312: stress that spirals

It’s been rough.

This week started off as stressful and the stress has spiraled in to other emotions and issues.

I kept telling myself: it’s just stress, it’s okay, it’s manageable, it’s short term. This is stress, it’s okay, it’s manageable, it’s short term.

But stress after stress after stress started to pile up and it has turned in to body aches and a constant warding off of both anxiety and depression.

I can feel it in my body. I can feel it trying to regulate. I can feel it start to well up and then go way down. It makes me tired. It makes me a little shaky.

Having interrupted sleep because of Doods doesn’t help much, either. My body isn’t resting like it needs to.

I have a lot of visits today. I’m having a lot of anxiety about them, even though there’s absolutely no reason for it. They’re places I’ve been. I always get a peak of anxiety before I walk in somewhere. I could have gone there a million times, doesn’t matter. There’s a jump in my heart every single time.

I’m always hyper aware of what’s going on too. I guess I feel like because *I* am aware of what everyone’s doing, everyone’s aware of what *I* am doing.

Sometimes, I wish I was a little more ignorant. Maybe I would enjoy things more.

I really want to pass the exam. I really want to find a way to transport that elliptical.

I got so incredibly excited at the prospect of having an elliptical, I was super bummed when it fell through. I just need to find a truck and figure it out. With the furnace and everything, it got pushed back on the list, but it’s right back up there.

Last night, I took that break. I had my coffee. I forced love on my family. I made Boy Child and Husband play a game (Boss Monster, which is super fun by the way – I finally won!). I gave Doods lots of squeezes and read a book with her. I built more of Ninjago city, finished studying, took a shower, and watched an episode of the Grand Tour. I really do enjoy watching those three guys, so entertaining.

I am going to reward myself with a Lego set after I pass the exam. Because I’m passing the exam. I am going to pass the exam.

In my memories today, it came up from a handful of years ago that I posted about not being a good test taker. Still true. I passed my content exam and LBS-1 exams with flying colors. The GRE, on the other hand, I missed my cusp by a very narrow margin – both times. Same as the BCBA exam.

I get so frustrated when I look at those who are working as BCBAs and I go, “How did YOU pass the exam and I didn’t??” That sounds really shitty, but it’s true. I remember a doctor friend of mine once said, “Just because you can pass a test, doesn’t mean you’re good at your job. Look at how many people pass the medical exam – it doesn’t mean they’re a good doctor.” Too true. Then there’s people like me who just… have extreme difficulty getting over the hurdle of that god damned test. The BCBA exam is more stringent than the medical exam or the bar exam. *sigh*

Anxiety, stahp.

Tomorrow should be an easier day. One visit, a pop in to the bakery, and fun dinner Friday. Saturday is the second installment of Marvel movies. So I’ve got that going for me.

I should probably eat.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

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311: goals and girl child

My posts have been dwindling to weekly as of late.

I’ve been studying like crazy, working like crazy, and mommying crazies. It’s a busy life.

Our furnace went out Monday morning, which was fun and exciting. I got very little work in before the heating guys came. I was supposed to go on all kinds of visits Tuesday. However, I stayed back in Siberia with Pupperella almost all day to cram in two days of work and a visit. This morning I had Dood’s IEP.

I am tired, guys. Physically, emotionally, brain…y. I’m tired.

I’m on Day 15 of the BDS Train. 15 days doesn’t really seem like a long time, but doing something for approximately 2-5 hours every day for 15 days ON TOP of everything else is exhausting. I don’t have time or opportunity to miss, either. I am passing this exam, damnit.

At GC’s IEP, we tried to brainstorm ways of giving her sleep meds. The only new solution to try is crushing it up and putting it in ice cream. Anything for a consistent sleep pattern. It’s really wearing on your body.

I don’t like the school social worker. Every year at her IEP I see him. Every year he comes in for about ten minutes before he is to speak, makes REALLY generic statements and leaves. I can tell that he has NO idea who my child is and really has nothing of value to say. Say your bullshit and get out, you’re not valuable to me and my daughter isn’t of value to you…. considering you don’t even use her name once in the entire time you’re speaking. I’m not an idiot. I can tell you’re just listening to prior conversation and using those bits for your “input” on how she is doing. This guy irritates me.

People like that guy irritate me and I see it all the time. I want to punch them in the face. If you don’t care, why are you there? Get out. Let someone else do it. At least have the decency to learn their name. Those of us who truly know an individual can you’re bullshitting, who do you think you’re kidding? Irritating.

The rest of the meeting went well. She is making progress on her goals. Working on addition and subtraction with regrouping, like a boss. Working on answering “Wh” questions. Working on yes/no, multiple features, and increasing functional communication. Working on writing more legibly. Working on not being a jerk and running out of the room. All necessary things

It was a rough start of the year, but it’s clearly gotten better. If there’s one thing I can attest to – white women, you need to learn how to be firm. Quit being namby pambies.

I’m not saying be mean, but be firm. Give a directive and mean it. I don’t understand why white women have difficulty asserting themselves. I told them, just tell Kaylee, “All done, time to go” in a firm, neutral voice. It works. Don’t say, “okay, time is up, let’s go Kaylee, you need to stand up, blah blah blah blah” all sing-songy. She knows better. She’s a smart kid and will lay there literally laughing at you because she’s not going anywhere.

I’m sure this carries over in to other aspects of life, as well. It’s perfectly fine to be assertive. Say no. Say that’s not okay. Because IT’S OK.

We have to come up with all kinds of ancillary strategies to support her behavior because people (a) aren’t firm and/or (b) don’t wait long enough for a response. I’m in a mood, I guess.

I’m tired. I’ve been cold. I’ve had a headache for a few days. Other things. Like I said, I just feel all kinds of tapped.

I usually walk away from my kids’ IEPs reeling with joy about how great things have been going and the direction they’re headed in, but just not really this time. I like the progress she has made. I like the direction we are going in. I’m not thrilled about her having a behavior plan, but that’s okay. It’s not the matter of having a behavior plan that’s the issue (I mean, I’m a behavior analyst, so let’s be serious), I suppose it’s… it’s not necessarily Kaylee’s fault that she has a plan. If that makes sense. They haven’t appropriately responded to/reinforced her behavior and that’s where we’re at now.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being *that* parent.

If she needs support, she needs support. I totally get and agree with that. But like…. if you aren’t setting up and following through with your contingency, is that really her fault? She’s behaving in a way that’s expected. She is such an easy kid to read. You know exactly what she is doing and why. She knows who will allow her to engage in behaviors and who will not. They continually call on her S-deltas (meaning people who signal reinforcement is not available at this time). BUT at the SAME time – THEY are her preferred people.

So, she wants to go to the OT room. She requests the OT room. They can’t go to the OT room. She elopes to the OT room.

Teacher goes to get her. Doods knows – she’s not going any where, so she’s going to do what she needs to do to keep the teacher away from her. She ALSO knows if she hangs out in the OT room long enough, she gets attention from one of her preferred people as they tell her it’s time to go back to class.

SO, she gets to go to the OT room AND see her favorite people (even if it’s just to walk across the hall) – it’s double whammy deluxe for her. All kinds of win on her end.

All kinds of NOT win for EVERYONE ELSE INVOLVED.

Should she stay in the room? yes.

Should she not elope? yes.

Should she not kick, hit or spit at people? yes.

Should she use her communication instead of all the above? absolutely.

So we’re going to try a few things to help with the situation and see what happens. I guess I’m just annoyed that it got to this point. HOWEVER I can EASILY see how the last person you want to listen to is one of the people who pinned you to the floor shortly after you met them. So there’s that, too.

I don’t quite mind the plan as it incorporates a lot of good, solid strategies. I did express my concern about the judgement of the RBT who will be working with her… The same one who decided to put her in a restraint at the beginning of the year.

So help me, sweet golden fleecy baby jesus, if it happens again I will…. not be pleased.

The RBT ALSO filled out incorrect paperwork stating that Kaylee was in an Isolated Time Out at the start of the year…. which none of us were aware of and they are looking in to. It may be for a different kid and somehow ended up in her data (which doesn’t really bode well). OR if there WAS an ITO, I should have been notified immediately… which, since none of us knew about it, means that didn’t happen.

I’m just not too excited about that.

The BCBA and I had a nice chat after the IEP though. She wished me luck on my exam and commended my comments on Kaylee’s last proposed BSP. So that was nice.

I’m just tired. And getting progressively less cold as the new heater was installed today.

Sometimes I really wish I could just have a conversation with Kaylee.

It’s getting there. I know she understands me. I told her to be nice to her teacher. I told her to listen to her teacher. I told her not to run out of the room, stay in her classroom, and be nice to her teacher. I know she understood because she started to get sad. I told her I loved her, it’s okay, and she needs to be nice to her teacher.

I hope there’s a day where she can really tell me things. I really hope there’s a day where she spontaneously comes up to me and says I love you, Mama. or Mommy, I hurt. Or when she will tell me I want to go. or oh, that’s cool! I want that! She does it now in her own way but it’s so much different to hear it. I think and hope and work towards the day when that happens. Maybe I’m just setting myself for disappointment, but at least I can say I tried.

My kids and their success is my biggest accomplishment. I can have all the degrees, all the letters, and all the certifications but it means absolutely nothing. None of it is more meaningful than knowing I’ve gotten my kids to be their best, most independent, and happiest person they can be. That’s all that really matters anyway, right?

I think I can safely say they’re both pretty happy kids. I hope it stays that way.

I could go on, but I’ll stop.

I think I’ll make myself a cup of coffee and force love upon my children. I’ll intermittently study, but my kids are always my priority. Even though I want and need to study, spending time with my kids is the most important. I feel guilty when I don’t. Like now.

Okay, I think I’m tapped for now. I think I need to give my brain a few hour break before I have real problems.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

305: goals and gains

My god, 305. It’s been 305 days since I started this whole journey. Life changes dramatically and quickly.

Kevin and I were talking about that the other day.

January and February I was falling down the rabbit hole.

On March 1st, I landed.

Mid-April I started working at the bakery.

May I finished my program and married my best friend.

August I took the exam and got offered a behavior analyst position.

September I found out I failed.

October I got married again.

November I took the exam again and officially started my BA position while sadly leaving the bakery.

December I found out I failed, again.

So here we are at January 2018, still digging out from under wedding and Christmas debt, but making some headway and still plan on being in the new house by summer time. It’s absolutely and completely feasible. This is not a drill, folks.

I’m getting in the swing of this whole behavior analyst thing. It has reaffirmed a few things for me: I really like science, I enjoy working with people and I have really high ethics.

I’ve been studying my ass off because I’m going to pass this fucking exam, guys. Third time’s a charm. I’ve been redoing the BDS Modules (which are, by far, one of the worst experiences of my life). Okay let me just pause here for a second and talk about the BDS Modules.

So, here’s the thing: Behavior Analysts have a task list. This task list encompasses alllllll the things you need to know to become a BCBA. If you don’t know everything on this task list, you probably won’t become a BCBA. But it doesn’t really tell you to what degree or what specific information within that task list item you need to know… Essentially what it boils down to is: You need to know absolutely everything about, well, absolutely everything.

The BDS modules are designed to drill in vocabulary and application. The questions are written to imitate the exam. I can vouch, the questions are terrible. Terrible in that you have to be able to make the most minute discriminations to ensure you are answering correctly.

Now. The task list and ethics code have 201 items. Yes, 201 items. You need to be proficient in all 201 areas. It’s not always just ONE thing in the task list area, either. ONE task list item could encompass about 5-6 things.

The exam asks you ONE question PER task list item, essentially. There are 160 questions on the exam. Only 150 of them count. The remaining 10 are potential future test questions and don’t count. Isn’t that just swell?

Anyway, modules. BDS has, for all intents and purposes, one set of two modules for each item. You do an acquisition module followed by a fluency module. BDS guarantees that if you do every single module (acquisition and fluency) to 100% you will pass the exam or your money back. You are supposed to take your time with them over like a six month period and do them in sets of three a week or so. Really soak in that content. Get that 100%.

Nah, dog, I ain’t got time for that. Three a week? Psht, I’m doing NINE modules PER DAY. Six months? Let’s try six weeks. I don’t have time to fuck around ya’ll. Let me you: I’m nine days in to this ordeal and I am KICKING ASS. I’m actually discovering a lot of content that I didn’t quite know or understand before, so it’s been tremendously helpful.

Tremendously time-consuming, but helpful. I am passing this fucking exam.

At this point, obtaining my BCBA credential and getting in to the house are my only real goals.

Weird.

Real weird.

For so long, I’ve been pushing and pushing and pushing and… I mean, it’s paid off. I’ve accomplished some amazing things and done some really cool shit. I always have this feeling of “I have to do this now, because I may not get to in the future…. I may not have a future. DO IT NOW.” That hasn’t really changed and I still think that a lot but, really, personally? I’m not sure of what I’d like to aspire to next.

Moving the fuck out of Illinois is in the works, that’s for damn sure. Eff this cold, man. That’s a few years down the line though.

I’ve been trying to think of things I haven’t done yet and would like to do or try or accomplish…. I do want to move out of state in the future and I would still like to get my PhD (or an EdD, perhaps). That can wait till the kids are older though so I only have my handsome husband to ignore while I’m strapped to my research.

Beyond that, I…. don’t know. I picked up my guitar yesterday for the first time in ages. I need new strings and a capo. It’d be nice to utilize that outlet again. Same with doing more drawing and reading more books. I think I’m settling in to my new gig in a way that I can focus on actual exercise. I really miss having an elliptical. They’re just so damned expensive now. I loved being able to put on music or a show and exercise to it. I can’t do that now and I hate going to the gym…. It may come to that, but we shall see. I’d like to do more rock climbing and hiking this year, too. Build more legos ; D

I guess it’s okay to have small goals too. An entire collection of small goals so it’s LIKE having big goals ; ) Staying mentally healthy is a good one. I think I’m in a really good place for maintaining that…. pretty sure.

Well, I think that’s about all I got for now. I hope you’re all staying warm and safe with this crazy winter weather.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

298: bedtime & BATCAGE

Holy tired, Batman.

I really wish Girl Child believed in sleep. Sleep is amazing. I haven’t quite figured out WHY she wakes up in the middle of the night. If I knew WHY, then we would know HOW to attack this issue. However, we know that she won’t do a sleep study so there’s not really much of a point. We have changed her schedule a little bit in that we lock her out of her tablet around 630/7pm every night (bedtime is 830p). She’s locked in to a non-preferred app until 6am. Netflix, apparently, is significantly less motivating than the YouTubes.

When Boy Child was little, he used to get up hella early so he could have access to the iPad. Then we put a passcode on it and said we wouldn’t unlock it until after 6am. That helped him sleep through the night and stop getting up so early. However, he was able to vocalize what he wanted and why he was up.

Doods, on the other hand, does not. It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, some times. So far the tablet changes haven’t had much of an effect on her. However, I will say that putting her in Netflix results in significantly less screaming, yelling, and jumping around at stupid o’clock in the morning. I suppose there is a silver lining.

I have begun hard-core studying for the BCBA exam yet again. I’m going to pass this god damned test, y’all. With that, I get asked a lot, “So, what do you do now?” Behavior Analysis, I say. “Oh, ok…. so what is that? What do you DO?”

Excellent question, I’m glad you asked. Let me hitcha with some background knowledge.

Behavior Analysis has actually a few different parties you can hang out in: Conceptual Analysis of Behavior (CAB/Behaviorism), Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Behavior Service Delivery, and Experimental Analysis of Behavior (EAB).

To put it succinctly:

CAB examines the philosophical, theoretical, historical & methodological issues.

ABA, well, I’ll save that for last.

Behavior Service Delivery refers to people who implement ABA in their various professions like education, sports, psychology, safety, health, business, animal training, etc.

EAB is done mainly in laboratories and focuses on research on basic processes & principles.

Now, ABA, refers to socially significant behavior change. Takin’ EAB to the streets.

Having solid Lutheran upbringing, I have to ask: What does that mean?

ABA in the realm of science is still in it’s infant stages. Maybe toddler stages. ABA has been around for a handful of decades and is still experiencing some growing pains, but in a positive way. What we do as Applied Behavior Analysts is look at the behavior of living organisms in terms of antecedents and consequences. We experimentally investigate the variables that influence behavior of any living organism. Basically, we are constantly asking, “What are you doing and why?” We feel that behavior is determined by the environment, not by the mind (like traditional psychologists). The basic science is done in the labs by EAB, then ABA takes their findings and applies it in the real world.

In 1968, Baer, Wolf, and Risley set forth the 7 dimensions of ABA. These 7 dimensions serve as the primary criteria for defining and judging the value of ABA. When looking at behavior, it’s run by these criteria often times remembered by the mnemonic GET A CAB or, I prefer, nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh BATCAGE *insert Batman theme song here*

Behavioral, Applied, Technological, Conceptually Systematic, Analytic, Generality, & Effective. BATCAGE. 

Behavioral: the study of what living organisms do;  observable & measureable; think of it as measureable people science (but, not just people – can be dogs, dolphins, single-celled organisms, whatever)

Applied: socially significant behaviors; behaviors that are important to the individual and society (this can even mean helping others behave more positively towards an individual!)

Technological: defines procedures clearly and precisely; needs to be specific and complete so that a trained reader could replicate; basically this your behavior recipe – write what you do in a way that others can do it too

Conceptually Systematic: allllll the procedures should link back to the basic principles of behavior analysis

Analytic: believable demonstration of a functional relation between a behavior and its environment; show me definitively that this is the reason why you are doing what you are doing

Generality: behavior change that is durable over the test of tiiiiiiimmeeeee… and settings and behaviors and instructors ; ) meaning, the behavior will occur no matter who is presenting the task or where the behavior is supposed to occur

Effective: improving behavior in a practical, not just statistically significant, way

It’s not who I am underneath, it’s what I do that defines me” – Batman

Who knew Batman was a behavior analyst?

While ABA can be practiced with any living organisms, I solely do people science… and sometimes dog science. Whenever I’m observing someone, generating a plan, or reviewing their case, I’m going through the seven dimensions and making decisions based off of those criteria. I’m also utilizing the basic principles of science, but I’ll save that for another day.

So, to go back a little bit, a behavior we are focusing on with Doods is sleeping through the night. It’s socially significant for both her and everyone else in the house. In some cases when a person continuously doesn’t sleep through the night and makes loud noises while they are awake, it can generate all kinds of bad news on behalf of others. We lack sleep and can act out aggressively (verbally or physically), we could avoid her, fall asleep on the job, all kinds of things (which we don’t do any of those things). However, I’ve seen it in group homes where the awake individual becomes the target of aggression and isolation by others in the home. So sleep? It’s important. Being quiet at stupid o’clock in the morning? Also important. Not just for the individual, but for those who live in close quarters and/or interact with them on a regular basis.

What would not be considered socially significant?

Take, for example, a 70 year old man who has a goal of tying his shoes. At this juncture, it’s not really that important that he learns how to tie his shoes. Provide him with an alternative, like Velcro shoes, and move on to something more significant like being able to put used toilet paper in the toilet, not on the floor.

Another example would be someone who has cerebral palsy and cannot open their hands having a goal of handwriting their name. It’s not necessarily an appropriate goal for that individual as they have physical limitations to performing that goal. This could be something addressed by occupational therapy. We could help them learn to identify their name or to recognize places where a signature is necessary and to use a name stamp in that place, but physical handwriting just doesn’t make sense for that individual.

Of course, this is just an overview but I hope it brings a little bit of clarity to the basics of ABA and what I do. I watch you do things and try to figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing – what’s got control over your behavior. Then use that to my maniacal advantage… for good, of course.  ; )

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

296: santa and stamina

I have debated whether or not to write about Christmas this year. Not because mine wasn’t enjoyable but mostly because I think too much about other people’s situations and it makes me feel… almost guilty in my joy.

This Christmas was so difficult for some of my friends – recovering from surgery, recovering from stroke, recovering from traumatic injury, recovering from loss… I suppose the silver lining is in the word recovery. If you’re recovering, you survived. There’s a lot to be grateful for in that. Although the road to recovery for these lovely people is long and arduous, although it’s going to be exhausting and all-encompassing, there is so much to be said for survival.

I probably shouldn’t feel guilty about my joy, but I do.

I suppose we all have our struggles and tough times. This just so happened to occur all at once. One big, heaping pile of Thanksgiving Trauma and Christmas Crises. I wish there was more I could do for these people, but I suppose doing something, no matter how small, is better than nothing – right?

I’m the kind of person that just wants to rush to where you are and give you a big hug and let you know that you’re not alone. It’s hard to do that when people are in different states. Sometimes GIFs and virtual hugs just aren’t enough. But I do hope they know they are supported and loved. I am here to help provide stamina for survival and recovery, in whatever way possible.

I know I’m grateful for those who have been there for me in my tough times over the years. It’s helped me to get to where I am today. Sometimes I still fall short, but it’s nice to know there’s a safety net.

I’m especially grateful for a wonderful husband. I know I talk about him a lot, but he really is wonderful. When you’ve gone through so much hurt, pain, and trauma, you appreciate every second of goodness you’ve got. He was so excited about my presents this year. He just kept saying, “I know you’re going to like your presents, I can’t wait!” He nailed it. Knocked it right out of the park. You know with what? All of the seasons of Scrubs and the Lego Slave 1. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much to you, but it means everything to me.

When I’m depressed or sick, I always watch Scrubs. There’s a comfort in that show for me. Cheese fries, cupcakes, couch and Scrubs – pretty much a solid bet when I’m depressed. Scrubs was taken off of Netflix awhile back and I’m just too cheap to get Hulu, so during those rough patches I tried to supplement with other shows. It just wasn’t the same. Every time I would complain, “God, I just want to watch Scrubs.” One of my friends lent me the two random seasons he had on DVD, but it just wasn’t the same. I watch start to finish. It’s my own personal Autism – I can’t just jump right in to a season, I have to watch the story from the very beginning and see it through to the end where I cry like a baby every time he turns to walk down the hallway. Every. Time.

Legos help me to focus. When I’m building, I’m concentrating. I see my accomplishment come to fruition right before my eyes. It makes me feel good to see something I made. Like, you see that cool ass thing? Yeah, I BUILT that cool ass thing. It helps with my confidence, especially when I’m feeling depressed and fragile. I know I can sit and build and make something awesome.

He gets me. He essentially gave me a survival package for Christmas. I giggled the whole time I opened my presents. Each season was wrapped individually with a fun pet name on it. I couldn’t love him more.

The kids had a wonderful Christmas, too. This year was really the first year that I think Girl Child actually GOT IT. She opened her presents and played with everything so far. She got a guitar. It’s not tuned but she walked around strumming the guitar and singing the Veggie Tales theme song. She got an amusement park Lego set with a rollercoaster (one of her favorite things) and she is playing WITH it. She’s putting the people in the cars. She is making them wait in line, go through the turn style, walking around the park, and saying Yay! on the rides. She got some little Minions and Super Hero Girls and they all get to hang out at the amusement park, too. Fun is for everyone, right?

It’s amazing to watch her transition in to imaginative play, rather than just lining things up. It may have taken her 9.5 years to figure it out, but she’s DOING it, she is PLAYING. She wouldn’t let me play WITH her, but we will work on that. ; ) It’s awesome.

Cayden lost his god damned mind as he opened his presents. He was far more excited about his Zelda socks than I thought he would be. That little shit knew what Lego sets we got him too. He moved his presents to his spot and goes, “Oh, this looks like the Garma Mech box. This looks like the Arkham box.” Bitch, that shit is wrapped in paper, how you know what set it is??? Stupid Autistic memory for box shapes. ; ) He was right though and was still very excited to get some of the sets he asked for… and one that he didn’t.

We had one very large box that was wrapped for the Family. It had to be opened last. BC was very good about other presents and waiting to unwrap this big mamma jamma in the middle of the room. Finally the time came to open the present. He quickly unwrapped it only to find a plain brown box that said “Lego Building Toy” around the top. He was confused and was like… ok… So he got the scissors and I sliced the tape around the top. He opened the lid and lost his mind – he couldn’t get it out of the box. It was Ninjago City.

The box weighs, I shit you not, like twenty pounds. At least.

He insisted on carrying it around. He was SO excited. Totally worth it. I’m excited to build it ; D I can’t wait to take pictures. That thing is going to be massive and so much fun. It’s got all these different rooms and shops, it’s going to be a fun build. He is going to have a blast with it on his Lego table. Family gift – Mom builds, Kids play. Everybody wins!

I was REALLY anxious about Kevin’s and my Mom’s gift. All my balls were in one sack for their presents. I gave my Mom a framed picture collage of the family from our wedding. I gave Kevin a drawing of our family – Simpsonized. I’ve never given just ONE present before, so I was super anxious about them liking their gifts. I’m glad they did… although I kept asking Kevin over and over if he liked it… because I have problems. And that’s ok.

I hope you all had a nice holiday – whichever way you celebrate.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

291: desire & depression

I have little to no motivation to get up and work today. My job is ABA. I get paid to do what I failed at.

And it wasn’t even a hard fail, either. I hate that they use the word “Fail.” I didn’t receive scores equivalent of an F, so I didn’t Fail – I just didn’t pass.

I slept last night though, which was a nice change up. So huge shout out to girl child for sleeping through the night so *I* could sleep through the night.

I need to create a study plan. I think it’s going to involve answering every question I can get my hands on. Answer without thinking about it. Maybe redo those fucking BDS modules. Those were the bane of my existence. I don’t know. February is going to come quickly, I’m sure.

Just when I thought, oh sweet, I can actually read OTHER books now – I don’t have to study…. Kidding! Your life is still consumed by ABA. Which is fine, I suppose, it’s my job and it will only make me better at what I do, right? The more proficient I am in my field, the better I can serve others right? That’s how that works?

“I’m dejected, but only momentarily.” I need the momentarily to subside.

I could really use some Christmas cheer.

And a shower.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

290: try, try, TRY again.

Ladies and gentlemen, the results have come out: I did not pass the BCBA exam. Again.

It’s only by a tiny margin. Again.

I just barely not passed. Again.

I saw people in the study groups posting their results. I knew I didn’t pass. What the BACB does is sends out emails to those who passed. Those of us who didn’t don’t find out till later on. All the winners are notified first.

I’m not exactly sure how to attack studying this go round. I don’t quite know if there are any more terms that I don’t know. I’ve combed through my books, guides, and testing materials countless times. I’m not sure what piece of the puzzle I’m missing.

Test taking skills, I suppose. I know the material. I know how to use it. Give me a test, though, and apparently – forget about it.

Just like last time, I’ll figure out a plan. I’ll look over things and figure out a new plan.

I’ve been reading through Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg the past few days. She is truly an inspirational lady. Quiet, precise, underestimated, intelligent. She is a passionate lady, a fighter for justice and equality. She’s a very inspirational person. She always strives to do her personal best, in all realms.

I really concentrate on what’s on my plate at the moment and do the very best I can.                                 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Except she is a supreme court justice who had to overcome tremendous odds and discrimination. She has children. Two. She had a husband who had cancer. Twice. And overcame it. Twice. I didn’t pass the exam. Twice.

Sigh.

I’m not giving up though. It’s just not in my blood.

I’m dejected, but only momentarily, when I can’t get the fifth vote for something I think is very important. But then you go on to the next challenge and you give it your all. You know that these important issues are not going to go away. They are going to come back again and again. There’ll be another time, another dayRBG

While that quote doesn’t directly translate to how I’m feeling or my situation, I feel that the message does. I’m dejected, but only momentarily. It’s okay to feel let down, sad, depressed, frustrated – but don’t be consumed by it. Feel like it shit, but only momentarily.

But then you go on to the next challenge and you give it your all. Fuckin’ A, RBG. Maybe I didn’t get it the first time or even this time, BUT I’m going to look ahead to this next exam and do what I do – give it my all.

I’m always concerned that my all isn’t good enough. It’s something that comes back again and again. This exam has definitely been pure examples of my best NOT being good enough. I’ve had to swallow that pill and keep on going. I have people who believe in me, who know that I know the content, who know and see me putting it all successfully in to practice, who know that I will pass this exam another time, another day. It will be well earned and meaningful.

It’s a goal and achievement that I have set for myself and I fully intend on following through with it. I’ve achieved just about everything else I have set my mind to. I guess I’m just going to have to be an ABA machine for this next exam. I don’t know how much fun I’ll be over the next few months, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

While I may not be a Supreme Court Justice, I still believe that what I do is important. Working with people and families to improve their quality of life – that is important. To give someone a voice, to give someone independence, to give someone confidence – these are amazing gifts. I take what I do very seriously and am passionate about improving the lives of others.

Sometimes, it helps to be a little deaf. – RBG

So, maybe I needed to read this book right now. Maybe I needed to have that input. Maybe, sometimes, I need to be a little deaf – to myself. Deaf to the doubts. Deaf to the distractions. Deaf to the depression. Deaf to the discomfort. Only hear the words of knowledge and encouragement.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

288: forced family fun time

I’m sure it comes as no big shocker that I absolutely love playing games. And I love spending time with my family. So what better thing to do than play games with my family? To me, that’s a brilliant beyond brilliant idea! However, it’s not always met with the same enthusiasm by the rest of my clan.

As a kid, we played games ALL. THE. TIME. Sorry, Life, Trouble, Clue, Crack the Case, card games, Monopoly – you name it, we played it. I remember being like six years old and playing poker for pennies with my family. We had a Monopoly desperation box, where the more well-off players could make the others squirm for their meager dollars to pay rent. How little we knew how close to real life THAT was.

Anyway.

I love games and I love my family. Cayden really wasn’t able to play games until…. eh, a handful of years ago. He didn’t have the skills to do it. Now, he can and it’s like yesssss – let’s play ALL the games! The only game that kid ever wants to play is Clue…. which is why we have like five versions of that game. Probably more than that, honestly. He’s AWFUL at Clue, but loves the imaginative aspect of it.

We recently had a game night where one of our friends showed Kevin how to play Super Munchkin. He taught Cayden and I how to play and we have already played it a few times. It’s actually been a GREAT game for Cayden and his imagination. It’s simple math and a lot of fun. You get to build your supersuit, fight bad guys, screw over the other players – it’s a good time. I always lose, but it’s a good time ; D

Backing up a little bit, Cayden came home a few days ago and told me he had something to show me… What he had to show me is what happens when you drop your clarinet on the ground – mouthpiece first. What happens is – you have no mouthpiece. SO. Since he broke the mouthpiece, we told him that he had kitty poop duty (doody, hah) till the new year and no video games until after Christmas.

I gotta hand it to the kid – he’s been really great about it. He’ll play legos, read, sit with us – but NOT play video games.

This is also where forced family fun time comes in. Last night I said to pick a game. It was met with opposition by BOTH boys of the house. Cayden, “No, I don’t WANNA play a game.” Kevin, “No, I don’t WANNA have forced family fun time. I’ve had more forced family fun time over the past year than I have in my entire life.” Me, “GOOD. CAUSE FAMILY FUN TIME IS FUN.” Cayden begrudgingly went downstairs to pick a game (and tried to get away with playing Candyland – get the fuck outta here) and Kevin begrudgingly said he would play until precisely 7 o’clock… Because wrestling was on.

-_-

We landed on Super Munchkin and ended up playing, happily, until about 730p. Family fun time win.

Until 3 this morning when Doods decided she wanted to have her OWN sort of forced family fun time…. She woke up, was loud, and I went to lay with her. She was completely obnoxious and kept insisting that I was a mattress or pillow until I heard some more voices in the house which told me morning had come and it was time to give up the dance with Doods.

So I walked out in to the kitchen and was met with two blank faces, “Oh, you’re up here already?”

Nope, just a figment of your imagination. This is some other exhausted lady in pajammies standing in the kitchen. I’m not REALLY here. There is no spoon.

Me (sleep deprived and angry): “How did you not notice that I wasn’t in bed with you this morning!?”

Mustache (well rested and jovial): “Well, you don’t give me much room to sleep on the bed, so I never really notice, hahahaha. I loooovee yeewww.”

Ha. Ha. Ha. Good thing the house wasn’t on fire. Cripes.

On we went about our mornings – Doods to the bus, I took Cayden to school (who did VERY well with leaving later than his normal time) *PAUSE*

I have to say, the WHOLE car ride to school, Cayden was poised – leaning forward in anticipation – like, “Dear sweet God, I’m going to be late! If I lean forward, it should generate some more power and speed. Let’s go! Tally-ho! I need to get to the institution of learning!” I literally put my hand on his forehead and gently pushed him back in to his seat. He laughed, genuinely, then resumed his post at the ready.

*UNPAUSE* I came back home and just started working bright and early. Start early, end early, right? Figured I would use up all my brain power before Kaylee got home. I had full intentions of exercising this morning and going on a visit BUT lack of sleep and a migraine will change those plans in a heartbeat.

It seriously has been really great to adjust/adapt my schedule as necessary. Oh hey body, you wanna suck today? It’s cool, nbd. Oh hey Doods, you gonna be a jerk child and not sleep? It’s cool, nbd. It’s been really great.

Random aside: I still need a filing cabinet.

Anywho. I think I’m going to make myself some more coffee, grab my kindle and read till Doodleberry comes home. I’ve been reading Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith and I gotta say… I’m over halfway and I’m just not really in to it. I had hopes, but it’s very…. Like, okay, if Virginia Woolf decided to write a modern The Catcher in the Rye which included giant praying mantis, a whole lotta fuckin’, chainsmoking and a touch of Asperger’s – you’d have this book. We’ll see if that assessment changes after I finish it.

It makes me want to re-read Ready Player One – but read it Cayden. I’m not seeing the movie when it comes out. I hate adaptations. I fucking HATED The Hobbit. Absolutely livid about that one. I immediately went back and reread the book after I saw the movie because it was so frustrating to me. The book is perfect the way it is. Silly movie makers.

Now, I know the author of Ready Player One helped with the script but just… no. No. Even the visuals of the previews – no. Seeing the physique of the main character – no. Just, no. Sorry, I’m an asshole about adaptations. Full disclosure.

Okay, enough of that. Time to wait for the sleepless terror that is my beautiful girl child.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

284: fortitude

Today, I have a site visit, meeting, exercise, and wake.

That last thing, it gets me. I’ve been to wakes and funerals before – family, friends of the family, children, former clients… This one is difficult.

My friend, she is… amazing. She has endured so much hardship and handles it with a better future in sight. Her husband had so much love for her, he lived for her, he would do anything to see her happy. She has the patience of a saint and the ferocity of a quiet lion. She has power and capabilities that I don’t know she fully is aware of and acknowledges. It’s amazing to see her navigate through challenges.

Not that I want anyone to undergo challenges in their life. But it’s amazing to see her keep going. Keep pushing. Keep working. Keep caring and opening her heart for herself and her family. I feel beyond blessed to know such an amazing person and to call her my friend.

It breaks my heart to have to say goodbye to someone who loved her so endlessly and fortuitously. I hope she is able to heal.

My other friend, the one who’s husband had a stroke, she set up a separate page to keep us all updated on his progress. She has shown incredible strength throughout this entire process. He has been making progress, which is awesome. They are another example of love, care, and partnership. She said that one of the first things he did after he woke up was pantomime for a kiss. I hope his healing comes quickly.

It makes me so glad to have Kevin in my life. To have someone who looks out for me and loves me endlessly. Who wants to see me happy and healthy. I hope everyone can experience that kind of love and relationship.

It just keeps reassuring – be kind every day. Be nice every day. Show love to everyone every day. You just don’t know what they are going through and you don’t know if this is the last time you’re going to see them. Let the little stuff go. Apologize. Say I love you. Go to that place. Spend those few extra dollars every now and again. Snatch those hugs and kisses. Give all the high fives. Learn all the things. Move that stick out of the road. Help in the ways you can. Take that mental health day.

Life is too short. You only have one and you just don’t know how much time that is. Make every single day count.

It’s hard to focus on anything else at this juncture. I gotta switch gears for work. The nice thing is – behavior is all encompassing. At least, for me, I have to focus. I have to pay attention to everything that’s happening. It’s like… being a forensic investigator – see things others don’t in order to get the answer.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

283: anxiety & accountibilibuddy

Yesterday I was a mess of anxiety. I’m still adjusting to and learning the full scope of expectations for my new job.

I always want to do a good job. I’ve learned it’s okay to not have to be the best, but I really want to do a good job. Preferably a great job, but I’ll take good job. I always want to do my best… and I always hope that my best equates to a great job.

I feel like I’m playing catch up on my caseload, similar to when I started as a case manager. I’ve gotten a better handle on how to approach it – daily and overall. The state of some of these makes me sad, but I guess that’s what I’m here for, right?

I decided to take my exercise schedule one day at a time. Meaning, the day before I’m going to look at what my schedule for the next day is and decide when in that time I’m going to work out. It’s clear that trying to stick to any kind of “regular” schedule isn’t going to work and it was just getting me really frustrated.

It almost reminds me of when I was working retail. I knew I was going to work every week, but didn’t know when till the week before. So that’s when I would decide on when I’m going to work out. Clearly that worked because I had lost 65 pounds and maintained it for years.

It’s interesting, really, once I had a more regular/set schedule, I found it significantly more difficult to work out. I didn’t (and don’t) want to take time away from my family time. That’s the most important thing. I chose them over exercise.

I’m not a morning person, so getting up at 5 to work out just isn’t in the cards for me. I don’t always get sleep, so 5am and I are friends with the bed. That leaves the rest of the day.

I used to work out after the kids went to bed. However, I used to be alone. Now I have Kevin and I kinda like him and like to spend time with him. I’m okay with an occasional night time work out, but not every night.

Truly, working from home does allow me the ability to do this kind of self care and I’m grateful for it. It’s just been a matter of adjustment and figuring it out. Little bumps in the road, but I’ll get there.

One thing that has been super helpful is having an Accountibilibuddy. It’s my awesome friend Fish from Unshaven Comics. We check in with each other once a day – how’d you eat? did you work out today? Basic things. Sometimes we fail and that’s okay. It’s nice to get that daily pep talk and assurance. I’ve never had one before and it’s been very helpful.

My motivation that last time I lost weight was incredibly vain and I acknowledge that. I had such a strong motivation to be desired, that’s all I needed. I don’t really have that right now, thankfully, because I have a husband who’s awesome and loves me no matter what. So it’s trying to figure out my motivation this time… I don’t really have any, other than just actually accomplishing a goal.

Since I’m a goal-oriented person, that works for me. I create goals and smash them. I’ll get there with this one. Just need to get over this period of adjustment… And shower, ’cause I’m gross, ’cause I exercised ; D