Saturday, May 30, 2020

This Is What Autism Looks Like


This past Thursday, I woke up and soon threw my neck and upper back out. A great amount of pain followed. Ice, heat, repeat. I took some ibuprofen, located the CBD oil and prayed the pain would leave me soon. It did not. As the hours wore on, the pain increased. It not only increased, it became immobilizing.  I was discouraged and was so upset because I had four days set aside to do as much as I possibly could around my house. I have fallen behind on everything, as my focus has been work and my clients and distance learning for my kids.

I usually check on Zach frequently and I just wasn't up to the task. I couldn't imagine walking upstairs, checking on him, and walking back down, after I had I finally gotten comfortable and was propped up with pillows and an ice pack.  So I just didn't go to check. I called upstairs to him a few times, but didn't visually go to see him.

I should have known that something was wrong when he seemed to be spending a long time upstairs and then I realized he was in my room that whole time.  When I finally got up and went upstairs, I found this disaster.  The only way I can describe this is- This is what Autism looks like.

The night before Josh lost his work keys when he got home from work. He looked everywhere. He opened every drawer, overturned every ottoman, looked under every table and under every bed.  He looked in my purse, checked the cracks in his car, and even second guessed himself wondering if could have left the keys at work.

Zach witnessed all of this searching and constant overturning of items. Of sorting, or getting down on the floor and getting back up again. Zach asked what happened and Josh simply stated that he had lost his work keys and was trying to find them.

When I saw the state of my master closet floor, I knew exactly what I was looking at. Zach had continued the searching right where Josh had left off.  Zach had knocked almost every item of clothing off of the shelves in our closet and threw them on the floor. Everything that had once been folded in organized on the shelves was in a haphazard mess on the floor and in some places, piled up to my knees.

I panicked and hollered for Zach who had quickly left the room when I entered.  When he came back in, my frustration level was high.

"Zach, what did you do?! Why is everything on the floor? You are not allowed in my closet!"
In pain and totally defeated, tears poked at the corners of my eyes. How was I going to clean all of this up when I was in so much pain? The daunting task overwhelmed me and full on tears began to flow.

"I was trying to find dad's keys. I did not find them."  Zach calmly said. "Mom, are you crying? Oh, mom is sad."

This is what Autism looks like.  Floors filled with discarded clothing.  Parents crying and confused. Children unaware that they have done something they shouldn't have.  And then the understanding came.  Zach had created this mess, because he thought he was actually helping his dad look for his keys. He wasn't asked to help, but in his beautiful heart, he wanted to.  He wanted to help his dad that he loves. And clothes on the floor and a mess that I couldn't clean up was the byproduct.

I explained to him, that dad would find his keys, that he isn't allowed in my closet, and that he needs to remember never to touch clothes or stuff in the linen closet which has been a problem in the past. He said okay, and left the bedroom. And in Zach's eyes, that was it.

My heart softened a bit.  Zach thought he was helping. Zach wanted to find the keys. I wiped my last few tears.  I was able to get down on the floor in the closet. Sitting among all the clothes, too many clothes, I started to slowly fold one shirt, and then another. To create a pile for shorts, and then capri pants. If I kept my elbows low, I was able to feel little pain. I folded clothing and stacked them until the need to lay down overtook me.


Here on Saturday evening,  I still do not have a closet that is organized and put back together. I would say that I have maybe 50% of the work completed. I do little bits when I can.  And I am okay with that.  Reflecting on my upset and my tears, I realized that this just happened to coincide when I was in pain and out of commission. Zach wasn't trying to be destructive and cause a huge mess. The huge mess happened to be the outcome of Zach not understanding how to methodically search for something that was missing.  The huge mess happened to be the outcome of Zach trying to help.

Praying tomorrow is an easier day and that the pain begins to subside.  But also I hope that I can slow down a bit more when something unpredictable happens. When something doesn't go my way or a road block prevents me from carrying out what I had planned for the day.  Especially when it comes to something like this.  This is what Autism looks like.  And I learn from this sweet kid daily.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

My Work Here Is Done- What I Write About When I Am Missing My Mom On Mother's Day

My mom once asked me if I thought she had done a pretty good job being a mom to Angie and I. I was a bit shocked that she was even asking, because this wasn't how our mom usually spoke. She was confident without being full of herself, and always knew what she contributed was needed, wanted and desired.  But when she asked me this question, I knew what she needed. She needed the affirmation and confirmation that only a daughter could provide.

I have written many short stories about my mom. Today on Mother's Day, I was actually editing 5 of them that will be included in my next book. The stories speak of strength, kindness and encouragement. They attest to her ability to always help when she could and how she wasn't afraid to tell you what she really thought. They also speak of strained relationships and the restoration that came not a moment too soon. 

My entire life, my mom loved my sister and I.  She was fierce in her love, and didn't ever know when she needed to take a step back.  When we were teens and she struggled to parent us, Angie and I sometimes felt smothered. She was parenting, disciplining, guiding and not giving up on us.  What felt like smothering was actually love.  It was her loving kindness on display.  It just took Angie and I a few years, and a whole lot of growing up to realize it. 

So when my mom asked me if I thought she had done good job being a mom to Angie and I, I may have paused, but I knew the answer. Without a doubt, I knew.

I told her how much I admired her. How she was always so good at helping me with my school work even when she couldn't help me at all.  How she encouraged me to take chances and to believe that could accomplish my goals even when I didn't have a clue what she was talking about.  I told her of how I loved the way she loved people when they didn't show love in return and how she was so intentional in her friendships.  I told her that she was not only an excellent mom who showed me how to love others, but she also modeled what it looked like to chase after the Lord. She showed me that the chasing was most important.  

I remember she smiled at me and breathed in deeply.  "Well then, my work here is done."  

Her life was not a long one, only 67 years. I had the eternal pleasure of having her in my life for 37 of those years.  And I now know that if I can teach my children even half of things that she taught me and modeled for me, my work here will be done. 


Friday, May 1, 2020

Meet Me



Meet Me 
By: Kelli J Gavin 
For Writers Unite!


Fondly I remember
When you and I would meet
Both walking from our homes
To somewhere in between
The woods always provided shelter
From the hot summer sun
And from the wind that howled 
But I knew we would always have fun

Fondly I remember
When you and I would meet
Face to face each morning
That bench providing a seat
The hours quickly passed us by
As we spoke of everything 
And then of nothing at all
Once our lips would meet

Fondly I remember
When you and I would meet
You told me of your dreams
And I told you everything 
About joy and hurt and love gone dim
You only smiled and pulled me near
I still love that you were the one
Who could chase away my fear

Fondly I remember
When you and I would meet
Those days that I treasured
Still seem to be so sweet
You moved away yet here I am
Still waiting for you to take a seat
I will always miss you
And wish that we could meet





Monday, April 27, 2020

MOM'S LIFE Facebook Live Video- 4/27/20 - Organization Information and Resources

Notes and Resources for Mom’s LIFE Facebook
Live Video- 4/27/20
Kelli J Gavin - Home & Life Organization 

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11 Things to Ditch NOW.


*Baby stuff and baby clothes. If you are done having kids. Pass them on to someone who needs them. Don’t hold on them for years and years. Yes, a special outfit or two, but not 6 bins.


*Greeting Cards. Pull out a special few. Super special occasions, or from people who you miss.  I kept three for each kid from mom that have beautiful notes written in them in her beautiful script. 


*DVDs, CDs, VHS Tapes. Come on now.  We do have a bunch of dvds and vhs tapes at my house because my special needs son loves them. But they also are kept in one location.  When it comes to CDs, load them onto your cloud or iTunes or whatever you use and get rid of the stacks and free up the space. 


*Books. Ah. Books. My downfall.  When we can meet face to face again, consider a book swap. Donate to your local library or your neighborhood Little Free Library. Donate kids books to your local schools. Magazines are great for local nursing homes and care facilities and for the library magazine exchange bins. 


*Unused craft supplies. Now I know some of you accidentally just audibly gasped and were tempted to shut this live video off when I said that.  But be real with yourself. You know what you like and what you use.  You will not use it all. Donate donate donate. Sell what you can and part with what remains untouched. 


*Damaged dishes and ridiculous stained Tupperware and mismatched lids.  You don’t have to keep the dish just because it matches your set. Set it free.  And get rid of the excess, the junk- the unused and broken stuff from your cabinet. 


*Jewelry and Accessories.  Okay. I am 44. I lived through the 90s where huge necklaces and bulky earrings and shoulder pads were amazing.  Part with what is not longer in style and with what you no longer wear. Our tastes change. And that is okay. You don’t have to keep the excess just because you spent money on it at one point in time. 


*Forgotten candles. Do you have a shelf full or bin?  Throw them out.  Do it now.  Don’t tell me you plan on burning it down and using the glass canister it came in. Most old candles smell and once again, get real with yourself.  You don’t need 17 of them. 


*Empty journals and office supplies. WHAT? I swear I just heard more gasping and 6 people unfriended me. You have too much. It takes up too much space. You will never need 1894 rubber bands.  I am a writer and I will never use the 352 unused notebooks and journals. 128 boxes of Ticonderoga pencils.  Give them to your local school. Donate. Donate. Donate. 


*Travel toiletries.  You don’t need them and you only use the hand lotion. Donate them to the local shelter or food shelves as they also need hygiene and toiletry items. 


*Mugs.  Come on now. Go to your kitchen.  Count those mugs. Not just the glass ones, but the mugs you bring with you in the car. -You have too many. You know what ones are your favorite.  Keep those, now box up the rest. - Okay. Now box up a few more. 


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Examples of what you can do in 5, 10 or 30 minutes. 
What can you do in 5 minutes?
You can make an appointment.
You can buy a present online.
You can sort and throw away junk mail.
Answer two brief emails.
Respond to 4 text messages. 


What can you do in 10 minutes?
You can make two phone calls as long as you don’t get a Chatty Cathy on the line like me. 
You can dust your bedroom.
You can select 25 books you no longer need.
You can clear off your desktop.
You can review your calendar for the week.


What can you do in 30 minutes?
You can balance your paycheck.
You can pay bills. 
You can meal plan for two weeks.
You can clear out three drawers and get rid of what is old or not worn.


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When you are focusing on organizational projects in your home, it is very important to be aware of time bandits. The notorious habits that rob you of your time and take you away from the matter at hand. 


*Taking on more tasks than you can possibly handle.
*Never delegating.
*Losing sight of your current priorities. 
*Not having the tools or supplies on hand that you will need before you start a task.
*Being interrupted and sidetracked.
*Leaving unfinished tasks for a later unspecified date.
*Watching television or Netflix.
*Compulsively checking your phone or social media platforms.


These things steal your attention and sometimes disable you from being able to complete your important tasks of the day. 


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24 great fast tips about home organization from One Good Thing.


1. Make Your Bed-Straighten out the sheets, fluff those pillows, and smooth out your duvet. It takes about 30 seconds, and it makes a huge difference in how clean and organized your bedroom feels.

2. Pick Up Clothes-Go around the room (or around the house, if you’re feeling ambitious) and pick up all the clothes off the floor. Put them in your hamper if they’re dirty, or hang them up if they’re still pretty clean.

3. Put Laundry Away-Take a few minutes to put your clean, folded laundry in the drawers and closets where it belongs.

4. Put Shoes Away- Take the mountain of shoes in the entryway or laundry room and put them away. 

5. Corral The Remotes-Does anyone else seem to have a million remote controls floating around their living room? Spend a few minutes gathering them all together and placing them in a pretty box, bin, or tray. (And make sure to inform the family that all remotes will be stored there from now on, so they know where to put the remotes when they’re done with them.)

6. Start A Clutter Collection System-Take a few minutes to address problem areas or items in your home. Anywhere that mess seems to accumulate can be a good candidate. Then put something in place to help control the mess. For instance, if you have throw blankets that tend to get left out, put a basket somewhere in the living room. You can toss the blankets into the basket each night before you head off to bed.

7. Establish A Donation Area-Set aside an area or container in your house for items that you want to donate. It can be a shelf, a box, or a corner of a closet. It’ll help encourage everyone to help with your decluttering efforts, and it’ll keep the clutter hidden until you’re ready to make the trip to Goodwill.

8. Organize Your Cords-Have an unsightly mess of cords around your desk? Grab some Velcro, zip ties, rubber bands, or Command hooks and sort that mess out. It only takes a few minutes, and you’ll feel so much better once it’s done.

9. Store a Collection-Do you have a stash of candles, water bottles, board games, or other items just sitting around somewhere? Find a place to keep them organized, like an over-the-door organizer, a dedicated shelf, or a storage container.

10. Declutter Your Desk-Take a few minutes and get rid of some of the clutter on or around your desk. Put pens and pencils in a pen cup, recycle unneeded paper, and straighten up stacks of books or papers.

11. Hang Up Hooks-Need more places to hang stuff like scarves, purses, or cords? Take some time to hang up a few adhesive hooks! They’re easy to install and will definitely help control the clutter around your house.

12. Clean Out Your Fridge-Take out anything in your fridge that is expired, past its prime, or smelling less than fresh. The main culprits are usually produce and leftovers, so check those first.

13. Toss Out Stale Food-Go through your pantry and toss out anything that’s stale or past its expiration date.

14. Clear Out A Junk Drawer-If you have a junk drawer in your house, take a few minutes to empty it out. Group like items together, and toss out anything you don’t need or recognize. Corral similar items together in small plastic containers or drawer organizers before putting them back in the drawer.

 

15. Clear Out Unused Mugs- We talked about mugs!- If you have a kitchen cupboard that’s full to bursting of mugs, travel mugs, or other drink cups, take a minute to clear some of them out. Start with anything you haven’t used in the last 6 months, then adjust your limit if necessary. Set them aside in a box to donate when you have the time.

16. Organize Food Containers-Organize your collection of food storage containers. Make sure there’s a lid for every container, and set aside borrowed containers to return to their owners. Before placing your containers back in the cupboard or drawer, stack them up by size to make them as space-efficient as possible.

17. Label Your Waste Bins-If you’re always getting your trash bins or recycling bins mixed up, take a few minutes to label them. You can use paper labels or a label maker, then post the labels where they’re plainly visible. Not only will the labels help you, but it will help guests and other family members too.

18. Clear Out Cosmetics-Go through all your cosmetics, toiletries, and other personal care items. Toss out anything you don’t use anymore, and anything that’s past its expiration date.

19. Organize Your Wallet/Purse-Dump out the contents of your wallet or purse. Toss out any garbage, old receipts, and empty chap stick tubes. Put away any random items that have found their way in too. Once you’ve cleared out all the junk, put the important stuff back in an organized fashion. I keep a zippered small bag that contains meds, band aids, ointments and lotions, my iPod mini, and my eye drops. That way I don’t have to dig and the contents of my purse remain semi organized. 

20. Rearrange Your Closet-Rearrange the clothes in your closet using a more organized system. I like to put like with like, so I hang all my skirts together, my sweaters together, etc. But if you like to hang by color or occasion, that’s perfectly fine. Use whatever system makes the most sense to you. Just take the time to make sure all your clothes are hung up and put away. 

21. Organize Your Jewelry-Use trays to keep your jewelry organized, or hang it from an organizer or hanger. Anything that gets it up off your counter or dresser. I have  a client who uses a window frame with chicken wire to hang all her jewelry from the wall. Another uses three overturned seashells to house all of her jewelry.

22. Reduce Paper Clutter-It seems like there are always piles of mail, bills, and other stray papers lying around the house. Piles like these can make any house feel cluttered. Sort through the stacks and keep anything crucial. The rest can be shredded and recycled. Check out the flylady.com for lots of excellent ideas about paper clutter. 

23. Clear Out Coupons-If you have a place that you store coupons and other offers, go through it. Toss out any expired ones, then put the remaining coupons in an organizer of some sort. Stick it in your glove compartment in your car for safe keeping. You’ll be more likely to remember to use the coupons in the future if you keep them there!

24. Recycle Junk Mail-Take all of your old newspapers, junk mail, flyers, etc. and put them in the recycling bin.

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I want to share with you four great books that I have found super helpful and my clients also really like them.  

The first one is Life Management for Busy Women- Living out God’s Plan with Passion and Purpose. It is by Elizabeth George who also wrote A Woman After God’s Own Heart. This great book addresses God’s guidelines for managing the seven major areas of your life, (spiritual, body, finances, friendships, relationships and more.) It also discusses practical disciplines for managing your life more efficiently and effectively. And there are quite a few ideas on how to improve your schedule and your life right away. 
The second book is called Clutter Control- Putting Your Home on a Diet by Jeff Campbell of The Clean Team.  This perfect book addresses all areas of your home and enables the reader to focus on everything that they aren’t enjoying because of the state of their home.  It helps break it down in manageable steps so that your home not only becomes more livable, but it also enables you to manage it, keep the clutter under control and helps you to start to enjoy life again. 


The third book I would like to mention is Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. She has written a lot of books and approaches organization for everyone. Whether you have struggled with organization your entire life and now you are ready to get serious about it. Or you used to be organized and you are trying to reclaim your home. Or even if you are basically organized but you are looking for new ways or systems to help you be more efficient. 


The 4th book is my favorite and it is called The Personal Organizing Workbook - Solutions for a Simpler, Easier Life by Meryl Starr.


And of course, the internet is full of amazing information. I love The Fly Lady as she is funny, down to earth, and provides practical organization help.  



Thank you on behalf of Home & Life Organization.


Friday, April 17, 2020

What the Storm Left Behind


When I was a child, I had the beautiful luxury of growing up in the country in Forest Lake, Minnesota.  I loved being surrounded by woods and fields as far as the eye could see. The woods and tree cover provided shelter from the hot summer sun and many hours of afternoon playtime.

Early summer storms were very common and tornadoes would often take out entire neighborhoods on the flat plains of Minnesota.  By the age of 8, I was so used to taking shelter in the basement, I was no longer afraid of any pending storm. I knew that when our parents yelled, "Basement! NOW!" or when they swooped us up, blankets and all in the dead of night, that our basement would be our protection for whatever weather was headed our way.

One night while I slept the way only a child without a care in the world could sleep, my father burst through my door, grabbed my hand and a blanket. Startled, yet completely awake, I reached for my doll and pillow with my other hand.  As we raced toward the basement stairs, I saw my mother and sister in front of us only a few steps ahead and wondered why Angie grabbed a book instead of her pillow. I wasn't planning on sharing my pillow with her, even if she asked me to.  My father closed the door behind him, and never let go of my hand until we were safe at the bottom of the basement stairs.

As we walked the length of our house to go to the couch and bed near the tiny fireplace, I saw that my father had left us to get the wood planks that he would place in the two small windows. The planks were placed to make sure that if the window shattered, glass would not fly in every direction. Before he placed the planks up against the window, he located the bricks to secure them. I saw the brightest lit up night sky I had ever witnessed.  The lightening made it appear to be daytime every few seconds.

Besides the noise of what can only be described as a huge steam engine approaching, the wind seemed to make our house breath.  I worried about the windows upstairs and knew that if the wind hit just right, dad would spend days repairing windows and screens. I wondered if it would storm like this the rest of the night and if we would get any sleep.  A huge crash which sounded like a bomb was heard in the backyard. My dad took my mom's arm as she gasped, "That was so close to the house. What if a tree hit the house?!"

The storm raged on, and our mom settled my sister and I in the back corner on the folding bed with the squeaky springs. My sister began to read the book she had brought downstairs instead of her pillow.  At some point we both fell asleep, as the next thing I remembered was waking to my dad brushing my hair away from my eyes.

"Kelli. Wake up sweetheart. Your mom is making pancakes.  We need to eat and get outside.  We have our work cut out for us today.  Branches and debris are everywhere.  Wear pants and socks and tennis shoes. I told your mom you wanted chocolate chip pancakes." My dad smiled warmly at my sister laying next to me as she began to rouse from her deep slumber. He explained to her what he had just communicated to me.

When I got to the top of the stairs and saw my mother in the kitchen, her back was turned. When she heard me approaching and turned, I saw that she had been crying. Quickly wiping the tears from her eyes, she smiled and welcomed me into her waiting arms.

I ducked to look out the curtained kitchen window. Large branches and even entire tree limbs lay strewn across the back yard.  I may have gasped or made some sort of audible noise, as my mother pulled me closer, "It is okay. We are okay. Our house is okay except for a few roof tiles.  That is what matters. The electricity didn't go out again and it is daylight. We are okay.  We will clear the debris one limb at a time."

Our day was filled with gathering sticks and wheeling full wheel barrows to our property line. We took breaks and washed our hands and faces using the garden hose.  The cold water was so refreshing in the hot sun. Our mom brought us lunch on a tray with lemonade and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 

My sister and I sat up straight on the back stairs, when we heard our father yell from just inside the wood line.

"Would you look at that! An amazing huge tree has uprooted itself. I bet that is what the huge crash was!" 

Angie bolted first to where she saw our dad enter the woods.  Maybe two dozen or so feet in, was a mammoth fallen tree. The roots, all gnarled and standing at attention as we drew near.

Our dad was smiling ear to ear like a child who had just discovered hidden Christmas presents.  "We still have a lot of work to do girls, but I present to you a new fort." He swooped his arms towards the fallen wonder like the presenter on a game show.

We didn't finish clearing the yard until nightfall, and by that time, the mosquitoes were feasting. Indoor play and television called our names.  After a good night's rest, Angie and I were up with the sun.  Bug repellent applied, we took off to find our dad.  He was already in the woods, clearing low lying branches and twigs.  He had a rake which he had used to remove large bundles of underbrush and relocated it further back in the woods.  I was a bit startled to see an ax propped up against the trunk of a nearby tree. 

Our patient father had waited for us. He showed us that he was planning on removing some of the larger limbs and adding them to the top of the root systems where he had cleared the lumps of dirt. He explained that not as much rain would then enter our makeshift fort. He also laid a large tarp over the soil he had cleared and flattened at the opening of our new abode.

He advised us that it will be dirty for a bit, but after a few downpours, the dirt roots would begin to settle.  I didn't have any idea what he was talking about. All I wanted to do was fetch my dolls and play house in the new fort with my sister.

I love how the woods overtook our fort.  Slowly that summer, it no longer looked like a tree had lost a battle to the wind.  It appeared as if the woods had offered up a gift to children who sought adventure. The fallen tree and woods that surrounded provided hours of entertainment and enabled my sister and I and our few neighbor friends a place to convene. To enjoy nature and the company of other children who loved doing what we did. We played house, we play school, and enjoyed picnic meals together in that fantastic fort.

I miss the days of my childhood in Forest Lake. I miss days filled with adventure and sometimes nothing at all. I miss the chance of exploring and possibly finding another fallen tree.

All these later, I still live in Minnesota and we are sometimes plagued by serious weather that always approaches from the west. When building our home almost 18 years ago, my husband and I both knew a large basement was a necessity.  Not only to have room for the possibility of a growing family, but for protection. And quite a few times, when the weather sirens sound, our basement has provided shelter from an impending storm.  Living in a large neighborhood, I no longer find large uprooted trees that could be turned into a fort for my children. We have found a love letter, pictures, trash bags filled with nothing but leaves, small swimming pools, and even a trampoline. We have been able to return the pool and trampoline and even one of the pictures. But we are always able to appreciate the treasures that are left behind by the storm.

Friday, April 3, 2020

When Online Distance Learning Is Challenging for Special Needs Students






Feeling a bit overwhelmed to be honest.  Distance Learning started this week.  Even though Zach has been working from home for almost 3 weeks, the addition of a copious amount of online work has made his learning schedule next to impossible.  I have been working (helping the aging demographic and medically vulnerable in their homes), and am sometimes gone 3 or 4 days a week.  Lily has now completed her first week of Distance Learning, states that she likes it quite a bit and remains engaged.  She holds down the fort while I am at work and tries to help Zach on the few things that he can do without one on one assistance.  She makes him lunch and tries to check in on him as often as she can.

Zach has an amazing mind. With Autism, some days, specific lessons can seem very challenging. The next day, he completely understands it and is ready to move on.  The problem that I am running into is the vast amount of work. I get it. Zach has an IEP and his teachers are doing an amazing job trying to keep him on track to accomplish his goals. I am forever grateful. Where I am struggling is with the busy work.

Two documents we weren't even able to access and I made numerous requests throughout the week and didn't receive any guidance. My kid is an active kid. He walks daily and even watches the exercise videos that have been posted from his DAPE teacher (adaptive phy-ed). He does this as I said, every day.  And he isn't able to go to work right now through his work experience program through school, so they have asked that we takes notes of all the household chores that he is completing. He helps me regardless of whether or not he has a Distance Learning program that requires him to help. Without being able to access the documents, I as his mom, had to create two google docs and send them as an email attachment to those two teachers because there wasn't any other way to submit them. Zach can not do either of these things on his own, so I as his mom had to do them for him.

Zach is doing alright on his math and doing quite well in his reading and journal assignments.  He likes morning meeting and checking in for speech.  He enjoys watching videos that teachers post reading books or asking questions to which he needs to respond.  The problem is, because he has special needs, he isn't able to do any of the other work on his own.  He can do his daily attendance check in and morning meeting. That is it.  Everything else requires one on one instruction.

So yes, love the idea that my kids along with everyone else's kids will be able to continue learning through the rest of the school year. I love that my daughter enjoys zoom class lessons and she feels confident that she can do this. (She is 13, in 7th grade and has needed nominal assistance online.) But online learning doesn't work for my son, and from what I am hearing, many other special needs kids.  They need the eye contact of their teacher, the visual affirmation when they are doing well, the gentle redirection a teacher provides when they get distracted.  They need supervision and sometimes constant help. I am not able to provide it. And many parents are struggling just like I am.

As I write this, it sounds like one big complaining blog post. Our reality is that Distance Learning works for one kid and not the other.  But rather than continue to feel overwhelmed, I need to change my attitude and my approach.  I will not be encouraging Zach to participate in the busy work.  I am not going to stay up until 11 pm trying to make sense of what he needs to accomplish the next day.  And I am not going to tackle every class every day with Zach.

What will I do? I as a parent will remain engaged. I will let teachers know that they are doing an amazing job. I will continue working to help support my family as I also take care of those who are not able to do so for themselves at this time. I will enable Zach to take lots of breaks and enjoy a solid hour on the iPad every afternoon. I will pull him close and hug him when he struggling and compliment him on a job well done.  We will work on math and reading and I will show him new videos online from his teachers.  I will make sure he stays physically active.  But most of all, I am going to keep on loving him. I am going to laugh and play with him. I will let him lead me down a different path on our next walk.  And I will let laughter reign supreme.  If I can accomplish half of these things, it will be an amazing day each and every day. I just need to remind myself of all the things we can accomplish together rather than wallow in what isn't working or what is too challenging.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Keep Talking. Keep Sharing. Keep Loving Each Other.


-If I was talking to Pete Campbell, I may say the same thing. But I am not. Keep talking to me.-


Everything turned upside down overnight.  Covid-19 has made the world literally stop functioning.  While many of us are in full isolation due to medically fragile family members or struggling with our own medical issues, there are so many that are still working very hard every day to support their families and the communities in which they live and work.  Thank you to the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and EMT workers who show up every day. Thank you to the police and fireman who work endless hours to protect us day and night.  And thank you to the store employees who stock shelves, work 6 and 7 days a week and are in physical pain from pushing themselves to the max to make sure our families have food on our tables.

My husband lost his job just over two weeks ago and started a new temporary job this past Friday to help local grocery stores hire as many employees as possible. I am working about 4 days a week trying to help my aging clients in their homes. Groceries, bills, essential needs. My goal is to keep these clients isolated and healthy and I am their only contact. That is why I take social distancing seriously. My real and only job is to keep these 6 clients healthy.

I am an extrovert with introverted tendencies.  I love people, dinners out, concerts, going to church, movie theaters and social gatherings. But I also love quiet family dinners at home, movies and shows on TV and solitude walks.  Staying home for long periods of time works for me. I have had lots of practice staying home in the past three years. Numerous surgeries, sicknesses and time recovering.  I have found that the simplicity of daily life at home is often what is needed to recharge my weary soul when life gets to be a little too much, too crazy, too overwhelming.

But something I love, something I will always treasure is staying in contact with friends near and far. Text messages, social media, private messages, the occasional Facetime. I love funny late night text messages, and seeing pictures of kids and the creative fun they have discovered while spending time at home. Pictures of backyard bonfires, books and shows that are being enjoyed. New music has been  found and wonderful concerts are available online.  I love when new interests are explored and old passions are reignited. All of this I am able to experience because of how interconnected I feel with friends and family around the world.

Thank you for staying in contact with me.

Thank you for sharing your life with me.

Thank you for remembering that you are loved and other people care to know how you are.

Thank you for sending me pictures of your home projects being accomplished.

Thank you for peanut butter and jelly smiles.

Thank you telling me that you dropped a card on my front porch.

Thank you for sharing new recipes with me.

Thank you for talking to me.

Thank you for remembering that sometimes my life can be a little lonely.

Thank you for loving me from a socially appropriate distance.

These glimpses into the daily lives of other people help me feel connected.

When this virus has run its course and this world returns to a new normal, I can't wait to see you. Face to face. To see you smile and laugh, to hug you heart to heart.  To hold on a little bit longer than necessary. To tell you in person you were missed.  To talk with you.

Keep loving each other. Keep talking to each other.  Keep encouraging each other. For right now, that is something we can all do.

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