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.