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Summer Swim

  • Posted on June 18, 2014 at 11:10 AM

So this post is going to be a little bit late. Yesterday was a busy day and the content of this post was going to depend on what happened. I haven’t gotten a chance to write it out until now, but here’s what happened:

  • First, I had three paid assignments that were due. (I successfully completed two of them and put the third back in the public queue for somebody else to do, because I ran out of time and energy to complete it myself.)
  • Second, I had scheduled a meeting with the Sister Missionaries from our church for 4 pm. (I met with them and it was a good meeting.)
  • Third, I had to go with Alex to his first Summer Swim at 6 pm. (This is the main point of this post.)
  • Fourth, I had a sleep study scheduled for 9 pm. (This is the main point of my next post.)

So, I took Alex to his Summer Swim, which is a special program arranged by the school system. Now, it’s important to know that I wasn’t in the best frame of mind for this, because I was frazzled and stressed with too many pressing demands for a single day. Alex, on the other hand, was excited. He’d been excitable all day and telling him he was going swimming sent him through the roof. Not literally, but close enough to it.

Then, we arrived at the school. Except that it was the wrong school. By this I mean we were at the correct place to attend the Summer Swim session, but it was the wrong school in Alex’s mind. You see, Alex loves to swim. He swims two to three times a week during the school year. He swims in the pool at his school. He swims with his classmates at his school. And he loves it! He actually swims. But this wasn’t his school and it wasn’t his classmates.

This was disorienting. He didn’t want to get in this pool; he wanted to get in that pool; but, I managed to get him in the pool that was available. He didn’t want to swim with these kids; he wanted to swim with those kids; and I didn’t get him to interact with any of them. He was in the pool up to his waist, but that was it. He didn’t try to swim. He was too agitated to do much of anything. He just jumped and flapped his hands and made sounds of distress.

I thought if I could get him in deeper, he’d relax and enjoy the experience. I tried to coax him to dunk himself in the water and he jumped his way to one ladder. I blocked him and he jumped his way to the other ladder. I got there before him and he turned around and went to the other ladder. We went back and forth for ten minutes. Whenever we were face to face, Alex would pinch me. Whenever I tried to soothe him with a hug or by mushing his face (which he usually likes), he tried to bite my neck or my hands.

Then, I got the brilliant idea that if I could get him to the deeper end of the pool, where there were fewer people, he’d be able to relax and enjoy it. Remember, I was frazzled and hurried. So, I grabbed him by the belt of his little life preserver and pulled him out into the deep end. At first, he seemed like he was going to relax, but after a few moments he made a bee line for the ladder again. I tried again, pulling him out to the deep end, but he made it clear he wanted to go for the ladder again.

I blocked him and the first routine started over again, but he was even more agitated, so when we made it back to the first ladder, I told him we were done. It took some coaxing to get him up the ladder, despite all his efforts to get to the ladders before. I think he realized that I wasn’t really accommodating his needs and that it was more of a punishment for poor behavior. It made getting what he wanted (or what I’d thought he wanted) less fun for him. I dried him off, dried myself off, at least enough to get in the van, and I got him out of there. We arrived at 6:10 (which was on time) and we left at 6:35 (which was early).

Now, I readily admit that I didn’t handle this well. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind – that’s not an excuse, just an observation. Luckily, we’ll have another shot on Thursday. Maybe that one will go better.


  • Posted on January 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM

So, my brother came for Christmas, stayed through the New Year, and returned to his own college in New York City last week. It’s difficult to put into words what such a lengthy visit did for the rest of my family. On the one hand, my brother and I do a fairly good job keeping in touch. We’re both very busy. I have work and school and family. He has work and school, but his school is much more demanding than mine. So, weeks go by that we don’t communicate at all, but there’s still a connection between us. Usually, that seems like enough.

Having him here for such a long time—three whole weeks!—made me feel how disconnected we’d become. On the one hand, it is necessary. It’s even inevitable. On the other hand, this time together was a stark reminder of how much we miss by not being a regular part of each other’s lives.

Part of it is the intellectual stimulus. My brother is immersed in studies that are very different from my own. He also supplements his studies with additional interests beyond my own. I do the same with interests and studies that differ from his. When we get together, we both have a lot to talk about that enriches each other’s worlds.

Beyond this boon, Patrick’s studies and his interests enable him to connect with my boys in a way that Mark and I cannot. While we see their talent, we cannot grasp it or nurture it as well as we’d like. Patrick has an eye for things we cannot see. Whereas we recognize their talent, at least in part, on the basis that their visual arts have already surpassed our abilities; Patrick sees and appreciates their art as only a fellow artist can. Of course, Patrick is an architect, which is a kind of art, whereas their art is less functional. But still, he has an eye for it that we lack, but has the words to bring us further into it.

The bigger part of it is, of course, the emotional stimulus. It’s not that I’m lonely by any stretch of the imagination. With a loving husband and three loving not-so-little boys, my days are full of emotional connections. On the other hand, aside from my mother, my days are rarely shared with others outside my family unit. I don’t have much in the ways of “local” friends, at least not those that I spend time with on a regular basis. I have “virtual” friends all over the world. As much as these relationships mean to me, it’s not the same as sitting down with a cup of coffee and chatting or playing a game of cards. When my brother was here, we did a lot of both. The time together became so precious that I didn’t even try to work. Instead, I devoted myself to soaking up every opportunity I could with my brother.

Now, he’s back at school. Soon, my own semester will start up with two new classes. Life goes on and I must go on with it. I’m not even sure when I’ll get to see my brother again. This summer he’s going away for some international studies, so it’ll probably be Thanksgiving or Christmas before I see him again.

I think of the other people in my life who I’ve tried to stay connected to, despite the distance. For a while, my best friend from high school (who is also my husband’s foster sister) was an occasional visitor. She lived in Iowa, then Indiana, and so we didn’t see her often, but at least a few times of year we’d get to connect in person. Now, she’s moved to Alaska. My best friend from middle school tried to reconnect last year, but our phone calls seemed to pass each other by and our connection seemed to fail. As much as I want to try again, part of me fears the moment has passed.

I’m not lonely, not in the traditional meaning of the word. My life is full and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for all the people and activities that enrich my life on a daily basis. But this taste of something else, something different leaves me wondering if, perhaps, my life could be fuller still if I knew how to stay connected with those who are on their own paths, paths which are so different from mine.

More than even that, my brother’s presence made my home a happier place for all of us, and that’s definitely something to cherish.

Ending the Hiatus

  • Posted on August 17, 2010 at 6:35 AM

It’s been a busy summer.  I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, launched a business, and started working on my Master’s degree.  I started two novels, a nonfiction book, and many shorter projects.  And, of course, I’m always trying to keep up with my boys.

Soon, Ben will be transitioning from the intensive to the post-intensive stage of Wisconsin’s autism waiver, which means more flexibility but fewer hours of therapy.  Willy is going to middle school, which is a point of anxiety and excitement.  Alex is still struggling with bouts of aggression, but has been much happier this summer.  There’s been considerable excitement, loudness, and activity all around.

Recently, my brother, my uncle, and their friend—along with a lot of local helpers—implemented a landscaping plan to address the leak in the basement.  Unfortunately, the only rain we’ve had since then was a big gusher—four and a half inches of rain in an hour and a half, but it rained for much longer than that—and it did not give us a clear idea of whether or not our efforts were successful.  The cleanup work is still not done, but I’m doing a little at a time.  The important thing is the system is in place and should work during a normal rainfall.  But, there is still a lot of rock and dirt to move.

Despite all the activity and all the good things that are going on, I have been struggling with depression.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “because of all the activity and all the good things that are going on, I’m struggling with depression.”  Each day there is more to do than I can possibly get done and I’ve tried for too long to do it all anyway.  Working on the landscape project was unavoidable—it’s my house and there wasn’t as much labor as we needed—but after that I let myself crash.  But I predicted that, so it’s all good.

I guess the point is that I’m back, but I’m still tired and still trying to get back to a manageable schedule.  But my to-do list is still over-full.  Hopefully I don’t work myself to a crash again this year, but that’s the risk of being me.

Busy Being Recognized

  • Posted on June 22, 2010 at 7:45 AM

This is what I’ve been up to:










[Picture of me in cap and gown outside the hotel where the graduation ceremony was held.]

Cropped and Close









[Picture of me in cap, gown, and honors ribbon holding up my graduation certificate.]

The busyness started on Thursday when I picked up my brother from the airport.  That was a late night.  Then, Friday (an early morning) I attended the graduation ceremony.  My parents-in-law took us out to lunch.  And we came home to finish getting ready for the party.  The last of which was done while watching Avatar (much better movie than all the marketing indicated—the best part of the movie is not the cool new style, but instead it is the world-saving story).

Saturday we had to finish finishing getting ready for the party and then we partied.  Sunday was a much slower day and sad, too, taking my brother back to the airport.

Then, Monday, it was time to get back to work.

It all went very, very well, but blogging just didn’t make it into the mix.