Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Not so fast...

Says life, to all my big plans...

So we tried "family dinner" last night and it was mostly a disaster. Lots of time dealing with whiny kids and "I don't like this" etc... ugh. And we met with the therapist yesterday who mentioned that food was probably not a good battle to pick with ASD kids---they have lots of sensitivities and aversions and its better to just feed them something they like and get on with life. But I can't completely let this go, so I'm going to take a hybrid approach of offering one thing that the kids will actually reliably eat at the meal along with the more adventurous/less preferred option that they are required to TRY.

Yesterday I made breaded fish---the only reason we bought the fish was because B ASKED FOR IT last week. And suddenly "I hate this, its yucky, I never said I wanted it, I want pasta". Ugh. But we persevered and between bites of fish and toasted bread, they somehow were full. One major problem is that the kids are hungry when we are on our way home at 5-5:30 and they eat bars or snacks and thus aren't quite as ravenous as I am by dinner time. You may think its a simple enough solution to just skip the snacks but then I will insist that you come get our kids home every evening because NOPE. We are pushing dinner as late as we can for  now and our plan for next year is that I'll be in charge of pick ups and get them home earlier for dinner.

I'm not ready to write too much yet about what we are learning from the therapist because we haven't really implemented her strategies. But overall its been simultaneously validating and depressing to realize that yes, my child is challenging and annoying, and will likely remain that way forever. We are starting to come to terms with the fact that we need to consider his diagnosis as a kind of disability that makes it incredibly hard for him to NOT be annoying, because he is lacking a lot of the intuitive social cues that you would use to fit in and be pleasant. Its something we are probably always going to have to work on, and try to remember, that things that some "easy" for us are really hard for him. He's bright and physically healthy so its hard to come to terms with him just not being able to naturally do certain things.

I'll switch topics because I can't really write about this as eloquently as I'd like, and I'm sorry if that came across harsh or mean. Obviously we love him and want the best for him and are trying everything we can to be good parents to him. But its not easy sometimes to be around him.

We did have a really good discussion about what our priorities should be, and she DID agree with me so yes, we are going to step back and focus on managing emotions for now, and some aspects of independence, but not so much on table manners, or neatness. We have 2 weeks before our next session and I'm hoping to put into practice a few of her suggestions so that we can report back on what does/doesn't work.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lately

We had a fantastic long weekend, I felt refreshed and ready to hit the ground running early this morning. We drove down to visit my sister, and while the drive down was...eventful (poor B gets very car sick), the weekend was tons of fun. We took advantage of the 70+ degree weather and spent Saturday at a playground and Sunday at a winery having a picnic lunch and a lovely bottle of red.

Got back yesterday afternoon and sped through our chores, prepped for the week, and made dinner before I collapsed into bed at 8:30 (I slept really poorly on my sister's awful guest room double bed). We are doing our last planned week of meal kit delivery for a while, so I'll post my reviews and comparisons on that next week.

Things on the agenda for the next few weeks/months

 1) meal planning & trying (yet again) for family dinner (i.e. everyone eating the same thing at the same time). We've been slacking on that a LOT and the whole meal-for-2-delivery has thrown us  completely out of the habit of all eating together. I've been cooking almost nightly---for G & I. And then the kids get some leftovers or pasta or breakfast-for-dinner whenever they are hungry for it. What I want to try is to cook one big meal on Sundays that will last about 3 days and is a family favorite (something the kids will willingly eat), try something more adventurous for 1 night, and then another one-off meal that is the kid's choice. Friday/Saturday we either do prepared meals, take-out, or pizza. Things I am hoping will help: involve kids in menu planning, discuss ahead of the time the expectations to eat together and stay at the table, plan fun conversations or some sort of ritual we can look forward to. If all else fails, bribery for the kids, wine for the adults.
2) delegating chores to kids. Believe it or not, this is an assignment for my faculty development course---to choose something to delegate and experiment with it & report back. We did time tracking to figure out the tasks that were taking our time that we could consider delegating, and I realized I spend 30 minutes each Sunday sorting & putting away the kids laundry. So I ordered separate small canvas laundry bags for each kid, and we will do "laundry lessons" this weekend. Again, we will discuss expectations, try to make it fun, or bribery.
3)We are still working with the therapist. She met with B last week and they came up with a "anger plan" involving a kitchen timer and a "mad bag"---we got the timer but haven't assembled any items into a bag yet. He is supposed to go to his room, set the timer for 7 minutes, and play with items in his bag that are carefully chosen to be distracting & calming. Today G & I are going and I asked her if we could spend some time on resolving some...differences...we have on parenting. G has a tendency to make EVERYTHING into a big deal and I really think we need to pick our battles. He is really really uptight about issues of cleanliness (hand washing, getting toothpaste all over the bathroom---and I mean ALL OVER, atrocious table manners) which are, yes, annoying & gross, but I don't think should be a priority. Mostly I think he is wrong and I want her to tell him so (if I'm being brutally honest), but if she's able to make me see where he ISN'T wrong, I'm willing to listen.
4)Gearing up for spring and summer. We signed the kids both up for swimming. L will do t-ball and B is doing soccer, both at the local park. We need to register for summer camp. I ordered a batch of summer clothes for B. I also ordered seeds and think I may need to plant them soon because this weather is whack!

Anyway, as you can probably tell from my post, I am finally NOT SICK anymore, and loving having a normal amount of energy to use for planning. I hope to be back this week!

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Sum of Its Parts

Sarah's post had me thinking...what's missing from my life? Do I want/need more time in a day? Honestly, I'm currently in a phase where I'm feeling OK with my allocation of time and energy and feeling positive about what I'm fitting into my life. Would I like more time? Sure! I regularly wish I needed less sleep, so I could spend more time with G, or read more, or get up early enough to meditate each morning. There are endless lists of things I'd love to do with an extra hour or two in each day.

But those hours aren't there, so I compromise. I read for a little while on weeknights before I go to bed, which means I'm not hanging out with G---so on weekends, I stay up later & put aside the book. I exercise 4 days a week, and sleep in the other days so I stay fit AND well rested. I have been leaving work 10 minutes later to fit in a short meditation before I pick up B and begin the evening routine (which is often the most stressful part of my day, so I need the zen!)

I've also been trying to take a bigger picture view of life. Its not about what I do or don't do in any given day or week. Maybe today I didn't work out or meditate and spent too many minutes on my phone. This past week I haven't read or spend one on one time with anyone in my family. I may think I'm failing at my explicitly stated goals. But take a step back and look wider and the perspective is much different---this MONTH I've mediated 90% of days, had 3 one on one dates with each kid AND my husband, read 2 amazing books, and exercised 12 times.

I've actually been using the "monthly" page on my planner to visualize this better. I put in entries for events/plans to make sure we have overall the right amount of activities and white space, and I went back and color coded days I worked out/meditated/etc... so I can see the picture as a whole and assess more accurately how I'm meeting my personal goals.  I want to figure out a similar strategy for looking at my work progress---not just what I crossed off my list each day, but at the end of the month, how many hours did I spend on major projects vs. minor tasks, what % of time was truly on research vs. clinical vs. administrative (this is super important because it should be in line with my job description and if not I need to discuss with my chief).

I think a lot of us are perfectionists, and high achievers to boot. We want to use every minute wisely and cram as much into each day as we can. Its hard to let that go.  I have to remind myself that my life goals are NOT to be productive every minute but to do meaningful work that makes the world better and make my family and friends feel loved and be as healthy and present as I can so that I can do those things.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Sick Day That Was

Guys, I really hate to be whiny but seriously, I got sick AGAIN last weekend. And because I hadn't yet fully recovered from the last virus that knocked me out, this one really had me down for the count...I was useless for most of Sunday and Monday. I stayed home from work yesterday, which is really really rare. Thankfully I had no patients or meetings or super urgent deadlines, so I did a bare minimum of answering emails in between laying in bed trying to breathe.

So yeah. There hasn't been much to SAVOR lately and I haven't even been able to BREATHE. So much for jumping back into the groove of exercise, etc... My whole "wake up early and write for an hour" thing certainly didn't happen, and I broke my streak of meditating, too.

The silver lining is that the kids are actually not sick...yet...and nor was G, so he could pick up the slack. The bad news is that I really do suck at "relaxing", when there is stuff hanging over my head to do. My mind was antsy and wanting to get up and go, despite my body firmly resisting. My body eventually won for a couple of days, but this morning I just flat out decided I needed to be back in the game, so I downed my sudafed and tylenol & came to work, crossing things off my to-do list and feeling much less overwhelmed.

Its a short day, because I have to go pick B up and take him to therapy. I'm not sure how much time she'll talk to him vs. me vs. both of us, so I'm bringing my laptop and some work. And then we have the "evening gauntlet" (walk dog, make dinner, make lunches for tomorrow, bathe kids, clean kitchen, get stuff ready for tomorrow) so I'm sure I'll run out of steam at 8pm as usual and fall asleep in a child's bed, then crawl up to my own.

Here's hoping you all have stronger immune systems then mine this winter!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Snow Day that Wasn't

Everyone is off of work/school except me, for a measly 1 inch of snow. Poor L was so disappointed, he's been waiting for snow to play in since July and I'm not sure he's going to get it this year.

I have started and deleted many posts in the past week delving deeper into the not-so-good stuff going on right now---in my own little world and of course the wider world. It seems repetitive and its boring even to me, so I'll update you guys with some bullets instead.
  • We had a good weekend---busy and fun-filled. Lots of socializing, some work, some chilling. Barely any chores/cooking. I'm still loving NOT cooking on Sundays.
  • I'm STILL having random coughing fits. Its annoying & embarrassing because I cough uncontrollably for 5 minutes 3-6 times a day. Sometimes this happens during clinic, or meetings. Ugh.
  • I'm itching to get back to the gym. I missed a few days for being sick, then working this weekend, then closure due to snow today. I need to go more than once/week to feel good.
  • Just Mercy you have to read this book. I'm about 2/3 done. It is our book club pick for next week. Non-fiction, written by an African-American lawyer working in the south to free people wrongfully imprisoned for life/death. It will make you angry and sad and grateful for people like him and eager to help. 
  • I got my hair cut short again. I was worried it would look poofy and triangular in the back. She assured me it wouldn't. The minute I washed & dried & tried to style it myself, it turned into a triangular poof. I called her and I'm going to have it fixed next week (thinned out even more? not sure what will help but hopefully she can work her magic)
  • I've been in the mood to shop but reigning myself in. Since I'm trying to avoid my usual coping mechanisms of drinking/eating/facebook/games, I've been tempted towards "retail therapy". I know it won't feel good long term, just like any of the other methods. 
  • We have nothing to watch right now! We tried "Man in the High Castle" but it was way too depressing for the current climate. So we are comfort-watching the West Wing again. LOVE IT. But would like something brand new to draw me in...recommendations?
  • I've been reading the boys The Sorcerer's Stone and we are almost done! We started in December, reading a few pages every other night (we take turns with bedtime reading and G reads other stuff). I promised them we could watch the movie when we are done, and I'm looking fo to it.
OK the IT guy is here to fix something. Hopefully will post again soon!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What's really hard?

The point of my last post wasn't to say that you can't find this phase of earth's rotation around the sun challenging---many do, for many reasons---but that for me, calling an entire chunk of the year "hard" by default undermines the meaning of the word. Because things aren't exactly hunky-dory these days, and it has nothing to do with the weather.

Obviously, I am scared/confused/angry about what's happening in our country. I'm trying really hard to channel those emotions into productive action but its becoming truly overwhelming. I keep trying to narrow down to 2-3 key issues I want to fight for, and then something new and completely unexpected pops up and I need to add to the list. I need to figure out a good way to manage this because its going to be a long road.

One thing that helped TREMENDOUSLY was going off facebook. Its like a constant annoying noise that was distracting me but that I couldn't quite pinpoint finally, blessedly stopped. Its quieter. I also turned off news notifications on my phone so I need to go into the app on my own time to see what fresh new hell awaits us.

We are having new and repeat challenges with B and his behavior at home and fitting in at school. We saw a new therapist yesterday who specializes in kids with ADHD/ASD professionally and personally (she has a son with the diagnoses). She focuses on working with the family to come up with ways to help the child succeed, and the parents not lose their minds. She is very pragmatic  and practical, which we both appreciated. For example, we told her of a few specific frustrating moments and she walked us through what might have motivated his behavior (in terms of research/neuroscience) and then laid out strategies we could take to prevent/mitigate these types of meltdowns.

We are going back next week and our goal for this week is to take notes on B's behavior and report back any patterns or triggers we can identify. Then we will figure out some strategies, implement them---with the knowledge that they might not work, and come back again with B so she can help work with him having some common language around his issues.

I am starting to have major stress at work about my lack of funding for next year. MAJOR. I'm trying to write papers right now. My goal was to have TWO done by the end of 2016. NEITHER was submitted, and I am still trying to finish the first one. I keep thinking of more experiments to do. I know I KNOW I just need to get it submitted and the experiments can be added to the revision (if I'm lucky enough to get an R&R). Maybe I need to copy nicoleandmaggie's challenge.

In the faculty development course I'm doing, our assignment for the month is to track our time for one week, analyze it ourselves, and then design and implement "experiments" for focusing on our priorities. I started the time tracking today, for the third time (I keep starting for one day and then forgetting to continue!) and need to complete the week this time. My "experiment" will be a daily writing schedule, and since I need to present the experiment & results to the group in 3 weeks, I may be spurred to actually DO IT.

On top of it all, I'm sick. Well, I'm almost better now, but I was really sick for a few days there, and still have that awful unpredictable cough and I'm so freaking exhausted. #99problemsbutwinteraintone

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hard Times?

I was reading a blog post today about "winter being a hard time for everyone". And it made me wonder---what time of year ISN'T potentially a "hard time". And is in our best interest to keep thinking and talking about an entire season as "hard", when its a predicted and unstoppable fact of life?

So winter is hard. OK, its cold & dark. Maybe spring is "easy" for most people, but then we get to the end of the school year that is regularly touted as "crazy busy". Summer rolls around. After a while, parents get a little overwhelmed by the chaos and lack of routine. So the end of summer with kids at home may be "hard". But then back to school in the fall is a little nutty as well, right? And many many people struggle with stress during the holidays. So I guess we have April? May? July? Three months that no one can rightfully call "hard", can they?

I wrote last year about trying to embrace winter, and it sort of worked. Or maybe my kids not needing help getting their gloves on did the trick, but really, it was fine. This winter has been incredibly mild, weather-wise, so I have nothing to complain about. I'm not counting down days or desperately waiting until spring. Sure, its dark when I get home from work, but I still enjoy the walk, and the views of the city from the bridge are even more spectacular when I can see it lit up against the black sky. Its getting lighter every day, noticeably so by now. I may miss the coziness of arriving home in the dark and settling into our evening.

I do all my usual things, and have added on some winter activities. B and I are doing ice skating lessons which is fun (and super challenging. I have weak ankles apparently). We played in the snow a few weeks back, and are looking forward to hopefully having more. We are eating more soup and roasted veggies. I don't mind turning on the oven every night.

The "winter" phenotype of cold/dark lasts about  4 months around here, so finding it "hard" would doom 1/3 of my life to slogging through a difficulty. I don't want to live that way! And if I hated it that much, I'd seriously consider moving back down south (where summer is "hard" so you really can't win unless you find yourself in paradise).