Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Practice Really Does Make Perfect

Okay, maybe this is too deep for a quick blog entry, but I feel like I need to share it.  Not too long ago, I felt like I would rather melt into the Earth than talk to someone that I didn't know (and a lot of the time, I felt like that with the people I did know as well!)  Even just the thought of making small talk, having people looking at me, and socializing in general made me feel anxious and humiliated.  It's hard to understand if you're not someone who suffers from this kind of social anxiety.

But recently, and I really don't know what brought it on, I decided to make eye contact with people.  I went 35+ years making as little eye contact as possible with people because it made me so uncomfortable.  But I decided I was going to try, and so I did.  I looked people right in their eyes and I smiled at them.  People I passed on the street, people at the store, people at the kids' schools, people at the hospital where I am finishing up my clinical studies.

My world is so much different now.  I get better service at stores and restaurants - that was the first thing I noticed.  The second thing I noticed was that it became easy to add a greeting to the eyes and smile, and that the more I did it, the easier and more natural it became.  Third, I just plain feel more friendly, more approachable, and more confident.  Finally, I realized that it's called eye contact for a reason - sometimes when I look someone in the eyes, I actually see the connection that is being made.  It's a subtle change in expression, a very brief glimpse into each other that makes a person feel like equals, and a drop in my bucket of happiness for the day.  Who knew?  I actually look forward to seeing people these days.  I have the ability to talk to people now without feeling like I'm going to die of embarrassment, and I am getting better at navigating conversations, too. 

Today, I'm going to a meeting at the college where I will be asked to give a short presentation on the fly to a room full of people I've never met, or met only once or twice before.  I will be nervous, yes.  I will probably even tremble!  But I won't be debilitated.  It doesn't feel like it's looming in front of me, and I won't dissect everything I said for days afterward, worrying over the parts I might have messed up. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Matthew At The Lake

There's no question, at least in my mind (and in the minds of the speech and occupational therapists that work with Matthew twice a week at our local elementary school) that Matthew has sensory issues. I've known it since he was tiny. It was nice to finally have other people see what I've seen for so long and not try to write it off as being 'quirky.'

It becomes blatantly apparent, though, when you take him to the lake. Especially when the water isn't exactly calm and it's not exactly warm. This time, there wasn't very much wind, and that really helped. But as soon as we stepped onto the sand, Matthew started to fuss and even cry a little.

"There's sand in my sandals!" That's okay, Matthew - that's why they're called SAND-als. "It's too loud!" Try putting your hood up and see if that helps. "I want to leave this place!" Let's just sit on this log for a few minutes and see if we can see any boats in the water, and play with your toys.

So we sat on the log. It was probably 30 feet from the water, but Matthew was still wary. I assured him over and over again that we weren't going swimming and not getting wet at all. And we sat.

And then I took off my shoes. The sand was warm and soft against my skin. I showed Matthew how I could wiggle my toes into the sand to bury them. And he took off his shoes, too! And after a moment of hesitation, he put them in the sand and wiggled his toes like me. And the issues just ... melted away.

I left the log. Scooted my way across the sand, about 3 feet, toward some rocks and shells that were nearby. Matthew followed with his little toy action figures that he had brought with him. He played with them in the sand, burying them and digging them up. Making them talk to each other and having adventures. He dug his hands deep into the dry sand and found the damp sand underneath. He made a road.

I scooted a little farther away, and Matthew followed; he never left my side. So I stood up, walked toward the water a little, and we looked for pretty rocks and intact shells. The noise of the water was just too much for him, though, so I told him to find a place to play on the beach where he was comfortable and that I would be there in a minute to play with him. And that's all it took to detach him from my hip. He found a nice little spot, plunked himself down, and played for 10 minutes without me. This is an advantage of going to the lake when it's 50 degrees outside - there was NOBODY else there. We had it all to ourselves.

After a few more minutes, it was time to head home. We gathered our things together and carried our shoes. It seems that as long as he doesn't get sand in his shoes, he doesn't mind walking in the sand. I will know next time to have him take off his shoes before we take a single step on the sand - we'll see if that helps his mood at the beginning. If it doesn't, that's okay. I know I can help him enjoy the beach, even if he is worried when we first get there.

And I know there will be a next time, because he asked me as we were leaving, "Can we come back on a different day, please?" And he was all smiles.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quote of the Day - 05/02/11

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all."
Oscar Wilde

I can't agree enough with this statement, especially for my own self. How long have I sat here, just waiting for circumstances to change so that I can live my life? What a convoluted life I've been 'living.'

I'm not waiting anymore for things to be 'just right' so that I can stop merely existing. I'm not going to look forward to that anymore, but rather try to embrace life now, while I can.

When I'm done posting this entry, I'm turning off this computer. I'm packing a picnic lunch and driving my son to the beach in Indiana. It's not good swimming weather, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the sand.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Interesting Day Out

First, I know it's been a while. I could lie and say I've been terribly busy and haven't had a chance to post. But the truth is that I gained some weight back, gave up the effort, and was too embarrassed to post. I am going to get back on track, though. Ugh.

Anyway, yesterday the kids and I ran errands. They are on Spring Break from school and I've been trying to keep them busy since it's done nothing but rain the whole week so far. We started out at Walt's, a local chain of grocery stores where there were a few good deals on the front of their sales ad. Instead of trying to navigate the store with a crowd of kids, and constantly directing and distracting them from bored behaviors, I split them up and sent them on food-finding missions of their own.

It was an amazing success! I kept Matthew with me since he's only 4, but gave the girls each a short list and a carrying basket and told them to find me when they were done; I saved the produce and meat for myself. I honestly don't think we've been in and out of a store in such a short amount of time. It was awesome!

Way at the end of the walkway outside of the store there is a mail-drop box, and I just happened to have a letter to mail. So I ... gasp ... let Matthew out of the van to drop the mail in the box. There were two cars parked there with women inside, maybe waiting for their shopping partners to be done in the store. The horrified looks that I got from those women ... wow! Jaws hanging open, eyes wide. Matthew got down from the van, looked both ways before stepping out, crossed the 10 feet of pavement and mailed the letter, turned around, looked both ways, crossed again, got in the van, put on his straps, and off we went. I'm not sure those women will ever be the same. Clearly they have never given their young child a smidgeon of independence. I thought for sure they'd smile at his absolute cuteness, especially after he completed the task with no harm to him at all. But no - they still looked pretty traumatized when I pulled away.

We moved on to the next store, where I again separated the kids and sent them on missions. Hannah and Clara went together this time and I gave them a list of heavy stuff so that they'd need to use a cart. I did feel a little more self-conscious this time and I did notice a look from someone as we were splitting the lists up. But you know what? I just don't care. If I don't teach them how to do this stuff, how will they learn? I think it's important to tell them, "No, that's not the right cheese, you have to go back and find the cheese that I put on your list." I think it's ok to tell them that if they can't find something they are looking for, to ask a worker politely for help. I don't want them to grow up having never done this stuff - it should be natural for them to feel ok and confident at a store.

And they were so proud of themselves. They navigated the store, found the right items with only the cheese as a send-back, successfully used a cart and/or basket, and didn't freak out just because I wasn't in their direct line of sight for 15 minutes. It puts all of the, "Watch where you're going, look out for people, stay out of the way, don't swing the basket like that or you'll hit someone" and other of the usual grocery store lectures to the test. Guess what - if you swing the basket like that, and you hit someone, and mommy isn't standing right next to you to take care of it, then you have a problem that you have to deal with yourself. Even if you're only 9. No, that didn't happen. Well, I assume it didn't; I wasn't there to watch every second. I didn't hear about it when we met up again so ...

I know people who won't let their children play in their gated, privacy-fenced backyard without constant adult supervision. Not tiny kids, either. Older kids - 8 and 9 years old. These kids have never been unsupervised - ever. It wouldn't surprise me if they still get help in the bathroom. I'm not kidding - I know women who still control the toilet paper in their houses when their kids are SIX, because their kids don't do a good enough job of it themselves. Someone told me the other day that children are not cognitively capable of crossing a street until they are 8 years old.

That was a tangent and a slight rant, sorry.

After our grocery shopping escapades, the kids and I went out to lunch at Pizza Hut. This is going to sound ridiculous, sorry in advance. The waitress seriously teared up when the kids ordered their drinks. Because they politely and individually said, "I would like chocolate milk, please" while looking directly at her and smiling. She actually asked me if I beat them to make them so polite. The disturbing part of this is that on Tuesday, when I took the kids to the dentist for our appointments, one of the ladies in the office asked me the same thing - if I beat them to make them so well-behaved and polite. What?!

Am I the only person out there who is teaching the kids to be polite and respectful, and how to behave even when they aren't being constantly entertained? I don't mean to offend anyone at all, and hope that it doesn't come across that way. Maybe it's just around here - everyone just seems so surprised when kids have good manners. Of course they are not perfect and everyone has good days and bad days, but still. It's a little crazy. Matthew's speech therapist once told me that in all her years of being a speech therapist, she had never heard a child say, "You're welcome" after she said, "Thank you." Seriously?!

I swear I am not bragging; that is not the intent of this post at all. Goodness knows that my kids are no where near perfect - wow, we have had some days!!!!!!!

I just think it's a little weird that people are so amazed that kids even can behave. It seems to mean that everyone has lowered their expectations of kids, so that when they are rotten at a store it's somehow ok because we don't expect anything more of kids anyway. Maybe I'm wrong, though. Maybe there is some magic age where kids are all of a sudden aware of their behavior and they decide on their own in some amazing fashion that they are going to start being good. I don't know. I don't think I'm going to risk that one.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday - Week 3; Blizzard 2011

I did pretty good this week. I played Just Dance 2 on the Wii with the kids two days in a row. It was really, really fun! And a great workout.

Then I made peanut butter fudge. And ate it. A lot. And then I made Swedish Meatballs and ate rice with it. A lot.

Nevertheless, the scale this morning said xx2.2. Not quite the xx1.9 that I wanted, but not too far off and less than last week so I think it still counts as progress. Goal for next Wednesday, xx1.7 - a half pound loss.

Today, after Tyler dug out his squad car with the snow shovel, I helped him push it out of the driveway. His front tires were spinning and he just couldn't get any traction. We put a cedar plank under his tire (um - I had to go find the pile of cedar planks under two feet of snow on the back patio - yeah.) He finally was able to rock the car onto the plank and then was spinning on the plank! So I dug in and gave it a big push from the front. You should have seen the look of, "You're crazy - that will never work!" on Tyler's face when I braced myself. And yet ... off he went. (Insert applause and back pats here.)

Afterward, I shoveled the car out just in case we had an emergency and had to go somewhere. Like the mall.

Totally kidding. About the mall; not about the shoveling. That is some hard work, I'll tell you what! I was fine while I was shoveling but I don't think I let my body cool off gradually enough - it was like an adrenaline dump.

Later in the afternoon, I shoveled out the front walk and the front steps for the mailman, who never came. And when I was done with that, I shoveled out our neighbor's sidewalk and front walkway because she is 85 and was out there trying to do it herself.

And then I died.

Not really. But I did make a snow angel. And drink two cans of Diet Pepsi.

Hopefully, all of that exercise will pay off. I still have to dig out the van, which will be a huge job since the plows came through and buried it. I think I'll do that tomorrow.

Total loss since Thanksgiving - 15.8 pounds. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

8 Hours From Now...

...the pork butt roast will be finished in the crock pot. I put it on two hours ago and it is just starting to smell good.

Simple, simple recipe - stick a pork butt roast in the crock pot and add a small bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce. Cook 8-10 hours on low. After that time, shred the meat with a couple of forks, remove the bone and any big hunks of fat, and then heat it through again if it cooled off too much while you were shredding it. I'll offer hamburger buns to the family tonight but I think I'll skip the bread, myself. We're having fresh cauliflower and baked sweet potatoes as sides.

The best part? I found this pork roast on sale at the store because it was approaching the sell by date. The cost was only $11.50 for an 8 pound roast. Eight pounds!!! The first thing I'm going to do is put half of it in the freezer for a future meal.

Weight Loss Wednesday - Week 2

I know I am a day late. I thought about skipping it but then decided that would constitute hiding, and that's not who I am. Embarrassed, yes. Cowardly, no.

I stood on the scale yesterday and was sad to see xx5.4. Up instead of down. :(
This morning it said xx3.7 so it's at least going back in the right direction. My weight seems to fluctuate a lot day by day. I'd like to see it keep coming down, of course.

I know what happened, though. Our grocery budget got tight and I did the 'responsible' thing by cooking from our pantry instead of spending money that we don't have at the store. Well, in our pantry were 3 boxes of pasta and a bag of rice. Carbs anyone? Clearly my body reacts unfavorably to this type of eating. Tyler, on the other hand, lost weight this week. Unfair!!

Thankfully, yesterday was payday and our fridge and pantry are stocked again with some better choices. I bought several bulk packages of meat and split them up into more reasonable servings and froze them. I think that will help a lot.

Goals for this week:
  • Get back to Taekwondo. I still haven't managed this one yet.
  • Keep climbing the stairs at school. I'm doing very well with this.
  • Skip snacks or at least choose wisely.
  • Have only one can of diet Pepsi per day.
  • Pack a lunch for school on Friday since I am there all day.
  • Stick to the meal plan!
  • xx1.9 on the scale next week.