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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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Lifestyle Parenting

The Cursing Parent? Let’s Talk About That Sh*t!

First of all, cursing doesn’t make you a bad person at all. Honestly, I don’t even know how these choice words even got their bad stigma. All I know is that when someone hits a pinky toe on the wall corner, their first instinct isn’t to yell, “Oh for heaven’s sake!”. Some people feel embarrassed because they “slipped” and said a curse word. The truth is, it’s natural to drop an F-bomb when one experiences such excruciating pain.

Okay…. so what does it mean when you curse in front of your own children? It means absolutely nothing!

Look, Spongbob Squarepants called curse words “sentence enhancers”. There were no truer words spoken. Nothing drives your point across quite like “Sit your ass down!”. Don’t act like your kids’ behavior doesn’t frustrate you. Don’t you get tired of telling your child the same thing over and over again? Eventually, frustration is going to win.

When I was younger, I never heard my mother say a curse word. My daddy wore that crown. My mother wouldn’t even let her kids tell each other to “shut up”. After raising kids for more than 30 years, my mom has let the sparks fly. It’s refreshing, honestly. I mean, you are made to believe that there is a bed waiting for you in Hell for using these words.

I actually went through a couple of periods of a vocabulary cleansing. It was more of a “spiritual cleansing” in my eyes. At that time, I felt like God wasn’t going to bless me or I was damned to Hell for cursing. Oh brother!

Cursing doesn’t have to have emotion behind it. Let me introduce you to the casual curser. The casual curser has curse words imbedded in their vocabulary. They might even be “doing the most” by using 90% curse words in a simple sentence. Leave those people alone. Have you ever played Mario Kart with your very experienced kids? I rest my case.

Unless you keep your kids locked up and plugged up, they are going to hear cursing from somewhere.

Yes, my kids hear me curse. Yes, one of my kids has repeated a curse word. I took Avery to enroll in pre-kindergarten 4 years ago. I was signing his paperwork when he suddenly let the F-bomb fly repeatedly. I was embarrassed. No, my child shouldn’t have been cursing. The administrator laughed the incident off, but I could tell that she was uncomfortable. I apologized profusely because one thing that I don’t want to do is make someone feel uncomfortable or disrespected. There are people who believe in something so strongly that they will use the “I’ll show you” approach against the opposition. Those people are assholes.

Do I want my kids(at their current ages) cursing to other people? No. Are they doing it in places like school? Most likely. I never uttered any curse words in my parents’ house, as a child. You bet your ass I did at school. The first time I remember cursing was in 3rd grade.

Donnie and I curse often when we have conversations. We aren’t fighting. We just casually throw those bad boys in there. One thing that I love about Donnie is his sensitivity. He also doesn’t like to offend or disrespect people either. There are certain words or phrases that rarely will or never will leave my mouth. Certain words and phrases just bother me. Some of those words are synonyms for a vagina. Whew, girl! No ma’am….

I believe that most of the behaviors that children, who eventually become adults, are learned behaviors. I’d rather my child learn a curse word than to learn hate any day. I’m not sitting around cursing my kids out. If you are worried that your child will be a bad person because of words, you have nothing to worry about.

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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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

My Return To My 100% Natural Hair…..

I say “return” because my hair was natural at one point. Everyone’s hair was or still is….

My mother relaxed my hair for the first time when I was 12. I remember my parents arguing about the issue. My father was against relaxers, but my mother just wanted our hair to be more manageable. I didn’t complain. I hated getting my hair done for hours. I hated the feeling of combs breaking against my scalp because the teeth were caught on a knot. I also longed to shake my hair “like the white girls”. I didn’t know much about my hair texture when I was a child…..

I was excited to get that relaxer. I could show off the true length of my hair, and tuck it behind my ears without resistance.

My first relaxed hairstyle was a roller set. I was pissed off. I wanted straight, flowing, hair. I was pissed off at my mom. I combed my curls out and my hair was frizzy. Now it was my mom’s turn to be pissed.

I started putting in my own relaxers when I turned 18. I put one in every couple of months. I was able to straighten my hair the way I wanted to. That way left me with creases in my hair….

By the time I was 21, I started experimenting with shorter haircuts. I knew that my hair would grow back. I eventually cut back relaxers to once a year. I really missed the volume in my hair. I naturally have thick hair, but with the relaxer, my hair is much thinner and very fragile.

In 2018, I did it. I did the big chop. I had 12 inches of my hair cut off. I was inspired to make this decision after consulting a friend and watch several YouTube videos. I had also just done a chop on Ariana’s hair because she wanted her natural curls back. I didn’t want her to feel alone. I washed my hair and put my husband up to the task of cutting it.

My first impression of my new style was regret. What was I going to do with it? My hair was coiled in the back, but loose and wavy in the front. I figured that Donnie had left some relaxed hair in the front of my head, so I cut another inch. Nope, my natural hair in the front was just loose and wavy.

The positive thing about my natural hair was that I was able to twist my hair in some cute styles. The negative thing was that I shed a lot of hair. I was shedding more hair than I was when I had a relaxer.

I was doing weekly washes and twists. I never put heat in my hair, except when I deep conditioned. It was the same cycle: wash, deep condition, regular condition, detangle, trim, oil, leave-in conditioner, custard, twist. Pairing the products perfectly was rough.

I was burned out after awhile. I had four heads of hair to do in total. Two of those four heads has 4c type hair. I’m not good with doing 4c hair. Having multiple children means that you have to study multiple hair types. This was not for me. I needed to get all of this hair done quickly. With so many kids, I didn’t have the time or patience for my hair.

After a year and a half of completely natural hair, I slapped a relaxer in my hair. There was something about blow drying my hair and then being able to just slap it in a bun. The only thing that I regret is that my hair doesn’t hold moisture as easily as it did when it was natural.

It’s been a year since my relaxer. I think I might hold out a little longer.

I’m not opposed to my natural hair state. I wouldn’t mind trying it again. I just don’t have a lot of time to devote to my hair like I use to. One day I might go back. For now, the once a year relaxer works for me. I get just enough of the benefit of manageability.

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

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. Lifestyle Parenting

A Day With Joshua And Julian

By now, everyone knows that I have children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. I personally see them as more than their Autism. Through my lens, they are beautiful, and I love to learn more about my boys every day.

Julian has the cutest cheek bones. They make his smile contagious. If you hear THUD! THUD!, that’s Julian kicking a wall. If you see a diaper or food smashed into the floor, you will know that Julian was there.

Julian’s favorite thing to do is to play with a tablet. Let me correct myself. Julian’s favorite thing to do is to play with multiple tablets at once. Every time he gets really excited, he lets out this ear-piercing scream. Joshua will sometimes watch what Julian is watching on one of his many occupied tablets, but Julian doesn’t like that. Julian does not want an audience while he is controlling up to three tablets at once. He will become agitated, and sometimes it’s best to watch out.

Julian also doesn’t like to wear anything. I feel like I waste money buying diapers, but I also don’t like when he marks the floor. Speaking of “marks”, whenever Julian gets ahold of a writing utensil, it’s over for the walls.

Julian walks on his tiptoes whenever he isn’t wearing shoes. His calves are sculpted! While Julian doesn’t verbally communicate, he will be quick to hand over his cup when he is thirsty. He also knows that he is going somewhere if we put his shoes on his feet. He will fight us if we get him dressed, but all is well when the shoes are put on.

On a bad day, Julian wants to be by himself. Sometimes he will hide under his bed or in a corner. Sometimes he cries for some inexplicable reason, and refuses consolation. We leave him to cry it out, and it hurts.

Julian is an extremely picky eater. He enjoys pizza and chicken nuggets. He only sits at the table long enough to see what is on his plate. Then, he will take whatever he likes and run. If you leave a cup, bottle, or can lying around, he will snatch it up. Yes, he even tries to grab food and drinks from strangers in public.

Baths are no problem for him. Julian loves being in water. Having his teeth brushed is another story…..

Joshua is a really vibrant boy. If you hear STOMP! STOMP! across the floor, that’s Joshua running or hopping across the floor. If you see your fruit missing, you will know that Joshua was there.

One of Joshua’s favorite things to do is to play with his tablet. Joshua has a routine everyday after school. When he walks through the door, the first thing he does is run to my room to grab his tablet. Then, he finds Jessica’s baby blanket. I don’t know what it is, but Joshua loves that blanket. Maybe it’s the texture. His teacher has told me that he will not go to sleep without a blanket over his head. After Joshua has his blanket, he will go to the dryer to retrieve some lint to chew on. Lint is not the only thing that Joshua likes to chew. He will also chew the collar out of his clothes. I have tried to purchase sensory jewelry, but Joshua just prefers his clothes and lint. Even though he is home during the stay-at-home order, Joshua still practices these behaviors.

He loves to play songs by the Cocomelon and Super Simple Songs YouTube channels. When Joshua plays with his tablet, he will close the door, and slide the tablet halfway underneath the door. If the door is left opened, Joshua will slam it closed. Unfortunately, Julian might be on the other end of the door, ready to steal his tablet. Joshua has a hard time defending himself. Whenever something is taken from him, he will completely melt down instead of defending his territory.

Joshua can’t verbally communicate his thoughts, but if he doesn’t like a program on the television, he will unplug it. If you are doing something that he likes, he will grab your hand as a signal to “do it again”. When he gets excited, Joshua will make this motion with his hands. I can’t describe it, but it’s like he is kind of hitting his chest, over and over. He will also hop around like a frog.

When it’s time to eat, good luck getting Joshua to sit still. He will take a bite, then run around, before coming back for another bite. His favorite foods are fruit and pasta.

Like Julian, Joshua loves to jump off of high surfaces, such as tables and chairs. I’m so fearful for his ankles and knees. He doesn’t seem to be bothered though. Don’t leave a stack of anything around Joshua because he will tear it down.

Bath time is a sad time because Joshua often has to be talked through a bath. He hates being put in water. I’m not sure why, but he has always been this way. He does enjoy having his teeth brushed. Don’t try to pry Joshua’s mouth open, though. I swear that boy can bite through metal.

Joshua loves to sit in my lap. It doesn’t matter what I am doing, he will plop in my lap, and sometimes fall asleep. How can I say “no”?

In this home, we have to replace a television every 6 months. Between Joshua, and Julian, someone is bound to get excited, and either throw something at or hit the television.

Because of this, I buy very cheap, or used televisions for certain rooms. I could buy a tall TV stand, but Julian and Joshua have a history of knocking over tall structures. My pessimistic mind automatically goes to the worst case scenario.

One time, Donnie super glued the boys’ TV to their dresser, and they still managed to knock it over.

Going out can be a nightmare. The boys love to ride, so traveling is pretty smooth. What happens when we exit the car can either be easy or a nightmare.

When we go in a store, I will sit the boys either in a basket, or in their stroller. I try not to use the stroller as much because Joshua likes to drag his feet on the ground. I make sure that have tablets, milk, and a snack.

When we go to a restaurant, it is a nightmare. One day, we went out to eat as a family. We were on a vacation. Donnie and I let the kids play at a nearby playground before we ate. Despite our preparedness, Joshua and Julian were not having it. I don’t know if they were sleepy, or if the atmosphere was too much for them to handle. They both cried loudly and nothing would calm them.

I noticed that Julian kept throwing his kiddie crayons on the floor. I took him out of his booster seat and let him get down on the floor. He stopped crying. I did the same for Joshua. He too, stopped crying. They both laid on the floor and lined up their crayons.

I knew everyone was staring, but I didn’t care. I know it was gross to let my boys lay on the floor, but I wanted them to feel comfortable.

I was asked “What do you see for (Joshua’s/Julian’s) future?”. I don’t think I can answer that question because it seems selfish. Sometimes I do think of the real possibility that they may never be able to navigate life alone. This doesn’t mean that they won’t have a productive future. Maybe to Julian and Joshua, “productive” means beings able to communicate effectively.

My other kids are probably envisioning a future conspiracy to put me away in a home…..We’ll see how this goes.

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
Lifestyle

My Autoimmunity: Apart Of Me

It started with a sudden outbreak of eczema when I was 12. It was everywhere, head-to-toe. Some rashes felt like sandpaper, some felt like leather, and some had a bumpy texture. Imagine the itch. It was a miserable experience that I would go on to live with for 6 years.

The lymph node on the side of my neck was comparable to the size of a golf ball. It didn’t hurt. It was just a big, ugly, protruding gland. I had noticed it’s formation for a long time, but I wasn’t really alarmed until I noticed it’s growth.

My mother was very proactive. Every time she noticed, or I pointed out a symptom, she was writing in a journal. I remember how she missed so much work taking me to different specialists. It was hard to tell that my mother had a job at one point.

I was seeing dermatologists, endocrinologists, rheumatologists, hematologists, you name it. I might have even seen an oncologist at one point. My eczema had gotten so bad that it was feared that I had skin cancer. I was sent to the children’s hospital, where I had a skin biopsy. No cancer was detected. I didn’t really understand what was being discussed at these appointments. I just knew that I was I was always having tests run, procedures, surgeries, and hospital stays.

At 13, I had an operation to remove the lymph node in my neck. This was my first surgery. I remember my parents arguing over my upcoming surgery. My mother just wanted answers, but my father was worried that I would have a giant scar on my neck. I ended up having the surgery at a hospital on a Saturday. I remember being terrified. My father had to go to work, but he was there before I went into the operating room. He kissed me on the forehead before I disappeared behind those heavy double doors.

I woke up with a stiff neck. My mother was there, waiting at my bedside. After spending some time in recovery, I went home.

I had a follow-up appointment on Monday with some ologist. I remember being whisked out of the room. My doctor asked me to go take a walk while she talked to my mother. After awhile, the appointment was over. We loaded into the white Dodge Caravan and went home. At least, I thought we were going home.

Our destination was the hospital. I immediately went into panic mode.

I started crying, and I refused to get out of the van. My mother had to call my father to calm me down. It didn’t work. My mother got me out of the van anyway. She checked me in at the registration desk, and we rode the elevator to my room. This was my first hospital stay.

I was in the hospital for several weeks. I hated it. Every time I turned around, I was being stuck with a needle, or wheeled to a different room for testing. The hospital was 45 minutes away from home, and my mother tried her best to make it as much as she could. She still had kids to care for at home. My mother would bring me food because I hated the hospital food. One morning , I woke up to her by my bedside. I wasn’t expecting to see her face. That’s when I learned that I had a medical emergency in my sleep. My dad worked about 15 minutes away from the hospital, so he would come see me after work. Sometimes I didn’t notice because it was very early in the morning. During one of his visits, I woke up to the smell of chicken. My daddy was throwing down on some KFC. This was at a period of time when I was on a strict liquid diet. I was mad. All my father could say was, “I’m sorry, Antonia. I’m hungry.”.

I was in a children’s unit, so I was able to play video games and interact with other patients. There were even computers for kids to do online schoolwork.

All of this time, I had missed so much school. I missed several months of 8th grade and several months of 9th grade. I was homeschooled two days out of the week. My mother would drive me to the library to meet with my teacher.

Returning to an actual classroom in 9th grade was an odd experience. It seemed that no one knew why I suddenly dropped off of the face of that planet. It took me awhile to get readjusted and reacquainted. I was still dealing with severe eczema, which made me feel very self conscious. Some days it hurt to walk because my skin was so dry. Some days my skin would crack and bleed. My skin itched so bad that I would scratch my living skin off. My skin had gotten so thin that it didn’t even hurt. I still have scars from that. My skin would literally evaporate moisture. It still does, honestly. I almost never exposed skin that wasn’t on my face or hands because I was ashamed of my scars and patches. Even when I visited family in Florida, my extremities were covered. I didn’t care what the weather was.

I was trying to have a normal social life, but I was just so awkward. Let’s just face it though, nobody was checking for me before I got sick. Only a few close friends knew what I was dealing with. Those same few friends visited me when I was home bound.

I had another surgery in 10th grade. This time, a lymph node was removed from under my arm. This surgery was outpatient, and I went back to school the following Monday.

According to my medical records, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 15 and Lupus when I was 16. My mother was really good about keeping up with important papers…. Maybe she was really bad at throwing things away.

My eczema cleared by the time I was 18. My mother was able to find a Rheumatologist who recommended a treatment combination that actually worked. I still had occasional rashes, but nothing worth crying about.

I had no major flares until after I had Avery. I remember always feeling sick and in pain. I tried to stay at my job through all of this, but I always felt dizzy and uncomfortable. This time, I wasn’t pregnant. I ended up quitting my job, and I was home bound again. A few friends/coworkers came to visit me during that time. I went to see a Rheumatologist for the first time in years. She was a very nice doctor. I carried all of my medical records with me. The student doctor browsed the thick folders. I told her what some of my symptoms were. One symptom was something I never experienced before. I had hard lumps beneath my skin. The student doctor gently told me that they were due to my weight. They were not.

My actual doctor walked back into the room and examined me. After a few questions, she ordered bloodwork and gave me a prescription.

About a week later, I received an email that confirmed both of my diagnoses. I was given another prescription for a steroid. I’m no stranger to steroids. I took my first one in 8th grade. After several months, I was able to get my life back on track.

Today, I am feeling like myself. I still have flares, but they have been manageable. My worst flares are triggered stress. When I’m not feeling well, I feel like I’ve been run over. I’m achy, swollen, my lungs hurt, my rash appears, and I have no energy. I have to force myself out of bed on days when Donnie goes to work. When I’m not having a flare, I feel pretty good. Arthritis will always cause the occasional ache or pain, but my joints are still functioning well.

Just because you don’t see my sickness, that doesn’t mean I am not sick. You can’t see how my body attacks me internally. My immune system is literally my enemy. I can have the same common cold for many months.

God is good, however. He has been very good to me. I am still able to live a pretty normal life. My joints are on fire this morning, but I’m about to get on my bike and have a productive day.