A New Normal without My Dad

I haven't written much about my dad's passing, it's just so hard to sit at the computer and try to write with tears streaming down my face. There's so many things I want to say and share. I know too many people whose parents have passed on this year and as we all embark on tomorrow, Halloween, the beginning of the end of 2013 and all the festivities that will happen in the next two months, I hope that by sharing a little of my thoughts will help us all.

When dad died I cried everyday for 3 months straight, since then it's only about every other day but sometimes more. I haven't erased his texts (the last one I ever got says "Love you", I've saved his voice messages (oh, how I miss his voice) and I treasure more than ever the tokens of love he's given me. The everyday stuff kind of goes back to normal and it's as if my dad's traveling like usual, but then Sunday comes and he's not at dinner, there's no phone call on my birthday and tomorrow he won't be here to enjoy my soup or wassail, that both my parents taught me to make. Right now at midnight I just realized I don't even have groceries for tomorrow. My coping mechanism has been to accept what's coming and only do as much as I can. I let whatever is coming happen and then decide what I can do in the moment. As I'm writing I'm realizing this is what I do. So I guess we'll see how tomorrow goes and if we'll have soup and wassail. It's not that I'm putting it off, I'm just allowing myself to relax a bit and only run as fast as my feet and broken heart will let me.

I have been blessed with many tender mercies, feelings, thoughts and inspiration that I know came from my dad and a loving Heavenly Father over the last five months. I am so grateful for these experiences, they have carried me through. However with every new day I create a new normal without him being just a phone call away.

Tomorrow, Halloween, begins a new holiday normal and I believe this will be the most difficult holiday season I've ever had. My mom goes all out for holidays and dad is always right there with her, I can't imagine how hard this will be for her. They both make the holidays special in their own way from the food to the gifts it is magical. I've never made Thanksgiving dinner without my dad either in person or over the phone. I think sometimes my brain would purposely forget just so I could call my dad and have him by my side. December we get together at least twice a week for something, it's wonderful.........And now we'll do all those things with a big empty seat at Thanksgiving dinner, without our song leader on Sinter Klaas and without a poem from Dad Christmas morning (these are little tokens of him).

I know the firsts will be the hardest, but I don't know if it ever gets easy to let go of the pain, it's as if I'd be letting go of him. I don't want to ever let go! I want to always remember and miss him like crazy.

I love the fact that everyday something reminds me of my dad, as if it's him saying hello. It can be anything from an image to a song. Today it was Katy Perry's new song Unconditionally. One of the last conversations I had with my dad, I told him I was worried he'd be disappointed in me. He then told me with all the love a dad can have that there was Never Anything I could do to make him disappointed and that he loves me unconditionally. I love you, daddy.

Party, YES! Halloween Costumes, NO!!!!!

Am I the worst mom IF I just dread coming up with Halloween costumes? Well I may be, but it's just not something I enjoy. I can throw a fun party any day (if I'm in the mood, Haha), but costumes are just plain no fun work for me. Sure, I think that all the costumes are cute and when I see Family Costumes I sometimes kick myself but then square my shoulders and accept that's just not me. I have done one or two family costumes throughout the last 13 years but not many and that's OK. 
To all you talented costume making moms, I sincerely applaud you and admire your work. 

This is the first year my girls 13 & 11 haven't had their difficult costumes planned since April. You know, when they talk about it for months and I still don't plan before Halloween how I'm going to make that work. Yay! They are growing up and out of costumes and I can let the guilt go.

Luckily my boys don't demand much from me. My 5 year old doesn't even like to be dressed at all. No, I don't let him go naked but I'm not about to fight to put on a costume neither of us care about. My 7 year old wants to be Fantasmic Mickey. That seemed easy enough, one trip to the Disney store and I'm done, right? Nope, they don't carry that costume. I am so lucky to have the most easy going boy and he's happy with what we've got left over from previous costumes to make it work.

I'm so glad time goes on and that all things come to PASS and not to stay. Even halloween costume designing motherhood time. Here's proof that I've done fun costumes and am good with moving on.

Board Games as Classroom Parties

Yep! You guessed it, I'm a Room Mom for my sixth grader. At our school the kids are privileged to  have classroom parties for a couple of holidays through out the year. With Halloween next week I thought I'd share with you how I took CLUE the board game and spun it into a full on party.

My daughter begged me NOT to have stations, but with 30 kids it's almost impossible to have a party in a classroom and not break into groups. I think what my daughter was really asking me to do was to have a cohesive party with a beginning, middle and end. What better way to do this than with a game.

I started with the lights off and window blinds closed so there was just a little light to set the mood. I was dressed up with a red ribbon around my neck and acted a little while another mom read a scary kids story "The Red Ribbon". When the story was over I explained with a "Dundunduuun" that we were going to find out who, where and how this happened to the woman with the red ribbon by playing a real live version of the game CLUE.

I split the kids into equal groups and had them each start at different stations. These stations were facilitated by other moms, who were all dressed up as characters from the game with some kind of resemblance to the room they were in (examples below).
Each group was given an actual board game CLUE sheet to record their findings.
At each station the kids had to do different activities, when the activity was completed the team was shown actual clue cards. These cards I divided up just like you do when playing the board game.
The kids rotated stations for the time we had allotted, at this point they all came to where I had displayed the game board in the classroom and placed the figures with who, where and how they thought the mystery played out.
I read the group suspicions and then pulled out the "Top Secret" cards and revealed the answer. This was also the CLUE as to where the classroom prize was hidden. The answer being Mr. Green in the Bathroom with the Rope. In the classroom bathroom I hid a plastic green jack-o-lantern full of glow it the dark necklaces.

Once the prizes were found the kids got to enjoy popcorn, soda and freshly made in the classroom cotton candy. The kids said it was the best party. Thanks to all the moms who made it all possible.

Here is how we divided up the characters, rooms and the activities we played...
   Character               Room                             Activity
Professor Plum    Billiards                       Dart Board (every kid got a turn until they reach the set amount of points)
Mrs. Scarlet          Lounge                Halloween Word Scramble
Mrs. Peacock    Dining Room          Blindfolded Safety Pin Dig (in individual rice buckets)
Mr. Green           GreenHouse               Spider Throw (similar to darts but with sticky spiders and a web from Target)
Cl. Mustard           Kitchen                 Fear Factor Blindfolded (everyday foods named something spooky)
Mrs. White             Library                        Charades (every child took a turn acting to receive their clues)

Top 5 Common Response to Autism

First of all I'm so excited to be a host for the very first #It'sAllSpecial monthly round up. I hope that you will share your posts with us and together we can uplift and inspire one another.

The older The Rock gets the more often I find it necessary to tell people he has autism. At the park the kids notice he doesn't talk and ask me why. Other kids ask him questions and he ignores them they ask why. Adults ask him how old he is and he won't look at them. When he was younger he could get away with this behavior and people would wave it off. Now it's not that simple. Sometimes I need to tell people he has autism for his safety. Most of the time I tell someone the Rock has autism I brace myself for impact because the "conversation plane" is about to crash.

Here are my top 5 common responses when I tell someone "My so has autism" AND what I wish I could say (only sometimes, sarcasm helps) and how I actually politely reply.

#5 "I'm sorry" with a frown
     WISH~ "I'm NOT he's the most amazing blessing in my life. I'm sorry YOU weren't special enough for him to be yours." 
      ACTUAL~ "He's an amazing boy!"

#4 "oh, awesome. Not that it's awesome he's autistic."
    WISH~ "Yeah, let me tell you what IS awesome! Watching you squirm." Jk that's mean and I'm too nice but sometimes I wish I could say that. Most of the time people just don't know what to say. I've done this myself. Ugh!
    ACTUAL~ "You're right he is awesome!"

#3 "How did you know?"
    WISH~ "He told me, duh?" or "I took a quiz online and diagnosis him myself." 
    ACTUAL~ "Two near death experiences and a lot of other signs" sometimes I share THE story if they ask more. 

#2 "He doesn't look autistic."
    WISH~ "You just can't see the mark right now. Ill show you later." Autism doesn't have "a look" and the spectrum is wide. When you say this it comes across as an accusation that the parent, doctors and specialists are wrong and you know more than anyone. 
     ACTUAL~ "He's beautiful and/or perfect!"

#1Common Response and the one I hate the most. Not the person just the question. "How autistic is he?" or "We'll he's high function right?" What if he's not high functioning and you just stuck your foot in your mouth again AND you rubbed salt into an open emotional wound. 
    WISH~ "You tell me, he doesn't speak independently, we've never had a conversation, he whines or screams at me for the last to help him and its a guessing game all day (that I rock at, NOW), he's constantly in danger if I let him get out of my sight for more than 5 min., he doesn't play with friends, he obsesses over movie trailers, he gags at most foods." On and on I could go. 
      ACTUAL~"mildly severe still learning to talk although he rocks at swimming, climbing and jumping." It's ok to focus on the positive. Our kiddos need to hear us talk about their talents and praise them. It feeds their spirits when we do. 

Here's some suggested responses, that I'm grateful to hear on very very rare occasions, therefore not on the "common" response list. 
"He looks like a great kid!"
"He's a cute kid."
"You're a lucky mom, he's special."
Give any other kind of compliment. We are all fighting a tough battle and we can use all the encourage we can give one another. Inspire one another by focusing on the positive. This quote is a good one.

It's All Special

Welcome to the first edition of It's All Special: The Special Needs Link Up!

This is It's All Special: October Edition, hosted by Mishmash Mama, Trust Me, I'm a Mom, and Peace from 6 Pieces through the It's All Special Community on Google+.

This month, our members are talking about the responses they get when they tell people "My child has special needs."

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When you link up, please:

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Shannon @ Mishmash Mama


Cobilynn @ Peace from 6 Pieces


Michelle @ Trust Me, I'm A Mom

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you know you're a M.O.M. when...

...preparing for the worst takes all your worries away.
I was talking to a dear friend (Aleisha from She Calls Me "Mama Leisha") the other day and she was explaining to me how worried she was about "birthing a person" for the third time (she's a pro, right?). I told her she had it under control and not to worry. We all know that doesn't help. So I told her what I do when I'm worried.

When I'm worried it's usually because I've imagined the most terrible thing happening, one of my loved ones dead or extremely injured. This worry doesn't come out of no where, I have very spirited children who put themselves in dangerous situations all the time, just because they are not paying attention or they do not understand what danger is. Recently The Rock (5yr old with autism) realized he's able to reach the branch on the only tree in the backyard. This realization now makes it possible for him to be over the fence in 1min flat. The first time he did this I had my eyes off him for 5 minutes and he was found laying in the middle of the street (the one that people drive WAY too fast down the hill). Now we're back to house arrest. Haha

I understand worry but it turns into anxiety and that leads to a whole spectrum of debilitating scenarios, I don't enjoy. I've come up with my way to cope with this. I determine if I can change my situation, if I can I do. Obviously sometimes you can't, like my sweet pregnant friend, something you just have to go through have faith and LET IT PASS. In times of not being able to change the situation I imagine every possible scenario imaginable, I come up with a solution or decide what I would do if it happened and then???? I have to LET IT PASS. I've then prepared my mind as best I can for the worst and I have to have faith, turn it over to the angels watching and let whatever is suppose to happen occur.

I totally agree with the idea to stay positive, look on the bright side, pray for the best outcome. But "if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." This is how I make this scripture real for me and the ability to feel PEACE in these worrisome times. What do you do?