Sunday, May 01, 2022

Soothing Bathing Hour, With Chickens

When you are a caregiver, sometimes you have to get creative with your care. This is doubly so when both of you are coming off of a week plus of being sick (first James, then myself). For example, after clearing some dishes and laundry this morning, I focused the day on showering. This means almost two hours of psyching up and prep (clean bathroom, wait for clean PJs from the dryers, towels out, wipes and bag ready). The actual showering planned to take place during the warmest part of the day, when washer and dryer will be free to deal with his bedding. 

Then comes the bathing campaign, letting James know it's eminent, and literally catching him in a bedroom-bathroom loop that's lately been so find of, and sweeping him down the hall and stocking the bathroom with towels and choices of shirts and PJ bottoms for after.

While he preps for the shower I sweep the bedding into the washer (so glad it's a huge one and can take it all), add extra soap and turn it on. 

I am sitting in the armchair, encouraging the process - literally calling the plays, clapping, and giving out encouragement. I found something new to distract him from complaining and stalling: an online chicken timer, set to piano music: 

This helps us both not go down the meltdown hole and keep a our sense of humour.

Then, while he's working on shampooing his hair, I will get temporary clean bedding on his bed.

When shower sessions are over, the day is still warm and it's time for a milkshake reward.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

What We've Done

 Saw this post and man, is it my song: 

Single autism parenting. Head of household. Sole breadwinner. Amidst natural disasters.Through a pandemic. There but for the grace of the universe, and a little (lotta) help from friends and family. James and I, together.

Lonely, proud, loving. Looking to make a change for good.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Sick Day

Our Spring weather has been flip-flopping between 30s in the mornings, rain, and sunny highs of 84ยบ. Last night I awoke to hear James coughing and sniffling. This morning it's more pronounced. While he did not have a fever (amazing how, with a little practice) a quick hand to the forehead can accurately gauge this, I called him in sick to school and ABA.

One last task for this afternoon/evening - a COVID-19 test. It's always a good idea to be safe. Also, if he does test positive, I need to notify his school and ABA. I really hope it's a negative test - otherwise, there goes my week. Fingers crossed that all our vaccines and boosters are doing their jobs.

Image of a take home COVID-19 testing kit
ETA: Results are negative!

Sunday, April 24, 2022


James is an awesome person. He is typically easy going and is happiest when everyone around him is happy. He is smart and a sleeper, taking everything in and not showing it until he's ready. He has a fun, semi-goofy sense of humour. 

When he was younger, James would skip, jump, and run about - as a very young child he loved to dance about. Now that he's well into his teen years he's discovered the joys of sleeping in lounging his best life in his large, comfy bed. Hormones and hangriness occasionally change his mood and attitude. 

Hulk, saying he is hangry

This weekend, I needed James to complete part of his daily routine and he refused. For several minutes, and without losing patience, I kept in his vicinity and repeating the request to complete the activity. James became more upset and made a ball with his fist at my eye level. When I put my hand up in a "stop" motion, he punched it. Not terribly hard, but still.  He also chose to swear at me. 

I explained that I was now removing the internet router, so no internet. I took it out into the garden with me. For several minutes I was breathing deeply, trying to calm down, review what could have been done differently, and listening to see if he would now attempt to open an outside door and elope. 

Eventually, James did come out to show me he'd completed the activity and to say he was sorry. "I didn't mean to, Mother," he said. I believe him, but this could have gone very differently for someone who did not know him as I do. 

I made sure he understood that I was not happy about his behavior and thanked him for completing his task and coming to talk with me. Then I made sure he had a good lunch to eat. The day went much better after that.

Editing My New Home ... Finally!

Over the past decade I have gone to trying to manage a household of stuff for 2 kids, 2 cats, and a set of parents in a 4br/2ba home with yards and a garage ... to compressing down to a 2br/2ba mobile home (with a yard!) for James, myself, and 2 cats. 

There were many, many crazy hiccups and hitches over the past six years, so this was so not a smooth transition. I am very lucky to have had the help of so many family members and friends ... but I don't let go of things well in the best of times and for many years it's felt like the stuff was the best of my years as a mom. Result: I held on to way too many things, slung into bags and schlepped too many places.

The move into our current home was literally pre-empted by a historically large and long evacuation of most of Sonoma County to fight the Kincade Fire: First our apartment was given notice, then my mom and daughter received notice, finally, at 10 PM, we got the evac notice at our new place. We were gone for a week. 

I am so lucky I was able to get the movers to squeeze us back into their schedule. However, rain was eminent, so for several months, James and I lived in an indoor box canyon. Then COVID-19 hit and school and work not only shut down, but resulted in more bags of stuff being brought in and dropped in nooks and crannies and new set-ups needed for remote learning and working from home. 

Luckily, I had an idea of how I wanted to set up the bedrooms and the main kitchen/dining/living room area and my years in a live/work loft resulted in good lessons in setting up living areas in one large space. I have sporadically been able to engage in a cleaning/organizing frenzy, then spend weeks at a time recuperating and trying out the solutions. I got the dishes and spices dealt with first. Then the cabinets over the washer dryer and the linen closet. Utility closet was next, followed by the pantry. 

Today, I finally cleaned out on top, under, and around the kitchen table, aka ABA central. I got inspired by watching "The Home Edit". I am so happy to get rid of the school podium and to replace it with simple shelves from Amazon. Along the way, I re-organized the cabinets over the laundry area, James' games/videos under the TV, the room divider bookcase, the bench hidden by the table, and the bookcase and lamps that were not being used behind the table. Pausing after 4 hours - phew!

The disaster area that is supposed to be my work area now has more bags of stuff to sort. BUT: 2 bags and a box are leaving the house, the floor has really been swept, the runner rug is down, and most importantly, James had a huge smile on his face when he saw the results.

Friday, April 22, 2022

ABA at Full Capacity

Graphic that shows behaviors analysis
 For the first time in many months, almost a year, James is back at full programming for applied behavioral analysis, or ABA, therapy. It has been so long in fact that I am finding myself having to adjust my schedule to accommodate it. 

For one thing, I will have to up my housekeeping game. The ABA therapists need to have space to work with James. They also will be working with him to make sure he is done his chores in his room and  bathroom, so I need to work more with James to make sure that this goes as smoothly as possible. 

It does have its good side. Right now I am on the back porch looking at the garden and the trees above the creek. 

Even better, I know that James is in good hands and he is interacting with people, which is really what he is enjoying these days - making connections outside his family and getting the chances for new kinds of conversations and playing card games like Uno, Guess in 10, and Would You Rather.

Espresso So We Can Forte

It's Friday! Made it through another week. Luckily there was strong coffee in my actual Peet's mug, as James did not want to get out of bed. He was snuggly rolled up like a burrito in a blanket on his freshly laundered bedding, loving the heck out of his bed. It would have made a great commercial. School and work wait for no one, however.

Photo of a comfortable bed, sheets turned

I gave James 10 minutes to rise and shine on his own (he has started to do this, so I keep trying to encourage it). All the while I am sipping down java, getting out his breakfast, and revving my parental mode. Thank goodness for our morning routine. We both know what's coming - James is the teen fulcrum, waiting for me to lever him into starting his day and getting out the door on time.

Photo of a Peet's coffee mug, maroon with Peet's logo

The saving grace in all this is the flexible work schedule that allows me to relax enough to match James' playful mood - thank goodness he is rarely cranky or surly in the morning. He knows once I arrive in his room with the morning hygiene kit that getting out of bed is now inevitable. He good-naturedly picks a new shirt for school and puts it on as we start the routine.

Breakfast is consumed, with a few testing skirmishes on his Kindle. We assemble his lunch and I make sure his reading log gets into his backpack so he gets points for this work. The van pickup arrives earlier than it has all week, coinciding nicely with the garbage truck roaring around our block on it's pickup run.

Without any prompting, James takes his meds. I acknowledge this with a "Great job - I really appreciate your hustle this morning" and bundled him into the van with him still in a playful mood. Inside, both my fists are in the air and I am silently shouting "Yes! YES!!!!"

Because yesterday, it was me chasing him around the house, bad word scripting galore, over the course of 5 minutes before he grudgingly took his meds. Looking forward to the weekend!