Wow. It’s been awhile, huh? Since it’s been ages since we chatted I wanted to take a few minutes to chat about some changes around here. If you’re a regular in these woods, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been great at giving updates over the last few months and it’s been ages since I created new content. And if you haven’t noticed….well….then everything is swell and we’ll just keep on rolling.
EVERYTHING IS FINE> LOOK AWAY
Our site was offline for about a month while I rebuilt it in a way that’s more user friendly. At least I hope it is. If you have thoughts about it, I’m always up for information and suggestions. I’m not completely finished with it and it may be up and down over the next few weeks while I tweak it. I like this set up better but I’m not completely committed to how the front page feels. So please bear with me if you pop over and things are a mess. Kind of like my house in real life if I didn’t know you were coming.
And a major thanks to all of you that reached out by email or on Facebook to let me know it was down. I had the dumb and didn’t think to notify anyone of my plans to renovate. Sorry about that.
For those of you that don’t follow our crazy family on Facebook, either on our home page or my personal page, we took several months off of regular life to travel to Europe and then Africa over the summer. That, as a single parent with two little boys with FASD, was an incredibly scary thing to do and an even bigger adventure. It was wonderful, insane, stressful and mind blowing all at the same time. And often a little bit overwhelming.
It was a learning experience, not just in how we travel, but in figuring out this FASD thing as we went. I wanted so much to pop over here or on our facebook page to write about things as they unfolded but a few things got in our way.
The first was sketchy internet services in South Africa. There is internet, but it’s not wifi and it’s not consistent throughout the house. Basically the only time I could write was in the living room which is where the Disney channel blared and the boys played. Loudly. Always loudly. #whyyyyy???
And the rest of the time it was simply too gorgeous to be indoors and the internet didn’t work outside. Shame.
Aside from the crazy gorgeousness of South Africa, I had some online businesses to work on while I was there and by the time that would be finished, it was too much brain for me to start personal writing projects. Which is what this site is for me and why I’m so passionate about it. I write very authentically pretty much on all of my websites, but this site just feels different. I can say how it really is and you just get it because it’s the same for you. The mystery of FASD and how we manage. My contribution here is usually to vent or to share strategies, tips, and resources that seem to work at least some of the time with our kids.
The other thing that stopped me from updating here was that I really wasn’t sure what was going on half the time. I would sit down to start writing an article and it was a struggle both to get focused, and then to figure out what I was going to say. The good thing is that I keep a brain dump journal so I haven’t forgotten all of the FASD related adventures, articles, and thoughts that this trip created for us as a family.
But, in reality, I needed some time to process and do a kind of postmortem on this epic journey. Four countries, two continents and a Safari. There was so much to take in, so many experiences, many wins and a couple of big fat fails that it’s taken three months of being home to sort things through. As much as I want to book another big trip, we need to sort through what worked, what didn’t, and why and how we could do it differently in the future.
One of the things I have struggled to work through has been the reaction of some of my friends and family about our entire journey. Some people didn’t get it and said so. Some thought I was nuts. But far too many called me brave and wonderful, telling me I was giving the boys this incredible life.
Here’s the thing, the travel is all about me. It’s my calling and I own that. The boys have nothing to do with it. I mean, sure, they have to be factored in and all, but they didn’t ask for this travel thing. The wanderlust is all mine and when I make the decision to travel it’s because I need my bucket filled. So, really, travel is a very selfish choice for me and the fact that it looks good to others is nice. But you and I both know that in reality, change is really hard for kids with FASD. That means I’m not this loving kind mom trying to broaden the boys experiences but more like I have this yearning need that I need to fill and the boys are coming along for the ride. Selfish? Yes. Enriching? Also, yes.
And then there were the folks that were on the opposite side of the fence, commenting that my life is one big vacation and “It must be nice”.
Just as an aside, when you hear people saying “It must be nice” in that tone that implies it’s anything but, the only comment appropriate to that statement is “It is.” Their jealousy about whatever you have that implies you’ve got it good, should actually be confirmed by how good it is. I call that gratitude and acknowledgement and they can do what they want with that.
We were not on vacation. Travel and vacation are not the same thing. I love vacation. The boys have been to Cuba twice and to Florida a zillion times and we’re on our way to the Dominican Republic for a week over Halloween. Those are vacations and we’re’re all really great at it. The relaxing, the lying around, the sun and the beaches. Yes. Vacation is wonderful.
But we’re travelers and that’s a big difference. For us, travel is something that lasts longer than a week and there little about it that resemble the all inclusive vacation that I’m really fab at. There is no one planning your meals, cleaning up, no buffet or maid service, and there sure isn’t anything all inclusive going down. Travel is work. It might be work in a gorgeous country full of wonderful things and amazing adventure but it’s still work. Anytime you plan a trip that doesn’t involve hotels or all inclusives you’re traveling.
Travel is like uprooting your entire life and moving it to a brand new place for a specified amount of time. You have to figure out how to buy groceries, how to find things, how to travel around if you don’t have a car, and learn how to drive all over again if you do (because where we went, you drive on the left!). At the very least you need to know how to find where you’re driving to. You need to do all of the things you do living at home in a brand new place, often where English is not the first language. Just for fun, my phone didn’t really work most of the time either if we left the house and tried to navigate to new places.
And let’s not forget the entire FASD factor. We know that kids with FASD struggle with change (most of them) and become easily overwhelmed and prone to meltdowns in new environments. I’m sure all of you can relate to the morning of our arrival in South Africa when, after a couple of hours of settling in at our house-sit and we thought going out to lunch with our house sit family would be great.
It was great. (Holy hell, the food in South Africa is ah-maze-ing.) But Aiden had an hour long meltdown when it came time to leave. He refused to put on shoes, refused to get in the car, screamed all the way to the restaurant and proceeded to sob for what felt like ever. He then refused to eat but happily trotted off to the Lego store with his new best friend, 14 year old Riley and we didn’t see them for an hour. That meltdown was pure FASD overload. That hour was my saving grace.
So. What’s next?
I have lots of drafts planned for the two FASD related themes around here. That trip I mentioned and what we learned about traveling with kids who have FASD and how to make it work.
The other major thing going down is that the boys started school in September and it’s been one bumpy ride so far. I’m a thousand percent sure that if you have kids with FASD in school, I’m not alone on this roller coaster. I have learned many things in my years working in child welfare about systems and how to navigate them. I’d like to share some tips for negotiating with school professionals, advocating for your child’s needs to be met, and why we have a no homework policy at our house.
And, because the number one question I get from friends and family this time of year is “What should I get the boys for Christmas?” I figured the very next post will be exactly that. A gift guide for kids with FASD. Show it to your friends, your relatives and that idiot that bought the kids a drum kit.
Ahhh, it’s good to be back 🙂 Drop a comment below and let me know what you’ve been up to or what you’d like to see more of in upcoming posts.