Crunchy Intro

I’m taking a break from Autism today to talk about being crunchy. As in, using natural products, for me, mostly in the beauty department. I have come to realize I’m a crunchy girl and I better just embrace it! Speaking of crunchy, check out this blog if you have a few minutes… or hours.

I dislike the chemicals in most of our beauty products. Given that our skin is our largest organ, shouldn’t we watch what we put on it? I’m going to do a quick synopsis of my projects both current and future, and plan to do separate posts on each of them with more details.

Hair

I tried the No ‘Poo experiment last year for about 5 months. It eventually didn’t work that well for me. As my hair got longer and the days got hotter (it was over 100 for about a bajillion days last summer) my hair looked worse and worse. I went back to shampoo, and only recently have been thinking about trying no poo again. I found an article on crunchy betty about Sorta ‘Poo using castille soap and coconut milk. I’ve added it to my to-do list.

Skin

I made a hard lotion a few weeks ago from this recipe. It works great as a cuticle cream and chap stick. I’m going to look for empty chap stick tubes to put it in.

I’ve been wanting a lotion that was creamy enough to use on my body after the shower. Currently I use straight coconut oil, but it’s solid at room temp, which makes it hard to apply and it’s not quite moisturizing enough for my winter skin. So yesterday I melted together coconut oil, cocoa butter and jojoba oil. Then I whipped it (like frosting) so it would have a creamy consistency. So far, so good, though I smell like dessert and am craving sweets more than usual.

Deodorant

This is perhaps my most successful area. I’ve been afraid to blog about it, because who wants to talk about their armpits??? But for a year now I’ve been mixing together equal parts coconut oil, baking soda, and corn starch. After I shower I apply a little bigger than a pea size amount under my arms. And I don’t stink. I do sweat, but you get used to that. So there you go, more than you ever needed to know about my armpits.

Face

My skin is terrible. It’s aging and has pimples. Lucky, I know. I’ve never been happy with any of the face stuff I’ve used, and I feel like I’ve tried it all… expensive or cheap, nothing works. I’ve been researching the Oil Cleansing Method, and I have been very skeptical. Yesterday I decided why not? If I try it and break out, how is that any different? And then I will know. So I mixed together a concoction specific to my skin type and gave it a go. I’ll update as I try it out.

That’s it for now. I do feel a bit like a chemist with all my jars and bottles of oils and potions.

Or maybe a sorcerer with a witches brew…sure hope my face doesn’t turn green and warty.

 

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Siblings WITH Rivalry

Let’s talk parenting books for a minute. Do any really exist for kids on the spectrum? I’ve read a great one about teaching life skills, but that’s not really what is tormenting me on a daily basis. Sibling issues are destroying our calm these days.

I’ve pulled out my copy of Siblings Without Rivalry to peruse again. I read it once when Carlos was very small, but still big enough to be annoying to his older brother. I remember, vaguely, liking the book.

All I know is the sibling fights are not healthy, at least the way they happen here. Inevitably I end up wading in, and probably make it worse instead of better.

But really, is there anything more blood boiling than hearing your children yell, scream and hit each other? It is such a hot button for me.

And jealously…good grief. Carlos turned six last week, and I thought Jett’s head was going to explode with jealousy over Carlos’ gifts. I know it’s normal, it’s just so unpleasant!

So onto the book I go. Trying to suss out a different style of doing things, to try to bring some peace to our existence.

Posted in Autism / Asperger Syndrome, Mothering | 3 Comments

Friday Night Moms

I’ve been faithfully following a new blog called the Oxygen Mask Project. It’s essays written by other Autism moms with a focus on how they care for themselves.

It’s got me thinking about when Jett was 3, 4 and 5. Before he had an official diagnosis. When I was pretty sure his problems were because I was a bad parent and he might be a bad kid.

I did two things for myself during those dark years. First, I had a regular babysitter who came once or twice a week for a few hours at a time. Not only could I go to the doctor or dentist, I could also get my haircut, or see a friend for lunch. The best thing about her, though, was how much she cherished Jett and later Carlos and Letty. It was not only beneficial for me to have that time away from my children, but they also benefited being with another caregiver who also loved them.

The other thing I did for myself was attend the mom’s group at my church every Friday morning. This group met for two hours each Friday to drink coffee and talk about parenting. Childcare was provided, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration when I say this group saved my life.

Some Fridays I cried the whole time. Most Fridays I laughed much of the time. And all Fridays I talked, often more than I listened.

I was so needy. I was like a dry sponge, soaking in the love and acceptance I found there.

When Jett was 3 1/2, we had him evaluated by an OT, who diagnosed him with Sensory Processing Disorder. Those three words started us on the journey so many other AS parents go on as well. Twice a week occupational therapy, speech therapy, play therapy. Our time and money was spent with therapists all over town. Add in a one-year-old and and a year later another pregnancy, and we were busy. And stressed.

There wasn’t much self-care happening. Until my mom friends from church decided we should all get away for the weekend. We had all just weaned our second babies, and we were ready for the freedom you just don’t have when you are the direct source of kid nutrition.

One of us has a beach house in her family, and we quickly picked a weekend in April. Email flurries abounded as we organized food and wine. We arrived at the beach about midnight that Friday night. We dropped our bags, poured wine, and ran out onto the beach. I have such vivid memories of the sheer giddiness I felt as we ran on that dark sand and stuck our toes in the ocean. We were free from children for the first time in three or more years. We were in a place where we had to be responsible for only ourselves.

I came home changed. I knew it was possible to thrive even with the circumstances of my children. I knew as long as I had friends and time like that, I could make it.

Since that weekend, my group of friends has changed a little. Most everyone has gone back to work, at least part-time. We have added members to our pack and some of our members have moved or gotten involved in other things.

We no longer meet every Friday morning. We call ourselves the Friday Night moms now and we still try to get together every month or two. There is always wine. There is almost always crying. And laughing. There is always talking. And listening.

And we still go to the beach. Sometimes just once a year, but in good years we go twice. I’ve never recaptured that initial giddiness I felt that first trip, now I experience a peaceful comfort I rarely feel in my daily life.

That comfort sustains me.

Posted in Autism / Asperger Syndrome, Mothering, Small Moments | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

But I don’t want to share!

I have an absent-minded professor living with me. His name is Jett.

Now I know, kids forget things. When I was small, people said to me “if your head wasn’t attached you would lose that, too”.  Luckily I mostly outgrew that trait.

I don’t know if Jett’s forgetfulness is a product of his Asperger’s, a fact of his y chromosome (another frequent joke I hear), or simply because he is my child. I suspect a combination of all three.

Whatever the reason, I vacillate between humor and exasperation. He will lose his shoe in the middle of the task. The other morning, driving to school, I spied a heap of black on the playground. “Jett, is that your jacket?”. Yes, it was. He didn’t even know it was missing.

The reason this is on my mind today is because he wants to sew. With my machine. I’m pretty protective of my stuff, I like it to be kept a certain way, and I like to know where it all is. I’m not particularly tidy, but I do know where everything is.

This morning he asked if he could make Carlos a pillowcase. And I lit into him about responsibility and taking care of stuff. About putting things away when you are finished with them. And my answer was “when you learn to take care of stuff you can borrow my sewing machine!”.

A little critical for 7:30am. And a little harsh for an 8 year old. So now I’m second guessing myself. How will he learn responsibility without opportunities? How will he learn to share if I don’t? Am I teaching him that I value my sewing machine more than him?

The lesson in here is probably all for me. Yes, I’m valuing my machine more than my child. And yes I’m being selfish not only with my stuff, but with my time and skills too. Does anyone else have something they don’t want to share with their kids? Am I the only selfish parent out there?

Posted in Autism / Asperger Syndrome, Mothering, Sewing | 3 Comments

2012 resolutions, or how to kick anxiety on it’s butt

Last year I wrote about my theme for the upcoming 2011: community. Little did I know how big that one word would become.

We moved, as planned, about halfway through the year. When we did, my old friend Anxiety came to live with me. This time, Anxiety revealed itself in the form of panic attacks.

Frequent. Severe. Debilitating.

Mostly they happened while I was driving. For a person who spends hours in the car each day this was not A. Good. Thing.

Quickly, I learned to stay out of the driver’s seat, unless it was necessary. And close. And all of a sudden I found myself limiting girls nights out, because they were too far. I stopped going to functions at my church. And I let friendships in my old neighborhood lag because I simply couldn’t drive that far.

I was much too embarrassed to admit my failure to anyone. It was even hard to admit it to J.  So I made excuses and cancelled plans.

Finally, in a meeting with my spiritual director, she encouraged me to find community in my hardship. She encouraged me to ask for rides to those places I viewed as out of reach. She urged me to be upfront with those people important in my life about my troubles. And in that reaching out, I might find healing. Or at least a ride to dinner out with friends.

It worked. I have had some great conversations with friends as we tool around town. And as I work through my anxiety in other ways, I am slowly getting my driving ability back.

As we rang in 2012 I thought about my word community, and how being intentional about it shaped my 2011. What did I want for 2012?

Self-care.

Otherwise known as putting your own oxygen mask on first. Changes I have already started making will become even more intentional this year. I’ve started practicing yoga. I am limiting alcohol and caffeine. I am trying to eat mostly whole foods with limited refined sugar. I’m also trying to be intentional about how I spend time with the kids. I want to be present to them, without wearing myself out.

I have to admit, this motto seems more unattainable than last year’s did. This will require more effort on my part. Luckily, self-care also includes knowing when to ditch all the limitations and just splurge. Irish coffee, anyone?

Posted in Grown People, Mothering, Small Moments | 1 Comment

Run, baby, run

Jett ran away.

Technically, he ran a 5k. Without me or any other adult he knew. Without permission. Sort of.

It was a parenting fail in a spectacular sense. Our neighborhood organized a pre-Christmas fun run. Just neighbors getting together to run/walk our neighborhood, see the lights, and enjoy each other during the holiday season. Awesome, right? Jett thought so too. He was so excited we forgot to lay out the rules. We forgot to explain how just such a thing works. And that he needed to stay with one of us.

He didn’t. And when I lost it on the street in front of God and everyone (screaming, yelling, holding him by the arm…one of my finer moments as a parent), he took off. And ran the course. Alone, in the dark. It took a neighbor taking my other two in their stroller and another neighbor driving me through the course to find him. He had only gone about half a mile and didn’t understand why I was upset. His plan? To ask someone for a ride home after he had run the race. We live in a nice neighborhood after all, he reasoned, and the people he was running with (who didn’t know he had adopted them as companions) would be more than happy to help him out.

Truth be told, they probably would have been happy to help him. But that wasn’t the point.

The next day at the grocery store, he got angry and disappeared into the bowels of the store.

We are now looking at purchasing a GPS locator with my phone number on it.

And what were his consequences you ask for such behavior? I still don’t know. I reached out to my community of other special needs kids to ask for advice. Regular parenting books just don’t cover this stuff. The best advice I got included the id/gps and setting up a safe place for him so if he needs to get away he knows where to go and be safe. We are also going to start some stranger danger education. We are well overdue for that, and ironically my mother in law gave us a great book for Christmas covering some of it.

I ended up, for better or worse, taking my parenting cues from a tv show. In the show Parenthood this past fall, Max, a boy who also has Asperger’s, goes to a museum by himself after his family tells him they can’t make the trip. They didn’t issue a consequence, and we didn’t either. We chose instead to fight the problem with education of the risks.

Is it the right answer? I don’t know.

 

 

 

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My Aspie stinks in math

Ironic, isn’t it?

One of the major stereotypes of Asperger’s Syndrome is an ability to function way above average in math.

Poor Jett. He must not have read that part of the book.

Math is killing him right now. It doesn’t help that the teaching style between the school last year and the school this year couldn’t be more different. He comes home with so much homework, we barely have time for living. Needless to say, none of us here at home are a fan.

Math is the worst culprit by far. Somehow Jett has made it to the third grade still adding and subtracting with his fingers. He never memorized his addition and subtraction facts, which makes the higher math harder and take longer.

Couple that with the fact that he does, in spades, have the Aspie trait of not focusing, and the problems with school just become compounded. His teacher pulled me aside yesterday to tell me that he was daydreaming all day yesterday. Yep. I can believe it. His first week of school he complained it was too hard and there wasn’t any time to “think his thoughts”. I guess he’s managed to carve out that time.

He now gets an aid in the morning and last thing in the afternoon to help him with transitions to and from school, including making sure his homework gets copied down and into the backpack. Unfortunately, an aid can’t guarantee the information actually makes it into his brain.

He is a really smart kid. That is part of my frustration. It’s too bad school isn’t one of his super-interests. If he spent a quarter of the energy he spends on memorizing car facts, or star wars facts, or Harry Potter facts on memorizing addition and subtraction facts he would be a star. But alas, right now, that isn’t in his bag of tricks.

Too bad those daydreams don’t include addition and subtraction.

 

 

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