Asparagus. That is the lighthearted nickname we have created for our son’s ‘special’ medical diagnosis – Asperger’s Disorder. I can say that now. I am ready to talk. You see, I have not written anything in quite some time. I have not been posting any new recipes, have not excitedly announced Loren’s new initiatives to begin her acting career here on this blog, not updated on all the daily family and home goings-on, not ranted over anxious family gatherings that have taken place, not un-earthed feelings of depth on any level, just keeping afloat. Where the first twenty were about survival and the last ten were about finding myself and identifying with new and unfamiliar roles and walking through birth and loss, this year, my thirtieth year, has been about recognition, coming to terms, and healing. We not only saved Sadie and Lucy’s lives in the last few months, but we are reclaiming our own.
For the past year, since last April, we have not only been in the thick of a job crisis and in the sixth consecutive year of remodeling our home, but have been on a journey to figure out why our home life is so chaotic despite all of our tremendous efforts to protect and nurture it. Just because something has become “normal” to us, does not mean it is or that it works. That said, we have been quietly seen for regular group therapy two to three times each month, and have had Nate thoroughly evaluated by three individual specialists, and have done much work inside the parenting trenches during these confusing and intimate twelve months.
While our facebooks detail the basic synopsis of each day so that we do not loose touch altogether, we are spending far more time getting to know one another again with new information. We are patting ourselves on the back for recognizing needs and facing them bravely no matter who believed in us or supports us now. We have been taking more care to appreciate all the little things we loved before, only with more respect and love than we could with the knowledge we had then. It has become an exercise of will, to constantly infuse our lives with respect for each person’s individual needs in the battleground of conflicting personalities that is our home, but it is something we’ve always strived for and will continue to.
So our oldest is an “Aspie.” Nate has always been unique, so have all three of our children, as much as any child is, but he being different further still. Nate’s “label” became official in March but was suspected in final impressions by his first specialist last August. After a trial round of meds, a trip to the hospital during one infamous tantrum of the many, and more internal restructuring of our everyday life, we can now say we are okay with the outcome of Nate’s journey so far. Nathan is so many things to us: caring, sweet, thoughtful, creative, smart, funny, interesting, quirky, picky eater, and admittedly not a very good hugger, but this label only means that he sees life differently and evolves in social atmospheres differently. He has difficulty reading people and they him. But what he does see is incredible. He notices things that others would never give a thought. He sees every physical or linear object with the lens of a microscope. He absorbs large volumes of information and can recite it back. Nate sees the world in a structured way and things have to have purpose and construct. Actions are right or wrong. He is both complicated to a fault and yet refreshingly simple.
Meanwhile our daughter is struggling with an Attention Deficit that is undeniably frustrating to both her and us while putting her half a reading level behind at school. Yup, the school we have come to have a very strained relationship with thanks to issues with Nate; The one school available to her for grades pre-K to 4th grade. Lucky for her, Loren’s Daddy and Uncle have passed on this hereditary link and so she too has the amazing gift of being ten steps ahead of everyone else, super smart and yet so underestimated. She is impulsive and charming, popular and fun, entertaining and sweet, but she is always in a struggle to meet her full potential when it hinges on holding her attention on something longer than 10-15 minute intervals. She can easily pioneer through “grey area” situations and binges on any food that is knowingly “bad” for her or high in sugar. We joke that she has never walked a day in her life. It’s true. She jumps, skips, hops, pirouettes, runs, bounces, but never walks. She is so very talented in so many ways but such a polar opposite to her older sibling, it is remarkable. Loren, who has always wanted to be in show business and the art world, has begun to get the medical help she needs to reach her long term goals, alongside her older brother this year. She has begun her own website which is still under construction, has added acting classes to her busy afterschool activity list and has already starting taking auditions in hopes of landing an agent before long. She continues her very own journey with us at her side and has decided it is now time to make her room “more her.”
Gabe is our resident bully. Without him, I’d be lost and with him, I want to rip my hair out, lol…He is painfully “normal” with all the nuances normality brings. He has the regular brand of 3-5 year old tantrums and often says things off-the-cuff that make you roll onto the floor laughing when you really shouldn’t. He is a an overtly physical child that loves rough-and-tumble play, loves to hum while he eats, loves to eat! Gabe also gives the best hugs and his chubby little hands wrap around you the warmest of all. As long as he thinks it is his idea, he is game for pretty much any schedule, meal or adventure, but he is more than okay with getting the run-down beforehand too as he likes to plan when it is available to him. He is naturally good at almost anything he tries and everyone instantly is drawn to and likes him, though he is stubborn and won’t back down on anything. In sum, he is his father (with higher concentration level), reincarnated. Thank God for this miracle to complete our family.
And so we are, just a family, an every day complicated, busy family. "Special Needs" are just needs. We are still moving forward, one step at a time, and the future looks good. For sake of time and my own sanity, I won’t bother filling in all the blanks on my recent foodie finds, current tv, film and book reviews, commentary on the latest news or even all the spring work on the house, I will just keep the focus on this page, where it is in my heart – on them. …Now here we are, all caught up.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Meet Sadie & Lucy, sisters scheduled for lethal injection at 10am on January 27th in the city kill shelter. Their crime: Being abandoned and homeless. Their punishment: death. Since we could not let that happen to these precious little girls, we rescued them just in time to bring them home where they have been our “foster pups” for the last three weeks. So glad we did!
Lucy is the older, wiser “sage-like” sister. She had been a mother too at one time. She is camera-shy and quiet. She is a smooth and silky chocolate brown with deep warm, loving eyes. Lucy does not take any silliness from her younger sibling and while allowing her playtime and appeasing her in this way, she also takes adoption very seriously and does not allow her little sis to get naughty, growl, or play too rough. She immediately polices her into submission and reminds her of her status as “alpha.” She prefers the company of the other “alpha” in the house ;-)
Sadie is a longer-legged, lanky and younger blonde beauty with a constant alertness, cool attitude and playful, child-like nature. While she has less patience for the children holding her, she is the first to seek out their attention and praise and prefers their company to that of the adults. Sadie is also a great “fetcher” and has already executed several new toys, extracting the inner “squeeker” with expert precision. She is always very proud of herself and struts around in front of the camera like any other “show-off.”
Both girls are very loyal, sweet, and loving. Both have now been spayed and are recovering well. Both have been mostly potty-trained and are now on a grain-free, probiotic-infused diet. They are great and while we have not decided to keep them forever yet, are so happy that these two girls did not meet a premature end on a cold cement slab, scared and alone. We are committed to making sure they live a long and pampered life from here on out.
And remember...you can make the difference in a pet's life today! Adopt or Foster a pound puppy near you! To learn more, please visit http://www.spcai.org or search local shelters and rescue operations at http://www.petfinder.com
Posted by JT at 8:33 AM
Monday, February 8, 2010
So much has happened since I updated last. I have been so very busy. The book is underway, at least it is my sincere hope that it becomes one some day. I am hopeful for many things, all of which (despite the horrors and pain around us) I see now as possible. You see, if I am to believe (as I would have my children do so), that all things dreamt, may be achieved, than I too, have to uphold this faith. That is clear to me now. I am still taking better care to take time for me. I have reconnected with “the girls” and stayed true to my goals of better balance; mind and body. I’m cooking everything – I’m involved in many creative projects, I’m taking things slower and holding out for that “right job” while appreciating every day with my babies that I possibly can …before I cannot. Wouldn’t it be great to live in Denmark for awhile? Lol …Wouldn’t it be great if “homemaker” was actually a paid occupation? Wouldn’t it be great if a woman obtaining a college degree to then stay home and raise her own children was thought to be a profitable investment, wise choice, healthy balance? I think so. But this is not our world here. And so, off to work I shall go, …but not without a fight. In keeping with my plan for wellbeing overall, I am being extremely “picky.” I want to be happy and accessible to my children and husband. I will wait it out. And in this period of waiting and healing…we hear back any day on Nathan’s final diagnosis. Two months off medication now, he is the same child. He is so very special and loved. Some things will never change …but some will.
Posted by JT at 12:51 AM
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I have decided to write a book. Not the usual, begin a chapter, than crumple it up and throw it out. This time, I am really going to give myself the courage to stick with the story and follow it to the end. It will be a fiction of course. How else could any of the drama, exaggeration, outlandish and hyperbolized richness of my tales be done justice and allowed enough space for the characters to breathe? And seeing as how my own mother claims that “I can never remember things the way they actually happened,” maybe my own creative wanderings will bring more excitement to the reader than a boring real life memoir anyway. One thing is for sure, I have plenty of stories to tell! It is all part of my grand 2010 plan. During the past many (insanely busy) weeks, I have been developing a “plan” for going into this new year. Under the duress of routine family life that is anything but routine, I have (gulp) decided to take more time for me…yup, me. The plan is simple: start taking better care of the person that nurtures and cares for everyone else. I am going to get into shape so I can feel more energetic, sleep better, and crave the wholesome foods I feed the kids. I am going to delegate better and say “no” even more so that I have more time to do the things I love: athletics, reading (for leisure), photography, painting and writing. I am even open to the idea of leaving my comfort zone and self-proclaimed “hermitizm” to join some girlfriends for drinks and fun from time to time. It could be a good time…I think. The point is, with all that has taken place this past year, I have begun to feel physically run down, rushed and forgotten from time to time. That has to end here and only I can make that happen. Cheers to the parents brave enough to boldly face your fears and gripes alongside me this 2010 and choose better health, artistic freedom, and happiness for this year’s resolutions..
Posted by JT at 3:51 PM