Friday, October 24, 2008

For the Love of Family

Stemming from a conversation I had in passing with my own pastor last evening, I began calculating the number of years that my brother, Doug, has been a pastor himself. I couldn't believe the number I came up with.

Dude's gettin' old! And I don't like it because he's just dragging me along with him.

In reality, he's only 46, but it seems a lifetime ago that he moved out of the house when I was just 10. We made the trek with our parents to move him in to Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University) in Columbia, South Carolina, and I literally cried most of the way home. I was his pesky little sister, but he was my favorite person on the planet. If I remember correctly, I believe I actually made a scene right there on campus about not wanting to leave him there.

I'm not sure what I thought those crazy Christian conservatives were going to do to him!

As it turned out, he became an awesome pastor, made some lifelong friends, and brought home to us the most incredible sister and daughter-in-law in the world - which then extended our family by a few more wonderful people via her family. So in the end, it was all more than okay.

The most amazing part, however, is how my brother handled our relationship after he left. It would have been very easy to get on with his life and simply have a cursory relationship with me during holidays, etc. But he made a concerted effort to not only keep in touch with me over those 600 miles, but was interested in my life and counseled me on many occasions.

Consequently, we have a great relationship to this day - even with the little actual physical time we get to spend with one another.

So this actually gives me hope that my own two older boys, who spend most of their waking time together fighting, will someday have some type of amicable relationship.

Which brings me to my relationship with my sister, Aimee, who is five years older than me. Yes, I'm the baby. She and I fought like a couple of junk yard dogs growing up. We were very different, didn't see eye-to-eye on many things, and each resented the other's place in the sibling rankings. I hated getting all of her hand-me-downs, and she hated all the things I got to do that she didn't because I was the last one at home.

But then she left for college, and went and grew up . . . and made sure we remained close. We are now best friends and rarely go a day without conferring with one another about something in our crazy lives. She is my autistic son's biggest fan and cheerleader and sees absolutely each and every great trait that my older two, very challenging boys, have - and just loves them all to pieces.

Through all of the parenting I have done (I had the first grandchild) and the issues I've faced with my boys and the slew of mistakes I have made, never has either one criticized me once. Not once. Their words are always encouraging and full of praise for what I have managed to accomplish. I would not be the parent, or person, I am today without their presence in my life.

Siblings are awesome. If you don't have any, go grab someone and recruit them as your honorary sibling! They are who remain when everyone else is busy doing something else. They are who are by your side when no one else can stand you. They love you no matter what.

At least those are the type of siblings that my parents raised. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for setting the bar!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

She's Come Undone.

A big dose of reality hit me yesterday in the afternoon and again in the evening at my Bible study while telling my friends about it. But I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of emotion when I was finally able to spend time alone with Sean and tell him about my experience.

I won't go into detail here because, quite frankly, I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing about my special needs boys and their issues. I don't have any reservations about going into it, but honestly - do you really want to know? That's what I thought.

Let's just say this. I'm not new to this arena, but doggone it, if it doesn't blindside me every so often.

When you have any type of special needs child, you go through a range of emotions that never ends. In my life, I have dubbed it "cycling." For example, with me it is fear, panic, denial, anger, realization, resignation, and finally - absolute resolve. And then it starts over again, perhaps triggered by some event, or simply the daily grind of dealing with it wearing me down.

This cycling can be months long or just weeks for me, depending on many factors. But I am usually aware of it and deal with the emotions accordingly in various ways. I've been doing this as the mother of an autistic child for three years now.

However, Joel's issues and diagnoses are fairly recent and, in fact, still being worked out. I have been cycling through this with him now for a short time, but amazingly, didn't realize it. Yesterday a situation made me feel crazy and stupid and blind and completely like I'd never been through any of this before. Like I said, it blindsided me and made me realize that I'm in the middle of a whole different cycle of emotions with Joel's issues. I'm in the beginning.

I foolishly thought that going through these things with a second child would be "old hat," and that I'd handle it all very differently and fine. How very naive of me. I've been somewhere in the denial area and just fell backwards, down a hill, and into the hole of anger and realization yesterday and last night. Now it's time to start digging my way out.

Common sense would dictate that it should be easier this time around, or somehow less upsetting. But much of the time when dealing with the autism spectrum or emotional problems, things make little to no sense at all, much less any of it being "common."

Do you know what it's like to feel crazy? I mean - the actual definition of crazy: foolish, idiotic, ridiculous, unwise. That's how I feel.

Like I said - time to dig out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And Just What Qualifies You For This Position?

A friend just sent me something via e-mail (Thanks, Jodona!) and one line stuck out to me: God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. Wow.

That is something that I need to hear daily. So many of my friends have heard me complain, "I have no idea why God thought I could handle these boys with the issues - the autism and the mood disorder ..."

This was quite timely, as I just returned to my bedroom to escape the wrath of autism for a few minutes. Seth's routine was wildly upset this morning. We accidentally overslept, and I had to wake Seth up quickly and get him dressed to take Joel to school. It's not been pretty since.

When he gets upset about anything at all, he will get stuck on something that makes no sense and not let it go. On the way home from dropping Joel off, he began doing this. As we drove home among all of the corn fields, he became upset with me because, "We have no city." No amount of explaining something to him matters during these times, and I know that. Yet, sometimes, my mouth just goes ahead of me. I tried explaining that we live just outside of a city, but that just upset him more.

By the time we arrived back home, he was also mad because Alexx had already left for school, so he is a "big fat meanie" for doing that.

Time to separate myself for awhile. And here I am.

Thank you, Jodona (or God for speaking through Jodona), and reminding me that He will equip me as I need it to deal with this life I've been handed.

Time to go do that!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Hockey Mom In Person

Guess where I went today?

The Zipps and I (and Reagan) attended; and we even made t-shirts for the event:

With Brian in a wheelchair, healing from having his Achilles tendon operated on, I got to push him around - through grass, up hills, down hills, through gravel - I got a superb workout. Thanks, Brian! That'll really help with my weight-loss challenge!

There was a bit of a security scuffle beside us - we were hoping to see some action!

Governor Palin gave a rousing speech in her usual, down-to-earth style.

Reagan attended his first political rally!

In a funny twist - Palin was in West Chester, OH, this morning - in the suburb of Cincinnati that my sister lives in. She was all excited that Palin was going to be a few minutes from her house. But that excitement was nothing compared to what she felt when she was offered the job of driving one of the seven vans transporting Palin and her team to and from the event!

She had a fabulous time seeing how these things work from behind the scenes, as well as getting to meet many in Palin's team along with the super chick herself!

Click HERE to read my sister's blog. Hopefully she'll be uploading photos and telling us all about it soon!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Life In These Here United States

Therapy with child psychologist: $115 an hour
Each session of occupational therapy: $160
Admission to charter school: $138
One month's worth of ADHD med: $118
Amount of gas money it takes to drive to our church and back: $1.50

Living in a country where I am able to get my children the help they need - where we have always had the rights of free speech, a democratic government, and freedom of religion without fear of persecution: PRICELESS.

No, it's not perfect in this country and a lot needs to be changed, but we could be somewhere else. Let's take a step back and get some perspective, shall we?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Coming. Forecast for Noblesville, IN 46060

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 74°/54°

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 75°/52°

Thursday, October 16, 2008 64°/44°

Friday, October 17, 2008 56°/38°

Saturday, October 18, 2008 59°/38°

Sunday, October 19, 2008 62°/44°

Monday, October 20, 2008 63°/43°

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 61°/37°

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 59°/39°

Thursday, October 23, 2008 62°/44°

Winter is knocking on our back door. And I'm not ready. Do you know what it's like being cooped up in a house with three boys? THREE BOYS who all act like boys. And get stinky like boys. And don't clean up after themselves LIKE BOYS.

I'm not ready for the flu, or streets full of dirty slushy snow leftovers, or the colorless world that is Indiana from November to April.

I don't care what the experts say, I'm totally doing my part to speed up global warming.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Small Town Hoopla!

Every year growing up in tiny Farmland, Indiana, Fire Prevention Day was a big deal for us kids. A parade, games to play, prizes to be won, fire truck rides around town.

In the years since I've grown up, things haven't changed much with Fire Prevention Day - except it's less exciting. Adulthood will do that to you.

The boys and I as well as my sister, two of my nephews and one niece all went to Nana and Papa's for the event on Saturday. Well, perhaps event isn't quite the right word. Nonetheless, we had fun because the kids had fun.
Waiting for the parade ...

Gus, Seth, Ana Lucia, Joel, Marco

Joel and me (aw, MOM!)

Fire truck rides!

I have no idea what they do with all the passengers if there's a fire somewhere in town ...

Small town living was fun growing up, I just didn't know it at the time. Click here to see a slide show of my hometown that I have on the blog I write for my church's web site.

Oh, and yes, Farmland is actually the name of the town.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Double Shot of Crazy

My dog has a screw or two loose somewhere. But I suppose that's a prerequisite for being an Anderson. Our old dog, Hunter, who died in January was a wonderful, beautiful, loving neurotic mess - the equivalent to psychological mashed potatoes.

This was Hunter:

Heidi has two very distinct habits that have come to light since we adopted her in June. Well, three - but one is completely unmentionable here (let your mind wander). First, she seems weirdly unable to keep from shredding any type of tissue she finds - toilet paper, Kleenex, napkins, tissue paper, paper towels, etc.

Second, and more creepy, is her affinity for dirty underwear. I know. Ewwwwww! Oh - and the jackpot? A used Pull-up - the perfect combination of tissue AND dirty underwear. Oh. My.

She seems to be ashamed of these odd obsessions, because she drags all of her precious treasures under our bed. No wonder I'm not sleeping well lately. There's bad under-the-bed karma in our room.

Heidi outside yesterday:

But oh how swell it feels knowing that she's right where she belongs: God dropped this crazy dog who needed a home right smack in the middle of an entire family of functioning lunatics. He always knows what he's doing, yes?

Nut Job

My autistic son, Seth, has always had a fascination with holding or carrying around something round in his hand - ever since he was a baby. It's something different each time - apparently whatever suits his fancy at the time. It may be the wheel off of a toy car, a smooth rock, a piece of candy still in the wrapper, etc.

Last week we ate at Logan's Roadhouse, which has in-the-shell peanuts around the restaurant that you crack, eat, and throw the shells on the floor. The first time we all went to Logan's, throwing the shells onto the floor completely stressed Seth out. This time around, he was loving cracking the peanuts open, though he wouldn't in a million years actually eat one.

Also this time, he attached himself to a small, round peanut in the shell and continued to carry it around for days afterward. Days.

When he would not clean the toys up in his room the day after he acquired this nut, I threatened to get rid of all of the toys he wouldn't pick up - to which he happily responded, "That's okay. All I need is this peanut." And by golly if he wasn't right. I followed through on my threat and removed every toy from his room, leaving only his books - and he hasn't complained one bit about it. In fact, he has proudly kept his room unbelievably clean since.

Oh boy, we're in trouble with this peanut. This peanut surely cannot last forever.

You may be thinking that we could merely find another similar peanut when the time comes. It's a peanut. Know this - a slightly obsessive autistic child knows his own peanut from a strange peanut.

A few days later, we were at the bank and I was talking to the teller when Seth had this horrified look on his face and opened his hand to show me that his peanut's shell had finally crumbled leaving a little pile in his hand. I'm very accustomed to dealing with very public autistic meltdowns, so I braced myself and very quickly said to the teller, "He's autistic and he's been attached to that peanut for four days. This may get ugly."

I'll tell you what - she leapt into action quicker than a jack rabbit and said, "Do you like suckers? What's your favorite color?" and proceeded to distract him in a way that made this special-needs mom gush openly. THAT does not happen often at all.

Every so often people really surprise you in a positive way. I know that God places these people in our path, and I'm so grateful for it. This incident also shows me that autism and its effects are becoming more known to the general public making life a little easier for those of us who live with it daily.

So the peanut is history, his room is still staying clean, he hasn't asked for the toys back, and he's moved on to obsess on several new things in the days since.

Life moves on!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

First Do No Harm

Well, it's been a rough few days here at the abode. Parenting is hard enough on all parents without extra issues to deal with. And when you've got extra extras, well, it can get pretty sketchy. Having an autistic son as well as one with a mood disorder stretches our parenting limits to an unbelievable degree at times and last night was no exception.

There are evenings when Sean and I just look at one another across the room with ravaged faces of "What now?"

As I sat in the Zipps' living room, tears streaming down my face, they tried to talk me off the ledge and remind me of truths that deep down I already know: that we love our boys and they know it, that it's not too late, that tomorrow is another day to get it right.

Sean and I have a ground-level philosophy that we hold on to when things get incredibly rough around here: First do no harm. Yep - just like medical professionals. First. Do. No. Harm. Because sometimes we are at the bottom of the barrel, so to speak.

When one of our boys is coming unhinged in a manner that is beyond our control and comprehension at the moment, the very basic concept we try to rely on when nothing else is working or we ourselves are feeling a bit out of control is do no harm. However we end up dealing at that split second with what is in front of us, we must do it in a way that is not harmful to them physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. And if we can get through that moment, then we move on.

And move on we are doing ...

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I got my girl fix tonight with Jewels (noticed how I spelled that, Lesa?). She was, as usual, a complete pleasure!

We all had fun loving on her and reliving our baby days . . .

And then she reminded me how I am supposed to change my own shirt before feeding her spaghetti baby food.


We still love our baby Julia!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Puff Doggy

I gave Heidi a fluff and puff this morning. Look at my little cotton ball!

You know you love her . . .

Again About the Sunset?

Each of us obviously has a different relationship with God. Some feel closest to Him in church, others during prayer; still others have told me they feel in His midst the most during crisis.

I always feel physically nearest to God when I am sitting and taking in the sunrise and sunset. We all know how much I love my sunrises and sunsets! I feel as if He has set aside two times every single day to have my undivided attention in order remind me that He is right here. Because honestly, sometimes it takes something that obvious knocking me over the head daily to again tell me that He's with me.

And how ingenious! Once in the morning to start our days saying, "Here I am! Remember - go throughout your day knowing I'm walking beside you," and then ending the day again reminding us, "Still here."

Last evening, Sean and I were cleaning up after dinner when first we noticed the sky turning pink and purple, and as the sun descended - the skyline was glowing orange. We stopped to go enjoy God's wonder on the porch swing.

The boys were all in the basement, so it was uncharacteristically quiet. It was rather chilly, so we snuggled close - in awe of the display.

We talked about how, no matter what's going on in the world - economy collapse, war, crime; or in our home - frightening medical diagnoses, unending parental frustration, money stress; God is the one constant - just like that amazing sunset. No matter how ugly the day has been, that sunset is blazing in the sky, a daily reminder that He is there and going nowhere.

Thank you, God! For not only being with us always, but thrusting yourself right down out of heaven each day to intervene in our lives.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

So Sorry!

So sorry for the lack of posts these last few days. Circumstances and bad sinuses are taking priority. Will get back in the groove soon!

But for now - how about a yummy recipe? My whole family looooovvves this meal. Even though none of them likes mustard, they love this. And it's so easy!

Dijon Pork Tenderloin

1 (1 ½ to 2 ½ lb.) pork tenderloin
¼ C. Dijon mustard
Jane’s Crazy Mixed-Up Salt
1 T. oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season tenderloin with Jane’s salt and coat generously with Dijon mustard. Spray a 9x13 baking dish.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear meat on all sides. Transfer meat to prepared baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Turn meat over and continue cooking for 15-10 additional minutes, or until thermometer reaches internal temperature of 155-160 degrees.

After removing from oven, cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes or so (for juices to redistribute).

Slice and serve.

TIP: I have one of those digital thermometers that you program what temperature you want your meat to reach, and when it does, it beeps, so you don’t have to keep opening the oven and checking it with a regular meat therm. They are about $15 and SO WORTH IT. I use it all the time.

This recipe can also be done on the grill instead of in the oven and it's turns out GREAT!