Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cramp Camp

Here's my predicament - and we're getting real, people, so if you can't take it, slooowly back away.

So almost two years ago, I had a pulmonary embolism.  I'm fine, blah blah blah, but I can't ever take hormones in any way, shape, or form again.

I'm 45.  The times they are a-changin'.  Most people in my position can take some form of hormone therapy to balance themselves out as their hormones yank their brains and emotions to and fro like an evil tug-o-war.  But not me.  I'm at the mercy of the 'mones, as the case may be - ie:  I'm screwed.

And so is everyone around me.  I'm so sorry, friends.

So this got me to thinking that for the well being of myself and those around me, I should be locked away when the 'mones run amok.  And to make it cute, because really, nothing about this is cute, I should give it a cute little name.

Cramp Camp.

So when I'm feeling a little hormonal and nutsy, I'm just going to simply say "Cramp Camp!" And go off to safety where I can't do any critical damage.

Just so we're all on the same page.  'K?

Alright - thanks for listening.  As you were.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Here's to the Autism Dads

There is a great community of us autism moms out there.  But today I want to focus on the less celebrated, but no less important, autism dad.

In our family, our fantastic autism dad is named Sean.  I call him “Dreamboat”.  Yes, even to his face. 

When our 15 year old son was first diagnosed with autism at age 2, we were hit with a whirlwind of new terms, therapies, and paperwork.  We were both devastated by the diagnosis, but we both jumped right in head first regardless.  And while my focus was on our son, and getting him from therapy to therapy, along with his little brother, Sean took over the paperwork.  He knew I couldn’t handle both, and he also knew that for my own well being, I needed to be with the boys as much as I could.  So he took on the less desirable task of completing all the necessary paperwork so that our TJ could take advantage of every service available to us.  No questions asked.  

We were a team from the word go.

Later, as we sat nervously in the audience waiting to see if our son would sing on stage with his second grade class or not, it was the calm of the autism dad that made everything ok.  He reminded me that if I showed TJ that I was nervous, he would feed off of that and become nervous himself.  He kept me calm.  And that calm helped TJ, over and over again.

When Sean could see that I was tired, or overwhelmed, he would send me off for a pedicure or an afternoon at a spa.  He knew how exhausting it was being an autism mom, and wanted me to feel cared for and pampered.  We couldn’t do it a lot, with our crazy schedule, but one way or another Sean would find a way to allow me to recharge my battery.  Even if it was a simple card to let me know how much he appreciated my hard work, he was always thinking of me.

And Sean is just the best father to our boys.  Every now and then, Sean would declare “Boys’ night!” and the three of them would head out for burgers or pizza, and maybe a movie or some bowling.  Sean wants them both to know that no matter how busy he gets, or how much he has to travel for work, he will always make time for them, and they can always count on him.

And while watching TJ graduate from 8th grade last year, as we all stood to welcome the class in their procession, Sean didn’t try to hide the tear in his eye as he applauded TJ walking by us.  And with a little glance and sideways grin, TJ saw his father.  And that moment between them alone, everything else aside, sums up the power of the relationship between the two of them.  It’s different than my relationship with TJ, but it is equally (and many times, more so) important.  As a growing boy, knowing that TJ has Sean to lean on and learn from makes my heart feel peaceful.  And full.

For these reasons, and for so many more, I celebrate you, Sean, and all the autism dads out there who give so much of themselves to their kids every day.

Happy Father’s Day, my dear Dreamboat.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

It's Good to be Queen

What a beautiful day - this weather is the best.  Sunny, warm, perfect for a walk around the loop, or grilling out, or cocktails on the deck...

Oh crap.  I can't have cocktails on the deck anymore.

I have been sober for almost four years.

Sometimes people ask me why I quit drinking.  The answer is very simple: I was so good at it that it made everyone else look really bad.

The truth is, I was really good at it.  But I only made myself look bad.  So I stopped.

It was tough at first, and I had to make a lot of changes in my life.  Mostly with the way I felt about myself - it took a while to get my genuine self back.   But I finally got to a great place where I am ok around others drinking, and it doesn't stop me from being the best I can be.  

Anyway, I hardly ever miss the cocktails.  But tonight as I sat in the sunroom feeling the breeze come through the windows, I missed it.  I'm not sure what part about it I missed, to be honest.  Not the insecurity.  Not the hangover.  Maybe it's the part about holding a pretty glass?  All of our glasses are packed away, as we are doing some house renovations, but there is one accessible...

So I put my seltzer (orange vanilla - yum) in my faboo cup (a birthday gift from my faboo cousin's faboo wife's faboo parents) and helped myself to some M&Ms, thankyouverymuch, and toasted to myself having the strength to stay sober for almost 4 years now, with no regrets.

And I'm just getting started.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

...Like It's My Job

While I was asking friends about changing the name of my blog, I sent a text to my friend Laura.  The back and forth went something like this....

Me: "Yesterday it was 'Losing my mind...like it's my job'.  Or it could be 'PMSing....like it's my job'.  Ooh this could be fun!"

L: "I fought the carbs and the carbs won...like it's my job"

Me: "I made that donut my bitch...like it's my job"

L: "I woke my kid, drove him to school, went to the gym, went to the supermarket, folded laundry, walked the dog and watched Real Housewives all before 11am....like it's my job....oh, wait....."

And so a blog name was born.  Thanks Laura!  :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Name Baby!

Well here we are - a new day, a new blog title!

I struggled with the title for a while.  When I started this blog, I had just left my job as a para-educator.  Which was not the best job for me, let's face it, because that's basically what I do in my "spare" time, and I got a wee bit burned out.   I loved the kiddo I was with, but didn't have much energy left for my own when I got home.  So the choice was made for me.

Since then I have gotten some great feedback from some very respected friends, who thought the blog title didn't fit.  Too self-depricating.  And let's face it, I DO have a job.  A good one.  A busy one.  Excellent benefits.  Cute staff.  And the toughest but most important job that I was born to do - be a Mom.

So time for a title change.

If any of you out there know how to change a Blogger name, and re-direct from the old to the new, help a girl out?  Seriously.  This is not my forte.  I can't even figure out how to type the correct accent over the "e" in "forte".

Life is tough...sometimes ya just gotta laugh like it's your job.

So what do you think?

(if you hate it, don't tell me.  It was tough enough changing it once.) :)

Under construction

Just like my house, my blog site is under construction.  My new blog will be, eventually, "Laughing...Like It's My Job".

Working on it.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Camel's Back Totally Broke

Let me preface this post by saying that if you haven't already noticed, I write about all of it - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

I'm an equal opportunity blogger.

I don't do everything right, I make a lot of mistakes, and I'm human.  It's harder to write about the hard stuff, but for me it's just as important.  So read on with this in mind.

Sometimes the smallest things can make me feel overwhelmed.

I'm sure I'm not the only mom who feels this way.

And I'm sure it's the end of the school year stress, or thinking of summer spread out before us with many days that I feel responsible to fill in some meaningful way, but for some reason I'm extra sensitive these days to all the "extras" that are required of us autism moms.

Let's talk about finals.  TJ's exams were cumulative - material that the class has covered since the beginning of the school year - for the first time.

I have always said "we don't know what we don't know until we suddenly know it".  And for someone who tries to plan everything so there are no surprises for her boy, this is a lot to handle.

Long story short, TJ had an anxiety attack preparing for his finals, so we quickly learned that 2 big exams on the same day are not the way to go.  We also have learned that for some classes he gets so easily mixed up, that maybe a verbal test is the way to go...or half verbal, half written.  We are still working on this one.

Anyway, a couple of days ago I logged in to the school system to find that TJ already has a schedule set for next year.  That's great, I thought.  But this morning I learned that not only has it been set up for a while, but all the students were told that there is a particular window during which time all schedule changes need to be made.  And that window was now closed.

I already know that if TJ is told something, the message will not get delivered to me.  Someone else has to tell me.  And in this case it was a dear friend who worked in the school as a para-educator.  We were at breakfast with a group of us, all good friends.

So when I heard this scheduling news, I started to cry.  I totally lost it.  And at the time I didn't fully understand why.  But now with a little distance, it's clearer to me.

Number one, I'm exhausted.  I studied with TJ for his finals harder than I ever studied for my own finals.  And I worried more too.

Number two, it was one more thing I didn't know.  One more thing I have to work double time for to get the same result for TJ as his typical peers.  One more thing that made me feel that much more isolated and alone, and one more thing that has me wishing that things could be easier.

I know it's a small thing, but it set off a big reaction.

(I've got some other stuff going on, which I'm sure plays into everything.  I'm not this emotional basket case walking around every day, don't panic.)

So I went home, sent the emails I had to send, made the calls I had to make, set the plans I had to set, and learned the things I had to learn.  And the school was wonderful, as I knew they would be.  They do everything they can to make it easier for us.

So yes, sometimes it sucks.  And yes, sometimes I get overwhelmed at something small.  And yes, sometimes my reactions are bigger than they should be.

But it is what it is.  My family and I are all learning as we go, and doing the very best that we can.

So to my dear breakfast girls, I'm sorry I acted the way I did and I'm sorry I ran out.  I hope someone enjoyed my omelet, though, I ordered a good one.  I know you've all got my back no matter what, and I couldn't have chosen more amazing ladies to have a meltdown in front of.  I love you guys.

And to my boy, even though it's hard sometimes, I will always do my best for you.  Even if it sometimes takes me a little while to figure out what that looks like.

And to the creator of tissues, I'm forever grateful.  As I'm sure you are for me, because clearly I am keeping you in a successful business.

Anyway, forward we go, until the next thing comes up that I don't yet know that I don't know.

Tissues in hand, just in case.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Last Thursday morning, I said goodbye to my boys as I dropped them off at school and drove to Boston.

Boston is where my sister lives.

That evening, after I got to spend some time with my gorgeous nieces and nephews (they call my "Aunt Lornie" - I love that), my sister Susan and I took the train to NYC.

Sister's weekend!!!  WOOHOO!!!

We were staying with her amazing mother-in-law, Ellen, who I love, so everything was perfect.  We woke up Friday morning, caught up with Ellen, and then ventured out into the city.

We walked everywhere.  One of my all time favorite things to do is to walk walk walk around a city that I love and take in the sights, the people, the shops, the buildings.

Over the next three days we would have the best time I've had in a loooong time.  We saw friends we hadn't seen in a while - those kind of really good friends who make your soul happy.  We went to the Met for a beautiful gown exhibit inspired by ancient Chinese robes.  We saw a show that still makes me laugh when I think about it - being in a theatre, by itself, makes me happy, then throw on top of that 2 1/2 hours of laughter.  Amazing.  We ate delicious food without a caloric care in the world.

I did have a minor anxiety attack in Times Square, and we promptly left - that place has become such a zoo I can't stand it.  But even that didn't stop me from a mini zumba moment as I heard a familiar song in a bodega as we were buying water.

The best part about the whole thing was spending that time with my sister.  It's just easy and fun, and I didn't realize how much I needed it until I was in the middle of it.

Parenting is hard.  Parenting special needs requires a delicate touch and a constant dance to find the perfect balance within every day.  Walking away from it, even for a few days, shows me how tiring the whole process really is, and how much energy I exert on a daily basis.

Please understand that I wouldn't change a thing - we Jordans are a well oiled machine - but it is a lot of work.  And I was tired.  I just didn't know how tired until I got home.

Which tells me that some changes are in order.  I need to find a better way of nurturing myself while I am here.  Maybe that's more dinners out with friends, more date nights with Sean, more quiet walks by myself, who knows.  But it is definitely a good reminder that in order to take care of everyone in this house the way they deserve to be taken care of, I have to take care of myself first.  The past year has been a huge one in our family, with TJ starting high school and Peter becoming a teenager, and I somehow let my daily well being slip a little.  Not a lot, but definitely a little.

So now I move forward, with wonderful NYC sister memories in my head, and a drive to do better here, for everyone.

But especially for myself.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Our Autism Week

Holy day of craziness.

Correction - WEEK of craziness.

This was TJ's exam week.  He has been through exams before, but not end-of-the-year cumulative exams.  Different beast all together.

And I do mean "beast".

I was away last weekend so Sean helped TJ study all weekend.  They did a great job together and we thought we were prepared for our week.

HAHAHAHA!!!  We should have known better!  Note to self - when you think you've mastered something, be prepared for a curve ball.  We always get one.

So Monday morning, TJ had an Art final presentation.  No problem.  That afternoon, he was to study for English and Social Studies, to take the next day.

He had studied both of these a bit last week and more intensely over the weekend, so we thought it would just be a review.

Shame, shame on us.

He was studying for about an hour when I heard the wailing.  I ran into the dining room, where he had been studying, and found him lying on the floor, crying.

I figured he was overwhelmed and just needed a good cry.  So we moved to the couch and he let it rip.

20 minutes later, I realized we were in the middle of an anxiety attack.

So I got in touch with his special educator to talk about potential solutions to his shut-down.  He immediately said we could schedule his Social Studies final for the make-up exam day, Friday.  And as soon as I told this to TJ, he was able to start calming down.  It suddenly seemed manageable to him.  He finally calmed down and was able to study.

One crisis down.

So while it was exhausting, we studied every day, and he took a test every day.  Thursday afternoon, because he had studied for Social Studies all week, he reviewed and tackled his trouble topics.

He was ready.

He asked to go in early this morning so he could do a final review before his 8am test.  I dropped him off at 7:30.

I went home and crashed.  I was exhausted.

At 8:25 I checked email and found one from one of his para-educators that said "When is TJ coming to school?  We thought he was going to start at 8."


WHAT?  He's not there?!?!  Where is he???

I called the school as visions of a panicked TJ fleeing the school flooded my head.  He didn't seem nervous, he seemed confident when I dropped him off.  Where could he be?  Was he scared?  Was he hiding?

I waited the longest 15 minutes of my life while I waited for them to call me back.  Finally, the call came.  His Special Educator's room was locked when he got there so he went to his Social Studies room.  The teacher found him there.


Is this taking too long?  'Cause I'm almost done.

So he took his test, walked home by himself (!!!), and walked in our door triumphantly.  He felt great.  I was thrilled.  And I was tired.

So, I went to lie down, but heard him wailing from the basement about 20 minutes later.

"Sweetie, what's wrong?" I said as I came down to where he was hanging out in the basement.

"I miss my school!  I miss it so much!!!"  Lots of crying as I hugged him.

Ah, I thought to myself.  It has been a yo-yo week with so many ups and downs....and this is just a great example of our life with autism.

And it has affected all of us.  Peter had to be so patient and quiet as TJ studied all week.  Sean and I didn't go to the gym, as we were both helping TJ study.  If TJ is alone for too long, he gets distracted and he needed us to help keep him on track.  And we all had to eat enough, rest enough, and sleep enough, so we didn't lose our minds.

But we all made it.  We all got through the week, together.

And I think we all did a pretty good job.