You’re a big girl now


I was 19 when I became pregnant with my oldest. 19 and dumb, no really dumb. I thought dark beer was the reason for my nausea. When I didn’t wait the whole 5 minutes for my pregnancy test result I assumed it was false and then went to see The Blair Witch Project. Imagine my horror when I came home to a big fat positive staring at me from the waste basket. It was way scarier than the movie had been! I was unmarried and in a casual relationship. Actually it was a rebound relationship based on convenience and beer, lots of beer. I eventually agreed to marry him after the panic set in. I was scared, immature, and did I mention dumb.

However I did fall madly in love with the little babe growing inside of me. I was determined to be the best mother EVER. And I truly believed I would be. I read books, watched a ridiculous amount of parenting movies, and even attended a few classes at the local WIC office. I married her father when I was almost 6 months pregnant. I wore yellow. I hate yellow. I cried that day, a lot.

In the beginning I would say I was the best mother I could be. I breastfed and baby carried before it would become the new normal again. I made lists and had schedules. She was my EVERYTHING. I have hundreds of pictures of her sleeping. It was silly and mildly obsessive. But I had never loved anything quite like I loved her.

Over the years life dramatically changed, we would give her more siblings. My marriage based on beer and convenience had unraveled rather quickly. I resented his inability to cope with being an adult and he just resented me. It was a recipe for disaster. The abuse started slowly though, it snuck up on me. I didn’t even realize it was happening at first. Man I had excuses. I had reasons. And I stayed for a long time.

Then one day I looked down at my oldest trying to shield me, her mother from her father. And I realized I had failed. I was failing. I was not the best mother EVER.

I squirreled away what little money I could, I called a uhaul, I called his father, and my marriage was done. I was liberated, we were free. I never looked back once. We never looked back.

Fast forward several years, my have we grown. That little babe is now a young lady. I find it hard to wrap my head around this concept. But she is a tad too big for wearing these days. Hundreds of pictures of her sleeping might be a little creepy at this point. I don’t believe I have failed her, sure there is still time for that. But she is smart, funny, and assertive. She seems reasonable and heck even level headed. I don’t want to give her too much credit she is a teenager after all. I’m not the best mother EVER. I’m not the worst either.

I can’t promise I won’t falter. This whole parenting thing is continuously on a learning curve. But she is making it easier for me. Thank goodness, there are 5 more waiting behind her to do only God knows what. She made me grow up, made me want to be a better version of me. I thank her for that. However she still has to do the dishes later.

Happy Birthday Ramsey! You’re a big girl now!

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40 is the new 20 right?


No I’m not turning 40 but my birthday is nearing and it has me thinking. My 30’s have not been especially kind to me with miscarriages, gallbladder removal, hysterectomy, and an extra 25 pounds. My 30’s have just downright blown. My sense of humor has also been in the crapper. I feel like an adult for the first time in my adult life and I don’t care much for it. Maybe my 40’s will be vastly better. Or maybe I can turn the second half of my 30’s around.

How is that even possible? I have a bad marriage under my belt and birthed 6 kids. I have teenagers! How could I have managed to keep my child like sense for so long? I don’t know but I would like it back. I literally woke up one day and could feel dread and stress. And it keeps me up at night. I’m just waiting for that first line to appear across my forehead from frowning. I know boo hoo Samantha welcome to the real world.

I have a theory though, social media. Before social media I had no clue that every other person in the world was a dick. It was all sunshine and roses. I lived in this nifty little bubble. Heck when people would happen to judge me for my appearance I was astounded, sad, and even heartbroken. Now I am no longer surprised or even bothered. Which is a bad thing. I had this belief that most people were kind. That the atrocities in the world were committed by sick individuals. But now I see hate every time I open my Facebook app. And it has me questioning humanity.

I think of my children and what this world will thrust upon them. I think of Conrad and wonder if he will ever acclimate, make friends, have any kind of normalcy. If he will be bullied or abused by others. My forehead is all scrunched up just typing this. Don’t get me wrong I have experienced incredible acts of kindness from friends and strangers. But I have also witnessed terrible wrongs. I know we all have these fears as parents. That I am not alone with this worry. But honestly before Conrad I had this notion that it all works out in the end. That my kids had a good fighting chance at an awesome life or a typical mundane one. Which isn’t so awful not everyone can walk on the moon or cure a terrible disease! But I know Conrad will struggle, that he will have to work harder. And that the world won’t always be so kind to him.

In an effort to salvage my sense of humor and keep my forehead crease free I’ve decided my life needs a makeover. I love writing, I’m going to do that more. I read a book this week and it felt great. I cut my internet browsing in half and I think I could even go with less. I traveled to another city and forced myself to interact with strangers for an entire weekend. It was scary and liberating. Though while I was gone a family of squirrels burrowed through my ceiling. I’m not taking that as a sign. I stripped my clothes off and got in front of a camera, all 145 pounds of me. I’m going to step out of my box more. And by box I mean interacting with the real world where most people are not as brazen as they are behind a keyboard.

Eventually that crease will appear from age but I have no desire to help it along. And I really just can’t afford botox!

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P.S. Read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, it is fantastic!

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Tequila Tuesday


Yesterday was Tequila Tuesday. There is only one place in the house where I can blend margaritas without startling the terror tots. The older girl’s bedroom. So maybe I blended margaritas in their room around 10 pm. Maybe I woke up Morgan and when she asked what time it was I proclaimed it was margarita time! Hey if we are going to be paying for therapy later in life they are going to need something to discuss.

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Look we needed those margaritas after this weekend. Parenting is hard. Maintaining a happy marriage is even harder. It is very easy to let the mundane take over your lives. We found ourselves in a place where we stopped talking. Where we stopped being a team. And angry. I had a “romantic” weekend planned. Though I don’t think yelling at each other while driving down the interstate in a loop really constitutes as romantic. We all know how best laid plans turn out.

There was yelling, crying, more yelling, and more crying. Which is terrible because I am an ugly face crier. We worked it out. And had some pretty hot make-up sex, ugly faced and all. I’ll be honest the road has been fairly rocky these last few years. Near death experience, postpartum depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and well Conrad. Coupled with every day life it has been a tad bananas.

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Raising a child with special needs can be taxing on a relationship. I will admit my priorities have shifted. And my expectations of my spouse have been high, demanding even. Occasionally I forget we are just human and have frailties ourselves. Some how I managed to become softer for my son but harder toward everyone else. I have to work on that.

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Lesson learned this week: don’t assume your partner is psychic. They are not. Of course I already knew this but apparently needed to be reminded. Which is also mildly annoying because my relationship is not like everyone else’s. We are fantastic. We are happy damn it. Yes and no. We still require work every now and again.

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I love my husband. I wake up everyday thankful for him. Even when I don’t like him so much. The hot sex helps on those days. Actually that is another irritating aspect of our relationship. It just takes a little flirting and I magically forget all douche like behavior. Lust is a powerful thing.

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Life is not going to get any easier. But hopefully the way we handle it can go a little smoother. Tequila Tuesday helps.

My Sunshine, my only sunshine


Winter hasn’t been kind to Texas recently. It has been cold, wet, deary, and even frozen. And when frozen happens we shut down. The entire state stops functioning. Texas closes when it sees snow or this thing called thunder sleet. I am not entirely convinced thunder sleet is a real thing.

Because of this ice apocalypse my children have been home way too much and Conrad’s therapy thrown off. That is a problem. All the progress we appeared to be making has started to vanish. His aggression has been rearing its head. On the rare occasion he does have therapy his attention span is back to square one.

Recently he has discovered shoes. He loves them. All day long he walks up and down the hallway in whatever shoe or shoes he has picked for the day. Usually it is a daddy sneaker or the random ugg knock off. They are easier for him to slide on himself. This activity has become some what obsessive and his interest in us has decreased.

He’s also discovered his voice. No he has yet to use language. But man can he yell. We have dropped the biting and taken up tantrums. These tantrums are serious business. Chair flipping, eyeball scratching, screaming till he can’t breathe tantrums. Our only recourse is to put him in a safe soft place or brave a bear hug and hope he doesn’t getcha too bad.

I was on Facebook and recently watched a pig doing a puzzle. Watch what happens next it is amazing. A puzzle my child would struggle with. It didn’t feel too amazing. I find myself somewhere between hopeful and scared. I try to remain this ray of light. I have my moments where I am not so bright. I try to enjoy our little triumphs. But I won’t lie it is hard. His progress binder is a constant source of extreme highs and lows.

August declared the other day that I love Conrad more. That I am kinder and softer with him. I told her I don’t love him more but he needs me more. I guess I do give more hugs. And I am less demanding of him. He’s taught me quite a bit about myself. And maybe I need to be more softer in general. I feel like an old dog trying to learn new tricks.

Conrad can say no, stop, he can repeat sounds he hears. He can assemble his table and chairs for meal time. He can sign more and open just about any door. He can operate an iPad with ease. He recognized I had an oweee and petted me. While I have been typing he found the salt shaker and made it rain. He then put the salt shaker back when I caught him. We have moments where he seems like a regular toddler. I have to stop comparing him to other children, to regular children.

Occasionally we get the how do you even know he’s different, maybe he’s just delayed. I hate this conversation. It is hard to explain that you just know. It is hard to explain something you’d have to see. It is hard to explain something you’d have to live to understand.

I’ve adopted the mantra one day at a time.

One day at a time.

At least the sun is out.

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Autism is kicking my ass


Let me tell you something about myself and my parenting style. I’m lazy. I don’t like schedules, not a fan of routines. I hate mornings. I don’t put away laundry. I never get any where on time. I don’t make lists and if I do I leave them at home. Putting on pants is an effort. I have not always been this way. With my first child like many first time parents I was insane. There was things she could not eat. We had scheduled nap times. She bathed regularly. Add 5 more kids and it is like The Lord of the Flies up in here. Or I am raising little Highlanders and there can only be one. Epic battles everyday!

That all changed the moment Conrad was diagnosed with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. Everyday there is someone in my home working with him. We have speech therapist, play therapist, occupational therapist, sensory processing therapist. It feels like I am running a preschool at this point. Then add the twins to the mix. Both have speech delays. Liberty Bell has speech therapy. And we are currently going through the motions with Penelope. She is being assessed for speech and occupational therapy. We will get into Penelope on a different day.

The hardest challenge is separating them to ensure they are each getting the attention they need and ability to learn. Sounds simple heck put them in separate rooms. Haha. It is exhausting. The other challenge is stopping my urges to help and or intervene. When I hear my Connie crying or struggling it literally breaks my heart. Right my job is to make him happy and to make sure his needs are being met.I have to repeat to myself over and over he needs this. Some days I can see it in his face the frustration. And lastly it is hard to not have expectations. I don’t know how to explain it. We’ll have a good day and the thought creeps in we got this. Then we will four bad days and the thought creeps in we don’t have this.

We also have to make plans for the future. Which as adults we should already be acclimated to this notion of planning for the future. But we have to plan for the possibility of a different future. What if he is always nonverbal? What if he always needs a little help? What if he is always a little aggressive? Who will help him if something happens to us? Who will make sure he gets what he needs?

These thoughts keep me up at night.

I had it easy with our first three children. I had this parenting stuff down. Now I feel like a rookie. I have calenders in every room and I still miss appointments. Or my three older children get pushed to the wayside. Write it down please there is only one of me is my new favorite line.

I’m adjusting to this new normal, we are adjusting to this new normal.

But man right at the moment it is kicking my ass.

Though somethings in life are worth taking an ass kicking for……

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The Vaccination Debate


Samantha:

I originally wrote this in 2011 but with the recent measles outbreak it feels very relevant.

Originally posted on CandyBottoms:

I usually try to avoid this topic. But I’ve been mulling over it since the twins had their two month check up. The topic of immunizations usually ends in heated arguments. Just like breast-feeding. My goodness how I hate to get the “are you breast-feeding” question. Yes I’m educated on it. Yes I know it’s best for them. Seriously I breast-fed the first three, I know. I respect a mother’s right to choose.

But I absolutely believe in immunizations. Obviously all drugs carry the risk of side effects. You could be one in a thousand that gets a rash or one in a million that dies. Heck I googled and found myself feeding into the mass hysteria on the web after the twins seemed too fussy. I eventually came to my senses. Have you seen polio or diphtheria? Not something to be taken lightly. I have a personal experience that…

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Today


Recently I have done a lot of praying or maybe just a lot of talking to myself. The last several months have been a blur. It really only feels like a day has passed. Last time we spoke I was grappling with Conrad’s pending Autism diagnosis. Something I knew in my gut but was not quite ready to hear.

So here it is, today my son has Autism. It appears to be classic Autism, possibly moderate to severe. Today, right now he is non-verbal. Today, right now I have no absolutes. I don’t know if he will ever be verbal. He may never use spoken language. He maybe 5 before he ever utters a sentence. Right now just a word with purpose in context would be great. But okay if it doesn’t happen. He may never be self sufficient. Or maybe someday you’ll never know what he had to overcome by just looking at him.

20-25% of people with Autism are non-verbal. Some can mimic sounds but do not use language to communicate. Some learn sign language and use pictures to communicate. And some never have the ability to communicate their needs at all.

Conrad has a play therapist, speech therapist, and two occupational therapist. We are very busy. Conrad is very busy.

When Conrad started therapy he could not maintain eye contact, was very aggressive at times, and dis-interested in us and you and every one in general. He did not babble as a baby. Actually he was the quietest baby I had ever met. There were no ba ba ba, da da da, or ma ma ma’s to be heard. He did not smile back when you smiled at him.

Today, right now Conrad has already come a long way. In the last couple months it has almost been like he just woke up and noticed us. And he wanted to be around us. He started to look at our faces. He learned to sign “more” when he wants something, he will bring me things he wants, and he will grab my hand and his therapists when he needs help with his puzzles. Just the other day we played Transformers and he said RAWR when his attacked. He can wave bye when the mood strikes him. He can even pretend to answer a phone. Pretend. I can’t describe how huge that is in our world.

Sure he still bites and man you better watch out when he starts pinching. But it has slowed down. Now that he can express his needs more the aggressiveness has tapered off some. Every day we have wins and losses.

I have moments where I am beaming with pride and I want to share. But then I refrain. And then I say screw it today my kid didn’t bite me, he put together two puzzles, or he let his Daddy hold him and I want to shout it from the roof tops.

Sometimes I watch him from a far and he makes me smile. He sings little songs, he dances when a beat moves him. He likes to wear one shoe and scribble on my walls. He loves the vacuum. He will actually take it apart while I am trying to use it. Frustrating but totally cute. Sometimes.

I’ve moved past my feelings of inadequacy and questions of why. Why doesn’t really matter in our world. My prayers have changed. My expectations, your expectations they don’t matter. The rules don’t apply. And that is okay. We are okay. Conrad is beautiful.

Today, right now we only want our Connie to be happy.

And I think he might be just that.

Happy.

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