9.28.2009

Sharman's coming over

So......this weekend we went as a family to many more furniture stores than I would care to count. We would tag team it and send in one parent at a time while the other was tortured in the car with screaming children. We borrowed catalogs- read them by stearing wheel ambiance, changed diapers in our laps, and filled up the car with fast food stench. It was a long, arduous day that did not end with any fruits of our labor. Except Sharman.

We giggled on the insides when we pulled our car up to the Ethan Allen parking lot. I was keenly aware of my wrinkled pants, 2001 edition of the J. Crew flip flops I donned, and the messy pony tail that occasionally brushed against the ring of dried spit-up crusted upon shoulder as I walked up to the beautiful store filled with elegantly placed furniture. It was like walking onto the set of a movie where the family they portray is insanely wealthy. It was in no way real, but still clean and pretty enough to make me wish I was wearing a Banana Republic dress with shiny black pumps. It was a place that made you wish you tried a little harder that day to look a touch more presentable before you stuffed the family into the car to leave the house.
No matter, we were on a mission and I took a deep breath and went in. I snuck easily past the lingering sales women at the front desk that reminded me greatly of the information circle you stumble into as you enter The Met.
We are looking for a specific piece of furniture that we have carved out a big budget for and if they have it, we will get it. They have more options matching our taste than prior locations, however, none so far are the perfect fit. I swapped out the car scene with Mike and had arranged for a sales woman to point out the few options I felt were worth looking at. He came back to the car with an appointment for Sharmam to come to our home on Monday. And a catalog to keep.
Now, if you have been to my home this will be just as funny to you as it is to me. It's hard to explain why with words. Let me put it this way- she is going to think one of two things when she gets here.

1) SCORE! This family has great need for furniture in every room. This is the jackpot of clients. I am so glad I had this appointment today!

or
2) Oh crap. This family could care less about their living space, they are really frugal. I am not going to make any money on this deal. What a waste of an appointment.

9.27.2009

just reading

And this scripture below popped out at me.
St. Matthew 25:13


Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.


Wouldn't that be so crazy if it was, say.......oh............ tomorrow?

9.25.2009

turn turn turn turn

walnut creek, ca

Somewhere in my path of turning into a mother I read about Waldorf education. From it I read about the notion of presenting the seasons within your home. I love the idea of seasons being a big part of the home environment and learning process for children. I plan to find a space in my home to dedicate to seasonal decoration. The pictures on the wall in that area of the home will change with each season along with some touchable decorations/ toys that will get stored in the same area and be changed out with the seasons.
In Arizona there are only two seasons: Hot As Hell and then Not As Hot. So images of seasons might help them get it. That it snows somewhere every winter. And there is a fun beach somewhere in the summer. I want them to know seasons of each year things are, in fact, changing. Just usually somewhere else.



Bronxville, NY
Rockefeller State Park Preserve (NY)
Bronxville, NY
Bronxville, NY
St. Thomas
The Hamptons
As I work with this space and images through the seasons I plan to pay more attention to the seasons in my kids' world with my camera so I can do fresh images each year, too, that speak to their joys of that time of year instead of my dusty old photo collection.

deeper shade of soul

Perhaps its ridiculous to admit this, but sometimes in my head I imagine how cool it would be to have a secret ability to climb up into the sky without anyone knowing and sit right next to God. Like side by side. Among the stars out in the universe- like without spacesuits or anything! I figure if we're in like that He would work some business where I would have magic capabilities to quickly access this seat next to Him without the interruption of a rocket or gravity laws and the like.

So He's all sitting there in a lawn chair for some reason and it's old and metal and I sit in the one next to Him. And I get to ask all these questions. We converse freely up above the earth with lemonade on the long grass and sprinklers with flip flops on. Because you can imagine outer space to be however you want if you are sitting next to God.
I imagine these scenarios frequently after I read my children The Book of Mormon (picture book version) in the morning. I send Zane off to school and Evan settles into cartoons and I clean up breakfast while Sylvia swings and starts her morning nap. I think of the things we read and lessons we are learning and connect them to present day life. And that's when I want to zoom up to my lawn chair and point down to the earth with a microscope and ask Him which of those things is happening for which reason. Which lessons are being taught right there with that? I imagine how He might see and discuss the way we interact on this earth and find heartbreak for all we cannot realize while we scurry around thinking money and things and stuff and selfish behaviors are important. While this earth He gave us is having some trouble. And lots of people on it are having trouble. And somehow we look at a tivo version of earth and we talk about natural disasters from history. I point to them one at a time and we talk about them and the scriptures at the same time. Only He probably doesn't need to look into the microscope when we talk. I bet he just has microscope-like eyes.
And we see and talk about some excellent things, too. Trees growing, birds singing, the healthy parts of our earth and the good people things going on all around. But it would be tricky to know so much, it would be tricky and make my head explode to see all we are not getting as humans on this earth. So much to the real purpose of being here that is so easily and quickly forgotton. And all the unlearned lessons unfolding around us.

In Helaman The Lord caused a famine. Because the people needed to be humbled. Which things are happening in our world/ society today to teach us to be humble?

Lots.

Helaman 12:1-3 When the Nephites were righteous, the Lord blessed them. When they were proud and forgot the Lord, he gave them problems to help them remember him.

I think even when we are most righteous we are not immune to problems. In times of spiritual strength, we just know how to handle them better. This was a powerful scripture to read and discuss as a family last week.
image from retro tavern

9.18.2009

spread hope like fire


I was at the gym this week thinking about Zane. Gathering all I have been learning in my head. Sorting it all out. While my feet were releasing the stress of it out through the soles of my feet. Picking up the pace, turning up the number from 3 to 4.5 on the treadmill, letting it carry me into a rapid turning over from one foot to the other. Letting the confusion drip out with sweat off my forehead, down the sides of my face.

This video came on. Angels and Airwaves' Secret Crowds. It was making me wonder what this is like for him. Wonder how frustrating it must be in his world to have triggers or things that link directly to those challenges, but he doesn't really understand or have the ability to express it. The sensory integration part of it. Something as simple as the kind of socks he has on. Or the amount of noise in the room. Or fluorescent lighting. A fabric. Or a new face. A million variables to be tested out and considered that will help him in his world to get a little more in control of himself.

So this video made me reflect back on all the images I have of him. I caught them with my camera and they were all flooding through my mind with the beat of this song. Of all those obsessive door-opening and exaggerated door handle / hinge-watching moments I didn't see so well. All the excessive chewing on books and toys and shirts I overlooked. All the repeated phrases, the rhythmic speaking I didn't hear. The unconnected reactions to everyday life that didn't match the norm. His angry fist with a friendly hello with a stranger in a store. Outrageous crying with the arrival to a birthday party. His little moments of confused behavior I couldn't place or translate for so long now. And how on the inside it made sense to him and I just stood there unable to get it. Still unable to get it fully. But we will.

We are starting to collect our people, the ones that will help us blend him into society as he grows. The people who will march with our family through his life. From family, neighborhood, school, church, therapists, doctors, strangers with big hearts, and others all gathering to be Zane's secret crowd. Backing him and loving him while he learns and changes and develops into the man he will one day become. He will have his own world, we'll just be more a part of it and him a part of ours. Now that we know him better. And as we work towards translating the kinks; help him smooth them out. Celebrating every achievement along the way. And catapulting, also, those gifts he already has of excelling skill into the sky all the while.

I think this song just became my anthem for raising this boy of mine.

9.17.2009

This is Taylor.


Taylor is Mary's very new baby.

I adored taking her pictures, it was a nice creative

outlet for me this month. These are some of my faves.
Such pretty girls.

9.16.2009

The Tears.

Well, you already know I am dramatic, so you had to sense a high-feeling overflowing emotional post didn't you? It's okay, you can roll your eyes at me in private and I would totally understand. I know when I am in the middle of figuring out my feelings they seem like tidal waves at times, which is why it is enjoyable for me to write about them. They temper and mellow, but by then I lose the desire to write. So here is the ugly 'before' captured so the 'after' shot will remember my overly dramatic self and give her a playful slug in the arm.

***

So the tears. Why the tears. Why the greyness inside with a fiery cocktail of emotions about Zane and his shiny soon-to-be little tag?

It's a big horse pill to swallow. It's hard to choke down the fact that things are different for him. And are going to be for a while, possibly forever. I thought I was doing it all wrong somehow. So I kept looking at everything I could have been doing better as his mother. For 3 years. Finding holes in my effort, painfully aware of my every single imperfection. Surely it's my fault he is off with his behavior, social norms, etc. Surely I didn't schedule enough play dates. Or perhaps I spent too much time reading blogs? Or maybe that first year with little to no television actually did him wrong? I thought I just needed to read one more behavior modification book and try one more reward chart and work harder on my patience. I thought it was all me doing it wrong. Or so I hoped. I have been asked a few times if a diagnosis or 'answer' made me feel better. Some ways it did. But mostly it broke my sail. It sunk my boat. It was the reality that it isn't me failing as a mother, afterall. It is, in fact, something else. Something I could not do on my own. I was hoping I needed to change. Because no matter what I needed to do, I would do it and it would all be fine. And it is fine, all is well. It's just 5253 more steps and people getting there.

And that realization has come with a bucket of emotions that are hard to sort through. I hate that he doesn't get the typical package of life plan. And while that could change for anyone at any time in their life a million ways (we are all temporarily able-bodied, afterall), I hate that right now he doesn't get to easily blend into typical kindergarten life. I hate that he has a short bus picking him up. That he isn't able at this time to jam into a regular bus full of kids that spans the length of the street. I hate that he almost never waves to me from the window. That I never hear how the day went no matter how many clever ways I try to ask. I hate that I never know how he is going to react and what is causing it. I hate that there is a wall of understanding in between us I have to wait to figure out. On waiting lists for specialized people to help us work through it. I hate that I didn't go to school to be a psychologist like I initially wanted to. I hate that I didn't know typical so I allowed myself to be talked out of this diagnosis on two seperate occasions. I hate that I didn't ask the right questions. I hate that if I had followed my gut he would have had much therapy by now and perhaps his introduction into elementary school would be different. I hate that this exists. I hate that I feel this way.

But it's fine. It's a process of understanding it all and him and I just feel like we are sitting in this dumb canoe in the middle of a lake and it's spinning in circles. And we're not laughing, it's not funny or fun. It's making me sick, actually. I want my paddles and I want to know where to dock it so I can get my son off of this canoe and go exploring life together the way he needs me to. I hate that I constantly question every single way I work/ interact/ apply consequences with him now because of what I sort of know and what I don't yet know. I hate that he is regressing all over the place. I hate that I don't fully understand why or know how to stop it! I hate the horror stories I hear about uncooperative schools or teachers, confusing IEP language, and parents that don't know how to fight. And I hate that there are loads of kids that get lost in the system without a proper advocate.

***

But I love my guts. I love that I kept pushing, kept trying, kept at it. I love my son. His teacher. His father. His brother and sister. I love the humanity I have seen unfold before my eyes in the past few weeks of other mothers reaching out and offering me all their stories and comfort and understanding as I figure this out. Mothers whom have been involved in this world and desire to save me from the mistakes they learned and hoops they have already jumped. I love their battle wounds they are showing me and success stories. I love their desire to join hands with a total stranger for the sake of a child they may never even meet! I love the available resources on-line to help me fill in the gaps. That I know each of our family members either think of us, help us, pray for us, or even just smile and love my kids. I love the hairdresser that went above and beyond to help comfort him during his haircut. I love Sister T. who willingly accepted a calling to help him each Sunday during Primary. I love our neightbors that know him and develop relationships with him even if it takes a long time and much effort. I love how much Cache adores Zane. I love every single friend he has because they are helping him feel loved and centered and they each mean the world to him. I love the special friendship his cousin Cannon has developed with him. I love every person in his path that takes the time to provide extra patience and not judgement. This past month each of these people have made me feel so supported and happy and they don't even know it. They are helping me build a community of love around Zane that will help him naturally strengthen his social and behavioral delays in addition to his self esteem. I love the people that I don't have to explain things to.

You know, you have a baby and imagine this life of expectations and experiences pulled together like a braided rope. When you learn your son is Autistic, you take the knot out of the bottom of that braid and you have to wait and see. What kind of braid will it be, what are the new adjusted (if necessary) kinds of knots we tie in- the capabilities and kinds of potential our child with Autism is capable of. So you can know the proper amount of expectation to help them strive for and adjusted goals each step of the way in their life. Our job as his parents is to help him reach his potential, which is no different in purpose than before a diagnosis. It just might take different paths and tools to help him get there and perhaps a different kind of series of twists than we thought.

It's kind of like seeing a location you want to get to, but learning your route to get there isn't just following street signs. The journey involves more details and steps and people along the way. And you wish for the sake of the child it didn't need to, but it does and so you do it. And I know it will come with all the cheerful blah blah blahs of the glass half full stuffs, but I also know my child is going to stop and see along the way on his own at some point that he just wants to take the same path he sees everyone else taking. He just wants to do the same things without all the steps. And he is going to have his own feelings about it and it's going to hurt. And we will rally behind him as he navigates through his steps and journey. And I'll hold is hand if he needs to cry about it. And I'll hand him a pillow is he wants to throw punches about it. And in the mean time I will keep my nose in the books and my ear on the phone and my head in the conferences to gather all I can and mix the cement for those steps in his life we need to help him place between point a and b.

put the needle on the record




My favorite part of running cross country was going on complicated runs. A mountain. A trail with winding paths. Hills. Any workout with terrain that was a challenge. It was exciting to not see the finish line until the very end. It was enjoyable to not know where to place each foot on the downhill until it was about to strike the ground. It was like unlocking a puzzle without the clues, finding point A to point B without a map and dodging cacti, loose dirt, and boulders along the way.

*****
When I first joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I remember feeling like a big fat outsider. It took a lot of courage and bravery to show up for meetings in rooms full of people speaking often in a lingo I didn't understand. The culture of it all, it's unique and foreign. And sometimes a bit overwhelming, but the core gospel of it is important. So I would keep going and keep learning. And it seemed the more I learned the less I actually understood, I was just scratching the surface. At times it felt like I was trying to blend into a parade or a fast moving marching band, but my footing was off and I would stumble and trip. Fall to the ground. And I would want to give up and quit trying to get it. The culture, the doctrine, the pace just didn't make sense at first. It was frustrating, but I knew it was important (the gospel part of it anyway, not so much the culture). But I would get up and keep going and eventually more and more started to make sense. I learned to brace myself as I slid to the ground and each time I got up a little quicker and got back on the pace until I blended into this new-to-me world and marched in order with better comprehension and a stronger testimony all the while.
***

This week I completed paperwork that will lead us to diagnosing my oldest son with Autism. The weight of this has just about killed me on the inside the past few weeks. Completely making my insides a mushy grey. My knees have been so raw and bloody from tripping and falling as I try stepping into this whole new-to-me world that is getting more complex with every inch I try to learn. They say Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn. I suggest that person never had an Autistic child, for this language has been feeling impossible. Perhaps because I am trying to learn all of it faster than humanly possible. And much like the gospel, it is pretty simple yet very winding and important and deep.

So I keep dusting off my swollen bruises from my falls and keep going. And I feel gratitude for that something inside of me that pushes me to keep going. And doing. And learning. And loving. Even when I just want to take a break and sit the race out for a while, pound my fists on the ground and cry. There isn't time for that. And although I admit the tears sneak out, I am finding my natural ability for endurance surface throughout my life in ways that impress me.


This terrain is complicated. The finish line is unclear to me. The path's going to be a little more vague than I initially thought. While we raise our children, I realize it's not going to be typical laps around the track. We'll be taking our journeys over mountains and learning the footing as we go. Wearing those sneakers so we can be ready for the place the foot should strike the land and holding our scriptures under our arms as we find our way into the Autism Parade Marching Band.


9.09.2009

modwalls

I daydream too often about how I want to throw color into my kitchen. About a year ago I fell in love with this awesome tile I saw on the wall of the mall bathroom. I even took a photo of it (buried in my hundreds of digital photos never to be seen again). I think I located the style and color- the subway tile from Modwalls in light blue (like this one below). Only I think I would like mine lined up in perfect rows. Why oh why has it taken me 12 months to decide on a color and commit to it? It's going to be 10 years before I finish decorating one measly room.




Seriously folks- pink and grey look so good together.


9.03.2009

The Reverend

I'm going to tell you about my friend from college, Tom. He was a drinker. By drinker I mean he had a fake driver's license at age 16 (had an older brother he looked exactly like) and by age 19 was in the ER for liver problems he drank so much. I met him in a photography class, he had on a shirt with iron-on letters OI! So I asked him if he liked ska. He made a wise crack about how those freaks just go to shows and look like fools running in place to silly music. I took that as a 'no' while I muffled my giggle. Only then to discuss at length in the dark room while we developed our photos how incredible The VooDoo Glowskulls are and my adoration for The Pietasters and on and on trying to convince him of the joys there are to ska music. Even if the people did, indeed, look like fools dancing to it.

You could say we were not fast friends, but sometimes those are the ones that make life a little more interesting. I like an edge at times. The rough shell to break through. Tom was a less than social rockabilly boy in my photography class that I talked into being my friend. And he even convinced me into listening to some Reverend Horton Heat on occasion.

My favorite story of Tom was when he told me about a bar he went to with his friends. How he struggled talking to girls. He told me of the cute girl that approached him at the bar and asked if he had a girlfriend. He told her "Yes. Well, I did have a girlfriend. Until I killed her". The girl walked away. He was so confused and totally bummed, I guess she was hot and everything. I had no advice for Tom. I actually thought what he said was rather clever.

Today I read on CNN it's legal to kill wolves. This article prompted my rememberance of Tom.

One afternoon during a photography class we were talking about our week. I told him how I was trying to find a room to rent so I could move out. I listed the locations and odd details about each option. One seemed worse than the next. Of the few ads I planned to respond to, the one that said 'must like dogs (and wolves)' caught my eye. I actually thought it was a joke. Who has wolves for pets, anyway? Tom and I were equally curious and he insisted on going with me to check out this room for rent. And to make sure I wouldn't get eaten by these wolves. What a good friend.

Tom and I approached the door, making jokes about these "wolves" the ad referred to. Would Wolverine be answering the door? Perhaps there are stuffed wolves hanging above the mantle? Maybe they are in a business where they breed baby wolves? Little cute, fuzzy ones and I could help on the weekends tending to them? Perhaps there was a breed of dog that looked like a wolf? Whatever. I had dogs before. I wasn't scared. Bring it ON.

We rang the doorbell. Sure as Sherlock. We heard the wolves. REAL. FREAKING. WOLVES. On the other side of the door. Viciously howling. Biting at the broken blinds covering the window. I could SEE the gnarly teeth through the door, dripping with hungry foam. Now what do we do? The guy knows we are here, we can't be total wusses and leave. I think Tom and I were equally scared, but neither of us wanted to back down. I knew before the door opened I would not be taking the room for rent.

You won't believe me when I tell you this, but the guy actually peeked his head out and told us to wait a minute, he needed to get the taser for the wolves before he opened the door. And then we heard nothing. Chaos to silence and a slam of the back door.

The guy was probably in his mid to late 20s, pretty sloppy in appearance and health. The home was a disaster and very dark. We walked down a smelly hallway as he showed us each filthy room of the common living space areas. Tom immediately leaned over and whispered 'you are not living here'. I knew that before we went in, but I felt bad this guy lived in such odd cirsumstances and I didn't want to hurt his feelings. So we carried on with the tour. Thankfully, we happened to not get murdered or eaten by wolves in the process.

The best part was the available room for rent. We never actually saw the inside of the room. Because it had a deadbolt on it with a key hole on both sides of its deadbolt. He couldn't find the key to open the room that was for rent. The one he wanted to lock me inside of. With no way to escape. And no window. And if I tried the wolves would stop me. The room in the house with wolves that reminded me of Silence of the Lambs every single step we took. I kept expecting him to ask me to put lotion in a basket.

When we left it was like we broke free from an underground bunker. I couldn't wait to escape and drive far, far away. It's hilarious to me that it could be a possible fit for someone. Anyone at all. Wolves, I actually belong to the American Wolf Lovers Association! And I like to be locked inside of rooms in dark houses, this is the perfect place that meets my needs. Seriously, how many people besides me even went to look at that place?! I'm betting zero. I'm betting no one else thought the wolf part was funny. ha. haha. ha. hahahaaa. not funny.

Too bad I don't remember Tom's last name. I wish I could find him on FB. I wonder if he gave up alcohol like he wanted to and also if he remembers this experience. I'm glad he came with me. It's a good thing to still be alive.

Sometimes I think my mom would have died if she knew the dumb situations I put myself into. This was one of those times.
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