Thoughtful Thursday: Best of Intentions

At the beginning of the year, I see oodles of photography projects pop into my social media feeds, everything from Project 365s, 52s, 12s, and everything in between. I committed to doing a self-portrait project on Instagram called #portraitsofme as well as Macro Mondays that follow themes on a Flickr group. People also begin new exercise regimens and diets… gyms see a huge influx of new members, people buy exercise equipment for home, and diet cookbooks surge in sales. Here we are on the 12th of January. How are you doing? If you committed to make changes, have you stuck with it? Have you been shooting everyday? Why have you been able to stick with it? If you’ve decided to abandon your New Year’s goals, why? I’m working on coming to a place of self-acceptance, so I’m very curious about people’s motivations around intentions and goals. So far, I’m sticking to my “resolutions” and I’ve also scheduled a session with my therapist in Austin (whom I’ve not seen in five years!)… I am really committed to accepting who I am as I am. My motto for 2017 is “I am good enough.”

This week, I had intended to shoot more of our everyday, much like I did last year. Best of intentions… right? Between last Friday and today, I’ve only picked up my camera twice. Dominic came home early on Friday not feeling well. The nurse said his cheeks and ears were bright pink which happens to my mom, Jenny, and Dominic when they get overheated, upset, or are getting sick. He wasn’t running a fever, but I picked him up early anyway. I was worried about him being more overwhelmed by school than getting sick. The kids went back to school last Wednesday; by Thursday afternoon, Dominic’s behavioral specialist was emailing me concerned because he wasn’t doing his work in science. Then he misses half a day Friday. Both kids had appointments on Monday so I let them miss school for the entire day. Anna had her intake appointment with the new psychiatrist at Clarity Child Guidance Center (the kids’ psychiatrist in Austin is retiring this year and San Antonio is only a 50-minute drive instead of the 1.5 hour drive to Austin). After Anna’s long appointment, Dominic had a med check follow-up with the psychiatrist. The new doc is adding one more med for each of them… an anti-anxiety med for Anna and an ADHD med for Dominic. I hate putting more chemicals in their bodies but they need more intervention, so it’s worth trying. Then we had 45 minutes to grab lunch, then we went back to Clarity to see Dominic’s therapist. By the time we got back to New Braunfels, there was only an hour or so left in the school day… hardly worth going back. So I knew going back on Tuesday, Dominic was going to have a huge pile of missed work to complete.

Tuesday dawned. The morning was exquisitely beautiful. I was optimistic that the kids would have good days. It was short-lived.

Anna called me from the bus around 7:30 crying saying that her stomach hurt. Something is always wrong. Every day. Especially on school days. If you have ever looked up the definition for hypochondriac, you will see it’s an anxiety disorder. Anna truly believes she is ill. It makes it hard to know when she is really sick or if she just believes she is really sick. She was crying so hard that I asked her to hand the phone over to the aide on the bus. They had just left the neighborhood but said they could stop at the gas station to let Anna use the restroom. I found out later that she didn’t “go” at the gas station and cried all through the morning at school wanting to be picked up. By mid-day, she was fine and did her work. When she got home, she asked me what her surprise was. I didn’t know what she was talking about. Apparently, the aide that started in November is a nurse and he’s been seeing Anna as part of her day to help reassure her that she’s okay. He said that he had called me and that I had a surprise for Anna when she got home. I don’t mind this kind of manipulation to help her get on track, but they need to let me know about the promise so I can follow through at home. Ugh. It was a tough situation.

Dominic got home from school shortly after Anna. He was a wreck. He had a lot of homework which wasn’t surprising and was completely overwhelmed. I had him concentrate on just one thing… a brochure project for Texas History. He took a long time to finish it. I asked him to do the rest of his chores, like feed the dogs and clean his guinea pig’s cage. I got a little attitude but didn’t react. After I got Anna to sleep, I checked on Domino and saw that his cage was still pretty messy. So I called Dominic in to address it and got a LOT of attitude. I threatened to take his phone away and walked out to remain calm. And I found that he’d left a huge mess on the table from doing homework and eating dinner. So I asked Curtis to ask him to come clean it up then he could finish working on homework. Dominic came out angry, put his hand up to Curtis’s face, and yelled that he’d had a crappy day. Both me and Curtis went off on him. No matter what, we treat him with respect and expect the same in return. Dominic got yelled at, got all screens taken away for a week, and was sent to him room. He had the worst meltdown of his entire life. He yelled and screamed and shouted and raged and sobbed. He said he didn’t want to be here anymore. It was super scary. We called the crisis hotline at Clarity and got their advice… should we admit him? They said to give him his evening meds, wait an hour, then reevaluate his agitation level. Almost immediately, Dominic started calming down, he began crying and was apologetic, saying he didn’t mean it. We talked and talked and talked. We made a plan. Right now we are tackling one day at a time, managing one class at a time. He’s going to be okay, we are going to be okay.

Wednesday was Dominic’s annual ARD (annual review and dismissal)… basically the meeting about his special education services and accommodations for the next calendar year. He’s been getting counseling in school every other week, identifying expected and unexpected behaviors as well as identifying triggers and demonstrating adequate coping skills. He’s done well with this in the counseling setting… now he’s needs to generalize those skills in times of anxiety and stress. He’s also working on advocating for himself, taking a break when needed, and verbally processing through problems. He has a lot of support, I hope he feels the love and caring everyone around him expresses. Curtis is taking him to tutorials for the next few mornings to help him get caught up. One day at a time.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Sunrise from the Side

Seeing a beautiful sunrise like this helps put things in perspective. I wish life wasn’t so hard for my kids. I’m very grateful we have so much support from family, friends, medical professionals, and their educators. We really do have an incredible community of caregivers helping us and helping them.

New Braunfels nature sunrise landscape photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/3.2 | 1/250 | ISO 400

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Sunrise from the Front

I see a big orange checkmark in the sky here. Do you see it? Today I choose for it to be a good day. Even if my children don’t have good days, I check the “good day” box next to my name.

New Braunfels nature sunrise landscape photographer

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/3.5 | 1/200 | ISO 400

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Homework as a Consequence

Because the kids are choosing not to do their work in school, they must finish it at home. Both assignments that the kids are working on could’ve been completed at school. No fun until homework is done.

New Braunfels family child homework siblings photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.8 | 1/200 | ISO 4000

Even with everything being so hard for the kids, I am feeling content and happy. I know their moods are somewhat affected by the full moon (which was yesterday, by the way). They are loved, they are special. They know this in their souls. I do have a Dominic brag… remember when he took the SAT in December as part of the Duke TIP? He scored an 1140… as a 7th grader… with no studying. His score was high enough that he’s been invited to take part of Duke’s summer program called The Center. From their website:

Our Center for Summer Studies sites offer the most rigorous and accelerated instruction for gifted students available at TIP. To apply for Center courses, you must meet the Center requirements outlined in this qualifying score table.

Well he qualified! Here is the list of classes he can take: Summer Studies Center Catalog. Basically in this three-week residential program, he will learn an equivalent of a semester of college in his chosen class. We are so proud of him and hope this helps bolster his self-esteem. He has an amazing future in store.

I’d love to hear about your best of intentions… and how your New Year is going so far. As always, thanks for looking. <3

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