Monday, July 25, 2016

Power Outage!!!

Well. It happened. It was bound to happen at least once in my life right? At least it happened in the summer and not the -60 degree winter. Right?

We had a hot day. One. Storms fired up in North Dakota and blasted over through Minnesota overnight. I saw the radar, knew it was coming, but was not really prepared for how it ended up!

Just after 1 am, loudness woke me up. The hubby got up and wondered if our oldest had his noise cancelling headphones, and went to check. He wasn't awake yet, but he did. All I could hear was wind and big raindrops blasting. The lightning was near constant, but the thunder wasn't overly loud. I checked the radars and alerts on my phone and there was, for a change, a severe thunderstorm warning coming right at us. This never happens, and a part of me was very excited! But, since it was 1 am, I was too tired, and there isn't really much to see at 1 am in the dark. 

About 2 minutes after the storm arrived, it all went dark. And that was it. Power outage!

It happens now and then with a real good storm, and it usually resolves shortly. Since it was the middle of the night, I figured it wouldn't be resolved until morning anyway. When the lights went out, the oldest did freak out. So he had to come in my room. Hubby got the LED lanterns and we all went back to bed. 

In the morning, still no power. We got up and did the best we could to just quick get our milk and eat breakfast and move on with the day, keeping the fridge and freezer shut. The power could come back on at any time, you know. We just managed. 

As the day went on, I was watching facebook and whatnot on my phone, it became clear that power would likely NOT be turning on soon. The neighbor informed me of a tree on the power line (it goes down their driveway and then comes down to our house), and knowing the order of priorities we would be last on the list because its an individual line. STILL, no one expected four days later would be when we finally got our power back!

By evening on day one we realized that we weren't getting our power back, and food needed to be moved. Luckily, it was still mostly frozen but to make the process easier we only moved the important most sensitive foods (meats, cheese, dairy etc). I figured that it couldn't be too much longer, and if we just locked up the freezer, the bagged veggies would be fine. Day one is the hottest day of the year (so far), and muggy.

Day two, still no power in sight and no repair team even assigned to our area. Numbers between our power company and the one that is mainly in the major cities/towns was up around 80,000 people without power. News stations are doing an awful lot of reporting over facebook live, which is cool! What an invention! One station was knocked completely out, their satellites were stood up instead of pointing in the proper directions, and something up the hill from them (in Duluth) was also knocked out of power. 

We did our best. We got dry ice once, and bagged ice. I wish I had gotten a ton more dry ice because by day 2, the dry ice everywhere was sold out. Day three the neighbor said Duluth was sold out as well. It's a dry ice shortage! (BTW: if you want to keep things cold and frozen, dry ice is the way to go). 

We hung out mostly at my in laws. They never lost power, and had it the whole time. So we showered there, ate there, just kinda hung out. 

We got our power back yesterday afternoon. 

Being an aspie and having a power outage is pretty stressful. Our house felt unwelcoming and I was scared to do anything for fear I would forget that I needed power to do it and would be stuck not doing it. AND it was blasted hot in our house, so many windows that its like a greenhouse. Doing the "open all night, shut before it gets hot" trick doesn't work here because of the windows, so it was just easier to leave the windows open. The cats survived. Hubby borrowed a generator on day 4, and that was kinda nice to get the freezer going.

Now I'm having to make the decision of whether or not to throw out the veggies that thawed. Even tho we had dry ice, and regular ice, and they went into the cooler on day 3 instead of the freezer... I'm unsure. I guess they are probably not any good, or fall under the rule of "when in doubt, throw it out"... But we aren't necessarily doing well right now so the thought of throwing out vegetables really gets to me. Not to mention the fresh picked rhubarb!! I should have thought faster on that one and cooked something with it right away when the power went out.

Which brings me to my point: Survival. My brain was only on survival. It wasn't on being creative, it wasn't on thinking of what I could do to cook things that were thawing. It was on survival and maybe even avoidance of the problem of not having power. It took me three days to start thinking creatively about things and by then I felt unsure it would be safe anymore.

So now I will have to throw things out. I'm a little frustrated about it I guess, but I'd rather no one puked around here. 

I get things started up, had to pay some bills online, and what else? The internet is also out. Waiting currently for the repair guy to show up. I sure hope it's a quick easy fix. :P Using my cell to do internet today. 

Having an aspie KID while all this is going on? He seemed to do okay, but refused to sleep alone in his room without power. Again, it made the house seem unfriendly and unwelcoming. Nights were so miserably sweaty I couldn't believe it, and I hate nothing more than feeling sticky, sweaty and yucky hot. Sitting and doing the bedtime stuff was sweating so hard I couldn't believe it. But it was interesting.

Hubby said it was like camping in your own house.
Except camping is fun, you get to go somewhere else, NOT go to work, and you get to sightsee. That's kinda the point of camping. Of course, none of that was going on, it was life as usual, just without power at home. 

Aspie's dont like change. Even little changes. I did okay, until someone else started losing their minds over it and then I had very little patience. Yes, we all want the power back on. I'm sure the power company employees live in the area too and want their own power back on as much as anyone else, but there's a process they go through, and it takes time when you have thousands of miles of line and thousands of customers out, and thousands of trees on the lines. But we still don't like change. I think I am surprised by how I was able to bear it anyway. But, we still had someplace to go that had power. If we hadn't, I'm not sure how I would have felt. Pretty helpless as things rotted away, I'm sure.

It was a mess. I have only seen the tip of it because I haven't really been anywhere. We lost a few trees, but not the ugly crooked one or the dead one that have bothered me since we had some logged a while back LOL. Of course. But nothing hit any of our buildings and I don't think anything hurt the neighbors either. So we were lucky. We could be dealing with a hole in the roof and trying to work with insurance to fix it and stuff. Who knows. 

It's just not the same without power.

Things you take for granted?
Cold refrigerator/freezer
Running water/flushing toilets
Night Lights
Electricity in general.

It's been surreal. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Gorillas, Parenting, & Kids, Oh My!

So, unless you've been living under a rock, you know about the little boy and the gorilla. I apologize for being yet another voice weighing in, but this is weighing heavy on my heart because I know what it feels like to have your child dart into traffic or around the grocery store without control. I've parented in every possible method, including leashes, to prevent and stop my kids from darting, but sometimes they are just excited and they just zoom off! It happens. Here's my thoughts, I apologize in advance for being long.

The main response/reaction that seems to be circulating was that an "innocent" animal was killed because a "terrible" mother didnt have her kid under her control every single second. Is that the general consensus?

I don't even know where to begin. We have left any sense of logic, common sense or consideration altogether. There is no sense left in the world, except in the minority of people who are either defending or at least giving benefit of doubt to the zoo personnel and the parent involved.

Said an eyewitness:
“I don’t feel like it was neglectful,” she said. “She had three other kids that she was with. She had a baby in her arms. It was literally the blink of an eye.”
She added: “I saw it, and I couldn’t even prevent it. It happened so fast.”

So, if the mom is to blame because she didn't have control of her kid, why aren't we also blaming the bystanders for stopping it too? Aren't they also responsible as they saw a child slip through and didn't stop him? I mean, if the parent who loves and cares for that child didn't see it and stop it in time, why weren't other bystanders also held to the same level of responsibility? Doesn't it "take a village"?

She had three other children. And last time I checked, moms only have two arms and hands. That isn't even enough to hold onto all three children, and she had a total of four, according to the information I've read. It's a bit hard to have your hands on four children with two hands isn't it?

She should not have gone out if she couldn't handle/control all four kids, you say? Really? So now we have to subject all moms to forced house arrest because they *might* run the risk of being hurt or lost or falling into a zoo exhibit? She might have had help with her. One of the older kids might usually be very helpful and just happened to be acting like a kid at the moment and not being very helpful.

Or maybe she HAS been staying home every day, all day long, and she wanted a break from that boring every day routine and she just wanted to go out to the zoo with the kids for a day and have a little bit of fun. What could happen at a zoo?! Those places are supposed to be safe, right? Well, something bad did happen, but thankfully her child ended up just fine considering, probably only with the fear and memory now of something crazy and scary. Mom will have to forever replay this moment in her mind, probably having her own nightmares, while her four year old child is also struggling to understand in his very confused and scared mind as well. This probably leads to a life long fear, something that he too will also have to deal with likely for his entire life. First of all, I think that's punishment enough, but add to that the fact that mom's shouldn't have to just stay home all the time, and that maybe the "one" time she decided to go out for a fun day turned into disaster is also weighing on her mind and spirit as well. How long until she feels safe enough to go out again?

I know as a mom of three kids, it is SUPER HARD to go anywhere with them. And I'm speaking from a place where one of the three doesn't even walk by himself yet, and another one still fits in the shopping cart seat! I don't have three kids who are all walking around on their own. In the zoo, right now, I'd have a stroller and a baby carrier and a third kid walking around who's nine years old, and old enough to ask for help and know better because he's a little bit less impulsive. And it's still MAJORLY HARD to go out to the grocery store with all of them. It's only going to get harder as they get more mobile and outgrow strollers and shopping cart seats! I don't know the ages of the other three children, but I did read that one of them was a baby in the arms of the mom. Anyone who's ever held a baby should know that is an armful + anyway. How can she wrangle a baby AND a four year old, plus two more kids? Have these judges tried it? I suggest that they try it and THEN they can start judging.

Kids are impulsive. They don't think things through. They imagine things and then they want that thing, and they don't have the ability to think about all the results of their action and imaginations. Think about it: when you tell a child no, you act out of your higher knowledge of what might happen, or the reasons why you are saying no. Kid's don't know all that! They have NO IDEA what the results of their imaginations are, they don't quite yet have that ability. When you're chasing three other kids, you don't have the time to stop and explain every detail to why you're saying no. This kid had been saying how he wanted to get in the water with the gorillas, and mom said no, more than once. He didn't understand why not, so he impulsively jumped into action. This is why kids aren't allowed to drive, live on their own, and make other "adult" decisions! They aren't adults, and one mom with four kids is still only one mom. 

Moving on to the zoo personnel, they did the right thing, I fully believe that. They had no other options that were safe for all parties involved. The only solution was sacrificing the creature rather than the child. They didn't have time or heartlessness enough to think "Well, some stupid parent deserves to lose their kid to the gorilla...." - and you can bet if they HAD thought that way, we would be boycotting them and their zoo, and issuing death threats.

If they had made the popular "other" choice, tranquilizing the gorilla, it would have taken several minutes to take effect. We've heard that over and over again. They don't just fall over asleep. There's a reaction. That reaction would have only intensified the situation.

Let me replay this for you. In the short video of this that I saw, the gorilla stood OVER the child. Anyone who understands animals knows that any time an animal stands over you, or tries to position itself higher than you, is trying to display dominance and intimidation. Dog's do it to babies and i cringe. That's why I don't allow my dog to do this particular display of positioning. Even we humans place kings and queens on thrones that are higher than the rest of us, and its also common to bow to royalty. We place ourselves lower in submission, and they higher in dominance. This gorilla was, from the very start of the video, displaying dominance and intimidation.

Next, the gorilla grabbed the boy and DRAGGED him through the water. I don't know on what planet that would be considered protection. If I grabbed your child's foot, and dragged them through a body of water, you would think I was crazy and trying to drown the kid, not that I was protecting them.

Then it appears the gorilla helps the boy up, holding his hand and whatnot. This momentary few seconds of "gentleness" is not the same thing as being protective. It's more curiosity perhaps, and investigation. Even lions investigate their prey before pouncing. Even a housecat will watch a fly, gently following it around before it pounces and eats it. The gorilla then grabs the kid by the back end, pushes him face forward into the water and drags him,  seemingly by the pants, again through the water.

After that most videos end, but its said the gorilla hauled the boy up a ladder, and proceeded to stand over him again at the top. They said he was shot with the boy between his legs, what that means is unclear (to me) if it were the front legs while towering over the boy, or the back legs sitting down with the boy on his "lap" so to speak or what.

Nothing in that situation makes me think "protective". What the FEMALE gorilla did years ago is protective and far different from what this MALE gorilla did. Fact is, whether we want to admit it or not, males and females, even when talking about other primates, are VERY different. Typically women are more nurturing, and in some cases do all of the baby care, in many animals the males will kill babies in order to reproduce with the female again, or whatever.

This gorilla seemed to be putting on quite a show of dominance and aggression. Dragging a new surprising creature through the water in a pretty violent way pretty much negates any idea that the gorilla was doing the boy any favors. Protection would have had to have been in gentleness, and he was not consistently gentle. Even men (or women) who physically abuse their partners are gentle often enough to convince them that they aren't all bad, right? Why would we think any better of a simple animal?

In a lot of the sarcastic posts going around, there's things being said about how now "everyone is an expert on zoos, gorillas and parenting", and that's a great point. Few of us know zoos, even fewer of us know that much about gorillas. There are quite a few out there who know quite a lot about gorillas, and they are either hesitantly or flat out supporting the decision the zoo made based on gorilla behavior, even in the wild, and you're talking about a captive gorilla, which are thought to be less happy because of their circumstances.

And though many of us are parents, if we were really honest with ourselves we would know that each child even within our own family is very different. One child is fearless and will do anything, and another is much more timid and follows the rules to a fault. One child is extremely sensitive and another seems to be much less concerned. We cannot, even for one second, think that we know this mom, this child, this family, or even the understanding of the bystanders. Details get lost in panic and adrenaline fueled situations. What is being said might not be the complete story. What we see on video lacks the context of what was happening with mom and bystanders before, after and during. There really isn't a way for us to judge what happened because there really isn't a way for us to have all the facts.

I will add, for kids with autism, it is sometimes extremely difficult to get through to them. Even my nine year old has problems transitioning his brain off of the thing he's determined to get or do, and redirect him into a more logical, safe conclusion. It takes time, and if I were distracted with three other children, I admit I may not be as successful as I would want to be either. In no situation is that the fault of the child or the parent. It's just life. We tell adults to use their seat belts, not drive distracted, don't drink and drive - think about it, how many adults do you know that drink and drive anyway? And that is a SIMPLE one to prevent and avoid, and yet so many deaths still can be the result of a drunk driver! If we can't get adults to make the right decision, why do we expect more of a four year old boy? 

One thing I know for sure, I think it's extremely common for a child to run off from their parents. I'd even be willing to say that it happens to every parent with at least one of their children at least one time in their life. If you're a parent and it hasn't happened to you, your time is coming. Be careful not to judge this mom so harshly that you judge your future self. 

I find it heartbreaking that they are even investigating the family at all, or even considering charges against them. I can't see any instance where it would make any sense at all to blame them for what happened. It was not intentional (on any rational adult's part) for all of this to have happened. The right decision was made, the life of the child over the life of a captive aggressive animal, and everything else turned out okay. It could have been so much worse.

In a way, it's good that we have compassion even for animals. But that compassion should never toss aside the life of a child or the mother. People come first. We wouldn't have blamed anyone for protecting a child from a wild jungle animal of any kind. We shouldn't do it with a zoo animal either.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Holes In My Memory

I am the kind of person who remembers everything. I wouldn't say I have a very good short term memory at the moment, because keeping three kids alive is taking up much space these days. But typically I can remember really random events that come up sometimes and I can recall things you may not have remembered saying or doing. And I'm not going to make things up, I really remember things clearly, and I'm not going to lie and say otherwise.

But more and more I've discovered that there are giant holes in my memory. There are entire events that I don't even remember at all. And strangely enough, many of those memories that I'm realizing I don't have stored in the database are memories of Girl Scout events. 

I have been wondering for a long time now why so many of these events aren't in my memory anymore. I mean, there are pictures of them, so clearly they happened. But why don't I remember them?

I remember one big sleepover at Camp Austen. I remember one day camp we did where I was in charge of the little kids and all of a sudden my grandpa showed up saying he was told to come get me, and another girl was all of a sudden in charge of the little ones. I remember several mall sleepovers, maybe mostly because they were right on or around my birthday; in fact my 16th birthday was celebrated in a mall overnight with like 300 other girls, by FAR the biggest birthday party I ever had (don't crush my story, I need this one - without the mall sleepover I wouldn't have even had a party). 

But there are giant things we supposedly did that I have no clue. My mom and I were kinda mentioning one the other day that was apparently in the boundary waters somewhere - not far out because it wasn't a "trip canoeing" or something, but some kind of other stay somewhere maybe by ely, from what I'm gathering. While I remember making lavender "sachets" (which I literally still had and still smelled the same/just fine up until a year or two ago), I don't remember much else. We supposedly did facials, which I don't quite remember. I remember a room all painted in white, but I don't remember what we did in there or where it was or how to get there or anything else. I don't remember what we ate (I probably didn't like it) or what else we did. I don't remember if it was an overnight stay or just a day. I really have no clue. I guess based on the pictures I might have thought it was a part of Camp Austen. 

I also remember one other event at the bog walk, but only because there was a cute boy involved.

I don't remember so many things. I feel like there was more, a lot more. I know we did more than one day camp, but I couldn't tell you where or what. I know we had meetings, and I would guess at least once a month, and you would think that I could remember something I had to have done like 60 months at least...

Girl Scouts isn't the only thing I have huge memory holes about, senior year there are a lot of things I completely don't remember. From what I'm told, 2001 was the last huge year of mass army worm invasion. You would think I would be able to remember massive amounts of army worms on every surface of everything everywhere, and slimy roads and stinky worms. You would think that would be something a girl couldn't forget. But I did. I don't remember them at all. I give myself the excuse that the emotions of graduating and leaving were pretty intense and my brain was preoccupied with all that too much to think about and register worms and leafless trees. You would think that driving to Togo, instead of to a friend's grad party, would have made the army worm invasion pretty obvious, right? Musta been listening to some pretty awesome music to be distracted enough to miss that, right? 

 I know there are times in life, too, when I don't really care about something so I will literally not pay attention to it. Like the above story, I probably did "know" where my friend lived, I'm sure he had told me, or something, but I didn't plan on ever having to go there, especially not on my own, so I didn't "care" or something and I didn't pay attention all those years and just missed that information totally. 

I also can remember three houses where my uncle used to live, but I can't remember houses where another aunt had lived. 

So, yeah, I don't know why there are some really intense memory lapses, almost like a chapter was ripped out of the book of my life. Like, where is my baby blanket? You would think I would be able to remember something as important to me as that, right? But somewhere in all the business of getting married, it's gone. Despite having my doll, no problem, right where I thought they both were.

Nothing drives me crazier than losing something. Nothing drives me crazier than forgetting something either, which is kinda the same thing. 

Any other aspies have the same problems? 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Overwhelm and Eyesight

Mr B has been complaining of eyesight problems occassionally. I think in the past, I haven't taken him seriously because it came at a time where I asked him to do something and he said he "couldn't" because _____, which to any parent sounds like a convenient excuse.

But today it came when we were doing something together. Something that he offered to do, and wanted to do. He had spent several minutes talking to me on and on about something, and I was thinking how great it was that we were talking and not fighting, and not ignoring each other, and how much he was enjoying himself doing something rather mundane with me, and keeping me a captive audience while we did it. How we should do that thing more often just for the chat. 

Then he got more quiet and said his eyes were blurry. Blurry? Are you serious? Yes, he was. And I took him more serious because it came out of nowhere, he didn't want to stop doing what we were doing, and his behavior had changed.

I didn't know what to say or do. The only thing I could think of was that we had gone to town this morning, it was rather busy there, and maybe, just maybe, his brain had gone into overload mode or something. I told him maybe he needed to go to his room for a while.

He had made complaints about blurriness before, and we've been to the eye doctor, and nothing is wrong. They said he was slightly whatever-sighted (I can never remember which is which), but that the glasses they have OTC in the store would be fine for when he is reading if it helps.

But randomly going blurry? 

For some reason, when Mr B is sick, or out of sorts, I feel out of sorts too. I'm not sure that has happened much with Ms B yet. But it is intensely upsetting when Mr B is not doing well. It is almost like something about him being so much like me in so many ways bonds my brain in such a way that it makes me sick when he is sick, or it makes me scared when he is scared. I thought that with more kids and getting more relaxed that it would go away, but it doesn't. Even the slightest thing, like my assumption of him being overwhelmed, causes me to feel the same, in a fake but intense way. I don't know how to describe it. It is very frustrating because then I am acting out of my uneasy feelings toward his. I am definitely better at this than I used to be, but it still upsets me to feel icky, especially when he is. I just feel so uneasy.

I don't know the solution to this. I don't really know what is up. I hope it's nothing, that it's just the overwhelm or something and we can continue to remind him to remove himself and just close doors and shades and give himself a break. It isn't always going to be convenient to do so, but I'm hoping that takes care of it. He seemed to be find the rest of the night, spent most of it watching movies I guess while hubby and I went to dinner (his gpa watched them here at home).

Anyway. Anyone have any experience with this kind of reaction? I don't remember being a kid and having this happen? 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Give Us Time

There is something that just came to me as I was sitting around here thinking about things. 

I've started to realize that for myself, I need a minute or two to adjust to some things. I'm a planner by nature, and I tend to plan things, even just in my own head, about how the day might go, or what we might do today, tomorrow, etc. I don't always share these thoughts or plans, but it might just be an unconscious thing that happens in order to help me feel less anxious. 

Then, typically my husband come in and tells me something he's doing, or something that we were invited to do, and it shakes me. I usually am VERY resistant at first, frustrated, trying to keep it together sometimes, other times I kinda lose it and get cranky and/or silent.

However, after a short period of time, I'm okay with it. I just needed some time to repaint the picture I had in my head.

I've thought about this often with other people who I know who I am assuming are undiagnosed autistics. I can sense their resistance when something unexpected happens to them, or is asked of them. I can sense their hesitation to agree, or say yes to, whatever just happened. I have to give them time. Usually, if I am lucky enough to ask them ahead of time, then I can not expect an answer right away, and I can ask them the next day or something for confirmation. 

So, to make this short, pay attention to the people in your life. As I've said before, I fully believe that there are many many people in the world who are undiagnosed and will not ever be diagnosed. Pay attention to what people need, and think about it, and adjust accordingly. That difficult family member or coworker in your life might just be autistic, and if you adjust your thinking, you might be able to find a way to make a positive out of the sometimes difficult.