High-School, Disneyland, and some Things I have Learned

I’m sorry I haven’t written much lately.   I have tried writing this post half a dozen times since I started it late last December.  But even tho it’s a little late, I think I still want to finish, because I feel like there is something here that is needing to be shared.

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Have you ever had one of those school years that just has no other words besides hard, hectic, no rest, etc.?  This is one of those years.  A quote from the movie “Sky High” seems to pop into my head a lot– “If life were to suddenly- get fair-I doubt it would happen in High School.”   I mean, the feeling of drowning is getting easier to bear, because it’s so normal.    At times, it has been so hard not to feel like I get nothing done.  In retrospect- keeping everyone going and sticking with it to the end of the semester,  has been my only available agenda for some time.  Just Mom-taxi to/from all the schools is minimum of 40 miles a day- and doctor appointments can more than double that.  Coaching one-on-one help thru homework usually takes what ever is left.

Getting the kids (and me) thru school stress means LOTS of hugs, LOTS of prayer, keeping the lists and calendars in more than one place (kitchen wall and in my purse at a minimum)   Plus a running list in my head to make sure I don’t leave anyone’s needs out;  getting the scriptures on audio, because I’m too tired to read;  and showing my sweet ones how to squeeze in the search for joy amidst the everyday things.

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And, you know, just like for anyone, Joy for my kids is also found – in the feelings of success -in watching for those moments to be grateful for- and service.  Searching for joy is really hard when you’re tired; but we have managed a few great moments–

Here’s just a few…

The remodeling is coming along very slowly- but weekend visits from my folks are so exciting in bringing visible progress…

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A December success moment; we have a new door…

One of December’s success moments– DK had to make a Globe Theater model for his Drama semester final.  Since it was so close to Christmas, we decided to make it out of Gingerbread (gave me an excuse to keep up my gingerbread tradition) It was a very fun way to handle an unavoidably hectic 2 days!

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and it got a good grade- plus the fun of lots of oohs and ahhh’s! 🙂

I always make sure to watch for awesome clouds and sunrises while we drive,

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and my kids have learned that I like to spot birds.  It cheers me up, and they help me keep my finch feeder full.  Best birding day ever was just this last month…

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My phone camera doesn’t zoom enough to do this justice, but this is a Bald Eagle that is visiting the field by the kid’s High School!  He was about 80 feet away from me.  Also in this field, but giving the Eagle plenty of space, are Ducks, tons of White Egrets, a few Sand Pipers, a Blue Heron, 6 Vultures, a whole flock of starlings, the odd, common Brown Bird here and there, and a small Hawk that I haven’t identified yet. Kinda one of those days that you feel the Lord is aware of what you are going thru, and sends a tiny miracle to cheer you up.   🙂

Service Projects are one thing that I try very hard to make a priority during stress times.  It sounds weird on the surface, but not really.  Losing your focus on self for a tiny bit, and helping someone else, brings the Lord’s help- sometimes in a big enough way to allow me to point it out to the kids.

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preparing bottles of home-made vanilla to give away at Christmas time… Science and service project rolled into one- totally something my kids could get into.

And then- (drum roll) we came to finals week; but, you know, the last couple of preparing weeks before-hand were grueling.  This year has been especially hard on TeaRose.  Trying to cope with 11th grade mainstream is hard for everyone on occasion;  but adding in Autism stress, and sensory integration problems has really had her running from tears, to non-verbal meltdown, to more tears, and starting to spike stress-fevers at all kinds of odd moments of the day.

With the rest of them stressed over school too;  and all of them in the house together– it’s one of those recipes for cabin fever of the 99th magnitude.

Finally, the kids needed a break so badly (and me too), so Mark gave me the incredible gift of a quick jaunt to Disney Land. We chose to take a sick day from school (I made sure there were no tests) on the middle Monday of December, which we had been told was the least busy of the year.  This is the first time we have been brave enough- and able- to take the kids.  It didn’t help the work load, but it seriously cheered me up  to sneak around packing the kids bags in secret; all the while hoping that the experience would let them, especially T, manage Finals the rest of the week.  Just fyi- you probably could have heard Kydee’s scream of excitement from the other side of the neighborhood when she found out what I was up too .  😀

Well- the Sunday of the drive came, and my oldest wouldn’t go. He told me he felt really bad about it- he just couldn’t take the claustrophobia and social anxiety.  It was sweet; he has been a little extra tender with me lately, even gingerly hugging me.  Brand wanted to ditch too, because his stress has made him freak out about being around the younger kids… but I didn’t want to let him.  I told him that learning how to be around sibs was high on the Lord’s priority list, and that if he was going to try to pull a “I’m too old” trump card, then he better be able to look at all the ramifications like an adult- and then tell his little sister himself… Finally, Mark went in and talked him into handling the trip by having him bring his earphones, and giving him access to his smart-phone to stream music.  (p.s.- make sure you know how much data that uses before you do that :O !)

The drive to disneyland

The drive to Disney Land

I held my breath all night at the hotel (figuratively) because I knew that the next day would be a day of extremes, and I just hoped that good memories would be part of them.

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Well- now I can tell you about extremes, and the Lord’s blessings…

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Yes- the morning was very good.  We had less than 5 minutes in any line we went to.  Even Brand was all grins with the Star Tours ride.   Eventually we stopped for lunch, and that was about the edge of the proverbial cliff…. After lunch, the volume of people in the park exploded, and the noise.  Brand was no longer willing to endure- but knew that the others wanted a bit more.  So he said he would wait for us at our predetermined spot in the park center.  I decided to catch on camera what might have set him off– and I found that the camera’s mic was overloaded; 7 different rides could be heard from that spot, plus happy people.  It was a mommy-duh moment.

On the other hand, my sweet Tea-Rose leaned over and said, “Mom, I think Heavenly Father blessed me with having a cold- my ears are all stuffed up and the noise doesn’t bother me like it normally does, so I can enjoy the rides.”  So there you have it.  Blessings in disguise, and noticed too.  🙂

Well, we didn’t stay much longer- the walking is hard on me too- but long enough to learn a secret spot for any other family who struggles with hearing-sensory integration problems… there is a little “theater” on Main Street that plays the old black and white original mickey mouse movie reels non-stop.  That little space was quiet and dim and pretty boring to most of the people who peaked in and left again… We stayed for almost an hour, while Mark and Brand went off for pain meds for me–  it was the most blisfull oasis!

So, off home we went- very glad that we hadn’t spent the money for more days worth of tickets, but also very happy with the experience. And in case you were wondering, yes it did help them get thru finals week- Major Daddy Success 🙂

Categories: "only with Autism" Adventures, LDS Mom of Autism | Leave a comment

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