Archive for 2021

Giving New Life to Old Projects

Posted February 25, 2021 By kmarrs

As you may know, I wrote a memoir about 6 years ago. However, I’m far enough out from the project that I know I could have done better. Like better editing for one.

Anyway, I paid the editors that my friend Joy Demora works with (read her book!) to give it a read to see if I had, I don’t know, I guess solid bones. Did I have a book worth spending hundreds of dollars and hours to edit was the question?

Turns out I in fact do!

My initial book is too ambitious trying to be like 3 things at once and that is not working. But they like my voice and they suggested a focus that will potentially sell.

So I’m going to spend the next year or so in rewrites with that focus in mind and resubmit my book to them and get started on editing with my tax return that I’ll see next year.

I have a lot of work to do but I feel confident that I have a story worth telling and the voice needed to tell it. I feel really good about this.

In related news, I also have a children’s picture book I released around that time that is currently undergoing a major art overhaul featuring the art of my good friend @ain-individual. I have seen sketches and concept work and am really excited for this project! I’m not sure when that book will be re-released into the wild as art takes time and 2020 was shit so it’s only recently been kicked into gear but it’s cute and I’m excited to share it when it’s done!

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Learning to Fail

Posted February 18, 2021 By kmarrs

A few weeks ago, I asked Tumblr the following:

So I want to talk about parenting a gifted kid. Because I don’t honestly know if I’m doing it right. Please know I’m doing my best and in good faith seek advice.

For the past like 3 or 4 years, my 13yo Lucas, who is autistic and has ADHD which he’s medicated for, has been in the gifted program. I almost didn’t let them put him in it because I know the horrors of being gifted, but I was assured he’d never be pulled out of class, he’d just be doing slightly different assignments. When questioned he didn’t even realize he was doing gifted program work, that’s how integrated it was. I was assured he was doing different things, even if he didn’t realize it. Ok. That’s great. I let him stay in the program all through intermediate school (4-6).

He’s always brought home good grades. I’ve never cared about grades. I care about effort, whatever that means for the individual child.

Then the pandemic hit and the end of last year and all of this year became online. I’m sure I don’t have to tell y’all that online school and ADHD don’t mix.

With a complete lack of structure, he’s putting my disinterest in grades to the test. I think he is trying his best but the executive dysfunction is a bitch and he just can’t get anything done except under complete duress that’s exhausting and traumatizing for everyone involved. And even then he was suddenly failing everything. Everything.

At some point, I’m not exactly sure when, but I was probably a really tired single mother in that moment, I just radically accepted that this year is a wash and he’s probably going to be repeating 7th grade.

I’m not even mad. I’m just tired.

And I haven’t stopped encouraging him to do the work. We talk about what it means to repeat a grade. We discuss these kids he’s grown up with leaving him behind. We discuss that it’s not too late to catch up. But honestly fam, as the autistic kid, he doesn’t really have any friends he wants to keep up with. (That part hurts my heart more than anything.)

But I’ve just radically accepted that this year being online was doomed to fail and instead of being angry at him, I’ve made failing ok. I know if he were in an actual classroom he’d be fine. But he’s not so I have to accept the consequences.

Is that the right thing to do? What would you want your parents to do in this situation? I’m asking in earnest!

Every response I received was filled with encouragement that I was doing the right thing by him. Overwhelmingly people told me how they wish their parents had taught them failing was ok and how to fail. Because you know what? Sometimes you fail in life.

Which got me reflecting on teenage me in high school. I was undiagnosed with ADHD and Autism, severely depressed, and blossoming into having Borderline Personality Disorder. My grades, my senior year especially were a mess! And while my mom didn’t yell or punish me, it was very clear I had disappointed her, and that hurt. Instead of being taught how to fail, I was taught that I needed to achieve a certain level to be acceptable.

Fast forward more than 10 years to when I started college. I had it in my head that failure wasn’t an option, only somehow I got the message that anything less than an A was a failure. Sure I graduated 6 years later with top Latin honors, but I also almost died repeatedly because I had stopped making my own blood. If I had been taught to fail or at least accept less than an A, I might have spent less time writing final papers while getting blood transfusions. The two should never mix.

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Piecing Myself Back Together

Posted February 12, 2021 By kmarrs

This is late because I failed to write a post on Wednesday to schedule for the usual time Thursday, but I’m just going to let that be ok.

Physically I’m on the mend. I got an iron infusion on Wednesday so here soon I should have some blood. I already have more than I did when I went to the ER a couple of weeks ago. Not a lot more, but when I got labs done right before the infusion, I was up a tenth of a point. This means the mass amounts of B12 I’m taking is actually working. There was just no recovering from Covid without an infusion, no matter how much B12 I take.

Ziggy is doing better. We have hired a trainer to give him 4 private lessons. As of this point, he’s just had his third lesson, and while he still has work to do, he’s come a long way. He’s 95% stopped being aggressive and we’ve had the start of a breakthrough with the chewing on people to play and show affection. Again, we have work to do still, but I feel hope.

We had a setback for a couple of weeks there where despite taking him out hourly he was peeing in the house. But it didn’t seem to me like he was marking. It seemed like he legit had to pee all the time and couldn’t hold it any longer so he’d just stop what he was doing and pee where he was. So I took him to the vet so they could check for a UTI. While his pee looked clear and healthy, there was noticeable swelling still from when he was neutered a few weeks prior, so the vet went ahead and put him on antibiotics. And within a day he stopped peeing all over my house. After a week of taking him out hourly, and him not having accidents, we pushed things back to where we were taking him out every 90 minutes, and still, he wasn’t having accidents. We’re now on the first day of taking him out every 2 hours. Here in a handful of days, if he still isn’t peeing all over my house, we’ll inch it back to every 2.5 hours. Eventually, we’ll get to where he can go 6-8 hours without being taken out. I know it’s possible because he can make it overnight as long as he’s taken out at 9 pm and again at 7:30 am. That’s a long stretch and he does it well. I am taking it slowly during the day though because while he’s a dog and doesn’t notice the difference between 90 minutes and a full 2 hours, he will notice the difference if we jump from, let’s say, every 2 hours to 4. I need him to have faith that we are aware he needs to potty regularly and we’re never going to fail to take him outside to do so.

I don’t think his previous owner was as thoughtful. While Ziggy is obviously housebroken, I don’t think he spent his first year of life in a loving and thoughtful environment. If he had, they would have trained him. I think they just bought a dog expecting it to be easy and then when they didn’t train Ziggy became a handful, and then when he was a handful he was abandoned. Now we have an energetic untrained dog with separation anxiety.

So we’re doing what should have happened a year ago. We’re loving him. We’re training him. We’re using positive reinforcement. He’s a good boy and we’re helping him be his best self.

Finally, a story to tie the physical health beginning of this post to the Ziggins update.

Ziggy tends to his momma at night when she’s going to bed. Her anxiety is at it’s worse then and he helps comfort her. But Zigs is aware that I’m not well and he’s very fussy about me. Anyway, when I got home from my iron infusion on Wednesday I sat down on the sofa with him and Sammy and I must have smelled different with that much pure iron coursing through me because he thoroughly smelled me all over investigating the difference. He’s a good boy and will make a good ESA.

Have a happy dog cuddling his grandmother.
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Falling Apart

Posted February 4, 2021 By kmarrs

Life is a struggle right now. My hemoglobin is an 8.8 and I’m just so tired. And I’m overwhelmed with dog stuff. I’m not getting enough sleep most nights, considering I need 10-12 hours a night which just isn’t possible. I’m stressed. I’m tired. I’m depressed.

Things will get better. But in the meantime I just want to hibernate.

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Struggles with Zachary

Posted January 28, 2021 By kmarrs

While this is a sweet photo between a girl and her dog, I wish it were the full story.

Ziggy is turning aggressive. He spends the bulk of his time as sweet as can be, but every now and then it’s like a switch has flipped and we can’t find the trigger, whatever it may be.

He started obedience training this week. I’ve paid for 4 private sessions so we can put our best effort into helping him be his best self. Hopefully we see progress, because if he continues to be aggressive I have to put the safety of my kids first. I love this dog and he helps Sammy feel safe and secure, but my kids are a bigger priority.

On the lighter side, while playing fetch with a ball doesn’t seem to be working, because he won’t return the ball, we’ve discovered that he’ll happily wear himself out chasing a lazer pointer so long as there are regular treats to catch for his effort. I’m hoping the exercise works to calm him. That would be nice.

We also learned he is good with other dogs, so the dog park will eventually be an option.

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Zachary

Posted January 21, 2021 By kmarrs

Meet Zachary! He’s high strung and mouthy but he’ll settle in. Need to train him out of chewing on people as a sign of affection. But it is affection and not aggression. So we’ll work with him.

So Zachy is a year old pretty much exactly. And whomever he lived with before did like zero training during the crucial training time.

He likes to chew on hands and arms to play and I need to break him of that. We’re responding like a hurt dog would, crying out in pain and going limp in the arm and it sometimes works. We’re also distracting with his favorite toy. But with the idea that he needs to play with people, we’re also teaching him fetch as a safe outlet for play with humans and a release of energy.

He is a chewer in general. We’ll work on that next. For now certain bedrooms are off limits and Sammy’s lovies are living on the top bunk.

He’s also having accidents inside. Of both types. He’s being taken out every 3 hours almost around the clock but we need to step it up to every hour or 2 as long as someone is awake. We’ll also start dispensing treats and praise when he goes outside. And shame him when he has an accident inside.

Then of course we’ll work on basic commands. I think I’m going to enroll him in obedience school. I was planning to train him at home, but I think we might need help. The catch is everything is closed because of covid. So we’ll work with him in the meantime and see what happens. I’d just really like him to learn leash manners and recall so the 9yo can walk him solo. That is a ways off but it’s a goal for the future.

We took on a challenge of a dog with special needs and I had an idea of that going into it. He’s a good dog and he means well, he just had bad humans before. I refuse to fault him for that even as I strive to correct him and train him. He’ll be a fine ESA dog with some work. He’s already made Sammy happier. So the future is bright.

I figure most the people in this house have special needs of one type or another. We all need a little extra help and love. So I have love and patience for a good dog that needs extra care. It’ll pay off in the end.

It’s like… ok…

My 13yo chews to stim. He used to chew on charging cords cuz good stim texture. Drove me crazy. But I discovered stim chews necklaces and keep him supplied (his current one is shaped like a sloth. Sloths are his current Special Interest.) and as a result he’s stopped chewing charging cords.

So I’m going to directly compare to the dog that chews. We’ll teach him not to chew humans and other things and we’ll keep him supplied in his favorite chew toy, and it’ll work out.

Both autistic kids and poorly trained dogs, while not generally comparable, do require extra patience and consideration as to how you can meet their needs safely. In this, there is no difference.

Please know 2 things.

1. I would not trade my 13yo for anything.

2. Unless this dog becomes aggressive and my kids are in danger, I will lovingly teach him better habits. And would not trade him for anything.

I love with my whole heart and unconditionally.

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