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Autism: From the outside looking in. Lifestyle Parenting

TELEVISION SAVED MY LIFE AS A PARENT.

I know I know….

It is absolutely frowned upon to let your children consume too much of the “idiot box”.

As a matter of fact, my parents only kept up to two televisions in the house until I was in high school. I didn’t have a television in my room until I bought one of my own.

The reason why I preferred having a television in my room is because I have always been afraid of the dark. I still am afraid of the dark. A traditional nightlight just doesn’t cut it.

During the first week of Ariana’s life, I had the worst time getting her to fall asleep. It was already terrible enough that she constantly cried. She didn’t have an issue with colic or health, she just cried a lot. At first, I tried to soothe Ariana with a radio. That worked for a few days. Then, I tried the television.

MAGIC!!!!

Did it stop her from crying? NO. Did the television help her got to sleep? YES JESUS! That means mommy could get some sleep. Mind you, I was battling postpartum depression at the time. I needed to sleep.

It wasn’t the fact that I just had the television on. Ariana specifically wanted to watch “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Homegirl thought she was grown.

This worked out well because these two shows came on back-to-back. DVR was also my friend when I needed access to these shows multiple times a day.

When Ariana graduated to her own room, I put a television in her room. By then, she had enter the world of Dora The Explorer. We love educational programming! No, she wasn’t sitting in her room, watching tv all day. She needed the television for background noise, just like I did.

As I continued to have kids, television became more of a necessity.

Have you ever tried to make phone calls or handle other important business while several little kids were running around? How did that work out? Have you ever needed to tend to one child, but the other one(s) we’re getting into everything?

Sometimes, you just need your children to sit down and shut the Hell up. Putting on a favorite movie or series with some popcorn just does the trick!

I also found tv to be an educational helper for my special needs boys. They all have shorter than normal attention spans, so traditional teaching doesn’t help much. Julian and Joshua are mostly nonverbal, but they can sing nursery rhymes and recognize some colors. Cocomelon and Baby First TV are their favorites.

Avery learned how to read high frequency words from watching YouTube. Although his comprehension is not good, Avery reads well above grade level. Phonics is his thing!

The thing is, it’s not realistic for me to keep all of my children occupied at the same time. Is using the television taking the lazy way out? It might be to you. However, it makes my household run a little bit easier, especially for my ASD babies. I’m not sure if the problem is how much tv time your children have. I think the problem is the kind of content that your kids are consuming.

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Autism: From the outside looking in. Lifestyle Parenting

Our First Week Of Remote Learning!

Let’s just say that there is not enough wine in the world to go through this. It started out as an atrocity, but it’s getting better.

The state that I live in was obviously not prepared for this school year. The last few months of the last school year was also remote learning, but we had old-fashioned packets and pencils. I guess the state thought we would just pick up where we left off.

This school term is all virtual. This means that we are doing everything over the computer. We are saving trees, folks!

I think that everyone involved in this process needs to understand a few things:

1. The teachers are frustrated as well and would rather teach their babies in a classroom. THIS IS NOT THEIR FAULT!

2. Parents have to learn how to use new applications along with their kids. Some kids are being raised by a generation that is not tech-savvy. Parents, you are allowed to be frustrated!

3. Technology is technology. Something is going to malfunction or crash. Some parents have gotten their kids started in the morning with ease, and some are ready to tear their hair out.

I want to say that I am blessed to be in the position that I am in as a stay at home parent. There are parents who either had to quit their jobs, rearrange their schedules, go without sleep, or entrust their children to a babysitter to help with schoolwork.

Honestly, this was supposed to be the school term that made my house empty. I had plans to throw a party all by myself. I had plans to finally finish that mountain of laundry. I had plans to just enjoy the quiet time.

I complain about it, but I have to look at the fact that parents who work outside of the home are stressed beyond belief right now.

I never understood the last minute open house meetings. Why do I get all of my children’s information three days before starts? It makes no sense. Mind you, I already have the school supplies. Shout out to my early preparation in March!

What alarmed me about this year’s open house was finding out that two of my children were going to be attending different schools. The last minute notice…..

My older three children were set to start school on Monday(August 17th), and my youngest three were set to start later. I was ferociously checking emails and apps on Saturday(August 15th) because none of my children had classes. I hadn’t heard from Avery’s new school.

On Monday(August 17th), I logged into my children’s Google Classroom accounts. Amariyah had her classes, but her teacher is missing. She is being taught by the 5th grade teacher. Avery and Ariana were still without classes. I was able to get Amariyah started on her Zoom meetings with slight difficulties.

I proceeded to call my other children’s schools to figure out what was going on. After about 30 attempts, I finally was able to speak with secretaries. They took my messages, but didn’t call me back. Oh lord! According to a secretary, Avery was transferred to the wrong school.

Meanwhile, Amariyah was just breezing through her meetings with her NOTfourthgrade teacher. She is the type of child who likes to take charge. Sometimes it’s great and other times it’s annoying. I’m referring to the way that she talks over everybody because she just has to be first or correct.

I received a call back from a technical support representative for Ariana at 6:00 that evening. I was instructed to keep checking her email because she was no longer using Google Classroom. I checked Ariana’s email and found some links to get her started for the next day. Unfortunately, I still had no word on Avery.

On Tuesday(August 18th), Amariyah and Ariana logged into their classes and email and got started. I checked Avery’s Google Classroom app. There were two classes. Thank God! I was confused because he was still enrolled at the school that I was told was incorrect. I just wanted my baby to get started so I logged him into his zoom meetings.

Avery had a difficult time concentrating during his meetings. This was to be expected for several reasons. I had to sit next to Avery and help him pay attention.

When it came time for Avery to do his assignments, I had to guide him through his work.

The work that he was given didn’t seem to line up with his IEP. I called the school. I spoke to the secretary who was in charge of special education to express my concerns.

This is when I found out that Avery was in a regular classroom with an EC(Exceptional Children) teacher as backup. I was pretty annoyed at this point. The secretary confirmed to me that she had Avery’s IEP, but she said she never read it. She wanted to see what Avery was capable of doing.

Ummm…. isn’t that the point of the IEP?

I was pissed. I emailed Avery’s EC teacher, but she was also pretty dismissive. I miss his old school because I was used to his teacher. I hope that he can return soon.

Whew! I think that next week is when I will introduce my babies into virtual learning. I guess the therapies for Julian and Joshua will also be virtual…. This will be a movie.

Aside from late starts, defective zoom links, missing classes, and missing teachers, the first week went okay. We will continue to pray moving forward. I still have to get my babies on the bandwagon. This will be fun. We just all have to get used to this new normal.

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Lifestyle Parenting

***TRIGGER WARNING*** My Regret: A personal experience with postpartum depression

I am heartbroken as I write this at 2am. I have been sick for the last couple of weeks. I think the symptoms are finally starting to subside. I just knew I was pregnant.

At first, I was nervous at the thought. I already have six children, & a lot of my days can be overwhelming. I am a student & I struggle with depression most days. My older children already help me a lot with certain tasks. As the days went by, I had more & more typical pregnancy symptoms. My breasts had swelled bigger than ever. I had cravings. My sleep pattern was thrown off. The icing on the cake? My period was late. My period was NEVER late, unless I was pregnant.

I prayed about it. I was nervous, but excited at the fact that I could be carrying new life. I hate being pregnant, but for some reason I was really anticipating my husband spoiling me with massages & endless fast food binges again. Yeah…I use pregnancy as an excuse to eat everything in sight.

I contemplated telling my husband before I took a test. I initially decided that I would wait until I got that positive pregnancy test. My period was now two days late, and for some reason, I blurted out “I need a pregnancy test!”. My husband looked taken aback. After the shock wore off, he seemed to be pretty excited at the possibility, especially after I told him my period was late.

Later that evening, my husband bought me a pregnancy test, I went into the bathroom to pee. I knew this drill all too well. I dropped three drops of urine onto the disk and waited impatiently. My stomach dropped as I watched the red dye spread across the disk. It was visibly negative. I didn’t give up hope because I had what I thought was a negative pregnancy test in 2011, but there turned out to be the faintest line when I held it under light. I took the disk apart and looked at the strip under the flashlight of my phone. I was willing myself to see a second line.

As I was gathering myself, my husband opened the bathroom door and inquired anxiously. I was a little nervous to give him the sad news. “It’s negative.”, I said glumly. In a matter of seconds, I saw my husband’s face go from curiosity to sadness. He denied his reaction, but I knew better. I was upset with myself because I didn’t want to clue my husband in until I knew for sure that I was pregnant. I was trying to avoid these reactions.

My period was late for a third day. I scoured Google like a deranged lunatic, trying to renew my hopes. I decided to wait a few more days and test again.

Because I was hardheaded, I took another test. It was also negative. Again, I took the disk apart and started analyzing the strip. I started to wonder if I ovulated later. I was recently involved in a car accident and thought that it threw my cycle off. I thought about the day that my husband and I had sex and I gained some hope. I just knew I was pregnant. My symptoms were stronger than ever. I began to check my cervix every time I went to pee, which was frequently. It was high and there was watery discharge. I was excited because I read several stories on Google that pointed to this as a good sign. I knew damn well that everyone is different. I just needed one story to get my hopes up.

I went through the next day without asking my husband to buy me a pregnancy test. This didn’t stop me from obsessing over Google and looking up just about every scenerio that I could think of in hopes of a positive outcome.

On Sunday morning, I woke up early. I watched a movie with my husband. I then asked my husband to go to the store. I casually asked him to pick up a pregnancy test. My confidence level was through the roof because my period was now five days late. When my husband returned, I took the test into the bathroom nervously. I dropped the usual pee on the test and watched the dye spread across the test like clockwork. I was stunned. It was still negative. At this moment, I was shattered. My husband was adamant about me going to the hospital. I didn’t want to go. I felt it was a waste of time. I wasn’t having an emergency. I had no idea what was going on. I broke down and yelled at the sky “If I’m not pregnant, give me my period!”. I was so devastated and I sounded so ridiculous.

To calm myself, I took a shower and washed my hair. My husband went to pick up dinner and I asked him for another pregnancy test because I was planning on testing again in a few more days.

I finished my shower and hair a couple of hours later. As I was sitting on my bed, I felt a cramp. My heart sunk. It was a familiar cramp. I went to the bathroom and wiped. There was nothing. I was relieved. I stopped myself from pulling my pants up and decided to check my cervix. I pulled my finger out of my vagina and was greeted with a small amount of blood. I furiously grabbed a pad and put it into my underwear. By this time, my husband had returned home. He forgot the test. I told him that my period had started. I could tell that he was sad, but I knew that he was relieved that nothing was wrong with me.

Later on that night, I went to the bathroom. I looked down at my pad, fully expecting to see the obvious. I was shocked. The amount of blood in my pad was the size of a coin. I wiped myself after peeing and saw a little bit more light red blood on the tissue. I had no cramps. I returned to Google and looked up “implantation bleeding”. I was getting my hopes up again, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be counted out. I was desperate for hope. Hours passed and I was still monitoring my bleeding. It was more of the same: a small amount on the pad and a little bit more when I wiped. The next morning, I checked my pad. There wasn’t even enough blood on the pad to cover half of a pantyliner. I was still hopeful. As the afternoon approached, the bleeding started to darken. The amount was the same. There were small clots. Back to Google I went. My “pregnancy” symptoms started to fade and I started cramping. At this point, I went into “fuck it” mode. I continued to obsess over Google. My pad was still mostly white throughout the day.

I set myself up. I knew I had driven myself crazy. Despite being very fertile, which was evident by the amount of kids I already had, I knew there was a slim to zero chance that I could be pregnant.

It wasn’t just because I had this late, light, period. I had my tubes tied almost three years ago after a C-section. I had read all of the stories of women who had gone on to conceive after tubal ligation. I just knew it would happen to me. I expected to haven’t tubes tied during an emergency C-section because I was traumatized. Had I had a clear mind, I would have never authorized the procedure. The doctor asked me if I was sure and I didn’t hesitate. I regretted it months later. I felt like a part of me also went through with it to make other people happy. I get judged a lot for having so many kids. I am always told “You don’t need anymore kids.”. I wanted to prove to everyone that i was done. But I wasn’t. Now I sit here with depression two and a half years later, partially because I made a decision mostly based on other people’s emotions. My body is a mess around the time that my period is slated to begin. I always feel pregnant and my cramps are horrendous. I feel like God is taunting me or punishing me for not letting my body react naturally. Does this sound crazy?

I stayed up to let the tears flow and reflect on the “what ifs”. I know my feelings are selfish because there are people who can’t conceive. I love my husband and I am glad that he is so supportive. Some days I feel like it’s not enough. It’s not his fault. Some days I feel like dying. No amount of consoling could cure that feeling. Maybe one day I will get to experience that miracle again.

My Regret.

****08-18-2020****

I wrote this story a few years ago, as I was going through postpartum depression. I was upset about having my tubes tied because I didn’t like the way I felt. I was also upset because my twins were growing up. I missed them as babies.

Early in our relationship, Donnie told me that he dreamed of having 10 kids. Well, I said he could keep that as a dream.

I spent the majority of my 20’s pregnant. It looks odd, looking from the outside, but I always felt like something was missing from me. As long as I was pregnant, I felt that “something”. I felt whole. However, I hated being pregnant. I know, it’s confusing. The pain and the sickness is not fun.

One way that my body has changed since I had my tubes tied is pain. Around my scheduled ovulation period, I have awful nerve pain. It spreads from the top of my shoulders to the tips of my toes. Sometimes it renders me motionless. The same sensation is felt during the first two days of my period. I had never felt this pain before. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and I had never felt this pain before.

Another thing that I had to get used to was the frequent “pregnancy scares”. I literally felt like I was pregnant every month, for the first couple of years after I had the twins. I had all of the textbook symptoms and signs. I became obsessed with Google. I knew my body. I knew every time that I was pregnant, except with Ariana(I was young and didn’t know what was happening).

Unfortunately, I didn’t know my new body: My post-tubal ligation body. My new normal definitely made my depression worse, to the point where I actually wanted to actively conceive. I wanted to try for baby number 7, despite my tubes being tied. Donnie had a lot of concerns. First of all, he saw how hard my last pregnancy, labor, and delivery was. Second, we already had a lot of kids, and they are VERY expensive.

Donnie has a habit of trying to make me happy, instead of telling me that I’m making a bad decision. I don’t like that. I have discussed this with him several times. He’s getting better. He agreed that we could try.

Obviously, my dumb ass plan didn’t work. I gave up the idea as I started snapping from my depressive state.

Ask me if I want to have baby number 7. Ask me.

HELL. NO.

With all the love in the world for my kids.

Don’t fight postpartum depression alone. If you experiencing symptoms, such as uncontrollable crying, lack of appetite, thoughts of worthlessness, or frustration (this is not a complete list), please ask for help. Seek out a relative or a trusted friend to help you care for your child.

You can send me an email.

You can also contact the National Postpartum Depression support number for additional resources:

1-800-PPD-MOMS

If you are having thoughts of suicide, PLEASE contact this number:

1-800-273-8255

Having postpartum depression DOES NOT make you a bad parent. Your body just went through a significant shift. Sometimes we just need time to process this emotionally and physically.

God bless.

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Autism: From the outside looking in. Parenting

Putting A Leash On Your Child?

I said that I would never do that. Of course, my daddy told me Lane we say never”. He was correct.

I remember observing someone walking their child with a leash. I scoffed like a judgmental asshole. It looked absolutely ridiculous. At that time, I didn’t have kids. I said that I would never have my child walking around like some pet.

I stuck to that sentiment as I began having kids. Then, the twins came along. I noticed Joshua’s inability to comprehend. It was always there. I started noticing Julian’s inability shortly after. He had started regressing. Still, when we went out, Donnie and I kept all of the babies in 2 different strollers. It was a lot of work, but we managed.

I purchased three harness leashes in early 2018. I wanted to ditch the strollers during our upcoming beach trip. It just made things easier. I just didn’t want to overload our van with suitcases and strollers.

It was a disaster. First of all, I was embarrassed. I didn’t know what others were thinking as they were staring at me. These were some of the same stares that I gave to other parents before I actually became one. A lot of people don’t understand autism, so it’s easy for them to say “That’s child needs to be whooped”. A lot of people stare. Rarely, I will get sympathy from another understanding parent or caregiver.

Relying on the harnesses was a disaster. That is why the pessimism in me told me to also purchase handcuff leashes. The clips on Joshua’s harness broke. Julian and Joshua had the worst meltdowns whenever we walked somewhere. Jessica actually did a great job with the harness. She did so well that I allowed my other kids to hold the leash while she walked around.

I was definitely missing the strollers. They would be apart of any future trips that we would take.

After going through the appointments, assessments, and therapies, with the boys in 2019, I decided to keep them in strollers. I finally had answers as to why I noticed delays and regressions. Also, it was much easier to tote around heavy strollers than to deal with a bunch of stares and judgment in public. I still used the leases at the ocean though.

As Julian and Joshua grew, it was difficult to find a stroller big enough to accommodate them. They are 4 and 5 years old, at this point. The strollers were either too small or too expensive. I settled on a double jogging stroller. That will probably buy us two years, until we have to come up with another option. I will probably have to buy a wagon.

There was a delay in shipping, so their stroller didn’t arrive in time for our zoo trip, earlier this month. Jessica could walk freely, without being tethered to someone else. That’s as one less stroller that needed to be packed. We still used the double stroller that I bought for Joshua and Jessica when they were born. The boys looked ridiculous in it.

Julian threw a big tantrum when we stopped for lunch. Normally, the boys will cry if the stroller stops moving. They always like to be on the go. I thought that was what was wrong with Julian. Donnie pushed the stroller around, but Julian was still not satisfied. At that point, I concluded that he wanted to be free of the stroller. We weren’t in a store, where he could knock things over. Why not? I pulled a handcuff leash out of the diaper bag and put it around Julian’s wrist. To my disbelief, he did a great job. I still had to tug the leash a few times to get him in the right direction, but Julian did really well. He seemed to really enjoy the walk. True to form, he started crying every time we stopped walking.

Joshua stayed in the stroller. He would have rolled all over the ground instead of walking.

Though I had my apprehensions at first, I don’t regret using a harness or leash for my children. My pride is less significant than their safety. I’m not trying to make a fashion statement, although, I do have some cute colors. Thanks Amazon!

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

https://www.antoniasglamsc8pe.com

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Lifestyle Parenting

The Pros And Cons Of Early Preparation

I am an early preparer because I have a large family. I’m talking about packing for a July vacation in May. I’m talking about Christmas shopping in August. My paranoia tells me to “get it done while you have the money” or “pack now because you will have a lower chance of forgetting something”. It has worked out beautifully until now….

COVID-19 turned most people’s lives upside down in March of this year. I discovered on the news that surrounding counties were closing down schools for the last two weeks of March. As soon as I got the call from the district office, I knew. I knew my kids were going to drive me crazy. I delayed the delivery of the news until Donnie came home from work.

The celebrations commenced after I told my kids what the deal was. These kids literally turned on a movie and asked me to make popcorn. I think Amariyah is the only one who genuinely likes schools. Still, she was happy. We all thought it would just be a short break.

FYI, I was not the one who stockpiled tissue, bread and milk during this time.

It was April, and the kids were still out of school. I decided to finish up my school shopping for the next school term. I actually started shopping in November of 2019. I had all of their essentials purchased by February. I always size up because children grow overnight. It just makes sense.

May arrives and the kids are still out of school. The Governor cancels school for the rest of the school term. Again, my kids were delighted. I wasn’t, as I was struggling to help them finish their 500 remote learning packets. I decided to use the old-fashioned pencil and paper because it was the easiest way for me to keep track of progress and make remarks.

What did your kids do during your state’s Stay-At-Home order? My kids ate. They ate and they ate. It wasn’t until late June that I remembered the fortune that I had spent on school clothes. My kids had gotten taller and wider. Despite my genius attempts to size up, I had to face the reality that the clothes probably would fit anymore.

I was correct about some of the clothes. Now I have a big donation box sitting in my room. I was given the option to homeschool my kids for the upcoming school year. In an effort to keep my children safe, I agreed to keep my kids in virtual school. While I get to bless some other children with new clothes and shoes, I don’t have to worry about purchasing anymore school clothes.

I will not let this unfortunate circumstance deter me in the future. I still say that my method works. On to Christmas shopping next month!

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

https://www.antoniasglamsc8pe.com

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Lifestyle Parenting

The Most Thankless Job.

We are in the group of the unacknowledged “essential workers”. Stay-at-home parents know EXACTLY what I mean. Our job is the most demanding, but least appreciated.

I was only working on the weekends at the time I decided to stay home with my kids. My husband, Donnie, worked during the week. I had three children at home at the time. My husband and I traded childcare duties

There are many reasons why stay-at-home parents are created. Finances didn’t initially sway my decision to become a stay-at-home parent. I was pregnant with Julian, and I wanted to rest.

Before I had Julian, I suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage. It happened in May of 2014. I had been spotting on and off for a week. I began to heavily bleed around Mother’s Day. Donnie and I were devastated, but I later accepted that God had a reason. Others would say that it was because “You don’t need anymore kids.”. Okay….

I found out that I was pregnant again in July of the same year. I was highly stressed at work, and I just wanted to take it easy with my pregnancy. I just quit. I talked to my husband first, of course. Donnie was fully prepared to take on the burden of our household finances.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mother for almost six years. As time passed, I had more kids. Daycare was not something that would fit into the budget.

I absolutely hate it. Am I allowed to say that? Yes, I hate being a stay-at-home mother. My kids are not the reason why I feel this way. I just feel inadequate and lazy. Some days I feel held back. I feel like my contribution is the least important.

I’M THE ALARM CLOCK.

My weekdays start at 4:00am when I wake my husband up for work. My oldest children are out of the bed between 5:15 and 5:30. We all know that the kiddies need to be woken up at least five times. By 5:50, it’s time to dress some flailing toddlers!

All of my kids depart for school by 6:35am. All except for Jessica. She will start Pre-K this fall.

I’M THE SECRETARY AND ACCOUNTANT.

After I get Jessica settled, it’s time to create the household budgets. I actually enjoy doing this part. I don’t know if it’s the task of creating ledgers, or the the thrill of making financial miracles happen. Aren’t unexpected bills the best?

Handling business phone calls takes place in Le Master Bedroom. The downside of talking on the phone is that the sleep deprivation in my voice tends to shine through at some point.

I’M THE RECREATIONAL COORDINATOR.

I know there are parents that don’t believe in letting their kids watch much television. I’m not “parents”. With 6 kids, television has saved my life! I’d rather not have a conference call with Geico and my 4 year old.

Jessica constantly asks to watch Doc McStuffins. How many times have I watched the same three episodes of Doc McStuffins? “Time for your check-up! Time for your check-up!”

Sometimes Jessica will lie in an effort to spring me from my work. “Mom! My tv turned off!”.

As I walk to her room, I hear the familiar theme song, “Time for your check-up! Time for your check-up!”, followed by a tiny snicker. Why is she like this?

Playing “pretend” with dolls should be a crime. Somehow, I always end up with the doll who is missing hair. I also have to give the dolls voices. Jessica stays on my neck.

On a beautiful day, we might go outside. Jessica’s favorite activity is “Hide and Seek”. I love pretending that I don’t see her hiding behind that tree.

Julian has half days, so he gets off of the bus at 12pm. It’s time for lunch. While the kids are napping, I try to get some cleaning in.

I’M THE CHEF EXTRAORDINAIRE.

Before I know it, it’s 3:15pm. That means it’s time to cook dinner. On a good day, my family is getting a five-course meal. On a stressful day, everyone is eating a “big ole pot of spaghetti”, as my mother calls it. I’m constantly finding new ways to diversify my menus, but my kids are so picky. Donnie is just grateful to get a bite to eat. Bless his heart. My kids start getting off of the bus at 3:45, with the last child arriving home at 4:45pm. Dinner is on the table at 5pm.

I’M A TUTOR.

First of all, common core is from the works of the Satan. I have to relearn what my kids are learning in order to help them with homework. What the Hell is a number bond? I try to refrain from teaching my kids how I learned growing up because I don’t want to confuse them. I’ll just be confused instead. Donnie arrives home at 6:30pm, just in time to dodge the chaos.

I’M THE HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER.

It’s time for chores. Call it controversial, but I call it teaching responsibility. The kids will not die from sweeping a floor, trust me. My older kids have a set list of chores to do every evening. This lasts about 30 minutes…..unless one of them decides to throw dirty laundry in a closet or hide trash under a bed. Sigh!

I’M A GUIDANCE COUNSELOR AND MEDIATOR

Sometimes I notice that one or more of my children seem unusually quiet. They hate the repeated “Is everything okay?”. I genuinely want to know. Let’s figure it out! Sometimes school is difficult because of other kids or schoolwork. Sometimes one child may feel like he or she is getting a little less attention than the other.

Being the mediator is fun. How many fights have you had to break up? Do you love mediating stupid arguments? All of that comes with having multiple children. It’s annoying, but as siblings grow, they start getting on each others nerves. They still love each other, I promise.

DOWNTIME(sort of)

Once chores are done and booties are washed, my kids have earned electronics privileges. After overloading the WiFi bandwidth for an hour, my kids are sent to bed. This doesn’t mean they are sleeping. Julian and Joshua spend at least an hour jumping around and kicking the walls before the silence happens.

Now it’s time for me to get my life together before I lay down for the night. My “night” includes maybe 3 hours of sleep. As a matter of fact, I’m up at 3:00am writing this.

Being a stay-at-home parent is not for the selfish. It’s just another sacrifice that parents make for their families everyday. The reward will come one day. In the meantime, have a pitcher of margaritas on standby, and enjoy your kids before they start smelling themselves!

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

https://www.antoniasglamsc8pe.com

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Lifestyle

“Black-Owned”: Let’s Get Into Some Things!

This writing is dedicated to all of the black entrepreneurs who feel marginalized because their business isn’t “black” enough. You have probably seen those direct or indirect posts on social media. So much for “Unity in the Community”.

In a time of racial tension, the black community has resurged the sentiment that black people should only consume black-owned products. “We should be supporting each other!” With a few stipulations, of course…..

This latest wave had me revisiting the “crabs in a barrel” phrase because that’s exactly who we are. We claim to “love” and “support” our “brothers and sisters”, but we are also picking and choosing who is worthy of support within our community. We are congratulating on the forefront, but engaging in sabotaging behavior behind the scenes.

“Crabs in a barrel”

It’s no secret that I sell jewelry pieces under the name “GlamSc8pe”. I started “GlamSc8pe” as a way to earn extra money for my family. My short-term mission is to be able to help my husband pay off our debts so that we can find better housing and a better school system for our children. We have three children who have special needs. Two of those three children are severely autistic. We currently live in an area that has very little resources and money. This means that my children are not able to get all of the resources and help that they need.

My supplier for “GlamSc8pe” is Paparazzi Accessories. Paparazzi Accessories is not “black-owned”. This fact doesn’t qualify me as a “black-owned business”. That is, according to numerous black people on several social media platforms. This is just one scenario that I have seen scrutinized and deemed unworthy.

Before I get into some things, I just want everyone to know that you are not entitled to support for your business. I don’t care who you are. People are going to spend their dollar wherever they want to spend it.

Are you really buying from a “black-owned” business? Yes, you are creating a transaction from a black face, but did you check the pipeline? Do you know the suppliers? Did you know the supplier’s suppliers? Do you know where some of the revenue is really going?

Every business has at least one supplier. I don’t care if they create their own products or are selling products that they purchased. Unless someone is selling their own piss water, they have suppliers. If that direct supplier is black, do you think they checked who the supplier’s supplier is? Everyone is using something that is not black-owned to run their business. How does that make them different from me? I, a Black woman, purchased something that I profit from. Isn’t that called “Business”?

Where did you get your seed money to start your business? Did that money come from a corporation that is not black-owned? This could be a paycheck from a current or former employer. Did you use that stimulus check? Did you go to a bank for a loan?

You have a building, correct? This could be a home that you are leasing or a building that you are renting. The revenue from your customers is going to whoever owns that place. Not to mention, taxes have to be paid on that building by somebody. Let’s not forget the utilities. How is the electric bill getting paid? Who is paying for water and sewage?

You need supplies to create your product. Where does the fruit come from? Where did the seeds come from to create the fruit? You make shirts? Did you buy those shirts for wholesale price? Who was paid the cheap labor price? Jeff Bezos didn’t get rich on his own. Chances are that you purchased some supplies from Amazon. Was the third party seller black? Well, that third party has to pay Mr. Bezos a portion of his or her revenue. How about your skin care line? We could do this all day…..

How do you handle your transactions? Do you use Square App? Square App was co-founded by Jack Dorsey. Jack Dorsey owns twitter. Square App charges transaction fees after a certain amount of money that is exchanged. Do you use Cash App? Cash App is an extension of Square. Who does your business bank with? BB&T, Wells Fargo, Bank Of America, Chime……

You need to promote your business, correct? What is the easiest way to promote your business? You got it! The use of social media. Where are you advertising it? Facebook and Instagram have been great options. Those platforms are owned by a white billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg. I stated earlier that Twitter is owned by Jack Dorsey. How do you think these people are getting rich?! Social media has been lucrative.

There is so much irony in the fact that someone who screams “Support black businesses!” would use their Samsung or Apple device to tell me on Facebook, Twitter, or instagram that I don’t have a black-owned business.

Dear consumer, when you are shopping “black-owned”, just know that they are sending their revenue to a non black-owned company. There’s nothing wrong with that. I just wanted to point out the hypocrisy. Somewhere down the line, a business stops being “black-owned”.

To the people who slight direct sales consultants:

If my supplier doesn’t make qualify me as “black-owned”, what does that make you?

We don’t have to slight each other to support a cause. We all have a mission. We are all trying to survive by providing for ourselves or others.

Don’t call me your “sis” with the same tongue that you badmouth me with. Don’t look down on my business because we hustle differently. Look down on my business because I served you bad business. We all hustle differently, but that doesn’t make us any less.

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

https://www.antoniasglamsc8pe.com

Categories
Autism: From the outside looking in.

Explaining This To My Kids Who Aren’t On The Spectrum.

One thing that I think is really challenging for me is having to explain to my daughters about their brothers’ challenges. Donnie and I are still trying to learn our sons, so we can only give them as much information as we know.

I don’t like to Google specific behaviors and decide if they are specific to my sons. Everything that you find will be textbook anyway. I want to know my sons individually. I want to know how they learn. I want to know how they cope. I want to know what makes them mad. I want to know what soothes them. I know who my kids are, but their behaviors constantly change.

It took me awhile to realize that I need to be considerate to the feelings of all of my children. As a parent, I need to have compassion for my children who have special needs and my children who don’t have special needs.

I try explain to my daughters all of the time about what is going on with their brothers. Jessica is too young to understand. She treats Julian and Joshua like her children, and is best friends with Avery. She’s so cute. Ariana and Amariyah understand some things, but their understanding doesn’t stop them from asking a lot of questions or being concerned.

Their understanding also doesn’t make them exempt from frustration. The other day, Julian had several meltdowns. That’s pretty normal for him. He then proceeded to go into Ariana’s room and smash her piggy bank.

My first reaction was shock. I mean, if you hear ceramic break, it’s pretty startling. When Ariana realized that her piggy bank was destroyed, she was livid. I immediately became irritated with Ariana because in that moment, I expected her to be sympathetic to her brother’s feelings.

Julian, Joshua, and Avery have destroyed a lot of property out of anger, excitement, pica, and curiously.

I had to have a “come to Jesus” moment. Ariana is 12 years old. She is a moody, emotional, pre-teen. She is also in that annoying phase. It’s a lot to ask a child not to get mad at their siblings, but it’s a bigger feat to ask them to be understanding towards their autistic siblings.

It’s a lot to ask a child to understand why we can’t attend certain events. It’s a lot to ask a child to understand why we can’t stay anywhere for too long. It’s a lot to ask a child to understand why these behaviors are normal for their sibling(s). It’s a lot to explain that our children with special needs require more attention.

I always have a moment when I need to check myself. Itself not just hard on me. It’s not about my husband or myself. This is about our children.

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

https://www.antoniasglamsc8pe.com

Categories
Autism: From the outside looking in. Lifestyle Parenting

Dinner And A Show: Why going out to eat is hectic!

Having children with severe autism is difficult at home, but it is also difficult outside of the home.

Julian and Joshua will not sit still during any meal. When plates are placed on the table, Joshua will immediately climb on the table, and pick the food that he wants off of each plate. After that, he will jump off of the table and hop away.

Julian will take whatever food he wants off of his plate and run to the nearest corner with his tablet. Sometimes he will come back to steal someone’s drink.

This happens every single day during any meal. It’s exhausting because the other kids won’t guard their plates. Not to mention, naked Joshua is not what we crave to see while we are eating. I expressed before how my boys don’t like wearing clothes or diapers….

Anyway, the last peaceful dinner outing that my family had was when my twins were newborns. This was the Mother’s Day after they were born. My husband took us all to Chili’s. The only issues we had stemmed from Julian throwing his food on the floor, and Avery spilling his drink. He always does that for some reason.

My golden rule is to leave the waiter no less than $20 for a tip. I do this because kids are messy, and I used to bus tables. It’s not fun. Have you ever had to clean corn kernels off of the floor?

The food was good. The trip was smooth sailing. I had to feed the twins, obviously. We had a great day.

Last year, we took a family trip to Ruby Tuesday for Mother’s Day after a couple of decent trips to Golden Corral.

It wasn’t a fun experience. Yes, the boys had on clothes. My husband and I were prepared with snacks, cups of milk, and fully charged tablets. Unfortunately, that was not good enough that day. Julian and Joshua didn’t want to sit in their booster seats. After they tried to destroy the blinds, Julian made his way behind the bar, and Joshua decided to munch on the kiddie menu crayons.

Attempts to redirect them were disastrous. The tantrums were bad, but the stares were worse. I had that familiar, idiotic grin on my face as I was staring back at the other bewildered dinner guests. I hate that I always have to explain why my sons have meltdowns in public. Why can’t people just mind their business? I know they weren’t paying for dinner and a show, but why I just wish everyone understood autism.

Not gonna happen….

Donnie and I were each holding a screaming and flailing toddler. We didn’t even notice that our food had arrived. By the time we got the boys partially calmed, the food was cold.

At that point, I was ready to go. Donnie took all of the kids to the car. I stayed behind to straighten up our mess and take care of the check.

“Never again!” I screamed in my mind.

We did it again…..

A couple of months later, we took our annual vacation to Myrtle Beach. I was excited to try Joe’s Crab Shack. I literally could not shut the hell up until we got to this place.

After a morning of shopping and recreation at Broadway at the Beach, Donnie and I freshened the younger kids up and we headed for the restaurant. Right outside of Joe’s Crab Shack was a vendor who was selling these yelping toy dogs. Jessica desperately wanted one. I was about to say “Hell no”, but Jessica has this charm about her. I reluctantly took out my wallet, and purchased a toy fo for each of the younger kids. These dogs didn’t even come with batteries. It’s all about money. Sigh!

We made our way into the restaurant. I decided to have my family sit at one of the picnic tables outside. It was hot, but I figured that the kids would be too distracted by the playground.

After 20 minutes, we had still not seen a waiter. Julian and Joshua were starting to lose patience. I was too, but I understand that things can happen i food service.

The meltdowns started after another 20 minutes of waiting. Julian and Joshua started throwing tantrums on the ground. I started panicking. Donnie went to find a waitress. When Donnie returned, we were relocated to a table inside. The cool air felt heavenly!

We strapped Julian and Joshua into high chairs and gave them crayons and paper. Another 15 minutes passed, and we had still not seen a water. I was fed up. Julian and Joshua started crying again. This time, they refused consolation. I located a waiter and explained to her that I had autistic children and need to eat and go.

We finally got our drink order after an hour of waiting. Several waiters were scrambling to get our food orders. By then, there were crayons all over the floor, and the boys were screaming and failing. Donnie’s desperate attempts to console them were in vain. I was trying my best to avoid the stares that I felt, while reassuring my other children.

An idea clicked in my head. Julian kept throwing his crayons on the floor, so I thought to let the boys out of their chairs. I let them lay on the floor. That seemed to do the truck. They both began sorting the crayons. It was quiet. There were a lot of judgmental stares. I know people were thinking, “why would she let her kids lay down on that dirty ass floor?!” I get it. I would ha e thought the same thing years ago, but at that time I would’ve given anything for my boys to be content. God made soap and water, and God made washers and dryers. They were going to be fine.

We finally got our food and were able to eat. The food wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t anything that I couldn’t make at home. However, I wasn’t going to make that food at home, and I was just grateful to have food at that time.

Though Julian and Joshua had meltdowns, and our service wasn’t that great, I slapped that $20 tip on the table. No matter what happened, waiters have a difficult job, and my kids’ mess made it that much harder. We will never eat out again though(I’m probably lying).

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

https://www.antoniasglamsc8pe.com

Categories
Autism: From the outside looking in.

Is My Autistic Child A Burden?

This is the question that I have for our local school system.

I had the worst time enrolling Julian into Exceptional Children pre-Kindergarten(EC Pre-K). The original director of Pre-K was retiring, so she had to be replaced. I really loved the original director because she was one, of a couple of people, who was really instrumental in expediting the enrollment process for Joshua.

I initially began the process of enrolling Julian into the public school system in the Spring of 2019. Naturally, he was referred for EC Pre-K. I did the usual paperwork, plus some. Do you understand how tired I am of filling out ABAS-3 booklets?!

I didn’t hear anything back after a few weeks, so I made some phone calls and sent a few emails. Then, I made some more phone calls and sent more emails. I made even more calls and sent even more emails.

I felt like I was getting the run around. Before I knew it, Joshua was getting on the bus for his second term of EC Pre-K. It was September. Julian was still not in school, and there was still no movement with his paperwork.

I talk to Joshua’s teacher on a regular basis. She is a gem. Before we hang up, she always tells me, “Let me know if you need anything.”.

I ended up confiding in Joshua’s teacher about Julian’s situation. She assured me that she would find out what was going on. That, she did. In a matter of weeks, Julian’s evaluations and meetings began, and he was in school by February. Because of capacity limits, Julian was sent to a different school from Joshua. However, they were going to be riding the same bus.

On his first day, I woke Julian a little bit earlier than I usually wake Joshua. Julian is a fighter, and he doesn’t realize that he’s going somewhere until his shoes are being put on. Joshua is pretty used to the routine, but we still have some bad mornings.

Julian and Joshua both never go to sleep until at least an hour after scheduled bedtime. They share a room, which is secured with a child safety doorknob. If I don’t keep their door closed at night, they will roam around the house. They both know how to unlock and open the main door of the house, so I do this for my piece of mind.

Julian and Joshua’s bus ride to school is a lengthy one, so I have one of my older girls prepare half of a granola bar and a half cup of milk for their breakfast. The boys receive a full breakfast once they get to school.

When the bus arrived, Julian was hesitant to get on. This was for two reasons: This was a new experience for Julian, and he usually doesn’t like to climb up or down steps.

My fifth child was out of the house. Cue the pitter patter of tiny feet. Jessica wanted me to turn on Doc McStuffins. “Time for your check-up! Time for your check-up!”

I went about my normal routine. At around 11:30, I noticed a flood of missed calls on my phone. Donnie’s routine lunchtime call was coming through before I was able to figure out who the phone number belonged to.

Donnie received the same phone calls. He told me that they were from Julian’s teacher. She wanted to let us know that she was sending Julian home on the 12pm bus. Julian was having a bad day.

When Julian arrived home, I immediately checked his book bag. I found a note from his teacher, saying that she wanted to have a phone conference. I also noted that Julian received a red mark in his agenda. Why is there a color system for behavior in EC Pre-K?

I called Julian’s teacher the next morning. She detailed the behaviors that Julian displayed at school the day before. Apparently, he was crying a lot, he was eating out of the trash can instead of eating his regular meals, and he wouldn’t walk with the rest of the class. His teacher emphasized that she could not carry Julian around because she had to tend to the other students as well.

These behaviors that she was describing were not foreign to me. As a matter of fact, they shouldn’t have been foreign to the teacher either. I literally wrote her a synopsis of Julian’s personality and behaviors, months before he started school.

The second and third days of school were no better. Julian’s teacher told me that she was going to cut his school days in half so that he could get used to school. I reluctantly agreed. The fourth and fifth days were no better. Julian’s school days were cut even further to three days a week.

Everyday was a new was a new complaint about his behavior. Everyday revealed a red color on his agenda. There was another phone conference. Julian’s teacher told me that he needed one-on-one education, and that “the county doesn’t provide that”.

I was really starting to feel like my child is a burden to the school system. Does his behavior offend you that bad? Does Julian being himself offend you that bad? This just affirms why I barely have a social life. Maybe I’m better off homeschooling my baby.

Unfortunately, I live in a county that doesn’t have much money or resources. My family lives in this county because the cost of living suits our budget. Why does my child have to be given scraps? Our governments will find money when it’s convenient for them, but my autistic child can’t receive better supports because we live in a “poor” county?

There was one day that Julian received a purple color. Finally! I was so happy to see that! It turned out that he wasn’t feeling well that day. He didn’t do anything but lie down all day.

It turns out that Julian had the flu. He got sicker by the day. I held him out of school for over two weeks. Not once did his teacher call to check in. Now, I’m not saying that teachers are obligated to make house calls. However, if your student was missing from school for more than two weeks, wouldn’t you be the least bit curious?

Maybe Julian is too much like Julian. Maybe my son’s unwillingness to adapt annoys you. Is that why my autistic son a burden to you?

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

https://www.antoniasglamsc8pe.com