Friday, May 1, 2015

HELP! I Need a Name!

A friend of mine sent me a message this morning about my blog.  She said she enjoyed reading it, but didn't think the name "I don't have a job" was a good name for it.  I created this blog 3 years ago (!!!) when I quit my job working as a para educator, hence the name.  It was so stupid of me to even take this job in the first place because no one in their right mind would believe they have enough energy to work with special needs kids all day, and then go home to take care of your own special needs kid.  Live and learn.  Anyway, I trust this lady as she is a smarty and has a great sense of humor to boot, so I started to think about it.

She said "it's not true. you DO have a job, an important job, an "alternative" job, a job we don't "pay" for in this country but....you do in fact have a job. So... just wondering if you would consider a change because...somehow when I read it...it sounds like you are sitting home eating bon bons, or shopping or something and we KNOW that isn't true."


She is so right! I certainly am NOT sitting home eating bonbons (Mmmmm....bon bonbons!) or shopping or going to nail salons.


I am taking mental pictures in the morning of what my kid is wearing so if he bolts from school I know what to tell the police.


I am wondering if Peter is handling the tough kids at school who target him because he is sensitive and kind and vulnerable because he so often feels like he is playing second fiddle.

I am emailing with TJ's school team about an upcoming something or other so we can prepare him for any "zig zags" in his schedule that could throw him completely off.

I am making sure the house is stocked with food for my boys' very individual tastes and preparing to introduce a new food to TJ, one bite at a time, to challenge his sensory issues and expand his tiny food repertoire.

I am making extra runs to the schools to bring my boys their binders or glasses or retainers or lunches or snacks or books or projects or homework that they forgot at home.

I am trying to keep up with the tasks of the house so my family has clean clothes to wear and don't smell stinky.

I am driving to and from school, appointments, soccer practice, car upkeep, dropping off and picking up that every parent experiences in balancing their family's ever changing weekly schedule.

I am trying to squeeze in exercise time for me so I have some stress relief and don't lose my mind.

I am tackling personal family issues that you will never find me writing about here out of respect for those so dear to my heart.

I am writing.

So - what do you call that??? Is there a job description for that? I have no idea what I would call it.

I DO have a job. I have a LOT of jobs! I just don't know how to put that into a cute clever little blog title.

I'll work on it - in the mean time if you all have any suggestions PLEASE let me know! I'd love to hear from you!

Also, if the blog title suddenly changes, you all know why.

Off I go - have a great day!



Thursday, April 30, 2015

Meanwhile, during the ride home from school.....

"Hey TJ, guess what?"

"What?"

"Your case manager sent me a message telling me that you have no school on May 11th!"

"WHOA!!!  That's great!  I can't wait to tell Peter and see the look of jealousy and despair on his face!"

Wha.....?

Sibling rivalry is alive and well in our house.  Who said kids with autism aren't in tune with their feelings?  Seems to me TJ is tuned in just fine.  Maybe a little too well.....

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lucky

I saw a quote today.

It was about how Special Needs Parents aren't stronger, or chosen, or better, than "typical" parents.  We are lucky.

Huh.  "Lucky".

I don't think that's how I would phrase it.  For me, anyway.

Am I lucky to have my beautiful boy, TJ?  Yes - absolutely.

Am I lucky that he has autism?  I don't think so.  In all honesty.

I know lots of people may get upset about my saying this, but today, that's how I feel.

I imagine our life without his anxiety issues.  Without his sensory issues.  Without his difficulty expressing himself, and his tendency to be quick with his anger.

Without his wanting to bolt when he feels angry or ashamed.

Without needing help shampooing his own hair, because he doesn't want water on his face.

Without not being able to put certain foods in his mouth, because to him they feel terrible on his tongue.

I cry when I think about these things, as any mom would, because these are some of the hardest things in TJ's life.  And no mother wants anything to be hard for their kids.  Ever.

If we could take all the difficulties away for our kids with a magic wand, we would.  These things include pimples and hard times studying.  Social awkwardness and difficulty making friends.

Anything that makes life hard, we would erase for our children in a heartbeat.  Autism or no autism.

So no, I am not lucky that TJ has autism.

I am, however, lucky that TJ has the kind loving heart that he has.

I am lucky that he has his sense of humor.

I am lucky that he loves animals like he does, and loves to share animal facts with everyone.

I am lucky that he has my wonky eyebrow.

I am lucky that his smile radiates, and I am SUPER lucky that he has that dimple.

I am lucky that he is verbal.  I am lucky that he is healthy.

I am lucky that he loves his brother.

I am lucky that he is mine.  My sweet boy.

Maybe on another day you would get a different answer from me, but today, autism does not feel lucky.

TJ.  That's what makes me lucky.  I have my TJ.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thank You, Loretta

There is this fantastic local restaurant in our little town called Loretta's.  Sean and I have been going there for years.

The boys have joined us there many times.  It is such a yummy, family-friendly place.

And SUCH a TJ friendly place.  Let me explain.

All TJ wants when he goes out to eat anywhere is a burger.  Whether they have it on the menu or not.  So when they don't we are sometimes faced with the challenge of his anger and trying to contain it.

Loretta's occasionally has a hamburger on the menu and they always know just how TJ likes it - plain, with no spices in it or anything.  And nothing on it.  TJ always orders his burger by saying "just bun, burger, bun."

On previous times when I have called Loretta's for a reservation, I have asked if the burger was on the menu.  Once when it wasn't, Loretta ran out to buy some ground beef ahead of time so she could make a plain burger just for TJ.

That's the kind of wonderful lady she is.

Anyway, when I called last night for our reservation, I didn't ask.  We have been working on TJ's flexibility lately, and I wanted him to try to go with the flow and adjust accordingly if there was no burger.  I push him, often, and yes it gets messy, but yes, it works in time.

So when we sat down and looked at our menu, there was no burger.  We agreed that TJ would have plain buttered noodles with salt.  When I asked the waitress to make sure there was no parsley or garnish or anything on the plate, she kind of had a double take moment (we didn't know this waitress).  But she smiled and went back to deliver our order.

TJ was upset.  I asked him to take a deep breath.  He yelled "NO!" very loudly and I thought for a quick second, that's it, we are done here.  But I calmly told him he is not to yell like that in a restaurant, and please take some deep breaths.  He did.  He wasn't happy, but he did.  Then Peter, the wonder brother, started distracting TJ by asking him about a movie he wanted to watch later.  Best brother ever.

He calmed down and we seemed to be in the clear.

Then the waitress came back and said to TJ, "Loretta said she can make some chicken fingers and fries for you if you'd rather - would you like that?"

Immediately TJ smiled.  He almost yelled when he said "YES!  Thank you!"  And I said to the waitress, "Please tell Loretta that we love her."

I think it was the "no parsley no garnish no nothing" request that let Loretta know it was us.

A few minutes later the waitress came back with some chicken wings saying "Loretta thought you all would like this while you wait for your dinner."

Now at this point I am so taken back by the generosity and kindness we were experiencing.  Blown away and so touched.

A few days ago I was upset by two young girls giggling and staring at TJ in the orthodontist waiting room as he looked at a kids' animal magazine.  And now I am almost brought to tears by the kindness of this restaurant and its people.

That's the kind of yo-yo ride we are on.  That is life with autism.

And it reminds me that just when I feel beaten down, along comes someone to reach out to us and help us back up.  Kindness for kindness sake does exist.

It is a kindness that lasts in our family long after our visit to your lovely restaurant is done.

Thank you Loretta.  Thank you and your wonderful staff for your kindness and caring.

It really does mean the world to us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jump In!!!

My boys are teenagers.

TEENAGERS.

How the hell did that happen?  Seriously.  They were little, in elementary school, I blinked, and now they are teenagers.

Handsome, funny, big footed, growth spurting, sometimes stinky always loving even when they are snarky, teenagers.

They have grown and changed so much, which makes me think back to myself as a mom.

I have grown and changed so much too.

I don't feel very different.  But then when I think about it, I have changed a ton.

And not just because of autism.

On the surface I have changed.  I now take better care of myself physically than I ever have before.  I exercise.  And I know that all my high school friends are saying "she WHAT?!?!"  But it's true!  Not faking!!!  I used to avoid it like the plague and now I actually miss it when I can't do it (head cold anyone?).

(Example of avoidance - I took "relaxation" as a college PE class.  I excelled.)

My thing about shoes?  It didn't start until after TJ was diagnosed.  Now I am having so much fun with clothes, shoes, jewelry, make up....please keep in mind that I DON'T HAVE A JOB and I hang out by myself most of the day, so when you look at it that way it sounds pretty sad and lame.  But it's not!  I'm enjoying myself.

And when I hit that supermarket or eye appointment, I'm smokin'.  By Lauren standards, anyway.  OK, so the eye doctor always says "the make up goes AROUND the eyes, not IN the eyes", but whatever.

I used to watch cheesy TV shows that took me away from my own world, but now I can't even stand most of those.  Too much yelling.  Too much camera hoggy diva behavior.  Too much delusion.  Seriously.  These ladies are nuts, have you seen them?  Anyway, now I'm all about smart, clever TV series that tell a story and keep me wanting more.

With an occasional dash of kooky reality tv, you know, because one has to ween off of them like caffeine.

I think the key to getting older, for me, anyway, has been giving myself permission to change.  Who cares that I'm not the same girl I was 2 years ago?  Here's who I am today.  I'm happy, I'm enjoying myself, and I'm taking the best care of my family because I feel complete.

I have finally figured out the balance.  A little care given, a little care taken.  Dish a little out, get a little back.

It's all about flexibility.  I teach my kids this, why didn't I listen for myself?  Be flexible, be willing to change, be strong when you have to be and bend when you can.

Be honest.  Be true to your gut.

And don't take things so seriously!  There are tough things in life - I've got my fair share (plus some other people's fair share, it sometimes seems), but if I use that as an excuse to lay low, I miss everything!  Life passes by!  JUMP IN!!!

Are you guys all scratching your head wondering what started all of this?  I'll tell you...

Lots of friends have said "write a book!"  So I sat down to try.  Many times.

And I'll tell ya, some stories simply do not need to be revisited.  Ever.

So with that in mind, I move forward, in positivity, with a smile, because the alternative sucks and is a waste of time.

And maybe I will write a book someday, but if I do, you can bet that I won't be writing it on a sunny day.  I'll be out with my kids, trying to get them to take a walk with me, which they will refuse to do, because they are teenagers, and what teenager wants to go for a walk with their mom?

And I'm loving every second of it.







Sunday, April 19, 2015

When Your Elastic Pops

My Grandmother, Nanny, was the best.

She lived about 10 minutes away from us when I was growing up and she had a huge part in raising me and my sister.

She was French, and I still hear her heavily accented voice in my head every day.

I miss her.

But she left us with some wonderful memories.

Now, my sister tells this story the best, but I'll try to do it justice.

We were in New York City around Christmastime.  Nanny had taken me, Susan, Mom and Dad to NYC for a show and to see The Nutcracker Ballet.  We were staying in The Plaza Hotel.  Like Eloise.

Susan and I used to run around that place like Eloise, too, but that's a story for another time.

We were all walking through the lobby of the Plaza, returning from a fancy something-or-other, because Nanny was wearing a slip.

She was walking hand in hand with Susan, who noticed that Nanny's slip started to, well, slip.

"Nanny," Susan whispered, "your slip is falling!"

Nanny didn't respond, she just kept her eyes forward as they walked.

The slip slipped further.

"Nanny!"  she whispered louder, "your slip!"

"Ignore it..." Nanny said as she kept walking, holding Susan's hand.

It slipped further and further and Nanny slowed a bit, but kept walking.

"Nanny!"

"Keep walking."

Now it was at her ankles.  Nanny looked straight ahead.

Susan didn't know what to do.

Until suddenly, the slip was flopped over Nanny's shoes.

And with that, Nanny stepped right out of the slip, and kept walking.

"Nanny!!!"

"Ignore it."

I think Susan and I went back later to look for the slip, but it was gone.  Score one for the staff at The Plaza.

I think of this story all the time with a laugh and smiles, as this was just so Nanny.  Until I realized recently that this is an excellent story about life.

When your elastic suddenly pops, and your slip falls and drags you down, step out of it and keep on going.  Looking straight ahead.  As if nothing is happening.

Thanks Nanny.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Man-Cold solved

I have a man-cold.

Nothing against those wonderful men in our lives - but when they get a cold the world stops.

And I think I have found out why.

When my husband Sean has a cold he takes cold meds religiously.  And he tries to get me to do the same.

So when I had a cold a few days ago, and he asked me to take meds religiously (not his words), I did.

HOLY DRUG HAZE.

I felt like I was walking around with a filled fishbowl covering my head.  I was useless.

So while I still have the cold, I'm up and around now that there are no cold meds in my body.

And that's why men get man-cold.  Over the counter meds.

You're welcome.

I should be an investigator.