Changing Sites, Changing Titles, Changing Focus

Hello everyone!  This is Ilene from the blog “My Family’s Experience With Autism”.  I have been blogging (inconsistently as of late) on this blog for some time (since June 2009, to be exact).  But for the last year or so, I just haven’t been keeping up with things.  I think at least part of the problem, is that I’m just not comfortable with what I’ve been seeing, saying, or doing.

So, the time has come to make a complete change.  I have started a new blog here on WordPress.  I’m changing the name to “A Day In The Life Of the Crazies”.   You see, my blog is really not just about Autism.  It’s not just about the twins.  It’s about my family in general.  And it’s about how we go about with every day things, just like everyone else.

So, now that I’ve made this realization, I decided it’s time to make the big switch.  It’s time to play with a new website.  It’s time to see what this blog can become.

Welcome to “A Day In The Life Of The Crazies!”

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Political Post

There are so many things going on with my family right now, especially with Simon, but that’s not what’s foremost on my mind these days.  For a while, it’s been about politics and our country’s new administration.  So, bear with me and ignore if you would like, but I am taking this opportunity to have my say on a few things.

 

What made me decide to write this post right now?  Well, it’s mainly because of a phone call I had yesterday with someone.  I was sitting around the table with my family and we try not to have heated political discussions in front of the kids — polite discussion and debate is fine.  But right now, that’s not an option (I’ll take the blame for that one….I’m too emotionally invested).  Typically, my husband and I don’t agree on most things politic (and that’s fine).  I grew up in a similar atmosphere and appreciate the ability for debate on these topics.  We want the kids to be able to form their own political ideologies rather than just restate what their parents believe.  And since our viewpoints are often opposed with one another, we try and keep that under control.

 

This person is someone who I’m connected to on Facebook (as well as many other ways).  I happen to know that person is also unhappy about our new administration, but seems to be more quiet about it.  Basically, on the phone I was told to stop posting my opinions on Facebook.

 

There are two places where I post what I think and believe online:  Facebook and this blog.  My first place to do that is Facebook.  There I have a greater audience and because of the nature of social media, it tends to bring on both support and debate, keeping everything alive and “real”.  Here I just post and I MIGHT get a comment or two, but really nothing interactive.

 

Since the election there is nothing that the sitting president has done that I think is a good thing for our country, our planet, humanity, basically for anyone or anything other than himself.  And I know I’m not alone.  I don’t support his choices for his cabinet or his staff; I don’t support his executive orders; I don’t support his petty behavior and his temper tantrums that I refuse to tolerate from my Autistic children.  This statement isn’t a surprise to ANYONE who knows me.  I’ve been a vocal opposer against him from the moment I realized that his candidacy caused a real threat and continue to be vocal in my own way.  I would have loved to join with the many marchers on January 21, but made the decision to stay home (although I did make a wearable banner and invited others to use it if they wanted).  There is a big part of me that regrets the decision and I am so proud of the many who went out on my behalf around the world!

 

But just because I didn’t march doesn’t mean I support anything that is happening in the city just a few miles from my home.  I make my daily phone calls; I encourage others to do the same and to oppose the appointments that I find most egregious.  I encourage others to call and inform their elected officials their positions on the issues that will be put to a vote in the very near future.  I try to do it in a non-partisan way (when encouraging others to take action)…..the truth is that these steps can be done by those who agree with me or those who don’t.

 

I also post some of the news stories that come across my “Newsfeed”.  Most of the time, I confirm that the story is real and not just what the headline implies; I sometimes put my own commentary in my posting.  For most things, I try to find articles from other sources to make sure that I’m not just blanketly believing everything I read.  I try to find things from sources that tend to be more to the right (since many of the things that come across my newsfeed tend to be biased to the left) to minimize bias.  But so many things that are being done by this administration are just plainly and simply WRONG!

 

So, as a message to the person I was conversing on the phone with yesterday…..I will continue to fight this fight.  I will continue to help spread the word that our existing administration is corrupt and has no intention of supporting anyone other than themselves.  I will continue to point out the parallels between where we are (and where we are heading) to 1930s Germany (because yes, I do believe it to be THAT bad).  I will continue to practice what I have been taught as both a Jew and as an American Citizen — that we stand up for one another and help those who are incapable of helping themselves.  That we welcome the refugees who have no place else to go.  That we don’t condemn someone because of the god(s) they worship, but by their personal actions.

 

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.  The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.  Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”  (Leviticus 19:33-34)

 

This fight is far from over.

 

Another “Politics” post

(yes….another political ramble…..sorry…..but I need to get this off my chest and it’s my blog, so deal with it!)

 

I really like to keep politics out of my life (and my blog) as much as possible.  I’m a liberal married to a conservative.  We know we disagree on most things politics and we do so quietly and as civilly as possible.  My last post was urging people to go out and vote and to vote their own conscience.  That’s about as “political” as I normally like to be.  I see what’s going on, I have my opinion (and will voice it when I feel it’s appropriate) but in general, politics is one place where I prefer to fade into the shadows.  However, my opinion here will be blatantly obvious and, if you don’t like it, well, like I say above, deal with it….it’s MY blog!

 

Since Tuesday evening, while I was watching the election results coming in, I’m seeing mayhem break out all around me.  I’m seeing (and experiencing) the great disappointment that Hillary Clinton did NOT win the election and the terror that Donald Trump DID win. This is not the first time that the country is changing leaders and legislatures.  And it’s not the first time that I have been unhappy with the results.  Presidential elections happen every 4-8 years and the party associations of the new leaders are often different from their predecessors.  But the transition is organized and peaceful, even back in 2000 where the election results were contested until the very last minute.  It’s now nearly one week after the election and the transition has already begun (as it needs to) and the country is up in arms about any and everything.

 

People are protesting the results.  The KKK is holding a celebratory march in North Carolina.  Racist and anti-semitic signs are being posted on churches, schools, and out for everyone to see (including places within 10 miles of my home).  Students are protesting and walking out in both high schools and colleges.  And don’t even get me started on the whole safety pin garbage!  None of us are “safe people”….as a nation we voted in Donald Trump, for crying out loud!  If you want to be considered someone who understands, don’t put something on your shirt but actually DO something about racism and bigotry by directly standing up for someone!

 

I am Jewish and married a Christian.  I am an educated woman who has opinions.  I have tried to live my life knowing and believing that people are no more or less valuable because of their skin color, religion, political views, or any of the millions of other things that makes us different.  But right now, I feel anything but pride in the majority of those who call themselves Americans.  I’m talking here not only to Trump supporters, but Clinton supporters as well.

 

Let me start with those who are saying that the Electoral College (EC) needs to be abolished.  I just want to point out to all of that group that the USA is not nor has EVER BEEN a DEMOCRACY.  We are a REPRESENTATIONAL REPUBLIC.  There are very few things that we have a direct vote about as average citizens.  We choose our representatives.  THAT’S IT!!!!  Those representatives make every other decision for our nation.  That’s why we’ve lasted for 240 years.  No true democracy has ever lasted for long.  Yes, HRC won the popular vote.  But she didn’t win enough votes for the representatives actually DOING the direct voting to put her in office.  We did, however, vote for the House of Representatives and Senate to have a majority of representatives in the Republican Party.  But are people protesting that?  NO!

 

I do agree that the EC system needs to be looked at very carefully.  Right now, all states other than Maine and Nebraska employ an all-or-none policy for their votes.  And each state is within their rights to have such a system.  However, this doesn’t allow for the states to be appropriately represented when the final vote is being cast.  The EC system exists to be sure that all votes count, regardless of whether you live in a densely or sparsely populated state.  But all-or-none has undervalued the votes in the more densely populated areas rather than equalize the more sparsely populated areas of the country.  We saw in 2000 that just a few hundred votes gave an entire state supporting votes for George W. Bush which, in effect, ignored just those votes short of 50% of the votes cast in the state of Florida.  And that was the deciding factor in the election.

 

States such as NY, FL, TX, CA, VA, PA and OH (for example) have these diverse populations.  An “all or none” system is failing these states, and is therefore failing the system. There needs to be a way to fairly balance the EC votes so that everyone is appropriately represented by the final and all-important Electoral College vote.

 

But the time has come to face facts.  Donald Trump has won the election.  He is the President Elect.  Yes, I hate to say it and I have a terrible taste in my mouth at just the though of it, but it is the truth of it.  The only other result that will happen now is that when the time comes, if he is believed to be completely unfit, Mike Pence will be made our new president (and no, that does NOT make me feel better…..in many ways it makes me feel worse).

 

Are you happy about this result?  Then help make the transition happen smoothly and gently, the way it’s supposed to.  Stop gloating.  Recognize that there are MANY who disagree with you (the majority of voters who turned out) and realize that you have an uphill battle on your hands because I can guarantee you that the majority of the voters who did NOT vote for Donald Trump will not be happy until he is out of office (what else can you expect……he ran his entire campaign on everything that this country is supposed to be opposed to!).

 

Are you unhappy?  Well, there are two branches to what I’m going to say.  If you voted for Trump, then you only have yourself to blame.  You made a bad choice and now we all have to live with it.  If you didn’t vote for Trump,  work harder to make people understand why this is such a bad idea without simply antagonizing everyone.  Make sure that his abhorrent policies are never more than talk by making your representatives understand that the country represented by the Statue of Liberty should not be ruled by bigotry, racism, sexism or any other exclusionary “ism”s.

 

In 2 years, we will once again have a say as to who sets our policy when we vote for every member of the House of Representatives as well as 1/3 of our senators.  In 4 years there will be another presidential election.  Hopefully by then, we’ll be in a better place then we are in 2016.

The Responsibility of Voting (my perspective of it, anyway)

With Election Day being tomorrow (unless you voted early or absentee), I thought it was time to post something like this. I am a registered Democrat, and proud to be so. Not because of my opinion of the current Republican versus Democrat Presidential candidate, but because the Democratic Party is more in alignment with my personal political opinions. However, when I go to the polls to vote, I do not vote for the Democratic Party. I vote for the candidate that I feel is best suited for a particular job.

In the past, I have voted for Democrats and Republicans in all election levels (local, county, state and federal) and also third party candidates in local and county level (don’t think I ever had a preferred candidate at the state or federal level that wasn’t represented by one of the two major parties). Yes, I vote for the “D” more often than the others, and I have not yet voted for a presidential candidate that wasn’t on the Democratic Party’s ticket, but that’s not because of my party affiliation but because of my opinion that the Democratic candidate was my better choice.

I also freely post on Facebook about my political beliefs, either in my status or by sharing articles written and shared by others. Yes, these are all biased. If I’m posting my opinion, I am already biased because I HAVE an opinion. And chances are if you are reading what I write, you are also biased one way of the other because you already have YOUR OWN opinion (which may or may not match my own).

When you go to vote yourself, that vote is YOUR say. It’s YOUR opportunity to say where we should be heading. YOUR feelings as to which candidate represents what is important to YOU. It’s not about the PARTY; It’s about the CANDIDATE! Everyone will try and influence you to see things their way…..it’s in our nature…..but in the end, it’s YOUR vote. YOU get to say where we need to be heading. And even if it feels like a single vote doesn’t matter, it really does. It opens the door to debate and discussion. It allows us to consider the need for change and growth. Your vote may not tip the balance by itself, but it can be a part of an avalanche that is coming down the road.

So please go out and vote on Tuesday (or, if you’ve already done so, thank you). Tell everyone how we need to go forward versus remaining stagnant. Don’t follow a PARTY line, but look at what the INDIVIDUAL believes or represents. If we all do that, then we are fulfilling our DUTY to shape our community, state, and country.

Birthday Reflections

For those of you who have been reading my blog over the last several years, you know that I tend to write a reflections type post near my birthday…..what I have learned, where I would like to go, etc.  This year I have hit a numeric milestone (as many consider multiples of 5 “milestones”).  Additionally, my birthday happened to fall the day before Yom Kippor when, as a Jew, my designated time of reflection is coming to an end.  So I thought I would put some of my recognitions on my blog, making them public and making them more concrete.

 

I am now 45 years old.  I am a happily married wife, mother of 3 amazing kids, have a frustratingly annoying but incredibly lovable dog, I live in an area where I feel happy and safe in a home I own with my family…..life really is good.  I have the freedom to do much of what I want and explore endless possibilities.  I smile and am happy most days, worry about my children nearly every day, and look forward to the new adventures of tomorrow.  I spend too much time sitting around and doing nothing productive and try to find ways to avoid doing the things that I know must be done (like almost everyone I know).

 

I think the biggest thing I need to work on while I’m 45 is to find my organization again.  I know I’ve been saying that for a while, but this time I really mean it (again).  My house needs some serious work, both in terms of cleanliness and repair.  There are some major household projects that we would like to take on, but we feel we can’t until we get some other things under control.  We are planning a big trip to Mexico in about 5 months and we need to plan how to help Simon maneuver new experiences so he (and the rest of us) can enjoy the adventures.

 

What does that mean?  It means living by the calendar.  It means making my infamous detailed to-do lists again.  It means keeping my promises to myself and to others.  It means making more of an effort to be there for others.  It means knowing when it’s time to say “No” when asked to be a volunteer for something or knowing that this is my opportunity to jump in with both feet.  It means not feeling guilty when I know I’ve done my best, even if I have not been successful on the outside.  It means recognizing that the effort is always worth at least as much as the result.  It means setting realistic expectations.  It means recognizing when my “realistic” expectations are anything but realistic.

 

Most important, it means taking time.  Taking time to be a better mother…..a better wife…..a better friend……a better Jew……a better person……a better me.

 

And that’s exactly what I’m going to try to do!

Being Left Out

I’m not certain if I’m going to ever publish this post…..it’s one that I’ve written in my head many times and thought about.  But my blog publishes automatically on my Facebook page as well as the FB page I manage for this blog and also gets “tweeted” immediately upon publication.  And I worry that the post will seem petty (which perhaps it is) and is something that is designed to make others feel guilty (which it’s not).  But I still feel it’s something that needs to be said, and written down, even if it spends all of it’s life in draft form.  When I’m done, if I hit “Publish”, either intentionally or out of habit, then it will be “done”.

 

Kind of sad that this is the first post I’ve written in a while, especially since school started about 6 weeks ago.

 

The twins are now 9 years old.  They’ll be 10 in a few months.  Yet, they have never been invited for a playdate with a classmate.  A one-on-one after school playtime adventure.  We’ve done park playdates before, where I’m expected to remain and continue to supervise.  And it’s usually not one-on-one, but a group of people.  For several of these, it’s felt like “We’re getting together at the playground, and you’re standing right here….why don’t you come and join us!” as though inviting us is an afterthought.  And when this happens, I really think they are hoping that we’ll say “No”.  And when faced with that feeling, I usually do say no, mainly because I don’t want to deal with it.

 

But every day I see kids coming out of the school with their friends, and my kids never do.  They come out by themselves.  Simon is often accompanied by his teacher to give me the report of the day.  But none of his peers are with him, interacting with him.  And Rachel, well, she’s alone.  She walks out in the group that is the 4th grade and doesn’t say “Goodbye” to anyone when she sees my car….just walks over and climbs in.  I ask her teachers and they tell me that she doesn’t really interact with ANYONE…..she’s friendly with many, but she does her thing and they let her hang around while they do theirs.  They are together.  She is alone.  And this is completely normal to her.  But it’s not for me.  I want her hanging back a bit at dismissal, just to get another couple of minutes of “hang out” time.  I want her asking me if this friend can come over (she hasn’t asked for a playdate since she was in first grade).  And NO ONE has ever invited her over to their house to play, although I have discussed the possibility before (just never ACTUALLY happened).  She’s never even been invited to a birthday party that wasn’t one inviting the entire group which she is a part of (her class, troop, etc) or to accompany Simon (who is also invited to something because he is part of a group).  Nothing specifically directed at THEM.

 

I’m never really sure what to do about this.  Simon really doesn’t seem to care at all.  He is perfectly happy by himself.  In fact, that’s his preference.  All of his preferred activities are things that he can do unaccompanied by anyone else.  Even when I try and interact with him or encourage anyone else to interact with him, it really ceases being playtime and him standing back and watching what others are doing.  And him trying to sneak off and do whatever activity HE wants to do….by himself.

 

Rachel, on the other hand, wants to be part of the group.  But she really doesn’t seem to know how.  I’ve tried “social skills groups” for her before.  But they haven’t been successful.  She wants to be the boss.  She wants to dictate what everyone does.  There are many that “put up with it”, but it doesn’t endear them to become her friend.  They are being polite.  She is still the same girl she was when she was first diagnosed at 26 months old…..she’s a character with her own ideas and her own way of doing things.  She strongly dislikes people scolding her and wants to be the one in charge.  And now that she is entering adolescence, she has decided that everything is “stupid” and “boring” and is accompanied by the ever-annoyed eye roll.  Yes, I have a pre-teen on my hands.

 

I worry about both of them.  I wonder how much people make fun of them and the way they are.  And I wonder what they see and interpret.  I wonder what they think when they see other groups together and them standing on the outside.  And I wonder if they will always be that way.

I don’t seem to get it

Before starting, I want to say that this is NOT one of my typical posts.  This isn’t about my family or one of the antics that seems to run our lives.  No activity juggling today.  Instead, I’m trying to understand the many posts on my Facebook feed every day.  I really think I’m on the same page as most of my friends (if not all), but the debate is out of control.  And I want to understand it all.  If I can’t be a part of the solution, I want to be sure that I’m not part of the problem.  And, if I am, I want to fix that ASAP.  Please help me to understand this.

 

And my confusion seems to boil down to a fight over a hashtag.

 

When I was growing up, my brother and I always knew we had one a political or social argument with our father when he pulled out his favorite tagline……Every issue has “many shades of gray”.  Whenever he said this, my sibling and I knew that we had combatted and exhausted every detail that he could use to counter our points.

 

In the last several weeks (last week in particular), a social and political bomb grew and exploded.  There were several unforgivable incidents that led this to happen.  Don’t get me wrong….it’s been growing for a very long time.  It just finally reached that explosive point.  The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has been around for a while.  What I am having a problem with is the arguments between the #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter camps.  It really seems to me that we’re on the same side.  We all agree that there is a lot of senseless violence going on in the world right now.  Everyone is saddened by not only the citizens being killed by police officers but by the violence against the officers that lead them to make the poor decisions.  It’s a vicious circle that shows no end because one act feeds into the next and it just keeps growing and growing and growing.

 

Because we all can agree that the violence is senseless and needs to stop, that’s not the question I have.

 

Now, I will freely admit….at the moment I’m writing this (and apparently not fully understanding the issue), I am very much in the #AllLivesMatter perspective.  I have spent most of my life (all but 4 years, actually) living as a part of a targeted minority all over the world (as a Jew).  I know that it’s not the color of my skin where anyone who takes one look at me can tell that I’m a member of a minority.  And, given my skin tone, I’m about as white as they come.  If my skin isn’t pasty pale, it’s red from a sunburn.  That’s the way it is.  I have learned the history that the Jews have lived through and overcome, I see what happens all over the world…I’ve also been directly accused of killing Jesus by a classmate when I was growing up.    Again, I know it’s not the same thing.  And I’m not saying that I know the pain of those who have to live with the fear that they see in people’s eyes, just because of the amount of pigment in their skin.

 

And I consider myself colorblind.  I remember a few years ago in the Super Bowl, the announcers pointing out that it was the first time that both teams had a black coach.  Dad and I looked at each other thinking that we hadn’t noticed the color of either coach’s skin. It wasn’t important.  Their skin color had nothing to do with the way they led their team to victory enough times and helped their team to strategize to get them to the biggest football game in the USA.  When Barack Obama was campaigning and running for the office of President of United States, yes, I knew and recognized the significance of a black man running and ultimately being elected president for the first time.  But that fact didn’t impact my vote.  I voted for the candidate who I felt would do the better job, given my options.  Skin color had nothing to do with it.  The color of their skin says nothing about their political ideals or their level of devotion to our country.

 

Isn’t that what Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for?  For all people, regardless of the color of their skin, to have the same opportunities?  And, given how long it took to reach the point where he saw us, how far we have come in the less than 50 years since his death?  Isn’t it about people seeing beyond the color of one’s skin and looking at the abilities of the individual?

 

I know that there are many (and I mean MANY) events in history that led to this struggle, starting with slavery, many Supreme Court decisions, constitutional amendments, etc.  And I know it’s important to study history for, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.  And I’m not saying that we should stop teaching about these historical events.  They ARE important and should continue to shape the future.  But they are also history.  If we spend our lives living and dwelling in the past, we cannot see how far we’ve come.  And if we can’t see how far we’ve come (and this may be where my lack of understanding comes into play), how can we see where we need to go?

Summer Vacation

Two words that many parents DREAD!  During the school year, there is organization; activities; plans.  Yes, things may be crazy at certain times (especially towards the end of the year), but everyone knows where everyone needs to be and when.  During the summer, that all seems to go away.

 

That’s especially true for us this year.  Big Brother has a couple of camps lined up for August, but the twins…..well, I screwed up.  I planned to sign them up for a camp that they’ve attended the last 2 years.  I always signed them up in mid-May and there was always PLENTY of room.  This year, at that time, they were all FULL!  (these are county run camps…..several different locations)  So, for now everyone is home with me.  I had some ideas, and some of them have come to fruition.  Everyone is doing homework every day.  They visit a math website (xtramath.org) daily and do the challenges presented to them, so it’s tailored to their individual abilities and it only takes 10-15 minutes.  Big Brother has his summer homework packet which is very specific.  The twins have their packet as well, but I’m adding typing practice to theirs by finding computer games that they find fun and having them learn this skill (since they love to spend time on the computer so much, they can learn to touch-type this summer).

 

We also had plans to spend a lot of time at the pool.  That hasn’t been working out quite as well as planned.  The weather just hasn’t been cooperating much.  There is a constant threat of thunderstorms and being caught in the rain is probably Rachel’s biggest trigger.  Simon doesn’t like it much either and when Rachel goes off, Simon is likely to as well in response to her.  Double meltdowns, especially near a pool, is not something that enjoy dealing with, so we’ve been sticking around the house until it’s nearly time for swim team practice (which has us at the pool from as early as 5:30 until as late as 8:00, just for practices themselves).  See, since Simon is still learning the ABSOLUTE basics and his stamina and attention is so low, he practices with the littlest kids on the team from 5:30-6:00.  Rachel joins her peers from 6:00-7:00…..she is one of the weakest swimmers in that time slot, but socially she is where she belongs.  And Big Brother practices with the big kids from 7:00-8:00.  Dad comes by the house before heading to the pool himself to collect a picnic dinner and we just “hang out” at the pool until the twins and I are ready to come home (Dad stays with Big Brother until the end of practice).

 

So, what have we been doing with our days?  Well, I mentioned the homework and the typing practice.  After begging us for nearly a year, Big Brother has finally been given permission to form his own YouTube channel (Xerlan) and he is learning to create MineCraft videos and posting as he goes.  I’ve taken the twins the  grocery store once already and am planning another trip tomorrow (because I couldn’t manage to pick up everything we needed over the weekend).  Big Brother knows that he can feel free to hop on his bike and visit his friends (as long as I know where he is going and we agree on where and when to meet up).  And then we have swim team taking up our late afternoons and evenings, weather permitting.

 

We’re getting through, and considering how badly this camp situation messed me up when I first realized it, it’s not going so badly.  I do need to figure something out though and make sure that these kids are getting that energy out.  Hopefully, once we get through these storms that are hanging around (looks like the next couple of days), my original plan of heading to the pool at around 2:00 will come to fruition.