Author Archives: Erika

Fly-by – hellloooooooo!

Fly-by – hellloooooooo!

Hi!  We survived August!

And jumped right into a busy, mostly joyful, September.  The boys are thrilled to be back in school, and everything seems to be going swimmingly with that.  The cost of all the back-to-school shenanigans has, once again, taken me by surprise ($22 for the cheapest school photo package! $25 for PTA! $15 for back-to-school picnic!) and I’m a little grumbly, but really, I should just go ahead and adjust that cash envelope already and write Future Erika a note not to adjust it back down in the winter when She thinks “we can’t really need this much for back-to-school shenanigans.  It must’ve just been a strange year.”, as She does every year.

Andrew and I have been finishing up a long-desired outside project – we’ve cleaned up the “junk” corner of the yard (where previous owners have been throwing yard and construction waste, Christmas Trees, and rotting firewood, for YEARS), framed and mulched it, and moved the trampoline over there.  In the new spot vacated by the trampoline, we are putting up a swingset for the kids.  We got it for free off of freecycle, and have been cleaning, staining, replacing some stuff, getting it ready…all summer.  We got half of it up last weekend, and (fingers crossed!) will finish up this weekend.

Stage one - pretty corner, shifted trampoline.

Stage one – pretty corner, shifted trampoline.

Both our jobs got CRAZY this September.  My work house increased, and the growing pains of shifting everything else I do around that haven’t quite settled yet.  Andrew has an AWESOME new not-ready-for-public-sharing project at work, which involves rather more travel than we’re used to. We’re both thrilled at the new creative opportunities at our jobs…but it’s a lot of crazy too.  Waiting for the dust to settle.

Before I got my new work hours, I’d planned to spend those hours working on my new creative project: my Eating Liturgically blog.  It’s all planned and worked out, with the first month or so of blogs and recipes planned…IN MY HEAD.  I have got to start getting some stuff in 1s and 0s, you know?  I’m hoping not to have to go all JK Rowling on this and get up at 4am and work before my kids get up…but maybe?  Ugh.  Creative Muses are so mean sometimes. (Also, I’m really excited for this! I want to do it! Just at, you know, 10am.)

Anyway, that’s my flyby update – mwah!

Silver Linings. Very thin ones.

Silver Linings. Very thin ones.

August is, as always, August.  Both kids are rough without school structures and therapies, Andrew and my work schedules remain full, childcare is costly and logistically complicated, it’s stupid hot, etc, etc, etc…but there are a few good things.  Kind of good.  You can note their goodness as you sink into the bog of August soul-sucking angst.

  1. Family rallies.  We have a steady stream of family coming in to adjust the adult to child ratio, to watch the kids so we can squeeze work in, to facilitate the Camp Hagan schedule I set up to try to give the kids some sense of order.  Aunt Kyla is here this week, Cousin Lena is coming for a long weekend, then Grandma Kathy comes on her heels…and then it will very nearly be the first day of school.  It is wonderful not only to see family, but to feel their love and support in their sacrifice of time.
  2. Be in the now.  The only way to get through August, I find, is to shut down the long-term thinking.  It’s too much.  It’s impossible.  It’s an unreasonable time frame of hard.  When you look at it, you get completely overwhelmed and kinda bitchy (I mean, I do anyway).  So – you only look at today, and maybe a peek at tomorrow to be sure you have childcare.  And you find that today, this hour, this minute, this breath, you are, in fact, doing it.  You are okay.  And the next breath.  And the next.  It’s – good? – to be reminded of that.  It does take some mental discipline.
  3. Setting expectations.  We’re not new to this August thang.  So, when you say year after year to your job, your church, your friends, your facebook feed “August Hard.  We can’t do August.  No, it’s August.”…well, people eventually get it, and stop asking you to do things in August.  My daily log in my BuJo has way less items on it, and that’s essential because I can’t do anything, it’s August…but it’s kind of nice to have a few less plates going in general.
  4. First Day of School Joy.  I’ve heard other families talk about their kids (and even sometimes the parents, which I do not understand, but whatever) mourning the end of summer.  Resisting the new school year.  Whining about getting up in the morning.  Not my family!  We all eagerly see the day count get shorter and shorter, and on that First Day of School, there is so much rejoicing in our house.  That much joy has to be a good thing.

This August is additionally hard as it’s our first in Trumplandia.  The internal stress from the home combined with the external stress of poking the bear of North Korea/nuclear war and Nazi’s marching about in Virginia  (good Lord, who’dve ever thought I’d type that sentence in freaking 2017…?) is at times simply too much.  But we do have these small silver linings as well.

Baby Advice – what I wish I could tell new parents

Baby Advice – what I wish I could tell new parents

Right, so, first thing’s first – I hate getting unsolicited parenting advice.  I hated it before we knew that Isaac was special, and I hate it even more now that the unsolicited advice is rarely helpful to our situation.  “Have you tried ABA?  I read an article that autistic kids do really well with ABA.” <sigh>  “Yes, oddly enough, I am in the know of the most common and documented autism therapy.  Thanks, though.”

Thus, I cringe when I hear myself *give* unsolicited parenting advice.  As it’s happening, my inner voice goes, “No.  NO!  What are you doing, crazy lady?  They hate this!  You hate this!  Stop stop stop!”

It’s rare.  I’ve gotten pretty good at biting my tongue.

But when a new baby comes on the scene, and especially when that new baby is part of my tribe (new nephew, good friend’s new kiddo, etc) – all this advice comes bubbling up and I hold it in.  My new nephew Charlie made his debut last week, and I have so. many. thoughts.

Then I realized – I have a blog!  I can type all my thoughts!  And it’s not giving unsolictied advice, because I’m just sharing my thoughts to the world!

If any new parents (hi Aidan!) happen to read this…well, so be it.  I’m not saying any of this is super helpful or whatever.  It’s just my list.

<drumroll please>

  1. You can’t make a baby sleep.  You can set up behaviors, rituals, and environments that are conducive to sleep…but none of those things guarantee sleep.  Babies do what they gotta do.  Roll with it.
  2. You can be 100% confident that they will either figure out sleeping through the night eventually, or that they will not sleep but will not bother you so you can sleep.  It will happen, someday.  You can set up behaviors, rituals, and environments that are conducive to that day coming, but you cannot make it happen.
  3. Nurse on demand.  It’s what your body and the baby’s body wants.  Be lazy, do what’s easy, nurse on demand.  I am the most scheduled person alive, and I nursed on demand because trying to make a baby shift to my schedule was horrible.
  4. Get life insurance ASAP.  Once anything is wrong with your kid – from autism to pre-existing health stuff – that insurance gets more expensive and harder to get.  Get it as soon after birth as possible – it’ll be super cheap and they have good options now that you can cash out at age 18 and use for college costs.
  5. Baths are important…but not, like, super-important.  If your kid looks dirty or smells, then bath them.  If they don’t, then don’t.  (I mean, babies are pretty gross so you end up bathing daily.  And a bathtime at night is conducive to helping with sleep.  All good reasons…but as kids get older?  If they look and smell clean, let it go.)
  6. You are going to be the primary influence on your kid – on their morals, their outlook on life, on how they view the world.  If someone else in your kid’s life doesn’t exactly match how you roll…it’s okay.  Your kid can still have time with, have a relationship with that person.  You’ve got this.
  7. The parent makes the weather in the house.  How you react to things – to mistakes, to thwarted plans, to rainy days, to running late, to when your kid messes up, or throws up all over you…how you react sets the tone for the whole day, the whole house, your baby’s whole world.  Breathe first.  Take care.  You make the weather.
  8. It is more important to be a good observer of your baby than to know all the facts and “should’s” and details of child development.  Speaking as someone who parented a baby who matched up with *none* of the milestones or sensory reactions of a typical baby…my knowing him, watching him, grokking him was so much more important than my knowing the “right” thing.  If something goes wrong – physical health, developmental delays – you knowing your baby will help the experts SO MUCH.  Watch.  Learn.  Be with them.  Be the expert in your kid.
  9. Ask for help, early and often.  Call the on-call nurse.  Rally your family and friends when you need them.  Related to 10.
  10. Have a village.  You cannot do this alone.  Even if you can for a short time with everything going fine, there will be a time when you cannot.  Deliberately build a village of people you know and trust who also know and love your baby.  Even if you don’t need a sitter right then, have one and be building that relationship for when you do – even if all you do is go out for coffee for 40 minutes and come back home.  So worth it to have that village when you need it.  And you will.

 

Okay, take it with a grain of salt – my parenting journey has been very specific to autism and being atypical.  But…this is what I want to share with the new parents I love.