DCMM: Beneath This Doughy Exterior is a Lean Running Machine

Way back in high school physics, I learned that a body at rest will remain at rest. Over the past several years as I’ve tried to return to a regular exercise regimen, I have been reminded of that over and over.

Until my mid to late 20s, I didn’t exercise much at all, and certainly not on purpose. But then came several years of rigorous, regular exercise. I would run or work out at the gym nearly every day. When pregnant with my first and second kids, I exercised to within a week of giving birth.

But then, somehow, somewhere, somewhen between my second and third child, I lost my way. I stopped exercising and I started gaining weight.

My New Year’s Resolution—and I don’t always make these, so this one is kind of a big deal—is to exercise more. Bottom line, I want to lose weight this year, but I want to do it by becoming a healthy, active person.

And, yes, I’m cutting down on my brownie consumption as well.

All of this is to say that I recently started an exercise regimen. I am now on week three of the Couch to 5K program and I’ve been alternating my running workouts with fun exercise using the Wii.

(Side note: It just took me five tries to correctly spell “exercise.” I think that is a bad omen.)

This is the longest I’ve kept at exercise since I lost my fitness mojo four-plus years ago, and I think it’s because I rediscovered an exercise that I love. Strength training is fine, and the elliptical is not so hard on your joints, but my body just really likes to run.

Whereas when I was on the elliptical, I felt like I was suffering through a workout, when I run, I feel like my body is doing what it wants to do. It feels like it is stretching and and feeding on the energy of the run. When I’m running, I feel good not just when I’m done, but while I’m doing it.

I used to run miles and miles every week. I would run laps around Lake Merritt back when I lived in Oakland, California. As there is no similarly scenic, round-trip route near me where I now live, I run on the treadmill.

The treadmill is not quite as awesome, but I can feel the running feeding my body. Which is preferable to feeding my body with M&Ms.

Still, there are days that I don’t want to run, days that I am just not motivated. But I’ve been pushing through and trying to get those workouts in. Because I also learned in high school physics that a body in motion stays in motion.

Jean blogs at Stimeyland and runs an autism-events website serving Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont. She runs at home.

Tidbits from a Tired Brain

Look what I have:

Sam

Jack

Quinn

It’s a digital frame. From the big, dumbass store. I looooove it.

*****

I’ve been here and there about the blogosphere. Here for instance:

I wrote about running over at DC Metro Moms.

Check out the giveaway I have for a copy of Chynna T. Laird’s parenting memoir about sensory processing disorder (SPD) at Things. And Stuff.

I also have a review up of a great magazine for the 2-6 year old set, The Tessy & Tab Reading Club Magazine. They’re really more like little books that come in the mail every two weeks.

*****

Hmmm…what else? I spent two hours today at Sam and Jack’s school at two separate Wall of Fame ceremonies. It was a long afternoon. Quinn was a champ. Also? Thank the lord for the iPhone. It can singlehandedly keep the Q-Ball happy for, oh, say, two hours.

*****

I got nothin’ else. Except for that I’m really glad it’s Friday.

My First BlogHer Post of the Year: Big News!

You guys, I am so excited I almost can’t contain myself. In a fit of paranoia back in December I bought my BlogHer ’10 ticket to make sure I didn’t miss out on registration. I secured roommates on New Year’s Eve. One of said roommates reserved us a hotel room in early January. I don’t know how I’m getting to New York, but I live in DC, so I could practically walk there if I had to.

Let me amend that: I could easily catch a bus there.

You’ll remember that BlogHer is in August.

Wait, wait, wait! It’s gets better. So much better. After a gang of us special needs parents decided at last year’s BlogHer that we badly needed a special needs panel this coming year, several (many?) of us submitted ideas for such a panel.

And there is such a panel!! Right there, first panel of the conference Friday morning:

Blogging Autism: Shattering Myths, Opening Eyes and Finding Your Tribe Autism is both more out in the open than it has ever been before and more shrouded in myths and mystery. Come learn and share your stories about how blogging contributes to the autism community as a source of support and outlet for parents, as a way for those not dealing directly with autism to gain more insight and sensitivity and as a tool for advocacy and activism.

The phenomenal panel will be led by the lovely, charismatic, inspirational, and oh-so-smart Shannon Des Roches Rosa (you know, Squid), who will be moderating. I know, right? Awesome. I don’t know who most of the other people on the panel are, but I do know one: ME!

I’m kinda both excited out of my mind and freaking out beyond belief. Also? I’m relatively sure that I will burst into tears at some point.

I AM pretty excited about getting up there and accidentally spewing out something wildly inappropriate. For instance, introducing myself as, “Hey, motherfuckers! I’m Stimey!” Because now that the phrase is in my head, it’s going to be really hard to keep it inside there, where it belongs.

I know that a lot of you special needs friends out there are going to BlogHer this year. I am so excited to meet/re-meet/jump all over you. It is an honor beyond words that I get to sit up there in front of you.

Now I just have to think of something worthwhile to say.

Autism Unexpected: Learning to Trust in Myself

WHEATON, Maryland—I have faced so many crossroads when it comes to my autistic son, Jack. At each of these crossroads, I have let others’ opinions cast doubt on how I felt and what I thought he needed. I have finally realized and learned to act on the assumption that Iknow what is best for Jack.

When Jack was two and I first talked to pediatrician about his development, the doctor asked me, “Do you have a feeling about him?”

I will always respect that doctor for asking that question and for acknowledging mother’s instinct. But not everyone does.

When I thought Jack needed early intervention, the county early intervention team said he didn’t. When they told me that he was probably slow to speak because he was a second child and a boy, I trusted them.

When, at three, I suspected he was autistic, I had teachers, therapists, and more county professionals tell me I was wrong. I trusted them less, and I found a doctor who was willing to really look at my child. Turns out I was right. Jack is autistic. And you’d be hard pressed to find a professional who works with him these days who would say different.

When I was meeting with Jack’s team to determine his services for kindergarten, his preschool special education team told me he didn’t need much support. By this time, I’d learned to not blindly trust the experts. I pushed for substantial services. We got far more than they originally planned on offering, but we didn’t get enough because I didn’t entirely trust myself and push as hard as I needed to.

When Jack was in kindergarten, he struggled every single day. I thought he needed a one-to-one aide. Although everyone who worked daily with Jack agreed with me, the people with the power turned us down. My husband and I ended up hiring an attorney and an educational consultant to fight for what we thought he needed. Along the way, I had moments of doubt.

I worried that maybe the naysayers in the meeting were right. Maybe Jack didn’t need a designated aide. Maybe we were throwing money away. Knowing by this point that I should trust in myself, I sought validation from his teachers and aides, and they gave it to me. With their help, I trusted in myself, and we ended up with most, but not all, of what he needed. And I don’t think anyone at the school would suggest that he doesn’t need that extra help.

Even after all of this I occasionally find myself mired in doubt. When Jack was having trouble with homework this year, spending two and three hours every night fighting against it, I asked the school for a compromise. At first they didn’t give it to me. But I remembered the lessons I’ve learned over the past five years and I decided to trust myself. So I pushed a little harder. And they compromised. And it’s made a world of difference.

It is so easy to be swayed by professionals and so-called experts. We’re just mothers and fathers, what do we know?

Well, we know our children. It is so important to remember that I am the expert when it comes to my son. I am the one with his pure interests at heart. I am the one who puts him to bed and wakes him up.

He trusts in me. And I need to trust in myself as well.

Originally published at Autism Unexpected on January 27, 2010.

I Am an Asshole

Hey! Does anyone remember yesterday when I was all, “My kids are fakers and liars! No one is sick!” and I wrote a whole post about it?

Turns out they’re sick.


Sam appears to be fine, but last night after I’d gone to bed, but before Alex went to bed, Jack evidently threw up copious amounts of vomit all over his bed.

Then, this morning, minutes before putting Jack and Quinn in the car to drop Quinn off at school, Quinn started sobbing and saying his head hurt and that he was sick. I had to believe him because, well, because of yesterday, but also because he was supposed to go on a field trip to the bread store today and have lunch bunch after school, both of which are things he’d been looking forward to.

It’s quite possible I made the right decision as both of them have been quietly laying on the couch in a different room than me for a half hour.

So, to repeat: I am an asshole for not only not believing my kids when they said they were sick, but for accusing them all over the internet of faking. Did you miss that the first time? I am an asshole.

As Alex pointed out, even the boy who cried wolf ended up being eaten by a wolf, right? (Or maybe his sheep did, but regardless, at some point there was a wolf, and I bet that kid’s mom felt like a real jerk for ignoring his screams for help.)

This post is dedicated to Alex, who was practically rubbing his hands together this morning in glee and anticipation of my mea culpa post. “What are the chances that the day you write an entire post about them faking being sick that Jack would throw up all over?!” he asked delightedly. I suppose I’ll give him his delight as he was the one who had to clean up all the barf last night.

Edited to Add: It IS possible that Quinn is faking. He’s remarkably perky for someone who was laying on the floor whining an hour ago.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

My kids are very good at claiming sickness to get out of things. Sam gets mysterious “headaches” on mornings he doesn’t want to school. Occasionally I will get Quinn to preschool and he will start crying and saying he is sick.

They are liars.

(And, yeah, anxiety, why don’t they want to go school, blah, blah, blah. I know. I’m working on it.)

I can generally tell when one of them is really sick and when they are faking. Trust me, they don’t get away with staying home very often. Although I will grant them mental health days occasionally.

For Jack, his telltale sign is that he sits in front of the toilet and rests his head on the seat. Pretty standard, really. But today he exhibited a different sign.

I’d volunteered in Jack’s classroom, where his teacher had said he’d been claiming to be sick and was much quieter than usual. After more than an hour of helping out, I was getting ready to go, when…

Why, yes, he DID write “I’m sick” in a word bubble and then hold it over his head.

How am I supposed to fight against that?

He came home with me where he spent the afternoon losing at Stratego, doing his homework, and hearing vigorous retellings of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Aggravating? Yes. Super cute? Also yes.

Autism Unexpected: Sibling Responsibility

I’ve always thought that Jack is so lucky to have two such wonderful brothers. As a very shy young person myself, I know how important it is to have a sibling to help you out. I have vivid memories of my sister being asked to hang out with me during elementary school recess because she had friends and I didn’t.

However, no matter how glad I am that Jack has his older brother, Sam, and his younger brother, Quinn, to help and teach him, it also pains me a little bit to give them the extra responsibility of helping to take care of him.

Most of what I ask them to do are things kids would already do for neurotypical siblings. For instance, Sam paves the way for Jack with teachers, he helps Jack make friends by being such a social butterfly, and he helps Jack get to the morning school line-up spot.

I drop them off at school and send them away from the car every morning, and Sam encourages Jack to come with him. Sometimes they hold hands. Someone from Jack’s school told me that Sam walks Jack to his line, makes sure he’s facing the right direction, and then goes off to his own line. I’m a little bit afraid of the day that Jack refuses and Sam doesn’t know what to do. I hope when that day comes that there is an adult nearby to help. Because I don’t want to have put Sam in that position.

Although as the older brother, Sam does most of the leading and the helping, even Quinn seems to understand that Jack needs a little bit of extra help.

For instance, one day at the bus stop. I’d taken my dog with me and she was freaking out because there was another dog with the temerity to be merely a block away from her. I’m seriously on the verge of getting the dog stuffed and using her as a coffee table, but that’s another post entirely.

While I was dealing with the dog, Jack (who’d already gotten off of his bus, which arrives earlier than Sam’s) and Quinn took off. Now, the bus stop is only a block and a half from home and my kids don’t have to cross streets to get there, but I don’t let them run off until I’m also on my way back home. And they usually don’t. Sometimes as soon as Sam gets off the bus, Jack and Quinn will take off running for home. But today, they took off while my attention was on the dog not choking herself with her own collar.

Once I had the dog calmed down, I looked around and didn’t see them. I knew where they would have gone, but I don’t like them being out of my sight around the corner. Plus I couldn’t go track them down without abandoning Sam, whose bus was due any second.

Then I saw them. Jack was running, and Quinn was trying to tackle him. Quinn knew they shouldn’t be leaving the bus stop and he was trying to stop Jack. I shouted for them to come back and Jack kept going, with Quinn holding on to his sweatshirt, vainly trying to drag him back.

Fortunately Sam’s bus arrived and the group at the bus stop pointed him toward me, halfway down the block. We started walking home with Jack and Quinn still ahead of us, Quinn still trying to stop Jack.

It all ended at the house before ours, where Quinn fell and scraped his stomach in the driveway. Jack obliviously ran home, where he was summarily put in timeout and then got a pretty stringent lecture about staying at the bus stop.

I still firmly believe that having an autistic brother is a wonderful thing for Sam and Quinn. And I still firmly believe that Jack is a wonderful brother and gives as much back to Sam and Quinn as they give to him.

But some days I feel a little sad for the extra responsibility my eight- and four-year-old have.

This post was previously posted at Jean’s personal blog, Stimeyland. The bus stop continues to be a struggle for us. And all three brothers continue to love each other with their whole beings.

Originally published at Autism Unexpected on January 23, 2010.