Tag Archive | autism

Lets be real here…..

I am just going to come out and say it….reading other blogs whether it be about parenting, homeschooling or homesteading, makes me feel like a lazy shit hole person.

BOOM! There it is!! That is the God’s honest truth.

I see everyone happy, living life and raising a happy, healthy family.  And I am over here like where’s the blog post about your out of control teenagers or about the stress of being a special needs parent???

Lets be real….no one’s life is perfect. But when you are having a hard time with your life and all you read is sunshine and unicorns riding over rainbows, it just makes it that much more worse.

I follow TONS of blogs on Facebook, Pinterest and through email. Not one post about how they locked themselves in the bathroom and cried while drinking some pina colada!!!

They are making these beautiful dishes of food, with their perfect kids who are all absolutely perfect, living in their perfect house with their perfect husband.

BLAH!!!! Bologna!!!!

Even the special needs blogs never post about the bad days!

WHY NOT??? Maybe you make someone feel like they are not alone. And that your life is not the only one in chaos. Maybe you can be encouragement or even find encouragement in others to continue on. Keep going on your journey. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

So Lets be real here…..

Raising a family is hard……

Raising a special needs child is hard as hell….

Raising 3 teenage girls is even harder……

Raising 2 children who are not biologically yours is hard…..

Keep yourself sane is the biggest challenge……

While trying not to kill your significant other because he’s the only one who gets it and would understand when you lash out at him…..

Starting a homestead is hard……

Homeschooling is a wonderful and hard at the same time………

I do all of these things. And the last 2 months of my life….no the last 6 months of my life have tried my patience and my love for my family and my husband.

I am not going to lie. I wanted to run and never look back. I still have days like those.

I have days where the thought of waking up and getting out of bed terrifies me for fear of what the day and my special needs child will bring.

When someone in your family has a mental illness it affects EVERYONE!!! Life is hell right now.

I have been special needs shamed…..I have heard everything from I am the reason she is like this to not doing enough to wanting to ship her off and forget about her.

Listen here…. Never in my life have I ever fought for anything more than the children in my life regardless of if they came from my body or not.

But it takes a person..a mother with a huge heart and strong will to say I am not what my child needs right now!!!

Here’s the truth on my life….

My oldest daughter needed a change of scenery. She needed a reality check that she was not going to get from us. She is 18 and made the decision to move across the country.

This in turn has sent my youngest daughter, my special needs child, into some kind of breakdown. We can’t control her, she is a danger to herself and has lost all touch of reality. I cry daily, I fight daily and I feel defeated daily. We have 1 doctor and 2 therapist and I am getting no where. This is not only affecting us but our neighbors because she is dragging them into it by running over there every time she gets mad.

I can barely eat or sleep. I am having anxiety and every morning I start shaking when I know she awake because I know it’s coming. My son is scared every time she throws her tantrums. His little heart starts racing and he begins to cry. My husband is having aches and pains that get worse the more she argues and fights.

I need help. We need help. We keep asking for help. But keep getting no where.

Where are the blog post that show you just how hard it is to raise teenagers, special needs, step children or even keep a happy marriage?

If you can’t be real on your blog, where can you be real at?

I didn’t write this for sympathy or to get people upset. I just needed to be real and vent.

So if you made it to the end, thanks for listening.

New school year

Usually this would be where I tell you all about the beginning of our new school year. Except I’m not because we didn’t. That’s right. I think its dumb to try to teach kids how a calendar year works when school begins towards the end of it. Plus we had a very slow start last year that I decided our year is running from January to November. So basically we are finishing up with the last of our months of school before everyone moves on to new grades. During the summer we took a slower approach but there was still learning and progress being made.

Dakota is finishing up Kindergarten. He has finally gotten excited about learning and doing school so that has made things more exciting and fun for me. And the best part is the little booger knows more than I gave him credit for. He is breezing through letter and sounds. Writing is coming easier for him. And Math and Science are his favorite right now. He has even started learning to add on his own, count by 100’s and read numbers in the thousands. All this has happened naturally and I love it!

Brianna has been a little bit more difficult only because we have noticed everything has been sliding backwards with her. We were always told that no one could predict what her limit was and I think we have max it out. So for the most part I try to incorporate a lot of art, science experiments and letting her join in where ever she feels like. But she still has a workbook to work out of and I try to give her computer time or tablet time at least once a day.

Cailin is done with English 9 and has moved on to English 10. She is finishing up pre-Algebra which has been a struggle for her. We are also almost done with Biology. American History has been a struggle for me to begin because I hate History but I know it needs to be done so I am starting that. She is also beginning Creative Photography and American Sign Language. OH and over the summer she completed the written part of Drivers ed. Now she needs her permit and her Daddy to start with the actual driving part.

I am very happy with the progress we are making. Sometimes I feel like we are not learning anything and then I write it all down and feel good about our progress. Plus we did testing and everything was confirmed.

The day the system let us down.

New year 2015

One reason I have been MIA this summer is because of my special needs daughter. I don’t know if it is her hormones changing or just the medicine becoming ineffective because of her being on it for so long, but it has been a summer from hell. She has becoming increasingly agitated and defiant. Usually I can reach her with some humor and talking to her. But even that is not working.

Our breaking point came one Sunday. It all started by me asking her to do her chores and from there the whole day went to hell in a hand basket. By about 1-2pm in the afternoon, we were calling the cops out because she ran away after getting violent with me. Now here is where the system failed.

The cop came out and talked her down. But said he would rather us take her to the mental health center because it frees him up for other emergencies. I honestly understand this, but it kinda just let everything else balloon out of control.

We went through all this question and answer sessions and when it was time to talk to administration the lady said nope doesn’t qualify. Okay but when I then tried to explain that she had kicked me twice and body slammed me, I was made to feel like it was my own fault. Now let give a little back story. Two weeks earlier she ran away and the cops came out, they said I should try to restrain and bring her back to the house next time before calling them out. Now this is what I did. I restrained her from running out of the house knowing she was going to run away. When I approached her, she connected twice in my chest and when I did get a hold of her from behind, she threw her weight and me backwards twice. And this lady called it defending herself.

WAIT! IT GETS BETTER!
So I bring up her running away. Oh no, it’s not running away because she went to a neighbor’s house every time. Nevermind if it was a neighbor we knew or not. Nevermind that she probably would not have come home on her own. Nevermind that these neighbors were scared and uncomfortable. She had a destination in mind and because she went there, it is not running away.

She then asked my daughter about therapy. She refused to go. She then asked if she would like to get help at home or away from the family. My daughter says away. She says she is not going to change being at home and refuses to get help unless she is taken somewhere. So this lady recommends a residential place and says SO & SO will be in to help with paperwork.

SO&SO comes in and says no that place won’t take her because she has never been Baker Acted. Well what do you think we are trying to do!!!! Even says she doesn’t qualify for in home therapy just a case manager.

At this point, I am feeling defeated and worn out. When we walked out of the facility after accomplishing nothing, my daughter got mad because she had to go home. I cried the whole way home. I really thought today was the day she gets the help she needs.

Her psychiatrist is good for nothing. He doesn’t know her from Joe down the road. Every time we go in it’s like he is seeing us for the first time. I have to repeat everything. He has also given up hope. He told us this is it. This is your life.

She is on the spectrum, but she is high functioning. She just has a mental age of 10 or under. She has signs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. She doesn’t understand appropriate relationships. When she has a friend, she becomes completely obsessed with them and it consumes her life.

So let me recap, had the cop taken my daughter instead of us, she would have been admitted. Even for a couple of hours, it would have been on her record and maybe opened up more resources. But instead, that day taught my daughter that everything I have said to her is a lie.

I tell her you can’t go around hitting people that’s called assault and you go to jail for that. Nope! Wrong! She learned that day that she can hit, kick and slam her Mom down and nothing will happen.

I tell her not to runaway because bad things can happen. Nope! Wrong Again! Because she learned as long as she is going to a certain destination it is not considered running away.

I tell her to listen to her parents. Why? No one else does!

So thank you system! You may think my daughter is a lost cause and that she doesn’t understand what you taught her that day. But I guarantee you she remembers. And it will make my life and hers even more difficult! And next time might not be just a little hitting or kicking. It might be worse. But you just don’t get it. You don’t have any special needs children yourself. You just have a medical degree that says you know it all. But you don’t! And until you live our lives on a daily basis, you will never get it.

You failed my family that day. And who knows how many others you have fail. But the fact of the matter is, I am trying to prevent another theater shooting or another Sandy Hook. I think it’s time that you wake up and take parents seriously. Never question a parents intuition!

This all happened 2 weeks ago. And so far things have been smooth sailing. But my daughter is almost 16. She has goals and dreams. And right now those are not a possibility. We have finally found an autism therapy school and are in the process of trying to get her in there. I want to feel hopeful, but also have been so disappointed in the past that I don’t want to get my hopes up.

 

Cooking with kids~ Chicken Cordon Bleu

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A long time ago, as in a few months ago, I would just buy those frozen Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu. Times has changed, money is tight and since I would have to buy 4 packs for one meal, it had to go. So I was at the store with my kids, wondering what to fix for dinner. I wanted Chicken Cordon Bleu and knew I had already thawed out chicken at home, decided to fight the urge to buy it premade and made my own with the help of Brianna.

My lovely assistant

My lovely assistant

 

This recipe is very easy for kids to make because it’s pretty hard to screw up and really doesn’t involve any measuring. So I knew it would be perfect for my special child to make. Plus there was no recipe to read just listening to Mom.

Ingredients:

chicken breast~ I use thin sliced, but if you prefer the thicker ones just adjust your cooking time.

Dijon mustard or honey mustard

seasoned bread crumbs

oil or cooking spray

deli sliced ham and swiss cheese

This is what I used, but honestly the ingredients can be switched out to fit your families taste. I would have prefered honey mustard, but didn’t have any.

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Coat both sides of the chicken with a thin layer of Dijon Mustard.

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Then coat with breadcrumbs.

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Saute in a pan until lightly brown on both sides. You can use butter, coconut oil or grape seed oil. This will take about 5-7 minutes depending on the temp of your pan.

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Remove from pan and stick on a cookie sheet. Add ham; as much or as little as you like.

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Another thin layer of mustard.

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Then top with the cheese. Then I pop these in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. I want to make sure the chicken is done and the cheese is melted. Now if you are worried about the cheese getting burned, you could always put the chicken in the oven before you add the mustard and cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes and then add continue with recipe, baking another 5-10 minutes.

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And then VOILA! The finish project! It was delicious! I usually add a cheesy rice as a side (almost like a risotto) and some corn or broccoli.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

3 year Blogiversary

 

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Growing a large family 3 year blogiversary

 

It was 3 years ago today that I decided to start a blog. A place where I can vent and connect with the world. I also did many searches for large family blogs and couldn’t find any. So I decided that that was the direction I wanted to go. Over the years it has morphed into an eclectic collection of moments in our lives from homeschooling to homesteading. I try to keep it real, but classy and positive at the same time. I hope I have provided some humor along with some ideas and tips to help with your lives. All I ask is that you spread the word.

 

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Now let’s take a look back at my top post over the last 3 years.

First Day of School 2013

Homemade Pizza Dough

Building our Coop de Ville

 

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My Favorite Post:

I’m Southern and I can’t bake biscuits

This is my favorite post because I always ask myself why can’t I make biscuits. I grew up watching Grandma make them. I have tackled some pretty difficult recipes and have honestly impressed the heck out of myself sometimes. But biscuits are my Achilles heel! UPDATE: I still haven’t found and made a good biscuit yet!

Selfie! OH wait am I too close!

Selfie! OH wait am I too close!

 

Theses are the post that sum me up as a person. These post show who I am perfectly.

Our Frugal Disney Vacation

City Girl living a Country life

Check in with my flock

Family Dinners

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Let me know your favorite post and what you would like to see more of.

 

 

Beginning a new school year

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This is from a few years ago, but totally captured how I felt beginning this new school year.

This school year has had so many ups and downs that I am scared to see what the next 8 months bring. I just couldn’t get everything going. I had no motivation. Plus I was lost trying to homeschool 3 kids at 3 different levels. This was a first for me. Even when my girls were all home, they were close to each other that I could teach them all and then give different activities. But this year was different.

I have a High schooler,Cailin, as if that isn’t stressful enough. All the questions of am I doing the right thing? Am I screwing her up for life? Am I giving her enough classes or too much? What about college?!?

Then I have my special needs daughter, Brianna. She learns something but still struggles with 1st to 2nd grade math. We haven’t moved past basic division because she get so frustrated. She loves Science and Nature but hates writing and history. She gets frustrated if I try to help and then in the same breath frustrated that I didn’t help. *SIGH*

Last is my darling son, Dakota, who is extremely smart and retains things very quickly, but HATES SCHOOL!!!!! He would rather play with video games and toys or watch Disney Jr than pick up a crayon. He can write his name and recognize most letters. He just learned to count to 25 but would rather learn adding and telling time. Like I said extremely smart, but also my “I can’t” kid, which I have never had to deal with before.

Needless to say in the last month and half that we have been suppose to be doing school, there were a lot of struggles, tears and me saying I was done. I sat down with the kids a few times and tried to brainstorm what would help all of us. What I heard was

  • I hate being in my room reading from 10 different textbooks (Cailin)
  • I want more science ( Brianna and Cailin)
  • I want more projects or hands on stuff (both again)
  • I want more art (both again)
  • I like stickers, painting, storytime, circle time, fun games and toys, BUT NO COLORING! (demanding  darling son)
  • Cooking (all 3)

For me, it was research time!

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Maybe we were unschooling all along! Snow ball fight in Florida!

 

Unschooling
Unschooling was one of the first methods I checked out. I knew I was tired of worksheets and blah reading. And I also knew I was burned out. And I knew I just didn’t have it in me to be stressed out and worrying about curriculum deadlines. But I was worried about Cailin not having enough credits or requirements to get into culinary school. I knew she would read and learn on a daily basis, but what about Brianna. During the weekends all she does is sleep, walk around the yard or sleep and watch TV. She has no goals, interest, hobbies or independence. She needs me to lead and direct. Then there is Dakota, who as I stated earlier would play video games all day long.
I didn’t like the couple of days we tried it and neither did the kids, except Lil Man. At the same time, there were some readings about how unschooling is letting go of everything. No chores, no rules, eating whatever they want, basically letting them make their choices. Again this is not going to work in my house.
  1. I am a control freak and so is my hubby.
  2. My kids will eat junk food instead of making healthy choices.
  3. I am trying to go organic and that stuff is expensive. If I let my skinny mini special needs child go on free will by the end of the day my groceries will be gone. She doesn’t eat because she is hungry. She eats because it is 8 o’clock, 12 o’clock, 5 o’clock or because she is bored.
  4. I have a VERY hard time getting the kids to do their chores as is, if I let them choose then nothing will be done, other than me listening to Hubby complain.
  5. I have a large family and I am only 1 person!

So some of the ideas didn’t sit well with me.

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Doing a fun project just because we can!

 

Project based learning
Project based learning was next. I liked how it was very hands on and I knew my kids would love that. But it was once again child led. We tried this for a few days. My oldest began a project, did very well, but hasn’t touched it since. My youngest just wants to read the Mo Willems Pigeon books, but no activities to go with them. And Brianna refused to read the book, picked out a cat, started to make a cat but then got frustrated. Once again I helped too much and then not enough.
Meeting time
We sat down again and went over everything we liked and didn’t like about the last few weeks. The things we took away from this meeting were pretty simple. My kids liked when I was teaching them and planning the activities. They didn’t want to have all that responsibility, but they do like a say in what we learn. Which is fine because I love Pinterest and planning all those activities.
My kids hate writing! So I will include that in with other subjects.  Brianna loved Little House in the Big woods and Cailin wants to read Shakespeare. UMMM OK!!! Everyone wants more science. Heck, if all day, everyday was just science they would be happy. Cailin was doing Biology and she liked what they were teaching just not how and Brianna is very interested in animals, insects and plants. Take away textbooks, add some hands on activities, videos, interactive notebooking and field trips~ you got yourself and very fun science curriculum.
I struggled with History and Art. That is not my thing. American history, YES! World History, NO! So I have my mom helping me to put that together and make it more hands on. They liked our curriculum, Story of the World, but wanted art tied into it and more videos and hands on. I have to admit in my we have to finish this now, I would skip a lot of hands on activities. Yup bad mom of the year here. But it’s okay, because I am reformed now! And again, thank God for Pinterest and lovely homeschool blogging moms who have the answer to my struggles.
This helped with my older kids, but what about Dakota. Well for one, he likes to say he is smarter than his sisters. So I being the mom I am told him if he doesn’t do school and they do school eventually he won’t be smarter. Don’t judge! He is my stubborn one and if it works it works. But seriously, I also noticed that if it is something that catches his attention, he will participate. The other day, the girls were observing and drawing in their nature journal outside, which was his idea (a miracle). He had to have a nature journal too. And so he sat, drawing and from time to time running to catch butterflies. That in my book is a success!
In the end
We can’t and won’t be labeled. We are Unschoolers. Everyday is learning if you really pay attention and think. We think we are just living, but living and learning goes hand and hand. So me explaining why the dumbass who just cut me off in the car is a dumbass is learning. Or why we need to go get this for the chickens or why we don’t buy this brand or version of the food. It is valuable information that they are soaking up and storing away.
We are Project Based because we love using our hands and really being able to observe and process it. We love a good project but also know when to move on. It doesn’t consume our lives.
We are Teacher led because my kids want to spend time with me and listen to my knowledge. And let’s be honest, I don’t know how many more years I have with them and I am going to enjoy them. They are getting older you know.
We are Curriculum Based meaning we follow a curriculum but it was set up based on suggestions from the kids. Which must mean we are Child Led also.
Look I don’t know about you, but recently the reality has hit that my kids aren’t staying little. I have a year and a half until my oldest public school daughter graduates and goes off to college and 4 years with Cailin. Those years are going to fly and I just want to enjoy. I want to make memories and laugh. I want to have fun and live. I want to enjoy this season of my life before the next comes around. So I am not looking to check off a box of another school subject done. The only boxes I want to check off is moments lived!
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Picnic time

Getting challenge ready

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Creating a Master Menu

In my household, it is very easy to jump into the day and get caught up in all the things that need to be done. Homeschooling, laundry, cleaning, chickens and then there is meal time, by the time I get a chance to breathe it is 4:00 and I have no idea what’s for dinner. I need a plan. It’s one of many ways I keep my life organized and our budget on track.

This summer I took my meal planning to a whole new level. I went through my cookbooks (believe me there is a lot!) and made monthly menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner of all of my families favorites. I have enough menus for 5 months worth of dinners. We only have 1 or 2 months for breakfast and lunch, but are trying to expand on those also. We will begin using these menus in September. I love trying new recipes so the weekends are left opened for those. I also only use these during the school year. Summer is all about finding new favorites.

 

Creating a Monthly Grocery List

Another thing I am starting to do is a beginning of the month huge shopping. I make a grocery listing everything I need and then go through and cross off what I already have. From there, I go through and add things that I am getting low on that I know are necessities and we will need before the month runs out.

Now I break down the produce items by the week. Obviously, buying fresh produce for a whole month and expecting it to stay fresh until the end of the month is unrealistic. So I do a quick produce and milk shopping every week.

Why I do a monthly shopping
I live out in a rural area and it is not economical for me to be driving to the store multiple times. Not only that but I have a big family. So I choose to take one weekend to do my huge shopping. One day I drive North to BJ’s and stop at a Publix. And then a few days later, when I go to my mother in laws, I stop at Costco, Fresh Market and a Meat market if need be. These are all close to her house. I am technically not making an extra trip because I have to go pick up which ever kids are at her house anyways. Plus this just works for me. If I lived in the city or closer to these places, I probably wouldn’t shop monthly.

 

Where I Shop

I usually shop at BJ Wholesale, Publix and Walmart. In doing my research of the variety of products, I have decided to drop Walmart stores. The stores are very limited on in store organic or natural products, but online they have an amazing selection with some items cheaper than Amazon. Plus by shopping online and using the mypoints.com website you will earn points towards gift cards for Amazon, Walmart or Visa. I honestly cannot tell you how much I love this site. But that is another post.

 I also just recently purchased a Costco membership after reading many blog post about the amount of organic items and doing a walk-through of the store. I also did this through an email deal from MyPoints and earned extra points. So September will be my first month shopping there.
Near Costco, there is a meat market that sells grass-fed beef for the same price as regular beef at Publix. I am driving by so of course I am going to stop there and get my beef and anything else that looks good. Again I haven’t been there yet. This is based off of my research.
But I have been to the new Fresh Market by my Mother in Law’s house. AMAZING! It was a real food culinary dream. I will definitely be stopping there when I need fresh seafood. Very little meat is prepackaged, it all gets wrapped by the butcher when you order it. Plus they have an amazing bulk section.
I will post updates on my Facebook, instagram and of course here as to how this worked for me.
Throwing out all the junk
Now is the time to begin. Go through the house and throw out all the junk and buy all organic and natural items. NO!
The frugal side of me cannot suggest or even fathom doing this. I hate waste! It drives me crazy! Use what you got until it gone and then switch to the healthier version. This summer, we had already made the switch to organic milk because I was buying a half gallon for me, but realized it would be cheaper to just switch out our gallons for organic. My eggs are 90% farm fresh because my neighbors have been letting me buy their extras for next to nothing. Once in a while I buy eggs at the store and get the vegetarian eggs.
I am finally getting low on some items and I will be switching them over in September. I knew how awful vegetable oil is but I didn’t toss out what I had, I used it up and now can switch to coconut oil. My sugar is almost gone so I am switching to organic. And I am finishing up the meat in the freezer, but am hoping to buy 90% all natural, grass fed or wild for what I need to buy.
If you have some stuff that is unopened and really want to make the switch, then maybe donating to a local food bank is a great option for you. Remember no waste!
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Remember, nobody is perfect 100% of the time. There will be times when the kids are starving or your out running errands and you just NEED to have that Pumpkin Spice Latte to get you through. I know for a fact that this coming month is going to be hard for us because our Disney passes are back and we will be going almost every weekend. But we are going to try our hardest and not fret over the times we can’t. My goal is 80/20. If I am at home, I want to make a meal instead of loading everyone up and going out and then feeling yucky afterwards. I want to feel better not be strict. I want to know I am feeding healthy options to my family, instead of crap that does nothing to for the mind and body. But am I overly crazy about it? NO, just doing the best I can do. One day, week, month and food choice at a time.