Tuesday, June 25, 2013

That Ol' Emotional Rollercoaster.

12 hours ago I was writing a different post.  The SCOTUS ruling had just come down, and I also learned that my friend's theater company, which does A TON of outreach with local students, lost all their funding last night.  By unanimous vote.  Despite letters and pleas from hundreds of residents asking the council to keep the funding intact. Now he's not sure if he'll be able to keep the company running in it's present location, or if they'll have to move (he's had a number of generous offers from other cities).  But he started the company 5 years ago in his hometown, and he doesn't WANT to leave.
The worst part is that the company has brought in literally millions in revenue, as well as helping to keep kids in school, lower the dropout rate, and increase literacy levels.  It has become a real part of the community, yet  with one vote, its future in the region is in jeopardy.

Because, apparently, almost no one, on any level of government, listens to their constituents anymore.
(I'm sitting here waiting to see what happens in Texas.  I'm not optimistic, although that filibuster was amazing!  As were all the hundreds of people who showed up the past few days.)

But, some good news out of Massachusetts.

OK.  Enough of that, or else I won't be able to sleep.

WG is on vacation.  For 2 weeks.
It's been 2 days.
I'm exhausted, lol!
Yesterday we took LG to summer school, then ran some errands.  I came home and cleaned up the house a bit, then it was time to pick LG up.  Home for lunch, then off to the pool for 2 hours.  We left just as it started to rain.

Of course, I hadn't gotten my workout in, so last night I did a quick, 16-minute Tabata strength/cardio drill.
And WG stayed up until after 10, giggling.  :)
This morning we dropped LG off & came home.  After lunch, because of the rain, we couldn't use the pool, so we went for a long drive.
With more giggling, this time from both sides of the peanut gallery.

Now it's after 10 PM.  WG is sleeping, LG is on his way, I just finished my yoga, and my eyelids are drooping down to my kneecaps.

Thank goodness for quick, effective workouts!  They're the only ones I'll be able to fit in most of the summer!

Alrighty, then.  I'm off to la la land.


2 days after the funding was cut for my friend's theater company, the NEA stepped in and gave them a grant.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Look Out: I'm Getting INSPIRED!!!!!

Had another eye-opening conversation yesterday.  I was talking about my plans for private teaching and for making a voiceover demo, and the person I was talking too said, basically, "Why not?  You could be really successful doing something you love."
Which may just be the first time someone has ever said that to me.

When I was 10 and announced I wanted to be an actress, no one really took it seriously.  Because, well, I was 10!  
But I stuck to it, and, as you know, actually made a go of it.  Somewhat successfully, for a few years.  Surprising everyone.
Because every time I told someone my plans, I got a 45-minute lecture on how hard a life it was, how I'd NEVER make it, and that I'd better have something "to fall back on."  Well-intentioned, always, but not exactly encouraging.  :)
(Remember, my parents' idea of something to fall back on was writing.  ?!?!?!?!?!?!
Yeah, that's stable!)

I believe I've mentioned that I'm an Irish Jew, along with British, Russian, Romanian, and German.  We're not always the most optimistic folks.  So, honestly, it's not a huge surprise that I never thought myself worthy of success.  And I'm sure I projected that in my professional life.  Which may be a big reason why I had such a hard time in L.A.  Aside from the whole "too old/fat/ugly" thing.  I've always been quick to believe the negative and slow to believe the positive.

And it's continued into the present.  Yesterday I finally realized that I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to my professional life.  I have never, except for those few years in my early-mid 20's, believed I was good at  what I do.  Or good ENOUGH.  Even when I was teaching Pilates, and got consistent, lovely feedback from clients.  I was never good enough. I didn't get as many students in my classes as some of the other teachers, and I was fat.  Ergo, I was a failure.
Well, I'll tell ya, that is a CRAPPY way to live!

And painful.  It really, REALLY hurts to pull yourself away from the things you love because you're afraid to fail. It's an empty life.  If I want to be the best mom I can be, and I do, I need to feel fulfilled.  My kids need to see both of their parents doing things they love, earning a living, and not stressing out over finances ALL THE TIME.

I keep thinking about something Marianne Williamson wrote.  You've probably seen it:

"Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you NOT to be?  Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give permission to let other people do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

I REALLY get it now. 
The best gift I can give my kids is to be my fullest self, and to let them be theirs.

I've never believed that we're put on earth to suffer for the promise of a later reward.  I don't think suffering is our fate.  Just the opposite: I think we're supposed to try and alleviate suffering as much as we can, in whatever way we can. And to find joy.  Some spend their entire lives helping others.  But giving a stranger a compliment, or holding a door open, or paying attention to someone who needs it, that all counts, too.

The good stuff doesn't get publicized.  You won't turn on cable news and see "Our top story: People being nice to each other on the subway."  It's so easy to fall into despair. To criticize, blame, and point fingers at each other.  To blame someone else for our own dissatisfaction.
People who refuse to do so are called out for being "naive," for not "living in the real world."  These days, if your not cynical, you're dismissed.

And that's OK.  If people want to call me naive, as they have my entire life, that is their prerogative.  Doesn't make it true, and I certainly don't have to take their word for it! 
And besides, the people who don't always give a fig what others' think tend to be the happiest.

So, it's time for Happy Mom!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Quite literally.
My Mom-dar (Mommy Radar) woke me at 2:30 this morning, at which point I heard WG in the bedroom just below ours giggling. She was wide awake and playing.  Luckily, she was able to get back to sleep pretty quickly.
Me?  Not so much.
I finally fell asleep again at 5:00, and had to get up at 6:00.

And my mom just found out something very interesting: Her right eye has nearly perfect vision, but she's nearly legally blind in her left.
Macular degeneration.
They're keeping an eye on it (har har) and will fix it once they know which kind it is.

Otherwise, things have calmed down a bit, emotionally.  I've been taking LG to the pool nearly every day.  (I have mentioned the pool, haven't I?  Hubby's aunt & her family live in an apartment complex not too far from here, and she gave us their pool key since they never use it.  It's been a godsend!)  Starting next week I'll be taking both kids, since WG has a 2-week break before summer school starts.  It's REALLY nice, and thus far hasn't been too crowded (touch wood).

I'm also working on finding a sitter (or 2) for the kids.  Just a few hours a week during the summer, and then continuing as needed.  It turns out that some of the folks where the kids used to get their therapy (and where my S-I-L still works) are registered with Care.com. So not only are they pre-screened, they're trained to work with kids with autism AND they're known to us!
And some of the hours are paid for out of our respite care.  Win/win!

Finally, I've been looking into teaching options.  There's another Shakespeare festival in the area that has in-school residencies.  So I could teach during school hours (as opposed to after school) AND have the classroom teacher there with me!  I wouldn't have to deal with classroom management, I could just do what I'm good at.
Also, I'm thinking of eventually doing some private teaching.  Renting out a space at a rec center, somewhere inexpensive, and teaching private and small group classes.  There are a number of teachers in the city, but not as many here.  Plus, I can work with kids, especially middle school and older, as well as adults, who actually WANT to be there.  Not kids who are being forced by their parents because the tennis lessons were full and they need to do SOMETHING. ( I have dealt with MUCH TOO MUCH of that, and it ain't pretty!  I'm not a babysitter.  If you want to dump your kid somewhere, try and at least find somethings/he will enjoy!)

It's time for me to start creating my own opportunities, I think.  Carving my own path, and not waiting for someone else to tell me what to do, where to go, and how to do it.  I have a lot of experience, and a lot to offer.  
I also want to make my own schedule, as much as possible, and create my own method.

I'm actually very excited about this!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Handing Over the Reigns

My dad was an old-school kind of reporter.  He walked the streets, went to the neighborhoods, hung out in bars with the locals & got their stories, as well as going to City Hall to get the official spin.  He looked up records, sat in on town hall meetings, and did it all the old-fashioned way.  Even after learning how to use his computer and grudgingly dragging himself into the digital age, he never lost that personal touch.
He taught my brother and I that people matter, ALL people.  He spoke and wrote his mind, even when it meant hate mail and, sometimes, death threats.  He taught us the importance of listening to all sides of an argument.
Which is probably why even the people who hated what he stood for said they respected him.  Grudgingly.  And why there were 500 people at his memorial.

It's also why, starting as a teen and continuing now, I take politics to heart.  I've seen, up close and personal, the effects public policies have on individuals, both good and bad.  Because of budget cuts for mental health support in the 80's, my uncle committed suicide. On the flip side, because of recent policies governing special education, both of my kids are in amazing schools with incredible teachers.

I've marched in D.C., sat in phone banks, canvassed neighborhoods.  And I've also written emails to representatives and texted donations using my cell phone (things that would have made Dad curl up in a ball, lol!).
I believe debate and discourse are important.  I also believe we're seeing the slow death of both.  Now it's about who can yell the loudest and say the most outrageous things.

I'm scared for the future.  Things are happening that I thought we wouldn't see in the 21st century. I envision nightmare scenarios coming to pass, and I wonder what the future holds for my kids, and for all our kids.


I have 2 kids who need their mom.  I cannot march on D.C anymore, or canvass neighborhoods, or do all those things I did when I was younger, more energetic, and childless.  I still care deeply, and will do what I can, but I think it's time to pass the reigns to the younger folks.

I remember seeing an interview with Bob and Suzanne Wright, who co-founded Autism speaks after their grandson was diagnosed.  He is the former head of NBC, so they have a pretty big platform.  They talked about the fact that it's important for grandparents to be activists for their grandkids, because parents are insanely busy taking care of those kids.  I think about this a lot: When I was younger I wanted desperately to make a difference and to be useful in the world.  The best way for me to do that now is to take care of my kids. I also believe that teaching theater makes a difference. Scratch that, I KNOW it does.  And I'm hoping to continue that, as well.  But my main focus, of course, is my kids.

And there's one more thing.  It's pretty big: I am SO TIRED of all the Taking Sides!  Of the hyperbole from both sides, too, but especially all the division.  At the end of the day, most of us want the same thing.  It's too bad there are so many people making boatloads of money convincing us otherwise.  And doing a damn good job of it, too.

I often wonder if we're at the point of no return.  If we'll ever be able to find common ground again.  But, perhaps, it's time for me to be a little selfish (again), close ranks, and focus on my family. Let those whippersnappers pick up the flag and run with it.
I'm not nearly as important to the world as I sometimes seem to think I am, lol!

Besides, I need a nap.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I'm Not Complaining. No, Really! OK, Yes I Am.

My kids have autism.  We live in a big house.  A big house with lots of stuff they can get into.  A big house with lots of stuff they can get into AND other people who don't always remember that having 2 kids with special needs in said house means one has to sometimes alter one's behavior.  Like, for example, NOT leaving the front door wide open so that a child can get outside while Mom is busy with the other child on the 3rd floor.  Because kids with autism don't necessarily understand that that can be dangerous.  And if said child is non-verbal and she gets out of the house, it could be Really Bad.

So I'm in constant Alert Mode.  More so here than in our previous home.  We had alarms on the doors there, and there was no one else to open the sliding door "to let some air in," or leave a window open and unlocked because they "forgot," or to leave water in buckets lying around because they can't be bothered to empty them, prompting kids to get outside to play in that water.

I thought that when we moved here I would have 4 extra pairs of eyes on my kids. Yes, it's a big house, with lots of stuff, but I figured with 6 adults, there'd be plenty of supervision.
Which, it turns out, is not the case.
At all.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking everyone else to take care of my kids for me.  But if I'm upstairs giving one child a bath, the other is often on the first floor.  Is it too much to ask that whomever's down there makes sure that kid doesn't go outside?  Or play in the dog's water bowl?  Is it asking too much to NOT leave the sink filled with water, because it's just too tempting for WG, and I'll have to clean up her reenactment of Noah's Ark?  Or to just keep the damn door LOCKED, so she doesn't get out?
We've bought some new door alarms but, frankly, I don't know how much of a difference they're going to make if people keep forgetting to set them.  It's not difficult: You flick the switch from "off" to "on."  There are no codes, no numbers to call, nothing.
Hubby and I have asked for help in this over and over again.  But old habits are hard to break, and living with autism requires a while new set of skills.
I've given up asking for babysitting.  Because it ends in near-disaster.  Luckily, we have respite care through the Regional Center.  My in-laws may not be all too keen on having strangers in the house with them, but sometimes Mom needs a break.

It occurred to me that  the reason I look so frazzled is because I AM frazzled!  When we lived on our own we were able to create a safe, controlled environment for the kids.  Now, I live in a constant state of surveillance.  I'm continuously going up and down the stairs, checking on them, making sure they're 1) OK. 2) Not doing anything that will get them (or me) into trouble and 3) Of course, happy.

Add to this the frequent criticism, utter lack of space and privacy, and 12 hours of Fox News every day, and it's no wonder I'm about ready to tear my own eyeballs out sometimes.

But the worst part is that with my adorable niece in the house, my kids are often ignored. My in-laws take care of her while her parents work.  She's 13 months old, and, believe me I understand, they are exhausted by the end of the day.  But that means they're too tired to spend time with my kids.
Not because they don't want to.  And certainly not because they don't adore them.  They're just wiped out.
Which is another reason to use respite: It's not fair to ask my in-laws to take care of a baby AND my kids, who need constant supervision.

And here comes the selfish part:  I love my niece.  She is a character, and she's a sweetheart, and I love spending time with her.
I don't want to babysit her.
I certainly pitch in.  I'll play with her, hold her if she's upset, walk with her, etc.  But I've spent the past decade taking care of my own kids and working, and doing little else.  Right now, the time I have when my kids are in school is MINE.  For a few hours on weekdays, I don't have to worry over where they are, what they're doing, whether they're getting into things they shouldn't be.  I'm not constantly running up and down 3 flights of stairs, taking them to the park/pool/appointments/the bathroom. For a couple of hours, I'm just doing what I want  to do.
And I think I've earned it.  For all the years when I had NO help.  When we couldn't afford a sitter and Hubby was out of town for weeks on end.  For my lack of a social life.  For the fact that I gave up my career.  I have done what no one else who lives here has done.  That's not a criticism, I'm not better than they are.  But there are often some pretty strong opinions, shall we say, directed at me, from people who, quite honestly, really don't understand and don't know what they're talking about.

Which is what I keep reminding myself of. They haven't been in my shoes.  They really, truly don't understand. Their opinions are just that: Opinions.  Not facts.  Not set in stone.  If they think I'm a bad mom, well, they're wrong.  I've said it before, and I'll keep reminding myself.  I'm the one who's been with my kids 99% of the time.  I do the vast majority of caretaking.  And they are thriving.  Yes, their schools and therapies have a lot to do with it, but so do I.
I fight for them.  I am their advocate.  I am their voice.  I'm the one who holds them, cleans up after they've been sick, worries over the slightest fever or sniffle, feeds them, dresses them, takes them to the doctor, goes to their IEPs, talks with their teachers every day. I'm the one who figures out how to discipline without harm, to encourage, to help, and to stand back when they need to do it on their own.  I do this every day, and often late into the night, frequently on my own.

And, of course, I worry.

But I gotta give a shout out to Hubby:  He's an AMAZING dad, and the most supportive partner anyone could ask for.  He left work early today to help out: WG got sick at school, so I had to go to San Jose & get her, poor bunny.  LG needed to be picked up at school at 11:30, and my in-laws were at the doctor's office.   Of course, now Hubby & I are both under the weather (LG had this thing last week).  Who says kids don't like to share?

But I'm REALLY pissed off at this virus!  WG was sick for nearly 2 weeks in March, and she doesn't need it again!  So, GO AWAY, nasty virus thingy!!!!!!!!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Wheat Wheat...Don't Feed Me!

A few days ago I decided to go off of wheat.  Not necessarily all gluten, just wheat.  To see how I do.  And y'know what?  I feel A LOT better!
I've had headaches in the morning the past 3 days, but I can't tell if they're some sort of withdrawal or just hormones ('cause it's THAT time of the month again, Sally!). But the headaches fade before I even think to take anything, and for the rest of the day I've felt really good!  More energetic, less cranky, not bloated at all, and today I got through a pretty grueling Bar Method workout without either wanting to fall asleep or screaming obscenities at the instructor.
I've been ingesting my fresh juice every morning, then mainly protein and veggies for the rest of the day.  With a bit of rice or quinoa.

And chocolate.
But I haven't been craving nearly as much sugar as before, or even *gasp!* as much coffee.  I'm certainly not ready to give up caffeine, but I find myself having one cup a day instead of two.  I'm not needing that afternoon caffeine fix.

Of course, it's only been 3 days, so we'll see what happens.

So far, I'm not missing it.

I also have a copy of the "Wheat Belly Cookbook," so I can try some recipes from that.

Turning to other news, WG had a GREAT time at Ride A Wave on Saturday!  It was sunny and warm, and the water was even a couple degrees below hypothermia. It's always so amazing to see how many people show up to volunteer, and how terrific they are with all the kids.
Plus, my brother-in-law made a surprise visit from Colorado, so he came with us and helped watch LG.  Then my S-I-L, niece, and other B-I_L showed up.  Along with a few of WG's teachers.  It was so nice!

Later we went out to dinner to celebrate B-I-L's PhD.  Needless to say, Sunday was a day of rest and recovery.
Ride A Wave is usually on a Sunday, but having a day to recuperate makes so much sense.  The kids are in the sun/water for nearly 4 hours, so they're pretty wiped out afterwards (as are their parents, lol!).  And between surfing, boogie boarding and kayaking, it's a full day. Plus, it's quite a drive to Santa Cruz for many of us.
Oh, and add to all that that WG was displaced from her room for the weekend, and she barely slept. All weekend.  So Mom barely slept all weekend.

This is the last week of the regular school year for LG.  He'll start summer school right away, but it's only 3 hours per day.  Luckily we have access to a pool now (whew!), so I can throw him in the water for a couple hours.
I can't believe he's going to be a 7th grader.

Now THERE'S something that makes me wanna go lie down!