A Family Update

IMG_20170330_171533528Hi friends? Remember me? I used to blog here quite regularly, but lately…not so much. I miss this place and I miss you. I’ve been very busy and feeling the need to write something that wasn’t business related (and before I forget the basic rules of grammar). Just kidding, it’s like riding a bicycle, right? I hope so.

I thought the best way to dive back in was with a family update. There’s been a lot happening in our Smith-ville.

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Where to start? How about with the stud of the hour, Barrett. Last week, four girls asked Barrett to attend the 8th grade formal at his school. Yes, four girls. I posted a picture on FaceBook that his teacher took, and few reactions were priceless. Based on a few of the responses, I think some people don’t know (or remember) that Barrett has autism. For the record, if Barrett didn’t have autism and four young ladies ask him to a dance, I swear I would NOT post it on FaceBook. Anyway, I now have to purchase four corsages. Yikes. Audrey called Publix to get a quote and they’re not cheap. Still, I’m very grateful to these young ladies who are willing to hang with my weird dude on a Friday evening. Lord help them if the DJ plays Juju on the Beat – because Audie has taught him that dance – and it ain’t pretty.

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Please forgive the bumps in the timeline. wrote the post a few weeks ago. The above pics are from the dance.

Barrett ran track this spring and he did well. He scored a few personal records, and regularly attended practices on his own – no peer support. I’ve noticed a significant increase in maturity this year, he seems to really want to do things on his own (except dry himself when he gets out of the shower, which is a mortifying story). Now remember who we’re dealing with, he still drums a long beat on his chest when he’s bored and nearly takes flight when he’s excited. It’s all relative.

Bear did have his moment in the sun a few weeks ago, and it was really cool. For those of you that saw it on FaceBook, skip the next two paragraph. If not read on…

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In the last few years I’ve been incredibly touched by the support Barrett’s received from coaches, peer buddies, and teammates. Having him be part of a team has been a gift in our lives. Last night’s track meet was especially gratifying. He ran on the track of his brother’s home field, the high school where he too (finally) will attend next year. Hunter and many of his WFHS teammates helped run the meet, so there were lots of familiar faces. It’s become a ritual that when Bear rounds the last corner of the last lap, some of his teammates join him on the track to cheer him on and keep the momentum going (he’s typically bringing up the rear). I don’t know the person who took this picture, but she managed to get it to two of my friends who forwarded it on to me. Thank you Farise – I love it. I love how he’s looking up and seeing all the people encourage him, from the infield to the stands. The girl on the left is a teammate, who also helps Bear at school in the Peer Buddy program. On the right is a family friend, who also happens to be one of the track team managers. And of course, on the far right is his fiercest champion, his little sister Audrey. As he ran the last 100 M, the announcer (whose own daughter ran with Bear last year) cheered him on over the PA, and got the crowd involved (thanks Dave). Barrett earned a PR, and got his first entry in the GA Mile Split. His twin greeted him at the finish line, and so many WFHS track athletes gather around him as he exited the field, congratulating him and giving him high fives.

It’s not always easy being THAT family, but moments like this fill our hearts with joy. I wanted to publicly acknowledge that our family is infinitely grateful that we live in a community that embraces our son with love, kindness and patience. It takes a village to raise our special boy – parents, grandparents, God parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, teachers, therapists, and police officers. We have been blessed with a hell of a good village and we know it. Thank you.

Finally, we’re preparing for his high school transition. I still have NO idea where he’ll be next year, and I’m starting to get nervous about that. The good news is that he won’t be in the traditional Autism Classroom. It’s taken time, but he’s graduated to the next level in special education. There’s a good chance that he’ll be in an MI (moderate intellectual disability) class, which has more academic focus. He’ll switch classes each period at the high school and I’m really not sure how that’ll roll. The high school is huge. The other option is a newly designed class that I’m told would be perfect for Bear, a mix of the MI class and a few periods of life skills. Since this class doesn’t exist yet, no one is sure which school will host the class. I’m bummed, because I’ve really been looking forward to Barrett attending school (finally) with his siblings. If he goes to our zoned high school, he’d have two years with Hunter and four with Audrey (and possibly even graduate with her). Story developing on this one.

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Hunter had a fabulous track season and wrapped it up with a personal record of finishing the mile in five minutes, thirteen seconds. Unfortunately, that wasn’t fast enough to earn a Varsity letter in track – but we’re really hopeful that it’ll happen next year. Academically he’s doing well in five classes, ok in one, and hanging by a thread in another. He’s really, really having a tough time with Geometry and Momma is in a panic. He could severely alter our summer plans if he doesn’t pass his EOC. And that’s all I can really write, cause, you know teenagers. Actually I’ve probably already revealed too much. (Just say some math prayers for us).

On spring break, we visited some family friends who own their own hotel on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Their high season is summer time and they offered Hunter a job for a few weeks this summer. Momma was all over it, because this young man needs to understand what it’s like to work for a dollar. Believe me, he needs to “get it.” So I think a job that involves some manual labor, cleaning toilets (hopefully), and doing laundry in the blazing Florida heat is perfect for shining a light on how important it is to get an education. See where I’m going with this? Aha. Well, some people in our lives (and in our house) intimated that perhaps I was being a little rough on Hunter and that he wouldn’t be happy with this development. Ya think? But, I also didn’t want his anger or resentment (if that were to occur) taken out on our friends who were giving him an opportunity to make money. So I asked my friends if they would approach Hunter about a summer job. You know some news is better delivered by outside forces. I’m happy to report that Hunter was thrilled with the offer and will be reporting for duty this summer. He’s going to be living on property, so he’ll be on call at all times. And he’ll be with people who love him.

Also, Barrett and Hunter were confirmed in February. Two more for the flock, Pope Francis!

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Family photo in the bright sun.

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With Grandparents, God Parents, Sponsors and siblings. It takes a village!

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Hunter got her Letterman’s Jacket. And I got a genuine smile. Yay!

We had a really nice Easter:

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Spring break was fun. We finally made it to the Keys. I’d planned this trip to the Keys multiple times, but something always made me cancel. I’ve been working hard, and believe it or not, had not been away since last July (me!). This was a trip that was not only desired, but needed. We also stopped in Fort Lauderdale for a few days to visit the Lewises and Uncle Mark.

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We saw Auntie Lynn in the Keys!

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My boys. My God son Ben is on the right. Isn’t he cute?

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Audrey has found her groove in middle school. I honestly have no complaints. Yes, you read that right. Okay, maybe one. I wish she would dress better, but I’m picking my battles. Plus, her legging and t-shirt phase is saving me some money. She’s really stepped it up at home and has been helping me with both Barrett and Camden. In fact, just this morning (I had to leave super early for an appointment), she got up and prepared breakfast for her brothers (not Hunter mind you, ha!), and got Cammy and Barrett dressed and on their respective buses. She’s also been doing her own laundry – not voluntarily, but still, she’s doing it. She was notorious for saving her laundry for weeks, and then dumping it all on me at once and I was done. After I taught her how to do it, I decided Hunter needed to know how to as well. I’ve saved myself hours in laundry room!

We’re preparing for recital season. I know nothing, other than her costume is a garnet color. Audrey won’t let me sit in the observation room during her classes with the other moms. She wants me to be surprised when I attend her recital. At first I was offended, and a little fearful that the other moms would think I didn’t like them. But now I treasure my alone time in the car with a book or the radio. Sometimes I even take a nap.

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Camden is still my funniest child. The stuff that comes out of his mouth is hilarious. Recently, Audrey had two friends sleep over. We got home late, because we were at the track meet for both the middle and high school, which ran super long. Audrey was cranky and said something her dad didn’t like. He took her into another room to have a “chat.” Camden was casually eating his fries, seemingly oblivious to what was going on around him. Then he smirked at the girls and offered this sage advice, “I wouldn’t unpack if I were you guys.” I almost fell out of my chair. I started laughing so hard, and the girls were all, “What? What he say? What did he mean?” They’re bright girls, but his comment flew right over their head!

Cammy’s still practicing his ninja skills at karate, but he is lover not a fighter. It’s really cringe worthy sometimes to watch him spar. The other night I arrived just before class ended and he was dressed in sparing gear and another child was punching him. Oh. My. Gaawd. It was awful. Audrey had been watching him while I dropped Hunter somewhere and she was upset. She told me that all the kids were picking him to spar with, so they’d earn a sticker, because he didn’t fight back. How sad is that? I think it might be time to look into tennis lessons.

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And me? I don’t even know where to begin.

I lost my contract position in early February. I saw it coming. The company I worked for was ridiculous and flamed out big time. Oh, this could be a juicy post, but ethically it’s really not appropriate. The fact is, a lot of people lost their jobs and their health insurance, and some probably lost their dignity. Seriously disgusting. Greed is evil. For me, the loss of steady income sucked, but at least I’m not the primary family breadwinner. For many others it was, and is, devastating. Fortunately, the woman who originally placed me at the company had me signed up with a handful of new clients within a few weeks. Also, another friend at the company had another opportunity and asked for my help. This development has its good and bad sides. I love the variety. I’m now working in four different industries (three of which are very cool), and I love buzzing around. Every day is different. What’s not so great, is that it’s sporadic and hard to plan. One week I’ll be working forty hours (some of it at home), and another week no one needs me. But I’m not complaining. I know I got lucky once again

With some of my occasional freedom I’ve managed to re-embrace exercise. The last year has been really tough on me health-wise and I believe it all boils down to lifestyle. Rejoining the work force, sometimes under bizarre and questionable circumstances, stressed me out. I ate on the fly, sat a lot, and found myself unwinding too frequently with a glass of wine. I also wasn’t exercising regularly, because I felt guilty about being away from home so much for work. I didn’t want to compound my guilt by going to the gym. No more. I binged on self-help and anti-aging books this winter and spring and I’m solidly on a new path. I won’t bore you with my new style of eating or exercise program, but I feel really good. And that’s cool.

I also took a huge social media break. I took all social media aps off my phone, except Instagram. I was so drained by all the fights I witnessed on FaceBook.  When even disagreements over Oscar nominations and Grammy Awards got nasty, I just decided I’d had enough. I’ll post Bear Bear stuff, cause I can’t help it, but I really don’t miss it. This will undoubtedly be a problem for my writing, but I kind of don’t care. And yes, that I realize is another issue, which perhaps is a sign… But the elimination of the angst has been fabulous! I’ve also cut don’t on watching the news, because I just can’t face it.

Sorry for the long post! Going to try blogging more often, but with shorter posts! I promise.

Please fill me in on your life! What’s been going on?

18 thoughts on “A Family Update”

  1. Aw, Allie I am so happy to see you back here and very much enjoyed your update. Missed you around here and hope you will blog more often as I do enjoy reading your blog my friend 😉

  2. Glad to read an update! Sorry about the job, but sounds like it wasn’t a good environment at all. Good for you on taking off the apps. I’m not there. But I do tune out all drama. Don’t ask me how. Willful denial?

  3. Oh Allie! I am SO GLAD to read all of these updates on your life, the incredible VICTORIES with Barrett (FOUR GIRLS? WOW!! That brought me to TEARS) and the trips your family were able to go on… Just amazing all you have been doing! I am so sorry about the job ending, and what seems to be a horrible downfall to that company. Sigh. But glad you picked up work, despite it being sporadic and inconsistent. That would drive me NUTS too.

    Why didn’t I see your posts on FB? I swear I see all kinds of random posts from STRANGERS but rarely see posts from my good friends. It drives me crazy. I miss so much. And speaking of FB and social media- GOOD FOR YOU for setting those boundaries. It’s madness out there- and we really must be mindful and protect ourselves from the mess. I SO get it.

    I’ve missed reading your posts and I’m SO HAPPY you wrote about everything. Your family is beautiful and I love that Audrey is doing so well and is so helpful with the boys! And girl, t shirts and leggings are AWESOME compared to much of the ‘inappropriate attire’ girls wear these days. Count your blessings there! 😉

    I celebrate the confirmations, the upcoming recitals, the karate, the trips, your own health and wellness and the incredible journey of motherhood and all that you do for your beautiful children, my beloved friend!

    Keep sharing, PLEASE!! XOXO

    1. I just see your name in my comment feed and I smile. You are so, so, so, kind my friend. And encouraging:)! I cannot even begin to know how who what we all see on FB. It is one of the great mysteries of our time. Ha, ha. Yes, lots to celebrate lately, but lots to bury my head in the sand over, too. I think I jinxed myself with the post. Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, unfortunate, no-good kind of day. Que sera-sera!

  4. Hey, it’s good to see your post in my feed again! I take blogging breaks pretty often myself, so I get that. Your community sounds amazing and it’s so wonderful they are supporting your son and your family. I’m with you on the social media stuff. Facebook can be overwhelming sometimes. I learned recently that I can “unfollow” someone’s posts without unfriending them and without them knowing. And you can reverse it anytime. That helps to limit negativity in my feed. Anyway, good to see you back and hope I see you ’round some more!

    1. Hi Lori, thank you for your kind words. I really hadn’t intended to take a blogging break, but I would be so tired after getting home form work and running the kids around – I just couldn’t do it. But I kept feeling this nagging, you know? I’ve heard about the follow, but I’ve been afraid someone would ask me – it’s just easier to say I don’t have a lot of time to be on there anymore (which really is true).

  5. I was so happy to get an email letting me know you’d posted and to read all of these (mostly awesome – that job thing sounds horrible) developments! Regarding the sparring, we pulled Tucker out of Tae Kwon Do after he had a board-kicking victory at a “tournament” because the other kids his age were sparring, and we, and his instructors, knew he wasn’t ready. So they had him in a younger class and since he’s so huge for his age, well, anyway.
    Where in the Keys did you go? The water looks gorgeous. And you’ll have to fill me in more about Barrett and Aud maybe graduating together? Also, take the t-shirts and leggings — trust me on that one 😉
    I loved seeing all the photos too AND you must tell me more about your diet/exercise plan. I’ve been freaking out about the aging thing and how much harder it all seems to be as far as looking and feeling good.

    1. Hey Kristi! Sorry I missed you yesterday. Can we reschedule? Things kind of hit the wall yesterday – everywhere. Barrett can stay in school till he’s 22 (unless evil Betsy changes that), so he would graduate the same year as his sister (rater than his twin:(). But, I don’t know that it’ll be on the same stage – that’s part of what made yesterday go crazy – that and some creatures in my house. I have a big meeting with the county next week, than I can fill you in more. We went to Key Largo. It was a long drive (2 days) to get there, and we only had three nights because the rates were sky high. Maybe over the summer, we’ll make it all the way to Key West. As for diet and exercise – see my comment to Allison below:) XOXO

  6. I read it all! Wheee!
    I’m actually thinking so much about Key West right now because my friends are there, and I’m writing about it for a sponsored post about road trips. That’s fun!
    Cammy is hilarious with that comment! I hope they DID get to unpack.
    The summer job situation with Hunter worked out great! I would imagine that kind of summer job would appeal to me personally, but I’ve been cold for six months here!

    1. Wow, thanks Tamara. I did ramble on a bit. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it all the way to Key West. We were going to drive down (I’m dying to see Hemingway’s house), but we got lazy and stayed on the beach. And the girls did unpack.

  7. So great to catch up with you Allie! Glad you and your kids are doing well. I would actually love to hear about your new style of eating and exercise if you ever cared to share that in a post! I need something new in both of those areas myself.

    1. Thanks Caryn – I haven’t seen your posts in my in box for quite a while. I need to know how you are! See my comment to Allison below, about the diet and exercise.

  8. So good to catch up with you, Allie! Although I do follow you on Instagram so I knew you hadn’t fallen off the face of the earth. 😉

    Glad the kiddos are doing well, and kudos to you for getting on a healthy path!

  9. This is like a letter from a long lost friend that I have been dying to get- thank you! So many things going on, and some I wish I could hug you about. Also, please do share your new exercise and self-care regimen. I need inspiration and tips. Glad the Keys were so rejuvenating, looks gorgeous.

    1. Thanks Allison. As for exercise – the main thing is that I’m actually doing it. Minimum four cardio workouts a week, and two strength training. On Saturdays I combine it, so it’s basically five days of exercise. As for eating, trying to be clean as I can be. I took a little bit of advice from three different books I read. I don’t drink alcohol/wine during the week, and for the most part have been really good about it. No gluten or dairy, and very limited sugar. At each meal (trying to have four a day, but one is a smoothie) I have to have a lean protein, a healthy fat, and a non gluten carb. No processed foods, either. It’s been doing a lot of cooking, which is a pain, but I’m not hungry! And I still drink coffee:), just with unsweetened almond milk.

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