Friday, February 28, 2014

Three Things.

It's been a busy week, with Marty and I going back to work and the kids going to school every day--it would be an understatement to say we've had some trouble getting back into the old routine. I wish I could blame the following three parenting...issues...on our struggle but really, I think they'd probably have happened anyway.  We're entering a new era of parenting around here, I'm thinking. Anyway, three major things have happened this week:

In no particular order...

1.  Lesson learned: do NOT use sarcastic parenting tactics on your spectrum child. He will, in fact, internalize said humor and treat it as fact, and then continuously talk, cry, tantrum about it. So, confession:  Wednesday, Anderson woke up at 5:15 for some unknown reason (and yes, we had a snow day that day. A day to sleep in and my kid is raring to go before my alarm is even set to go off. Yep.). Therefore, by about 5:00 that afternoon, he was a hot mess.  Everything was making him anxious. For him,  ASD really shows up the most when he's upset--and he still cannot put his frustrations into words. So, he says whatever negative things come to his mind.  On this particular day, his quote was, "Yeah. I think Haddie has to go back to her old home. She's not going to stay here."  I know, that seems fairly innocuous, but I know exactly what he was saying with that--and it wasn't nice. So, being the awesome mother that I am, and also being the mother who was up on her snow day with her 5-year-old, I retorted with something to the effect of Haddie is staying with us and maybe HE should be the one to go live somewhere else. I type it, that sounds bad. I was seriously joking. You know, going for the funny, sarcastic mothering approach. This would've worked with Amelia--she would've looked at me like I was crazy and shaken it off. Well...with him, not so much. He looked at me and said, "Okay. I want to go live somewhere else!"  Now, I know in hindsight I should've stopped there but at this point I was fascinated and wanted to see what happened next. So I told him to go on. He looked at me. I repeated myself.  He said he was going. I asked him where he would be going to live and he swiftly replied that he would be going to his Auntie Kim's house (she's loving this, by the way). I asked how he'd get there; he informed me he'd be driving my van.  And then...he started getting upset that I wouldn't be letting him go. I realized that he was absolutely NOT understanding that what we were talking about would in fact never happen (FACE PALM). I pulled out my phone, showed him a baby picture of  himself and me:
I told him he was my baby, and that he belonged to me. That I loved him very much and would never let him go live anywhere else. He  loved the picture, smiled, and that was that. Or so I thought.  About an hour later, he informed me that he wanted to live somewhere else. I repeated my shpeel. Since then, he's said it oh...about a hundred times. He's not serious; in fact I'm fairly certain that he knows it bothers me so he does it for a reaction. Bottom line--the boy can't handle that style of parenting. I'll never do the whole "pack him a suitcase" act when he wants to run away because homeboy will think he's really moving out and he will be pissed.

2.  Amelia got away with her first true intentional Mommy Manipulation. Yep--I was played.  So Ms. Sassy-Britches has gone through another hateful spell, as she's done in the past.  She gets angry with us when we ask her to do something she doesn't want to do, and sometimes she just blatantly refuses. Despite how I thought I'd be as a parent, I've actually learned that talking to my kids and explaining WHY they can't do such-and-such works better than raising my voice, spanking, etc. So a few nights ago, I explained to Amelia that it wasn't respectful or kind to refuse to do what Mommy and Daddy ask her to do. She understood, got herself together.  For about 8 hours.  The next morning, I needed her to let me fix her hair. Time was of  the essence, since I had to get to work, and she was comfy on the couch and didn't want to let me take care of it. I asked her three times to come to me, and she sat on the couch...and LOOKED at me.  The blood was boiling, but I calmly hit her where it hurt--in her TV watching time. I told her no screen time for the rest of the day, starting immediately.  She teared up, let me fix her hair. Asked before she left if she could watch something when she got home. I quietly told her she'd made a bad choice, and that no, she wouldn't be watching TV today.  Fast-forward to me picking them up that afternoon.  When I got to preschool, two of my favorite teachers were together in the gym. Of course I chatted it up with them as the kids kind of played around us.  I was absorbed in our conversation when Amelia, with perfect timing because Anderson was right there next to her, casually said, "Can I watch Frozen when we get home?" Not remembering our previous conversation, I said yes, which brought much excitement on the part of both kids.  As we were walking out of the gym, Amelia said, "I will make good choices and follow directions!" and that was my cue to remember. She snuck that one past me, but it was hard to go back on it because the boy was involved. So, I told her she better follow EVERY SINGLE DIRECTION that night or we were talking FIVE days of screen time. She was a perfect angel the entire night. Sister is figuring out that when mama is talking (which she does a lot), she doesn't really pay attention and will say yes to anything. She's got to work on not giving herself away though.

Which brings me to...
3.  Anderson ALSO is working on his Mommy Manipulation.  Ever since our power went out one night while Marty was in the hospital and Anderson freaked out and spent half the night in my bed, he's been...well...angling to get back into my bed (Marty is currently sleeping in a new recliner, which helps him with sinus issues/drainage, which helps him not aspirate fluid into his lungs--we are doing EVERYTHING we can to keep the man healthy).  Since the power outage, he's managed to weasel into one night in my bed--a night when it stormed.  On Wednesday, he was really wound up at bedtime and just didn't want to go to bed.  Even after his nightly routine, he got up a few times, asking random questions.  A good 30 minutes past bedtime, he got up again and came into our bedroom, and announced that he wanted to sleep with me.  I took him back to his room, where he proceeded to turn on the water works.  Now, Anderson is a boy of true feelings. When he's happy, there's no mistaking it. When he's anxious, you know. And when he's sad, you know he's sad...or so I thought.  I watched him as he lay there crying, saying he was "scared". While the tears were pouring out of his eyes, I'm pretty sure the sobs weren't altogether real. In fact at one point, I tried to distract him and I'm pretty sure he cracked a smile. As I got ready to get up, though, the sobs started again.  I just kissed him and loved on him and told him he had to stay in his bed. He proceeded to sob loudly for maybe five more minutes, then all was quiet. Sadly with that little stinker, I am STILL not sure whether it was real or forced tears, but I swear I think it was all acting, in an attempt to sleep with me! The boy has a real shot at making it in drama.

So--to sum up the week: the kids are getting smarter and are learning how to play their mother. And also sarcasm isn't the way to go with the boy.  I guess you keep on learning, with each stage of this crazy game called parenting.  Good thing they're cute.

Monday, February 24, 2014

What We Hear...

Taking a break from the heavy stuff for a fun "me-type" post, because shew, haven't we had enough seriousness in here?!

You all MUST know by now how much I love music. I love that people ask me about music--sadly I'm very proud of that. Anyway, someone recently asked me for some musical advice and I thought hey, I haven't blogged about music lately. So why not!

Also...I have to add that Anderson continues to have the absolute best taste in music. I get a little happy boost when we're in the car and he asks me to play something awesome like "Mother Protect", which has to be my ultimate favorite right  now.

So, without further ado, some of what we are listening to right now (and, as always...don't watch the videos. Just listen to the music. The videos are bad):

Beatcity, by Still Corners
Bleeding For Your Love, by Suvi
Camouflage, by Small Black
Cast Away, by Strange Talk
Everything You Wanted, by Clubfeet
Girls Like You, by The Naked and Famous (one of my favorite groups)
I Won't Be Long, by Beck
Julian, by Say Lou Lou
Last Night, by Niki & The Dove
Mother Protect, by Niki & The Dove (WE LOVE THIS ONE!)
Oh, Sailor, by Mr Little Jeans
Riptide, by Vance Joy
Thunder Clatter, by Wild Cub
You're Not the One, by Sky Ferriera (no link because Viices started playing and Anderson demanded that I not turn it off...)

Obviously I have a "type" right now--strong girl music, for the most part. Very alt-indie, very 80s inspired.  My taste changes all the time. Guess this is just where I am right now. It's all good--Anderson is a fan, too. :-)

If you're looking for something different, something not typical of what you hear on the radio all the time, check those out when you get a chance. Good stuff...


Friday, February 21, 2014

On Living: An Open Letter to Neighbors and Visitors

I haven't been in the mood to do a lot of blogging lately. The husband has been in and out of the hospital for the last month, and life has been a blur. However, with this most recent hospitalization and subsequent discharge, this post started rolling around in my head. Time to put it on paper.

Dear Neighbors, and Visitors to our Home;

I know. I know that you probably notice. Sometimes we don't bring in our garbage cans right on time. Sometimes our yard isn't the best-kept on the block. When our door is open during the day, you probably see inside our often disheveled home. I'm sure you see our garage, which is home to mostly toys and lawn care tools, a play-place more often than anything else. We don't get outside and wash our cars very often (okay, maybe never). You've never seen us repainting our garage door, or power-washing. Our house looks lived-in, for lack of a better word. I see what it looks like. Sometimes I see it through your eyes, instead of my own. Sometimes I'm embarrassed that we don't "keep up with the Joneses", despite actually BEING the Joneses. And then, life happens, and I realize that our choices and priorities are right for us.

See, if you see us outside, you see that instead of perfecting our lawn, we are playing with our kids. Instead of washing cars, we're painting sidewalks, or playing in sand, or taking wagon walks. Instead of reorganizing the garage, which desperately needs reorganization, we're in there playing kitchen, or gas station while the kids ride their tricycles.

The same goes for the inside of our house. Instead of constantly picking up, keeping things looking nice on the surface, we are really LIVING in here.  We're pretending that we are sea turtles, wearing Trader Joe's paper bags on our backs for shells.  We're Anna and Elsa, slipping on the ice, trying to make a fire to keep warm. Instead of doing laundry, which sometimes piles up, we choose to spend our weekends LIVING. That means getting outside as much as possible, and making happy memories inside when the weather insists.

Life is fragile. A year ago, Marty almost died.  Four weeks ago, he became seriously ill again. We are guaranteed nothing in life--not one day, not one more minute. I've come to understand this more than ever. We aren't choosing to live negatively here; we are just dedicated to living. Sometimes that means choosing to do something fun over some type of chore. The chores? They can always wait. The memories? Who knows how long we have to make them.

So...when you see our messy garage, or our meager yard, or toys scattered throughout our house, what you are looking at is a family committed to living and making the most of our time. We aren't lazy or neglectful; we get things done when they're necessary. We just choose to spend our time differently.

Make each and every moment count.
With Love and LIFE,
The Joneses

Thursday, February 6, 2014


It's unfortunate, but between Marty and myself, I've acquired enough hospital stays to recognize where I am, emotionally-speaking, in terms of dealing with this latest trip.  You see,  just like everything else in life--grief, addiction recovery, etc.--there are emotional stages that go along with hospital stays.

First, there's the shock. The whole "I can't believe we are back here again".  This is the stage that involves dealing with PTSD emotions.  The sounds of the medical equipment and computers. The smell of their brand of soap.  The familiar rooms of the hospital.  I broke down in the ER when I watched them put an oxygen cannula on Marty. It just brought back too many emotions.  His first room was in the same unit as his ICU room from his last major stay.  We both watched in horror as they wheeled in a roto-prone bed for another patient. I can't stress enough that PTSD is very real for anyone who goes through the process of almost losing a loved one. This particular stage involves lots of tears, lots of ear-holding (so as not to hear certain sounds), and lots of gritting the teeth.

The next stage is that of situational control. I'm laid back in some areas; I'm a control freak in others. Dealing with hospital stays brings out the control freak in me.  If you have someone in your life who deals with chronic health issues and many doctors, you know what I'm talking about. This stage brings out the "mama bear" in me.  When they moved Marty from ICU to a regular room, they didn't connect him to an o2 monitor. For a whole 12 hours.  About 18 months ago, he almost died of sudden ARDS.  Being a former ARDS patient dealing with yet another massive pneumonia and not being connected to a monitor is unacceptable, and I wasn't about to let it happen. Fortunately the nurse understood and brought one quickly. This stage involves me asking a lot of tough questions. Questions that sometimes make doctors uncomfortable, but that must be asked, for my sanity as well as Marty's. During this stage, I make sure all of his needs are met. That he's comfortable and well cared for. That things are running like clockwork at home with the kids. This is the only time in my life that I am a successful multi-tasker. I'm actually a little proud of my ability to manage under duress. Shame it doesn't carry over.

I've moved on to the third stage, which is where I am now. I'm in the bitter stage. I hate this one the most.  Please...don't take this the wrong way. I could not be happier with how well Marty is doing, all things considered. I'm thrilled with the care he's received this go-round, overall. But I have to be honest here because I need this vent BADLY.  I'm tired of it. I'm sick of driving to and from the hospital. I'm sick of the hospital food. I'm sick of not seeing the kids regularly and not being able to follow our usual routine (we are a VERY routine-oriented family for lots of reasons).  I'm tired of Marty being sick and hurting. I miss having conversations with friends that don't revolve around breathing and oxygen and pneumonia.  And because I'm just so very tired of everything, and tired in general, I get...bitter. And it plays out in a very bad way in my head. See, I think mean thoughts. When I'm trying to find a parking spot in the overcrowded hospital garage (which has been more than crowded the last few days--the top floors are closed due to ice, so there literally is NOT enough parking), I'm saying choice words to the others who are also trying to park. I think mean things about the hospital employees who are walking down the halls, dressed up for work nicely with their hair fixed, make-up on, laughing at some joke.  I think horrible things about the mamas who are leaving with their cute babies, balloons and flowers in hands. I get mad when people across the hall come and go and yet we are still there. It's just a very bad place to be.

This time, I'm trying to combat the bitterness with one of its opposites--kindness. As I get older, I find that I enjoy talking to strangers more than ever before. In the hospital, this translates into conversations with other people in the halls and elevators, in the waiting rooms. Even in the gift shop. Talking with them about their loved ones. Chatting about the weather. Talking about hometowns and our kids and the cafeteria food. Because sometimes, when you get caught up in a "normal" conversation, it takes your mind off of the issues at hand, gives you a sense of normalcy. So instead of focusing on being bitter and thinking terrible thoughts about people who definitely do not deserve it, and throwing myself a pity party, I'm reaching out to others. Trying to take THEIR minds off of things, too. Some people aren't keen on talking, and that's okay. For others, words just spill out, as if they were just waiting for someone to ask. It's therapeutic for them. It's therapeutic for me.

So...that's where I am. I'm not saying I don't do the bitter thing, just because I'm chatting it up with strangers. This morning when I drove around for literally an hour in the garage, I was definitely, definitely bitter. But when I see myself sinking into the dark place, the thoughts that just do no good for anyone, I fight it with words. More often than not, it works.

Today's update is a lot of nothing, at this point. No word on the pathology of the spots removed from his lung as of yet. He accidentally pulled out his own chest tube (YIKES), but so far, that's okay too. Switched to oral pain medicine and is waiting for a room on a regular floor. He's in good spirits, but he's tired, too. We all are. If you could send prayers/healing thoughts our way, we appreciate it.  Nobody has mentioned discharge at this point. Sigh.