Friday, June 29, 2012

Power's Out!

One of the worse kinds of stress is financial. It's one thing when you can't have what you want like nice clothes, a nice car, a swimming pool, or a vacation. But it is a whole different ball game when you can't afford necessities like food, housing, electricity, or transportation.

The Maldive Islands are one of a few locations I'd be relaxing at right now, if money were no object.

Since leaving my career last year, we have been under complete financial distress. I tried to compensate with getting a part time job in the evening, but it is no where near what I was previously making. Don't get me wrong I had to stay home because of the need for my family and I do not regret it. But it's so stressful when you can't even afford what you need.

We try to make do with cuts to our budget. Some of the ways we have is using Dave Ramsey's program, cutting coupons, participating in a clothing swap, doing the boy's haircuts, and having no credit cards. But even with this it is almost impossible. Our medical co pays (over $5000 dollars for just Jayson), medications and gas to each appointment has participated in our financial abyss.

I hated the movie "The Abyss" just like I hate financial stress!

I ask others how they are able to do it. One of our big obstacles was that we both were divorced, which we are still recovering from.  We also make too much for assistance, but not enough to make ends meet.  I have great compassion for others who are able to pull through so much stress.  I do appreciate things more since going through these trials.  Small things I appreciate like having a cold soda or air conditioning.  But there has to be a better way of getting by.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Don't Hate me because I'm Beautiful

I had a secret. It ruled my life for a couple of years. I wasn't the typical candidate, I was thirty. I thrived on getting sicker. I had an eating disorder. Not everyone knew, but it ruled my life. It started after my third child was born. I was obsessed about getting back into shape. I was running six to eight miles everyday. If I could not run that day I would feel guilty all day and I was a mess. By six months I was where I was before I gave birth. Joe got sick and was hospitalized. I had no time to eat and I loss four pounds in two days. That is when a huge lightbulb went off. I had control of something.

Just a few of the many celebrities that had eating disorders.

It became increasingly worse when I moved to Texas. My ex-husband was a naval officer and he became increasingly aggressive. He snapped one night and assaulted me. I immediately filed for divorce. My life was spinning out of control but I could control one thing... How much I consumed.

I was always an average kid. In high school I was considered "chubby". I was the "bigger" girl in my group of friends.  Boys seemed not to be interested in me and I contributed this to my weight. I never felt good enough.  But at  31 and 5'9 and 119 pounds, I still didn't feel beautiful.  I always denied when I was approached about the weight loss.  I knew I couldn't hide it forever but maybe for a while.  Not eating was my drug.  As long as I could continue not to eat and lose weight, that helped all my anxiety and any thoughts that would creep into my head.
Kate Moss was my hero as a teenager!

I am no longer anorexia.  I am heavier than I would like but I am healthy.  Don't get me wrong, anorexia is always at the back of my mind.  My life is stressful and I would love to have control of something.  I seem to be "okay" to eat normally, maybe it is maturity, or a supportive husband, or maybe I know now I have a bigger battle to tackle right now with Jayson.  I would not say I am cured, I guess I am recovered.  I do think about slipping into that obsession almost daily.  But than I remember how miserable and how time consuming my addiction was.

I started to run again but this time it's for stress relief... And that is all!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Judgement Day

Thanks for the omnioxious commercial that plays in my head over and over.
Peanut Butter Jelly Time:

 Maybe it is because all I watch on TV is usually a child friendly channel or maybe it is because my son jayson eats about 4 peanuts butter sandwiches a day. Jayson only eats about 10 foods. This is an improvement. The list used to only consist of four items. I am in big trouble if I run out of these staples. If I run out of peanut butter than Jayson will have a full meltdown.

Jayson has Sensory Integration Disorder. He is sensitive to food, noise and needs to touch everything.
With the help of occupational therapy and a "sensory diet", we have learned to help regulate Jayson. It works at times but other times it is too late than the meltdown begins.

When we go into a store and something sets him off we leave. But before getting to the door sometimes I get stares, comments, and looks of disgust. Please don't assume that a child is having a tantrum or is just a "brat". What autism has taught me is not to judge so quickly.

I don't just cater to his wants or spoil him. I try to accommodate so he will be able to function and learn. It's something his siblings have even learned.  But why are there people who automatically judge and tell others their opinions. This goes deeper than just parenting.  I have others judge me through the years thinking I am something I am not. I may not explain myself,  but that does not mean your opinions are right.  It may mean that I don't feel comfortable explaining.

A quick graphic on the difference between an Autism Meltdown and Tantrum, click here for a nice video on the topic.

I asked everyone to step back from a situation and do not easily judge.  If you see someone struggling, it maybe nice to ask if they need help.  That help could mean the world.  I had a dear friend, Claudia, who befriended me years ago.  She understood that there were circumstances that had me at the place I was.  She didn't judge me but loved me and supported me.  Unfortunately, my dear friend passed away this year. I regret that I never got to tell her how much I appreciated that. I miss her dearly and I strive to be a better person.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Common Than You Think

It was good to hear that authorities are not pressing charges on a Shiner, Texas father who killed his daughter's molester this week.  He heard his five-year-old daughter screaming, to find her behind a shed being sexually assaulted.

He put matters in his own hands, literally, and beat him off her.  He then called 911 and later the perpetrator died.

Then, my stomach turned when I read today that Jerry Sandusky's adopted son was also a victim.  This is 10 victims now that have surfaced.  Sexual abuse is very disturbing and almost unthinkable.  But indeed it happens, much more than one might realize.  

With the recent news and my experience as a rape counselor, I decided to write a blog about sexual abuse.  To realize that it happens in even the smallest of communities, just cruise the sex offender registries that are provided on the the internet. 

Just our local sex offenders.
Find PA's Meagan's Law site here, a national listing can be found at this link.

You may be alarmed that even a neighbor might be on the site. I realized that even my small home town have several dozen perpetrators.  Thanks to Megan's Law, it is one defense that parents and the community have.  I did some research and I have found that:

  •  1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the age of 18.                                                                                               Statistics," Sexual Violence. Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape)  

  • The typical child sex offender molests an average of 117 children.                                                                   (National Institute of Mental Health, 1988) 

  • About 95% of victims know their perpetrators.                                                                                  ( CCPCA, 1992)
If you are like me, you probably are sick to your stomach.  But the only thing parents can do is be educated to try to protect our children.  As mention before, I would cruise your local sex offender registry.  Know what lives beside you.  Second, talk, talk, talk to your children.  Tell them what is appropriate touch and what is not.  Make them feel comfortable that they can come and talk to you if something is happening.  Third, know the possible signs of sexual abuse.  Be cognizant of the possible signs of sexual abuse, such as:

Nightmares or sleep problems.
Bed wetting
Difficulty walking or sitting
Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, unusual sexual knowledge/behavior
Low performance in school (especially if they were not prior)
Genital or rectal symptoms, such as pain during a bowel movement or urinating.
Withdrawal or depression
unusual aggressiveness or suicidal behavior
Refuses to change in front of others.

Remember we can't always prevent something bad to happen to our children but education is the best defense.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Breaking Good

July 15th will start the new season of my favorite TV show AMC's "Breaking Bad".  I am not one who is able to watch much TV, but this show hooked me with the very first episode.  It is a unconventional show that is so unbelievable that I wish sometimes it was reality.  

Aaron Paul is dreamy!

Bryan Cranston (the dad from Malcom in the Middle) is a middle age chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.  He was a very upstanding citizen and lived his life by the book.  His character cracks when he gets the diagnosis and he worries how he will support his family.  He meets up with one of his former students (Aaron Paul : who is great eye candy) and decides to cook meth.  Each season has me on the edge of my seat.  The show transforms a straight and narrow character into a bad ass.

The show intrigued me not only for the education on Meth, but how a person who has no faith really can "break". If you get a chance and have Netflix, start the first season, you won't regret it!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Stressed with Autism

I knew something was wrong at around 18 months. I mention something to the pediatrician at Jayson's well check. She blew off the lack of talking because he had four other siblings and were probably doing the speaking for him. She blew off his meltdowns as starting the terrible twos early. I knew something was not right. You know when you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is not right?

Jayson was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder by his second birthday. I knew it was going to be a tough journey, but never thought it would get even harder 2 1/2 years later. Jayson is almost stuck at the age of two. He has just as many melt downs, still is not potty trained, still can't sleep through the night, and he has a limited schedule and diet. He receives intervention several times a week and I quit my career to stay home. But with that said, he seems still at the same place were we started. You can imagine how discouraged my husband and I are.

Jayson plays minecraft but cant use the potty!

We do not receive respite care . My husband and I seem to be just getting by. We are both physically and emotionally exhausted.  On top of that I have a lot of guilt for the other children because I am stretch so thin and I am not able to attend or give them the attention that I want to.

Two studies that were published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders reported that Mothers with children with autism had comparable stress as a combat solider. Other research indicates that parents of children with autism experience greater stress than parents of children with MR or Downs Syndrome (Holroyd & MacArthur 1976; Donovan 1988).

Okay, now I don't feel as much as a wimp than I thought I was. This research does validate my feelings but it still does not help reduce it. There needs to be more ways to help families like our selves in reducing stress.

My husband and I have been trying to get creative as far as stress relief. I have started to run again, we are eating healthier, I am writing... and I pray. But what else is there besides handing him over to a stranger in respite care (which is not an option)?

Dear Lord please help our family and the much needed rest we need.  I pray for our children that they will find comfort in you.  I pray for Jayson. My heart aches that he is consistently in distress. Lord only you know what we are dealing with and I ask for your grace.  Amen.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Daddy Dearest

Dear Dad:

I wanted to tell you that you have always been special to me since I was a little girl. You were always a strict father and made sure I always did the right thing. I don't have many memories of you playing with me or taking me to the park or helping me with my homework. I know that was the sacrifice you had to make for our family. I know many holidays you were on duty but we still celebrated even know you were tired. Daddy, you made sure I had what I needed and you always provided vacations for our family. You taught me the importance of always doing what was right and never backing down. You now are a wonderful grandfather. I am so proud how nurturing you are with them. I thank you for being the strong, loving father that you are. And I am blessed for the relationship you have with my children. I love you daddy!


Your daughter