Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dog Lovers, Rejoice!

And be amazed:

Buddy, Heidi and I start at Arthur Murray on Tuesday.

You're welcome.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Am What I Am, and That's All That I Am.

This morning, I weighed myself and discovered I am down two pounds from a week ago. So I went downstairs and ate two PopTarts. What?

Isn't that so typical? Well, it is of me. My whole existence seems to be an exercise in contradiction, but not on purpose. It's just how it all seems to turn out most of the time. I feel like I live much of my life sideways.

I wanted to be a writer from the time I was around 11 years old, writing "books" with my best friend (pretty funny stuff). So I earned a degree in journalism, and ended up in . . . advertising account management? Then freelancing for publishing companies, then being a stay-at-home parent. It's just been in the last few years that my writing has somewhat been able to hop into the front seat. Well, it's at least on the passenger side. And sleeping for much of the trip. But it's right there, ready to take the driver's seat when the rest of this stuff starts to get tired of driving my life.

I'm also very, very cranky when I'm surrounded by clutter. And my house is t.r.a.s.h.e.d. I have three boys. I have no time. When I do clean it all up, it's trashed again in a couple of hours. Again, I have three boys. And two dogs. So I live in what seems like endless, utterly overwhelming clutter while I'm screaming on the inside about it. Okay, and sometimes on the outside, too.

Hair skeeves me out. And I have long (all the way down my back) hair that I never think to get cut.

I have next to no patience, so I birth three boys. Three boys all with some type of neurological issue going on - ADD, autism, Asperger's, a mood disorder.

I love the beach - and I'm a woman with fair skin and freckles.

I love love love to cook, and two of my kids ate PopTarts for dinner last night after football practices were over. The oldest is smart and made a salad for himself. He is Marine-bound, you know. PopTarts aren't the best choice, Mom ...

Did I mention that I work at a dog daycare and boarding facility? Now this may sound like the biggest contradiction of all. However, it's actually one of the more natural paths I've taken. From the time I could walk and talk and communicate, apparently, I have been a dog lover. My mom loves to tell stories of when I was growing up, how I always had something dog-related going on. I would bring strays home weekly. The small town where I lived once asked my mom if they could use me to bring in a dog they couldn't capture because they knew I could get it. Yes, I had a reputation.

I have a degree in journalism - so I work with dogs. And it makes me incredibly happy.  

I know that God has a purpose here in the path he's taking me down. Surely he does, because it's just too weird of a road to just be random. But random is what makes me happy. If I could do exactly what makes me happy when it's my time of the day, then I would be with the dogs, writing, and doing something creative with my hands (like the custom dog collars I just started making). And that's the truth.

I'm finally at the point after 39 years to say I'm okay with going down the path I think God is clearing for me - even if it seems random and not anything like where I thought I would be. I think it's interesting! I do not feel a bit bad about saying these are the things I do to people who ask about my life.

No, I'm not a senator. I'm not the president of an advertising agency. I'm not an author (yet). I'm not a journalist. I am me. I write when I can, get it published where and when I can. I dress in not-nice clothes to go to work because I'm going to get jumped on and slimed and licked and run into, and I'm going to scoop poop and clean up pee and puke - and love (mostly) every minute of it. I'm going to come home and deal with some sort of sensory issue causing a boy to come undone or scream at another one. I'm going to ask them at the last minute what they want to eat - or call home and have the oldest brother feed the younger two whatever he can find.

This is where we are right now as a family, and this is where I am right now as a person. And that's okay. I've lived a surprisingly lot of life in my short 39 years. Unexpected life issues will do that. It forces you to grow, to learn to live within a realm you weren't ready for, to branch out, to fail, to get back up, and to accept.

Yes accept. It forces you to accept the you that you are being handed at the moment. When you don't, this is where the misery creeps in. This is where the unhappiness, the backward glances, the questioning of your whole life can take you down; and it's much harder to get back up than to stay up in the first place. Believe me, I've had to make the climb and it gets harder each time. And then you're just mad when you realize how much time and effort you just wasted.

Accept where you are. Relish it even. Where you are right now is making you who you will be in 6 months, in a year, in 10 years. If you have a goal to be somewhere else, then use where you are as a great starting point and recognize its' very important role in helping you take that leap in the right direction. Where you are now may be a springboard for the next leg of your journey.

It all may appear to be a random pile of notes, but I assure you - there is a song in there. And if you stop to listen, you will hear it.

Pray for acceptance, for peace, for direction. You will probably find it where you least expect it.

photo by ilco

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dog Day Afternoon!

Carmel's Annual Dog Day Afternoon was much fun! If you are a dog lover, or as we say in our family, "have the dog gene," you would have been in dog heaven.

Lots of activities, fun vendors with cool stuff to say and items for sale and my favorite part - all the different dogs you get to love on!

All. The. Dogs. Danes and pits and goldens and aussies and cairns and labs and shepherds and bulldogs and mutts and and and ... A dog lover's PARADISE.

I was there representing Club Canine, where I work, as well as . . . myself! Well, Joel (my 12-year-old) and myself.

You see, I have started making custom dog collars and collar bandanas to raise funds for Joel to go on his first mission trip. So I had a display in my boss's booth for them today.

Joel came home from church camp in July absolutely on fire to go on our church's mission trip to Kenya. With that not being a good first mission for a pre-teen, our church's "tour director" of world missions (his official title is pastor of care giving) suggested he go to Mexico for his first mission. So the goal has been set.
We need to raise around $1,500 for the two of us to go since he's under age and must go with a parent.

We thought about different things we could do to raise the money, and a friend suggested that we make dog biscuits and sell them. We began to pursue that when this idea came to mind. And that is an incredibly short version of the whole story, but I'm typing this on my Blackberry, so the rest will have to wait until later.

I found out about this event a week ago. S. E. V. E. N. days. Not enough time to do much in the way of having more than a few collars and bandanas to offer, but wanted to get something in the hands of this very concentrated gathering of dog lovers. So I did what I could; and in the interest of time, merely registered a domain name and slapped up a few graphics and pages on the site to let people know that the store is *coming* - and to also explain the cause that makes up part of the name.

What name?

Life is Ruff ~ Collar Casuals for a Cause. We have decided optimistically that once we reach the goal of this mission trip, we will set another goal - someone else to raise funds for. So we will always have some goal we're trying to reach in peddling our wares.

I know. Those of you with web site experience absolutely cringe at me saying that I published a site like that. Please, please forgive me. I need to find someone who knows what they are doing to design it, and I also need someone to do some photography for me to put on it.

Anyone wanna volunteer? Please?

Anyway, I'm so excited at the prospect of raising money for something, for someone else, of creating, of my son going on his first mission trip. I hope it really was God putting this on my heart, and not some bad shrimp I ate giving me heartburn.

Please feel free to visit the pitiful site-to-be and register to be notified when it is up and running. And please pray that we reach our goal and can move on to another and then another. This is the kind of thing that makes my heart leap!

Sent via my very awesome BlackBerry

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Different Set of Standards

My 7-year-old is playing his first year of flag football this fall and his first game was this weekend. He tried playing soccer a few years ago, which didn't work out so well. But he tried, and that's all that we ask.

Most of you know Seth was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.5. He has made amazing strides since then, and for that we are so grateful to God and his hand in this.

When he played soccer, at five, he made it through about a third of the season before we could no longer get him to attend. It was too much, too confusing, too overwhelming. Even team pictures were too much. So when he began begging to play flag football in August once he heard about it at church, we were reluctant. Not reluctant to let him try. Reluctant to pay $80 for him to not be able to handle it after two practices!

Hey, that may sound harsh, but that's the reality.

So far with the practices, he has surprised me a lot. He has not complained once about going; he seems to be engaged while we are there, listening and talking to the coaches, doing what he's told. He tells me he really doesn't understand the plays, but he does what his coach tells him to.

For his first game, though, I wasn't sure how he would handle it. He doesn't handle people in a crowd watching very well. After his first grade spring musical last May, he told me that "everyone was watching me and it makes me feel confused." Everyone clapping made him feel weird, as well.

Another great surprise - he didn't seem to really care about the crowd. It wasn't very big, and was spread out enough among all the fields that I don't think it seemed much different than practice to him.

He ran around doing as much of a play that he could remember, engaged in the game for the most part, and interacted with at least one other player on his team that he is getting to know. I even saw them giving one another thumbs-up signs. That kind of social interaction melts the heart of this mama of a child with autism.

No, he really couldn't follow the game or process what was happening as a whole. No, I don't think he gets what the plays are doing and what the goal is. While other kids on this team of 2nd and 3rd graders were pumped to be playing the game like real football players and getting into the plays, etc., my son was running when the coach would yell, "Go get him, Seth! Go get him, Seth!" because that is how this very awesome man (Noblesville Middle School's very own Troy Leach) figured out very quickly to communicate with Seth from the sideline in a way that he could process, understand, and be a part of the action. He knew to go after the guy with the ball to get his flag.

And of this, I am extremely proud. You see, we have a different set of standards that does not include making touchdowns, being the fastest, handling the ball the most, or making great plays work. Our standards are not lower, just different.

Our goals? Interact with others. Make eye contact. Listen. Understand and learn the value of working together with a team. Engage. Try to process what the coach is telling you. Process and handle appropriately the sensory overload of lots of quick movement, people yelling, fast transitions, strangers all around you.

And this week we added to that sensory overload a dose of pouring down rain the last 10 minutes of the game, which I could tell was starting to send him sideways, but he handled even that well until we got to the car; at which time he came undone all the way home about being wet and cold.

You know what? That's okay, dude. You just spent the last 90 minutes completely taxing your processing, sensory management, and emotions. You pushed yourself to the limit without breaking. You can come unglued with the people who love you the most!

For all of this, I am so thankful to God for leading Seth to this point. Another milestone passed!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

You Might Want To Just Skip This.

This is how I feel. And I wish someone would pick me up and soothe me and snuggle me close until I drift off into peace.

Today I have a bad attitude. And this is my blog. I get to bleed all over it if I want to and no one has to read it. I did not come to your door complaining and boohooing. You have just clicked and come to mine. If you don't want to hear it, go.

I am tired of all kinds of things that have built up over time. Just like everyone else. God works on my heart most days and I know how I am called to act and what I am supposed to do. That doesn't mean I always follow it (not by a long shot), but it is there - always - and I try to listen and act.

Today I still know it is there, but am having an extremely hard time following it. How is it that I am supposed to change how I feel? I am not acting on this, just spewing here - in a space that I have created to write about what is on my mind and heart. Because I am me; and most of the time, people appreciate that realness. Probably not so much today.

I am tired of taking it for the team. 
I am tired of teaching and teaching and teaching to a deaf crowd.
I am tired of being taken advantage of.
I am tired of others' attitudes of entitlement.
I am tired of people having no boundaries, or ignoring them if they do have them.
I am tired of having more than "normal" parenting issues to deal with.
I am tired of driving an old van that has four cracks that span the windshield up, down, and all around.
I am tired of driving a van that's been hit several times by others who cannot or will not pay to fix their mistakes (one just drove away without even stopping).

I am tired of being blessed with a nice home only to have it trashed. And if you think I am exaggerating, please knock on my door, walk around, visit the basement. Then ask me, "How old are your kids again?" Old enough to know better; and certainly old enough to take responsibility for it. It is a never-ending vicious cycle that leaves me exhausted and angrier than a junkyard dog.

I am tired of Autism.
I am tired of Asperger's Syndrome.
I am tired of the whole, entire blankety-blank SPECTRUM and every rotten thing that comes with it.
I am tired of irresponsibility.
I am tired of Obama.
I am tired of being asked for money from schools that I already pay an inordinate amount to in the form of actual money, volunteer time, snacks, etc. Hey elementary school, middle school, football team, band - who are all asking for me to donate and ask others to donate in the first three weeks of the school year - I AM TAPPED OUT. And you haven't even sent me a bill for book rental fees yet.

I am tired of paying for meds.
I am tired of paying for therapy.
I am tired of life this side of heaven.

I. Am. Tired.

And yes, I know it could be worse. It could always be worse. But I am also tired of trying to make myself feel better by thinking, "Well, at least my child isn't deathly ill," or "At least this," or "At least that." That is no way to live. There is always going to be someone around the corner worse off than you. I get that.

Right now, like I said, I have a bad attitude. Don't worry. Tomorrow I'll be back at it. Chipper. Happy to be dumped on. Big thumbs up. Go team.Who needs what? Please let me do it.