a little background

hi, my name is mandy and I have two amazing little boys. My oldest son, Ty, has been diagnosed with autism (which is what you will read most about in this blog); I also have Tripp, who is an amazing little brother to Ty (who you will also hear alot about). I was encouraged to start this blog to document our journey through life and life with autism... my world has been rocked in last few years and i have responded in good ways and bad ... but Jesus has gotten me through all of it...

i hope i can be an encouragement to you, and for the friends and family that will read this - maybe this will keep you posted indepth on what Ty is learning! :) and the adventures of Tripp too

thank you for reading, and if you have any questions, comments or smart remarks; feel free to post them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

ramblings and iep meetings

There are a lot of things I need to be doing right now. I have an essay and a paper to write but I keep racking my brain and decided maybe if I blog it'll help me process it all. It's my therapy. So yesterday I had a couple of meetings at the school. One was about Ty's toileting habits, they are still a work in progress. The other was about his eligibility for services at school. Let me start by telling you how amazing this team of teachers and therapists are - they really are phenomenal. The dedication, determination and ability they have to read their students blows me away. As I sat and listened to them talk about Ty and how they wanted to make sure we were all on the same page so that Ty is pushed and challenged and expected to do the same things everywhere; my mind kept running. I rack my brain daily on what to do for him. After the meetings were over, I went home and cried. Not because they did anything wrong because they didn't. They are doing everything right, to a T! I broke because it's overwhelming. There's so much to process and so much that needs to be done and so much of it seems like I should have had it done yesterday, last week, last month, last year, etc. As a parent none of us ever feel like we are doing any of it right so I don't expect to have all the answers. But oh what I would give to have the answers. What I would give for just a day inside Ty's head. Heck I'd take an hour if I could get it. There's so much I want to know. So when I come out of those meetings and everything I already know is shown on paper and discussed the only thing left for me to do is break. I am sure I already appear to be hanging by a thread on a 'normal' day ha!(what's normal right?) I can't imagine what I look like on a day like yesterday?! Those meetings are just exhausting, I don't know how those teachers and therapists do it?! They have to have those meetings for all their students?! They really blow me away.

So one of the things I need to find is a toy or a prize for Ty. It needs to be enticing to him. The best thing ever! A strength and weakness of Ty is that - at times he just doesn't care. If he's in trouble and isn't allowed to have his "favorite" things, oh well, that's not his favorite thing anymore. I remember when he was little, I use to always say that he didn't have that "one" thing that he fixated on. Most kids with autism have something that becomes their "thing", cars, trains, dinosaurs, piano, drums, etc. But Ty was always content with just about anything. He loved rocks, pictures, minions, balls, doors, plates, bowls, spoons, two of just about anything but there wasn't a "oh this is his thing". So finding a toy that can be a reward to entice Ty to comply with our requests is quite a challenge. If I'm honest, sitting here typing about it has got me a bit anxious - when I sit down to type a blog I never really know where it's gonna go. I start with an idea or things going on in my head. But once I start typing it all just kind of comes out. I delete most of it, ya'll would for sure send me away if all my thoughts made it here ha!

As I process all the information at these meetings, I go back and forth between, 'yeah I've got this and I can do that' to 'what in the world am I doing and why have I been trusted with something so important'. I know everyone has probably felt that way at some point and time in their life?! Right?! So I guess all of that to say, I think we have come a long way but we also have a long way to go.

Friday, October 19, 2018

update on life and super heroes

I really need to blog more... there is so much to tell yall! So a brief summary of the last 6 months. We moved! I have the same job, just different office. We live in an amazing school district for the boys. We have an awesome church family. We have new doctors, daycare, teachers and even made some new friends! The boys have transitioned really well into the new school. Ty challenged everyone for a while and I do mean REALLY challenged us all, but I think he is finally settling in.

He is really good at keeping his abilities a secret. Kind of like Clark Kent and Superman, Peter Parker and Spiderman, Bruce Wayne and Batman... you catch my drift! He never likes to show us what he can really do and every now and then you'll catch a glimpse of it. For example, I tried for months to get him to use his communication device to type his name. Look at your keyboard - the T and the Y are side by side. I couldn't have planned it better if I tried, his name is on any keyboard, in order, all he has to do is touch them. We went round and round, hand over hand, begging, bribing, pleading ... he just wouldn't do it. I started to wonder, "maybe he can't, maybe he's overwhelmed" self doubt poured in like an avalanche of emotions. Then one day as I was trying to get him to type "iPad" he looks me square in the face and types "TY" .... now fast forward, we are now working on sentences and most everything he says starts with "I want ....". It takes a lot of work to get him to communicate because he really does try his best to get what he wants with as little effort as possible. (typical 10 year old right?). So a lot of our conversations start off with him grunting and pointing and me pretending to not know what he wants and saying "use your talker Ty". I'm not gonna lie and say this was easy, because it wasn't - isn't. But it has shown me a whole new side of him. Last night we went out to eat and all during the meal we would ask him questions in an attempt to get him to use his talker to communicate. Do you like it? What are you drinking? etc ... It is typically met with some resistance but he did finally answer and answered quicker than before. So we are progressing. When we got in the truck he got really loud and wild acting (again typical 10 year old). He likes to mimic a dog barking when he gets really excited and he can get crazy loud with it - so as he is doing this his aunt B says " alright Ty we aren't doing that barking mess" Ty then types on his device "bet....bet.." I turn around and ask him "Ty did you just say 'bet' sarcastically??" He grins from ear to ear and nods his head. I couldn't help but laugh. We just sat at dinner attempting very basic conversation with him about what he is eating and drinking. I even did hand over hand to make him show us and then had him do it independently so that he would use his device. Then we get in our vehicle and without missing a beat he responds with sarcasm appropriately and quickly with a word that all the kids are using and that I don't even know how to find on his device?! So when I say he is kind of like a super hero that hides his abilities, this is why. Most comic books have the alter ego of the super hero to appear to be much weaker and appear to be the complete opposite of the hero hiding inside. There are times that the heroes abilities are accidentally revealed due to a dire situation and people are left in shock and wonder. They question themselves on what just happened look around and ask those around "did you just see that?". With Ty there are so many days and nights that I rack my brain and wonder, "am I pushing to hard, am I pushing enough, can he do it, is he just refusing, etc etc" and there are so many times that I say "did you see that?!" "did he just do what I think he did?!". Now I know being amazed by a 10 year old using sarcasm appropriately isn't exactly something all moms are proud of lol. But for me, it showed me that we are right. He does know, he is capable, he is funny, he is smart and apparently quick whited. And he can play just about anyone like a fiddle. He is currently surrounded by some amazing people, his teachers are phenomenal, we have friends and family who are pushing him to do his best and not just settle for the minimum and it makes a huge difference!

In my last post I talked about things I thought I'd miss out on - one of those was my boys playing sports together. Well Ty and Tripp have both been on the same football team this year! When I tell you that this community is amazing, it is an understatement. The people here are just awesome. They have taken us in and loved on us in so many ways, I don't think I could ever really explain what that means to me. Ty hasn't learned all the aspects of football and he doesn't play in every game. He is learning how to be a part of a team, how to listen to the coaches, how to follow instructions of someone other than just mom and teachers. He is learning team work and that no you don't get the ball every time ha! (ok, he is still working on that one). He did get on the field one night and I'm not gonna lie, I cried. I ran and hopped a fence so I could take pictures and videos and then I cried. He didn't do anything. He stood on the field. But that's not the point. It's baby steps and it's teaching him that if he wants to do something he can, he just has to practice and work for it. We have one more game and I really hate to see the season end. The boys have been so sweet. Tripp has really improved this year too. He is getting more aggressive on the field and he's gotten faster - he's still too big to be a running back (his dream spot) but he learned to love and embrace the job of 'center'. He gravitates to Ty on the sidelines and makes sure he gets his water and that he doesn't run on the field at the wrong time. Sometimes he acts like a grown man in a child's body when it comes to his brother. (which is good and bad - but that's a whole nother post for another day). So all that to say - I never thought I'd get to see my boys play sports together and they are. Another one of those times that God smacks you in the face and says ok Mandy I got this. James 1:6 tells us to believe and not doubt. How many times do we ask God for things, big or small and we don't really believe that He will do it. We just ask because that's what we are supposed to do. So I'm still learning, I will not pretend to get it all right, I mess up and fail on a daily basis. But I love those moments when He shows up and reminds me that He hears, He reminds me that not only did he hear my request, He answered it. No it wasn't my timing but it's not supposed to be.

I know I'm getting rather lengthy on this but I do have one more thing to update ya'll on. We have always wondered what else was going on with Ty. I know he has autism but there was just something else there and I couldn't put my finger on it. For years I asked doctors, therapists, teachers and no one could ever pin point what it was. Well his new teachers thought he showed signs of cerebral palsy. It all made sense as they explained it to me, I'm sure I probably looked like I was in a daze as they were talking because I was racking my brain to figure out how I missed this, how could I not see it before now? We made an apt with his new doc and sure enough she diagnosed him with CP. So what does that mean, well I'm not really sure, I'll have to get back to you on that. We will still continue what we are doing now, speech therapy, OT, behavior, etc. Just another day in the books :)

Well thanks for reading! I'm sorry it's been so long, I really will try and not take so long to blog. Ya'll have an awesome day! and if I start calling Ty 'Clark', you'll know it's not Griswold.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Pep talks....

So lately we have been having lots of pep talks. Every morning before school I sit with Ty as we wait for his bus and I tell him: Today I need you to have a good day, no throwing yourself on the floor, do your group work and individual work, use your device to communicate correctly-don't just push random buttons(bc he can use it correctly), listen to your teachers, stay in your seat on the bus, use the toilet not your pullup, don't wig out over doors... And the list goes on. During our pep talk Ty will shake his head yes and smile on most days. Sometimes he will look away or close his eyes and not want to "talk" about it and on the days when he is not nodding yes and he starts interrupting me and jabbering over me and closing his eyes, on those days I expect a note home on his defiance throughout the day. The days he is nodding yes I expect a good report. It doesn't always go that way, sometimes he switches things up on me and every day is a gamble. But today as I sat with him watching for his bus and having his pep talk I saw a video on Facebook. It was a mom talking about things she had hoped for with her nonverbal and severely autistic son. She said she came to a point where she realized things were not ok and not going to be ok. She came to a switching point of praying for quality of life for her son instead of hopes of him being a doctor or lawyer one day. My heart broke for her and still does. Tears were rolling down my face because she still has hope for her son but the reality of it all was that the things she wants to hope for are overshadowed by the things she has to hope for. I thought about Ty. There are so many things I hope for with him! I never thought that I'd be sitting and waiting for a bus discussing with my 10 year old about having a good day and that including: using the toilet, not getting distracted by doors, using a communication device to speak and completing his daily work (a lot of times work that is well below other kids his age, not because he isn't intelligent but because he hasn't shown them that he can do more), still talking to him about using a pencil to trace letters and hopefully one day write his name. I could go on all day with the things I never thought I'd still be teaching him and still hoping for. I expected to need to deal with things like no talking in class and focus on your study habits etc... things I tell Tripp every day.

I expected to put both my boys on the same bus and to hear them come home and fuss and talk and play together. I expected to over hear them talking about a girl they liked. I expected them to play sports together. I never expected Tripp to see his older brother as a little brother and someone he needs to help take care of. I never expected to have conversations with Tripp that involved him asking me if Ty would ever talk like we do. I never expected Tripp to come home and tell me that other kids ask him why his brother comes to school if he can't talk... And his response is priceless, he tells them just because he can't talk doesn't mean he can't learn. Don't get me wrong, I love that he has that perspective I just never thought it would be our life.

So we take one day at a time. I hope and pray that something will click. That he will thrive and show us all what's going on in that head of his. Until then I will continue to have pep talks, and I will continue to have hope for him to continue to grow and learn and I will hold onto our little victories. I'll hold onto the things I never thought we would have in our lives and I'll do my best to see the good in it all. To see how the challenges Ty and Tripp face each day will make them strong, compassionate, determined men one day. I'm sure I will fail and lose sight from time to time but I pray that I will be strong enough to see the good too, one pep talk at a time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Defiance and a win

Ty has been extremely defiant lately. His main tactic is to close his eyes and fall asleep. It's one thing he has control over and he uses it to get out of just about anything he doesn't want to do. I had a hard time with this at first and I wondered if he was really struggling with staying awake or if he was just being defiant and making himself go to sleep. It took a while for me to figure out, but eventually I found out that as long as we are doing what he wanted to do he could stay up and be WIDE awake and even hyper. The minute something was required of him, a task at school or putting on shoes etc he would act as if he was incapable of doing what was asked and then slowly start to nod off. I started trying to do everything I could to keep him awake. Some days were more successful than others. Some days I didn't fight it as hard because, honestly it was exhausting. But once I realized that he was choosing this, choosing to be defiant I had to step back and be reminded "what would I do if Tripp did this?" The answer was easy ... so with that in mind the game changed. Did I mess up. Yes. Did I give up some days, yes. Did i fail at times, yes.
But today was a good day. Today something happened that showed me he really was just choosing to be defiant and make himself sleepy. Today verified any doubts i had in myself or his ability. I have talked and disciplined until I was blue in the face. I have prayed. I have wondered if anything is getting through. As he waited for the bus this morning we had another talk and I told him that he HAD to have a good day and that he HAD to stay awake. When I picked him up from daycare he was kind of hyper. I checked his notebook, like I do every day and his note said he had a great day! We got home and he did his homework without a fight! After talking to his teacher and her verifying that he HAD a great day, I talked to him and told him how proud I was of him and how this is how he needed to be everyday. He was smiling and some kind of proud of himself. So it's the small things. Big battles. Long battles. Tears and absolute crazy days that turn into insane weeks. But the small things add up. So today was a good day. Consistency is our biggest fight. I have to be consistent and so does everyone else because the smallest of things can make a huge difference when it comes to a very stubborn strong willed child.

I never thought we would be where we are today. When Ty was first diagnosed I remember reading books and blogs and anything I could find. Watching videos of kids like Ty and seeing how far they had come. I remember reading about how a mom never thought she would still be potty training her 8 year old. And I remember thinking, no he will be potty trained by then. He will be talking by then. He will be doing etc etc the list goes on. But here we are. Still learning our way in this crazy journey. Still learning to communicate and learning to dress himself and potty train and eat without a huge mess and keep our shoes on and brush our teeth independently and to not wonder off and not go limp on the floor when we don't get our way. A 9 year old going limp, even if he is only 58.6lbs, is not as easy to pick up or remove from a situation as a 2 year old. When they are 2 you just scoop them up and you have a clear physical advantage, not so much as a long lanky 9 year old. It also looks like you're kidnapping them when they scream and flop around and they are half your size lol like a joking skinny flopping octopus. Give it a try. Now we don't have to fight that as much anymore, it's rare for him to lay down and roll around challenging me to wrestle him out the door of whatever establishment we are in when he chooses he doesn't wanna go. But that's where that consistency comes in. And a wooden spoon. Lol.

The smallest of things can change the course in a good or bad direction. So after a week of battles I'll take a win. Even a small one and pray for another tomorrow. Here's to another good day and all the days it takes to get there.

Monday, August 7, 2017

failure...pure joy...

There are a lot of days that a lot of parents feel like failures... I know I'm not the only one. Lots of moms and dads on a regular basis don't feel like they measure up. You know those days when nothing goes right. You've been up all night for various reasons and then your child or children decide to lose their minds...yeah those days. For the life of you, you try to see the good, you try to keep your stuff together ... you end up doing and saying things you regret but at the same time you try hard to show them rules and structure and pray that all you do now will help them respect authority as adults so that when they grow up you aren't bailing them out of jail ... yeah I know that's extreme ... but really ... just go with me here....

Yesterday was one of those days. I won't even begin to describe the madness. Basically it boils down to disobedience, defiance, stubbornness and no matter what form of punishment that was given, to my non-verbal 9 year old, phased him at all. And I mean at all. Didn't matter what I did. He was right back at it. Time-out, spanking, talking, removing toys, changing his entire bedroom and our house for that matter (for his safety because he decided it was ok to jump off of the top bunk... he's never done this before). He could scream and stomp his feet in time out and then stop on a dime and smile and "talk" and get up as soon as I started moving some piece of furniture or had my back turned. He would just get up and do what he wanted and come show me that he was doing what he wanted. Over and over and over we did this. We went round and round all day and all night the night before. Exhausted doesn't even begin to describe how I felt and how I feel today. Failure... yeah that describes how I feel. How can we go from being on track and obeying and getting somewhere, to this? How can it all just be thrown out of the window in an instant? We didn't do anything out of the ordinary. But here we were 30+ hours of mass chaos... my 8 year old doing his best to help me move beds and furniture and then reorganize the house to be back in some type of order so we could function.  We got their bedrooms in order. The bunk beds are now in Tripp's room. Ty has a bed in his room that doesn't have any height to it and I'm debating on removing the dresser that's in there incase he gets some wild idea to climb on it in the middle of the night. Seriously?! What in the world!?

That's not the only thing that makes me feel like a failure. I fail because I don't remain calm. I fail because I don't always show them grace. I fail because I'm not able to understand what he is so desperately trying to tell me. I fail because his little brother is confused and worried and wants to help fix the problem and I don't know how to fix it myself so how in the world can I tell him how to fix it? I fail because of so many things. I could go on and on in a lot of other areas of life but I will stop here.

We went to church last night, missed the AM service for obvious reasons ... and guess what the sermon was on? James... yup book of James. If you don't know me, it's my favorite book of the Bible. In college I attempted to memorize the entire book. I only got to the first chapter. I can recite it word for word (just the first chapter) and it is my life book... chapter 1 verses 2-4 "consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of any kind for the testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish it's work in you so that you are mature and complete not lacking anything" it goes on to say that we should ask God who gives generously to those who ask and not doubt because he who doubts is like a wave in the sea blown and tossed by the wind that man is a double minded man and unstable in all he does. (some of that may be paraphrased???).

During all of the madness that ensued Saturday night and Sunday morning I prayed .. I prayed and I prayed. It was still chaos. ( I won't even go fully into what those conversations looked like between me and God, did I doubt? am I double minded? give me something ) So that leads me to consider it pure joy?! pure joy.... how is that even possible? I know I didn't get into everything that makes me feel like a failure... we would be here all day and ya'll would probably think I'd lost my mind!?

I know we aren't being persecuted by people for our religion, no one is threatening my life because I believe in Jesus as they do in other countries. No one is holding a gun to my head asking me to renounce Jesus or die - that's persecution, that's trials!? So that sends me to think that I have no right to have any of these feelings at all anyway?! Right? ... who am I to feel this way? Who am I to think I have a right to good nights sleep? (There are people scared to death in other countries because they own a bible and it's in their home. There are people wondering where their next meal will come from or if they will even be able to feed themselves or their family?) Isn't that just selfishness to be furious over a good night of sleep? Who am I to think my day was so terrible because of a disobedient child? (I'm not saying I have it all together and I'm not even saying this realization has fixed my opinion of yesterday... I'm just saying) Do we even have a right to be upset about these things? If I can't handle a little mass chaos in a free country and a "rich" country at that, do I even know what James was talking about? Trials... real ones.. not just minor 1st world problems ... I don't know ... just my thoughts ... just me thinking out loud in a way ... I hope all this makes sense... I don't know, it may not ... trials, failure = pure joy .... because they develop patience and perseverance, right? Something to think about I guess...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

dirty laundry

We all have it right? Loads and loads and loads of it... it never ends... from the real laundry (the actual clothes we wear and wash and wash and wash) to the life laundry... you know what I'm talking about. Carrie Underwood sings it best. Dirty laundry. The stuff all the Ajax in the world can't wash off. I've debated and debated on what to type and when to type and how to type. I've prayed and wrestled within myself because I don't like drama and I don't want to do or say anything that will one day hurt my boys. But I'm fed up. I'm tired of being drug through the mud and I'm tired of my boys not being treated like they should be. I'm tired of arguments and morals being thrown out the window by people who claim to be upstanding Christians and have the reputation of that as well.

I am not perfect. Let me just be flat out honest right here and now. I've messed up, I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of and wish I could forget. I'm sure we all have. The one thing I refuse to mess up is being a good mom. Divorce throws a curve ball into the mom life. I grew up in a divorced family and that's all I ever knew. My parents didn't get along and we all knew it. I love my parents and I'm not here to bash them so please don't take it like that, but just showing you where I'm at. I didn't want that life for my boys. I didn't want the confusion and chaos that comes with divorce and the fights that go along with it. I want my boys to know they are loved and taken care of by everyone in their life. I don't want them feeling like they are stuck in the middle of a mom and dad who can't get along and now add in a new girlfriend for dad to the mix and things really get exciting! I guess I just really expected things to be smooth. I expected communication and for the morals we instilled in our family to continue regardless of how our marriage ended. I expected those conversations of how we would do things to stick. How we were going to respect each other and communicate. Give each other a heads up on new relationships and ease the boys into changes etc. How there wouldn't be any over night visits with the boys present of a significant other on either side.  We discussed being on the same page with doctor visits, therapies and structure for Ty especially. Backing each other up on disciplinary actions that needed to be taken and just basically being good "co-parents" because that's where we are.  Apparently that's not the case. I'm not here to bash my ex. Like I said in a previous post, life is messy. Sometimes you end up covered in dirt by your own choices, other times you're covered in dirt because of the words or choices of others and then there are times when you choose whole heartedly to be covered in dirt to help a friend. I've been on all sides of the messiness of life. I've also been lucky enough to have people in my life at different times get covered in my mess. Right now, life is a mess. Every single corner of my life is an absolute mess. Mainly because so much has changed in such a short period of time and there is just constant change for the boys which comes with questions and explanations.  It is extra hard when one of my boys can talk freely and ask questions and the other can't. They both have had their times of acting out because of all the change and I can talk all day long to both of them but only one can openly communicate back to me what is going on in that little mind of his. Oh how I wish I could just spend one day inside Ty's head and find out what he is so desperately trying to tell us. He has come a long way. I have come a long way. All kids need structure, but Ty needs it more than his brother. He is able to thrive and do so much more when he has consistent expectations and boundaries placed on him. I have learned a lot in the last 9 years, more than I ever thought I would learn by becoming a mom, because he has taught me how life isn't exactly what we think it is. He can express himself with grunts, facial expressions, head nods, laughs, giggles, screams, gestures and oh how he can manipulate a room. I've never seen a child so good at getting what he wants from complete strangers without ever saying a word. That skill, also has to be reigned in A LOT. Consistency in my actions and those in authority around him is the only way to accomplish that. It's hard but it works IF everyone is on the same page. So back to what I started with. Dirty laundry and life being a mess. I want nothing but the best for my boys. However, I also expect the best from them and I expect their father to have those same expectations.

Recently I have been accused of keeping our boys from their dad. I will tell you this. I have not once told them they couldn't call their dad, if they ask to call, they call, even when they don't ask I suggest it. Tripp has even asked to go see him at the FD before and I took him by there. Now that might not be every single day but it is on a regular basis that they talk to him. Our papers say he gets them 2 weekends a month during school. I have offered him every other weekend so that he could have more time, but I am told he would rather just keep to choosing 2 weekends a month. I inform him of practices and ballgames, picture days and field trips, etc etc. I even made sure this summer, when he chose his two 2 week blocks for visitation to let him know that he was short a day each time and that he didn't choose fathers day weekend. I was told that this was what worked for his schedule. Now that summer is coming to an end I have offered him the first weekend in August along with the third weekend. The first weekend doesn't work and he wants them this weekend and asked for them last weekend (still my summer break with them) so my answer was no. I sent receipts as normal for medication and the shoes bought for the boys for school and was told that the shoes are not school supplies and he won't be paying for them. Now mind you I bought them on sale buy one get one half off and didn't get the pricey high dollar shoes so we aren't talking a lot of money. I was also told that I was not allowing him to speak to the boys because I don't answer every time he calls and all I want is money. We are busy and on a schedule at my house, so if the boys don't ask to call then  I'm not going to force it on them daily and I'm not going to jump every time his name pops up and I understand that when they are with him he doesn't have to jump or stop what he's doing when I call. But I can assure you they are not denied or kept from communication with him, we are just busy.  I am accused of using the boys when that is not the case at all. We are just doing life. When I don't do everything just how he wants it and give him the schedule he wants for visitation then he holds out on things he is willing to pay for. He pays his child support on time and has been good about that. He does love our boys. But when it comes to extra, depending on what mood he is in - it's met with "what's in the papers" "not my problem" "child support covers it". Then times like last year, I sent a receipt for shoes at the beginning of school and he paid his half without a problem. I don't expect him to pay extra for everything I buy the boys. I do expect him to want to help out with extra things like new shoes for school (I know it seems petty and it is but it's just a small example of the real problem). I expect him to ask about the boys even if they don't call. Instead of being pissed that they didn't call and I expect the same thing from myself. They don't have to call me every night they are with him and when I don't hear from them I will send a text and check in. I expect him to want to see our kids the first chance he gets and to be involved in their lives, like showing up for practices just to watch and planning his weekends around our boys and not himself. I have begged for communication and tried to be reasonable even when the boys come from his house with behavior problems and fidget spinners with marijuana leaves on it. Ty is allowed to just chew on whatever he wants so he had a sore in the corner of his mouth that took me a week to treat with prescription ointment to get rid of, along with a slew of defiant behaviors that we had under control before he left. The thing that bothers me the most is the lack of communication and respect. It tells me he doesn't respect our boys. Shoes aren't on the school supply list so he's not helping. When he has in the past. When confronted about taking our kids to his girlfriends house to spend the night, I'm told I'm over reacting and when we had the conversation about not doing that, they had only been dating for 2 weeks?! (since we are 7 months in now then everything is out the window?!) The only reason I met her so soon was because she was introduced to my boys on Christmas day (2 weeks into it) and my then 7 year old told me over the phone, there was no conversation with their dad ahead of time out of respect to let me know so that we could sit down with the boys and let them know what was about to happen like we discussed we would.  Instead it was a meeting after the fact that I requested and they agreed to, that I thought went well. Now that she's hung in there through the ex wife and family and kids and his prince charming persona I'm supposed to just be ok with throwing morals out the window. I mean our preacher, at that time, is the one that introduced them, the one who knew all the things that went on between their dad and I and the one that knew we were still trying to attend the same church and figure out co-parenting.  Matter of fact, when I found out he introduced them I went to talk to him and let him know that me and the boys would not be back. His response was, "Well, Mandy, we didn't know how that was gonna work out anyhow" as he shrugged his shoulders. I was dumbfounded that my boys were not thought of and now, when my 8 year old asks me why daddy has a closet full of clothes at his girlfriends house, I'm supposed to still put a positive spin on it? I know that not everyone thinks this is a problem and it doesn't have to be. I would like nothing more than to get a long. I pray daily that we will be able to have a healthy relationship one day. I want my boys to look up to their dad. I want them to respect everyone in their life. I want to have a good relationship with both their dad and his girlfriend, because if he marries her, I want there to be communication on both sides and most of all, trust. When our boys aren't thought of and when things are done that both of us have agreed not to do then it brings out the protector in me. It breaks any trust that was there, no, it shatters it. It just makes me think that he cares more about his job and image and his money than he does his kids. If someone knew all these things, maybe he would change his ways. Maybe he would start genuinely caring more about doing what's best for our boys and less about trying to get revenge or making me look bad. I understand that this is airing my laundry for all to see... I understand that it will come across to some as bashing. My intent is to vent. To pour out my heart and just say, this is where we are .... I'm just done. I'm done with the world thinking he is being denied his rights when he is the one who has refused what was offered. I signed the visitation papers he drew up. The ones I drew up gave him more time. I'm not the monster he claims I am. I'm not perfect. I don't expect him to be perfect. I just want him to be a good dad. To respect each other and stop threatening not to pay something or to quit a job so that child support will drop etc. Just be a good dad, be a good co-parent.  I'm sure there will be people who don't like this but my boys deserve to be heard and it's not about me and it certainly isn't about a failed marriage. It's about raising two little boys to be respectful, contributing citizens in a world that isn't conducive for such morals and a world that doesn't abide by The Word of God.  They deserve to be treated with respect. If this in any way helps someone else or my boys then it's served its purpose.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Consistency, life and rollercoasters

Where do I begin? This school year is quickly coming to an end and it's been one heck of a year. To describe it as an emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement. So much has gone on in so many different areas. So many things the boys have had to learn to adjust to and so many things that I have had to adjust to as well. Navigating this life as a single mom and all the dynamics that come with that and learning to "co-parent", creates quite a whirlwind of emotions and a change of who you are whether you want it to or not. Ty and Tripp have experienced a lot this year and have been on their own life rollercoaster. I think about last summer when we went to Dollywood and how Ty was begging to ride all the rides, full of excitement and anticipation as we waited in lines and even impatience. Once he got strapped in and ready to ride he would giggle and laugh as we slowly moved up to the top for the big drop and then it was mass chaos ... as we made the turns and loops and drops and spins his expressions would change every second, happy, scared, smiles, laughs, squeals and unsure half laughs ... and as we rolled up to the end and it was time to get off the ride he was mad! Not because he didn't like the ride but because he wanted to do it again. Tripp was a different story, he wanted to ride but was scared from the start. He just wasn't sure about it AT ALL, but even being unsure he still wanted to give it a try. I offered to sit out with him while others rode but he said "no momma, I wanna try it". He was much more fearful of the whole process and during the ride he was really quiet and kept his eyes closed a lot ha! Reminded me of how I was when I first decided I'd ride a rollercoaster. He was white knuckled and tense but he was riding and hanging on for the experience. When we got off, he laughed and giggled and talked about how awesome it was and that he wanted to do it again! It reminds me a lot of how our life has been this year and especially the last few months ... we have been strapped in to this rollercoaster and at times it's fun and exciting and even an adrenaline rush. But other times it's scary and all we can do is hold on tight (white knuckles), close our eyes and endure the flips, turns, loops and drops and see what's waiting on the other side.

Ty has made a lot of improvements this year. His potty training has come a long way! This is good and bad because now he uses it to get out of situations or to manipulate those around him. He is so very smart and knows how to get what he wants when he wants it. So we have been working on not lying about needing to use the bathroom and being consistent in asking to go and then actually using the potty once he asks, it's a process ha but we are getting there. At home he has been following directions really well and completing household chores and we have even been out shopping without the stroller! This is a huge step in my book, to be able to be out and about and him hold my hand or hold on to the buggy without throwing major fits or having to be picked up and not attempting to run off as often. Now I still hold his hand really tight and we still have to have lots of talks throughout the shopping trip about staying close and not touching everything and not trying to pull away etc. But all in all this is a huge improvement to not have to be pushed or strapped in a stroller! Ty has also been feeding himself more without over stuffing! There are times when he will still put too much in his mouth but as a whole he has done a lot better with finger foods and using utensils too! He's doing pretty good on drinking out of cups; straws are definitely the easiest for us to use while eating. He doesn't backwash as much and cups with lids and straws help us not spill things as much too. He is still tongue pressing when he chews his food and only uses his teeth to bite something off and from there its like he basically just squishes whatever it is with his tongue until it can be pushed to the back of his throat or be washed down with a drink or softer food like apple sauce if that makes sense? His interests have grown this year too, he really enjoyed watching Tripp play baseball and would clap and laugh and get excited throughout the game instead of just playing with toys or not caring what was going on, he really did watch and focus and get involved as a spectator! He did pretty good with his miracle league baseball games this year too, he hit the ball off the tee independently but running the bases and fielding the ball is still a work in progress. He would rather just run around the field and then play with the bats and balls in the dugout. He has struggled at school a good bit this year. He has shown a lot of avoidance behaviors; if there is something he doesn't want to participate in he will just go to sleep or attempt to go to sleep and put his head down on the desk. He will also just refuse to do his work some days, closing his eyes and still looking in the teachers direction but not responding to instructions. He has typed on the iPad for his behavioralist but it is very challenging and takes him a while to complete words and sentences depending on what is going on but when he does type and when he does express himself in this way he has so much to say! He spells fairly large words correctly and has lots of opinions! This is so exciting that he is showing that he is capable but also challenging, because of his stubbornness, to get him to do it consistently. He still isn't writing his name on paper yet and will just scribble. I think some of that is just laziness and avoidance behaviors again but scribbling is better than nothing, however, I don't want him to use scribbling as a way to get out of work or as a way to just avoid what he's being asked to do. He is being pushed and challenged this year and I am so glad that others have been able to see what I have known he was capable of this whole time! There are times as a momma of a "non-verbal" child with autism that you doubt yourself, you wonder "Am I pushing him to much?" "Is it too hard?" "Does he really understand?" "Is it the sensory side that is holding him back?" "Is there something I'm missing?" "Is there something physically stopping him?" "Is it just his stubbornness?" I could go on an on and on with questions. But knowing that he has typed and communicated and done so in such a complex way shows me that those doubts are just that, doubts. He can do it and he just needs us to keep pushing him, to keep believing in him and to keep challenging him daily! If I'm honest, that can get tiring but it's what we have to do. I have to keep pushing him in every aspect so that he knows and he can see that there are expectations. It makes for a lot of discipline and a lot of structure. From the outside looking in it can appear to be too much and it can appear that I am keeping him from people, situations or just having fun. The only way I know how to explain it is to compare it to a kid playing with fire. We don't let kids play with fire because it will hurt them and can hurt others or cause mass destruction. In the same way I have to be strict across the board in every aspect of our daily lives with Ty because if I'm not then it can cause destruction on everything we have built to this point. It might seem like sitting in a chair to watch a ball game and not let him run and play and have free roam of a ball park is mean or that I am keeping him from having fun. When in actuality I am teaching him how to be a spectator and cheer for his brother. I am teaching him that there is a time to play and a time to watch. There are times for everything. He has lots of freedoms but I can't just let him have complete run of everything. I've tried that, it creates regression in every area of his life and it effects his school and learning environments the most. When he has structure across the board and has expectations on him across the board he is calmer, he is happier, he is healthier because he knows his boundaries. It gives him security. Even when he tests his boundaries and he pushes the limits, there is security in him knowing what is expected and what is allowed.  Just like you and I, we know our boundaries and so we are able to function in society without affecting others or getting in trouble because we know the rules and we know the consequences when those rules aren't followed. In the long run I have to look at the big picture, five or ten years down the road will it be acceptable? Whatever "it" is? It does take time for Ty to learn his limits so if I start now and if I am consistent now ... it will make him a better man in the future. It will help him learn to function in this crazy world as he grows into the man he is going to be. So when I struggle with the day to day... I just keep thinking and am often reminded by my friends, it's not about the right now... it's about who I am raising him to be. So don't give up mommas, even when it seems like it's too much or that everyone is against you ... that everyone has something to say ... don't quit. You are raising men and women and teaching them to love and obey so that they will be the amazing people God has planned for them to be. He has plans for us all and He has plans for my two boys, I can't wait to see what He has in store for us!

This life may seem like we are on one insane rollercoaster, there will be times when we just need to close our eyes and hold on tight, times when we laugh and squeal, times when we just scream at the top of our lungs and then there will be those times as we roll in at the end and think to ourselves ..."that was fun, let's do it again!"

I know that was a lot and it was all kind of jumping from one thing to another so thanks for hanging in there ... and for keeping up with us! love yall and thanks for reading!