Today's SNSS guest? Has more kids than you do. OK, more than 99.9% of you do. She has seven. Which is why Caryn Haluska tweets as @ihave7monsters and refers to herself as the "Monster Momma" (& her home as "Monster House") on her blog Living with Logan.
Caryn writes about life with Logan, her 3 year old son with issues (ASD, SPD, seizures & severe food allergies) and the rest of the gang, including Logan's twin who has some SPD issues of his own.
It's a busy, busy household. But one that is also clearly full of love and understanding, if rather shy on peace.
Although she gets some flack for it, she stands by referring to her kids as monsters. It's because she means it like Jim Henson's monsters: adorable and unique.
Her blog's tag line is: "What we've learned as a family because we have the HONOR of Logan being a part of it" and that beautiful sentiment says it all about where she is coming from, always.
So now it's time for me to stop talking and for you to read Caryn's lovely essay about her family, here:
How Will They Know? - by Caryn Haluska
I sit outside, contemplating the opportunity I've been given to contribute to this series. I think about what to write, while enjoying the cool of a late summer night in Southern Utah, breathing in the smell of flower pots dripping with pansies, alyssum and violets, and listening to the crickets sing.
The stars wink at me as I compose in my head what I will write about my beloved Monster House. This is my sanctuary~ a front porch step late at night, and the serenity nature offers.
It is, in fact, the only time I get to have absolute quiet and “me time.” And it never lasts more than ten minutes. So, I've had my ten minutes, and have come in to write. I'm hoping it comes out as well in print as it did in my head.
Life in a family with seven children, even if they were all NT children, would be hectic. Life in a family with seven children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum, has SPD (extreme non-seeker), seizures and crazy amounts of food allergies is somewhat more than hectic. Add in a couple of older sibs with learning difficulties, and a twin with SPD (total seeker), and things just get more interesting.
To prepare for this submission, I asked the monsters (1-4, as #5 was already asleep) to give me three words each about Logan, in no particular order, with no particular subject... just the first three words that popped into their heads when I said Logan's name. They didn't even have to be polite, as long as they were honest.
The Daddy liked this idea so much, he joined in as well, so I'm including his contribution, too.
Cuddle Lion Logan
Cuddle Lion Logan
Logan is his siblings' favorite teddy bear. They fight over holding him, and they cry when he's had enough and wants nothing more to do with them. He can make them laugh, and he knows just how to get them to come running with a well thought out shriek.
He can make them jealous, and he can make them proud, all within the same few minutes. Truly, Logan and #6 have brought all my children closer together.
The first thing everyone should know is: Logan and #6 are the babies. They just turned three at the beginning of the summer. The “older kids,” as we call #1-#5, range in age from 17 to 6, so I am extremely blessed to have a lot of help where Logan is concerned.
Logan's phenomenal progress in speech, motor skills, and other areas is largely in part to the efforts of his older brothers and sisters. So much so, I have had to put my foot down upon occasion and remind them, “Logan is not a trained monkey! Let the child alone for a bit!”
Certainly, we are not without flaws. There have been occasions where one monster or another would become upset with the amount of time it took to arrange therapies, doctors' appointments, write for the blog, talk to other special needs parents, etc. We have had to squash all the monsters' hopes of having a pet because of Logan's allergies, much to the dismay of #3.
My #4 especially, has a rough time. She kept asking why Logan was the only one I wrote about, the only one with a picture in my blog header; at one point she asked why he was the only one I loved.
She is largely the reason for the blog makeover, and my shift to more posts about everyone. I am proud of ALL my monsters. I never want them to wonder.
As part of an agreement I have with the older monsters, I don't write a lot -if at all- about their learning difficulties. They are my #1 and #2, and they read my blog, along with their friends.
They are so proud of Logan. I think their struggles have helped them be more compassionate and understanding with him. My #2 and Logan have a special bond that defies explanation, and it has been so since the very first time they saw each other.
It's difficult for the older ones, I think. They are old enough to understand the definition of the “R word”, and have heard it said in reference to Logan by small minded people around town. But they just don't understand why the “R word” would apply to him.
It is hard for them to think of Logan as having any kind of disability. They truly don't see it. At the Monster House, he's just Logan... not autism, not SPD, or anything else. He's their brother. And that's how we like it.
When I told them the other day at dinner that I had a meeting to help the school get ready for him, every last one of those monsters looked at me like I was nuts. And #1 asked the question for all of them: “Why? What's to get ready? He's coming to school.”
We agonize as parents. I question myself constantly, wondering if I'm being as accessible to all my monsters as I am to Logan and #6. The Daddy makes a concentrated effort to spend time with each child one on one after work, though he travels for business frequently and his time is not his own as often as he would like. It is things like this, I think, that causes siblings to lean a little more on each other, and grow closer.
I love watching the monsters together. There are fights, certainly. Far more than I am comfortable with. And there are times that the verbal warfare escalates to physical. We have raging teenage hormones and 11 year old drama queen syndrome.
There are twinnie meltdowns that are so intense I simply am not able to be available to anyone else while they are going on. There is jealousy, and resentment upon occasion. I hate having to say to one monster or another, “I'm sorry, baby. I just can't. I haven't slept. Logan and #6 had a very rough night.” It's all too frequent an occurrence, and I have a physical ache every time.
We incorporate family time with therapy. Most times it works. We have disco floors out of couch cushions. We have crazy fun cutting paper with scissors for no purpose other than, Logan likes it and it's great for fine motor and hand/eye coordination.
We go on walks together while the twinnies learn to ride tricycles. We play around with new “Logan safe” recipes. That rubber bread will go down in family history.
Our largest quality is the ability to adapt. I hope we never, ever lose that.
But I wonder, when it's all said and done... will my best have been good enough? Will they all know that they have special places in my mothers heart, that Logan and #6 are not the only ones there?
And how can I make sure of that? How will they know?
Reading this post, I just kept thinking about what a gift it is for Logan and his twin to have such an involved, loving family. And I want to hug Caryn and tell her: "Of course they know, it shines through in every word you write."
So now that you have read Caryn here, you are going to go follow her home, right? You will find her at her blog Living with Logan. Try this post, where Caryn shares why she lovingly calls them "Monsters", or this one about how hard it is to grocery shop for (and cook for and feed) a child with severe food allergies.
Want to see the magic she talks about between her big boy #2 and Logan? Look at this post here. Want to laugh? Read this hysterical post about how #5 became notorious.
Also? You are definitely going to want to follow Caryn on Twitter, and go "like" her on her Facebook page.
Thank you so much, Caryn, for sharing your large, wonderful, funny, loving family with us here today.
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