• anxiety,  autism,  family,  mental health,  motherhood,  siblings and autism,  teen years

    Trying to protect my kids’ sanity

    Eleven days of school. We’ve had eleven days of the 2019/2020 school year. It feels as if it’s been an eternity. J has struggled, struggled oh so much these past eleven days. We have tried, what feels like, a million different strategies to put his mind at peace over the fire drill. Nothing has worked. The anxiety for August’s monthly drill had been building since his first XC meet, (August 24) and last week the anticipation for the end of the calendar month built up so much that he ran out of the school with severe panic Wednesday. I sat with him the morning of the drill Thursday. Friday, after…

  • autism,  family,  motherhood,  travel

    The boy in Barcelona

    Across the street from Gaudi’s gingerbread church the boy in Barcelona sits sandwiched between his mother and older sister. His arms flail as he squints and stutters sounds of protest in a language I don’t recognize. Scandinavian, I think. Something Nordic or Germanic. White blonde hair and blue eyes. Tourists like me. Like most of us in the park. There’s almost nowhere to sit. Steve and I sit hip to hip next to another man who might be a local and might be a tourist. The Lonely Planet and Rick Steves books say that Barcelona (like Lisbon and Rome) is a hot spot for pickpockets and I’ve developed the habit…

  • anxiety,  autism,  family,  travel

    Knowing when enough is enough

    I can’t believe we’ve passed the Fourth of July hump. Once you’ve hit the Fourth of July, you have only a month and some change of summer left and then it’s back to school again. I can’t believe we’ve passed the Fourth of July hump because I still don’t have my summer act together. I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants, just trying to make sure everyone is where they need to be and all of the things that happen in the in-between time happen too. Like I said, I feel like I still don’t have that under control yet. But that will be another post…

  • autism,  exercise,  family

    1+1+1+1=26.2

    Steve and I were pretty confident that J and W weren’t going to qualify for their EDC track meet (their conference before state). My kids run long distance but they’re not fast runners. All-star runners or not, they love running, and it’s been a family tradition to run the Fargo Marathon 5K for the past few years but this year we decided to change it up. Since we knew their track season would be over before the Fargo Marathon, (student athletes are not allowed to run road races or participate in extra-curricular competitions outside of their track or XC season), we decided to try something different this year. We decided…

  • anxiety,  autism,  family,  travel

    New York Trip Part 1: If we can make it there, we’ll make it anywhere

    I feel like Sinatra’s words couldn’t be more appropriate for today’s blog post—in the most literal sense. When we started our Spring(ish) Break: New York Tour we knew there’d be some hurdles to navigate. Steve chose New York as our spring break destination months ago and we knew that despite the hurdles, there were things working in our favour. Steve’s sister Heather lives in New Jersey, just an hour’s train ride into the city. Steve and I both have been to New York before and we figured we’d be able to pick out some things our kids would enjoy seeing. But still we anticipated a few hiccups and knew with…

  • autism,  family,  mental health

    #mood

    Give me a bag of donuts like the one little W is holding and I might make it a few more weeks in this weather. I’ve been trying really hard–really really hard–not to complain about these last few weeks of winter. One of my pet peeves is when people complain about cold weather. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me but I find it slightly offensive when people say, “I hate winter. I could never live in a cold place.” One of my biggest pet peeves is when we’re visiting friends or family outside of North Dakota and people find out we’re from Fargo and the first thing they say is,…

  • Education,  family,  high school,  mental health,  siblings and autism,  teen years

    Golden Students

    Two weeks ago, W and I were sitting at the kitchen table, talking through her AP Human Geography Packet answers. She’s been struggling to keep her grades up in that class, so Steve and I have been doing a little more intervention. We’ve been monitoring her homework in that class. We never, ever monitor her homework. But this is a “college” class, and will count for “college credit” if she passes the AP exam. It will also permanently affect her transcript when she applies for college, so we decided we better see what’s going on. Our first strategy? having her read her homework responses to us and talking through them…

  • autism,  Education,  family,  IEP,  learning strategies

    The Autism Influence

    It’s sometimes hard for me to separate the autism influence from our lives outside of autism. It always takes some shape or form in my writing. I write about autism on a weekly basis on this blog. Even though my current novel takes place in World War II and has nothing to do with autism, there’s still a character in there who struggles with mental health difficulties and I’m constantly reflecting on our own experiences to help me understand my character’s motivations better. That autism influence is always in the back of my mind. Steve has his own version of the autism influence too, and for him it started with…

  • autism,  family,  motherhood,  siblings and autism

    The Right One

    This post was supposed to be about Monday night’s trip up to Crookston, Minnesota to watch Temple Grandin speak but that will have to be next week’s post because something else has hijacked our week. We brought a dog home. Everyone in this family has been wanting a dog ever since we had to put Fred down (you can read about that here). Everyone, that is, except for Steve. For a year and a half, the kids and I have been begging Steve for a new dog. Finally, in December, Steve agreed to one and we surprised the kids with this card on Christmas letting them know we could start…

  • Education,  family,  high school,  siblings and autism

    All hands on deck

    This week was “all hands on deck” and by Tuesday night we very quickly realized that we were in desperate need of more hands. This was W’s first experience with finals, and to get her through the week took as much mental muster for me as it did when I worked with J (although in very different ways). W, on her own, got up at 6 am every morning to study for the finals scheduled for that particular day and didn’t go to bed until 10 pm each night. She was very stressed out (I think partly because she didn’t know what to expect and partly because “everything from now…