Living Every Moment!

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Phew!  Where did September go?  We have been going non-stop every weekend!  A wedding, a wedding reception, a BMX State Championship, and an essential oil roller bottle Make and Take class at the house.  I am exhausted!

Earlier in the month I spent three days in Mississippi with my sister as she prepared for her daughter’s wedding.  There was so much to do, the days went by in a flash.  It was beautiful, but hot.  That’s the south in the summer!  It was nice seeing family.

The very next weekend, I had some lovely ladies over to catch up on our kids and families, and to discuss how to stay above the wellness line now that school is back in session.  Everyone had a great time talking and learning each other’s secrets on health and wellness.  We made essential oil roller bottles to take home and put in our wellness toolboxes.  We also had a special treat of lavender lemonade and peppermint brownies!

 

Our third weekend in September was spent in Dothan, Alabama where Steve raced in the Alabama BMX State Championships.  He came away with the #1 plate for his class.  I am just thankful for no broken bones or concussions!  I swear sometimes I think he is just trying to give me a heart attack, so he can get himself a younger woman!  Anyway, it was a good weekend, too, but of course, very hot!

Just a few days ago, we got back from St. Louis, Missouri and southern Illinois.  We attended Steve’s cousin’s wedding reception and since we were so close to where he grew up, we met more family out at the home place early Saturday morning, before the reception in St. Louis that afternoon.  The farm where his father and six siblings were raised is quiet, out in the country, and very relaxing.  Another of his cousins, Shelby, and her husband, Eric, met us out there with their 4-wheeler and Polaris side by side.  Michael got his first driving lesson from Eric in the Polaris.  He loved it!  Steve and I rode the 4 wheeler behind them.  We had beautiful weather.  It feels like the beginning of Fall in Illinois – a nice break from the heat of the south.  Shelby brought a breakfast pizza and strawberry milk in a glass container from the Chester Dairy.  Steve said it was just like when he was a kid.

We then loaded up and headed to our hotel in St. Louis to get ready for the reception.  We had the best time.  It was so nice meeting our new family and spending time with everyone.  We sat around talking and laughing as stories were told and memories were shared.  We ate good food and danced and visited until evening.  It really was a wonderful day.  The next day we were able to see more family members out where they were harvesting corn.  We got an up close and personal view of the farm equipment and just how hard farmers work.  We had homemade chicken and dumplings at St. John’s Lutheran of Breman where Steve was able to connect with more old friends and family and then we headed back home to Alabama.

I will say that I am worn out and am still doing laundry, but I will also say that this is life.  Sometimes you are extremely busy and on the go and sometimes you are at home and things are a little slower.  I love it all.  I love being at home and getting things done around the house, or going for an evening walk after dinner, but I also love getting to see family that we don’t see very often due to distance and life.  In the end, when I am older and not able to do All the Things, I will look back and hopefully remember that I lived EVERY moment and did All The Things, and had no regrets!

 

 

 

The Not So Good Doctor

I have been approached by so many different people asking if I have seen the show, The Good Doctor.  Most people I talk with love it and say it is a great show and want to tell me about it because we are an autism family.  They have wonderful things to say about it.  How good it is.  How smart the main character is.  I have not seen the show.  I disagreed with the idea of it from the start, but didn’t say anything because I didn’t think anyone would understand or maybe they would feel that I was just being a negative Nellie.  With World Autism Awareness Day having just been celebrated in April, the social media profile picture frames reflecting awareness and acceptance, and now the new neurodiversity movement,  I just wanted to go ahead and put my thoughts out there.  Again, this is my opinion and I realize that everyone is entitled to their own.  So, continue to read, keeping that in mind.

My son, Michael, is 15 years old.  I knew he was autistic when he was around 10-11 months old.  He wasn’t officially diagnosed until the 4th grade because he tested right on the line, if you will.  He is high functioning.  He makes eye contact, is well spoken, and very affectionate.  Not what people think of when they think “autism”, but he wasn’t always so high functioning.   Actually, he was originally diagnosed as severely developmentally delayed with sensory integrative disfunction (sensory processing disorder).  Even though he was not diagnosed with autism until later in life, we still had him in different therapies and we have worked very hard with him throughout his life, so he has had several big improvements over the years, from not talking, not always making good eye contact, not having fine or coordinated gross motor skills and an inability to process emotions in an appropriate manner.  Because of the great strides he has made, at first interaction, many people do not realize that he is autistic.  This does not mean that he does not still have real struggles that he deals with on a daily basis.

My problem with a show like the popular one that is on now is this.  I have many friends with autistic children who are much more severe.  Some are non-verbal.  Some have days of rage and anguish and cannot vocalize it other than moans and screams.  Some autistic “children” are still not potty trained or have extreme gut issues, and are not able to understand, much less tell a parent what is wrong. I put the word children in quotes because some of them are in their 20’s and will need constant care for the rest of their lives.  Autism is a very broad spectrum.  Even though I believe that my son will be able to function and thrive in day-to-day life on his own as an adult, he still has obstacles to overcome due to his diagnosis.

Let’s look at some statistics located by doing a simple internet search.  Per the Autism Research Institute, just 10% of autistic people have savant tendencies.  According to ABC.com, the main character of their show, The Good Doctor, has autism and savant syndrome.  People who love the show seem to like its message of inclusiveness and have fallen in love with the main character.  So, how about the other 90% of autistic children/adults in the world?  The ones that will not be a surgeon or attorney or accountant.  1 in 4 children with ASD has seizures, according to autism-help.org.   That’s 25%.  According to the California Department of Education Diagnostics Center of Central California, as many as 50% of individuals with autism are non-verbal.  Now, if you look at autismspeaks.org, they say that 25% are non-verbal.  Either way,  I just feel that it is important that people who are not affected by autism on a daily basis have a true picture of what autism really looks like.

Honestly, we are going to have no choice but to address how the other 90% of autistic people will be cared for, seeing how the rate of autism keeps climbing. In 2004, 1 in 166 were found to have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to a CDC Autism Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network document about the prevalence of the autism spectrum disorders in multiple areas of the United States.   As of March 2016, per the CDC website, 1 in 68 children has been identified with ASD.  1 in 42 boys.  I, personally, will not accept that.  I have no intentions of accepting that and I don’t want shows or groups encouraging us to just accept that autism is just a normal part of our world now and we should just accept it and that’s it.  No.  No.  Not awareness and acceptance.  Research and treatment.ousa-chea-552189-unsplash

 

The neurodiversity mindset has taken us by storm and it feels like it has split the autism community in two.  I realize that many high functioning autistic adults don’t like the idea of parents wanting answers and a reason behind their child or children being autistic.  I have read some pretty nasty comments on different threads of articles stating that we aren’t fit to be parents at all,  if we cannot love our children the way they are.  I want to set the record straight, once and for all on that statement.  I absolutely love my son with every fiber of my being and would never want to change his personality.  It is because of my deep love for him that I have worked so hard with him to help him develop new skills, so that he can be healthier and happier.  He was non-verbal when he was younger, which was extremely frustrating for him to communicate his needs and wants.   He had little fine and gross motor skills, which made it hard for him to color with a crayon, throw a ball, run, etc…  He struggled to fall asleep and stay asleep.  He was sick with strep throat and other illnesses a lot, which caused him to miss school and family gatherings.  He was lethargic with little energy.  He had dark circles under his eyes.  He also only played by himself when he was little.  Interaction with others had to be learned.  It was not automatic.  Most things were not.

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Today, thanks in part, to our research and reaching out for help by way of therapies, health supplements, reduction of toxins and inflammation in the body and brain, and other things, Michael is verbal and very well spoken.  He plays basketball with his friends in the youth group on Wednesday nights at church.  He is very healthy and has energy.  He sleeps better.  He has friends and with his fine motor skills, loves to draw.  He has also found a love for acting and singing in school musicals.  We, as his loving parents and siblings, are overjoyed with the skills he has learned and what all he is able to do.  Searching for answers to help your child is in no way unloving or unaccepting and in absolutely no way does it make us unfit to be parents.  Now, I am not saying that someone cannot be genetically predisposed to becoming autistic, when neurological toxins have overloaded the body, but I do not believe that autism is simply genetic alone.  My concern with the neurodiversity movement is this: Acceptance of autism as simply being diverse could negate the aspiration to find causes, solutions, and even a cure.  I am not saying not to accept people.  Clearly.  I am saying not to accept neurological damage as a new norm in society.

I just want to make it clear that the vast majority of autistic people are not savants, like the Good Doctor.  In my opinion, it is dangerous to paint such a limited picture of autism for those that do not deal with it on a daily basis.  I am very thankful that my son is high functioning now,  but I am also speaking for the many autistic children who are not, and for their parents, who are sleep deprived, exhausted, and needing support and answers, and truly just want their child to be healthy and strong.  That is not unloving and unaccepting.  That is devoted and caring.  Parents who would go to the ends of the earth, researching all the things, enduring all the things, and loving their child through all the things, to find anything that can help their child.  May we as a society never stop looking at all the things we can to help us each live our best lives.

 

Dear great nephews,

It was so nice meeting you.  I really enjoyed getting to hold you and watch you as you slept.  You are precious!  Psalm 139:14 says, You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  There are some things I think it is important for you to know.  Your family loves you very much.  Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.  Psalm 127:3

You are so tiny and brand new to this great big world.  Right now you sleep a lot and cry when you are hungry.  You are still getting used to being outside of the warm, comfy womb you occupied for the past 9 months, but soon you will be awake more often and learning to communicate and do all kinds of things.

Please be patient with your moms and dads as they learn how to take care of you.  They are new at this whole parenting thing and will do their best to keep up with you and your needs as you grow.  Your needs will be constantly changing.  While you are still babies, you will probably have times that you get frustrated because they won’t know why you are crying and what you want them to do.  As you grow, there will most likely be times that you will be frustrated and cry because they DO know what you want, but won’t let you have it because it isn’t what you really need…and further down the road, when you are older, there may be times that you think they just can’t possibly know what you need, because they are too old and just don’t understand.  Finally, the day will come when you walk out into the world as an adult and make your own decisions.

Life is an interesting journey with twists and turns, hills and valleys, and forks in the road.  Make the most of every opportunity.  Be kind and compassionate to others.  Be forgiving.  Smile often.  Dream big.  Laugh a lot, and count your blessings!  Delight yourselves in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4  We are so excited to watch you grow!

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  Winnie the Pooh

Adventure is out there! -Up

 

 

 

Hamburger steak w/onion and mushroom gravy, Yellow crookneck squash, Zucchini, and Purple hull peas

 

 

 

Our first meal with ALL of the vegetables from the garden!  Our tomatoes all got blight.  Our bell peppers didn’t produce, but the squash, zucchini, peas, beans, and okra have all done remarkably well.  We have a small garden.  It is a raised 10 x 12 space, but enough for us and we are very pleased with it.  It has been real hot this July, so this is probably the end of the squash, but everything else is flourishing.

For the squash and zucchini, I sliced an onion and sautéed in olive oil in a pan on the stove.  I then added thinly sliced squash and zucchini.  I salted and peppered to taste and put the lid on top and let cook.  The last thing I do is add a sprinkle of sugar.  The peas were also fresh from my garden.  I rinsed them off and placed them in a pot on the stove on high.  Right after I put them in the pot, I realized that I didn’t have an onion for the peas, so I improvised and used a tbsp of minced Phew! I then put two slices of Applegate Farms bacon in with the peas.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I let the peas come to a boil and then reduced the heat and let simmer until done.  Approximately 45 minutes.   See how I made the hamburger steak with onion and mushroom gravy below.

Hoping you are enjoying All the Things out of your garden this summer, as well!

Cindy

Hamburger Steak w/onion and mushroom gravy

1 lb ground beef

salt

pepper

garlic salt

1 onion sliced

8 oz baby Portobello mushrooms sliced

1/2 c water

1 tbsp arrowroot starch

  1. Mix ground beef with salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste.  Make into 4 patties.  Place in pre-heated cast iron skillet on medium.  Cook until nicely browned on each side.  Remove patties to plate and keep warm.

2. Place sliced onion in skillet and allow to turn translucent, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in                     sliced mushrooms with onion.  Stir with spatula, scraping bottom of skillet, as you              stir.

3. Put 1 tbsp of arrowroot starch in 1/2 cup of water and mix well.  Pour into skillet               with onions and mushrooms and stir to thicken.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Marriage- In light of All the Things

I have gone back and forth in my mind about whether or not I should write this post.  It is kind of putting it all out there, but my blog is about all the things.  Life is big and creative and messy and although I want to be pleasing to the eye, like an Instagram photo, I also want to be real and relatable.  So, if I haven’t scared you off yet, continue reading.  😉

If you read my post about our beach vacation, I was open about things being a little tense between Steve and me that week.  Honestly, they have been a lot tense for a while now.  We have been married for over 25 years.  We still love each other.  Things are just hard right now.  Any marriage that is perfect or happy ALL of the time, in my opinion, just isn’t real.  Don’t get me wrong.  We are a really good team.  We work extremely well together.  We are both quick to apologize and quick to forgive.  We can work around a kitchen and whip up a week’s worth of allergen free meals and get them delivered to a university an hour away in a flash.  We can work together to get the hours of homework done with our youngest.  We can work together smoothly without argument and get our daughter moved into her first apartment.  We can handle ALL the things of family life well together.

We are just in a new phase, stage, chapter – whatever you want to call it- of life.  Our oldest has started her first career job, moved into her first apartment, and is officially off the payroll now.  Our middle one, with the food allergies, is moving into an apartment for the remainder of her college life and will be able to do most of her own cooking from here on out.  She has been practicing all summer and she will have a kitchen to be able to do it.   Our youngest will be starting high-school in the fall.  He will be the only one living with us when the school year starts.  I thought that things would be easier, less hectic and that we would have more time for each other, as the focus for the last 25 years has mostly been the kids and their special needs, etc…  We DO have more time, however, we seem to be floating in different directions.  I have found myself with hurt feelings more and more often because our visions just don’t seem to line up anymore.

I have started reading a book called, The Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie OMartian.  In the first chapter, she advises that love is diminished if we dwell on the negatives.  Love grows if we focus on the positive.  She encourages you to pray from the right heart and that it is impossible to truly give yourself in prayer for your husband without first examining your own heart.  I cannot expect God to answer my prayers if I harbor unforgiveness, bitterness, or resentment.  If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. Psalm 66:18   She states “God wants our hearts to be right so the answers to our prayers are not compromised.”

Hmm… thinking.  Mulling that over…

Sometimes, that’s hard.  What about when you feel he has been indifferent, or uncaring, or just makes you mad?  But what about me, Lord?  Don’t my feelings count?  Can’t I just pray for you to change him? If I’m honest, these were the first questions that came to my mind.  From reading just the first few chapters, I am learning that powerful and effective prayers come down to a matter of the heart.  God wants our hearts to be one with His.  He is waiting for me to lay all of my expectations and desires at the foot of the cross.  He wants to change me.  He wants to change Steve, too, but in His time and on His terms.  That’s hard because that means that I don’t have control over what happens.  I have to be patient and wait on the Lord.  I have to trust that All things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

Steve and I have talked about things, how we seem to be struggling right now and as my impatience with him has grown, his irritability with me has, as well.  Not a pretty picture, but honest.

ALL the things.

I started to say that sometimes it feels like it would just be easier to give up and start over, but that isn’t true…and I believe that is the enemy speaking lies.  I had that thought because having tough conversations is hard.  It is draining.  It isn’t happy.  You get tired of disagreeing and seeing no way over things when you just don’t see things the same way.  So, what do you do?  Well, pray. Hard!  We are both working together to get on the same page with each other.  We are each trying harder than I think either of us has been for a while.  It is easy to just put it on auto pilot and continue on with all the things of life and not address issues.  That comes back to haunt you.  We are praying together, consistently.  Praying together has never been consistent in our marriage.

Instead of just asking me out to a movie or out to eat, Steve called me up one afternoon and said he had a change of plans.  He said that there were 2 tickets left to see Beauty and the Beast at our Community Theatre, if I wanted to go.  I cried.  You see, I was a Music Education major in college, vocal major, full tuition vocal scholarship, coloratura soprano, and I love musical theatre and all things singing.  Just so you get the full picture.  My husband does not sing.  He loves all things racing.  That’s cars – full size or remote control, motocross, BMX.  As a matter of fact, I am still nursing him back to health from a BMX injury, broken rib and all.  Have you ever had to take care of someone you are mad at?  That’s a whole ‘nuther blog post.  Anyway- He is also a drummer.  He does not sing or dance or like to watch it.   He was trying.  Putting forth effort to make things better.  I have been trying harder, too, or at least I think I have.  I try to have dinner at least started if not on the table when he gets home and a pleasant look on my face, instead of a complaint about something on my lips.  I just mean that I am putting forth extra effort to show him that I love him and he is appreciated, too.  Now, I’m not saying that we can’t do things apart from each other.  That is not our problem.  Of course, I won’t go into minute details of our struggles.  As like any other couple, we just have some things we need to work on and one of those for me, is allowing God to make my heart more like His and trust that He is working on Steve’s heart, too.   As we grow closer to the Lord, I know that we will grow closer to each other.

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Romans 15:5-6 says, May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Just keeping it real this post.  I am trusting that we can get back to a happier us.

Lover, giver, and endurer of All The Things,

 

Cindy