“God bless our whole life together”

 alex avatar2

Today I am grateful for:

  • Hope.  Plain and simple.  Sometimes I don’t realize that I’ve lost touch with hope.  I have all these quotes taped to my computer (“All is well, out of this experience only good will come” and “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement” and “Leap and the net will appear” etc.) and sometimes I think I do have optimism and faith and I am trusting and leaping freely.  But then I realize somewhere along the line hope has actually slipped to the back of my mind, that I’m not as free as I had thought, there’s something heavy in the background sitting on a small but growing patch of anxieties.  When hope appears again, the relief I feel is like a cool breeze from the ocean on a hot beach day– I don’t realize how I had missed it or how sheerly *good* it feels until it comes again and reminds me.  This week I saw the movie Wretches & Jabberers for the first time.  It brought that feeling of hope back to me.  Not because of the story or the specifics, but because as I watched this film another window opened in my mind.  My proverbial “house” where God closes doors and opens windows became bigger and through the new open window created by these filmmakers came a gentle ocean breeze which awakened hope again in me.
  • Rainbows & nail polish.  I painted my toenails last night, each toe a different color like a rainbow, because Aubrey & I will be attending the Pride festivities in San Francisco.  Why something so mundane on a gratitude list?  Because I like pretty toes, because I can afford five different bottles of colors (cheap colors, but colors nonetheless!), because I like sandal weather.  And most importantly, because I live and work in a place where I can be open about who I am and I can show it on my toes.  How grateful I am for openness and acceptance!
  • Bedtime prayers & Alex’s words.  “Wretches & Jabberers” had a profound effect on the way I see the whole autism world.  One of the two main characters in that film, when asked what people with autism are like, responds:  “More like you than not.”  I know that.  Of course I know that.  But deep down that line stirred something in me.  It brought all the advocating, writing, fighting, learning, stretching, wanting, waiting, worrying, trying & planning & crying & wishing I do for Alex back to the realm of typical mother.  I do all that because I am mom, not because the autism needs to be solved.  The communication gaps need to be bridged, the awareness needs to rise.  But my beautiful boy is still– definitively– more like me than not.  Looking through this new, hope-full window last night, I cuddled up with Alex for bedtime prayers.  We said our usual stuff, we said thank you, we asked God to keep the people we love happy & healthy & safe.  I told Alex I am proud of him & I know how smart he is, that I’ve known it all his life, I have always believed in him and always will.  Then I asked if he had anything else to add to prayers.  He paused a minute, looked at me thoughtfully and said:

“God bless our whole life together.”

Amen.

autism home rescue 0620201201

Dude, where are my preconceived notions? No, seriously, dude…

autism home rescue 0526201201Okay, it’s my first official love post.  Gag all you want, I’m writing it anyway.  I am so blown away by what an amazing relationship the universe has given me that I just feel the need to gush about it sometimes.  Mostly that happens behind the scenes, but today it’s front and center, home page news.  Read on if you wanna discover a few of the many reasons I fell in love with my girl.  Or if you’re feeling more serious today, flip back through the blog archives and read about autism diagnoses or divorce or residential treatment.  Personally, I’d stay here to catch some gossip.  But it’s really your call.

Still with me?  Wow, cool.  Okay then.  I present to you the…

TOP TEN REASONS I LOVE MY GIRL

10.  She can use the word “dude” in context & appropriately in a clinical setting in her job as a physician.  As in:  Young & healthy but nervous patient:  “Doc, you gotta help me, I think I’m having a heart attack!”  Aubrey:  “Dude, you are not having a heart attack.”

9.  She can get Hannie out of a snit faster than anyone I’ve ever known.  She never backs down from the Taurus bull horns until my baby bull daughter is smiling.  I don’t know exactly how that works, but I love it.

8.  She lets me take her picture (get your mind out of the gutter, this is a family show) even though she hates being photographed.  How much does she love me?  She bought me a camera for Christmas.

7.  She can be tough as nails when she has to be, but when it comes to her chihuahuas she’s as sappy as the most sentimental mama.  Her high pitched “doggie voice” is so sweet that even the geckos gaze lovingly when she talks to them.

6.  She says she’s shy, but I’ve never noticed.  … Okay, I’ll wait for that one to sink in– read it again… and…. did you get the word-behind-the-words?  … There you go.

5.  She lives deliberately, makes choices thoughtfully and solves problems ethically, for the good of the people she cares for.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for her.

4.  She is impossible to place “in a box.”  To know Aubrey is to abandon your preconceived notions, because she’ll just blow right through them anyway.  An ex-military flight surgeon who’s afraid of mice?  A tattooed chick with a motorcycle who drives her fancy SUV with her tiny dogs perched on her lap like Paris Hilton?  A critical care doc who can run codes in the ICU, but who cried at the preview of “Chimpanzee?” *  Trying to capture her with a limited world view is like trying to measure the movement of an electron– the more you try, the more she’ll open your mind in the process (google “Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle“).

3.  She is committed to learning & growing, she is willing to try again.  And she’ll never give up on the people she loves.  Ever.

2.  Alex and Hannah both love her.  Not because she’s in a relationship with their mother.  But because she’s taken the time, had the patience and made the effort to get to know them, to find out the individual, beautiful people they are, and to build a connection with them on their terms.  If you’ve read *anything else* on this blog about Alex especially, you’ll know what kind of person that makes Aubrey.

and the number one reason I love my girl:

1.  Her love and acceptance have brought a secure, peaceful feeling to my life that I’ve never known before, and when I think about our future together I just feel so darn HAPPY!

autism home rescue 052620123

*  Click here to find out how to help chimpanzees in honor of my girl

overly ambitious good little homemaker? *guffaw & snort*

As you all know from my most recent post, I’ve been doing a lot of housecleaning and cathartic purging, discarding, shredding etc. etc. in the last few months.  Yesterday, while digging through the umpteenth file folder in a huge collection of “important papers” (hear the sarcasm in my voice), I came across a napkin.

Yes, you read that right.  A napkin.  From a Cracker Barrel restaurant somewhere on the East Coast between South Carolina and up North where I live.  It was a list I had written with my mom on the way back from a trip to Hilton Head when Alex was three months old.  I can still remember him sleeping contentedly in his baby bucket thing on the seat of the restaurant booth, tucked in next to me as I brainstormed and scribbled excitedly.

Why on earth would I have saved this napkin information, you ask?  Because it was a very important list– it contained 41 ways that I could save money, which put together I figured would give me enough of a cushion that I would be able to quit my job and become a stay-at-home mom.  A decision which would radically, completely change my life.  And one which I was hell bent on making despite my new-mama anxieties.

I look back now and realize how little I knew then and how many trials and tribulations were yet to come.  But I saved that silly napkin in a file labeled “Home” because when I read over it, I can still feel the optimism I felt taking action, being proactive, finding creative solutions to obstacles (real or imagined) so that I could follow my heart and my passion.  I still haven’t decided if it’s staying in the “important papers” pile or going to the circular file.  After you read this, please comment and let me know where you think it belongs.

Things to do to save money:

  • make sandwiches for hubby’s work
  • make baby food
  • use coupons & research store specials
  • sell quilts
  • make baby clothes
  • make baby toys (patterns from Mom)
  • plant vegetables (tomatoes, green peppers, red peppers, lettuce? green beans, zucchini)
  • less driving
  • make my clothes
  • make cookies
  • cook everything from scratch
  • bake bread
  • plan leftovers & plan meals for the week
  • buy meat in bulk & pre-cook or pre-package & freeze (e.g. meatballs)
  • freeze onions & peppers for stirfry & precook chicken & freeze
  • shop more at the warehouse place
  • make hankerchiefs
  • switch electric companies
  • turn heat down & monitor A/C
  • turn hot water down a few degrees
  • free dinners with Mom Mom on Sundays
  • make baskets for gifts
  • shop for gifts, socks, etc. at my favorite outdoor market
  • feed & seed the lawn 2x / year
  • buy large cans of cat food & separate
  • wash my own car
  • all phone calls after 7:00 pm
  • internet after 7:00 pm
  • make popsicles & snacks
  • make trail mix & granola
  • buy only washable clothes, not dry clean
  • dry clean in dryer
  • keep breastfeeding & pump extra milk to freeze
  • shop in Delaware with Mom Mom
  • lose weight (fit into existing clothes!)
  • can veggies
  • develop pics at warehouse place
  • use the pizza stone– make & freeze dough & topping ahead of time (or make frozen pizzas)
  • freeze beef & chicken strips
  • letter to adoption agencies & advertising services for freelance opportunities to make money
  • switch to cloth diapers

Are you laughing yet?  You can tell we were a family who spent a lot of money on food– good lord how many things did I think I could cook?  I must have been having nightmares about starving or something.  In reality, I was still the size of a small Volkswagon Bug (see item titled “lose weight!”) so I couldn’t have been too bad off.  Hmm… maybe I wrote this before our food arrived at Cracker Barrel and I was brainstorming while hungry… kinda like grocery shopping while hungry… is that a no-no?

Come to think of it, how the heck did I figure that losing weight was going to go along with all that frozen pizza dinner preparation anyhow?  But I digress….

Making baby clothes?  Making baby toys?  Okay, those suggestions clearly came from my mother.  She did all that stuff.  I remember she was almost as excited as I was to write this list because she wanted me to have the opportunity to stay home with my kids the way she stayed home with me and my brother.  (See item titled “free dinners with Mom Mom” for proof of her commitment to this idea.)

Feed & seed the lawn?  Wash my own car?  Make gift baskets?  Cloth diapers??

*snort & guffaw*

At least I was openminded.  My goal was to save $2000 a month.  You can tell by the items titled “phone calls & internet after 7:00 pm” how long ago this list was written and what our budget must have looked like.  Good thing I was shopping at the warehouse place.  And I know I keep coming back to this, but when exactly would this plan have allowed me time to actually leave the kitchen to do freelance work or pay attention to anything other than preserving vegetables and making meatballs?

Soooo…

I’m still undecided– do I keep it or toss it?  Will I ever need it again?  Will I regret it if I end up adding to my family someday and I start to feel nostalgic about those new mommy brainstorms driven by wild hormonal changes and suddenly I realize I discarded a napkin list which was such an integral part of Alex’s infancy?

Is it completely disgusting to keep a Cracker Barrel napkin for 11 years?

… Wait.  Don’t answer that last one.  Just comment and tell me what you would do.