About Desiree A.

Mom. Wife. Fighter for a happy life


I actually have about ten other things I should be doing right now.  Instead of doing those things, however, I’m sitting on the back porch writing this while Mason covers himself in enough dirt to make Pig Pen from Peanuts look like the most sanitary person who ever lived.  The reason behind this is pretty simple – I’m fuming over an article I just read, and rather than bother Daddy while he is actually working – I’ve decided to vent this frustration on here.

The article isn’t about special needs kids, autism, or any of the normal hoopla that would get my blood boiling, though it does involve a kid, so I guess that counts in a way, right?    Anyway, the article was about two parents right here in the Sunshine State who were arrested and charged with felony neglect.  You see a headline like that and the first thought that pops up is “Great, another shining example of the assholes that populate this state.”, or at least that was my first thought.  Until I kept reading.  These people – who I do not in fact believe to be actual asshole parents – were arrested because….

Their ELEVEN year old son was found playing basketball in his backyard unsupervised for an hour and a half.

Yeah, you read that right.  And maybe you’re one of those people that sees a million things wrong with that – if you are, you should probably stop reading right now, because we aren’t going to see eye-to-eye on this one.  Here’s the long and short of it:  The parents were running late (caught in traffic, rain, whatever), and when the boy arrived home there was nobody there.  It doesn’t say where he was to begin with, or how exactly he got home, but the point was, nobody was there.  The kid didn’t have a key to his house, so instead, he hung around his back yard shooting hoops until his parents got home.  A nosy-ass busybody neighbor (in my opinion) saw the kid out back playing alone and called the cops.

The parents arrived home and were promptly handcuffed, searched, and taken into custody, while the 11 year old and his 4 year old sibling (who I’m assuming was with the parents at the time) were taken into foster care.  Where they bounced around from place to place for about a month after a relative decided he/she didn’t want to take care of the kids.  I’m not going to get into all the details of the article – if you want to read it for yourself, feel free to check it out here.

Before I really get into why this pisses me off so much, allow me to suggest a ‘fun’ little experiment.  Open up another tab, and Google “Parents arrested for child playing outside” – and tell me that the sheer number of different articles, cases, situations and stories doesn’t completely blow your mind.  Because it blew mine.  I found myself caught between wanting to hit something, and feeling like I was going to throw up.

What the hell is wrong with society these days?!  Okay, legit neglect is a horrible thing, and every single person guilty of legitimately neglecting a child should be put in the stocks for the public to abuse at will.  However, SO, so many times parents are being wrongfully accused of neglect because they allow their children to do something that all children should be allowed to do.  Have a little bit of freedom.  Play outside.  Ride their scooters.  Enjoy the playground.

Yes, there are an alarmingly massive amount of horrible people in the world.  And there are far too many awful things that people do to other people.  Nobody is denying that, on any level.  But for crying out loud, when did we all become so f*ing paranoid that our children don’t even know what it feels like to have a sense of independence?  I overhear people all the time, and see it on Facebook and social media… “Kids these days…”  Everything from they have no manners, no self awareness, no world awareness, no common sense.  They are selfish, greedy, entitled, too engrossed in electronics… well WHOSE FAULT IS THAT!?!?

I’ll tell you whose fault it is – ours.  It is our fault.  This generation of parents vacillates between one extreme and the other like it’s a flippin’ Olympic sport.  We’re either “helicopter parents”  or we are “neglectful, lazy parents”.  Where did the middle ground go?  When did we start calling parents who believe that being outdoors, using your imagination, getting some exercise, and learning to socialize without the use of a handheld device “free-range”?  These are kids we are talking about here people, not chickens.  Everything either must be organic or it’s going to kill you.  There’s a serial killer, kidnapper, human trafficker or drug dealer behind every tree and bush.  Our entire lives are documented for the public to view (um, hello fellow bloggers!), privacy is non-existent, and we act like petulant little brats when our posts, pictures, and tweets don’t get enough “likes”.

You know what my life looked like as an 11 year old kid?  I basically lived outside.  I spent all of my free time either in a tree reading a book (and I had multiple scars from falling out of those blasted trees), crashing my bicycle into a ditch, or running around the woods playing with my friends.  Were there eyes on me the whole time?  Not that I’m aware of, unless my mom & grandparents were capable of astral projection (which would actually explain a lot).  Did I get hurt?  Sure.  I just told you I fell out of trees constantly and my bike was basically totaled at least once a week.  But was I stupid?  No.  I knew the deal – stay away from traffic, pay attention to what is going on around you, trust your instincts, never go farther than this house or that corner, be back inside by dusk, and for the love of God, use your brain.

And oddly enough, I’m still here.  I did (of course) sometimes cross the line, and I got myself into quite a few bits of trouble – because that’s what kids do.  But I learned my lessons each time I was grounded and forced to stay inside.  Being stuck inside watching tv on a beautiful day was a punishment.  I gained a sense of independence by being given the chance to have some freedom.  From 5th to 9th grade I used to walk the mile to and from school (which was entirely my choice by the way, the bus actually did come to my house, unlike the asinine way they do things in our county, where you only get offered transportation if you live more than two miles from your zoned school – but that’s a different subject for a different day).  I must have locked myself out of the house on 30 different occasions throughout those years.  Sometimes I got creative and stacked various things on top of each other (garbage can on top of the grill) to climb up to the second story and wiggle my way into my bedroom window.  Other days I just played outside until someone came home.

via http://thingsthenandnow.files.wordpress.com/

Now, I get it.  Apparently the world is a vastly different place than it was all those years ago (what a difference 18 years makes!).  Because it couldn’t possibly be that the news prefers to run scare pieces over positive ones, significantly more than they used to.  Couldn’t have anything to do with every freaking lunatic who has a social media account posting story after story about the terrible things people do to other people – children often being the main focus.  No way are we just so f*ing plugged in that we have managed to completely unplug our ability to “go with our gut” and follow our instincts.  Right?!


When I say I get it though, I’m not just saying it.  I really do totally understand how so many parents these days think.  Maybe even more so, because I had the insane fortune of being blessed with a kid who thinks that bolting through a busy parking lot when he has a meltdown is a great idea – after having just given ALL of our personal information (names, address, ages, etc) to the cashier at Winn Dixie.  Paranoid doesn’t even begin to cover how I went through the last few years with the Monsters.  I wouldn’t let the kids play in the back yard – at all – because we live on a golf course, and at least three times a  day some idiot with a bad swing is driving through my yard on a golf cart searching for his/her ball.

Every time I thought about sending them outside to play I was bombarded by my own sense of paranoia.  What if they get hit in the head with a golf ball?  Sure, the odds are pretty astronomical, but still, if it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all.  It’s not like they do background checks on the people riding around on the golf course, what if some freaking wacko decides to take my kid when I have to run inside to pee?  What if my kid steps on a bee?  He might be allergic to bees!  I don’t have an epi-pen.  OMG why don’t have I have an epi-pen?!

Seriously, I was the queen of reasons why my kids couldn’t play outside.  For years Daddy has been shouting from the top of the “our kids watch too much television” train, and for years I’ve come up with what I felt were totally logical justifications for this.  It’s educational.  We don’t have anyone nearby with young kids.  There are too many kids at the playground, they’ll get overwhelmed.  It’s too hot to be outside.  It’s too cold to be outside.  It’s too wet, too sunny, too green to be outside.

And then one day I realized just what a paranoid freak I’d become.  I was sitting inside with the boys, who were both pale and pasty, and they were fighting – as usual.  Finally I hit my limit and couldn’t take listening to the bickering anymore, so I ordered them both to go outside.  I grabbed a ball and we headed out to the backyard.  Where they proceeded to stand there and stare at me, like…. okay, now what?  I stood there, exasperated, and said “Just… go play!”  And as they just stood there looking at me with these confused expressions, all I could think was have I really failed so badly that my kids don’t know how to play outside?

Yep.  I certainly had.  And that was it for me.  All of those idiotic excuses and justifications flew right out of my head, replaced by little mantras like “a little dirt doesn’t hurt” and “fresh air is better than air conditioning”.  Now, Kaleb can usually go whatever way.  Most days he’d rather be inside with a book or his art supplies.  But Mason?  That kid lives for being outside.  So now on a near daily basis he spends at least a couple hours outside, pouring dirt on his head, digging holes in the base of the trees to drive his construction vehicles through, and hunting for spiders.  Are my eyes constantly on him?  Um no.  Point in case, I’m staring at my computer screen right now.  I know where he is in the yard, and what he is doing, but he doesn’t need me to be constantly monitoring his every move.  A little freedom is healthy.  When we go for walk/scooter rides they are allowed to go only so far ahead of me before they know to stop and wait for me to catch up.

I no longer feel the need to stalk them on the playground, or constantly remind them to slow down, speed up, stay here, go there – because with the bits of freedom I’ve given out, they’ve become more consistent on following what they know are the hard and fast rules, versus feeling the need to constantly push boundaries because they are being stifled at every turn.  Summer rule #2 – no television between the hours of 8am-12pm or 2pm-8pm.  That two hour break consists of “quiet time” where I don’t have a problem with them taking some down time in front of the tube – it lets them have a break and get ready for the afternoon, while I get to actually accomplish some things (like eating without having a four year old sinking his teeth into my sandwich every time I blink).  As much  as I fought against it, now I like the idea of the television being more of a novelty – for all of us, because as much as it pains me to admit, Daddy was right – we wasted far too much of our lives with our eyes glued to screens.

Basically, I think as a whole society needs to take a chill pill.  Let the kids have a little freedom, loosen the leashes, and enjoy the outside world.  Maybe if we all took a little more time to relax and just enjoy everything around us that is real and present, we wouldn’t be so miserable all the time.  I know Mason is certainly a lot happier covered in dirt than he is planted indoors being “educated” by a bunch of cartoon characters.  Life is about balance.  Compromise, middle grounds, and enjoying the lives we have been given.  Not arresting parents who actually allow their children to do normal kid things.

Pig Pen


Many A New Day…

Obviously, I haven’t been on here for a while.  7 months in fact – and even before that my posts were sporadic and random and pretty depressing for quite some time.  I don’t have some b.s. excuse for it, I don’t even have a legit omg my life has been so busy excuse.  The truth is, I haven’t written on here because I just haven’t felt like it.  Actually, if I’m going to be honest, I might as well go all the way – there are a lot of things I haven’t felt like doing.  Not just in the last few months or even the last year, but by searching back almost five years I can find a pattern.  I’ve been drifting, and it’s finally about time for me to pull out the oars and paddle myself back to where I want to be – back to me.

Allow me to explain.  Just under a month ago I was getting ready to go to a friend’s wedding.  As I stood looking at myself in the mirror, the first, most startlingly prominent thought it my head was I am really unhappy with myself.  It was one of those lightning bolt moments – the kind that start of as one kind of thinking, and then take this totally unexpected turn that leads down a rabbit hole I didn’t even know existed.  The thought stayed with me, hell, it practically stalked me.  At first, I thought I’m just not happy with how my body looks right now.  I’ve never been big into fitness, I eat what I want, drink a case of Diet Pepsi a week, and can easily put back a 6 pack of Bud Light without batting an eye.  So my initial line of thought went something like this…. I’m turning 30 in four months.  And I totally have a beer belly.  That is so not happening.  I refuse to start the “next chapter” of my life with a freaking beer gut.

So Monday morning I put the boys on the bus, pulled out my bicycle and rode for an hour.  Whoo Hoo!  I accomplished something physical, and not only did I not die, but I felt pretty damn good about myself.  So I made a resolution.  I’m going to do this every day.  I’m going to ride my bike every day come hell or high water.  And I did.  Each day I went a bit further, a bit faster, until I hit ten miles, when I decided it was time to work on my stamina and speed.  Now my goal is to hit ten miles in under 40 minutes.  That’s a tall order for someone as inherently lazy as I am, but I’m working on it.

Here’s the kicker – riding the bike turned out to open up a whole new can of worms.  Each morning I had this entire hour where it was just me and my thoughts.  And the more time I spent letting my mind wander, the more I realized that the day I stood looking in the mirror, I wasn’t just thinking about my stomach, or my arms.  I was thinking about me.  I am really unhappy with myself.  Not just my appearance, but the whole me.  Where did I go?  When did I lose who I am?  In this life of chaos, meltdowns, chores, dishes and errands… where the hell did I go?  Where is the girl who took time every day to just enjoy my kids – for who they are, not who I want them to be?  When did we stop doing stuff together?  When did I decide that taking them to the playground for two hours is too taxing?

I used to do stuff.  Not just with my kids, or my husband, or friends for family – but for myself.  When did I stop enjoying writing?  When did I stop taking pictures?  When did dinner become this miserable obligation instead of an enjoyable time spent talking about our day?  When did I start feeling guilty for taking a night or two just to lay in bed and read a book and enjoy spending time alone?  When did everything become so burdensome?  When did I become such a pessimist?  I’ve always been a “silver lining” kind of person – where did she go?

So I started taking stock.  Real, honest, serious stock of myself, my actions, my thoughts, and my life.  Was I depressed?  No.  Was I happy?  No.  I wasn’t really anything.  I was living in this fog – this world filled with obligations and commitments, while I ignored all of the good and beautiful around me.  I wasn’t communicating with my kids – not on the level they need me to.  I was barking orders, losing patience, and being a freaking dictator.  I wasn’t communicating with my husband – I was getting my ass on my shoulders basically every time I thought he was looking at me sideways.  I wasn’t keeping in touch with friends or family, I wasn’t doing anything I genuinely enjoyed doing – with the exception of watching Grey’s Anatomy on Friday mornings – and that’s just downright pathetic.

Is this really what I want for my life?  Is this what I want my kids to think of twenty years from now when they look back on their childhood?  Do I want them to think “Our laundry was always done and dinner was always on time” or would I rather them think “We used to make forts in the living room and have movie nights.”  Do I want them to remember how spotless the kitchen was, or how much fun we had pretending to be police officers at the playground?  When they look back at dinner times, will they remember sharing good memories from the day, or being yelled at for tapping their chairs with their feet, or not using their silverware properly?  This was not the childhood I envisioned for my children – this is the living, breathing nightmare I had growing up when I silently vowed I’d never be a parent – because I was afraid of being this parent.  This impatient, fire breathing, chore dictator who never took the time to chase bubbles, or let my kids put me in imaginary jail.

Some serious changes needed to be made, and it was high time I stopped ignoring the problem, and started facing it head on.  Because the problem was me.  I wasn’t broken, but I was pretty bent out of shape, and let’s face it, the only person who can fix me is me.  My kids were acting out because I was acting like a tyrant.  I wasn’t listening to them, or spending any amount of enjoyable time with them.  My husband was feeling neglected because I was too busy suffocating myself in misery to really pay him any attention when it came down to it.  So, enough.

I started reading this book – Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  I’ve never been the kind of person who checks out the Self-Help section, but this popped up on my kindle and before I could rethink it, I downloaded it and went to town.  And I can honestly say I’m really glad.  Because she made me stop and really analyze myself, my habits, and the world I’ve created for myself.  It wasn’t long before I decided I’d spent enough time contemplating change, it was time to implement it.


Step 1 – Be healthier.  Kaleb has been struggling to put weight back on since last fall when he suddenly lost nearly 20lbs for reasons nobody has been able to determine.  I was harping on him all the time about eating better, getting more exercise, etc.  Well, how fair is that when he sees me eating a flippin’ ice cream cone for lunch and sitting on my lazy ass all day?  I need to be a better influence, and set a better example.  Be the kind of change I want to see in my world.  Riding my bike is great, but the boys are sleeping or at school when I do that, so they aren’t exactly seeing it.  So, I got rid of the junk, replaced it with healthy options, and started having family “walks” every afternoon.  Walk is in quotation marks because the kids aren’t actually walking, they are riding their scooters, but at least we are getting out of the house together and getting some exercise.  Added bonus?  I discovered that if I put whatever meat I made for dinner in a salad Kaleb would eat it like it was the best thing I’d ever cooked.  In fact, I’ve heard more compliments on my cooking in the last few weeks from him than I have since the first time I made him blueberry pancakes.  Another added bonus?  The boys are getting along better.  It would appear (go ahead and say “duh” anytime here) that spending more positive time together, riding scooters and making up silly games has actually cut down on some of their constant animosity.  Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t freaking angels, and they still drive each other crazy – but the arguing has cut down considerably.  They’ve been more patient with each other, they are speaking more nicely to each other, and they are actually playing together without being prompted.

Step 2 – My negativity.  Wow have I become a freaking negative person.  I mean, I have actually caught myself putting myself into a bad mood simply by focusing on all the things that are wrong or bad in my life, instead of being grateful for all of the things that are incredibly wonderful.  I resented my kids and my husband for completely asinine reasons.  I didn’t like getting up in the morning.  I hated that the dishes and the laundry (my two least favorite things in the world to deal with) were never ending.  The house was always a mess.  My to-do list was too long and nobody helps out around the house.  Why should I be the one taking out the garbage or cleaning the gutters?  Why am I spending three hours cleaning toys and messes that I didn’t make?  Why can’t you just be quiet!?!  Stop running, stop jumping, stop shouting – stop being children and just grow up already.  

I was a freaking bowl full of rainbows and sunshine, wasn’t I?  What gives me the right to chastise Daddy for telling the kids to be quiet – they’re kids, they’re supposed to be loud – and yet turn around five minutes later and yell at them to be quiet.  I stopped enjoying them for who they are, and instead focused on all the things they weren’t.  That had to stop now.  I’d already been doing a pretty good job of quashing my early morning grumpiness – getting up and riding my bike provided me with a perfect opportunity to wake up, enjoy the fresh air, and be more pleasant when it came time to get the monsters up and make breakfast.  I also had the energy to actually make breakfast, not just chuck some cereal in a bowl and set it down with a quick don’t make a mess before secluding myself out on the porch.  So, the mornings were easier, but the rest of the day – well, that can be a struggle.  It’s pretty hard not to lose your patience when you answer the same question seven times in a span of sixty seconds because someone isn’t listening.  Take a deep breath.  Let the kids be kids.  If they fall and get hurt running through the kitchen, maybe they’ll think before they run through the kitchen again.  Not likely, but maybe.  Stop jumping in every time they start to bicker -they have to learn how to figure out their problems on their own eventually, why not start now?

So what if Mason gets covered in dirt playing in the back yard?  He’s a little boy, and little boys tend to get dirty.  No more of this “I’m too busy” crap.  What chore, what errand or dirty dish is more important than my children?  None.  Do the chores have to get done?  Of course, but not at the expense of my kids having fun memory-making adventures with me.  I’ve also started a “Positive Journal”.  Every night before bed I write down three things each child and Daddy did today that I thought was either positive, funny, or just helpful.  Nothing negative.  Then I do the same for myself.  What am I proud of myself for today?  I need to start looking at life in a better light, and stop focusing on all the petty ugliness.

3 – That leads me to here.  The house.  I love this house.  I hate this house.  Some days I couldn’t imagine ever living anywhere else.  Some days I felt like I could watch it burn to the ground and not shed a tear.  What’s wrong with the house?  Nothing.  Again, this is all me.  I’m carrying around this insane amount of resentment.  This absurd image of myself as June Cleaver with a spotless house, and perfect hair.  Considering I can’t remember the last time I even turned on my blow-drier this is the most unrealistic expectation I’ve set for myself yet.  I’ve never been a great house keeper – and the truth is I probably never will be.  Mostly because I hate cleaning.  I usually only really clean things when I’m pissed off – and that’s yet another pathetic way to go through life.  I don’t want to live in a pigsty.  I also don’t want to look back at the end of the week and wonder just what the hell I spent all my time doing.  I needed to find a balance.  And then it struck me – we have too much stuff.  Why on earth are there toys in Mason’s room that were Kaleb’s from when he was a baby?  Why have I held on to all of these things that nobody plays with?  And for crying out loud, how long am I really going to keep putting up with the fact that I can barely open my closet doors – let alone reach my clothes?!

It’s time for a purge.  An all out, no more hoarding cards from ten years ago kind of purge.  No more “I might wear this one day”, or “They might want to play with this again” – enough is enough.  First I did the boys’ rooms – and I filled enough garbage bags to completely fill the back of the Tahoe.  Then I loaded the boys in the car with me (after explaining what was happening), and we took it all to Goodwill.  They said goodbye to their toys, I said goodbye to clutter.  Then I took an empty box and set it on top of Milo’s crate by the front door and had a talk with the boys.

“Here’s the deal – from now on, mommy is not cleaning your toys.  Before I make breakfast every morning your beds will be made, and your rooms cleaned to my satisfaction.  Toys and books will no longer be left laying around the house where they don’t belong.  This box?  This is the new Goodwill box.  If I come across something that belongs to you and is not in the proper place I will shout “Goodwill Box!”  You will then have two minutes to find the offending item and put it away before I put it in the box.  Once it goes in the box, it doesn’t come out without a lot of work on your part.  All outside toys will be picked up before you come inside, or they go in the Goodwill box.”

Strangely enough, this is actually working.  I haven’t cleaned a toy in almost two weeks.  And that has cleared up a shocking amount of free time for us to play.  New rule #1 – we don’t get to have fun until all our work is done.  Of course, that leaves me with my closet.  Which I’m working on – honestly it’s a lot more difficult to get rid of my own stuff than it is everyone else’s.  So far I’m about 1/3 of the way through, and you can barely walk through my bedroom without tripping, but I’m getting rid of stuff, and I’m reorganizing.  I’ve also started collecting laundry every day and putting it in one basket by the garage door.  The minute it’s full, the laundry goes in.  So instead of doing a mountain once a week, I’m doing a small load every other day or so.

4 – Now I’ve cleared up time to play with the kids, made housework easier, and have been working on my attitude, so here comes the kicker.  Me.  I feel like I’ve lost some vital parts of myself over the years, and it’s about damn time I do something about that.  I can’t keep putting everyone ahead of myself 24/7 – it’s burned me out and made me angry, resentful, and rebellious toward minor tasks and problems.  So what are some things I stopped doing?  I stopped taking pictures.  It was a really sad moment for me to turn on my camera and realize there were pictures from Kaleb’s birthday in November still on the memory card.  I used to take pictures constantly.  Big things, little things, happy things, sad things – I wanted to capture those memories to look back on years from now when my kids are grown and I can no longer picture their dirt filled faces chasing after bubbles in my mind.  So, another resolution.  Take pictures every day.  It doesn’t matter what we are doing, if they are just sitting down to eat lunch or reading a book on the couch – take a picture.  Get back in the habit of enjoying a hobby I’ve loved since I was a child.

Writing.  Years ago I got an idea for a book.  I took notes, did some research and walked away from it.  In February I finally had enough information, my story line was pretty much complete, and my character outlines were done.  So I forced myself to sit down and write.  And I did.  I wrote 65,000 words in 30 days.  And I was damn proud of that.  Then I walked away to give myself a “break” so I could come back to it fresh and make my edits, adjustments, etc.  Only now it’s June and I haven’t touched it.  Until this morning that its.  I said no more procrastinating (I hate editing.  I get myself too tied in knots).  I grabbed my laptop, grabbed the kids, took off for the playground, and spent an hour editing while they ran off their morning energy.  I was about 30 minutes into this when Kaleb came over and sat down next to me.  Without saying a word, he watched from my side as I read through and made changes on a chapter.  About ten minutes in he said “Wow mom!  You’re a great writer!  That’s a lot of chapters, I bet you’ll sell that book for a lot of money!”  I laughed and told him that would be nice, probably unrealistic, though it was a dream of mine to one day write something that tops the charts.  I think the words he said next will echo through my brain for the rest of my life:

“You said dreams can come true if you work really hard.  And you work really hard all the time, so I think your dream has to come true.”

In my forgetting myself, and not following the paths that truly make me happy, I missed yet another vital piece of my family’s puzzle.  I’ve said before I need to set an example for the kids – be the change I want to see in my world.  The best way to teach my kids to follow their passions, and really pursue the things that make them happy – is to do that myself.  No, I can’t just drop everything and forget all responsibilities, but I can certainly show them that hard work and dedication pay off – even if it’s just knowing that you accomplished a goal for yourself.  I think the morning playground/writing sessions are going to be a thing now.

5 – I’m working on my mom skills, my patience, my household skills, my personal goals, and clearing my life of clutter.  What’s next?  My relationships.  I see Daddy every day.  He doesn’t travel anymore, and is instead working from home – which has certainly presented a new list of challenges and rewards.  But seeing someone every day, and seeing someone every day are not the same thing.  I need to pay better attention to subtle things – but I need to do it while still being me.  Make the time to be who he needs me to be, without losing who I am and who I want to be.  Make more effort to understand the way he communicates, instead of trying to make him communicate my way.  Let him be him, while I am me – because we are in this together, but we don’t have to have the same brain, same thought processes, same views on life to be with one another happily.  We need to learn to let each other be ourselves and love each other for those differences – not in spite of them.  He sometimes sees the world as black and white – when I see technicolor.  He’s fascinated by how things work, I’m usually just happy that they work at all.  He needs order and understanding, I need organized chaos and spontaneity.

I need to stop nagging.  I need to stop doing things in hopes of receiving praise or acknowledgement and just do them for myself.  Do I really need a pat on the back because the house is clean?  Do I seriously need him to drop what he’s doing right this second to help me fix my bike?  No.  The house is clean because that’s part of my job as the person who insisted the house be run by me, my way.  If I was willing to compromise on how the housework is done, then I could complain about not having anyone to share the load with.  But the fact is, I like things done my way, and that’s my problem.  Nobody else’s.  Does it matter if he sleeps in on the weekends?   Not really – He works hard throughout the week and deserves some down time just as much as I do.  Plus, I’ve come to enjoy my early morning bike rides, and the breakfast fiasco with the kids – that’s our time together, and I should cherish it, not resent that I don’t get to sleep in.  Besides, whenever I have a chance to sleep in I can’t anyway.  So what’s the point in bitching about something I don’t even like to do?!

That’s where I am.  I’m doing my best to get back to myself – I’m going to be me, but more.  I’m going to appreciate who I am, and work to be who and where I want to be.  I’m going to appreciate, love and respect my kids and my husband for who they are – not who I wish they would be.  I’m going to stop nitpicking and start enjoying.  Cherish that Mason brings me wildflowers every day, and checks to make sure the bracelet he got me for Mother’s Day is on my wrist.  Love that Kaleb shares my love of the written word, and encourage him to write his own stories.  Find fun and humor in more situations, laugh more, harder, and more honestly.  Respect that I am not the person I used to be, but know that it doesn’t mean I can’t grow into someone even better.

I’m going to try to write on here more often, because I miss being able to connect with the world this way.  Welcome to my mid-life crisis.  I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I will.  After all, roller-coasters are one of my favorite things in the world – might as well enjoy the natural one that life put me on.

Thanks for reading this absurdly long post.  It’s good to be back.  Now I’m going to go enjoy my life.

The Sound Of Silence…

First off, it is colder than hell outside.  And while you may think that’s an obvious (and somewhat stupid) statement – let me just say that for some people (*ahem, me) being cold is a whole lot worse than being hot!  And yeah, I’m in Florida.  No, thankfully it is NOT snowing.  Yet, YES, I am still bitching.  I’m cold when it’s 80, you can bet your fluffy down comforter I’m freezing when it’s 30.

Anyway, I started off saying a first, so let me get to the second.  I’ve finally figured them out.  My kids.  Frighteningly enough, part of the riddle has been solved.  No, really, it’s actually pretty scary.

Oh, and yeah, third.  I’m back.  Again.  I’ve been remiss.   Yada yada… busy, busy.  Life and all that crap.  So, I offer no more empty “I’m back for real and gonna make this a weekly thing” business, because I’m being honest, and I honestly cannot guarantee when I’ll actually write anything.  But I’m writing this, so I’m going to go ahead and be happy with that.

Back to the second.  The boys.  My favorite Monsters.  Holy realization moment.  Kaleb is me.  Mase is totally Daddy.  And while they both have parts of us in some ways (I’ll man up and take blame for the road rage) – it isn’t the same.  Allow me to explain…

I need recognition for things I do well.  No kidding, serious verbal recognition.  I thrive on it.  I will keep doing the things you verbally recognize and appreciate I do.  If you don’t … well.  I tend to stop doing them.  Because I feel like they (and I, by extension) go unnoticed.  I need visual stimulation.  I need to be able to escape from reality though books, music and other such things when I get overwhelmed with life, because otherwise I end up over-thinking everything and my anxiety gets bad enough that I stop functioning like a normal person should.  I require step-by-step instruction when introduced to something new because otherwise I will totally go off book, and let’s be honest – that never ends well.

I don’t respond to hounding or constant reminders – that feels more like a piano hanging over my head by a string than a motivation to remember something.  My memory is lax when it comes to a lot of things because there is almost always something bigger and more imminent looming in the forefront of my mind, even if that particular thing seems small to anyone else.  Threats never work with me, because it isn’t real if it isn’t right there in front of me.

I know, to an extent, how much this sucks for the people in my life who want to convey important things to me.  Because while I can spend hours, days, or weeks consumed with fictional worlds, I cannot genuinely envision my life without the things that are already in it.  I forget simple tasks, silly things people ask me to do for them, things I usually start to do (because they mean a lot to people who mean a lot), and then I get bogged down by other things.  Those big important things that are consuming my thoughts like endless riders on a Merry-Go-Round.  Or I get overwhelmed.  I don’t know what to do first.  I start a million things at once and finish exactly… none.  I let people down constantly.  I let myself down constantly.  Because the minute my mind leaves one topic, another crops up, and the one that is right there is the one that ends up being most important.  I can’t imagine how petty and selfish that must sound to you.

Honestly, it sounds horrible to me, and I’m talking about myself.

But this is me on my most honest level.

***Okay, I know I said before that I need recognition – but not on this.  I’m not looking for validation here.  I’m looking to be brutally honest with myself as a person.  So the first person who tries to offer me an excuse for the behavior I have just admitted to will be promptly showed the door ***

I’ve been like that forever.  Ask my mom.  She could ground me for weeks.  I would shrug and walk away.  What did I care?  But to take my most prized things?  My books, my music… the world would all but collapse as far as I was concerned.  I was actually a decent student. I did my homework.  Every day… but I’d forget to turn it in.  Every day.  I’d forget to put it in my bag.  It wasn’t because there was something else I wanted to do; it was more because I would finish that task and move on to something else that was now a big deal.  But even then…when I’d really get in trouble (and believe me, I totally deserved it when I did.  I was a sh*t), I’d scream, and I’d cry – but to what end?  Did I actually do what I was supposed to have done in the first place?  Eh…. Usually not.  I had the kind of attitude that would send people running for the hills faster than you could say “Call SuperNanny!”

1099 i am your parent 1

Kaleb’s like that.  He’s stubborn.   He has a few interests that really encompass him.  And he has a few passing interests, ones he could do without, but they entertain him when all else fails.  He’s got an incredible imagination, and an admirable amount of determination.  Add that to his confidence in himself and his growing skill-set… in 20 years he will be a force nobody will want to reckon with.  But as a child…

I want to go back in time and pick up every hair I must have caused my mother to pull out of her head.

His attention span is exactly that of a dead gnat – unless what he’s looking at involves a book of LEGO instructions, Marvel Superheroes, or something that will piss off his brother.  He forgets to do something about five seconds after you tell him, unless it is either A. written down; B. directly in front of him; or C. beneficial to him in some very literal way.    Everything is a personal attack.  And I do mean everything.  It is your fault he’s screaming, because you told him to use his napkin and he didn’t want to use his napkin, so therefore it is your fault he’s screaming.  See the logic?

That’s the thing.  You have to actually see the logic to understand him.  His world consists of exactly two things, and two things only:  What makes him happy, and What makes him not happy.  I wasn’t quite that bad as a kid.  But, the more I think about how he thinks, the more I understand it.  For Kaleb, everything is immediate.  We can put him in a five minute time-out, but at the end of that five minutes, his mind has wandered all over the place, and he genuinely might not remember why he was in trouble.  Sure he can remember every name of every Spiderman Nemesis – but that is inherently important to him.  At least, it’s a whole lot more important than remembering to use a napkin.

Then again, there are the times he just screams – I mean really, really screams… I think that’s honestly just to make me completely crazy.  Mason had to have taught him that.

I keep asking myself how do I get through to him?

The honest answer is…. I probably won’t.  I probably won’t be the one to do it.  For me, it was a couple of incredible teachers who banned together and changed a great many of my perspectives.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still a total shit when I was at home.  And my mom never stopped trying.  She never gave up on me, or the future she wanted for me.  I was just not ready to listen to her.  At the same time, for once she wasn’t the only one fighting for me.  I worked a bit harder for my future.  I responded to people differently.  I stopped forming so many arguments against my mom in my head and started listening to what she was saying, even though she didn’t know that (and still probably thinks talking to me is the equivalent of talking to a stack of bricks).

But as I pointed out in the beginning of all this – I am in many ways still who I was a kid.  I’m a more grown-up version, sure.  The problems have changed, they’ve gotten bigger, more challenging.  They aren’t just my problems anymore.  They’re the problems of everyone I love and care about.  Myself included.  But it’s sobering to realize as a parent, that there might be a lot more to that old saying about taking a village to raise a child.  Kaleb’s teachers get through to him in times when I can’t.  There are days when they ask me how we handle X, Y, & Z when all I want to do is ask how they got past A & B.

Then, there’s Mase.  Ooooohhhhh The Mase Bug.

It started off as a totally absurd Dora-Inspired nick-name.  The kind of thing that starts because it’s too late for the hospital to do anything but batten down the hatches and tell you to hold on.  An hour later you find yourself face-to-face with this little dude (who may just have the most expressive eyes on Earth), while silently still singing the song Dora sang to help the Mommy Bug-a-bug find her baby bug-a-bug in the episode you fell asleep watching with your toddler.  Or… maybe I wasn’t singing so silently.

Now, I actually think it might be a thingThe Mase Bug.  He’s cute.  He bats those ridiculous eyelashes over those big brown eyes and you want to smoosh his little cheeks.  He says goofy, silly things, and makes absolutely no sense, and you just adore it.  Despite the fact that he’s four, and has a perfectly functional vocabulary he is completely competent in using.

My curious, destructive, charming, deceptively smart boy.  He is his daddy’s clone.  He’s too smart, and too distracted.  By everything and nothing.  He may not being paying attention outwardly, but he is fully tuned in when you think he isn’t.  He wants everything his way, otherwise, well… you can just kiss that cute little butt of his and wish him safe travels – ‘cause he will cease existing in your world the minute you stop making sense in his.  Now, to be fair, both boys are very much like that.  But Kaleb lets you know when you’ve stepped off his planet (usually by screaming that you are wrong).  Mason just checks out.  He won’t return the key – I swear he’s a time travelling Muse for The Eagles.  He’ll check out any time he wants – but he won’t ever leave.

You can sit with him and talk and talk and talk to him until you are rainbow colored.  But unless what you are saying consists of certain key words or phrases, you could be talking ancient Greek.  ‘Cause he is not listening.  He’s thinking about a hundred different other things.  He isn’t building like his big brother.  He’s not dreaming of LEGOs or colored pencils.  He’s thinking about how one car went faster than the other, and he is wondering why.  He’s ripping apart brand new toys just to figure out where things are, where they’d be better suited, and why other things are missing.

He wants to watch me cook, because he wants to figure out what the difference is between a raw egg and a scrambled egg.  Start to finish, he has to understand the entire process or he is not satisfied.  He wants to know why the dome light comes on in the car when the door is opened but turns back off when it’s closed.  He doesn’t just want to know, but needs to know the how and the why.  He wants it faster, louder, and bigger.  And if he has to rip something apart to see what was different inside this toy, versus that toy – he will do it in a heartbeat.

He’s singled minded, and determined.  He’s brilliant, but stubbornly makes everyone show him how to do everything multiple times before he’s satisfied knowing he can do it himself.  He’s loving, but only to certain people at certain times.  He’s distant, but he feels so strongly for those he loves, it’s almost become a defense.   By all accounts – he’s just like Daddy. Smart, sweet, stubborn, with an insatiable curiosity, and a unique, yet disquieting way of viewing the world.

They are us.  Our product.  Both of them.  Beautiful.  Strong.  Stubborn.  Isolated inside a world filled with people that love them, but don’t quite understand them.  Sometimes angry at the hands they’ve been dealt, when they played so much better than everyone else at the table.  Loyal.  Fun.  Joyous.  Intelligent.  Underestimated.  Overestimated.  Such a delirious mix of light and dark.

I forget as a parent (a lot), how I was as a kid.  How singled minded I was.  How absolutely focused I got on the things that interested me.  The things that gave me joy just by doing them on my own.  The things that made me… “Me”.  I’ve become so focused as an adult on making my kids “well rounded” that I forget that a part of becoming an adult is honing those solo interests.  Screaming when you feel like you’re going to explode.  The tantrums and the fights about the fairness of life.  Those things that make me so mad as a parent – I honestly couldn’t count how many of those I put my mom through when I was growing up.  They’re a part of growing up.  You don’t just wake up one day and realize “I’m 4, I should be potty trained.”  Or, “I’m 7, I can tie my shoes.”  Those are things you learn as you go.  Things other people teach you.  Frustration, anger, sadness, confusion – that’s part of life whether you’re a child or an adult.  You only learn how to channel and process those things by watching the adults in your life.

Of course, no matter how much I kicked and screamed I still had to do my math homework – but I was a hell of a lot more prone to do it (and turn it in…) if that meant I got an extra 20 minutes to do something I genuinely enjoyed at the end of the day.  Some days that was watching Gilmore Girls with my mom (Yes, I just did totally out you Mom, sorry).  Some days that was sitting on the kitchen counter picking apples out of the pie mix Nana was making when (I thought) she wasn’t looking.  Or going upstairs and getting lost in a story.  Every day I was a different version of myself.  Some days I wanted companionship, some days I didn’t.  Even as a small child.  That’s an easy thing to forget.

I think maybe it’s time we all take a few minutes to remember ourselves as kids – our HONEST selves.  How we really were, not how we like to think we were, and try to imagine applying it our lives now.

Think about what motivates you now – what motivates your spouse – what motivates your kids…

And I don’t mean money, work, grown up crap.  I said think like a KID. A little kid.  Little kids don’t think about money – at least not in concrete terms.  They think about the abstract.  If you could do one thing at the end of the day for twenty minutes, what would it be?   What about your spouse?  Your kids?  Not a group activity – save that for the weekends or holidays.  Not some sibling activity to force your kids to get along (BTW, if you have one of those I am beyond open to suggestions).  Not something for someone else either.  Be selfish, be abstract.  Think like a child.  Find a true, free, honest reward for surviving the day.

I’d spend twenty minutes writing.  Or doing something to further it.  Research, outlines, whatever – something just for me.  I’d give Daddy twenty minutes of complete he-man time – no phones, no kids, no email, nothing but peace and the understanding that comes with a perfect match of man and machine (just for the record, if this wasn’t an abstract, I’d give him twenty minutes a day flying instead).  I’d give Kaleb 20 minutes of LEGO time.  I’d give Mason twenty minutes to talk about, throw, drive, or destroy any 3 toy vehicles of his choice.

If we all stopped looking at life like a race to be won, a battle to be waged – and started thinking about how to encourage the people next to us to be better, happier versions of themselves, instead of constantly trying to make everyone be like us, think like us, want what we want – just imagine how much better and happier we would all actually be…

Mountain of Cake…

Kaleb stole my birthday cake.

I mean, the entire 1/4 sheet Carvel Ice Cream Cake.  MY ice cream cake.  Not only did he steal the damn thing – he ate it.  All of it.  Which is, to put it mildly, completely insane.  I can put that stuff away – I can sit down and eat three pieces when nobody is looking because I have a slight addiction to Carvel ice cream cakes.  But even I couldn’t put down the entire thing!  

We’ve been dealing with this midnight eating habit for more than a year now.  We’ve done everything we could think of to prevent it.  We’ve failed.  We’re at a loss.  This isn’t healthy, it certainly isn’t normal – who the hell eats an entire cake and doesn’t throw up?  


Aside from Bruce Bogtrotter – nobody, that’s who.  

To top it all off, the kid isn’t gaining weight, he’s losing it!  I thought for a minute he might have a tapeworm a couple hundred yards long, but he’s not showing any signs other than this disturbing eating habit, so that probably isn’t it.  But let me just back up the boat for a minute here, and shine some light on the history of the Monster Man’s new favorite hobby.

This all started last July.  Right before we went on vacation.  Right after we started a new medication.  At the time we figured that was too big a coincidence to actually be a coincidence.  Logically, it would make sense that just days after starting a new ADHD med he starts stocking up the sweets at night.  Entire containers of Oreos, Teddy Grahams, a dozen doughnuts, whatever he could find while everyone was sleeping seemed to be fair game.  So, with our trip up north done, we came home, called the doctor and insisted on taking him off that particular medication.

Yeahhhh that did nothing.  

How about a brief rundown on what my 6 year old, 4 1/2 foot, 55lb child has eaten in the last few months?  

  • Cookies.  Lots and lots of cookies.  I stopped buying, making, and even thinking about cookies.
  • Leah’s birthday cake (thankfully, he at least waited until after the party)
  • Bags and bags of bagels
  • Entire boxes of cereal bars, Nutri-grain bars, and poptarts
  • Entire boxes of cereal – in the last week alone he’s eaten every marshmallow out of two separate boxes of Lucky Charms (see if I buy those again)
  • A box of cake mix – yes, raw, powdery, disgusting cake mix.

And oh so much more – but there’s a pretty good idea for you.  We put locks on the refrigerator – he broke them.  We put magnetic locks on the cabinets in the kitchen that contained food (all but the pantry, which we can’t put a lock on) – he wheeled his desk chair out of his room, climbed on it to get to the top of the fridge, stole the magnetic lock, and opened the cabinets anyway.  We started hiding the lock.  He sneaks into our room to look for it.  We stacked two pressure gates on top of one another in the hallway door – he climbed them.  We put an eye hook latch on the pocket door in the hallway, and bent the heck out of the hook to make it difficult to open – he was through it by night 2.  

Got any brilliant ideas?  Because I’m fresh out.  

He ate my freaking birthday cake with his bare hands.  I’ve been cheated out of a week’s worth of deliciousness, and I have to clean the carpet.  Not cool.  

So, I did what I do best, and probably shouldn’t do at all – I asked Google.  Yep, I went ahead and set myself up for internet medical freak-out overload.  

But holy crap!  There are a bunch of parents out there going just as crazy as I am!  Who knew?!  Kaleb isn’t the only kid on the planet binge eating his way through every cabinet in the house??

Turns out, there’s this thing – yes it actually is a real thing – called SRED, AKA Sleep Related Eating Disorder.  It’s common in kids with ADHD, who are prone to sleep problems (you know, like his night terrors, apnea, and sleep walking).  I’m floored.  There is actually a thing – this could be more than him just developing some insane eating disorder because he feels like his life is out of control, or he isn’t getting his emotional needs filled (yeah, I was totally going that route next.).  

So, called a sleep specialist, called the pediatrician to get a referral to the sleep specialist (let’s just hope we don’t have the same issue we did last time), and now I’m just waiting to make an appointment.  And praying to everything and everyone that we can put an end to this before he ends up with diabetes or I end up in the nuthouse (though that does seem like quite the appealing vacation at the moment).  

There hasn’t been too much else going on this week.  Buffalo beat the Bears on Sunday and I now to get spend the rest of the season needling my husband about how my “pathetic” team beat his team on his home turf for the first time in history (insert evil laugh here!).  My mom, sister, some friends and I went to Cassadega on Saturday and chased ghosts (okay, really we spent most of the time chasing cocktails, but it was my birthday party, so that’s acceptable).  But, more on that later!  For now I have to go do damage control on my house, since the boys clearly had a lot of fun this weekend, and there isn’t a single room that wasn’t affected.  And it’s not like I have any cake that needs eating.  


The Munsters…

I’m baaaaaaack…

Though why I felt the need to make that sound like an ominous thing I have no idea.  Clearly, I’ve been gone for a while – and for that I apologize.  It’s been a simply insane 6 months.  So, today I’ll play catch up, and I swear I’ll do my best to get back on track with the Monster reports!

Let’s see, where should we start?

Oh!  I actually got married (those of you that know me are probably still pondering such a miraculous event, and those of you who were directly involved with the sanity *AKA Miss Lisa* are probably still sending thanks to the universe that it’s over)!  Growing up I never figured myself for the marrying kind.  I mean, let’s be honest here – I am a giant pain in the ass.  I’m stubborn, have an issue keeping my thoughts to myself, I absolutely loathe dishes and laundry (the two things that just never seem to go away), oh and then there’s the whole ‘crazy as a loon’ thing I’ve got going on too.  Somehow or another I managed to wind up with a man crazy and brave enough to want to marry me – and the fact that he still wanted to marry me in the midst of all of my fanatically insane wedding planning is a testament to either his own brand of lunacy, or the size of his you-know-whats!  So, anyway, here we are, married.  Eventually I’ll throw some pictures up for your viewing pleasure – after I finally pin the silly man down long enough to go through them.

So, now onto the more important things – the Monsters.


Let’s start with the main man, Kaleb.

Oh, Kaleb.  My budding thief, word connoisseurfood snob *ahem, I mean critic*, scream king, master builder, tree house dreamer, beverage expert, and all around living breathing proof that insanity is hereditary.  First things first – it was time for a medication change.  After three years, we’d hit the limit with his current medication, and after his latest growth spurt (seriously, how freaking big is he going to get?!) it was no longer doing the job.  Allow me to explain that statement.  Kaleb went from a wily, crazy, creative, loud, messy monster to… well… the truth?  A total nightmare.  We couldn’t contain him.  And I don’t mean to sound like we didn’t try – because oh good golly did we ever.  But it so wasn’t happening.  He was completely out of control.  The violent mood swings and meltdowns increased 50 fold.  The ability to stop and listen long enough for words to sink in – completely vanished.  Grocery shopping turned into a marathon game of “get in, get out, quick quick quick before the screaming causes someone to kick us out”.  Dresser drawers destroyed, toys dismantled, books shredded, ear drums pierced.

Basically, it was time for a change.  Unfortunately, our family is more like the Musters than the Cleavers, and nothing ever goes right.  For starters, the boys’ insurance plans got changed in May (can we say pain in the ass?).  Which in turn, meant we changed pediatricians – something I’d been wanting to do for a while.  However, I clearly didn’t think through the consequences of changing doctors in the middle of a state-wide game of musical chairs.  Within days I had a call from Kaleb’s neurologist informing me that due to the new pediatrician, we needed an updated referral in order to go to our appointment the following week.  So, I immediately call the new doc, requesting the very simple act of faxing over a referral so we can go to his neuro to discuss the medication change.  And I was promptly informed that they wouldn’t do it without seeing him.  Which, due to the previously referenced game, they couldn’t do until October.  Ummmmm what?!  No.  Unacceptable.  Danger Will Robinison.  I cannot wait until October.  He needs his meds changed, and he needs it now.

He needs time to adjust before school starts.  We need time to decide the correct dosage, make sure there are no negative side effects (you know, like how he rabidly devoured anything with a hint of sugar within a five mile radius when he changed his ADHD meds last summer?), and you know – chill him the hell out!  So, now I had to play a new game.  Ring around the freaking rosy with the insurance company and every pediatrician’s office in the damn county.  After a week of frustrating phone calls, I threw in the towel and requested to be sent back to pediatric hell (AKA his previous doctor’s office).  Once done – quite quickly at that, I’m pretty sure the poor lady at the insurance company has started making signs to ward off evil every time she discovered it was me on the other end of her phone – I then had the delightful task of wrangling a referral out of the world’s worst doctor’s office.  Now, don’t get me wrong – it was never the doctor I had an issue with.  It was just everything else.  The fact that I’d show up fifteen minutes early for every appointment, yet never actually see anyone until two hours past my appointment time.  The fact that nobody ever calls you back – ever.  The fact that the dragon lady receptionist wouldn’t give you a straight answer if her life depended on it.

Regardless, there I was, making a very simple request – please send an updated referral to my son’s neurologist.  The very same one you have been sending once a year since he was 18 months old.  Not so difficult.  Or so one would think.  A full month went by with me calling the neurologist every three days only to confirm that they had not yet received the referral, then calling the pediatrician to once again request that it be sent.  Finally, the lady on the phone confirmed the doctor she was sending it to – who just so happened to be the sleep specialist Kaleb hasn’t seen in years – not the neurologist.  The next day we finally got to reschedule Kaleb’s appointment, wham bam thank you ma’am!  Of course, it was for three weeks away, pushing us ever closer to the start of school.  Now, we’ve got him on new meds – but of course we’re on the lowest dose possible to start, and have to wait six weeks to go back to increase the dose if necessary (which, it most certainly is).  In the meantime, Kaleb has been a busy boy – but more on that later!

Now, on to the Mini Monster…

Ah, Mason.  Little devil.  Seriously.  Yes, he’s cute.  He’s freaking adorable.  He’s melt-in-your-mouth-sweet when he wants something from you.  He’s inquisitive as all get-out, to an excessive degree.  I mean, how many times can one person hear “what’s that?” in a fifteen minute time span without starting the slide to complete madness?  He’s also stubborn, aggressive, picky, obsessed with cars (still) and deceptively manipulative.  Oh, have I also mentioned that the kid has an arm reminiscent of a child-version of Cy Young?  I’m not joking.  If you had any idea how many times I’ve been pegged in the head by that dead-on aim you’d end up with sympathy headaches.

Not too much has changed in the world of Mase in the past few months.  His vocab is better – strangers can almost understand him more often than not!  His fine motor skills… well, we’re working on that.  He still refuses to use utensils – not that he can’t, he’s just stubborn and lazy, and prefers the easy way (can you really blame him?).  He’s still obsessed with vehicles of all mode and make.  Trucks, cars, buses, emergency vehicles, trains, boats, planes, helicopters, you name it – if it has an engine and moves, we likely have a miniature version sitting somewhere in the house suspiciously positioned for maximum foot injury.  I have to get him a new copy of his “Things That Go!” Tag book for his birthday because he reads it so often it’s hanging on by a wing and a prayer.

Mason started full-day Pre-K this year.  Cue mom getting caught fist pumping and yelling “I’m Free!” in an elementary school parking lot.

All summer long we counted the days.  7 precious hours to actually accomplish something without having to drop everything every five seconds to prevent Monster 1 from strangling Monster 2.  Or Monster 2 from throwing a giant dump truck at Monster 1’s head.  Or the destruction of the house (massive fail on that one)… 7 chaos free hours, five days a week – imagine the possibilities!  Just imagine!  We certainly did.  Dreams of solo grocery store trips and actually eating my own lunch floated through my head like relentless torture.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my kids to death, and I’d do anything for them.  But holy crap.  Between Kaleb’s constant meltdowns and the two of them constantly at each other’s throats, it was just about impossible to even leave the house with them, let alone actually go do something fun.  Add in the cabin fever we were all experiencing by the end, and can you blame me?  I’m just proud I didn’t spend the entire first day of school curled up on the couch in my snuggy watching the freakin’ Vampire Diaries.

Anyway, back to Mase.  He’s officially a big kid now.  No, that does not mean he’s potty trained.  I swear the kid fluctuates between being convinced the toilet contains the devil, or determining the sole purpose of the device is to wash his favorite dinosaurs and matchbox cars.  But he is going to school full time now.  Now, originally, I was seriously skeptical.  Like considering getting a variance and driving him to and fro every day for the next two years to keep him in the school he was in instead of the new one.  Why, you ask?  Because he was being transferred to the school Kaleb was at 2 years ago.  The one that suspended him 17 times in a span of 3 months because the teacher quite simply (and this is a direct quote from her) “didn’t want to deal with him”.

Yeah, remember that?  Fun times.

However, I’ve got a whole lot more confidence this time around.  The reason?  There are actually a couple.  First, Mase isn’t Kaleb.  Was I worried about his brother’s reputation preceding him and making the road a bit bumpy?  Are you kidding?  I was terrified.  However, we finally got a lucky break.  When I went to the IEP meeting to discuss this upcoming year, I couldn’t have been more thrilled – he was getting a teacher I actually knew (not well, but well enough to have faith that things were going in a good direction), and liked.  I’d met her on multiple occasions while Kaleb attended the school, and I have a great deal of admiration for her – in much the same manner I do for Kaleb’s current teacher, who has turned into no less than a walking talking miracle for him.  So, that right there was a great big chunk of balm on my nerves.

The icing on the cake?  The administration has changed.  I don’t know where the old principal went, and quite frankly, I don’t care.  I don’t hate the woman, I’m sure she’s probably a generally nice lady who did her best.  However, I don’t take well to my child being treated like nothing more than a pest that won’t stop circling your head.  As much as I’d like to say she went out of her way to help him – it just isn’t true.  The VP at the school he’s at now?  I could, would, have, and will continue to say that he’s gone above and beyond.  It’s an insane comfort to know the people in charge of my child’s school actually care about the children – because I’ve met plenty that don’t in my short lifetime.  So, new administration, new teacher, new beginning.

So far Mase seems to be loving it – though I do feel bad – nobody sees the Mase-train coming until it’s steamrolled over them a couple dozen times.

So, there we have it.  New school year, new meds, oh and we finally got a golf cart!  We then promptly destroyed one of the batteries.  Yep.  We’re definitely more of the Munster type of family on this block.



Everything Is Awesome…

So, I’m not going to lie, today’s IEP meeting was…

Freaking AMAZING!


I am so pumped right now, I can’t even begin to describe it.  This was honestly the best IEP meeting I have ever had, and I could not possibly be happier.  It’s such an awesome relief to finally find a school with teachers and staff who really, genuinely care about my child and his progress.  Going from last year to what he has now is such a huge difference.

First of all – despite the events of the last two weeks, everyone previously agreed that Kaleb hit a bump in the road – but considered it a temporary set-back (one we are actively working on fixing), and they are getting rid of the harness!  I cannot wait to see the look on Kaleb’s face when he hears the news he’s been waiting to hear for months.  Second, he graduated out of OT!  I simply cannot believe it.  He’s been in Occupational Therapy since he was 2.  Now he’s finally met all of his goals, his gross and fine motor skills are up to par, and he’s good to go!  That was so unexpected, it’s still sinking in.

Another piece of awesome news?  Kaleb gets to keep his teacher next year!  He will technically be in first grade, but he will stay in the EBD classroom with the Godsend of a teacher he has now.  I am beyond relieved.  The thought of hashing out next year’s arrangement, dealing with a new teacher who may or may not understand how to work with Kaleb has been haunting my sleep for weeks.  To find out that he doesn’t have to deal with any of that (and neither do I!) is an incredible relief.  And let me just tell you a little something about this teacher, while I’m on the subject.  This is the kind of person who went out of her way to consult with a Gifted teacher (despite the fact that he won’t get the classification until at least next year) to figure out the best ways to challenge Kaleb’s strengths without going too far beyond the scope of what he’s able to handle.  She’s willing to go above and beyond to help him avoid potentially overwhelming situations, without stifling him or making him feel like an outcast.  She’s a freaking gift is what she is, and I’m so glad we get to have another year with her.

We talked about the gifted program (especially when the Gen-Ed teacher was consulting, and was visibly shocked by some of Kaleb’s reading and math abilities).  We hit a bit of a snag because they cannot test until at least a year has passed since the last test.  That wouldn’t be a big deal, except the school psychiatrist that Kaleb has spent the year working with and building a relationship with has gotten a promotion, and they’re bringing in someone new.  So, it was decided that we’d wait until the fall to re-do the test – giving Kaleb an opportunity to make sure he’s got his feet firmly planted under him, and he has a relationship with the new psychologist.  On a plus note, I asked if I could have our Developmental Pediatrician do a test of his own in June when we go for our yearly visit, and they all strongly encouraged it.

And, on top of everything else – the school nurse is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to administer Kaleb’s mid-day medicine.

Seriously, this school needs to win some “Everything Is Awesome” awards!

So, overall, this was the best IEP meeting ever.  I left feeling happy, a bit lighter, and definitely reassured that my child is in excellent hands day in and day out.  I can honestly say that’s never happened before.  I’ve always left feeling deflated, slightly disappointed, angry, or slightly sick.  This was such a breath of fresh air, and so desperately needed.

I want to say thank you to this school.  Your amazing teachers, support staff, therapists, behavioralists, and administration have taken a load off my mind, improved my child’s life every day, and I truly believe there aren’t enough ways to say thank you for that.

A Moment SUSPENDED in Time…

Just a few days ago I was thinking to myself… Holy Crap!  Kaleb might actually go an entire school year without getting suspended!  

Want to know what happened 24 hours later?  I realized I jinxed myself.  I came to this realization right about the same time his teacher was informing me that he’d been suspended.


Yep.  Two days before the pinnacle IEP meeting to remove the harness (after working for months to prove that he could maintain control of himself), he goes and gets himself suspended.  And he earned it – big time.  Honestly, I’m a bit surprised it didn’t happen Monday.  I guess on the positive side of things, I can definitely say the school didn’t want to suspend him – but he really didn’t give them a choice.  So, unlike the catastrophe of last year, this was fully merited on Kaleb’s part.  Not just because someone didn’t want to deal with him.

Then again, my 6 year old got suspended again.  Any upside is a moot point anyway.

Monday he got mad because there was no ketchup at lunch – so he threw his tray and punched another kid in the back.  Then at P.E. he didn’t want to jump rope the way he was being instructed to jump rope, and he punched another kid.  Terrific.  Then came yesterday.  Once again he got mad at lunch because he thought a kid was cutting line in front of him (which was not the case btw – he just wasn’t paying attention before) and once again threw his tray and punched a kid in the back.  Then comes the real kicker – literally.  He gets mad during P.E. again and walks up to a girl who for her own special needs (I wasn’t informed what kind) had to sit out of class that day.  He then rears back, and kicks her as hard as he can.  He then continues to do so until a crowd of other kids comes over to see what is going on, and he starts screaming “violent and unpleasant” things at everyone around him.  They end up having to pull him away.

What the hell?!

I’ll be the first to admit that he’s been devolving for the last couple weeks.  It’s been day after day of highly emotional, overwhelmed, over-reactive Kaleb for going on three weeks.  But what we haven’t seen at home is increased violence.  We’ve seen more screaming, more crying, more crawling under furniture and refusing to listen.  We’ve seen him meltdown at the drop of a hat, drop to the floor like a sack of flour, and get hysterical over the most seemingly insignificant things.  But he hasn’t physically lashed out.  Actually, that’s been more of Mason’s gig lately.  Mason’s the one using his ridiculously well aimed arm to throw, whack, and swat.  Kaleb hasn’t been an angel on that end – but he certainly hasn’t had any real change.  9 times out of 10 Mason is the one hitting Kaleb first – and Kaleb’s been just upset enough to come tattle-  rather than retaliate – most of the time.

At first I just thought it was the growth spurt he was going through.  The kid’s size 7 jeans when from resting on the top of his sneakers, to sitting three inches above his ankles in a matter of days.  And during this time he also started sleepwalking again, and looked extremely tired each morning.  So, I attributed the emotionally heightened state to that.  And it might still have something to do with it.  We might need to adjust his medication, or hell, at this point, I wouldn’t be completely against trying something new.  And the increased violence could also have something to do with a few new students being added to his class – which has definitely been known to trigger behavior issues in the past.

He’s been on his current medication for years.  As much as we didn’t want to go the medication route, his escalating violence made it almost impossible to even send him to school, and he really had no control over himself.  When Kaleb hits that meltdown mode, it’s like a switch is flipped and all cognitive thought goes out the window.  He’s 100% primal impulse.  There are many times when he genuinely can’t even remember what he did after the fact.  The medication helped with that – he obviously still has meltdowns, but he was able to stay in at least enough control of himself to minimize the damage, and he rarely sought to harm another person.  We’ve had to make some adjustments over the years, to accommodate his growth, as well as the tolerance levels building in his system.  But now we’re concerned about what we do when he hits the point where we can’t make any more adjustments – or when we hit a dosage level we are uncomfortable with.

Enter problem number 2 – Tuesday’s incident likely would have been worse – much worse – if he hadn’t been on his medication.  Because even with his escalating violent behavior, at least he still retained a small bit of control.  He didn’t completely check out while it was happening – which is when the real damage starts (you can asked my pre-medicated-Kaleb self about the concusions and severe bruises from head to toe), this I know for certain.

So, what do we do?  Do we try and increase again?  Do we try to switch things up?

I don’t know.  But I did make an emergency appointment with his neurologist for yesterday after Mason got on the bus (Shout-out to Aunt Brittany for saving my skin and getting Mason off the bus, and sitting with Kaleb for the IEP today), and re-confirmed his with his developmental pediatrician for his yearly appointment.  It’s time to gather the troops and nip this now before it gets worse.

Now, unlike 99% of the times he got suspended last year, Kaleb was seriously in the wrong this time – and I’m determined to make sure he understands why he’s in trouble.  This isn’t going to be two days of fun and mini-vacation.  We’re talking serious restriction this time around.  No TV, no Legos, no games, puzzles, or electronics.  The only things he is allowed to do are:  read, homework, clean, sleep, and eat.  This is the anti-fun time, and every single time he asks why I’m going to remind him of his suspension, and I’m going to explain again, why what he did was wrong.  Maybe it will sink in, maybe it won’t.  But it’s better than just doing nothing and blaming it on autism.  Kaleb was aware of what he was doing when he walked up and kicked that little girl, and he needs to understand why that is so very wrong.

And of course there’s the IEP meeting today.  Which is probably partly a waste of time – because I just don’t see them saying “Yep, lets get rid of the harness even though he clearly can’t control himself in school, and is therefore a potential danger to the other children around him.  Letting him loose on the bus sounds like the perfect solution for out of control behavior and violence.”  I can’t get mad if they want to keep the harness.  Honestly, I would be shocked if they said anything else.  The variables are too great.  He has tried so very hard over the past few months to prove that he was ready, and I’m so very proud of him for that.  And then he wrecked all of that hard work in minutes.  And that just sucks.  It sucks to know that he’s going to be set back by what he did.  But maybe he needs to be.  Maybe he needs to really understand how much one action can impact his life.

At the same time, I do want his Gifted testing redone, and since there’s obviously a problem with him right now, an already planned meeting is the best time to try and address it.  So, hopefully it’s only partly a waste of everyone’s time.  

Anyway, we drove to Orlando and we saw his “kid doctor” that he “loves because he is super nice and fun and listens” (this is why the drive is worth it). We decided that a change may be in the air, but some of that change is going to be determined by tomorrow’s meeting.  Which is hopefully not a waste of anyone’s time. Kaleb is brilliant, beautiful, creative, excited, enthusiastic, and his imagination is far beyond my own.  I just want to see him excel and grow, both emotionally and academically.  Which I have every confidence he will… as soon as he learns the value of self-control.

I so cannot wait until Friday.