Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gratituesday: The Perfect Christmas

Each year, amid the onslaught of Rudolph, White Christmas,  nonstop Christmas music starting just a few days after Halloween (Seriously!??), and the shopping, baking, and family, I begin dreaming of the perfect Christmas.  Truthfully though,  I start thinking and planning it a few days after the last Christmas.
And each year, the "perfect" Christmas both eludes and appears.

I am a self proclaimed Christmas nut. I read Christmas stories in July, start wondering about my Christmas cards in August (although I may not get around to actually making them until early December most years), I look for the holiday magazines starting in September. I start planning and hoping for family to be together.  Visions of TV and movie perfect Christmases dancing in my head.  And then reality hits.

Things happen each year. Family members can't always make it home.  Money doesn't always stretch far enough to pay the bills and the gifts for everyone so I have to become creative in how I handle the presents.  This year my mother passed away in August and my husband lost his job in November.  Those two were enough to make me not really want to bother with the holiday this year. I have family members however, such as my son and my brother, who look forward to the festivities. So onward I go, making a simple, but good Christmas for those two. I look forward to seeing some family members and calling others. And yet, I allow myself to be swept up in preparations that my my heart isn't much up for. And it makes me grouchy. No matter what, I'm still looking for the perfect Christmas.

But what is the perfect Christmas? Has there ever been one, other than in movies, tv shows or books? Yes. I do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. I see it more as a time for fun and togetherness and yes, gifts. But over 2000 years ago a star shone brightly in the sky. In the stillness of the night (although most likely not a night in December) a baby's cry rang out. A woman named Mary, gave birth in a simple manger. The gift that night was not only for her, but for those living then and now and forever, if we choose to accept it. The baby Jesus was born so that he would grow up and teach, and ultimately to give his life as a sacrifice so that we may live eternally. All we need do is accept that gift by hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, being baptized, and living the Christian life. 

Earlier I said that the perfect life both eludes and appears. Am I crazy? A little. But both are true. You see, no Christmas (or life, for that matter) goes off without a hitch. There are always things that make us stumble. But each Christmas as I look back, I have the perfect Christmas. No matter what is under the tree or on the table, I have loved ones around me. I have some quiet moments to reflect and enjoy. And for those I am thankful.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's Been a Long, Short Month

My brother mentioned on Sunday that it had been one month since our mom passed away.  It hardly seems possible. But time continues to march on, whether we realize it or not. It's been a month of sadness, grief, drama, and change. 

Here at home our little group of three has been enlarged to four.  Rather than be resistant to this new change, J has been absolutely thrilled. His favorite uncle is now here all the time.  He has someone other than me to see every day. Indeed, he spends a lot of time with Bobby. Although Bobby is patient with him, I know that having all this attention can be a bit much. We are currently having to remind J to stay off Uncle Bobby's bed. J doesn't click with just anyone. Only certain people get to enter his world so I am very happy when I see that connection.

The house is currently stuffed to the gills with furniture, books, and all manner of things that help to make a house a home. Not only did Bobby bring a lot with him, about the same time we were blessed with things from the Hubster's side of the family. Most people use the term "in law" or even "In love" to point out the relationships that aren't by blood. I dropped that a long time ago. They are simply my Mom and my sister. They've downsized a bit to make their lives simpler, and Mom made sure I got the furniture. I love stuff with history so I'm happy it all came to the Hubs and me. Along with a dining set came various other items that I am still going through and putting in place. Things that once belonged to sisters in Christ; lovely ladies who still have much to teach me, even though one dear sister has been gone for a few years now. Remind me one day to tell Miss Erna's story. Suffice it for now to say it is one of dedication. She was a woman of quiet strength. Neither a non believing husband nor cancer kept her from worship if she could help it.

Slowly, day by day and box by box, we are settling in once again. Day to day life is being figured out. Life tends to move on that way.

One month after her passing I'm still scrambling a bit to find my footing. Family that I thought would pull closer tended to pull away into their own safe groups. I'm not so sure that I haven't done the same. Grief tends to do that. Grief heightens emotions and makes people strike out and hurt others in some cases, sends us running to arms we know that are safe in others.  Hopefully, prayerfully, in time family "fights" will heal. 

It's been a long hard month in some ways, yet it's gone so quickly. It reminds me that we need to make the most of life while we have it. And we need to hold on to family while we can. Easier said than done, I know. But life is fleeting, folks. In the blink of an eye it's over. What will we have to show for it at the end?  A life of striving to live like Christ, or a lifetime of looking out for number one? Gathering of loved ones to hold on to, or grabbing for things that give us stature or pleasure?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Open Letter to Adults About Teaching and Correcting Children

 Dear parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, and other adults in charge of children:

Just a few days ago I was verbally attacked by an eighteen year old and her little friends. It happened publicly, on Facebook, because this child has obviously been taught, one way or another, that this is the proper way of handling a situation. Throw out a liberal dose of profanity and beat one's chest in the manner of a gorilla, sprinkling in words like respect.  

Sad to say, at first I took the bait, although I did not read this child's entire rant. I responded from the heart. Then I deleted and apologized to anyone who could have read any of that on my page. I am by no means perfect, but I won't listen to that type of speech. I close my ears to it. Using that language at me on the phone earns a hang up. In print, the delete button comes in very handy.  I even stated that conversations are welcome; profanity and abusive language would be removed and those involved would be blocked from my page.  My husband took it upon himself to guard my page so I wouldn't have to see it all. Why? Because I'm related to the 18 year old and the ones who chose to follow her lead.

I did see that one adult came to the defense of the 18 year old, remarking that no one knows the truth about the 18 year old. The sad truth is, that in this world that can quote and twist to their needs in many cases the verse in the bible that says judge not, everyone does. Matthew 7:1, NIV, states "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."  Because I was judged, those who read the diatribe on my page judged the 18 year old by her words and by what they could see on the 18 year old's own page. 

Truth: People know you by your words and your actions. If you are proud of those words and actions, own it. If you aren't happy with the way people see (judge) you, then perhaps it's time to do some thinking.

Some will dismiss the actions and words of those involved in the verbal attack as those who don't know any better, or "they're going to do stuff like that, they're young".  Just kids. I see. That makes it okay then. Or does it? As i said, the main instigator was 18. One of her followers (whether he wrote himself or was "hacked") is in his late 20's. 

Truth: Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Teachers, and other adults in authority, we must remember that the words and actions of our children are a reflection on us. 

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.  KJV Proverbs 22:15

It is up to us adults to teach and to correct bad behavior while the children are young so that when the world sees our little darlings, the world doesn't hold up a mirror that makes us unhappy.  We all love our children and we want to be the cool parent whose home is the local hangout, right? That's what keeps our children loving us, right? Not so much. Being a parent means teaching right from wrong, and how to deal with a situation that makes them unhappy. In other words, if we do not correct our children's behavior now, someone else will do it later, and the way it is done may lead to heartbreak. Not everyone will simply hit delete and move on. Some will choose to involve the police or other court system, some will retaliate in kind and introduce violence. We only have to read or watch the news to know that deaths occur everyday in this country(!) over matters that could and should have been talked out.  Many scream about how far we've come as a society, and how certain groups are dragging us back in time to "the bad old days." Read your history. We haven't gone forward or backward. We're simply spinning our wheels because the lesson's aren't being learned.

I for one, have many lessons still to learn. I am by no means perfect. But when someone has a problem, I am willing to listen as long as it is brought to me in  a respectful manner. Respect is another word being thrown about in this world, like truth, but few know or care about its meaning. That, my friends, is another lesson for another day. For now I have spoken my peace. Thank you for listening.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Everything Changes

My Mom and brother visiting the new house.
Back in the early 2000's when my family lived in Texas, my husband, brother and I were involved each year in Family Bible School at church. During the week long summer bible class we would do a play based on the year's theme. Each night of FBS after the class portion we would put on a 30 minute installment of the play. It was great fun, helped cement some of the lessons we'd been learning, and in some cases, put popular songs of the day into the "never hearing that song after this would be too soon" category. For me, anyway. One of those songs was "Everything Changes." I think we changed the lyrics a bit and used it when we were teaching about Paul. But these days that particular refrain, "Everything Changes" is stuck in my head

The changes began earlier in the month with the death of my mother. That was a blow no one saw coming even though she was 75 years young. She was strong, almost too independent, still caring for my brother who still lived with her. The one thing she could not do was drive. Her nerves were too bad to handle that so while she lived near us, my husband and I taxi'd her around town. Other members of the family did, as well, when the Hubs and i couldn't. 

Her death left more than just the void of her being there. It meant that someone new would be my brother's caretaker. Born prematurely and placed in an incubator with no oxygen for a few minutes by a careless or overworked nurse left him with mild cp (cerebral palsy) that affects the left side of his body and fairly mild mental challenges. Yet he is very intelligent. He may be at a loss for math skills, but he is the family historian. He remembers things many of us have forgotten --and we three sisters are all younger than he is.

My mother never left a will. Whether she didn't want to go through the expense or simply didn't think it was necessary ("Bobby knows who gets what") she didn't get one done, though I urged her to do so many times. With few exceptions there haven't been any squabbles over material possessions. Bobby has been a different story.  There have been heated discussions, hurt feelings, and a lot of stress, simply because two bull headed sisters each wanted what was best for Bobby. Even a few nieces got in on the act. In the end, Bobby spoke up. While he would love a place of his own, it's not going to happen yet. But while he would be happy and taken care of with any of us, his wishes are simple: He wants to be able to go to church every Sunday, wants a karate class, wants to go to the movies now and then. He chose to be with me. 

While I hate all the stress that this has caused, I am happy for this new chapter in my life. Though we are 14 years apart, Bobby and I share a closeness, just as our sisters do with each other.  I grew up taking walks with him, listening to the ghost stories he loves so much. And yes, as the years have gone by, I, the youngest of the family, have been guilty of mothering him a bit. I mother everyone who comes into my line of sight. It's just part of me to be a bit of a mother hen.

As for the Hubs and J, I think they too are happy with Bobby living with us. J adores his uncle. He sees someone who understands him (for the most part) and he has a few of his uncle's traits. The Hubs is one who loves to talk about the bible and faith in general, and Bobby is very much interested in that.

I am looking forward to seeing life as it unfolds. I know I still have much to learn from my older brother, and I hope I can teach him some as well.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Confessions of a Disorganized Housewife: Fessing Up

These days, if you want to come and visit, you're entirely welcome. Just plan on coming early in the week. 

You know what they say about the road to hell right? It's paved with good intentions. When we first moved here I was Susie Homemaker. I stuck with my routines, went to bed at a decent hour, Baby Bear was in a great mood... life was good. We even got some painting done and even a little decorating. I'll do a post on the kitchen and dining room soon, we just need to finish up in that area. 

But then came things that got in the way. Started chatting on Facebook messenger with friends until Jim came home from work. After dinner chores got pushed aside. We had to run here or there for myriad reasons from helping out a relative to just plain boredom. It rained a lot so that painting wasn't advisable (from what I've read if you paint on rainy days it doesn't dry properly). Seizures and meltdowns reared their ugly heads a few times. In short, while I have been continuing to try and keep the place neat and orderly while making the house more into home, it's been more like swimming upstream while the other fish are busily heading downstream: you're putting out a lot of effort but you're really not getting anywhere.

One thing I've kept up with though, is (mostly) managing to keep Mondays free of distraction so I can get the house back in order. The weekends are now the true weekends so unless I'm babysitting on Sunday, not a lot of housework is being done on Saturday. And somewhere along the lines of Friday, the brains in this house tend to forget where shoes go, and things tend to fall by the wayside. 

That's where Mondays come in. That's my time to restore order to the living room, bathroom, kitchen and dining room. The rooms get picked up, the dishes are caught up, the bathroom gets a good scrub down, and the carpets get a good vacuuming. All that fun stuff. Most of it, anyway. 

Slowly though, I'm figuring out the spring time slump and getting back into a more feasible routine. A load or two of laundry gets done most days, and today I wrote up some rules for a happy kitchen:
  • dishes are done by the end of the night and at the very least are put in the drainer to dry if not put away.
  • litter boxes are patrolled daily with regular scrubbing
  • Floor to be swept nightly
  • Trash taken out nightly.

If I can get back in the habit of making sure those are done regularly, as well as mastering the art of menu planning (and sticking with said plans) I think I can keep a handle on the housework so I can better spend my time with Baby Bear and the Hubs, as well as work in time for writing and art work. Home Sweet House is relatively small, which I am thankful for when it comes to keeping the housework manageable. 

So there you have it, folks, my confession for the day. Now, if you'll excuse me, the laundry needs rebooting and dishes are calling. Have a great Monday.
This is Charlie, holding the tv down so it doesn't fly away each night, lol.

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's Finally Friday! Take Some Time

It is finally Friday! I thought I'd sit and write a bit while Baby Bear relaxes. Honestly, I'm hoping he naps today so I can get a little bit of a snooze in myself. Yes, finally I have learned to sleep while he sleeps. Most of the time. 

It's been a nice day so far.  No appointments, no trips to the grocery store, no tantrums. In fact, for lunch the Hubs was nice enough to prepare quesajitas --I'm thinking he created that combo. It's a cross between quesadillas and chicken fajitas. Yummy!--while I took a few minutes to make a card or two. I love being creative when I can. I don't always get a lot of time to do that, so I take advantage when I can. It's a great stress reliever.

Sorry for the sideways cards. I just recently upgraded something on the computer and I'm still figuring it out. I'd like to say that I came up with the design for these cards. Nope. They all use the same stamp set from Stampin Up!  and were part of a program my demonstrator does. Basically, participants agree to buy the set she chooses, along with a few other tools such as ink pads. The demonstrator, as part of the price, sends precut card stock and any embellishments needed to finish the cards.  It's fun and for now gives me a few minutes to play without having to think too hard. With Baby Bear, sometimes that's the best way to handle it.  

Speaking of that sweet young man of mine, that nap I was hoping for just went out the window. He's currently laughing and tapping the love seat to get my attention. Translation: Boredom! Time to get moving again. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Autism Wednesday: Confessions of Life with Baby Bear

So....I haven't written in a long time. Oh, I've had intentions of writing. I even came up with a blog post or two...that never made it from my computer to here. Life has been filled with the usual ups and downs that find us all. Baby Bear has done so great at times and I've wanted to share those moments --and then there are days that really just make me want to throw my hands up in surrender and say, Come take him. I can't handle it anymore. Those are the times that really break my heart. I know there are parents who have had to make the painful decision to place their child in a residential home of some sort. The one time we came really close to actually doing it --we were informed that the state wouldn't take him. They have no place for young adults with moderate to severe autism. We never pursued it so I have no idea how true that statement is. I do know, however, that in the hierarchy of state funds, adults with special needs are very low on the totem pole. But you know what? Honestly and truly I don't want to place my son in a home that isn't mine. I know there are loving people who become caregivers, and I also know that one day he may very well end up in one anyway, due to the deaths of The Hubs and me, or that we are just too old and frail to care for him properly. At the same time, I can't imagine not having J in the house each night.

The times that I do consider placement are born out of frustration, anger, and fear. This is a home we plan to stay in for a very long time if we can. We are the ones responsible for repairs. It makes me feel better that I don't have the worry of a landlord throwing us out because J broke something, but it also makes my heart sink when I see the damage that has occurred in J's room already. Sometime very soon, as in the next few weeks or so, we will be learning all about replacing dry wall. At the same time, we are considering what to put on the walls that is sturdy enough to withstand the banging, but wont seriously hurt his hands. Quite obviously plain, painted walls aren't going to cut it in his room. If a crack or hole is knocked in it, his OCD  kicks in and he starts picking at it, particularly if he's angry or bored. See where this is going? Yeah, not pretty. There are books, magazine articles and blog posts galore on baby proofing your home.  Baby Bear proofing? Not so much. I feel like I'm paving the way on this one. 

So...yeah. That's pretty much life here at Dottie's Life these days. Mostly good, some not so good, and learning to tread water again. I won't promise to write posts because we've seen how that goes here. But please don't give up on me. I have lots to tell you about. I just stumbled once again and let life pull at me. I want to write at least three posts a week, if not more. If I lag, please feel free to contact me. I love hearing from you even if I don't get a chance to respond.  For now, housework calleth, as does Baby Bear. He's "talking" to me in his own language, wanting attention. I do love his sense of humor.

 Baby Bear doesn't like getting his hair cut very often due to sensitivity issues. But I do love his mischievous smile. Doesn't he clean up good?

Friday, May 23, 2014

How Secure is the Baptismal Area?

It's beginning to be that time of year again. The weather is warmer so many start thinking of swimming pools as a way to beat the heat. With swim season upon us, along comes the advice: keep your children safe in and near the water. Accidental drownings occur and put us all on edge and we are hyper vigilant. But, have we given thought to how safe our baptismal areas are in our church buildings?

As parents we know that it only takes a second or two for a child to slip away. Inside our houses of worship we are still aware of that fact, yet we feel safer because in most cases we know the families who meet there. We feel safe and we watch out for one another. In many cases, not much thought is given to the accessibility of the baptismal area. After all, we want to make it as easy as possible to help someone to obey the gospel. Unfortunately, even in a church setting though, children can get away. I lost my oldest son to drowning, twenty one years ago this July. 

At the time there were no doors leading to the baptismal pool, and other than bubble wrap to keep out bugs, no covering over the pool itself. We were told afterward that it had been that way for over 50 years. No one had given thought to what might happen. After my son's death,  locked gates were put up and only certain men had access to the key.  The congregation where my husband and I met and later married, also realized that the doors leading to their area needed to be locked. I know during that time several people contacted my husband and me, saying because of our son's death they made the baptismal pool more secure.

I just read on a Facebook group the request for prayer by a young mom who lost her child in a similar manner nine years ago. Please, ladies. Let us work to stop this from happening again. On the next Lord's day, please check to see how accessible the baptismal pool is. Let the elders or the men of the congregation know that it needs to be safer if it isn't already locked. 

photo credit: jcsullivan24 via photopin cc

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Autism Wednesday: Kyle's story.

 My Dear Readers, today is April 2, known as World Autism Awareness Day. This is something very important to me, as my son Jesse has autism and mental retardation due possibly to other factors as well as lead poisoning as a child.  Each Wednesday I will be bringing stories from parents, information about autism, and hope. 
   Today I bring to you the story of Kyle, as told by his mother, Janice.  

My Mr Man Kyle is 22 yes I call him my Mr Man he always says to me I am Kyle lol ..
When Kyle was 2 he was vaccine injured by the MMR vaccines .Prior to the vaccine
my Kyle was talking , walking , eating and sleeping . He was watching TV like any child that is 2 would do.
I remember it like it was yesterday him sitting in front of the TV eating cheetos' and watching Barney lol
During the nights I would wrap him into his crib and he would sleep through out the nights never any problems with him sleeping & his words were age appropriate , every milestone that a child that was 2 years
met in everyday ..
The day , yes we moms know and remember that day from Hell when we took our children into the Doctors to get
their Wellness vaccines thinking we were protecting them from the world , the many diseases that it was going to protect them from.So they said . that you will hear through out my story .
I brought him home as the sun was going down. I was standing in my kitchen when I heard my Kyle started to scream a high pitch scream. We as moms with vaccine injured Kido's know all too well about .
As I picked him  up to hold him in my arms while he was screaming and turned blue was bareley able to hold him due to his body stiffening up and his back was arched in full blown seizure mode.
The scream felt like it lasted for what felt like an eternity to me it ; little I know that his screams and his seizure was due to him being vaccine injured .. I do remember calling my Mom and telling her it was from the vaccines but at this time back in 1992 nobody had heard of autism or what a vaccine injury was about. 
The next morning I couldn't find my son. When I did he was hiding behind the couch . After that he stopped eating he stopped talking and he stopped sleeping .. I AM THE MOM WHO WAS TREATED AS WHAT THEY CALLED THE Refrigerator mom, blamed for not caring for my son by not 1 not 2 not even 3 but many so called Psychologists and psychiatrist who knew nothing about autism or vaccine injury .
This started my journey with my son in a whole new life of hell is what it felt like with the unknown
We finally took Kyle up to UC Davis Children hospital to get a final diagnosis for him
Brian Seigel, top psychiatrist who is and was the top Autism Specialist gave me the words of him being severely autistic & Mild Retardation
The story goes on from there ...........
Not too many people heard of autism and how to treat a child on the Autism Spectrum ,
I was very blessed to have found a School for Kyle, whose teacher not only knew [about autism] he helped Kyle in so many ways: to go to the doctors ,helped me to get him to the Dentist and other vital life skills he would be needing for the future and as part of society.
Kyle did wonderful, he even Graduated from his Severely Handicapped Class with Honor of being the most helpful to others.' Kyle is such a great helper to me and he  always loves to help others.He is a giver.It is a gift he has within him that the vaccine damages couldn't take away.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Connection of Prayer

Yesterday was one of the longest days of my life. Baby Bear had a grand mal seizure. His regular absence seizures are tough enough but to see your child's body flailing uncontrollably and his breathing sounding labored--unimaginable. The Hubs was home as it was just before his shift that it happened. He was closest to J and saw before I did. I just heard the thud when he fell. I had been on facebook at the time so I left a short message: Pray.

I rode along in the ambulance with J and the Hubs followed behind. He had already contacted his mother to alert her as to what was going on. She told him that many had already with assurances of prayers and positive thoughts were going up. She left a message on her own page giving the news about J's seizure. A former sister in law saw that one and called J's cousin, who in turn called Grandma to express his concern. 

We spent several hours at the emergency room, most of it just hanging out in the room. J was groggy but just about back to normal by the time we arrived.  He did fine with the staff coming in and out checking on him, but by 8pm he'd had enough and pulled out the IV starter (that contraption they insist on adding whether you need fluids or not, just in case. It can also be used for taking blood labs).  Never a dull moment with him.  The doctor decided that a few more labs were needed before releasing J to go home, along with a dose of medicine. J sat up and calmly watched the phlebotomist  prepare his arm for the butterfly needle. Then just as he was about to get the stick, J strong armed him and thwarted the attempt. Needless to say they gave up on the idea of more blood for the evening. It was late when we got home and J went on to bed. He slept till about 9 this morning.  I am very thankful. Words can't express how grateful I am that Baby Bear is back to his normal happy self and for so many who offered up prayers and good thoughts yesterday.

This post is being shared withHeavenly Homemakers Gratituesday

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Autism Wednesday: Is it Better 1 in 50? A Rant

A few days ago a page I follow on Facebook posted the following :

Admittedly, I haven't read all of the studies, but neither do I put much credence into studies that are funded by the vaccine industry or anyone connected to them in any way. And I certainly don't need studies to know that  my son was affected by vaccines. But before attacks me with how safe or unsafe shots are, that one is for another day. Today I want to bring up a different aspect. Bear with me. 

I happened to glance at the some of the comments below the photo. Being that the page speaks much about the harm that can be done with vaccines, most following are going to comment positively. However, like anything there are those who oppose and like to have their voices heard as well. In most cases, not a problem. I believe in free speech.

Then I read a gentleman's flippant answer: "Better 1 in 50 than 100% dying of smallpox, just sayin." 

Excuse me? My child having autism is the key to keeping everyone from dying of a disease that has been eradicated since 1980? You can read more about smallpox here. 

Smallpox was a horrible disease that did a lot of damage, especially to Native Americans who had never before been exposed to the disease. But it never once completely eradicated 100% of the people exposed to it.  The young man who commented (tried to) used emotionalism and scare tactics to try and prove a point. Those are used almost on a daily basis in our society for one reason or another.  My point? Become educated. Don't simply accept what is being said at face value. Do the research. Learn all you can. And then educate others. Put the message out there, regardless of how you feel, but do not belittle others for their beliefs and decisions. 

At any rate, I feel we are going in the wrong direction with shots. Mass vaccinations regardless of circumstances is not the answer. Especially when no one is paying attention to what is in those syringes. We need to take a closer look at all this, not just allowing them to happen without question because we've been told over and over again "it's the right thing to do". 

Regardless of my stance on shots (for the record I allowed vaccinations, disregarding my gut feeling about it and that was before people were discussing possible connections between MMR and autism before J's diagnosis and even a few after, but will no longer allow them as a matter of course) I am not here to tell you what to believe about them. All I want to do is encourage further study and wish to stop the hatred. Things get heated on both sides of the debate but one thing sticks in my mind, and this was  in the autism community itself. One woman stated in the heat of the moment "If you don't vaccinate you deserve for your child to contract some horrible disease and die from it. In fact, I hope they do."  Seriously? How can anyone have that much hatred in their hearts for someone that they hope that a child dies?

In case you're wondering, autism is not the only harm that can potentially come from vaccinations. Again, do the research. Autism and brain damage are what my son deals with, and yes, I believe that vaccines were a part of what caused it. 

But wouldn't you rather he have autism than the measles or the chicken pox? No. Those two diseases last a week or two in most cases. They are largely uncomfortable but once gone, they're gone and the body's immune system is stronger. Autism is with my son for the rest of his life. Although I and anyone else who cares to get to know J know that he is intelligent, his functional age is supposedly that of a toddler--around 14 months--according to the doctors who tested him. 

As an adult he still isn't fully potty trained, although we work on it a lot. He can dress and feed himself and otherwise take care of his needs but in some areas he still needs help. He won't understand you if you speak full paragraphs in one fell swoop but he does understand more clearly if you speak two or three word sentences to him.  He can't be left alone for long periods of time because he can't cook for himself and in case of an emergency he might get agitated and not know what to do. 

When J was younger he had no fear. He had no worries of stepping out of a window onto a fiberglass roof or jumping out of a window (Yes, we had serious locks put on all the windows so that he could not open them and he was unharmed in both situations.). He could figure out how to unlock doors or in one case remove a (basement) window from its tracks so he could go into the back yard and swing. He was a runner between the ages of 2 and 9 and although he never got past the block we lived on at the time, my heart goes out to parents whose children go missing.  I've dealt with well meaning and even a few not so well meaning social workers who thought to help but in many cases just added to my frustration as a young mom trying to figure all this out.
 Now that J is considered an adult he no longer is a runner. He would much rather stay home. But although he would never jump out of a window (he no longer has a chance, we live in a one level ranch now), he does have frustrations that he sometimes takes out on my walls. Not often, but enough so that The Hubs has a wall to fix in J's room already.

His communication skills are emerging more and more, slowly but surely. He still cannot speak very much and sometimes when he can't get his needs or wants known, he cries. It's devastating, not knowing what is upsetting your child. 

And while most parents  look forward to the proud moment when  Susie or Johnny graduates from college and moves out on their own although they shed a tear or two, I stay awake wondering who will care for my son should the day come when The Hubs and I no longer can or are not here anymore. 

So no, young man with the flip attitude. No, it is not "better 1 in 50". I will not say it is better to have a disease no matter what it is, but honestly, I much rather would have dealt with measles, mumps or chicken pox than deal with autism. That's my thoughts on after 19 years after the diagnosis.

I welcome comments and I know what I spoke of here can cause heated discussions. I ask that any remarks be kept civil and family friendly. I believe in free speech but foul language or hurtful attacks will be deleted immediately.  I also would love to hear your autism stories, whether here or through my email, duckigrrl@gmail.com. Just please put "autism" in the subject bar so I know.
Thank you.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gratituesday: Reconnecting

This past Sunday was rainy and cool, but it was one of the better Lord's Days' I've enjoyed in the time since we've moved. We had been searching for a congregation to be a part of.  We visited one that was only 15 minutes away a few times, and found the people were friendly and truth was taught there. But it just didn't feel like home. I talked with a dear friend of mine and was reminded that she and her family worship about twenty minutes away from us. We walked into the building and it was like old home week! Familiar faces, pure acceptance. The congregation is small. As in less than twenty people so far. The hubs will most likely get a chance to lead singing there, something he hasn't had a chance to do often in years. Perhaps he will take a turn or two at teaching as well.  J is happily accepted here. The youngest child at the worship service, a seven year old, made friends with him. That makes this mama very happy.  And me? I'm not sure what my role will be in this new congregation. Perhaps I will get a chance to teach the children's class. Whatever I get to do, I will do to God's glory.

What about you? What are you grateful for today? I'd love to hear from you. This post is shared withHeavenly Homemakers' Gratituesday

church photo: Church Icon icon-church.png

Monday, March 17, 2014

Confessions of a Disorganized Housewife: Learning Not to Be an Oscar Madison

Cleaning and organizing do not come easily to me. Some people are born organizers and seem to have an innate sense of where everything goes. Then there are those of us who have the Oscar Madison gene. 
 Photocredit: www.starpulse.com

Most people I know fall in between the two ends of the spectrum. I however, fit in with Oscar Madison. (For those of you unfamiliar with the Odd Couple, Oscar is the one on the left, played by the late Jack Klugman. Yes, I know I'm old.)

However, if you're an Oscar like I am, there is hope. I promise. Inside me there is a neat freak screaming to get out. But I usually can shut her up with a pile of magazines or a new book to read. Mmmhmmm.  

As i stated above, there is hope.  While not 100% neat 100% of the time, I live in a home that I could open the door to company without cringing (much. Just don't open the door to the Bear Cave.). If you want perfection, wrong house. If you want to come visit and have some tea and maybe some cake or cookies, come on over!

So how did I get to that point? I moved. Here are some tips I've learned through trial and error and years(!!) of reading books and magazine articles and following blogs dedicated to cleaning and organizing:
  • Move. Seriously. Actually, not so seriously. If you are moving soon, great!  If not, pretend you are. In either case, while boxing up belongings, pay attention to what you have and purge what you can.
  • In purging, give yourself this test: Do I love it? Is it useful? Does it hold sentimental value? If you can't get a yes to at least one of those questions, toss it, donate it or sell it. 
  • Focus on the amount of space you have. For instance, the bedroom closet. Mine is the size of a shoebox and I share it with The Hubs. Do I really need eleventy-hundred pairs of jeans? NO! Cute as they all are, you can't wear all of them. If you have the clothing budget and the closet space to match, go for it. If not, choose a reasonable number and donate the rest. Share the wealth. Bonus: Fewer pairs of jeans means less laundry to deal with.
  • When it comes to free things (samples, hand me downs), Learn. To. Say. No. Can I do it? Nuh uh. Nope. If I think I can use it, I happily accept offerings. But I'm learning to use a discerning eye .  I choose what I can use and then I pass the rest on to someone else who can be blessed. 
These are just a few tips that are helping me. I have one more for the kitchen. Both Flylady and A Slob Comes Clean suggest starting with the sink. Flylady says shine your sink, Nony suggests doing your dishes. I tend to agree. Once you do your dishes and the sink is nice and shiny, it spurs you on to other cleaning activities.  That being said, it's time for me to get busy cleaning. Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Autism Awareness

Autism awareness month is just around the corner. For this family though, that's pretty much every month. Every day we deal with it. We aren't alone in this.  The prevalence is 1 in 88 births. For males, the rate is higher. We still do not know what causes autism. Although there are a lot of theories out there, it's frustrating that an awful lot of money seems to be spent on "proving" what doesn't cause autism. Personally I think there are a few culprits out there, but I'm not a scientist so no one really cares what i believe on that point. 

Yes, I do believe that vaccines are part of the problem. I also believe that there are other factors involved. Furthermore, I believe there are things that we can do to help our children. Are children with autism ever totally "cured"?  I don't know, quite honestly. 

In the next several weeks, each Wednesday I would like to post about autism. Facts, websites, personal stories from parents/relatives/ those who work with children and adults with autism. Please feel free to contact me with your own stories: the good, the bad and the ugly. Do you use medications to help your child? Therapies? Alternative helps such as diet, essential oils? Please feel free to contact me via email (duckigrrl@gmail.com). Please put Autism in the subject line so I'll know.  Also, feel free to contact me on Facebook or leave comments here. I do ask that messages be respectful. Please be aware that I may share what you tell me, although I will not use names unless given permission to do so. 

autism photo:  autism.png

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gratituesday: Mi Vida Loca --My Crazy Life

I really should be composing an ode to Laura, over at Heavenly Homemakers,
for encouraging me week after week to sit and think about what I'm grateful for. Seriously. Sometimes it is far too easy to get overwhelmed in the day to day drama of bills and kids and housework and everything else...that you (I) forget to sit back and realize the blessings all around us.

I'm going to actually sit here and reflect on the craziness that is my life. The Hubs is still asleep, which is okay because it's the first day of his "weekend" and for once we aren't scheduled to go anywhere today, that I know of. I'm sure I'm forgetting something around here though. 

J is in his room, making a noise that is a cross between a belch and a sneeze. No, he isn't sick. It's a habit he picked up thanks to his cousin and he uses it to remind me that he's not yet had breakfast. No, he's not starving. He's simply bored at this point. If he was truly hungry I would be pulled off the computer or any other task that I happened to be on and led to the fridge. Yeah, he likes to give strong hints. He takes eating very seriously. 

I am the daughter of a woman who somehow thinks I can read minds. One line I hear almost every time we visit is "I could have used your help" on yesterday, last week, five minutes ago. The crazy thing is, she is as averse to the phone as I am. The only person she willingly calls herself is her sister. If she has to, she will make an appointment over the phone, but rarely because she has a hearing problem. Most all phone calls go through my brother, who lives with her. 

I'm at the age where most parents are watching their kids graduate from high school, enter college and/or the workforce, date, have lives of their own. I'm still in the midst of pullups, working on communication skills, and figuring out just who my son is inside that head of his. The grandchildren that come my way are either honorary or feline. And yes, we are on grandcat watch as we speak. Poor Lucy is miserable and crabby with Raven and Charlie, and I don't blame her. She just wants to be left alone. And yes,  she will be spayed just as soon as the kittens are weaned. 

And me? I'm wading through it all, trying to figure it all out and trying to keep up with housework, writing, being a wife, a mom, a sister, and all the other hats that I and every other woman out there wear. I get it wrong more often than not, and I growl and fuss and cry and complain at times. But you know what? I like this life of mine even when I feel lonely or confused or frustrated. Okay, maybe not as much when I feel those things, but I am very blessed and I know it. I'm thankful for this life of mine. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a bored child to redirect and a day to begin. What are you thankful for today? I'd love to hear about it.

  Older photos of me and my guys.

This post is being shared as part of Gratituesday on Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Confessions of a Disorganized Housewife: Spring Cleaning and Plans for the House

Good morning! It's a beautiful, sunny day here in my area. Daylight savings time is upon us. The clocks have been set forward an hour (really, I don't get why we still do that but that's a rant for another day) and like a lot of people, my mind is on spring cleaning. Well, for me, my mind is on cleaning in general. Because of the move, a few things like turning mattresses and general cleanup have been done already. But now that we deal with gas for heat and cooking, I get to learn all about that type of upkeep. The windows could stand a good washing (we have awnings from way back in the day on some of the windows so I get to figure out how to wash the outsides of the windows), and I'm pretty sure the awnings need to be cleaned as well. Looks like I'll be starting a honey do list for The Hubs. He's better at cleaning the rain gutters and that type of thing.  It's also time to get moving on a garden and doing a little landscaping out there. I have lots of plans for this home, and hopefully I will share a little of that with you as the weeks go by. Because of our limited budget, not everything on our list will get done this year, but that's okay. 

In sprucing up on the inside, I really want to get some painting done, especially in the two bedrooms.

These two photos were taken before we moved. The top is the master bedroom and is a really bright pink. I love pink, I really do. But that is a bit too bright for me. The Hubs has agreed to a much softer shade of pink. The carpet I'm not so concerned with because as soon as I can replace it with laminate or anything else that fits my budget and looks like hardwood and will last a long while, it's outta here, baby! Carpets in my opinion hold a lot of dust, dirt and cat hair, even when you vacuum regularly. I'd rather sweep and damp mop and keep going. 

The bottom room there has very poor lighting for the photo. The paint looks chocolate brown there but is more of a cross between chocolate and raspberry. I'm not crazy about it. The bear cave is going to become a blue-green. Since the bear cave is J's room, I don't think curtains will go in there at all. I'm thinking sturdier blinds, and very few additions other than removing the carpet for something simpler. He is truly zen. He does not like a lot of clutter in his space. In fact, the barer, the better. I will honor his wishes on that. 

Now that I've shown you the "before" pictures of the bedrooms, I will be sure to keep you updated when the rooms are done.  For now though, my sweet husband has informed me it's time to eat , and then I need to finish my laundry and thin out the growing stack of magazines, not to mention catch up on my filing. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Celebrating 21 Years

Twenty One years of blogging? Ha! Not even close. I've been writing, off and on and mostly for my own pleasure, at least since I was 14. But nope, that's not what this post is about.

My J Man, Baby Bear, Singing Bird (as dubbed by his Granny), JJ is now 21. Well, officially he's been that for a week or so. My baby boy is no longer a baby. At least, he isn't anymore in the world's eyes. But to this mama, the five foot nine or so inches tall guy with the long hair and beard and laughing eyes will always be my baby.

I say this a lot, but it amazes me how fast time flies. One day he's born after two days of on again off again contractions. Lots of walking, resting, hanging out with family until things really get moving and it's time to go to the hospital. We had no car at the time so my niece had to chauffeur us. And somehow that meant she had to leave my mother at the grocery store! Thankfully a family friend was also shopping that day and was able to take Ma home.

Next thing I know he's walking on tip toes, stacking legoes taller than himself, and spinning everything from toys to quarters to cookware lids to himself, flapping his hands a lot, and at times, turning his head and screaming. Things I recognize now as a few indicators of autism (there are a lot more but we'll go into those another time).

Jump ahead a few more days (years, truthfully) and suddenly here he is, all grown up. He's come a long way, and he continues teaching me things every day. I wonder what the next 21 years will bring?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Gratituesday: So Thankful to be Home

I've been MIA entirely too long, and for that I apologize. If I have any faithful readers left, thank you for hanging in there and waiting for me to get back to writing again. I've missed this.

As of the publication of this post, The Hubs, Baby Bear and I have been in our new home for about three weeks now. I am so grateful for all the prayers, encouragement, and help in finding our Home Sweet House over the past several months. (There is a movie reference in that last sentence. Classic movie buffs may catch it. ) Indeed, we have been very blessed.  Our dear church family in our former hometown knew our situation and helped us find this sweet place. I am so grateful.

Slowly but surely we are settling into our new nest and making it ours. I have so many ideas for painting, decorating, and already a list of things that need to be updated. But you know what? As anxious as I am to get started on the myriad projects, I'm content to let things go at an easy pace. This home isn't going anywhere, and I'm not planning on moving anytime in the next five, ten years, or even longer. True, we never know what the future holds, but I'm happy right where I am.

I never really thought I would like living in a large town, especially after the sleepy little hamlet we just came from where I could pretty much walk all over town and not even have to worry much about traffic, but I feel at home here. The neighborhood is quite close to a main highway, but the neighbors are nice and friendly. The Hubs no longer has an hour long (one way) commute to work. In fact, it takes him less than five minutes to his office. And J seems much happier here as well. His vocalizations are more frequent, he spends more time in the living room now instead of being holed up in his bedroom all the time, and he is making better eye contact. Those are all huge pluses for this family.

This post is being shared as part of Heavenly Homemakers Gratituesday

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sex Education

I don't have a child in public school at this point in my life. Like I did with J, I'd most likely home school. Although I know several public school teachers who are great and obviously love their jobs, I have entirely too many reasons I don't want that path for my children. I'm not knocking all teachers nor do I have a problem with all schools, just school in general. But that's another blog post entirely.

Today I happened to be scanning my Facebook page and noticed this.  I just about choked when I read it. I don't want to add a picture because of the nature of the article. I know sometimes younger kids buzz around when Mom is online and I believe that sex is something that should be taught about at home, when the parents think the child is ready. This article shows a poster that was placed in a middle school, describing things that people do to show they care for one another. It includes hugging, kissing, touching and sexual acts. 

The parent who saw this thought surely this had to be a prank, but no. The school board was quite pleased to have that as part of their curriculum for sex education. 

If I am to be labeled "out of it", a prude, old fashioned, not realistic in my views, so be it. If my child attended that school and I saw that poster, my child would be withdrawn immediately. It's inappropriate.

I believe that children should be taught about sex--in an age appropriate manner. I do not believe that a 13 year old is ready mentally or emotionally for a sexual relationship. Instead of giving teens and pre teens the green light to go ahead and play with something that can be very dangerous, how about teaching them that they can and should respect themselves and those they care about (girlfriend or boyfriend) enough to wait. The reasons for waiting are myriad. The pleasure they may get from casual sex is all too brief and can come with some very serious consequences:STDs, heartbreak, pregnancy to name a few. And I won't even open the can of worms called teen pregnancy. That's for another time.

I once knew someone who thought that sex was great and should be available for anyone, regardless of age. Sex is indeed great, in the right context. I also believe that guns and cars are great tools and are useful for many people. But I would never dare to put either in the hands of a child who does not understand that both of those tools can cause great harm and that there are no do overs when someone dies because you played around. Most people would agree that children need to be taught to use a weapon or an automobile with respect and care. Why then, would we think it okay to encourage reckless use of sex? Teenagers and younger kids do not have the maturity to handle it properly. 

Young people are not stupid. They do make mistakes and wrong choices, however. Instead of giving in and allowing it to happen, teach them what they need to know. Teach them that they need to take responsibility for their actions. This includes financial responsibility.  Encourage them to participate in sports and other activities. Keep their minds and their bodies busy. Trust them yes, because you can't be with them every minute of the day. Keep the lines of communication open. Don't just decide oh well, they're going to do it anyway and then blindly hand them the keys.