Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Goals

Happy first day of summer! B had his kindergarten graduation cute! Still a few more days of school---we start & end school late here compared to the rest of the country, it seems. We spent an extra-extra-hot and sunny father's day at a baseball game with friends. It may have been ill-advised. Or maybe my mid-day beer was ill-advised. In any case, I had a terrible headache when we got home and poor G had to read the boys stories & clean up the entire kitchen.

I like the idea of making "summer" a little different for all of us, even though only 1/4 of us will actually be spending his days in a different way the next few months. So I decided to come up with a few individual and family goals. I'm keeping it super simple here, it is summer after all! We go on vacation later this week and then we'll head into July 4th, so I consider "summer" the 9 weeks between July 4th and Labor Day.

Self-care: get anxiety treated, one barre class/week, take 1-2 "personal days" off for doctor/dentist appointments/catching up/relaxing

Work: 1 grant, 1 paper, 1 IRB submission

Family: visit every sprayground in town, fruit picking at local farm once (we missed strawberry season unfortunately, but maybe peaches?), at least one weeknight outing/week (nothing fancy---picnic at park, library, ice cream)

Special goals for B's first "real summer":
-Reading challenge: I'm going to give him a small notebook to record every book he reads. For every 25 books he gets a special treat (he reads picture books, so that's not very many). I actually want him to get comfortable reading longer "chapter" books, too, so we'll modify this later in the summer.
-Chores: will work with him to come up with 3 things he can do around the house (ideas on what a very uncoordinated and scatter-brained 6 year old can do?)
-Allowance: going to start an allowance and teaching about money. Starting with the basics of identifying the coins (he's still iffy on nickels vs. quarters) and practicing math, discussing how much common things cost, try saving for a small toy. 

Enjoy this (extra long) day!

Friday, June 17, 2016


A post-title with a clever double meaning! #1: SHU's reference to "Mosquito Mind"--that all-to-familiar state of being constantly interrupted and without focus and #2: all the time I wasted researching mosquito repellent and shopping for it on Amazon prime only to realize that 30% DEET cannot be air-shipped and will take 4-5 business days to arrive (we leave for Zika-infested-vacation-spot in 4 business days).

Indeed, I have so MUCH I want to write about, vent about, discuss...and yet I can't seem to be able to sit down and formulate a coherent and complete post. I have fallen to the lowest standard of picking the THREE most important work tasks for the day and getting them done ASAP so if the rest of the day goes to hell at least I am moving ahead in my major projects.

I've been struggling a bit...and not just with focus. I had a thought this morning---that perhaps I have internalized a double-standard re: mental health. I can be as scientific, rationale, empathetic, and supportive as anybody you will ever meet when it comes to the mental health issues of EVERYONE IN THE WORLD EXCEPT ME. I would NEVER say or think the things I say and think to myself. I would never tell someone else that this daily weight of anxiety & sadness I've been carrying for over a month now is only caused by "being too negative" and "not trying hard enough" and "not being grateful for what I have" and all manner of bootstrap/self/pull style nonsense.

I did make (and attend!) a first appointment with a new therapist earlier this week. But there was a lot to cover and we only had an hour. We didn't get very deep. And then we are going on vacation next week so it'll be a couple of weeks before I can go back. I think the first 2-3 visits may be "getting to know you" type affairs, before I can feel it actually start to be helpful. I did tell her that I'd like to try a few different mind/mood changing techniques for a few weeks but if I don't feel it helping, I'd like to meet with the provider that prescribes medication.

I just can't get excited or motivated about anything. I do things, and I do feel some satisfaction at getting them done, and some level of enjoyment at seeing other people enjoy them but...something is just not there. I'm not even excited about our vacation. Not at all. Just another list of things to do to prepare and then a LOT of trying to gear myself up to deal with the frustrations and lowered expectations of traveling with my children. Who have been in rare form lately, just...chock full & brimming over with negativity and whining and anger and bad manners.

Anyways. I've only done 2 of my 3 things today so back to work.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Monday Musings

The weekend was actually quite nice. There was shockingly no traffic on the way down, nor on the way back. G surprised us all with a little gizmo that hangs off the headrest to hold an ipad---so the boys happily (and quietly) watched movies the whole way with their headphones on. We could actually TALK and THINK and RELAX. Total game changer for long drives.

It was really relaxing to not have to do anything all day on Saturday. No cooking, no cleaning, no errands, no laundry...even minimal child-wrangling, since they all ran off in a pack and played on their own. I finished up the book I was reading (I ADORED it) and read a whole 'nother one, too (OK). It was crazy hot, and we spent a LOT of time outside, so we were all worn out.

We got back early afternoon yesterday and made our way through the usual Sunday activities. Neither of us was in the mood to cook dinner, so we got a pizza. L was so exhausted he fell asleep at the dinner table, and then went up to "wait for stories" and didn't wake up again until 5 AM (when he came to ask G to scratch his back and complain about his blanket being "wrong"). He then fell asleep again until nearly 8; neither parent could go back to bed.

G went to the gym, and I made the mistake of staying in bed and reading the news. And then it was really hard to motivate to do anything. I KNEW about the news yesterday but made a point not to read too much graphic detail because I know it would make me depressed & anxious & angry & hopeless. Indeed, I feel all of those things. Sigh. Deep breath (yes, I've contacted my congress people, etc...I do it EVERY TIME...I'm getting sick of nothing changing. I can feel the apathy creeping in...sigh. deep breath again).

B was asking me whether he'd be going to the aftercare place next year and I told him no (total clusterf of chaos and incompetence on the part of the owner/director), and he got really really excited "so you are going to pick me up from school?!". Ugh. "No, I can't because I'm still at work when you get off school, but we will find something better".

I spent a lot of time brainstorming ways I COULD pick him up from school, at least one or two days a week. It would involve split shifts, early mornings, and a LOT of self-discipline on my part. I know that being at work 8-9 consecutive hours a day offers me a nice luxurious buffer---I truly get 6-7 hours of REAL THINKING work done (the rest of time is ideally spent on miscellaneous non-thinking-required work and realistically sometimes on non-work work). It would be great for him, though, he really needs some time after school to decompress and be on his own. If I picked him up at 3, we came home and ate snacks and did homework by 3:30 and still have a couple of hours before dinner to go to the park or play legos or read books or just BE A KID instead of being forced into activities he doesn't enjoy with kids he doesn't want to hang out with. Not that there isn't value to that once in a while---and sometimes he is super excited about playing tag with the big kids or whatever, but...its a lot, every day.

Once every other week I do pick him up from school to take him to his social skills therapy (we switch off) and he is so different on those afternoons then he is when I get him from after care at 5:30 most days. At 3 pm he is talkative, curious, inquisitive---we've talked about race (he has been obsessed with skin color and was telling me each of his friends and the color of their skin and we had to talk about why maybe we shouldn't mention skin color or any other physical characteristic as the first attribute of someone), the presidential election (very complicated discussion here...), suburban vs. urban living and the pros/cons of each, etc... By 5:30 he is sullen, complaining, stuffing his face with snacks & granola bars and answering ever question with "nothing" "fine" "i don't know" "i forgot".

What I didn't realize, going into the school year, is that going from a full day of school to aftercare from 8:30-5:30 is VERY different from being in daycare 8:30-5:30. At daycare, even at the preK level, they have naptime/downtime (B hasn't napped since age 3, but he lay on his mat quietly or looked at books while the others slept), they go outside multiple times a day, and more importantly, the bulk of their time involves free play. When picking him up, we could find B digging in the sand table by himself or in a corner looking at a book, or running at full tilt outside with his friends--he was able to meet his own needs for solitude, soothing, and working out his energy.

Anyways. Just some thoughts and ramblings.

Friday, June 10, 2016

In the Background

I've got a handful of half-written posts this week but nothing that I actually was motivated enough to polish & post. That pretty much summarizes my life these days---good intentions, robustly diving in, and then half-hearted efforts, lack of focus, and utter inability to actually see anything through to completion. I've gotten half-written manuscripts and Aims pages and many many emails in "draft", a to-do list for both work & home that keeps getting longer and longer, laundry done but never put away, scarves & hats & gloves on the floor with the swimsuits and sunglasses, piles taller than my kids of things to "give away" that have been sitting in our bedroom for months.

I just feel really tired of pretty much everything. I want to lie on a beach, alone, for a few days (weeks?) and read books & listen to the waves & not have to do or be anything.

But since that isn't happening, I did what I do. I made yet another list. Only this one has only really easy satisfying tasks and I am working my way through them. Expense reports and purchase orders to get in before the end of the "year", plane tickets to buy, phone calls to make & emails to send, meetings to set up. Its a start.  I already feel better.

We are leaving work early today to drive 4+ hours in heavy traffic to visit my sister. My kids are over the moon excited to see their cousins again. Its also a break from having to plan & execute any weekend activities to keep the kids (and us!) occupied and distracted from whining. On the other hand, I have no idea when we are going to manage to grocery shop & food prep & make lunches & do laundry and all the other weekend tasks that we usually spread throughout Saturday & Sunday. Its just going to be a late Sunday night, I suppose.

I just spent over an hour on the phone with the school psychologist (and I wonder why I can't complete anything...). She asked me if I "had a few minutes to chat" and then proceeded to complete two different very long parent questionnaires with me (both of which I had filled out previously, for another provider) re: B. She told me she had read over his report from the hospital evaluation, but at the end of the interview she did not know that he had received the ADHD diagnosis in addition to ASD. She kept asking me "what do you want from the school? What are your concerns? Do you want an IEP? What changes do you want to see on the IEP" and I finally had to be blunt and say I had no idea, I'm not the educational specialist, we were recommended to set up an IEP but we don't know how to go about it, and we requesting the school evaluation so that you can help us! FFS woman! I told her to also speak to the KG teachers who worked with him all year to see what THEY thought would be helpful for him in the actual classroom, because, again, my only time in a KG classroom was 35 years ago when I was in KG. She sounded actually quite young & inexperienced. I'm trying not to hold that against her, because you have to start somewhere, but....

OK deep breath. And now back to the list. Or lunch. Actually, yes, lets make that lunch. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


After weeks of cool, rainy, dreary weather, we had a sudden heat wave last week. It went from gray and 50 degrees to sunny and 90 degrees seemingly overnight. The sun was so bright, and the heat so intense, it felt like everything was hazy & shimmering before my eyes.

Or maybe that was all the white wine I consumed?

Birthday week was as lovely as I could've imagined it. I took my actual birthday off, and spent the day wandering around town, shopping (FINALLY found a bathing suit), lunching & toasting with a best friend. We had a family dinner out, complete with guacamole & margaritas.  I did go to work Friday, but met some more friends for good wine, food, and conversations afterwards. I took the boys on weekend adventures, involving ice cream & water play. G and I had a date night and ate an amazing meal.

Turning 40 was pretty awesome. I recommend it.

There may be 3 more weeks until school ends and our family vacation begins, but summer feels like its already here. There is a watermelon sitting on the kitchen counter, and water guns strewn about in the backyard. The smell of sunscreen, the feel of heat on bare legs, the soothing hum of the air conditioner lulling me to sleep at night....I forgot how much I love this time. I need to remember to savor it, because it always goes so fast.