Thursday, July 29, 2010

Patience is a Virtue and Worth Striving For Daily - Your thoughts welcome!

Hello everyone!
Thanks for stopping by!

It has been a couple days since I posted and I wanted to drop by and share a few words with you tonight.  Unfortunately, a lot is going on right now that is drawing my attention in other directions so I'll keep tonight's posting short and then share more with you on Friday.

I've been thinking a lot about conflict resolution lately and how patience plays a part in it.  Although I have a tendency to be impulsive and perhaps compulsive as well, I have always been the most patient person in our family of four.  Maybe it's because I'm the only woman, maybe it's part of my personality, maybe it's just that it's harder for the others to be patient.  (By the way, I'm not passing judgment on that being good or bad, just stating it as fact.)

Patience can be defined as the state of endurance under difficult circumstances which can be persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance or anger in a negative way.  Additionally it can be looked at as exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties.

Patient as I may be in certain circumstances, there are many instances in which I need a lot of work.  For example, I notice that when it's hot, I'm extremely tired or not feeling well, I am less patient.  If I feel defensive or disrespected, I am less patient.  If I am experiencing sensory overload or being bitten by mosquitoes (darn those rotten scoundrels), I am certainly less patient.

All parents require a healthy dose of patience with their children but especially so for those who have children with special needs.  As regular followers of my blog know, I am the mother to a son diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and a son diagnosed with Autism.  I believe God blessed me with amazing sons and although I often struggle through my own challenges, it is such a gift to have the opportunity to be a Mom, a role model, a friend and to have the chance to teach patience, love and kindness to my boys.

This is without a doubt one of my favorite passages / parts of the Bible.  If I can go through each day putting this into practice successfully, then I'm doing something right and it has been a wonderful day!  I strive for it although it sure isn't easy sometimes! Fortunately each day I have a chance to practice again! Some of the lines are easier to put into practice than others.  Which is your easiest?  Which is your most challenging?

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone focused on practicing these qualities and teaching them to others?  The world would certainly be a better place.  Relationships of all kinds would be more successful.  Many more positive things in this world would be accomplished.

We have a big wall poster in the kids' playroom that says this.  It's much more colorful and I love looking at it. Whenever anyone in our family (adults included) are needing a time-out break, I always encourage this poster to be read, although in the heat of things, that doesn't always work!  (Myself included!)



In Ryan's case, I'll read the poster to him even though he doesn't yet understand a lot of it.  I believe it's never too early to start sharing how important the qualities of love are. 

Did you notice that the very first line is Love is Patient?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how patient would you say you are?  I'd put myself at about a 7.5 overall (which happens to be 2.5 less than 10.  25 blog reference / tangent!)  I am probably more patient with my sons than anyone else.  I am probably least patient with mosquitoes.  I am definitely least patient with myself.

How about you?  Willing to share your thoughts on patience? Any tips on how to calm yourself (or others down) after an impatience incident occurs?  I'd enjoy hearing your comments!  Let me know you're out there, Aspierations friends!

Thanks for stopping by!

Hope you have a great Friday (or whatever day you're reading this!)
Karen

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is the Proposed DSM-V Criteria for Autism / Asperger's Unfair to Girls and Women?

Hi Aspierations Friends!

I find myself most days trying to balance between being a parent, a wife, a provider for my family and an advocate for autism and Asperger's with both myself and my children.

Although I would like to do more with advocacy and I intend to do more with Aspierations and the future Aspierations.com website, some days it is hard to come across with an inspirational message for others when I'm trying to hold things together.  Although I enjoy sharing humor and anecdotes about life on the spectrum, I appreciate conversations of substance.  


On days I don't actively advocate as much as I want, I still put out my ribbon! :-)


I am not one to thrive during what I perceive to be as mundane or polite conversation.  Some might call it social small talk.  That being said, I learned over my life to mask very well.  I can mimic and mirror niceties.  From what I've been told throughout my life, people perceive me as a nice person with a kind heart and empathetic nature.  I have come a long way from where I was as an awkward insecure adolescent, teenager and young woman.   I have made many mistakes along the way but am proud of many of the risks I have taken.  I am proud to be a survivor.  I am exultant that I am here blogging to you.



Thanks for visiting me at my blog!


On my days when I'm lucky if I can find matching socks, my mediations are unsuccessful, my humor is unhumorous and I trip into walls (objects one would think are stationary and yet jump out at me on a regular basis), I ask myself how on earth can I best be a Mom, partner, friend and mentor to others when I am still figuring out my own life?  

Well, I guess that comes from being who I am, where I am at this point in time.  I suppose it derives from having the courage (sometimes cajones, often naivety, occasionally a social filter that forgot to be changed) to share my successes, failures, confusion, dreams, hopes and challenges.  Coming to terms with myself as a woman with Asperger's Syndrome being somewhere along the autism spectrum is a growth process, a life journey with paths of self-reflection, rocky climbs, tumbles, stumbles and leaps of faith.





Come As You Are... Let Your Light Shine!


Those of you who have read earlier blog postings probably know that I am in my early 40s and grew up as an undiagnosed Asperger's woman.  Throughout my childhood and teen years, I equated myself to a puzzle piece that didn't belong. (See Blog Post from 1/30, Before I Knew I Was An Aspie, My Puzzle Piece Never Fit.)   Now that I know that I am somewhere along the autism spectrum (depending on your interpretation on where exactly Asperger's fits), I have great relief in beginning to understand myself, forgive myself and in doing so, becoming a better person, however I do not let the label of Autism or Asperger's define me.

Speaking of which, I invite you to check out and comment on my poem from April 8th.  I'd love to turn this into a children's book with one line per page and photographs of the faces of autism throughout the book!   Let me know what you think!

Recently, there was been a lot of controversial debate over the proposed changes to the DSM-V (Medically Diagnostic) Criteria for defining and diagnosing Asperger's Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder in boys, girls, men and women.

The new version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders) proposes to remove the diagnosis of "Asperger's Syndrome," and include all forms of autism as "Autism Spectrum Disorder." 

I've read the proposed criteria and find it to be ambiguous.  Here is a link to the proposed revision:

Much research has already shown that Autism / Asperger's presents differently in girls than boys and in women than men especially when it comes to social reciprocity and verbal communication used for social interaction.  

I worry that with the proposed new criteria, many less girls and women will get a proper diagnosis and therefore will not have the opportunity to receive services, such as social skills assistance and acceptance into school programs like SCIP.  As it is right now, most diagnosed with Asperger's in the school system are boys. 

SCIP (Social Communication Integration Program) is a special education program that helps students with Asperger's Syndrome develop the skills necessary to be successful in the classroom and in social situations.  I'll talk more about this later in a separate blog.

I am not going to get up on a soapbox here right now but what I'd like to ask is that you consider checking out and signing this petition sponsored by Laura Paxton from the Autism Women's Network.

If you want to sign anonymously, you can.  I did but I'm sure anyone astute will be able to play Nancy Drew and figure me out!  :-)

Whether you sign or not, I'd be interested to know what you think?

Do any of my Aspierations readers have daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts or relationships with girls that are or are suspected to be on the Autism Spectrum or with Asperger's?  I'd appreciate the opportunity to share conversation with you!  Please feel free to leave a comment below if you'd like!  If you're not yet following my blog, I invite you to do so.  If you're on Google Connect or Facebook, we can connect that way too!  

Letting my light shine today! 
How about you?  :-)

Karen

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's All About The Number 25 Today!

Good Evening Aspierations Friends!

Do you have a favorite number, one that is lucky for you or seems to pop up in your life a lot?



The other day when we were driving home to Vancouver from OMSI in Portland, we encountered a bit of traffic and so we started talking about numbers.  Ryan often will count while he spins or runs or wants to mark passage of time and so talking about numbers is a subject that definitely makes him smile.

Ryan was telling us about all his favorite numbers.  His first favorite number is 54 (this was the # of the bus he rode to preschool last year), his second favorite number is 22 (the day he was born), his third favorite number is 192 (192nd Avenue is a popular street we drive on), his fourth favorite number is 801 (just because) and his fifth favorite number is 3801.  I'll spare you his entire list but will tell you that he got all the way up to his 1000th favorite number, however I think he may have skipped a few hundred along the way.  He is after all only 4 years old!  :-)

Anyway, Justin's favorite number is 3 (the day he was born), John's favorite number is 18 (our anniversary and actually this was his favorite number even when he was young).  My favorite number is 25.

Now before you start wondering if I'm into numerology, I'm not.  I just happen to like the number 25 because I associate so many positive experiences and relationships with people to that number or date in my life.  It's always been a special and lucky number for me.

As an aside, speaking of numbers, I'm not sure if anyone out there has ever seen the movie, "The Number 23" starring Jim Carrey.  John and I saw it a few years back.  It was a bizarre movie related to the number 23 enigma which is an esoteric belief that all incidents are connected to the number 23, a number related to 23 or some sort of permutation of 23.  Weird movie...

So anyway, just for fun I'm going to list 25 connections I have to the number 25 or permutations thereof.  This is just for amusement, okay?  :-)

In no particular order, here are 25 connections or facts about the number 25.  I plan to write the rest of this blog in 25 minutes and 25 seconds.  On your mark, get set, GO!

1. My birthday is on November 25.

2. Christmas is celebrated on December 25.

3. This year is the 25th anniversary of my high school graduation in 1985.  This also means I started college 25 years ago, yikes! (42 - 17 =25)

4. This year Thanksgiving will be on November 25 and I love Thanksgiving! Gobble Gobble!  :-)

5. 25 years ago today on Thursday, July 25th, I was bowling at El Camino Bowl with a special friend showing off my stuff. I'm pretty sure it was on lane 25.  I want to say I scored a 225 but I honestly don't remember that part!

6. My maid of honor who introduced me and John (indirectly by renting us each of our apartments separately) was born on January 25.

7. I have other special friends born on September 25 and October 25. (If you have a birthday on the 25th let me know!)

8. If you add up 7 + 18 (the numbers for the month of my wedding and the day of my wedding), you get 25.

9. If you add up 3 + 22 (the numbers for the day each of my sons was born), you get 25.

10. If you multiply the first two digits of our house number and add the rest, you get 25.

11. The house I grew up in has the last two digits as 25.

12. I turned 25 the year I got married and was 25 on our first anniversary.

13. If you add up all the digits of my youngest sister's birthday (month, day and year), it equals 25.

14. Other November 25 birthdays include Ricardo Montalban (I enjoyed watching "Fantasy Island" as a kid), Joe DiMaggio (I like baseball. Incidentally, Barry Bonds from the Giants wore 25 on his jersey.), Jill Hennessy (I enjoyed her in "Crossing Jordan"), Christina Applegate (she was very funny in "Samantha Who?") and Ben Stein ("Win Ben Stein's Money").

15. My favorite coin as a kid was a quarter = 25 cents and I am one quarter of our family of 4 = 25%

16. If you add up the numbers of our favorite rooms at Watercourse Way (9) + Portland Tan & Tub (16) you get 25! - Also if you noticed, 9 is 3 squared, 16 is 4 squared and adding them together is 25 which is 5 squared.

17. If you add up the numbers corresponding to the letters in the word HEART, you get 25.  (8 + 5 + 1 + 9 + 2) (The 9 for R is 18, 1 + 8) -- Ahhhh, isn't that sweet? (John thinks I'm odd for knowing that!)  Well, 25 is an odd number!) :-)

18.  It is a nice square number.  5 x 5 = 25.  It is also a centered octagonal number.

19. Some of my best bowling games have been on lane 25 (&26) and for awhile my league average was 225.

20. There is a very popular internet meme on Facebook called "25 Random Things about Me" that has millions of views.  I haven't done it yet but I will be using it as a topic for a future blog.  Stay tuned!

21. The 25th letter of the alphabet is "Y".  I have been asking "Why" questions all my life!  Still do!

22. 2 x 5 = 10 (my son's birthmonth), 5 - 2 = 3 (my son's birthday).  Ryan's birthday is 5 / 22 (25 reversed and he is our second child.).

23. I'm going to have an amazingly cool blog posting in 25 days talking about my husband's birthday!

24. I posted this blog on the 25th day of the month.

25.  I posted this blog on the 25th minute of the hour.  I went for 25 seconds as well.  :-)

Happy 25th Anniversary on the 25th to anyone celebrating! It's a Silver One! (Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold.  Anyone remember that camp song?)  Also happy birthday to those of you with birthdays today!

Where were you 25 years ago today?  25 days ago today, 25 minutes ago today, 25 seconds ago today?

Hope you had some fun reading this light blog!  A shout out to all you 25 fans.  Let me know what else you like or can relate to about the number 25!  I'll probably be running through a bunch more in my head tonight as I try to fall asleep!

Let Your Light Shine and Have An Amazing Week!
Karen

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Trip to the OMSI Museum to pick Einstein's Brain & Other Things as Well!

Happy Saturday, Aspierations Friends!

It has been awhile since some of you have been here and others are visiting for the first time.  Welcome back and welcome to my blog!

If you're new here, I have a number of popular postings listed to the right that can give you a bit of a feel for some of things I write about.  You can also use blog search or click on the labels tags in the right column to find blog postings targeted to a specific topic.

After reading my blog, I also invite you to check out and follow another blog, Life and Times of John Krejcha.  My Aspierations blog postings often talk about a particular topic or theme.  John's postings give more of a feel for daily life being a parent of two children on the autism spectrum and the neurotypical (for whatever that's worth) husband to a female Aspie. John's recent blog gave a good summary of our family's week.  It was a tough one but there were definitely high points and as we strive to do, we embraced the challenge!

On Thursday, I was concerned that occasional postings in my blog might be misunderstood or unclear so I talked about communication in my blog posting "The Written Word - So Many Ways To Interpret - Come As You Are, Let Your Light Shine"

http://aspierations.blogspot.com/2010/07/written-word-so-many-ways-to-intrepret.html

If you have ever wondered what I interpret "Come As You Are" and "Let Your Light Shine" to mean in relation to my blog, I try to explain this in more depth in that post.

I received some really touching and motivating comments and emails as a result of that blog and wanted to send a special shout of thanks out to those people.  I really appreciate it when people give feedback on my blog postings.  It's totally okay to lurk too but if you ever have any questions, feel like posting anonymously or just want to give a shout out, feel free to use the comments section listed below each blog.  I try to check comments at least once each day and do my best to respond to everyone.  If you want a personal email response, feel free to drop me a line.

What I didn't tell you the other day was that on Thursday, our family also took a field trip during the day to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in Portland, OR.  We had been there before but it hadn't been for a couple of years.  This time there was a new Einstein exhibit that the boys and I found to be fascinating.  What scientific intellect this man had!  "Einstein, The World Through His Eyes" is a featured exhibit at OMSI from June 26th through September 26th, 2010.  If you're in the Portland, OR area this summer or early fall, OMSI is a very interesting, fun and educational place to take the family and we highly recommend it.



It has been rumored that Albert Einstein may have had Asperger's Syndrome or may have been on the autism spectrum.  Since Justin, Ryan and I are all on the spectrum ourselves, I find research into this man's life, both personally and professionally to be very intriguing.  I've also always had an interest in observations of time and time travel.

Of course back in Einstein's day, there would have been no diagnosis for Aspergers so I suppose there is no way of really knowing.  At the very least, one could say he was quirky, eccentric and marched to the beat of his own drum but with a guy that smart, what do you expect?

My favorite fun trivia fact that I learned was not in relation to his amazing observations about the nature of time and space, E=MC2 and the world around him but the fact that he had a cat named Tiger.  Being a huge tiger lover myself, I just had to appreciate that!


Justin and I pick Einstein's brain


John preferred the opportunity to pick Einstein's nose...



Snot funny guys... seriously!

We actually took a bunch of photos at OMSI and some of them turned out really good.  If you'd like to see them and read some of the captions, I hope the following link will work for you:


It is a Facebook link but I don't think we have to be official Facebook friends for you to view this particular album.  If for some reason you can't view it, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section or send me a Friend Request Invite saying that you're an Aspierations Blog reader and I'll be happy to accept your invitation.  :-)

I'd like to tell you more about the trip itself in a later blog because it was quite interesting watching the boys and observing their fascination with science, numbers, water play and the game, "Tasty Planet".

If any of you out there have been to OMSI, what was your opinion? What did you and your kids (if applicable) like the best?  

Thanks!
Karen

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Written Word - So Many Ways To Interpret - Come As You Are, Let Your Light Shine

Hello Aspierations Friends,

It came to my attention today that my intent in Wednesday's blog may have been unclear or came across in a light with flickering batteries.  I did a little venting on a break from work with some therapeutic blog release to my Aspierations friends and then I ended positively and went back to work.  I have since edited that blog to try and clear up any misconceptions.  If you still have questions, just let me know!

I had a very good hearted person who was very well-meaning write with concern about how I was portraying my unconventional yet loving Aspie / Neurotypical relationship with my husband on my blog to the world.

This person was worried that I had hurt John's feelings and had humiliated him. YIKES! If she thought this, what did others think?  Did I come across as a mean person?  Did I do something inappropriate socially?  Is it possible that even though I took extra special care to compliment my husband, say he was my partner and imply he was an integral an equal member of our marriage, that my words took a left turn into tangentville and completely missed the boat?

Yikes! Zoinks and insert exclamation here!  John reads all my blogs and if there is ever anything in them that would remotely hurt his feelings, he would tell me and I would either delete or edit.  I love this man bunches, folks!  We just celebrated 18 years of marriage.  He is the father of my children.  If you've been following my blog over the past week, you probably came across my talks about romance, mini dates and hymns of praise to all that John does for me and our family.  He is an excellent father and the fact that he has stayed with me for 18 years says a lot about his character!  :-)

I realized when I started Aspierations that it might be controversial because I would talk about serious stuff. (i.e. adoption, autism, Aspergers, rape, sensory issues, daily challenges in family, marriage, work, finances, medical care, advocacy, etc).   I would also talk about motivational concepts, fun goofy stuff, family lifestyle and mix in blogs about parenting, spirituality, motivational and whatever struck me at the moment.  Going for your dreams, reassessing life priorities, checking off things on the bucket list, chasing the lion, thinking outside the box, not settling for status quo, prioritizing your family, empowering your children and marriage and taking time also to take care of yourself.

I realized that when I outed myself to family and friends as being both an adult woman on the autism spectrum with Asperger's Syndrome and the parent to two amazing kiddos who are traveling with me too, family and friendship dynamics might change.  I knew many would not understand.  Some would try.  Some would try harder than others.  Some would disappear off the face of the earth.

The thing is, if I wasn't able to be myself, then how quality were those dynamics anyway?  How genuine was the relationship?  I didn't want to hide the essence of who I was any longer.  I had been hiding so much, wearing a mask for so much of my life without really understanding why.  I grew up trying to adapt to others, and trying to understand societal norms. Being an undiagnosed Aspie female on the autism spectrum, I always just thought I was a puzzle piece that didn't fit, a 32nd Baskin Robbins flavor or that perhaps, I simply came from another planet or another point in time!  :-)

I realize the written and spoken word is prone to many different interpretations and that when we read or hear something and try to process it, we are analyzing and looking at it from our own unique perspective and the culmination of our own life's experiences.  Each of us will have a different perspective and even though our conclusions about reading or hearing something may be similar, we're going to come at it from completely different angles and life paths.

I realize that my words, sentences and blog postings can and will be taken many ways. Some people will find me quirky and funny in a charming way, some will find me strangely odd and decidedly unfunny.  I often use humor and sarcasm to add levity to a situation.  I realize that many people don't get my humor and they may not get my serious talk either.  That's okay.  We're all different.  We're all human.  I'm not better than you.  You're not better than me.  We're just looking at things from different planes of existence.  You only know of me what you read here and are interpreting or if you have met in person, what conversations or experiences we might have shared together, assuming those conversations were of substance and not just superficial niceties which seem to be so prevalent (and so confusing to me... other than ice-breaking and being polite, what's the point?)

I want to make my intentions clear and I don't know if I'll succeed but I'll give it a whirl.  My Aspierations Blog is about two key concepts.

The first concept is "Come As You Are" -- great day, awful day, top of the world day, tear out your hair day, feeling successful, having just failed again, feeling emotional, feeling spiritual, feeling like you could use a good primal scream.  Accept unconditionally.  Love unconditionally.  It's very difficult but I aspire to it.  It would not be me if I just blogged on my happy days.  It would do a disservice if my relationship was always hunky dory and it would do a disservice if it was just complaining.  Communication is so essential to understanding one another.  The main thing to me if you're here is that you truly "Come As You Are"... and if you are a visitor here, you are welcome no matter who you are, your background, your mood, the kind of day you've had, your education, your life experience, etc.

The second concept is about "Let Your Light Shine" or Letting Your Light Shine.   When you see me type that I am encouraging for you and those you love to be who you are, where you are and be the best you that you can be. Accept yourself, love yourself, realize you're flawed and that it is your adversities in life which provide opportunity and help give you strength to shine a brighter light.  Although your candle will flicker at times, don't let it go out.  Let your light shine for yourself, those you care about and for the world.  Use the gifts God gave you to make a difference in making this world a better place.  Love your family and friends by empowering them to follow their dreams and goals.  Don't stifle or settle, censor or smother.  Believe you are meant for amazing things.  We all have inner greatness.

It is often hard to "Let Your Light Shine" when you are in a challenging situation.  But that is when it is okay to submit and say that it's okay to be who you are, feeling what you do.  If you don't Come As YOU are, but you come as someone else (who you think others want you to be), you are not being true to yourself or genuine and you will not be able to let your light shine as brightly as you would if you allowed yourself to be more free.

Hmmm......  :-)

I would like to put it out there for my Aspierations blog visitors that if you ever have a question about how something I write is intended that you just ask and I will do my best to explain myself.  I have very good intentions and Aspierations with this blog and our opinions may differ.  I do hope that I helped clear up any miscommunication or confusion.  The last thing I want you guys and gals out there to think is that I do not have the best intentions of my family in mind as well.  I love John, Justin and Ryan with all my heart.  They are my inspiration.  They are a large reason of why I work so hard and why I try each day to create a better life for them and myself.

Thanks for reading!  If you have any questions, feel free to ask here on the blog!  You may have a question or comment that others do too and I'm not afraid to address anything in a public forum.  I just ask that you show me respect and I will do the same for you!  :-)  I look forward to blogging for you again soon and hope that many of you out there would still like to be considered my Aspierations blog friends!

Come As You Are -- for you are welcome here!
Let Your Light Shine -- I want the best for you!

Karen

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday, Today You Were A Pain In The Behind! *EDITED on Thursday*

Hi Aspierations Friends!
It's a weird Wednesday.  Sigh...  Time for a reality check assessment again!  :-)

I will hopefully be back blogging for you soon.  I've been trying again to work on another major blog project and Silent Auction for Count Your Beans but I have been running into a multitude of glitches and technology issues in the past 48 hours both with Blogger and possibly my own system too.  I contemplated throwing my computer out the window but that just strikes me as a tad immature and a bit expensive!

I'm allowing myself a 30 minute break here to blog to you and for therapeutic stress relief because I've been working consistently Monday, yesterday and today on work projects and in between that, I've also worn my hats as Mom, family mediator, referee and Entertainment Co-Director.  Just another day in the Krejcha household!

We kept the kids out of Day Camp this week to give them a bit of a break since there had been a few issues with both which I won't get into right this moment.  Let's just say that camp was a fairly good fit for one but not the other.  Unfortunately with both kids at home during the day, trying to run the family business simultaneously becomes a major challenge since the kids want to hang out in our home office and also want us to play with them.



I put these pictures in here to remind me of how much I want to be playing with them too!  




I love my kids tremendously and like giving quality time individually to them each day but this week, I really have a lot of work to get done and I need to try and raise some money since we're going to be going to California for about a week in August to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday.  

That means our office will be closed for about a week and a half and when we're closed, there is no income and it puts an awful lot of pressure on me to make up for it before and afterwards.  The kids don't get this and I don't expect them to nor do I want them to have to worry about money at their age.  John tries to be supportive but he leaves all that stuff to me because it isn't something he cares to do.  (Sort of like, I don't care to bring out stinky garbage!)

Although I am happy for his sake that he doesn't feel this stress or take on the burden and I totally appreciate all the incredible roles he does play in the family, I wish sometimes he would understand how difficult it is to be a provider, Mom to two kids with special needs, an advocate for my children and self, a good wife, a loving family member, a person with goals and dreams to reach and a person who is on the autism spectrum with health issues of her own.

It is easy for me to advocate for those who I love but sometimes, I just want to be able to step up and say, I need some extra help here too.  I don't want to make my husband feel bad or incompetent in any way or disrespect him.  I know that we are so very different in the way we think, live and act that I'm lucky that I have him so I do everything I can to try and keep that relationship strong.  I believe that God won't give me more than I can handle.  I just wish that sometimes I had a better line on how to handle it!  That's where prayer, optimism, hope and faith come in.

I guess you can say that John and I have non-traditional family roles. I built our business (although we are now co-owners together) and handle all the website design, auctions, marketing, listings, blogging, receipts, payment confirmations, most of the social networking and the majority of the emails and customer service.  John handles all the shipping, phone calls, some of the emails and some of the customer service.  He does a lot with the business and is a very hard worker and a very busy person but unfortunately he doesn't know much about the technology side of the business and quite frankly, I need some extra assistance or guidance and just don't have it. (I'm sure John feels similarly when it comes to cooking and domestic stuff!)

When it comes to home life, I handle all the finances and John takes care of almost all the domestic stuff like cooking, washing clothes and taking out the garbage.  I have some sensory issues and it really works out well that way.  I totally am very lucky and appreciative that he does these things but there are days I feel like less of a "woman" or "Mom" because I don't.

We have gardeners who help with our outside lawn care and every other week we pay a maid service to come in and help straighten things up.  Truth be known, we could use this daily with all the spills but then again, I'm sure most houses with kids, special needs or not can relate!

Financially, I have contemplated at times getting rid of both services and trying to do it ourselves but the opportunity cost of the time lost during the time it would take is a much higher overall expense.  Sometimes you just cannot do it all so you have to prioritize.

I am pretty sure we have atypical family roles and I wonder if that happens much in families where the wife is an Aspie, the husband is Neuro-Typical or even if the husband is on the autism spectrum and the wife is NT.

As an aside, it really hurt my feelings a few weeks ago when John was on the phone with a family member on speaker-phone (with the kids listening) who out of the blue (ON SPEAKERPHONE) said it was a good thing I wasn't a single mother because I would never be able to handle it.  Instead of defending me, John just didn't want to rock the boat so he responded to the other person complimenting her on her own skills and fortitude.  I told him later I was very hurt by it and asked if he would address the issue and defend my honor but I realize now that was not fair of me to ask.  Sometimes you just have to let things go for the sake of keeping peace. Some issues will just go unresolved.  (This is something I have a lot of trouble dealing with because I am one who is always willing to communicate, work things out and try to make things right.)

For the record, I don't want to be a single Mom with two kids on the spectrum trying to run a business too but if that was ever the situation I was faced with, I would definitely be able to handle it because I would go to the ends of the earth and back to make sure my family was provided for.

For as long as I can remember in our marriage, I have been the one to take care of the bills, try to set goals and try to encourage us and keep things moving forward.  John played a different role and it was always equally as important in my eyes. John worked for a number of years for a variety of companies but once Lucent downsized, he came home and decided to work Count Your Beans with me.  I honestly couldn't run the business without him and he is not just my partner in marriage and parenting but my partner in work.  Unfortunately we come at things from such different angles and have such different operating systems that we often don't have the right interface to keep things from crashing.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I'm just so frustrated with myself. (Not anyone else but me!) I guess I'm just having a bit of a rough day and doing a little venting.  Why not here in a safe environment?  Come as I am...  I try to stay positive on the whole but I'm not a Pollyanna and some days are just ones that need a great primal scream!!!!!!

Sometimes I just wish that I feel like I didn't have so much pressure on myself to be SuperMom, SuperWife, SuperEntrepreneur, SuperFinance Queen and SuperMediator.  I know it is self-placed.  I have always been an overachiever, always been hard on myself.  Some days, I wish I could just be Mom and work with my kids and work on Aspierations.  Some days I wish John had "entrepreneur" in his blood the way I do.  But you know, that wouldn't make him who he is and I love him and accept him unconditionally for who he is, where he is at this point in time.

Sometimes I wish I had more days I had time to focus on being proactive rather than reactive.  I wish I could be partner instead of mediator, family counselor or judge.  I wish I had better skills and more time in the day to do it all.

It's been a really challenging past few years since we moved here and there are days when I just wish I didn't feel like I was the only one responsible for having to figure things out for the family.  I know it is self-imposed pressure but it is also reality.  If you think that sounds like I'm complaining, I don't mean it to be. I don't want anyone to misinterpret my words so I think I'll just stop here and head down to dinner and then back to work.

Better to be proactive than reactive, so I will work on that this evening despite feeling that it has been a VERY reactive day work and family wise!  I'm sure things will be better again soon!

Earlier today, I visited a blog where there was a question from a Mom who asked for suggestions on how to cope in the moment when you feel like you want to tear your hair out and you have a lot of stress going on.

I answered to her that for me, having a music playlist you can go to really helps.  Whether you need an upbeat song to get your heart pumping and your body motivated, an inspirational song to remind you all you are blessed with, some tranquil music to provide some peace or just your favorite songs you can turn to for comfort, music has the power to change a mood!

I think I'll take my own advice, put on some headphones while I go back to work, play "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield a few times, pump myself up with some 80s music and inspirational music and maybe even sing a Christmas Carol or two.  :-)

Just thinking about it is cheering me up already!


Anyone willing to help me fit my puzzle piece back in?  :-)

Thanks for stopping by!  Thanks for accepting me for who I am, where I come to you today.  Just like you, I am continually on a life journey and some days the path is rougher than others.  Some days it is smooth.

I appreciate that I can blog to you no matter what kind of day I've had!  

**Edit on Thursday, July 22nd - I had an email today from someone in the extended family who I am sure thought meant well.  This person was concerned that I had perhaps embarrassed or humiliated my husband on my blog and hurt his feelings with what I said above.  I felt so sad after reading the email because nothing is further from the truth and I was so sorry I had given this person an impression that was incorrect.  Did that mean others thought the same?

I realize that I may not express myself the way that others do and that some people do not think it is appropriate for me to disclose so much.  I realize that probably the majority of people out there don't get me or my writing.  It's been that way my whole life.  That's one reason I started my blog was to be able to show that it's okay to be different, to be diverse and to live life a different way than others.  To this person, I respect where you're coming from for your own life.  The reason I am posting this here and not to you directly is that I don't want others to have the same misinterpretation and think as such that I am a bad person or do not love my husband.  

The thing is, that John has read my blog.   It's not a secret.  I read it to him as well.  He wasn't hurt or humiliated.  He understood my using blogging as an outlet and "got me" and the way I wrote.  It is exactly his ability to do so that has allowed us to be married for 18 years.  

That also means that we have the strength and courage to also be able to admit and talk about when things are rough.  It's who we are and it helps us work things out.  If that bothers some, it is not my intention and I felt I needed to put in a disclaimer here to say that I love my husband very much and that my blog was not written with an emotion of anger in any way except perhaps at Blogger for being a PITA!  :-)  If he had any type of problem with anything I had written, I would have been happy to edit it or pull it down. But he didn't.  He understood, got it and got me.  

I don't know how to write so that everyone out there properly interprets what I say.  I'm sorry if I offended anyone.  I just have to be able to have some sort of way to let me be me without censorship.  I would never intentionally try to do anything to damage my wonderful Krejcha family unit.  I would hope that anyone who really knew me and got me would realize the true essence of my character.  Unfortunately, since the only people that really know me are extremely few, it is highly likely that many will misunderstand.

The thing about the written word is that it is so prone to intrepretation.  I embrace the opportunity to have dialogue with my Aspierations visitors.  If you have a question about the way I word something or how it was intended, please feel free to leave a comment on my blog because that is an excellent way to be able to communicate without misunderstandings.  Get to know me.  I may surprise you.

Wow...  again, I'm sorry to anyone who took how I wrote in a way other than intended but I do think that if my husband has read it, is cool with it and embraces my freedom of speech, that should be enough?  

I'm so sorry if I offended anyone or hurt anyone in any way.  I am writing a special blog tonight (Thursday) which will hopefully clarify things.  I invite you to visit and understand the meaning behind my blog and my interpretation of "Come As You Are.... Let Your Light Shine".

Thanks for listening!

As always, I welcome your feedback here in the comments section.  Anonymously or not, I'm willing to answer any questions you have.

Karen

Monday, July 19, 2010

Back To Reality - Anniversary, The Day After

Greetings, Aspierations Friends!

If you followed my blog at all in the past week, you couldn't help but be bombarded with advertising for Karen & John's 18th Wedding Anniversary.  Everywhere you looked, it was there.  Mini-date here, mini-date there, romance, love, blah blah blah!!  I guess I was trying to create a little mini-fantasy life if just for a couple hours, if only for a couple days. Sigh...  :-)


My ring has 14 mini diamonds, one for each month we were engaged and one larger diamond representing the big day. John's ring has 4 mini diamonds with interwoven chain links indicating that our marriage is connected throughout all four seasons.



(Man, I look young!)

Here is 18 years later!



Bet you thought I'd say, "Man, I look old!"  (Well, I thought it!)


Instead I'll say that purple spells passion and redheads have more fun!  :-)

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GROUCHY TANGENT -- Blogger keeps realigning my photos so they're on the left instead of centered.  Then it keeps adding random line breaks so that there is all this white space. I keep logging back in to delete and change the html but nothing works!  Everytime I edit it gets worse so this is my last edit for now. If anyone knows how to fix this, please, please, let me know!  Thanks!

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Well, anniversary time for 2010 is over now and I will soon be getting back to my normally scheduled programming of various blogs related to life being a Mom on the autism spectrum parenting two sons diagnosed with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome.  I'll admit, it was fun taking a little break to share with you a few of my thoughts on romance. The light stuff adds levity and as you get to know me better through my writing, you'll find that I talk about a lot of heavy, deep and emotional stuff but I also try to balance it out with humor, hope and inspiration.

For those wondering how our anniversary went, I would say that overall the day went well because I was after all, with my husband and that is what it's about, right?  The day became more of a family day than an "us" day.  To be truthful, John and I were both feeling a bit bummed last night because we had to cancel our date reservation at "The Melting Pot" in Portland.  We had hoped to go out for dinner and perhaps dancing to celebrate 18 years on the 18th but had absolutely no luck in finding respite care or a babysitter.  I tried to keep a smile on my face, positive attitude and open arms all day but I felt I let John down.

Part of my struggle as an Aspie woman is making good social connections.  We moved to Washington from California a little over three years ago and live in a neighborhood filled with families and couples whose kids have grown. I feel really bad that in three years of living here, I have not forged strong enough connections with anyone to be able to ask someone to help us out.  I always try to be friendly and engaging but even at age 42, I am still "the puzzle piece that doesn't fit" with the ladies of the 'hood.  

For any care over a few hours we would need an adult but for 2 - 3 hours, we have a list of up to five possible teenage babysitters whose parents live in the neighborhood that we can try.  No luck! I guess Sunday, July 18th was a popular evening!

I called my parents to thank them for their nice anniversary card and they said that when we're in California visiting for my Dad's 80th birthday next month, they would be willing to watch the kids a few hours while we have a raincheck anniversary date.  Although we know the kids are both a little overwhelming for them at times, it was an incredibly sweet offer and should the cards deal a winning hand, we'll make a new mini-date in California.  I'm sure we will need it by then!

In the meantime, I'm not going to mope because we did do something fun with family and it was also something intrinsically rewarding as well.  I am on a ton of Autism / Aspergers advocacy and support email lists and the Autism Society of Southwest Washington Clark and Skamania Counties just happened to be holding a picnic in Vancouver on July 18th from noon to three p.m.  Since we had missed out on the national convention and since we knew the day was going to end up being with family, I thought it might be fun to take the boys out to Lake Vancouver and see if we might meet some people and maybe make some connections.  We had never formally met anyone from the ASW before and I figured, if I was going to connect with anyone, it would be other spectrumites.  (I was also holding out just a teensy bit of hope that there might be someone there with a last minute respite care reference but that definitely wasn't the main objective.)

As it turns out, everyone in our family had a really nice time.  Not all of us wanted to initially go, not all of us wanted to eat there, not all of us wanted to be hanging out with strangers but when all was said and done, the family meltdown count was only at 17 (was hoping for 18 on the 18 but it just wasn't meant to be) and I was able to get some great photos with the boys that I will cherish for a lifetime.  I love my family!

Wanna see the photos?  You're already here and you've read this far.  Might as well take a look!  This may just be the best part of the blog anyway.  (Hmm....not sure if that comes across as arrogant, silly or self-deprecating but we'll leave it for you to figure out!)

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Here is John and Karen's 18th Anniversary day in pictures.  

But first, a tangent break sponsored by Hair Club for Women!

I had no idea whether to wear my hair up or down for John so as you'll see, I did both.  Usually I wear my hair up in a ponytail.  After seeing these photos, I will be getting a haircut soon.  Long, medium or short, I never know about this stuff!  I had the same hairstylist for about 15 years who I really liked and then when we moved to Washington, I was freaked out about trying to find a new one.  As such, I have had maybe 3 haircuts in 3 years. Pretty lame, I know!  If there is anyone out there that has any style tips, just let me know!  Hair today, gone tomorrow!  

So as I said, here are our photos from the day.  I like to take photos because it seems like we have a lot of visual thinking going on in our family.  Plus, it's a great way to show family members who are long distance what we're up to.  (Even my Dad is on Facebook!)


Ready for a grrrreat day, no matter what comes my way!


Ready for the remake of Hawaii Five-O!


Ryan asked, "Mommy are you 18?"  He got a big kiss and hug!






I was trying to make an infinity sign.  Instead it looks like... well, never mind!


I see a cake, a feather boa, Las Vegas.... and helium balloons that don't hold their helium overnight!




Time to go to the picnic and meet some girls!



I hope there are going to be video games there!


I like the puzzle piece coming out of the apple!





Picnic fare:  Ryan's hamburger was very plain.  It didn't even have the meat! Bun only. Justin's hamburger was invisible.  Mom's hamburger turned out to be a gluten free hot dog. John, well... he eats anything!





Kids: Smiling (check!)  Husband: Wanting me to hurry up with the "photo shoot" (My Czech!)




Amazing 18th Anniversary Gift #1 -- This photo with me and Justin both genuinely happy!





Amazing Anniversary Gift # 2 - This photo with me and Ryan, both genuinely happy!




Amazing Anniversary Gift # 3:  John and Justin bonding.





Amazing Anniversary Gift # 4:  John and Ryan going to bond

** On a side note, John and I didn't have any pictures of ourselves together on our Anniversary but ironically we all have photos alone or with each other.  Oh well, let me find one from our wedding day for you! **



There, that's better!




Today's girlfriend! She likes the game "Let's Chase the Ryan" too!



Fun by Lake Vancouver (which happens to be 18 miles away from our home and still in the same city!)
Okay, John corrected me and said it was the Columbia River.  I knew that... really!  Sigh...



I thought I was getting something personalized (ergo, the box).  Instead, it's another Criminal Minds DVD set. My look shows this, "What kind of guy gives Serial Killer TV shows for someone's anniversary???"




Seriously?  This is a bit overkill, don't you think?  What happened to the flowers and jewelry? (Kidding!)





Wonder if John noticed he got 18 gifts?  (Nope, he didn't...)




John liked this photo so I included it.  Notice hair back up?  


Ryan crawled into my lap so we could do the number 54, his favorite! (18 x 3 = 54!)



Dad, did you use Scope first?  I saw you eating stinky garlic bread!


Insert caption here! Tiger Karen channeling her inner goofball?


Why yes, this IS the Animal House!

So, after the picnic which I will probably write in more depth about at a later time, we got home, the boys got their video game and computer fix, we ordered the boys' favorite meal and played some Wii Carnival Games Miniature Golf.  (Everyone always can agree on Old Spaghetti Factory.  We should have stock in the restaurant.  The phone girl knows John's voice and order by heart.)  We then talked to my parents on the phone, lounged on the sofa and watched a little TV.

Admittedly, we also snuck in a few emails and a bit of work because the kids sure weren't going to bed..

I contemplated turning the clocks ahead and telling the kids it was time for snoozing but unfortunately, I knew that wouldn't work.  Neither son particularly understood the concept that Mom and Dad wanted some "us" time but Justin did say one sweet thing after dinner.  He looked at me, and said, "Mom, I'm sorry that you and Dad didn't get to have your special date."

Empathy is a difficult thing for our boys and so his words really touched me.  Between that, the great hugs I got from Justin and Ryan at the picnic and just spending time with John and my family, it was a very memorable day.

Right now I need to go be Mom and mediator.  ARRRGH! (House mediator should be my middle name.)  I guess the fantasy is now over as it was a challenging Monday and a mixed night...  Difficult times but it will get better!  Be right back!

I'm back...  but rather than take away from the positive attitude I wanted to convey in this post and the happy memories that I have of most of the photos above, I will go ahead and end things here!  But first I will look at the pictures above of me and Justin and me and Ryan hugging!  There, that's the smile I needed!  Peace!  :-)

Talk with you soon, Aspierations friends!

Come As You Are, Let Your Light Shine!
Today is the first day of the rest of your life!  Make it count!

Your friendly Aspierations blogger,
Karen

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy 18th Anniversary to my husband, John! I LOVE YOU!

For those of you out there who aren't into sappy stuff, who think romance is overrated or who aren't in the mood to read a love letter / blog, I invite you check out one of my other blog postings.   :-)



Today, July 18th, 2010 is my 18th Wedding Anniversary with John!  HOORAY!!



(Our engagement photo -- ahh, to look so young again!  
I will add wedding photos in the future after I scan them!)



Right now is just the very beginning of that day as I wanted to wait until just after midnight to start writing.  That way it would be official.  My husband John has been writing these totally sweet, romantic, kind and fun blogs about us the past few days and they have really touched my heart.  Now it's my turn to return the favor.

I wanted to do something incredibly special for him today.  He wrote an amazing poem to me on the 17th, One Day Before Number 18.  I was thrilled, honored, moved to tears, smiling, laughing and crying all at the same time when I read it.  Thank you, John.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the top of my head to the back of my behind (which apparently is ever-expanding) to the huge smile you have left on my face!

I do not know what today holds in store for us.  We will be attending church in the morning and then going to the Autism Society of Washington picnic in Vancouver for an early afternoon lunch with the kids.  We hope to meet some other families with children on the spectrum and exchange resources and maybe even make a friend.


In the evening we had hoped for a private "us" date at "The Melting Pot" in Portland but unfortunately at this point that is not in the cards as we have struck out trying to get respite care or babysitting.  I know John is bummed and to be honest, I'm disappointed too but I'm not going to let adversity spoil our special day!  

Remember, John... with adversity comes opportunity.  We have the chance to make this day and evening into something incredibly special.  Quite frankly, we won't need to try hard because I already have the main ingredient in my recipe for marriage and that is you!


I met John on April 9th, 1991 at Fair Oaks West in Sunnyvale, CA.  Although I am most certainly biased, it's a fun story in case you want to check it out.


Our first date was April 10th, 1991 and by May 19th, 1991, John and I were engaged.  The man moves fast.  I mean really really fast.  Not as fast as our 4 year old, but with speed nonetheless!


Although I am a spontaneous gal and have been known to take quite a few risks, when it comes to something like marriage, I was ready to move at a bit slower pace.  Fortunately, John agreed to a longer engagement and 14 months later, we were married at St. Martin of Tours Church in San Jose on July 18th, 1992.

Our wedding reception was held in the Champagne Room at the Sunnyvale Hilton.  They had a great duck pond outside.



Our wedding itself was an interesting evening.  I would say that in many cases it was a comedy of errors, in many ways not unlike our marriage.  Perhaps the reason for all the snafus, delays and interruptions were as a way to prepare us in our marriage for the road less traveled ahead.  John was 23, I was 24.  We thought we knew so much and yet really, so much of our lives were ahead of us.  There was no way we could have or would have been prepared for the roller coaster journey that was to come.

John, we've taken many thrill rides together.  We've climbed, climbed, climbed our little engine up those big hills, raced downwards, twisting and turning and screaming and wondering what on earth (or in my case, the galaxy), we had gotten ourselves into.  Although we wanted the ride to end, at times, it felt like at least we could have used some brakes to slow the thing down so we could catch our bearings.


Marriage is not meant to be easy but loving you... that is easy!

You have so many amazing qualities that embody what I was looking for in a husband and life partner. 

In no particular order:

Funny - Kind - Obedient (yeah, LOL, who am I kidding) - Handsome - Sexy - Witty - Amazing Father - Understanding - Forgiving - Compassionate - Bright - Best Friend - Silly - Honorable - Hardworking - There for me when I was Sick (multiple times) - Talented - Fun - Reverent - Warm - Cuddly - Sweet - Romantic

and that's just the beginning...

After going through a very hard time in my life, you taught me that it was okay to love again.
It was okay to let go.... I didn't have to be a victim anymore.

You accepted me unconditionally and I can't thank you enough for that gift.  It is the best gift other than our children that I could ever hope to receive from a best friend and life partner. 

I know I am not an easy person to "get" and I have enough emotion inside to fill up many oceans.  I am sure that I can be overwhelming.  I know that I oftentimes don't get you either and it has to be frustrating.

But I think in the times that count the most, we really do connect.  If I have trouble showing it, I am very sorry.  I want to show you that every day, I appreciate what you do for me and for the boys. 

I was going to write a special poem too but I think in this case, my love note here will be my expression and declaration of love.  

I am so happy and lucky to be married to you.  You give me security when I am scared.  You like my sense of humor and actually get most of my jokes!  You helped me through many very difficult and tough situations.  

You are such a fantastic, loving and caring Father to Justin and Ryan.  You know what's sexy?  Seeing a man be a great Dad.  And you my dear, are a very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very great Dad!  

I love you, John!  

I also love the number 18!  It ties with 25 as my favorite number of all time.  You know what's so cool about 18 other than the fact it's our anniversary day and the number of years we've been married?

First you have the one... a man and a woman, united as 1 couple.   Then if you take the 8 on its side, you have the infinity symbol.  One couple to infinity, eternity and beyond!



18 years may be truly impressive but remember, the rest is still unwritten!

Thank you so much for asking me to marry you, John.  You have truly given me some of the very best years of my life and two of the best kids one could ever hope for.


Now let's go make this day and evening count!
Love you!
Karen