Progress That Doesn’t Look Like Progress

Wow, what a mess we have here.  Four days left until we pick up the truck and begin to vacate this house!  And the place is messa wreck – no visible counter space, the contents of our medicine cabinet on the floor in the living room, boxes obscuring every view in the house… But I’m keeping my panic at bay, because as a special needs mom, I know that progress doesn’t always look like progress!

The Boy is holding up well, being a real trooper.  I have shared our “moving book” with him, and he seems to be doing pretty well, even with the house in so much upheaval, even with the end of the school year upon us.  Today we talked about the lady with the son who also loves Cars who will be coming to pick up his Cars bed this week, and he was OK.  We talked about how he could sleep on his mattress on the floor until we head south, and he was accepting and conversational… he was fine!

My parents have been here for four days already, helping me in numerous ways, as they always do when life throws me big change.  And together, we’re chipping away at what needs to be done.

So, while I can’t exactly walk across the floor without impediment, and while I’m sleeping on a crash pad in the basement, and even though there is much yet to be done, we’re making progress.  And that’s more than OK!

The Moving Book

Tonight, The Boy turned to me and said, “Why do we have to move?”

change goodIt just about breaks my heart, because I know on the inside, he is still adjusting to this very big change I have foisted upon him, although on the outside he has been a trooper.  And even though we have talked, and talked, and talked about this for a long, long time, I know it is still hard for him to understand.

A long while ago, I came across the suggestion to make a book about the moving process so that The Boy could have a resource to refer to when he was feeling anxious or unsure.  My lovely mother helped me flesh out the idea, and even did some of the legwork for me, taking pictures of his favorite places in our new area to include in the book.

My goal with the book was to acknowledge his fear, but accentuate the positive.  Tell him what exactly will change, and what will not.  Include pictures of familiar things in our new home and community, and pictures of good times with The Man, and with his grandparents.

I’ve been working on his book for awhile, and I shared it with him tonight, hearing his anxiety once again in his honest question.  We read through each page, and he looked at the pictures.  When we were finished, he was at least smiling.  I asked if he felt better and he said he did.

If you’re going through a move with an autistic child, I highly recommend the National Autism Society (UK)’s page, and a couple of other resources listed below.  You can never begin preparing your child too soon, and creating a moving book is one strategy to help calm those moving anxieties that I think will be so helpful!

Tips for Making a Move More Successful – Different Roads

Tips for Moving with an Autistic Child – Elsia R. Sebastian, Yahoo

A Packing Tip: Necklaces

I was a packing fiend today, and managed to get just about everything packed up in my bedroom, including my jewelry.  Remember my storage board for necklaces?  It was fairly simple to pack up all those necklaces using some Glad Press n’ Seal:

I put some, sticky side up underneath each set of necklaces, and arranged them so that there was some space in between every strand.  Then I placed another piece of Press n’ Seal, stckiy-side down on top, pressing it into all of those spaces.

When I was finished, I slid the tops of the necklaces off of the hooks, finished pressing the pieces together, and rolled them up lengthwise to pack in a box.  So easy! (and much easier if you turn the cieling fan off first, so it doesn’t blow your Press n’ Seal all around so that it sticks to itself…)

Time for High Gear: We Really Are Moving

We have 10 weeks to go before the big move, and it feels like we’re out of time.  We have prepped The Boy, and he has shown increasing acceptance, although he still talks about cloning himself, so that various copies can attend all the middle schools in our area, and one can even play video games all day and visit his current ASD teacher after school.  I don’t disabuse him of these fanciful notions, choosing instead to concentrate on the realistic, and I am getting a strong urge to kick it up a notch with this approach.  I picked The Boy up from his dad today, and began talking about the changes to come, reminding him of everything we had talked about with the moving process.  At first, all seemed OK, and then he began to fret about last spring break.

Labyrinth of MemoryPart of his autism includes never forgetting things that have upset him, which are usually times he has missed school for various reasons.  Luckily he does not get ill often, but there have been times over the years when he has either had to stay home from school or be picked up due to illness (I learned early on never to make appointments for the doctor or dentist that interfered with school, because I would never hear the end of it).  Last spring break, I had to make an agonizing decision about pulling The Boy out of school for a week so that I could have a vacation.  Our breaks did not coincide, and not pulling him out meant I would get no break at all.  It may sound selfish, but I am firmly in the camp that believes that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, and therefore I decided to pull him out.  I also chose not to tell him that he would be missing school.  Honesty is usually the best policy, but if you don’t have to step in manure, than why would you choose to?  Unfortunately, a parapro let it slip a few days before that he would, indeed, be missing school, and that was just about the worst thing that could happen.  It was as close to the end of the world as it could get for The Boy, and on top of it all, I had “lied” to him.

Needless to say, with the memory he has, especially for tragic events, this has come back to haunt us a time or two, as it did today.  The Boy was in tears about something that had happened a year ago, and it is one of those things about autism I have a hard time wrapping my brain around.

We talked about how it was in the past, couldn’t be changed, and how we had to move on from that.  I promised it would never happen again, and he launched into his next set of fears, having to give away all of his toys, because he is “skipping middle and high school, and going to college”, like Andy from Toy Story 3.  We have talked about how we will be purging some toys before the move, and this is how he interprets it.  So we talked about part of growing up is outgrowing things like baby toys and baby clothes, and that once you learn what those toys have to teach you, they are much more suited to younger children.  I reassured him we weren’t throwing toys away (a constant fear, again, thanks to Toy Story 3), but donating them so that 3rd graders could play with his 3rd grade toys, and so on.  This idea of outgrowing clothes and toys seemed to make more sense to him, and he quieted, thinking about everything I had said.  After a while, his tears turned to smiles, and we were back on track.

Making the Best of it

I’ve mentioned before how my patience is wearing thin, and contrary to expectations it is actually getting harder rather than easier as we approach the end of the school year (and the move, and all of the requisite life changes).  I feel a bit like a lame duck must feel.  Restless, bored, ineffectual, and impatient.  It’s a pretty unsettling feeling.  I have been so content and happy these past three years, that this daily unrest (albeit mental) is getting old, real fast.

I am also not one to sit and complain and do nothing, so…

English: This is actually Tom's Restaurant, NY...

Tom’s Restaurant, NYC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I plan to make a list of some of the things I enjoy about this place where I live, and this situation in which I live, and attempt to make the best of the rest of our time here.  For instance, I love a good restaurant, and living in this big metropolis, we have plenty to choose from, which will not really be the case after we move south.  We generally eat out once a week or so, and if you do the math, that leaves 13 restaurants to visit one last time (give or take a few).  Whoa.  Mind boggling!  Which ones will make the cut?  And what will I order?

This is a much more fun way to look at these remaining few months before we can start the rest of our lives, don’t you think?

Overwhelmed

Transport of a house (photo taken in New Zealand)

Somehow this seems much easier…

It’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed these days.  I started to panic today when I realized it was already March (again – I’ve been doing this a few times a day since Friday), and we basically have three and a half months to prepare for one of the biggest moves of our lives.

Moving stinks.  Before the divorce, it seems like we moved just about every year.  I’m not sure why, but it was pretty awful.  Especially the time I was pregnant, and was not allowed to carry anything, and my ex-mother-in-law set up my kitchen…  I never, ever could find anything in that house.

When we moved to our current house, I was finally in charge, and all things considered, it was a pretty organized move.  I had help, of course, and hired movers.  This time around, I will also have help, and will not have to hire movers, which is a bonus.  The Man actually used to do this for a living back in the day, so that’s an even bigger bonus.

And the packing up won’t even be that difficult.  As I said, I’ve done it so many times, I could probably do it in my sleep, and find myself visually scanning each room even now, and making mental notes of things that will be donated/sold/freecycled or packed for the move.  Most of the moving checklists you find online suggest starting no later than 6 weeks before, and some as early as 12 weeks before.  Well, we’re at about 15, so you can see why I am feeling a little anxiety already.

No, the part that is on my mind the most are the details of life that will need to be taken care of: medical records, school records, bank accounts, change of address with all and sundry, insurance, drivers license and registration…  All of the minutiae that can be quite overwhelming.  Luckily I have some personal days that I can utilize between now and then to help me take care of the details.

If you have any moving tips, please share below.  I could use all the help I can get!

I Look Forward To…

Big, kinda scary changes coming up right quick for us.  But, all I can think about are all of the beautiful things I am looking forward to, like:

  • Forgetting what the negative sign and the little snowflake look like on my car dash display
  • Hanging out with my mom on a regular basis, which I haven’t been able to do since high school
  • Our newish mattress already down there.  If you can be in love with a thing, I should be engaged to it.  Especially since I bought my current one (here) in 1997.  Although, that’s not as old as the one in our guest bedroom at the new house.  That one is as old as this NBC logo:IMG_0629
  • My super stove in my new-to-me, ready-to-be-organized, hugest-kitchen-I’ve-ever-had:IMG_0816
  • A… slower… pace…
  • This:DSC00489
  • A real, live, breathing partner who has promised to do all the dishes.  Maybe that should be in our vows…
  • Not hearing sirens every freakin’ night and — Were those gunshots?  I think those were gunshots…
  • Sweet tea everywhere
  • Sunshine:ferry ride

Purging

I have a new thing on my to-do list every weekend: purging.  That is, getting rid of stuff that will not make the move with us.  While we are technically moving to a bigger house, we still have to get rid of the unnecessary stuff that we have collected over the three years we have lived here (and some of it much, much longer).

I don’t want to leave all of it for late spring – it would be too monumental a task.  I make it sound like I am a hoarder, which I’m not (although The Man thinks I am).  We just have a basement with stuff in every closet, and The Boy has way too many toys (thanks to all of the many people who love and spoil him).  We’ll be having a garage sale in the spring, but I will also donate whatever I can.  It just needs to be gone.

Moving boxes

I’m leaving the toys for last, because as you may have experienced, kids with autism tend to not want to give up their things, even if they haven’t used or played with them in six years.  One has to be a bit sneaky at times, and even then it can come back to bite you (“Mom!!!  I can’t find that green egg-shaped timer I had when I was four!  Where IS it???”).

Today, I will turn to my own closets, which I do about every three months or so.  But this time will be more critical, and I am in the right mood to rid myself of stuff that I will not wear again.

I think I’ll save the basement closets for next weekend…

Yes, We Are Moving

Our empty dining room in the new house...I did the mental math the other day, and it is only about six months away… Yikes!  I have so much to do.  It seemed like so far away for so long, that now I actually have to get out the planner and start penciling some stuff in!  I can’t believe it!  There are so many things we have to do like have a huge garage/Craigslist sale (which will basically entail a whole house inventory, and lots and lost of decisions), meet/talk with the autism society liaison where we’re headed so I can make some plans for The Boy, not only for school, but also for the summer, work on my transition plans for The Boy (including making a “Big Move Book” for him), and then the long list of actual moving details…

The last time I moved between states, I was four years old, so I wasn’t so involved with the details.  Now I have pesky things like a driver’s license and bank accounts that will need to be switched.

Oh, and there’s that small detail about employment…

And health insurance…

I think I’ll get right on this…

In January.