A family's story

I am “here”.

I saw that a friend from high school got published on Scary Mommy. Her post was brave. It was powerful. It inspired me to write again–thanks, Jeanine! (You can sneak a peak here: http://www.scarymommy.com/dear-college-boys-in-the-school-bookstore/)

Oh, my poor, neglected blog. I don’t come here as often as I used to. Raising 3 boys, maintaining a steady level of chaos and balance, volunteering and experiencing life as a family do that. I’m an almost 40-year-old stay-at-home mom to a middle schooler, a fourth grader and a first grader. I don’t even know how I got “here”, but “here” I am.

Just to keep everyone abreast of the boys’ lives, they are doing well. We have our bumps, but overall, they are growing and learning and finding their way. Jake is navigating middle school. Tate is embracing his status as “the oldest Hope boy” so well at the elementary school. And Cole is just so damn typical. Seriously. I love it and want to rip my hair out at the same time.

Anyway, getting back to being “here”. I have three boys in school full time. Six years ago my plan was to be back in the workforce by now, earning a paycheck, and having a career. Then, well, life happened. So, I scrapped my original plan, and Hubz and I moved ahead with a new one. I’m living the life of a mom whose work lies within the confines of being a parent and probably the only non-ADHD member of the home, so at least one of us has some good executive functioning skills!

If anyone thinks that I “just” stay at home, well, don’t I wish!!! With my “free” time, I volunteer at the elementary school. I am able to help in Cole’s class with literacy stations and with teacher projects. I’m able to run PTO events and assist my friends with their endeavors at the school, as well. I’m even able to have lunch, on occasion, with other moms whom work flexible schedules or are still at home, themselves. Additionally, I run errands, grocery shop, shuttle kids and their friends to therapy, practices and games, and I still manage to find time to grab a latte most days!

I have a sixth grader. In our district, sixth grade is in a middle school. His schedule reminds me of my high school schedule. It’s likely as demanding as my life was in ninth grade, although, I never had to contend with ADHD nor learning difficulties. And yet, my kid is still kicking butt! I am so proud of the maturity with which he is handling this new phase in his life. I, on the other hand, feel as insecure as I did when I was 12. I mean, 10 different teachers, 10 periods, homework every night, gaah!!!

I have a fourth grader. He’s also going to be 10 in six months. How is my Tater “going on 10”?! I remember “going on 10”. I love watching his expanding experiences. He’s learning so much. And he’s doing it rather successfully. I’m not sure if I would have been able to handle as much as he has to handle every day, and he does it with few complaints, and often, with a smile and a giggle.

I have a first grader. Scratch that. My BABY is a first grader. I can’t even. This is the one that tends to blow my mind. Wasn’t Jake just my trailblazing first grader?! It’s amazing to see how much has changed in just 5 years. The curriculum is more rigorous. The demands are high. And my little Cole is doing first grade like.a.boss. Not that I would think he would handle it any other way, as he’s always taken on experiences and tasks that are clearly above his age level. But he is. And he makes me so proud every day as he learns to make the choices that are right, but not always easy.

I am almost forty. For serious. In three and a half months I join the “Fabulous at 40” club. I have some friends that are already reaching this milestone birthday. How did we get here?! I remember the year MY mom turned 40. It was a big joke about how old she was. I really never understood it until it started to happen to me, but holy cow, I completely feel no older than 25, and many times, in terms of being awkward or unsure of myself, I still feel 15. My birth certificate and driver’s license beg to differ, however. Guess I’ll just keep on practicing “fake it ’til I make it”.

I have been working on being healthy and taking care of myself. When I peaked the scales this summer, I realized that I can’t continue to gain weight every year. I no longer felt comfortable in my skin, and I was achy and exhausted all of the time. The diet of cheese, bread, and ice cream (which I really, really, REALLY wish I could sustain) was catching up to me. I took charge. I work out five days a week. I eat relatively healthily most days. I have cut out most processed carbs. I have reduced my cheese intake. I feel so much better. My knees don’t hurt when I sit down. My back isn’t achy every night. My jeans fit again. And, AND, I went in a belt notch. Wooohooooo!

Hubz and I will be celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary in a month. FIFTEEN YEARS. How the heck did that happen? Weren’t we just planning our wedding? We have grown up together, he and I. We’ve learned a thing, or ten, about commitment, love, communication, parenting, home ownership, sump pumps, purchasing a HOUSE, finding a good doctor, finding a second opinion, navigating school-aged children, navigating IEPs, coping with loss. We may not be as young (or as thin) as we used to be, but we are definitely still as in love. I don’t mean that as a cheesy statement. I really mean it. I know that he’s got my back. He knows I’ve got his. We’ve worked on so much together..and our lives are so intertwined. I love that. Neither of us would be the person we are today if it weren’t for the other.

When I started this blog, I used it as a way to process through Tate’s autism diagnosis and all that goes with that. Back then, I was trying to find a way to figure out what autism meant to our family, what it meant for Tate, and I felt the need to share everything with the world as a way to process through it. Today, autism is still a part of our lives, but I am not able to share everything. I know what MY experience with raising a son with autism is like, but I know that for all of the similarities, there are so many differences. I also know that if anyone has a question about autism, they are likely much better served by asking someone who is autistic, rather than a mom of an autistic kid. I mean, I have experiences AS A PARENT that I am happy to share, but I can’t tell anyone what it’s like to be autistic. I’ll leave that to many others…including Tate, whom says, “it is what I do.”

Often, I still find myself “between hope and a hard place”. Sometimes that hard place comes from a parenting moment, or watching my children navigate their worlds, and sometimes it comes from my being pulled into umpteen different directions. I am going to try to write more. I MISS that. But my writing may often focus on topics not autism related. Sometimes the topics may not even be parenting-related. But they will be Lisa-life-related, and THAT is my expertise.


Last week, Cole’s teacher celebrated her birthday. Typically, the head room parent spearheads an effort to get a card signed for the teacher. Considering that kindergarteners have 2.5 hours a day in class, I decided to send an email to the parents in Cole’s class encouraging everyone to MAKE a card for the fabulous Mrs. Kinder. I also told the parents that I’d buy some flowers or a plant for our children’s beloved teacher.

The afternoon class’s head room mom had emailed me about the birthday. She asked if we should go in on something together, or what our class was planning. I told her our plans. She said that their class was doing the same. Great!

Mrs. Kinder’s birthday was on Thursday. Friday, Cole came home with a thank you note typed up from the teacher. My jaw dropped. First, I will wholeheartedly admit that I am competitive and can be Type A. I like to win. I do. Second, this sealed the deal for me that the Mommy Wars are SO VERY REAL.

Mrs. Kinder’s note expressed her gratitude to both classes for showering her with attention. She thanked the parents and students for their cards and for the gifts. She listed the gifts. I knew what our class had given her. I thought that maybe some parents had gone all out. I felt a little sheepish that our class had *just* given her an orchid and balloon.

Over the long weekend I had some time to chat with a fellow parent. Her son is in the afternoon class, and we had a play date. She showed me the picture of the gifts that the afternoon class had given to Mrs. Kinder. Holy moly!!

Apparently the wife of the co-head room dad got her Pinterest on last week. They presented Mrs. Kinder with a basket of flowers….the flowers had the face of each one of the afternoon class’s students. She artfully arranged them, with pipe cleaners, foam grass, etc. In the basket, she included not one, not two, but three gift cards to Mrs. Kinder’s favorite stores. To top it off, she sent in gluten free, peanut/tree nut free cupcakes for the class to eat to celebrate.

The competitor in me was angry. I lost. I totally, unequivocally, lost this one. The little orchid, while a beautiful token of appreciation, could in no way, shape or form be as great as that. It isn’t sentimental. It isn’t personal. Dang!

This is how Mommy Wars are formed. It didn’t help that the mom with whom I was chatting was beaming and talking about how Mrs. Kinder said that the flower arrangement would be on her shelves when these kids are 5th graders. In Head-Room-Parent-Land, ‘dem is fighting words!!!!!

There are a lot of things I could do. I could scour Pinterest to find the perfect End of the Year extravaganza. I could whine. I could call in my troops of other competitive mommies and get something rolling. I could blog about the injustices of it all. But I won’t. Instead, I will admit that the other mom did a bang-up job on this birthday gift. She is clearly talented and spent loads of her free time on this one. Kudos to her.

I hope Cole’s teacher knows that our class is incredibly appreciative of her, and that we do wish her the happiest of birthdays.

Mother’s Day is in two days. I look forward to celebrating with my boys. I’m beyond blessed to be their mom. It is truly a privilege to be a part of their journey in this world. I love how each of my boys is different, and how my parenting experience with each is unique.

Of course, Mother’s Day also conjures up so many memories of my mom. That was the ONE day a year that she wanted to spend with us. That she wanted us to acknowledge. She wanted her day on THAT day more than even her birthday. I’ll never fully know why, but we girls all knew that Mother’s Day was sacred.

This is my fifth Mother’s Day without my mom. Mother’s Day is…it’s hard. So. Damn. Hard. Her absence is profoundly felt as I walk past the displays in stores that scream, “Celebrate Mom!”, or as I choose cards for my mother-in-law. On Sunday, when I look on Facebook and see friends having brunch with mom. Or when I see their kids sitting on Grandma’s lap. Or when I see “generation” pictures. My throat constricts. My voice catches in my throat. I feel a pit in my stomach. I get just the slightest bit jealous. I don’t have time to wallow in my grief, as I have three beautiful blessings to show me how wonderful my present is…but..well..How I long for one more conversation. One more embrace. One more sniff of the essence that made Mom…Mom. The hardest part about not having a mom anymore is that I can’t ever have those again.

This time of year, I think of all of the parenting questions that come like rapid fire in my mind, none of which occurred to me back when she was so sick, and when we were squeezing in every last ounce of time we had with her. I think about asking her how she handled sassiness. How she handled a struggling student. How she handled BALANCE. She made it seem so easy…and so many days I feel like I’m floundering.

I’d love to ask her questions about tweens entering puberty. And middle school. I want to ask how she let go? Was it easy? Was it as difficult as I’m tending to find it? Was she as worried out of her mind as I am right now? I want to know if she ever struggled with watching us enter a new phase, or hitting a milestone. I wonder if she was ever reluctant to go with the flow and see what the future brought.  I want to know if she was really as strong and confident as she seemed…or if there was an inner 12 year old in there second guessing her every move.

I would love to get her opinion about turning 40. Did she feel more confident? Care less about what others think? Did she own her quirks and passions? What did she do when she started to notice the gray hairs woven in her dark brunette hair? What about the wrinkles that started to sprinkle around her eyes? Did she worry about some of her freckles and beauty marks? Was she ever freaked out about finding a lump or worse?

Sunday will be a day with my boys. I’m grateful that I have them on that day, because without them, I would feel every bit of the being broken as I feel about missing my mom on that day. They have definitely helped me manage the grief and the pain of missing my own mother on Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you and miss you always.


Mother’s Day, 2010 (Cole 10 months, Jake 6.5 years, Tate 4 years)

With Appreciation…

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. Yesterday, the boys brought their teachers flowers. Because it does take a literal village to help the boys succeed in school, we were very grateful that Costco sells big bouquets for cheap! With one bouquet, we were able to cover each teacher and specialist!

Thankfully the PTO reigned in the Teacher Appreciation Week festivities a couple of years ago. Back in the day we parents were asked to send in flowers, candy, school supplies, games and more to shower the teachers with thanks. Gratefully, we now just provide flowers and a gift, if we choose. Today the kids are wearing neon because the teachers have made their future so bright. Tomorrow they are dressing to impress (wear ‘nice’ clothes). Thursday they can make their teachers and specialists home made cards. Friday they can wear their teacher’s favorite color or school spirit colors.

Because we are grateful and appreciative of all that the boys’ teachers and specialists do for them, we provide gifts for them during Teacher Appreciation Week. I have to buy twelve gifts. And then, in another 5 weeks, we give end of the year tokens of thanks to our teachers and staff. I know that I don’t HAVE to give them anything. However, I know that my children each have their own set of challenges, and I want to thank the teachers and staff for their hard work during the school year to motivate my children to learn and grow. This year, particularly, has been a good year.  I can’t let that go unrecognized.

I’m grateful that most of the teachers enjoy a good gift card to Target or Starbucks. Those are easy to find, and I know that they will be used! The hard part comes with creating the “presentation”. Again, I know I don’t have to do anything big, but at the same time, my marketing background comes out, and I want to make it look good. To make it memorable.

So, off I go to figure that out…but really, I know that it’s not about the presentation. It’s about appreciating those whom work with my children to grow, progress, and learn. I am incredibly grateful for the good people out there whom treat my children with respect and dignity and let them see how much they can do in life and in school.

April 29th. How the heck is it already April 29th?! This year really seems to have moved full speed ahead!!! The boys are done with this school year in 6 weeks. I am ironing out therapy, summer school, and summer activity schedules right now. It seems so far away, and yet, so close.

I also can’t believe that we are nearing the end of the school year. Big changes loom ahead. Jake heads off to middle school in the fall. MIDDLE SCHOOL. I hated middle school…well, back then it was called Junior High. And who am I kidding, I went to a K-8 parochial school…but the 6-8 graders did have their own area of the school. It was the armpit of my educational experience. Yuck. I am trying not to project that too much upon him.

This is another step closer to his independence, to him being a “big” kid. Middle schoolers are required to know their schedules, juggle locker combinations, dress in a PE uniform for gym, and switch classrooms for every period. That’s a lot of moving around and keeping things straight for any child, let alone for a kiddo with executive functioning issues, focus and attention issues, and anxiety. I need to calm my own anxiety so that I will be able to help him with strategies as the struggles occur. And they will occur…but hopefully we can work through them and stop struggles from taking over.

Middle School also means a new IEP team. A new group of teachers, specialists, and the like. We are currently in the process of re-evaluation. It’s time for his 3-year reassessment. I know he’ll still qualify for services, but I’m also nervous about what may come out of this meeting. Unfortunately, we had already had his yearly review meeting in February, in which it was recommended that he take Instructional Math and Instructional Reading/Language Arts, which are smaller classes. We worry that he will lose ground on the curriculum. He is in a co-taught classroom for other subjects.

With the reevaluation, I’m hoping that he will score higher in language arts/reading to justify a co-taught experience. I really do think he can handle it. It’s not like he doesn’t get support at home. We have tutors, he works with me, he works with Hubz. I just think he CAN do it, if that is what we expect of him. The math, well, the math I understand. He is floundering. It would help if he used his tools…and if the teachers reinforced that he should use his tools. I understand that he needs to be independent and needs to figure some things out on his own, but seriously, give the kid a checklist so that he has a reminder of what he CAN use in class to help him.

As much as Jake continues to have academic struggles, it has been a banger year for social/emotional growth. He is doing amazingly well. We had to make some tough decisions, but ultimately, our choices have worked well. He is happier, more well-adjusted, and able to address triggers and cope with them. He is playing with the boys on the playground and eating lunch with them in the cafeteria. He is a part of it…instead of being mothered by the girls, he has friends…and his confidence is growing by leaps and bounds.

Middle school also means new friends. Two and a half elementary schools feed into our middle school. The kids that he’s grown up with over the past 6 years know him and his quirks. They know they have to wait and be patient. They know he talks too much when he’s nervous, and that he will defer to talking about animals when he doesn’t know what else to say. They help him a lot, too. But the other 100+ new sixth graders don’t know him like that…and what happens then? I am not even going to let myself think about 7th and 8th graders. I just may faint.

I know it’s a right of passage. I know that we all have had to figure these things out..and that we have all had our share of failure and success. I just hope beyond hope that he is okay…and that we’ve given him enough tools to be successful.

Bumbling Through

We’re still keeping on keeping on here. It’s been almost 2 and a half months since I last blogged. I’ve been working on being healthy, working on being informed about my kids and their needs, and working on keeping my house from being an episode of Hoarders. (I’m not winning that last battle so much, but I am working to chip away at all of our accumulated crap, so that’s a plus.)

All three of our boys are doing fairly well. We have progress, we have frustrations, we have successes and misses. But we are moving forward through this school year, and thankfully, for the most part, we are coming through relatively unscathed.

Jake is powering through 5th grade. All of our end of elementary school activities are starting to occur. I’m not sure if I’m ready for my child to be in middle school. I worry about this next step a lot. Is he going to be able to handle it academically? Socially? Emotionally? He’s quirky and awesome, but will kids see him that way? He started Boy Scouts last month. So far, he enjoys it. But he’s so small compared to some of the other boys. I just want him to be happy and to stay afloat…I hope we don’t lose momentum going into middle school.

Tate is hanging in there. We’ve seen some great progress. We are coping with some behaviors. I wish I knew the way to handle some of the hard stuff better. I want him to be happy. I want him to be him. I wish that certain things were easier for him, and I wish that he was less frustrated by social interactions and expectations. I wish he had a few friends. Maybe some day he will. Right now he has “friends”, but no real true friend. Makes my momma heart heavy. On the other hand, he is reading and comprehending better. He is impulsive, but with certain activities, he is slowing down and we see such gains.

Cole is coming into his own as he works through kindergarten. For a child whom struggled with letter recognition in August, he is leaps and bounds ahead of where he was. He is reading, writing, doing math, and is so intuitive. He amazes me every day with his ability to comprehend and predict and learn. He is also a social butterfly. He cares about his friends and he is often the center of a group of kids. He’s enjoying school.

The boys are getting along relatively well, and they truly have a brotherly love. It isn’t what some would say is typical, but I absolutely love being privy to their interactions and support of each other. If anything, I know that my boys have each others’ backs, and that is a marvelous thing…to be able to have comfort in knowing that family is always there for you.

I know this is a ramble and a jumble. I just have a lot on my mind, and I knew I’d feel better coming over here to get some of it out. I do.

Winter Doldrums

Ugh. January is such an ugly, gray bucket of suck. I feel like I’m allowed to say that because my birthday is in January, so I can badmouth this month because I kind of own it. I know, it’s not mine to own, but I pretend sometimes.

Last year, January was an unbelievably difficult time for our family. We had 4 emergency “cold” days that the school district called. We couldn’t get into a groove. Jake was struggling greatly due to a bully. We had the IEP meeting from hell, where they dropped a placement change bomb on us. Back then, it felt like we couldn’t get out of there.

Today, I am experiencing some winter doldrums. It’s been fairly cold here again. Last week the boys missed two days of school due to “extreme cold”. It wasn’t as bad as last year’s cold, but it was bad. We’re trying to get back into our groove after the let down of the holidays and so forth.

I have another birthday coming up. 2 weeks from today, actually. I always get a bit reflective and pensive around this time. What did I do with my life in the past year? What can I do better? How do I find my happy place? How do I stop losing my cool with the antics of three boys? How the hell am I already pushing 40?! When did that happen? I swear, there is a decade or so of my life that is floating around in the ether.

Instead of wallowing, I forced myself to drudge through the fog and the doldrums. As I exercised and ran a few errands, I began to sing and hum. It helped make me a bit more cheery. I came to a realization. I am in a better place than I was a year ago. We are in a better place than we were a year ago. I may have lost and gained the same 7 pounds all year (and now I need to lose them again), but I am healthier. I exercise more. I am making more real food. We have purged a bit of the stuff we have amassed in our 14+ years of marriage. We are supporting the boys and getting them through some of the rough patches. THEY are doing an exemplary job of using their tools and making them work for themselves in difficult situations. We aren’t letting the bastards keep us down!!!

And to top it off, in 10 days we are going to be in the “Happiest Place on Earth”. That is enough to pull anyone out of the winter doldrums. So, as I sit here and look outside at the gray skies and the snow-covered ground, and shiver as I sip on my green tea (a New Year’s Resolution….drink more healthy stuff!), and pull my sweater more tightly around my not-so-svelte middle, I know that in 10 short days I’ll be in the land of sun, fun, and all things Mickey!

Be gone, doldrums….

Tag Cloud

Mama Is Only Human

my journey...

Musings of an Aspie

one woman's thoughts about life on the spectrum


Our families journey to find our son's voice. And everything in between.

Emma's Hope Book

Living Being Autistic

Carrie Cariello

Exploring the Colorful World of Autism


A redheaded dad writing about parenting, autism and the odd piece of stuff

Grady P Brown - Author

Superheroes - Autism - Fantasy - Science Fiction

Swim in the Adult Pool

Finding humor in an ADHD life without water wings

Who Am I? Why Do You Care?

I am a woman on a journey. Where I'll end up is yet to be discovered.

Organized Babble

Babbling in the most coherent way possible

Addicted to Quippsy

In the not-so-distant future, you'll wish you wrote down everything your kids said. Now's your chance!

Filtered Light

“Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.” ~ Alice Sebold

that cynking feeling

You know the one I'm talking about . . .

Run Luau Run

Run Committed

beyond the stoplight

sharing resources to create caring classroom communities for all children

The Domestic Goddess

Marj Hatzell Has Been Giving Stay-at-Home-Moms a Bad Name since 2005


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