Jeremy Shares on Autism

Jeremy has an INCREDIBLE Behaviour Consultant. We’ve been working with Elizabeth since 2011/2012. I cannot fully express how thankful I am to have her in our lives. She is invaluable as a support person and a resource.

We recently met to discuss progress and struggles in our journey with Autism/ADHD/Anxiety. She mentioned that she was teaching a course out at UFV and would love to have Jeremy come to either share his views on living with Autism or even just to come and audit this one class where she had invited other youth with Autism to share.

Jeremy was interested in sharing about living with Autism and so we accepted.

On Monday night, the anxiety set in and Jeremy had a hard time getting to sleep because he wasn’t sure what to expect or what would be required from him. We looked up a few things online and then I sent him off to bed with the promise that we would work on something for him to say tomorrow during our Homeschool time.

We talked a bit about himself and went through the questions that Elizabeth had sent through and came up with a paper for him to reference if he needed it.

Here is a video of him practicing at home.

We finished up school for the day and headed out to Abbotsford. We found the classroom and met up with the other teens who were also sharing. Jeremy was SO excited to meet other kids that were “Like Him”…..they Jer at UFVtalked and talked and talked. It was great to see him so relaxed and calm. He was just being himself and not “trying” to be normal.

Elizabeth had to cut the teens off….they had immediately launched into a discussion about a computer game……..and herded them into the classroom. They got settled into seats up at the front of the room and Elizabeth spoke for a bit and then invited them to share some.

I videoed some clips of Jeremy sharing. He spoke quite quietly for the first little bit, so you may need to turn your speakers up.

Jeremy was asked to share about his talents.

Sharing his thoughts about finding out that he had autism

Talking about Sensory Overload and Meltdowns

Talking about Friendship and Autism

I recognize that not everyone will want to watch multiple videos of my son talking,and that’s totally ok. I put these up here for anyone who might be interested in seeing my son, at 13 years old, sharing about his experiences with Autism and sharing how he feels about certain aspects of his life.

Changes can be Good

So many new changes…

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We moved into our new home just over a week ago. The home itself is lovely and bright but the actual move just about did us in.

We have moved so many times over the past 18 years but this move was by far the absolute hardest…..even taking our move from Abbotsford to Langley after 10 years of living there.

I’m not exactly sure what made this move so horrific, but I’m almost positive that our “reserves” to be able to handle stress were non-existent and that made things so SO tough.

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We have things settled down to where we can sort of function but we are not actually “settled”. My room is a disaster with unopened boxes still stacked about and we are still trying to figure out how to place our furniture. It’s tough when everything had a place and now the layout has changed and you are not sure how to “Tetris” everything in. There is quite a bit of puzzling and re-arranging to try to fit 7 people and all of their stuff into a new space.

Jeremy is finally starting back into his regular homeschool routine after 2 weeks of chaos. We started a little bit at the end of last week just to ease him into it and then we hit the ground running this morning. Our “office/homeschool” room is still a bit chaotic but it’s coming along slowly.

One of the bigger changes around here, as if moving wasn’t enough, is that Siah is going to the local Elementary School. He started the first Monday that we moved. He’s been so excited. We had a big meeting with the school before we moved and then another “intake meeting”. That one was kind of rough because you are talking about all the ways your child struggles and will need help. Having a child with learning differences is not easy but having already gone through the Infant mental Health Clinic at BC Children’s has totally given us a leg up to be able to get him the help he needs.

It’s exciting to see him SO excited to go to school and meet new friends. Today he is going to attend until noon. They’ve started him attending slowly and are working up. We’ve gone from 1 hour last Monday to half a day today.

I’m shocked at how much it feels like I have “all this free time”. It’s quite a lot of work teaching two kiddos while supervising a third and trying to care for the home too.

So not only are we adjusting to a new home but also a new schooling balance. I’m excited and exhausted. Looking forward to spending the summer out on my deck and in the backyard.

Just trying to get through today…….that’s how my world feels right now. Just focused on today…….sometimes that’s all I can handle.

But I feel like this is a new beginning and I’m pretty excited. I have no idea what the future holds but for the first time in a long time……I’m feeling that we are headed in an upward direction. I feel like I can breathe. I don’t feel like I’m drowning. I’m tired but feel like we’ve crossed over from barely treading water to being able to rest and rejuvenate. It’s such a welcome feeling after the past 3 years.

For Me, The Investement is Worth it

It’s Wednesday night and Angelica has Riding Therapy. Jon has been taking the two little boys with him when he takes Geli which gives me just over an hour to myself (sort of).

Geli’s been taking Therapeutic Horseback Riding Lessons since the summer. She LOVES it and it’s great exercise for her core and they are really working her quads which is one of the muscles that severely wasted away over the past 2 years.

First Day of School

First Day of School

I still have Jeremy and Xandra at home with me, but for this hour…..they fend for themselves.

I’ve been pounding out schoolwork for the two little boys on previous Wednesday’s, but I am taking the time tonight to type out an update on where the boys are doing with school.

Natures Stained Glass

Nature’s Stained Glass

Long story short……They are both doing INCREDIBLE.

We had an assessment today with their “teacher” who oversees me who is actually doing the “teaching”. It was not the most exciting meeting, but it validated the effort that I’m putting in which makes it worth it…..sort of.

This whole homeschooling thing that I’ve been doing. It’s a freaking full time job. Both boys definitely have multiple issues. Jeremy’s have been diagnosed (although I’m not sure of how accurate the diagnosis’ have been or if there should be another one.) Josiah’s have yet to be diagnosed, BUT he definitely has sensory issues and I’m pretty much 100% positive that he struggles with ADHD although a lesser form than Jeremy.

Teddy Bear Patterns

Teddy Bear Patterns

We have an appointment for Jeremy with the psychologist at the ADHD clinic at the Mental Health Unit at BC Children’s on Monday and I’ll be asking the psychologist what it will take to get Siah seen as a sibling.

L is for Leaves

L is for Leaves

Having said that….Josiah is LIGHT YEARS ahead of where Jeremy was at this point in his kindergarten career. Some of that can be attributed to not having as severe a case of ADHD as Jeremy but I also believe that being able to “cater” to his busy-ness and his particular learning style also contributes to it. I don’t believe that Siah is WAY smarter than Jeremy but that he has been given an advantage over Jeremy in many ways because of what Jeremy has gone through in previous school years. There are aspects of that, that make me sad, but there is nothing I can do about the past. I can only learn from it and move forward.

White Crown of Egypt

The White King of Egypt’s Crown

When I watch Siah sliding off his chair into a puddle on the floor as he chants his alphabet sounds, I am struck with a sobering thought and I wonder how much of the past month and a half of kindergarten he would have spent in the corner or on a time out chair or at the principals office. When he balks at using a pencil, preferring to use a pen because it “writes softer” (he has issues with the way the pencil “drags” on the paper)….I wonder how frustrated his teacher would have gotten with him for not wanting to write. It’s not that I fault the teacher, but there is no way that Siah would flourish and grow in the way that he’s been able to over the past month and a half.

Frustration

Moments of Frustration

We start our mornings around 9am and we are typically finished for the day at noon. If Jeremy is having a particularly rough day, he might still need to do a few things after lunch, but most days he is finished by lunch time as well. Lest you wonder, he’s ahead……WAY AHEAD of where he should be in his lessons for the year AND…..he’s done more in the past month and a half than he would have done in 4 months at school AND…..the best part….he ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT HE’S BEEN STUDYING AND WORKING ON.

He’s learning and even better….he’s SO EXCITED TO LEARN!

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He can DO IT!!

The teacher is talking about taking him off of the “special needs” educational track and putting him on a normal education track…..and honestly, last year when she first brought that up….I was terrified…this year it’s not so scarey because I am seeing how much he has improved and in so many ways.

Cuniform Tablets

Cuniform Tablets

He still needs help with the “social” aspect of life. There is so much that he doesn’t “get” and it is in that area that I wonder if there should be a different or additional diagnosis. Fortunately, he is still working with an AMAZING Behaviour Therapist. Elizabeth McWilliams Hewitt has been a most incredible blessing to our lives. There are things that she’s explained in ways that make sense to ALL OF US and tips that she has shared that have made HUGE differences in the way that Jeremy is able to “handle” life and in the way that we are able to deal with him and to help him deal with the differences in the his life and in the way that we can understand what he is going through. We are so thankful to have her as a part of Jeremy’s team.

Brothers

Brothers

We have had a full month and a half of school. We’ve crafted and created. We’ve printed and written. We’ve typed and painted. We’ve gone for nature walks. We’ve done PE. Jeremy is taking a Computers and Technology class at the TLA school. Siah is so close to reading. Judah LOVES to do exactly what Siah is doing and is so excited to be “coloring” as he calls it…..that’s all he thinks Siah is doing. Not learning, not dreading school, not getting in trouble for his wiggly bum….just coloring and cutting and gluing.

Grade 7

His TLA Avatar and apparently I need to take a better “grade 7” school picture.

Jeremy is getting crazy amazing marks and although I don’t care what his grades are, I LOVE seeing how proud he is of himself every time he scores another 100%.

It’s been a good year so far. It’s been a tough year. Teaching two boys with issues is tough. Teaching two boys with “ISSUES” that rub each other the wrong way….Siah needs to make noise and the noise flips Jeremy the crap right out…..on some days seems next to impossible and yet….it’s worth it.

Hand Shaking

Making Butter

I would love to have the boys in school. I’d love to be able to just enjoy Judah especially after the past couple of years we’ve been through. I’d love to have time to craft and sit and heck, sleep…..but, I’m choosing to look at this time as an investment. I’m investing into my boys and I can see the initial payoff…..I wonder how incredible the pay off will be as they continue to grow and mature.

Butter Seperated

Butter

I get the privilege of helping my boys to excel and succeed. Some days I wish I didn’t have to help so much or see it all so clearly and from such a close viewpoint, but I know this is worth it. In the very core of me, I know I’m doing the right thing for right now. I keep having to remind myself of that on VERY BAD DAYS (Yesterday was one!!!)

Ribs and Lungs

Ribs and Lungs

I have no idea how long we will continue to do this for. If you had asked me about homeschooling a few years ago, I’d have told you that you were insane….if fact, I think I said that to one of my friends…..for sure I thought it when my sister started homeschooling her girls and yet……right now, it’s what’s best for my boys.

Food Chain Chart

Science Project

My house is messier than I’d like. I have next to no free time. I have zero energy by the time the evening rolls around…….but……my boys are succeeding in ways that I couldn’t have even imagined 2 years ago….and that is so incredible to me.

Printing

Printing and a Tiger

These pictures that are throughout this post are just some of the pics that I’ve taken from our many crafts and adventures throughout the past one and a half months. It’s been a busy but fun filled time and I’m excited to see where these amazing boys will be at the end of the year….at the end of this school year. You can see the rest of the pics if you want to, right here!

A Poem by Jeremy

It’s my birthday today and Jeremy wrote a poem that I wanted to share with you. It’s so totally and completely HIM!

The Autumn Leaves
by Jeremy Culley

The Fall leaves rustle in the Day Time Sky
Gloomy and Beautiful and Shimmering
The Leaves are crunching and Grinding
On Your Boots that is on your foot.
The Pumpkins are ripe for Picking
And the Pies are Getting Made
And the Corn is Perfect
For Thanksgiving. The Turkeys
Are Screaming in Terror. We
Are Getting the Guns Ready.
THE END!

DPA or otherwise known as “Keeping my Sanity”

The kids are supposed to have a period of Daily Physical Activity every day.

In our house….this is also known as my Sanity Time.

With three little boys all vying for my attention, things can get a bit crazy. Especially when it’s only just been half a week that we’ve been back at school. I am strongly trying to convince myself that it will get a whole lot better than it has been this week. Jeremy will remember and settle down into a schedule, rhythm, and routine and Josiah will better understand what is expected of him as a kindergartener and Judah, well, I’m trusting that he will soon realize that he doesn’t need to crawl inside myself in order to feel connected and “seen”.

Throw in a little “sensory overload” and well, there have been one too many meltdowns this last week. But, the ONE TIME that everyone seems to chill-the-heck-out is when we go far a walk and so, this year…..I’m thinking of insituting a strict DPA schedule and sticking to it, rain or shine….of course, it’s been gorgeous so far….ask me how it’s going when it’s nasty and wet!

There are so many opportunities to learn just in our every day lives…..yesterday while we were waiting for our dr office to open after lunch, we sat outside on the steps and found all the different shapes we could find…..circles on the top o the lamp posts. The Triangle at the top of the church which the cross was sitting on. The rectangle of the bricks…..I got Siah’s shapes lesson in for the day and he had no clue that he was “in school”…..I love that. No pressure….just fun!

Here are some of our pictures from our walk today……..

We started recess with a little cupcake snack….

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I figured this was as good a time as any for a little sugar rush.

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Nature’s Stained Glass

Nature's Stained Glass

Foraging…

Foraging

Judah’s upset cause he had to wait to eat the berries

Nature’s Monkey Bar’s and Climbing Apparatus

Nature's Monkey Bars

Imaginary Play

Imaginary Play

I wonder what he’s thinking in this picture…is he a wolf, a fox, Batman???

Wolf?  Fox?  Batman?

Vibrant Color

Vibrant

Judah enters the World of Make Believe

Lost in the world of Make Believe

The Art out here is crazy…..Nature’s Sculptures

Nature's Sculptures

I often wonder “Where His Path Will Lead”?

Where will his path lead?

What keeps you sane these days? Or centers you? Or helps you to de-stress?

Escaping it All

About a month ago, right in the middle of a whole bunch of really bad appointments regarding Geli’s bones….I decided that I needed a break from everything.

Jeremy had just been doing a section in his Social Studies on the Watershed and the rain cycle and I figured that a trip the Lynn Canyon was EXACTLY what we needed.

I didn’t tell Jeremy that we were “going on a field trip” until it was time to start school. He was SO EXCITED!

We packed up and headed out to North Vancouver. We started our adventure at the Ecology Center.

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The large majority of my pictures are blurry because the boys were having SO MUCH FUN and moving so fast that it was tough to get a good (clear) shot in.

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They LOVED the hands on exhibits and Jeremy loved how so much of it had to do with what he was learning. While homeschooling is not EASY by any stretch of the imagination, I love that I’m involved with him and his learning. It’s so cool because we were able to pull in aspects of Language Arts, Science and Social Studies into this one field trip. I love that. And he was excited to show me what he knew and how it tied in…..I especially LOVE that HE IS EXCITED about what he is learning. That just about makes up for all the frustrations that we go through.

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Siah LOVED the bones. He was enthralled by them.

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After we left the Ecology Centre, we walked down to the Suspension Bridge. It had been WAY too long since I had been to the Canyon and it was so good to just escape from everything and to get lost in the beauty of the forest.

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Jeremy helped Siah walk across the Suspension Bridge while Judah CLUNG to me for dear life. He really wasn’t sure that he liked the moving, swinging bridge.

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We took our time meandering down the trail. We stopped to check out the stumps and to count the rings on a recently falled tree. Jeremy thinks this one had 120+ rings? I didn’t count.

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Judah was desperate to get down to the water on the other side of this fence. He was pretty adamant that he should be in the water and not upon the trail.

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It was so much fun to have no time frame, nothing pushing us, no schedules to make….we just WERE….

I’m very much a driven person. I try so hard to stay present and in the moment, but so often I am thinking of what needs to happen or what should be happening and I’m so aware of what we aren’t doing and on this day, I was so very aware of us and where we were at mentally and emotionally and I tried so hard to just “BE”….to just be with my boys. To not worry about how long it took us or how many detours we took or what we stopped to look at. The boys were enjoying exploring and running and climbing and I was enjoying them just enjoying everything. There was really nothing that they could do wrong and so we just WERE….

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I remember us as kids (my brother’s and sister’s) climbing this rock and it’s fun that my kids now get to experience that as well. I remember how HUGE it seemed to me then and when I look at it now it’s still pretty big….

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It was nice to see the boys playing “together” instead of fighting against each other.

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We finally made it down to the 30 foot pool. Beautiful, isn’t it? And this picture does nothing to represent the actual beauty of the place. It’s incredible. I grew up doors away from the Canyon…I was so blessed.

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We climbed down the rocks and sat by the water and ate our lunch. I love the look on Judah’s face….mine – not so much, but man, is he cute!

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Josiah and his celery stick give it two thumbs up…

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We hung out for a while, threw some rocks, climbed on the rocks and then slowly started making our way back to the van.

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Josiah was much braver, crossing the bridge for the second time……

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It was such a nice and so needed escape from everything. We came home feeling slightly recharged and in the middle of all the craziness….that is such a good thing. We are looking forward to our next escape to Lynn Canyon.

Catching My Breath.

Things have been insane around here recently. I have had no time for myself as you may have noticed by the silence over here.

It was not something that I was intentional about but I have felt like my life was on speed.

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working on schoolwork

I…..we, have not been in a good place and for the first time since….well, since before the new year and probably WAY before then even…..I feel like I can…..well, I feel like I can almost breathe. I have these moments where I can see that I should be breathing and yet, I feel like I am still holding my breath and I have to remind myself to let go of the breath that I am holding so that I can take another and another and another.

It has felt like things have been going down hill for a long time, but at the same time, I was trying so SO hard to carry on. Since the New Year and the whole BONE CRAP…..it has felt like things are going faster and faster down hill and that I could no longer even attempt to stand strong against it all. I have felt like I was being crushed under the weight of everything and at the same time…..I couldn’t be crushed because there was too much that still needed to be done; and so, wounded and broken I carried on.

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we like to do school, too

At the end of last year we applied for the Disability Tax Credit for Jeremy regarding ADHD. In April we received a bit of money and made the decision to use ALL of it to get some help.

We interviewed a bunch of people and none of them really seemed “just right”. As we continued through the hiring process, I got discouraged. I started to think that maybe I was looking for something that I wasn’t going to find or that maybe I was expecting or hoping for too much. As a last resort, we contacted the church we are attending and asked the Young Adults Pastor if he knew of anyone who wanted or needed a job as a Mother’s Helper. He suggested someone and it turns out that there were two sisters that came for an interview and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect duo. They are sharing the job and starting last Monday, I have help from 8:30am to 4:30pm and the two women are INCREDIBLE.

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Who needs skateboards to play at the skateboard park?

They are sweet and responsible and loving and the best part……..my boys LOVE them. I am SO THANKFUL. This couldn’t have come at a better time because we have 5 of us in counseling right now and between all the appointments that we have been going to….I think I would be completely WIPED!!!!! if I were trying to do this all on my own, and with the two little boys always in tow.

I’m hoping to be able to have a little bit more “me” time. It would be so nice to not feel like I was ALWAYS behind on things, or to not feel like I was never able to catch up or stay on top of anything.

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New pink glasses

I feel like I’m trying to catch up right now. I don’t even know if it’s possible and there’s a part of me that wants to just ignore everything in the past and just start fresh moving forward….and in some ways I’m doing that…but it still feels like I’m overwhelmed with everything that I’m carrying. Oh Well, I guess that’s just more for me to hash out in counseling. Fun!

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my baby is getting so big

There is So much that I’ve wanted to share. But I’ve just not had the time nor the energy. Hopefully, I’ll have a bit more of both as the days and weeks carry on. I just want to thank each and everyone of you who has prayed for and encouraged and reached out to me and to us. I have had NO energy to “be a friend” to anyone at this point and this journey has felt like such a long and lonely journey and each time someone reaches out, it feels like a hug. Each time someone sends an e-mail, I feel encouraged or picked up. Each time, We get a message letting us know that you’re praying or thinking of us…it gives us a little bit more energy so we can pick ourselves up and carry on. I….WE are so grateful and thankful for everyone who is walking this journey along side us. Please know that although I still feel like I am in Survival Mode and barely scraping by, that I am SO incredibly thankful for each one of you.

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Siah’s sand dude!

The Ups and Down of Life

I feel so……so……so caught up inside myself.

There is so much going on and I don’t know where or how to unpack it all. I had a phone chat with our social worker from BC Children’s yesterday and kind of fell apart on her.

I’m tired. I want some help for the kids (and myself if I’m being honest) and “the help” (therapy type help) available, is at BC Children’s….an hour away from here. (We have no extended medical to help cover the expenses for other help and so we’d be paying out of pocket for other help, which we may just have to do…..)

There is a sibling support group that is just about to start, but…..it’s on Thursday afternoon’s for an hour and a half FOR THE NEXT 8 WEEKS.

That’s not really very helpful. If we missed traffic (which would be a miracle – we’d be in traffic for at least one way), we would be driving for 2 hours to go to a meeting for 1.5 hours. And I’m not sure what Geli, I, Siah and Judah would do while the older 3 were in the session. Then we’d be leaving at dinner time (and sitting in that lovely traffic I mentioned) all the while hoping that the baby wouldn’t fall asleep in the van so that he wouldn’t be up until midnight. There would be dinner to figure out and homework to work around and well….it’s just more of a problem than a help…..

I am already running below empty and I can’t fathom adding 8 weeks of that stress into our lives….so where does that leave us………?

Not in a great place, that’s for sure.

I know that we need to get beyond “this time” and that things will look different in a year from now and hopefully things will be easier but I am so tired and worn out, I’m not sure what shape I’ll be in, in a year from now. We’ve been looking forward to “this season changing” for what feels like a very long time and it’s all seeming so very surreal and even unattainable at very low times. We have to believe that things are not always going to be this tough. We are not looking forward to the future as a “magical time of amazing-ness” but we are trying to hold onto HOPE with what little strength we have left, but sometimes, even that feels so very difficult to do.

Our social worker asked me what things I could take off my plate so that I wasn’t so overwhelmed and to be honest…..I have no idea. I’m already doing the least amount of housekeeping that I can and still have us be functional. And that right there…..is so tough to deal with. I like a clean, neat and tidy house. I feel like I’m drowning….not even like I’m treading water anymore, but that I’m sinking deeper and deeper under. I have no time or energy to keep on top of all that it takes to keep our family running smoothly and my “coping mechanism” is to “fill another box” with the crap that gets piled up on my counters and then take it down to my bedroom.

It’s definitely not a cool way to deal with things. I think I have 6 boxes downstairs with “crap” that needs to be sorted through. It’s all I can do to stay on top of my laundry and well….besides the fact that I have the worlds smallest laundry room and 7 people’s clothes and towels and linen won’t fit in it…..we just need the clothes to wear. The boys only have about 3 pairs of pants each and depending on how messy they are we could plow through 2 or even all 3 of them in a day. NOT COOL, boys! NOT cool!

Obviously we have to eat and trying to feed a family of 7 economically, while eating a gluten and dairy free diet….well, it’s extremely challenging and sometimes I just wish that we didn’t have to eat.

A significant portion of my time is spent homeschooling Jeremy and breaking up fights and squabbles between the two little boys. A few people have asked me if that’s something that I should off load and just send him back to school. Maybe even a different or new one……to me, this is not even an option. For the first time in his life, Jeremy is EXCELLING in school. He hasn’t gotten a mark that’s been less than an “A” for 2 months now. He feels smarter. He’s ACTUALLY retaining the information that he’s processing. If he doesn’t LOVE school, he at the very least enjoys it, now. As much prep work as it is for me…..and let me tell you, teaching ONE CHILD has a significant amount of prep work and time spent overseeing what he is doing…(I can’t fathom teaching 30+ kids with more than one of them with Learning Differences or other social issues)…..this is something that I believe is CRITICAL right now. I firmly believe with all my heart that Jeremy is learning valuable LIFE SKILLS that will impact him for the rest of his life. To cut this time short, would be devastating, in my opinion. Even moving him to a new school…..he doesn’t “YET” have the skills needed to make a change, and I believe that he would end up in the same position that he was in….behind, feeling stupid and bullied……

So basically, I get up in the morning…….. I sort of teach school. I try to care for my little boys. I attempt to feed and clothe the family. I clean, and it is an extremely loose interpretation of the word, the house and then it’s bedtime…..

For “ME” time….I “try” to work out 3 times a week and while that’s a good thing…I feel like it’s an hour and a half of hellish torture that I enjoy once it’s finished.

Regardless……something has to change, I’m at a breaking point….I’ve been thinking about getting someone in to help out for a few hours a week….maybe twice a week….to help with the little boys and maybe some housework….I dunno….I’m not sure where to find someone, or how exactly to go about it all, but I have been thinking about it….so….that’s a start, right?

Jon and I are missing each other….it’s been so long since we’ve had any time to just “be” together and that’s tough. Even our evenings are crazy. The boys have been particularly needy over the past couple of weeks and haven’t been settling until after 9pm even though we’re starting the bedtime routine at 7:30pm….I dunno if they’ve been feeding off the extra stress……or what the issue is? Whatever it is….it’s not cool!

We did, however, get the chance to get away as a family. Last weekend, we were able to go to a cabin down at Birch Bay for two nights and it was a wonderful time away. It wasn’t so much of a rest….as it was a change. A chance to get away from the house and feeling a need to clean and tidy. The kids played. Nothing “could” or “had” to be done….probably the biggest downfall was that we wanted to pick up a few clothes while we were down there, but again…..shopping (or pretty much doing anything) with 5 kids is…..um…..interesting…..and we didn’t get done what we had hoped and that left some of the family feeling like they were disappointed. We should have just gone down and not hoped to pick up a few things….that would have at least not set us up to fail…..

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that’s Jeremy in the bottom left of the picture

I have a TON of pics from our time away and I’ll share some of them in the next post. It really was a beautiful place and right on the beach…….like RIGHT ON the beach. The smell of the air, the sound of the waves, the seagulls crying…….it was amazing. Truly, truly amazing. I love the beach. It really is a “Happy” place for me. We are SO THANKFUL to the family that made it possible for us to get away. It was INCREDIBLE! SO, SO INCREDIBLE!

LOVING TO LEARN / LEARNING TO LOVE

Ah….the baby’s been asleep for a while and I’m doubting that he will sleep long enough for me to finish a post. I should have…..well…no, I shouldn’t have anything.

I’m trying to not guilt myself into doing or not doing things and the fact of the matter is….I ate my baked potatoe while I leisurely browsed through my reader and anything else that caught my eye….yah, basically I wasted time, but…..IT WAS MY DOWN TIME and I’m trying my hardest to be okay with that.

Siah and the baby have been sick with a cough and runny nose. They are doing okay….but Jon and I…we are tired. Siah sleeps through the night, but hacks and hacks and hacks away. Judah on the other hand. He’s been up a minimum of 3 times a night crying and coughing and sounding Oh! So! Pitiful! He’s currently sleeping open mouthed on my couch and keeps coughing and coughing and I keep thinking that he’s going to wake up but he’s not…..which is amazing.

We’ve had a pretty strict schedule for the past two weeks and he’s actually been taking naps in the afternoon. I’d say that 4 out of 7 days a week, he’s sleeping for at least an hour just after lunch. I kind of “force” him to stay awake until after lunchtime. He’s usually a miserable mess by that time, but….it ends up with a little quiet time for all of us which is so nice.

We’ve been rocking through schoolwork in the mornings and finishing the “focused” stuff by lunchtime. After lunch we do arts or PE or if there was something that we didn’t get finished in the morning we finish that up.

We’ve been really working hard on multiplication. Its so foundational and something that Jeremy really struggles with. In the past, he’s HATED Math but this past week I asked him how he felt Math was going and he said it was, “Fun-ish?

Although he had sort of a question to his answer…..it was still better than HATE!

I found a website called “Right Brained Math

Check out the videos of the different times tables…..incredible!

Have you ever heard of this or seen anything like this? I’ve never ever seen anything like this. I’m well aware that there are patterns in Math, but I had no issues just memorizing the times tables and so I never needed anything like this. Jeremy is a completely different story.

The pictures and tables and patterns make so much more sense to him. He can make the tables up all by himself right now and even after 2 weeks, I can see that he is more confident in his math skills and as a result…..his self esteem is better. He’s not feeling so stupid.

This is where I get so frustrated. He’s not a stupid kid. He just has a different way of learning but when you end up SO FAR BEHIND the other kids because you haven’t mastered a concept yet but the class needs to move on to the next topic….and then its time to move on again and you still haven’t mastered the original concept……it’s no wonder you’d end up feeling stupid.

There are a few things that are really important to me over the next little while. I want Jeremy to WANT to learn. I want him to equate learning with fun! It is fun to discover new things and I want him to see life like that. I want to get beyond this current mindset that learning is something that you HAVE TO DO and IT SUCKS! I want him to learn how to type. His writing is atrocious and as soon as he learns how to type…we’ll deal with a few issues. His writing is illegible, most of the time. He HATES writing, printing…anything like that. And….once you learn how to type, you should be able to actually type faster than you can print. So, typing is important to me. Another big one for me is writing. I don’t mean printing but actually being able to get your thoughts out onto paper or the screen in such a way that it’s clear and concise and expresses feeling and emotion and get across the facts that are needed.

Currently, he pretty much HATES anything that I’ve listed as important…..which is mostly everything. But, I’m finding that between being able to explain why each thing is important and how it relates to him and his life goals, is making a difference. We are also working through an ADHD workbook that helps him to think through different scenarios and allows him to process them outside of the the pressure that an immediate situation brings.

On top of the stuff that we are doing “in house”….he’s also signed up for a Musical Theater class that he stressed over for close to 2 weeks, which when I peeked in on him in the class on Monday….his smile was bigger than his face and he was having a BLAST! There is also a Homeschooling PE Class and a Lego Robotics class that he’s taking as well. He’s excited about all of them, now that he’s done the first theater class….

I am already seeing little changes in so many areas and then….in others, not so much. It’s tough. I have to keep remembering that I’m working with a kid who has a learning disability and that he’s not going to just magically change. But, if I look over all at the big picture….I still think we’ve made the right decision for right now.

It’s tough. It’s oh so crazy busy and I have to be on top of everything ALL THE TIME or else CHAOS REIGNS.

Wednesday was a ROUGH day. I tried to take a video of him, but they didn’t turn out. We forgot to give him his meds first thing – don’t ask how we possibly forgot that, but we did – and he was a vibrating mess until 10:30….at that point, he felt so upset about himself that the rest of the day was pretty much wrecked. We did manage to get his school work done, but it did require some creative effort on my part. We managed to get through the entire day with only one bout of crying – his not mine….in case you were wondering.

In contrast, Thursday was probably the BEST day and he FLEW through his work with excellence….it was pretty incredible.

So, we have ups and we have downs. I continue to encourage him that he’s learning and having fun and that there is NOTHING WRONG with getting an answer wrong…it’s only an opportunity. An opportunity to learn and that’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

I’m hoping to instill a LOVE TO LEARN mentality along with the ever important LEARN TO LOVE mentality that I believe should guide our lives.

It’s in process….we are all in process, aren’t we? And that’s such a good thing…can you imagine being stuck where you are at right now….forever….no growth….I can’t!

Minute by minute

The days this week have moved by so unbelievably slow (in the moment) and yet I blink and it’s lunchtime and then I blink again and it’s dinner time….followed by bedtime and then we do it all again.

It’s not easy juggling the 11 year old student with the 4 year old child and the 1 year old toddler BUT…..amazingly, there is less stress overall. My days certainly feel stressful when Jeremy is upset because he doesn’t understand something and then Siah started whining about wanting to play on the Wii and then Jeremy gets frustrated and yells at Siah for bothering him and during it all the baby is clinging off of me wanting……something, anything……in those moments – I breathe. And then I breathe again.

Settle everyone down, get a new activity for Siah to do, pick up the baby and try to talk Jeremy away from the ledge that he’s figuratively perched himself on.

It’s…..well, fun is very definitely the wrong word, but it’s…..it’s…..well, it’s never dull. Busy….i think busy is the right word.

We start off our mornings eating breakfast together and reading through a kids devotional story.

And in the middle of all the chaos, I’m okay. Tired…no, EXHAUSTED; often stressed about being able to really get through to Jeremy, sometimes worried that I will not have enough time or energy to focus on the other kids; I worry about being able to continue this beyond this week and yet….I believe that aspects of this will change and evolve. Somethings will be easier and some things, we will just let go of as we find a rhythm, a groove! All of us are learning right now. From the oldest to the youngest….we are all on this journey together and overall, I’m okay with it.

Our house feels more peaceful….less stressful. I asked Jeremy how he felt this first week was going and he shrugged. then I asked him if he felt more stressed, less stressed or about the same amount of stress as he had wile at school and he instantly replied with “less stress”.

So, That’s a good thing, I think!

I must find “me” time in the middle of all of this. Being “ON” all day is tiring and I’m definitely going to need to be very aware and careful to take care of myself.

Judah is sleeping right now and the boys are watching a movie while they finish lunch! Things are more or less quiet and I’m going to just sit and enjoy a cup of tea….until the baby wakes up…..which I hope isn’t for a while, but honestly I don’t have much hope for that.

Thanks for all your encouraging comments. I appreciate each and every one of them and each and every one of you!