesn’t seem to be one thing we can say, “Yes, that’s what’s making him behave this way right now.”

We keep reminding him of his tools. We keep reminding him what he’s capable of. We keep reminding him the many successes he’s had this year. None of that changes whatever’s going on in his head, nor how he deals with life. So we do what we can at home. They do what they can at school. We pray this is just a blip and not a sign of long-term struggles.

I know better than to borrow trouble, but next year is his last year of middle school. There’s a new building with classrooms for the 8th graders. They will do things a bit differently for 8th grade than he has in sixth and seventh. He will have to participate in his IEP meetings. And the transition to high school will start. He knows it’s coming. I can’t help but think that may be hanging over him a bit, even though it’s in the distance. I know it’s hanging over me.

So we hang on for the ride the remainder of this school year, hoping this is just a temporary dip. But as for what the root cause is of this particular dip, your guess is as good as mine. And thus goes life on autism street.

Limping toward the finish line

We are, literally and figuratively, limping toward the finish line of this school year. God, it’s been a rough one. I thought last year was bad. Apparently this year saw last year and said, “Here, hold my beer.” This Herd is DONE. Toast. Finis. Exhausted. Drained. And oh yeah, I am limping.

You see, two days after the Bigs finish school, Big Man and I will run the Rock n Roll Half in San Diego again. My training was a bit derailed last week. I headed out for a four-mile easy run Thursday. I immediately felt pain in the left side of my left knee, and my left Achilles tightened up too. I tried to work through it, slowed down, and then stopped to stretch, but it just hurt. I made it all of .88 miles before I caved. At just over four weeks til race day, I wasn’t going to risk injury. And it really freaking hurt.

I hate when I have to stop a run because of pain. My whole day goes downhill. I was able to get out and finish four miles on Friday morning, but it wasn’t easy. There wasn’t any pain, but there was discomfort. I had to mentally fight to the end. Same happened on this morning’s 5-mile easy run. I was super slow, my muscles didn’t loosen up until mile 3. I will admit, I was tense, afraid the pain from last Thursday would return. I’m so not where I want to be mentally and emotionally with running right now. I’m afraid for this race, afraid I’ve put too much pressure on myself. I’m a little scared.

As for school…we’re usually beat up by this point. That’s nothing new. What is new is the level of being drained we are all at. It’s bad. The Bigs have four more weeks of school – 18 more school days. Big Man just finished the second of two AP exams this morning. The Princess has hers this Friday. In a few weeks, they face final exams. Blessedly they don’t seem to have the level of end-of-school-year projects they’ve had in recent years, thank the  Good Lord. It’s been a brutal year for both of them – academically for Big Man, socially and emotionally for P. We’re all ready to be done, to put this year behind us, chalk it up to life lessons and growing pains, and kiss it goodbye. Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out, 16/17 school year.

Little Man has 6.5 weeks of school. Yep, you read that right. He isn’t out until June 20th. I can’t remember when my kids were in school that late – past my birthday this year. Insanity. That’s 18 days AFTER the older two finish. Utterly ridiculous. I’ve been whining about it since the calendar was released last year. Then, get this, because they are aligning the middle and elementary school calendar with the  high school calendar, he will have just eight weeks of summer, as opposed to ten or eleven. Again, absolutely ridiculous.

He’s struggling right now, again. His SAI sent me an email the other day he’s back to leaving the classroom quite a bit again, spending a significant amount of time in the great room rather than in his class, doing what he’s supposed to be doing. She said he seems more stressed but he can’t express why. We have seen an increase in his anxiety level at home. I have no idea what the source is for his stress. He does tend to go a little sideways the closer we get to the end of the school year, but who knows.

I have no energy. I’m tired. I’m over the morning routine and homework battles. I’m tired of thinking about carpools, 6am cheer, and test scores. The kids are tired too.

You know, some years we come sliding across that finish line with a bang. We’re beat up, but we fight to the end. We might make it by the skin of our teeth, phoning it in on whatever we can. But this year, we’re limping. It’ll be a close thing. I know we’ll get there, but it ain’t gonna be pretty.

One. More. Day.

Little Man starts school on Wednesday – yes, a full ten days after his siblings started. Let me tell ya, it’s been a LONG eight days. He thought it would be so cool to still have a week and a half left of summer. Yeah, not so much. By day two, he was crying by early afternoon, wanting his brother and sister home. It didn’t help I was busy with work and couldn’t cater to him all day. Blessedly, his besties have still been on summer as well. He figured out quickly it isn’t awesome being the only one home all day.

I’m ready for him to go back. Yes, I dread the fact they’re all three growing  up so quickly, and I miss the early days of preschool and school. But he needs structure back. I need those six-point-five hours a day to maintain my own sanity. I love summer – beach trips, vacations, time with family, the break from routine, the lack of homework battles, the later, relaxed nights. But I know I am a bit better mom when we all have some time away from each other during the day.

Little Man has been struggling the last week or so. Impending routine change will always do that, and I don’t know why I always forget that  until we’re well into the tears, meltdowns, and outbursts. All of the sudden, a lightbulb will go off in my mind, and I think, “Oh, yeah, routine change is coming, which means anxiety and stress for him.” As much as I knew I needed to warn his teachers towards the end of the school year, I needed my own warning towards the end of summer.

We have one more day. He will do okay the first few days, maybe the first two weeks. Then the wheels will fall off, until he’s fully adjusted back to the school routine. Every year I pray it will be different. Who knows….maybe this will be that year. But we have one more day to get through first. And trust me, tomorrow will totally suck.  Sleep will not come easily tomorrow night. There will be battles and tears most of the day. And once I drop him off Wednesday morning, he and I will both breath a short-lived sigh of relief.

Summer, Unmedicated

I’ve been asked frequently lately how summer is going for Little Man. My fast response is, “Great!” but then I usually end up qualifying. I decided, about a week into summer, I wasn’t going to fight it. He had a miserable year much of last school year. We’re both exhausted. So he’s pretty much been allowed to do what he wants to do each day, which involves a lot of screen time.  He isn’t just playing video games, nor watching YouTube videos of other gamers playing video games. He’s been making his own videos, and creating a lot on Minecraft and Lego Create.  And he’s not by himself – our house has been boy-central most of the summer, with two particular friends hanging out nearly every day. So he’s engaged, and he’s happy. I do force him out of his comfort zone on a fairly regular basis, but I haven’t rocked the boat much. We’ve spent five days in Palm Springs, gone to the movies to see Dory (more on that later), taken a few beach trips.

He asked to go off his ADHD meds for the summer. I didn’t think too long about that one. His ADHD is completely different from that of his brother, so it’s not a huge deal to leave him unmedicated when he isn’t expected to focus on classroom schedules, rules, and activities. He’s at a critical growth point, too. Taking him off the meds leaves his appetite at that of a normal 12-year-old. He is more outgoing, engages in more conversations, unmedicated. We’ve had multiple comments on it. That kind of hurts. Here’s why – when he has to focus for hours on end on something other than his screens, he is incapable without his medicine. Also, what most people don’t see is his struggle to maintain his emotions without his medicine. Yes,  he’s more outgoing, talking more, but there are also more tearful sessions, more angry outbursts. He goes swings from one end to the other on the emotion scale within seconds. I see it, because I’m with him 24/7.

So his summer has been pretty great, 90% of the time. He’s had lots of sleepovers (all here, though as he still doesn’t like to spend the night at someone else’s house). He’s had a ton of friend time. He’s in his element – and I have computer parts and screens and cables ALL OVER my family room. But  he’s happy, content. I’ll take that. In a few weeks, we will have to start re-focusing and preparing for the new school year. Until then, he eats, he plays, he talks, and he’s unmedicated.

Friday Favorites 5.27.16

The countdown is seriously on, as noted yesterday.  Every minute of having to be a good school mom is sheer torture at this point. The end is in sight…..even though high school sport and dance will continue through the summer, we will have two glorious months off from carpools (carpool lines, idiots who still don’t know how to properly manage carpool lines), homework, backpacks laying in the floor, and weekly come-to-Jesus moments with the Big over accountability and actually handing in the homework he’s done. While we won’t have lazy, sleep-in mornings or regular beach days (we’ll be lucky to get beach afternoons), we will get something of a break from routine.

Given my current level of creative motivation, you’re lucky I read anything today, outside of the trashy novel I’m currently, momentarily, forcing myself away from. I did manage to pull it together for a little while this afternoon, and find some jewels to share this sunshiney Friday.

  • Yes, I’m nearing the end of a training cycle. Wahooo! We run the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon on June 5th. Sarah’s post, Mommy Doesn’t Quit, really spoke to me today. I run because I love the way I feel when I’m running, and the way I feel when I’m done. I run half marathons because I truly feel like I’ve accomplished something, and because, when I started running races, it was entirely out of my comfort zone. I  need my kids to see me doing things that scare me. I need my daughter to see me being a strong woman, and a healthy momma. Sarah says it way better than I just did. Go check it out. She’s an inspiring person who happens to be a badass running momma.
  • Geoff’s post at TanGental cracked me up today. He’s good at that. My married name gets massacred on a regular basis. Do you have a  name people can’t seem to get right?
  • I had to learn how to count money back in first grade. No lie. We had a pretend town in our classroom, and each student had a job. There was a grocery store, a post office, a flower shop, a courthouse, a library, and a police and fire station. We used fake money, and learned to count change. Then I worked retail in college. Yes, the register would normally tell us how much change to give back, but we HAD to count it back to the customers. Where did that skill go anymore? Very few people seem to be capable of it anymore. Joey  of Joeyfully Stated shares her experiences, and her opinion on the matter. Make sure you read all the way to the end – there’s a fun reward if you make it through.
  • Linda of Nutsrok tells it like it is when it comes to Vacation Men/Women   I actually dream of nights being home alone. Don’t get me wrong – I deeply love my family. But oh to eat, drink, watch, read what I want without disruptions, distractions, judgement, and noise…aaaaaaahhhhhhh..Maybe it’s time to send Spouse and the kids off on a camping weekend without me……
  • Sharing this one from A Small Press Life because, dessert.
  • Wins for kids with autism make my day. Over at findingcoopersvoice, there’s good stuff going on. Go cheer him, and his momma, on.
  • Your animal cuteness for the week is my cat, Willie. He’s had himself a banner week, bringing in not one, but two dead birds the other day, leaving half of a mouse in my entryway, and chasing three lizards into the house. Maybe I’ll start a “least favorite pet for the week” count/post. Anyway, this is Willie, keeping watch over the neighborhood from our courtyard wall.

Willie neighborhood watch

Happy Weekend everyone!

Single digits, folks

Nine. More. School. Days. NINE!!!!!!!! Well, let me clarify….Big Man has just three left. Yeah, our high school district and middle/elementary districts cannot seem to get on the same page. Trust me, it totally blows. But I digress.

I’m barely making it. The school nurse called yesterday morning – Little Man had a headache and upset stomach. No fever. I didn’t argue – just got in my car and picked him up. He’s home again today. Still no fever, just a general not-feeling-good kind of feeling. He is a bit pasty, I’ll give him that. I just didn’t have the energy to argue with him this morning. There are days I think how I would feel to have to sit at a desk, surrounded by kids, trying to learn, while feeling totally icky. That was my thought this morning. I wouldn’t want to do it, so why would I make him suffer through that? If this were October, or even March, he’d totally be at school. Late May? Forget it.

I think we’re done with school projects. I’m praying we’re done with school projects. If I have to go to Michael’s or Staples to get one more tri-fold, I might lose it completely. Thank goodness 8th grade doesn’t have any “days” like sixth and seventh grade – no Greek Olympics, no Renaissance Fairs, no Colonial Days for 8th grade. We’re done with all that. Can I get an Amen?! My creativity is tapped out, for real.

The most depressing thing going through my head right now is that summer will not bring any respite. Cheerleading continues, Monday through Friday, at 6am. I kid you not. Then Big Man has cross country 9am – 11am, Monday through Friday. Ballerinas do  not get summers off, so we will continue at the studio five days a week, with recital at the end of July. I WANT TO SLEEP IN!!! My summer is being held hostage by high school sports. We’re trying desperately to figure out when we might be able to squeeze a little vacation time in. It doesn’t look promising. Weeks off from cheer, dance, cross country, and my work events are not coordinating at all. Something will have to give. We need to get away. We need some real summer. There’s no way we’re going to have any kind of energy come the fall and  new school year if we don’t get a break.

But there you have it – we’re down to single digits as far as this school year goes. We’ll get there. It won’t be pretty, but we’ll get there.

Friday Favorites 5.20.16

Oh my blog-world friends…This momma is toast today. We have (respectively) 7 and 13 days of school left. Yes, our high school gets out over a week ahead of our middle schools. I’m exhausted. Beat down. Over it. Done. The worst part though is knowing that summer won’t really bring relief. Cheer practice for the Princess will continue on through the summer, at 6am. I kid you not. Big Man starts cross country (9am – 11am, Monday through Friday) June 20th. And of course dance doesn’t break for summer. Recital is July 22nd and 23rd. No rest for the weary. I’m just sitting here being mad I don’t get to sleep in at all this summer, unless we manage to get away for a few days somewhere in between all the madness.

That being said, here’s my list of Favorites for today.

  • This post at Fabulous With Glitches just made me laugh. That’s been my Friday, spot on. And, I almost puked, and fell off the reformer, in Pilates class today. Bonus!
  • Shannon, Running Sunflower, had this to say about hills today. I love this post for soooooooo many reasons. A) The race I’m running in two weeks has a couple of gnarly hills, but it’s an awesome course and I’m really looking forward to it. B) Life has had its own share of hills lately. I love her line at the end, “And every hill — each and every one — has a top.” Beautifully written, Shannon!
  • I’ve been weepy as heck lately, and coming home stories ALWAYS get to me. This one is no exception. We all deserve a feel good moment today, so I’m sharing this one posted by bluebird of bitterness.
  • This is truth right here, and it made me lol. Short but sweet on  Arch Druidess.
  • A Momma’s View lifted up my heart, and made me cry at the same time (sensing a theme here?).  Go…If you don’t click on any of the other links today, click this one. So many people are out there doing battle every day. We are so quick to judge, without knowing anything about them, or what they’re facing. Don’t be the critic or scorekeeper. Cheer them for having the courage to fight.
  • Lastly, your weekly cute animal post. By the way, The Bloggess is a great one to follow. She’s just awesome-sauce.

Oh Lordy – the Princess just got home from school. A boy asked her to the 8th grade dinner dance, which is tomorrow night. Really? The DAY BEFORE???!!! She’s all in a tizzy. #andsoitbegins

What are your plans for the weekend? Any links you care to share?

Happy Friday!