Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I Deserve It

Greetings from the land of "We all are getting colds!"  'Tis the season.

I have had some ask me recently how I quit drinking.  Let's back up a teeny bit - no need to revisit the drama in depth.

I was a party girl.  Then I used tough times as an "I deserve this 3pm cocktail" excuse.  Then when it got to be too much, it was time to stop.

So I stopped.  I just stopped.

This was four + years ago.  And it was really hard.

Until it wasn't.

For me, the excuse of "I deserve this" was just so lame that even I recognized it.  My husband and kids didn't deserve to have me as absent and tuned out and tired as I was.  I didn't deserve the shame and guilt the next day.  Not to mention the hangovers.

This is what I deserve:

I deserve to be present with my family.  100%.

I deserve to feel comfortable and confident with my friends, and not worry about what they think of me (now I do!).

I deserve to be healthy and maintain a good weight.

I deserve to be able to wake up and jump right in to my day without a headache.

I deserve to feel proud of myself every day and feel proud that I am doing the best thing for myself, even if it's different from the norm.

I deserve to not feel the shame every day of knowing that I'm drinking too much.  And the shame of knowing that I embarrassed myself, again.  And the shame of knowing that the funny drunk Lauren routine was wearing thin.  Shame is a bitch and I don't miss it at all.  Let's face it - the "let's remind Lauren what she said last night" routine was getting old.

This isn't for everyone - you know if you drink too much or not.  We are aware.  I couldn't stop at 2 or 3 like my most people could - I certainly didn't need any more, but I deserved it, dammit.

Now I deserve so much more.  And I've got it.

So that's how I did it.  You're welcome.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

'Tis the Season

We've had a bumpy weekend.

I was out running errands today when I ran into a friend (I ran into a couple, happily!) who knows us since the boys were in elementary school - she was the Assistant Librarian at the boys' school.  So she has been with us through our entire journey with TJ since he started Kindergarten.

She asked how we were doing - yesterday I had posted about an autism meltdown that TJ had on Facebook and she had seen it.  The great part about what happened was that after the worst of the meltdown was over, TJ asked me to give him squeezes (deep pressure bear hugs that make him feel better).  It was the first time he had asked for those without my offering first.  Huge step for him!  We were so proud of him asking for what he needed to take care of himself.

Anyway, my friend mentioned that all the excitement of Christmas coming up must be a huge contributing factor to TJ's being on edge.

She's right - it is.

Imagine your typical kid the week before Christmas - how excited they are, and how magical everything feels.

Now imagine that times 10.  That's what it's like for TJ.  The highs are higher than normal, and the lows are lower.

Add to that his self-imposed guilt trip and fear of Santa's Naughty List when he yells uncontrollably or gets mad at me or his brother because his sensory system is on overload.  It takes some serious convincing that he is still on the Nice List.

So as keyed up as TJ is, I have to be that much more calm and controlled.  An interesting position to be in, as that is not the natural state of affairs, to say the least.  But somehow, the more intensly he reacts, the calmer I respond.  

I surprise even myself.

Anyway, that's where we are at.  A quiet calm peaceful relaxed afternoon at home as we try to keep the peace and prevent more meltdowns.

I had a cute outfit picked out for a party we were supposed to attend, too.  Darn it.  I'll save it for another day. 

The shoes, however, I will wear now.  Good shoes always help things, dontcha think?

Monday, December 14, 2015


Ah the holidays!

I'm thrown off completely that it's 55 degrees outside instead of snowy, but whatever.

During this time of year I get awfully reflective.  Normally, in the past, I have focused on what I struggled with rather than with what went well.

Well guess what?

I can't really think of any huge struggles this year!!!

Is this possible?!?!  This is me we're talking about here....

But yes, it's not only possible, but it's TRUE!


In trying to figure out that magic formula of going with the flow and living a positive, healthy, happy life, I seemed to have stumbled across it.  Somehow.

Perhaps it was all the work I've done on myself the past few years?  I have come from a place of not liking my wimpy take-the-back-seat self, to being angry with myself about wasting time in negativity, to just, quite simply, being happy.

This is not to say that I haven't had any struggles this year - I have.  Everyone does.  But I have handled them in a more positive way than I ever have before.

I have let go of hurt.

I have let go of things I can't control.

I have focused on the amazing people in my life - there are a LOT of them!!!

I have enjoyed the small things.  And the big things!  And the small things that are big things to me and my family.

And all those things in between.

And I have found peace and joy and happiness and lots of love and laughter along the way.

So thank you friends, for sticking with me.  I am grateful for you every day.

Thank you family, for holding me up.  And challenging me.  And loving me all the time.

Thank you, Sean and TJ and Peter - you are my heartbeat.  You are my everything, every day.

And thank you all, for just....all of it.

Happy 2016!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

An Email From Peter

Peter sent me an email from school yesterday:

Mom, today in activity period, I was on a website for some research for my Spanish project. There was an ad for The Mighty. And I clicked on it and searched for your letter you wrote me that you posted last year. [http://themighty.com/2014/10/a-letter-to-my-son-about-his-big-brother-with-autism/]  It brought me to tears while reading it. And even now as I type this I'm tearing up. I just wanted to say thank you for that letter. It reminds me of how thankful I am for how I am today after that rough first years through birth to Kindergarten. When I read the line "I wish you had more playgrounds as a toddler" is what gets me every time. Whenever I say or read this, I tear up. I can't thank you enough for all you've done.

I love you

Be still my heart.

One of my biggest concerns in raising a child with autism is raising a little brother of a child with autism.  Does he get enough attention?  Is he missing out on anything that I can help with?  Is he happy?  Does he feel loved?

Well, this email from Peter not only warmed my heart and made me cry, but it showed me that he is doing just fine.

Last week, TJ, Peter and I all spoke to UVM School of Medecine's second year students for their disabilities awareness week.  We are so fortunate to do it every year.

The students asked TJ, "If you could tell us one thing about living with autism, what would it be?"

TJ answered, "That it is a gift."

I think you're right, TJ.  As hard as it can be, it is indeed a gift, in many ways.

For all of us.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

An Epiphany from a Former Boozer

I've had an epiphany.

I'm a super-sensitive person.  Always have been.  I cry at the drop of a hat - happy and sad times.  It's annoying as hell.  It's one of those things about myself that has been the hardest to deal with.

I have realized that one of the hugest reasons that I drank so much was to stop feeling so much.  I feel everything very strongly.  Everything.  Stress, joy, insecurity, fun, happy and sad.  Drinking helped to quiet down and numb all those feelings that I was constantly experiencing.

Except when it didn't.  Sometimes I felt things even more strongly and reacted in a way that I wouldn't have, without the booze.

I embarrassed myself a lot.

But one of the best things about my quitting drinking is not only coping with all those strong feelings, but accepting them as a part of who I am.  Without apology.  Without regret.  Without shame.

So now what you get is 100% me, like it or not.  Take it or leave it, it is what it is.

And I must say, not only do I like myself more, but I respect myself more.  A hell of a lot more.

And if you don't respect me, I don't care.  For the first time in a long time, I have enough respect for myself to more than cover for those who have no respect for me.

How's that?  Not to shabby for little ole' me, right?

Also, I gotta say, no more hangovers kind of really rules supreme.  Those sucked.

And seltzer has come a long way.  Thank god.

I'm so deep!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

You're Gonna Hear Me Roar!

I was in my zumba class yesterday - a class I don't usually take, and am not familiar with the music.

TJ's science teacher, from last year, was there too - side note.  Love her.

Anyway, Katy Perry's "Roar" came on, and when the song was done I said to TJ's faboo science teacher, "That is TJ's victory song!"

The funny thing is, I didn't even realize that TJ HAD a victory song until I said it out loud.

But let's think about it - I've always been a musical person.  And every time TJ succeeds at something, or hits a milestone, or accomplishes something that he had been struggling with, that is the song that sums up how it feels for me.

Keep in mind, this isn't HIS victory song for him.  This is MY victory song for him.

I think it's something that I have this song symbolizing his success, like a soundtrack of his life.  I think that as time goes by, I will have more songs in mind that add to his soundtrack.  That's just how my mind works, I guess.

And Peter has a song, too.  Katy Perry's "Firework".  What is it with me and Katy Perry?

I think I'll tell these guys that I have victory songs for them when they get home from school....I can't wait to see the look on their faces.  Another "oh god our mom is nuts" expressions.

And I love every second of it.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Feeling Alone with Autism, Again

Yesterday was Parent/Teacher conference day.

Our son, TJ, is 15 and has autism.  We are used to our parent/teacher conference days by now - we have already met his teachers at open house, and at a team meeting before that, organized by his special educator.  

This is all routine for us, and has been for a while.  And we are in such close contact with TJ’s educational team that at these meetings, there are no surprises.

What was new for us last night, however, was the Adult Services/Transitional informational meeting that we were invited to, and attended, after our conferences with TJ’s teachers.

TJ is a sophmore in high school, so we were grateful for the opportunity to learn about what possible services and programs could be in TJ’s future.

There were a handful of parents there;  in fact, there were more presenters than families.  At first, I thought this was great - there must be so many opportunities for kids like TJ upon high school graduation!

Then, one by one, the presenters spoke about the organizations they represent.  Every program sounded wonderful - employment and educational opportunities with organizations that think of the whole student - academically, socially, and including life skills too!  How great!

As I sat there and listened, however, I began to feel that slow creep of fear.  There is a lot to know about these programs.  And this part of his life always felt very far away - I don’t know if we are ready.  And a lot of the employment they are speaking of are jobs in supermarkets, or restaurants, or front desk jobs at gyms…TJ loves animals and really knows so much about them.  Where would he fit in?  Would he fit in at all?  Do we live in a terrible area for him, with no place to fit his interests, and do we have to think about moving?
All of these thoughts came flooding to me at once.  And then, like a swift kick to the head, came another thought:

I don’t think TJ will have the typical “apply to college and wait for acceptance letters and celebrate with your family when you make your choice” experience.  

This hurt.  A lot.  And I don’t even know why.

I learned a long time ago that most of the experiences that typical kids have, TJ doesn’t.  I have mourned these losses and accepted them, and have learned to treasure every small success he has had, because for TJ and for us, they are not small at all.  

I thought I could handle anything.  I thought I was prepared for whatever came next.

Turns out I’m not as prepared as I thought.

And then I thought of my friends, waiting in line at the gym where parent/teacher conferences take place, to talk to their kids’ teachers.  

And I suddenly felt very left out, very different, and very alone.

I know, logically, that I’m not alone.  Sean, my amazing husband, was sitting right beside me.  And if he was feeling any of these same feelings, he wasn’t giving it away at all.  

I also know that my experiences at those conferences in the gym are similar to that of my friends’ experiences…..right?  Aren’t they?  Or am I oblivious to the fact that there are discussions that parents of typical kids have that we weren’t having?

And in that crowded classroom, I felt like an outsider.  All by myself in that busy, bustling building.

Do we get to make college plans like other parents?  I know that if we do, it certainly won’t look the same.  We will have to work with an outside agency, whose help we need to plan separate living arrangements, and forced socialization, and learning how to share a kitchen, and learning how to take a bus around town.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  

All this time, I suppose that I thought that TJ would go to college, discover his passion, and magically translate that into a job.  It was always my dream for him.  But what if my dream and his dream don’t match?  They most likely won’t.  He probably won’t want to leave home, much less leave the state, and I dreamed that he could go to college anywhere he wanted.  

He probably will always want to stay close to home.

I feel like I’m on the edge of a cliff, looking over, and not knowing what comes next.

And I suppose in some way, I am.  The future is unknown.  The things we have to consider for TJ’s future are much more detailed than that of your typical kid.  The planning has a lot of hands involved.  There are a lot of new things for me to learn as this next big step approaches.

I’ve felt this way before - just before TJ started kindergarten.

So today, even though it hurts, and I feel like an outsider compared to other parents of sophomores, I know that soon, all those tasks that I have to perform for my boy will feel routine.  As I learn more and more about our path, and the process we will have to go through, I will feel more secure, and less alone.

So forward I go, one foot in front of the other, comforted in the fact that although we are on the edge of some very new experiences, we will soon hit our stride, and do just what needs to be done to have TJ just where he needs to be.

Just where he needs to be.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dear Mr. Biker Dude

Dear Mr. Biker Dude,

You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you.  My son TJ does, too.

We were in that red car at the red light as you waited to turn left into the shopping center last week - we were opposite you.  We were going straight.  Or we were trying to.

I’m the one who leaned out of my window to talk to you - to plead with you - as you blocked the intersection so your 100 biker friends behind you could turn left into the shopping center after your left turn green had turned red.  After our red light had turned green.

Do you remember us?

You blocked the intersection so no one but your buddies could move.  Was there an emergency at Big Lots you all had to get to in a timely manner?  Were you desperate to get to the bank before it closed in 3 hours?  I’m not sure what the emergency was, but it must have been serious for you to think you all had priority over everyone else on the road that day.

I’m sure you didn’t know that my son TJ, who, to someone who just glances at him as he sits in the front seat or my car, has autism.  

Until I told you, that is.

I’m sure you didn't know that he was having a hard time that day as we sat there, knowing how close to home we were, as I prayed that my son, ticking time bomb that he was, could hold out just a little bit longer until we were safe at home, where he could explode in a safe place.

I’m sure you didn’t know that just about 10 minutes before, we had dropped off his father at the airport, where TJ and I said goodbye to our rock for the next two weeks, after he had just returned home from a week long trip the night before.  That TJ got just a taste of what it was like to have his Dad home again before he left again.  That he feeds off of the energy around him, and that that energy contributes to his moods, his stability, and his success.  At school and in his every day life.

I know for a fact that you didn’t see his tears in his eyes, the ones he tried to hide from me, as we drove away from the airport and headed home.

I also know for a fact that you heard my words as I yelled out the window to you, as you held up your hand to ensure that I would “stop” and not plow you over as you illegally blocked the intersection, “Please please let us go through - my son has autism and I need to get him home.  Please.”

I know that your heart must be black as pitch, which you showed me when you shook your head and replied to me, “That’s too bad.”

Then I started trying to soothe my boy, as he started to shake.  He got scared.  Did you know that?  He said “Mom, why is he mean?  Is he going to hurt us?”

After we got home, and after I gave him some deep pressure to try to comfort his overloaded sensory system, and after he had visibly calmed down, he asked me why bikers were so mean.

“They’re not,” I told him.  “We just happen to come across one who was very mean and selfish.  But TJ, you know Suzi and her husband?  He’s a biker - a really nice one.  Remember when you drew pictures with him?  He’s a great artist, just like you.  And remember Diana?  She and her husband are bikers, and they both are so nice!  Remember when she used to come over to hang out with you and Peter?  We see them at the pool all the time.  They are nice bikers.  They aren’t all mean.  We just had some bad luck today.  Do you understand?”

He did.  He’s amazing like that - he has a tendency to think the best of people until they show him otherwise.

So just in case you were wondering, Mr. Biker Dude, TJ did get scared, but he knows that not all bikers are as mean as you were.  He knows not to judge a group of people by one bad apple.  He knows that you all weren’t going to hurt us, but that you were breaking the law and doing something wrong, and that it’s not an ok thing to do, even though you all didn’t get caught.

He also knows that you have a very small mind and a very small heart.  And maybe that’s just my angry influence on his opinion, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

I hope to never see you again,


Friday, September 18, 2015

To TJ's Team - I just thought you should know....

I have read a lot of articles lately on what to ask your kid to get the best information out of them at the end of their school day.  Anything but "How was your day?" to which you'll get "fine" and not much else.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job.  TJ and I would chat about what happened and who he spent time with and who he ran in to and what he is studying for the whole ride home.

And I STILL missed a biggie.

Two days ago I got a call from TJ's special educator (SM - the best).  He told me that TJ is really stressed out in one of his classes that he is taking as an elective.  He said that the structure of the class is different than it was last year, and required a background that TJ just didn't have.  It wasn't the fit that he thought it would be for TJ.

I was floored.  Not because TJ wasn't doing well in a class, but because in all the conversations TJ and I have had about the class, I got no indications of his rising stress levels.

Apparently, SM and his para educator were seeing his rising stress levels very clearly, and wanted my permission to take him out of this elective class, with credits he didn't need, and find a better fit.

I immediately said yes, confident that they would find something for him to occupy his time in a less stressful, and therefore more productive, manner.

And of course, they did.  He is enrolled in an art class as an independent study.  I got emails this morning from SM and the para educator saying what a better morning TJ is having, and what a great switch this is for him.

And I almost cried out of happiness, and feelings of good fortune.

We are so lucky that TJ is in such capable, caring, amazing hands at his school.

We are so lucky that these incredible teachers can see things throughout TJ's day that we cannot see.

We are so lucky that they are proactive enough to prevent a complete meltdown.  They jumped at the first signs of stress to investigate what is the source, and what, if any, changes needed to be made.

Sean, Peter and I are so grateful to these wonderful people, at his wonderful school, taking such good care of our wonderful boy.

And I just thought you should know.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Things I Already Knew but Need Mentioning

1. Sean is the biggest dreamboat of all time ever.  EVER.

2. Diverticulitis sucks.  Big time.  Avoid it if you can.

3. Liquid diets suck too.  Holy brutal.  When I almost kiss the doctor who upgrades me to crackers, it's too long on liquid diet.

4. Your colon is your friend - treat it accordingly.

5. TJ should NOT play The Simpsons trivia before bed, unless we want to find him up at 12:30 looking for his Simpsons Book.  God knows how long he was awake but it must have been late because he's still asleep now.

6. My kids are more flexible when I'm sick than when I'm not.  Hmmm.

7. Sam sneaks on the couch to sleep at least 4 times a day.  And looks at me like I'm crazy when I scold him to get down.  Every time.

8. Do not watch Food Network if you are on any kind of restricted diet.  I forget this one all the time.  It's like I have mind-erase when the diverticulitis ends.

9. I actually have missed exercise.  Kudos to my exercise-inspiring friends who have helped me make this a regular part of my life.

10. A lump in your lower abdomen should not always scare you - it's not always the scary tumor you are making up in your imagination.  Sometimes, it just means that you're full of sh!t.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I Called Myself "A Writer"!

So I have had this blog for a while now, and I have loved writing so much.  It's been such a great way for me to express myself, some times more eloquently than others.  


But it has only been just over a year now that I have even slightly considered myself "a writer".

I actually said it out loud!  Yesterday I was in the ER - I have diverticulitis again, side note - and my doc asked if I was in the medical field.  

(Thank you, dear doctors sister and brother-in-law, for such faboo medical coaching that apparently I sound like I know what I'm talking about.  To a doctor!)

Anyway, he asked if I was in the medical field, and I said, "No, actually, I'm a freelance writer."

Now, please understand that it's hard for me to say that and not laugh at myself.   I mean, I love writing this blog, but for me, writing a blog does not make me a real writer.  It never did, in my mind.

But then my dear friend Michelle, a real writer for the Washington Post, passed on one of my blog posts about autism to the On Parenting editor a year ago.  And she actually published it.  

What?!?!  I know!!!  And to say it's an honor is a huge understatement!!!

And since then, she has published 11 more of my pieces in the Post's On Parenting section. 12 pieces!!!  In the Washington Post!  Me!!!  How unbelievable and amazing is that?!?!

Have I told this story before?  Forgive me if I have...

And then last year, soon after I was published in the Post, I was contacted by themighty.com - a site that celebrates the "strength, joy and beauty in disability and disease".  They published one of my pieces about autism too.  Then another.  And another.  Suddenly it's a year later and I am one of their regular contributors too.

Me!  I just can't believe it.

Since then I have written for a few other sites as well (including the Organization for Autism Research!).  I have met some incredible, inspirational people, and have been lucky enough to call some of them real friends.

There is a part of me that still feels like I am fooling everyone.  I'm not a writer!  I'm just TJ and Peter's mom.

But I guess I am a writer.  

After all, I said it out loud.

And here are my latest pieces!



Friday, August 14, 2015

Change your Ending

There are a lot of hurt people out there.

Hurt people tend to hurt other people - it's a vicious cycle.  I've done it, and I've seen it.  And since we only have one go-around in this crazy beautiful world, you had better make this round count.

Change your ending.

We are all delt a hand we have no control over.  I could sit around forever lamenting my hand, and feeling loss for what I don't have.

Or I could stand up and work with what I do have.  Focus on the good.  Let go of the bad.  Laugh at it, even.  There are ways!  It's possible!  And what a waste of time to do anything but move forward!

Sometimes we get smacked so hard that we have to sit on the ground for a little bit, stunned, as those stars and birdies spin around our heads.

Let them spin around.  For a little bit.

Then get up.

Need help getting up?  Ask for help!  Those who help you will ask you for help when they need a hand.  That's how it works.

Take what you've been given, and make the rest for yourself.  Make bold moves.  Take risks.  Try new things.  You may surprise yourself with what you can accomplish and how good things can start happening when you are open to letting them in.

Grab the reins.  Change your ending.  Don't accept any pre-determined whatever nonsense.  Go get it and make it happen, and make the ride full of love and smiles and laughter and ridiculousness and friends and fun and joy.

Go.  Now.

Change your ending.  I know you can do it!

Here's who I do it for....

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Have a Nice Day

When did it become ok to judge others for their parenting style?

I have been so honored to write articles about my family's life with autism.  It has been my pleasure to open myself up to others in hopes that one person will read our story and say, “YES!  That’s like my life too!”  And maybe not feel so alone.

Parenting autism, while amazing, and glorious, and educational, and enlightening, can also be isolating.

I typically read comments after one of my pieces has been published.  And it makes me sad.  Not sad for myself, because my family and I are a strong, solid unit, and we know what we say and do is for the best.  The best FOR US.  

Never once have I said, in any of my pieces, “This is what you should do…” or “this is how everyone should raise their child.”


Why is it ok, then, for the anonymous reader, safe behind the glow of their screen, to spew venom at me and my words?

Please know that I agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion.  I’m just curious about when it got to be ok to be hateful, instead of kind.  That cruelty is the go-to before anything else.

I’m not writing for support.  Or kind words.  Or popularity.  Or to be liked.

I’m writing to express myself, to tell our stories, and to help others. 

Please disagree.  Healthy debate is an amazing thing, and I have learned so much from others who engage me with thoughtful criticism, bringing up perspectives I may have not otherwise thought about.

I’m ok with debate.  I’m not ok with cruelty.

My sons read these pieces.  They read your comments.  They ask how people can be so mean when they don’t know us, or don’t know why we choose to do what we do.

I tell them that some people choose cruelty over kindness.  And these people do the rest of us a favor by showing us their true nature. 

So we can walk on by.

So please, comment away.  But know that while I completely appreciate the kind words, and words of support, the cruelty can’t touch us.  Go for it.  You are affecting no one.

I take that back - you ARE affecting us.  

You are giving us a great example to show our kids how NOT to behave.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Heroes

There has been some talk of heroes lately.

My childhood friend put up a Facebook post regarding heroes - specifically,  some people judging others for their choice of who a hero is.  She said, 

“If anyone else wants to debate the meaning of 'hero' with me, bring it. I'm baffled and discouraged that people continue to discount who someone's hero is. A bit presumptuous and negative, don't you think? 
Just so all of my wonderful friends know, whenever you tell me who your hero is, I will never tell you they are not a hero.”

I totally agree.  She’s a smartie.

And this got me to thinking about who my heroes are.  There are a bunch.  But three stand out.

First, my son TJ.  He is an amazing kid, autism or not.  I admire him for so many things, but mostly for his unwavering kindness, his honesty, his confidence in himself, his sense of humor, and his bravery as he faces every day head on.  As he often finds himself in situations where he may have to hold it together until he can fully relax at home, he does so with determination and an open heart.  At 15 he is well practiced in finding ways to get through those days that may overload his senses.  And I admire him so much for how far he has come, and for how far he can go.  

Next, my son Peter.  In his 13 years he has already been face to face with more challenges than most kids his age.  It’s not easy having a brother with autism.  He has handled the toughest challenges it presents with bravery, determination, and an open heart.  He is a fierce advocate for fairness, kindness and inclusion, no matter what the situation.    And when he chooses you as a friend, his loyalty is unwavering.  He has a sense of humor and maturity that draw people to him, and has a way of making even the most mundane of activities fun.  His spirit shines from within, and he is such a light in our lives.

And finally, my husband Sean.  Amazing father, amazing partner, amazing friend.  We have faced some high highs and some low lows, and we still find a way to smile throughout our days together.  Strong when I can’t be, vulnerable when he needs to be, and always providing a solid, safe, and loving place for his family.  I call this boy “Dreamboat” for a reason.  He is, quite simply, dreamy and wonderful.  I am so lucky to call him my husband and best friend, and I can’t imagine my life without him in it.  Every day may not be easy, but there is joy in every day, because of him.

It is because of these three heroes that I find the courage and strength to face every day with a smile.  These three have made me who I am - a happy and grateful lady.

And so, so lucky.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I Will Do My Best

My boys love mini golfing.

We have the best mini golf place just up the street from my house - we go there often.  Last summer was one of those times.

My younger son, Peter, is athletic.  And competitive.  Every golf stroke counts.  My older son, TJ, has autism.  He loves to mini golf, but gets frustrated that he never wins.

It’s a good lesson for him that sometimes you just have to learn to lose gracefully.  He is doing such a good job with that lesson.

Anyway, there we were, mini golfing and enjoying each other.  It was just like any other mini golf excursion.

Until suddenly, it wasn’t.

There was a young couple with a young child just behind us.  I think they were babysitting the child, as they seemed to not be parenting, per se.  Who knows.  What I do know is that they were very close behind us, right on our tail.  

I felt no need to rush - we paid for our game and I didn’t want my boys to feel the pressure of rushing just to accommodate someone else.  We didn’t drag our feet, at all, but we didn’t rush either.  I could sense that we were not going fast enough for the too-cool-for-school couple behind us, but I was determined to let my boys feel none of that pressure and just have fun.

There was one hole where you had to hit the ball over a tiny path over a ditch.  If the ball went into the ditch, it ran down a path to water, and came out on the green by the hole, but not in a good a spot as it would have if you had made it over the path.  TJ loves it when his ball hits the ditch and goes through the water.  Even though it put his ball in a not so hot spot, I figured there was something about the water that made him love it so much.

Peter hit the path, and his ball landed near the hole.  TJ hit the ditch, and his smile watching his ball go through the water made me smile.  Until I heard the comment from behind me,

“That stupid kid - he doesn’t even know where you’re supposed to hit the ball!”  Then he and the girl laughed.

I saw red.  My stomach clenched.  My boys walked forward to continue their game, but I turned around to address the boy.

“My son can hit the ball however he damn well pleases.  And he has autism, you insensitive dick.”

Then I turned and walked back to my boys as the boy stood there with a stunned expression, and said weakly, “I’m sorry….”

Peter immediately, and quietly, said to me, “Did he just say something about TJ?”  And as calmly as I could, through clenched teeth, I replied “Yes, he did.  But he seems to be an idiot and what he thinks doesn’t matter.  OK?  Just ignore him and let’s have fun, sweetie.  Everything is ok.”

Then I started to thoughtfully and purposefully slow down my breathing.  I had to stop myself from crying.  I was starting to shake, I was so mad.  But I didn’t want TJ to know that the jerk behind us was making fun of him, and I didn’t want Peter to think it was ok to call someone a dick.

Even though he was.

I learned a lot about myself that day.  I learned that I don’t necessarily think before I speak when I’m suddenly very angry.  I learned that being calm is a choice that sometimes requires some work.  And I learned that as much as I didn’t want to take the so-called low road and call someone a name, it is ok to show my boys that I am human, and I get mad too, and I can recognize that maybe I could have made a better choice.

Who knows what would happen if I was faced with that same scenario today?  I’d like to think I could come up with something more clever than calling someone a name.  But to tell you the truth, when it comes to standing up for my boys, I really don’t know.

I am grateful to be able to say that this hardly ever happens to us - most people are not so blatantly rude, and if they have something negative to say about TJ, they must keep it to themselves.  I certainly don’t hear it.  It seems that most people are decent enough to not say mean, thoughtless things.

But just in case they do, I will do my best to defend my boy and my family in a calmer, more positive manner.  I will do my best to use it as an opportunity to educate others.  And I will do my best to make sure that I clearly communicate that different is ok, and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

I will do my best.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cramp Camp

Here's my predicament - and we're getting real, people, so if you can't take it, slooowly back away.

So almost two years ago, I had a pulmonary embolism.  I'm fine, blah blah blah, but I can't ever take hormones in any way, shape, or form again.

I'm 45.  The times they are a-changin'.  Most people in my position can take some form of hormone therapy to balance themselves out as their hormones yank their brains and emotions to and fro like an evil tug-o-war.  But not me.  I'm at the mercy of the 'mones, as the case may be - ie:  I'm screwed.

And so is everyone around me.  I'm so sorry, friends.

So this got me to thinking that for the well being of myself and those around me, I should be locked away when the 'mones run amok.  And to make it cute, because really, nothing about this is cute, I should give it a cute little name.

Cramp Camp.

So when I'm feeling a little hormonal and nutsy, I'm just going to simply say "Cramp Camp!" And go off to safety where I can't do any critical damage.

Just so we're all on the same page.  'K?

Alright - thanks for listening.  As you were.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Here's to the Autism Dads

There is a great community of us autism moms out there.  But today I want to focus on the less celebrated, but no less important, autism dad.

In our family, our fantastic autism dad is named Sean.  I call him “Dreamboat”.  Yes, even to his face. 

When our 15 year old son was first diagnosed with autism at age 2, we were hit with a whirlwind of new terms, therapies, and paperwork.  We were both devastated by the diagnosis, but we both jumped right in head first regardless.  And while my focus was on our son, and getting him from therapy to therapy, along with his little brother, Sean took over the paperwork.  He knew I couldn’t handle both, and he also knew that for my own well being, I needed to be with the boys as much as I could.  So he took on the less desirable task of completing all the necessary paperwork so that our TJ could take advantage of every service available to us.  No questions asked.  

We were a team from the word go.

Later, as we sat nervously in the audience waiting to see if our son would sing on stage with his second grade class or not, it was the calm of the autism dad that made everything ok.  He reminded me that if I showed TJ that I was nervous, he would feed off of that and become nervous himself.  He kept me calm.  And that calm helped TJ, over and over again.

When Sean could see that I was tired, or overwhelmed, he would send me off for a pedicure or an afternoon at a spa.  He knew how exhausting it was being an autism mom, and wanted me to feel cared for and pampered.  We couldn’t do it a lot, with our crazy schedule, but one way or another Sean would find a way to allow me to recharge my battery.  Even if it was a simple card to let me know how much he appreciated my hard work, he was always thinking of me.

And Sean is just the best father to our boys.  Every now and then, Sean would declare “Boys’ night!” and the three of them would head out for burgers or pizza, and maybe a movie or some bowling.  Sean wants them both to know that no matter how busy he gets, or how much he has to travel for work, he will always make time for them, and they can always count on him.

And while watching TJ graduate from 8th grade last year, as we all stood to welcome the class in their procession, Sean didn’t try to hide the tear in his eye as he applauded TJ walking by us.  And with a little glance and sideways grin, TJ saw his father.  And that moment between them alone, everything else aside, sums up the power of the relationship between the two of them.  It’s different than my relationship with TJ, but it is equally (and many times, more so) important.  As a growing boy, knowing that TJ has Sean to lean on and learn from makes my heart feel peaceful.  And full.

For these reasons, and for so many more, I celebrate you, Sean, and all the autism dads out there who give so much of themselves to their kids every day.

Happy Father’s Day, my dear Dreamboat.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

It's Good to be Queen

What a beautiful day - this weather is the best.  Sunny, warm, perfect for a walk around the loop, or grilling out, or cocktails on the deck...

Oh crap.  I can't have cocktails on the deck anymore.

I have been sober for almost four years.

Sometimes people ask me why I quit drinking.  The answer is very simple: I was so good at it that it made everyone else look really bad.

The truth is, I was really good at it.  But I only made myself look bad.  So I stopped.

It was tough at first, and I had to make a lot of changes in my life.  Mostly with the way I felt about myself - it took a while to get my genuine self back.   But I finally got to a great place where I am ok around others drinking, and it doesn't stop me from being the best I can be.  

Anyway, I hardly ever miss the cocktails.  But tonight as I sat in the sunroom feeling the breeze come through the windows, I missed it.  I'm not sure what part about it I missed, to be honest.  Not the insecurity.  Not the hangover.  Maybe it's the part about holding a pretty glass?  All of our glasses are packed away, as we are doing some house renovations, but there is one accessible...

So I put my seltzer (orange vanilla - yum) in my faboo cup (a birthday gift from my faboo cousin's faboo wife's faboo parents) and helped myself to some M&Ms, thankyouverymuch, and toasted to myself having the strength to stay sober for almost 4 years now, with no regrets.

And I'm just getting started.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

...Like It's My Job

While I was asking friends about changing the name of my blog, I sent a text to my friend Laura.  The back and forth went something like this....

Me: "Yesterday it was 'Losing my mind...like it's my job'.  Or it could be 'PMSing....like it's my job'.  Ooh this could be fun!"

L: "I fought the carbs and the carbs won...like it's my job"

Me: "I made that donut my bitch...like it's my job"

L: "I woke my kid, drove him to school, went to the gym, went to the supermarket, folded laundry, walked the dog and watched Real Housewives all before 11am....like it's my job....oh, wait....."

And so a blog name was born.  Thanks Laura!  :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Name Baby!

Well here we are - a new day, a new blog title!

I struggled with the title for a while.  When I started this blog, I had just left my job as a para-educator.  Which was not the best job for me, let's face it, because that's basically what I do in my "spare" time, and I got a wee bit burned out.   I loved the kiddo I was with, but didn't have much energy left for my own when I got home.  So the choice was made for me.

Since then I have gotten some great feedback from some very respected friends, who thought the blog title didn't fit.  Too self-depricating.  And let's face it, I DO have a job.  A good one.  A busy one.  Excellent benefits.  Cute staff.  And the toughest but most important job that I was born to do - be a Mom.

So time for a title change.

If any of you out there know how to change a Blogger name, and re-direct from the old to the new, help a girl out?  Seriously.  This is not my forte.  I can't even figure out how to type the correct accent over the "e" in "forte".

Life is tough...sometimes ya just gotta laugh like it's your job.

So what do you think?

(if you hate it, don't tell me.  It was tough enough changing it once.) :)

Under construction

Just like my house, my blog site is under construction.  My new blog will be, eventually, "Laughing...Like It's My Job".

Working on it.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Camel's Back Totally Broke

Let me preface this post by saying that if you haven't already noticed, I write about all of it - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

I'm an equal opportunity blogger.

I don't do everything right, I make a lot of mistakes, and I'm human.  It's harder to write about the hard stuff, but for me it's just as important.  So read on with this in mind.

Sometimes the smallest things can make me feel overwhelmed.

I'm sure I'm not the only mom who feels this way.

And I'm sure it's the end of the school year stress, or thinking of summer spread out before us with many days that I feel responsible to fill in some meaningful way, but for some reason I'm extra sensitive these days to all the "extras" that are required of us autism moms.

Let's talk about finals.  TJ's exams were cumulative - material that the class has covered since the beginning of the school year - for the first time.

I have always said "we don't know what we don't know until we suddenly know it".  And for someone who tries to plan everything so there are no surprises for her boy, this is a lot to handle.

Long story short, TJ had an anxiety attack preparing for his finals, so we quickly learned that 2 big exams on the same day are not the way to go.  We also have learned that for some classes he gets so easily mixed up, that maybe a verbal test is the way to go...or half verbal, half written.  We are still working on this one.

Anyway, a couple of days ago I logged in to the school system to find that TJ already has a schedule set for next year.  That's great, I thought.  But this morning I learned that not only has it been set up for a while, but all the students were told that there is a particular window during which time all schedule changes need to be made.  And that window was now closed.

I already know that if TJ is told something, the message will not get delivered to me.  Someone else has to tell me.  And in this case it was a dear friend who worked in the school as a para-educator.  We were at breakfast with a group of us, all good friends.

So when I heard this scheduling news, I started to cry.  I totally lost it.  And at the time I didn't fully understand why.  But now with a little distance, it's clearer to me.

Number one, I'm exhausted.  I studied with TJ for his finals harder than I ever studied for my own finals.  And I worried more too.

Number two, it was one more thing I didn't know.  One more thing I have to work double time for to get the same result for TJ as his typical peers.  One more thing that made me feel that much more isolated and alone, and one more thing that has me wishing that things could be easier.

I know it's a small thing, but it set off a big reaction.

(I've got some other stuff going on, which I'm sure plays into everything.  I'm not this emotional basket case walking around every day, don't panic.)

So I went home, sent the emails I had to send, made the calls I had to make, set the plans I had to set, and learned the things I had to learn.  And the school was wonderful, as I knew they would be.  They do everything they can to make it easier for us.

So yes, sometimes it sucks.  And yes, sometimes I get overwhelmed at something small.  And yes, sometimes my reactions are bigger than they should be.

But it is what it is.  My family and I are all learning as we go, and doing the very best that we can.

So to my dear breakfast girls, I'm sorry I acted the way I did and I'm sorry I ran out.  I hope someone enjoyed my omelet, though, I ordered a good one.  I know you've all got my back no matter what, and I couldn't have chosen more amazing ladies to have a meltdown in front of.  I love you guys.

And to my boy, even though it's hard sometimes, I will always do my best for you.  Even if it sometimes takes me a little while to figure out what that looks like.

And to the creator of tissues, I'm forever grateful.  As I'm sure you are for me, because clearly I am keeping you in a successful business.

Anyway, forward we go, until the next thing comes up that I don't yet know that I don't know.

Tissues in hand, just in case.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Last Thursday morning, I said goodbye to my boys as I dropped them off at school and drove to Boston.

Boston is where my sister lives.

That evening, after I got to spend some time with my gorgeous nieces and nephews (they call my "Aunt Lornie" - I love that), my sister Susan and I took the train to NYC.

Sister's weekend!!!  WOOHOO!!!

We were staying with her amazing mother-in-law, Ellen, who I love, so everything was perfect.  We woke up Friday morning, caught up with Ellen, and then ventured out into the city.

We walked everywhere.  One of my all time favorite things to do is to walk walk walk around a city that I love and take in the sights, the people, the shops, the buildings.

Over the next three days we would have the best time I've had in a loooong time.  We saw friends we hadn't seen in a while - those kind of really good friends who make your soul happy.  We went to the Met for a beautiful gown exhibit inspired by ancient Chinese robes.  We saw a show that still makes me laugh when I think about it - being in a theatre, by itself, makes me happy, then throw on top of that 2 1/2 hours of laughter.  Amazing.  We ate delicious food without a caloric care in the world.

I did have a minor anxiety attack in Times Square, and we promptly left - that place has become such a zoo I can't stand it.  But even that didn't stop me from a mini zumba moment as I heard a familiar song in a bodega as we were buying water.

The best part about the whole thing was spending that time with my sister.  It's just easy and fun, and I didn't realize how much I needed it until I was in the middle of it.

Parenting is hard.  Parenting special needs requires a delicate touch and a constant dance to find the perfect balance within every day.  Walking away from it, even for a few days, shows me how tiring the whole process really is, and how much energy I exert on a daily basis.

Please understand that I wouldn't change a thing - we Jordans are a well oiled machine - but it is a lot of work.  And I was tired.  I just didn't know how tired until I got home.

Which tells me that some changes are in order.  I need to find a better way of nurturing myself while I am here.  Maybe that's more dinners out with friends, more date nights with Sean, more quiet walks by myself, who knows.  But it is definitely a good reminder that in order to take care of everyone in this house the way they deserve to be taken care of, I have to take care of myself first.  The past year has been a huge one in our family, with TJ starting high school and Peter becoming a teenager, and I somehow let my daily well being slip a little.  Not a lot, but definitely a little.

So now I move forward, with wonderful NYC sister memories in my head, and a drive to do better here, for everyone.

But especially for myself.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Our Autism Week

Holy day of craziness.

Correction - WEEK of craziness.

This was TJ's exam week.  He has been through exams before, but not end-of-the-year cumulative exams.  Different beast all together.

And I do mean "beast".

I was away last weekend so Sean helped TJ study all weekend.  They did a great job together and we thought we were prepared for our week.

HAHAHAHA!!!  We should have known better!  Note to self - when you think you've mastered something, be prepared for a curve ball.  We always get one.

So Monday morning, TJ had an Art final presentation.  No problem.  That afternoon, he was to study for English and Social Studies, to take the next day.

He had studied both of these a bit last week and more intensely over the weekend, so we thought it would just be a review.

Shame, shame on us.

He was studying for about an hour when I heard the wailing.  I ran into the dining room, where he had been studying, and found him lying on the floor, crying.

I figured he was overwhelmed and just needed a good cry.  So we moved to the couch and he let it rip.

20 minutes later, I realized we were in the middle of an anxiety attack.

So I got in touch with his special educator to talk about potential solutions to his shut-down.  He immediately said we could schedule his Social Studies final for the make-up exam day, Friday.  And as soon as I told this to TJ, he was able to start calming down.  It suddenly seemed manageable to him.  He finally calmed down and was able to study.

One crisis down.

So while it was exhausting, we studied every day, and he took a test every day.  Thursday afternoon, because he had studied for Social Studies all week, he reviewed and tackled his trouble topics.

He was ready.

He asked to go in early this morning so he could do a final review before his 8am test.  I dropped him off at 7:30.

I went home and crashed.  I was exhausted.

At 8:25 I checked email and found one from one of his para-educators that said "When is TJ coming to school?  We thought he was going to start at 8."


WHAT?  He's not there?!?!  Where is he???

I called the school as visions of a panicked TJ fleeing the school flooded my head.  He didn't seem nervous, he seemed confident when I dropped him off.  Where could he be?  Was he scared?  Was he hiding?

I waited the longest 15 minutes of my life while I waited for them to call me back.  Finally, the call came.  His Special Educator's room was locked when he got there so he went to his Social Studies room.  The teacher found him there.


Is this taking too long?  'Cause I'm almost done.

So he took his test, walked home by himself (!!!), and walked in our door triumphantly.  He felt great.  I was thrilled.  And I was tired.

So, I went to lie down, but heard him wailing from the basement about 20 minutes later.

"Sweetie, what's wrong?" I said as I came down to where he was hanging out in the basement.

"I miss my school!  I miss it so much!!!"  Lots of crying as I hugged him.

Ah, I thought to myself.  It has been a yo-yo week with so many ups and downs....and this is just a great example of our life with autism.

And it has affected all of us.  Peter had to be so patient and quiet as TJ studied all week.  Sean and I didn't go to the gym, as we were both helping TJ study.  If TJ is alone for too long, he gets distracted and he needed us to help keep him on track.  And we all had to eat enough, rest enough, and sleep enough, so we didn't lose our minds.

But we all made it.  We all got through the week, together.

And I think we all did a pretty good job.