Monday, December 14, 2009
There are so many things I could focus on in my writing this morning - recounting funny things that happened, recalling the local people, describing the scenery. I have some super stories - all in due time.
Right now, though, I'm just overwhelmed with how blessed I am - we are.
Blessed to have the parents that I do, who have invested their time, love - their lives - in our children enabling us to get away and not worry for a second about the care of our boys. They know all the ins and outs of their issues, not because we wrote it down for them, but because they live them alongside us. The intricacies of Seth's autism and Joel's mood disorder and Asperger's are not something that can be learned, they are experienced. If my parents hadn't spent my children's lifetimes building relationships with them, we couldn't have gone away for any length of time at all.
Blessed to have friends who call us family and not only accept us, but love us in spite of who we are and all the baggage that comes with us. If I were them, I would have high-tailed it in the other direction years ago. Seriously.
If it weren't for them sharing their family's vacation accommodations with us, we could not have afforded this trip. Most of our "fun money" is spent on meds ($425/mo.), supplements, therapy ($90 an hour!), and doctors (a gazillion dollars a minute).
Blessed to have saved frequent-flier miles from seven years ago that Sean earned flying back home to Houston from Milwaukee each weekend when he was doing five months of consulting work up there. We squirreled away those miles to be used someday when we would be able to take a trip together. Alone.
Blessed to have a husband who is my best friend in the universe - someone who I cannot wait to spend time with, who makes me laugh as much now as he did 20 years ago, who I fall more in love with every day.
Blessed to have boys whom I could hardly wait to squeeze when we returned home - and were actually as excited to see us as we were to see them. And blessed to be raising boys who, despite the issues they are wading through, are adaptable enough to deal with us being gone for that length of time.
Blessed that God put all of this together in our life, and continues to do so daily.
And ashamed that I don't feel worthy of any of it.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
However, it's not just writer's block keeping me from writing. Recent issues with middle son (Joel) are all-consuming. His diagnoses of ADHD, mood disorder, and "possible" Asperger's (possible?) seem to be colliding and causing monumental problems that we are only beginning to figure out. It feels suspiciously like the first couple of years spent struggling with youngest son's (Seth) autism. You're living in a maze that you must try and make some sense out of before even beginning to know which way to go.
The good news is that he is a spectacular kid. His heart is huge and nurturing, and his love and eagerness for God's word are astounding for a kid of 11 years. And I am working night and day on his behalf - with counselors, with his psychiatrist, his teachers, his school, his youth leaders at church. Being a special needs parent to even just one child with issues is a full-time job. Two can feel overwhelming at times. And three? Meet me at the looney bin for drinks when my nest is empty. I'll be the one in the bingo room using bullets to mark my cards.
What I am beginning to be amazed about with Joel is that in all of his frustration with the issues he is dealing with, he pushes on. Yes, we often take two steps forward and five steps backwards. He is pulling a heavy load - a lot more than a kid his age should have to; but the way he can filter through his feelings, articulate them to us, and muddle through them is a gift. I hope and pray that he can continue to do that.
Through it all, we "keep our eyes on the prize." One of the ways we try to help Joel cope with what he's going through is to emphasize that this life is temporary. It is but a blink of the eye in eternity; and what he has to deal with now is not permanent. God has prepared a place for us that will not include these worldly problems.
There are days when I think his faith is stronger than mine. There are days when I think he could teach me a lot more than I am teaching him. And there are days that temptation gets the best of me much more than it does my 11-year-old son.
Life is a journey, right? A journey that takes turns that we weren't expecting and detours that take us off the path of where we probably should be going. I recognize that. But right or wrong, I also recognize that every detour, every seemingly wrong decision, every experience we choose (or may not choose) to engage in is woven into the fabric of who we are and who we will become.
Everything that Joel is enduring right now is building his character into the person he is intended to be. We are not privy to the "whys" of it all; we just have to try and keep the train on the tracks.
photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian
Monday, October 19, 2009
My youngest son is now in school all day. Said son had turned me into a therapist of all sorts since being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at the age of 2 1/2. So having him out of the house from 8 am until almost 4 pm gives me a whole new life.
Yes, one I've been struggling with lately, but a new life nonetheless.
So now that winter is beating fall into submission here in central Indiana, I have decided that if it is not sunny and beautiful outside this winter on a given day - I refuse to leave the abode. Or even leave my pajamas. Unless, of course, I absolutely have to (one of my boys is throwing up, bleeding profusely, or on fire at school).
Mrs. Zipps laughed in my face when I told her this. This makes me want to prove her wrong.
Carry on, Internet.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Nothing can make you break through writer's block like writing . . . right? We'll see. I'll keep up the drivel until I knock something loose.
So in the midst of brainstorming ideas to become self-employed eccentrics who work in their pajamas and don't leave the house for days at a time (hey, wait a minute ...), Sean, Mr. Zipps, and I started tossing out book ideas - and I think I may have hit on something. They are always telling me to hurry up and write my bestseller so they can quit their jobs and the Andersons and Zipps can live happily ever after on the proceeds. (They obviously don't quite get this writing/publishing thing.)
I'm not divulging the idea here for obvious reasons, but let's just say I hope this writer's block dissolves soon so I can get moving. Pray, please?
Everything I Needed (but Didn't Want)
To Know About Holly, I Learned One Day
On Her Blog When She Had Writer's Block
Hair totally skeeves me out. Especially long, wet hair that's not attached to my own head.
The only coffee I drink at Starbucks is a grande, non-fat, two-pump mocha with light whip.
The coffee I drink at home has non-fat hazelnut creamer and light whipped cream on it.
I won my third-grade spelling bee and came in 3rd in fourth grade.
I once won a proofreading award (I know, so sad.)
I was on the equestrian team in college (western, not english).
I find almost everything funny in some way - to a fault.
I was saved from being hit by a train by a stranger when I was two.
I can tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue.
I was caught by the police driving before I had my driver's license (They only called my mom - an advantage of small-town living.)
Sean and I met on the first day of 7th grade when our lockers were next to one another, began dating in 10th grade and married at 20.
I loooooooove to cook and share it.
My mind and personality are exercises in contradiction. I think very analytically about most things and there's a method to almost everything I do. Yet, I'm extremely creatively scatter-brained much of the time. Good luck figuring that out. My parents - after 38 years, and my husband - after a bazillion years, cannot. I have no desire to figure it out - that might make my head explode.
I have wanted to be a writer since I was little. My friend, Lisa, and I used to write books together. Pretty funny reading today.
My mom used to tell me I should be a lawyer because I love to argue so much (and can wear just about anyone down until they want to gouge their own eyes out). This is not so much a good quality if you are not a lawyer, as I am not.
This one quality, I passed on to my middle son. This is called karma.
I am a Ball State University grad with a degree in Journalism. Go Cards! Yep - David Letterman, the founder of Papa John's pizza, and the creator of Garfield, and me - BSU can really turn 'em out, yes?
I can be a little obsessive about things being a certain way, but have let a lot of this go being the mother of three boys. Mainly in the area of housekeeping. Clearly.
I wish more people would have retained what they learned about grammar in elementary school.
That is all.
Monday, October 5, 2009
I continue to struggle to write and get mundane things done during the day even though all the planets are aligned correctly; meaning - the sun is shining; it's a beautifully-colored fall season; I have plenty of uninterrupted time; in other words - the conditions are ripe for motivation, so the words should flow.
I. Am. Struggling. With daily life. With my boys' issues. With autism. With a mood disorder. With. Life.
No reason. No big incident. Just a creeping stream that's becoming a raging river. I can navigate the stream just fine on any given day. But to navigate the river takes stamina. And a positive outlook. And self-confidence. All of which I'm sorely lacking recently. So erosion is starting to occur.
And the thing? Here's the thing. The thing of it all is this. It's driving me crazy that I can't figure out why. Why? What is the origin of the problem? I haven't a clue. Perhaps I'm just worn down.
It really is emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting dealing with some of the issues I deal with daily, but I don't often realize or notice because it's what I deal with daily. I think sometimes it takes someone else's reaction to some of what we endure to see it for what it actually is - super, unbelievably, cosmically difficult (which is the nice way of putting it).
I am sick of autism. I am sick of a mood disorder that "borders on bi-polar disorder." I am sick of having so little control over my boys' issues. I am sick of doing all the right things and watching an entire day spin out of control and trying to pick up the pieces so that what they remember from their childhood is good. I am sick of gloriously conquering one issue just to have the next one ready and waiting at its heels.
I am sick of the guilt.
I am sick of the worry.
I am sick of how none of it makes any sense. My mind grinds and spins and smokes trying to make even the tiniest part of any of it reasonable, so that I can attach a solution to it. But that's not how these gears fit together - not even close. They laugh at reasonable solutions and spit them out.
On most days, I can roll with it all and laugh and employ strategies that may or may not work and chug along because this is how it is and this is how it's going to be. This stuff isn't going away.
But I'm struggling. With this overflowing, raging river that's normally a trickling, manageable stream.
photo by Kodiak1
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I love you with all of my heart. You make my heart sing and my emotions all tingly. You make me want to frolic in a golden meadow, wear those weird gloves where the fingers are cut out holding a warm cup of cider, jump into a pile of leaves and come out with a bunch of them tangled in my hair. Just in case there is any doubt in your mind after having said that, then let's settle this: your beautiful, sunny, orange and rust-colored days lift my spirits so high, I could almost fly.
Now having said that, let's have a talk.
Indiana Winter is stalking you. It does this every year - have you not caught on yet? I hold out hope every year that you will be strong, turn around, and look it in the evil eye and - for once - stare it into submission.
Could this be the year?
Your counterpart in Houston is really on the ball. The years we lived there, Southeastern Texas Fall did its job. It faltered sometimes for a day or two and we had to turn our heat on (gasp!); but for the most part, Fall turned right into spring after a few weeks of non-stop rain in January.
We did not miss snow. We did not miss ice. We did not miss living half the year in a colorless world.
So if you could, you know, get a little more confident in your abilities, I'm sure you will find that Indiana Winter is not something that you cannot take on.
If nothing else, undermine its self-esteem by constantly telling it that nobody around here really likes it at all. Tell it we only tolerate it to a small degree - and if there's no pretty, white, fluffy snow on Christmas; well, that's a deal breaker right there.
C'mon - this is totally your year! You can do it. I have complete confidence in you.
photo by Anita K
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Several areas are suffering, not just this rambling, mindless blog. If I don't get my head out of the clouds, they're gonna fire me over at Blissfully Domestic Publishing. Well, that's my take anyway.
In other news:
We've literally made the shift to fall this week in Indiana. Highs in the 60's for the most part, going to have to kick the heat on soon at night. This brings me to one of my favorite things in the world: burning candles.
To me, burning candles is a cool weather activity for the most part. Late afternoon every day when it's cold outside, I light all the candles in my house so that it is filled with a warm feeling and wonderful aroma that usually is a blend of pumpkin and apple in the fall and pine in the winter. I know what I like and usually stick to it.
My brother, his wife and my nephew (Doug, Mona, and Daniel) recently lost their beloved dog, Rufus, when he was tragically hit by a car and killed. This makes my heart ache and many prayers have left my mind for them, having gone through losing our own golden retriever last year when he died at 12 years old.
You can't really understand the emotions behind it unless 1) you've been through it, and 2) you are a pet lover in the first place. It's a special kind of mourning that you are not quite ready for because you didn't know it existed before it hit you. You spend your time with a pet for the most part acknowledging that, to some degree, you love this being; but knowing that, after all, it is a pet and not a human member of your family.
And that is all well and good until you lose them, at which time you realize that they were more than just an animal, but a larger part of your life and day than you consciously accounted for. Until they are gone.
They lost Rufus, and next year they will lose their only son's daily presence in their life when he goes off to college. It may sound petty, but it's not. Tough transitions never are.
It's funny how life lays itself out sometimes. On my desk right here - to the left of my laptop sits a photo of Hunter, our dog who died last year; and to the right is a photo of Doug, Mona, and Daniel (the only photos on my desk).
These photos have been there for, goodness, at least a year; but are now a constant reminder to pray for them - strategically placed there before I ever knew why.
Also strategically placed near me is our new golden retriever, Buddy, whom we recently adopted from the same rescue organization through which Hunter came to live with us so many years ago. He always lies at my feet when I'm working at this desk, which is also a constant reminder that life goes on, and we move on to a new normal in due time.
God is so awesome.
In an effort to curb spending and quit running around every weekend throwing money at whatever we happen to stumble upon doing, Sean and I have decided to throw ourselves into projects around the house on the weekends to keep our butts at home. We have several that we've been talking about starting, but have not. Stayed tuned. If I've put it out there for all to hear, then we're going to actually have to do it. That is the theory, anyway.
I'm sorry, Starbucks, that you just lost 1/3 of your profits that come out of my pocket.
Commence Project Finally-Repaint-the-Dining-Room? Project Watch-the-13-Episodes-of-Lost-I-Have-DVR'd-From-Last-Season? Oh, the anticipation!
My neighbor is going to Miami for work several time in the next few weeks. I am jealous. That is all.
photo by Christa Richert
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I cannot say enough good things about Noblesville Schools. Seriously. Our family has had three kids in the school system in the five years since we moved here from Houston, Texas, and I absolutely, positively, supremely love this district.
We've had experience in a Hamilton Southeastern elementary school (in the late 90's), in elementary and middle schools in our former home in Texas, and now elementary, intermediate, middle, and high schools here in Noblesville.
My belief is that they cannot be beat.
Specifically, what has sparked this particular happy outburst is my youngest son's life as an autistic student at Hazel Dell Elementary. He is only in first grade, yet he's starting his fourth year in the school, having been there since he turned three and began the early childhood program.
Seth is high-functioning on the autism spectrum, yet he didn't start there. Through years of early intervention as well as private therapies, he has progressed to the point that the average person probably would not know he has an Autism Spectrum Disorder at all. Much of this is due to the outstanding people of Hazel Dell.
From the speech, occupational, and physical therapists on staff to his teachers and right up to the principal - they have done an excellent job balancing what the school system has in place to offer and what Seth needs to not only fit, but thrive. I've not once had to fight for a service or argue that they are not doing enough. They not only have made sure Seth has had the services and intervention that he needs, but have continued some services "just to make sure he is covered" in areas where he is already doing extremely well. I have witnessed the principal himself, in a case conference, read over Seth's paperwork and question why he wasn't receiving a certain service, and then state that he be re-evaluated in order to receive additional therapy.
As a principal, John Land is top-notch. Perhaps the fact that he is a special-needs parent himself makes him uniquely qualified and determined to push his school to the head of the class, so to speak. Whatever combination of circumstances and standards, Mr. Land's Hazel Dell Elementary certainly earned last year's designation of Blue Ribbon School honestly and appropriately.
It's just one of the many reasons that Noblesville is one of the Top 10 Best Places to Live.
Rock on, Noblesville Schools!
photo by Cavell L. Blood
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Sucksucksucksucksuck. That's what this day has done from hour one. For no particular reason other than the fact that I'm lost in my own house. Which would be great if that were literal and I lived in a supremely huge abode cleaned by anyone other than me.
I'm having a harder time with being alone all day long than I thought that I would, which sounds crazy coming from the woman who was counting the milliseconds until the time came. I'm feeling a bit like my tracks have grown over with weeds.
Let me clarify.
I am encountering large amounts of trouble getting motivated each day, feeling like I'm puttering around the house like a retired hobo. There. I said it.
I didn't feel like I led a particularly meaningful existence to begin with, and now I feel lower than that.
Let me also clarify that I do not wish for my children to be back home all day long. I am enjoying the solitude and house to myself, it is just affecting me differently than I had imagined it would. Instead of feeling full of potential and flying high with the power of time on my side to tackle all kinds of projects, I am struggling profusely to get anything done. Because what I need to get done is not at all what I wish to be doing.
Wow. That sounded incredibly selfish and immature.
Doing what I need to be doing produces the most mundane of feelings inside me - makes me feel like I'll waste away at any moment; and doing what I want to be doing produces terrific feelings of guilt and frustration because 1.) I'm not doing what I need to be getting done, and 2.) what I want to be doing is frivolous and seen by no one and produces no income or really, anything of consequence at all.
Taking my journalism degree and folding it into the shape of a spider monkey seems like it would be about the best use of my time and efforts right now. I'm not sure what the missing piece of the puzzle is, nor do I know where to look for it.
So I putter. And search. And pray. And wonder how long this can go on before I'll need to double my medication.
photo by Cathy Kaplan
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Can one really ever have enough light sabers? I mean, some light up and some make sounds. Some do both. Some have spring action. Some come apart. Some change colors. I'm hoping they come out with one soon that can open a bottle of wine.
But I digress.
We also have a fussy little white dog who has this compulsive need to lick shoes. And shred tissues from the bathroom trash. What a freak . . . she fits right in. Add to this the rock band in the basement (oldest son plays drums), middle son who has taken up playing the saxophone, and youngest son on the autism spectrum who somehow, some way, manages to live among all of this and thrive.
We are loud - every last one of us. We laugh at odd things and circumstances. We know trivia about weird things. We are like the Adams Family without the creepy hand in the box. We think our environment is completely normal, while outsiders walk in and wonder what bizarre world they've crossed over into - and are probably eyeing the exits from the moment they enter.
Okay, so maybe that exaggerating a bit. And maybe not.
So what does a family who already lives in utter chaos much of the time do? Well, adopt a 2nd dog, of course. This is Buddy:
Buddy is coming to live with us tomorrow night because we need a little more excitement in our life.
Our little tissue-shredding, talk-like-a-wookie-when-she-wants-your-attention maltese-poodle mutt just isn't enough.
The autism isn't enough.
The middle son's mood disorder just isn't enough.
The current level of messiness isn't enough.
It's getting a little boring around here. Time to shake things up.
Don't you just wish you were me?
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Then there's the rest of the time.
I've been feeling distant recently. Like I'm not hearing from God. More likely, of course, is that I'm not listening. Or seeking enough in the first place.
Things don't seem to be moving along smoothly in my heart. I've made some decisions lately and engaged in some behaviors that I didn't think through and that, well, certainly aren't things I asked God about beforehand.
Several areas of my life are needing some direction right now.
I'm feeling a little lost on what I'm supposed to be doing these days now that my last dude is in school all day long. I'm wondering what God has for me and am not feeling any sort of wisdom or guidance on the subject at all.
Last night we began discussing adopting a golden retriever through a local rescue organization (GRRACE) that came to my attention earlier in the week. We previously adopted a golden through Grrace, whom we had for eight years until he passed away a year and a half ago. It was devastating; but now we may be ready for another. We met Buddy today, a nine-year-old golden being fostered who needs a permanent home. I figured I would be ready to take him home the minute I met him. I prayed last night and this morning for God to give me some sort of definite feeling, one way or another, when I met this dog. Some red flag to tell me no; some glaring wonderful thing to tell me yes. But it didn't happen. He was a wonderful dog, a lot like our golden who died, and the boys loved him. Sean loved him. But I didn't hear God's voice - telling me yes OR no. I felt deafening silence in my heart on the issue. This is troubling to me because it's very unusual not to feel God stirring my heart one way or another about things.
Also recently, I had to give up my evening Bible study due to issues going on with our middle son (diagnosed with a mood disorder), so a couple of friends and I have decided to do a study together on our own and meet during the day. We haven't decided on what particular study we'd like to do, so this evening I stopped in at the Christian book store to look over some.
I stood there reading over several women's studies on different relevant issues and just felt blank. Nothing popped out at me. Right there in the aisle, I felt very down. I prayed right then, just talking to God. "Why am I not hearing from you? No feeling, no signs, on ANYthing I'm stuck on. What am I supposed to be doing these days? Is this dog right for us? What study is right? Could you just drop me a hint on SOMETHING? Could you give me a nudge? Are you there?"
And I am not even making this up - as I'm standing there in the Family Christian book store literally questioning God's presence or rather my lack of ability to sense Him and his voice - I heard a man yell from across the store, "Hey!" and laugh, then again, "Hey!" I turned my head wondering what in the world was going on, and a golden retriever comes trotting by with its leash trailing behind. In a book store. The guy then walked by going after the dog, grinning, and said, "He's just exploring!" I think my heart quit beating for a moment.
Real subtle, God. Okay. So you're there. I have no idea what you are saying, but I get it. You're there. And I shouldn't be questioning whether you are there or pushing because you are not answering my questions within my time frame or as obviously as I would like.
Thank you for smacking me upside the head. I will more patiently seek you, and listen instead of gripe.
photo by Cathy Kaplan
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Having no kids at home during the day for the first time since I became a stay-at-home parent 10 years ago is . . . amazing. Tears? No. Cheers? You bet! Can I get a wahooooo?!
I haven't had this kind of free time since I was a teenager. Literally. And I'm getting some typical comments from some friends and acquaintances when the topic comes up. "You're so lucky!" "It must be nice," or "You have no idea what you have."
Um, I know exactly what I have and appreciate it accordingly. Yes, it is nice. And I wouldn't say it has anything to do with luck. I'd say I've totally earned it.
I've got one foot on the flip-side, baby! I've done the diapers, potty-training, can't-leave-the-house-at-naptime, fits in the grocery, too-tired-for-sex, can-hardly-go-anywhere-alone, can-hardly-go-anywhere-with-my-husband years. Since 1991.
When someone looks at my days longingly, I often would like to say I've put in time. And hard time it's been (and continues to be). Even with normal parenting, getting a child to 18 is a gut-wrenching, sleep-losing, mind-boggling, frustrating, sometimes head-splitting experience. When you've got kids with neurological deficits that's just icing on the insanity-inducing cake.
I've spent the better part of my parenting years dealing with ADD, ADHD, autism, and a mood disorder along with your run-of-the-mill strong-willed boy thing. It's been . . . bumpy. And it's not anywhere near over.
I've played tutor, homeschooler, occupational therapist, speech therapist, behavioral therapist, developmental therapist. I've had countless meetings with countless teachers and counselors. I've had therapists in my home many days per week, and I've spent many hours driving kids to therapists. There have been meds - meds that didn't work, meds that did bad things, meds that did work; research for supplements, tracking their progress (or lack thereof); research for help, techniques, doctors, schools. And I'm not done yet. Not by a longshot.
I have been working. Just not getting paid for it - at least not with money.
Of course, it has also been (and will continue to be) an amazing, humbling, beautiful, heart-throbbing, inexplicably sensational experience as well. It has given me endless fodder to write about. It has made me who I am today. It has brought me closer to God and deepened my relationship with him. It has made me even more off-balance than I already was. It has shown me that I am stronger than I thought was possible. It has shown me who really cares about me and my family and who I can count on.
So now I take a breath. To ponder. To rejuvenate. To thank God that after 18 years, I get a break each day for me - to figure out exactly who that is after all this time and where it is that I'm supposed to be going from here.
photo by McKenna
Thursday, August 13, 2009
So I'm on my 2nd real day of being alone alllllll day with Seth having gone into first grade. Yesterday I did laundry until my spleen hurt, and didn't leave the house until after 8:00 p.m. when I fled to Starbucks for a mocha. This morning, I'm all dude - I don't have to be anywhere until 1:00. ONE O'CLOCK.
Aloneness is something I am not used to, but am totally willing to give it my best shot. Being the mother of three boys - one who is a drummer and one who was born missing the volume control that most humans are equipped with at birth - well, let's just say I'm soaking up the quiet to make up for the past 18 years. I feel like a plant that hasn't been watered since, oh, ever.
This time was always a distant point on the horizon, like the sun at sunset - boy it sure looks close, but you can travel in that direction for the rest of your life and never reach it. Or that's how it always felt. But here I am.
I actually never even meant to be a stay-at-home parent. I was crazy ambitious in my career as an account executive for an ad agency until one day, pregnant with my second child, it was like someone slapped me and I realized that I desperately didn't want another child in daycare whom I only spent two hours a day with. I began telecommuting shortly after that, all the while losing any interest in continuing that career at all. It wasn't me anymore and I hated every second of the marketing communications world.
So the idea of becoming a stay-at-home parent crept up on me without my consent, and I began that part of my life when my second son was two years old and we had just moved across the country from everyone we knew to Houston, Texas. Great timing.
Always planning on not being in that role forever, we had our third son. Then we moved back to our home state. And said son was diagnosed with autism. Goodbye thoughts of a career again. Then I was a stay-at-home mom/therapist. The rest is history.
Now I am alone. In my house. Without a clue. I mean - a person can only do so much laundry. Or paint so many rooms. Or rearrange the furniture in so many different ways before their brain dries up.
One side of my brain says to get a job and make some money. The dominant, creative side of my brain that decides 90% of things in my life says write. You now have hours upon hours to write and do something with it.
We shall see if I can get anything worthwhile written before my brain, indeed, dries up and crumbles. Or if I get a job. Or see if the happy, sleeping sea lions would accept a blonde, blue-eyed chick as one of their own. I would be willing to give that a try, as well. I'm just that flexible.
But just so you know - this is all very weird.
photo by Natalie Killian
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I explained to Seth that people buy old, old cars and fix them up to look new again. He looked at me and, as nonchalantly as ever, replied, "Or they could just go buy a new one."
Good point, my son.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Me: "Hmm? What? What did you say?" (keeping my mama cool)
Seth: "DAMN. I dropped my Skittles."
Eh - the rest of parenting history.
Another Anderson makes their indelible mark on White River Christian Church.
Friday, July 24, 2009
And I am not using the Lord's name in vain, here, people. That's a genuine shout-out to the Almighty.
Please help me understand why I must say more than once, "Joel, do not tie your brother up."
Guide me, Lord, in finding my path through the laundry, Legos, and action figures to what I am supposed to be doing with the gifts you have given me.
Give me the willpower to drive right on by Starbucks each of the 236 times per week that my errands take me anywhere in the vicinity.
Please make your presence known to me in those moments when I am struggling with feelings of rage over the fact that roughly 20% of the popcorn that my boys just popped doesn't make it to their mouths from the bowl - somehow losing its way and ending up on the couch or floor.
Are you there, God? It's me, Holly.
Impart to me the wisdom, Lord, of why a grande, non-fat, two-pump mocha with light whipped cream is as addictive as I imagine crack cocaine to be.
Is there a particular reason, God, why boys never want to bathe? And what is so great and funny about all of those noises that their bodies seem to naturally make?
Lord, will there ever be a day in this lifetime that I feel worthy of the job you've put me in?
Please help me come to terms with the fact that my house will be a mess and in disrepair until I finish raising these three boys; and remind me from time to time that the dents in the walls, the loose banister, and toys in the landscaping are all signs that this home is filled with a family.
Help me do my best, Lord, and when I can't seem to do that - please carry me until I can.
photo by Steve Woods
Thursday, July 9, 2009
A most beautiful thing happened the other day. I saw God - in a store employee.
Let me set this up a bit. Seth (6, with autism) has been coveting a trophy that Joel (11) received a few years back after his first soccer season in Houston. He wants it. Bad.
None of us can make him understand that you have to do something to receive a trophy, and that this particular trophy is very special to Joel, and - no - he cannot have it. He has begged, pleaded, bargained with his brother to have the trophy in his room and obsesses about it - often.
Fast-forward to a few days before oldest brother Alexx graduates from high school in May. Seth and I visited Noblesville Trophies to look into having the watch we were getting Alexx for graduation engraved. When we walked in, it was like when I walk into Ikea - I just knew Seth heard angels singing. The room is full of trophies - hundreds of them of every shape, color, sport, etc., imaginable. How I got him out of there, I do not remember. But the visit stuck in his head, as he asked me nearly every waking hour after that if we could go back to get him a trophy of his own.
If you've never been the object of an autistic person's obsessiveness, please imagine Chinese water torture directly onto the part of your brain that controls any sense of sanity or control.
I finally consented a few days ago, so off we went. After taking what seemed like hours to pick just the right trophy, we took it to the register to ask if they had it in stock. They did, and the woman working asked what we wanted engraved on it. When I said nothing, she looked at me so completely puzzled that I explained to her about his autism and the entire situation, and her face just melted.
So I got out my debit card, and she said that she couldn't run debit or credit for under $10 (it was $7.50). I told her we would be right back after going to the bank, turned to Seth to tell him we would come right back after going to get some money, and his face just fell. I continued to explain we would be right back - I promise!
The woman about came unglued. "You just go ahead and take it, young man!" I argued with her that we would be right back, that I wasn't taking it to no avail. Fine - then I told her to charge my debit card $10 for it. Nope. She wouldn't do it. She wanted him to have that trophy right now and that's it.
But there's more.
She then asked him if he'd like his name on the trophy; of course, he said yes. So she goes in the back and comes out with the trophy a few minutes later, which now reads, "Seth - the BEST of the BEST."
His eyes lit up and he nearly began dancing around with that trophy right there in the shop. I have never seen him so excited or proud.
I then told her we had definitely hit $10 now and handed my card in her direction. She would not take my money. "Seeing that little face it all I want."
After thanking her profusely, we went to the van and tears just rolled down my face. And Seth rode in his car seat kissing his new trophy all the way to PetsMart, where he then proudly walked through the store holding it.
There is more to the story, but to protect the woman's privacy, I will not put it here. She was the unfolding of a sermon our pastor had preached just a few days prior.
Lest we think there is little good in our world anymore ... just know that it can turn up when - and where - you least expect it.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
So my friend, Jess, always says she wants to hear more about our marriage and reiterated that after my last post. We live 2,000 miles apart, so she cannot experience - for herself, in real time - the great gooberness that we live each day.
Warning: you're about to find out.
Let me first explain that we did not sit down one day and create this marriage. This is just how it happens to be. We have been together since we were 16 and married since we were 20. We, essentially, grew up together - and by God's grace alone, grew in the same direction. For the record, we are now 38.
So here are the basics:
We are silly.
We enjoy each other. I mean really enjoy each other. I love his personality and his humor and his everything. Sure, there are things that drive me crazy that he does at times, but they are not deal breakers.
We love to dance. Let me clarify - we don't love to go dancing. I mean - we love music, often have it turned up quite loudly in our house, and just love to dance together. Oh - and neither one of us can dance very well at all. In fact, we are sadly inept. We just like to have fun - and be close.
We are very affectionate and always have been. Take that exactly how you think you should. ;-) Public displays of affection? You bet! We're always hugging and kissing on one another - to the point that our oldest is always saying, "Get a room!" and Sean's response has always been, "I have a house full of them." My 90-year-old grandma is always commenting on how we are always loving on one another like a couple of kids.
We can never get enough time together. You know how some couples spend too much time together and want to kill each other? Not us. We actually put this to the test when I was pregnant with our youngest. Sean was home for three straight months without a job. It was a mighty stressful time - a time when many couples would let the stress get the best of them and begin attacking one another when they'd been together too much. We had a ball! It was so sad when he went back to work.
When things get bad, we cling to one another for dear life. When stress and circumstances are overwhelming, we are like the other one's life preserver. And I think this is one of the key things that makes our marriage work well. We do not snipe and go after one another when things get bad - and we've been through bad several times in our marriage. When all else seems to be crumbling, I have him, he has me and we stick together like glue. There is no other option.
Humor is the backbone of our family. Everything is funny to us. Everything. If you can't take a joke, then you won't be happy here. We. Love. To. Laugh. Interesting fact: Sean was voted our senior year "Most Likely to Become a Professional Comedian." There you go.
Another interesting fact: Sean and I were also voted "Most Odd Couple" our senior year. Hmmm - do you know how many divorces we've either seen or heard about? Yet here we are - odd pairing that we are.
We rarely fight. And when we do - we have this amazing ability to stop, right in the middle, and one of us will say, "This is so stupid," and hug and move on. I can't tell you how many times that has happened. Fighting is such a time vampire - and is so eroding. Plus it's simply no fun.
We do not argue in front of our children, we do not yell at one another, we have NEVER called one another names - even in our most frustrating moments. Treating one another like that is not an option.
We are best friends. He would never complain that I'm not doing enough or doing something wrong. If the laundry is piled up, he begins doing it. If the house is a mess, he doesn't ever say anything about it (though I think that's more because he doesn't care). When I'm upset, he does what it takes to stop it. When I'm sick, he takes care of me. When I've accomplished something, he rejoices. He thanks me every day for how hard I work, he thanks me every night at dinner for making it - even if it's a frozen pizza. He tells me I'm beautiful when I could scare away crows from the backyard.
Simply - we just want to live. God has guided this marriage from the beginning, though we didn't realize it then.
There's so much more about what we believe, but those are the basics. We just want to live, raise our kids to the best of our ability, have fun and be happy.
There was a time when life and circumstances were getting the best of us and we would, out of sheer exhaustion and frustration, say to one another, "I just want to live." Then we just began doing just that - living through the hard stuff, living in spite of the frustration, just living and enjoying us.
We still act like teenagers. We giggle, we make out, we act silly, we have fun. Marriage is hard work - so make it FUN!
Every day is dominated by one of them; and heaven help us on the days that they both are having bad days. It leaves little time, energy, and opportunity for everyday things.
My house is always a mess.
My laundry is always piled up.
Meal execution is now often a last-minute race.
Planned events are often shot down at the very last minute, hence the unreliability factor.
I love, love, love getting out of the house and being me. Not the special needs mom, the wife, the housekeeper, the writer, the groundskeeper, etc. Just me. Either by myself, or with a friend, or with a bunch of friends - I love that time! It reminds me that I am much more than a crazy, wild-eyed, fatigued, frustrated ball of . . . this.
However, I have to take those opportunities as they come up. Often when I go to walk out the door to do something and plan on leaving one or both of the little boys with their older brother, someone erupts, something happens that makes it impossible to leave them. This is the nature of emotional problems; they are completely unpredictable. I then either have to stay home, or take the out-of-sorts one with me.
So when the opportunity - a moment when everything's going okay - surfaces, I often bolt! Unfortunately, I also often have to stay when I meant to leave when things are not okay.
The upside is that I have a super awesome husband who I don't have to "check with" to do these things. We often talk about this, and the bottom line is this: we built our relationship on this idea of "Love & Respect." Simply - be nice, be respectful, love him/her. If I need to get out, I do. If he wants to go do something, he does. We don't need permission; I do not rule over him, he does not rule over me. Out of respect, we will ask if the other has anything they need to do. But when I want to go, I do not need to worry about him being mad or upset or grumbly; and vice versa. What is the point in that?
Too many people make their marriages so complicated. Honestly, we have too much stress in other parts of our lives to be creating more for one another by being on opposite sides. There are certain things we have to work around that cannot be helped - our boys' issues, and his job. These are things we cannot control and that's that. Other than those things - why put up road blocks for one another that aren't necessary?
I love him and respect that if he wants to go to Meijer at 9pm to buy Diet Coke, then I will put the boys to bed and when he gets home, we'll have alone time! If I want to go to Starbucks and conveniently not be home until after he gets the boys asleep, he has hugs for me when I walk back in the door - not resentment!
So this is all a long way of getting out that I hope people understand, like my husband does, that I get out when I can, but that often doesn't mesh with when other people can; and this doesn't mean that I am intentionally being unreliable. It means that I'm doing the best that I can under the circumstances that I've been handed this side of heaven.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
In other news . . . nothing. :-) We're just living, breathing, existing, enjoying summer. Not exciting, but it's all I've got right now.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Joel, my 11-year-old with a mood disorder, has an appointment with a new doctor this afternoon. This is an appointment we have waited two months for. I hate putting so much pressure on her within my own mind - pinning so much hope on one person; but we need help.
I am praying hard for wisdom and guidance. I am not one to take what a doctor says as gospel and do not just follow. I have to feel like what is being presented as a course of action for one of my children is actually the right road. I have quite a bit of experience in being told what to do with my boys with neurological deficits. I have learned (and am still learning) to follow my own instinct and what I feel God is leading us to do. It was not always this way, and I have suffered the guilt of feeling like I did the wrong thing in thinking I didn't know as much about my own child as a trained professional. It is an ongoing process.
So this morning I am having to deal with something I hadn't anticipated. Imagine that! Joel is bucking going to this new doctor and insisting that I tell him exactly why. Sounds easy, right? Well, it is not easy trying to find the right words to tell your child why he needs help, why we can't live like this, how his behavior is affecting the entire family. Especially when he's looking at you telling you he is fine.
It gets ugly. It hurts - for both of us. He's begging me not to go and trying to convince me how he's doing better. And it hurts my heart. Then the very behavior that is at issue kicks in. It's all a vicious cycle and is exhausting.
So I'm struggling. I'm struggling with the thoughts of therapy versus medication. He no longer likes the therapy, and the types of medication suggested for his issues scare the hell out of me. This is just the tip of the iceberg. And this is just one of my boys with issues.
Never feeling like you know what you're doing (+) trial and error (+) dealing with daily - no, hourly - behavior and the ensuing consequences (+) always trying to find help (+) financial pressures from the costs of said help (x) three boys (=) a lot of stress, eroding self confidence, and constant worry for your family.So perhaps this is why it seems as though when other issues from other parts of my life rear their ugly heads, I sometimes walk away. Just walk away. It's a coping mechanism. Right or wrong, I cannot deal with another single stressor. I have enough. Right. Here.
You know how sometimes you just need support? Yeah.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
This morning snuggling in bed with my best friend and wishing him a happy Father's Day, the words "I feel a blog!" came rushing out of my mouth along with a giggle. To which Sean replied with something off-color that I cannot repeat here ...
Anyway . . . he was repeating a quote he once heard and has claimed for himself to dispense whenever he feels compelled:
Marriage - made in heaven, maintained on earth.He loves this; and I love him even more because he loves this.
I, too, have a favorite saying that I have adopted. I recently bought him a card that perfectly describes the feeling I get when I look at my husband each day:
You are my greatest earthly blessing.I truly believe this. God has blessed me with an awesome husband, terrific best friend, and wonderful father for my boys. And I have been blessed. I didn't deserve him, go looking for him, do anything to "acquire" him, or have in mind what I wanted in a husband when we got together.
God did all the work, and we've just been along for the amazing ride.
Happy Father's Day, Sean! I love you more!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
When God knocks, you need to listen.
This morning I'm having a particularly hard time with my middle son, Joel, who has a mood disorder. He can be quite difficult at times and completely unreasonable. This morning he seems to have rolled out of bed with all of his nerves on the outside of his body. Seemingly benign situations send him into the stratosphere. It's so much fun.
However, he has a deeply nurturing heart, which I believe is his saving grace. He also has a great talent for dealing with children younger than him. These two aspects of his personality make him an awesome older brother to our youngest, Seth, who has autism. He can often get through to his brother and bring him around when no one else can.
When it gets overwhelming dealing with the two of them and their issues, it is easy to let it get the best of me and collapse into the defeating thought process of why must we have all of this? Why two kids with diagnosed neurological deficits?
I believe I may have a small part of the answer to that after this morning.
The tables were turned. As Joel was having his very hard morning and my talking to him was sending him further into fits, Seth was able to quietly approach him and talk him down -- in the same way that Joel often does for him. And the lightbulb went off in my head. They understand one another like no one else does; and now Seth is taking what Joel has taught him by example and turning it around and using it on him.
Oh, if only we could see and know God's plans for us while we're in the midst of it all! Life would be so much easier. But God doesn't guarantee easy, he guarantees that he'll be with us through it all.
I just need to trust in his plans - even when it feels like it's all out of control, as it so often does. Thank you, God, for making me see at least one aspect of why both of these boys were given to me with issues. It's not to make it hard for me, but to make it easier for each other.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Summer also means:
My hair is even worse than normal - mostly up every day begging to be styled . . . or washed.
Laundry piles up even more than normal - summer's too fun to spend on mundane tasks!
We nearly go broke trying to keep food in the house (three boys and their friends eat a LOT).
It also brings back the issue of the A/C. I'm a windows open, fresh air kinda person -- which directly clashes with summer heat. Around 2pm every afternoon, I'm struggling with sweat and the more sane part of my brain saying, "Turn on the $&#^$&# AIR CONDITIONING, nimrod."
I could say it is rooted in trying to be more environmentally conscious or working on saving energy and money, but that would be a lie. It's just about fresh air and having my house open.
Hey - maybe sweating profusely will take some pounds off. Always looking for the bright side.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Life is kind of a blur right now. My oldest son graduates from high school tomorrow night. I cannot even begin to go into the emotions that is creating right now. Perhaps in a few days. But one thing I have to say is I AM NOT THAT OLD.
Our best friends next door are the same age and their oldest is eight. Other friends my age have oldest children who are four . . . two . . . one is getting ready to have another baby. For crying out loud, why does it seem that we are so much older than people the exact same age?
Well, I can tell you this. I've got a lot of experience under my belt that others my age do not. Some good, some bad - but it's all there creating emotions and guiding my reactions, making me do and think and feel things that people on the outside cannot even begin to understand. You can't until you've been through it.
For instance, I so appreciate the young staff we have at our church working with our junior and senior high. The boys love them and so do I. They bring a charisma to the table that cannot be matched, and their enthusiasm for the Lord speaks to our boys like nothing else could. At the same time, they cannot possibly fathom the weariness we parents are feeling at times; the frustrations, the fear, the panic that they are approaching adulthood faster than we can keep up with and being exposed to things that we cannot undo. That is a point-of-view that can only be understood in the thick of parenting a teen or pre-teen. You can certainly imagine it, but you can't know it.
Add to these things raising three boys with three differently diagnosed neurological issues, and then you really narrow the field of those who can comprehend what goes into why you act and react the way you do to seemingly small things. Unless you have shadowed me and all of my experiences over the last 18 years, there really is no way you can fathom what it's been like. And it really would take day in and day out experience to get it.
What I do appreciate and am incredibly grateful for are those who do not tell me they understand or that I am wrong for feeling what I do, but do remind me of the most important things that should not be falling off of my radar at all: that I have three awesome, wonderful boys who were given to me for a reason. That I was chosen to raise them and God knew what he was doing when he did that - even when I feel like I have no idea what I am doing after all these parenting years!
No - in my own case, experience does not equal expertise. Not by a long shot. It does mean I know more and have been through more - and explains the look on my face most of the time.
So one almost down and two to go. And what I mean by that is that I've gotten one to adulthood with all of his limbs still attached and no money spent on bail.
And the most important thing? He knows Jesus and his heart is the Lord's. How could I possibly ask for more?
Saturday, May 9, 2009
And we've packed a lot of history into those years, for sure!
We grow closer with each passing year, and have more fun now than ever before. We've always said it's a miracle that we grew in the same direction, being so young when we got together. We truly believe that God led us to one another and has been leading us ever since.
Married for 17 years now, he makes me laugh like no other person and still makes me swoon like a teenager on a daily basis. I can't wait to see him walk through the door every night.
Through it all, we barely even argue. Honestly, it's just not worth the time. It's way more fun being happy! I'm so blessed to be married to my best friend.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, God.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Today was a miraculously bad day. I'm thinking one of the top 10 worst days I've had. This year.
Let's not go into micro-details, for that would help no one. But suffice it to say, I was at one point sitting in tears asking if God could just please give me a month, a week, a day without special needs in my life.
My head pounding, my 18-year-old's rock band practicing in the basement (and our walls and floors are apparently made of something similar to tissue paper), my 6-year-old autistic son screaming and kicking his bedroom door instead of picking up the clothes on his floor - and my 11-year-old decides it would be a super neat idea to randomly spray sunscreen all over the glass doors leading to the screen porch. And then deny doing it. Over and over. While my head spins around on my shoulders preparing to explode.
Having all boys is like no other thing on earth. Having all boys each with his own diagnosed neurological issues is like no other thing in this universe. I know I'm not the only one going through it, but I'm the only one I know going through it.
I know. I know. I was chosen for this role. Long before I was born, God had his plan for me all laid out. Mrs. Zipps tells me that even though it doesn't feel like it, I'm doing a good job. (I made her stay on the phone with me today for an agonizingly long time while I came unglued at the seams dealing with Seth).
I'm not feelin' it right now. Perhaps after a (good?) night's sleep, life will feel different. At least I'll be one day closer to heaven.
"Our struggles are times to grow."
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
One of my favorites was Pete Briscoe choking up on how Jesus is "passionately crazy" about him whether he's doing well or not . . . whether he just sinned miserably or not; and coming to grips with the depth of Christ's love for him.
I also enjoyed Brian Welch from Korn, and John Meador accepting his disability as a conduit for God's glory was amazing.
I encourage you to take the time to sit back and watch some of these. Your faith will skip a beat as you listen to their stories.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
This may be the grossest thing I've ever seen. Meat cake - meat loaf "iced" with mashed potatoes and ketchup. Scoop of ice cream with that?
The site This Is Why You're Fat is full of the grossest, most vile concoctions imaginable - including my personal favorites, chocolate-covered bacon and the sloppy joe on a Krispy Kreme. Of course I couldn't stop looking. Thank you, StumbleUpon, for this gem.
Check it out for your daily GAG.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I just discovered a way for my earthly coffee habit to make an eternal difference. Check out Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee.
Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee™ works directly with coffee growers in Rwanda to ensure each worker is treated fairly and paid a Living Wage. As they enjoy the fruit of their labor, growers experience the sweetness of God’s grace. Perhaps this is the Revelation many Christians need to hear; that their daily habits have a remarkable impact on people all over the world, that through simply purchasing coffee where every worker is taken care of, an entire nation is experiencing redemption.
Monday, April 20, 2009
The sun is trying so hard to come out to motivate me, and my dog keeps licking my toes as if to say, "Come on - I know you can do it!"
I get caught up - in life, in circumstances, in struggles, in the little things that seem big at the time. Sometimes they really are big and warrant getting stuck. Other times not so much.
I'm easily overwhelmed, and anyone who knows me well at all is acutely aware of this. However, they say they see a side of me that I am blind to - a stronger side, a side that is not as easily knocked down as I think. I must be too close to these situations, because all I feel much of the time is two steps behind and wondering what to do next. And I'm tired of being that person.
Most of this is tied to being a special needs parent. It drains you of much of your energy, both physical and emotional, and you are left with little to deal with the normal, everyday things that still must be done. Things like meal planning, dusting, laundry, and picking up. This may sound trivial, but it becomes a huge problem.
Tack on top of that the guilt that is felt when you feel you are stumbling spiritually, and things within this mama can spiral downhill quickly.
Music motivates and moves me greatly, and you all know how much I love Third Day. This particular song often gets me back on track, with the second verse (lyrics below) hitting very close to home.
I'm feeling better already. Enjoy!
Having faith in the long run is easier said than done
It's hard to live out in the light of day
You're bruised and you're battered, your dreams have been shattered
Your best laid plans scattered over the place
Despite all your tendencies, God sees it differently
Your struggle's a time to grow
And you, you're a miracle, anything but typical
It's time for the whole wide world to know
Keep on, keep on shinin'
Wherever you may be
Keep on, keep on shinin'
For all the world to see ...
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Seth has accomplished more in his little life than is even imaginable. He works his little mind so hard each and every day just to function in ways that most people take for granted. Many things do not come easily for him. He is faced with people every day who misunderstand much of his behavior.
Up to this point, he has been blessedly oblivious to his differences. However, he's beginning to feel the sting of comparison in his own mind. He's been compensating lately by trying to do things that he doesn't necessarily want to do, but they are things that make him more like the other kids. Sometimes he is satisfied with the result, other times frustration sets in and he becomes self-deprecating. I have heard several times lately, "I look like a fool," "I hate myself," and "I'm the weakest," after playing with his friends outside when they begin riding their bikes (without training wheels) or scooters. Seth's balance isn't developed enough, so when he tries these things they end in frustration for him. His friends are not treating him that way, he is treating himself that way.
Hearing him say these things breaks my heart. He really has no idea how far he has come. He just knows that he still lags behind in some areas and this makes him feel different.
Seth does not eat cake. Or cookies. Or cupcakes. Or anything "treat-like" whatsoever. He'll eat a couple different kinds of candy and that is it. But he so wants to be like the other kids that he asked me to make him a "vanilla" cake with no icing so he can try it. It will be a huge leap if he actually tastes it, but he just wants something to blow candles out on.
We are all so proud of how far he has come. He is officially ushering Sean and me out of the "little child" era of our lives. Seth, however, remains my "snuggle bug" and my "cuddle buddy" and still values our hugs and kisses. For that, I am truly grateful.
Happy Birthday, Seth. I can't wait to see what leaps and bounds you make this year! I know God has more great things in store for you.