This year seemed to be a quiet one for Halloween. Probably because it was on a Monday. Normally we get a lot of trick-or-treaters on our street. We usually go through at least three big bowls of treats and got out trick-or-treating ourselves, but this year we barely got through a single bowl.
I bought a lot of little goofy toys to give out because not everyone is great with candy and kids love it when there is something left after they’ve eaten their sugary haul.
It worked out well because I let them choose what they want and there was mostly candy left. The kids loved the toys!
We didn’t do much for costumes either.
Autism makes costuming hard sometimes.
You can never go really scary, and he gets scared of other kids too.
Originally my son wanted to be a super hero, so he got a Batman costume but then became scared of it. (I don’t know why, it’s just how he is.)
My daughter did the same thing, she wanted to dress up like a nun, but changed her mind and ended up a cat. She also didn’t want to deal with her costume at school so she dressed as a Nudist on Strike.
Hi ya! I was nominated for The Liebster Award by CREATIVITY✒📃😍✌
What is a Liebster Award?
Well, it’s an award that typically recognizes up and coming bloggers recognizes bloggers, by helping others discover new blogs and facilitate community building.
How does one get it?
In order to receive a Liebster Award, you must be nominated by a fellow blogger.
Here are the rules:
Thank you Ankita!
Here are Ankita’s questions:
1. Why did you start with blogging?
I was told that blogging was great for authors as a starting point in creating an author platform. And so it began…
2. Which three hashtags best describe your blog?
#autism #family #writing
3.How do you get new ideas for blog posts?
They just sorta show up. Usually I use things that are happening in our family that might help others in similar situations.
4. Who or what inspires you (to blog and in general)?
To blog: usually my kids or my husband. In general: music, beauty, and irony
5. Which talent don’t you have, but want it?
I want to paint. I can sketch a pretty good picture but when it comes to color and paint, I am utterly defeated.
6.What makes you smile?
People. They are such a funny animal, always doing things for weird reasons and yet they have the capacity for such greatness and love.
7.Who is a hero in your life?
There are so many people that I look up to and admire as heroes, but the one that stands out is my theatre teacher from college, Richard Kuebler (R.I.P.). He recruited me in high school and set me on the path I’m still traveling. He showed me what I wanted out of life and taught me a whole new perception of life through theatre.
8. Are you a planner? Or are you spontaneous?
I plan. Like a general. With an autistic son, I have to. I usually have plans A-Z and then, just in case, a few contingency plans.
9.What is the most amazing thing you’ve seen while traveling.
Dunnottar Castle in Scotland. There is room underneath it that has the darkest dark I’ve ever seen.
10.Is there a sport you’d love to try, but haven’t yet? What is it and why?
Boxing. The closest boxing gym that has classes for women is an hour away and that won’t work with our family’s schedules.
11. What’s your biggest weakness?
Low self-esteem. I struggle with the idea that I’m good enough. I guess I never developed an ego lol.
And so, here are my nominations for the Liebster Award…
Here are my questions….
If you’ve been nominated already, sorry. You can ignore me. You don’t have to do it again.
Thanks again, Ankita!
Toilets have never been my favorite thing. If you look through my posts you will find quite a few that visit the toilet subject and I don’t mean they are crappy. I remember rather fondly the post How to dispose of a stiff with your teenage daughter.
Here is my latest adventure in the House of the Porcelain God.
Our toilet tank had a crack. I can’t say if it was because of manufacturer flaws or if it was because my son leans back against the tank too hard putting stress on the bolts that hold the tank. Either way, it had a crack. We looked into getting a new tank but surprise, surprise, you have to buy the whole toilet. So like any good homeowner, I procrastinated and himmed and hawed.
Until it was too late.
My son was upset about Halloween. He wanted it to be right now and didn’t want to wait.He had gone to the bathroom and as he sat there trying to make an offering to the Porcelain God he became more and more upset about Halloween. He began to cry and then to scream and then to sob all the while sitting on the toilet. Now remember he is autistic and this means sometimes he gets into a meltdown cycle and there isn’t a lot to be done. Often at that point, I try to avoid giving him attention because it only increases the problem. Sometimes he will become calm on his own. But not this time.
Miscalculation on my part. Never let a child in meltdown stay on the toilet.
He did not calm down. Then next thing I heard was gushing water. I thought he’d turned on the faucet or something. I rushed into the bathroom to find him sitting not on the toilet but on the side of the tub staring at the fountain of water bursting from the bottom of the tank.
Bath toys were pairing up and looking for Noah. The rugs were soak and there was a mini waterfall going down the heater vent. I splashed through the flood that was racing across the floor and turned off the water to the tank.
For the next couple of hours it was mops and towels and buckets in full force. Water had not only covered the bathroom floor, but it had also dripped through the floor and into the bathroom downstairs which is right below the upstairs bathroom. So, I had to clean up two bathrooms. The water in the vent headed south down the ducts to drip out at a junction in my basement right next to the furnace. Had to leave a bucket there to collect the drips all night.
Needless to say Momma was not happy.
Once it was all cleaned up and as dry as it could get, we moved on with bedtime. The next morning we headed off to Great Falls to find a toilet. Nothing like looking for a new toilet on a Sunday morning. Bought a whole new toilet and drafted my poor daughter to once again help. This time was more like Frankenstein bringing home body parts to fix the dead Porcelain God. Maybe I should have called this post “How to teach your daughter to resurrect the dead.”
Any way the box made it home and I took out the new tank, read the instructions about fifty times and then installed the new tank. I did a total redneck number behind the tank though. Got a Styrofoam chunk and wedged it between the wall and the tank then duct taped it in. Hopefully that will keep my son from banging into it and cracking this new one.
So far so good it hasn’t leaked…yet. I’m trying to be optimistic and believe that this will be the last time I have to mess with the toilet but then again I’m delusional sometimes.
Life with Autism isn’t easy and sometimes I think it is harder on the siblings than on the parents. Because the child with autism needs a lot more attention, siblings often feel like they are ignored or neglected.It’s never what we as parents intend, but it happens none the less.
As parents we love our children unconditionally, equally, and without bias. But enough time is always an issue when one child has to be watched more than the other. I am often put into a position where I have to choose. For example, volunteering at school during games and things to help raise funds for her Close-up trip. I want to be there and help out but I can’t be there for my daughter because I have no one to watch my son and it breaks my heart. Although she doesn’t resent the extra time her brother needs (well maybe a little) and she is fiercely protective of him, I know it still hurts her and she doesn’t deserve that.
That’s why I want to acknowledge her love and sacrifices.
So let me say a little something about my daughter. She just turned 17 and is a junior in high school. Somehow even though I feel like I’ve failed her, I ended up with the best daughter in the world. She’s intelligent and hard working, almost to a fault. She is driven and conscientious. She’s at the top of her class, straight A student, involved in more extra curricular activities than anyone should be, has a full time job as a barista, and still has time to be the best big sister ever.
She loves to take selfies with her brother.
She makes it so easy for everyone to relate to her brother. The other night at the volleyball game she took him down into the student section with her to help cheer our girls. At first a lot of her friends weren’t sure how to deal with him being there. She leads by example including him in everything just like any normal kid would be. Pretty soon the others were helping him cheer and doing high fives with him.
She is all that a sibling should be. Don’t get me wrong they still squabble like any normal siblings but she’s always there as an example, guardian, and guide to her little brother. I couldn’t ask for a better daughter or sister for my son. I am so proud of her.
Many blogs refer to this subject: keys to a happy life. Most of them advise things like – taking time for yourself, taking up a hobby, spending time with family and friends, de-cluttering your life, or making life changes that allow you more freedom like starting a .com business or blogging for a living, or travel.
Well that’s all fine and dandy-for most people. But what about those of us who are really in the grinder? Single moms or dads, families with special needs children, families that are either out of work or have so many jobs to make it by they only have time to fall asleep on their feet, soldiers in combat, elderly men and women that have no one?
What about us?
Let’s take it from the top.
This is the one that is thrown at me a lot. I am the mom of a special needs child and a teenage daughter that has so much going on that her head is going to explode soon. My husband is gone for six weeks at a time and I live fifteen hours away from my closest family. I am on 24 hrs a day alert. I am the sole caregiver and ring master of my circus. My stress is off the charts and everyone pesters me to take time for myself. I try, but mostly I fail. When you have no one to step into your shoes, it’s hard to take that time. I can’t just go out for the night with the girls. I don’t really have “girls” and the ones that I do have are the ones that I would normally trust to watch my son so I could go out. See the problem?
What about time alone for a bath and some candlelight relaxing? Can’t do it while my son’s awake because he barges into the bathroom constantly. He doesn’t get the “door is closed so you have to wait” concept. After he’s asleep is just as bad because he wakes up a lot and once again will barge into the bathroom.
So. time for myself…yeah right.
Time for myself comes in tiny little bursts. If he’s occupied watching a cartoon, I get until the commercials come on again. Sometimes I can get by with sitting on the couch with him and reading while he is chattering on beside me. I’ve come to understand that it’s not the amount of time you get it’s what you do with the time you have. It’s like a power nap. Two minutes of complete abandon while staring out the window as dinner cooks is just as good as an hour of spa time. Well, maybe not just as good but it’s as good as it gets and that has to be good enough.
2. Take up a hobby
Hobbies are great! But if you have the problems I’ve mentioned above or if you are struggling to make ends meet then you start to think that hobbies are for the elitists of the world. Let’s face it hobbies take money. Whether it is learning to paint or knit or learning to play a guitar, it’s going to cost you money. Then you get into the Etsy and Pintrest trap- “if I make this I could sell it, then I wouldn’t be poor anymore!”
Well, if you have the time to dedicate to the craft you have chosen then, yeah, you could probably make a living, but face it, if you can’t get a bath in you probably can’t become a mogul in the hobby area. Plus if you are trying to sell stuff then it’s not really a hobby anymore is it?
The other downside to hobbies is the time it takes. You have to dedicate a lot of time, preferably uninterrupted time, to pursuing a hobby. That is not always possible with a full life of children, jobs, and stress. But I’ve come to understand that a hobby is not an activity to keep you busy, it is merely practicing the art of self distraction. It is the art of finding something to get your mind off your daily grind. It can be something complicated like learning to knit or it could be just starting out the window and daydreaming about the proper way to scale an ice cream mountain. The point isn’t activity, the point is brain escape.
3. Spending time with family and friends.
This one is hard. For the really lucky ones family and friends are all around almost to the point of distraction, but to the unlucky ones they don’t exist. In this day and age people are scattered to the winds and getting together is something that happens rarely if at all. When I was a kid we always had family dinners on holidays. There were about nine of us and it was a big day. However, due to jobs that have taken us to the far ends of the Earth and deaths there aren’t anymore holiday dinners. We can’t seem to make it happen anymore. It is a sad loss.
Plus everyone is so busy with jobs and kids that there aren’t really a lot of times that line us when we can get together. Sometimes I don’t get to see my friends for months. Our lives are just too complicated. So I’ve learned that it isn’t about the quantity of time that you spend with your family and friends it’s the quality. I may not get to see my mom more that once every couple of years but when I do see her I make it count. I may not see my friends for weeks on end but email and text are precious connections that I don’t give up.
4. De-cluttering your life.
This one is kind of self-explanatory unless you don’t have anything to get rid of. This is a country of consumerism. It’s all about buying the next best thing. However, there are many that can’t afford to buy all these material goods, so they really can’t get rid of anything to de-clutter. I’ve learned that it’s not about getting rid of stuff, it’s about uncomplicating our lives. It’s about removing the static that invades our lives and becomes like a fog. It’s about not bothering to keep up with everything.
If it’s causing strife to try and keep up with the news-stop trying. If you are going nuts trying to keep up with all the crazy drama going on in your circle of friends, don’t try so hard. Let it go. You don’t need it. Mental clutter is much more damaging than material goods. That’s why live and let live are such good words to live by. Another good mantra is “not my circus- not my monkeys.”
5. Financial freedom – start a .com or blog for a living
This one gets me every time. They say the key to happiness if financial freedom. Yes, it is, not having to worry about where your next meal is coming from or if you can pay for your son’s prescription is happiness. Sometimes it’s down right ecstasy. But…
Starting a .com or blogging for a living is a big hoopla. First you have to have some kind of contribution to the world, you have to have something that people want or need. Not all of us have that. Second you need the technological know how to execute the plan. Let’s face it, we’re not all computer gods. I know I’m not. Third you have to have the time to posts a million times a day.
For example – there are blogs out there that have thousands of followers after only a few months whereas I have been blogging for a couple of years with only a couple hundred followers. Is it because I don’t have great content? Yeah maybe, but it is really because I don’t have a specific driving force that people need to know about and I don’t have the time to dedicate to my site. It’s taken me nearly three hours to write this post, not because I’m a slow writer but because I keep stopping to play with my son, get snacks or lunch, get him to the bathroom, break up fights between him and the cat, deal with the “I’m sad” phase he’s in, etc. I can’t imaging trying to dedicate enough time to really get this blog going.
I’m also among the population of non-tech savy humans that struggle with the idea of SEO and marketing. I suck at it. I’m trying to learn. I’ve got lots of books that I’m trying to digest that will help me but really I’m getting nowhere fast.
There are a lot of people out there that are poor enough that owning a computer would be the height of riches. The library is where they go if they want to use the internet. I really can’t see those people dropping everything to become the next .com superstar. Not saying they couldn’t if they wanted to, just that it’s a lot harder than it sounds.
So the idea of financial freedom by way of alternative lifestyles…Not seeing it. Sorry. Financial freedom is all about perspective. When you’re poor or just scraping by and you have budgeted the Hell out what little income you have and you get to splurge on your birthday. That’s financial freedom. If you’ve been careful and you can buy someone a coffee, that’s financial freedom. It’s all relativity.
This is one of my favorites. If you want to be happy get out and see the world, travel to exotic places and really live. I always see these pictures of people who threw off the mantle of normalcy in favor or biking or hiking around the world. They’re living the dream, but they always have one thing in common. They’re young and single.
Dude, I have kids!
Do you have any idea how expensive it is to travel with kids? And I have an Autistic son- See my post about traveling with a special needs kid. Even going shopping takes war strategy! Don’t get me wrong I would love to travel. I would love to go to India, Norway, Peru, South Africa, New Zealand, Italy, Russia…not to mention a thousand places in the United States, the list goes on and on. Will it ever happen? Doubt it. Money and family responsibilities are kinda working against me here.
So I’ve learned that travel isn’t about leaving home and traipsing around the planet. It’s about broadening your mind to the world around you. You may not be able to go to exotic places but you can see what’s on your doorstep. Drive a different route to work. See something different everyday. Shop in a new store. Read travel books or watch the hundreds of shows on TV about other places and people. Anything to get a perspective on how the rest of the world lives.
Get your head out of your trench and look around. There may not be roses to smell but there will be other aromatic experiences that will blow your mind. Not all travel experiences are good. Some are down right scary. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all travel adventures are romantic, but what they will be is experiences. And experiences are the spice that makes life worth living. Some of the best stories are about overcoming the disasters you’ve lived through. Sometimes you just need to see what’s really there to know that you traveled. Just think about it- you live where some tourist wants to visit.
So let’s recap.
Keys to a Happy Life
Keys to happiness are like your car keys. You have them but sometimes you lose them under the stacks of paper on you desk or in the cushions of your couch. You just have to take a moment and find them again and wallah! you’ve got the keys to happiness in your hand. Have you lost your keys?
1. Sunsets are more beautiful when you are almost home.
2. Frozen yogurt tubs will shatter when you accidentally knock them out of the freezer.
3. Gummie vitamins will melt if you travel with them in the trunk when it is 102 degrees out.
4. Yes, you can make the amazing thing you had at Denny’s in your own kitchen.
5. Our livestock has grown to terrifying proportions. No chicken should be this big and be healthy.
People are always saying to me that I should take my son places and get out and see some of the fun stuff around us. Well, that requires travel.
Traveling with children is hard. Traveling with an autistic child is really, really hard.
First you have the packing.
Whatever you try to pack or organize it gets a little askew as they try to help. Sometime you even end up missing things because you thought you packed them and he moved them when he was trying to be helpful. Then there is all the extra stuff you have to take along because he can’t sleep at night without it. Like his pillow, his stuffed animals and the little plastic Smee characters (from Peter Pan) that he has to hold while falling asleep, there is also the music he has to listen to all night and the book you read to him until he sleeps. Thinking about it now I should have added his night light but, ah well. That’s just the list for bedtime.
There’s also his tablet, the ear protection in case it thunders (he’s terrified of storms), the extra pairs of clothes in case of accidents and snack in case of anger episodes to get him back on track. Hats, sunscreen, toys, and all the regular stuff you pack for a trip like clothes and toiletries.
And that’s just his stuff.
By the time you are ready to leave half the house is packed and I packed sparingly.
But it isn’t just the bring of extra stuff that makes travel with an autistic child hard. It’s the upset to the routine. Most kids that I know that are on the spectrum need routine. Mine certainly does.
For example if you are driving then you need to stop for food at the right times. If you go to long or eat too soon after the last time they get grumpy. Sitting in the care too long makes them grumpy, they need to move around a lot more than the seat belt will allow. If they get grumpy there is the possibility of a meltdown and that is not easy to handle when you are driving down the interstate. Mine will kick the windows or grab my shirt and try to yank me into the back seat. There has also been instances of kicking and pinching. I even got hit in the head with a half-full water bottle once while I was driving. Not the best thing at high speeds.
Another issue is the strangeness of where you stop. I have taken to driving straight through to my mom’s house from Montana. It’s about a 15 hour trip. It’s exhausting and it makes him grumpy but stopping overnight in a hotel is even worse. The last time we were in a hotel he freaked out completely. He was scared of the lights outside the window and spent the whole night trying to get out the door. Well obviously I couldn’t just let him leave. Where could he go? So we fought all night. He screamed and cried. By morning my arms and neck were scratched and bloody and covered in bruises. I took to sitting in front of the door so he couldn’t open it. When he finally did sleep it was about two hours before we had to leave again. So now we drive straight through.
Then once you get where you are going you have to get him settled and that often takes a long time. Luckily we only go to Grandma’s so he’s familiar with it. After trying to keep the routine while you are there, which can get really difficult, you must then make the trek back home again which involves going through all that craziness again. By the time you get home you want to hide and cry but you have to keep going and get unpacked and settled and try to force your reality into some sort of normality.
I know that he needs to be out and see the world but sometimes it is way to hard when you are alone. There have been times when we have gone as a family. My daughter and sometimes my husband are along and that makes it a little easier. Ish. When my daughter is in the back and he is having a meltdown it becomes dangerous for her because he will attack whomever he can reach. So I usually take the seat beside him so he can take it out on me and not my daughter. It is not an easy thing to have to protect one child from the other like that but there isn’t much choice when his is in an angry trance. When he calms down he snaps out of it and he is very apologetic but the damage is done. Better me than my daughter.
So if you see me and ask why I don’t take him places in the summer…it’s just better that way.
The 4th of July, Independence Day. The day when people get together and set off fireworks.
Usually great but there are those times when fun turns dangerous in a matter of seconds.
Here in Montana, fireworks get pretty crazy. We have a spot here in Conrad at the ball fields where it is pretty safe to set off fireworks without too much danger of fire. The fire department is always on hand just in case because it does turn into a chaotic mine field of rockets, mortars and fountains going off in every direction with everyone setting them off at once. It’s still fun though even if you have to look for flying shrapnel.
However, this year we decided to try something different. We went to a neighboring town, Choteau, for their actual fireworks show. I thought it would be nice to sit in safety and calm and just watch. But my kids had other ideas. They wanted fireworks. So we bought just a few and drove to Choteau.
The girl at the convenience store said the hill was the best place to watch so we drove up the hill. At the top just off the road was the Choteau Country Club. Not the fancy thing you’re imagining. This is Montana. It was just small building near the golf course. There was a big open gravel parking lot in front. Lining the edges were a lot of cars and pickups with families sitting around waiting for the show. Some were setting off a couple of fountains here and there so we parked and the kids started shooting off the stuff we had gotten.
Next to us were some of my daughter’s friends from school and they were shooting off a bunch of fireworks. The wind was starting to pick up but it wasn’t bad yet. We played around for about half an hour waiting for the show while people all over town were shooting off their own fireworks. It was fun and relaxing.
I don’t really know who it was. It wasn’t us or the kids next to us, but someone down the line walked out and set their big round munition out in the middle of the parking lot. However, they didn’t take the time to dig it down into the dirt or stack rocks around it like we had been. Soon it started shooting off rockets but the wind was pushing on it. Finally it toppled and one rocket shot between my jeep and the pickup next to us. I watched it shoot by. It ricocheted off a metal fence post in front of my jeep and went out. My head whipped around to see where the rest of the shots were going to go. Another one shot off to our right across the road and lodged under the sheriff’s patrol car that was sitting there. In seconds the very dry, very tall grass was on fire. He threw on his lights, backed up, and called it in, all in one swift motion.
People rushed forward intent on helping but no one had any water or shovels. The emergency siren went off. The fire had already spread about 20 feet.
We heard the fire engine sirens go off. Luckily they were just on the other side of the hill setting up for the big show. It was very quiet on the hill. No one was talking. We all just watched the fire burn waiting in confidence for the professionals to arrive.
By the time they arrived with three trucks. The fire had spread across the ditch to the field beyond the fence. It was not about 30 feet long and about 20 feet across. Someone had run across and opened the gate to the chain link fence so the fire trucks could reach the field.
I looked at the time stamp on my pictures and it was only about 5 minutes from the time the fire started to the time it was over. I have to say I was impressed.
The folks on the hill praised their quick response and went right back to shooting off fireworks. But that’s Montana for you. The show proceeded like planned and everyone had a great time.
But it does go to show that things can change in just a such a short amount of time. It could have been so much worse. If the wind had blown at a slightly different angle those stray rockets could have landed right in the open back hatch of my jeep, or hit some little kid, or hit the tanker truck that was parked across the road. We all could have been crispified. If the fire trucks hadn’t been just over the hill the fire could have spread though the whole field.
It made me think about preparedness. When I was a kid, everyone kept shovels and buckets in their trunks during the summer just in case there was a fire and you needed to help put it out. We don’t live like that anymore and I wonder why. Are we so complacent or is it the “it’s not my problem” mentality?
I don’t know, but I think I’m going to look for a shovel that will fit in my jeep. Just in case.
Happy 4th y’all and Stay safe!