Parenting Fail

Parenting Fail….

Glenna lost a tooth Thursday night.  She put it in a ziploc and set it on the counter.  She wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy and even drew her a picture. Knowing the Tooth Fairy would visit….well the “Tooth Fairy” fell asleep on the couch last night and forgot all about Glenna’s tooth.

Glenna found it Friday morning :-/ as I was ushering her out the door with my coteacher’s Mom, who was watching her for the day.  So when we went to get Glenna after work I told Glenna that the “Tooth Fairy” texted me today and told me that she’d been VERY VERY busy last night and couldn’t get Glenna’s tooth but she’d be by tonight to pick it up.

Glenna was excited and wanted to write the Tooth Fairy another note asking what she does with the teeth she collects….sigh….

Update:
Turns out the tooth fairy didn’t have any small bills last night and had to leave a $20 with instructions to share with Cecelia.  :-/

image

Posted in Ann Strongheart, family, growing up, parenting | Leave a comment

A dating adventure update. …

Another one bites the dust! 

Posted in Ann Strongheart, autism, family, single mom, widowhood | Leave a comment

Looking…scary…amusing…hopeful? Maybe

Let the search begin.  More like Let the scary amusement begin. Well I’m most definitely NOT lacking for entertainment with this new ….hmmm hobby? No hobby is not a good choice of word…ummm endeavor? Adventure…maybe?

What is she talking about you wonder?  Well this should give you a hint….

queen

Still confused? I have…wow…yes I have…as of the beginning of the year…  What?? You’ve WHAT? you’re wondering?

Yes….I’ve entered the dating world again!!  There! I said it!! I’ve put myself out there…online dating.  Wow what a scary world that can be.  Now don’t get me wrong….it’s entertaining!

Obviously I have not met “The One” yet.  I’ve met some interesting men, some crazies and some down right scary ones.  Now by “met” I do not mean in person….yet.  Haven’t made it that far yet because most turn tail and run when I drop the “A” bomb.

What’s the “A” bomb, you ask?  The “A” bomb…. sigh… A = autism.  As soon as I mention Cecelia and her autism the cowards run.  Some have pretended to be okay with it and talked for  bit longer only to disappear into oblivian.  One kept talking for several weeks but fizzled when I mentioned….

pro

I’m not religious…nor very spiritual.  And when I brought up issues that are important to me…ie: pro-choice, gay marriage, Non-GMO, Fracking etc.  His response was he didn’t care about those things…didn’t even have an opinion about them. Yeah…that doesn’t work for me.  Then you factor in the reason why he felt that way (The world is coming to an end…soon) and needless to say….done.

So the search continues. I’d love nothing more than to share some of not only the messages I’ve received but also some of the profile pictures I’ve seen.  But alas I don’t feel comfortable posting those but have no qualms sharing my giggles with you as I explain some.

Let’s see where to begin? Hmm Mr. I have a chicken on my shoulder but am carrying an AK47….I kid you not!  Who puts that as a profile pic?  OOH then there was Mr. I have so much hair on my torso that I think I need to shave six pack abs into it….because that’s OOOOOH SOOO SEXY!!!  umm NO!

Mr. I think I’ll take a selfie right after having a root canal and half my face is twice as big as the other side!!! Okay I honestly do not know if he’d had a root canal but….it was wierd. There are also a lot of deer in the headlights pictures. Or look at how much alcohol I can drink from this huge glass pictures.

OOh let’s not forget…I’ve stolen my pictures from a famous actor!  I’m sure no one will notice!!! (Note to those of you also on dating sites…Right click on a persons profile and other pictures and scroll down to google search their image to see if it’s legit! You’re welcome!)

Then of course there are the guys who have too much testosterone so they post half naked selfies of themselves. Or the ones that show their tech savvy by not taking the time or don’t have the knowledge to turn their pictures right side up. OOh we must ignore the ones just looking for a one night stand…yeah NOT interested!  Move on!

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m not that superficial.  What’s inside is much more important than what’s on the outside….unless the outside is a gun toting too much testosterone craziness!

It seems that there must be some invisible…to me atleast…message on my profile that begs men to ask me for dating advice.  Or maybe it’s because some of them message me with messages that start out Beautiful smile…eyes…tattoo…blah blah blah. I try to be gracious but I just cringe at the phony flattery….it feels phony.  Why not show some intellect instead?  I like that ones that compliment my profile or thank me for my service in the Navy.  Or even comment on my cooking.  I’m not just a pretty face, I don’t wear masks or makeup for that matter.  So such shallow unthinking flattery doesn’t do anything for me.  So I respond and tell them thanks for their interest but maybe next time instead of commenting on superficial things instead offer something of interest…maybe actually read my profile and share an interest…gasp…. Okay I’m not that mean about it but I do end up getting sucked into conversations offering advice to men. LOL

I took time to fill out my profile, to answer questions, to be honest… why is that so rare?

Oooh dear…I fear this is turning into a rant.  A vent.  For that I apologize.  I’m still hopeful but most definitely leery….cautious. It’s hard being a widow…a single mom of a two amazing girls…hardworking and insanely honest woman.  After that abuse in my last relationship I’m very cautious and very strong now.

Is there someone out there?  Someone I can trust to be a patient loving father to my children. Someone who….sigh…..

We shall just have to wait and see.  I’ll keep looking…I’ll keep trying….maybe someone…somewhere…will find us and us them.

Hopefully yours…. Ann ;-)

Posted in Ann Strongheart, autism, family, Happiness Daily | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Today….4 years ago….the first step….

It’s hard to believe the difference in my life today compared to four years ago on this day.  You see four years ago today was the day I finally got the courage to put an end to an immensely unhealthy and abusive relationship.  I was scared….I tried to break it off with him several times before and had always been lured back. Promises were made and broken.

There’s part of that abusive relationship that I’ve never written about.  I’ve rarely spoken of it, only the advocates at the shelter know the whole truth.  Why haven’t I wrote of this before, you ask? Because it still hurts too much.  Not so much what happened in that relationship four years ago but my inability to stop it.  I have guilt about what happened….why couldn’t I put a stop to it.  Why?  How could I let this happen and not take measures to stop it?

Was it the immense cloud of grief that consumed my life because of my husbands death just the year before? Was it the panic of isolation, the sense of not wanting to rock the boat?  The need to feel secure in a relationship….rather than….

Sigh….I’ve never blogged about some of the things that happened.  I suppose part of it is because I feel like a failure for not putting a stop to it.  How much is remembered? Does the hurt still remain?  Do they remember as I do?

Whom am I refering to you wonder??  Who is this vague “they”? I shudder at the memories.  My brain screams “Why didn’t you call the cops?” “Why didn’t you press charges?” “How could you let that happen?”  and the biggest most troublesome one….the one that will haunt me for a long time to come…..

“Why didn’t you stop him from hurting your children!!??”

Yes!  There! I said it!  He hurt my babies.  I did stop him, but not soon enough.  I didn’t press charges.  Why didn’t I call the cops?  Why???  What kind of mother am I that I thought…..what the hell did I think?  I don’t even know.  Looking back a lot of that time is still blurred by the cloud of grief I was in.  I know I felt trapped….I mean I was living in “his” home….I remember always walking on eggshells.  I remember him telling me that he’d had a relationship with the Shelter Advocate as a way to try to control me and keep me from reaching out for help. There was so many lies….so much power and control.

The worst of it was his inability to deal with Cecelia’s disability. You see he just didn’t have the patience let alone any understanding nor empathy for what it was she was going through.  Sure he read about autism….he lorded it over me….how much he read compared to how much I’d read and how dare I not read every book he suggested.

He always knew best.  He thought he could “break” her.  What do I mean by that? If you know anything about autistic children you know that they are always on the move.  It’s hard for them to be still.  Back then Cecelia had such intense sensory processing issues that she was just completely overwhelmed all the time.  He thought if he just restrained her….let her scream….that that would fix her.  That she’d eventually stop. She didn’t….she’d scream and scream and struggle against him.  She’d struggle so hard that she’d burst the blood vessels in her face.  Making her look as though she’d been polka dotted with a purple marker. That was just one of the things he did.  He was so strict, so firm, so controlling.

I don’t know how many times he did this to her.  I shudder at the thought.  He’d only do it mildly around me….except one time….the one time he just wouldn’t stop.  I screamed at him to stop.  I threatened to call the cops.  He let her go.  My poor girl….why didn’t I press charges?  How many other times had he done this to you? You had no words….no way of telling me if he was mistreating you.

Why??? Why!!?? Didn’t I press charges? I can’t answer that question now because I don’t know why I didn’t press charges.  If anyone were to do anything remotely resembling that today I’d not only press charges but probably get physical myself in protecting my child.

There were other incidents….other forms of abuse my children were subjected to.  I had a real wake up call when he went to spank Glenna (who wasn’t even a year old yet) because she was pounding her hands on the highchair….I happened to reach for her hands at the same time he took a swing at her.  He hit me instead of her….sigh….thank goodness for that!  My hand/wrist/arm was throbbing/red/swollen from the strike….he used a book….why is it so easy to see how wrong it is now….but then….then….

I’ve been told by very wise and experienced DV Shelter Advocates that my reaction or lack there of was completely normal. The power and control of domestic violence leads us down many paths that when we are in the relationship we cannot see as we now can….from the outside….hindsight….hindsight is 20/20….sigh….

Not all was lost during those dark days….I survived….but most importantly I learned.  I’ve found myself….I’ve found my courage and most importantly my intense instinct to protect my children has returned….no longer am I lost in grief….no longer do I blindly trust!  In my opinion, there are just some people who should never be around/have children, especially not chidren with special needs. It takes a very very special person to care for and love a child and an even stronger person to care for and love a special needs child.

I will never again so lightly enter a relationship with a man because part of me will always remember the abuse my children and I suffered in Bristol Bay.  Just now…..four years later….am I even starting to entertain the idea.  Sure I know that there’s probably men out there who love and cherish children that are not their own but….sigh….but….it will take a very long time and very special person to prove to me that such a person can be in my life. There will always be questions in my mind….”How much did he hurt her?  What happened when I wasn’t there? Will she ever be able to tell me if he did….does she remember? How cruel was he?”  Questions that will never have answers….questions I can only hope will be forgotten ….erased by many many happy memories since then and to come.

I’ve learned to not be rushed, to put my children first but most importantly that life is a choice!  I choose to NEVER let someone hurt us again like that.  I choose that, god forbid, I find myself in such a circumstance that I will follow through….I will press charges….to the FULLEST extent of the law!  Children cannot defend themselves….it’s our jobs as parents to protect our children….no one elses.  We are their parents…no one ….no matter what happens….can ever change that.

In my job….well for over half my life….I’ve been a mandated reporter.  It’s a necessary evil that should not have to exist for children should be cherished.  I think morally everyone should be mandated reporters.  Is it easy?! Oh heck no!  It tears a bit at my heart every time I’ve had to make a report of harm….but I know in my heart that I must do it.  We have to be the voice for those who don’t have one or cannot use theirs!

I take solace in several things today…..

  1. We’re safe….
  2. We survived….
  3. It could’ve been worse….
  4. I’m strong enough to share this….one of the hardest pieces of my life….
  5. I hope in this sharing I can help others escape the same fate
  6. I am me! I am proud! I know who I am! I know where I come from! I know where I’m going!!
  7. Never again will I give that power to someone else….it is mine and mine alone.
  8. I have a choice….
  9. I have a voice….
  10. Life is awesome!
Posted in Ann Strongheart, autism, Domestic Violence, DV Shelter, parenting | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

20141120_105153

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Amazing!!! The realm of possibilities just shattered……

Let’s take a little trip back in time…..

Nearly 4 years ago we moved to Kenai not only to escape domestic violence but also because my daughter, Cecelia, needed help.  I knew she was on the autism spectrum and at 3 years old she was not talking.  We saw specialists and after months of evaluations and even a court battle we got her the services she needed.

She was diagnosed with Autism, severe receptive and expressive speech disorder and also suffered from sensory processing issues.  The State of Alaska came in and evaluated her.  They determined that she required the same level of care as a 15 month old toddler.

Since then she has received extensive speech therapy not only at school but also at a private therapy in addition to Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy.  Her waiver services provide her with day habilitation services, in-home supports and also respite for me.

We’ve been working very hard not only with all these therapies but also dietary changes and extensive supplement and vitamin research and use.  Even some chelation but it’s hard as a single mom to keep up with a consistent chelation schedule.

Cecelia went from having 16-18 major meltdowns a day….in which I’d have to restrain her to keep her from hurting herself with her head banging or hurting me or her sister.  We discovered that her sensory issues could be addressed with a SPIO suit, noise canceling earmuffs and sunglasses.  Through extensive communication and consistency we got her “team” (teachers, therapists, waiver staff, and I) all on the same page to meet her needs and new goals each year or sometimes sooner as she began quickly completing/meeting the goals we set.

A couple weekends ago was the first major meltdown she’s had in over a year.  We’re actually working on therapy strategies now to help her learn when to STOP talking because she chatters nonstop now.  She chooses frequently to not wear her “eyes and ears” she no longer requires a SPIO suit.  That last meltdown was different….rather than uncontrolled screaming she was screaming sentences and was able to talk herself out of the meltdown in less than 30 minutes.

Four years ago I never would have imagined that any of this was in the realm of possibility. Nor would I have imagined that her music teacher and 2nd grade SPED teacher would ask me if she could not only attend the Holiday Music Concert but also PARTICIPATE in it!!  I was floored.  This wasn’t in what I thought was even a possibility!  I told her SPED teacher to let her keep practicing as if she’d attend but I was uncertain….undecided….was she really asking me this???

Later on I was shopping at the grocery store and ran into her music teacher.  He told me how excited he was that she was going to participate in the concert.  I admited to him that I was still undecided but asked her SPED teacher to keep letting her practice.  He seemed surprised and hoped I’d let her attend.  I went about my shopping and a couple minutes later he came and found me again and told me all that they had been working on.  He told me that he was confident that Cece could participate in the concert….he twisted my arm….I caved.  I was on pins and needles for a week I worried about how she’d do.  I cried because I was so overwhelmed with emotion that they thought she could do this.

I never imagined she would be doing this at 7 years old.  I talked it out with friends, I asked for thoughts and prayers on Facebook, I stewed about it at work, after my students when home I was discussing it with my coworkers (all early childhood educators).

The big night came!  I gave her some extra supplements and some rescue remedy.  I invited friends and family to attend.  We dressed up and headed to the Kenai Central High School.  Her SPED teacher told me she did great rehearsing there earlier that day!  When she saw her teacher she started saying “Goodbye MOM!” She was ready to go.  The teacher asked me to sit back out of the stage lights where Cece wouldn’t be able to see me….see all of us.  Glenna and I took our seats and saved seats for my sister, her husband and children.

I tried to contain my nerves and my tears.  Her teacher sent me a text message from backstage because she was worried that Cecelia was refusing to put her “eyes and ears” on.  I told her to just go with it and let her choose.

The concert started.  First the third graders came out and performed….then the first graders.  I’m holding my breath…now it’s time for the second graders!! Here comes Cecelia….she stands up on the risers like a pro and then…..

They start singing!! (Click here to view one of the many videos I took) (Cecelia is on the top row all the way to the right.)

She did amazing!!  I am so insanely proud of her!  She has been asking to go back and sing more.  She’s just amazingly awesome!!  We’ll never stop working on helping her recover from her challenges.  We’ve come so far and have a long ways to go.  But never give up!  Always keep going!!  Even when her echolalia kicks in and she’s stuck on a phrase or word and repeats it over and over for 16 hours straight…..we carry on…..we push forward….

So many firsts this year!  Life is simply amazing!

Posted in Ann Strongheart, autism, Christmas, family | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

More vacation pics

Posted in Ann Strongheart, autism, cooking, food, Vacation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment