Dyer Family Happenings

A.K.A. Mommy needs a place to write!

Overly emotional Mommy, party of me. — December 18, 2015

Overly emotional Mommy, party of me.

I have always been an emotional person. It’s gotten worse with becoming a mom and now being able to help in Leo’s class and seeing these HUGE leaps these kiddos are making daily, weekly, monthly and getting to see and experience the love his teachers have for the kids and us mommies and daddies it’s gotten a notch worse.

Worse isn’t the right word. My emotions for my children have grown. The steps forward and the growth in both of them makes me cry, the set backs and rough patches make me cry. And the same happens for the friends in Leos class. Some of them had a really rough start with preschool and the growth in language and friend skills, in coloring and singing in counting and direction following is amazing. They start the school year as little guys and gals, set in their own home routines and have their worlds rocked but in the most beautiful way.

These kiddos come from all kinds of family situations some with siblings some without, some spend lots of time with grandparents and some split time with their own parents. Some parents both work some are blessed like I am to learn with their kids. The one commonality they all have is when they enter Room #1 and the love that the teachers share with each and every child.

These teachers have been staying so upbeat and excited for the holiday season through illness and the excitement of 19 3 and 4 year olds. They taught them songs and poems and got them ready to sing for a whole cafeteria full of family members. And today all of the hard work and love shined so very bright when these beautiful children made their way to the stage.

I had a breath holding moment of fear before the curtain opened when I looked around at the amount of people that were in the audience. They had practiced every day on the stage but to an empty cafeteria. Today was THE day. How is Leo going to do with all of this? A year ago he probably would have tried to run away. Too loud, too many people, to bright. Not today.

The curtains open and all we hear is “WOAH LOOKIT ALL THE PEOPLE! HI MOM HI DAD HI MAX!!!” theres my guy. And I cried. No, I balled my eyes out.

I cried because of how great they all were doing sitting and singing, like little pros. I cried because of how hard we’ve worked with Leo to have confidence in any setting. I cried because he wasn’t scared. I cried because he’s such a big guy. I cried because I’m his mom and I am so proud of him, excited for everything he gets to experience that is brand new and because he is such an amazing kid.

So I cried, giant rolling tears. And my heart is so full.

 

Understanding one another — March 3, 2015

Understanding one another

Everyone has “stuff”.
Everyone has family “issues” (I despise that word)

All kids have learning challenges. Be it words or food, social exchanges, waking up on time, going to bed at a reasonable hour. That’s why we as parents have to teach them. Sometimes the things that we have to teach are hard. Harder than anyone outside the security of our homes understands. Even when we are open and talk about things.

I am open, probably too much at times. But there are things and situations with my children that people don’t know about. There are things I have to keep in my heart, because I don’t want them to be looked down on, judged or thought to be anything other than what they are.

I am so aware that my boys are going to succeed. They are smart, they are loving and they win the hearts of people around them. They will never fail for long. There are too many people rooting them on. But the moments- that can last just that or a year and a half- sometimes feel like they will never end. That we won’t tackle it soon enough, that we aren’t understanding what in the hell is going on.

And then something beautiful happens. Or nothing happens. And those are both wins.

Becoming a mom has been the most amazing thing in my life thus far. It has brought out so many things I need to work on. Patience, loving even when you’re mad, anger triggers, frustration, unconditional love, fighting with love, teaching and persistence. I’m not some kind of super mom, I’m just a woman learning right next to my kids. They teach me daily.

I’m having to work on things that are said to me in all areas of my life and not taking them to heart. I wear that thing the size on Texas on my sleeve. I’ve tried to hide it but that’s not where it’s place is. It’s right out in the open, for all to see. I can’t lie about my feelings, when I try I’ll say everything is “fine”. But things aren’t I’m just not ready to open up about them.

I know I’m in no way the only person wired this way. I know that most things from friends and family come from a place of love, but understand that there are some phrases that will almost always sting. And minimizing my feelings or worries are at the top of that list.

Sometimes to understand one another we need to just listen.

Sometimes there are no words.

“High Functioning” — February 24, 2015

“High Functioning”

The hardest word I deal with when having to talk about Leo.
Can he talk? He can now. Can he play with friends? So much better than 6 months ago. Does he “look” like he has special needs? Not at all.

Trying to explain to every new nurse or doctor or teacher or tutor or social person that Leo is autistic I always get a look. It’s that “you sure” look. It’s that- “huh, he sure seems like a normal 4 year old” look. And then something happens. A sensory something sets him off, or he can’t find his words, or he wants to play and can’t figure out the balance between tag and hitting.

There are some situations where I think it’s almost harder to have a kiddo that can mostly function on his own, than one that needs lots of help. Expectations (there is that nasty dagger of a word again) are that he is a normal dude, that can follow directions, and communicate his needs or discomforts, and most of the time he can. At least he can to me. (I speak very fluent Leo) But to the rest of the world it’s a craps shoot.

Be kind to those kids that can but have trouble. Be kind to their parents. Watch the stares and questioning looks and judgmental body language when a melt down does erupt. Be kind. (we should pretty much do that to everyone anyway right…)

My go to for the week:

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual uplifting” – Romans 14:19

Lets uplift everyone, lets try to understand one another. Lets try to be patient with the things we do not understand, or want to accept or question.

Let us uplift those in circumstances that make them have to explain their child to every new person they come in contact with- because something might make things difficult for him. Let us have kind words and glances and postures.

Let us not judge what we do not know.

I never wanted to be a stay at home mom. — January 25, 2015

I never wanted to be a stay at home mom.

Yup, you heard me. But I guess before I can expand on that statement I should make a few more- that one of my bestest buddies NEVER LETS ME LIVE DOWN SAYING…
I never wanted to get married or have children. I was always good to go with being Auntie Katie drinking her cocktail and smoking her cigarette and loving and spoiling kiddos.

Then I met Joel, and fell hard, then got to know him and realized this guy made me rethink the whole wanting to get married thing. Like I could actually see myself living with him forever- say what?!?! I missed him if we were apart, he didn’t disgust me when he brushed his teeth, he was (and still is) pretty easy going, and up for adventures. I was like yeah, this guy. I asked him to marry me, and a few days later he said yes LOL. I know I know.

So we were content, started a journey moved to Spokane and one day my body told me it was time to have babies. I was like- yo uterus, check yo self. I DONT WANT KIDS. But, I totally did. So we took a leap of faith and poof Leo. And then a couple of years and a miscarriage later, poof we ended up with Max.

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When we moved back to California Leo was about 3 months old. We had to get settled in a house and get Joel back to work, and when he was 7 months old I went back to work part time. It was a nice mix- I got to hang out with my lil monkey guy and be productive in a grown up world. Then I changed jobs and went to work full time. I’m not going to lie, I was JAZZED about Leo getting to go to daycare. He’d have friends, and make crafts, he’d have holiday parties and learn songs. How exciting, and selfishly I was so excited to be bringing home a paycheck, having a reason to get schnazzed up every day and forming relationships with grown ups that I had very recently been mourning the loss of.

I lost that job about a month before Max came into the world- our company sold and I was tossed into being a full time mommy. We kept Leo in daycare for a while- he was doing so well….. and then his slide started and things changed. Max was about 3 months old when financially we had to pull Leo out of daycare. Shortly thereafter all of the testing started and we started on his journey to new ways of hearing and learning. It was a lot- a newborn and trying to shuffle him around. But I still had the desire to work. I always thought, we can get through the testing and get him into a class or school that will help him grow, I can find a job put Max in daycare and it’ll all be good.

I was dreaming.
I still dream.

I’m not going to lie. I’m 2 years into this stay at home mom job and I still don’t get it. I’m not sure if it’s different when you’re not shuttling your kids to therapies, and preparing the house daily for at home therapy, but I just don’t get it.

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Backyard fun

Don’t get me wrong- I have been BLESSED to see my kids take their first steps, say their first words, eat everything under the sun, put clothes on for the first time, blow bubbles in the bath for the first time. I am watching them grow and change. But I do feel like the world is passing me by. Like I have no way to connect to people who aren’t mommies.

I also can’t even seem to get a call back when applying for jobs. So I guess that’s a sign from God that I’m where I am suppose to be. But I still don’t totally get it.

This is not a job for the faint of heart, for the unsure, for the tenderhearted, for the tired, for the grumpy, for the perfectionist, for the holder of the O.C.D., for the foul mouthed, for the determined… or maybe it is.

It’s thankless, it is 24/7, it is all encompassing, it is repetitive, it drains everything you have in your reserves, and people choose it. CHOOSE IT. I still don’t get it. But it has chosen me. I do not believe “God never gives you more than you can handle” I believe he pushes your boundaries of comfort until you have no choice but to ask for his leadership. That struggle even in its darkest hours, when you want to throw your hands up and walk away a little something creeps in and softens that anger/hatred/mad you have at that moment. That not choosing this path but being placed on it is not happenstance, it’s not by mistake it’s because you have a gift you are not yet aware of. That you are going to meet people also on this path that are going to enrich your life, challenge your thinking, expand your heart and show you love and compassion you aren’t accustomed to being shown. It’s because it’s not about you, or me. It’s about a journey.

And while I’m on it, and I hear that women choose this I want to ask them why. Why with everything there is in this world to try to do, why would you choose this?!?!?!? And I look at my children and I know, because they are so very worth everything I could possibly offer to another human.

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So I say a prayer and thank God that my heart changed when I met my now husband, that his love made me want to build a family with him and that our beautiful children need some extra time and hands and that their needs have put me in a place I will never be comfortable with, but I know I am fully needed.

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Stuff, so very much stuff — January 8, 2015

Stuff, so very much stuff

There is always “stuff” isn’t there!?!? The “stuff” happening here is all kind of awesome. At least I think it is.
Leo has been having at home ABA therapy since September- 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. In November he started 3 days a week at the clinic that also houses a preschool, so certain things- like circle time- he was able to be included in with other kiddos, and interacting one on one with kids like him. Starting Monday he is going to be 3 hours a day 5 days a week AT THE CLINIC (to start incorporating him more into the preschool setting and working more on his social behaviors with other munchkins) and 3 hours a day 3 days a week at home! I am so proud of his growth, his words, his working through loud noises and bright lights, his mimicking, his frustration. He has listened and learned and become conditioned to certain things so well that his therapy is progressing pretty quickly. He’s such a smart dude. He just makes my heart so happy.
(In case you aren’t familiar with ABA here’s a link to describe it :http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/applied-behavior-analysis-aba )

Mr. Max the Great (though he is small), starts his speech therapy next Friday. We are so very fortunate to have the same therapist that started Leo off. She is amazing and I feel like she gets me as a mom and a person. She seems to understand my worries, and for that I am grateful. She is also going to put a referral in to the O.T. (Occupational Therapy) services at his “school” to help with his sensory seeking behaviors. She thinks most of his head hitting, banging, biting are sensory seeking things and can be worked through with some O.T. help. His words are coming slowly and he still chooses to use grunts, yells, and “wassat”s for the majority of his communication, but I know he will pick up more and more words quickly.

Our van became uber unreliable when it just about took a dump on me Monday. So we sold it to someone who knows and has the ability to fix cars. We are very lucky that Joel is able to borrow a truck from work and I take over his car until we are able to purchase a new to us vehicle for me and the boys. I had been praying the van would hold out until our tax refund came in, but alas- I am not in control! (uh, duh!) This is teaching me flexibility, patience and understanding that it will all work out, its just not always when I think it should.

Today our therapy took us on an adventure with our Tutor Jordann. We took her to our favorite place- the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Our trip lasted two and a half hours (a new record for us) and included visiting “the elephant castle”, petting every animal in the petting zoo, watching otters eat breakfast with their handlers, Leo very proudly stating to Jordann “Welcome to my fafingos” (while standing in front of the flamingo exhibit), touching sting rays, and feeding the giraffes (which he ran screaming from two months ago and totally protested doing 4 days ago). I am so proud of both of the boys for listening, being excited and wanting to learn everything they could today. And Jordann- thank you. For your enthusiasm and love. You’re amazing and I think you’ve found the most perfect career path.

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Feeding the Giraffe! 1/7/2015

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It’s amazing how the gals that come to the house twice a week feel like they have become part of our family. They celebrate every victory- big or small, they are always so excited to dive into whatever we have going on here. They mourn losses with us (we had a dog either run away or be stolen from our house a few weeks ago), they accept challenges like when I somehow think making cookies for Christmas with my two crazy toddlers is a great idea (before we started of course đŸ˜‰ ) and they listen. They listen to my worries and fears, to my excitement and they remind me when my heart is a little heavy that Leo is doing so very well. I can’t thank these gals enough for being such a huge part of our world, for becoming part of our family.

Joel is working tons of hours, as per usual and always finding new ways to keep the boys entertained outside to give me a little quiet time to putter.

Personally I am embarking on a big new adventure in March. I have been on a fitness journey pretty much my whole life, but last year I kicked it up to another level and Monday I registered to run my very first 5k. I created a team and will be running to raise money for autism research. My sister is going to run with me, and I am so very excited about it! On top of that I am in my 28th week of being part of a virtual fitness challenge and have met so many amazing women. We are all on a journey to being better than we were before the challenge. I am always learning from these ladies, and was voted “MVP” of my Nov-Dec group. That totally took me by surprise. I told Joel I guess I am too hard on myself. I never feel like I’m working hard enough or making big enough strides but I guess I am.
Here’s the link if you’d like to donate to our running team!

https://www.raceforautism.org/Team/View/5074/Super-Leo

If I could give advice to mommys-to-be… — November 19, 2014

If I could give advice to mommys-to-be…

I’d say to follow your heart and your mind. They know you better than anyone, any book, any class, anything you can read online. There are things I joke about- but I’m kinda serious (lol) about having a brand new baby, but we all fall into a rhythm, find our stride, fall flat on our face and pick right back up because that’s what we do.

I have to follow my heart more often than not with the boys. All of the charts that tell me how big they are suppose to be were thrown out the window they were born- at 9lb 7oz and 8lb 12oz respectively. The charts that tell me what milestones they should be hitting based on age I had to throw out when they reached certain ones super early and still haven’t met others. But my heart has always known if we were “on track” or not.

With that being said, we are headed back to the Regional Center today, but for Max. I’m pulled in two different directions about this. I know he’s having speech problems- again a child of ours can’t mother freaking talk, but boy oh boy can Joel and I. There are other concerns we are having with him that lead to a talk with our Pediatrician and scheduling with the center. If he needs help and they can start it now, it will be wonderful because I know he will progress so fast. We have very very smart boys. But if he does need help, we have another child that is going to take extra time and patience and I am afraid of how I am going to handle all of this.

I do not believe “God never gives us more than we can handle”, I believe he gives us opportunities to ask him for help, for grace, for love and for the chance to learn. And that  there are totally days where we can’t handle it and those are the days we have to pray and make choices and ask for help- and I know that is one thing I totally need to do more of.

I texted Joel this morning and said if we can make it through this season of life alive, still talking and in one piece I think we will be okay forever. Having two toddlers- to my amazing friend with triplet 2 year olds- you are amazing, and I know you are just living life and walking in the path God placed you but woman I applaud the grace you have with even the toughest days- is hard. Having two toddlers that need extra help with communication is enough to make you want to run away at times.

So to all of my beautiful girlfriends that are in all stages of mommydom, know that your heart is your best guide, but that other mommies are always here with hugs, coffee, shoulders to cry on, high fives, happy dances and listening ears. Know that you are loved, even in your worst moments, that you are so much more than you think you are on a daily basis and that you are doing the best for your family.

Oh Monday, today you rocked! — November 11, 2014

Oh Monday, today you rocked!

The boys finally sleeped past 4:30 am

Leo ate a great breakfast and had a wonderful day at school. We came home to an impromptu playdate with a wonderful set of triplet friends. His wonderful tutor today totally rolled with it. So the majority of ABA was outside with friends today. Leo played WITH the other kids. Not next to them, not alone, not akwardly near them, WITH them.

He and Max had more outside time after ABA. At dinner Leo voluntarily picked up and ate a green bean. My jaw hit the table.

Today made me so thankful for everyone that loves, teaches and believes in our family. I am so lucky to have strong women friends that smile and laugh and are raising beautiful children. I am so lucky to have everything that I have, things I never knew I needed and the resources to make Mondays like these happen.