Take the Time

numbers-time-watch-whiteThe other day, I answered a phone line that I don’t typically answer because my co-worker got called away from her desk a few moments before.

The woman on the other end began to ask about the size of the boats we use and ended by explaining, “My son loves the water, you see, but he’s terrified of boats.  He’s on the autism spectrum.”

For a split second, I had a choice.  I could identify myself as someone who could sympathize on a very real level, or I could answer her question simply, and get off the phone quickly to answer another call.

“I totally understand,” I said.  “My son is on the spectrum, too.”

Come to find out, she had recently moved to the area with her family, and was looking to connect with other families, specifically with the aim of working to expand services for our kiddos in our area, because they really are dismal.  We chatted for a good ten or twelve minutes, and exchanged phone numbers.

Since then, we’ve friended each other on Facebook and connected again via text. I hope to meet her and her family soon, and introduce them to some of my friends and their families so she can start making some connections in the area.

I know that sometimes we get tired of carrying this mantel of “autism mom,” and sometimes we just don’t want to see another news article about a possible cause.  But I’m glad I made the choice to identify my true self.  Two years ago, I was where she is now, freshly moved to a new state and trying to find a new community of support and advocacy.  If we don’t take the time for each other, who else will?

I’m Struggling with Time

The Boy and I have been here for almost two years – I can’t believe it.  It seems like only yesterday we were packing up the rental truck, and tossing the huge TV to the curb in preparation for our big move.  And I’ve been at my job almost a year and half, too.  That I can believe, but that’s a post for another day…

I’m still adjusting.  And the biggest adjustment in all of our life changes has been time.  I have a constant feeling like I do not have enough time to get anything done that I need or want to get done.  Something is always slipping through the cracks.  It is true that I simply work longer hours.  But this is misleading.  Of course my school day was shorter than my current work day, but I was often in after school meetings, doing concerts, grading homework, and doing other school-related things well into the evening. I don’t often have evening obligations now. So while I technically work longer hours, I don’t think this is a big part of the issue.

Another part of it is having a husband to spend time with.  Before we moved down, I spent time with The Boy, but I had alone time, too.  I don’t get as much of that now, and nor would I want to be alone that much now that I am married. I enjoy spending time with my hubby!  That does mean less time for solitary activities, though. And if I have a choice to spend time with The Man or do things like the laundry, The Man wins every time – that’s a no-brainer.  But when it comes to reading or writing… well, it gets a little tougher.

I think the final piece of the puzzle is drive time.  It takes forever to drive five miles, and most destinations are a half hour away.  I leave work at 5, and pick up The Boy at Grammy’s, but we are often not home before 6. Most of that is wait time for The Boy who needs multiple timers to get him to leave, but it is also drivers who like to go 10-20 miles under the speed limit, and a default speed limit of 35 on two lane roads.  The grocery store takes 20-30 minutes to get to on a Monday evening… and so on.  Up north, when I picked The Boy up at 5, we could often get to the grocery store, do all of our shopping and still be home before 6.  It’s a big change.

I miss my idle hours

I miss my idle hours

During the summer I go to work earlier, and therefore leave earlier, so I think it’s a little easier to budget my time during the day. It is our busiest, most stressful season at work, but I also get a little down time to myself before the evening begins.  Everything is a balancing act, and although slight changes may make things easier, time will always be a struggle. At least spring is here, which means more sunshine and warm weather – they make everything a little easier. 🙂

Book Club Discussion: The Reason I Jump, “Never-Ending Summer” Part II

I’m continuing the discussion here today because The Reason I Jump is an important book.  Naoki Hagashida, at age 13, answered questions about autism from his viewpoint, and while his experiences are not the same as probably anyone else’s on the spectrum, hireasons thoughts provide insight, and provoke thought, neither of which can be bad for those of us who desperately want a glimpse into the minds of our children.

Question 32 asks about what those with autism see first when they look at something.  Naoki reinforces what I have heard in many places, that those on the spectrum see the trees first, and then the forest; the details before the whole.  He also says they tend to “drown” in the particularly striking characteristics of those parts, and it tends to be harder to see anything else. If someone you love is on the spectrum, you will have, no doubt, experienced the attention to detail.  The Boy is always drawing my attention to some small part that I never would have noticed without his help.

Question 33 asks about appropriate clothing, and why this can be a struggle for those in the spectrum.  Naoki says they know and understand why we wear the things we wear, but that they “forget” what is appropriate, and how to make themselves more comfortable. He also explains that those who choose to wear the same thing each day (we have had our battles with this, for sure!) feel like their clothes are an “extension of our bodies,” and a guard against changing situations.

Question 34 asks about perception of time. Naoki says, “the fact that we can’t actually feel it makes us nervous,” and this makes perfect sense to me.  Timers help many on the spectrum have a sense of passing time, especially those that are visual in nature. And because the future is uncertain, it is a cause for a great deal of anxiety.  This is one of those answers in this book that just “clicked” for me, a true “A-ha!” moment.

Again, this book is a source of inspiration and wonder for me, and may be the closest I’ll ever get to reading The Boy’s own mind.  Not every person on the spectrum is the same, but these answers are food for a great deal of thought, and foster greater understanding and patience between me and my son.  I highly recommend this book.

How Our Lives Have Changed: 3 Weeks

We’ve been in our new state, our new town, our new home for a little over three weeks.  In that time, we have moved in, started summer camp, and gotten married.  And we have settled in for the most part.  The Boy rebelled a bit for awhile when his camp turned out not to be exactly like his usual ESY experience, but he found some activities to love, and now looks forward to it each day.  I am desperately trying to find some form of employment, and unpacking and getting the house in order in the meantime, checking things off of my to-do list which has grown to several legal pad pages.  I have also been battling government offices to get my name changed, and to just get a driver’s license.  These things really shouldn’t be so hard when you are clearly a law-abiding citizen, but I digress…

The Ocean is Just Down the RoadOne of the most pleasant changes in our lives has been the proximity to Grammy and Poppy.  Besides being fabulous grandparents, they are also awesome parents, and great friends.  It has been exceptionally nice to have a girl’s afternoon with my mom here and there, and The Boy has enjoyed hanging out at their place in the afternoons, after camp.  As a former single mom who was never able to leave the house alone without the aid of a babysitter (and the requisite money involved), The Boy’s regular Saturday Night Sleepover at Grammy’s still brings tears to my eyes because I am just so grateful.  Every couple needs time alone, and this weekly respite is already oh-so-special.

The flip-side of this is that there are a lot more people in our lives on a daily basis, and this has taken a bit of getting used to.  We have to check with people now before we make decisions, and more compromise and flexibility are necessary every day.  This isn’t a bad thing, and it isn’t unexpected, but it is an adjustment.

We miss our friends, and I miss having adults to talk to, but this is no different from any other summer, for me.  I’m starting to have a hard time with not having something to do each day — I’m one of those people that needs to feel like I’m accomplishing something, and organizing my desk and hanging a few pictures just don’t qualify as “accomplishments”.  I’m trying to practice patience and perseverance in the job search.  Trying.

All in all, we are very happy.  The Boy is counting down the days until school starts, and is very excited.  I’m loving the summer sun and heat, reveling in the proximity of my loved ones, and enjoying being a newlywed.

Cheers! 😀

Moving Tips from the Flip Side

I swear I won’t post too much more about the move, but it is a big event in our lives, obviously.  And since I blog about our lives, it may have a few more appearances.  In case anyone is gearing up for a move, I thought I would post some things that we did, or really wish we had done for the move.

Some things we did:

I did a moving log.  Turns out, I didn’t really need this.  To be fair, it got to be about a week before, and my parents were after the movedoing some of the packing, and at the very end, we resorted to putting things in the nearest box, so it didn’t turn out to be very useful at all.  If you’re going to do something like this, you should start earlier than I did, and be committed to it for it to work, because truthfully, you’re not going to be looking for “books” after the move.  You’re going to be looking for hardware for the bookshelf and your son’s birth certificate.  Ahem.

We went cheap on the truck.  And I’m not sure if I would do it again.  We compared truck prices, and Budget was by far the cheapest and included unlimited miles, which is rather important when you’re moving 14 hours away.  But there are definitely some trade-offs for the price.  Truthfully, I could never have afforded the other companies, but using Budget was kind of a trying experience.  Not terrible, but anxiety-worthy.

You are probably going to end up purchasing at least some boxes and some packing material.  I found Home Depot to have the cheapest bubble wrap and paper, and Walmart to have the cheapest boxes.  If you live close to the store, you can do what I did: buy what you think you need, and then go back again (and again) to replenish.  If not, buy double what you think you need.

Schedule a donation pickup with Vietnam Veterans of America.  They will often come with only 24 hours notice, and are very reliable about coming when they say they will.  Be warned that if you have more than 25 items, you will need to schedule two different pick-up appointments.

For the final clean-out, purchase construction-grade trash bags of at least 3 mil thickness.  These are great for those last minute things that you decide will not be going on the truck, and they are sturdy enough to withstand weather and animals in the days on the curb after you move.

Use Facebook and Craigslist to get a few bucks out of your bigger items that aren’t making the trip.  We did a garage sale and it was rather a waste of time.  I sold most of our bigger items to friends via Facebook and people on Craigslist.  Be smart about it, and you can make some decent cash.  We earned enough for our gas and hotel on the way down!

Some things I wish we had done:

Try to do as much paperwork as you can in advance.  Just about everything is online now, and you can look up what you will need to do to register your kids for school, get a new driver’s license, etc. in advance.  Do this and locate all of the necessary stuff while you know where it is.  Put it in a brightly colored folder that you take with you in your vehicle, and don’t let it out of your sight.  I didn’t do this, and I am stuck until I can find all the documents I need (if I had a nickel for every time I say to myself, “but I saw it just the other day!!”…).

Be ruthless about purging before you pack.  I actually did quite well with this, but there always seems to be more stuff, doesn’t there?  You will most likely have donations and trash before and after you move, but it’s a lot easier if you can get rid of most of it before you have to find new places for all your stuff in your new home.  This is especially important if you are having anyone come to help you pack your stuff.  You may know that the bin of old clothes isn’t intended for the move, but your helpers certainly won’t, and may end up packing it up for you.

Be realistic about space planning in your new home.  Empty rooms seem so much larger than they really are.  Make sure you are being realistic about how much stuff can actually go into a 12×10 room…

Don’t kick yourself if it doesn’t go perfectly.  It won’t.  And you will be just fine.  Be prepared for things to go wrong, and then when they do, you can handle it with aplomb.  Think of it as an adventure rather than a task on your to to-do list, and try to have fun!

I hope these tips help.  Feel free to add more from your own moving experiences in the comments below!

IEPs, and Moving Trucks, and Appointments, Oh My!

Tomorrow, The Boy’s IEP team meets.  I am extremely lucky to have teachers that get him, and fight for what he truly needs, and a school system that allows us to make the best decisions for him that are not based on the almighty dollar.  I know many districts are not like that (ahemsome rather intimately…), and I know this isn’t the typical IEP experience.  I’m a little nervous about this being the last IEP meeting where I do not have to fight tooth and nail for my son.

kid to do list, list, Be happy and go home

kid to do list, Carissa GoodNCrazy

I also have to make arrangements and get things done — no rest for the wicked on this day.  Securing a rental truck for our big move, speaking to our wedding officiant, doing paperwork for The Boy’s summer day camp… The list goes on and on.

And finally, thanks to our super-accomodating pediatric office (*sarcasm*), I have to pull The Boy out of school at the end of the day, causing him to have to miss Kids Club for his physical appointment.  We’ve prepped him (both at home and at school – I LOVE his teacher!), and he should be OK, but you just never know.  I’ve built in a few treats after the appointment (a trip to Target, and dinner at his favorite restaurant) so that he has “good stuff” to look forward to and get him through.

And so… When I am busy like this, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but I’m actually doing OK.  I enjoy having a list of things to do, and especially relish the crossing-off of the things on the to-do list.  I feel like every “check!” is bringing us closer to family, summer, and the beginning of something beautiful.

Need to Reboot!

Did you ever have a day that felt like a complete waste?  I’m beginning to get overwhelmed, and as a result, I’m shutting down: not working out, not getting much done.  Too much thinking, and not enough doing.  I’m feeling fatigued and headache-y for no reason, and it’s taking major effort to get anything on my to-do list to-done.

Get things down to get things doneDesperate times call for desperate measures.  When I am thinking too much, I need to do a brain dump on a pad of paper, and write down every little thing that keeps popping up, even to the point of keeping it on my nightstand and jotting things down as they come to me in the middle of the night.  This is part of the Getting Things Done philosophy that I use, albeit on an irregular basis.  Once everything gets “dumped”, it needs to be organized into things that I can do something about, and things I can’t.  If I can’t do anything about it, at least it’s on paper and not circling my brain anymore.  If I can do something about it, it joins my to-do list.  For smaller tasks like housework, I can use the Pomodoro technique to get myself in gear, and the calendar works for larger to-do items – deadlines have always worked for me.

A day off (for organizational purposes, of course) and a massage (purely for the headache-y, fatigue-y feeling) may also be in order.

I don’t have time to be in a funk!

Resolutions

Never really make ’em.  Mostly because by their very definition they are doomed to fail, right?  I mean it has been pretty rare for me to make a change mid-school year and have it stick.

However, it is a good time to remind oneself of the things one had hoped to do the previous year.  The things one hoped to do and didn’t quite.  Not failures, per se, but the oh-yeah-i-ran-out-of-time-to-do-that kind of things.  The challenge is to re-evaluate, decide on priority, and either make the time, or let them go.

Yes.  Some of them need to be let go.  Ladies, Fellow Teachers, Perfectionists, some goals need to fall by the wayside.  We are constantly changing people – I know I am not the same person I was last January.  Priorities change, needs change, and even wants change.  Our goals need to change with them.

Among those things on which I will continue to work? Spending less time being sedentary, more time being active.  Engaging with my son more.  Eating homemade food more.  Keeping better track of my nutrition.

HNY

New goals? Try not to spend too much time getting sucked into wedding ideas and propaganda.  (Think small, and then divide that by 10 – that’ll be us.  Very little to plan means very little to get worked up about, which also means very little stress.  That’s my ideal!) Try not to procrastinate about important move details, and get ducks in a row as early as possible.  Try not to be too sad while The Man and I are apart – the end of the LD in our LDR is near!

What are you thinking about for 2013?

 

Fun Friday

The Boy and I have created a tradition called Fun Friday.  It was born out of some evening scheduling problems we had which basically boiled down to The Boy thinking I could drive him all over God’s Green Earth to … Continue reading