Friday, July 15, 2016

Mom Reset

Homeschooling is a full-time job for all parents on this journey, but homeschooling a child with special needs is 24/7.  I used to hate that term, "24/7," since it was usually used as an exaggeration, so know, when I use it, it REALLY means all-day, every-day.  This is a commitment like no other.  I have to admit that I'm a little envious of families who can send their kids to day or sleep away camps, then enjoy some child-free time.  If Liam goes to a class or camp, I go too, since his language processing and pragmatic speech problems might get in the way of his or others' learning.

This summer, I became a roadie for my son in his rock band.  I follow along to art class (and sit in the next room, but ready if I need to step in and help re-focus him) and attend classes with Liam at Urban Homeschoolers as well.  I actually get more of a break during private, at-home sessions in piano and Mandarin, since I can go into another room and still be close enough if needed.

In the beginning, I didn't know how we'd handle all of this togetherness, but we've found a balance.  My husband and I work from home, so there are times I retreat into my studio, my husband goes to his studio and my son happily creates in his room.  I am forever grateful that we have three bedrooms - three retreats.

My husband and I also have a regular workout routine.  He does Muay Thai and I Spin (indoor cycling classes).  We've been doing it since our son was diagnosed, seven years ago.  With all that has come and gone, I'm proud of us for our commitment to fitness.

Over the past year and a half, in addition to adjusting to our homeschooling/unschooling life, I hit the "pause" in Menopause.  I was thrilled.  No more missing exercise class because of random bleeding, or watching the return of fibroids (for which I'd previously had a major surgery).  Yes, there are residual hot-flashes and night sweats, but my body is free from the hormonal roller coaster!

The celebrations were dulled slightly by an almost immediate gain of 5-7 lbs.  Even though my weight had crept up a little since Liam's birth, I had not had to buy a new pant size until last summer.  A need which revealed itself, inconveniently, as I was getting ready for a party and found that ALL of my pants were now too small.  Harmmf.

At my recent yearly exam, my GP affirmed that "from now on, maintaining weight will take a lot of work - and losing weight will require a Herculean effort."

I am of Polish/German heritage and, don't get me wrong - I love and respect my parents, but I watched their gradual transformation into Keebler Elves as they aged and am determined to "fall far from" that cookie "tree".  I decided to fight my genes to fit into my jeans.

So I said "Cue Hercules!" and made some big changes before my 52nd birthday:

First, I upped my fitness game.  I'd been toying with becoming a spin instructor for the past few years.  So I registered and did it (and got my CPR certification too).

I lost a few pounds after certification, but needed to drop a few more to avoid endless letters from Kaiser Permanente reminding me of how I was still "overweight" according to my BMI.

So, I did something I had not done in my entire adult life.  I signed up for a diet. As someone who had a teenage eating disorder, I've been wary of anything which makes me pay attention to a scale. Technically, what I was doing was a cleanse, but I knew that one sure result would be losing the final 5-10 lbs. The diet was appropriately called "Food Reset."  I realized that a reset is exactly what I wanted.  Not a reset to my 20s or 30s, but a reset to what will be my new normal. 

I know full well that it will take focus and attention to keep myself fit, but it is essential for my own well-being and for my son.  I'm almost 52.  He is 10.  He will need me for a long time.  I will need me for a long time.  And, yes, there is more than a little bit of me that wants to look as good as my husband does with his boxing-toned arms.  One final treat has been reconnecting to my favorite music as I build song-sets for classes.

How does all of this fit into unschooling?  I now understand that the core principle of unschooling is allowing children to learn based on their passions.  In that spirit, I believe it is important for Liam to see us pursuing OUR passions and taking care of ourselves.  Unschooling is a lifelong adventure that we take together and it is important for all of us to be well and strong.

If you're on this path, make sure you check in with yourself to see what YOU need, physically and psychologically and look to friends and community if you need help to get there.

If you have a favorite way to reset - let me know in the comments section!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Isn't it Romantic?

With Band Camp over, it's time to find another focus and, just in time, DIY announced it's relaunch of their popular courses.  Liam took two stop-motion and one special effects course when it was called "DIY Camps."  Now, as "JAM," ( they're relaunching with what looks like an even tighter program with online monitors who comment on posts and encourage the kids (we had to fix our intro video because mentioning our city was in violation of their safety policy - good catch, guys!).  We're taking an animation course run by an animator from Cartoon Network.

At first, I thought it would be cool to have Liam write out everything he would say for his introduction and other posts and read it like a teleprompter.  It worked, but he was a little stiff. I reverted to an interview style in helping Liam post his videos, since linear thinking is tough for him.  We had to restart a few times when the interview strayed too far from topic.  On one of the last passes, as we were discussing his favorite characters, Liam revealed, much to my surprise, that his favorite part of most of the movies he'd seen were the boyfriend/girlfriend relationships!  I dared to ask if he liked someone and he said, "yes!"  I will not reveal his crush, but it made me smile.

He also showed that he was pretty well aware of the major plot lines in the films (if not the minor ones).  It's not surprising that a 10 yr. old would like girls, but since Liam never talks ABOUT anyone or anything, I never knew his secret love of romantic themes.

Of course, as I write this, he's staging a major battle to the death in Blocksworld.  Boys are funny like that.  You never know what they're thinking!  Oh, and if you were wondering how Rock Band Camp worked out, you can see the mini concert they gave for friends and family here:  Peace, Love, and Rock and Roll!