Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Ball of Yarn: A Lesson in Patience

My glasses broke this morning --again. The screw is loose and the lens popped out. Funny thing is, the spare pair is in the same predicament. I tend to fall asleep reading so (I do not recommend this) I tend to sleep with them on. I've rarely worn contact lenses after J's birth because most are uncomfortable for me. I know that there are some made for astigmatism but I've found they tend to be fairly expensive. So glasses it is, even though I'm very hard on them. Anyway, J only knows me as me with my glasses on. I don't look right to him without them. So when he came into the bedroom to see if I was awake enough to fix breakfast (at 5:30 in the morning? I don't think so, Pal), he placed the lens back in the frame and handed them to me. 

He's my Mr. Fixit. Things should be "just so". It's one of the things that makes me smile and simultaneously pulls at my heart. I can see the intelligence there. He makes the connections that some things should be a certain way and he does his best to make it so. He spent twenty minutes on my lamp a few weeks back, knowing it should be on at night. I was making do with the one on the other side of the bed to read by. That wasn't good enough for J. It should be on. (The light had blown and I hadn't bought any bulbs to replace it yet) He was determined to get mine working and even found another light bulb (blown, of course, and who knows how it got there) under the bed. That didn't work either, of course. But he kept working at it so intently that I snagged one from another room and handed it over. 

Somehow I'm not making the connection that makes all the pieces fit. Like J, I try and try, but somehow I'm missing something. While J has patience and tenacity to continue until he is satisfied with the results, I tend to be a little more impatient. I want J to talk now. I want a new place to live now. I'm slowly catching on, though.

On Thanksgiving we made the impulsive decision to visit The Hubby's Mom and sister. We live about an hour and a half away from them and don't get to to see them as often as we'd like. We'd already had Thanksgiving with my Mom and brother because of the Hubby's work schedule. I was thinking of a nice quiet day at home. Well, we had a nice, fairly quiet and fun day with family! 

During one of the quieter moments I sat with Mom while she crocheted some Christmas ornaments.  One of the skeins of yarn had gotten tangled and slightly knotted so she handed it over to me to fix. Had it been mine I might have simply taken scissors and cut the problem out. Instead I sat and slowly worked at it, enjoying the stories Mom told as she created something beautiful. Soon enough the ball of yarn in my lap was useful again. It made me think about life and how sometimes it gets all knotted up and confusing and seemingly unworkable. When I handle the problem myself I don't always come up with the greatest solution, and I sometimes lose out in the end. But when I hand over the ball of yarn to God and ask for help, it works out. It's not always what I want, when I want, or even how fast I want. It takes time. I'm seeing that in life right now. For whatever reason, I'm still here in a house that I'm not happy with but I'm trying to be thankful for.  One more thing fell into place yesterday. One more step toward the goal of a home. God still has the ball of yarn in his lap, working out the knots as I let him. Yes, I keep trying to handle things on my own at times. I don't do nearly as good a job of fixing as He does.   

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gratituesday: Thankful for Waiting

Yup, I'm still here. Haven't moved yet, although I have been packing some, in anticipation of getting out of here.
  No, I'm not the picture of patience. I too am a product of today's microwave society. Gotta have it now. I'm not happy about waiting. But I'm learning to be thankful for the chance. Being impatient is part of the reason we ended up in this particular abode in the first place. Not a good choice.

 In the past several years I've been waiting, on one thing or another. Obviously, I haven't learned what I'm supposed to yet because that particular one keeps coming up. This time, (I hope) is different. This time I'm being a little more patient and waiting on the right doors to open up. Am I happy that I will be living here possibly through Thanksgiving and maybe even Christmas? Nope. Not a bit. I'd rather live anywhere than here. But not being happy about one particular thing in my life isn't going to affect my JOY.  I have too much to be thankful for. I have a roof over my head and food in my belly. My family and I are healthy. Minus an episode on Sunday, J has been doing well the last four months or so. The list could go on. And does. 
  I'll admit, I've stamped my little foot in frustration at houses being rented before we even get a chance to see them (the last one was 99% rented yet we were allowed to look the place over, at the very same moment as the young man who had first dibs on the place. Sigh! Yup, he took it). The one thing I need to remember is God's timing is His own. Not mine. The next place for us to live will show up. I'm holding on to that promise. 

I've seen what happens when I do things on my own. I'd rather be dependent on God. 

 Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Packing, Moving, and Hiding Places...Or, Have You Seen Where J Hid the Packing Tape?

For at least two years now I've been wanting to move. For the past six months, it has turned into a must move. While I'm grateful to have a roof over our heads, this place really isn't much more than that. Even with the little we pay in rent for this place, we continue to struggle financially because The Hubs works so far away (about 50 miles one way, five days a week) for pay that is good but not great. So we are looking for a place closer in. No rentals that we can afford have shown up in the city he works in (that isn't an apartment, in any case. Those wont work because J gets very loud much of the time and we have pets) so we have found a place a little farther out. 

This new place is small from what I understand, but I'm hoping this is what we need. We haven't seen the place in person yet --hope to this week. But The Hubs has checked the maps online and it looks as if he can shave off at least ten miles each way in heading to work. If this is the case, then we're going to make the place work. If the mileage is the same... we will be back to square one until another answer comes along. 

In the meantime, I'm already packing. So far not much has been boxed up other than cookbooks, kitchen decorations, linens, and a few baking pieces that I can live without for the next few weeks. However, I've discovered a few things about our dear son since last night. For instance:
  • Packing tape and markers are fair game and will be hidden if left out over night (I still haven't found the hiding place for them and I can only hope that the tape is still on its dispenser. Packing tape is evil without that flimsy piece of plastic).
  • In an effort to be helpful and put away things his crazy parents left out, a roll of toilet paper has been found in a cabinet holding rarely used bakeware.
  • For some strange reason he decided that we needed to keep an empty tea box. It too, was found in the cabinet with the bakeware.
As for myself, while I continue to look for the absent tape, I will keep packing as I can. I am discovering that moving is the perfect time to declutter. While I am still hanging on to certain magazines despite the fact that most of that stuff can be found online, I have gotten rid of quite a few that I no longer need or want, as well as about half a trash bag full of empty jars of various sizes and shapes. In a fit of "jars are great! frugality", I began saving them.  Salsa, pickle, sauerkraut, you name it. Big, small, fat, skinny. Did not matter. Now granted, many of the larger ones have been put to use in my pantry, but I still had  have many empties lurking, I'm pretty sure of it, in dark corners, waiting to be put to use. 

I do know, sure as I know my own name, that once I've found all the empties and disposed of the ones I'm sure I don't need, that I'll find a use for them. That's the pack rat in me talking. After all, I was taught well by two loving parents who, although neater than I am, kept many things. My mom still does this. You need batteries? She has them. Bless her heart, it will take her about an hour of searching through her many boxes, but she has them squirreled away in a closet somewhere.  Nevertheless, it's time to fight the packrat gene and do away with things we really do not need. 

As I tend to do lately, I apologize for not posting very often lately, but I will return. I promise you this, to the best of my ability I will not give up writing here. There is still much to say about J, autism, moving, life in general. In the meantime though, either by the end of it all I will have packed up almost everything to give the place a good scrubbing  and manage to live here a little longer, or we will move quickly so that we can all get back to normal. Or at least a reasonable facsimile of it, just before the holidays descend upon us. Have a wonderful day. I'll talk to you again soon.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Gratituesday: I Have My Son Back!

 Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Happy October 1! 

This year has certainly flown by, hasn't it? I cannot believe we are in the beginning stages of fall already --although the cooler temps this morning makes it very believable! It's time to start looking for a homemade hot chocolate recipe that we can possibly keep on hand. One that doesn't call for coffee creamer powder, preferably. I'm looking forward to hot spiced apple cider to drink on occasion as well...and looking at the specter of Holiday Pounds Future. As in the ghost of all that yummy food that seems to come up between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am hoping this year I can indulge and still at the very least maintain my weight at the time, if losing is going to go out the window for awhile.

But this morning I'm thankful for many reasons. This has been a season of change for my family, and more changes are to come. I chose to lose weight and get healthier so I can better care for my family. This is still an ongoing project. J had a few frightening meltdowns earlier this year; one in particular that caused us to wonder if he needed to be in a home that wasn't ours. That was a very heartbreaking thought and we were close to making that decision. However, help arrived and the tide has turned. Thanks to a few changes in medication, I am happy to say J is my sweet, happy young man again. In three months there have been no meltdowns. He has gotten frustrated a time or two and they could have resulted in meltdowns, but I've changed as well. I don't want to be the high strung mama who feeds off of his moods. When I can stay calm, he does better. I thank God that he has changed both of us in that. 

With the change in medicine has come clarity for J. He's getting further along in potty issues. We still have mishaps but he's doing so much better. We aren't 100% there, but there is hope.

Also, J has been open to learning new things that used to confuse and frustrate him. He understands a lot better. He wants to be involved in family life, and life in general. He's back to helping me with laundry, pouring water, putting dishes in the sink, and watching out the window to see what is going on in the world. He even ventures out to the porch to sit and watch at times. He's back to being my humming, happy child.

And me. I'm figuring out that I don't have to do every little thing for him. He is capable of doing for himself. For example, peeling a hard boiled egg or a clementine. I have to "start" it for him, but he sees now how to complete the task. It won't be long at all before he do the task on his own with no help.

I was able to watch J the other evening. He has taken a lamp apart and the Hubs was sure it was now useless. However, sitting in the darkened living room was not J's idea of a great time. He got up, took Dad by the hand, and led him to the kitchen. Dad thought J wanted to have a bite to eat and got him a biscuit. Never one to turn down food, J ate it and got himself a glass of water as well, but he was not done with his mission. He led Dad to the cabinet that holds our laundry supplies and our light bulbs. He guided his father's hand to the lightbulbs, then made him pull out the lightbulb. The Hubs explained that the lamp was broken and would not work, but J was insistent. He took the bulb, put it in the lamp, plugged it in, and sat back, satisfied. His task was complete.

Needless to say, I am very thankful for this young man of mine. I am thankful to our Heavenly Father in showing me that patience brings about good things. Don't give up hope. 

This post is linked to Heavenly Homemakers' Gratituesday .

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Secret Desire

Being a part time blogger can be very interesting. This is a place where I can download my thoughts on autism, motherhood, life in general. I even write about my studies in the bible now and again. I don't have a large following, but I do have a few cheer leaders who follow my writing. Although I don't always answer the comments online, I am grateful for everyone who takes the time to read what I have to say, especially if I get feedback. One cheer leader in particular, I get to see in person (not nearly often enough, though). She cheers when I've written something new, and encourages me to continue when I've hit a dry spell. Too often lately that's been the case. I am hoping I've turned a corner though.

Saturdays have become my day to walk to the library and back, usually with a load of books and dvds. If there is a class, like today, I usually stay. I didn't this time though. Too much going on at home. Or so I thought. Since both my guys are asleep at this point, I could have stayed. No matter. I'm digressing. Usually on my walk I start comparing this town I live in to the fictional town of Mayberry. I feel safe enough to walk the five or so blocks to the library or the grocery store.  I know that crime exists in this community, but I've been blessed enough for it not to have touched my family. So far though, that post has not "gelled" in my mind enough to present it here. Hopefully it will soon though. 

Always on Saturday I look around and see the housework that needs to be done, but I've claimed these hours for myself. I read, I watch, and lately, I write. At least since I was a young teenager I've had a story burning to be told. I've written it a few times but never quite finished it. I'd set it aside for weeks, months, even years at a time. Occasionally another story would take its place, but this particular one has always been on the back burner. The characters grow and continue with their lives in my head, but they beckon me with this story that they want told. I am not a superstitious person really, but I don't want to jinx the flow by discussing it too much. I will talk about it a bit privately, however. It involves two teenagers who find themselves faced with a really big problem. This week I've been able to write about three pages a day (single spaced) on this book. I've wanted to be a published author for as long as I can remember. I've played around a few times, and had some many false starts, and let other things and people distract me from my writing. I'd almost forgotten that in addition to being a wife and mother, daughter and sister who takes care of everyone else, that I am a writer. So, by the first of the year, I want this story to be ready to find a publisher. Whether it be a true, hold-in your-hands book or an ebook. I want to find someone who will take a chance on me. It's a long shot, I'm pretty sure, but I'll never know if I don't try.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Early Morning Autism Musings

It's after five in the morning. Two kittens affectionately known as the Zombie Twins have battled to the tired and are now asleep on my legs. A restless Baby Bear is slowly falling asleep on the other side of my bed after being up since at least three AM and playing musical beds and gigglepalooza in the kitchen. Those are two of his favorite games to play when insomnia strikes. There is nothing inspiring in the kitchen, he was simply avoiding sleeping in his own room and not really wanting to settle down in mine. This is the life of autism that I've come to know lately. This isn't the first insomnia inspired post, and likely won't be the last, either.

We have been working with a caseworker in order to get J qualified for a waiver that would free up money for some of his particular needs, such as a group or host home if he needs it, respite care (much needed), and maybe someone to come into the home to help with his daily care. My dream? Someone who could take the night shift so I'd be more able to manage his day time needs. We aren't so sure that would happen, but as I've said, it's a dream.

We have had well meaning doctors and friends, and even family at times, encourage the Hubs and I to think about placement for J. I will admit that there have been times that something like that would be a blessing. But when it comes right down to it, neither of us want to face that aspect just yet. I know I don't. A chance for J to have community access (translation: day program that gets him out of the house and has the added perk of excursions to restaurants and activities) and respite when we all need a break, yes. Someone else caring for my child 24/7, not. Not yet.

Do I have a problem with other families who choose the option of group homes or host homes(akin to foster homes, but for adults with special needs when a group home isn't suitable, the person cannot live on his own, and family cannot or will not provide care)? Not at all. For a variety of reasons, that conclusion is reached. None of us know what tomorrow holds. The Hubs and I certainly aren't getting any younger. Great health isn't always going to be there. We won't always be there, much as I hate to think about that. And family can't always be counted on to pick up the slack and take in an adult with special needs. These are things that I think about when I'm up nights.

Speaking of my young insomniac child, sleep has finally found him. Dad will need his own rest once he comes in from work in a few hours, so it's time for me to try and get back to dreamland. Have a good morning.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Just in Case You're Wondering...

Just in case you're wondering where I am these days...

I haven't given up writing yet, on the blog or my fiction writing. I just haven't been doing a lot of either lately because life is catching up with me. We've had the usual doctor appointments (all routine), running errands, that sort of thing. Because of all the running around, my housekeeping has slipped even further than my usual standards, and that isn't good. At the moment I have laundry washing and a few loads outside on the line. I love the dryer I was given, along with my washer, but I find I move a bit more and my electric bill isn't quite so high when I depend on solar power a bit more. :)

Speaking of moving, I've been trying to add a bit more exercise into my life these days because I want to be healthier. I joined (free) in April and became a member of Weight Watchers (not so free) in late June as a birthday gift to myself when I needed an extra push to get the pounds off. Between the two I'm learning a lot and slowly shedding the excess weight. Slow is good. I'm a bit of an odd duck with both groups, although most of my WW friends don't know it. I don't do fat free or low fat anything if I can help it. I've gone down that road before and gained weight. I can never get used to the taste of low fat or fat free items, and when fat is taken out, sugar, salt, or other things are added in to up the flavor. I'll let you decide what is right for you, but for me, I'd rather have a little of the real stuff in moderation than the low fat stuff every day.

Also on my mind is house hunting. We are currently on the lookout for either a rental or a house for sale that we can afford in either case. The rental we are in just is not good for many reasons, never mind the cost of gas. The Hubs travels to work fifty miles one direction, five days a week. That adds up, quickly. In addition to that is church in the other direction and the errands each week, that also add up. As much as I love this area, I'm not so in love with  piling bills and sky high gas prices. 

So, there ya go. That's what is going on these days. J Bear is doing fine, it's just the adults running crazy these days. Please keep us in your prayers.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What Miley Can Teach Us

Miley Cyrus photo: Miley Cyrus MileyCyrus1st1_zps1c751e36.png
Miley Cyrus. Photo Credit: Photobucket.
The last few days have seen a flurry of activity in the news, online, and in the blog world about Miley Cyrus and her performance at the VMA's. I won't link to any of that because you can find it if you're interested.  I have not seen the show nor the clips, but the descriptions some people gave and a few pictures I've seen are more than enough to both anger me and break my heart.

Forgive me for using a poor phrase, but some say I don't have a dog in the fight because I don't have any daughters of my own, nor do I have sons who would be caught up in that temptation. True. My son isn't "into" dating or even noticing girls for more than half a second. His world consists of food, sleeping, and music for the most part. I do however, have two young nieces growing up in this world and I know friends with daughters at this time. My concern isn't just for the young ladies I'm related to. I'm concerned about them all.

One post I read mentioned that parents who allow their children to watch MTV should expect some filth. That is a true statement, but filth has permeated more than just that arena. Magazines and ads geared toward teens and tweens encourage provocative dress. A movie I watched on Netflix recently about a coach who dared to try and teach his basketball team educational and personal responsibility showed a school dance scene that included a girl of 15, 16 years of age simulating a sex act with a boy. Some just call that "harmless dancing." And shows like Toddlers and Tiaras or a trip to the beach teach us that  risque and "mature" outfits are being pushed on the babies and the preschool set as well. Because little Dolly looks so "Cute!!!" in that little bikini with the ruffled bottom or the sequined strapless gown on the four year old with the 25 year old made up face.

 True, there is more to girls than the clothes covering her body or how she acts in public. But. While I think it's great (up to a point) that young ladies are taught that they are beautiful (they all are. Every. Last. One.) and they should be free to express themselves in the way they dress and how they conduct themselves in private as well as public, I think a huge piece of the puzzle is missing: Self Respect. And with it, Self Esteem.

Years ago, when Miley was a rising Disney star, her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, had concerns that his daughter not turn out like another Britney. Fast forward to the present. I do not know his reaction to his daughter's sex act onstage in front of the world (that's what it was, folks. Plain and simple). No one bothered mentioning him. Her mother however, stood up and applauded. Applauded! Had she been my daughter I would have stood up as well --and marched up onto the stage to yank the little princess backstage. I don't care that she's 20 years old now. And i would have wondered about myself: Did I teach her as well as I could have? Did I tell her "no" when she needed to hear it and stand firm on that no? And a million other questions. I'm not totally laying the blame on Miley's parents. Like most of us, I'm sure they did the best they could in teaching her and did what they thought was best. Hollywood, the rest of the media, and Miley herself have their share of responsibility as well.  And while the focus is on Ms. Cyrus lately, she isn't the only one who thinks that exploiting her own body is the way to get attention and sell music. Lady Gaga, Madonna, Katy Perry, and even Taylor Swift has abandoned her sweet, romantic persona for angry and sexy. 

So what are we as parents, aunts, mentors and friends supposed to do in order to combat this era of women being seen only as a thing to be used and tossed aside?

  • Pray. Pray for our children, both male and female, from the moment they are conceived and continually thereafter.
  • Take them to Church.  Raise them up in the church. Teach them from Day One about the love of God, and Jesus who died for all our sins. Fill them with the Word.
  • Be a Role Model.  If they see how important our Heavenly Father is to you, and how you handle yourself in and out of public, they will pay attention. On the other hand, if you say that Gaga's outfits are outlandish and yet your skirts are a little too tight or too short, they notice that as well. True they have to make up their own minds, but the more positive influence that kids and even young adults have in their lives, the harder it is for Satan and his Hollywood influence to poison them.
  • Teach them that self love does not equate to self degradation or the degradation of others. The world is teaching our girls that in short, they are nothing but a sex object. Or that they should be. Objects are things to be used and discarded when no longer deemed useful. We should be combating the very idea that girls need to show a lot of skin or act in a lascivious manner in order to be noticed and loved. Modesty in both dress and action should be lauded. Unfortunately, girls are taught that it's okay to have sex at a young age, and society praises them for it. When they do have sex, the boy gets what he wants and discards her for another conquest when he's tired of it or she gets pregnant. Once pregnant she must either decide to give the baby up for adoption, raise the baby herself (often but not always with the help of family) or she is convinced to abort the child. In each case, she must grow up all too quickly. Our boys should be taught as well that women are not to be treated as sex objects to be used and abused. Respect needs to be taught on both sides of that fence.
  • Tell them NO. And stick by that. It is not the end of the world if a child misses out on a party or an outfit or whatever. They will live. Even teens need boundaries. Will they continue to push them? Yup. Will they be defiant at times and do or buy what they want anyway? You bet. And hopefully you handle it, not by giving in, but through discussion, discipline, and consistency.
  • Educate them.  Not just ABCs and 1+1+2, although a good well rounded education in which they are taught how to think and reason for themselves and not just spitting back answers so that exams can be passed, is a very good thing to have. Teach them how to care for themselves. Teach the girls as well as the boys how to change a tire, how to do minor repairs around the house, how to find the North star. Teach them that they are very valuable, and that valuable things should not be given so cheaply.  Teach them that they should strive to be healthy, not skinny enough to fit society's standard of the day.  Teach them to honor God and to pursue their goals. Sadly this has to be the case, but also teach them that their are wolves out there who want nothing more than to hurt them in some way, and also teach them how to protect themselves from it. There are many sweet, loving, kind people out there, including men and boys, but girls need to know the signs of those who would only abuse them.
  • And finally, Be there for them.  If you are the parent, aunt, mentor, or other woman of authority, that is your first responsibility. Being their friend can be part of that, but they need a Mama first. Guide them. Teach them. Be available. I know it isn't easy sometimes, but find the balance between standing firm and being approachable so they can come to you to talk. About anything. Some conversations are going to be hard, for both of you, but this is very important to keep the lines of communication open.

I stated earlier that I was both angry and saddened at Miley's actions that night. And I still am. I'm both heartbroken and furious that this child thinks that the way to acceptance and popularity and adulthood is this type of behavior. I'm outraged and upset that the media and society at large thinks this is "liberating" for women and a good thing, and I'm disgusted that there are those who think it's better to let a child do what she wants than to "Judge." 
    I'm not naive enough to think that if everyone followed scripture and my suggestions the whole world will be rosy and happy and all young ladies will dress and act modestly and all young men will be respectful. There is a thing that we all possess, called "Free Will," given to us by our Creator. We can be taught what is good, what is noble, what is lovely, but we are able to choose for ourselves whether we do right or wrong. We seem to have gotten that lesson loud and clear here in this country. What I fear we've neglected is that with free will comes responsibility and consequence. Instead of consequence, we tend to hide our heads in the sand or pass the buck. And this is where we have failed young Miley and those who are heading down that same path.  
 It's not too late for Miley or all the others to be taught. Or maybe she was and just chose not to listen. I don't know. But its still not too late.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The (Not So Secret) LIfe of J

It's nearly 8 in the morning and I'm up and dressed. Bleary eyed, wanting to crawl back into bed, but I'm up. And J? That not so little turkey is back in bed for his morning nap. And I'm...writing. Because I can. And because my brain said forget it, honey, sleep ain't happening just yet.

I have no idea what time J woke up. The closest I can pinpoint it is between 3 and 5 AM. Unless my laptop is open, time means nothing to me in the dark hours of the morning. We do have a clock/radio but since no one needs to be up at a certain time in the morning, no one bothered to set it the last time a storm knocked the power out. But anyway.  Have I ever told you I'm a morning person? Yeah well, that only applies if "morning" begins at seven AM. 6:30 tops. Earlier than that and I'll look you straight in the eye and tell you it's night time.  The Hubs is a night owl. His work schedule is awesome for him because he's ready to go to bed right about the time I'm getting up to face the day. He usually stays up long enough for breakfast and for us to haggle over his wake up call. 

And J? J is a super night owl. He goes to bed anywhere between 9 and ten in the evening (later if we don't have melatonin in the house). You'd think this would be my cue to hit the sheets as well. Wrong! Well, I toddle off to bed about that time, but my nose is usually buried in a book, Pinterest, or a Murder, She Wrote rerun or two. That's my time to relax and enjoy. By midnight I'm fast asleep. If I'm lucky, so is J. And then... somewhere around three in the morning... J's internal alarm clock goes off and he's wide awake, bouncing off the walls declaring he's hungry (read:BORED!!)

My sleep fogged brain at this point barely registers anything. I open a blood shot eye and squint out the window. Still dark. That means night, folks. So I do what any good parent would do: holler "It's night time! Go to bed!" and pull the the covers over my shoulder and try to get back to sleep. 

Yeah, that lasts about five minutes. Ten if I'm lucky. For the next hour or so it's pretty much lather, rinse, repeat-- oh wait. It's more like bounce, shriek, loud holler, pull the covers up, repeat. It's a small house. His bedroom is right next to mine.  Eventually though, my brain sends signals to the rest of my body that I do in fact have movement in arms and legs --despite the three kitten pileup on my chest and arm. This same brain reminds me that during this back and forth exchange, J is anywhere but in bed. If we had a chandelier, especially one that could hold his weight, he'd be swinging on it. Seriously.
While I'm still fighting to remember I'm the Mama and responsible for Baby Bear, he's taking the first of many showers of the day; foraging for snacks in the cabinets (the fridge is locked 98% of the time at night so he can't get into that unless we forget); deciding that no one needs the lemon juice left out on the counter-- down the drain it goes.  So finally my brain gets this message to the rest of me and I'm up. I stumble into the kitchen, fix him a snack and we have a sleep deprived conversation. Eventually one of two things happens: he decides his nightly/early morning job is done and he goes back to bed, or Dad gets home from work and I slink off for an early morning nap. 

Good morning, y'all. See you in an hour or two. Mama needs a nap.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Salt of the Earth, Or is the World Salting Me?

Admittedly, I don't get to "go to church" each week as I'd like to. Things like living too far away to ask for a ride, not yet renewing my drivers license, and my husband's schedule making him need sleep come in the way, as well as some other things that pop up now and then. But this past Sunday evening my family was in attendance. Because our minister was out of town due to a death in the family, one of the elders delivered the message. He spoke on being the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). While I am sad to say that I can't remember all of what Louis spoke about, one statement stuck with me: "I sometimes wonder if I'm just a good person who got wet" (referring to baptism). He mentioned that he reads his bible, teaches classes, and does some preaching, but he likes to do those things. It gave me pause. If an elder of the church struggles with Christianity and whether he is on the right path, then I'm not alone. Am I following Christ, or did I just get wet? I think it is entirely too easy to become complacent about our lives as Christians. At least, that is the case with me. How do I know if I am being the salt of the earth as Christ called us to be, or if the world is salting me?

The answer to that, at least in part, is reading the Word of God, earnest prayer, and careful self examination. But what I'd like to point out is a little bit of world creep that has found its way into the Church: Division.

We are to set ourselves apart to some extent while living in this world; to be in the the world but not of it (Romans 12:2). We see division in the world every day: racial, geographical, political stance. Even within the confines of political stances there is further division. The more divided people are, the more some like it. And it doesn't stop there. It's found its ways into the body of Christ. In speaking of a family who happens to be on television and mentioning that they are Christian, one sister sniffed, "Well, they're liberal Christians." 

Liberal Christians as opposed to conservative Christians. Does this mean that we don't hold the same basic beliefs? That we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? That Jesus was sent by God to live on this earth as an example and to die as a sacrifice for our sins? That in order to become a Christian I must repent and be baptized for the remission of my sins? And afterwards we are to continue striving to be more like Christ each day, continually learning, continually teaching? If we believe these basic facts from the bible, then there should be no division among us. 

I know that there are things that some of us wont agree on at the same time. I still consider myself a fairly young Christian and still have much to learn. But I do know that some things I think are okay may cause another to stumble, so if I know that a brother or sister considers my action or speech a stumbling block, I need to be careful of that around him or her. I also need to look more closely at what I am doing or saying. Sometimes its a matter of opinion, sometimes its a matter of teaching. In either case, if we separate ourselves from a person or group of persons without at least trying to communicate, we aren't being salt. 

What is salt after all? It's a preservative, it's a flavor enhancer. If it's sitting to the side in its own box or shaker, it's doing neither of these things and is at that point worthless.  Am I the salt of the earth, or am I simply a good person who got wet?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bertha Betternyou: Concerned Sister or Outright Gossip?

If you have ever listened to Ray Stevens' music from the 1980's, chances are you know who Bertha Betternyou is. Sadly, for many outside the church, Bertha is the go to gal when summoning an image of a typical Christian. Sister Bertha sits all prim and proper, can quote scripture all day long and knows the secrets of many around her. Turns out though, that Bertha has a few sins of her own.

bible photo: bible bible_zpsd349ae2b.jpg
Photo credit: Photobucket

Do you remember the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (tax collector)? It's found in Luke 18:9-14. In short, both men went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee was boastful in his prayer: He wasn't like others, especially like that publican over there. He even reminded God and anyone who might be in earshot that he tithed, fasted, and otherwise outshone others. To put it bluntly, meet Bertha's Brother Benjamin. 

The publican, on the other hand, wouldn't even look up. Instead he smote his breast and said "Lord forgive me, a sinner."

The ultimate goal of a Christian is to become more Christlike. From the moment we obey the gospel and step out of the watery grave of baptism, we are a new person. From then on we continually try to walk in Jesus' foot steps and teach others along the way, by word and deed. Sometimes though, in our zeal to be Christlike, we look around at others... and become a little more like Bertha than we would really like to be. 

Brother Tom thinks its okay to have an occasional glass of wine. Sister Colleen and her kids use the curse word knock offs (dang, heck, crap, you get the picture). And did you see how short the Davies' daughter's skirt was? And with him a shepherd of the church! Honestly, you'd think they'd have taught that girl better.  Wait. Why are we discussing their sins or shortcomings as though we have none of our own? 
First of all, if any of us, and this includes me, has a concern about a brother or sister's behavior, words or whatever, we are instructed to go to the person privately and in love (Matthew 18:15-17). Those verses tell us exactly how we are to handle a problem, so why do so many of us think its our duty to discuss the situation with others first?

It shouldn't matter who the brother or sister is, whether he be an elder, or she the preacher's wife, or if the person happens to be a celebrity of sorts. I know if I am wrong, I want someone to come talk to me privately first. I may cry or otherwise get upset, but I will be okay with it. As well meaning as others are who are concerned, I can't make it to heaven on someone's coat tail. If it's my behavior that needs to change, I'm the one who needs to be spoken to first.  If you can't speak to me in person, write me a letter. In other words, we should be building up one another, not tearing each other down with our concern. I for one have to change this habit.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Confessions of a Disorganized Housewife: The Fridge Vs The Respect Dare

Have you ever put off doing a job because  it was just. so. daunting. that it made you exhausted just thinking about it? And then once you decided to bite the bullet and get it done you felt a huge sense of accomplishment? Yeah, that's me right now.

Next to cleaning the bathroom (which is my husband's job, simply because I'm a wimp and he adores me anyway), cleaning out the abyss  the fridge is my most dreaded task. So I put it off. For way longer than I really should. My philosophy is cram the stuff in there and shut the door quickly. Not a good path to follow, in case you're wondering. 

I do have my reasons. In my head I'm very organized. Every little thing in its place. In reality, ehh, not so much. The fridge is old and needs to be replaced. And it will be. Eventually. So I shove everything in there from fresh produce to meat to leftovers... and then cringe when there is no more room and Weird Al is in my kitchen singing to me.

Frightening, huh? 

Well, this week I read Dare 13 of the Respect Dare. You can learn more about that by visiting Unbroken Woman. I'm at least a week behind everyone else but for now, that's okay with me. Anyway, part of the dare was to ask your husband to name one thing you can do for him that would help him out. My husband just happened to be out of town but I could pretty much guess what he would say: Clean the kitchen. So for the past two days (don't judge) I've been working on that. Today I tackled the dreaded fridge. 
   Hubby is home now. While I cleaned and organized the fridge and did dishes, he sat and played a computer game. Did that irk me? You bet! At first. You probably know some of the thoughts: Why am I the only one up cleaning? (He cooked breakfast) You'd think he'd feel some compunction to get up and clean some too. (He worked all night and this is the first day of his weekend). Blah blah blah. 

But you know what? It's all okay. I'm sure an exasperated sigh (or ten, but who's counting?) came out of me today. But I didn't yell. I didn't disrespect him by berating him. I let him do his thing while I did mine. And he did help. He took care of part of the job while I sat and relaxed for a minute or two. And at the end, he thanked me and told me how much he appreciated me doing that. 

The respect dare is not easy. There will be times you feel like giving up because it's not really making a difference. But if you get the book and read on your own or follow Unbroken Woman , I encourage you to see it through to the end. I intend to. It is worth it. Whether Hubby says anything or not, I'm seeing changes in my own spirit, and changes that I'd like to see happen. Not so much because they would make my husband happy, but because I feel that my attitude and my actions would be more pleasing to God. The respect dare isn't all about fetching the paper and his slippers each evening. It's about showing your partner in life the respect and love that he needs, and also (more importantly) respecting God's wishes. 

While it helps that Hubby thanked me for cleaning the fridge,  and that does help, believe me, it's not all about what do I get out of all this. I get a sense of accomplishment, I get less frustration in preparing meals and snacks. The important part is what I put into this relationship. Love. Honor. Respect.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Morning Has Broken

Actually, morning broke about two hours or so ago --5 AM. I'm a morning person, but in my book, morning should ideally begin at 7 AM. At the earliest,  6:30. I could possibly stand 6 if I had to. In my world however, I have a son who has come to believe that anywhere between 2 AM and 5 AM is the optimum time to start the day. And the cats agree with him.

I wake up, deal with the morning ablutions and I am followed by the pitter patter of little feet. Feline feet carrying kittens and a young adult who wonder why their human would prefer they didn't follow her into that one particular room in the house. After all, it's din din time. She's up, so it must be din din time! They are on the brink of starvation after not having eaten for three years! Okay, so its only been since last night but hey, who cares. Food is of the utmost importance for a cat.

The two factions in the house, cat and child, tolerate each other at best and avoid each other completely at worst. I think that it's all a scam, that avoidance. Sometime around midnight or so I think they get together and plot. Their objective? Food. At the most unreasonable time of morning. The Bottomless Pit and the Feline Mafia work together to achieve this goal. Get her up by any means possible: Belching. Rattling around in the kitchen. Singing. A tail in the face. A furry weight on the chest. Incessant mewing.  And so the day begins. The two warring sides, sated, go back to their wary acknowledgement of the enemy and continue with their day. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Why I Love Books A Million: A Lesson in Compassion , Professionalism, and Just Plain Niceness

Okay, so my secret is out. I love love looooovvvveeee Books A Million. Absolutely adore it. More specifically, I love the Statesboro, Ga branch. More importantly, I really like the staff. 

I'm a nerd, I'll freely admit. An old school nerd at that. I don't own an e-reader of any type. Yet. Eventually I'm sure one will become mine, and that's cool. But I love (there's that word again. Gracious, how many times is this woman gonna say that word??) real books. The feel, the touch, the smell, all of it. I feel that no home is complete without a wall or two of books. 

But you didn't stop here to hear me wax poetic about paper versus digital. After all, I did mention that the staff is the best part about the store. You see, whether we get to buy anything or not, we like going to BAM to browse and hang out a little sometimes. These trips to the store also include J, who does not share his parents adoration of books, magazines, and such. He is there to eat. He's there to people watch. He's there because he has no choice in the matter. 
Most of the time he does well, sitting and waiting until he's bored hopelessly out of his mind and reminds the two bibliophiles he was born to that it's time to go. Loudly. We've been to that particular branch enough times that they recognize us and know that J has autism. Bless their hearts, they are always nice and polite, and have never kicked us out. (We do that ourselves.) Even when J has an accident, it's taken care of quickly and without much fuss, by the staff or us.

 The other day we happened to be in town for a meeting I had. We were at least an hour early so we decided to go to the bookstore.  J did well at first, but he became a little uncomfortable --and loud. He wasn't screaming, just doing his belching noise now and then and moving around a lot. When I noticed the problem,  Dad took J to take care of it and I went in search of a worker. I came up to one just as an older gentleman flagged him down to advise him that "there is a man back there by the exit sign with either a mental or psychological problem." Yes, that is exactly what he said. The young man nodded and moved on. I smiled at the young man with the older gent near enough and said "Yup, it's my son. He  has autism." He assured me there was no problem (the young man, not the other gentleman). I gave him a heads up on the wet chair and he took care of it without a gripe or a fuss. Simple fix of taking out what was wet and bringing in clean chairs from the break room. That was it. He simply did his job and assured me that all was okay. 

 Sadly, in other stores I have seen workers and clients alike frown and make rude comments when J was just being J. Not being obnoxious or loud necessarily, but just flapping his hands or giggling or whatever. Never have I run into this at BAM. Ever. I've had a customer a time or two suggest that I need to "check on him" (he's never unattended because J is usually within eyesight of his Dad if not me). The hubs has had a few strike up conversations with him about autism and even vaccines. It's definitely a family friendly place.

Even in this day and age there are still people though, who believe that kids and adults like J should not be out in public. They don't understand autism, they do not wish to understand (my opinion, although I could be wrong about some), and they do not like having to see or hear anything or anyone that upsets them. J doesn't belong at home all the time, nor does he belong in a home or institution. He's a human being! Part of our teaching him (and this is ongoing) is how to handle himself in public settings. He won't learn that holed up away from others. At the same time, I believe he's teaching others compassion, understanding, and manners. Or at least he could if people would just pay attention instead of frowning and running away. 

So what does my mini rant about rude people have to do with Books A Million?  Not much really, except a lesson in compassion for others, professionalism, and common courtesy. While I think the older gentleman who warned about "the man with mental or psychological problems" handled it as best he could, it's still hurtful and maybe he could have handled it differently. Maybe next time he encounters a person like J he will not be so quick to judge. Or maybe he will choose his words a bit more wisely, especially if someone else is standing nearby. I can only hope. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Catching Up and Thoughts on the Respect Dare

For those of you still following me and those just joining me, thank you. I apologize for not posting more regularly, but taking care of family trumps sitting and writing. As it is, I'm sitting here arguing with J. He wants attention and food, and not necessarily in that order. Never fear though, lunch is being heated up at this very moment. 
  Speaking of J, he's been on new medication for about a month or so now. I'm happy to report that he is doing well. One of the reasons that he's acting up a little today is he ran out of one of the meds over the weekend. It will get refilled today when he sees his doctor.  He also sees his new neurologist on August first. He has an EEG scheduled for that day. We like this new doctor, as well as the intern. Both took the time to listen to our concerns and asked many questions. The treatment plan was explained well enough and we all came out happy.
  I just completed Dare nine in the Respect Dare. I'm not going as fast as I'd like to catch up with the others, but that's okay for now. I want all of this to sink in. Dare nine was about overlooking insults. Not necessarily from your husband, but from anyone who just plain wants to be rude. I have a hard time with this, honestly. If people are rude with me, I have a tendency to get ugly right back. With strangers and casual acquaintances I can handle it better, but the barbs hurt a little worse when it comes from family or friends you know well. Let me be perfectly clear though: this is *not* a way to say my husband insults me. He doesn't. Like any human, he has his faults. That isn't one of them. But when others do get my goat, he tends to be an indirect target of my ill mood. Thankfully, he has a calming influence on me. He knows just what to say or do and he knows most of the time when to just let me blow off steam so that we can discuss it. I'm the one who needs to learn to redirect my thoughts and words and actions.
  Dare ten teaches not to judge or criticize others, or to speak too quickly, but to speak with wisdom after carefully listening. I know there are far too many times when my mouth has a hair trigger --it goes off without warning. I am my husband's helpmeet. i want him to be able to come to me without dread that I'm going to say something negative. I want my presence and speech to be welcoming to him at all times.
   I reposted a photo on facebook  that shows a cuddling couple by a fireplace and it said "Home" is in the arms of my husband. That statement is so true for me. What a friend commented is also true: she said that was very rare for most women. Ladies, I would never encourage anyone to stay in a relationship that is physically abusive. Ever. I'm not a marriage counselor, nor am I an expert by any means in marriage. I just know that in order for a marriage to work, it takes work -on both sides. What my friend continued to say makes a lot of sense (and I hope she doesn't mind me quoting her) : 
sometimes we women are all prickles and thorns rather than a purring cat. But then, there can be a reason for that - hurt feelings, verbal attacks. It can be a vicious cycle. Somebody in the relationship has to put an end to it. Like a square knot - it only tightens when both ropes pull against each other.

Whether we have a good marriage and want to make it even better, or there is a problem that needs to be fixed, I recommend two things -Prayer and the Respect Dare.   It's not about being a doormat, it's not about being weak. Will it be easy? Not really. Will it be worth it? I think so.  

Gratituesday: Family Visits

On Saturday my husband gave up a few precious hours of sleep so that we could go visit family. My sister Susan is in the area for a few days. I live the furthest out from everyone else so we went to my niece's house for the afternoon. 
  Sadly, I don't have a camera so the pictures that were taken will have to be sent to me so I can have copies. The day went all too fast for me, and I hope it's not another two years before I see my sister again.
  In today's spread out, hurry up world, especially with gas prices rising yet again, family visits seem to be fewer and farther between. Sure,we have internet, phones, and snail mail, but I long for the days of living close enough to family that we can visit often. What we've gained in technology and mobility I fear we've lost in our roots.
  Still, I'm thankful for the time we have together. I love the chance to catch up and see how the kids and grandkids are growing. It gives me pleasure to see everyone together. 
 Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Respect Dare

About ten days or so ago on Facebook a friend shared a link to a blog challenging women to work on their relationship with their husband --particularly, respect. I took a look and jumped in, feet first. I already knew that some-ahem-fine tuning was in order. 

The respect challenge is a 40 day journey that follows The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner. Unbroken Woman is the blog hosting the challenge. That link takes you directly to the post on what to expect when you embark on this journey. A word of advice: don't take this endeavor lightly. I'm a few days behind on the dares, but that's okay for me. I'll catch up soon enough.

I honestly thought that once I got the book I could catch up fairly quickly, just combine a few dares each day until I got there. Well, although I have been able to do some of that, it's not as easy as it seems. With family life alone it gets to be hard sometimes. And then there is the long hard look at yourself with each challenge. In the few days that I've been reading the book and following the posts on Unbroken Woman I've cried, been a bit more emotional, and at one time felt like there is just too much in me that needs to be "fixed".  I do have a long way to go, I admit that. But this journey is totally worth it to me. If I am disrespectful to my husband in any way, I'm being disrespectful to God. 

Being respectful does not in any way, form, or manner mean that you have to be a door mat. Quite the opposite, actually. Women of strength and honor know that there is a difference. I like the way Jennifer Unbroken Woman said it in her post about the dare:

God calls men to love their wives as Christ loved the church which if you look at Jesus’ example, He constantly gave of himself even when He was tired. His ultimate sacrifice and demonstration of love was that he literally gave his life for the church, his bride. That’s a hard command given to our husbands but we were given one as well and that’s to respect our husbands and submit to their leadership. This doesn’t mean we submit to sin but it’s trusting God enough to deal with our husbands if their leadership fails. Regardless, we are called to respect and obey them.
The world tells us that we deserve respect and if we aren’t respected or loved then we don’t have to give it in return. The problem with that is that it’s not Biblical and that attitude is wiping Godly marriages out.

Submission and respect is not about subservient living or slavery. It’s not losing our identity. Quite the opposite!

At the top of each post for the dare, we see a welcome mat.  Our husbands should feel welcomed when they come to us. At least, that's the way I feel. I encourage you to take a chance on this challenge. In fact, I dare you!  Will you want to give up at times? Oh yeah, definitely. Will it be hard? Yes! But oh, so worth it. It is not an overnight change, but a journey. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Day in the Life

Good morning, y'all. 

It's about 7:45 am and my patience, sadly, has about run out for the day. Here's the picture so you understand: The day started about 4 am, or just before. I came into the kitchen to find J eating mayonaise and red kidney beans that hadn't been put away the night before.  He scuttles off to bed and I put away the beans and throw out what's left of the mayo. At four in the morning I am nowhere near ready to start the day, so I crawl back into bed myself. Neither of us sleeps. Remember, the Hubs has night shift so he's at work, blissfully unaware that his family is doing anything other than sleeping.
   I check emails, cruise facebook (yeah, my page is mostly dead that time of morning. Everyone is asleep or going to sleep), and finally give up and watch a few episodes of Ducky Dynasty that came in this week.  Is it peaceful here during the video watching? Not even close.
   My bedroom is right next to J's bedroom and I hear the LOUD stimming he's doing in his room. It's a noise that is part teenage obnoxious belch and part explosion. He does this, thinking that's a great way to get my attention and let me know he's hungry. I'm doing my best to ignore the explosions and talk to him when I hear the normal tones. It's about a 75/25 mix these days and it depends on how things are going which way is working, if that makes sense. 
      Fast forward to about seven am. It's finally painfully obvious that sleep is out the window for either of us at this point. So here I am in the kitchen with eggs boiling, J still exploding and making lots of different noises, and eggs are boiling while I sit here typing away. And being used as a perch for two kittens. One on each arm. 
   I'm really not as cranky as I sound. Okay, I am. But not really. I like being up in the mornings, although I'd prefer my own solitary morning routine that smooths the way for the day to J's jump in with both feet and hit the ground running routine. Somehow it will work though. Eventually he will run out of steam and possibly nap. Being a Saturday, it's hard to tell whether I'll  nap at the same time (best bet for today) or guilt will win out and I'll try to prepare for the Lord's day tomorrow. Dishes to be done. Clothes to be put away. So much on the to do list, yet the main one wins out: spending time with the handsome young man who converses in his own language in a way that reminds me of how Native Americans were portrayed in the old spaghetti westerns. Somehow a balance of housework and J time is made.  And patience balances out as well, given a chance.
  Have a great day, y'all. The eggs are done.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

He Who Is Without Sin

I don't have network television (by choice) so I get most of my news from the internet. The last few days it seems all anyone can talk about (me included) is Paula Deen. Paula Deen and Who is Jumping on the Drop Paula Deen Bandwagon. The latest of these is Walmart.   Smithfield and Food Network have already done the same. So why is Paula Deen now a pariah? Because she used a word that no one -and I mean *NO. One* should ever use--twenty years ago. Because of this and the court battle she and her brother Bubba are going through, people are split between calling her a racist and being happy that she's going through all of this and standing loyally behind the queen of Southern cooking.
    Each person has the right to research this and make up his or her own mind about Paula Deen, and whether or not to support the companies that so quickly dropped a woman who helped them bring in big bucks over the years. Personally folks, twenty years ago I was younger than I am now and I can almost guarantee I did or said something that I wish I hadn't. I don't know a person on this earth who is perfect and hasn't made a mistake or two. Granted, I don't know Paula personally, although I'd be pleased to meet her. But I can tell you this: I don't care so much about what she did or said in the past. I care about the person she is now. I could very well be proven wrong, but I will not judge her for a mistake in the past, especially since she has apologized for it. But as for the companies and individuals who are name calling and doing the politically correct thing, I feel nothing but pity. 
   Make no mistake. Racism is an ugly, ugly thing. But you know what? So is judging a person for something done in the past while ignoring the present. If we are going to hold Ms. Deen's feet to the fire for what she has said in the past, we need to take off the blinders when it comes to many, many celebrities and politicians, as well as ourselves. 
   In quoting a scripture that is much used (and abused), Jesus told the Pharisees, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" at the woman who committed adultery. That was a sin punishable by death, and the crowd would have been in the right to carry out that punishment. However, when faced with examining themselves, no stones were thrown at this woman. I'm seeing an awful lot of stones being cast today at one woman. 
   When the crowd dispersed and the woman was left alone with Jesus, he didn't condemn her. They both knew she had sinned. He told her, "go and sin no more."
   If we are to hold one woman accountable for something she did in the past, we had best be prepared to be honest with the world and ourselves, holding others and especially ourselves accountable to that same impossibly high standard.  How can we crucify one while allowing others to do the same?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gratituesday: The Blessing of a Simple Date

As I write this, I am happily full from some of the leftovers from last night's dinner. While I do love leftovers ( less to cook), most don't leave me overly excited. This time, however, it's from one of my favorite restaurants. We splurged a little last night, hubby and I did. In celebration of both our birthdays, paying off the car, and just the fact that for the first time in a long, long time, we were alone.
    If you're even the least bit familiar with this blog you know that my son has moderate autism. He is with us all day, every day. But last night, my mom and older brother blessed us with the offer to have J over for the evening and we accepted. At first I was having doubts that we'd even make it out of town before we got the phone call to come get him. After all, he's known to be noisy, loud, rambunctious, and can meltdown in a hurry. But the new medications seem to be working. He did rather well over there and was for the most part, quiet.
  Meanwhile, the hubs and I took this opportunity to dine at a restaurant we both like. The prices are fair and they load you down with a lot of food. In my refrigerator sits enough leftovers to feed at least four people. After dinner we found our way to a few stores, just doing regular shopping that needed to be done for the week and enjoying one another's company. We marveled at how nice it was to be at a grocery store without an adult sized child fretting over being there, shrieking at the top of his lungs to let everyone know he's there, or sitting or lying down in the middle of the aisle because we stopped to compare items. 
   While I don't expect to have one on one dates every week, this one sure was nice. I think J enjoyed the hours away from us as well. Meanwhile, I'll be off to the grocery store once again soon enough because I promised J that I'd make some pizza today for dinner if he did well last night.  

This post is part of Gratituesday. 
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Confessions of a Disorganized Housewife : Learning Habits That Work

You know, sometimes I wish I had a camera...And sometimes I'm pretty thankful that I don't. Today is the latter, although you probably wouldn't believe this scene unless you saw it. Then again, if you know me, you'd know it's pretty much business as usual around here.
    Here on the home front I have a kitten asleep on the laptop keyboard. Some of the keys have stopped working so I have another keyboard hooked up to the laptop these days until it can be fixed. Both J and the Hubs are in the bedrooms. Hubs is sleeping because he works tonight, and J is just hanging out. And I'm here in the kitchen... wondering where all my hard work went.
   Just a few days ago my kitchen was clean. Not immaculate, mind you, but I wouldn't cringe if someone came over (Don't ask about the rest of the house just yet. Thanks). For a good week and a half or so we were doing great! Doing the dishes every day, sweeping and mopping, the table could be seen and the counters were either clear or organized. You know, the way normal people live. Every day. Today? I'm catching up on dishes and working my way towards finding the table and my counter space again. I think there is hope for us, though. One of the main reasons my table is cluttered again is my sweet Hubs took everything out of the cabinets and cleaned the cabinets for me. It was on my list of things to do and he did it for me. Now it's my turn, cleaning all the dishware and choosing what goes back and what gets sent to charity.
  I think it's a little easier these days to get back on track because I'm not constantly feeling like I'm pushing a boulder up a steep hill. So far J is doing well on the meds and his thinking is a little clearer. While his room is still a bone of contention, he's not making more of a mess here in the kitchen or in the living room. Instead of finding a corner or the floor to throw something, he heads for the garbage can. Even dish towels and cloth napkins end up in the trash once he's done with them if I don't keep a good eye on him, but hey, he's learning. And those things are washable!
 My little family and I are learning, little by little to conquer the disorganization and chaos. Day by day we're getting the hang of things. While I did detour yesterday and left the kitchen to attack my bedroom, for the most part I'm finally realizing that the chaos didn't appear overnight and it won't go away overnight. And I'm learning that baby steps is key to not getting overwhelmed. Just like when I decided I needed to lose weight I focused on walking every day until it became a habit, then started focusing on what I was eating instead of just how much, in organization I'm focusing on one habit -and one room- at a time. As in changing my lifestyle habits for better health, I slip up and go back to my disorganized ways now and again. That's okay. I'm making progress in both areas of my life. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Catching Up : Autism Update

J had a neurology appointment early this morning and he had a psychiatry appointment on Monday evening. While the main psych wanted J hospitalized to find out the cause of the rages and to even out his meds, neither doctor deemed it necessary at this time. At the moment, I agree with them. 
   The psychiatrist he saw on Monday asked a lot of questions and the end result was a trial of a new behavior med. Not too happy with another pill to add to the mix, but he has been calmer so far. We're reserving judgement at this point because the current trend tends to be that a medicine works great for a month or so then fizzles out and we're back to square one.
     The doctor we saw today fully impressed me. Instead of rushing us in and out of the office in five minutes like the previous neurologist, there were two doctors (the first most likely a resident, as it's a teaching hospital) and both asked lots of questions. J was observed for a few minutes. Then the main doctor, an older, caring gentleman, talked with us. 
   Turns out, one of the anti seizure meds he's taking could possibly be the culprit. And he also thinks that the other anti seizure med may not be the correct one for J's particular seizures. The plan? Step down the dosage of the possible offender, monitor at home to see what happens, and in a little over a month J will have an EEG and a visit with the neurologist. We will go from there depending on the results. 
  Both the Hubs and I, as well as J, were well pleased. We didn't feel rushed at all, J was welcomed in with no problems at all. I love doctors who actually want to do their job instead of listening with half an ear and going with the plan from a previous doctor. 
    As for the plan of action here at the house, we will be going by the doctor's recommendations and I plan on keeping track of J's moods and any seizure activity we see due to the changes. In the meantime, the Hubs and I *just might* get to have a few hours of alone time tomorrow evening after a home visit. It has been entirely too long since we've had time for just the two of us. If it all works out, J will get to spend the evening with his Granny and Uncle. I do hope it works out. J needs a few hours away from us I think.
  Well, the future is looking a little brighter. I'm hanging on to hope and the faith in our Lord that this will all work out.It's not always easy, but I still believe that faith and determination pay off.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Catching Up, Autism, and Understanding: A Little Advice on How to Help and What to Do

***Heads up: The following post is open and honest. I did not hold back, just spoke what was on my mind. Please remember that in no way is there a danger for my son, husband, or myself at this time. There is no need for "heroics" of any type such as anonymously sending "help." Feedback is always welcome as long as it is respectful. Thank you.

Hello all, and happy Monday to you! I know some of my regular readers are probably fainting from shock right now. Whoa! Two posts in two days? I know, right? It's about time i got back in gear with my writing. It's a beautiful hot day here in Gawgia, and both of my guys are napping. That means I can get a lot of cleaning done...or I can write. Guess what I chose? *wink*. Truthfully though, I have the dishes started and I've got a load of laundry out on the line, so I'm not feeling too guilty right now.
    It's been about a month before yesterday since I blogged. I think it was a blend of losing my muse and just being too overwhelmed to write. The autism battle rages on, ya know? There were some days that I was seriously ready to throw in the towel. In fact, there was one day that J woke up ready to fight, and by the time the Hubs got home, I was done. I told him, take him to the emergency room, I don't want to be a mother anymore. And I meant it. I was completely at the end of my rope. We took him to the E/R and told them what was going on. Although we had waited just enough for J to calm down to the point it would be safe to take him, he was still agitated. They ended up giving him a shot to calm him down further, and social workers from Behavioral Health was called in. By the time they got there, it was about two p.m. We had been there since about nine or ten in the morning. I had calmed down some, enough to no longer want to relinquish my son, but I was still simmering. 
     First thing we fired at the poor soul who came to help: He needs to be in a hospital so his meds can be regulated and they can figure out what works.  Pat answer back: The State doesn't do that. Here's what we can do: Yada yada yada. A lot of back and forth, questions asked, blah blah blah. End result? Baby Bear came back home with us with a new prescription to help the rages, a plan was put in motion to get some help (in 9 months to a year after the paperwork is completed, which is currently at a stand still while we wait to hear back from schools and doctors. In other words, red tape), and seven home visits to see what they can do to help. 
  That was about two weeks ago. The home visits are going well. I found out that yes, there are programs for J in this dinky little town --but he isn't eligible for them until he gets accepted for the help described above. Wonderful! And why for the love of all that's merciful, has this been a secret for the two plus years that this area has been aware of his needs??!!?? Aaaarggh!! Seriously, folks, we could have had this ball rolling ages ago, if someone had been nice enough to clue us in. We might could have avoided some of this frustration, ya know? 
  I've always been honest on this blog, especially when it comes to dealing with autism, because it might help someone reading it. I'm going to state here what I told the social workers, and please do not overreact to what I say: Why is there often no help for parents struggling with a child who has a severe case of autism, until the family ends up on the 6 o'clock news because either the parent or the child or both are dead or hurt or something to that effect? It's not all that often that it happens, but folks, it happens. For those about to say it,  NO, the pat answer isn't institutionalization. 
    These are our kids, not common criminals. Think about it for a second: You're in a foreign land and don't really know how to communicate what you need. Something is bothering you, and you have to get someone's attention. The frustration can build until something happens. It's not a pretty sight. 
   Don't worry, J is safe, and so are the Hubs and myself. He's a pretty amazing young man who is really very sweet. Unfortunately, we aren't sure what sets off the rages and this needs to be addressed. He's seeing a new neurologist this week, and we've been told that there is a good chance they will take him as an inpatient to see what can be done. We are hoping and praying that they do.  It will only be for a few days, but this is sorely needed.  If it doesn't go through, his psychiatrist is working on that end for a different hospitalization. Personally, I'm rooting for the neurologist on this one, but either way it needs to be done. And I'm here to tell you, a hospitalization like this shouldn't have to be a last resort, which is what I've been told it is in this state. Doctors, insurance and the state need to stop turning a blind eye to parents who need help.
  Now, those who have kids just diagnosed with autism or recently diagnosed: how does this affect you?  No matter where your child falls on the spectrum, ask questions. What helps are there? Are there programs available? When a child is first diagnosed, the first thing should be Early Intervention. It's like a pre- preschool. They will work with your son or daughter to help them function better in this world. If you'd rather not have them in a public school just yet or want more, ask questions. Read everything you can get your hands on. There are things you can do at home, starting with some of the things they do at school and therapy with the child. There are ideas all over the web for things to do with your child when they are young. 
    Also, ask about the Medicaid Waiver. It will help. There is a waiting list, but get on it ASAP. It cannot hurt to ask. It is better to be over prepared in this case. 
  Get in contact with others who have children or young adults with autism. There are support groups in a lot of cities, so ask your pediatrician or check in the local paper or local parenting newspapers. If none of those are available in your area or you want some one on one information and support, ask. I don't have all the answers obviously, but I've been in the trenches so to speak for nearly twenty years dealing with autism. Feel free to contact me privately if you need someone to talk to. 
   Number one on the list: Set up a support network for yourself. Family, friends, good doctors, websites, etc. Surround yourself with people who will pray for and with you, someone who will babysit for you now and again so you can breathe, someone who will just let you cry and scream and vent. I cannot stress how important a support system is. Trust me on this, I've done the alone thing (along with the Hubs) because it seemed like although some cared, they just didn't know how to help or what to do.  For friends and family of those with a diagnosis of autism, listen up: If you can, offer to give the parents an hour or two by themselves. They need this. If you can't, that's okay. Pray for them continually. Let them know you support them. Prayer helps. Dropping off a meal once in awhile so that's one less thing Mama has to think about is extremely helpful.  Or just plain listening. No judging needed, just being there with a shoulder to cry on can help. 
  While in some ways I chafe at the thought of "it takes a village to raise a child", it comes in pretty handy when you have a special needs child. Support is needed. The world can be a pretty lonely place at times, and when a child with autism is added, it can be even lonelier.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I Am My Father's Daughter

Do you know what the above vehicle is? It's called a Volkswagen Thing. I kid you not. The picture is from the offical VW Thing website,    My Dad had one back in the early 1980's and he, along with most of the rest of the family, loved it. I don't remember where he purchased it, but i do know he got a good deal on it.  He almost always did, no matter what he bought. His was painted flat camouflage and it did not have the roll bars on it. The canvas top was down most of the time except in rain or really cold weather and it had clear plastic windows that could easily be taken out. During the summers we kids (teenagers and young adults at the time) liked sitting on the back end, not on the seats --until a military policeman told us kindly to stop that.  I wish I had a picture of my father and the Thing. I know someone in the family has one though, and when i can I will make a copy to display on this post, as well as to frame.
   My Dad died when I was a young teenager, about 15 years old. He didn't get to see me graduate high school, didn't get to meet my husband or walk me down the aisle, and my two were the only grandchildren he never held. My oldest son's grave, however, is right next to his Papa's.
   During the fifteen years that I had my Father on this earth, he taught --or tried to, anyway--many lessons. It's only years after "growing up" that I realized what many of those lessons were. He taught me to ride a bike and attempted to teach me typing and soccer, but not in the way you'd expect. He knew what I was interested in and as he could, he bought the bike, the typewriter, and a soccer ball, and gave them to me. With the bike, he told me how to use it instead of the movie scene where the Dad holds on to the bike and then lets go. I wasn't happy at first, but after trial and error I figured it out and then couldn't wait to show him that I could ride a bike.  The other two were similar experiences. I eventually learned to type, with the lessons of typing class in high school (I failed miserably in that class)finally kicking in when my husband brought home our first computer in the 1990's. Soccer? Well, I kicked the ball around, but never really learned how to play.  I never really understood the real lesson behind all three of those activities: I was being taught independence, and he believed I was smart enough to figure things out for myself.
    We didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up, but I never really realized it. We always had plenty to eat and our needs were taken care of. But lack of money for new things never really stopped my Dad. He was the one likely to stop at yard sales, not my mother. And to her chagrin, it wouldn't phase him to stop at a dumpster if he saw something that captured his interest. When a used van he bought didn't have seats in the back, he found a foam rubber chair that could be unfolded to become a bed and placed it inside. And in the very back he built a bed. It worked for our needs. A man who loved camping but being on the ground not so much, he bought a burned out pop up camper  bottom from someone he knew. At first he simply used it as a trailer to haul stuff in, but eventually added a tent to it. These days I find myself trying to think like he did, seeing the potential in something others might not find valuable at all.
  As a kid, I had a love/hate relationship with the home we lived in. It was quiet unless other kids were there, and neighbors weren't right on top of us. In fact, the closest one was a little less than half a mile away. But at times it could be lonely for a young girl growing up. There was no cable television out in the country. It was an older house so there were problems with the well pump and such at times. Not very fun, especially in winter. But being retired from over twenty years in the Army and an avid camper and as well as having a love for all things old, my Dad made it work. He bought a wood burning stove at one time and learned to cook a few things on it. Had he lived, I wouldn't doubt that he would have taught himself how to cook almost anything in and on that stove.
     Being a teenager, I dismissed a lot of what he tried to teach me, yet the lessons come back more and more these days as I get older. Some part of me was listening. His teachings are still ingrained in me: turn off the lights if you're not in the room; say Yes, Ma'am and No Sir (okay so I fail at that one more often than not, but I'm working on it); help out where you can, do the best you can. Make it work. Sorry, Dad, I never did learn to like fishing. I still get bored too easily and I'd rather talk someone's ear off or bury my nose in a book. But, despite the high sodium content, I do love S.O.S (otherwise known as Chipped Beef on Toast). I now long for the peace and tranquility of living out in the middle of nowhere. I want to go camping again. I am my Father's Daughter.