Sunday, August 28, 2011

And the winner is........

Happy Six Month Birthday to me, and you, and Glimpses of Skiff!!!

I’ve turned up some tunes; I have on my party dress, yummy food scents the air.  Welcome, come on in!!!  Here’s your glass of champagne.   It’s time to par-tay!!

I am so excited to be here with each of you today.. Six months ago when I started this journey I had no idea what an amazing trek it would become.  I have truly enjoyed sharing glimpses into our chaotic world, meeting so many new friends and getting glimpses into your lives and reconnecting with old friends, understanding each of you just a little better.  I have learned to laugh more, cry more and love more than I knew was possible.  Each of you has expanded my world a little bit more with your insights and comments.  I am very thankful that you have opened your hearts to me the way that you have.  It makes the more vulnerable, painful posts so much easier knowing that so many people will handle the post with such care.  So this party is a thank you to each and every single one of you.  From the bottom of my heart I am grateful for your willingness to read my crazy, sporadic, sometimes silly thoughts and still come back a read again.

Ok for the moment we have all been waiting for. I have asked my son Sam to do the honors. 

And the winner is: Krysta!!! Congratulations!!  You go girl!! Contact me and I will set up a delivery time. 
Thanks again friends.  I’m sending you each a huge hug.-Kristine

Friday, August 19, 2011

So I Married an Aspie-part Deux

Today on As the Skiff’s Turn we join our lovers on their first official date, Kristine’s 21st birthday.  It has been a few months since the wanted poster was posted.  The interim has been filled with school, work, finals and trying to pursue a relationship within the strict confines of the Bible school’s dating policy.  The semester is over and Kristine has chosen to remain in the frozen north for the summer to pursue an internship at a homeless outreach mission.  Spring is in the air, well NY style spring which involves more snow than flowers, and our lovers are twitterpated.

It was a perfect date.  Mr. Perfect brought me to a quiet, upscale Italian place.  They sat us in a quiet corner and we spent the next hour and a half gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes.  Sweet amore.  After our dinner Mr. Perfect brought me to meet his family and then we took a quiet, very chilly (May in NY is still quiet nippy) stroll at the lakeshore.    What a wonderful date.  After the stress of the previous months it looked like finally things would settle down and I would be able to enjoy falling in love.

Several months had passed since my wanted poster was posted on campus.  It had been a hectic, crazy, difficult few months on many levels.  I had taken on extra shifts to finish paying off the semester so that I could take finals.  Spiritually God was doing a deep healing on some old wounds.  Physically the lack of sleep, stress, spotty meals, and emotional rollercoaster had taken their toll.  My blood sugar bottomed out and I found I had hypoglycemia. Emotionally I was in a daze.  Mr. Perfect was very easy on the eyes and I loved talking with him.  He was super smart and had such a different perspective on everything.  But he could not just accept me or my opinions.  He would not let anything drop.  He was not very tactful which at times put me in embarrassing situations.  Several concerned friends advised me that this was not a healthy relationship for me.  I ignored their warnings, as those in love are prone to do.  That perfect birthday date just confirmed my choice.  He really was Mr. Perfect.

Instead of moving back home to the Eastern Shore of MD, I stayed in upstate NY to complete an internship at a homeless mission.  I lived with two other women above the mission.  It was a terrific but difficult few months.  The ministry aspect was awesome.  It was right up my alley.  I had done this type of thing many times before so I was in my zone.  My personal life was something else entirely.  Mr. Perfect only lived a few miles from where I was interning.    We were able to see each other often the first few weeks.  As our relationship grew, so did our communication difficulties.    With so many hormones raging we were able to ignore the more ominous storms on the horizon.  Still for a period time where most people are still floating on cloud nine in love, I spent a lot of time crying and frustrated.  Had I been surrounded by the people who knew me best I doubt our relationship would have continued so quickly but I was pretty much alone other than my guy and his family (who I loved but still did not know that well).     He was only home for a few weeks before leading a mission’s trip to Israel for the last 6 weeks of summer.   During the time he was gone I grew very close to his family.  I would just hang out with his sister or parents the few free moments I had from the mission.  Once he came back it was back to school for him.  He had an internship in NYC and I having completed my internship that summer lived with his parents those 6 weeks.  It was a good time.  I got a job a JC Penny’s and enjoyed a few moments of down time. 

 He returned in October.  The weekend of Halloween my parents came for a visit.  We all went to Niagara Falls because my parents had never been.  As we were enjoying the falls a gorgeous rainbow appeared arching across the sky.  Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I turned around and Mr. Perfect was down on one knee with a ring in his hands.  We were surrounded by a large group of Japanese tourist who thought this was the most enchanting, romantic thing EVER.  Flash bulbs were going off all around and people were chanting “Say Yes” at me.  The chanting drew more people our way.  As the crowd grew I began backing up in embarrassment.  The protective wall is the only thing that kept me from backing up right off the cliff into the falls!!!  The chanting grew louder, snapping me out of my daze and I said yes.  Somewhere in Japan a Japanese tourist has some great pictures of my proposal!!!  We went to a beautiful dinner with my parents.  I have to say he did the proposal thing 100% right. 

We started marriage counseling with our care pastor. He had concerns with some of the major issues he saw in our counseling sessions.  He urged us to consider slowing down and waiting a little longer.  We were trying to keep our relationship pure until marriage.  Our hormones were not agreeing to the whole “wait a while” thing.  So we opted to keep our date as it was.  May 22, 1999.  He was very gracious and continued to counsel us. He gave us some very wise counsel that we relied on through the years.  Our communication difficulties were spiraling out of control by this point but I was so caught up with the wedding and the hormones that I still did not heed the red flashing danger signs.   

The day of the wedding came.  It was an absolutely beautiful day in May.  All of our plans came together beautifully and we had a perfect wedding.  Love was in the air and we were very happy.    Here are a couple of pictures from our perfect day.

We honeymooned in Niagara Falls.  It was a perfectly lovely honeymoon, with its share of hilarity.  I wouldn’t trade any of these memories for the world.  Stay tuned for the last part of our journey.  It is at times dark but the truth remains that the light at the end of the darkest tunnel shines brightest.  Lots of love to you all-Kristine

Monday, August 8, 2011

So I married an Aspie

I have given glimpses into many areas of my life here in the kingdom of Skiff.   I have specifically focused on the effects of autism in our lives but I have stayed away from one of the most personal ways autism has affected me, my marriage.  I have alluded to it in my first blog posting but since then I have steered clear of this delicate topic.   I have many times come close to addressing it but I wanted to have the right words to convey my thoughts and the lessons I have learned.  Also, much of this is old news for us.   On a daily basis our challenges now revolve more around the boys.  But this is a very important issue, one that affects many marriages and relationships.  To get to where we are now I have to start at the beginning.  So grab a glass of wine or whatever your preferred beverage and settle back as I steer this blog back in time 14 years.
It was August of 1997.  I left home and moved 500 miles to upstate NY to attend Bible school.  It was a small college located in a smaller town about 20 miles from Rochester. This was a strange new land where people did not smile as they passed by you in the tiny super market and they certainly did not strike up a conversation with you as you checked out at the register.   The temperature was cool enough to require heavy sweaters….seriously heavy sweaters in August!!!!  I might as well have been dropped on Mars.  This was an exciting adventure and I loved every minute of it.  On the first day of orientation, I saw him, the tall guy, with black hair, incredible blue eyes and a sexy jaw line.  Just my type ;)    I was smitten as I looked at him standing above me on the hill.  WOW!!  That incredible guy then started walking toward me.  There must be some mistake; he can’t be walking over to me, I nervously thought as looked around me.   Suddenly there was a tap on my shoulder “Hi my name is ------.  So where are you from?”   I don’t usually have trouble finding words but it took me a little bit of hemming and hawing to get my thoughts together.  We chatted for a few minutes; what we talked about I couldn’t say.  I drifted back to my dorm room and told my roommate all about the good-looking guy I had chatted with.
The Bible school we attended is a very intensive place both spiritually and academically.  I was also working in the cafeteria to help pay my way, the leader of several student groups, and participated in other extracurricular activities.  To say I was busy would be an understatement.  I would notice Clark Kent (the nick name I assigned him because he looked so much like Superman’s alter ego….right down to the superman curl) as we passed by one another  but he never talked to me.  In fact he was kind of rude.  Oh well, rude people can be cute too, I thought.   A couple of weeks went by before we spoke again.  I was sitting at a table in the cafeteria when Clark Kent ran up to my table (literally ran….he was always running everywhere back then.  It was like God had taken the energy of three people and stuffed it into his body) “Hey I heard you have a car.”  He says to me.  No preamble, no “Hi” just straight to the point.  “We are having a birthday/ going away party for my friend R.  You are invited.” “Thanks. I guess I could come” Clark then stood on a chair and announced to the whole cafeteria “Hey she’s driving to the party.  You can all catch a ride with her.”  “I don’t even know where I’m going”  “Oh yeah.  My friend K will ride ride with you and tell you how to get there” Then he was gone, off running again.  When I got to my car 20 people were waiting for a ride.  Did I mention I drove a 2 door Toyota Tercel.  I think we crammed about 7 or 8 people into it.  We got lost in the middle of nowhere on the way (this is before the days of GPS). The person who had been assigned as my navigator had only been to the house in question once, in the dark.  By the time we arrived at the party I was pretty ticked with Clark Kent.  I could not believe that Superman would ever put anyone in the predicament that I had found myself in. To top it all off, he then proceeded to completely ignore me for the first half of the party.  The second half of the party he flirted outrageously with me.  I was completely baffled by the time I left.   I told my roommate the incredibly frustrating evening I had.  She then changed his nickname from Clark Kent to Ice-Man.
Ice-Man and I had many similar meetings.  I never knew what to expect from him.  Sometimes we would have these intense deep discussions about everything from God to starting businesses.    Other times he was flirtatious and others he completely ignored me.  I was so busy I really did not have time to think on it too much in the beginning but by Christmas break I had sworn him off.  Anyone that was so fractured was not for me!!  I enjoyed a wonderful break.  I signed my car over to my sister because I was a poor college student and could not afford the payments anymore.  That left me to take the bus back to college (500 miles in a bus alone as a young, single woman is not an experience I would recommend to anyone….just saying).  When I stepped off the bus, completely exhausted and frazzled I was suddenly swept into a bear hug.  Before I could get a good look at who had me, I was swept off my feet and swung in a circle.  I looked up and saw Ice-man had me.   According to eye witness reports the whole bus scene was incredibly romantic.  I was in such complete and utter shock I didn’t notice.  I mumbled something about “good to see you too”, got into my friends car, and sat with a shell shocked expression on my face for 30 minute drive back to campus.  I could not reconcile the man who had just swept me off my feet (literally) with the man I had left a few weeks before. The same one who would not even look in my general direction, much less hug me. Over the next few weeks Ice-man completely disappeared to be replaced by someone entirely different.  Everywhere I turned, there he was.  I could not get away from him.
One day during this time I was walking on campus and literally everyone I passed hugged me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a social kind of girl but for every, single person to show me this much attention was unusual even for me.   I was simply too busy to pay any real attention to it.  I continued my day and ended up at work.   As I was standing in the window of the cafeteria, washing dishes, I noticed everyone pointing above me and laughing, many came around and hugged me.  Now I’m not the brightest bulb in the pack but even I knew something was up.  I walked around to the front of the window and saw this flyer posted above my head.

These were posted all over the campus!!!  EVERYWHERE!!!  I was so busy that I never noticed them.  Never accuse Mr. Right of half measures ;-)
So this is the beginning of our story.  Next post I will explore our dating and engagement year.  Thanks for reading.  Don’t forget to leave your comments on this blog to be entered into my 6 month blog birthday giveaway. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

The First Steps in a Journey

It is said that a journey of a thousand steps begins with the very first step.   That being said, our journey has begun.   “What journey?”  You may ask.  Our homeschooling journey!!!  Yes I know I am not your typical homeschooling momma.  Yes I know I said I would sooner walk over the hot coals of hell barefoot than homeschool our boys.  Yes I know I am the least organized person I know.  Yes I know that I said if I ever even thought about homeschooling my boys you should call the men with the white suits.  Well today I publicly eat  all those words, every one of them……well I may still be the least organized person I know but other than that I eat my words;-)
As some of you know, I was homeschooled for my high school years.  It was not a great experience for me.  I had been super active in school before that: chorus, drama,  band, debate team, tutoring, honors classes, etc.  I loved school. I thrived on the competition that school provided me.  Being pulled out of that environment and placed in a homeschooling one was not the right choice for me.  The experience honestly tainted my view of the entire concept.  For the past 20 some odd years (no I will not get more specific than that….a girl has to have some vanity ;) I have been adamant that my kids would stay in school no matter what.  I didn’t care how many hoops I had to jump through or how many ways I had to bend my kids would stay in school.  Now this works great if your kids fall into the NT (neuro- typical) group of kids.  It even worked great for my spectrum kids…..up until I moved to small town TX.   Since moving here nearly 4 years ago it has been a very different story.  Don’t get me wrong I love our town!!!  As a matter of fact, it nearly broke my heart when we considered moving to a different school district.  But four years of continuous battle to get my kids the accommodations they needed in the classroom had taken its toll.  What started out as friendly discussion had ended in a very bloody battle.  Friendships were lost, relationships damaged, careers jeopardized, and some of my boys’ education were being affected by the fall out.  I wish this was even a slight exaggeration but it’s not.    My husband and I knew sending some of our boys back was just not an option.  Private schooling is expensive when you have the number of kids we do.  Also private schools do not fall under the same federal guidelines that public schools do.  They are not obliged to follow the IDEA or many of the other laws which govern the public system.   That is not to say that there are not great private schools out there for special needs children but we were not finding any that were within our budget constraints. 
Homeschooling I had dismissed out of hand.  First of all I am not a very organized soul.  In fact I tend to fight whatever organizational binds that are placed upon me. Blame this on my artistic nature, or ADD, or rebellion….I don’t care which it is.  The fact remains I refuse to buy the same scented laundry soap twice in a row.  I get bored with the first scent before it is even done.  Finding things in my cabinets and closets is a constant adventure for my husband.  I have more than once heard “Kristine would it really kill you to put the salt in the same place twice in a row?”  Yes organization is not my cup of tea.  I know this is a huge handicap when considering homeschooling.  I understand myself enough to know that no matter how good my intentions if the system was dependent on me to be organized we were doomed before we even started.
Another strike against homeschooling was the very different needs of each my boys.  I understand all kids are different but with four of mine on the autistic spectrum I was unsure of my ability to meet each of their needs myself when a team of professionals was unable to do it in some instances. All of this added to my already prejudicial view of the entire experience pretty much ruled homeschooling out completely for our family.
That only left moving to another district.  But this again was not a good solution.  We are established in our town.  We have friends and more importantly are boys have friends.  Change is not easy on any child but my spectrum guys have a really hard time establishing relationships.  Paul is entering middle school.  I just did not know how well he would be able to reconnect at this stage in the game.
Then one day a good friend of mine shared a homeschooling solution that she thought may work for us.  It is an option that is available through the state of TX.  My boys have access to online classes, one on one teacher interaction, SPED specialist, and gifted programs.  Everything!!  It is perfect for us.  It has its own structure therefore it is not dependent on only me.  It gives me the freedom to work with my boys but the support that I need.  It is a good compromise. 
This year I am only doing three of the boys.  The program starts in 3rd grade.  My youngest is only in 1st therefore he is not eligible.  My other son is going into 3rd.  However, he has a very good, established relationship with his SPED teacher.  He is further on the spectrum than my other guys.  I was not comfortable doing him the first year.  Let me work out the kinks and maybe we’ll shoot for next year.
So there it is, my big news.  I am excited about this new direction.  I know in my gut it is the right one.  Any and all prayers are definitely welcomed.  If the past is any indicator, God will use this experience to grow me even more than my boys.  Remember to leave your comments on this blog to be entered into the giveaway.  I am posting a picture of the gift basket, sans the chocolate.  That I’ll wait to buy closer to the giveaway.  Lots of love to each of you, my friends.-Kristine

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