Tuesday, November 1, 2016

When Life hands you Teenagers......

We are still alive. And kicking. (Just not blogging) Obviously.

So an update?

Once upon a Time, there was a lady who loved to blog and had plenty of time to do it while she was stuck home all day with toddlers, but then those toddlers grew up........and life got really CRAZY.......so she sat down about once every six months to give her tiny little blog some CPR to keep it going just a little bit longer.

And those no longer toddlers are up and running headfirst through 2nd, fifth, and sixth grades. The oldest is gaining independence and wants to do things like go to the skating rink and football games without parental supervision. AAAAAHHHHHHHHH! I know she can handle it, but man it's weird to just drop your kid off somewhere after being involved in every single second of their lives for the past almost 12 years......

(middle school skate night.)

We just survived Helloween 2016. And it was amazing!! You guys?! Owen didn't cry once. NOT ONE TIME!!!!!!!!! He trick or treated, kept up with the group, didn't tire easily, and had a blast!!!  Big Win in the Fischer household last night!! (He did then come home and urinate in the bathtub instead of the toilet because he was most likely on major sensory overload, but that's neither here nor there......)

(Helloween 2016)

October was full of fun. I enjoyed a trip to San Antonio with my mom, dad, and the sister, Todd enjoyed a trip with his dad to ride some roller coasters because apparently you're never too old for those and we also had 20 year reunions for high school. Yes, 20 years. Gah!!!! Unfortunately, Todd wasn't able to go to his. Todd also made a major transition at work and I'm still fighting my way through nursing school. So there's that........

(San Antonio)

(Kings Dominion)

Owen is still fighting epic battles with his intestines that lead to monthly colon cleanses and new meds, etc. But he is a trooper. And his brother is an amazing support for him. Seriously. Isaac stayed inside all day Saturday and played with Owen while he was laid up on the couch just so he wouldn't have to be alone. Not that they don't have their moments (believe me, they do) but overall, this bond is pretty amazing.

(Yet another colon cleanse)

And then there was the 18 year old.
And it's not my story to tell, but God has entrusted us with him for the time being.  And when life hands you a teenager and you live in a town home with a husband who is also known as the rigger?

You make said teenager as comfortable as you can in the only space you have available:

And you pray for that teenager.
And you argue with that teenager.
And you get frustrated with that teenager.
And you laugh a lot with that teenager.
And you wonder what on Earth is God's plan with this situation?!

And you learn that you don't get to know that plan. 
You just have to trust.
And take it one day at a time.
And most days that is much easier said than done......

And that is life in the Fischer Household these days.

The End.

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Next Generation

I wish the world could look like this.

I wish both my sons would be viewed and respected in the same way as they walk down the street and enter into adulthood.

I know they will not.

I pray for this hurting world.

I pray for officers who are scared and reacting too quickly.

I pray for officers who are corrupt.

I pray for officers who are protecting all lives.

I pray for scared mothers raising their sons.

I pray for black fathers losing their lives.

I pray for the families of Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile.

I pray for all the families. Every family. Everywhere. Living in this crazy world.

I pray for myself and my part in this. Because like it or not, we all play a part in this.

I pray for this senseless division to end.

My heart is so heavy with images and stories that I can't get out of my head.

My heart is even heavier as I try to understand and admit that I have no idea how to raise my ten year old black son in a world that is so different than the one I lived in as a white privileged child.

I feel helpless.

I feel hopeless. 

But then I look at my children and their best friends.

And I feel a tiny little spark: a shred of hope that maybe, just maybe, their generation can start to fix what our generation and the generations before us have so unequivocally and epically EFFED up beyond recognition. 

As I kiss their sweet little heads tonight and tuck their long limbs into their beds, I pray for them to get some good rest. 

They have a long, long, long, long journey ahead of them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Light It Up Blue!

So I don't know if you've heard, but apparently it's Autism Awareness Month......

I keep seeing people on facebook LIUB, and any time we're Lighting It Up Blue for something other than Duke or the Tarheels, I'm a happy happy woman!

So I've been thinking about the things that I wish people who don't live with autism understood about autism. And this is from a parent's (my) perspective which could obviously vary amongst other parents who live with autism. So take it seriously, take it with a grain of salt, or skip the writing to see the cute pics of Owen at the end..........Totally up to you!

 I know from experience and first-hand conversation that some of my friends were lost when we first learned of Owen's diagnosis. They didn't know what to do, or how to help, and we didn't know what to tell them. We were all in it together and we've learned a few things along the way. Chances are, with 1 out of 68 children being diagnosed with autism, you have a close friend or family member going through what we went through.

So here are a few things I wish people knew in no particular order:

1. Look up the word "spectrum." Learn it. Define it. Rewrite it in your own words until you understand it. Please please please try to understand that the autism spectrum is very LARGE or WIDE or however you want to describe it in your own words. My son is not Rain Man, nor is he exactly like your neighbor's child who flaps his hands, or your grandson who is nonverbal, or your friend's child who talks a mile a minute. He can speak, "looks normal" and he does have autism just as your neighbor's child has autism as well. Autism looks different in every. single. situation.

2. Not only does autism look different in each person on the spectrum, autism looks different every single day in my house. This winter, we lived for three months with constant screaming. Three months people. Three months screaming at school, three months screaming at home, three months screaming in public, three months screaming at night, three LONG months. Did I mention the screaming lasted for three months? ;)  It tested our marriage, our faith, our health, our everything. And then one day it ended. And right now we have a fairly happy, well adjusted kid. Tomorrow? I have no idea where we'll be. Literally. He can go from laughing with his siblings one minute to completely checked out and in his own world the next. We just roll with the punches the best we can and know that the tide can change at any moment.

3. Every parent reacts differently to the news that their child has autism. I have one friend who totally took it in stride, didn't skip a beat, and kept moving forward. That is okay! I have another friend who laid in bed for weeks and weeks and cried. That is also okay! I found myself somewhere in the middle of the two. And guess what? That is okay. Let parents feel what they need to feel. Believe me, we know it's "not a death sentence" and it is "just a label," but it is also the end to certain dreams you had for your child and your family and it is okay to grieve (or not to grieve) as you learn to cope. 

4. Don't listen to the media. Seriously, just don't, unless you know it is a CREDIBLE source. I could write pages upon pages about this. Vaccines did not cause autism. They are now able to see the difference on brain scans in infants BEFORE they have been vaccinated. Food and therapies and vitamins and oils and lotions, etc. won't "cure" autism. (There is no cure, and I personally have a hard time thinking of autism as a "disease." Different? Sure! But disease? Well, that's a different discussion for a different day.) What you see through diet and natural resources is PROGRESS and progress is amazing, but please don't tell parents that you know someone who ate sesame seeds for a year and was "cured" of autism. Because when you say these things to me, this is what I hear: "I can't believe you haven't tried this new age sesame seed and rabbit fur protein shake that is curing autism all over the world; you must not love your child." I don't think that's what you mean so I almost ALWAYS give you the benefit of the doubt. But please understand that diet and therapies and natural resources are a great great great great great way to help children on the spectrum make progress, but "progress" and "cure" mean two very different things.

5. Autism can look and act ugly sometimes. And there are many times that I have to ignore stares as my 7 year old does things that are very age inappropriate.  So just let me say this, 99.999999999999% of parents living with autism in their family are doing EVERYTHING in their POWER to help their child grow and thrive physically, emotionally, and socially. EVERYTHING. And the 0.00000000001% that aren't? Well? I don't know who they are, so I can't tell you why, but if I had to guess, it would be because they lack the resources and education to do everything in their power. If you feel like someone is not doing enough to help their child with autism, please invite yourself to stay with that person for a week (they may say no due to the stress that change in schedule will cost; see next paragraph) and watch what they do every single day. Seriously. You will never be the same and they will love love love the extra set of hands on deck.

6. This is a biggie: DON'T take things personally! I am blessed with wonderful friends and family who offer to help us a lot! However, I rarely accept. Not because I'm a martyr or don't need the help, but because sometimes help makes my life harder. It is a well known fact that kids with autism CRAVE a schedule. Owen is one who will hold his stuff together at all costs for school or babysitters or grandparents, but once we're back to  our "normal" schedule, he lets all the built up stress out. And it usually spills out at night in the form of screaming about his ankles all night long. (Yes, his ankles. Don't ask.) Just trust me that it is NOT fun for me or Todd. So therefore, we wager things out beforehand. How many residual "ankle nights" will this date, or trip, or outing, or family visit cost us? And is it worth it? Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn't. (Usually it depends on how tired we already are.) Please don't take it personally when we turn you down. I'm sure we have hurt feelings in the past and I can assure you, we didn't mean to. When we're in survival mode, unfortunately, your feelings are not at the forefront of our minds. And I really am sorry about that.

But that does bring me to my last point: what can you do?

If you know another parent who has a child with autism, especially if they're newly diagnosed and struggling with coping, here are some things you can do:

*Find out about their child's diet restrictions and drop off a meal.
*Find out when their child is in school or already has care lined up and take them out for coffee.
*Offer to drive their child to all of his or her therapy appointments one day so they can rest.
*Pray for them to have patience.
*Pray for their child to make eye contact.
*Pray for them to feel connected to their child.
*Send them funny memes. (This is one of my favorite things that my friend does!)
*Offer to do something fun and special with the other children in the
home who often get the short end of the stick.
*Don't judge them or think about how you would do things differently.
Or if you do judge, do it VERY quietly inside the privacy of your own head. ;)
*LOVE their child!
*LEARN their child!
(My friend's know if they ask Owen how his day was, they're not going to get much of an answer, but if they ask him how his dogs are doing? Get ready for an earful!)
*INTERACT with their child!

Nothing means more to me than watching my friends and family TRY with my child. It's not always easy, and he doesn't always respond, but man, when he does? You just became a lifelong friend in my book!

And last but not least, just love your friend through it. No parent has all the answers and we're all figuring it out as we go along. And this list of things that are important to me may not mean a hill of beans to another parent. And that's okay. If you don't know how to help, ASK. Just show up and keep showing up, even when it's hard.

I know I'm a bit biased, but these kids are truly amazing and funny and resilient despite their daily battles to "fit" in this world.

If you allow them into your world, they will light it up.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

When Life Makes You Ugly

A Post on Marriage and Special Needs Life: The Real Deal

I love my husband.
I do.
But sometimes I have to remind myself of that.
Some days I have to repeat it to myself over and over and over again just to keep from punching him.

One night last week I threw a bag of frozen rolls on the floor, told him to "go to hell" and walked out.
Because nothing makes your point better than frozen rolls? Am I right? (A sweet sweet friend of mine who shall remain nameless once threw a crock pot on the floor. Now that is bad-ass. But it was also costly, so I went with the rolls.)
The struggle is real.

And yesterday the struggle was real. And dirty. And hateful. The things we spewed at each other were so so hateful and mean. I can't even repeat them because I don't want to think about them. And even as we spewed those hateful things, in the back of my head, I was thinking: This is not us. We don't mean this. But my mouth was meeting his match for match; I was not to be outdone or outwitted or outscored on hateful comments. An eye for an eye. I see your hateful comment and I raise you ten more hateful comments.

So if we "truly" love each other, why were we being so cruel?

Because I've decided that life makes you ugly.
Life does that.
Any life; pick a life. 
You know what I'm talking about, right?

(If you don't, just shut up and go snuggle with your husband by the fire and gloat that you have it better than everyone else......)

To the rest of you who are working stressful jobs and raising kids and making lunches and volunteering at schools and being a human taxi service and sweet Lord just trying to make it through the day with a teeny-tiny bit of sanity left, this post is for you. 

Please listen to me.
You don't hate your husband (or wife).

Life is making you ugly.

We've been struggling since November people. Every. single. day. We've listened to screaming and crying and melt down after melt down and we can't turn on the child causing the havoc because it's not his fault, so we did the next best thing yesterday: we turned on each other. We took all the angst, all the stress, all the frustrations, all the sadness, all the pain that our youngest is feeling and we turned it into hatred for each other. And it was nasty. Nasty to the point that he said to me last night after I got home from an event, "I wasn't sure if you were coming home tonight?" And I thought, I sure as hell didn't want to.

And now we start the slow, awkward crawl towards forgiveness and understanding and finding US again. Because we're in there somewhere. I know we are. Because let me tell you something - when life doesn't make us ugly - we are so so good together. We laugh and we love and we care for each other like it's nobody's business.

We are worth fighting for.
We are worth forgiveness.
And we both need it.
BOTH of us.
Sometimes when you are so busy pointing the finger at your spouse, it's easy to forget that you're human and flawed as well......

So if this post resonates with you in some way, hang in there. If life is turning you ugly, recognize that you're in the thick of things and maybe, just maybe, you're letting situations guide your marriage and not love. Remember that you're human and so is he. Take a break, cool off, and when you come back together, remember the awkward won't last forever. Believe me, we've done this crawl before. It's going to be awkward for a little bit. We're going to tip-toe for a little bit and try not to upset the delicate balance of the tight rope we're walking.

But soon, we'll find our way back because we'll fight like hell to find our way back. 
We always do.

Soon we'll be laughing and joking about colon cleanses and bowel movements and how different Valentine's Day looks after 15.5 years of marriage.......

Soon, we'll remember that we're not ugly.
We're not.
But life sure as heck can be.

PS - I wrote this post a few weeks ago and things are much better. Perfect? Nope. But better. We're making little changes to make more time for each other. We're trying something called kindness. It does amazing things in a marriage. Amazing things. Will we have setbacks? Yes. Will we keep fighting? Hell yes!!

Can I get an AMEN?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Tale of The Tic-Tac

I love my sister. She's legit.
She's not perfect but she doesn't pretend with me. I love that.

And I told her she needs to write this story down but we all know she won't, so I'm going to write it for her. Because it needs to be recorded. It just does.

Imagine the scene:

A young, beautiful mom at grocery store check-out line with a cart full of groceries and two toddler girls (most likely impeccably dressed because Sister can dress herself and her kids like every day is a fashion show and the aisles of the grocery store are the runway) tagging along. I go to the store looking like a homeless person, but not my sister. She always looks like she stepped out of a magazine.  

So they've done all their shopping and they get to the check out line and my sweet, and a wee bit stubborn niece, the 4 year old decides she wants tic-tacs. Sister says no, they don't need tic-tacs.

Sweet and Stubborn 4 year old says a little bit louder,

Sister again says "NO! We don't need mints!" even though she's already wishing she had just bought the freaking tic-tacs.

Man at counter gives Sister the stink-eye, takes pity on the 4 year old and offers her one of his own personal mints, which she gladly accepts and devours.

Sister thinks well thanks for undermining me, but oh well, at least everyone is happy......Aunt Rachel thinks we may need to have a talk with Sweet and Stubborn Niece about taking candy from strangers.......

Anyway, 4 year old finishes the mint and immediately asks again to buy the tic tacs because she likes them better than the gifted mint from the kind man.

Sister (who is obviously quite annoyed and embarrassed at this point) again, says no.

4 year old decides paying for things you want is old school anyways and starts stuffing tic tac containers in her dress while screaming that she wants the candy.

Sister is now beyond pissed and starts grabbing at tic tacs and trying to remove them from 4 year old's dress, all while wondering how 4 year old will look in an orange jump suit one day when she's in prison?

The full on battle for the tic-tacs ensue into a game of tug of war that ends with tic tacs spilling all over the floor of the store. Sister now has to pay for the stolen, spilled tic tacs that she didn't want to buy in the first place.  (And she probably also has to pay for the wine that I can only assume she has opened and is guzzling at this point.......ha ha, just kidding Mom. Sort of.)

She cleans up the floor, finishes paying for groceries and yanks her sobbing 4 year old out of the store.

They get to the car (and this is my absolutely, hands down, most favorite part of the story) and Sister does the only mature thing left to do: She starts eating tic-tacs and giving tic tacs to the 2 year old to eat and talking about how yummy the tic-tacs are in front of the sobbing 4 year old who (for obvious reasons) cannot have any tic-tacs.  She tells the 4 year old these are the best tic-tacs in the history of tic-tacs. Oh yes she does. Because if you can't beat em, you sure as hell can join them!

4 year old screams the whole way home.
2 Year old delights in her tic-tac snack the whole way home.
Sister calls me and laments that she's worried something is terribly wrong with 4 year old?
I tell her to start drinking wine and remind her that she once stole an entire stack of magazines from the grocery store that Mom wouldn't buy for her. 
Sister doesn't remember her thievery.
I remember it well because Brother and I had to return the stolen merchandise.

We hang up and I get on Amazon and send Sister a box of tic-tacs because that's how we roll.


Bless her little heart........

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Blank Space

I keep coming back to this space,
to this teeny tiny corner of the internet that I call my own,
and I watch the cursor blink and blink and blink,
and nothing.

Literally. For two weeks, I've just stared.
Blink. blink. blink. blink.

I need this space.
I love love love to write, but I struggle because sometimes I don't love love love to share.

Or I share, but then I feel guilty when I share only the good, like I'm holding up a reflection of our lives that is true, but not all the way true.

Or I share the hard stuff and then I feel guilty when I share only the hard stuff, because it's not all hard stuff either.

So basically, I always feel guilty, so then I type and erase and rewrite and erase and then I say screw it all, I need to be studying anyways, and I turn off the cursor and go back to my sometimes good, sometimes really hard life.

And today started with screaming and ended with screaming and had nothing but screaming in between. This  picture was our day. This was actually a different day when I was literally filming a melt down to show his behaviors to a doctor, but this was also today.

And you know what?
This pic actually was today.
This was screaming at the dinner table because his mouth hurt.
Because on top of autism, we still have the chronic disease that gives us nasty rashes no matter what we eat and believe me, I can read ingredients better than Superman can fly, and there was nothing on his plate that should have caused that reaction. Not one damn thing.

And sometimes I feel so alone in this battle.

So horribly alone because it NEVER goes away. 

And then my sister-in-law randomly throws me a lifeline. A reminder that I'm not alone. A reminder that she loves me and she's trying to understand what I go through.

And that reminder came in the form of this article she sent.

And this article nailed it on the freaking head.


And while parts of this article make me terribly sad, parts of this article make me very hopeful. Because I am not alone in this. There are other moms out there, right now, struggling with the things I struggle with. There are other moms worrying and fretting and wondering what tomorrow will be like? There are other tired-to-the-bone, literally living on coffee mama's, and if they can do it, I can do it too.

We can do it together.
Even if we can't sit in a coffee shop and hash this shit out in real life, (because who has time for that right now) we can read each other's blogs and connect on facebook and rally for each other. We can pray for each other like we've never prayed before.

And we can remember that we have an AWESOME sister-in-law who know our lives are hard and sends us a lifeline at the exact moment we need one.

And speaking of living on coffee, I left school and headed to work the other day and I treated myself to a Starbucks along the way........

I don't know about you guys,
but this cup offends the crap out of me.

Hearts and Love?! 

Come on Starbucks, pull it together.