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To The Left

To the Left

Semi Wordless Wednesday…A LITTLE TO THE LEFT JOHNNY, A LITTLE TO THE LEFT…

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Bethlehem, VA? The untold story – In rear view

Made it through the Holidays.  Partly in a fog with an elephant sitting on my heart. The business of grief is a tough one.  You work long hours without a break and the Holidays just add a lot of “work” to the day.   But…with the help of amazing friends I was not committed.  More on that at another time.

Six days into the New Year and I realized that in the anxiety ridden fog about the Holidays, leading up to the fog of the Holidays, it came to me that I was not as in tune with what The Brother’s were doing.  Oh, don’t get me wrong…they weren’t quiet or anything…I was just half-awake.  Now I am AWAKE and I realize I might have missed about 100 pages of blogging adventures because they have been very busy in the last weekend writing this blog for me.  I will try to adjust my rear view and give you, Dear Reader, the highlights.

Here goes:  In no particular order…

Johnny asked me this weekend why I write a blog about him.  I told him because he was an interesting subject.  Might I add this conversation took place while he was parading around proudly in his new Batman costume.  Oh, was his response.

The following day, he asked me if I could become a surgeon.  For a moment I thought to be flattered.  WOW!!!!  Johnny thinks his mommy is that smart and YOUNG!  Never one to inflate your ego, Johnny cut to the chase.  “I want you to be a surgeon so you can operate and give me Bat Wings and a tail.”  Um, why don’t we just go MAKE you a costume.  A lot less unnecessary cutting involved.  Oh, was his response.

Speaking of New Years Resolutions…because I was going to…I was attempting to make some as Johnny’s Mom.  I fear that I have been sleeping on the job and perhaps Johnny needs a little pointing in the general direction I would like to see him go.  You guessed it…because I like to make my own kind of crazy.  I seem to enjoy being a busy body repairman.  You know, I show up to fix things that  ARE NOT broken and then plant my face in my hands cause you know what you get when you do what you’ve always done?  That’s right, what you’ve always got.

However, let’s not forget, I AM NOT A QUITTER!  So on I continue to repair Johnny.

Resolution:  We must return to religion class.  As you might recall last school year Johnny attended religion/CCD classes.  It was informative and entertaining for all.  Well…maybe not for all.  It is very difficult to teach about God and Jesus (who are not seen) to a child who only deals in what can be seen and touched (unless you are Santa Claus).  But it is important to me so we tried.  We have not made it back this school year but will be re-enrolling ASAP.  This resolution due to recent events

Friday evening, The Brothers had an Epiphany Pageant.  This meant a lot of people crowded into the church with lots of singing, trumpets, etc.  NOT Johnny’s preferred outing, EVER!!!  Where two or more are gathered, Johnny is NOT.  So, I thought it best to warn him and give him the usual lecture on  behavior AND the usual bribes.  Johnny doesn’t work for free.

Johnny – What is this thing called again?

Me – The Epiphany Pageant.

Johnny – Oh. (of course).  What’s it about?

WHAT’S IT ABOUT???  Oh Boy, Houston we have a problem (I think).  My boy does not know the Christmas story, so I gently say, “Who was born Christmas day?”

Johnny – Stares blankly.

Me – JESUS, REMEMBER?

Johnny – Oh yeah, right. (read with zero enthusiasm)

Me – (Thinking, I better get to repairing this).  That’s right, Jesus.  And do you know where he was born?  Which of course brought the response of a blank stare.  So I continue with a great sense of purpose…IN BETHLEHEM.  Remember?

Johnny – You guessed it…Oh.

Me – Because I just NEVER know when to quit…AND do you know where in Bethlehem Jesus was born. ( And that is when I knew I asked ONE too many question.)  Proudly he looks and says, “Virginia.”  At least he didn’t say, “in the batcave.”  Now it was my turn and I responded…oh.

Sadly, that wasn’t even the catalyst for my New Years resolution because Johnny and The Brothers never disappoint.

Driving to church on Sunday.  The Brothers are having a discussion about the “Holidays” of the season.  Johnny was talking about KWANZA.  Why?  I HAVE NO IDEA.  In mid-stream he switches gears and tells us Christmas is his favorite anyways.  And I learned my lesson Friday so I didn’t ask.  Although it is obvious why, even to me.

BUT The Little Brother did.  The Little Brother is oblivious to learning lessons.  Not waiting for the answer, Little Brother offers a possible reason that Christmas is the favorite.  And proposes…”Johnny is it because Christmas has the BETTER SPONSOR?  (Silence in the van…please let him say, Jesus)  SANTA CLAUS!!!  Guess him saying Jesus would’ve really been the Christmas miracle.

The Captain and I roll our eyes and open the doors to release our beasts in the church parking lot and out JUMPS JOHNNY bellowing…for NO particular reason…”and there is PARTIAL NUDITY!!”  Dear God, Please let him mean, Baby Jesus….you know, the one from Bethlehem…NOT Virginia.


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Blessed Beating?

Always Bless, then BEAT your brother!

Always Bless, then BEAT your brother!

Walked upstairs and found these strategically positioned outside The Brothers’ bedrooms.  Every man for himself………………..

 

Semi-Wordless Wednesday at Feeling Beachie, check it out!

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Sleeping Single?

No way out!

No way out!

Not only the last day of the year, but the LAST Monday of the month, as well.  Not only does this mean New Year’s Resolutions to make to be broken no later than January 2,  but it is also time to reflect on what has been a slice of perfection, for even a split second, in the last month for Perfect Moment Monday with Lori at Write Mind, Open Heart.

Not always easy, especially this month, which has held many challenges.  As I have said before, I believe I have done worn out my boot straps from pulling myself up.  Soooooooo, guess I’ll just have to buy some new ones,  as my Father’s voice continues to echo in my head, “I didn’t raise a whiner, quitter, or complainer.”  Thus my Boot Straps are on over night delivery and expect to be back on my feet……….or boots in the next 24 hours.

But while I’ve been “off of my feet” I got to thinking about what could be considered “my perfect moment” this month.  This brought me to thinking about Brotherly Love.  It seems to be an elusive, intangible bond…………..largely based on the fact that if you have Brotherly Love, you have all rights to trade their toys, eat their favorite cereal, steal their favorite book, blame them for anything missing or broken and  beat the crap out of them and you are still assured you have someone to play video games with the rest of the day.  I guess that’s what makes Brothers “lucky.”  

However, this is not something  I think that Johnny, The Big and The Little Brother are giving much thought.  I do think they enjoy having a “punching bag” though.  It is why I enjoy having a basement door.

Anywhoooooo, as I was saying……………..Brotherly Love, Perfect Moments……………not easy to combine.  But alas, I have………

Our home provides enough space that each Brother could have his own room.  However, it does not work that way.  Birth order having its privileges, The Big Brother does have his own room.  Johnny and The Little Brother, they share.  Why? Weellll, it must be character building, right?

Truth of the matter is, The Brothers are about the only friends Johnny really has.  A nasty side effect of Autism.  It makes me really sad at times but does not seem to rattle Johnny too much.  He is a solo operator.  Another reason it has always been so important for us that The Brothers learn to stick it out and stick together.

Mostly Johnny and The Little Brother get along just fine in their room together.  A little bit like the odd couple but mostly okay.  Except lately.  Lately, there has been some grumbling.  Johnny is a very early riser and not always quiet about it.  Causing The Little Brother to be up as well.  Causing a lot of “arguing” early in the morning.  On the other hand when Johnny is ready to go to sleep, do NOT get in his way.

Soooo, I started to think, maybe it’s time.  Maybe they need their “own space”.  I started to devise a plan for the “break-up” to happen over Christmas break.  Shared my plan with The Captain.  He was not “on board.”  His reasoning, “Johnny spends enough time alone, The Little Brother is his best buddy, I know he’s  9, but Little Brother is going to take one for the team.”

Hmmmm………….guess The Captain needs more convincing.  I was mulling all this over until one night……………………

Bedtime………………….and NOT a peaceful one.  Johnny and The Little Brother are at it.  Pointing fingers and I quote, “You’re annoying, NO YOU’RE annoying…….(get the picture)

Enter Mommy……………KNOCK IT OFF!!!  Johnny, “Mom, he’s annoying make him stop doing those noises.”  Now……..let me just say this never fails to crack me up when Johnny points the finger because he has just a few quirky ways.  Mommy had had it, NOT listening to anymore so I throw up my hands and BELLOW, “That’s it!!!  Johnny, get your things, you can sleep in your own room.  This news stops him in his tracks.  “WHAT?”

Johnny gathers up all things Batman and prepares to move.  “Where to?”  I tell him to Cousin Amber’s Old room.  So, he peaks out the door at the quiet, still room across the hall.  Then he turns and looks at his room.  All is quiet as he contemplates life on “his own.”  Next he looks at me, I continue to stare.  Finally, he speaks…………..”Mom, Can’t you just tell LITTLE BROTHER to stop being ANNOYING.”

Up pipes Little Brother……….”OH YEAH!, YOU’RE ANNOYING!”  In I chime………………Do YOU want to move to your own room?  A look of panic comes across his little face……………………No.

So in true Mommy style I state, with authority, “BOTH OF YOU, STOP BEING ANNOYING AND GO TO SLEEP.”

I turn and exit the room.   As I leave I feel a ping of joy and warm fuzzies………………………..Brotherly Love, True Brotherly Love……………maybe for more than a “moment.”

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All was Right

It is the last “Monday” of the month, and I am joining Lori at Write Mind Open Heart to reflect and share on what is right, maybe even perfect in our world for a moment in time.

No………….it is NOT a typo, you read correctly, it is called Perfect Moment Monday.  Yes……………..I know it is TUESDAY butthought about my perfect moment on Monday………………..if that counts?  However, life got a little in the way on Monday and now, here I am, writing from my own personal time machine.  So, Dear Reader, please humor me and play along.  Please and thank you!

As has been said, “The best things in life aren’t things at all.”  They can’t be bought, wrapped and put under a tree.  At times they appear in what you believe to be the mundane of your life.  Not at all in those moments marketed to be perfect.

Case in point, the child, who shall remain nameless, that looks at disappointment at his gifts on Christmas Morning when he realizes you really meant he was getting that rated M for mature game.   I had already sent my own letter to Santa, was my reply.  Sad child, frustrated parent, not so perfect.

I did not have high expectations of Thanksgiving either.  When you have lost a family member, no matter the age, you struggle through the day to not be filled with grief and longing for your loved one.  This was especially tough since our Precious Madeline’s anniversary is in November and we were struggling so with this 2 year milestone.

However, for her Brothers, we knew we must pull something together and present the makings of a holiday.  Possibly complete with a new tradition.  Shake it up a bit and give all of us something to anticipate.  Something with potential for fun.  So that’s what we did.  With “four” boys in our home who love history, we headed to Gettysburg the day after Thanksgiving.  Excitement abounded……………for The Brothers, as we were going to stay in a hotel WITH a pool.  Not something we do much of so they were pretty happy.

Of course, hotel life and all looks good……………….. on paper.  Actually having The Brothers together in confining quarters is a different story.  Paper………………. not as pretty.  We did get a little front room with a pull out sleeper and t.v., etc.  Best idea Captain Daddy ever had.  Despite our suite,  after the car drive and some museum time, The Brothers weren’t really feeling “Brotherly Love.”  If my ears didn’t deceive me disparaging remarks were flying under their breaths.

Particularly difficult is managing some of Johnny’s autistic behaviors on the road.  Being away can stir up a great deal of anxiety.  And Brother being “good” brothers…………….they don’t always display much sympathy and there is a lot of OMG STOP IT, JUST STOP IT.  (By all concerned)

So where, you may be thinkingwas there any perfect moments in THIS SCENARIO.  Like I said before…………….it came out of nowhere, when I was expecting the fists to start flying I discovered this……………….

Things got quiet, so I walked into the suite (cracks me up to call it that) to see if they had left and what to my astonished eyes did I see?  The Big Brother and Johnny, the MOST unlikely pair, lying side by side on the bed, with their legs touching…..yes, touching………….. and then I noticed their hands.  Their hands were pressed together in that way of comparing and then it happened, their fingers locked together.  What an absolute perfect sight for my sad eyes.  My heart filled to see Big Brother and Johnny sharing this time, albeit brief, when they were at peace and all was right in our little life for that Perfect Moment.

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A Matter of Taste

Johnny sensed that possibly I was getting a little too comfortable being his Mom.  He must miss those early days of meeting all those nice security guards and other complete, random strangers.  Those were the days when autism kicked me in the pants on a daily basis.

Back in the day after meeting all these nice security type people and other helpful citizens, I would feel the need to explain to my new acquatinces how it is that my child escaped from the secure children’s play area in the mall,  rode the escalator to target, and was now sitting contently playing in the toy aisle.  Better yet, why it was that he was licking the swingset on the playground and drinking water out of the bathroom sink (yes, disgusting, I know) at the ballfield.

Not wanting to give the wrong impression, I would stare into their horror-sticken faces and go into great detail how my little boy had autism, that is why……………that is why,  it brought me to tears……… the comments……………the looks.  Because when your child is the one taste-testing the playground equipment and facilities, it is always helpful to have a well-meaning citizen inform me that I “really shouldn’t let him do that.”  REALLY??  Thanks for the tip!  I felt the need to let them know because I couldn’t, after all,  have these complete strangers thinking I was a bad parent.

After several years of that routine, I was plum wore out.  One from chasing Johnny all over these parks and ballfields (cause that boy is quick) and two, weellll…………….all that explaining to strangers was flat out EXHAUSTING.  I was never going to see those people again……………….I’m smarter than that………………..I would just switch parks.  That………..and I developed a new motto.  Upon releasing Johnny from his snack bar, aka, the swingset, I would gather The Brothers, announce our work here was done and simply………leave.  Head held high, dignity……………weelllll, as intact as possible.  He was licking the swingset afterall.

My point……….I thought those days were behind us, but apparently NOT!  Alas, just last week, at The Brother’s School, Johnny must have thought that the wooden block, used as a doorstop, looked pretty tasty, because there he was…………yes…………………licking it.

And this time no tears, (I have much more to cry about)…………….I looked at my friend, who clearly saw him snacking, smiled, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Wow, what progress, I don’t even feel like crying.”

So, thank you, Johnny, for being you.  For not letting me get too comfortable, for your daily insights, and for keeping me open to the many possibilities of life………………..like maybe if you do stand in front of two fans with your Batman Cape, you can fly………….and maybe, just maybe…………a doorstop does taste pretty good after a long, hard dayno explanation required………………

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That’s the Facts

“There’s a time you got to go and show 
You’re growin’ now you know about 
The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life. 

When the world never seems 
to be livin up to your dreams 
And suddenly you’re finding out 
the Facts of Life are all about you, you. “

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/

I feel the need to follow-up on what I will now refer to as “The pants incident.”  Dear reader,  if you are lost please refer to my previous post, entitled, most appropriately, “Keep your pants on……literally.”

So………………this morning I send Johnny off to school feeling pretty confident that all pants will remain in their proper position.  One, because The Captain and I gave extensive speeches last night on keeping your privates, well, private.  I thought we did some pretty darn good parenting.  However, I have to humbly admit that what Johnny probably heard was much like Charlie Brown  when he was lectured.  So……let’s just say what his primary motivation for proper pants placement…………..you guessed it……………the stop in your tracks fear of spending the rest of the school year sentenced to the daily wearing of church pants.  Yep, I believe that little behavior modification was the supreme motivator.  Mom and Dad can go away for the school day………church pants………not so much.

Johnny kept this information fresh in his mind.  Yeeeeaaaaah, Mom…………………only one glitch……………I seem to have missed a very important notice that came home from school.  The one informing me that beginning TODAY, Johnny’s class would begin discussing………….say it isn’t so……………….. THE FACTS OF LIFE!!! (que music).

Yes, he is at that age……..much to my chagrin,  and as much as I prefer to……………I know I must keep my head out of the sand and Mom up.  Oh……….and pay better attention to the papers coming home.

I got to school to pick him up…………….he was standing at the door with his teacher…………not a good sign……ever!  Guess the “Facts of Life” was about as big a hit as algebra.  My Johnny is a literal man.  You do not tell him one day to keep it all private and then the next expect him to remain calm when what he is to keep covered is now PLASTERED ALL OVER A POWER POINT.  From all reports not a pretty scene.  Can you blame him?  Guess it’s hard for all to focus when Johnny is bellowing what all the other boys are  thinking, “GET ME OUT OF HERE, I DON’T LIKE THIS, I’M UNCOMFORTABLE.”  

Teacher’s suggestion……………..modified Facts of Life………….wonder what that leaves out.

Walking to the car…………..Johnny trailing behind pleading, “I can’t take that class, I can’t talk about puberty, I’M NOT EVEN A TEENAGER!!!  Good point, Johnny, Good point…………………now, let’s go find some sand………….. I feel the need to bury my head.

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Keep your pants on…LITERALLY

Mommy’s Brave Face

Today I will be writing under the heading, “Never a dull moment” or better………… perhaps…………….., “The Once Again Futile Attempt to fly under the proverbial radar.”  Yeeeepppp……………………..I think that sums it up.  But Blessed are the Brief, so I will sum it up like this………………DRINK PLEASE!!

I get it, I know…………..Life is not easy and No One ever said it was, Life is not fair either and yeah, yeah………..I know…………..Sweet Darlin, no one ever promised you a rose garden.  I think roses aren’t actually necessary,  and at this point I would settle for some garden variety marigolds or even some of those pretty little white “flowers” we used to make “necklaces” out of when we were little.  But I digress…………………..

Anywhooo………………… with all of this knowledge of  ease and fairness, I ask you Dear Reader…………………can’t some things be easy, even a given……….like getting your kids to do the basics…………………you know, homework, brush their teeth, KEEP THEIR PANTS ON AT SCHOOL!!!!!!!

As I have said before, Johnny has been in school for a LOOOONNNNG time.  About 8 years now.  I like to think we got this down.  We know the ropes, when I tell him, “have a good day”, I suppose I should not have neglected to mention……………….AND KEEP YOUR PANTS PROPERLY FASTENED AROUND YOUR WAIST!!!!!!!!!!!  If you have a child that instinctively does this……………..GOD BLESS YOU, cause if you, like me, can’t always take the basics for granted, you are either laughing at me or crying with me, cause you know of the fun I speak.  I have said it before, I say it again………….Autism is the gift that keeps giving………one surprise after another.  It is not for the faint of heart, that is for sure, no matter your place on the spectrum.

What behavior modification technique did I utilize to reinforce the desired behavior.  Weeellllll, I dug deep into my vast wealth of behavior modification and came up with the following pearls of behavior wisdom……………………”JOHNNY! if you do that again in school you will have to wear church clothes with buttons, hooks and belts EVERY DAY!!!”

Yep, I did it, I went with scare tactics.  Sometimes operating on fear gets sold short.

Johnny’s response – Got it.

Me – Good.  And like I never met Johnny before……………… I just had to do it, ask that one question that I know better than asking………………..why Johnny?

Johnny – Cause my brain sometimes tells me to do dumb things……….(he looks at my glaring face, recalls the closet full of khaki pants and belts and re-considers)………….but I think now my mind just told my brain that we have learned our lesson.  Good Team Work, Johnny, Good Team Work.

Now Johnny, do Mommy a favor………………have your mind tell your brain to give your Mommy a break…………. or a drink…………all under the radar, of course.

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Fuzzy Math

Fuzzy Math…………. yeah that’s what it is

Thirty days have September, April, June and November.  Or something like that.  My confidence in my basics has been shaken.  I feel like going back to the doors of ol Cookson Elementary and demanding to speak to whoever deemed me proficient and punched my exit ticket.  Thus leading to about ten additional years of academia delusions.

You know…………the years when I would boast of all my success.  I was all like listen to me…………….I can add……………1+1 is 3, 2+2 is 5.  After that, I would really pull out the stops……………….Oh yeah, I can count………wait………….I can count to.  And when it came time to find x, I didn’t leave a stone unturned.  I knocked on every door to find that little bugger.  Turns out, x was off with y somewhere looking for an angle or something.  I never got the chance to shock the masses with these academic gifts.   Being so in awe of my math facts they left, possibly to go home and ponder the wonder of my abilities.

Weeeellllllllllll, at least that is what I am beginning to think happened…….

Dear reader, this, in fact, is what I must confess……….I failed to do “the math.”   Here I was tooting my horn, waving my blogging flag.  Believing this could be my moment, my month.   The month I amass “potentially” thousands of new readers.  You know how?  Well, like I have been saying all month………….”I am participating in NaBloPoMo, an event on Blogher in which I write THIRTY Posts in THIRTY DAYS!!!!”  Great idea, I’m in, what an AMAZING opportunity………………am I right?

I wasn’t too worried about this committment…………cause weekend were for FREE WRITING.  You know, I thought, I could really use those two days off to re-fresh my brain, renew my creativity, work on other projects……………….laundry perhaps.

So, off I go, writing like Hemingway.  Conquering the world of blogging, amassing readers by the day.  Then I notice something kind of funny……………the fine print.  Turns out it wasn’t weekends WRITING FREE……..DUUHHHHHHHHHH……………….FREE WRITING……………pick my topic (not my nose) that kind of thing.

I did think it was kind of funny.  Posting Day 20 with only a few days left in October.  But…………hey……………..I’ll just chalk it up to fuzzy math.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

And now, for my public plea……………….might be in need of a math tutor…………for The Brothers, of course.

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Boo to you!

Ahhhhhh……………….two days off from school for The Brothers.  Yiipppeeeee, no alarm clocks, packing lunches or homework drills.  Peaceful and relaxing?  UUUUHHHHH………………NO!  Why?  Hurricane Central.

Despite the weather, today I am contemplating if “I like to be scared?”  Not particularly………..NO!!!  After facing every parents WORST FEAR, I am not able to find the fun in being frightened.  Party, pooper………….perhaps.  Maybe not forever…………but for now.

I believe question is referring to HALLOWEEN fright night kind of scared but my focus has been shifted.

Halloween or Hurricane.  High winds, high diving boards, roller coasters, rolling tides………………..OH MY!!!  Not a fan.  I don’t know if it is so much FEAR rather FEARS partner in crime………………….ANXIETY.  I doubt I have had the chance to decide what my fears might be……….weeelllll………………..cause the thought of my fear makes me so anxious I become a wreck in the form of humming-bird on edge or cat on a hot tin roof.

My specialty seems to be things I have absolutely little to no control over.  Today I don’t think my anxiety has as much to do with a Hurricane as being trapped in a house with The Brothers during a Hurricane.  “When’s it coming, Mommy, are we still having Halloween………can I play on the computer? Can I have a snack?  What’s for dinner? Can we go to the costume store? When can I get a toy?  and so on………..and so on………….get the point?  Just reading this I’m feeling jumpy.

My relief………………running shoes.  Pounding the pavement to get the blood pumping, clear the mind, regulate my self-perpetuated craziness, organize my worries, and give my anxiety a MINI-holiday, if you will.  A win, win for all concerned.   Except, of course, today.  BECAUSE ……………..as my Johnny pointed out, “uuuhhh, Mommy, it is not a good idea to go running in a Hurricane.”  Smart Boy, that Johnny.

Sooooooooooo………….not wanting to ruin my new Nikes, nor strut my stuff in a wet suit, my hand has been forced.  I have been left no choice……………………………….weakness or weathering the storm?  YOU be the judge………..

Take that NIKE!!!

Brownies and elastic…………………..please and thank you!

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