Thursday, April 30, 2015

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

"Hey TJ, guess 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!"


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


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.


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.


"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.


"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.


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.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


When TJ was diagnosed with autism, almost 13 years ago, word on the street was that if your kid is diagnosed around age 2, then that's early.  Now, I think, kids are getting diagnosed as early as 14 months.  And the earlier you get a diagnosis the better, as with a diagnosis comes services, and the sooner the work begins, the sooner progress can begin.

As time progresses, more and more things change in our autism world.  For the better.

I feel like I come from the dark ages sometimes, as kids today are so technologically savvy.  I can get there, but have to work at it a little.  Not a lot, but definitely a little.

Anyway, I have been introduced to a new app for autism families.  It's an "In Case of Emergency" app, that houses all of the emergency information about your family member with autism, just in case.  

Now I have been a strong advocating voice for TJ forever, but knowing that he has a voice in the horrible case that I can't use mine?  Peace of mind does not even begin to express how this makes me feel.

It's called "ICE4Autism" and I'm thrilled it exists. My home page pic is shown here. Autism famies, you really should check it out.

What are some other apps you guys can recommend?  Anyone?  Anything?  Let me know!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Through Their Teachers' Eyes

Every now and then I have the incredible opportunity of seeing my boys through someone else's eyes.

Yesterday our school district had a fund raising basketball game, where faculty and staff from the schools and the board played each other.  I brought TJ and Peter to cheer on their elementary school teachers, and current teachers.

We got there a little early for some socializing time.  I used to work at one of the elementary schools so I was also looking forward to greeting old friends.

Now I think that TJ grew taller yesterday between school drop off and school pick up.  So it was of no surprise to me when his teachers looked up to smile at him.

But what was wonderful was seeing his teachers' faces as he greeted them, and responded to his questions.  And seeing their faces as they looked at Peter, hardly recognizing my growing teenager from his early school days.

These people have been through some of the hardest times of our lives with us.  They helped us through TJ's diagnosis, his first school days, my coping with leaving my baby at school without me, and Peter's growing pains as an autism brother.

Their smiles said it all.  Their smiles spoke to my heart.  They didn't need to say a word.

What I wish I could express to all of these wonderful people is how loved they are by our family.  I think they know, but I don't think they know how ingrained they are into our life story.

When they knew TJ, he couldn't sit through a basketball game.  The buzzer scared him - he never knew when it was coming.  The crowd and cheering made him uncomfortable.  He was in misery sitting in the stands.

But yesterday he was cheering out loud along side his brother and teachers.  He stood up and cheered with every basket.  He listened to the band and smiled when he heard them playing The Muppet Show theme song.  And he yelled various teachers' names as they ran by him on the court.

He was happy.

And I was so happy to be reminded of how far he has come in his autism journey.  And so happy to be sitting along side of these amazing people who played such a huge role in getting him to where he is today.

So thank you, friends and teachers, for reminding me again what an incredible gift I have in both my boys, and what an incredible gift I have in all of you.

Thank you, always.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

We Are Aware!

TJ was diagnosed with autism in August of 2002.

It's easy to go back to that sad, scary day.  In an instant I am sitting on that couch with Sean, hearing those words "He has autism".  And in an instant I feel that mix of pain, relief, and complete grief.

Pain and grief for dreams we had to say goodbye to, and for a future we envisioned that was not to be.  Relief for knowing that finally, after months of knowing something wasn't right, we can begin to help our boy.

Although I can be back there in an instant, with one single thought, I don't stay for long.

Now, a world away, we have a very capable almost 15 year old ("A month and 3 days until my birthday mom!").

He is in high school.

He gets himself from class to class.

He studies.

He does homework.

He bathes himself.

He dresses himself.

He has friends.  Good ones.

He texts with his brother.  They razz each other back and forth.

He loves raunchy movies.  Not too raunchy - think "Dodgeball".

He loves to repeat the worst lines of those raunchy movies.

He laughs.

He smiles.

He loves.

He is TJ.  He is his own growing, changing kid.  He is amazing.

So while we think of that day almost 13 years ago, we never stay there for very long.  No need to.

He is forming his own future.  With help.  But we can't wait to see what happens next.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I'm just going to list random quotes here that I hear in my home, because some of them I really can't believe.  Enjoy.

"Those college kids spilling beer in the water, hurting the wildlife, peeing on the rocks and twerking everywhere..."

"Bomb me with the chicken!"

"I feel the gas coming!  SBD!!!"

"Mom, there's a brown note stuck to the back of my pants!"  It was the Levi's tag. 

"All they say is 'damn you damn you damn you, bitch bitch bitch.'"  Watching an edited for TV version of The Breakfast Club.

"Dead bunny in the road!  Easter is canceled!"

"So am I getting a nerf dart to the butt on April Fool's?"

"Dung beetles are born out of poop!  The poop is pregnant!"

"An old lady shows her nipples, then there's Egyptian music, then Taco Bell?"

"Are you happy now, Elmer Fudd?  Huh? HUH?!?  ARE YOU HAPPY?!?!"

Welcome to my world.  :)