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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I Lied

I told you guys I was going to wax rhapsodic about shrubs, but as I was pulling pictures for the last post, I realized all the shit we haven't talked about that's more important than shrubs (sorry shrubs, but it's true).  Anyway, I lied and I'm sorry, and I'd tell you I'll never lie again, but that would also be a lie, and you see how this kind of stuff can really snowball on you?

Anyway...We had the walk!  It was just after...or maybe before the last post about EEG's and Seizures and stuff.  Not the most recent last post, but the last post before the last post.  The second to last post. I guess that's what they call it.

Anway, we walked, and if you really really feel guilty about not walking (participation was at record lows for the team despite the tshirt kicking significant ass this year) then you can basically catch the whole (almost literally) thing because I Facebook-Lived like...28 minutes of it.  I'm super entertaining.  At least...at least my mom said I am.

Probably you can't link to this if you don't have facebook.  I don't know.  Maybe you can.  Facebook Live: The Walk

Anyway, we had a good day.  Raised some money (though not as much as usual...slackers...) and had a nice walk.
Standing on my tiptoes to appear taller
It's Kenny!  From Kennywood.  I...I think
Finish Line!  Like...like it says in the picture.
Post "race"
Sure...NOW you sleep.

Summer Break

Hi it's me.  Jim.  Jim Walter.  The...guy with the ...hair?  I know, I know, it's been a while.  I've been writing, but the writing I've been doing has been for Healthline and not my blog.

So...to update you.  When last we left our hero, she had a seizure at school and I took her to the ER and stuff.  And since then I've learned...nothing.

I scheduled an EEG.  This was done...jesus...a month ago maybe?  Probably.  I've heard nothing.  I scheduled an MRI.  That's Friday.  Not looking forward to sedated Lily.  It's hard to watch.  But that's Friday.  Then all the doctor visits...geneticists, neurologists, pediatricians, oh my!

But they're so far out that I'm probably going to call someone and ask them to tell me what, if anything, they found prior to the appointments (I think I'm in August for the geneticist).

School is out and Emma got her first job.  It's fucking adorable if we're being honest.  It's a huge pain in the ass getting her there, but my folks have been helping, and friends.  So far so good.  She's been making it to work on time whether it's me sending her or not.  She hasn't gotten paid yet.  I'll be curious what her reaction is.  Honestly I think she'll just be excited.  She's a very laid back kid.  If it had been me, I'd have multiplied hours by rate and been crestfallen when I saw the damage income tax does...but Emma?  She probably doesn't have any idea how many hours she's worked.  Or how much to expect.  She'll just be like..."money!" and run off to the mall to spend it immediately.


Lily is still sleeping like shit.  I'm in phase two of the "fix lily's sleep" plan.  I talked to her doc, and he sent me a great list.  In fact...in fact, let me grab that list and post it for you folks who have kids who struggle with sleep.  He has some great bullet points and pros/cons of different fixes.  Some of you even posted some of the stuff he's got marked on the list as possible things to try.  From his email:

    The options for supporting sleep in children have greatly lessened over the last few years:
  1. Atarax / hydoxyzine-basic science indicates risk of arrhythmia if used nightly.
  2. Benadryl / diphenhydramine-risk of dementia in elderly…risk of neurocognitive dysfunction in children.
  3. Clonidine and Tenex: only last 4 hours, causing awakening. She did poorly on Tenex in past.
  4. Risperidone-may be tried in the next week, must consider side effects of atypical antipsychotic agents.
  5. Remeron-not recommended for young adolescents
  6. Trazadone-may be tried in the next week at 25 mg orally q evening, but many side effects….some overlapping atypical antipsychotic agents.
Plan:
  1. 5-HTP supports serotonin increase, and a 25 mg capsule opened into food ½ hour before bed may be helpful. Kirkman, Thorne, Pure Encapsulations, Metagenics are good companies for this product. Occasional paradoxical nighttime awakening occurs….but worth a try and otherwise benign.
  2. Assure that all nutrients but Magnesium are given in the am or afternoon, and none after 6 pm, as many are activating. Try moving Magnesium 180 mg / ½ tsp to ½ hour before bedtime, as it is often calming.
  3. Turn off any nightlight in the room, if tolerated.
  4. Deep pressure massage of back for 10 minutes prior to bedtime can sometimes increase relaxation (no training necessary).
  5. Decrease any food that she craves greatly, as an IgG antibody to that food can come off the brain in the middle of the night, causing night awakening. This often happen with dairy, wheat, and soy products.
  6. Emerging clinical experience supports the use of a form of essential oil, lavender, a few drops rubbed into the feet, as helpful.
  7. Stop Melatonin SR (which usually works 8 hours, not 4 hours, for my patients). When she awakens in the middle of the night before 4 amMelatonin 1 mg orally can be given.
  8. If no improvement after a week of the above, we will discuss the Risperidone and Trazodone alternatives.
This is one doctor's opinion, and please don't take my list and run with it, because...results may vary...but if you're struggling with your own sleep issues, or your child is...these would be some great talking points to bring up with YOUR doc.

So where I'm at is...I stopped the sustained release melatonin.  I started giving her 1.5 mg (half a 3 mg tablet) when she wakes up in the middle of the night.  I started giving her 5-HTP (though they only sell 100 mg capsules, so it's pretty dicey about exactly how much she's getting.  other people sell 50 mg, but are like twice as much as the kirkman capsules).  I started giving her the Mg supplements at night.  I started turning off her nightlight when I first get her to sleep.

Annnnnnnd...I don't really know that I've seen any improvement.  Last night she got up at 2 a.m.  By the time I staggered back to bed it was 3:30.  I KNOW I didn't live through anything close to 1 1/2 hours of struggle, so I must have dozed off at some point, but it's hard getting that mid morning wakeup interruption and then dragging ass out of bed at 5:30. 

This is still a work in progress.  

Lily's aide is working out well so far.  SO much less stress worrying about parents and in-laws driving 40 minutes to watch her every day so I can complete my work day.  There's still the issue of Emma's work schedule, which Lily's aide doesn't support, but so far that has been workable.

I've been cooking more.  Shrubs, pies, ceviche, bbq jackfruit for fucksake!, and I enjoy it.  My niche is typically...what can I make ahead and get leftovers of, and I'll probably post a recipe or two in the near future.  Next blog I'll wax poetic about shrubs.  Not the kind Sean Spicer hides behind...the fruit/vegetable syrup that can be used in cocktails or sodas.  They're awesome.
Grilled pineapple and jalapeno shrub margarita
That's it for now.  More later.  I won't promise I'll write more here...because I always seem to go in fits and starts, but I feel like writing more, so it's certainly more likely.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rough Patch

Lots to unpack here.  Where to start...

Lily, always a good sleeper, if somewhat more of an early bird than daddy might like, is not a good sleeper anymore.

She goes through these little...streaks or trends or phases, so in the past, when she hasn't been sleeping I sort of chalk it up to a phase, or maybe she's coming down with something.  But at this point...it's been since daylight savings time last October ...I think I'm ready to say, "she's not a good sleeper".
It could be worse of course.  Autism/ADHD and no sleep seem to go hand in hand a lot, and I've certainly had a nice long run of "in bed at 8 and up at 6".  Now we're at "in bed at 9 and up at 3".  That's painful for a guy who can't get to sleep much earlier than 11 on the best of days and usually gets to bed around midnight only to wake up at 5:30 to start my work day.

So to go to bed at 11...or midnight...then wake up at three for the day is...draining.  I wrote a little about what it does to me when I'm sleep deprived >>here<<, but in a nutshell...the patience I need..NEED to deal with some of Lily's challenging behaviors is not in abundance.  Or Emma, honestly.  I snapped at her yesterday for something that I ordinarily would have just laughed about.

So that's the first thing.  I need to find a "solution" to this problem.  I use a monitor in Lily's room.  That way I can tell when she wakes up and get her on the potty. 

I could turn off the monitor.  Except she has been getting out of bed and coming down the hall, or even the stairs lately.  And she is not the best at stairs.  Especially if she's wearing slippery socks on the hard wood steps.

I could install a gate at the top of the stairs.  That might be okay.  I could turn off the monitor without worrying about Lily taking a spill down the stairs.

I could see if there's a sleep aid Lily could take to keep her asleep.  Getting her to sleep is no big deal...KEEPING her asleep is what I need.  Would dosing her with melatonin when she wakes up help?  Maybe.  Not sure.  But melatonin has been pretty ineffective with her in the past.

I could do nothing and hope this...6 month phase passes.

I don't know.
-------------------------------------

Help at home.  I got approval from my insurance company for a home health aide for Lily.  She started a week ago.  I was approved at the end of January, but it's taken this long to find a resource.  Now that she's started, it relieves a lot of the burden from grandparents having to drive 40 minutes one way to watch her until I can get home from work.  This is an amazing benefit, and I'm slowly getting comfortable with it.  Right now it still seems very new and I'm still stressed out about it, but hopefully I'll mellow out with time.

--------------------------------------

Lily is growing up.  I won't go into the personals, but she's growing up and I have a plan, and that's basically all I guess anyone needs to know.  Not that anyone NEEDS to know it, but if you were like...what the hell is Jim going to do when Lily goes through puberty...Jim has a plan.

If you don't have a plan, feel free to reach out to me.  I like my plan.  People that need to know stuff know stuff.  And they know what to do.  And I know what to do.  And if you don't know what to do...you should figure that shit out sooner rather than later.

Was any/all of that cryptic enough?  Anyway, if you have a little girl like Lily, and you're considering your options, I'd be happy to discuss it with you "off blog".

--------------------------------------

It bothers me that I'm never sure if my little dashed lines are all the same length.

--------------------------------------

Lily had a couple seizures at school the day before yesterday.  We've long suspected seizure-like activity with Lily, but up until Tuesday nobody had ever really witnessed them who had a lot of experience.  The school called me and they sent her to Children's hospital ER in a "princess carriage".  I drove to meet her there.

We learned nothing.  Lily had previously done a sleep-deprived EEG that was inconclusive, and we elected not to do a 24 hour EEG followed by an ambulatory EEG because, to be honest, the first one was so fucking traumatizing that I didn't want to put her through it.  That was...years ago.  >>HERE<<.

In fact...5 and a half years ago.  So I'm doing it again.  I got a script for an MRI and one for an EEG and I'll be doing it this time without Leslie's support, but Lily is in a LOT better place for this kind of thing now.  She'll still have to be sedated for the MRI, which isn't my favorite, but there's is absolutely no way she'll sit still to have her brain scanned for a half hour.

So the "good" thing is someone saw it, and we checked it out and she seemed fine.  And the other "good thing" is that now I can use the scripts to get a better look so that IF something is there...I can get her help for it.
this Lil patient is being so patient

I was at the ER from 1:00-7:00 on Tuesday to get those two prescriptions and that medical buy-in that she was "fine".  And Lily was somewhat stir-crazy, but she was good all things considered (having not really eaten since breakfast, they wouldn't let her eat until she had bloodwork done I think that finished up around 5.  So...that was a bit painful constantly telling her "just a little bit longer".

------------------------------------------

Recap:  Lily isn't sleeping much, and is becoming a woman.  In addition, she seems to have had a couple seizures at school.  I need help, but got some for after school if I can just figure out a way to get more sleep.  Doc says there could be a link between her seizure and her coming of age, and that could be scary, but I'm following up.

There!
Unpacked.  For now.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Checkup

I went to my semi-annual dermatology appointment today.  I'm moley.  It turns out that moles I THINK are dangerous are harmless and those I think seem harmless are malevolent.  So I go to the dermatologist and he checks me out twice a year just to be safe.  They take pictures with an ipad and then compare my moles today to my moles from the past and flag the changers.

I have this mole-ish thing on my thigh.  It's been there for years.  He said a name for it.  He said it's fine.  He always says it's fine.  Which...is why I go see him, because I wouldn't have thought it was fine.  I told him so.  He said, "it does all the things we tell you to worry about, but it's still harmless.  It turns out it's genetic."  Well...if it's genetic. Nothing genetic could be a problem.

"These things save lives," he continued.  "People think there's a problem and they come to get them checked, and because they come in we spot something they might NOT have caught that ISN'T harmless."  So basically my thigh-mole-thing is a hero.

My dermatologist told me that his brother was a pilot in Iraq.  He told me that he asked him once what it was like being a pilot in Iraq and apparently his brother told him, "It was a target-rich environment."  He told me the story after he peeled the paper gown away from my chest.  In terms of moles, he said, "you're a target-rich environment."

Don't worry, this story ends happily.  He examined and catalogued my moles and had his assistant take some pictures, pronounced me healthy and told me I could get dressed and he'd see me in 6 months.

Writer technique...FLASHBACK!

When I started this appointment they asked me if I wanted a gown or just to take my shirt off.  Considering I knew he wanted to examine "all of me" I figured rather than sitting bare-ass on butcher paper I'd prefer the sparse modesty a gown could offer.  The assistant brought me a paper gown and I disrobed when she left, peeling the paper apart to find the arm holes.

"The opening goes in back," she said.

I put it on and looked for some way to pull the stiff paper closed.  There was a thin plastic strip, perhaps a half inch wide and 36" long that had fallen out of the gown and I attempted to wrap it around myself.  I could make the ends touch but there was no way I'd be able to tie it.  This was not my first paper gown exam rodeo.  I looked for eyelets on the gown...maybe it threaded through them.  There weren't any.  I tossed the strip on my clothes in disgust.
flattering!

I gathered the gown around me and pulled it closed before sitting on the butcher paper and waiting.  "Please don't use cell phones while in the examination rooms".  Whatever.  I didn't though.

Writer technique...PRESENT!!

I crumpled up the paper gown and tossed it in the garbage.  I got dressed and grabbed the "belt strip".

I handed it to the assistant and said, "Explain yourself.  I'm relatively slender and I couldn't tie it, I guarantee you have bigger patients.  There is no wa-"  But she was already holding the strip out in front of her...and...LIFE HACK...She pulled it apart.  The strip didn't snap in half or really even seem to thin out as much as I'd have thought.  She handed it back to me, stretched nearly double.

At the look on my face she laughed delightedly.  "That's how you do it," she said.

I can't POSSIBLY be the only person who has failed to see the solution to the short-belt problem.  If I am, please feel free to laugh at me.  If not...use this life hack for your next appointment.




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Lookin' Up

I've been doing a pretty good job of watching what I eat.  I've been doing an "okay" job of getting exercise.  I guess from my perspective any concerted effort to get any exercise is better than the complete LACK of that I was previously getting.  It's like Lizzy used to tell us (a dietician at work who gave us a 6 week brown bag series on nutrition)...it's about making better choices. 

So I've been trying to get out and walk for fifteen minutes every day at work, but I haven't been as diligent at home.  I'm not beating myself up about it, I'm still eating much better, and I'm focusing on doing things that help my overall mental health, so if I don't get a walk/run in on the treadmill it's not the end of the world.

One of the things I've been doing is sampling vegetarian food choices.  I'm not going vegetarian or plant-based, or whatever...at least not yet...but I'm just seeing what the dark side has to offer.  Since 90% of my dining is Asian, it's amazingly simple to just make the meat disappear and still have a great entree.  Other things I'm doing is attempting to limit my portion sizes to something more...reasonable.  I can eat a dinner sized portion of Hunan chicken, but really it's probably three full servings worth of food.  So I'm trying to just cut it in half and ask for a doggy bag for the other half so I'm not tempted.

I'm back where I was when my pants stopped fitting three weeks ago.  So now that I lost the six pounds I gained without even realizing it...and since I'm already in eat right and exercise mode...I'm going for the next five.  I think ten more total and I'll be content, but for now I'm taking it five at a time.

Myfitnesspal is limiting me to 1,750 calories today, which is actually not that big a deal to maintain, although I do find myself having to talk myself down from grabbing a snack out of the pantry, or at the very least, forcing myself to log that information into the app so that I can see how much damage I'm doing.  In some cases I end up going to bed with a little cushion (not literally, though I do use a pillow), in some cases I'll treat myself to a little something just shy of the goal limit, and in other cases I'll go a little over.

We went to visit my folks last week and mom made steak and brussels sprouts in a cheese sauce, and served wine...and then finished with a chocolate chocolate chip cookie sandwich with fucking marshmallow fluff in between.  So yeah.  Kind of hard to ALWAYS stay under budget.

Stress is less, I think.  Lily is still in the throes of some sort of metamorphosis that is not always super pleasant (like getting spit on or bitten, for example) but she's pretty happy and easy for the most part. 

Emma is more focused at school lately and I'm seeing her grades reflect that, and I've found there's an inversely proportional relationship between her grades and my stress level that has probably been my biggest single source of stress these past six months...yes...autism/money/election included.

My big "project" is done, and I'm eager to show you all what I was working on, but I can't until the recipient receives it, lest I ruin the surprise.  Now I have to pick some new thing to focus my creative energies on.  Room remodel?  Lamp project?  Drawing for Emma? 

I like my new foci, and I feel like they're helping me steer the boat.

Life is feeling good right now and I'd be smelling the roses if I hadn't contracted some sort of cold/flu from Lily and gotten a stuffy nose.  And I'm out of tissues at work. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Free Burrito with Haircut


I suggested she put on the little cape, which worked fine until Lily flung it over her head a few times so that she looked like a little black ghost and completely covered her head.  We made it past or through...and she settled down for about the last 1/3 of the hair cut. 

Well...if you're following along in the haircut process, yesterday I posted three styles I thought would look good for Lily.  They're here.  We ended up splitting the difference between Options 2 and 3, going not quite as short as 3, but not quite as long as 2.  It looks great.  Great job Leigh!
How YOU doin'

It started out a bit rough.  The things that Lily hates most about her hair...combing and clips were all things Leigh needed in order to get her hair cut.  Also..."I don't like rain" when she would spray her hair with the little spray bottle.

And even though she had already eaten her favorite McDonald's earlier that evening, I took her for a special treat after the haircut.  She wanted nuggets and fries.  I thought about getting her a four piece with a kids fry, but I didn't think it would be enough fries, so I just got her a six piece and a small fry.  Like an asshole.

She ate her nuggets like a champ and I pulled around McDonald's to Chipotle, because at that point I hadn't eaten anything yet and it was about 8:15.  Daddy deserved a little treat too.  I'd never taken Lily in to a place like that and gotten something for myself.  Sometimes I just don't want to worry about the fuss or stress.  But I was like...we can do this.  I need to challenge my comfort zone.  So I did.  Like an asshole.

At some point I noticed the woman in front of me kept turning around to look at Lily.  And I'm like...yeah, bitch, she's a princess, drink it in.  But I didn't say that, and instead I looked at Lily who was making the face of someone who wanted to throw up.  Possibly because her father overfed her like a kid with his first goldfish.

And then she settled down a bit, and it was my turn so I started to order, but I kept looking at Lily, because if she had to hurl...and so I kept having to say what every five seconds.

Slack jawed teenage girl (SJTG):  What would you like to order
Me:  Veggie Burrito (I was being so damned healthy too!)
SJTG:  White or brown rice
Me:  What?
SJTG:  White or brown rice
Me:  Oh...I want the lime cilantro rice
SJTG:  The lime cilantro rice comes in white or brown
Me:  What?  Oh...uh...white
SJTG:  Black or pinto beans
Me:  What?
SJTG:  Black or pinto beans
Me:  Uhhhh...black

And so on.

The woman behind me had now taken an interest, asking if Lily was choking and I told her no, that she'd eaten too much and was feeling a little sick.  I sat Lily down and divided my time between ordering and double-checking that Lily wasn't going to throw up in Chipotle as the woman behind me started barking orders at the SJTG behind the counter...Bag!  We need a bag!  No, not a paper bag, do you have a plastic bag!

And so on.

I'm along for the ride at this point.

"Sweetie, you need to put your hands up in the air if you're feeling like you're going to throw up, that will help."

That was about 25 words more than Lily wanted to process at once, and I'm like, "ma'am, she doesn't know what you mean, she's autistic."  And I cringe because I feel like I'm minimizing who Lily is, but I just want the nice lady to leave us alone so I can address the situation my own way. 

She begins taking all the things the SJTG is giving her and engineering some sort of double-contained barf bag apparatus like she's a fucking Apollo 13 astronaut, wrapping one bag inside the other and then turning it inside out or something and folding it at the sides...my attention was divided at this point.

"OH!  My NEPHEW is autistic."  She thrusts the Apollo 13 barf bag into my hands and says, "I'll pay for your order, you just take care of her."

 And I'm telling her it's really not necessary and thank you, but it's okay.

And SJTG is STILL asking me questions...guac? cream cheese? salsa?...and I'm responding "Yes, jesus, yes, all of it...put everything on the goddamn burrito (I didn't swear)...all of the things..."

Lily is now saying, "I have to go potty".  Son of a BITCH!  But...hey...cool points for self initiating.

NOW the nice lady behind me is practically pushing me out the door...I hear her telling SJTG repeatedly...I'll pay. I'll pay, just give him his order...

And she insists on paying for my burrito, and I thank her again as the cashier hands me my free burrito and I walk Lily to the back of the store, asking her if she wants to go home or go potty.  She never actually answered, so I ushered her into the car and drove home.

Lily was fine when we got home.  No throwing up.  Awesome haircut.  Free burrito.

Nailed it!  Thanks nice lady for helping!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Making the Cut

Tonight is Lily's big haircut.  Taking her to the salon this time.  I think I've narrowed her look down to three choices, with one MUCH shorter than the others.  And I think I'm going to need to learn how to cut bangs.  But maybe it'll make things easier.

Option 1:  Longer...too long?
Option 2:  Shorter...
Option 3 (Blogger friend's gorgeous daughter) shortest

I've been washing her hair every day.  It makes brushing it sooooo much easier the next day after she sleeps in it, so I think it's been really helping her mood, because there aren't as many tangles to comb through that pull and hurt her head.

Also, we went to Eyeglass World and picked out some new frames for her new prescription.  I liked her old frames, but I think she was getting too big for them.  So she has some new ones now.  Purple.  Like Lachey Wiggle's shirt.

So she'll be a totally new kid next time you see a picture of her...which means I'll have to redo the blog graphic.  Which means I'll have to redo the Walk tshirts...DAMMIT!

But...segue here...

The walk is coming up.  I'm WAY ahead of the game this year.  Already contacted the tshirt guys.  Picked out a color (charcoal gray (they told me that whites don't show up well on black unless you double the ink, and they charge for it) with white lettering and graphic).  Should look cool.  Already got a nod on the sponsorship.  Already registered myself, Emma, and Lily, and set up the team site...Just a Lil Walk.

Soooooo...register/donate/save the date so you can show up and walk with us.

Last night I got eight hours of sleep.  I woke up and the coffee made me wired.  I think this whole time I just thought caffeine was a myth because no matter how much I drank I was still tired.  But today...wow.

Also down six pounds since I started focusing on my six areas to cure the Blues.

  • Create
  • Workout/eat more betterer
  • Connect with kids
  • Get more sleep
  • Finish a project
 And I'm doing all the things.  Mostly.  I can't do it all, but I find that if I say...okay, I can't be creative or workout tonight, but I CAN get to bed early.  Orrrrr...I can't get to bed early, but I'm excited to finish this project and then hang out and eat popcorn with the kids.  Or WHATEVER...as long as I'm making a concerted effort to hit at least one or two of the high points...it's good.


Alright...I'll be back soon.  With pictures.





Monday, January 23, 2017

Status Report

Alright...

When last we spoke, I was "curing" my blues by getting more sleep, getting creative, working out and watching what I eat, reconnecting with my kids, and working on a project. 

So far so good.  Since that time, I've been getting to bed about an hour earlier than usual.  I logged back into myfitnesspal to start logging calories.  I started walking a mile at work with another one of the PM's.  I hopped on the treadmill a couple times.  I started a little secret project as a gift for a friend.  And I tried to do better about engaging the kids without a phone screen between us. 

And the few things that leap out at me are:

1)  Oh my god, I'm so hungry.  No wonder I was gaining weight!  I told myfitnesspal that I wanted to lose a pound a week.  It told me to limit my calories to 1,750 per day.  Whatever...no problem.  Except that I've been eating without discipline for months and I've been really struggling to hit my calorie count!  "Really struggling" is probably a stretch.  But let's just say I was surprised at how easy it was to break my calorie "budget".  I think the one pound a week thing is manageable, but...it would be sooooo much easier if I changed it to 1/2 a pound or something.  Anyway, it's doable. 

I just finished lunch, and I have 750 calories left for the day.  I was in the same place yesterday (more or less) but I blew the bank with popcorn with Emma.  I got on the treadmill though, and didn't add that to the app, so I think it was fine.

I use little tricks like keeping busy, or trying to increase the amount of water I drink, or eating (attempting) very slowly, but I think at least for a while I'm going to be craving food.

2)  I felt my best when I was working on my secret project.  It really improved my mood creating something with my hands and seeing it take shape.  Emma was off at the movies with her friends and Lily was in bed, so I didn't feel guilty about the time spent (until Emma came home).  I think I worked on it more or less steadily for three hours.  And I'd have kept going, but it was 12:30 and I knew the next step would take several more hours, so it was a good place to stop.

3)  I realized that I'm not going to be able to do everything at once.  I mean...I had realistic expectations.  I knew that there would be some days I'd be too busy to do it all.  Or that on other days some things will have to give and I would need to try to prioritize based on what I felt I needed the most.  If I was feeling really tired, then maybe getting to bed early trumped working out or working on my project.  If I was having dinner with a friend then maybe maintaining my calorie count took a back seat.  The day that I worked on the project I didn't really work out.  I had walked at work though, and I thought to myself...(a week ago I wouldn't have...so I'm still ahead of the game).  Anyway, I'm trying to be realistic.

All in all I'm feeling good about the past five days really taking a close look at those few areas of my life that I can control.

In the meantime, I'm talking to Lily's hairdresser on Tuesday about when we can schedule her haircut.  I got some great ideas from you folks about good low-maintenance but adorable haircuts.  I'm actually excited to see how it turns out.

Now I need to pick a home improvement project.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Splitting Hairs

I've reached another one of those unpleasant autism-parent decision plateaus...where I have come to a realization that something I've been pushing with Lily, something that was really important to me, was in truth, only important to me.  Not to her. 

Lily is a beautiful girl and I love her long hair.  And Lily doesn't give a shit.  And I have fought against cutting it shorter for years and years and this morning, as she clenched her teeth in frustration, biting down hard on her sweatshirt in anger and screaming through the material, I realized that it's all been because of my desire that she have long hair, and not for any other reason.

Hair styling with Lily has become increasingly harder through the years, and lately when her mood declines she lashes out more and more vehemently...spitting, biting her hair or shirt, screaming NO!  kicking off her shoes, throwing her hair clip and glasses...and hair styling rapidly puts her mood in that sort of decline.

This morning, for probably the third time this week, I loaded Lily onto the bus with a warning to the bus aide to be careful...Lily is very frustrated this morning...then watched helplessly through the window as she attempted to snatch the glasses off the face of her bus aide and hurl them across the seats.  This morning the aide dodged back quickly, looking up at me beseechingly as if I had the power to do anything other than stand witness. 

She was pissed (Lily...but maybe the aide too), and me trying to put her hair in a pony to keep it out of her face is what put her in that place.  Once she's in that place it's probably ten to fifteen minutes of solid rage before she processes and settles back into the happy little Lily she usually is.  But I put her there.  Again.

During the morning routine I cut up her poptart and placed it on the table.  She wasn't sitting down at the time and I didn't really give it a second thought.  While I talked to Emma and Lily watched TV she eventually wandered over and sat down, popping a piece of poptart in her mouth before I noticed that her hair was in her mouth too. 

I pulled the long strands of hair out of her mouth (it doesn't really bother her that she's swallowed the hair with the poptart, I grabbed a napkin to attempt to strip the poptart goo off her hair.  I gathered it up and made a messy partial pony on top her head, trying to finish quickly before she started getting upset.

I made it.  It was later though, when I tried to straighten it up, brushing it back off her face neatly and gathering it in my fist to wrap and rewrap with the pony tail holder that she spiraled down, cratering into the place where she remained as I loaded her onto the bus. 

Not for the first time I thought...I guess I need to cut her hair. 

Those kinds of decisions are the hardest ones for me.  It's stupid really, because it's an easy decision...Lily hates her hair being styled.  I need to style her hair when it's long...cut her hair shorter.  But it comes at the end of a long battle to NOT cut her hair, so it makes pulling the trigger that much harder.  But it's done.

hmmm...

I'm going to contact the family hair dresser today via text with a few pictures to consider.

My requirements for Lily's haircut:

1)  cute (obvi...)
2)  stays out of her face without a clip or a pony
3)  doesn't require "styling/curling/etc" in order to look good
4)  won't get in her mouth if she bends over her food when eating. 

I was going to post a picture of Eleven from Stranger Things as my first cute haircut example, but I couldn't find one that was obviously marked as shareable.  Look her up.  Millie Bobby Brown...she shaved her head for the show.

The sight gag isn't nearly as funny without the sight part.

Anyway...it is purely coincidence that every single cut I found (and maybe one or two are the exact same) happen to be labeled "short haircuts for asian girls".  I had no idea they were so ethnocentric.

Here they are:

This is by far my favorite

This has some sort of weird unkemptness vibe that I probably won't be able to reproduce

On Lily the back of the hair will just hang straight down

This is probably my least favorite, and I can see her getting her hair in her food


What do you all think?  Leigh?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Blues



It's been a while since we've chatted. I've been busy. It's not you, it's me.

Coming off a down day yesterday. I'm realizing more and more that my daily mental well-being is very wrapped up in what amounts to about 15 minutes worth of negative interaction with my kids. Like basically my whole day is blown to shit if Lily is melting down or defiant (screaming/spitting/throwing glasses and clip) or Emma got bad grades at school or doesn't do her chores.

To understand yesterday's particular antecedent, let's hop in the wayback machine to a time just prior to the holidays when Lily's school picture came home and... though yes, every picture of Lily is a unique and beautiful snowflake...was garbage. So I sent them back in and set a reminder for makeup pictures.
No amount of retakes was fixing this.


They were taken yesterday.

 The night before I scrubbed her and washed and conditioned her hair until my brush flowed through it like an oar gently gliding through placid water.

The next morning I had Lily in my lap, brushing her ...not quite so smooth...hair back into a tidy pony tail, which is currently the only hair styling technique that I've mastered, and Lily was squirming and uncomfortable, and by the time I was finished, she was pissed, and there were some loose strands of hair that I tried to clip back into the mix...but it ended up looking sloppy. So I started to redo it and Lily just kept getting madder and madder until I finally gave up, slid a clip in her hair and said fuck it.

But now Lily was mad. And so she was spitting and screaming (god that kid has lungs) "no" at everything I would say (example: Lily: I want wiggles. Jim: You want Wiggles? Lily: NOOOOOOO!), and refusing to go on the potty before getting on the bus (which adds more stress) and pulling her clip out and throwing it on the floor (more stress) until I finally got her on the bus. Her hair more or less completely undone. Picture day! Yay!

So I was feeling a little sorry for myself. Irritated at my inability to make Lily's hair look good for picture day. Frustrated with Lily's current mode of communicating her mood...namely spitting and throwing her glasses. This all happened over about a ten minute duration just prior to the arrival of the bus.

There were more things...general stuff...like requiring help for every little thing...rides to and from dance for Emma, not being able to get the kids to the eyeglass store to order glasses, that kind of stuff. And it all piled up all day and I was just...blue.

I'm not really sure how to combat that in the moment, but I do recognize a few things that have been lacking in my day to day life that generally help my overall mental...wellness:
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Physical Activity
This morning I decided to wear black shoes and black pants. I haven't worn those black pants for at least a month. I...had difficulty buttoning them. I'm wearing them right now. I'm so uncomfortable. I have picked up at least 6 pounds from the last time I looked at the scale and thought..."I need to lose a little weight." So...it's 6 plus whatever that last number was. It's a big number. Math is hard.

I had an ankle...injury (for lack of a better word) crop up that I had been using as sort of a convenient excuse for not getting back on the treadmill. I've addressed the injury to an extent. There's nothing more I can really do. It's time to get back on it and walk at the very least. Getting exercise DOES make me feel better. More awake. more aware. Better over all.

With that exercise will come a diet change. I've been eating really really badly of late. LOTS of snacking. I need to start counting calories and limiting portion sizes again. Back on myfitnesspal I go.

Creativity
I need to get back into regular blogging at the very least as a creative outlet. This...vent session doesn't really count I don't think, but even this will probably be a bit cathartic. I have a little project I want to start working on, and haven't been able to carve out the time, but I think that's related to another issue.

Sleep
I don't get a lot of sleep. When I do, I automagically feel better. My issue has always been that the time spent after the kids are asleep is my only real adult time. My bigger issue is that I've been using that time to do stupid shit like sit on my ass and play on my phone or watch tv instead of finishing lunches or cleaning dishes or making coffee for the next day, and I end up doing them until 12:00 or 12:30...with a 5:30 wakeup time looming. And...relaxing and just doing nothing is important too, but I think that if I can do a better job of motivating myself to finish chore type stuff early, I can get to bed earlier more consistently. When I get more sleep I am always MUCH more flexible and patient with the girls.

Connect with my kids
This is the hardest one to address. When I get home from work, I'm still on the clock. Making lunches or dinners and cleaning stuff. Emma is usually doing homework or at dance, and I can't play with Lily because I need to get dinner done...then I need to get dishes done...then I need to get bathtime done...and the next thing I know Lily is asleep. Emma and I both have withdrawn into our phones. She's chatting with friends or on instagram or snapchat. I'm playing clash royale or texting a friend.

Even when I notice what I'm doing and try to stop and engage her, I feel guilty that I'm taking her away from something she's enjoying just because *I* am feeling guilty about the screens between us. I need to reconnect with her and her sister both. Working on that. But when I am with my kids...laughing, making memories, listening, sharing...I am as happy as I have ever been.

Finish a Project
Maybe it should be a subcategory under "Creativity", but the project thing is a problem that compounds itself (maybe they all do...hmmm). I have a LOT of ideas for things I'd like to do around the house. I have started none of them. That makes me feel worse. I need to start a project...redecorate my bedroom leaps to mind. Firepit out back leaps to mind. Paint the risers on the steps leaps to mind. Put away all the christmas boxes leaps to mind (okay...not really a project, but something I'd feel better about once it's put away).

I sometimes think how neat it would be to by a fixer-upper to flip, or even to keep. Pour time into it and paint it and decorate it. Spend a little to buy it. Spend more to make it look amazing. And realize...I'm not even putting that time into the house I already own and live in. And that bums me out.

I always feel better when I can complete a project, even if it's as simple as slapping a coat of paint on something, and I can see a positive difference. And say..."I did that".
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I'm generally pretty happy. But I've been struggling a bit lately. I honestly think if I can focus on those five things (with a couple more thrown in case by case) I'll feel a lot better. Then you won't be able to shut me up.