• autism,  empathy,  exercise,  family,  mental health,  mindfulness,  motherhood

    Lessons from the long run

    When I was pregnant I was aware of every single little change in my body at every single stage of my pregnancy. I took prenatal vitamins. I read up on and kept track weekly of what was going on with my body and what was going on with the baby growing inside of me. I figured out really quickly what exact foods and smells would trigger nausea and vomiting. I knew exactly which foods would help a little with the nausea: limes and carrots (I was in my first trimester of pregnancy with J during my last semester in college and so I would carry bags of baby carrots to…

  • autism,  empathy,  siblings and autism

    Autism Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum

    There have been very few moments where J and W haven’t shared the same space. They’re 22 months apart, and in the early days, it felt like I had twins. Because of J’s developmental delays and W’s precociousness, they moved in the same sphere. We had teachers and speech therapists in our house weekly, and while the adults struggled to engage J and keep him attentive, W sat at the table, ready to learn, the wheels turning. W attended J’s early intervention preschool as a peer model, pre-screened to meet requirements of academic readiness and the ability to have compassion for children with special needs. She moved around the preschool…

  • anxiety,  autism,  empathy,  high school,  IEP,  motherhood,  teen years

    Some weeks…

    Funny not funny story. Last week and a half has been a little rough. And as I started to write this blog post, I started thinking, hey…last year–at this exact very time–was rough. Last year J had an epic meltdown the day after election day. In fact, he got kicked out of school and I had to bring him home early. And then I remembered, hey…when did I write that post about being in the mid-semester slump? 2 years ago at around this exact time. Guess what happened this week? any guesses? J got kicked out of school for behaviour this Thursday. At this point, I’ve determined he’s an unpredictable predictable…

  • autism,  empathy,  family,  milestones,  travel

    A North American citizen

    It’s been really interesting being around J lately. We’ve spent an entire, intensive month relearning how to “read.” In a lot of ways, it’s like watching a baby or toddler discover things for the first time–there’s this genuine thrill of discovering something new. And it’s as if everything is new–like alien from a different planet discovering earth type of new. It’s thrilling and demoralizing at the same time (because I feel like we’re THAT far behind again when I realize how much he hasn’t picked up the “first time around”). Reading is really the impetus for this discovery experience. The way we’ve been reteaching J how to read requires him…

  • autism,  empathy,  family,  motherhood,  teen years

    The heart wants what it wants

    It’s been one week and we’re doing better than I thought. Of course, Monday afternoon was hard–heart-wrenching hard. After coming to terms with saying goodbye to Fred over those last few days, the kids were ready (or as ready as they could be). W had requested to keep his collar, while J requested to keep Fred’s leash and water/food dishes (for the next dog he insisted). Steve came home early Monday afternoon and the four of us went to the park to spend our last hour with Fred together and it really was a special time. I was as mindful as I could be–trying to be present with my kids, with…

  • autism,  empathy,  family,  motherhood,  teen years

    Saying goodbye

    This post was supposed to be about saying goodbye to middle school and all of the mixed emotions that come from that. But it’s not. I’ll write that one next week. This post is about saying goodbye to Fred. It’s funny isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be nice if life would let you just deal with one emotional event at a time, so you could really process it without anything else going on and just really use your emotional reserves for that one event instead of blubbering over a bunch of different emotional events at the same time? The last day of school and Fred’s downturn happened on the same day.…

  • autism,  empathy,  family

    Long term caregiving

    Between the J’s dentist appointment on Wednesday, J’s doctor’s appointment on Thursday, J being sent home for behavioural issues on Monday, and W staying home from school on Wednesday and still feeling crummy Thursday and me getting strep somewhere in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I’ve been thinking a lot about long term care giving, the stresses it brings, and how people respond to you when you’re a long term care giver. J’s dentist appointment was above average–not great–but above average. I was expecting a superbly perfect dentist appointment like the one a few weeks ago, but this time J started sobbing in the middle of it. Thankfully he wasn’t kicking,…

  • cross-country,  empathy,  middle school,  milestones

    The unexpected things

    Monday night I found myself in negotiations with J over something in a million years I never thought I’d be negotiating over. Two weeks ago, I had plans to drive up to Winnipeg and go to lunch with a friend from high school, but we had to change plans last second so we decided try again for Tuesday. Steve and I had it all planned out–he was going to be on call for the kids all day and take care of W’s piano lesson, morning/after school pickup, and homework so I could leave around 9 am and come back whenever I wanted to later that night. I really needed to…

  • autism,  empathy,  home strategies,  math,  middle school,  motherhood,  siblings and autism

    Character development

    I feel like I’m hitting that phase in parenting where all of a sudden, I’m connecting with my kids on a different, more mature level. Some of it (unfortunately) has been because of what’s been going on in the news lately. I’m finding myself having discussions about words like “groping” and “sexual assault” during afternoon pickup times. Usually it’s not a problem having NPR in the car when I have the kids around, but even as unflashy and unsensational public radio usually is, there’s just no way getting around quotes sometimes used by recent public figures. Most of these types of conversations I’m having are with W. But J was…

  • empathy,  travel

    We’re all in this together

    This post is picture heavy and prose light. Steve and I got back from Europe Sunday night and I’m refreshed and exhausted and ready and not ready to get back to life as we know it here in Fargo. I’ve got emails, work, laundry, and more to catch up on. I’ve got to reorient myself with the kids’ schedules, get the kids back into the chore routine. Find that balance again. After all, school starts again in a month. (Yikes!) I think the best part of this trip was the realization that there are hundreds, thousands, millions of people on this planet who live in many ways the life you’re living…