Monday, December 31, 2012

Ribbons and Bows

The sound of feet running up the stairs to jump on the bed with joy that Santa came doesn't happen here. Last year Nate got excited and jumped on the bed screaming that Santa came, and Sam decked him. Apparently he learned and it did not happen again this year. Sam came down 2 hours before everyone else and proceeded to have a full blown behavior. A carry over from the night before I am sure, but terrifying none the less.

The night before Daniel had to work his second job so I had to get all five children ready for my mom's house and it was horrible. Sam was physical and angry. He was anxious and that made him uncontrollable. We were supposed to be there for 5...we got there closer to 6:30. I just wanted to cry and quit to be honest., but the other 4 children deserved a Christmas. I cried a lot and by the time I got to my mom's house I was spent. The boys opened their gifts and enjoyed it all well enough. The littles got these cool helicopters and the spinning blades were enough to center Sam.  By the time we got home Sam was on the edge again and lost it. He got so upset he threw up everywhere.

Christmas morning was more of the same and I dreaded church.I left my camera at my moms so I have no pictures from Christmas morning. Daniel and I were in foul moods after dealing with Sam, not enough sleep, stress, and just holiday blah. I was sulking on the ride to church when I saw a tiny cross in the window of a house we passed. I must pass that house every single time I leave my house. But today I saw the little white cross and it made me think...
There are 26 families celebrating without someone they love in CT. 20 families that likely had gifts for their children wrapped and hidden and would give anything for the messy house and wrapping paper blizzard. 20 families that aren't going to get a Christmas morning at all. There will be no giggling kids, no toys, no joy in their house at all.

I snapped out of my funk really fast and looked back at Sammy, all puffy eyed and red faced from crying. I told him I loved him. I looked back at Nate and told him too...and Tyler...and AJ. I adjusted my attitude to one of gratitude and calm and it all seemed instantly better. I kissed my husbands cheek after church and reminded him.. we. are . blessed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Almost time...

It's almost Christmas and we have been so busy getting things done, lots of knitting and baking, some crafting and sewing, and a whole lot of eating too.

We celebrated Dan's family Christmas last weekend while his mother was here from Florida. I made tutus for the little girls and capes for the little boys,caramel for the teens and hats for some of the other teens. One of the kids even received a Grover hat! The littlest family member received a beautiful knitted cap.

Grace got quite a few baby dolls which have now become her very best friends, some very sweet clothes, and a tea set. We have had a tea party every day since. Nathaniel and Sam got Legos and cool remote cars, markers, tool belts and a house to color. The children were all very pleased.
totally ready to party

our morning getting out the door was difficult to say the least. All our gifts were ready to go, the food was waiting to go in the car, and true to form Sam was beside himself. Social stories did not seem to help him this time like last year and he just could not pull it together. A quick text to my MIL to let her know we may not be going and to please come get the gifts for the kids. When she showed up we had just finished restraining Sammy, he had no shoes on, his face was puffy, and I was in tears. We couldn't find Sam's shoes anywhere. a hour of looking resulted in absolutely nothing more than being totally frustrated.

I made an executive decision to jump ship. I sent him with my MIL and older son. He put on my crocks and he went.
he spent the day in the basement , alone. He played alone the entire time the party as going on (after I made sure he was not going to get hurt or escape). He did come up to eat. He did not want to come up for presents and at one point even told Daniel he just didn't want any presents. An hour or so later I saw him from the corner of my eye walking along the hallway rubbing the plaster. He came in and opened his gifts.

Lego Reaction

In the long run, it was a win. It still makes me sad to see him separate himself from everyone. I am glad he knows what he needs and that we know enough now not to force the issue. A few years ago that wasn't the case. He just enjoys these things in a very different way.

Sam inside the bench, with the Legos.. Sammy Heaven
I spent the difficult times during the party (before and after too)  giving up the stresses for the souls in purgatory. It's no secret social responsibilities are hard for me too. I have tried very hard this advent to keep the focus where it needs to be with the children and myself. So many times I came up short on what I had hoped for myself.

But like everything else, God isn't done with me yet. I look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ with my family and making next year better. I am blessed beyond all measure to have healthy wonderful children, a loving husband, and Faith that all the things that suck in my life will get better.
Those tough days, are the days when God is working his magic on me to help me be the person I was always meant to be.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rethinking it All

I was sitting here today having a little pity party for myself. Sam has been a bear lately and full of anxiety and stress. I was thinking about all the Christmas-y stuff we just can't do because Sammy can't handle it. I was pouting over the gifts I can't afford and all the stuff that isn't done. I sat here  upset because my children didn't finish their chores and I am STILL drowning in laundry. Frustrated at the aftermath of the flooded basement and my cumbersome belly that just hinders the clean up effort. I was angry that Christmas wasn't going to be "perfect" I was wallowing. Not pretty but it is true.

Then I caught a Facebook status about Connecticut and a shooting. I assumed it was more of the same insanity that goes around this time of year. Someone lost their job and lost their crap and as a result something bad happened. I however was not prepared for what I found. A school, an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, for kids 5-10 years old was at the center of the story. Possibly 27 people killed, more than half of them likely children.

I am sick to my stomach. I can't wrap my head around the tragedy that will ripple through the US over this senselessness. The families that lost a child, or other loved one, the first responders, and the survivors aren't worried if the trim in their kitchen is painted in time for Christmas.

Suddenly it doesn't matter that my tree hasn't been decorated, or that the walls need to be painted.It's irrelevant that they won't get super special gifts or see the lights at Lasellete. It doesn't matter if the laundry isn't done... it's never done anyway.

It made me really rethink about what is important this year and what I need to focus on. I am rethinking it all and changing my plan.
I will cuddle with the kids tonight no matter how cranky and miserable they have been. I don't care if their chores are done, I don't care if the laundry beeps. It. Can. Wait. because these guys are growing up far too quickly and they won't still be there later. I am sure the parents of those children are wishing they could do the same.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Sam really wants to participate in a sport. He has asked to play soccer but in order to do that he would need to wear socks which he refuses to do.  Plus we did find that soccer moves to fast for him. By the time he is aware the ball is near enough  to kick its already going to other direction. It was difficult to watch him play and cry that year. One game he bolted for the parking lot full of cars and another mom caught him.

Baseball won't work because as physically adept as Sam is he doesn't have the patience or the coordination for it. Plus you have to wear a helmet and according to Sam "helmets smell like butt"

Running would be great but Sam sees no purpose in running just to run faster than everyone.

What we needed was a team sport that will utilize his amazing strength, teach him self discipline, allows him to function as a single unit while still part of the team,  does not make him wear socks, helmets or any other uncomfortable gear. Tall order that I really wasn't sure we would find.

Our oldest boy wrestles, and wrestles well. In fact he is AMAZING at it.

 His coach teaches a youth program but there was no way we could afford the 200$ to place Sam in a program that he may just quit week two. Sam was invited anyway and everything came together to allow him to try it. Nothing short of a miracle. Tyler is assisting with the youth program coaching and both Coach P and Tyler know all about Sam. He was invited anyway. Did I mention that?

Of course he is all over the place and he can't stand still. The other 8 year old in the group stands there and listens intently to the couches. Sam takes some extra direction and extra work. he watches himself in the reflection of the dark windows... a lot. But he is learning. Coach P is so patient and wonderful with him. Sam seems to be really enjoying it.

Week two and no refusals and he has even done his homework before practice.

Now That is PROGRESS
and all forward progress counts.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Beginnings

This week we passed the anniversary of Sam's diagnosis. I thought about it and considered writing about it, but I chose to focus on something else. It was 2007 when the word autism connected to Sam and we have come so far since then. It hardly seems like the same life honestly. Most Days. Other days It's still just as bad but with a bigger child to control, and that can be hard. The difference now isn't so much him , though he has made huge leaps the past few years, it's me. I understand more of what makes him tick. It took me 8 years to figure out just a small slice of what makes Sam I am who he is.

I am working so hard at focusing on advent and my heavenly father that I am making a conscious choice to not dwell on it right now.  Something amazing occurred to me this year Sam's anniversary of his diagnosis falls on the feast of St. Nicholas. Sometimes gifts come in packages  wrapped with shiny paper and beautiful bows, others simply fly under your radar. Maybe that is how it is for us.  Sam is a gift to all of us, even on those difficult days that make me cry. Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you least expect.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas is coming

It's advent season and most people are thrilled and excited about the upcoming christmas season. Here, not so much.I find myself longing for Christmas as I had pictured it would be.   I had this unrealistic idea of what I THOUGHT it was going to be like. I use to try and make it happen. Somewhere along the way that changed.  Yes, Autism was part of it, but there is more. Every year I am slapped with a hard truth that the idea of what my life would be is very different from reality. For kids like Sam this time of year is really hard. I have never really liked this season either, to be completely honest.  My christmas morning is full of meltdown and chaos. Christmas  Eve I inevitably find myself  surrounded by mountains of wrapping paper and tape trying to get it all done. I always find myself in tears at 3 am staring at the tree thinking "There has to be more to life than this" and praying we at least get through the day without having anyone seriously injured by Sammy. I typically come "unglued" 15 bazillion times in one day and I miss it all.
my blessings

It happens a lot lately really, I just fall apart. I burst into tears for no discernible reason. In fact the other day I began to laugh at something and found myself laughing so hard I burst into tears and began sobbing. Sneak attack for sure. I'm working on it and leaving a lot of this to God because I'm just not big enough.

Typically this season means we will spend too many days with people who just don't get it, people who think we are crazy, overly lenient, overly strict, too uptight and that Sam is just spoiled. Some will make comments, some will roll their eyes, and maybe just one of them will finally understand it this year... wishful thinking I suppose. I can't just avoid them because some may or may not be related.

This year I am willing it to be different...

I received a great pamphlet from my MMIL (meddling mother in law, which is my affectionate name for her) about making advent special. We spent some time together Sunday coming up with ways to make this season special. We have some good ideas. We even played a game answering questions about the first days passage (it was based on Sunday's Gospel reading) the kids earned chocolate chips for each right answer. I think they might have even had fun...maybe.

We still don't have a tree, my advent calendar I wanted to make is still not done, and I have only a few presents made for Dan's Family Christmas Party. The littlest girls are done, and the youngest boy. The two middle boys should be done this week, then its simple stuff for the older Roy kids (a scarf and some caramel popcorn). Because things are so very tight this year financially (Dan had to get a second job) Everyone is getting homemade gifts. There are some who will not appreciate it, some who never say thank you, and some who seems grateful.
But I won't let it bother me. I made some baby steps this season for all of my family. My Dear Friend Michelle has an advent link up and so I am joining her.
I made a list of HOW I want to implement a better advent season at my steps right

I will enjoy my kids.
I will take 15 minutes Each day to sit quietly and talk to God. Not complain but Thank
I will make a list of what I love about each child and place it in their stocking for Christmas Eve.
Before I Freak Out I will count to 10 and ask if it is really worth it.