thirty days of thankfulness.

Thanksgiving is one day, but this year I was challenged to declare my thankfulness for each of the 30 days in November.  Here is my list so far (which will continue to update until December 1st):

autism home rescue 1122201201Day 1:  I am thankful to know such amazingly creative people who share their great ideas!

Day 2:  I am thankful that Halloween was “postponed” so Alex could go trick-or-treating with his sister.

Day 3:  I am thankful for music & how great songs endure for generations.  This morning Hannah was telling me her favorite singer/dancer is Michael Jackson & we were singing songs I loved in high school!

… pretty young things repeat after me, say na na na…

Day 4:  I am thankful for the people who “get” my son & know how to best take care of him.  And I am also thankful for being able to have patience & not bite the heads off the people who are clueless in that area. … sigh…

Day 5:  I am thankful for “dream catchers.”  Since I got one from the craft store for Hannie, all her dreams have been peaceful.  But more importantly, I am thankful for all those “good luck charms” and “magic things” that somehow help when I need a little extra faith.

autism home rescue 1122201202Day 6 (election day):  I am thankful I live in a country where I can speak my mind & I can vote.  I am also thankful for my 7 year old’s compassion for others.  On the way to the polls this morning, she said:

“If anyone asks, I’m gonna tell them I’m voting for Obama because my friend Ethan (who has autism) loves Elmo.  And also because I want my Mom to be able to marry the woman she loves!” 

Amen.

Day 7:  I am thankful all that fuss is over.  Now onto the business of making the world a better place for the kids!

Day 8:  I am thankful for forgiveness.  As in, all those little moments where someone we love forgives our crankiness or frustration & inspires us to try again.

Day 9:  I am thankful for choice.

Day 10:  I am thankful for childhood friendships which endure across the years.  Being able to “share my happy” with my dear friend & kindred spirit Linda today made me feel so lucky & blessed!

autism home rescue 1122201203Day 11:  I am thankful my body works more or less the way I want it to & I am healthy.  I am thankful I can run, eat, laugh, stretch, play and enjoy it all.  And I’m also most thankful to have found someone to share life with who appreciates the same things!

Day 12 (veteran’s day):  I am thankful for the folks in the military, past & present.  All the time I am discussing, debating, advocating & throwing my opinions around, I am well aware that without their service, I might not have even the freedom to write a list like this.

Day 13:  I am thankful for the innocence of children.  This morning while I was digging through a closet to find something, an old note to Hannah from “Santa” fell out of a bag of decorations.  Hannah picked it up, read it and asked with wide eyes:

“Is Santa Claus REAL??”

I paused… then asked, “What do you think honey?”

Hannah replied:

“I think he’s real and he’s AWESOME!”

autism home rescue 1122201204Day 14:  I am thankful for technology.  When I finally got up the guts to check my financial tracking software program this morning, I learned that I’m way overbudget.  But not as overbudget as I thought I actually was.  And for some reason, I’m totally cool with that.  So cool, in fact, that I hopped right on over to Facebook to tell 832 people about it.

…hmmm…  Maybe I’m actually thankful for caffeine and therapy…

Day 15:  I am thankful for my daughter’s perspective.  This morning while I was running around like a nutcase getting ready, Hannah asked:
“Mom, if you were a fairy, what kind of fairy would you be?”
Me (loading dishwasher, making lunch & repairing picture frame simultaneously):  “Huh?”
Hannah (patiently explaining):  “You know– like you could be a water fairy, or a season fairy or an earth fairy … Mom?”
Me:  “Umm.. I guess I’d be a stress fairy.”
Hannah (taking a deep breath):  “Okay, Mom.  You can’t be a stress fairy because stress fairies don’t do anything.  So you can be a water fairy who’s kind of stressed out, okay?”
I think my daughter is trying to do a Solution Focused Consultation.  I just love the heck outta that girl!
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autism home rescue 1122201207Day 16:  I am thankful for healing touch.

Day 17:  I am thankful for do-overs.  As in, the second chances granted by the bigger kids when we were the littler kids and messed up during a game.  I discovered do-overs come in handy in lots of situations… relationships, parenting, careers, cooking, homes, haircuts… you name the flub, I bet you can change it with a deep breath and a compassionate do-over.

Day 18:  I am thankful for Sunday afternoon down time with nothing to do but snuggle in bed.  Day 19:  I am thankful for caffeine on Mondays.

Day 20:  I am thankful there are alternatives to Saran Wrap.  Seriously?  You’re gonna rip right in the middle, stick to yourself & make me cover the bowl with six pieces?  But you can’t ever stick directly to the bowl now can you?  Grrrrrrr….

autism home rescue 1122201206Day 21:  I am thankful for the kind of love that is simply being present.  Yesterday I began the heartbreaking process of having Alex classified as a “disabled child.”  When my anxiety peaked after a long day of paperwork & questions & trying to figure out Thanksgiving preparation, it all tumbled out on the phone with Aubrey.  Instead of fixing or rationalizing or explaining, Aubrey simply asked:

“Do you want me to go with you tonight to see Alex?”

I am so thankful for that kind of loving kindness.  Aubrey’s presence in my life just makes everything better.

Day 22 (thanksgiving):  I am thankful for holiday celebrations with my children.

Day 23:  I work above a major department store which is famous for its animated holiday light shows.  We can only hear the music from certain parts of the office.  I am thankful that for the next month every time I use the closest bathroom to my desk, I’ll be able hear the Nutcracker Suite and Julie Andrews’ voice loud & clear.
I am thankful for this because it is really hard to remain stressed out at my job when I’m hearing Christmas music every time I pee.
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Day 24:  I am thankful for good hair days, inside jokes with my daughter, old classic cartoons, good coffee, breakfast in bed, playful chihuahuas, a great run on the treadmill, kid sleepovers, date nights, stolen kisses & lots of random laughter.  Basically everything that makes a free Saturday perfect.
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Day 25:  I am thankful for trust.  The kind of trust that comes when someone else says, “Everything will be okay” and you believe them.
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autism home rescue 1126201201Day 26:  I am thankful for photographs which capture routine, everyday moments.  I know that years later, those pictures will become important pieces of the puzzle of our family life and future generations will appreciate them more than I can imagine right now.
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The Incredible Shrinking Woman….

autism home rescue 1102201201

… and the Alarming Growing Autism Rate.

That’s what this post is about.  Same as always– autism, my son, my mother anxieties.  …

<heavy sigh>

Recently I read an article about chemicals that may possibly play a factor in the development of autism.  You can find the link here.  Yes, we all know that autism is….

“… thought to be caused by a genetic predisposition combined with unknown environmental factors…”

Read the above article.  It is disturbing.  Some of the chemicals I’d heard of, some were completely off my radar.  And all the while I’m scanning this piece of news, I had a little movie playing in my mind.  It was the scene in the film “The Incredible Shrinking Woman” where scientists tell Lily Tomlin’s character:

“You are shrinking from a combination of…”

and then proceed to name a huge list of products like hair spray and household cleaners and soap etc etc, all things produced by her husband’s company.

Great.  More confirmation that no one really knows.  Lots of acknowledgement that holy God! we have a serious autism epidemic on our hands. 

So why is it that many families still have to fight for autism treatments?  Why there are still so many professionals who just have no idea how to help autism families?  Why has no one banned chemicals we *know* for sure are so super-toxic that they’ve damaged an entire generation of children?  I don’t have answers. 

<another heavy sigh>

When I first read the article, I flipped through that big “Things I’ve Done Right/Wrong as a Mom So Far” file in my head and skipped right to the section on “Ingestion (Food, Chemicals, Air, Water)” 

Then as soon as I began to lament the tons of Cheetos I craved while pregnant with Alex, the tuna fish sandwiches from my employer’s cafeteria that I thought were an excellent source of protein, and all the microwaved lunches in plastic containers….

I stopped.

autism home rescue 1102201202Yes, more research needs to be done.  But I’m going to leave that to the scientists.  In the meantime, I’m gonna be the mom and I’m gonna pray for my kids and love them and want them to be with me forever.  Just like Lily Tomlin’s kids in the movie who watched her float away, a tiny wisp who disappeared into a chemical puddle only to return to normal size.  Miraculously.

Then I’m gonna fast forward to the end of that movie in my head and remember how after the Incredible Shrinking Woman returned to normal size, in the next scene her feet grew right out of her slippers– and all the kids in the theater gasped “Oh no!” with big grins on their faces.

Because the fact is that we’ll never know all the answers, it’ll always be a puzzle, and we’re gonna have to keep trying anyway.  So for now I’m going back to just being the mom.

angry words and the mountain.

angry words and sharp comments
confusion, escalation, debate
misunderstanding stings
I feel shaken,
whipped around by the tones in your voice
 
heart racing and leaping
grasping at words as they fall away
down the sides of the mountain
that sprung up between us
it’s all wrong, my words twisted & thrown
… not what I meant, not what I mean…
 
frantic I try to put thoughts back together
and find my way back to the core
 
voices quieter now.
tears and a nod
a hug but it’s hollow
and panic is lingering
lonely and lonelier still…
there’s nothing to do but let the tears come
and stare out the window
watching the sky
 
… please help me come back …
…are you there? … are you gone?
 
it’s crushing, fast breaths
grief floods the insides
words scroll through my mind,
and I realize …
I’m talking out loud to myself
 
I try & I cry & I’m hopeless at this
fumbling, throwing out thoughts
nothing helps …
but I pound my fists on this mountain
as I cry & I try
desperate to find you again
 
the words lay in heaps on the ground where I sit
and the mountain looms large in the fore
I miss you, I’m broken
but finally listening…
I can find my way back to you now
 
I return with hands open, with words set aside
to hear your heart beat and your breath
my fingers tangle your hair, I let go and I soften
to feel the end of the journey apart
 
my back to the mountain
I breathe slowly once more
and give thanks that the climb didn’t break us
we found our way through, can we always do that?
I am grateful to simply be here.

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.

Today’s Gratitude List

 gratitude2-vi

Today I am grateful for:

  • Choice.  Whether I like to admit it or not, I have choices in just about every area of my life.  The times when I’m not able to choose the particular circumstance or situation, I’m still able to choose how I react to it.  Last night it occurred to me how lucky I am that I can choose to eat foods that are healthy and make me feel good.  I can choose to focus my attention on positive, happy stuff instead of complaining.  I may not always do that… okay, okay you’re right, I complain a LOT.. but the point is, I have the *choice* and that’s empowering, even when I’m cranky.
  • My girlfriend & the healthy, balanced relationship we have.  How amazing is it to be able to learn something new about yourself every day, to have a loving presence reflect back to you the things that you wouldn’t be able to see on your own?  I believe we are attracted to people who hold the keys to our self-development and who can help us grow into the fully alive, relaxed & joyful people we are meant to become.  Thank you, Aubrey, for being my mirror & being you & being with me.
  • Time.  Life keeps moving forward.  And continues on… and on… and on.  Last year at this time I couldn’t have imagined the amazing stuff that would happen for me in the future.  Today I don’t know what’s around the corner.  The fact that life changes and time continues… well for some reason today, that feels really reassuring and not at all scary.  Today I’m kinda liking the fact that I don’t know what’s in store for tomorrow, but I have a guarantee that tomorrow will arrive.

manifesting

What are you grateful for today?