Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's Been a Long, Short Month

My brother mentioned on Sunday that it had been one month since our mom passed away.  It hardly seems possible. But time continues to march on, whether we realize it or not. It's been a month of sadness, grief, drama, and change. 

Here at home our little group of three has been enlarged to four.  Rather than be resistant to this new change, J has been absolutely thrilled. His favorite uncle is now here all the time.  He has someone other than me to see every day. Indeed, he spends a lot of time with Bobby. Although Bobby is patient with him, I know that having all this attention can be a bit much. We are currently having to remind J to stay off Uncle Bobby's bed. J doesn't click with just anyone. Only certain people get to enter his world so I am very happy when I see that connection.

The house is currently stuffed to the gills with furniture, books, and all manner of things that help to make a house a home. Not only did Bobby bring a lot with him, about the same time we were blessed with things from the Hubster's side of the family. Most people use the term "in law" or even "In love" to point out the relationships that aren't by blood. I dropped that a long time ago. They are simply my Mom and my sister. They've downsized a bit to make their lives simpler, and Mom made sure I got the furniture. I love stuff with history so I'm happy it all came to the Hubs and me. Along with a dining set came various other items that I am still going through and putting in place. Things that once belonged to sisters in Christ; lovely ladies who still have much to teach me, even though one dear sister has been gone for a few years now. Remind me one day to tell Miss Erna's story. Suffice it for now to say it is one of dedication. She was a woman of quiet strength. Neither a non believing husband nor cancer kept her from worship if she could help it.

Slowly, day by day and box by box, we are settling in once again. Day to day life is being figured out. Life tends to move on that way.

One month after her passing I'm still scrambling a bit to find my footing. Family that I thought would pull closer tended to pull away into their own safe groups. I'm not so sure that I haven't done the same. Grief tends to do that. Grief heightens emotions and makes people strike out and hurt others in some cases, sends us running to arms we know that are safe in others.  Hopefully, prayerfully, in time family "fights" will heal. 

It's been a long hard month in some ways, yet it's gone so quickly. It reminds me that we need to make the most of life while we have it. And we need to hold on to family while we can. Easier said than done, I know. But life is fleeting, folks. In the blink of an eye it's over. What will we have to show for it at the end?  A life of striving to live like Christ, or a lifetime of looking out for number one? Gathering of loved ones to hold on to, or grabbing for things that give us stature or pleasure?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Open Letter to Adults About Teaching and Correcting Children

 Dear parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, and other adults in charge of children:

Just a few days ago I was verbally attacked by an eighteen year old and her little friends. It happened publicly, on Facebook, because this child has obviously been taught, one way or another, that this is the proper way of handling a situation. Throw out a liberal dose of profanity and beat one's chest in the manner of a gorilla, sprinkling in words like respect.  

Sad to say, at first I took the bait, although I did not read this child's entire rant. I responded from the heart. Then I deleted and apologized to anyone who could have read any of that on my page. I am by no means perfect, but I won't listen to that type of speech. I close my ears to it. Using that language at me on the phone earns a hang up. In print, the delete button comes in very handy.  I even stated that conversations are welcome; profanity and abusive language would be removed and those involved would be blocked from my page.  My husband took it upon himself to guard my page so I wouldn't have to see it all. Why? Because I'm related to the 18 year old and the ones who chose to follow her lead.

I did see that one adult came to the defense of the 18 year old, remarking that no one knows the truth about the 18 year old. The sad truth is, that in this world that can quote and twist to their needs in many cases the verse in the bible that says judge not, everyone does. Matthew 7:1, NIV, states "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."  Because I was judged, those who read the diatribe on my page judged the 18 year old by her words and by what they could see on the 18 year old's own page. 

Truth: People know you by your words and your actions. If you are proud of those words and actions, own it. If you aren't happy with the way people see (judge) you, then perhaps it's time to do some thinking.

Some will dismiss the actions and words of those involved in the verbal attack as those who don't know any better, or "they're going to do stuff like that, they're young".  Just kids. I see. That makes it okay then. Or does it? As i said, the main instigator was 18. One of her followers (whether he wrote himself or was "hacked") is in his late 20's. 

Truth: Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Teachers, and other adults in authority, we must remember that the words and actions of our children are a reflection on us. 

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.  KJV Proverbs 22:15

It is up to us adults to teach and to correct bad behavior while the children are young so that when the world sees our little darlings, the world doesn't hold up a mirror that makes us unhappy.  We all love our children and we want to be the cool parent whose home is the local hangout, right? That's what keeps our children loving us, right? Not so much. Being a parent means teaching right from wrong, and how to deal with a situation that makes them unhappy. In other words, if we do not correct our children's behavior now, someone else will do it later, and the way it is done may lead to heartbreak. Not everyone will simply hit delete and move on. Some will choose to involve the police or other court system, some will retaliate in kind and introduce violence. We only have to read or watch the news to know that deaths occur everyday in this country(!) over matters that could and should have been talked out.  Many scream about how far we've come as a society, and how certain groups are dragging us back in time to "the bad old days." Read your history. We haven't gone forward or backward. We're simply spinning our wheels because the lesson's aren't being learned.

I for one, have many lessons still to learn. I am by no means perfect. But when someone has a problem, I am willing to listen as long as it is brought to me in  a respectful manner. Respect is another word being thrown about in this world, like truth, but few know or care about its meaning. That, my friends, is another lesson for another day. For now I have spoken my peace. Thank you for listening.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Everything Changes

My Mom and brother visiting the new house.
Back in the early 2000's when my family lived in Texas, my husband, brother and I were involved each year in Family Bible School at church. During the week long summer bible class we would do a play based on the year's theme. Each night of FBS after the class portion we would put on a 30 minute installment of the play. It was great fun, helped cement some of the lessons we'd been learning, and in some cases, put popular songs of the day into the "never hearing that song after this would be too soon" category. For me, anyway. One of those songs was "Everything Changes." I think we changed the lyrics a bit and used it when we were teaching about Paul. But these days that particular refrain, "Everything Changes" is stuck in my head

The changes began earlier in the month with the death of my mother. That was a blow no one saw coming even though she was 75 years young. She was strong, almost too independent, still caring for my brother who still lived with her. The one thing she could not do was drive. Her nerves were too bad to handle that so while she lived near us, my husband and I taxi'd her around town. Other members of the family did, as well, when the Hubs and i couldn't. 

Her death left more than just the void of her being there. It meant that someone new would be my brother's caretaker. Born prematurely and placed in an incubator with no oxygen for a few minutes by a careless or overworked nurse left him with mild cp (cerebral palsy) that affects the left side of his body and fairly mild mental challenges. Yet he is very intelligent. He may be at a loss for math skills, but he is the family historian. He remembers things many of us have forgotten --and we three sisters are all younger than he is.

My mother never left a will. Whether she didn't want to go through the expense or simply didn't think it was necessary ("Bobby knows who gets what") she didn't get one done, though I urged her to do so many times. With few exceptions there haven't been any squabbles over material possessions. Bobby has been a different story.  There have been heated discussions, hurt feelings, and a lot of stress, simply because two bull headed sisters each wanted what was best for Bobby. Even a few nieces got in on the act. In the end, Bobby spoke up. While he would love a place of his own, it's not going to happen yet. But while he would be happy and taken care of with any of us, his wishes are simple: He wants to be able to go to church every Sunday, wants a karate class, wants to go to the movies now and then. He chose to be with me. 

While I hate all the stress that this has caused, I am happy for this new chapter in my life. Though we are 14 years apart, Bobby and I share a closeness, just as our sisters do with each other.  I grew up taking walks with him, listening to the ghost stories he loves so much. And yes, as the years have gone by, I, the youngest of the family, have been guilty of mothering him a bit. I mother everyone who comes into my line of sight. It's just part of me to be a bit of a mother hen.

As for the Hubs and J, I think they too are happy with Bobby living with us. J adores his uncle. He sees someone who understands him (for the most part) and he has a few of his uncle's traits. The Hubs is one who loves to talk about the bible and faith in general, and Bobby is very much interested in that.

I am looking forward to seeing life as it unfolds. I know I still have much to learn from my older brother, and I hope I can teach him some as well.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Confessions of a Disorganized Housewife: Fessing Up

These days, if you want to come and visit, you're entirely welcome. Just plan on coming early in the week. 

You know what they say about the road to hell right? It's paved with good intentions. When we first moved here I was Susie Homemaker. I stuck with my routines, went to bed at a decent hour, Baby Bear was in a great mood... life was good. We even got some painting done and even a little decorating. I'll do a post on the kitchen and dining room soon, we just need to finish up in that area. 

But then came things that got in the way. Started chatting on Facebook messenger with friends until Jim came home from work. After dinner chores got pushed aside. We had to run here or there for myriad reasons from helping out a relative to just plain boredom. It rained a lot so that painting wasn't advisable (from what I've read if you paint on rainy days it doesn't dry properly). Seizures and meltdowns reared their ugly heads a few times. In short, while I have been continuing to try and keep the place neat and orderly while making the house more into home, it's been more like swimming upstream while the other fish are busily heading downstream: you're putting out a lot of effort but you're really not getting anywhere.

One thing I've kept up with though, is (mostly) managing to keep Mondays free of distraction so I can get the house back in order. The weekends are now the true weekends so unless I'm babysitting on Sunday, not a lot of housework is being done on Saturday. And somewhere along the lines of Friday, the brains in this house tend to forget where shoes go, and things tend to fall by the wayside. 

That's where Mondays come in. That's my time to restore order to the living room, bathroom, kitchen and dining room. The rooms get picked up, the dishes are caught up, the bathroom gets a good scrub down, and the carpets get a good vacuuming. All that fun stuff. Most of it, anyway. 

Slowly though, I'm figuring out the spring time slump and getting back into a more feasible routine. A load or two of laundry gets done most days, and today I wrote up some rules for a happy kitchen:
  • dishes are done by the end of the night and at the very least are put in the drainer to dry if not put away.
  • litter boxes are patrolled daily with regular scrubbing
  • Floor to be swept nightly
  • Trash taken out nightly.

If I can get back in the habit of making sure those are done regularly, as well as mastering the art of menu planning (and sticking with said plans) I think I can keep a handle on the housework so I can better spend my time with Baby Bear and the Hubs, as well as work in time for writing and art work. Home Sweet House is relatively small, which I am thankful for when it comes to keeping the housework manageable. 

So there you have it, folks, my confession for the day. Now, if you'll excuse me, the laundry needs rebooting and dishes are calling. Have a great Monday.
This is Charlie, holding the tv down so it doesn't fly away each night, lol.

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's Finally Friday! Take Some Time

It is finally Friday! I thought I'd sit and write a bit while Baby Bear relaxes. Honestly, I'm hoping he naps today so I can get a little bit of a snooze in myself. Yes, finally I have learned to sleep while he sleeps. Most of the time. 

It's been a nice day so far.  No appointments, no trips to the grocery store, no tantrums. In fact, for lunch the Hubs was nice enough to prepare quesajitas --I'm thinking he created that combo. It's a cross between quesadillas and chicken fajitas. Yummy!--while I took a few minutes to make a card or two. I love being creative when I can. I don't always get a lot of time to do that, so I take advantage when I can. It's a great stress reliever.

Sorry for the sideways cards. I just recently upgraded something on the computer and I'm still figuring it out. I'd like to say that I came up with the design for these cards. Nope. They all use the same stamp set from Stampin Up!  and were part of a program my demonstrator does. Basically, participants agree to buy the set she chooses, along with a few other tools such as ink pads. The demonstrator, as part of the price, sends precut card stock and any embellishments needed to finish the cards.  It's fun and for now gives me a few minutes to play without having to think too hard. With Baby Bear, sometimes that's the best way to handle it.  

Speaking of that sweet young man of mine, that nap I was hoping for just went out the window. He's currently laughing and tapping the love seat to get my attention. Translation: Boredom! Time to get moving again. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Autism Wednesday: Confessions of Life with Baby Bear

So....I haven't written in a long time. Oh, I've had intentions of writing. I even came up with a blog post or two...that never made it from my computer to here. Life has been filled with the usual ups and downs that find us all. Baby Bear has done so great at times and I've wanted to share those moments --and then there are days that really just make me want to throw my hands up in surrender and say, Come take him. I can't handle it anymore. Those are the times that really break my heart. I know there are parents who have had to make the painful decision to place their child in a residential home of some sort. The one time we came really close to actually doing it --we were informed that the state wouldn't take him. They have no place for young adults with moderate to severe autism. We never pursued it so I have no idea how true that statement is. I do know, however, that in the hierarchy of state funds, adults with special needs are very low on the totem pole. But you know what? Honestly and truly I don't want to place my son in a home that isn't mine. I know there are loving people who become caregivers, and I also know that one day he may very well end up in one anyway, due to the deaths of The Hubs and me, or that we are just too old and frail to care for him properly. At the same time, I can't imagine not having J in the house each night.

The times that I do consider placement are born out of frustration, anger, and fear. This is a home we plan to stay in for a very long time if we can. We are the ones responsible for repairs. It makes me feel better that I don't have the worry of a landlord throwing us out because J broke something, but it also makes my heart sink when I see the damage that has occurred in J's room already. Sometime very soon, as in the next few weeks or so, we will be learning all about replacing dry wall. At the same time, we are considering what to put on the walls that is sturdy enough to withstand the banging, but wont seriously hurt his hands. Quite obviously plain, painted walls aren't going to cut it in his room. If a crack or hole is knocked in it, his OCD  kicks in and he starts picking at it, particularly if he's angry or bored. See where this is going? Yeah, not pretty. There are books, magazine articles and blog posts galore on baby proofing your home.  Baby Bear proofing? Not so much. I feel like I'm paving the way on this one. 

So...yeah. That's pretty much life here at Dottie's Life these days. Mostly good, some not so good, and learning to tread water again. I won't promise to write posts because we've seen how that goes here. But please don't give up on me. I have lots to tell you about. I just stumbled once again and let life pull at me. I want to write at least three posts a week, if not more. If I lag, please feel free to contact me. I love hearing from you even if I don't get a chance to respond.  For now, housework calleth, as does Baby Bear. He's "talking" to me in his own language, wanting attention. I do love his sense of humor.

 Baby Bear doesn't like getting his hair cut very often due to sensitivity issues. But I do love his mischievous smile. Doesn't he clean up good?

Friday, May 23, 2014

How Secure is the Baptismal Area?

It's beginning to be that time of year again. The weather is warmer so many start thinking of swimming pools as a way to beat the heat. With swim season upon us, along comes the advice: keep your children safe in and near the water. Accidental drownings occur and put us all on edge and we are hyper vigilant. But, have we given thought to how safe our baptismal areas are in our church buildings?

As parents we know that it only takes a second or two for a child to slip away. Inside our houses of worship we are still aware of that fact, yet we feel safer because in most cases we know the families who meet there. We feel safe and we watch out for one another. In many cases, not much thought is given to the accessibility of the baptismal area. After all, we want to make it as easy as possible to help someone to obey the gospel. Unfortunately, even in a church setting though, children can get away. I lost my oldest son to drowning, twenty one years ago this July. 

At the time there were no doors leading to the baptismal pool, and other than bubble wrap to keep out bugs, no covering over the pool itself. We were told afterward that it had been that way for over 50 years. No one had given thought to what might happen. After my son's death,  locked gates were put up and only certain men had access to the key.  The congregation where my husband and I met and later married, also realized that the doors leading to their area needed to be locked. I know during that time several people contacted my husband and me, saying because of our son's death they made the baptismal pool more secure.

I just read on a Facebook group the request for prayer by a young mom who lost her child in a similar manner nine years ago. Please, ladies. Let us work to stop this from happening again. On the next Lord's day, please check to see how accessible the baptismal pool is. Let the elders or the men of the congregation know that it needs to be safer if it isn't already locked. 

photo credit: jcsullivan24 via photopin cc