Friday, December 27, 2013

Our Special Needs Journey:Part 5 - My Life is a Sitcom

A comedic look into the humor that is my every day life.  Setting: a modest house falling apart at the seams with a lawn covered in snow in a Minnesota suburb. Cast: Frumpy, frazzled Mom of 4, Hardworking raccoon-eye-tired Dad, 3 children with autism (12, 9, 4) and a baby. Costarring a fluffy, lovable Ivory Lab, 4 moody cats, and 2 turtles.  Enjoy! 

Photo Credit: Carpe Diem Photography

Christmas Day Evening: Return home - sort gifts we were blessed with, sending each child to their rooms with their toys & new clothes.  Leftovers directly to fridge, wash dishes including the crockpots used to bring ham to Gramma's. Write 2 Thank You cards, fold laundry while watching Die Hard with my hubby, fall asleep exhausted and fully dressed when putting Dean (my 4 year old) and Bruce (my 10 month old) to sleep.  Reflect on how truly blessed I am by the generosity of others and the grace of God.

Day After: Return to bed at 9 am, place Dad on Kid Duty - Cmas gift to self.  Wake at 10:15, shower. Run to Target for milk, snag animal crackers for only $.23! Proud I left Target spending less than $3!

Cart baby and Taylor (9 year old daughter) to fancy shopping center in downtown Edina that has horrid parking. Trek through tons of snow to redeem my Lush gift certificate - since everything included in the post-Cmas buy one get one free sale sells out in a day.  Worth it. Now, to find time to actually take a bath with my new Lush bath bomb... Briefly notice how put together all the other shoppers were.  I considered my showered-hair a success - who has time for makeup and pants other than sweats?! Well, maybe if I FIT anything else...

Pay bills.  Call on all the notices I received on Cmas Eve for the charges that were denied to the account we had to close.  Unsuccessful on getting through. Target's call line has been busy for 5 straight days.  When I do get through the computer hangs up on me. Try not to cry. The money is there to cover these payments, however we had to close the account unexpectedly before some charges cleared.  They all want extra fees for returned payments of course. 

Break to nurse baby, finally get to sit down! Secretly plan to nurse for the next 10 years to ensure I always get a sit-down break while simultaneously yelling at Baby for biting and reassuring myself I'll be done nursing soon enough. Do a logic puzzle with Julia, who just loves them! Redirect her 7 times in 15 minutes - she is easily distracted and off-task.

Put away all the Christmas decorations - which takes hours to wrap and sort, repair broken ornaments, sweep up pine needles, remove plastic snowman from baby's mouth. I was so proud to have it all packed up, boxes back in storage AND decorations we no longer have room for (since we will have moved to a smaller place by next December) stored out in the garage to donate.

Pick up poop pebbles left all over the hallway by Dean, who, at almost 5, has NEVER pooped in the toilet, EVER. Clean up his mess, stick him in the tub to get him clean too.

I WAS gonna eat, since I am breastfeeding and all I should probably catch at least one meal today, right? After the whole poop episode I'm thinking I'm not real hungry anymore.  Maybe later. Oh, hey, look, I forgot to button up my nursing tank again...

Spend THREE hours sitting on the floor of Dean's room cleaning. I can't believe I JUST DID THIS 2 months ago! WHAT is he even doing in here?! I've taken away almost all his toys. And WHAT is that in the turtle tank today? And seriously, WHAT is that smell?  How can Bruce have outgrown all these clothes already?! Will you please stop growing Dear Sweet Boy? Hey, look, 17 socks.  Perhaps these are the matches that have been missing!

(See, it is somewhat clean. This is as good as it gets!)

I've enlisted all the children to help. Julia is in charge of Bruce - keeping him safe and entertained in another room. She was also supposed to put away the toys in the living room that I found in Dean's room, but she isn't much for figuring out how to do both (clean and watch Baby). Taylor is helping me return items to their correct bins (clothes, toys, trash), and Dean is throwing everything around the room while I repeatedly yell at him not to. At least he is in the room and I have my eye on him.

I must redirect Taylor many times to have her put a book on the shelf instead of read it, or a toy in a bin instead of playing with Dean, but I manage to force the kids to help.  I could do it all myself faster but I know it is important to have them learn to clean up after themselves.

I emerge somewhat victoriously, feeling so accomplished.  I am not 100% done, but the final details will have to wait b/c Bruce is tired and wants his Mama.  And his mama is happy to oblige him. I just need to go potty quick (yes, I use the word potty in conversations with adults. It is likely that if you converse with me regularly you probably didn't even notice). Bad Idea.

I am reminded of how much damage can be done by my little tornadoes in just a few moments. The tub toys are all over the room, the floor is covered in wet towels, my toothbrush is (eew) in the toilet, the toilet paper unrolled and soaking wet, and the trash can is full of both trash and bathwater.

I run to the kitchen to pour out the trash can and find another surprise waiting for me: more mess. Dean's water beads are ALL OVER the place (the ones I told Julia NOT to take down off the top of the fridge for him). Table, bench, chair, floor, sink, counter, recycling bin, dog dish... The sink is full of dirty dishes b/c the dishwasher was not unloaded.  I did remind Julia at least a half dozen times, and it IS on her dry-erase daily-routine board (and she crossed it off as done, mind you). 

Dean squeezed ketchup out all over the floor and wrote his name in it.  He tries to kick me, hit me, run away, and fall to the floor screaming but I did indeed get him to wipe it up himself. By now Baby Bruce is really tired and squawking for his mama loudly. Taylor had been holding him but his loud crying sends her into a meltdown and she is shouting and crying.

I hold Bruce while hugging Taylor tight and then send her to put her headphones on for a bit to calm down.  Bruce and I head downstairs with those soaking wet towels Dean left out (that a cat has now peed on, BTW) to start a load of laundry.  Again, Julia was reminded to do so, as it is also on her chore chart, but alas, not done.  I find the washer and dryer both open, clothes in both, and clothing strewn all over the floor.

I try sorting clean from dirty, give up, and proceed to pile it all up to be washed again.  Even if it had been cleaned recently, leaving it on the floor is just plain gross.  The dog left me presents on the floor. She was not happy to have stayed home for a few hours on Christmas and must've thought 3 heaping piles of poo was just what I wanted to find today. Which she almost never does but today I'm just lucky I guess.

Where did all this laundry come from?! Is it breeding in the washer like little bunnies? It's only fair, seeing as how the dryer is eating all my socks... Okay, not what is THAT smell? Crap, it's cat crap. The girls didn't do the litter box again.  It's okay, I don't mind.  It's not like I'm holding a baby or anything. Not like my back pain has become so intense from all the floor-sitting-cleaning that I want to cry. Nope, I was JUST thinking how much I'd like to scoop out and sweep up 3 litter boxes.

Wash hands in girls bathroom downstairs, by the litter boxes. Ignore what appears to be cat vomit on the floor and toothpaste all over the counter.  Someone is going to report this to CPS right? People, people, I'm trying my best here.

Back to kitchen to dish up dinner.  Glad I threw a crockpot meal together this morning because there is no time to cook now.  It is mostly healthy.  Well, it's edible at least.  That's good enough, right?

Go to living room to sit in my somewhat comfy nursing chair and get this poor, tired baby to sleep. See what looks like the aftermath of a hurricane. How the heck is it this messy again?! I was JUST in here - I JUST got this room clean! Why?! Why?! Cry!!

Read a devotion with the kids, finally eat something (instant oatmeal and a roll), let Taylor stay up too late to help by holding Bruce (he's asleep but only sleeps if he is held - and yes, this means I hold him all night long. And yes, I should do something about that but I'm currently using the crib as a laundry basket so...).  Send Julia to bed b/c she has OT early in the morning.  First I must do her brush therapy and joint compression and supervise Taylor to ensure she uses all her inhalers and does her nebulizer.

Crawl in my bed with Dean and rub his head while reading him a story.  Thanks to chewable Melatonin he is asleep in about 15 minutes and I can sneak away to sit and type this blog post.  It is 1 am, I am typing this with one hand while a sleeping baby is in my lap.  He has a death grip on my nipple.  He must have a boob in his mouth (mine, I've never experimented with other boobs but I'm guessing daddy's would not have the same affect as mine, LOL) at all times, it seems.  I feel my sanity slowly returning as I vent my frustrations for Internet World to read.

Realize I forgot to walk the dog and let her out to run around the backyard, hoping that will do for now. No wonder I'm still so fat, I don't even get out to walk the poor dog! I've been meaning to work out today.  I've been meaning to work out for 4 years now.  

Check emails briefly, opening up a flood of to-dos I haven't done. Feeling a bit overcommitted I respond to a select few, jot a few things onto my "get done soon" list and close the Hotmail browser.  Procrastinate.

Tomorrow involves finishing meal planning and sorting coupons in the early morning, finally grocery shopping (praise the Lord for gift certificates received for Cmas!!), Julia's Occupational Therapy appointment, redeeming Kohl's cash, and ideally a field trip to the James J Hill house since we have been studying Minnesota History.

I plugged the computer in to print a few coupons and found this mess in the schoolroom.  The room the girls spent SIX hours cleaning on Monday (b/c I threatened to cancel Christmas if they didn't). Well, it looks like it needs a mommy-cleaning as well. I wonder what Dean will destroy while I am cleaning that room? Fairly certain it will take all weekend to tackle that project.

Is it time to send him back to preschool yet?! Speaking of school, I'm so glad I allowed myself this week off.  Think of how much less I would have accomplished had I attempted to fit homeschool into today! despite being old enough to work independently, the girls need almost constant supervision to keep them on task.  Traditional learning isn't for them, we are very hands-on and it is very time consuming.  Since you cannot change the routine of autistic children without consequences, I do have some cranky and frustrated children.  

All kids hate chores but mine especially hate spending several days on them because that is not what SHOULD BE done with a Thursday in our usual routine.  I have been reminded many times today how this is not how we usually do it and this is not "what the picture calendar says."  I really should have made a special calendar for winter break, but sleep, a shower, eating, that all seemed more enticing at the time.  Too late now.  Now I just need to deal with the fallout.  Things are not always as you plan them to be.  Routines have exceptions. Transitions are difficult for my kids and the lack of structure to this week is torturing us all.  

So now I am off to (hopefully) get 6 hours of sleep and spend some quiet time in prayer.  It's always interrupted, especially since both boys frequently have these odd night terror episodes.  Dan could sleep through the apocalypse but I wake at a pin drop.

So I'm wondering if anyone else's life looks like this? Boring. Blessed. Repetitive. Convinced cleaning must be done only to find I must repeat it a few hours later. Smelly. Messy. Unsexy. Lonely. Fun. Rewarding. Frustrating. Discouraging. Encouraging. Anger-inducing. Tear-inducing. Smile-inducing. Imperfect. Perfect. Overwhelming. Exhausting. Worthwhile. And very, very tiring.

 (Doesn't that, right there, kinda make it all worth it?! #praiseGod #bliss)