Archive for the ‘Things I do for my sanity’ Category

I want a reset button

Recently I was asked to speak at a day of pampering for moms / wives of people with special needs.  One thing I shared that I wish I had a reset button when life gets crazy and I feel like an overloaded circuit.  Here’s my 10 ten ways that I  “reset” when life is just so stressful that I want to scream.

10. Chocolate!!!! Enough said!

9.  Eat an apple.  I can get good brain food, fiber for my body, keep the doctor away, and pretend I’m biting someone’s head off all at the same time!

8. Do 20 Jumping Jacks.  It gets my heart pumping, burns off anxiety adrenaline, and no one gets hurt in the process. May even help to burn off the chocolate.

7. Clean out a closet / drawer / cabinet.  Feels good to release the junk and see a clean space!

6. Retail therapy.  Using coupons and deals, of course! Great way to fill up that closet / drawer / cabinet I just cleaned out.

5.  Read a book.  Let me escape into someone else’s dysfunction for a while.  Makes my life not seem so bad.

4. Laugh!

3.  Call my mom.  She has to listen to me because I’m her daughter.  Plus she’s cheaper than therapy.

2.  Time alone with my husband.  Ooo lala!  Need I say more?

And number 1:

1. Take time to refresh, rejuvenate, and reconnect with God.  God provides the divine reset!

“Resetting” is important for everyone, especially those of us who deal with different abilities every day.  So how do you reset in your life?

Netflix addiction

Hello.  My name is Elizabeth.  And I am addicted to Netflix

Specifically, I am addicted to the show Bones.  It all started when I was enticed by a web ad for free Netflix.  I wanted access to movies for the class that I teach, so I subscribed.

And then the journey down, down, down began.  See, not having cable / sattelite/ dsl tv, I was enslaved to an old fashioned antenna for many years to satisfy my tv watching pleasure.  Netflix opened up a whole new world to me.

First, I watched two seasons of The Killing in 4 days.

Then, I found Hot in Cleveland and watched all the episodes in one week.

Now, I am addicted to the show Bones.  Supposedly it’s a big hit show in its 7th season or something.  But I am on Season 2 and working my way through each episode.  After I get my Wildtree calls done, I can watch up to 4 episodes… per day.

And you know what, dear reader?  I think Temperence Brennen has Asperger’s.  Just sayin’.  And she’s a hero.
So I have renewed hope here!  My boys are awesome!  And my girl can kick butt, even thought she’s not a spectrum kiddo!

And now, I must go… I have to find out if Brennen and Booth will solve the next case and admit they they love each other.  Shhhhh….. don’t tell me!!!!!!

Dramatic Thanksgiving in August

It’s only the beginning of August, and alreadyI am looking forward to the end of the summer.   It’s been quite a summer. I wrote on my facebook page that all I want is a life without “too much” drama.  Family and friends commented on that post, poking fun at me.

So how do you get through the drama?

One way  I get through the drama is listing what I’m thankful for despite the drama.  It’s also my way of answering the question, “WTH is God in all of this?” So here I go with my thankful list.  You might see why I haven’t blogged much lately.  Here I go:

1.  I’m thankful for the helpful woman who calmly and clearly told me what to do when I got a notice on August 1  that the boys’ medical assistance was being discontinued on August 6 because I didn’t reapply by May 31 (which I did so!!!  They lost it!!!  Great timing to notify me that something was screwed up!!!  And this was the first time that I didn’t photocopy everything prior to mailing… okay, deep breath. ).

2.  I’m thankful that my oldest son has a job that keeps him out of my hair the house.

3. I’m thankful for the job coach who is hanging in with my oldest son,  an employer who gives him 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances when he messes up, and that he hasn’t gotten fired, even though he’s been in trouble at least three times this summer and was even suspended from his job for three days.  I’m thankful that he is having to learn the tough lessons of accepting someone else’s authority and how to stick with a job even when it’s hot and he doesn’t feel like it.

And I’m thankful that someone else is teaching him this.

4.  I’m thankful that my husband understands when I fly off the handle because the drama gets to me.

5.  I’m thankful for an understanding woman who “bent the rules” and made sure we got a full refund when the reading program that I was so excited about and was sure would help my son was nothing like the sales pitch expert  enrollment counselor said and we had to pick him up early from the first session.

6.  I’m thankful for an opening in a camp for my youngest son, paid for by said refund.

7. I’m thankful that my daughter has found an outlet in her new gymnastics class and that we will get “girl time” while her brothers are at work / camp.

8. I’m thankful that I could get in to the urgent care center quickly and that my nine stitches in my knee are still holding.

9.  I’m thankful that I haven’t had a nervous breakdown.

10.  I’m thankful for friends who put up with my excitement over my Wildtree business and for others who are as excited that I am that gfcf options are available this fall.

11. I’m thankful that my son is no longer on the gfcf diet.

12.  I’m thankful that I lost my vacation weight.

13.  I’m thankful that I have a teaching job starting in January.

Okay, that’s it for now.  Thanks for reading my thankful list.

How do you get through the drama???


I haven’t posted in a while because we’ve been on vacation! Woo hoo!

We went to Branson, MO.  We had a great time vacationing with my parents and celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary.  My parents have a time share in Branson and have been wanting my family and my brother’s family to meet up there and spend a week together. We finally managed to make it work, and this vacation was our gift to my parents.

We swam everyday, saw several shows, went “go karting” for the first, second, and third times, and slept in.  We used the jacuzzi tubs in the condo and really really enjoyed that for the first time we didn’t have to pack our own gfcf food! (Ice cream and bbq, anyone?)  My hubby and I were able to “spoil” our 3 year old nephew (who later complained that Aunt Elizabeth got him in trouble too many times– I’m an equal opportunity time-out-giver). 

I used to consider time shares to be too extravagant and a waste of money.  However, now I, along with my hubby, am reconsidering.  We enjoyed have free activities at the resort for the whole family to do.  Having unrestricted access to  a washer / dryer and full kitchen actually saved time and money for us.  The extra space– much more than one motel / hotel room– was great for the quiet time that the boys needed. 

The road trip itself went really well.  I was very proud of my kiddos.  We drove about 6 hours each day, and stopped to do fun things along the way– a children’s museum, the St. Louis Arch, and picnics. 

The guys have gone home now, and my daughter and I are taking an extra week of “girls only” vacation time.  We’re visiting my grandmother and my aunts.  I’m looking forward to this time with her, and hope it will ease those “sibling woes.”

I plan to reflect and process our experience in order to pass along to all you parents out there what worked for us.  Three days on the road was easier than expected.  I can’t wait to hear about my husband’s drive home with the boys.  Should be interesting.   More later!

When I grow up….

I am still deciding what I want to be when I grow up.  I never thought I would grow up to be a stay at home mom.  I never thought I’d like it.

Wrong!  I do like it!  However, I’m beginning to feel antsy.

I love music.  So, when I was a teenager,  I thought I’d be a band director.

Nope, felt more “called” to the church.  So I thought I’d be a church music director.

Nope, liked speaking more than conducting.  So I became a pastor.  Turns out that pastors work a lot more than 2 hours on Sundays.  Some weeks I did 50+ hours.  It was fine until…

Family came along,  autism entered in, and I took a leave of absence, called “Family leave.”

During family leave, I’ve pondered many times about what may come next.  Teaching in the public school?  With those politics?  No way!

How about a special needs consultant for churches and non profits?  Well… sounds fun but hard to be taken seriously when I don’t have a credential in that field.

I began teaching clarinet lessons, which I love!  I love my students!  I may even get more this summer.

I found Wildtree and love the products and the company.  That’s going well.  There’s still something missing for me, though…

So I applied for a teaching position at a local college and am still waiting to hear if I got the job or not.  It would be very part time– I’d only be out one evening each week.

After I applied and went through the “faculty assessment” I learned about a local company that goes into elementary schools and holds music classes.  At our local elementary school, the kids and leaders wrote a school song and made a cool “Growing Grads” video for the outgoing 5th graders.  They happen to be looking for people to join their team.  So, I inquired online.

I have no idea where any of this will lead.  What I do know is that…

1–I don’t want a full time job, just one that will get me out of my house and give me something to do once in a while and give me some extra pocket cash.

2– I don’t want a job that is crazy busy and filled with drama. I’ve already got enough drama and craziness here, thank you very much.

3. I have so many varied interests that it’s hard to narrow down what I’d like to do.

So, there we have it.  What are other parents out there doing?

Helicopter mom?

I’ve  been hearing about “helicopter parents” lately.

I don’t think I qualify.

As I write this, I feel guilty for not going to see my son compete in the local Special Olympics event.

Am I a bad mommy?

I don’t think so, although the mommy guilt disagrees. I’m tempted to engage in some self-flagellation.

I’ve reminded myself to lighten up.  I’ve asked myself, “What do I do?”

I do homework with the kids; shuttle them to all of their things, snuggle and hug and kiss them too much a lot; enjoy reading with them; listen to them; referee their arguments; attend all the award ceremonies, concerts, and recitals; have one on one time with them; meet with teachers and other school staff to advocate for them and plan their educations; sign up to be a room parent…

You get the idea.

Last time I went to the Special Olympics, my presence kind of messed him up.  Don’t get me wrong, really I loved watching and cheering him on. I think I even cried.

On the other hand, he could have actually won the race.

He thought I was on the sideline instead of waiting for him at the finish line.  So he kept looking to the side, and running in the direction he was looking.  So instead of running in a straight line, he ran in a diagonal line, and came in third. I bet if he ran in a straight line, he would have won.

I wish I could teleport myself to and from his event, without him knowing.

But I can’t.  And I need time to myself today, and don’t feel like dealing with the crowds. So I will say lots of prayers and cheer him on in spirit.

Run like the wind, son!!!

Epilogue: When he got home I asked him how it went.  He said, “Good!” Then he paused and said, “When I’m there can you come watch me mom?”  Mommy guilt is on full force now! Social story now about how to ask mommy ahead of time?  🙂

Write it down

I was going absolutely crazy with keeping the evening and morning routines going.  Getting the younger two kiddos to school on time was almost impossible and I was so stressed out when they walked in the building.

Not the way I want my morning to go.

I had asked my hubby to please please please help me get stuff ready the night before.  It seemed that when I went out for the evening (meetings, Zumba, etc.), the next morning was chaos.  Nothing changed.  I think dear hubby was very overwhelmed, too.

I finally took my own advice and made yet another schedule.  My husband and I brainstormed then decided where to hang a new schedule, what should be on it, how to make it not so overwhelming, etc.

We now have a simple schedule, hanging on the kitchen shelving unit, that is easy to follow.  It is really a to do list, since evenings are going crazy with new activities.Here’s what it looks like.  It’s amazing to me how much of a difference typing this and posting has made.  Making it a to do list allows our kiddos to adjust for evening activities, school delays, and unexpected things that come up.

daily routines by E. Givlerg activities, school delays, etc.

Recently, I started attending a Bible study based on the book Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food.  The idea is that we are all made to crave God,  but we fill that craving with food or other things that unhealthy for us.  (I can identify… stress and emotional eating is my downfall.)  We were challenged to write down our plans for eating– not simply keep a food diary, but plan the menu of meals and snacks, write it down, and shop accordingly.    I remembered that, last year when I lost 50+ pounds, menu planning and keeping a food diary were vital to my success.  Writing it down was very powerful.

I wonder what else I could accomplish just by writing it down.  Hmmm.  How about “breathe”? Or, “don’t wring any kid’s neck today.”  Or, “You are a sexy hot babe.” 🙂

Having a flexible plan and writing it down definitely lightens my load.  It also lightens, I remind myself, the loads of my kids and my family as a whole.


My shredder, how I love you.

We are in the midst of “The Great Clean Out” or TGCO, of 2011.  Phase 1: Files.  You know, paper out the wazoo that goes forth and multiplies.  We got a cardboard box, filled it with with papers to shred, and shredding became a family affair.

As we had our shred fest, I had an epiphany.  There were more uses for ye ole shredder than just shredding old tax documents and the like.

Example: newspaper ads. My oldest loves the newspaper newspaper flyers and junkmail. We find this stuff everywhere. His backpack, dresser, closet, and who knows what else are packed with old newspaper ads– grocery stores, pharmacies, pet stores, department stores, hearing aids, expired coupons, and flyers from used car dealerships.

If he just kept a few, it would be okay.  But we’re talking weeks worth of ads and junk mail, which leads to his increasing frustration that he can’t afford what he’s wanting or he can’t get rich quick by going into the lawn care business.

Then there are previously recycled papers that “mysteriously” reappear on the dining room table. Some of these reappearing papers are “important” reminders back from weeks past (Remember, candy orders due Thursday!). The announcement ends back on the dining room table just so it can give me a panic attack because I mistakenly think I’ve missed something important. (Note: when writing those alarmist announcements, please date them.)

The paper takes on a life of its own as it spawns more and more paper. Then walks out of the backpack and bedroom to taunt me in the dining room.

Arrr, foiled again!  So much for TGCO!

So I got an idea.  I had a secret weapon in the paper war.

I started shredding our recycling.

It does add “one more step” to our routine.  However, I found this lovely lady who has a ceramics business and ships her fragile wares all over the country.  She is glad to take the shreds for packaging.  I figure it helps her out, it’s good for the environment, and I win one more battle in the war against multiplying paper.

When I shred the ads immediately, no one notices that they are gone.  It’s out of sight, out of mind. It’s win/win.  Take that!

Alas, my shredder now seems to be dying of old age or over exertion.  So I’m looking for a new and improved model that will also shred old credit cards, drivers licenses, and gift cards with nothing on them that we seem to hold onto “just in case.”

TGCO continues.

Low cost, spur-of-the-moment, all-ages-friendly, family activities for a change of scenery

My kids are spaced pretty far apart.  This wasn’t planned, but then again, not much in my life has been planned in advance :-).

Finding activities that are interesting for kids that are 15, 10, and 6 can be challenging, especially when autism is a factor and we have the grandparents along.  Here’s what works for us throughout the year:

  • Bowling.  I was surprised at how much my kids liked this.  In the summer our local bowling alleys have free games.  Since we can have bumpers, I bowl too!
  • Going out for ice cream / slushies/picnics.  Nothing like relaxing and eating together.
  • Short IMAX movies.  These are a treat.  We joined our local science museum and get a discount on IMAX tickets.  IMAX is very cool and the documentaries are not that long, perfect for everyone’s attention span.
  • Road trip! Road trip! I wish we could do this more often. We like places where we can walk around outside. In the spring we like going to the garden stores and picking seeds to plant. Yard sales are a big hit in the summer (and a motivator for doing chores, wink wink). Fall is a great time for going to corn mazes, fall festivals, and hay rides. Each Christmas we look forward to our annual trip to Rocky Ridge Christmas Magic, a walking trail Christmas light display.

Two key things we’ve had to keep in mind:

One place may have been a great fit before, but that could have changed.  The key things that made it great for us may be different or non-existent in the present. Or, one place that wasn’t a great fit may be wonderful fun for us now (i.e., bowling alley). Open minded research is important to our outings’ success.

Each family members’ needs is important.I encourage everyone to go where the parents will have fun, too, because when momma’s (papa’s) not happy, no one is happy! Parental patience must be intact for outings to work.

How do we do this?

We have had “family meetings” to discuss outings  so that we all understood the benefits and compromises of our decisions.  One of my kids absolutely hates temperature extremes.  He can’t stand the heat at the amusement park in July. So, we choose to go at the end of the day (many parks give discounts), during the off-season, or make sure we can hit some inside shows during the hot afternoon.   One of our kids has been an escape artist, so  corn mazes and yard sales were not be the right fit at that time,  but indoor playgrounds with locked doors  or pools with lifeguards were fine.

Family fun is indeed possible!  Make sure fun is on the agenda, and your family relationships will bloom.

Childcare swap

Babysitter?  You’ve got to be kidding!

The costs have gone up since I was a kid, finding someone we trust to care for the kids is difficult for me and my husband, and just finding someone willing to watch autistic kids can be a challenge. Plus I don’t want to “burden” my friends with kids on the spectrum, either.

So what was I to do when I really really really wanted to take my hubby out for his birthday?

I made arrangements to do a childcare swap with another friend couple who has two kids, one on the spectrum.  (I figured we could both be “burdened” for one evening, LOL!)  My oldest went to grandmas, while my younger two had fun with Mr. and Mrs. D and kids.

There were a lot of preparations.  My friend made sure that her husband was off work so he’d be there to support.  Good call!  We went over the gfcf diet and I provided my son’s food and snacks for the evening. We brainstormed ways to keep my tomboy girly-girl occupied.  And then we just went for it.

It was great! My kids didn’t want to leave!  Their kids didn’t want my kids to leave! But unfortunately running away with hubby for the night was out of the question!

We returned the favor a couple of weeks later.  Same type of preparations regarding snacks, activities, etc.  We had a lot of fun.  I learned a lot about WWII submarines that night.  Never knew that my house  could have so many decks, and I learned to salute.  Things that kids can teach us! Sometimes autistic perseverations are very interesting!

I look forward to doing this again.  I’m already thinking of fun things to do.

This is just one of the reasons why I like my community. Autism is pretty common around here, and other parents are very supportive– even those who have kids who aren’t on the autism spectrum.  I am so glad we live here.