Friday, June 28, 2013

We've All Got Stripes

Earlier today I came across this post on FB (Please click on it so you get an understanding of what I am talking about and I promise, no, its not P0rn or anything nasty - I wouldn't do that to you).

To start, a mom was having a water balloon fight with her daughter - an awesome thing for a mom to do with her child - what's wrong with that? Apparently a passerby thought it was wrong. You see this mom was told that her showing her stretch marks while she played outside with her daughter in her bikini top was "disgusting".


How can someone, off the street, say something so horrid to her? In front of her daughter?

My first instinct would have been to just go off on her and give her a piece of my mind but no, this mom was more classy and said this...
 "I love every part of my body, every flaw, every imperfection, & every stretch mark. Simply because it represents my journey of becoming not only a woman, but a mother. Have a blessed day." 

The strength of this mom to stand up for herself in such a manner, especially in front of her daughter, was truly amazing.

She not only said the best thing possible in response to such an ugly person's remarks but she also showed her daughter that there is nothing wrong with showing her "stripes"
"I find no reason to be ashamed of the fact that I acquired these during the time period of which I was growing another life inside of me; one of the most sacred, precious & challenging things a woman is capable of doing! My stretch marks are my badge of honor - my warrior wounds - my 'tiger stripes' - I earned each & every one of them in the 37 & 1/2 weeks I carried my beautiful daughter w/in me & I am THANKFUL for every single one of them because they remind me every day of my strength & all the amazing things that I as a woman, & a mother, am capable of!"
I wish more women were as proud of their "stripes" as this mom is.

I know I wasn't with mine. I have always had body issues but as I am getting older, I am learning to love my body.

I know it needs work and is not perfect but, its my body. It is the body that allowed me to carry my six beautiful children into this world. It is the body that has overcome many negative things and is still keeping up with me. It is the body that houses my heart and my brain from which I love to no end and think about those I love.

I have my stripes and I am proud to be sharing them with you...

After 3 weeks I'm still peeling!! See ^^
They are not as pronounced or dark but they are mine. My stripes as a mom. My "warrior wounds" that I am proud to bear because I am a warrior - a warrior for my children.

How about you? Do you have stripes? Show them and be proud! Write a post and link up below....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Of stupidity and clarity

Okay, I'm laying myself out there on this one but bear with me for a minute...

About a year or more ago my niece was doing a project for school and asked me to answer some questions for a research project and pose the same questions to some friends and get their answers.

One of the questions was "Do you believe in gay marriage?"

My answer was "No"

Before you attack me and jump down my throat - please read on....

If you look at my FB page you will see many pictures of gay pride and you might realize that my best friend is gay.

So, if I am so proud of my friends and love them and want for their equality how can I not believe in gay marriage?

I answered no because I was angry.

I was angry at the fact that if I have chosen to live my life with a person and not get married for certain reasons, that we do not get the same rights as a married couple. Even though we have been living a married life for some time - we just do not have the paper that says we are.

Why should a paper be the deciding factor as to whether or not he has rights in regard to me and vice-versa?

I know its just the way that things are but really?

Gays have domestic partnerships that afford them many of the same things as a marriage would so what gives?

Yeah, that was my stupid out of anger and frustration and plain naivité.

Stupidity I tell you.

After a conversation with another gay friend I did some research and my light bulb turned on.

It's not the same.

What if the law was that of the whole Catholic thing I grew up with that if you get divorced you can't be remarried - at least not in the church? by a priest?

Well, what if I did want to get married? In my church? Why should some stupid rule be the judge as to whether or not I can marry the person that I love in the manner in which I choose?

So my mind was open to the truth that equality really isn't equality if it isn't, well, equal.

So, am I for LGBT marriage? Hell yeah!!!

I think I always was. I just hated the fact that no matter how long I sit by Mr. Big's side, if we don't get married, then its as if our relationship is not even real. So if I was going to be miserable in that aspect, then so should everyone else.

But its not right. Our relationship is real. Our love is real. And we can take steps to protect our rights as a couple even if we do not get married.

People cannot choose who they love, that's a fact. I don't care what other people say.

But they can choose whether or not they want to spend the rest of their lives together and if they choose to do so, they should have the right to make it a union that is seen as legal and be awarded the same rights and benefits as a heterosexual married couple.

Does it make sense what I'm trying to say? It feels like I'm rambling on.

All I know is that I'm glad that the Defense of Marriage Act was thrown out with the trash.

To my best friend Ali - I LOVE YOU!! And when you find the right woman to marry, I hope that you can. I will stand beside you on that day. Just make sure the dress is not a crazy 80's bridesmaid dress or I'll hurt you!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Return of the Bucket List

About 2 years ago I wrote this post about my bucket list.

I detailed the items that I wanted to do before I passed away because let's face it - we're not all immortals here no matter how much we would like to think that we are.

After reading it I realized that I have actually accomplished quite a few things on the list without even realizing it until now.

This was my list
Krystal's Bucket List (In no particular order, well maybe in some sort of order):
- Get my boobs done!!!
- Get my tattoo(s)
- Get into better shape
- Finally learn to ride a motorcycle - wait, learn to drive a motrcycle, I already know how to ride one!
- Buy my own motorcycle
- Get a larger car
- Buy a house of my own
- Go on a cruise
- Ride a REAL roller coaster (Space Mountain does not count)
- Take a REAL roadtrip that means driving outside the state of Florida
- Learn to drive a boat
- Learn to water ski/ wakeboard
- Ride a Jet-Ski (yeah, living in South Florida you think I would have done this by now)
- .......

(These are personal accomplishments, the number one will always be spend more time with my kids and the people I love - that goes without saying)

As of right now I can say that I have accomplished the following:

*Get my tattoo(s) - as you can see from the images below I have started on my tattoo. I have at least 2 more sittings until I finish it and then its onto working on my arm

See why item #1 is get my boobs done?!?

*Get into better shape - that is currently on-going. Just because I haven't posted recently about the whole work-out progress does not mean that I have stopped. Heck, I can now fit into the jeans that were my guideline for this whole getting fit attempt!! That's a bonus!! And my legs are getting muscle, my arms are more defined and my belly is a lot smaller than it was :-) (Don't judge by the above images...I gained weight since I started the ink work)

*Get a larger car - When I wrote the original list, I was driving a Ford Focus - not big enough to fit all of my kids into. Now, I have a Dodge Durango - it fits us all, as long as another passenger doesn't want to come along. I want to get another larger car but that will have to wait - I'm looking at the new Chevy Traverse - it seats 8 according to its commercial and the Chevy Website. See...

The image was the interior of a Chevy Traverse - you can find it on the Chevy website

*Go on a cruise - Since writing this list, Mr. Big and I have been on 2 cruises!! Both to the Bahamas but on 2 different ships and had an awesome time at each. The second one was a little hairy because Tropical Storm Isaac (who then turned in to Hurricane Isaac) was out in the water so the boat was a rockin for sure and the rain was bad and the sea sickness was everywhere but we found ways to enjoy ourselves. Can't wait to take another one!
Cruise 2011 (this is a picture of a picture so the angle is
 kinda off - our heads really don't look like that)

Cruise 2012 (see I told you, normal heads)

*Learn to drive a boat - this one is the most recent that I have accomplished. I'm still working on it but in the case of an emergency, I can get us safely to help when out on the boat. I still have more learning to do and need to get more comfortable in the driver's seat so to speak but I'm getting there. Just look at my smile!...

As evidenced by my recent posts, I am continuously working on my most important item and that is spending time with my children. They are my life line and whether I live to be 50 or 150, that is one item that I will never be done with!

So all in all I'm doing good with my list - maybe I need to add some more things?

Do you have a list? I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Time Machines for sale?

I'm out here fishing with Mr. Big. Well, technically he and Mr. C are fishing, I'm just observing (I'm on my phone so please excuse any typos or errors)

While on the bridge there was a couple of teenagers...and I mean an actual couple not just two boys or two girls or a boy and a girl that could have been friends or siblings.

They couldn't have been more than 14.

It seemed like they were on vacation together but there was only one set of parents.

When I was growing up around the same age that was normal. Now as a parent I would freak if any of my kids would ask if their boyfriend/girlfriend could come away with us.

Then I realized that Princess is 11. She'll be 12 in a few months.

I had my first kiss when I was 12!!!!

And not the peck on the cheeck kind but the spin the bottle behind the raquet ball court during summer intercession in middle school cork screw curl your toes kind of kiss.

I'm freaking out here!!

How did time fly by so fast?

When did my baby who was so tiny in my arms grow up so quickly?

I can't believe it already.

I remember my mind set at age 12 and boy do I hope my daughter is nothing like me!!

I wonder what my first kiss partner would say right now if it was his daughter.

I should ask him in a few years...his little girl hasn't started kindergarten need to freak him out yet.

Yes, we are still friends, even after so many years.

As far as Princess goes, I know she is growing up and she is very smart, especially about personal space and sticking up for herself. I hope she keeps it up and is careful about who she chooses to give her first kiss to.

Not that I regret my first kiss...quite the opposite. Even though it was over spin the bottle he was nothing but a sweetheart. We had the best friendship that I can remember and even after many years passing between communication we pick up our conversations like no time has passed.

But people aren't always that lucky.

I hope Princess is though. I hope all my kids are.

But until then, do you think Amazon sells time machines or anti-growing-up bubbles?

Friday, June 21, 2013

City Mouse in a Small Town

I am not going to deny this - I'm a city girl.

I was born in a crazy loud city.

I was raised in another crazy loud city.

The closest to outside of the city that I lived in was the "suburbs" so to speak but even there it was packed with people, cars, and shopping centers.

You didn't know who your neighbors were and if you did you made sure to make every attempt to avoid them and you better be sure your door was locked with not only the deadbolt but also the chain on the top of the door. Some houses even went as far as having bars on the windows and doors.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't the ghetto by any means at all.

For some reason there was a time where bars were actually considered decorative - who knew?!

Shuffling between condos, townhouses, and single family residences on zero lots was how I grew up.

If you saw someone that you knew at the grocery store it was a miracle on most occasions.

There were just that many people!

I always thought that small town living wasn't for me. How could it be? Living in a place like this?

And without a McDonald's, Starbucks, or Wendy's on every corner?

No, sorry, not happening.

But then it did.

I moved here...

Living on an island is just like living in a small town.

The business are owned by families and have been for years.

You can't walk into the grocery store without bumping into a neighbor, co-worker, bank teller, etc.

Everybody knows everybody!

On Father's Day I ran into people that I know from work and somehow they know my father from years ago and remember him telling them stories about me.

Its like they already knew me.

The local bars and watering holes know us by name and food order.

They can tell the locals from the tourists.

Everything is on the main road because really, there is only one road in and one road out. The side roads are for residential areas.

Our down town/city area is Key West. Another small island where everyone knows everyone and you can point out the locals from a tourist a mile away as well.

No sky scrapers there. Just historic sites and bars/restaurants. See..

I have to say, I love it!

I didn't think I would to be honest.

I remember saying as a child that I could never move to the Keys. Even as I got older and when I was first married I said that it wasn't the place for me.

Now, I couldn't think of living anywhere else.

Disclaimer: all of these images were found via a Bing images search for Big Pine Key and Key West - I did not take any of these photos. <<< This is still against the Digital Millenium Copyright Act therefore I have removed the images

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


This past weekend was amazing!!

It was just me and the kids at the beach and I was just in awe of my children and how far they have come.

First take the ride down to my house.

Buddy was having a rough go of it at first, so much that he fell asleep.

My Buddy is tired

Silly was also a bit distant but sought shelter in his sister's arms.


He even took a moment to look out the window when we were stopped.

Showing interest
When we got to the house it was the usual chaos to get them ready for the beach and make sure I have all of their "stuff" because we all know that they need their endless supply of juice and water and chips and sand toys and towels and sandals and goggles and sunblock of and wait! - we can't forget the box of freshly made pizza either - oh, and the Magna Doodle and Cars 2 Electronic Geography Board.

Finally every body was ready to go and so we loaded up the car and went to the beach.

It was packed!! At least the parking lot was so I had to get one of the side lot spaces that required parallel parking. If you know anything about me at all, and if you don't here's something to learn - I CAN'T PARALLEL PARK!

Well, I was lucky enough to find one that I could just pull in to - PERFECT! Needless to say Princess asked me how I got my license. Hush child!

So we get unload all the "stuff" and the children and we walked to the beach. We looked like a momma duck with her ducklings all scattered about and me quacking out their names to pay attention to where they were going.

We found a great spot to park ourselves. A perfect distance from the water and the walk-way. Couldn't have asked for more.

The kids shed their sandals and cover-ups and went straight for the water. It was a perfect day. Barely any waves and blue skies as far as the eye could see.

The kids were playing together. Following directions and having an all out great time!

Silly was in a mommy mood so all he wanted me to do was carry him and hold him. I loved this.

They were laughing and smiling and really being a family. There were no signs of autism in sight. They were just being kids; enjoying the water and sand and each other was all that mattered that day.

Baby Girl being a cheeser as usual

Buddy relaxing in the water

My Bug isn't so little any more

Little smiles

Silly loves the water. Can't you tell?

A very rare momma and Princess moment

Wow! He's strong!!

I think he got some water in his eyes. Oh wait, he always squints when he smiles ;-)

A couple of kids approached mine and they started to play together. They were playing sea monsters and mermaids. Bug was the sea monster of course and the girls were the mermaids. Silly just laughed and flapped. Buddy laughed and made sure everyone was careful. Monkey wanted to play but he was too little - the boys did try to include him somehow. 

There were questions about why Silly didn't talk and why he flapped; why Buddy scripted and rocked; why Monkey was so sensitive; why my kids were "a little different" but not bad questions. Questions of interest and wonder. They didn't shy away from my littles, they played with them. A bit rough I might add but they were boys and were actually showing concern and apologized if they were being too rough. They were laughing and playing. They didn't care. When Princess stated that Silly had autism, one boy said - "Oh. Cool!"

Cool a word I never thought I would hear associated with autism. 

It put things into perspective. Something I have always known but until it was right in front of my face I didn't recognize. No matter what my children may have or may not have - they are still children. Regardless of what they can and can't do they can still have fun and enjoy their lives.

So as the sun got lower and time ran out - we packed everything up...ushered children out of the water and into their sandals...fought with Silly to atleast keep the towel wrapped around him since he was on sensory overload and took off his swim trunks and rash guard and after attempting to put them back on 3 times, there was no way of getting them on him again - my compromise was the towel.

We walked towards the car, once again looking like a momma duck and her scattered ducklings - except this time one duckling was wrapped in a towel and momma duck was desperately trying to hold onto it and usher said duckling to the car to avoid another wardrobe malfunction - and headed back to get them ready to go home.

As we drove to the meeting place to see their father, they were sleeping soundly.

All sleeping - except for Buddy, he had a nap already ;-)

As I looked back at them in my rearview mirror I was reminded of something that a mom and grandma said to me while we were at the beach

"You are very blessed. You have such a beautiful family"

Yes, I am and yes, it is.

My babies. My loves. My life.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Potty faux pas

I have had this in my head all week and am wondering if it will happen again this weekend when I take them to the beach (hoping the weather cooperates - please do the no rain jig with me. Not now, after you read this! Okay, much better thanks)

Last weekend when I took the kids to the beach Monkey had an interesting bathroom situation.

Mind you I ALWAYS tell the kids to use the restroom when we are getting ready to leave.

Especially Monkey who seems to have a bladder the size of an acorn.

He told me he didn't need to go and even though he "didn't have to go" I made him try - just to be safe.

Safety be damned.

Literally as I unloaded the kids and all our "stuff" out of the car (do you know how much "stuff" kids need at the beach? 6 kids! Let's just say a pizza box was part of that "stuff" because that is ALL that Silly will eat - good times)..okay, back on track I unloaded the kids and their "stuff" from the car and walked down to the beach to find a spot, Monkey tells me he needs to pee.

Yes, you can imagine the amount of eye rolling and huffing - on my part - not Monkey's; he was just standing there holding his junk and doing the pee-pee dance. It was really a cute sight. His face was all scrunched up and contorted as his body wiggled around. Should have caught it on video.

So, Monkey tells me he has to pee.

Well, we're at the beach. on the ocean. not a bathroom in sight!

We all know that everyone pees in the water. If you say you don't you're lying.

So I told my son, go pee in the water.

The little one proceeded to walk to water and so I turned and began to lay down the towels and "stuff".

Before anything, the waters here are VERY shallow which is why I love it. And Monkey was in my line of sight the whole time so he was safe as well as Princess was following him to the water just to be safe because she's that kind of a big sister.

As I put the last bag down, I looked over and saw the moon. Not THE moon - it was around 12 noon so the only thing in the sky was the blazing hot sun.

No, I saw Monkey's moon.

Apparently he interpreted my direction to "go pee in the water" as a literal "go pee in the water".

You see, he dropped his swim trunks, hung out his hose and proceeded to pee in the water.

I quickly ran over there and lifted his swim trunks - he had already finished thankfully.

I knelt down to tell him how he misunderstood me and there he stood grinning. His silly Monkey grin and said "I went pee Mommy" - yes, son, yes you did - for the whole world to see.

I wasn't upset or anything. I was stifling my laugh because I could not figure out a way to correct him on it. How do I tell a child not to do what I told him. How to tell a child with autism not to do what I told him. It was just easier to pick him up, hug him, laugh, and tickle him as I walked to put on his sunblock.

Yes, I got stares. There was a whole birthday party going on behind me that saw the whole thing.

A mom who was not so pleasant watched in horror as well. She's another story for another day.

But all I could do was laugh and remember how sometimes I forget that my children think in black and white and that at least he followed directions.

Even though it was when I told him to "go pee in the water".

I love my kids.

Oh, this reminded me of a Ron White stand-up bit....

Have a great weekend everyone!! Oh, and you can do the good weather jig now since you're done reading and watching the video.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

There is always help

I'm going to write this once and once only - if you agree with me fine, if you don't that is fine too.
(I know I already wrote once today but I have to write this down now. I know I can schedule it for tomorrow but tomorrow will be too late because my fire would have died out and I wouldn't have the passion for this post as I do now)

When I first heard about Alex Spourdalakis and his tragic death, I did not want to rush to conclusions until I heard all the facts and took some time to think.

I always say that we are nobody to judge the choices a parent makes for the well being of their child. I don't follow the biomed/altmed way of treatment because I don't feel it is right for my child but I won't stop others from doing what they feel benefits their child - as long as there is progress and appropriate medical care - I don't care. But we cannot ignore the tragedy that has occurred with the life of this innocent 14 year old boy with autism.

A mother brought herself to the point of taking the life of her own child. I cannot imagine what went through her mind or what was going on but in all honesty, I cannot feel pity for her.

I cannot feel pity because no matter how hard it is with my children, I cannot take their lives. And please, do not posit the question of "What if you were at your wits end?  And there was nothing else that you could do?" There is no such thing as nothing else that you can do. There is always something that you can do.

There are resources in place to help. If you do not like what is going on, make a change, make a difference, make a move. Some might argue that moving wasn't an option - why? Its hard to move, yes, but for your child wouldn't you move mountain and moon? Isn't that why you are here in the place of a parent?

The child had a father - if she could no longer handle being a single mother then why not ask the father to intervene? Why was that not a choice?

There are ways out. Taking the life of an innocent child is simply NOT the answer.

Above I stated that the mother brought herself to the point of taking her son's life. You might not agree with that statement but its true. DCFS was called in and offered her help when a case was presented them for investigation. Apparently DCFS thought she was doing a good job as a parent and closed the investigation because it was unfounded. Yet they offered her help because they could see that she would benefit from it.

I know there are some of you out there who have had negative interactions with DCFS as well as positive ones. I too have had to deal with DCFS and they noticed the claims were unfounded but always offered help and resources because of the unique situation our kids are in.

Why not accept the help?

I just cannot fathom this situation and a parent being at such a point that they think the best way out is to take the life of their child! And worse to have some other person help them with it!

Like I said earlier, nobody is anybody to judge but right now, my common sense may have gone out with the bathwater because I'm judging. I'm being a judgmental bitch because it hurts to hear this story.

Taking a life is never an answer. There is always a way out. There is always an alternative.

This child did not have to die. This child did not have to die like this. This child did not have to die in pain. The last images he saw were of the two people who were supposed to care for him and value his life above all else stabbing him in the chest. How tragic is that?

I don't have my children every day. I have them for a limited time. I cannot breathe without them. There are days I am asking their step-mom for pictures because I need my "Monkey Fix" as I call it. I could not imagine not being able to see their faces ever again, and worse, at the cost of taking their lives with my own hands. I would die for my children, but I would never ask that they die for me because I just can't take it any more. They did not ask to be born, they are here now because I chose to have them. It is my responsibility to make sure that the life they have is as good as I can make it and as long as possible.

So, please, if things are too hard, reach out for help. We are a community that is willing to help their own. We have all had hard times and trying times. But you are not alone. Seek help and take it if it is offered. Do not be modest and say you don't need it because we know you do. We all do!!

Rest in peace sweet Alex, I'm so sorry that you were taken from this world in such a horrible manner. May your soul be at rest. You did not deserve this. You deserved more. 

Wordless Wednesday: Reality Hits Part 2

Well, you all know how much I love Mr. Big to the point that I have gone fishing under a bridge with him. I remember mentioning that I prefer going out on the boat in the open water for fishing.

So as promised this is the reality that I promised about this past Sunday - just in video form.

(So technically not wordless but whatever - its less writing than usual)

Mr. Big's first catch...consider this the preview

The feature film....

Here's a closer look

Oh, and this was not Sunday, this was a week ago Wednesday and I just had to share!!

This is reality.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Reality hits

I have so many things to say but I have no idea how to put it all into words - you know all those random and crazy thoughts running in your head, positive and negative and all the like?! The closest thing I can equate it to is a 100 piece puzzle that you have just tossed onto the table and are like - What the fuck? There's just too much!

Ughgh! Don't you hate that? I know I do!!

Well I'm just gonna ramble and hopefully you can follow along with my madness and craziness - I bet you can because you've followed along this far and if you're new, welcome - I'm really not crazy (at least I haven't been diagnosed as of yet)

Life is full of stress isn't it? But its also full of great things too! If we are there to just pay attention. Sometimes I forget to pay attention because the wheels in my mind are spinning so fast that I just forget and by the time something good happens you're like oohh! Shiny object but wait! Yeah, kinda like that.

This weekend I have to admit was great. I picked up the kids on Saturday and took them to Bahia Honda state park with a friend and then to the park before they had to go back home. On Sunday Mr. Big and I spent the day out on the boat with a friend and ended it at the local spot. 

Needless to say I am burnt to a crisp from the sun but so definitely worth it.

The thing is coming back to reality is not easy, especially after so many good times.

But also the fact is reality never leaves you does it? Even when you are on a break or just trying to relax its all still going on.

Take this for instance - the drive down from the meeting point to pick up the kids is 2.5 hours long (this accounts for traffic and potty/food stops). Having 6 kids trapped sitting in an SUV with no air conditioning (yeah, my A/C is dead and well, right now not in the budget to be replaced - my windows work fine so atleast thats a plus) and driving in the summer, through a chain of islands is not necessarily my idea of a good time. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my children and I think everyone knows it but I can't stand the drive because its uncomfortable. I can't hear them talking over the wind due to the windows being down, they are fighting a lot because of the cramped space and its HOT! so we are all miserable - but we make the best of it as much as we can and I think we do pretty good. This is reality.

On the drive down on Saturday through the heat and the miserableness happiness, there was this little gem. Buddy was scripting. Not unusual as he does this when he is over-stimulated or under-stimulated (isn't that weird how that happens?). Well, he was scripting but then he was laughing at the same time. His scripting was funny so it made him laugh. It was the cutest and sweetest thing to see him like that. He was scripting from Max and Ruby. To be honest, I can't stand that show but to see how it lights up my 8 year old and makes him laugh, I don't care. It was just such a precious moment. I wish I could have caught it on video because it was just perfect. The smile on his face and the laughter was just so sweet.This is reality.

Also on the drive down on Saturday I noticed that Silly was being quiet. That is not like him. He's usually making some sort of shrieking noise or laughing. He was sad. I could see the sadness in his eyes and face. He wouldn't cry but he looked like he wanted to. I asked him what was wrong expecting an answer but I didn't get it. Truthfully, I don't know why I expected an answer, he doesn't speak - at least not like that. I offered him his notebook to see if he would write something, he didn't want it. Nothing. My baby was hurting and I didn't know why. I just wanted to stop the car, open his door and take him in my arms and tell him its okay. The closest thing I could do was tell him I loved him and extend my hand to him to see if he would hold it - he did. I hope it helped. I hate not being able to know what is going on and make it better. This is reality.

I have mentioned before that I don't have patience. Okay, I do have patience but not a lot of it. And with all the stressful things going on, it seems like I lose my cool a lot quicker. I can gain my composure faster too and realize that I need to stop, breathe, and then move forward but its not easy. I can't remember exactly what was going on (that's how trivial it is) but Princess did something and it just got to me and I snapped at her. I hate doing this. She was actually trying to help out but the way she was going about it was not the best way so instead of taking the moment to talk to her, I snapped. I quickly recovered and apologized for snapping but the damage was done. You see, Princess and I do not have the best of relationships. She's a daddy's girl and if given the option, she would rather stay with her dad than to go with me. I'm okay with that because I understand, I'm a daddy's girl too. But its not to say that it doesn't hurt at the same time. So in my recovery of my faux pas I told her I apologized and that I was just...oh wait! I remember why I snapped - I had been stung by a jelly fish earlier and my leg was bugging me still - okay, back to the story - I apologized because I snapped since I was uncomfortable about my leg and that I appreciated her help but that she could do it in another way so as to be more productive. I hugged her and told her I loved her and I thanked her for everything. This is reality.

I have to say that Princess is the glue that keeps the kids together. At only 11 years old she has taken on the role of mother hen to her siblings and I see it straining her at times. She's just a kid even though she is constantly telling me that she is not a kid any more, that she is growing up. Yeah, I know she is but she takes on more than she needs to. She is a big help - being the oldest sibling is not easy. But she does more than she needs to. And sometimes I know that I forget that and I hate that. I just want her to have fun. This Saturday she was smiling and enjoying herself. She was on a paddleboard with a lot of children and just laughing. She was just being a kid and enjoying herself. When we got to my place she was just sitting there, watching the simplest of children's movies, Hercules. She even got upset when her brother tried to switch it. This is being a child. This is what she needs to be doing more of. Instead of worrying about who ate what, who is doing what. But she does all that too - even though I am there. She feels the need to be responsible for her siblings and report back to her father what has gone on while they are with me. I try and remind her that I am the mom and that is my responsibility, that her responsibility is to be a big sister but at the same time have fun and just be a kid. I love this kid, big girl, tween, whatever you want to call her. She is my first baby and I just want her to be happy and enjoy her life - not grow up too fast. This is reality.

My kids have inside jokes. Its funny because they are not really inside jokes its just random things that they say that prompt some scripting between them based on either Spongebob, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Einsteins, etc...but they get them and it makes them laugh. The most recent one they say is from Spongebob but I'm not too sure about it - its EMILP - Emergency. Mother-In-Law.Protection....huh? They started saying "EMILP - Emergency.Mother-In-Law.Protection" and a series of lines from the show back and forth and then laughing hysterically. This was at the park. It was so funny and so cute at the time. To see them just going at it like that - together - all 6 of them. Even Silly was into it though his participation was limited to repeating EMILP over and over again but he was smiling. This is reality.

On the drive to take them home Monkey was constantly telling me "I'm not going in daddy's car. I'm staying in mommy's car and going back to Grandpa Pirate's house". He just kept repeating it over and over again. He did mix it up with a question every now and then "Momma, I'm not going in daddy's car right?" I wanted so much to tell him no, you're not going in daddy's car, you're comming home with Momma but I couldn't. He fell asleep for a while but quickly upon him waking up he resumed his line of statements and questioning. When we approached the meet up point he changed his tune "Okay Momma, I'm going in daddy's car, but you pick me up on Saturday oaky?" I said okay and he smiled his silly little smile and melted my heart. This is reality. 

Hugging my kids goodbye and watching them walk from my car to their father's car is not easy. It is heart wrenching every time. But atleast I am seeing them. I have seen them for two weekends straight and am going to see them again this weekend. I am so excited about it. I don't know what I am planning but I'm excited. I just love those little bundles of misfits, joy, laughter, crying, happiness, screams, and everything that they are. They are my babies and I'm glad to have them in my life as much as I can until I can have them more. This is reality.

(I have more reality to hit you with from Sunday but I will stop here because this is getting too long and I have to get back to, to be continued)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Full disclosure

Recently when airing my concerns about my children I was told this...that because I am not there all the time or see my children frequently I have no real input into them or what is going on. There were many other sarcastic comments and words that just cut me to the core.

But the truth is, regardless of my faults in my past, my input does matter because I am their mother! Everything that I say and do is because I love them!

So in full disclosure this is why I am being criticized. Maybe airing it out will help me deal with all this negativity around me and find a light through it all and just hopefully something, I don't know, anything because right now that black hole of anxiety, sadness, of this endless yuck is not doing anything for me and is possibly making matters worse.

You see about 3 years ago I asked my then husband for a divorce. I wasn't happy with the marriage and I just could no longer live the way I was living. I loved my then husband but just not in the way that he deserved. He was and is a great father and that was perfect but it just was not there any more for me and him. It was the hardest decision I had to make EVER.

The best thing in my life was and still is my children but the negativity I had in my marriage was impacting the way that I was as a mother. I was angry all the time and very frustrated about everything. I didn't want to be THAT mom that was always in a bad mood. They deserved better than that. They deserved a better me.

I also made the choice to have my children stay with their father because the home we shared I was not able to stay in due to the fact that it was not under my name. I did not want to take them out of the home that they have known for most of their lives. With autism we know that change is very difficult for them. Moving them would require changing their schools, their therapy schedules, their routines would be uprooted. So all these changes on top of divorce would have just set them farther back than they deserved. I thought one drastic change was enough for them to handle at one time.

I ended up living with my brother because I could not afford to live on my own.

But I visited my children every day since my job was right around the corner. I visited them at their home because it was easier and because I wanted stability for them as much as possible. I am not going to deny, on the visitation days, I did not really take them anywhere because I was scared. I did not know how to be alone with them outside of the home. I was stuck in a comfort zone. One that really wasn't supposed to be mine anymore.

Unfortunately I immediately got into a really negative relationship that just, let's say was not the best decision I made. On some visitation days I cut them short because "he" needed me. I even was so brash as to tell my ex about it as well without thought to how it would hurt him.

I got wise to the negativity I was in and ended it all because I was not being the best mom I could be and the whole purpose of this was to be the best mom I could be for my kids.

Then I had to turn in my vehicle because that too was not under my name. The vehicle was a mini-van that allowed me to pick-up my children and spend time with them. Had I made the choice to take them out and not be such a scared pain in the ass. The only vehicle I was able to afford within my budget and means was a Ford Focus. Can't fit 6 kids in that.

At that time the visitation arrangements changed and I could no longer see the children in their home. I could no longer see them every day. Days changed and hours changed. The circumstances are not important as to why because it will just lead to finger pointing and that is the last thing I want right now.

We tried the park a few times but being there for hours was not good. There was no bathroom and there was a canal. The other park with a bathroom was on a busy street and always really crowded.

Visitations became less and less. I had no place to take them.

I would stop by on Tuesdays and Thursdays and bring them dinner and we would play in their drive way for a while.

This later became the visitation spot.

It stopped shortly thereafter.

During this time I changed jobs to a location that was about half an hour away from their home (1 hour with traffic) but yet I still would drive to go take them dinner and try and spend time with them. I also met Mr. Big and moved in with him to a place that was 1 hour a way but still could not take them to visit there because we were helping his parents out and I didn't have the space for 6 kids at the time.

Then a friend offered me to take the children to their home a few houses down from where the kids lived so that I could spend time with them on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This soon became too much and not an option and had to stop.

I cannot count how many times I had to cancel visitations because I could not pick them up or had a place to take them. Seeing my children was becoming so minimal.

One time it was so hard I rented a van for the day just so that I could take them to dinner. It was crazy but I needed to do it. I missed them.

Finally I was able to purchase a vehicle that I could afford and I could transport the children. Great! At that time I was able to start bringing them to my home so things were working out.

I would take them to the beach. To the park. I even bought an annual pass to the zoo. The twice a week visitations for dinner commenced again. Mr. Big & I moved to another home that was our own, not shared with anyone and that was better. The kids had space to play and relax. Just not big enough for overnights.

But finances got in the way, I couldn't afford to drive the long distances three times a week.

I had to cancel many times. More times than I can remember or count.

This was not good. The kids were suffering because of it. Emotionally, behaviorally, in every which way you could imagine.

My new work schedule changed the timing of the weekday dinners and then they had to stop because it was affecting their behaviors.

This made it easier to have regular weekend day visitations so that was a positive.

I still called them every night before bed. They did not always answer the phone but I still called just in case they decided to answer.

Then it came that Mr. Big was offered a position that he could not pass up.

It was 3 hours away from my children.

I had to make the choice - leave the man I love and find a room to try and rent and possibly not take my children to because I could not afford to live on my own in an apartment. Or leave with the man I love and move 3 hours away to a place where we would have a home but for a temporary basis live with my father until we could find said home. This meant visitations would either cease or be very sporadic because of the location and drive until permanent accommodations were made.

I took the latter because it meant I was able to keep all the people I love in my life. It was going to be a big struggle. A bigger one than I could have imagined.

Since moving here on March 17th, I have only seen my children on 3 occasions.

Once a friend opened her doors for me to spend the day with the children at her home. That was March 29th.

Second was the Mother's Day weekend. I stayed over at my friend's house so that I could spend that Saturday and Sunday with them. You all saw the post. That was the best weekend ever!

And the 3rd time was this past Sunday, June 2nd.

We finally agreed to a temporary arrangement to meet halfway as long as I pick up the children every weekend on alternating Saturdays and Sundays. I bring them to my dad's house and we send a few hours together before we drive back up for them to go home.

I couldn't pass it up. I took it. I want to be with my children. I write about it constantly because its cheaper than therapy.

So yes, I'm admitting it. Since the start of separation to divorce until now I have not always been there, physically.

But I call every day. Even though I was told not to because the kids do not answer. I call the schools and teachers to find out how they are doing. I follow-up with the neurologist to see how they are doing. I have corresponded with behavioral specialists to see how I can help them when they are with me.

I know physical presence is much more important to our children and that is what they see. I could have maybe done more. I don't know really. I was doing the best that I could with what I had.

I am still trying. Its not easy.

I also admit that I have no patience at all. I yell and scream. I am working on it. Its not easy. And with all this stress and the absences from their lives I am even more on edge and feel lost when I am with them. How as a mom can I say that?

But they are my children. When I did live with them I was the one fighting tooth and nail to get them what they deserved. I was the one who was seen in a negative light because I was the bull dog that never gave up and teachers & administrators hated to get phone calls from me because they knew that I would be fighting for what they deserved and no less. I was the mom who was at the hospitals at all hours of the nights when they were sick. I was the mom who would cry every time a child was hurt and I didn't know how to help. I would be the one sitting in on therapies to learn as much as possible. Would stay up late at night cleaning up puke and giving asthma treatments.

But once again, the past is the past and now is now.

Just because I'm not there it does not mean that I'm not that mom anymore. I am - trust me I am. They are my world.

This current situation does not mean that I do not love them and that I am just doing my bare minimum. Not at all! I am not going to stop fighting for them and what is best for them. My life is getting better. It is just taking time. As all things in life do. I wish it was faster.

You would think that after 3 years things would be where they need to be right?

Unfortunately not so.

But they are getting there.

So yes, I understand where the concept of me not being physically there gives me no right to have an input or my voice to be heard can stand as a valid argument. I know that all this stems from decisions I have made and they were not always the best ones. But, it still does not change the fact that I am trying and that they are my children and no matter what anybody might think, I have their best interest at heart.

I have said this before and I will say it again.

I am their mother. I was born to be THEIR mother. And whatever I have to do to be a part of their lives I will do. No matter how hard it is or how long it takes. I will do it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Just because he doesn't speak

There is no doubt that autism is definitely a spectrum disorder. Just look at my kids to see how much of a spectrum disorder autism is.

(For the record, I hate the words disorder, condition, disability, etc. because they are just so negative but they are the ones associated with this THING so I have to use them - but just to be clear, I hate them - okay, end tangent)

Princess is 11. She was diagnosed with PDD-NOS when she was between 4 & 5 years old. She is a very smart child with an amazing thought process. She is completely verbal but has difficulty with social situations. She gets anxiety and panic attacks at times. She is emotionally fragile and any little thing can set her off into either a state of tears or anger. But she is also the best big sister around and oldest child. She is so attentive to the needs of her siblings even when she doesn't want to be. Yes, there are times where she will go off and get aggressive but she's learning on how to control that. Her expressiveness about her emotions is her difficulty as she prefers to lock herself in her own mind and not want to talk about it. We are working on this and hopefully can break her through of it. She is silly and loves to laugh and heck, she can sing! She broke out of her shell and sang at her local open mic night at school this year.

Bug is 10 and high functioning. He is social and loves to be around people but yet he does not act like your typical 10 year old (Another note - what is typical?). He is obsessed with dinosaurs and dragons and those weird card game characters that I have no idea who they are but somehow he does even though we do not buy them for him. He is so obsessed that he can talk your ears off about the differences between dinosaurs and the periods they lived in. He can tell you which dinosaurs were the strongest and even their scientific names. And don't even get me started on his drawing abilities! He is amazing!! He can just take a whole sketch pad and draw the most incredible images. See, here are some examples:

Buddy is 8 and he is moderately functioning. By this I mean he has expressive language and receptive language but they are not on the same level. He can express his wants and needs but sometimes not in the way that he wants to. He gets very frustrated very easily and can have a very aggressive blow-out to the point of throwing, hitting, cursing, biting, etc. He can understand what we say and what is expected of him but processing it sometimes is hard because he has such a difficulty expressing himself that he goes into full meltdown mode. He also has sensory issues with sound and movement. Don't try taking him into an elevator, that is just the end of the world for him. But he is a love-bug. He is my love-bug. He loves hugs and kisses and seeks the attention of others for recognition but yet he prefers to be alone and do things alone. He can write better than most handwriting worksheets illustrate. He walks around with his magna-doodle and is always writing letters or phonics sounds. Heck, he began writing words and sentences at age 3! He would hear a word or phrase and suddenly he was writing it.

Monkey is 6 and he too is moderately functioning. His expressive language is developing. He tries to get his point across but his sentences have words and phrases but not always can you understand what he is trying to say because he throws some mumbles or gibberish in between as fillers. But he's trying. He also has sensory issues with sound but not as severe. He has issues with his fine motor skills and simple tasks like writing or drawing but he's getting better. He still tip toe walks and rocks in the car. He hops and he flaps and he laughs with such excitement and love. He always has to have something in his hands and goes a mile a minute. He gets distracted very easily and is prone to wandering and eloping. He can understand very well and sometimes uses his cuteness to his advantage if he is not getting his way. Other times its meltdown city because he cannot seem to grasp social cues and his receptive language is not as good as we'd like it to be. He has difficulty understanding some simple concepts where as other times he can understand more complex ones. It's the luck of the draw. But he too is a cuddle bug and loves tickles and tight hugs and raspberries on his belly. He can fall asleep to soft tickles on his back.

Baby Girl is going to be 5 in October and she is just - well, a spit fire! She was diagnosed with developmental delays because she was in physical therapy since she was about wow, 2 months old. She had not only severe low muscle tone but also her neck muscles were so tight that she had difficulty keeping her head straight. She had some language delays and even some sensory issues with touch and the added tip toe walking and W-sitting. If you were to look at her now you would never know she had those issues. She is just a dynamic child with so much energy and happiness and smiles and personality and everything a little girl is and more! She's not afraid to play rough with her brothers and be just a girl all at the same time. She is very close to Buddy even though sometimes it doesn't seem that way. I still remember them laughing together when she was first sitting up in her play pen. He would climb in there to be with her - they are inseperable and at the same time can fight like the worst of enemies. She is still having some gross motor issues and is constantly being looked at but I think she'll be just fine.

As you can see, there is one child missing. Silly.

And the reason why I saved Silly for last is because well, he's just, my Silly and he is my enigma, but in a good way. You see, he is 9 but low-functioning. He only talks when he needs to for food, help with the computer and that's about it. And even then, he prefers to gesture or have you try and figure out what he needs before he will use his words. He needs to be reminded to go to the restroom because he won't tell you he needs to go and if he does not know where the restroom is or is too distracted or engrossed in what he is doing, he will go right where he is standing. He also has severe oral sensory issues. Everything goes in his mouth and I mean EVERYTHING! He is picky about what he eats in terms of food but yet I have found string, fuzz, and paper in his stool. I'm worried he might be developing Pica. He giggles and shrieks, flaps and  tip toe walks. Spins and rocks and hits his head or others when frustrated. He cries at random moments and determining the cause is very difficult. But a lot of the times he is on the computer playing educational games and laughing and learning. He loves and he hugs. He comes to you just to sit on your lap and be held like a baby or he will say "Hugs" when he wants his hugs - he'll ask me, his siblings, his teachers...he's just another of my love bugs. But again, he doesn't talk. He doesn't socialize. He is my enigma.

I bring this up because often times people talk around him as if he is not there. They think that he can't understand. I think this is further from the truth. Just because a child is non-verbal and/or has difficulty with receptive language does not mean that he is not there and cannot understand you. I worry about what people say around him because he is taking that in and who knows how that is effecting him. Is it a positive impact? Is it a negative impact? This even includes his oldest siblings who unknowingly joke around because, well, they are kids and they don't realize it. This breaks my heart. For all we know he is taking everything in and that could trigger is crying spells or his frustration and melt downs. I look at my son and I wonder what he is thinking all the time. I wonder what goes on while he has those blank stares at times (He has had multiple EEGs and so far no seizure activity). He is such an enigma that I just wonder.

I came across this story today written by another blogging autism mommy Joslyn of Stark. Raving. Mad. Mommy. A child who was non-verbal and whose parents were told he would never function normally or speak or pretty much do anything is now seeking his PhD in astrophysics. He is 15 now and verbal. See...

Yeah WOW!

I am not expecting this to be my son. Not by any means. I am not expecting this to be any of my children. But it does mean that they are there. They are listening. To everything that is going on around them.

When I read Joslyn's post I just had the urge to put my connection to it with my children. No child with autism is like the other. But they are still people. They still listen. To what capacity - it doesn't matter. We just have to be cognizant of what we are telling them and talking about around them.

He made an interesting comment in his video though - that he was placed in special ed but it was so "special" in that they weren't teaching him anything. How many of our children are feeling this? But yet he began to learn about those things that we mere "typical" people find as setting the time on our VCRs (when we had to do that before everything was all digital and stuff). He is now a mind of immense talent and thought - why are we limiting our children? Their possibilities are endless!!

Just because he doesn't speak....doesn't mean he can't learn and that he is not there.